The House resumed at 8:03 p.m.
CONCURRENCE IN SUPPLY MINISTRY OF COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES (CONCLUDED)
Mr. Warner: I have two items, Mr. Speaker. I put in the plea again, as I have on several occasions, regarding the overcrowded library facilities at Scarborough College. The minister is painfully aware of the situation there. Her only answer to this point has been that the people of the community should continue to raise funds to pay for the books. Somehow, providing library space is not a responsibility of the government. The students have undertaken to carry out her responsibilities as best they can. Of course, the students who attend that college do not have the resources the government has, but none the less they have done their best.
The minister realizes those facilities are not adequate. They are not adequate now and, as expansion takes place at Scarborough College, they will be even less adequate. I make my plea again for the expanded library facilities, knowing full well the government doesn’t intend to do anything.
Second, I understand -- and I would appreciate being corrected if I’m wrong -- that the facilities for the science laboratory at Brock University remain in an unsuitable condition. I think it was 1976 when I visited there to see the faculty, and I saw the students trying to exist in a building that should have been condemned. It was an old converted dairy and it was not suitable. It was overcrowded. The building was on the verge of disintegrating, it appeared to me. The university had pressed very hard to get the needed funds, but at that time there was a capital freeze on.
They weren’t allowed to renovate it because the building wasn’t worthy of renovation. The municipal inspection officials indicated they would not allow a renovation because it was too dangerous a situation. They required a new building. I understand that condition still exists.
Shocking as it may be, apparently in thee years the government has done nothing. Absolutely nothing. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how the government could tolerate that kind of inadequate facility, but it apparently does. I don’t know how long it will take. Are they waiting for a disaster? Are they waiting for the building to collapse? Believe me, if the government waits long enough, it will collapse. And the government will do nothing.
Brock has been here; the president has been here. They came up and made a film. They have done everything they can think of to prod the conscience of the government about this building.
I have visited every college and university in this province, every single one. I have been to every campus. Nowhere have I ever seen a more dilapidated facility than the one at Brock. Yet this government adamantly refuses to do anything about it. I just don’t understand it. How can the government accept that?
What that condition at Brock speaks to is the general attitude of this government towards colleges and universities. It talks very nicely about what a great system we have, except when it is put to the test, and part of the test is that facility at Brock. The other part is research and development. If this government were committed to a college and university system, it would ensure that R and D for our industry was done in Ontario in those colleges and universities so that we were guaranteed objective and independent research and Canadian development for our industries.
But the government makes no such commitment. In fact, what we have now in 1979 is a worse situation than we had in 1975 with respect to research and development. We have less of a commitment today than we had four years ago. Research and development is disappearing, and yet the colleges and universities obviously are the place where it should be done, instead of leaving it to private industry or to American companies to do as they see fit. I’m afraid it’s a very sad commentary on this government and its commitment to a Canadian economy. There is no spirit of independence where the economy is concerned.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, in this debate I wish to raise a very serious concern, and I hope to get some kind of response from the minister as to what commitment, if any, she is making to the continuance and not only the survival, but also the expansion, of Algoma University College in Sault Ste. Marie. I understand representatives of the administration and of the faculty were to meet with the ministry today to discuss the future of the college. The announcement was made last week that five staff members would be laid off at the end of the year. Those individual teaching staff members designated for nonrenewal of their contracts have until December 29, to appeal that, so there may be some further discussion, but as of now there isn’t any indication individual members of that group will have grounds for appeal.
Both the minister, and I, and other members of the House, realize one of the problems we have in assuring the survival of Algoma University College as a separate institution to serve the post-secondary education needs of the community of Sault Ste. Marie and of Algoma district is in terms of enrolment. The enrolment has not been what was hoped for, and there are a number of reasons for that. Most Ontario universities have experienced drops in enrolment over the last couple of years. Since Algoma University College is one of the smallest of all Ontario institutions, the weaknesses and problems in the system are most likely to show at that institution first.
It is just the tip of the iceberg. What we are seeing at Algoma University College this year, and have seen over the last couple of years, in terms of problems of enrolment and financing is going to show up in other universities in the not-too-distant future unless something is done, unless there is a change by the ministry in how it views post-secondary education in Ontario and the provincial commitment to funding institutions that may not be able to maintain the kind of enrolment anticipated when there was an expansion of the system in the late 1950s and 1960s.
I would like to know what, if anything, the ministry is willing to do in terms of giving Algoma University College greater flexibility in courses it can provide for the community. Unless it can do that, unless it has more flexibility in its agreement with Laurentian, then it is going to have more difficult times in attracting and keeping students. If it can’t get more students, then it is going to have to cut even more staff, which will make it even more difficult to provide the kinds of courses it is now giving, much less expanding and giving greater variety of courses.
We have a snowball effect where we will have fewer students coming, so we will have to cut more staff which means less variety of courses and so on until we see the final demise of the university in Sault Ste. Marie. If it doesn’t survive, if it doesn’t make it now, we are never going to make it in terms of a post-secondary educational institution in the Sault. There is a need, if the college can provide the kinds of courses students want.
Because of the demand for things like business and science courses which the university college cannot provide, students from Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma district, who might choose courses in the college in their own community, are going elsewhere -- some are going to other universities in northern Ontario, but most of them are going to southern Ontario or in significant numbers to Lake Superior State College in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The minister knows that particular institution has done a great deal in trying to promote itself and to attract Canadian students. They have been given particular flexibility by the state to make it very attractive, in terms of tuition fees, for Canadian students to attend Lake Superior State, and that institution is doing very well and expanding.
There have been a number of suggestions for the future of Algoma University College involving agreements of some sort, even amalgamation with Lake Superior State, or some sort of University of Northern Ontario which works in all of the post-secondary educational institutions in the north, right from Nipissing College all the way to the small college in Hearst, and involving both the Lakehead University and Laurentian University, in providing the kinds of courses across the north which would attract students and make it less necessary for them to incur the tremendous expense and separation from their families of travelling to universities in southern Ontario.
Before we pass concurrence in these estimates, I’d appreciate it if the minister would give us some idea of what transpired at the meeting today with the college administration and faculty representatives. Would she give us some idea of what kind of flexibility the ministry is willing to provide to allow Algoma University College to give us a more varied program and to enable it to attract more students so that we can have a long-term development of a post-secondary educational institution like the college in Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma district?
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. After hearing the member for Sudbury (Mr. Germa) and the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) talk about two of the institutions in the north, I compared that to the opening statement of the goals and objectives presented to the justice committee by the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) just last week.
She stated in her opening statement that it’s one of the goals of this ministry -- indeed, one of the goals that this ministry has accomplished -- that we have equal opportunity and equal access to post-secondary education in this province. She was proud to make that statement in her goals and objectives.
I would say that, by starving Laurentian University and by starving Algoma University College, she is creating more of an inequity than already existed between the north and the south, and between working-class students and students from rich and professional families. Those students have never been equally represented in our post-secondary institutions. This government has demonstrated, both in the estimates that just took place and in the Bill 19 hearings, that it has no idea and no plans and no strategy on how to accomplish equal accessibility for all students in this province.
A good example is the native studies program at Trent University for which that university has been attempting to get funding from this government and from the former Liberal federal government in Ottawa. Both of them keep passing the buck so that program, while it was in place last year, was going to be going out of operation because of a lack of funding. It may not have gone out of operation yet, but they don’t have continuing funding and they don’t have a long-term future unless one of the governments commits itself to it. That program was an excellent example -- one of the few examples -- of how a university was working to get certain types of students who are not adequately represented in our institutions into the university system.
The minister talked a while ago and she said the university students from Sudbury do not patronize Laurentian; they go to Windsor, to the University of Toronto, or to various other institutions. The fact of the matter is that the minister, as she usually does, completely forgot about part-time students, who in large measure are adult, working-class students who are attempting to upgrade themselves. If Laurentian University or Algoma University College went out of business, they could not travel on a nightly basis to the University of Toronto.
I think the minister understands that. But she certainly doesn’t indicate any commitment at all to part-time studies in this province as a way of creating equal access for adult students.
I am still waiting for a response from the minister to the P. S. Ross report. That was promised in November and, as the minister has said on several occasions, she has great difficulty meeting deadlines. We in the Legislature all know that. I assume if she doesn’t make a statement this week -- and I hope she will indicate tonight whether she will be -- that she will be making another very important statement on universities and colleges when the Legislature is not sitting, which is very typical of this minister. It doesn’t give the opposition parties the opportunity to respond immediately in question period and to question the wisdom or lack of wisdom of government policy decisions.
Another thing is Ryerson. We have raised the matter in the House during question period; we have raised it during the estimates that just took place. I hope the minister will also indicate tonight that she will be able to respond to the Ryerson problem before the House rises. We have been waiting for a couple of years now. She has used the excuse that she couldn’t respond because she is a new minister and the problem only came to her attention at the beginning of this year. We know the former minister was dealing with it, but this government does not seem to be able to react to even a relatively simple, straightforward problem. Ryerson has presented its case, yet this government does not respond.
Finally I want the minister to state clearly tonight how she reacts to the advertising programs some of the universities are putting on. I believe the type of funding this government provides and the method of distributing funding result in a waste of money. Look at the University of Guelph advertising program, where they use jingles and disco music and radio ads to sell their university. If the minister created a funding program that recognized basic needs and had some degree of flexibility and reacted to enrolment, then she could take out some of that competition and have universities work cooperatively and design their programs to meet the needs of society rather than just trying to attract bodies.
I hope the minister will respond. I am not particularly hopeful she will. She didn’t do so during the estimates.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I did so. You weren’t there. You weren’t there all the time.
Mr. Cooke: The minister can say she responded.
Hon. Mr. Norton: You don’t like competition anywhere, any time, and you know it. That’s a matter of principle with you.
Mr. Cooke: At least we have some principles over here. That is more than I can say for the minister and the government.
The only way the minister responded during estimates was to give a 160-page opening statement on Education and a 101-page opening statement on Colleges and Universities. The only reason she gave that kind of an opening statement was that she hadn’t familiarized herself with the ministry yet; so her bureaucrats write her this big statement, and she knows what is going on with her ministry, because she hasn’t had a chance to read anything.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) made a statement about reports from the Council of Regents regarding the information that was made available. The reports I receive on recommendations from the Council of Regents are made public, and they are made public in exactly the same form that I receive them. There are, to my knowledge at this point, few other studies that have been done which have not been reported, but I shall certainly ensure, when a study is done that relates to the community colleges, that it is made public as soon as we have had an opportunity to look at it.
The other area that has been raised by two or three people is the area of the polytechnics. We have an interesting situation in Ontario where, as the member for Kitchener-Wilmot suggests, there are certain aspects of the polytechnical educational field which are met by certain of our universities, certain aspects which are met by our community colleges, and we have in Ryerson an institution which combines many of those aspects into one institution in a rather interesting way.
Ryerson has been compared to polytechnical institutions in other jurisdictions as part of an argument to modify the funding process for Ryerson. On careful examination one would note that indeed Ryerson does not fit the example of a polytechnical institution, either in Great Britain or in the United States. I think we have to consider Ryerson to be a relatively unique institution; not exactly an international polytechnic but an Ontario polytechnical institution that really can’t be compared very readily with many other institutions.
As a result of the request made by Ryerson, as the honourable members know, the Ontario Council on University Affairs has been examining a good deal of information, supplied to the council through me, for examination of the funding mechanism for Ryerson. I’m happy that OCUA has completed its deliberations in this area and has provided me with a report on which I shall be reporting, publicly and to the House, probably by the end of this week, regarding modifications to Ryerson’s funding. But in addition, Ryerson’s request for additional accommodation for its architectural school has in fact been met within the last several months, and I think that will solve some of the space problems which Ryerson seems to be facing.
Laurentian University was raised by the member for Sudbury East -- Walter by name, the goatkeeper.
Mr Martel: They are your goats, you funded them.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: When the honourable member suggests that the provincial government funded, they were funded on the basis that we thought several rather senior members of that steering committee would have the capacity to ensure that the investment was made appropriately. Perhaps it was, but it was an interesting little development which occurred. The only question I’m asking at the moment is where are the goats? I’m not sure whether anybody has been able to find them at this point.
Mr. Martel: In Minaki; we sent them all up to Minaki.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I think Laurentian University, Algoma, College de Hearst and Nipissing, plus Lakehead, are very important institutions for the province of Ontario. One of the difficulties that has occurred in the past is that we have tended to look at the development of northern universities in the same light as we would universities for southern Ontario.
I’m not at all sure that that should be done. I’m not at all sure that the traditional structure, the traditional makeup of a university which relates to a fairly heavily populated area, is entirely appropriate for northern Ontario. I have asked on several occasions whether we should examine, or whether the university system itself, particularly the institutions themselves, might not examine their structure and roles to ensure their increasing relevance to the area of the province they are designed to serve.
Because of the concern about the need for these institutions in a post-secondary sense in northern Ontario, very specific and deliberate action has been taken to provide funding which is a good deal more significant for the northern universities, particularly for Laurentian and Algoma and College de Hearst. Indeed although Algoma has had a fairly significant decline in enrolment, as have many other institutions -- however Algoma’s decline between 1972 and 1978 was something of the order of 27 per cent -- even so grants to Algoma increased by 68 per cent over the same period of time.
I think that really demonstrates that the provincial government has had very real concern for the continuing existence of those universities.
But existence and viability may be two different things, and the continuing viability of those institutions can be met only if the people within that community have a feeling of security about the quality of the institution and the capability of that institution to meet their needs.
For example, when I looked at the members of this year’s graduating classes from Sault Ste. Marie who went to other universities to take courses they could have taken at Algoma, I found that 216 of them came to southern universities at a time when they could have been taking courses at Algoma University College which would have filled the needs as they perceived them, apparently, at least in terms of the choices they made. Given that situation one has just a little bit of concern whether that viability can continue.
Mr. Warner: You’re attacking the college.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: There must be a commitment on the part of the local community and the students, and there must be an examination by that institution of its role related to its community and to its region in order to ensure it is meeting the needs of that region appropriately.
The suggestion was raised, as well, about part-time students. There is no doubt in my mind this is an area universities are now beginning to recognize as one of the most important functions they serve. It has taken many years for this realization to dawn, but the significant decrease in numbers of students at the immediate post-secondary level has borne the message home rather more vigorously than it has ever been borne before. It is particularly important that those universities away from very large urban areas have the capability to provide part-time courses in order to meet the needs of local people. They must have, however, a base on which to provide that part-time capability, and it is in that light I have asked both Laurentian and Algoma, as well as others, to examine their roles and their structures and to come up with modifications which would ensure they continue to be vigorous, viable institutions.
There was a question raised about Scarborough College library. If the honourable member had bothered to come to the estimates, he would have found that the ministry has made a proposal to the University of Toronto, which the university is considering, in terms of improving the library facilities at Scarborough. I am awaiting response to that suggestion.
Mr. Martel: You never told us.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I didn’t tell members the details of it because it is a proposal made to the university. Since it is the university’s decision about the priority list it establishes for capital construction, we really must abide by the decision it makes.
The science capacity at Brock University is another matter under consideration at this point. Modifications to a plan which was submitted are in the process of being done for resubmission to the ministry.
The capacity of universities to do research is recognized in the basic funding mechanism established within Ontario. One third of the funding is provided for the purpose of basic research at the universities. That one third is specifically directed, one would hope, towards research capacity at the universities; but the universities are autonomous and they do make the decisions about the ways they spend the money made available to them.
Accessibility to university is a matter on which the members of the social policy committee spent a good deal of time. It is a matter we have discussed at some length with the Ontario Federation of Students. At present the federation and the ministry staff are attempting to develop a protocol which would allow us to do the kind of research study the federation feels would be appropriate in determining that our accessibility rate is not in any way negated within Ontario.
I would be delighted to tell the honourable members who were not in the estimates committee, however, that the constant cry by the members of the third party that we should eliminate all university fees as a method of increasing accessibility is not borne out by statistics which the members for Kitchener-Wilmot and Windsor-Riverside have looked at --
Mr. Wildman: Those statistics were developed for your own purposes.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I would like the honourable member to withdraw that remark. Those statistics were drawn from an international journal of great repute. They were not in any way modified.
What these statistics demonstrate is that the participation rate of students from the lower socio-economic stratum of society in Great Britain and Sweden is less than it is in Ontario where there are fees. In Sweden there are no fees and in Great Britain there are very minimal fees.
Accessibility to universities is certainly one of the goals and objectives of this government. We are attempting, through the Ontario Student Assistance Program, to ensure that that accessibility, particularly for students from the lower income groups, will be maintained.
I never cease to be amazed at the concept of the members of the third party that they have some monopoly on concern for the people of this province. I would like them to be aware of the fact that members of my caucus and the members of this government are at least as concerned, if not more concerned because we have no ideological axe to grind in proposing that we increase the accessibility and provide support for our universities, it is simply that we know that those institutions are vital to the future of this province.
Resolution concurred in.
MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to speak in this concurrence debate. A great deal of what I will be saying has already been covered earlier in these estimates in a more full and detailed way, but I would like to bring up the one thing I am hearing more frequently than anything else these days, and that is the insufficient amount of family benefits.
The level of family benefits is proving to be absolutely inadequate in today’s inflated society. I don’t know how these people are managing. If the amount was a justified amount last year, it certainly must be totally inadequate for their needs today. They must be living very close to the poverty line. I believe this is an area where the ministry should be looking at some increase for these people at this time.
Another matter that has been brought to my attention is that a number of single mothers on mothers’ allowance apparently are often not paying their rent. I have been approached by a landlord in the Sarnia-Lambton area who tells me that about 70 landlords have tenants of this type in their apartment buildings. I have a meeting set up with these people to hear their problems during the Christmas recess.
As I understand it, when a person stops paying her rent the Ministry of Community and Social Services deducts that amount or holds back the rental portion of her allowance, but the landlord gets nothing. If he has to go ahead and take action to have the person evicted, this is a very costly matter, and of course is very poor public relations for him.
I believe there should be some way in which that portion of their income which is attributable to rent, which is usually not as high as the actual rent is anyway, could be in some way paid to the landlord.
The next problem I am hearing about is the municipal welfare budget. A number of municipal welfare departments are indicating they are overspent, or will be substantially over-spent by the end of the year. I believe this is the case in my own particular municipality.
It is difficult for these people. The municipal council has budgeted and now is finding itself, in some cases with substantial deficits because of the proportion of the welfare budget having to be paid by the municipalities.
The next item I would like to speak on is children’s services in Ontario. Over the past two years children’s services have been seriously affected by the reduction in budgets caused by the ministry. The ministry says it hasn’t reduced the budgets and that they actually increased them. However, the increases are nowhere sufficient to meet the increased costs as well as, and this is the important part, the increased demands for their services.
Another problem I have seen in this is the closing of beds in institutions, such as correctional schools, training schools and so forth. What happens when these beds are closed? These children come back into the community. Some of them to live with their parents, some to live with foster parents and so forth, but they go into the school system and there they are proving to be a problem and a disruption in the classes and to other people. The minister must have known this would happen, yet there doesn’t seem to be any provision made for looking after this type of child coming back to live in the community and having to go through the school system.
We have seen many children with emotional problems who have had to wait months to get into an institution where those emotional problems could be assessed and hopefully corrected.
These are some of the things we have seen happen in our children’s services in Ontario.
I would also point out that this year has been somewhat of a horror story for children’s aid societies. This is occurring throughout the province. Of the 51 children’s aid societies I believe about 30 are asking for a review of their budgets, have had a review or have a review under way. About a dozen municipalities have asked for a review from another viewpoint, of course.
Obviously, the handling of the children’s aid societies in Ontario over this past year has really been a bad scene. It is no wonder that we are seeing the problems arising in many CASs in Ontario. I’m not just speaking about Algoma and the Niagara group; every children’s aid society we have had the opportunity to speak to has found it has had less money to operate with, greater demand for its services, increased work load because of child abuse legislation and so forth.
The minister will say, and he’s correct of course, that there have been the increases which he has pointed out But obviously these increases have not been sufficient to handle the work load that is now apparent in the various children’s aid societies in Ontario.
What is going to happen next year? I hate to think about it, because all the problems and difficulties with which these people have been faced in 1979 are going to be there in 1980, and probably in greater amounts with the continuing breakdown of the family unit within the province, with the number of single-parent families, and of course with the increasing unemployment and inflation in the province. I would say the minister is going to have to look at this very closely. Hopefully there will be a more supportive assistance in the provincial contribution to the children’s aid societies of Ontario.
The final thing I want to mention is the support for the elderly in Ontario. I was reading last week’s papers this weekend and saw an article which stated that the North Lambton Rest Home was having great difficulty. They have a deficit of $60,000 according to the administrator, and if this isn’t looked at and attended to, if they do not receive money from the ministry to assist them, they are going to have to cut back very substantially in services.
This home, which is not in my riding but in my neighbouring riding, is a home for aged, handicapped and seriously impaired people. The Twilight Haven Home in Petrolia, partly used by Sarnia, is having the same problem. This is all at a time when there are more and more elderly in our area and when there are more and more cutbacks. There are no more nursing home beds in our area of late, and there have been the cutbacks in hospitals.
This is really a problem that has to be addressed. The minister will say we have to cut back and we have to do this and so forth; but we do have some responsibility to the elderly and the chronically ill. These are just two outstanding instances.
I would like to say a few words about the recent series in the Toronto Star on the single elderly woman living alone in Toronto in what appears to be almost abject poverty. The minister will say that was just a lot of journalism drawing on sympathetic readers, but there are a lot of people living like that and it can’t be discounted.
The minister must know, even better than I, the problems of single elderly people living in the community. In my own community I am sure there are many.
I recently had a lady who was living in a basement on Penrose Street in Sarnia. There was a sink in the basement, but there was no bath, no toilet -- nothing. She had to walk to the second floor. This is living in a basement. It had brick walls, just like an old brick basement.
Finally, I recently got her into a senior citizen’s apartment. My wife and I dropped around to see her and she ran to the door and threw her arms around both of us. My wife said, “My gosh, what is this?” The woman said she was almost living a new life again.
There is a case in my own riding where a woman was living in conditions none of us would condone. This was highlighted in the recent series in the Toronto Star. I know the minister will say it was exaggerated and it was presented as worse than it is; but it is obviously there and it is a problem that will have to be addressed by this government.
With those few comments, I hope the minister will be able to address some of those matters, but particularly that his ministry will be making plans to alleviate these problems we see in our communities today.
Mr. McClellan: When we started the concurrence debate earlier in the week, and I am not sure whether it was you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, or Mr. Speaker himself, one of you incorrectly introduced the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations as the Minister of Community and Social Services. The incumbent Minister of Community and Social Services concurred with the designation and submitted to me his letter of resignation. I just want to assure the minister that I don’t intend to accept his letter of resignation. I think it is only appropriate that he continue to stew in the problems he himself has created with his so-called reforms over the past number of years. I can’t think of a more appropriate punishment for him than having to remain in his present position to watch the gradual unravelling of his rhetorical promises and unfulfilled commitments which have been coming forth since 1976, but which have yet to be achieved or implemented.
I don’t intend to cover ground that was covered during the estimates debates, but there are some, if you will, cleanup items I would like some response to, at least to let the minister know I don’t intend to allow these matters we raised in estimates to vanish into the air. We are still enormously concerned.
The first and foremost of these has to be the disposition of the case illustrations of disturbed children who have been unable to get treatment, whose plight was documented in the report of the five children’s aid societies from the central Ontario region. In late October, I asked the minister to give his personal commitment to treatment for each and every one of the children whose plight had been identified. The cases were anonymous, but they were, real cases; they were real children who had been denied the appropriate treatment. I asked the minister to indicate it to us as quickly as a treatment program had been found for each and every one of those children, and I still haven’t had word back from the ministry as to whether that has been done. I would like some indication tonight from the ministry as to what progress has been made in meeting the treatment needs of those children whose situations were identified in the report.
Secondly, of course, we want a progress report with respect to the problems that were identified in the five society reports. I remind you, Mr. Speaker, one of the most pressing problems was simply the fact that this ministry, for reasons known only to itself, decided to close some 150 residential treatment beds in the central region at a time when it was also closing training schools. It had not put into place alternative points of treatment to meet the needs of children who were no longer being directed to training schools and, in fact, it reduced the availability of residential treatment beds in the central region so that it created a worse problem than existed before its so-called reforms were initiated.
The minister continues to express the most benign kind of optimism about the direction he is taking and about the success of his reforms, but it is an optimism that seems to be peculiar to him. It is not an optimism shared by people who are trying to provide service, whether they are in the children’s aid society or in the network of children’s mental health centres or in the juvenile correction system or, indeed, in any part of the social service delivery system. There is no sense of optimism. There is no sense of creative reform in this province in children’s services. There is a sense of great despair. There is a sense of profound apprehension. There is a sense that this ministry is incapable of fulfilling its promises and incapable of implementing reform. The priority is not reform; the priority is cutbacks.
I use the word “cutback” in the sense that the minister is squeezing the blood out of the treatment system by holding budgets below the level of inflation. He can play nice little word games, saying a five per cent increase isn’t a cutback. It is a cutback when inflation is at nine per cent; it is a cutback in the purchasing power of the social service dollar.
Why doesn’t he just say that his objective is a cutback? His objective is to constrain the purchasing power of the social service delivery system, to hold it below the level of inflation and to erode its purchasing power; because that is what he is doing and that is what he has done. There is no nice way of describing it. He likes the word constraint, he likes all kinds of words. He doesn’t like the word cutback, but the word is cutback.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: The word I like best is the one you don’t say.
Mr. McClellan: The word is cutback, and everybody who is struggling with the needs of disturbed children understands what he is doing.
I have another piece of unfinished business from the estimates. The minister has indicated he intends to redirect money out of residential treatment beds and put it into something else. We don’t know what the something else is, because that has never been clearly defined. He uses the word prevention. Again it sounds nice, but we don’t know what he is talking about. More to the point, we don’t know where he intends to extract something in the order of a total of $5.5 million.
My notes from the estimates debate indicate that the minister intended, and he can correct me if I have misunderstood, but he had intended to take $2.2 million out of children’s mental health centres and redirect the money into other parts of the service program, presumably into what he calls preventive programs.
I had asked the minister which programs and how many beds would be affected by that $2.2 million extraction. I am still waiting for that information. I suspect he doesn’t know; I suspect he still doesn’t know.
That is not the only redirection this minister is talking about. There is also a proposal for a $3.3 million contraction. The minister doesn’t like to use the word “cut-back.” I guess one of the buzzwords in the ministry is “contraction.” It’s not a cutback, it’s a contraction or a redirection, or a constraint; it’s anything not a cutback. At any rate I will use the minister’s cute phrase for the $3.3 million contraction for training schools in schedule one facilities.
I asked for a breakdown. I asked where that money would be coming from and which programs would be contracted. I asked particularly on schedule one programs which programs for the mentally retarded are going to be contracted under this proposal to redirect $3.3 million? I haven’t had an answer on that, so I want to ask again for detailed, specific answers on which programs will be affected when he takes money from residential institutional programs and puts it into something else. I want to know where he is taking it. First of all, I want to know how many people are affected -- and I want also to know who sent me this note.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Did they ask you to contract?
Mr. McClellan: You might say that. At any rate, I will accept the spirit of the note, accept its direction and move on to one other topic; but I expect the minister’s staff to go through Hansard and to respond to critics questions when they ask for specific pieces of information, particularly around issues that are so important as the question of his so-called contractions.
I won’t dwell on things that were covered during the estimates. Let me just make an allusion to the latest publication of the National Council of Welfare, entitled, In the Best Interests of the Child. I hope the minister has read it; I suspect that he hasn’t.
Hon. Mr. Norton: You are very suspicious, aren’t you?
Mr. McClellan: Yes, I am. I am almost paranoid. I am probably paranoid, I concede it. After four years as social service critic, I am paranoid.
I don’t think I have read a more succinct description of the fundamental flaw in our child-care delivery system than is contained on page 32 of the National Council of Welfare’s most recent publication. Let me just read a couple of sentences:
“There is a terrible illogic in the way our society supports its children in need. If their parents are unable to work, or can only get a job that pays an inadequate wage, our income security system offers little economic security; yet if the family situation deteriorates to the point where the children must be placed in substitute care, the state must pay far more in the long run than what it would cost to ensure a sufficient income and the necessary preventative social services in the first place.
“The cost differences are startling. In 1979, an Ontario single parent mother and one child together received $4,860 from provincial social assistance. However, if that same child lived in a foster home, it cost the Toronto Children’s Aid Society $6,877, $2,017 more than the family’s social assistance income. If he or she lived in a group home, the cost would be on average $12,866, two and half times what they would receive on social assistance.”
Where is the logic in that? Where is the sense in that? The report talks about the fact that much of the pressure for child-care services and for child welfare services comes from the basic reality of poverty, family poverty and child poverty in this province, and they suggest:
“If income programs were more effective in dealing with income problems, much of the pressure on the child welfare system would be relieved. Instead of a beleaguered system reserved largely for kids from low-income homes, children’s social services could become a comprehensive first-class system of support available to all Canadian families.”
I hope the minister will look at it, and I hope he will take its central thesis seriously. We talk about children’s services, and most of the time what we are talking about is poverty and the effects of poverty, and we try to pretend that we are not. We try to pretend you can patch up families that are stressed and then broken by poverty through a patchwork of institutional or custodial services, and you can’t.
You can only deal with poverty on the basis of justice and equity, on the basis of adequate income security programs, on the basis of governments committed to full employment programs and equal opportunity programs for the employment of disadvantaged groups. This is so far from where this government is that it is simply a Utopian vision even to talk about it.
The final matter I want to talk to remains, for me, this government’s single most outstanding failure. That has to do with the provision of day-care services in this province. We know something of the need for day care from the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto Project Child Care study.
There are something in the order of 54,000 licensed day-care spaces in all of Ontario. We know from the social planning council’s study that in Metropolitan Toronto alone there are 100,000 pre-school children whose parents work, whether they are single parent families or families where both parents work. The number of children who require child care and who are in unsupervised substitute child care, that is to say they are not in licensed day care but group day care or private-home day care, is 100,000 children under the age of seven. This ministry and this government cannot tell us how many pre-school children there are in the province as a whole who require some form of child care because parents are in the work place. They simply don’t know, that basic research has never been done. We can try to extrapolate from the Metro Toronto figures but I won’t even attempt that. I don’t have the capacity to do that. The need in comparison with the number of spaces is mind boggling.
The ministry continues to pretend that somehow their day-care policies approach adequacy and have some tangential relationship with reality. At a time when 52 per cent of women with children are in the work force -- this government clings to the obsolete notion that day care is a welfare service which should be provided only for disadvantaged segments of the population. That is absolute folly.
I want to make a couple of suggestions to the government, because they are, at long last, inching towards a day-care policy. We remain one of the last countries in the western industrial world to develop a rational day-care policy. Our policy is still based, as I said, on an obsolete notion that day care is some kind of welfare service which should be provided for needy and disadvantaged people and not as a service that ought to be generally available to provide for the child-care needs of children whose parents have work responsibility.
I’m never quite sure what this minister’s attitude is towards day care. I listened to him very carefully at the family policy conference earlier this fall and he spoke at length about the “me” generation. I thought he seemed to be saying that women with children should stay home. I thought that message was rather diffusely coming through, in an oblique way.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I thought he would use the illustration that I thought they ought to be bare foot and in the kitchen.
Mr. McClellan: No, I don’t know what the minister really thinks or feels, and I may have been inaccurate; if I have been, I would welcome having the minister put me in my place and chastise me. I thought he was saying, in a roundabout way, that the “me” generation notion somehow had an application to women who were trying to combine a career with raising children.
I just point out that if all of the women from two-income families who are currently in the labour force were to leave the labour force, the number of families in this province whose income is below the poverty line would increase by 65 per cent.
Mr. Wildman: The economy would collapse,
Mr. McClellan: The economy would be seriously disadvantaged and the number of people in poverty would increase astronomically. The reality in our society is that two-income wage earners are a necessity for many families to avoid a sub-poverty income.
The minister continues to pretend that somehow we live in a different world in which day care is not an essential social service available to all families who need it; he’s dead wrong. The minister’s continued refusal to enter the latter part of the 20th century and to acknowledge reality is doing damage.
Again we have learned from the social planning council’s Project Child Care study of the inadequacy of a substantial proportion of unsupervised substitute child care arrangements in this province. We know there are real problems. We know that in too many private, unregulated homes substitute day care consists of child care by the television set, of unnutritional meals; of day care provided by those who have their own problems, of day care provided by those who are themselves ill; of situations where children are not receiving any kind of stimulation at all, where their developmental needs are not even being acknowledged and where children are not getting outside of the house to play.
Those are all matters of empirical observation. It doesn’t serve anybody for the minister to get up again and make his rhetorical speech about freedom of choice. That is precisely what we are talking about. We are talking about the right of parents to have the choice of quality day care, either group day care or private-home day care at a price they can afford; not at $10 a day per child but on the basis of quality, affordability and universal access, and I stress the word “access.”
Day care should be available as a matter of right to all who need it in this province. There should be a sufficient range of options and sufficient quantity of day care that parents have a real choice.
That doesn’t exist now. For all but low-income parents the subsidy is unavailable because the subsidy is available on a welfare basis under the Canada Assistance Plan. One must meet the criteria, one must go to the welfare office and fill out the means test. The minister has got to move day care out of the welfare context and put it into an early-childhood education perspective where it will be possible to use vacant space in our schools and to develop group day care on an adequate basis so there will be enough day care in this province that every family that needs it will have a choice of quality day care, affordable and accessible.
Let me suggest once again that the minister adopt the recommendation of the Ontario Status of Women Council and establish an interministerial committee to look at the possibility of expanding day care through the use of vacant school space. While he is doing that, let me suggest that he look at a reform of the present subsidy provision. If that means Ontario taking some initiative for a change, for once in its history, so be it. Let the government give some leadership, just this once on this most important issue, and develop a way of providing subsidy that doesn’t exclude all but the very poor, which will include low- and middle-income families in Ontario as well as those who are impoverished.
Let me suggest to the minister that he go back to his policy of 1974-75 and put sufficient funds into the day-care program to achieve a real expansion of day-care spaces instead of this 100, 200 or 300 spaces a year.
Finally, let me suggest that the minister look at the British experience in the use of private-home day care and move to the development of an optional registration or licensing system which would permit private-home day-care providers to become registered on the condition they meet certain laid-down standards; and that in return for registration and the meeting of standards of quality, families who use registered private-home day care become eligible for the reformed subsidization program.
The ministry doesn’t have to meet all its day-care needs through an expansion of group care; that is not what I am suggesting, although we have to do an awful lot better than we are doing now. We could also use private-home day care through a system of optional voluntary registration, combined with eligibility for reformed subsidization and an encouragement to private-home day-care providers to affiliate themselves with group-home day care for support.
With those measures we could go a long way in a relatively short period of time towards meeting the objective of universally accessible, quality, affordable day care in this province. We are now far behind because of the freeze. We are now in the fourth year of the day-care freeze in this province. The longer the ministry waits, the more costly it will be to redress the damage it is doing. It is classic penny-wise and pound-foolish. The longer the ministry waits the more the costs will be -- the capital costs, the costs to the subsidization program -- and the more damage that is done to families whose children are at risk.
I remind the minister, finally, that the social planning council has identified the fact that as a result of inadequate day care there are “children at risk”; I’m quoting directly from the report.
The minister can refute it rhetorically and do his usual response with studied ambiguity around day care. That serves nobody, least of all the families and children who require quality day care in Ontario. It remains our most effective preventive social service. On those grounds alone it deserves priority from a ministry which has a so-called priority on reform of children’s services. Further, it is the essential means of achieving a policy of equal participation by women in the work force, in the economy of this province and of this country. On that ground as well day care deserves priority from the government.
The ministry has a double rationale for top priority, yet it continues to allow day care to languish at the bottom of the heap -- frozen, unacknowledged, ignored.
I’m sure this is all new to the minister. This is my 400th day care speech since I have had the misfortune to serve as social service critic. Each time I make --
Mr. Nixon: Do you remember those great Indian affairs days; those great triumphs?
Mr. McClellan: Yes. It’s really been uphill since then, hasn’t it?
I hope when the ministry’s policy comes out it will have something new to say, other than welfarization, welfarism. It’s absolutely essential that day care be taken out of the Ministry of Community and Social Services so we can escape the blight of the welfare mentality. I’m not sure anything can be done with the service to get it out of that kind of mean-spirited, stigmatization and ghettoization that seems to be associated with selective welfare services, except to take it out and perhaps put it in the Ministry of Education, protecting the standards of quality with the same kind of tough legislation.
If the minister can’t do any better than the kind of welfare-ghetto service he seemingly intends to perpetuate in perpetuity --
Mr. Nixon: Perpetuate in perpetuity?
Mr. McClellan: Right.
Mr. Warner: That’s for a long time.
Mr. McClellan: It should be taken away from the ministry.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I rise to take part in this concurrence debate, largely because of and in reaction to the statement made --
Mr. Kerrio: You missed the estimates.
Mr. Wildman: No, I did not miss the estimates. Since there is a situation much like I’m going to discuss in Niagara I’m surprised the member is not taking part in the debate.
I am rising to take part in this debate as a reaction to and because of the statement the minister made in the House today in my absence.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I didn’t just make it because you were absent. I thought you were absent because I was going to make it.
Mr. Wildman: Before getting to that, I would like to mention a couple of other things that have come to my attention, one of which I raised during my discussion of the estimates, and the other which has just come to my attention. I hope the minister will respond.
The first is the one I raised during the discussion in the estimates, and that was the health and residential care unit, the funding for the continuation, rehabilitation and eventual replacement of that unit on a shared-cost basis with the Ministry of Health.
When I raised it during the debate on the estimates, I was under the impression -- perhaps incorrectly -- that the minister’s staff, from the deputy minister on down, didn’t know about it; at least if they did, they hadn’t done much thinking about it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: This is where?
Mr. Wildman: Hornepayne.
Hon. Mr. Norton: We’re aware of it.
Mr. Wildman: At any rate, they didn’t seem to be aware that the Minister of Health has said -- and I have to take what he said at face value; I don’t think he was obfuscating -- that he is interested in providing the funds; that he has accepted the recommendations of the Algoma District Health Council that the unit and the project be made a permanent project; that the prefab building should be rehabilitated or replaced; and that it should be redesigned to serve its function better.
I raise it again to find out what, if anything, has happened with the interministerial discussions on that proposal. I know this ministry has a freeze on capital expenditures, so maybe it’s very convenient for the Minister of Health to say he’s in favour of it and just waiting for the Minister of Community and Social Services to give his commitment.
I’d like to know what has happened in those discussions because this particular type of unit really could serve as a model for small, isolated communities in northern Ontario and provide a flexible type of service to the disabled and the elderly without their having to travel hundreds of miles to some sort of institutional care in a larger centre. We must get it going on a permanent basis in Hornepayne and then look to expanding it to other areas.
The other matter I wanted to raise has just come to my attention as the result of a letter I received; that is the need for the provision of a development assessment team for the mentally retarded for the Algoma district.
I understand that the Rockhaven School at Serpent River did obtain, through the ministry’s offices, the services of a developmental assessment team from Gravenhurst last year. That isn’t going on this year and they cannot use the services that might be available in Sault Ste. Marie because they’re overworked already. They’re too busy in the Sault.
It seems to me that it’s very difficult for us to give any kind of meaningful service in terms of designing programs to stimulate and help develop the mentally retarded, if we can’t first get them properly assessed and have assessments done on an ongoing basis. I realize, as I said earlier, there is a freeze on capital expenditures in the ministry, but this would hardly be a capital expense. I hope the minister will look very carefully at providing this kind of needed service in order to have a meaningful program for the mentally retarded in the Algoma district.
As I said, the main purpose of my participation in the debate is to comment on and to ask for some further clarification of the minister’s statement made in the House today with regard to the very serious situation we have in children’s services in the Algoma district with the children’s aid society strike which has gone on for five months. I intend to remain restrained and try to deal with this on a very serious and reasonable level; however, I must say something in reaction to a comment I read in Instant Hansard made by the minister in response to a question from my leader about his statement. He said: “The member is suggesting I inject myself into the middle of that dispute and come down squarely on the side of one party or the other. I am not going to do that.”
Let me say, in all sincerity, that right from the beginning the minister has been injected into this dispute. He has been involved in it right from the day the members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, local 1880, walked out. For that matter he was involved directly prior to that, during the period of negotiations prior to the breakdown and the calling of the strike.
Let’s just review for a moment how the minister and his ministry is directly involved in this dispute. To give you an example of a direct involvement -- without question involvement of the type the minister was referring to today in his statement as if it were the first time -- is the case where one weekend somebody from the regional office in Sudbury -- 1 believe it was Val Gibbons -- was in the Sault on call on an emergency basis for the children’s aid society in Sault Ste. Marie. In other words, she provided a service very similar to the service the minister is now proposing members of his staff will provide during the Christmas season.
This is a case where the ministry staff is carrying out functions which would normally be carried out by the members of local 1880 who are on a legal strike -- I remind the minister, a legal strike -- and they have been without a contract for many, many months.
I also want to remind the House that this is a situation which involves not just salaries or wages. It involves a very serious concern about work load, caseload, and how social workers who are overburdened and overworked can provide a decent level of care -- not just what is needed by children at risk, but the level of care they are required to provide by law.
The minister has made a great deal of the fact that since this strike began it is his responsibility, according to the law, to provide emergency service and to ensure that children at risk are provided with service. I don’t debate that. It is the minister’s responsibility, according to the law, to provide for that. But right from the beginning I have said that the most responsible way for the minister to carry out the obligation would be to provide the kind of funding required to bring about a settlement, so that the social workers who are responsible for doing the job and who wish to do the job could be back on the job providing the services they want to provide for the kids in Our area.
It doesn’t make sense to have social workers bored to death with nothing to do when there are kids who could use their help or to have a social worker coming into my constituency office on a volunteer basis to answer the phone because she doesn’t have anything else to do -- at a time when the agency says that it cannot be sure it is providing adequate care.
The minister now admits, and has admitted, that he can’t be sure that they can provide adequate care either.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I cannot give an absolute assurance even if all the staff were working.
Mr. Wildman: All right, I’m not talking about the ideal. Perhaps it is debatable whether the minister knows whether they are providing care. I would think that prior to making the kind of decision he announced today he would have decided that in his opinion they could not provide that care.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Read the statement, that’s what I said. Some workers were leaving for Christmas and they needed help.
Mr. Wildman: Exactly, so why is the minister debating it now?
To return to my point about the minister being involved right from the beginning: prior to this strike, of course, the minister was directly involved, as he is in every negotiation between an organized bargaining unit working for the children’s aid society and the society by the fact that he or his ministry provide 80 per cent of the funding. I believe that 31 out of the 50 children’s aid societies in this province have indicated to the minister that they do not have adequate funding to meet their obligations under the new Child Welfare Act. This is not an isolated situation. It is one where we have had a long strike, but in terms of the minister’s involvement in regard to adequate funding, or inadequate funding, this year is not unusual.
The minister had been directly involved in terms of funding. Once the strike started, he was directly involved in that he had members of his staff, his ministry, going to the children’s aid society operation in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma to monitor the situation and to observe whether or not they were providing adequate care. When they determined they did not believe they were providing adequate care, the minister asked the children’s aid society board to bring in outside workers. To me, that is a direct involvement.
When the agency had some difficulty in obtaining the required number of outside workers, this ministry actively recruited outside workers. I know the minister doesn’t like to say “recruited.” He doesn’t like to use that word. What they did was they looked for names of people who might be qualified and willing to go to the Sault and they turned over those names to the board and to the administration of the board and said: “These are people who might be interested in going. Yon can get in touch with them.”
Mr. McClellan: They trained them in the ministry’s office.
Mr. Wildman: Yes. When they couldn’t get enough trained people, I believe this ministry brought four people in the Toronto area into the Toronto office to train them and talk about the Child Welfare Act, their obligations under the act, what was going on in the Sault and so on. Maybe it wasn’t ministry staff who were directly training them, they just used ministry offices. It might have been people from the Sault who came down to train them.
Mr. McClellan: John Adams was training them.
Mr. Wildman: If that isn’t direct involvement, what is? Ministry staff has been actively involved in this strike from the beginning. The minister has been actively involved in requesting the agency to bring in outside workers and in providing, on at least one occasion, a member of his staff.
I remind you, Mr. Speaker, I do not debate the minister’s obligation under the act. His obligation would be best fulfilled if he were to provide the funds necessary to bring this unfortunate dispute to an end immediately.
Before the House votes on concurrence, I would like the minister to answer a number of questions. How much has the ministry spent so far in monitoring the situation in Sault Ste. Marie, in terms of staff time and travel? How much has the ministry spent in terms of trying to find people who might go to the Sault for the agency? How much has the ministry spent in terms of training people to go to the Sault? I am talking about staff time, travel expenses, accommodation expenses and so on, for ministry staff involved in this process.
I would also like to know how much the minister estimates this so-called new approach announced today over the Christmas season is going to cost. How much have the taxpayers paid to try and keep the minister on top and involved in this dispute? How much have we paid the minister to become involved and remain involved in this dispute directly, in the ways I mentioned?
I also want to know, if he can give me that figure or figures, how that compares with the $20,000 back in June that would have settled this dispute. If it is $20,000 or more, which I suspect it is, how does he justify spending that kind of money to monitor a strike rather than to bring it to an end?
I would also like to ask the minister where these people, these outside workers who are now working in the Sault and Algoma for the agency, are coming from?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Do you mean the present ones?
Mr. Wildman: Yes. Are they coming from other agencies? If they are coming from other agencies, what assurance does this ministry have that those other agencies are adequately staffed when these people are in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma?
I think it is very unfortunate that the minister has decided to take the approach he has taken over the last five months in this dispute. Anyone who understands the labour movement, the collective bargaining process, realizes that the use of outside workers to do the work of people who are legally on strike does not usually bring an end to a dispute or shorten it. In fact, what it usually does is prolong the dispute. It makes it less necessary for the employer to settle, which is why the employer uses those outside employees. It also produces a kind of bitterness and frustration on behalf of the striking employees that makes it very difficult for amicable relations to result from the bargaining process.
In this dispute in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma, we haven’t just had a situation where organized employees have been out. We have had a situation where two of the management staff have quit in frustration since this strike started. One of those two is a very well respected member of the profession in this province who had some real responsibility in the drafting of the new Child Welfare Act and who is very well respected by the employees of the bargaining unit and is respected across the province, in North America and even in Europe. He quit because he said he was afraid he might be brought to court because he wasn’t providing or able to provide the services he was required to provide under the act.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Who was that? That wasn’t the deputy director, was it? If so it is my understanding there were other reasons.
Mr. Wildman: Ross Dawson made that statement to the press.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I have reason to think there were other reasons.
Mr. Wildman: I know of other reasons in which he was involved, but that was the statement he made to the press. Perhaps he had other reasons. I think he probably did. One of the reasons he mentioned was he was afraid that at some time he might be brought to court because he hadn’t been able to meet some obligation he was supposed to under the act.
I know, Mr. Speaker, you would like me to bring this to an end, but I would like to have this strike brought to an end. It has gone on for five months.
Mr. Ashe: Throw your salary into the pot.
Mr. Wildman: I suppose other members of the House who aren’t directly involved can treat this with frivolity and don’t realize the seriousness of the situation. I think the minister does and that is why he has become involved. I just wish his involvement had been of a more positive nature, rather than the kind of involvement which can only produce a situation which, in my view, will prolong the strike.
I urge the minister to change his approach, to use the money that has been spent on monitoring this situation and in helping to bring in outside people to do the job of the striking employees, to resolve the dispute and get the social workers who can help the foster parents who haven’t seen counsellors for months, who can help the children who are at risk, who can get the assistance going the children’s aid society is supposed to provide for Sault Ste. Marie and our area, back on the job in doing what they want to do, what the minister, the agency, and the whole community wants them to do. Let’s get the strike over with.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, as usual, in dealing with any matters relating to my ministry, with the breadth of the scope of the ministry one can find any number of things to talk about at great length. Many of the items raised in the discussions tonight are matters touched upon during the estimates debates. There are some, though, that have arisen for the first time.
I say to the member for Bellwoods I don’t know whether he heard my comment at the time he was quoting from the note I had jocularly sent to him when one of my colleagues was introduced as the Minister of Community and Social Services; I sent a note saying, “I concur.” However, he spoke of the punishment I ought to receive in my ministry. I can say for the last three years I have been subjected to the punishment of having him as the critic and I can’t think of anyone who could possibly have done a more effective job of being punishing in his punitive approach -- there, Bob, I am doing almost as well as he did -- his role as critic.
Perhaps I could respond initially to the last matter raised, since it is particularly timely and one which is foremost in the minds of those of us who have some involvement and sense of knowledge with what has transpired and is continuing to transpire in Algoma.
As I said in the House this afternoon, I regret very much the dispute in Algoma has not been resolved. The honourable member, himself, would concur it has been because of great effort primarily on the part of the Ministry of Labour that negotiations have been on again and off again and efforts have been made to conciliate in that situation.
It is a more complex situation than is portrayed by the honourable member. It may be that if I were to inject myself into the situation with a bagful of money and say, “Here, please resolve the matter with this money,” it might be resolved. I would point out to him that he will discover in the very near future -- it is my understanding there are some statements that will be made in the next few days, not by me, but by the parties concerned -- that as of last week the circumstances changed again rather substantially in terms of what was being requested within the negotiations. A very disturbing event at this late stage in a prolonged strike. That raises some question as to what the issues really are.
I don’t wish to speculate in public. That is not my business. I can be concerned about it privately and express some concern publicly, but I really don’t think I should delve into specific speculation as to what other agendas may exist in this particular strike. But in understanding the role I have, I urge the honourable member to recall a few things. We are not dealing here with an industrial dispute; we are not dealing with the manufacture of automobiles.
We are dealing with the safety and the welfare of children. It is precisely because of the legislation under which I and my ministry have a mandate with respect to child welfare in this province, that I have placed upon me the obligation to take steps to ensure, whether or not there are labour disputes in Ontario, that children are not unnecessarily at risk. It is precisely in the discharge of that responsibility that I have attempted to play the role I have in relationship to this strike.
I think that the allegations of strikebreaking which have arisen from time to time and did again in the House this afternoon, lose sight of the fact that we are not talking about an industrial strike in this situation. As long as the parties are unable to resolve their differences, I and my ministry have a special responsibility -- one that the members of this Legislature have given to me on behalf of the people of this province -- to ensure that those children are not at risk. I’m discharging that to the best of my ability at this point.
The honourable member suggests that the way I ought to do that is to inject myself into the negotiations by saying, “Here’s the money, resolve the strike.” If you look at history, Mr. Speaker, and I’m sure the member for Algoma has, if you look at what has happened in terms of the funding of that society over the last few years, I do not believe that the critical issue in this particular case is what the specific dollar figure of that society’s budget is.
I do not believe that and yet that is the issue that is being prolonged and where the parties even very recently, as recently as last week, have appeared to change their positions. As I say, that is a disturbing fact. I suspect there are other agendas.
I would be delighted to discuss or answer the honourable member’s questions if I could. He asked how much we have spent, for example, on monitoring the levels of service in Sault Ste. Marie. I don’t know that. I can’t tell him. I could try to find out.
I can tell him this: the monitoring that has taken place has been done by staff who are full-time employees of my ministry for that purpose, so there are no additional salaries involved in that, to the best of my knowledge. These people, generally speaking, are management people who I don’t believe are paid overtime. They are on a salary basis.
There has been no additional money in terms of salary time for the monitoring function that has gone on.
How much has been spent on recruiting? Again, I don’t think there has been any significant amount of money spent in providing the society with names of persons -- whom we have heard of, or know, or whom other employees of the ministry may know -- whom they might call upon to hire to assist in maintaining a minimum level of service. We haven’t been advertising in newspapers or anything of that nature where there was any specific expenditure.
How much time is spent on travelling? I’m not sure what the honourable member means by that. The ministry staff who work in Sault Ste. Marie do from time to time travel to Toronto or Sudbury or various other locations in any event.
Mr. Wildman: The minister had some people from Toronto go up there.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The member means our ministry staff? As far as I’m aware there have been, perhaps, a couple of times that I know of where two or three of my ministry staff have been up there. More often, there have been staff from Sault Ste. Marie down in Toronto to discuss this, among other things. It has never been specifically and only for that.
I don’t think any significant additional amount of money has been spent for travel -- there may have been one or two trips where somebody specifically went up to a meeting. For example, I recall one occasion when my associate deputy minister and the executive director of the children’s services division -- I believe those were the two persons involved -- flew up to meet with the board of the children’s aid society. That would be one specific incident where money was expended on travel; there may have been other occasions, but it has not been a major expense.
How much money has been spent on keeping me involved? I’m not even sure what the honourable member meant by that.
Mr. Wildman: All the involvements I listed.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The member means the five questions he’s raised? I’m sure I don’t fully understand the question.
I haven’t been paid any overtime for what I have been doing. It’s part of my regular fob. I must say I fail to understand -- maybe I should just come to the conclusion that it really hasn’t cost the honourable member anything for the service he’s received from me other than my regular salary.
Mr. Breaugh: That’s what you call equal pay for work of equal value.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It’s charity.
The next question the member raised is where are the people coming from? If the member is referring to the people to whom I was referring in the statement today --
Mr. Wildman: The people who are there now.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Those five people I referred to today are employees of my ministry. I can’t tell the member specifically where they come from. I don’t even know all the names. As I recall, two or three of the five are from ministry offices in northern Ontario and the others are from southern Ontario. They are people who have had fairly extensive experience in child welfare. Two of them -- and I stand to be corrected on this if I am wrong -- have at one time or another been local directors of children’s aid societies. The reason for their being there, as I explained, is to ensure that through the Christmas period, starting today and probably getting a little worse next week with contract employees leaving to be with their families over Christmas, the society would have additional support to provide only the minimum level of service to ensure children are not unnecessarily at risk.
Mr. Wildman: Where are the contract employees from?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I couldn’t tell the member. They are from all over the province.
Mr. Wildman: Are they from other agencies?
Hon. Mr. Norton: There may be one or two who are management people. I recall hearing of one management-level person in an agency in northern Ontario who had offered to assist. I don’t know of any others who are currently employees of children’s aid societies. Most of them have had some child welfare experience, but would be retired or have moved on to other things. I think it is safe to say that is generally not the case. There may be one or two from other societies.
I would urge the member to keep in perspective the role I have played, rather than suggesting I have injected myself into the strike. I have come down firmly on the side of the welfare of the children. I will continue to do everything I can to ensure, not that the optimum levels of service are provided in Sault Ste. Marie -- goodness only knows they have not had service there at the usual levels for going on six months now -- but that the children are not unnecessarily at risk.
With respect to the member’s comment about the residential-care unit in Hornepayne, we have reviewed the position with the Ministry of Health on the basis of the member’s interpretation of the minister’s letter. I think the ministries are substantially in agreement on that. I understood the member in his earlier remarks during the estimates debate was suggesting the Ministry of Health had committed itself to a replacement unit.
Mr. Wildman: The Minister of Health said he had accepted the recommendations of the Algoma District Health Council. One of them was a replacement of the unit.
Hon. Mr. Norton: My understanding is that we are essentially in agreement that at some point replacement will be necessary for the present facility. That may be an area of misunderstanding. Given current capital restraints, we feel the present facility can be modified so as to be serviceable for some time before replacement will be necessary. I stand to be corrected if the member is not talking about a new one. I understood that he was and my response was based on that understanding.
I was not aware that there was any request before us for a developmental assessment team for the mentally retarded in Algoma district. I would suggest that if there is such a request forthcoming the appropriate way to proceed would be through the district working group as a proposal.
Mr. Wildman: It has already gone through.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Has it already gone through them? Personally I was not aware of it. It might have been received as a request by the ministry. I can follow up on that and see.
Perhaps I could revert to the remarks of the member for Sarnia (Mr. Blundy) at this point. Once again I agree that the level of income maintenance payments is not optimum -- perhaps that’s a way that one can express it. I realize that people who are in receipt of family benefits, who are solely dependent on them, do have a difficult time in terms of making ends meet. But I do think, in talking about the increases that have taken place this year, one has to look at total income.
If the members look at the increase that was available through my ministry and the increase that was available through family allowances, the increase this year was approximately 12 per cent. That was 12 per cent -- I’m sure the member will say -- on a base that was too small. Nevertheless, the member said they have fallen behind.
I don’t know what the complete figures are for year over year inflation. I suspect that 12 per cent could substantially meet those inflationary increases. If one looks at the total income of family-benefit recipients, those persons with children who are in receipt of family allowances, 12 per cent is a more realistic increase for this year than six per cent if one looks at them as separate entities.
On the question of the difficulties that some landlords have or claim to have in collecting rent from persons on income-maintenance programs, I think it’s important we remember that the income these people are receiving ought to be treated as that -- as their income. We ought not to be viewed by landlords in this province as either rent collectors or as big brother watching over the shoulder of everyone who is in receipt of income-maintenance assistance.
I know the request comes frequently and fairly often from people saying, “Someone who is in receipt of benefits from your ministry failed to pay their rent to me. I think you ought to pay it directly.” My response generally and consistently is no.
Who is Bill?
Mr. Cunningham: Bill Davis. The boss.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I see. I shouldn’t have asked who Bill is. That’s like asking, “Who is Joe?”
I’m assuming that when these honourable members raised these serious issues they anticipated a serious response. That’s what I am proceeding to do.
I don’t think it is appropriate for my ministry. In some instances where there seem to be some ongoing difficulties in budget management, sometimes a person in the community for a period of time is made a trustee to assist the recipients in the management of their budgets, to ensure that they are able to meet those kinds of expenses. That is a possibility where there is a chronic situation. Generally speaking we’re not rent collectors. Landlords have to take risks wherever their tenants come from. Sometimes it’s a risk I would say they have to calculate.
The member mentioned general welfare assistance budgets being overspent. It’s very difficult to project what the trends are going to be in any given fiscal year. In fact, some GWA budgets in municipalities are declining. There is no province-wide uniform pattern. But I can assure the members we will meet our commitments under that act.
I know it may be a little more difficult for some municipalities in terms of their share, but it being an open-ended program, we will meet whatever our share is of whatever they have to spend. They may have to recoup some of that in their own budget next year.
The members raised a number of other items. Maybe I can touch very briefly on a few of them.
Again, children’s services budgets: The member focused particularly upon the closing of training schools and the impact that has had. I have tried to emphasize, time and time again, that we have not really closed occupied beds in training schools. We have closed empty beds.
The population in the training schools has not dramatically declined since we began closing training schools. We had far more beds in the training schools than were occupied. That continues to be the case. We still have an excess of beds. We could probably close the equivalent of another training school or two without having to return to the community any child who is not ready. Because people have heard that we’re closing training schools and because there’s been a difference in the pattern that has developed recently in the courts in terms of the numbers who are sent to training schools, especially since the changes in the act back in the early part of this decade --
Mr. McClellan: What changes were they?
Hon. Mr. Norton: In the early part of this decade, with the deletion of section 9 from the Training Schools Act.
Mr. McClellan: You mean section 8. That was only two years ago.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Section 8, right. Sorry. There is some impact from that but I don’t think it’s as serious an impact as is generally perceived.
Basically, what happens to the children who are truant, for example, is they are not necessarily any longer sent to training school. Children whose parents find them difficult to manage are not sent to training school any more. Not every ill-behaved child is a former ward of the training school. That seems to be a misconception. People have focused upon that. I don’t believe that is what is happening.
We talked about children’s services budgets this year until I was blue in the face. The member for Bellwoods raised another concern tonight after we took a full day in estimates.
Mr. McClellan: I still didn’t get an answer. I am just asking the question again.
Hon. Mr. Norton: With respect to the specific concerns, I must say I apologize for those two things which the member raised where he said he had not yet had a specific response. I did undertake that he would get one. He will get one. I did not realize he had not yet received one. I apologize for that. Perhaps I can move on to the member for Bellwoods and just touch on a couple of things.
Mr. Nixon: You’re just skimming over the surface. You’re going much too fast.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Does the member want me to slow down a little? I will, if the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk would rather get more of the meat.
One of the most interesting things, one of the most debatable things that the member for Bellwoods raised, is he talks about this ministry’s bad record in day care.
There is greater demand than supply. There is no question about that.
Mr. McClellan: The minister used to dispute that.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I’ve never disputed that. What I do dispute though, and I will dispute it again, is the results of some of the studies that he quotes and which have surfaced from time to time. They are questionable. They’re based on certain assumptions with which I don’t agree. For example, it seems that many of those are based upon -- and I don’t mean to be provocative -- the assumption the parents are inherently incompetent to make decisions with respect to the care of their own children by making private arrangements and so on. There is a perception on the part of some of the people in the child-care sector in this province that every care situation a child is in ought to be licensed and supervised.
I don’t necessarily agree with that. I would be willing to agree there are children who are in situations which ought to be licensed and supervised, but I think some people would carry that to the extreme and would end up licensing and supervising the parents’ supervision in their homes. One can carry that to an extreme. When the member starts quoting figures in the hundreds of thousands in terms of the need for day care in Ontario that is when I have to say, “Whoa, you’re getting carried away with your figures.” I don’t believe that degree of demand exists. There are still parents in the province who would choose, as a matter of their own values and their own wishes, to provide care in their own home for their children.
Mr. McClellan: Of course. Nobody is disputing that. You raise straw men and then you knock them down.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The member is the one who raised the figure of 100,000 in need in Metropolitan Toronto. I question that. I’m not saying it’s absolutely wrong, but I question it. I don’t think it can be substantiated.
Mr. McClellan: That is the number of children who have substitute child care.
Hon. Mr. Norton: All right. I think many of the parents of those children are quite competent to make substitute child care arrangements if that is their decision. I don’t happen to believe that every parent who places a child in substitute care, in some cases with relatives or friends or a trusted neighbour, needs a social worker to tell her where her child ought to be placed.
Mr. McClellan: Nobody is suggesting that.
Hon. Mr. Norton: When you start talking about those children who are in substitute care and the need for supervision and the need for licensing, then you are treading very close to that direction.
Mr. McClellan: I am talking about an adequate range of choices. Don’t distort what I’m saying.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Most of those people have a better opportunity for choice in Ontario than they have anywhere else in Canada. We are continuing to increase the number of supervised and subsidized day-care spaces in Ontario at a time when there is a general decline in the country. This year, for example, we will have increased them by 730, approximately, at a time when, according to Statistics Canada, there has been a decline of 1,500 or more across the country. We are doing a much better job, I suggest, than is generally being done in Canada.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t do better and that we won’t try to do better, but let’s just keep things in perspective. I realize that when the member criticizes us he realizes he is criticizing the best government in the best province in this country. That’s why he has to sound so harsh. I realize it doesn’t really come from the heart.
Mr. McClellan: Yes, it does. That’s where you’re wrong.
Mr. Breaugh: Somewhere in the vicinity.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The spleen, I think. Is that near the heart?
There are other concurrences to be dealt with tonight, but may I just conclude with what the honourable members opposite will consider to be provocative? It is in response to the member for Bellwoods who said that Ontario hasn’t taken any initiative. May I just say this? The government of Ontario has taken many initiatives in the area of social services in this province. It has set precedents that are envied by other jurisdictions in Canada, in North America and around the world.
All the member has to do is look at those areas where we have taken initiatives that were not subsidized by the federal government. We have more 100 per cent provincially-funded programs than probably any other government in Canada -- and he can’t deny that -- and that’s because we have taken initiatives even if we didn’t have federal cost sharing. We have been very progressive in doing that.
Mr. McClellan: You are so smug and complacent you don’t even know what is going on in other parts of Canada.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Talking about not knowing what is going on --
Mr. McClellan: Don’t read anything the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) gives you.
Hon. Mr. Norton: He’s just telling me to shut up, the same as you are.
May I just conclude by saying this to the member for Bellwoods? He says I don’t know what is going on elsewhere and he starts talking about day care in Britain. I happen to have seen some examples of that. I happen to have been there in January of this year.
Mr. McClellan: Wasting the taxpayers’ money.
Hon. Mr. Norton: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think it was a waste of money at all. If the honourable member were to look at the programs being provided in many parts of Britain he would condemn them immediately because of what he would regard as a substandard level of care, low standards and a lack of professional qualifications. Some of these things may not be a bad idea, but I can see him jumping straight up and down in this Legislature and damning them from here to Bellwoods if he really saw them. He should make sure he knows what he is talking about before he starts suggesting what great things are happening in Britain or in Sweden. I know some of the things that are going on there and I have visited them recently.
Resolution concurred in.
MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND RECREATION
Mr. O’Neil: I will try to be as brief as I possibly can. There is one matter I wish to speak on upon reflection since the estimates were debated and that is there appears to be a particular component of cultural life seeking the ministry’s direction. That is our museum system. It is not apparent to me that the ministry has made known its policy towards the two distinct aspects of our museum on one hand and, on the other, the smaller museums.
I question the guidelines under which our smaller museums operate, the responsibility of the ROM and, above all, the role of the ROM as it relates to its interactions with all other museums in Ontario.
When one compares the total budget of hundreds of smaller museums, at $1,731,800, with that of the ROM, at $9 million, the question arises as to the accountability and responsibility of these two components of our museum sector. When he considers that after the $9 million ROM budget the next largest grant to a museum is $77,000, one realizes how diverse these two components of the museum sector are.
I must express a grave concern towards the operation of the ROM. It is run at arm’s length from the government through an appointed board and therefore may not be subject to the close scrutiny that other government bodies are. Although its financial statements are examined by the provincial auditor, are we assured of the accountability for the operations of the ROM? Who guarantees the ROM is responsibly carrying out its mandate in the best interest of the Ontario public?
The ROM has been functioning since its 1968 split with the University of Toronto under an act which reads somewhat like a university act. In view of the 10-year transition period, isn’t it time a group representing the ministry, the museum and the public sat down and shaped the act to better reflect the place of this great institution for the future?
In reading the ROM’s annual report I am unable to discern much information about what goals are being addressed, how funds are used on those projects and the measure of evaluating management successes. I am sure these meet cursory legal requirements but I suggest better financial data is in order. Throughout the public accounts committee hearings and in various press accounts we have seen discrepancies and glaring internal problems at the ROM. I would like strong measures undertaken which will look at the practices of this institution internally, its management, its communications problems, the stresses of change, its seeming inability to consider the public as evidenced by its internal decision to close, the problems of morale, staff needs, expertise to handle $9 million in public funds, the questions of pure research and what directions the institute should be taking to better serve the people of Ontario.
The inward approach, unfortunately termed the professional outlook of the ROM, has meant that instead of analysing what the ROM can do for the public, it undertook the renovation scheme that was the easiest or most economical for ROM staff. This suggests to me the professionals either don’t care or are really unaware of what the museum’s role is within the province.
These questions have surfaced because we now face the closing of these institutions at the expense of the public. It appears no alternatives are being considered to allow the public to have access to the treasures of the ROM during this renovation period.
Maybe I should correct that a bit. In question period this afternoon I did ask the minister about sending some of these displays out. He mentioned the travelling van and a few other smaller displays. We have his commitment that he and his ministry staff will be in touch with the ROM to see if a lot more displays can be shipped out across the province. Once it is closed, not only the general public but a lot of the children who were used to going there to look at these displays will have lost that unless we do put the displays out to the province. I am also hoping the minister will consider giving Wintario funds to some of these groups that may apply for it.
I wonder if we know enough about the ROM’s plans to let it go ahead in this fashion. After all, is this closing being responsible to the public it serves?
I hope the minister will take some of these comments under consideration, especially the internal problems I feel he and his ministry have with the ROM. I think there has to be some really new thinking to come up with some of the solutions.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, I shall be very, very brief indeed, because I know that the members opposite and on this side wish to move on with other concurrences.
In response to some of the difficulties and the problems that exist internally at ROM, I can only say that our ministry is certainly aware of some of the difficulties, some of the tensions, and I would like to emphasize some of the healthy tensions that exist at the ROM.
I think we all have to recognize that the Royal Ontario Museum is indeed a unique organization, a very unique operation. It is really impossible to take a blueprint from any other operation in the world and simply apply it to ROM because ROM is unique; there is nothing like it in the entire world.
We are aware of some of these tensions that exist there. We are working away at them along with the board of directors of ROM, with the management there, with the director and with the professional staff. I really feel that if all of us on both sides of the House continue to work constructively along with the board of ROM it will continue to be a world-class museum -- and in fact will be an even better and a greater museum once they have concluded their substantial renovation and expansion program.
I also think we should keep in mind there are many advantages to be gained in having the ROM at an arm’s-length relationship to government. It protects it from undue politicization. I think we should always be aware of the fact that the men and women who serve on the ROM board of directors are outstanding citizens. They have a great deal to offer as volunteers and are making a substantial contribution to that great museum.
In closing I do want to be very, very brief, although I could speak at great length here on this, to say I think that the record of ROM -- what it is, what it has done, what it will bespeaks far more eloquently than my going on here for many, many more minutes or hours to pay tribute to the people who are volunteering their time, effort and talent in directing that museum.
Certainly as far as the smaller museums are concerned in Ontario, it is true that ROM stands out. But the ROM is a world museum. We have some 400 museums in Ontario now and we do have a policy for them. The growth has been phenomenal and we have supported that growth. I would think that if members were to go to any small community across the province they would find the people there very, very proud of their museum, even though it does not have a budget of $9 million a year.
I would go out and ask the people in the smaller communities across the province whether they have a worthwhile local museum and it will be found universally the answer is yes, and proudly so.
So, Mr. Speaker, the record speaks for itself. With that very, very brief response and I know that the comments are worthy of far greater response than this, but in the interests of time I wish to terminate my comments at this point.
Resolution concurred in.
MINISTRY OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Mr. Nixon: I just have one matter I want to deal with, Mr. Speaker, which I felt was not fully explored in the estimates.
Almost exactly two weeks from today, the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) will be announcing to the night editor of the Globe and Mail those to whom he is giving the designation Queen’s Counsel, those learned in the law. I want to express again my deep concern that since this matter does not involve the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) -- and I believe it should involve him since there is some misleading advertising associated with this -- that the Attorney General, who has really the full responsibility for this, should before he continues his present procedures give it some further consideration.
As the minister knows, I am somewhat interested in some aspects pertaining to the legal profession. The designation “learned in the law” is one that has interested me particularly, since so many of my capable friends have received this designation.
In the United Kingdom, as the minister knows, it is not distributed with quite the generosity and, let’s say, indiscrimination as it is in other jurisdictions. It is interesting to note, without spending a lot of time on the elaborate research I have undertaken, that in 1978 in the United Kingdom 30 QCs were awarded; in 1977, 40; in 1976, 32; and in 1975, 34. Without going back too far, I simply want to bring to your attention, Mr. Speaker, that in this year, 1979, the Attorney General, in his generosity, was moved to recommend 133 appointments.
Really, the thing that concerns me is that the value of the award is becoming significantly diluted in this regard. I want to quote just a comment from Mr. Justice Sydney Robins, written in 1974, when he had a slightly different series of responsibilities. I quote him:
“No recognized or discernible criteria by which it is granted is significantly understood. This imprecision has led to a widespread belief that the award is a meaningless one, since it is not learning in law that is being assessed, but rather party allegiance or public service. QCs are frequently given to people no longer practising law, who are solicitors and never appear in court, or who are both barristers and solicitors and sometimes appear in court.
“It has been pointed out by Stephen Borins, now a county court judge, in 1969, that even the name ‘New Year’s honours list of the Attorney General’ suggests that the award is being used as something other than an indication of the eminence of a courtroom lawyer.”
We know in this jurisdiction that the Attorney General very wisely wants to have a request in writing. A couple of times he has awarded a QC and it has not been accepted. I think the last time this happened was when the Honourable Donald Macdonald, a very well-known lawyer in town and we read about him frequently, turned down a federal QC. There seemed to be some indication in his mind that the designation would only lead to confusion in the minds of his clients as to his qualifications. No one in this House would ever question his eminence and ability, but he felt that he was not interested in accepting that award. I suppose he would agree with the description I referred to by another now eminent jurist that it is meaningless.
I believe the Attorney General asks for and requires 12 years’ experience without disbarment in order that the award continue, and he does look for community service. We, as politicians, are very sensitive about that. We admire people who serve the community, but in all respects it has nothing whatsoever to do with being learned in the law.
It would be nice perhaps if this were a cross to be hung around the neck of the recipients; in other words, an award for involvement. Perhaps Her Honour could do this personally. Since there are many people in the province who feel that QC behind the name of the lawyer concerned is a designation of special prowess or ability or outstanding academic achievement or even special achievements in the court, I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, that in that degree it does represent what I consider to be quite a serious misrepresentation.
I was pleased to know that the benchers of the Law Society of Upper Canada expressed their own concern about this, particularly when they looked at the numbers of QCs awarded as compared to those called to the bar who are eligible for designation as QCs. About 46 per cent of eligible lawyers in 1975 did have QC appended to their name.
Just in passing, I’ve always been very impressed that the lawyers insist that the QC designation follow them whenever their name is put down and even when it is spoken orally. It seems to be a part of the name. In the case of my former colleague and good friend, Vernon Singer, for many years I thought his surname was QC. There was a certain degree of confusion in this connection.
For 1975, the last year for which figures are available, 46 per cent of the eligible lawyers were QCs. I’m not prepared to say that only 46 per cent of the eligible lawyers were Conservative. I feel that probably not all the Conservative lawyers have written the right letters or perhaps asked me, as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, to add my recommendation to the voluminous recommendations they arrange to be sent to the Attorney General.
I have tried very diligently to get the figures for more recent years. While it is possible by looking at newspaper notices to find out how many QCs have been awarded, it is not possible to compare those numbers with the actual numbers of practising lawyers who have the appropriate requirement of 12 years’ experience. In 1979, 133 were appointed; in 1978, 119; in 1977, only 99 -- was that the year the present Attorney General assumed office perhaps? -- in 1976, 122; and in 1975, 105. Try as I might, I’ve not been able to get the statistics that would allow me or someone else to calculate the percentage of eligible lawyers who hold QC status.
We’ve asked the law society and others, but in every place we have attempted to find out we have been told this information may be released only under the authority of the Attorney General. For some reason, he doesn’t seem to be proud of it. Although I have put on the Order Paper a question which may or may not be answered by the time we prorogue, I am looking forward to getting that information.
One of the former residents of my constituency, a man in whom we have great pride, former Chief Justice of the Ontario High Court, J. C. McRuer, is reported to have called the QC something of a fraud on the public. The only fraud, I say again, is that I suppose it has become too common. Those lawyers who continually make use of the QC obviously think it is either a procedure whereby they can attract additional clients, which is obviously something that most of them would want to do, or it is an honour they simply want to be sure that their colleagues, particularly, are aware of. Knowing this, the benchers of the law society dealt with the following resolution, passed in 1975: “That the law society recommend to the governments of Canada and Ontario that the title Queen’s Counsel be abolished; and that if this be done, the law society amend its rules of conduct to prohibit the use of the words Queen’s Counsel or the letters QC in any firm name, letterhead, calling card or sign of a member of the society; and that the society direct its professional conduct committee to review the professional conduct handbook and all other society documents regulating the conduct of members and to make all necessary changes in these documents to implement this motion.”
I feel they are very well-directed in this connection. As the time runs out in my part of this debate I want to urge the Attorney General, if he doesn’t choose to eliminate the designation, at least to use some of the alternatives that have been put before the public and which may in fact be put before this House if we return to this debate. This could bring some order and some additional value to the designation QC.
I believe this in the mind of the Attorney General and I would heartily recommend it to him.
On motion by Mr. Warner the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 10:31 p.m.