The House resumed at 8 p.m.
STANDING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the report of the standing social development committee dated June 19, 1979, re Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Could we just have a clarification that the debate will be split two ways during the evening for the two debates, the Ombudsman and Lakeshore, the three parties having equal time? Is that correct? Then a vote will be taken at 10:15 on the Lakeshore --
Mr. Nixon: If necessary.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: -- if necessary, and then we resume the debate on the Ombudsman until 10:30?
Mr. Nixon: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Thank you.
Mr. Lawlor: We have come to a consummation, I suppose.
Obviously, from the attendance in the House, the Lakeshore is not a burning issue, although to get the thing started the minister said it was. He said the potential for fire and the fact that the place itself was a firetrap was a determining factor in closing it as an inpatient facility.
I’ve always taken considerable issue with and some degree of personal umbrage at that because I attended the initial statements the minister made to the press and that was the issue that turned the press and all subsequent conversation awry. It was unfair. It was proven to be quite misleading by abundant testimony. Nevertheless, it was a most advantageous initial stance for the minister and the ministry to take and they took full advantage of it, highly to their credit. I think the minister would have to concede that point at this stage, after the event, of course.
Initially I would like to bring into the record what I have said of recent date to my constituents in a report on this particular issue. There is a delightful picture of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital on the report for anyone’s perusal. I’m quite prepared to table the document if it comes to that.
“Lakeshore Psychiatric: the closing by the Honourable Dennis Timbrell” -- notice I want to get that name in there because it’s one that will have a fair amount of infamy in the Lakeshore area for generations to come, I trust. I don’t mean that as a particularly insulting remark. Due to our recent experience on this in this House, I think that’s fair game.
“ -- the Honourable Dennis Timbrell, Minister of Health, of the inpatient wards of the hospital which has so well served our area and a much larger territory for so many years, is a mistake and will be seen to be such.
“With several of my caucus colleagues and with very little help from other parties, I fought it, asked innumerable questions, forced the issue into committee for five solid weeks of investigation and the interrogation of 41 witnesses. The strong weight of evidence was that it should not, in the face of increasing population estimates, with the overcrowding and diminished care which would no doubt take place at Queen Street, the disruption of the lives of the patients and the medical and other staff, and the loss of jobs, be closed.
“Nevertheless, the government has gone ahead and already the consequences in patient relations, in a suicide, in putting ill patients back on the street, in assault on the staff, are beginning to appear. The long fight in which we were assisted by the union, OPSEU, did have two beneficial results:
“1. The outpatient services have been basically retained. The cutbacks in the alcoholic unit have been a particularly regrettable exception” -- and I’ll have a few words to say about that.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Would the member be so kind as to send me over a copy of that? There’s some reference there to suicide and I may want to take issue. I’d like to read along, if I may.
Mr. Lawlor: Yes, the minister will get a chance to speak and say what he wishes about these things. That inquest has just been terminated and we can address our attention to that.
“The adolescent and child-care unit is there under another ministry and will remain on the grounds indefinitely.
“2. And the land shall be retained in government hands, not sold, and may in future be used for housing, perhaps senior citizens’.
“I, in general, in line with the government’s own McKinsey report, will continue to press for some inpatient facilities” -- they will be sorely needed -- “and more particularly for a new smaller hospital on one portion of these present grounds.”
Just a word on the retained, or not quite retained, outpatient services on these grounds. The dialysis unit has gone to Whitby. Some of the children’s matters have been moved, not to Queen Street, but up to Thistletown. As I say in my report, the regrettable thing is that the detox unit was emasculated. I trust the minister over a period of time gets a certain amount of flak on that particular thing. The steelworkers, the automobile workers and many professional people in the community resorted on an extended-treatment basis to that particular hospital which has been foreclosed.
The inpatient facility there has been decimated. That is most regrettable when one considers the vast amounts of money that come in through liquor taxation. For this province not to be able to provide for a unit of that kind, which was a model in its field, praised, inspected and looked at by other jurisdictions, and not to have retained that facility as it was is a retrograde step indeed. A certain degree of castigation should be directed towards the ministry in that particular piece of rationalization, if that is what it is called. When it reaches that stage, it becomes quite irrational.
The ministry, under the impress particularly of the Canadian Mental Health Association, had given some indication, I thought, during the hearings that a full-systems approach was the approach of the ministry generally. Not necessarily being too cynical about these things and trying to give the best measure of good faith in what government ministers and departments seem to assert, I thought that was in accord with the prevailing philosophy of the department.
In any event, on the basis of certain assurances and a kind of understanding, the whole thing has gone ahead. The cynicism arises, in thinking in advance of that, that it was not too likely to take place, nor can the minister point to any great evidence of that coming into being on the lakeshore or otherwise. That is a fairly costly venture. With the government’s present restrictive mentality, I don’t think it is too likely we shall see it moving into the area from which it got a fair amount of accord for the closing of the hospital on relatively false pretences. It is not in the books, as I see it.
I am not going to resort to this letter at any great length. In our hearings of a few days ago I read into the record the bulk of the letter of October 10 from the Canadian Mental Health Association. In it they make specific reference to this. They asserted that in giving their imprimatur to the closing of the hospital it was on that understanding and condition and solely on that condition. This was the major body appearing before us in the hearings that did give some kind of consensus or accord to the move the ministry was proposing to make.
They say in their first paragraph: “Our association proposed a community-based planning process to develop a community mental health-care model, incorporating inpatient services, residential alternatives, after-care services and recreational and social-support services.”
I will jump a paragraph and go to the third paragraph: “However, your recent announcement of programs to be funded in the Lakeshore catchment area indicates that your ministry has not developed a community-based model for service delivery.”
That, with respect, was predictable. The gyrations, the subterfuges and the disguises used in the process were for anyone acquainted with the machinations of contemporary government to be expected. To come along after the event and appear to say they are surprised at this indicates to me a certain degree of naivety. In any event, I think some kind of justification for leaving that impression lies with the ministry. I would be pleased to hear what the minister has to say about it.
In the fourth paragraph they say: “Our association is very concerned about the implications of such a choice. We believe that we are observing a process of unplanned institutionalization rather than planned deinstitutionalization.” That is quite a mouthful. “We are particularly concerned with the immediate effects of the Lakeshore closing upon patient care.”
I will not dwell on the letter unduly or in any overweening way. The minister has had it read to him. We didn’t have much of a chance on that last occasion for a conversation or a debate arising out of it, but it’s there and it’s there for him to answer and to justify. And I do not believe he can do it.
As a component of this and as a vector coming out of it, the whole housing problem has escalated since the date of the spring hearings when we last discontinued. I wonder what liaisons the ministry may have with the housing people. The Parkdale situation has erupted. Certainly no provision to my knowledge has been made in the Lakeshore surroundings with respect to making accommodation or integration of the community.
We all concede it is better to have the people living in the community, rubbing shoulders with their friends, shopping in the stores, living normal lives as much a possible, rather than having them institutionalized, et cetera. We all concede that. But what provision has the minister made for that and what lines has he set up to make this a working and feasible model? None that I can see. The amount of money available to even venture upon that process is negligible.
I have some accusations to make. I’m going to make a prefatory statement and say I wish I could come with case histories. What I am about to say has to do more with rumour; with what I hear and some phone calls I got. It is not made up out of the air; it’s things people have said to me in the past few weeks.
One of them has to do with why Queen Street is not at capacity at the present time. I put to you, they have a highly restrictive admissions policy. It is easy enough to keep a measure of margin if people are turned away.
There’s a second thing that I suggest is happening and going on and will continue to go on as long as that facility remains in that state. The government doesn’t do what has been suggested it might do, and which I will reiterate before I sit down. The discharge rate is excessive. The jettison of people into the street in order to retain hospital beds and elbow room in which to move is another factor that’s operative.
I’ll go this far on admissions policy. Some weeks ago I got a call saying that a woman from a nursing home in the Lakeshore had been taken to the Queen Street hospital and they refused to admit her. She was hysterical and very difficult to manage. After some argumentation they took her back to the nursing home where a considerable fracas erupted and they forced the woman out on to the street, after phoning the police. They went out and spoke to the police and the police took the woman back to the hospital. Three hours later, I understand, she was admitted.
This is the kind of rub that was anticipated and this is the kind of thing that comes about. I think there is going to be an escalation of that. Because of these criteria conditions in the hospital are not yet in a state of overcrowding but, by and large, every nook and cranny of the hospital has been allocated to hospital beds. The elbow room isn’t all that great. The recreational areas have been converted. Space previously used for dining has been converted. I think the minister used every stratagem and piece of architectural drawing he found in order to accommodate his somewhat nefarious purpose in the whole process and in order to be able to justify actions taken in conjunction with senior staff at that particular hospital.
All the way along the line, from every witness we heard, never did we hear in a single instance anyone who said the $1.3 million the minister was going to allocate in an expansion program around the closing and in terms of the outpatient thing, which is pitiably modicum, would serve the purpose at all. The minister has no experts or anyone who would back him up on that one.
He says he is going to save $2.6 million by the closing, but I don’t think he’ll save a fraction of that. I think he should be honest enough to admit it to the House. As a matter of fact, the closing may actually involve him in extra money costs. In any event, the minister is not saving what he thought he would save on the basis and pretexts on which he did the closing initially and which he gave as the major justification for this kind of thing. He’s going to roll half of that sum back in. I don’t see any basis upon which the minister is doing that. I think he has some obligation, as we wind up this debate, to give an indication of precisely what he is doing in this particular regard.
One of the things, one out of a prolonged engagement over this closing, was the retention of the hospital grounds. I’m asking the minister tonight whether there are any further plans in his portfolio with respect to the utilization of those grounds. I’m saying to him he will find, within two years, there will be considerable problems of overcrowding, of restricted space, of dislocation, human and otherwise, in the Queen Street facility as it stands, and it is well he retains the Lakeshore grounds as a possible overflow area, as a conduit pipe to safety when the occurrences I predict occur and recur within the context of that hospital. I think the minister should leave things fallow for the time being just to see how they develop, apart from the work for which I give him some credit which is the expanding of the workshop facilities and making certain therapeutic working conditions available and upgrading them. That is a move forward.
As I said when I stood up, this is not the last the minister will hear from me on the Lakeshore closing I’m certain, so let him not breathe a premature sigh of relief and settle back as though this issue, by any means, is finished. As far as I am concerned, it is not. It was a thunderous blow to the area I represent and to many of the people who are there. I put it to the minister, there are people who will not -- albeit they should and although they may be referred to the Queen Street hospital -- go there. Living in the Lakeshore area, many mentally ill people wandering around the streets of Lakeshore will not go to his Queen Street facility. It’s too far away.
Secondly, there are the dislocations. They have formed into relationships, as people who are ill do, with the people who care for them. I use the word “care” advisedly. They’ve set up affectionate relationships with staff and doctors in the Lakeshore hospital over many years. That was severed and cannot be reconstituted. Those cords cannot be rebound. The minister has left many human beings derelict in this area. It’s on his head. The action need not have been taken in the form that it was. Some degree of inpatient facility could have been retained.
On the basis of the McKinsey studies I will say for a final time -- I’m sick of saying it and the minister is sick of listening to me, so we’re both becoming sick, I hope not mentally so. My stomach rumbles at the moment in this regard. I will say some small portion of the funds that the minister subsequently found for general hospital purposes, et cetera, could have been and still can be allocated to a much smaller hospital on those grounds. This would leave plenty of space and it would be a safety valve for the whole operation, giving an affirmation to the basic concept of a non-monolithic mental hospital, a community hospital where people who are mentally ill are best served and given the greatest sense of --
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member’s time will be up in about five seconds if we’re going to have an equal sharing of the time.
Mr. Lawlor: I didn’t realize I had any time.
Anyhow, I want to thank the union and I thank the volunteers at the hospital and those witnesses who testified according to their conscience in this regard. As I sit down, the minister has not heard the last of it.
Mr. Conway: I’m mindful of the agreement whereby we will conclude this part of the debate at 9:15 or thereabouts.
I want to make some remarks about a matter that has occupied a considerable amount of my attention, as it has, I know that of the member for Lakeshore and others here in the assembly during the course of the early summer and late spring of this year.
When I recall the way in which the decision was made I can certainly agree with my friend from Lakeshore when he said the Lakeshore debate began as a burning question. Many of us well remember the kind of climate that was created by the Minister of Health with respect to the firetrap that was alleged to have been existing out in the facility in question. Many of us, not as informed as we were later to become, were disposed to accept entirely the minister’s and the ministry’s word in that connection.
My party, through my leader and myself, indicated that for that and other reasons the policy decision the minister announced at the time was acceptable to us.
I want to recount some of the background to the inquiry that brought us together in the social development committee this past spring because I am concerned about an impression left by the previous speaker with respect to the assistance rendered by other parties.
I remember being at a public meeting in Port Credit with the members for Mississauga South (Mr. Kennedy) and Lakeshore to discuss the decision that had been announced by the Minister of Health with respect to the closure of Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. I remember that night because at that time a reasonable doubt had begun to form in my own mind about the minister’s ease with respect to the closure of Lakeshore. On that night many of the arguments that had been put forward by the opponents of the closure of Lakeshore, I thought, were brought together in a particularly meaningful way.
I mention it because that night and before, many -- particularly those involved with the union at the hospital -- had very properly brought forward their concern about what was happening and why it was happening. I recall at least two occasions when union representation was made to me asking for my support and that of my colleagues for a public inquiry into the Lakeshore matter.
I said at the time that I was not initially disposed to accept such a proposal because, as I had indicated to the group, the decision had been accepted on a prima facie basis by my colleagues and my leader in January.
As more and more doubt began to develop, more and more good argument was brought forward by the opponents, I became personally more receptive to the notion of an inquiry, but not to the kind of inquiry being asked for by the union leadership at the time. I said to them, and I will repeat now, the sort of public inquiry being asked for at the time struck me as the easiest kind of matter to agree to. We all know, privately, those sorts of inquiries can only be agreed to once the government is prepared to accept them. There was no reason to believe this Minister of Health and his cabinet colleagues were going to initiate a public inquiry so quickly after they had made the decision.
I said to the union leadership, and I well remember saying to my friend from Lakeshore at Port Credit that night, I felt an inquiry was perhaps justified; and that if we were going to have an inquiry it was important to have an inquiry involving politicians and which would be held before the Lakeshore hospital was closed down and phased out.
I may stand corrected, but I don’t believe I will be. On that particular occasion I suggested to the member for Lakeshore that I would be quite supportive if, as the local member, he initiated under the standing order involved a special reference to the social development committee that would refer the annual report of the Ministry of Health for a special examination of the Lakeshore decision.
As I remember it, Mr. Speaker, that is some of the history that led to the special reference that created the inquiry into this matter.
The evidence brought forward on that particular occasion was not as conclusive as I thought it might have been. There was a fair degree of difference among certain of the people who appeared, particularly from the professional psychiatric community. There was, I might add, no such difference of opinion from the community associations that were very anxious to make their concerns known to us about what was being attempted.
I can join with the member for Lakeshore in recalling to your attention, sir, the fact that a good number of very dedicated, hardworking and long-standing friends of Lakeshore came before our committee and expressed a deep, deep degree of resentment at what was being attempted; the implication of a severance in the relationship between that particular institution and the catchment area, of the community base that had grown up around it in 89 years. There was, as I recall, an almost unanimous agreement in that connection.
Other things surfaced, not surprisingly. In the social development committee we were treated once again to a discussion of a health-care policy decision that was being dressed up in the interests of good health-care planning, when everyone had to acknowledge that there was really only one principal rationale for what the government was doing in this connection, and that rationale was budgetary and financial.
The member for Lakeshore points out, and the report acknowledges, the existence of a very expensive report done by one of the expert consulting groups in the health-care field which indicated to this government that the rebuilding of both the Whitby and the Lakeshore facilities should be proceeded with.
In the course of the hearings which we held this spring in that committee it became abundantly clear on this matter, as it was to become clear on other matters later, particularly the new active-treatment bed ratios for the public hospital sector, that this was a Minister of Health and this was a government making decisions in the health-care field not on the basis of good health-care planning imperatives but rather on the basis of pure budgetary consideration.
The witnesses who appeared were extremely helpful. I want to recall an incident which I know the members of that social development committee can remember as well as I can tonight. That was the letter which was written to the chairman of the committee, the honourable member for Huron-Bruce (Mr. Gaunt), in the last week of the hearings, from a medical group at the Queen Street Mental Health Centre. It was a letter which was very critical of the planning that had or had not gone into this decision, a letter which raised significant professional medical concerns about what was going to be expected of the now-much-enlarged Queen Street mental health centre.
I remember reading that letter on the front page of the Toronto newspapers. I remember the next day seeing it in the committee. I well remember the, I think, unanimous agreement of all members to invite the authors of that committee to appear before us.
If I recall the timing of this correctly, the letter became public in the middle-to-late part of one week, and the invitation was sent out so these doctors from Queen Street could appear, I believe it was, the Monday of the next week. Those doctors from the Queen Street mental health centre did appear before the committee, I think on the following Monday afternoon.
Mr. Lawlor: The biggest brainwashing operation since the Gulag Archipelago.
Mr. Conway: But they had made one stop along the way. From the time that letter was authored and dispatched by those physicians from the Queen Street Mental Health Centre to the time when they appeared before the standing committee on social development, those doctors had had a special invitation to attend at the Hepburn Block for a discussion with senior ministry staff.
Strange as it might seem --
Mr. Lawlor: Still can’t get over it.
Mr. Conway: They appeared before our committee infinitely less critical, much more accommodating, much more expressive of their support of the ministry initiative than any reading of that earlier letter might have created the belief for.
Some of us cynical, sceptical oppositionists were forced to conclude some very negative things, privately to be sure, about the way in which this invitation had been offered and discharged.
I suspect now, as I did then, that the content of that letter spoke very directly to the kind of real inhouse concern that was involved with the minister’s decision of January 1979 with respect to Lakeshore-Queen Street.
I remember as well a witness from the Hamilton psychiatric facility appearing before us and indicating that for his part there could be little expectation that Hamilton would play a very major role in the reallocation of catchment area. From his point of view there was not a great deal of consultation and not a great deal of planning in the discussion that led to this decision.
I suppose it is tiresome to repeat what we were forced to conclude, which was that once again this poor, beleaguered Minister of Health was being forced to carry the message from the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) that there was not a priority, there was not a commitment to provide the kinds of funds required to lay out the sort of institutional and community-based resources needed for the mental health sector for this part of Ontario.
The lack of planning, the kind of ad hockery that surfaced in that particular committee was only to be repeated when we got to our second reference. I will repeat again, I think this committee has probably done more than it should ever have done in assisting this poor beleaguered Minister of Health in battles so many and so lost, from his point of view, with his cabinet colleagues.
We have in that committee, I suspect, Mr. Speaker, given this Minister of Health some kind of clout that he has not been able to manufacture himself when it comes to arguing a strong and successful case in cabinet. When we, in that committee finished with the Minister of Health this particular spring, I am not afraid or ashamed or embarrassed to suggest that his hand was strengthened by the very embarrassment he was forced to digest in the public view.
Mr. Lawlor: Just like a self-feeding chameleon.
Mr. Conway: I want to say in concluding, and I am going to indicate that my colleagues from Sarnia (Mr. Blundy) and St. George (Mrs. Campbell), if time permits, will be adding their point of view to this particular discussion, that we too will be monitoring the Lakeshore decision with the kind of interest that the member for Lakeshore has indicated.
We too shall remember -- I shall never forget -- what was done in the early stages of this particular negotiation and this particular policy decision. Jed Baldwin says there is no reason for a citizen to believe very much, if anything, of what his or her government says about public or private policy. This may be a small point in his mind but it’s not in mine, after hearing, and being on a preliminary basis disposed to accept some of the critical arguments in favour of closing Lakeshore -- and I am going to come back again to the point at which I began the burning matter -- after seeing the way in which that particular fear was dealt with by the expert witnesses in testimony in the committee, it will be a long time before I extend to the government, and in particular to the Minister of Health, the initial goodwill to accept preliminary statements as I might have previously
In the matter of Lakeshore, we have two or three examples which regrettably proved the cynicism sometimes brought forward from this side. As I have indicated in this particular case, we were led down a path that had not much to do with the relevant facts of the case.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The member for Durham East.
Mr. Cureatz: Sorry, Mr. Speaker. I was just coming in to take a look at who is in attendance at the assembly. I am not taking part in the debate.
An hon. member: Now you can leave.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston).
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, are we not sharing the time three ways and has the time of that party not expired? I will be the only speaker for this party in summing up the debate and I understand that the time had expired when the Speaker was in the chair, sir.
Mr. Conway: On that point of order, sir, the House leader is not here. It was agreed, on the suggestion of the government whip, that there would, in fact, be an agreement that the time would be shared by the three parties in the amounts of 25 minutes per caucus and that you judge our time accordingly.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The member for Sarnia.
Mr. Blundy: I am very happy to have a short participation in this debate. When I look back on the activities of the social development committee in this regard, I think back on what we were told about the hospital, that it was a group of very deteriorating buildings and that some of them were firetraps and so forth.
At that time I rather agreed with what was being proposed, but later on the committee had the opportunity to go out, view and tour the buildings and the property, and I was really pleasantly surprised to see what I found. The buildings were old buildings, but they appeared to be very well maintained and usefully serving the needs of the area. Then we had a great many references to the McKinsey report, which called for the rebuilding of the Lakeshore hospital at that site and extolled all the reasons why it would be preferable to have this facility continue to serve that area of Metropolitan Toronto.
When I look back on the entire sessions of the committee, it seems to me that everything the committee did, every delegation that came before the committee and every conversation that took place in the committee was after the fact. It seems to me that the ministry’s mind was made up right from the beginning and we were wasting our time.
The minister did say in his address to the committee on April 23 that $1.3 million is to be allocated towards community services. This is one thing that was brought to the attention of the committee by one speaker after the other, speaking of the services that were available to the people of the lakeshore area by that old institution.
I want to put on record that I believe this is one more situation where community services were spoken of a great deal more than they were planned for. I would like to read just a very brief section from the minister’s statement so that I may pose a question to him. He is talking about what is going to happen and then he says:
“To continue, various new services for the areas affected by the scheduled Lakeshore closing have been proposed as well. These include the establishment of new mechanisms for co-ordination of mental health services in Etobicoke, North York, Toronto and Peel, as well as the establishment or expansion of rehabilitation, counselling in medication, monitoring programs, group homes and other residential accommodations, expanded outpatient day-care and crisis intervention services, special services for psycho-geriatric patients, activity centres and services for patients in their homes who are unable to leave home for treatment or for whom home treatment is an appropriate therapeutic method.”
There is a litany of very desirable community activities, and I hope the minister will be able to tell me and the other members of this House how he is progressing in the provision of those very desirable services in the community and how the $1.3 million so allocated is working out.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: That completes the allotted time.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I want to respond to some of the points made tonight in the 25 minutes I have.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: You have 22 minutes.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I have been concerned all along at the way in which my personal views about the condition of the buildings at Lakeshore and their status has been taken by some members.
I want to start off by pointing out that in the statement I made on January 22 -- in that official statement of the closure of Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital along with a few other matters and the rationale behind it -- I did not include any reference to the facilities other than to say the McKinsey study had recommended rebuilding both Lakeshore and Whitby. I said we had found upon reviewing the matter that because of the availability of facilities at Queen Street Mental Health Centre and Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital, and the apparent lack of sufficient capital dollars in future years to carry out that recommendation, that we were accepting the recommendation to rebuild Whitby but not to rebuild Lakeshore.
It is certainly correct that later in the press conference and the question-and-answer sessions following my reading of that statement -- I can’t recall who asked the question or specifically what the question was -- I was prompted to say that in my own view I did consider the facilities to be a firetrap. I still do.
Suffice it to say that one can point -- in the material which was tabled with the committee and the evidence heard by the committee -- to statements that would suggest that with certain renovations or drills that’s not the case. One can also point to the accreditation survey from March 1978 and the McKinsey report for references to the condition of the building, the wiring and the fact that the upper floors have been closed due to concern over fires. That was and is my view but I want to emphasize it did not form part of the official statement on the closure and the reasons behind it.
I had hoped that the member for Lakeshore would have sent me over a copy of his riding newsletter by now and I’d still like to see a copy if that’s not asking too much. I’m concerned about the reference to a suicide.
Mr. Lawlor: You can have it, but not being a constituent you don’t deserve it.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I do pay taxes which paid for that and the postage and I think just as a favour I’m asking -- I’ll even reimburse the member; I’ll pay an extra amount over and above the taxes.
Mr. Lawlor: Move into Lakeshore and you can vote for me.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: That’s hardly likely, but anyway it concerns me that the member would raise that awful spectre and just leave it hanging -- suggesting that a suicide was attributable to this.
Mr. Lawlor: Shame.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The member is right -- shame. It’s a shame to make that kind of suggestion in the middle of what is supposed to be a serious debate.
Mr. Renwick: Shame on you. I know what you’re about to do and you cannot do that in this debate.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The fact of the matter is I think the member --
Mr. Renwick: This is a distortion of the debate.
Mr. Lawlor: You do it every damned time. You take a niggling point and --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, order.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I do not consider suicide a niggling point as the member for Lakeshore says. I do not consider something as serious as the taking of one’s life as a niggling point.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The member is not going to leave that sort of thing hanging in this debate when he knows very well that during the course of a recent coroner’s inquest into the unfortunate death of an individual on those grounds there was no reference drawn to the closure of Lakeshore.
Mr. Renwick: The debate should be on the report.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: There was certainly no connection drawn in the conclusions of the coroner’s jury or in its findings. In fact its one recommendation had to do with a central registry.
The honourable member also, I think, took great liberties back in September in the comments he made about three individuals living in a boarding-home in Beaverton, Ontario.
I won’t take the time of the House to read again into the record the letter which I sent to the editor or publisher -- I’m not sure of his title; probably publisher -- of the Beaverton paper --
Mr. Eakins: The Beaverton Express.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Thank you. I drew to his attention the serious errors in the research behind that article. I also drew to his attention that it is impossible to estimate the damage done to those three individuals and even more impossible to know how it could ever be undone.
Mr. Lawlor: I had nothing to do with that.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I was disappointed to see the honourable member on Global TV --
Mr. Lawlor: Who, me?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Yes.
Mr. Lawlor: I had nothing to do with it. I don’t know what the minister is talking about.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Well, Ill get the member the tape.
Mr. Lawlor: You’re out in left field.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The reasons for moving to close the inpatient programs at Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital are by now well known. We found that by a small change in the catchment area for Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital to include the eastern half of Halton region and by adding the balance of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital catchment area to Queen Street Mental Health Centre, we could accommodate all of the inpatient needs. We have done this and done it well.
At one point I think one of the honourable members suggested there had been a severance in relations between patients and staff. Virtually all the clinical staff transferred with the patients so those relationships and those connections have been retained.
As well, the outpatient programs and the staff at the Lakeshore campus of Queen Street Mental Health Centre have been retained. I am therefore pleased to say that concern has no foundation.
I am not sure which member raised it, but there was mention that “every nook and cranny has been filled with patients,” suggesting there is no room left over. At least, that is the impression I got from what the member said. In fact, this hospital was designed and built to accommodate 700 patients with ancillary services -- dining, laundry, recreational facilities and so on.
Renovations are under way and will be completed before very long that will ensure that the original design is carried out, that people are well accommodated both in terms of living accommodations as well as ancillary recreational and day-to-day living services with respect to the programs the member for Sarnia asked about -- I think he was reading from the press release.
Mr. Blundy: Yes.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I think he is aware they were developed with the assistance of community representatives drawn from all the municipalities served by this facility and were endorsed by them.
The member for Lakeshore read into the record portions of a letter from the president of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Metropolitan Toronto branch. I would like to read into the record a few paragraphs of my response of today’s date to that letter, which I think answers the key points.
First of all, I say:
“All of the services being funded by adult community mental health are outpatient programs. Over the past 20 years or so, and consistent with the recommendations of the CMHA-sponsored study More for the Mind, this province has been actively supporting the development and operation of assessment, diagnostic and treatment services in general hospitals. As a result, general hospitals now provide ready access for our citizens to these services.
“Also, as a result of this trend, the technology of program design and development has tended to be more easily understood and accepted by the general hospital, which have been able to provide us with balanced and well designed program submissions on relatively short notice.
“In addition, all proposals, including those from the general hospitals, were reviewed by the community representatives from Peel, Etobicoke, York, North York and the city of Toronto, and our final choice has received their wholehearted support.”
The lady went on to express concern about the effects of the closing of patient care, and if I may, I will quote a later part of my reply to her:
“With regard to the comments about the effects of the Lakeshore closing upon patient care, I would like to respond by informing you that an increase in inpatient occupancy is being experienced by Queen Street, but this is not doubling, as suggested in your letter. This has come out in several letters and is not supportable.
“Admission policies and procedures for Queen Street are being reviewed to better co-ordinate services between Queen Street, the general hospitals and the community. My staff also informs me that the increase in admissions does not appear to be directly related to the Lakeshore closure, since many of the admissions are coming from the greater Metropolitan Toronto area.”
I also went on to point out that we, as a government, have submitted to the municipalities a proposed draft bylaw to promote in the municipalities, other than the city, the development of group-home bylaws. This is something that has occupied the time of a great many of us. We are trying to convince our councils in the suburban areas that they have as much responsibility as the city of Toronto to ensure that our people, who have had the misfortune to be mentally ill, get the required form of residential accommodation between institutions and home. They should pass bylaws to that effect.
I mentioned that now because I think the suggestion was made that there has been an increased pressure on the Parkdale area. This is something we’ve looked at a number of times. I’m advised that we have not had an increase in homes-for-special-care beds in the area. We have not had an increase in the number of residents in the area.
I would remind the member that even before Lakeshore closed, because of the Toronto bylaws and the development over the last decade of a number of boarding homes in that area, there were and are a lot of former residents of Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital and the Queen Street Mental Health Centre. The closure has not, in fact, resulted in an increased occupancy in that area.
On the question of jobs, I’m pleased to say that with the co-operation of the union and our human resources branch and the whole government, as well as the public hospitals, I am advised today that we are now down to 20 individuals whose layoffs remain in effect. Efforts continue and will continue to accommodate these individuals as vacancies occur in the public service for which they are qualified.
Mr. Speaker, there’s no question this was one of the more difficult decisions that had to be made this past year of my tenure in this ministry. Given all the things I have to consider -- the facilities with which we have to work, the future of them, the money available to replace them -- I believe the decisions we have taken to move the inpatients, to expand the community mental health programs with part of the savings are in the best interests of our patients and other communities which we serve.
We will continue to monitor this very closely. The hospital council of the Metropolitan Toronto area has on its agenda in November, for instance, the question of mental health services. I would anticipate that in the next year, as we bring into being the new district health council for Metropolitan Toronto, one of its first priorities would be to establish a mental health subcommittee to monitor and to make comment from time to time on the mental health needs of the greater Metropolitan Toronto area.
This has been a difficult decision. I want to commend the staff of both hospitals for their diligence in bringing together the merger of the inpatient programs, the continuation of the outpatient programs and the development of the new community programs. It has gone on amazingly well considering the enormity of the task. We look forward to the future in the sure knowledge that these people are as professional as they are and will ensure that we maintain the quality of our programs.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: There are five minutes remaining. The member for St. George.
Mrs. Campbell: I rise at this time because much has been said about the statements the minister made initially, and he has sought to clarify that situation, but what he hasn’t clarified for me is whether those agencies in Toronto, which are providing home health service, those agencies which he said are not properly in the health field but has consented to allow to be funded to the end of the year by local board of health of the city of Toronto, have been consulted. Has anybody consulted those agencies as to their perception of the increased demands upon them as a result of the actions of the ministry?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Could I just ask the member for St. George, as a point of clarification, to be specific as to which program she is referring to?
Mr. Conway: Where in the standing orders is a point of clarification?
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows the spokesman organization for the three. He knows the Dixon Hall situation, he knows the Central Neighbourhood House situation, or he should, and he knows the Toronto West situation. He has said across this province that as far as he is concerned with the deinstitutionalization generally, and Lakeshore specifically, there will be no loss of service as a result of this closing. I would ask him to have that matter referred to this organization which is going to be discussing and monitoring the effects of the closing of Lakeshore. It is vitally important he at least assume responsibility for the problems which they have incurred as a result of this closing. It is, it seems to me, a health matter.
I was very interested in the minister’s remarks of his priorities about the decision, because nowhere did he put at the top of the list, the need of the people. That was put nowhere at the top of the list. They came along somewhere down the line to be accommodated within a financial restraint.
I would like to see, down the road, a very real report on the effects of this closing as I perceive it and as others perceive it. I would hope the minister, too, might go into the Parkdale area and speak to the people in that area as to their perceptions of what is happening, and the fact he disavows responsibility for the care of people in that area, for setting any standards for the care of the people in that area again resulting, at least in part, from his decision to close this hospital.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, if I may just take a few brief seconds to respond --
Some hon. members: No
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The time has now expired. I wonder if the member for St. George would adjourn the debate so it could be dealt with further at 10:15 p.m.
On motion by Mrs. Campbell, the debate was adjourned.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE OMBUDSMAN (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the recommendations contained in the seventh report of the select committee on the Ombudsman.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I believe the member for Lakeshore is in the forefront again.
Mr. Lawlor: It’s a busy night. It’s regrettable that this should happen to be the night; I would rather have spent a very pleasant time with Peter Mosher and the others. However, as chairman of the committee I think I have some minor responsibility in the matter and I would like to give some indication to this House of the functioning at this time of this committee, and more pertinent the work of the Ombudsman of Ontario.
As far as the committee is concerned our work, I believe -- these are famous last words -- is getting easier. It may be there will be a time in the future when that committee need not exist. In any event, the degree of cooperation now operative among ministries vis-à-vis the Office of the Ombudsman of this province is clarifying. It’s in gear and salubrious. That’s a welcome change to the previous hostility, the hand-raised-against-every-man attitude that existed at an earlier time.
This applies in a broader aspect too to the various boards and commissions of Ontario, particularly after they were bludgeoned in one of the higher courts of this province of recent date. They were told; ‘No, you must come to heel and you must give cognizance to the role and function of the Ombudsman of this province. The legislation on any interpretation says that you are subject to and must be amenable to the provisions of that statute.”
The range of jurisdiction of the Ombudsman is falling into place and is becoming more determinate. That in no way takes away from the responsibility of the Attorney General of this province to devise a list of what are -- if he happens to know what they are -- the bodies and agencies that are subject to and ought to be subject to the Ombudsman.
In every future piece of legislation coming before this House, there ought to be written into it a section explicitly stating that that new agency, and they’re being created every hour, is subject to this particular jurisdiction. That wasn’t spelled out initially and we found that it’s a great fault. The Health Disciplines Board has been disciplined and has fallen into line.
The effect of that throughout the whole of the bureaucratic structure is, as I say, a cause of rejoicing, et cetera. I got a call this afternoon from Mr. Larry O’Brien, who acts as the liaison officer appointed by the Workmen’s Compensation Board, Ontario, to work closely with the Ombudsman’s office. Previously they were further apart from one another than we are across the floor of this House -- as one of my colleagues used to explain, the length of two sword blades; once in a while the swords nicked and the blood flowed.
Mr. O’Brien was appointed to heal the wounds and is functioning quite sensibly, in my opinion, in this particular regard in bringing about some levels of adjustment. He phoned me and said that the recommendations of the seventh report of the Ombudsman had been accepted by the board, carte blanche, across the board. I was going to spend some time this evening talking about those various recommendations. It seems that to spend any great time on them at all would be unnecessary.
I want to give great credit to the Minister of Labour of this province (Mr. Elgie), who is possibly the most intelligent Tory among them. You have to look hard and you have to look far and you have to parse quotations, but every once in a while --
Mr. Kerrio: The Minister of Labour is in trouble. When they start paying compliments, look out.
Mr. Eakins: There goes your leader.
Mr. Lawlor: Every once in a while he has shown, uniquely among ministers, an astuteness and a perception of what that office consists of and what is involved, come hell or high water. Even if rather questionable decisions are handed down it is wiser in the context of this office to bow one’s head and to be compliant, rather than kicking heels and being disruptive. The office will not function unless a very great deal of accord is given. This minister has shown the greatest openness in this regard, and the greatest receptivity and understanding of what it is all about of any of the ministers of the crown.
I say the load has grown easier precisely because of that. There will not be as many cases that will be rejected by the governmental agency as in the past. We didn’t sit this summer to the same length as we previously were obliged to do, and resolution of the issues that did come before us was infinitely easier. I think our report reflects this whole new attitude on the part of the whole group of governmental agencies.
So I want to give thanks all around. It is not very often one can stand in this House and celebrate and say that a general rain of blessings is falling on our heads and that a committee of this House may very well end up with very little to do. That has never been heard of before in human history, it usually expands.
I don’t want to get into a debate. At least, I don’t want to get into anything acrimonious with the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) although he fairly deserves it -- and the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) took off on him a bit this afternoon, much to his cleansing and total maturity as an Attorney General -- with respect to the role he has played over the Ombudsman of this province. He has taken an intransigent and hard-line position with respect to that office. If he could talk to a fellow lawyer, such as the Minister of Labour, it is conceivable he might be straightened out as to the position, but he takes the position that only as legislation or resolutions pass through the government and are introduced in the usual formal way in this House, is the position of the Ombudsman to be accepted.
The committee has replied to the Attorney General and it says: “The weight in law that an order of the Legislature adopting a select committee report and recommendation is in the committee’s opinion not the critical issue in the discussion. That critical issue is best expressed by the Attorney General in a letter to the chairman of this committee, dated July 4, 1979” -- my Lord, George Washington comes to town -- “as to what is the best way to implement recommendations of the Ombudsman and the select committee.”
That is the only question, namely what is the best way to do that. The Ombudsman has no sanction. The Ombudsman must be given some sanction, some way to make his position and his recommendations have effect and to make his office mean something. A court lacking sanction is an eviscerated court, it is useless.
The committee says: “Certainly, discussion should not be centred upon the possible consequences of a failure or refusal to implement such recommendations, but upon the best way the government organizations affected thereby are to implement the recommendations.”
We say on the next page: “Certainly any governmental organization which embarks on a technical word game with respect to the legal effect of the legislative action is demonstrating a profound disrespect for both the concept of the Ombudsman in the province of Ontario and the Legislative Assembly.” That is the position the committee has taken.
There are more specific matters that should be adverted to within the report. Not all members have an opportunity -- they have the opportunity but have not the time or possibly even the inclination -- to peruse the report with the scrutiny and analytical care that it deserves.
We never mention names in our committee; the names are always deleted. But in this instance I think it is out in the open, and that is with respect to Dr. MacDonald and his quarrel with the Ministry of Health, et cetera, about the constitution of the Ontario Council of Health -- that committee set up by the minister in order to give some cognizance to doctors who are excluded from hospitals and have not been accorded access by these hospitals.
The constitution of that was condemned, certainly placed under severe scrutiny by the Globe and Mail and other commentators on public affairs in this province as possibly being biased and not having the range and openness to the plight of the doctor who cannot gain hospital accreditation. It is a real problem and we have been promised many things.
I see the Minister of Health has left and apparently doesn’t wish to make any comment as to any present developments that have taken place in that area. I think that’s partially regrettable. I would have liked to have heard further from him because at page five of our report we say, “The representative further described in some detail” -- this is the representative sent to our committee from the ministry -- “the inquiries made of the Ontario Council of Health by the honourable minister set out in a letter forwarded to the council on June 25.” One is not sure exactly what has been done arising out of that understanding or commitment made by the ministry in order to have the council of health look over this whole matter.
The statement the minister made to the House is: “Nevertheless, what I propose to do is to obtain a comprehensive review or information as to what systems of medical health staff appointments prevail in other jurisdictions. I intend to get this from the Ontario Council of Health. I will ask them to do a review. I believe such information would be of great assistance in formulating an appropriate approach to resolving this problem identified by the Ombudsman.”
As the thing stood at the time of this report, it is not clear as to what steps the ministry has taken, if any, in this particular regard. There are numerous people out there, apart from the good doctor, who are severely afflicted by this particular situation.
By the way, pausing in mid-flight, one of the things he brought before us bothered me quite a bit. Certain doctors are given the privileged position of being insiders. They have operating rights inside the hospitals. Of course that gives them a highly privileged status vis-à-vis patients. Patients will come to them because they can gain access to hospital beds in an easier fashion.
Having done so, and being on the staff of the hospital and being there part time et cetera, they raise their fees over and above OHIP precisely because they have been accorded a privilege to exist in an institution which is denied to their fellow practitioners. I mean, one can’t play the game in a double way. One can’t take advantage and then add a premium on to the demands. This is what has happened in this area.
This is an area where the Minister of Health could cut back on the OHIP situation. One way is the process of reviewing internal accreditation and what it means. If a doctor wants to belong to a hospital staff he is given accord. That’s a grant through the hospital boards, et cetera, and in effect, is recognized by the government. Then they must give accord to what the government believes is the best operative principle in the payments derived therefrom. The area of greatest difficulty for this committee throughout has been the Workmen’s Compensation Board. We have more Workmen’s Compensation Board cases than anything else. We had seven in the most recent hearings. As I say, they have all been resolved in line with what the Ombudsman requested.
It’s a curious thing on this as a point; we don’t always agree with the Ombudsman in our committee. There are circumstances and conditions in which we take issue with him. The committee does not consider itself a rubber stamp. It will go a very great length to support the Ombudsman of this province but we are not stooges. We are independently minded people and we have our own integrity. When we think perhaps even the Ombudsman possibly has fluttered a bit -- his eyebrows have gone down -- we say so, and we think it’s salutary for the Ombudsman to have this particular independence.
No one is infallible, not even us, and in this context, it does give an added fillip to the operation of that Ombudsman and to the fact we come before this House, our colleagues, saying we do give it good scrutiny. We have to make up our own minds and we do it. Bless it, this committee wouldn’t work otherwise. We do it unanimously. On no occasion of which I know, has any member of the committee broken ranks, while I have been on it, in any event. Previously, I think they may have over that Pickering issue.
I want to refer to one of these cases where we just couldn’t bring ourselves into accord with the Ombudsman and tell you the reasons. It was a case having to do with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities where a Canadian citizen was abroad and lost certain grants or rights and so on. In order to restore those grants and rights, a retroactive feature would have had to be written into the legislation. We couldn’t agree that in order to make these grants, retroactivity ought to be written. One shies away from retroactive legislation for well-known reasons which I won’t go into, but it can be upsetting.
We go on and say: “Beyond that, in the second place and in any event of whether or not the statute permitted retroactive regulations, the committee is not prepared to support the Ombudsman’s recommendation in this ease, since it would in all probability result in an unnecessary burden to the taxpayers of the province of Ontario. The committee was advised that the ministry did not, for the years in question, budget for any applications which would be approved under this successful regulation. Any moneys therefore necessary to fund this change of policy would have to come from current revenue sources.”
Finally, we wound up our remarks on it with: “In the committee’s opinion, the hardships and adverse effects of enacting such retroactive regulations far outweigh the benefits that might accrue to a relatively few number of residents in the province of Ontario who have had the opportunity of attending post-secondary academic institutions in this province.”
It was a question of having regard to certain benefits conferred upon a very narrow segment over against the tax revenues and the effect it would have upon the ministry itself and its current budgetary position. In other words, economic and moral considerations seemed to us to have outweighed the recommendation itself, and that is the basis upon which we operated.
I want to mention just for a moment the most infamous, trying, lamentable, wretched situation that at present exists in this province as a specific issue, and which has been hanging around for an awfully long time. That’s the Pickering business. That is unresolved. And it is not only not resolved, it is probably back at square one, before all kinds of machinations and manoeuvres court-wise and otherwise, taken by any number of people in the process.
The committee has tried to offer its good offices on both sides. It sat down and had talks with representatives from Housing and representatives from the Ombudsman’s office, in order to seek a resolution of this particular situation. We have strained and done everything in our power in order, as we see it, to bring the heads together and resolve this thing. It is running into millions of dollars in lawyers’ fees which the government and the Ministry of Housing agreed to pay at one time, but have issued an edict of recent date that they will not pay. I think it was after September 12 or so this year they indicated they wouldn’t pay another dime to any lawyer on these prolonged negotiations.
Mr. Hoilett, who is in the Ombudsman’s office, was given a particular task to interview and listen to legal argument from counsel touching on land holders, et cetera. That has gone on for a very long time indeed, and we are discontented with the prolongation of that.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member has one minute.
Mr. Lawlor: I understand they were terminated just this week. We were trusting that some kind of report would be forthcoming, because apparently nobody wants to talk to anybody about the report. I don’t think the report is going to solve a damned thing.
Apart from that, I hope some of my colleagues mention the rules we have drawn up. There are eight of them. Those rules become law if they are passed by this House at the end of this debate.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other member wish to engage in debate? The honourable member for St. George.
Mr. Lawlor: A point of order: Was there a time limit on that?
Mr Speaker: Yes. Twenty-two minutes for each speaker, or for each party.
Mr. Lawlor: I see. My time is eternity, Mr. Speaker. That’s why I wear a watch.
Mr. Speaker: If anybody else wants to avail himself of the opportunity to engage in the debate, he has an opportunity to do so.
Mr. Lawlor: A point of order: I am informed that you are under a misapprehension, with respect, Mr. Speaker. This debate need not be terminated tonight. It may go on, and there isn’t any time limitation to speak and there is no agreement with our House leader to so terminate. It is not the same as the debate previous.
Mr. Speaker: If that was your understanding, I think you had a responsibility to say so because the chief government whip got up and said that certain arrangements had been entered into; certain agreements had been made. There were nods of assent on both sides of the House, and neither the presiding officers nor the table were privy to those. When the honourable government whip said what the agreement was, everybody seemed to assent, and I assumed there was unanimous agreement and accord. If it is any different from that, I would like to hear about it. I am in the hands of the House. I wasn’t a party to the agreement.
Mr. Lawlor: With respect, you are the last person in the world I want to debate with tonight. With that in mind, I am going out to try to find my House leader and get him to do the arguing. Okay? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. M. N. Davison: As chairman of the NDP caucus, when the matter was brought to caucus this morning we were informed there was no agreement among the House leaders that this debate had to be finished this evening. If it was finished, fine; if not, it would simply continue over to a subsequent Thursday evening or some other time that the House had occasion to deal with it. That was certainly the agreement or position put before our caucus by our House leader.
If there was some different arrangement interpreted by the government House leader or by the Liberal House leader, I am completely unaware of it and so is my caucus.
Mr. Speaker: We seem to have an accord of a different nature. Of course, this one is much more immediate than the one articulated by the honourable member just rushing in. Do you have anything substantive to contribute to this debate?
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, it’s my understanding that, at the House leaders’ meeting at noon, it was agreed there would be a vote on the report on the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. This debate would continue until 10:15, when it would adjourn to hold the vote on the Lakeshore report; then this debate would resume until 10:30, and at that point it would be adjourned for further debate in the future.
Mr. Speaker: With that understanding, I’ll recognize the member for Lakeshore again.
Mr. Lawlor: Thank you very much. Rest yourself until 10:30, Mr. Speaker. No, I haven’t very much more to say.
Mr. Lawlor: Don’t rejoice; I have a vengeful heart. There are ways of curing people of that disease.
Before I sat down, I was talking about the rules. The provision made under section 10 of the Ombudsman Act is -- and we are told within our terms of reference -- that it’s feasible to draw rules for the guidance of the Office of the Ombudsman. We set forth some of those rules in our sixth report, and now in the seventh report we present them to the House in a formal way and say these rules should be adopted.
If the rules are adopted by the House, under the Ombudsman Act they become regulations ipso facto. The House should be aware that regulations are law as much as anything else and no doubt will be entered in the Gazette and will have to be abided by.
There’s nothing horrendous about this initial set of guidelines for the Office of the Ombudsman. One of them has to do with the annual report of that body. Three of them have to do with confidentiality within the Office of the Ombudsman. Anyone interested can look at these rules of confidentiality on pages 32 and 33 of our report.
Then we give some guidance to the Ombudsman with respect to notices and who should be informed as a result of anyone being adversely affected during the Ombudsman’s investigations so that no one is unfairly dealt with and does not have an opportunity, by person or counsel, to make representation to the Office of the Ombudsman in his own defence or otherwise.
There is another rule, which has been followed for some time now because the committee raised strictures at earlier times about this; that is the business of having completed the 19(3) notices to the ministry et cetera. Under section 22(3) of the act, it is stated:
“Where he does not get an answer that is either adequate or appropriate and if he wishes the matter ultimately to be resolved to seek support for his recommendation in the Legislature, the report under 22(3) shall be referred to the Premier before it is referred to the Legislature -- .” I want to pause over that issue.
Innumerable reports now -- I suppose they’re numerable if one wanted to do it; I would say probably 50 or so -- have gone, after rejection by the ministry involved, to the Premier (Mr. Davis). I think the Premier of the province has some kind of responsibility in this regard. He cannot give a stereotyped letter returned to the Ombudsman in the same terms and wording in every instance; I think he should vary the wording.
If he’s going to say no -- he always says no, and that’s what I object to -- I think his office has some responsibility to give good assessment to the fact that a minister of the crown has rejected or is not prepared to comply with the Ombudsman’s recommendation. I think the Premier at some point should set forth his reasons for saying no, instead of acting as though he had no role to play in the whole legislative setup. It is not sent to the Premier for fun but that seems to be the only purpose it is having at the present time; I don’t think it’s particularly funny.
With that in mind, I would ask that the government consider giving good attention to letters that come to the Premier, and that on occasion he answer them and give some credence to the Office of the Ombudsman by affirming it against his own ministers. True, he would have to consult with them in advance, that would only be the courteous thing to do; but he need not always and as a matter of rule perform his task as he is at present doing it, I think that is very questionable.
Those are the kinds of things we have set up in the rules. I hope very sincerely that the House will give credence to them.
The Ombudsman has indicated to us that he is going to give only annual reports in future. Up to now he has been giving them biannually and our committee has met in the winter and in the summer in order to consider them. While there will be only one annual overall report, he wishes to submit interim reports on specific issues that particularly bother him.
The committee believes that is a very good measure. If that is the case, if the Ombudsman submits an interim report on some difficulty or some log jam in some ministry tomorrow afternoon, our committee wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. We want to submit to this House, interim reports on the Ombudsman’s interim reports; we want to report on the report. Therefore, we are asking that this House, and it is in our report here as a recommendation, permit the committee to sit concurrently with the House in the event such an interim report comes to our attention through the Speaker of this I assembly; that would be very valuable to the committee.
I’m told my time is up.
Mrs. Campbell: No, keep going. There’s lots of time. It is up at 10:15.
Mr. Lawlor: In any event, I want to thank the House for the degree of decency and acceptance it has shown. On the previous occasion when we stood here, on a June night, in order to ask for the adoption of our report, we encountered no log jams and were able to reach an overall accord. I think what has flowed from that has been highly beneficial to everybody concerned in this province, and that office has finally taken on some stature.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I had anticipated the remarks of the member for St. George in advance of my own. I gather the work of the House is carried on in clockwise fashion rather than counter-clockwise, and therefore I have stood up. I certainly appreciate the time being made available for this debate.
Initially when time was rationed, I thought maybe it was just a matter of carrying out one of Parkinson’s laws. Mr. Speaker, being a student of Parkinson, I know you appreciate that one of his laws is, work expands to fill the time available for its completion. It wasn’t a matter of filling time, in my estimation.
Mr. Kerrio: It’s taken two years, Jim. It breaks all the bounds.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I beg your pardon?
Mr. Kerrio: It breaks loose the bounds.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Break loose the bounds. Right.
I certainly welcome this opportunity to make some comments in regard to the Ombudsman’s report, if for no other reason than that I am a member of that committee who participated in all the discussions, which ultimately manifested themselves in the report before the House this evening.
I wasn’t always a member of that committee and probably I didn’t always have the same sympathies as I do now with the Office of the Ombudsman and the subject matter of that report. I know this isn’t the confessional, but sometimes in the middle of the night I wondered whether an Ombudsman was actually necessary, visualizing my role as really an Ombudsman for the people of my riding.
I must confess that the more I’ve seen of the work of the Ombudsman and the clout that he has -- and Mr. Speaker knows, as I know, that it’s a legislative clout that members really don’t have. I say that in reference to the dealings of members of this assembly with the various ministries. There is a need for response from the ministry when you have a communication from the Ombudsman.
Mr. Kerrio: Are you talking about us or you?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I think that’s necessary. I know some members here feel they have infinite clout, and I don’t wish to demean or degrade them or take away any of the power that they visualize they have. But I think the Office of the Ombudsman itself commands a respect and a response that doesn’t necessarily emanate from individual members of this assembly.
It’s really with that perspective, and looking at the work of the Ombudsman, that I have evolved to a certain extent to become an advocate, a backer of the Ombudsman and the role he plays in the province. When I’m talking that way I look at the member for Lakeshore, who is the chairman of that committee. He has indicated an almost ecumenical feeling among the various political parties represented on that committee, and I wholly concur.
If there were a single committee of this assembly --
Mr. Kerrio: Is that Carter’s next job?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: -- that reflects a submersion of strictly political/philosophical views and looks at the merits of an issue, it’s the select committee on the Ombudsman. We don’t have the grandstanding or the political tyranny that sometimes takes place in other forums.
Mr. Lawlor: In caucus.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: We have a chairman who exudes a compassion for people -- and I mean that when I refer to the member for Lakeshore. He’s been referred to in this House as a philosopher; I can see the philosopher in the member for Lakeshore.
Mr. Mackenzie: Just call him a leprechaun.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: No, he’s not a leprechaun. I think he’s a philosopher. At times he’s a bit of Rousseau; at other times maybe a bit of Spinoza -- never Nietzsche. But I think he’s a person who sometimes says the heart has reasons which the mind will never understand.
Mr. Lawlor: Oh, your Pascal is --
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Maybe it’s that sensitivity and compassion for people that makes him so amenable to all political parties.
Mr. Kerrio: It might be a bit of the blarney.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I say that sincerely, because we haven’t had conflict as long as I have been a member of that committee. I was appointed a member of that committee in the dying days of the present Ombudsman’s predecessor. I don’t mean dying in the sense of demise, but in other perspectives than a change of officer filling that office.
I think Mr. Maloney had a role to play. He was a man of his time, and I think he did a job that had to be done. He organized that office and left an organization there to be filled by someone who perhaps had a little different perspective and feel for the job and people. He was dedicated to make that role a meaningful one and to make the Office of the Ombudsman work. I think he’s done that. The present Ombudsman has given a sense of dignity, grace and sensitivity to the office. He is a man of reason; a person who is practical in his outlook and appreciates the frailties of mankind.
Mr. Lawlor: Best of all, he saved money.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: With that particular Ombudsman in office at this time, we’re going to experience a response by the people of Ontario in a very positive way. It will be a response that will come to respect that there is some authority in this province that can cut through the red tape; that can cut through the bureaucratic jungle and get at the issues; that can seek and obtain resolution when they feel injured, or even incensed in some way. To me, that office is important if for no other reason than that there’s someone there that is not a computer. You can see, touch, feel and talk to that person and get some response.
I often get these cards through the mail, as some of the members do, that have holes in them and say, “Please do not punch, staple or fold.” I know they’re intended to go through a machine. But I have that burning desire to punch, staple and fill that card so full of holes they’ll never recognize it, just so somebody on the receiving end knows that a human being has received that card and is returning that card with a cheque, or whatever.
Mr. Mackenzie: I would never imagine the member to be a rebel.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I am not a rebel; I’m a humanist.
It’s that person who is above government -- in a way responsible, but nevertheless above government -- who is so important in a system so complicated and often confused as we experience daily. It is with that perspective that I compliment the person and the personality of the present Ombudsman.
We as a committee have had nothing but co-operation and understanding, a sense of responsibility and, I think, a person who exudes a willingness to ensure that the respect for that office is paramount. I haven’t come very far in my remarks except to say that we have a very amenable chairman and an excellent Ombudsman. I do want to get on to some parts of the report.
I find it difficult as a member of the committee to take issue with the contents of that report. Maybe it’s for that reason that I welcome the ruling of this House that the debate will not be curtailed. There may be other members of all political parties who wish to take issue with the individual recommendations of our report. I say “our” as a member of that committee.
I don’t intend to take issue with the recommendations. I put my name to that report. In some cases it’s a compromise, but I think it’s a manifestation of the general will and spirit and good intention of the members of the committee and, in so far as it is that, it is a consensus. I think nothing constructive would be achieved by singling out particular recommendations that I as an individual might quarrel with.
I suppose one of the controversial, niggling issues has been the workings of the Workmen’s Compensation Board -- the number of cases that have come before the committee and, again in retrospect, the number of issues raised by decisions in that process. I look at the Workmen’s Compensation Act and I don’t feel any animosity towards the membership of that board, the commission, the chairman, the people working very hard to try to make the legislation function.
But it may be that we’ve reached a time in our history when we should be reviewing something other than the administrative function of that board. Maybe we shouldn’t be looking at the internal organization but seeing whether that board is really discharging the function that is relevant today.
Historically, the Workmen’s Compensation Board was a device to take disputes which would normally be processed through the courts of this province from those courts and to settle those in a more informal forum. Again, historically, Mr. Speaker -- and I know you are familiar with this -- an employee who was injured on the job had to sue his employer. Members should put themselves in that position. It’s an unhappy position to be in. Not only that, but one’s chances of success were small. Many years ago we didn’t have the doctrine of contributory negligence and the responsibilities in terms of the law that flowed from that. Negligence on the part of one’s fellow workmen could be a defence in a lawsuit against the employer.
The argument was raised that an employee assumed the risk of the work place. Again, that was a defence to that type of action. But the fact remained, and it remains today, that the workman was injured. He suffered. He wants to work, but he can’t work. He has a family to support and he has an obligation to perform. What is he going to do? So we refine the system.
Again, I look back in retrospect to the days before 1914 when the present act was first passed. It became functional in 1915. I look at the adversary system that this was intended to replace; yet I see today an adversary system as well. I see a system financed by the employers. I see a system that isn’t completely addressing the problems of workmen who cannot work, not because they refuse to work and not because they don’t want to work, but because they are victims in some way of circumstance or some other matter that prevents them from working. That affects their dignity.
They are not people who want to be recipients of welfare in the old-fashioned connotation of the word. A person who works all his life for a firm -- and some do for a single firm -- feels he has given something to that organization, and I think he has. There should be some mutuality and reciprocity on the part of these firms to say: “Look, we have had a well workman. It is not his fault that he has contracted some disability in the work place. It may be that disability cannot be related entirely to the job function that he undertook all those years.” Surely there must be some feeling on the part of the employer to say: “We have a responsibility here for that person as well. He is not just another commodity.”
Mr. Lawlor: You want capitalism with a human face. That’s unbelievable.
An hon. member: It always has been.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Don’t be redundant.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I am not going to be sidetracked, because I could debate that. I don’t want the member to become old-fashioned.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: He’s too old to be old-fashioned. He understands too many things.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: With that posture today of mutual responsibility and concern, which I see more and more --
Mr. Lawlor: I don’t.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I see it with the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) who sits so interestingly in front of me.
Mr. McClellan: Why is the minister laughing?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: He smiles because he knows that at times he is tormented by legislation.
Mr. Kerrio: He should be tormented.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: His big heart wants him to do things that he cannot legally do.
Mr. Mackenzie: Too many rednecks in his caucus.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: What I am coming to is to a suggestion that maybe it is time to review the Workmen’s Compensation Act in terms of its substance and not merely of its form or in regard to the administrative procedures within that organization, but to look at the whole individual.
A back problem that we often witness becomes a head problem because that person is so often tormented not only by the system, but by the pain that he can’t establish in a legalistic sense that gives him a right to support his family.
Some years ago there was a review of the welfare system. There were provincial-federal negotiations to devise a new Canada Assistance Plan on a national basis. My concern at that time was to look at the welfare of the individual, at the health of the individual. I thought a federal-provincial approach would include federal programs as well as provincial programs so we wouldn’t have the competition, the duplication and sometimes the overlaps and omissions when we are dealing with people. I was distressed because we didn’t look at matters such as the Workmen’s Compensation Board in regard to that overall review.
We are not talking about handouts. We are talking about people who want to work, who have been disabled in some way from working and yet have no redress except the welfare rolls. All these other pieces of legislation seem to be ignored. I think that review really didn’t contribute very much.
I know the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) was interested at that time, which was in 1975, and even before he was elected, preceding 1975.
Mr. McClellan: I’m still interested.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: There seems to be a competition amongst different levels of government. There seems to be some desire to see a person not as a human being, but as a subject matter to be processed within a particular system. The trouble is, it’s like that computer card: if it doesn’t fit, it ends up being rejected and being returned. One is walking back and forth without redress and it’s a question of survival.
Mr. Lawlor: You don’t even exist.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Again, I don’t want you to misinterpret what I am saying. I don’t want to say we have a Workmen’s Compensation Board that isn’t doing the job that was directed to be done by this Legislature in accordance with the legislation, because it is a difficult job. We’ve got into occupational diseases. There are causal connections that are difficult to establish in regard to a person’s health and the work place. It is an area that is just being investigated at this time, where we are learning. It may be we are overlooking the object of the exercise, which is the welfare of the worker himself, if we have any compassion. We talk about matters, maybe of religion. Earlier today, we heard about the Lord’s Prayer, and some of us think very carefully about that.
Mr. Bradley: Some don’t use it for political purposes either.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: We are our brother’s keeper. I think we have to be mindful of our brothers, as individuals and as human beings. I think we have to ensure the sensitivity in our legislative process so that person will be recognized as a human being and not bypassed because he doesn’t fit into a particular category.
I make those remarks again, because I feel it is probably time in our history to re-examine the function of the Workmen’s Compensation Board to see if it’s discharging the social obligation as well as the economic obligation of present-day society. I don’t know whether I have any support in that, but I hope I do because I think the time has come to review that.
I don’t want to get into individual matters further than the Workmen’s Compensation Board. I am ever mindful of the remarks of our chairman, the member for Lakeshore, who said that things are going so well that ultimately there may not even be a committee. I am not one to advocate the propagation or prolongation of committees. It struck me as a breath of fresh air to hear my friend from the Socialist party suggest that we actually dissolve a committee. I don’t think he really went that far. I think what he was saying was that, hopefully, the Ombudsman would be recognized in his rightful role, and his decisions so honoured by this assembly and the government, that any committee’s role in assisting the Ombudsman in that regard would be meaningless. I suppose in that context he thought that we might eventually and happily evict ourselves as members of the Ombudsman’s committee and that, therefore, it would disappear.
Mr. Lawlor: It’s not likely.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: When I think of that, it’s almost like a part of the Communist manifesto in terms of the evolution of government.
Mr. Lawlor: You might as well get rid of your chains along with the withering.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Things will run themselves and there won’t have to be any dictatorship of the proletariat. Seriously, I want to thank the chairman of the committee and the Ombudsman for the even-handed, fair-minded, open approach to this whole matter and to compliment both of those persons for the meaningful roles they are playing on that particular committee.
Mr. Speaker: We have three minutes before, as it was agreed, we will vote on the first item. Does anyone want to use those three minutes?
Mrs. Campbell: I don’t like to waste time, but it gives me great pleasure to enter into this debate. I think it is the first time that I can honestly say that. On other occasions, I have felt terribly frustrated as we debated the report of the committee on the Ombudsman.
I would like to pay tribute to the Minister of Labour because I think he gave great leadership, perhaps not just to the Workmen’s Compensation Board but to others on the ministerial side of the government of this province. I would also like to pay tribute to Mr. O’Brien of the Workmen’s Compensation Board because I believe that he too has caught the spirit of the minister’s concerns and the very real meaning and purpose of the committee.
I won’t be able even to quote from this report at any length prior to moving the adjournment of this debate. That is what I intended to do in referring to the still troublesome matter of Pickering. So I assume it would be appropriate at this point for me to move the adjournment of the debate to enable me at some time to get back to that report.
On motion by Mrs. Campbell, the debate was adjourned.
Mr. Speaker: By agreement, it was understood that I would put the question on the first item that was debated at eight o’clock tonight.
Mr. Lawlor: Sorry to interrupt, Mr. Speaker; on a point of order: I would like to put some concept of how we approach the motion you are about to put. We are going to be voting against it. It is the report of the committee of which we were a part.
We take this motion to mean that one is either for or against the closing of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. We think to vote for this motion would mean we want to vote for the closing of the hospital, and we intend to vote against it.
The House divided on Mr. Gaunt’s motion for the adoption of the report of the standing social development committee, dated June 19, 1979, re Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ashe, Baetz, Belanger, Blundy, Bradley, Brunelle, Campbell, Conway, Cureatz, Eakins, Elgie, Epp, Gregory, Grossman, Haggerty, Hall, Havrot, Hennessy, Hodgson, Johnson, J., Jones, Kerr, Kerrio, Leluk.
Maeck, Mancini, McCaffrey, McKessock, McNeil, Miller, G. I., Newman, W., Newman, B., Nixon, Norton, Parrott, Peterson, Ramsay, Rowe, Ruston, Smith, G. E., Snow, Taylor, J. A., Taylor, G., Timbrell, Van Horne, Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Wells, Wiseman, Worton, Yakabuski.
Bounsall, Breaugh, Bryden, Charlton, Davidson, M., Davison, M. N., Foulds, Gigantes, Grande, Isaacs, Johnston, R. F., Laughren, Lawlor, Lupusella, MacDonald, Mackenzie, Martel, McClellan, Philip, Renwick, Swart, Warner, Wildman, Young, Ziemba.
Ayes 52; nays 25.
The House adjourned at 10:31 p.m.