Tuesday, March 11, 1980, being the first day of the Fourth Session of the 31st Parliament of the province of Ontario for the dispatch of business pursuant to a proclamation of the Honourable P. M. McGibbon, Lieutenant Governor of the province.
The House met at 3:05 p.m.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor, having entered the House and being seated upon the throne, was pleased to open the session with the following gracious speech.
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Hon. Mrs. McGibbon: Pray be seated.
Mr. Speaker and members of the Legislative Assembly, as representatives and servants of Canada’s most populated and progressive province, we assemble for the Fourth Session of Ontario’s 31st Parliament with a clear mission for the new decade. Whatever the insecurities of the international scene, whatever the vagaries of fluctuating economic events and trends, we must ensure with all the instruments at our disposal the strength and security of our economy, the self-sufficiency and political independence of our nation and the well-being and prosperity of our people.
In doing so, we will not only strengthen the great promise of Ontario’s future but also contribute immeasurably to the economic and political integrity of Canada. Ontarians expect that the next decade of the 1980s, while in many ways challenging, must also be one of assured opportunity. It must provide enhanced industrial and social development for communities in all parts of our province. It must strengthen the province’s capacity to furnish her citizens with the kind of lifestyle and freedom that comes from sound fiscal management and compassionate public policy.
Au cours des années quatre-vingt, ce sera non seulement au gouvernement mais à tous les Ontariens de s’engager à oeuvrer ensemble pour tirer le maximum de leurs ressources naturelles et humaines afin de créer des possibilités nouvelles qui leur permettront d’atteindre la sécurité recherchée.
The key to Ontario’s continued prosperity through the 1980s lies in the mobilization of our technical strengths. My government will direct the application of modern technology to best advantage to build on our high achievements and to meet the challenges of the future in energy, transportation, communications, the environment and agriculture as essential resource sectors of the economy and the mainstay of a quality of life that is cherished by the people of this province.
First and foremost, my ministers believe that our capacity to sustain economic self-reliance for Canada, as for Ontario, will depend in large part on Ontario’s ability to advance significantly towards greater energy security. As the largest consumer of energy in Canada, our responsibility to provide leadership is clear. To this end, my government will embark on an extensive and ambitious energy program for the 1980s, a principal objective of which will be to reduce our dependence on crude oil.
The most easily achieved and quickly developed approach towards this goal is through energy conservation. The government will, therefore, continue to promote province-wide conservation programs in the residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and transportation sectors. Individual projects will involve a range of activities, from car and van pooling to the inclusion of commercial energy conservation standards in the Ontario Building Code.
With the overall Ontario energy bill for all uses by all segments of our society approaching $11 billion a year, making Ontario more energy-efficient must be a shared commitment of all Ontarians. Every resident of our province must be part of this effort to keep our economy and our future strong.
During this session, a number of measures will be introduced to improve Ontario’s security of energy supply. In particular, my government will carry out initiatives in such areas as energy from waste, synthetic liquid fuel, co-generation, upgrading of heavy fuel oil, small hydroelectric developments and the full development of our nuclear power capacity for industrial purposes. Special activities, of which the Bruce Agripark, the Edwardsburgh methanol feasibility project and London’s Victoria Hospital waste-based heating plant can be taken as examples, will be pursued by the Ministry of Energy. At the same time, greater reliance will be placed on natural gas and electricity as substitutes for petroleum products.
The Ontario Energy Corporation will be strengthened to implement a number of new business ventures. Subsidiary corporations will be established. These will focus specifically on future investment in such areas as energy resources, power sharing, energy transportation and alternate energy.
The strategic importance of nuclear energy to Ontario cannot be overestimated. The superior qualities of the Candu reactor and the experience and professionalism of Ontario Hydro’s employees have combined to make our nuclear generating stations among the safest and most efficient in the world. From this firm base, Ontario will not hesitate to expand its nuclear capacity to guarantee the energy security of our people. In this context, my government looks forward to receiving the final report of the Porter Royal Commission on Electric Power Planning during this session.
The government has always placed a high priority on developing and maintaining the highest standards with respect to the health, safety and environmental aspects of nuclear energy. One of the keys to achieving these standards is to ensure that the public is more informed and has access to those responsible for regulating and supervising nuclear energy. Accordingly, Ontario will propose specific arrangements to the federal government for improvements in these provisions by responsible agencies.
Communications and transportation technology will play a dynamic role in our energy future, as well as in our overall economic position in the coming decade. By 1990 Ontario can be at the forefront of the communications and telecommunications industries through efforts based on structures and capacities already in place. Communications will replace much business travel, thus reducing energy-intensive transportation with energy-efficient and highly cost-effective communication links.
Specific measures to advance our communications technology will complement and encourage industrial initiatives. We will also seek to ensure the use of satellite communications and other forms of new technologies for private-sector business and television services to link vast parts of Ontario in the media and information community of the 1980s.
It is a basic fact of life, however, that transportation cannot easily be removed, during the next decade, from its overwhelming dependence on crude oil. But dependency can be reduced through conservation and specific system and technology changes. Since the automobile will always be with us, Ontario will seek to ensure that its redesign, improvement and efficient use become a key priority of manufacturers and motorists in our province.
Further modifications to current practices must also be pursued. Electrification of GO train and other rail lines is being considered in a major feasibility study. In addition, we will proceed to apply the technology of the Urban Transit Development Corporation to a major transit project in the Hamilton region, for which engineering studies have already begun. My ministers are pleased to record that the project has recently been assured federal assistance. This new and efficient mode of transportation will also be available, through normal capital funding terms, to other large urban areas of the province.
Overall, we must ensure that there are options available to the people of Ontario during a time when the cost and availability of oil-related energy could be a strain on our provincial economy. For this reason a task force is already in place to review the greater potential of rail transportation in this province, and a similar review of the potential of water transport on our Great Lakes and seaway systems will soon be announced.
In summary, Ontario will seek to lead a full-scale energy initiative that combines responsibility, resolve and resources towards ensuring provincial and national security in the 1980s. It goes without saying that the fundamental changes implicit in a new energy horizon for Ontario will necessarily be present in the shaping of our economic future.
During last year’s session, steps were taken to establish the Employment Development Fund to stimulate, assist and strengthen appropriate industrial growth in Ontario. Significant accomplishments have already resulted from this important government initiative, the impact of which will be felt for many years to come. As a result, the program will be continued in the year ahead.
Further, Ontario, will continue to give emphasis to the considerable benefits that can be derived from Canadians supporting Canadians. We will continue to promote the purchase of domestically produced goods and services through the Shop Canadian program. As well, particular efforts are already under way to demonstrate the gains that can be attained through greater harmonization of Canadian industrial policy and interprovincial co-operation in purchasing practices. Measures to encourage such Canadian investment and ownership will be presented in the Ontario budget this spring.
At the same time, Ontario will maintain its balanced approach to investments and industrial expansion. Thus, in addition to encouraging Canadian investment in our future and greater participation in all aspects of the industrial enterprise, including managerial, research and development activities, we will welcome foreign investment from those who are willing to share these objectives and to serve the best interests of our country.
The Ontario Development Corporation will introduce a new program which will provide assistance to Canadian investors to purchase the Canadian operations of foreign-owned firms. Priority will be placed on proposed investments by management and employee groups.
It is clear that if real economic growth and human development are to be characteristic of the 1980s, we must find ways and means of combating the serious inflationary trends that are currently under way. Since the causal factors of these trends are national and international in scale, corrective measures are not, to any significant degree, within the competence of this House. We must nevertheless do our part by acting in a restrained and fiscally responsible manner in respect of our own spending programs, while maintaining vigilance over the pricing of basic commodities and encouraging the growth of our productive capacity.
My government is also convinced that if we are to prosper as a nation we must have the courage to follow more independent economic policies. In this regard it is becoming increasingly evident that the overwhelming negative effects of the federal government’s high-interest-rate policy are cancelling out the intended benefits. Canada we believe, can have a more independent rate without imperilling our economic prospects. In fact, such a policy would enhance our economic performance and relieve the burden currently being placed on Canadian families and small businessmen.
Clearly, this is not an issue confined to Ontario, nor a concern of this government only; it is a problem which is permeating the economic fabric of all parts of the country. My government will, therefore, urge the federal government to re-examine its position on this vital national concern. We are prepared to participate constructively in discussions aimed at developing a new, vigorous and independent economic policy for Canada.
These steps are consistent with the realization that Ontario must be prepared to broaden and expand economic opportunities in the 1980s. But while capital and technological resources are important elements of our economic action program, they can never be as important as Ontario’s most valuable resource -- her people.
Proper manpower development and deployment will be of the utmost importance as one of the cornerstones of a healthy and growing economy in the 1980s. The key area of focus will be to produce sufficient numbers of skilled personnel from within our own work force to meet the needs of the Ontario economy. This is one of the main objectives of the recently created Ontario Manpower Commission.
For this purpose, an amount of more than $5 million from the Employment Development Fund has been earmarked for the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to boost the employer-sponsored training program. Further skill-training initiatives are planned, drawing on the support and expertise that already exist in the industrial sector of our province.
Solid labour-management relations and improved quality of life will be crucial to Ontario’s economic expansion in the 1980s. Measures will be introduced to amend the Ontario Labour Relations Act to assist in the achievement of these goals.
There is no greater source of untapped talent in Ontario today than that which exists among our female population. While the past decade has seen a new and sharper focus on this issue and a number of initiatives have been taken by both government and the private sector to advance equality of opportunity, progress has been slower than acceptable.
Increased emphasis will be given, therefore, to programs to ensure that the 1980s become a decade of accelerated advancement in this area. A supporting communications program is planned to remind employers and employees of their obligations and rights under existing equal pay law. The government will set an example for the decade through its affirmative action program for women crown employees, which will call for the development of yearly government-wide targets to improve job opportunities and specific planning targets for women in all employment categories.
Research and development, which have helped advance Ontario to its present position of industrial pre-eminence in Canada, will be vital to building new areas of leadership in the 1980s.
The Ontario Research Foundation remains an important interdisciplinary tool in shaping research-based economic opportunity for the future. Provincial support and funding of this organization will increase, and we will encourage further research and development activity through measures to be presented to this House.
In a new initiative, Ontario will establish a working group of private- and public-sector experts dealing with computer chip and microelectronic technology to ensure optimal benefit for the industries and people of Ontario from technological developments in this increasingly important area.
The next decade will see Ontario take particular steps to advance economic gains made from exporting value-added goods and services. Measures to create an Ontario export development corporation will be presented to members during this session. The corporation will concentrate on the development of export markets for areas of Ontario industrial and technological leadership, including electrical generating capability, environmental treatment systems, urban transit, health-care service design, telecommunications and capital equipment manufacturing.
The province will advance a sustained international trade development campaign through the opening of new offices in the United States and the Far East, expanding the trade mission program and broadening export support programs through the Ontario development corporations.
A comprehensive small-business program will be presented at this session, emphasizing the critical role of small- and intermediate- business development to the fabric and durability of our economic base. An important aspect of this program will be an expanded role for the Ontario development corporations. Increases in the loan and guarantee limits will ensure that a broad range of small-business projects have access to adequate financing and investment incentives.
Ontario will seek to intensify Ottawa’s efforts to increase Canadian end-product opportunities among Canada’s trading partners. The province will I also undertake an eight-year GATT adjustment program to assist Ontario manufacturing to adjust to new tariff and nontariff changes now being phased in.
The Ministry of Industry and Tourism will develop approaches to assure the long-term health of the automotive industry in relation to the Canada-US auto pact, the shift to lighter, fuel-efficient vehicles and import competition.
Demographic and economic changes will make tourism a vital and growing worldwide industry. A program for Ontario tourism development in the 1980s will be presented this spring. It will feature a new focus on both domestic marketing and promotion in the European market.
A specific new initiative will be directed towards the marketing of Ontario’s provincial parks as major tourist attractions. The Ministry of Natural Resources will work with the Ministry of Industry and Tourism to encourage vacation packages, combining the use of local dining and accommodation facilities with day visits to the parks, thus bringing to many more visitors an appreciation of the heritage and enjoyment of the recreational advantages which our vast provincial parks system has to offer.
Ontario North Now, a new exhibit at Ontario Place, offering a showcase of the lifestyle and amenities of northern Ontario, will spark a greater awareness and sense of the northern economic, social and cultural fabric on the part of visitors. It will also illustrate to residents of southern Ontario the vast economic opportunity and strategic importance of the north for the future of this province.
The quality of life in this province, as reflected in part in our high environmental standards, must be maintained despite the quest for greater economic activity. The 1980s will be a period of further consolidation and strengthening of what is already one of the toughest environmental protection programs in North America.
My government is proud to record the assessment of a recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which showed Toronto to have the cleanest environment of any heavily industrialized city in the western world. Our aim must be to ensure that similar impartial assessments at the end of the decade will reflect a high overall level of environmental protection for all residents of Ontario.
The tremendous progress and enviable standards achieved in environmental protection in Ontario have been the result of deliberate government policy and the legislative decisions of this House. Over the past two decades, we have been eminently successful as a province in establishing effective municipal water and sewage treatment programs, while addressing the significant challenge resulting from the introduction of new complex chemical compounds which we have found in our ecosystem.
A strong foundation in our efforts to control these chemicals and make them safe is the efficient environmental laboratory facilities established and operated by the government. These operations are consistently developing new techniques for alert and analysis systems to detect and render harmless the increasing variety of new chemicals being introduced.
As a special initiative, a hazardous contaminants co-ordinating unit will be established in the Ministry of the Environment to co-ordinate and expand research into the transport, storage, environmental effects and possible health implications of contaminants which may be present on land, in water or in the air.
The province will also develop a major demonstration project in glass separation and recycling to serve as a model for community-based recycling initiatives in the 1980s. The details of this undertaking will be announced this spring.
Educational resource programs developed by TVOntario and the Ministry of Education will seek to broaden the sensitivity of present and future generations to all aspects of the environment in which we live.
A comprehensive strategy proposal is being prepared to be transmitted to the federal government in the continuing efforts with Environment Canada and the US Environmental Protection Agency to establish a North American agreement and abatement program to deal with acid rain.
Government assistance to Ontario’s pulp and paper industry will maintain a high priority on a balance between environmental and economic considerations. Incentives will continue to apply to essential pollution abatement projects and to support needed modernization and plant upgrading.
Much valuable experience has been gained from the application of the 1975 Environmental Assessment Act to appropriate projects of provincial agencies. This has proved to be a constructive initial step towards applying environmental assessments to all major proposals. In keeping with the government’s commitment, and following extensive consultation with municipalities through the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee, the act will be extended to environmentally significant municipal projects. The necessary regulations will come into effect shortly.
Measures will also be proposed to streamline the hearing procedures of the Ontario Municipal Board and the Environmental Assessment Board. The new procedures will eliminate duplication and delay by allowing a transfer of jurisdiction between these two bodies on critical environmental and land-use issues.
Land-use planning, purposefully directed to the productive use of Ontario’s vast land resources, is of significant import to the assurance of a secure future, and particularly so in respect of our capacity for food production.
The government is committed to increasing Ontario’s agricultural productivity, and will take appropriate measures, by allowing for sufficient flexibility in farm practices, to enable farmers to modify or expand operations, to maintain viable farm enterprises and meet future food requirements.
In the Ontario of the 1980s, food production and distribution rank no less than energy as vital factors in maintaining our economic well-being and in sustaining our competitive economic advantages, and must be recognized by all Ontarians as strategic development tools for the benefit of present and future generations.
Because of the strategic nature of the agricultural resource, an up-to-date inventory of land ownership must be maintained at all times. Legislation providing for the monitoring of foreign ownership of agricultural land will be presented this session.
As a firm foundation for the 1980s, Ontario will commence a series of initiatives to strengthen our position as the foremost agricultural producing province in Canada. The province will establish an agricultural energy management resource centre for research and demonstration relating specifically to energy conservation on the farm and effective energy management throughout the agricultural sector.
The government will also establish a resource centre for increased agricultural productivity. It will place particular emphasis on research and technology transfer programs in soil management, erosion control, drainage and water quality. More funds will be made available to farmers for programs that are central to the rehabilitation and preservation of productive land, such as tile drainage.
A special beef producers’ financial protection fund will be created, in co-operation with producers, dealers and the meat packing industry, to bring to this key area of the agricultural sector similar protections now afforded to farmers in other areas of production.
Un collège de technologie agricole de langue française sera fondé à Alfred dans l’est de l’Ontario pour donner aux jeunes fermiers francophones de meilleures possibilités de carrière dans la collectivité agricole de la province.
With the use of modern technology to advance agricultural productivity, rural and small-town Ontario will turn increasingly to other activities to maintain their viability. Our small towns are, and must remain, a vibrant option for the people of Ontario. As a vital part of our heritage and an important part of our future, they must continue to attract and retain their population. This will depend heavily on availability of economic opportunity. Such opportunities will flow from carefully developed initiatives in areas related to forestry, tourism, recreation, small business and agricultural support enterprises.
Much of this activity will be financed from the Employment Development Fund, which through the beginning of the decade will continue to emphasize small-town location among the various criteria in its incentive measures.
As well, the province will move on measures to expand the Woodlands Improvement Act to assist hardwood, sawmill and local small-town pulp and wood industries.
Ontario’s citizens, rural and urban, have every right to believe that government will preserve the kind of balance that sees economic and industrial activity not as an end in itself but as a means for achieving and maintaining the human and social well-being we expect. By the same token, social and community values must be basic to ensuring the kind of economic development best suited to the people in our society.
The 1980s will, of necessity, be a time of greater self-reliance, more preventive rather than remedial expenditure, and a period of renewed importance for the structures of the family and the community. The challenge of social policy will be one of ensuring that, through greater community and individual responsibility, cost-efficiency and innovation, real and changing needs are effectively met. Creative use of existing resources will be crucial, in the years ahead, in protecting and enhancing the standards already achieved.
Our health, education and community services play a critical part in the quality of life Ontarians enjoy. Provision of these services at the highest level of excellence and suitability is an important commitment of government in Ontario for this decade.
The health-care delivery system from which Ontarians continue to benefit must be, in 10 years’ time, as it is today, one of the most comprehensive, professional and well developed in the world. It will continue to be a system characterized by excellence and providing protection for the population as a whole. As well, it will need to have sufficient flexibility to allow it to react to the changing conditions that it will undoubtedly encounter.
Over the next several years, the need to continue adjusting services to provide for increasing long-term care will be particularly important. At the same time redeployment of resources will be gradual and sensitive to other needs as they occur. An additional 600 nursing home beds will be approved this year to achieve more effective use of our active-treatment facilities. Special efforts will be made to extend chronic home-care services throughout the province over the next two years.
In northern Ontario, medical and paramedical programs, as well as established air and land ambulance services, will be enhanced by a new jet air-ambulance and helicopter ambulance service, serving both the northeast and the northwest, as a joint initiative of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Northern Affairs.
London will be used as a helicopter ambulance referral centre serving southwestern Ontario.
Further, the government will extend medical communications to connect hospitals in smaller centres, via televised systems, to regional referral hospitals. This will enable doctors to consult, at short notice if required, with colleagues and specialists about particular patients.
The government will dedicate substantial proceeds from the Provincial lottery, over the next five years, to maintain and support the high quality of research work in health, the environment and other essential fields.
Individual responsibility must play an important part in the long-term health of Ontarians in the 1980s and will be encouraged by new approaches in promoting positive health through nutrition, non-smoking, alcohol moderation, physical fitness and similar activities. Target groups will include schools, businesses and community and service organizations. In addition, it is expected that a recently commissioned province-wide review of amateur sport and recreation will make an important contribution to the promotion of greater participation in such leisure-time activities.
In the educational sphere, the challenge to government, teachers, local school boards and parents will be to continue the emphasis on elementary and secondary school standards to maintain a firm dedication to excellence and achievement founded on a basic, solid-core curriculum. The province’s commitment in this regard remains fundamental to a view which places education at the centre of community values, social progress and stability.
Legislation will be enacted at this session to make local school boards responsible for the provision of special education for students who require such attention. The program will be phased in over a five-year period, beginning in the 1980-81 school year.
At the post-secondary level, our universities and colleges of applied arts and technology face a challenge in the 1980s to serve a society with ever-changing demands. That challenge will offer significant opportunities for education in terms of industry, culture and other needs of the adult population. Specifically, changing population trends and broadening perspectives on continuing education and skills development will provide particular focus for Ontario post-secondary education in the 1980s.
Our well-developed community college system, with its tradition of adapting programs and curriculum to meet local needs, makes us superbly equipped to compete in the education technology market beyond our borders. Encouraged by the success of the colleges in this area and the ready involvement of business and educational organizations, Ontario will establish a crown agency to mobilize the province’s resources in support of these endeavours.
The agency will offer expertise and assistance in the development of educational and training components of private-sector tenders on international projects, the identification and support of such projects, and the contracting provisions for delivery of services to client organizations or countries. Close co-operation will be maintained with the trade development activities of the Ministry of Industry and Tourism.
There are also significant economic benefits which derive from what might be termed our cultural industries. Special emphasis will be placed on improving the economic stability of the arts and culture in Ontario and on achieving broader exposure for them in the marketplace. Criteria for the small business development corporations will be extended to include the book publishing industry as an eligible area of investment.
The influence of communications technology on cultural development offers significant opportunity over the next decade. The broadening of television and satellite facilities will bring Ontario tremendous export and growth opportunities.
Through utilization of direct-broadcast satellite facilities, the government will seek to increase TVOntario reception throughout the province. The network will continue to play an important role in strengthening the cultural and identity fibres that hold our province-wide community together, while further consolidating the substantial market it has gained in other jurisdictions for its superb English and French-language programming.
More than ever before, education, in the Ontario of the 1980s, must reach out in its broadest sense and beyond the first 18 or 25 years of our lives. For the youngest and oldest of our citizens, our educational and cultural systems must provide adequate and fulfilling opportunities for growth, training, upgrading and intellectual achievement.
Community services are a particular area in which the 1980s will be a time for carefully-targeted, flexible programs, serving those in most genuine need, while shifting to meet changing priorities.
My ministers believe that personal, family and community responsibility are basic to the direction and welfare of any free society. Limiting the role of large institutions, supporting the family, encouraging independence, fostering volunteer community solutions to community social problems -- these are the appropriate roles for government in the 1980s.
A series of pilot projects to put unneeded educational facilities to other community uses, and involving the development of demonstration programs for senior citizens and young people in mutually-beneficial community projects, will be developed as a firm foundation for opportunities in the coming years.
Further specific measures to advance financial security for senior citizens, in fulfilment of government commitments, will be presented in the budget.
Amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code will be introduced, in consultation with community organizations, to ensure that handicapped people in our society are provided with opportunities and services that most of our citizens take for granted. Other provisions to the code will also be introduced.
Group home and community living accommodation for the handicapped and mentally retarded will be increased over the next decade, continuing the steady integration into the community of those who are most in need of the stability and rewards of active community life.
In response to rising municipal concerns over the costs of participating in social housing programs, my government proposes to eliminate the need for municipal cost-sharing in rent-geared-to-income housing, effective April 1. This will save Ontario municipalities approximately $20 million this year.
New initiatives will be taken to help single mothers on social assistance prepare for and obtain meaningful and secure employment, as a means to future self-reliance and to ensuring financial and personal independence beyond their working years.
While federal government co-operation is essential if a full program is to move ahead rapidly, some initial steps have already been taken, such as the introduction of a work initiative program. This session the Ontario government will introduce additional initiatives, including improvements with respect to support payments, expansion of counselling and assessment services and the development of employment projects, to provide increased opportunities for single mothers who wish to become self-supporting.
The government has moved steadily ahead with the development of integrated children’s services. The new decade will see special programs to direct funds to prevent abuses and difficulties which force the community to intervene to protect the rights of children.
Additional provisions to the Children’s Law Reform Act governing child custody and access proceedings will be enacted at this session. The legislation, which was given first reading last December, is firmly based on the principle that the best interests of the child should be the focus of legal proceedings in family disputes over custody.
Since the spring of 1979, the government of Ontario has been conducting a review of the impact of population changes on every aspect of its operation. This will result in the release of a publication this spring on demographic policy issues for the decade.
The peace and lawfulness of our communities and the individual rights and freedom of all Ontarians throughout the 1980s will continue to depend largely on the effective enforcement of our laws and maintenance of an orderly society. The administration of justice, based, as it must be, on law and order and on equality before the courts, must also incorporate certain key principles in the broad public interest, among them access to the law and to legal institutions, simplicity and, where appropriate, reform.
The reform of procedures in the civil courts will include an important pilot project, to be called the Provincial Court (Civil) Division, aimed at broadening citizen access to the justice system in cases involving small civil claims.
New legislation will be presented to simplify a client’s right for impartial review of a solicitor’s fees where they are thought to be excessive.
Justice for the victims of crime will be a particular priority in the administration of the justice system. In recent years, in both institutional and community programs, emphasis has been placed on requiring offenders to accept responsibility for their offences by paying back the victims of their crimes, or society generally. Many of these initiatives, such as victim-reconciliation, restitution and community-service orders, by which offenders do work in the community, are being increasingly successful.
The continuation of these activities will be supported by a stepped-up program for correctional institutions to attain greater self-sufficiency and make a broader material contribution to the community around them, as important elements of a system that would be truly remedial.
The successful evacuation of Mississauga, last fall, was a tribute to the people of that community, police, fire, civil defence, health and other public servants of the municipalities and the province. The experience reminds us, however, that complex societies will require contingency planning on the part of all such agencies, to protect life and property in the event of similar emergencies in the future.
The province will therefore commission the preparation of a consolidated report and critical review of the full details of all that transpired in Mississauga, to obtain instruction that would be helpful in any future such incidents and to assist other jurisdictions, in Ontario, Canada and throughout the world, in their own contingency planning.
Exercises and programs of instruction to increase provincial preparedness will be made available to all municipal and regional police, fire, environment and safety officials.
Legislation will be reintroduced for a pilot project in Metropolitan Toronto to provide a more satisfactory process for citizens’ complaints concerning police conduct.
My government believes that improved communications between our institutions and the citizens they serve can contribute much towards achieving our goals for Ontario through the 1980s. Greater openness in the administration of government itself and increased access to government by the citizen are fundamentally important.
The completion of the work of the Royal Commission on Freedom of Information and Individual Privacy is expected this spring. The minister responsible for regulatory reform and freedom of information will prepare a government implementation program following receipt and study of the report.
The government will release shortly the second report of the agencies review committee, which will outline an integrated process for the management and control of special-purpose bodies. Part of this process will call for “sunset” provisions for all advisory agencies on a precise date, pending a decision, based on their individual merits, to reactivate them.
As part of the government’s ongoing commitment to share regulatory authority, in appropriate circumstances, with responsible business groups, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations will develop a plan for self-regulation of Ontario’s real estate industry. This new program will combine a high level of professional capability to serve the public with rigorous protection of the industry’s customers.
Additional investment and lending powers and increased self-regulatory responsibility will be extended to the credit union movement.
Major attention is being given to statute revision and codification of laws and regulations, using the most advanced computerized information retrieval techniques.
The government is also taking steps to provide functional phone-book listings, backed up by free telephone access to government offices across Ontario, as part of its overall efforts to increase public access to government services. In the wider perspective, however, the government’s effectiveness will be measured not only in terms of its ability to communicate with its citizens and its overall effectiveness in the management of their affairs, but also in the capacity to reach out beyond Ontario’s boundaries to help secure the future of our nation.
The 1980s will require leadership from Ontario in the reshaping of the Canadian Confederation and the strengthening of English-French relationships throughout Canada. For its part, within Ontario the government will pursue steady and responsible progress in the provision of French-language government services to our French-speaking residents.
In the coming year, the Ministry of the Attorney General will designate certain small-claims courts for bilingual trials, as well as continue the development of French-language court services for criminal cases, family matters and minor offences. This initiative in the civil court, to which citizens have easiest and most frequent access, is a major step in the field of bilingual civil trials, as part of the orderly development of French-language court services provided for by recent Judicature Act amendments.
A change in court practice will enable surrogate courts in counties and districts designated under the Judicature Act to grant letters probate, without a translation, of wills made in the French language.
The province of Ontario will continue to work for the entrenchment in a new constitution of guaranteed education rights, in their own language, to French- and English-speaking minorities throughout Canada.
Our commitment to the future of Ontario and Canada is firm. The recent restructuring of the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism and Citizenship is meant to stress clearly that Ontario society, enriched as it is by cultural diversity, shares a strong and unifying pride in Canadian citizenship, its privileges and responsibilities.
The promise of the next decade must not be squandered through interprovincial or federal-provincial friction, which would do nothing but profoundly disappoint Canadians everywhere. While Ontario continues to reject such extreme solutions as are offered in the proposal for sovereignty-association, it is clear that there is a growing consensus in Canada on the types of changes required to refashion our constitution and make it a living instrument, capable of pulling together the diverse people, languages and regions of this great country.
Ontario will continue to give this crucial issue a high priority, and will demonstrate in the months to come that the special needs of all Canadians, whether in the east or the west, can indeed be accommodated within the framework of a strong Canada, fully capable of meeting all the challenges that lie ahead.
The members of this assembly will be afforded the full opportunity of a wide-ranging debate in this House on the future of Confederation so that the views of the elected representatives of this province can be clearly heard on the many important issues. This debate will allow for constructive and thorough examination of our governmental institutions and practices, our fundamental rights, the distribution of powers, the patriation of our constitution and the streamlining of government services at all levels, so that fairness, efficiency, and accountability become the bywords of essential services to Canadians everywhere.
Honourable members, the promise and opportunity of the 1980s will require Canadians throughout Canada to resolve to make maximum use of our political, economic and social resources to shape a decade of security and achievement.
In Ontario, our continued prosperity can best be realized through self-reliance, hard work, initiative and innovation and responsibility to our fellow citizens. Government and the private sector must work carefully to ensure our quality of life and the economic opportunity and social stability it provides.
Ontario is a province where there is no limit to the kind of achievement, progress and security our people can earn and enjoy. We must, therefore, take the courageous decisions necessary now to preserve that overwhelming opportunity for all our people. From all the members of this parliament, the people of Ontario deserve no less.
May Divine Providence guide your deliberations.
God bless the Queen and Canada.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that to prevent mistakes I have obtained a copy of Her Honour’s speech, which I will now read.
Reading dispensed with.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
LIBEL AND SLANDER AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved first reading of Bill 1, An Act to amend the Libel and Slander Act.
Motion agreed to.
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor to this House be taken into consideration on Thursday next.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that commencing tomorrow, March 12, this House will not sit in the chamber on Wednesdays unless otherwise ordered.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs be authorized to sit on the morning of Thursday, March 13.
Motion agreed to.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Davis, the House adjourned at 4:10 p.m.