The House met at 10 a.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I wish to announce a series of initiatives and new program directions aimed specifically at the small business sector of Ontario.
As a background to these initiatives, we are releasing this morning a policy document which identifies the key issues that must be addressed in order to permit and assist small business in Ontario to develop to its full potential. It provides also a framework for the new programs we are undertaking and directions we are following.
We think these initiatives -- developed after extensive dialogue and consultation with small business owners and operators in the manufacturing, service-industry and retail sectors throughout the province -- represent a pragmatic and innovative response to the problems and frustrations experienced by local entrepreneurs.
We believe the contribution of small businesses to our economic strength in this province can be maximized if they are assisted and encouraged to develop to become financially secure and anchored in their local communities, and to increase their competitiveness in both domestic and international markets.
I would like to highlight 14 of the components of our new program. The first involves marketing assistance for small businesses. Local firms often have limited resources to allocate to promotional materials and yet effective marketing can be the key to increased sales. We are introducing a new program whereby companies with new and innovative products will be able to produce effective promotional materials and acquire skilled marketing assistance from public relations and advertising specialists in the private sector, with my ministry paying 75 per cent of the cost to a maximum of $7,500 per company.
The second part of our program will add new focus to the consulting services available through my ministry. We will be offering to small businesses the specialized skills of our marketing consultants to assist in the development of comprehensive marketing plans and the improvement of internal marketing skills.
The third new initiative we are undertaking involves direct financial assistance for small businesses to undertake research and development. Many local entrepreneurs want to develop and apply new technology but lack the necessary financial resources to set up laboratories or retain engineers, scientists and technical experts. These firms must have access to the specialized skills offered through the Ontario Research Foundation and other research facilities. Accordingly, we will pay 90 per cent of the cost of research and development and technical assessment work performed for small businesses by the Ontario Research Foundation or other research organizations to a maximum of $3,600 per firm.
The fourth component of our program involves direct financial assistance to provide local entrepreneurs with access to the kind of guidance and direction that is available to major corporations through their boards of directors. To do this, my ministry is funding a pilot project to set up local boards of directors composed of successful and aggressive business people from individual communities. The board will meet six times a year to offer local businesses advice on their operations. The pilot project will begin next month in the Kitchener-Waterloo region. Based on the results in that area we hope to extend it to other communities throughout the province.
The fifth initiative we are undertaking involves increased assistance and support for small businesses wanting to sell to government. While our government is already purchasing goods and services from thousands of small businesses in Ontario, local enterprises must be encouraged and assisted to sell more effectively. We have therefore established a special “Marketing to Government” unit in our small business development branch. It will be working with individual firms helping them to identify specific marketing opportunities and meet the purchasing requirements of provincial ministries and agencies.
John Laschinger, our director of small business development, will assume the role of small business trouble-shooter -- offering assistance and intervening on behalf of any small business owner having difficulty in obtaining government contracts. To increase access to the services of the trouble-shooter, we have set up a call-collect system whereby any small business person can contact him at Queen’s Park, free of charge.
As a sixth initiative, we have established a task force in conjunction with Management Board of Cabinet, the Ministry of Government Services and other government ministries and agencies. This task force is studying the effects of government procurement policies and is identifying ways to streamline and standardize purchasing procedures and policies on as wide as basis as possible.
The seventh component of our program for small business involves the development of a complete directory providing information on how to sell to government, purchasing terms and procedures, items bought and provincial purchasing agents and contacts. Thirty-five thousand copies of this directory, which has been prepared in co-operation with the purchasing officers’ council of our government, will be distributed next month to small business people across Ontario through my ministry’s 16 field offices.
Our eighth initiative deals with efforts to assess accurately the share of government purchases going to small business. My colleague, the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet (Mr. McCague), will be outlining the quite impressive results of a recently completed study on this subject immediately following my statement. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide an annual report to this Legislature.
Ninth, we will be introducing a formal program to encourage increased sourcing by multinational firms from small Canadian businesses. This initiative represents an extension of our Shop Canadian program designed to promote increased public awareness of the importance of supporting Canadian manufactured products. We will also be placing emphasis on the distribution of information on current import replacement, licensing, joint venture and private sector opportunities.
The 10th component of our 14-point program deals with the promotion of financial assistance available to small business. Governments at both the federal and provincial level as well as many lending institutions have specific programs designed to provide financial assistance to small business. One of the most important initiatives in this area was the establishment last year by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) of Ontario’s small business development corporations legislation, providing attractive tax incentives to encourage equity investment by small business.
My ministry will formally take on the role of broker, setting up an information-exchange system so that the equity capital requirements of eligible small businesses can be matched to registered small business development corporations.
The 11th part of our program relates to the expansion of our staff complement to provide increased financial planning assistance for small business and particularly assistance in preparing presentations for financial support from public or private lending institutions through our computer planning model.
The computer model, which has been in operation for the past year and a half, provides local firms with financial reports, balance sheets and cash flow analyses of their businesses. These financial forecasts can be used as a control device to plan and assess future profits, and for support in loan applications. The expansion of this program will bring sophisticated computer facilities to virtually every manufacturer in the province.
The 12th component deals with the Ministry of Industry and Tourism acting as a voice for small business. To ensure improved communications between the federal and provincial governments, my ministry will prepare and submit an annual report to the federal government highlighting our concerns and including our recommendations for programs, services and policies with respect to small business. In this way we hope that Ontario’s small manufacturers in particular will be taken into full account when federal policies and programs are developed or revised.
As point 13 in our program, our ministry will submit an annual report to this Legislature, including information about specific problems that have been identified, new initiatives we have undertaken and progress reports on existing programs and services. The policy paper I am releasing today represents the first of those reports.
The final component of our 14-point program involves building a base of public support for and understanding of small businesses. We will be undertaking a series of research studies at Ontario business schools to evaluate the degree to which skills appropriate to smaller businesses are being taught, as well as to the effect of the existing curriculum on student attitudes to small business.
We think what I have described today represents a pragmatic and comprehensive response to many of the specific concerns of small business. While our basic ministry mandate relates to the manufacturing sector, we are continuing to expand our services to small retailers and service industries. Our low-cost consulting program offered in conjunction with Ontario universities, our advocacy initiatives and our small business management development program are now available to, and being used by, local retailers. We are in the process of developing new programs to serve this wider mandate and these also will be announced shortly.
As I said at the start, our new initiatives were implemented after extensive consultation and dialogue with local business people throughout Ontario. While we continue to analyse, review and update our programs, we think those I have announced today represent a complete package of services for small business.
Our financial assistance for the preparation of marketing materials, the resources we are making available to small businesses wanting to engage in research and development, and our support for the establishment of local boards of directors are just a few examples of our desire to take on the role of a catalyst, helping those in the private sector to help themselves and to help each other.
GOVERNMENT PURCHASING FROM SMALL BUSINESSES
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, at various times over the past year or so, members of this House have expressed an interest in the extent to which the government purchases goods and services from small businesses. In response to this expression of interest, my colleague the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) and I have jointly commissioned a study to determine the sources from which the ministries of government acquire goods and services.
We are pleased to table, for the information of the House, a report that is based on a statistical sampling of the purchase orders issued 1978-79. The information contained in this report reveals that 51.2 per cent of the total value of our purchases, exclusive of purchases for construction projects, was directed to businesses employing fewer than 100 employees. Of the individual purchase orders issued by ministries, 63.9 per cent went to small businesses.
These findings confirm our belief that the government’s purchasing policies and the way they are being applied by ministries do not discriminate in any way against small businesses. Because of the enormous contribution these businesses make to the economic wellbeing of our province, we intend to ensure that small firms continue to receive favourable consideration for all government business.
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Mr. Speaker, le premier rapport annuel du coordonnateur provincial des services en langue française qui a été relâché hier fait état de nombreuses initiatives gouvernementales à l’intention de nos compatriotes franco-ontariens. Il reflète de façon tangible l’engagement du gouvernement ontarien à répondre aux besoins et aux aspirations des francophones.
In the event that some of the honourable members may have missed the odd word, this first annual report of the co-ordinator of French-language services reflects in a concrete and practical way the government’s commitment to provide services and programs for the French-speaking citizens of Ontario. In addition to giving a general overview of the numerous services available, it also provides useful information on where to obtain them. I take pride in this first report and recent accomplishments. Major strides have been made and we are well on the way to implementing the provision of French-language services.
M. l’Orateur, je me réjouis des progrès réalisés. Nous sommes sur la bonne voie et nous continuerons à améliorer ces services afin de toujours mieux servir les Ontariens d’expression française.
CREDIT UNIONS AND CAISSES POPULAIRES AMENDMENT BILL
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, later today I will be introducing the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Statute Law Amendment Act, 1980, which will allow credit unions in Ontario to compete better with other financial institutions. Specifically, the act will remove legislative impediments that place operating restrictions on credit unions and will better enable them to compete with other financial institutions to serve the public and the business community.
The Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1976, provided a complete new code for the operation of credit unions and caisses populaires in Ontario. Many of the new provisions in that legislation streamlined and contemporized the law relating to these provincial financial institutions and refined the methods in which they are able to serve the public.
However, many specific acts continue to contain provisions that specifically exclude or contain legal impediments denying equal opportunity to credit unions. Representatives of the credit union movement have approached my ministry and others with a view to having these acts amended to permit credit unions to act as depositories for certain funds and to authorize investment by certain institutions in the deposits or term deposits of credit unions.
In some cases, such as the recent amendments to the Education Act and the Municipal Act, this has already been done. However, since credit union legislation is administered by my ministry, it was deemed advisable that the amendments to the various acts be presented in omnibus form.
The bill would allow credit unions to act as depositories for trust funds of real estate and business brokers, trustees and bailiffs. It would also permit term deposits of credit unions to be authorized investments of trustees, loan corporations, insurance companies and trust companies. It would permit credit unions to make guaranteed loans to students of universities, colleges of applied arts and technology and other post-secondary institutions in Ontario. Finally, the act will provide the Ontario Share and Deposit Insurance Corporation with further enabling powers so that it may act as a liquidator in the winding up of institutions under its charge.
DEATH OF MRS. JAMES VIPOND
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, before the question period formally opens, I am sure the Legislature will join with me in extending our sympathy to our athletics commissioner, Mr. James Vipond, on the passing of his wife, May, particularly in view of the enormous role that Mr. Vipond, as a journalist, has played across this province in the establishment of a great many charitable institutions and community betterment projects.
Mr. S. Smith: Will the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Auld) be in, do you know, Mr. Speaker? I know the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry) is away, but I wondered if the minister would be here.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think so, yes.
GOVERNMENT PURCHASING FROM SMALL BUSINESSES
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, in the meantime I will ask a question of the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet regarding his statement that small businesses account for 51 per cent of the government purchases other than construction. I wonder whether he is using the same definition of small businesses as that included in the news release from the Ministry of Industry and Tourism today, namely, Canadian-owned companies employing fewer than 50 people in the service industry or fewer than 100 people in manufacturing.
As I understood what he said, they were companies with 100 or fewer employees, period, and no distinction was drawn, as far as I know, between independently owned as opposed to branch plant companies. I wonder if the minister could clarify that and tell us to what extent independently owned Canadian small businesses are contributing to the procurement in Ontario because, as he knows, in the United States the law does say that these companies which are to be defined as small should be independently owned.
Hon. Mr. McCague: I believe the study was done strictly on size of company and did not take into account the point that the honourable member raises.
Mr. S. Smith: I guess then I would like to direct a supplementary to the Minister of Industry and Tourism, and I will put it this way. We welcome the fact that the minister is helping with promotion and with research in small business. Would the minister, however, instead of just telling the small businesses how they can offer their wares to government, undertake first of all to find out how much government is now purchasing from independently owned Canadian small businesses and set a target for government procurement from independently owned Canadian businesses? This was suggested by my colleague the member for Victoria-Haliburton (Mr. Eakins) in his bill, which of course was not brought back by the government for third reading in the Legislature. Would he please find out how much of present procurement is from those companies and, like the Americans, introduce a target for Ontario for independently owned Canadian small businesses?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: There are two points to make. First, as the study was undertaken through the auspices of the Ministry of Government Services and Management Board of Cabinet, when one considers the numbers of contracts -- there are literally hundreds of thousands of contracts that the government enters into in the course of a year -- it becomes quite a massive project to do the auditing, not only on the work that already has been done but in terms of the ownership of those firms.
The reason that particular approach was taken was that it’s quite clear the vast majority of small businesses in this province are, under the definition, Canadian-owned small businesses. So it was felt that this gives us a pretty fair profile.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, the vast majority of small businesses under that definition are Canadian-owned. It became quite an oppressive task to undertake the extra bureaucracy involved and the cost involved to find out whether the remaining portion was five per cent or eight per cent.
One believes -- and we do believe -- that if you secure for small business the kinds of procurement they are securing in this government then you are very basically and fundamentally helping the independent Canadian-owned small business sector. I think it’s a fair statement to say that those figures reflect that.
I think we should also keep in mind that under almost any sensible percentage figure you want to use for Canadian-owned versus non-Canadian-owned small business, the targets set by the Liberal leader’s colleague in his bill are already exceeded by the purchasing policies of this government.
Mr. S. Smith: We don’t know that.
Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, in regard to procurement within the government ministries, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario is planning to purchase $10 million to $20 million in computerized cash registers. There’s a possibility that this contract will not go to Canadian small business. Is the minister going to apply pressure to the liquor control board to make sure this purchase is from a Canadian small business? Is he going to set an example or are they going to have to sit there and wonder whether they are going to get the business? Is he going to act on that?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I think that’s a pretty good example of the role that our ministry is taking, particularly through Mr. Laschinger, who is assuming the role of small business trouble-shooter.
What has happened in that instance was a small Canadian firm came in to bid on a contract which in most cases can only be handled by large international computer firms. A small Canadian firm came in, made a bid, and in order to keep in the running for that contract, for which there is fierce competition, Mr. Laschinger put that firm in touch with one of the small business development corporations set up by this government pursuant to last year’s budget.
We were able there to marry the resources of the SBDC with the Canadian-owned independent small firm in order to put them in a more competitive position to be able to fulfil that contract requirement by the LCBO. Currently, because of those very severe and direct efforts made by our small business development branch, that firm is in very good standing to be the successful bidder at the time that decision is made by the LCBO -- which I understand will be approximately May 1. We are actively promoting that firm, working with the LCBO and the firm, to ensure that this firm gets the contract.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, when the minister was preparing this program for small businesses, did he examine the government policy of making a 10 per cent allowance for Canadian purchasing on behalf of his government in view of the effect that would have on the small business sector? In particular, did he re-examine the study done by Professor Lowrie, which indicated that the 10 per cent favour for buying Canadian on behalf of government in very many cases is inadequate? It could be substantially raised and this would give an additional benefit for small businesses.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Yes, I have some sympathy for that point of view. As a result we have undertaken a further study, as outlined in my statement this morning, to ascertain definitively the effectiveness of the 10 per cent procurement figure. If the results of that further study, which we should have by early or late summer, show on that specific point that the 10 per cent is inadequate, I will be so reporting to the House and my colleagues, and perhaps we’ll see a change in that figure.
Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition has a new question.
Mr. S. Smith: I’ll direct the question -- It’s all right, Mr. Premier; I’ll direct on another topic.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Assuming he is still able to communicate, which he always does so well, perhaps the Leader of the Opposition might ask that question when the minister of Northern Affairs gets here. I am trying to find out whether he is just out of his chair.
Mr. S. Smith: I appreciate the Premier’s efforts in this regard. I will direct a question on another topic to the Premier.
GAS AND OIL SUPPLIES
Mr. S. Smith: The Premier is no doubt aware that on April 1 the government of Alberta, through its Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission, will be implementing new and additional controls over the nation’s oil industry by certain criteria that might be imposed, which Canadian refineries will have to meet in order to continue buying Alberta crude oil.
Is the Premier aware that these new controls might threaten the supply of feedstock for Petrosar and perhaps for other processors in Ontario’s petrochemical industry? If so, has he been in touch with the government of Alberta and/or the government of Canada in this regard? If he has, what satisfaction has he received?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am told there have been some preliminary discussions. As I understand it -- I am going partially by press reports -- the government of Alberta has made it clear that this is not an attempt to reduce the flow of its oil or feedstock here. The concern of Petrosar has been communicated to me with great regularity by the member for Lambton (Mr. Henderson) --
Mr. S. Smith: And by the member for Sarnia (Mr. Blundy) back in 1978.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Just let me finish -- and with some less regularity by the member for Sarnia, and I always take into account what the member for Sarnia says. I just add this as a slight interjection: I was there with him not too many months ago at an opening of a petrochemical plant and he was extolling the virtues of the government, the environmental controls in this province, how Sarnia had benefited from environmental guidance -- I recall it so well; look at him smiling back there. He was saying what a great job had been done. I just wish he would say the same things here in the House.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh no, he has said it since. He may say it one day and confess the next day, but then he says it again the third day.
Mr. Speaker: Meanwhile, back to feedstock.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Back to feedstock -- Mr. Speaker, you’re so good.
The federal Minister of Energy is coming here next week, I believe, to meet with the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) of this province, myself and one or two others. This will be one of the matters on which we are going to seek clarification as to the approach of the government of Canada. Our concern is for the refineries here, and this government is very much committed to Petrosar, as we have made clear for a number of years, and not only to seeing that it has adequate feedstock, but also to continue to make the point with the government of Canada that it has to be at a price that makes Petrosar very competitive with the petrochemical industry not only in the gulf coast but in the state of Michigan and one or two other places where it has been brought to my attention there is a modest degree of competition.
After that meeting is over, I will be delighted to report on those discussions to the House.
Mr. S. Smith: I take it the Premier is saying there have been some communications with the government of Canada. From his answer, I am not sure whether there have been some with the government of Alberta or not -- I take it there have not been. If I am wrong, be can correct me -- and indicate whether he intends to have further discussions with the government of Canada.
Given that the marketing commission measures being implemented in Alberta might result in either the curtailment of feedstock or possibly feedstock at a higher price from freehold lands, under these circumstances will the Premier be making any suggestions at all to the Minister of Energy of Canada? Will he be suggesting, for instance, the possibility of a reference to the Supreme Court? Will he be suggesting some particular negotiating stance? What will he be saying to the Minister of Energy other than, “I want the feedstock, and you figure out how to get it for me”?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I can only go by the record to date which is not in itself sufficient. But there have always been suggestions that Petrosar was somewhat vulnerable in terms of price and in terms of supply. I think it is fair to state that historically the governments of Ontario and Canada have been able to maintain a position where supply has by and large been satisfied and where to date, in terms of price, we have been competitive. We will continue to press that with the government of Canada.
I have a note that for some reason the meeting with Mr. Lalonde may be the week after next and not this coming week.
The Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) met with the Petrosar people as recently as last week. We’re really very much aware of the situation and, while one can interpret the technical aspects of the new regulations, the practice to date has been to meet the needs of Petrosar. We will continue to press that point of view to the government of Canada. In fairness, the government of Canada has been sympathetic to that point of view. So has this government, the former government and the government before that.
Mr. Blundy: Does the Premier recall that on December 12, 1978, I raised this same issue in the House? After a page of Hansard, I couldn’t see what his answer was at that time. I would like to raise the question again now.
The Premier will recall he was present five months ago when he opened the Suncor plant, which is also now being jeopardized by the moves being made by the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission. Is the Premier personally going to try to achieve some kind of security for these two plants that mean so much to the wellbeing of Ontario and to employment in Sarnia and Lambton?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I’m quite familiar with the question that was asked in 1978. If the member would like me to go through the answer I gave in 1978, I would be delighted to do so again.
The only plain point I would make to the member for Sarnia -- and being the very fair-minded and objective member he is, I know he will report what I am saying -- is that I think when one looks back to 1978 we see that we’ve had two years when Petrosar has had the feedstock and when it has been competitive: At the new plant I had the pleasure of assisting in opening, I made it quite clear how important this industry was to Ontario, and that this government would make every effort to see they got the feedstock and that it was at a competitive price.
I think the honourable member perhaps was almost in support of my point of view in 1978 when I argued, very strenuously with the then government of Canada, that there should always be a price differential in terms of feedback going into Sarnia vis-à-vis other areas, contrary perhaps to the policy of the member’s own party. I don’t want to get controversial here today but I think our position on this has been consistent throughout. It will be maintained. To date we have had some measure of success, which has been demonstrated in my conversations with the Petrosar people, who have expressed their appreciation for the efforts of this government to see that they remain a very viable industry to the benefit of the people of Lambton, Sarnia and the province.
Does the member understand all that?
USE OF ASBESTOS IN SCHOOLS
Mr. M. Davidson: My question is directed to the Minister of Education. Yesterday, in response to a number of questions I raised with the minister, she indicated school boards were carrying out air samplings in order to determine whether or not asbestos was prevalent throughout the school system.
Can the minister then explain why it is that the directives sent out by her ministry dated January 25, 1980, under the letterhead of her ministry, in which the information she referred to yesterday is supposedly contained under “Collection of Samples for Analysis,” nowhere does it indicate that air sampling should be carried out nor does it give direction as to how it should be done.
How can she explain that staff and officials at both the Toronto Board of Education and the Metropolitan Toronto School Board have indicated to us quite clearly that air sampling is not being carried out nor has it been carried out? Can she explain her statements to us given those remarks?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I think if the honourable member were to read the document that went out with the numbered memorandum in January, he would find on page 4.1, that the directives for the collection of samples are spelled out. It is a yellow document which was included with the directive that was sent to each and every school board. The directions for collection have been devised by the Ministry of Labour occupational health and safety division and were considered by that branch to be appropriate.
An hon. member: Did it ask for air samples?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Yes. The directive which was sent suggested very strongly that collection should be taken in air space where an air plenum might, in fact, be contaminated with asbestos; that is on the numbered memorandum directive. I cannot tell the honourable members why collection is not being carried out by various school boards, but that directive was submitted, and if the school boards are not doing as requested then we shall certainly attempt to make sure that it is done.
Mr. M. Davidson: A supplementary: Yesterday, the minister quite clearly said to this House that over the last several months we have developed a policy of investigation of schools in which some asbestos material might possibly have been used, and the taking of air samples in order to ensure there is no asbestos hazard to students. In regard to the supplementary she answered: “But boards have people capable of doing the sampling which is necessary, including the air sampling which is being done.”
I would like the minister to tell us which school boards are carrying out air sampling, and how and where it is being done?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I shall collect that information and report to the House.
Mr. Swart: Read it.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I’m telling the member I don’t know them.
Mr. B. Newman: A supplementary: Did the minister attach to any of those letters that she may have sent to the boards a specific notice that they must return a copy of their report to her personally, or to her office personally, so she could check up on them and see that they do carry out the samplings?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That request was not made. It is a useful suggestion which I shall consider seriously. We have constant communication with the laboratory of the occupational health and safety division and are aware of those boards which have done certain of the work at any rate. That might be an interesting thing for us to suggest so we will have a constant record of the boards involved in it.
Mr. Ziemba: Yesterday, the minister told us that since 1970 no asbestos-containing material is to be used in new construction. How is it, at this very moment, that this very same asbestos-containing material is being installed at Harbord Collegiate Institute, which is not too far from here, at some risk to the workmen and even more risk to the students? The minister is still doing it.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I’m not doing it. A directive was submitted in the late 1960s and again in the early 1970s warning boards of the potential hazards of asbestos-containing materials in school buildings. The responsibility for the construction, of course, remains with the boards of education. While we attempt to assist them in the discharge of their responsibilities, it cannot he assumed that the total responsibility should fall upon the Ministry of Education.
However, the matter at Harbord is related to a problem of the air ducts between classrooms which have dampers as a fire retardant. Those dampers, I am informed, have been coated with asbestos. There is apparently no problem when the dampers are closed. The problem occurs, of course, when the dampers are open and the air flows through and the asbestos may flake off. That is a matter of very real concern, and the Metropolitan Toronto board, I’m sure, must have been aware of that. The occupational health and safety division has been involved in attempting to resolve this problem, and I do not know what the final resolution will be.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I regret I wasn’t here for her statement yesterday, but will the minister table a compendium of the various directives that have been sent and their dates, including that yellow-paged document that she referred to? And will the minister also be able to advise the House what approximate costs may occur in reconstructing and repairing the various areas that are involved and how the funds will he provided to do those reconstruction or repair costs? Will they come from the board or is the ministry going to be in a position to attempt to resolve this problem which appears to be widespread?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It perhaps is somewhat less widespread than we might suspect. The ministry did carry out a survey of its own last fall and identified a number of schools, not a huge number, in which it could be a potential problem.
As a matter of fact at that time when there was concern about the installation of this air venting system at Harbord, the Ministry of Education’s architectural branch advised the Toronto city board not to install those dampers; but they were installed and they are a problem at the present time.
We will develop the compendium. We have early information that almost all boards, except the Metropolitan Toronto boards, have provided the survey information for us. Certain Metropolitan Toronto boards have not, at this point, but I can tell members that the Waterloo board, for example, has, and I believe Kitchener boards have reported the results of their surveys.
Mr. Ziemba: The minister told the House that these dampers are only a problem when they are open. In fact, these dampers are always open; that is how they work, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: What is the question?
Mr. Ziemba: My question is when are we going to get some straight answers on this very serious problem?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: My understanding, as a non-engineer and a not particularly mechanical individual, is that a damper is something which is closed from time to time in order to dampen some activity which is going on. The damper is open in normal circumstances in that instance, but when a fire occurs it is closed in order to reduce the potential spread of the fire.
Mr. Foulds: So it is not a problem when there is a fire. Is that right?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, I almost can’t hear myself think because of the honourable members.
It would be closed in time of fire and I would not say it would not be a hazard then; it would be a protective mechanism then in terms of a fire, but not necessarily very protective in terms of the asbestos coating that is on it.
To answer the final part of the honourable member’s question which I neglected to do last time, the Ministry of Education can certainly absorb its share of the costs required to provide the protective covering, whatever is necessary, in order to solve the problem for all of the schools that we are aware will have a problem this year.
Mr. M. Davidson: My question, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Labour. Can the minister explain to us how it could possibly be that following the death of Mr. Clifton Grant, recognized by the Workmen’s Compensation Board as a claim, no follow-up was allowed to his fellow workers? Can he explain the statement of John Hastings, the compensation board’s spokesman, who said that it was up to the occupational health branch to do any follow-up? Hugh Nelson, a director of the branch, said his department was never notified of the case. Can the minister explain the lack of communication in his ministry that would allow this to happen?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: First of all, Mr. Speaker, it was at the request of this minister, in response to a request from another member that the investigation with regard to Mr. Grant’s claim be expedited, and it was so done. At that time I, personally, was not aware of the issue in the claim, but the investigation was expedited as a result of some information obtained from one of the members.
At this very moment as we talk, some of my staff are there investigating the shop and, indeed, all of the workers in that shop will undergo a medical assessment, As to whether there was previous notification, I am aware of the statement of Mr. Nelson and all I can tell the honourable member at this time is that I am making inquiries into it and I will report to you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. M. Davidson: Given that Mr. Grant had not worked since June 1, 1979, which is almost a year ago, and given that there were indications he was suffering from mesothelioma prior to the beginning of this year or prior to this incident occurring, surely there should have been follow-up with the people who worked with him and beside him on the job.
In answer to a question from the member for Hamilton East on Tuesday, November 14, 1978, when we were talking about the foundry workers, the minister made the following statement:
“I want to assure members that as a result of this incident I have directed that the entire communications system between the board and my ministry be reviewed in order to ensure there will be no recurrence of this unfortunate and frankly unacceptable course of events.”
Can the minister explain why we once again have a situation where there is no communication between the board and his ministry, and how long is the minister going to allow this to continue?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The member well knows the review which took place with regard to communications but, with regard to this particular situation, I would agree that once the determination was made that it was a mesothelioma related to asbestos, there should have been some follow-up; that is what I am inquiring into.
Let me emphasize, first of all, that not all mesotheliomas are related to asbestos, but once that determination was made, there should have been some communication and follow-up; that is what I am inquiring into, and I will be glad to report back to the member.
Mr. S. Smith: Perhaps by way of stretching a supplementary question a little, if the Speaker permits: As a result of this particular case, there has been considerable discussion with people in the Ministry of Labour and some public statements made which would indicate a good many of the multi-storey buildings in Toronto and the rest of Ontario built before 1972 may well be in exactly the same dangerous position. This could obviously present a horrendous economic and health problem to Ontario.
May I ask what the approach of the minister is at this time with regard to assisting with inspection of other buildings, apart from schools, important as schools may be as a starting place? What other inspection systems are there with regard to other buildings, and what standards are being set? Can the minister give us any plans at all to deal with this apparent public hazard?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the Leader of the Opposition that a directive was issued last fall to all inspectors indicating that on any occasion when they are inspecting a building of any sort they are to make observations about the presence or absence of asbestos and report it.
Second, with regard to the overall and broader problem, which as the member knows crosses all nations -- it is international and ubiquitous; it is even transministerial, involving occupational health, environment, public health -- everything -- as a result of discussions that went on at the interministerial level last summer and fall, we did establish within the branch a group which had been preparing a background document on the presence and use of asbestos in public buildings and buildings to which the public has access.
I have been advised that a background document will be ready shortly and an interministerial committee will be reviewing it at that time to come up with recommendations.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary question: I would like to get a straight answer from the minister --
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I always give straight answers.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: That’s why I am asking it of the minister.
On what date last year was it determined that the workmen's compensation claim was going to be accepted? On what date did the ministry’s doctors determine that mesothelioma was caused by asbestos-related work conditions? We have not been able to get that information from the ministry yet. How long has the minister known?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: As the member knows, Mr. Speaker, I was out of town yesterday; I made efforts late last night and early this morning, but I don’t have that information. That is part of the information I am inquiring into, and I will be glad to report back to the member.
MIRACLE FOOD MART
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Would the minister intervene and advise Miracle Food Mart to rescind its new pricing policy, which it made effective March 10, whereby it retags and marks up the price of existing shelf stock as soon as the price on the new stock from the supplier increases?
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I will look into it.
Mr. Swart: If the minister is not aware of this, will he look closely at the internal document which I am about to send to him? Will the minister note particularly clause 6 of the internal document which reads as follows:
“Once a price change is complete, all shelf stock will be at the same new price”? Will he look at clause 3 closely: “All price advances are to be completed during nonbusiness hours”?
On a further memo, will the minister note also that Miracle Food Mart is going to use a new type of price label known as “removable come-clean”? His government could use that. Regarding this statement in the memo, “They will be used in all stores and immediately replace the stock of permanent adhesive labels; this particular type of pricing label will facilitate the implementation of our policy,” doesn’t the minister think that is really a despicable practice and warrants legislation to prevent this kind of exploitation of the consumer?
Hon. Mr. Drea: As I said, I will look into it. If the remarks of the member are as accurate as his track record, I will report back to the House in a period of time.
TRANSPORTATION OF HAZARDOUS GOODS
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker I have a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. The minister is aware of the citizens in the South Walkerville-Remington Park area and their concern over the CPR tracks and the carrying of hazardous cargoes. He is aware of their losing fight with the Canadian Transport Commission in their attempt to have those tracks no longer used for transportation of hazardous cargo. There is an alternative. The alternative is using unused or little-used Conrail facilities.
Before anything that would be implemented such as I have suggested, railway relocation studies would be of an advantage. Would the minister at this time consider the request of the city of Windsor so we wouldn’t have the same episode happen in Windsor that took place in Mississauga? And would he implement railway relocation studies in the community, looking into unused Conrail facilities as the answer to saving substantial funds for the ministry in the development of railway overpasses at five different locations in the community?
Mr. Speaker: The question has really been asked.
Mr. B. Newman: Will the minister look into that?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I will look into it, sir.
Mr. B. Newman: Will the minister implement railway relocation studies, putting priority on this type of study so that a Mississauga episode will not take place in the Windsor area?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, you are much more familiar with railways than I am, but I have no indication I can think of that a railway relocation study would have prevented the Mississauga accident.
I am aware of the member’s interest in railway relocation studies, but I really cannot see any benefit of spending millions of dollars on railway relocation studies if there is no possibility of any railway relocation taking place following the study. I don’t think a whole lot of expensive studies collecting dust some place will solve anybody’s problem. Really, at this moment, I don’t have any indication that money will be available from any source to carry out any extensive railway relocations.
NATURAL GAS EXPORTS
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. I would like to ask him how much weight he expects the National Energy Board will give to Ontario’s submission concerning the latest Pan-Alberta application for the export of a half trillion cubic feet of natural gas?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I really can’t answer that question as to how much weight I expect they will give.
Ms. Gigantes: I would like to ask the Premier if he seriously expects that a submission that totals no more than seven pages of the NEB transcript is an adequate representation of Ontario’s energy needs as they are affected by this application?
Why did Ontario present no substantial background analysis, call no expert witnesses and generally do a poorer job of opposing the application than such groups as the Committee for an Independent Canada, the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee and Energy Probe?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, despite the fact that I contradict this on occasion, the strength of one’s argument is not always measured by its weight.
AUTO INDUSTRY LAYOFFS
Mr. Bradley: I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism, Mr. Speaker, concerning layoffs in the auto industry as they affect the Niagara Peninsula.
Is the minister aware that General Motors has announced that 3,100 employees will be laid off the week of April 7? Is he aware that Hayes-Dana has recently laid off approximately 150 people in addition to 300 people who were previously laid off and that TRW has laid off approximately 100 people?
With the unemployment rate 10 per cent or over in the Niagara Peninsula, would the minister indicate to the House what very recent action he has taken to alleviate this situation of unemployment in the Niagara Peninsula, specifically in the automotive industry?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: At noon today, Mr. Speaker, there will be a meeting with the federal Minister of Employment and Immigration, Mr. Axworthy, and myself and several of my colleagues to deal with, among other issues, the problem of the extreme layoffs in the auto industry.
We have understood that the current layoffs are mostly -- I suppose entirely -- on account of the market factors, basically in North America, affecting the ability of the North American car manufacturers to meet the consumer demands for new, lighter, fuel-efficient vehicles and the consequent impact of imported cars in the North American market. It is causing very severe layoffs in the auto industry, both in the United States and in Canada.
Our efforts have to be concentrated upon making sure that the workers get through this difficult period. The only way we do that is to make sure that the federal government implements a program to assist those workers who are in a severe layoff position.
Second, to deal with the long-term problems of the automotive industry, we must make sure that the retooling goes into the Canadian-owned plants which will enable them to fully participate when the market turns up, which I fully expect next year.
In the case of all the plants the honourable member talked about -- GM in St. Catharines, TRW and Hayes-Dana -- all of them are in the process of re-investing, particularly in those three locations, to ensure they are part of the upturn in the industry when it occurs next year. In point of fact, the member’s particular area should be in pretty good shape a year or so from now, because they are participating in the new investment programs for the new vehicles.
Mr. Bradley: Is the minister not concerned -- taking two out of those three, TRW and Hayes-Dana, both of which have received some form of financial assistance from the provincial government -- that the goal of this program to provide assistance is not going to be realized, and that these companies are laying off, recognizing at the present time it may he short-term? The prospects are not particularly bright when the money is being used to move most of the jobs out of the Niagara Peninsula, which has the 10 per cent unemployment rate -- TRW into southwestern Ontario and Hayes-Dana into the Barrie area.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It is not a fair statement to suggest that the investment we are making in those auto parts firms is causing a layoff of workers. Quite the reverse is the case.
I think this government would be subject to a lot of criticism if we sat back during this particular time and didn’t invest money to make sure that reinvestment is occurring in Ontario in those industries and in those plants. That is precisely why more than 30 per cent of the moneys expended in the manufacturing sector by the Employment Development Fund has gone to the automotive industry -- entirely the automotive parts industry.
By investing those moneys in plants like TRW, Hayes-Dana and Tridon -- all of which, I would remind the honourable member, he, his party and his leader have directly opposed -- we are ensuring that those companies with Canadian subsidiaries are in a position to participate in the upturn next year. In simple terms, without that sort of cash infusion in those instances, those firms would fall behind the American companies in terms of being able to supply the new energy-efficient products.
When the honourable member talks about some of the expansion occurring in places such as Barrie and southwestern Ontario, he must remember that this sort of cash infusion by the government of Ontario puts those Canadian operations, in total, in a better position to compete in all of their Canadian operations. It anchors their Canadian operations and keeps our balance under the auto pact from getting more out of kilter than it currently is.
Those cash infusions are exactly the sorts of things I would argue that governments must do. It’s better to do it now than three years from today when the honourable member would be standing up and asking us why this government permitted TRW and Hayes-Dana to close down and go to the United States. We are doing it before the fact, not after the fact.
Mr. Cooke: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: First of all, I want to hear the minister repeat his endorsation today for transitional assistance benefits, and I want to know how hard he is going to press the federal government for those benefits to be implemented immediately.
Second, I would like to ask the minister, with respect to the promise the government has made in the throne speech to act to reverse the deficit in the auto pact, if he is aware that in January 1980 the deficit was up some 37 per cent from the record-breaking deficit of January 1979. In January 1980 the deficit was $117 million, whereas in January 1979 it was $83 million.
What action is the minister going to take to correct the deficit in the auto pact, and what reason does he have for optimism that the auto industry is going to turn around in the next few months --
Mr. Speaker: The question has been asked.
Mr. Cooke: -- in view of the observations made by the Conference Board of Canada yesterday?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: First, Mr. Speaker, may I clearly reaffirm our commitment to a TAB program. We believe a TAB program must be implemented and that it is solely and clearly the responsibility of the federal government to implement that program as it implemented after the commencement of the auto pact. We will be making that case to Mr. Axworthy at noon.
Second, with regard to my optimism, we have commenced a series of meetings with all sectors of the automotive industry. One of the things that is quite obvious is that the current problems are as follows: While there is a slight downturn in the numbers of vehicles being purchased, what is happening, as the honourable member knows, is that imports now have taken over 25 per cent of the market. They have taken over that portion of the market simply because of the capacity of the North American manufacturers to supply the lighter fuel-efficient vehicles. They are mounting that challenge now, and in each of the successive years, in 1981 and 1982, they will dramatically increase their capacity to compete against those imports. There is every indication that, once they do that, they will succeed in competing against those imports. Every study of the auto industry has indicated that, when they were able to produce those competitive vehicles, they sold. They now are retooling to cause that to happen.
Third, I would point out that a study of demographics will confirm that all of the Big Three, the Big Two, or whatever, expect that the market for automobiles will increase dramatically over the next decade as two-vehicle families come into the market. Demographs indicate that the profile of the population will increase the demand for those vehicles.
Those are some reasons for our optimism. In fact, the thrust of our efforts now is to ensure that the lighter, more fuel-efficient cars are made here and that the parts for those vehicles are also made in Ontario.
Mr. Haggerty: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister assure the assembly that there is no violation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade as it relates to imported cars coming into Canada?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, this is a problem we have discussed with several people in the auto industry. There are many people involved in the industry who believe that some of the foreign cars are being dumped into Canada; yet I must say that for a variety of corporate reasons no one -- so far -- will undertake an action on anti-dumping against those importers. Some of them complain about the cost of the process, the length of the process and the time taken. I have urged upon them that it is important for them to take the initiative and commence some activity in this area as a signal, even if it does take a couple of years to unwind the process.
I should also take this opportunity to remind the member that is one of the things we have been strongly pressuring the federal government on. One of the reasons we hired Rodney Grey, our former chief negotiator in GATT, was so that we might pressure the federal government to clean up its anti-dumping procedures. This is bulky, slow, costly and ineffective and, compared to other countries, we are simply not in the ball game. Until that process is cleaned up, those people in the industry who say they won’t commence anti-dumping action have a case to be made. Let me say I think they should start the actions anyway if they believe they have the evidence.
Mr. Germa: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Is the minister aware that egg production in northern Ontario has eroded to the point where we are only 14 per cent self-sufficient and that our producers have shrunk from 40 producers to 25? Does the minister not think he should do something to protect that quota from being bought out by the big southern Ontario operators and being moved to the southern part of the province, which is going to cause higher prices for eggs for northern Ontario citizens?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the member for Sudbury, about a month or six weeks ago the Ontario Egg Producers’ Market Board met with these producers in northern Ontario. The producers asked that their quotas be increased in order that they could supply a little to the west, maybe the Rainy River district. They asked that their quotas be increased so that they could supply eggs for that area of the province.
The marketing board has been looking at that. If it has made a decision, it has not informed me yet. But special consideration for the north is definitely being considered.
Mr. Germa: Is the minister not aware that, if we had our fair distribution of the 8.6 million layers of quota for Ontario, there would be 750,000 layers in northern Ontario rather than the present 200,000? What is the minister going to do to ensure a fair distribution of the Ontario quota?
Hon. Ms. Henderson: That is the decision of the individual producers. They themselves entered into the quota arrangement. It was the decision of the egg producers of Ontario to have the quota system. We have egg producers in the north who are not large egg producers. As I say, the Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board is trying to devise a plan whereby they will be able to get special consideration when they are ready to expand their flocks.
CARE OF MENTALLY RETARDED
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. What plans does the ministry have to respond to the suggestions of the Ontario Association for the Mentally Retarded to look after in a more humane way the needs of the 2,600 mentally retarded who are in homes for special care? Does the minister have programs that will reach what we consider to be the needs of the mentally retarded in these institutions?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, that question should be directed to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton).
Mr. Blundy: The minister has got me confused. What plans does the Ministry of Community and Social Services have for this need?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I can understand why the honourable member might be confused by that. It is true that the homes for special care themselves are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health --
Mrs. Campbell: But he can’t answer.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Of course he can; he is quite capable of answering.
As members will know from our recent announcement, the plans are now being implemented to provide for the programming in the homes for special care for the mentally retarded residents there. The first stage of that, as the announcement clearly set out, is a comprehensive assessment of the mentally retarded residents, directed initially towards the children because of the priority placed upon ensuring they will receive as much benefit as they can from the programming that will be beginning very shortly. We anticipate having the assessments completed within approximately six months.
Mrs. Campbell: Oh!
Hon. Mr. Norton: The member for St. George should know, as well as I do, that one can’t do things overnight. Good grief, she moans and groans over there. I think six months is a very realistic and brief time frame within which to operate.
As the assessments are developed, the needs of the children will be determined and individual programs developed for them. I would challenge the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) to come up with a better or quicker solution to meet the needs of those children. He couldn’t do it.
Mr. McClellan: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: I would like to ask the minister whether his ministry or the Ministry of Health has already undertaken a number of individual assessments of mentally retarded people in homes for special care within the last six to eight months? Would he tell me, first, whether that is a fact and, second, whether programs have been implemented for any of the residents who have already received an individual assessment?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I haven’t got the detailed information with me, Mr. Speaker, but I can certainly get it for the honourable member. I know of at least one residence where programs have been put in place as a result of assessments conducted. I can’t tell the honourable member the specific numbers off the top of my head.
Mr. McClellan: Will the minister get the details?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes, I will be glad to get that information for the member.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary, in response to the minister’s challenge. The first thing he can surely do, does he not agree, is at least double the amount of nursing hours of care at present required under the law for the people who are still in the homes for special care. Right now they are guaranteed approximately one and a third hours per day, as the minister knows. Would he at least double that as a beginning?
I don’t wish to disturb the minister in his conversation with the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) -- I am sure he seldom has a chance to chat with her -- but could he at least begin by doubling the nursing-care hours and then get on with moving as many of these people as possible out of homes for special care as rapidly as he can; instead of this very relaxed pace of assessment first and treatment some time down the road?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I think the Leader of the Opposition has just demonstrated the folly of his simplistic approach to everything. How can he stand in this House and say that the way to solve the problem is automatically to double the number of hours of nursing for everyone who happens to be a resident in a home for special care?
Mr. S. Smith: Not for everyone -- for the mentally retarded.
Hon. Mr. Norton: All right; for the retarded in homes for special care. On what basis does the honourable leader assume that every retarded resident of a home for special care needs twice the amount of nursing he or she is receiving at present? If an assessment isn’t done, how does one know anything?
Mr. Speaker: Order. If you want to carry out your challenges, do it outside.
METHANOL AND WOOD ENERGY
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Energy. The Minister of Energy in a statement to the Legislature yesterday indicated his ministry would be undertaking a methanol and wood energy feasibility study in eastern Ontario. Can the minister assure me that consultants and engineers in eastern Ontario will be given at least an equal opportunity to bid on this kind of feasibility study?
Not only are the results of this study of interest to people in eastern Ontario, but also the development of the technical knowledge and the knowhow related to these kinds of products would be most beneficial to the eastern Ontario area in developing its economy and the expertise of the engineers in that area.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, we’ll be advertising and inviting proposals; there’s no question about that. We intend to include in that advertising the publications in eastern Ontario and to include everyone in Ontario with respect to this.
This is a very exciting project, and I’m glad to have the support of the honourable member.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Natural Resources. Can the Minister of Natural Resources tell the House why it was that his ministry failed to notify the public generally or, more important, the families of the victims involved, when they knew eight days after that fire north of Nakina that there were no wind shifts which caused those people to be trapped? Why didn’t the minister make that known to the families?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t asked specifically about that, but I suspect the reason is that the inquest was announced the day after the fire. One of the things that I understand inquests wish to see happen is that people who may well be witnesses don’t start making statements until they get in front of the inquest.
I think it’s also fair to say there was a certain amount of speculation, and the person involved, Mr. Wesley, who had been with the children, was in hospital and was not able to talk to anybody. I assume nobody knew what had happened to him until some days later when he was able to be questioned.
Mr. Foulds: Why couldn’t the minister at least communicate the fact that the information that went out over the airwaves initially, and that his ministry conveyed to the families, was erroneous? Now that the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry) has indicated to the House that he has no objection to tabling in the House the reports of the Ontario Provincial Police and the fire marshal, why does the minister maintain his position, when the first law officer of the crown has taken the position that he will table his report? Why does the Minister of Natural Resources maintain his position that he will not table and make public the internal report of the Ministry of Natural Resources?
Hon. Mr. Auld: For exactly the same reason I gave before. I am advised by our counsel that doing so might be interpreted as attempting to influence the jury, and I should not do it.
Mr. S. Smith: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: On August 22, the ministry issued a statement saying, “Debris was blown out of control by a shift in the wind.” On August 23, the ministry knew, according to testimony, that there had been no shift in the wind. Why did the ministry never correct that?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Once again, Mr. Speaker, for the same reason that I just mentioned.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
CREDIT UNIONS AND CAISSES POPULAIRES STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Drea moved first reading of Bill 31, An Act to amend the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1976 and to provide additional powers in certain other acts with respect to Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires.
Motion agreed to.
ANSWER TO QUESTION ON NOTICE PAPER
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the answer to question 10 standing on the Notice Paper.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Carleton-Grenville had the floor on the last occasion.
Mr. Conway: None of those consultants is going to vote for you.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, when I adjourned the debate on Tuesday evening I was relating to the Legislature my concern over the security of the supply of oil. This is especially important in the eastern part of our province where we rely on foreign oil for our use.
Since that time two events have occurred which are fairly significant in eastern Ontario and, in particular, the area that I represent.
Mr. Conway: Walter Baker’s back in the opposition where he belongs.
Mr. Sterling: That’s since Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, I believe the first minister for Saudi Arabia visited the United States and indicated that they would be withdrawing, or would not make available, some of the oil supply which they had provided to the United States in the past. As I mentioned in my remarks on Tuesday, the United States is using an enormous amount of oil. Any withdrawal of any sources of oil for them cannot help but affect our supplies as well.
Security of supply is especially important to the rural areas. I understand 60 per cent of the homes in Ontario are heated by oil. In more urban areas there is an increasing choice, and a lot of conversions are taking place to the use of natural gas instead of oil, but those in the rural community don’t have that choice. This is especially so in eastern Ontario. I understand that in the western part of the province there is a considerable amount of distribution in areas that have indigenous natural gas resources.
I want to urge our government to provide incentives at this time, when we have a surplus supply of electricity at our disposal, to those people who will not likely have the opportunity to ever make the choice of converting to natural gas to use electricity for heating at this time so that conversion can be made. I would hope this kind of program would alleviate a shortage in the supply of oil.
I was also pleased yesterday, in the question period, to hear from the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) of his move to the methanol and wood energy feasibility study in eastern Ontario.
As I indicated on Tuesday night, I have become extremely interested in this area in 1979. I did a considerable amount of research into the feasibility of synthetic liquid fuels. Unfortunately, most of the reports that one read during that period of time were very pessimistic as to the economic viability of producing synthetic liquid fuels.
But I was convinced during the summer that with the unstable conditions of the Middle East countries and the escalation of oil prices, no matter how much oil we have, it is only in a finite amount. I was convinced it was time we started to move and look at the technology to produce an alternative transportation fuel. I went to the Minister of Energy and the Premier (Mr. Davis) and asked them to consider this kind of a study for eastern Ontario.
The county of Grenville has approximately 300,000 acres within its boundaries. Only about 60,000 of those acres are of good agricultural crop land, as described in soil studies. There are another 40,000 to 50,000 that could be used for pasture. That leaves somewhere around 150,000 to 200,000 acres of land which are not being used at this particular time for any crop that would provide economic viability to eastern Ontario.
The county of Grenville is not unique in that area. There are many other areas in the county of Lanark and as one goes further north up the valley. If we can come up with some good alternatives and if we look at these programs in a practical sense, we would be able to determine whether there is a financial viability. Even if there isn’t a financial viability today or in a year from now and the study is supposed to produce its results, we should strike out in this direction.
The writing is on the wall, and I think everyone knows it. Oil supply is going to be a problem. If we can replace the use of some of that oil we will be alleviating that problem. I think we have to tell the public continually that although we are looking into these kinds of things they are never going to be the total solution. They are a very small part of the solution.
Energy is of extreme interest to myself basically because I have been involved with the building business as a civil engineer. I hope there will be a continued thrust in terms of incentives for updating standards and projects which will encourage existing building owners and new building owners to make further energy conservation steps. There have been some significant examples of how this has worked in the past, but I still think there is a tremendous opportunity to make further steps in this area of energy conservation.
In talking with several members of the Legislature on an informal basis, I think it is fair to draw the conclusion that some of them are quite frightened of the world situation at this particular time. With the higher interest rates, with the supply of oil and that kind of thing, it is going to be difficult to meet these problems, but I think with some steps like the methanol and wood energy feasibility study and with other thrusts in the conservation area, it is really a very small step towards meeting the problems we could face in the very near future.
Quite frankly, I have grave reservations whether our government or the federal government or any other government, for example, the government of the United States, is taking measures drastic enough at this time to meet the potential problems which I believe we could face within a two- or three-year period. I would hope our federal colleagues are looking at the possibility of such Draconian measures as gas rationing and that kind of thing. It may very well be the time has arrived to implement such a measure.
One of the parts of the throne speech that attracted my attention was that concerned with small business. I was happy this morning to hear the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Crossman) announce a 14-point program outlining what his ministry is going to do to support this very vital sector of our economy. Members may recall in the fall of 1977, shortly after being elected, I rose in this Legislature and spoke against a bill for small businesses. I was the only person in the Legislature who voted against that private member’s bill. Since that time my opposition to a very highly regulatory piece of legislation has proven to be right.
When one looks at an alternate approach, such as the approach contained in the statement by the Minister of Industry and Tourism this morning, I feel this is the proper way to help small business. As I mentioned back in October 1977, small business doesn’t want more regulation and doesn’t want more paper to deal with. It wants help and access to information. In my experience as a lawyer representing very many small businesses, I can assure members the steps the Ministry of Industry and Tourism proposes will be of help to small businesses.
In eastern Ontario, we have had the benefit of the eastern Ontario development agreement signed in December. This provides for grants of up to $100,000 for small business. There are many programs floating around out there. One of the very attractive parts of this program is that the Ministry of Industry and Tourism is going to act as broker for all of those programs.
I don’t know how many times each one of us as an MPP has been phoned by a small businessman and asked what kind of programs the government has that he can take advantage of. It is very difficult to know of all the programs because there are a lot of small programs that are the main programs in eastern Ontario. The Eastern Ontario Development Corporation has been one of the most successful of the large programs we have been involved in, but there are many other small programs. I feel the ministry’s offer to act as broker for all of the federal and provincial programs is a right step forward.
Another very attractive part of the announcement this morning related to the fact that every small businessman in this province can phone toll free to a troubleshooter hero in Toronto. He can call collect and he can ask how to solve a particular problem he is having with government or he can get other information about what kind of help is available from our government. This is particularly important in a rural community or in a community which is not densely populated.
The people I represent have difficulty in contacting somebody in their local community who is a representative of government. In my constituency office I have a toll-free number as well, because I represent an area which has 14 or 15 telephone exchanges. I offer that service to my constituents as this will offer ready access to all small businessmen in the province. It will be sort of a one-window approach, and when a person doesn’t know where to go he or she can call Toronto directly.
There are many other good parts of this particular program. In the procedural affairs committee, I guess it was a year ago now, we were looking at various agencies, boards and commissions. One of the ones we were looking at was the Ontario Research Foundation. In questioning the president of the Ontario Research Foundation I found that the number of scientists or engineers who worked in the Ontario Research Foundation has not really increased since the mid-1960s. The Ontario Research Foundation can tell some tremendous stories about the type of success they have had and how they have helped a lot of manufacturers around Ontario, not only to compete in the Ontario market, but to compete in the world market.
I think it is a tremendous shame in many ways that the growth or expansion of the ORF has not continued since 1965. I attribute it in part to the fact that the communication between the ORF and the business person is not adequate.
I hope this particular program, whereby the Ministry of Industry and Tourism is willing to pay up to 90 per cent or a maximum of $3,600 to the ORF to do research for a private business, is one way we can close that communication gap between the ORF and our small business.
As an engineer who practised engineering for two years before going back into law school, I felt that our industry in Ontario was not properly utilizing the technical expertise that was available here. We produce some of the best engineers in the North American continent.
One of my fellow comrades in engineering, a brilliant man, went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after he left Carleton University and excelled there. He excelled such that he was at the top of his year in terms of his doctorate program. But where is he working at this particular time? He is working in the United States in research. I think we could utilize a lot more of our engineers right here in Ontario.
The ORF uses some of these technical people, but not nearly in large enough numbers. We need more engineers in our small manufacturing plants so they can provide the diversity that those manufacturing plants need to make new products, to make innovative products and, in turn, to produce wealth and jobs. I hope this program in relation to the Ontario Research Foundation will start that.
One of the programs outlined in the announcement this morning relates to a new focus on the consulting services available through the Ministry of Industry and Tourism. I don’t know, Mr. Speaker, if in your riding you have had any experience with the consulting program offered through the Ministry of Industry and Tourism but I have had two experiences with it in Kemptville and Prescott. The reaction from the business people has been phenomenal. They have never been able to afford, organize or understand what a consultant can possibly do for them. With us paying almost 99 per cent of the cost, these people had, albeit a very limited consultation, advice from outside people coming in and looking at their businesses.
I think the small businessmen in general are reluctant to allow someone to come in from outside and say: “You are doing this or that wrong.” Small businessmen in general tend to be very individualistic and as a result don’t welcome this kind of comment. But with the experience that this program has offered in Kemptville and Prescott, I think that for those two communities it has coalesced the business communities. They are now not so frightened of using outside help when they face a problem. The practical suggestion made in the report to each one of the 25 businessmen in each of those areas have been greatly appreciated and acted upon in many cases. am glad to see that the ministry is going to continue that particular program.
One of the small businessmen in my area had tremendous ideas. He was a manufacturer of small wood products but he had difficulty in marketing his particular product because he had neither the time to put a marketing package together nor the money to hire someone to do it. I see in this new policy statement that the ministry will be paying up to 75 per cent, or $7,500 maximum, per company for a marketing program. Again, that doesn’t appear like a lot of money but to the small businessman it means a lot. For small manufacturers -- five, six employees -- this kind of help will be invaluable.
There are some other new concepts brought out in this particular proposal. One of them is the board of directors which will be formed in the community. Often, as I mentioned before, small businessmen are very reluctant to go to a consultant or to somebody else and ask for advice. I think principally it’s because they are frightened of the cost. They are not really well informed as to the cost that they might incur by getting good advice. But with the setting up of a board of directors of people within the business community who are willing to give their expertise at no cost to the businessman, people can go in and get this kind of advice.
Right now I have in one area of my riding what you would call a cottage industry of a husband and wife who produce souvenir dolls. They are called Willi-Bod originals. They are tremendously attractive souvenirs. Last year this couple made 6,000 of them and they had no trouble selling them. Unfortunately, on the one hand the couple lacks in one area but on the other hand has tremendous skills in terms of the design and artistic capability of producing this kind of souvenir.
Right now I am facing a great problem in trying to advise them how they take the next step. They see they must expand, but they don’t know exactly how to expand. Should I send them to an accountant? Should I send them to a lawyer? To whom do I send them?
If we had a board of directors like this in the community, then I feel I could send these people to them when there were no obligations being incurred between the two, the small businessman and the accountant. In that kind of case, this kind of industry, which I am sure has a tremendous potential to increase its business 20 times, could get some direction on where to go for that next step in order to make some of the basic planning decisions which it must make. A small business person like that doesn’t know where to go for the next step.
It is difficult as an MPP to advise someone in a hard business sense. One just doesn’t have the time and the resources to advise them as to exactly which way they should turn in the next step of their development. If we had this kind of thing, I could send these people there. I am sure the board of directors would give them some more advice so that they could make some of these initial choices which they must make.
I hope this program is not considered by a lot of people as just another thing that is not going to go anywhere. I think there are some real good ideas in here. It doesn’t infringe on the independence of the small businessman, but it offers him a partner, a partner which he often needs. The program calls for a complete directory providing information on how to sell to us, the government. That is always a problem in a small business. One doesn’t know whom to contact. How does one contact somebody in the government?
The people in my area, unfortunately, relate more closely to the federal government than the provincial government. I know how often I had difficulty in contacting a particular person or a particular body, I guess one would say, in the federal government. It is extremely difficult. One usually gets it on about the fifteenth call.
With this kind of a directory, as I understand it, each purchasing agent will be named and his phone number will be there. I don’t know how many letters you have ever received, Mr. Speaker, from a government department. A letter is signed by John Doe, executive director of such and such, but there is not a phone number on it. If you ever try to find that phone number, as I said before, you are lucky to get it before the fourth or fifth call. Names and contacts are the name of the game in terms of small business. If they have that directory it will help a lot of them expand their businesses.
I could go on and on in terms of what we are going to do in this particular program and how it will affect small business in my area, but there are about three or four points in this program which monitors what is happening with small business in our province. First, it is going to tell us how much business we as a government are doing with small business. Second, another report is going to put together each year what has happened in small business in Ontario and act in an advocacy role to let the federal government know what is happening here in Ontario and what it can do to help this very important, significant area of our business community.
I was really quite pleased to see the involvement of the government in this manner with small business. The last thing the government wants to do is to impose restrictions and regulations on a small businessman who can’t understand or meet those restrictions and regulations. Our role is as a catalyst and that’s exactly what this project achieves.
There are many other areas in the throne speech which, as I mentioned in my opening remarks on Tuesday evening, will have to be looked at because they are in a general form. But if the announcement in the Legislature this morning by the Minister of Industry and Tourism as to the small business program is any measure of the type of commitment that our government is making and the type of program that we are getting into, I think the quality and the thrust of the speech will be of tremendous benefit to the people of Ontario.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I would like to have the pleasure of participating in the throne speech debate. In this debate, I sometimes think one could make a longer speech on what is not in the throne speech -- on what was left out. However, I think most of us are aware it is more or less a general policy statement of the government and quite often many of the policies stated in it don’t seem ever to come to fruition when the budget follows it in the next few weeks.
I didn’t take the time to go over all the throne speeches for the last 12 years that I have had the privilege to hear in this House, thanks to the good people of Essex North, and Essex Kent previous to that. I suppose it would be interesting, if one studied the speeches for the 36 years, seven months and 24 days that the Conservative government has been in power in Ontario, with the 36 throne speeches three have been in that time. If you went back to the George Drew days one would find some statements in one of his throne speeches that still have not come to fruition over that many years.
However, there are other parties that have held power for a considerable length of time in Ontario. If one looks back, he’d see that the Liberals did hold power from 1871 to 1904 -- which is not quite as long as our friends on the opposite side have held power -- but still was a pretty long time. However, I must say it has been pretty scarce since then in Ontario for us --
Mr. C. I. Miller: It’s a drought.
Mr. Ruston: Yes. It’s a drought, as the member for Haldimand-Norfolk says. Being a farmer he knows what a drought is, I’m sure. I’m not sure though whether a drought or a flood is worse when you’re a farmer. I guess it depends on what kind of crops you grow. In politics none of us likes the drought, I’m sure, in an election.
I would get into some of the suggestions in the throne speech in time but first I want to say, to kind of pave the way for what I want to say later, that our leader has brought in an amendment to the throne speech. I feel very strongly on all the subjects that it has been stated this government has failed to do the things this province requires to do to be the leading province in Canada.
The Premier has stated that our leader is power hungry or something. When this government has been in power for nearly 37 years, I think I know who is power hungry -- they are over there. That’s why they get opinion polls to figure out what to do. If one of those opinion polls that are buried someplace had told them the Premier could get a majority government we would have had an election any time in the last two years; we can be sure of that.
Look what the Premier did in 1977. He walked down the hall without any excuse 19 months after the previous election and said to the Lieutenant Governor: “I can’t govern; the opposition is giving me trouble. I want to call an election.” True, he did pick up five or six seats, but it didn’t do him any good. He is the one who has that power at all times. He could be walking down the hall right now, while I am speaking, for all we know. He could do that and there is not a thing we can do about it.
The Premier asked me in Windsor at the Paul Martin dinner, “Dick, are you a dove or a hawk?” I said, “I’ll tell you, Mr. Premier, I’m a hawk ever since April 29, 1977, when you walked down the hallway.” I wasn’t ready, but I’ve been ready for an election every day since. People shouldn’t worry about elections. If I say they shouldn’t worry about the cost of them, I mean it. They are a very minor part of the cost of operating a democratic system, and the democratic system is what the people of Canada have chosen and want to live under.
I go back 45 years when I had the opportunity to go to the first nomination meeting for Paul Martin. My father and I went to the city market in Windsor at 4:30 in the morning, driving 22 miles in an old Model-T. My father gave orders to all my brothers to be at Belle River at three o’clock that afternoon for the nomination meeting for the Essex East riding, which was called Essex-Windsor at that time. There were four people contesting the nomination. I wasn’t old enough to vote -- and also not old enough to speak at it -- but my father always taught us that one of the rights we had in a democratic system was the right to vote and that we should never set it aside.
It is funny how these little things stick in one’s mind, but I think they are very important in a democratic country and that’s why I’m in politics. I recall that at two o’clock on election day my father took the Model-T and my brother was driving horses -- we used them in those days. I went with my father. We tied the horses up to the fence post and went to vote. The most important thing in our family was that everyone had to vote on election day.
There are many millions of people throughout the world who do not have the right to vote. They would pay any amount of money, I am sure, to have the right to vote. We have the right to vote. They claim that the last federal election cost about $60 million. I suppose there are roughly 11 million people working in all of Canada, so maybe it cost $5 or $6 for each of them to have the right to vote. One can’t even go out and have a meal for that, or a couple drinks. Anyone who would complain about voting when it costs only $5 or $6 ought to be ashamed.
Besides, we haven’t had a provincial election for nearly three years. What goes on in Ottawa and how often we have a federal election is altogether different from what goes on here. I want to remind the people of Ontario that the day-to-day operations of this House have much more to do with the day-to-day operations of the citizens of Ontario. The provincial government has its hand in the pockets of the people of Ontario much more regularly than the federal government does, because so much of the money that goes to Ottawa comes back here to this government which sorts it out any way it wants.
Mr. Ruston: We think of the health branch last year as an example. Probably there was $118 million that never went into health care but went someplace else, wherever the Premier and his cohorts wanted it to go.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Read that C. D. Howe Research Institute report about the way in which the feds screwed that up.
Mr. Ruston: The minister shouldn't interject. She is going to spoil her voice. Oh, she is leaving. I’m sorry, I’ll take that back. She can stay.
Mr. Kerrio: But only on her terms.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I can leave because the member for Sarnia (Mr. Blundy) is happy.
Mr. Ruston: If the teachers’ strike is over, he certainly should be. I think the minister should be ashamed it went on so long.
I’ll get back to my topic here, if I may. I hear different remarks in the House about unemployment in certain parts, certain sections, certain regions, of Ontario. We, in Windsor and Essex county, and as far east as Chatham, are feeling the greatest pinch of all because of the serious matter of unemployment in the automobile industry.
The real problem is that the automobile industry has been in a boom-or-bust situation for many years, and Windsor, being a strong automobile centre, is feeling that very much right now, particularly because of the Chrysler Corporation, which is in deep financial trouble. It has been a really serious matter to many people in the United States and Canada.
There has been guaranteed loans through the government of the United States, and now they’re discussing guaranteed loans with the government of Canada or if any grants might be available. It’s a shame. It’s mismanagement, I suppose, or the lack of foresight in the automobile industry itself in not manufacturing suitable cars.
I’m just wondering if the government desire to abdicate their responsibilities. I don’t see any government members in the House.
Mr. Acting Speaker called for the quorum bells.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The Clerk reports a quorum, so I would ask the member for Essex North to proceed.
An hon. member: Why doesn’t the member start over?
Mr. Ruston: One of my colleagues has suggested that I should start from the beginning now because we have an audience, but I shall not burden members with that.
I was going into the matter of the auto industry in our area and the high rate of unemployment due to the lack of sales of American and Canadian-built cars in the United States. The auto pact has been studied, restudied and discussed. I have a copy of it here, but I read it into the record last fall so I’m sure there is no use reading it again. It’s a broad statement, an outline with nothing completely binding on either of the two governments. The intent of it, of course, was to enable the industry to transfer its products from one country to the other without duty and to build whatever parts they could in one country with assembly in the other, so it was all one big operation.
The agricultural industry has had no duty on any agricultural products or manufactured goods coming into Canada for many years. I suppose the auto industry is, in effect, the same. There is no duty on new cars coming into Canada and although used cars can go to the United States they’re not allowed to come into Canada from that country.
The situation in Windsor now is such that Chrysler has had between 4,000 and 6,000 unemployed at different times, but at peak periods there were 15,000 or 16,000 working in the city. Of course, Chrysler was mostly making large-sized cars, but in the last year or two, as the Minister of Industry and Tourism mentioned today, the company just didn’t gear up for the smaller cars which were more efficient for gas purposes.
In the United States, in California alone, foreign imports amount to almost 50 per cent of sales of which the majority are made in Japan. In Canada, too, imports have risen to somewhere around 17 per cent in the last couple of months.
Another matter of concern to many is the GATT agreement. It was mentioned in the House during question period this morning by the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty), who asked the Minister of Industry and Tourism whether he thought some of the automobiles coming in from foreign countries were being dumped here. The one I have heard the most about that it was felt was being dumped on the market in Canada was the Russian car, the Lada. It’s the offspring of the Italian Fiat, I think. I understand the car, from most reports, is definitely underpriced in Canada. As the Minister of Industry and Tourism mentioned this morning, it’s interesting, that it took as long as two years for someone to challenge this, and a lot of damage can be done in a two-year period.
I guess what we should be doing is stressing to residents of our country and the United States that they have a certain responsibility to their own people and ought to be looking at the cars made in their own country. Many of the smaller cars that are now made in Canada and the United States as far as efficiency in gas is concerned, are coming right along and are quite comparable to the imports.
In Chrysler’s case, they came along with the Omni and Horizon a couple of years ago, but the problem was they didn’t have the motors to go with them and they took a contract with Volkswagen. I think in the first year there were only 250,000; that is all the cars they could produce. So they couldn’t supply the demand really, and that has hurt to some extent as well.
They now want to convert their large-engine plant from a 360 cubic inch motor down to probably a V-6 or maybe a four-cylinder. They have a four-cylinder which they are making in Mexico.
Our problem in Windsor is that the 360 cubic inch is a large motor. It is quite an efficient motor, though, for the size of it -- in fact I would say very efficient -- the gas consumption for the size of the motor. Chrysler is still making one in the United States. The problem we are facing is that they want to close out the operation of the one in Windsor quite soon, and it would take at least two years to convert the plant in Windsor to a smaller engine.
There is going to have to be a lot of negotiations done, and I know they are in good hands. The federal Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce, Mr. Gray, has been meeting with Chrysler officials and they are trying to work out some system to get it going again.
The Ford Motor Company in Windsor also has had about 2,700 people off work due to their engine plants. The engines they were making in Windsor were of a large size as well, and the sales of them have gone down. They will, by December of this year, be employing some in their new plant. They already have a very few people in it, and there is much construction going on there. By May of 1981 they should have about 2,600 people working there. The problem is, most of those 2,600 will be coming from Ford plants that were already in Windsor and until they can get the rest of their plants downsized for whatever other purpose they are going to use them, Ford’s will not really be picking up any slack for at least two years.
Some of the slack will probably be picked up this December by General Motors who, in their trim plant and in their transmission plant where their main enlargement is going, expect to start hiring this December and expect to hire about 2,000 to 2,500 more in the transmission plant.
In the Ford situation, there are many small plants building right around the big new Ford plant -- the Ford engine plant, the Essex engine plant. By 1982 or 1983, I am quite confident, Windsor will be in good shape and the employment situation will no doubt be down to the six or seven per cent that more or less seems to be a general standard throughout the country now. Just what we are going to do in the meantime is a problem we are having.
What I think we should be doing is retraining some of the automobile employees for other types of work where we can employ some of them. For some of the older people that might not be too satisfactory and we may have to just give them special benefits or extend the unemployment insurance benefits until the automobile industry picks up again in the city.
If you look back to 1964, prior to the auto pact, we had a deficit in trading of about $750 million. Of course, now it is up to $3 billion. Part of that is inflation, and if we are comparing the two exactly the increase to now isn’t quite as bad. But it is something I think we are going to have a real problem renegotiating, especially at this time with an election in the United States. They too are at a pretty high unemployment rate in the automobile industry, and I can imagine it is going to be very difficult to make any major negotiations that would give us any worthwhile benefits right away.
There may be something we may be able to do. I know both levels of government are looking at it and are doing something to get more parts industries going here in Canada. That is the route I think we should be looking at. We are going to have to have more than just a couple of cars assembled, as in the Chrysler plant. Of course, Ford and General Motors assemble many more than just two models of cars. That is why they haven’t suffered so much in the assembly line because they do have more variety, whereas in the Windsor area Chrysler has just been making two or three models. If sales happen to go down it really affects our area.
Everyone is well aware of what happened in 1975 when we had unemployment, again due to sales in the United States, the OPEC oil increases in 1973, the temporary shortages and so forth. We have good highways in Canada and the United States and cars will be driven, whether smaller or not, over the next many years, but we are going to have to make some decisions now to tide us over until then. This has happened through lack of ingenuity by the automobile industry in Canada and the United States in building smaller cars a few years ago to be ready for this onslaught of higher gas prices and, in turn, the sale of smaller ears.
Health care is another matter of concern to many people in Ontario. In our own area we have had as many problems as anyone else in Ontario because of the lack of hospital beds. The hospitals seem to be under pressure -- and the employees in the hospitals too, the nursing staff and so forth. There seems to be an uneasiness throughout the hospitals that they are being pressured all the time to keep their budgets down. This year they did get a 7.5 per cent increase while last year it was four or 4.5. That doesn’t cover inflation. The pressure is there to keep cutting back on staff. That has been a real concern.
I have received many letters from people very worried about this. They have parents or family in the hospital and feel they are not getting the care they should be getting. They don’t think it is the fault of the staff, but that there is insufficient staff to carry out all the work that has to be done. Some of the older people who are quite ill and confined to bed seem reluctant, they tell me, even to ring for a nurse because nurses are so rushed sometimes they are upset and, in turn, they upset the patient. These things have been brought to my attention and are a great concern to many in my area.
We had a petition with 260,000 or 270,000 names about health care in Ontario. I have heard the local members for the city of Windsor, the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Cooke) and the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Bounsall), discussing the lack of health-care facilities, nursing-home beds, chronic care and so forth.
It concerns me that when our leader brings in an amendment to the throne speech we hear from the party those members represent that they have no desire to see that these things are righted and that proper health care is made available. The member for Windsor-Riverside did bring in a petition with 26,000 names on it on November 20, 1979. I am surprised he wouldn’t support that very petition on page 4647 of Hansard of November 20, where the petition is spelled out as to what the people are concerned about.
It seems to me the members have been talking a great deal about this, but when the time came that we could have had the power to let the people decide in Ontario whether the present government is treating health care with the proper respect it deserves, they failed and would not support us. That surprises me a great deal.
With regard to an announcement in the throne speech about 600 nursing beds to be allowed over the next year or so, we have a report from the Essex county district health council in Windsor with regard to nursing beds. This is a report of February 14. It is a discussion paper on nursing home beds. It says as of February 11, 1980, the placement co-ordination services consolidated nursing homes waiting list consisted of 174 individuals who have extended-care coverage and who are awaiting placement in a nursing home.
They co-ordinated all the nursing homes and got a list from each one because there are duplications. Some people will put their name into one, two or three nursing homes and whichever one gets a bed first, well of course, they go in. With the co-ordination of all the nursing homes, 174 individuals have extended-care coverage and are awaiting placement in a nursing home. Therefore, the chronic rehabilitation care board recommends in the interim that 100 additional permanent nursing home bed licences be approved for provision of extended care to residents in Essex county.
They are asking for 100 beds in Essex county. I think the throne speech gives 600 throughout Ontario. That takes almost 18 per cent to 20 per cent of the total in Windsor and Essex county alone. Unless other areas are much better off than we are that doesn’t sound like too many beds.
What we are really pointing out in regard to health care is our concern of the opting out of doctors and the availability of emergency care in some of the hospitals. I know for a fact that a number of people have had to occupy beds in hospital hallways for up to 16 hours before a room was available for them. That doesn’t seem right at a time like this, because I don’t think money is that scarce. I was looking over the March 13, 1980, Ministry of Culture and Recreation Wintario grants. They are nice, but I want the people of Ontario to know there is money being made available for many other things. It should be made available for the necessities of life when it comes to the ageing people and their right to have a little comfort in their last days.
I see a grant of $718,000 for construction of a curling clubhouse facility and a grant of $66,000 for a golf and curling club, a grant of $5,000 for a regional library system, a grant of $50,000 to an art gallery. Money must be available in the overall budget of Ontario. Sometimes one wonders if the priorities are properly set if that is the case. I don’t think they are.
Another matter of concern with regard to a local area I wanted to mention concerns catastrophes and tornadoes. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) mentioned the other day the flooding at Port Hope. That has now been named a disaster area due to the flood, and I certainly can understand it. Funding is going to be up to a three-to-one ratio. I think the tornado in the Woodstock and Oxford district received a four-to-one ratio, if I remember correctly.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Oxford is three to one. It was four in Field.
Mr. Ruston: Pardon me. Oh, yes. All right. Thank you. I know they vary and it’s hard to keep track of them all. Maybe that’s something we should be looking at. I think in Cobalt it was a little different situation.
We had a major explosion in the town of Essex. It was a natural gas explosion. It was a sad situation. Apparently an impaired driver lost control of his car in an alley and ran into the wall of a store and into two gas meters that weren’t too well protected, although some may say you could not protect them from that kind of driving. I am not sure that I agree with that. About 20 minutes later a major explosion removed about five buildings on one side of the street and seriously damaged about seven other buildings in the immediate area. The damage kept spreading over many areas of the town.
In looking over the area on the same morning, a friend of mine in the town was telling me that he was in England during the Second World War and he didn’t think there was as much damage done to the town where he was, which had two 1,000 pound bombs dropped on it, as there was as a result of the natural gas explosion in the town of Essex. Some of the citizens are now filing insurance claims and are trying to rebuild. The town is trying to organize the rebuilding so the buildings will be all co-ordinated, which will improve the appearance of the town. Some of the businessmen are really suffering, because until the buildings are blown up they have nothing left.
It’s a serious situation and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has been made aware of this. Some of his officials from the regional offices have looked over the situation and the town has started a fund. Some money has come in from the United States, and I might say the reason for it is partly due to the fact that the six Americans were freed by the Canadian embassy office in Tehran. There is a fund being set up and local people are coming down to meet with the minister within the next week or two to inquire about what assistance will be available to them after the insurance claims have been settled.
The other problem is the question of liability. I see Union Gas is starting to put protection around their gas meters which are exposed in all the alleys. A number of them have been already protected. We contacted the former Treasurer of Ontario and the present president of Union Gas and they are doing that at present. That was a major catastrophe. We were fortunate that no one was killed. There were two or three people injured. Two or three of the people who were on the site at the time of the explosion were blown about 150 feet into the air; two policemen and other people. We were very fortunate that no one was killed.
Another thing I would like to talk about is our colleges and the training of people. I was reading the Windsor Star a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday and there were nearly two full pages of advertisements in the employment section and 80 per cent of them were for people with technical training. They were from companies as far east as London, Ontario, and from southwestern Ontario. This has been going on for a long time.
We built the community colleges but the Ministry of Labour or the Ministry of Colleges and Universities never put enough -- I am sure the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) has mentioned this many times and I know he is very concerned about it as our official critic for that ministry -- into training people for the jobs required in an industrial country.
This government has never set its mind to seeing we have the available manpower to get into the higher-priced research and development field and into these trades so that we could have the ability to form companies in Canada to do this very important work. That is something that has been of great concern to me. I could never understand why the government wouldn’t take more of an initiative in seeing that this is available for people to get into the trades and into the highly technical skills.
There are some. I happen to know of a small industry in Windsor. I think the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) has been down and given them a dedication plaque or something for their work in advancing research and development on computers. I think about five years ago they had 30 employees and now they have 300. Most of their work is done for companies in Michigan and the United States. So it can be done and it should be done in Ontario. After all, we have the skills, the universities and the colleges. There is no reason at all.
I think sometimes there are just too many people going into colleges, taking arts courses, and that’s about all they learn. They then come out and think there should be a job available. There are jobs available for those who take the right courses in universities. I see it in our own university in Windsor, where for those who are taking the engineering courses or the four-year commerce courses, there are people waiting to hire them the minute they graduate. In the colleges, all those who are graduating from the two- year and three-year courses are picked up immediately. There are jobs available, and we need many more of these.
As for interest rates, it is a great problem right now. I don’t know how many economists are talking about what the answer is to higher interest rates. It looks as if we are facing it because of the United States. I always say it is like sleeping in bed with an elephant. If he rolls over, we are in trouble. That’s about the way we are with Canada and the United States. We have the size here, but we don’t have the people. From their direction in financing, it now appears the President is concerned about inflation because it has gone up to 18 percent. They are making the money situation very difficult and trying this whole system of raising rates to discourage buying to stop inflation.
I don’t think that is the answer to inflation any more. I think that might have been the old way, 40 or 50 years ago, but I really don’t think it is any more. We have inflation built into our system today. I don’t know when it is going to stop, because it is built in now and it is going to be 10 or 12 per cent -- I don’t care what anybody does -- under our system. We are going to have to look at some other system for assisting people with these high interest rates.
I have been wondering whether we shouldn’t be using the credit of the province to have people invest money. They could invest it in any bank or credit union or even the Province of Ontario Savings Office, and it would be guaranteed by the province. Then that money could be lent for mortgages. Apparently the rate needed to operate is around two and a quarter per cent from what I can gather from credit union managers. They can operate quite well on that basis.
I wonder how many people out there in the province who have money might invest it in that way with the guarantee of the province. In other words, the credit union or whoever lent the money would be completely responsible for collecting it. The only guarantee the province would have to have is that that money would be backed by the province, plus the lending institutions.
I know the credit unions have guarantees now through the provincial system, but I have been told by credit union managers and some bank managers that they are finding a great deal of money out in areas all over. People are coming in with $20,000 or $30,000 and they might have another $20,000 or $30,000 but they are afraid to put it in because they know that guarantee in that bank is only for $20,000. They can go to another bank and put another $20,000 in, but, of course, this is because of inflation.
They may have sold their business, farm or whatever; that’s understandable. These are not what I would classify as rich people. They are people who have savings. Some of them are pretty shrewd and they watch their pennies. The old saying is: “It’s the pennies that count, not the dollars. The cents will take care of themselves.” There is an old saying my dad used to say: “Any fool can make money; it takes a wise man to save it.” There still are quite a few wise people around but they are a little bit reluctant about putting money into some of these organizations.
I’m wondering if we could set up a system where that could be done. I would think right now that if you were to go out and say to people in Ontario, “We will guarantee you 11 per cent for the next 15 years if you will put your money in here,” that lending institution will make one a mortgage loan at 13¼ per cent and it will be a 15-year mortgage instead of a two-, three- or four- year. I’m wondering how many people might have money available to put in there.
They might bring it out of the little vaults they put back in the corner -- the money on which they don’t get any interest. I think it’s something we should be looking at, whether or not it should be just at times like this. I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t work the year round, year in and year out. But it is something we all should be thinking about and I think it’s worth looking at.
The member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman) just brought in a memo of a telephone call from Windsor: “Ford Motor Company in Windsor is having a feasibility study. Now talk is that they will be transferring jobs to the US.” We will have to get the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) and the Minister of Industry and Tourism on that Monday morning or this afternoon; that’s for sure.
Mr. Speaker, I don’t want to take any more time. I have been talking quite a long time and I appreciate those in here listening.
One other matter I would like to mention is that the tax reform system has never been working too well in this province. I wanted to read a letter from the township of Maidstone regarding our assessment policy. This government took over assessment about 1970, if I remember correctly, and I’m going to read this letter because I think it’s worthwhile. It’s addressed to Mr. Terry Russell, the Deputy Minister of Revenue:
“I wish to bring to your attention the deplorable condition of the above-noted assessment role which we have just recently received. It is my understanding that the assessment role should contain the necessary information to: (1) identify the property by its full description; (2) allow room for owner and address changes; (3) provide room on the opposite page to enable calculation of taxes on split properties; (4) identify the properties which are coded for special rate areas on the role as in the past. The 1979 assessment role does not do this and we are unable to tolerate this.”
This is a large township. I was reeve of this township for about eight years and we never had any problem with it. We had what we called special areas of assessment where people had pipeline, water, draining ditches, and so forth all done on a local assessment basis. Now since the province has messed up the assessment otherwise, it is messing it up so we can’t even collect our taxes properly.
Another complaint I have had from townships is that when somebody moves into a house in January, the following December he finally gets the assessment notice; then the township sends out a tax demand. Nowadays, we collect taxes about three or four times a year and all at once the people get a tax bill for $800 or $900, whatever it might be. There is no reason why that couldn’t have been sent out six months earlier. We’re getting a lot of complaints regarding that.
I think maybe I have said enough.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Warner: I think what happened is that not all members were aware that I would he participating today in the throne speech debate.
Mr. Nixon: They were aware.
Mr. Warner: Not at all. I am pleased to participate in the throne speech debate. I must say, Mr. Speaker -- and I am sure you have observed the same -- the best way to sum up the throne speech was the picture of Gordon Sinclair on the pages of our daily newspaper as he slept through a goodly portion of it. There certainly wasn’t anything in that speech to inspire any citizen in this province. We have been confronted with some extremely serious problems in Ontario; yet the government doesn’t appear to have any answers to them.
What I would like to touch on are two basic items that are related. They are the most serious issues the people of Ontario face -- the economy and our health-care system. Our economy in Ontario has deteriorated to the point where even the government cannot say it is a branch-plant economy, which we always thought was what we had in Ontario. Instead, we are becoming a warehousing economy.
In the face of the serious lack of ability to create new jobs in the province, this government through the throne speech and through what we anticipate in the budget apparently will move even more towards inviting foreign jurisdictions into Ontario to create jobs -- jobs that will be temporary and that we will lose when the parent organization gets in trouble. That has been the history of Ontario, and there is nothing to indicate that is going to change. In fact, all indications from the present government are that it will become worse.
The government delights in inviting American dollars to be invested in Ontario with virtually no strings attached, no guarantees about research and development and long-term commitments and no rules regarding plant closures or shutdowns. Some jurisdictions in the world, as members are aware, have some very strict requirements about plant closures, particularly those affecting foreign-owned companies. They cannot just simply close up shop and steal off in the middle of the night as they are able to do in Ontario.
If a stage is reached where a plant must close, there are some procedures to be followed. In West Germany, for example, it will take at least three years for that closure to take place, during which time workers will be refrained and/or located. No such thing occurs in Ontario. Americans are welcome to come in, invest their money and provide jobs. Then if the parent company gets in trouble, the plant will close here, those people will be thrown out of work and absolutely nothing will be done by this government. That has been the history of Ontario; it will continue and will become even worse. We had hints of that in the throne speech, and I suspect that will be confirmed in the budget. The Treasurer will say we want more American investment and we don’t want any --
Mr. Kerrio: That’s the reason you vote against it.
Mr. Warner: Don’t get overanxious. The day will come in here, and maybe a little sooner than the member thinks. Just hold on.
The necessity to establish a very firm, Canadian-controlled economy seems to escape the government’s attention. The creation of jobs should be here in Ontario and we should have some direction over that. We should be building our economy. If they took the matter seriously they would zero in on the most important, the most potentially productive area in Ontario and do something about it -- namely, our natural resources. That surely is the best thing we have to offer.
Why not build on our natural resources? Why not make sure the people of Ontario have the control and the direction over the development and exploitation of our natural resources, to ensure we can develop the secondary industries that are related to those natural resources? Why not meet that challenge? Why not ensure, as they have done in Saskatchewan, that the people of the province will benefit from the development of their natural resources, and insure that instead of hundreds of millions of dollars flowing out of this province annually to the United States and elsewhere, the money will remain in our province?
The success story of Saskatchewan is told by the figures of low unemployment, a balanced budget, a high standard of living, and the highest level of social services available in the country. That brings me to the link, that when we develop our economy to the point of self-sufficiency and being able to make sure that unemployment is as low as possible, then we can supply even better social services than we have now.
The contrast is well known to every member of this House. While we are fighting desperately in Ontario to protect our health-care system, to protect what we have, in Saskatchewan they are expanding their health-care system. We look every year at the threat of premiums going up in Ontario for OHIP; they don’t have premiums in Saskatchewan. We look at the deterioration in service; in Saskatchewan there is free dental care for all children up to the age of 12. Poor Saskatchewan, a have-not province.
Every member of this House knows that when the CCF took control of the government in Saskatchewan in the 1940s, they were the second poorest province in Canada. They couldn’t borrow money, but they brought in medicare. I suppose it is safe to say the single greatest achievement in Canada is the medicare system. They brought that in, and over time, the rest of the country followed their leadership. Now we fight desperately against this government to hang on to our medicare system.
The problems mount. I have constituents who come to me in increasing numbers to tell about how they are denied health-care services because they can’t afford them. That’s becoming a fact of life in Ontario at an alarming rate.
The opted-out doctors are the ones who decide our wellbeing, financially as well as physically. I don’t understand that. I don’t understand why the government would tolerate that process. Doctors have an expertise in the medical field. I have no way of being sure they have an expertise in the economic field to determine who can afford theft services and who can’t. The bills rise.
They can charge whatever they want, and many of them do. There is no law to say they even have to follow the OMA schedule. Some doctors have not only opted out of OHIP, they have opted out of the OMA. They go it alone and they charge whatever they please. There are some who can afford it, and some who can’t.
Senior citizens, many of them living on low, fixed incomes, are at the mercy of those doctors with respect to a bill. The province of Quebec’s answer is a very sound one, but one that’s been discarded by this government. It says that if a doctor wants to opt out of the medicare system, fine, he or she may do so, but they derive no benefit from the system.
In Ontario, of course, they get it both ways. The doctor can opt out; he can receive fees from the patient by way of the OHIP plan and charge an additional amount. Perhaps the answer is that if the doctor really feels that strongly about opting out of OHIP, and he does so, then he should bill the patient for 100 per cent of the cost. Then we’ll see what happens, we’ll see where the principles that some doctors hold so dear are when they have to do that.
Hon. Mr. Wells: They don’t do that in Saskatchewan, though.
Mr. Warner: Isn’t it curious? They don’t have the problem there that we have here.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Oh yes, the same problem.
Mr. Warner: They have three per cent or four per cent who have opted out.
Hon. Mr. Wells: They have the same problem.
Mr. Warner: It’s certainly nowhere the magnitude if you’re comparing their four per cent rate with our 18 per cent.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It’s proportionately the same.
Mr. Warner: My good friend from Scarborough North knows full well that this province has the most severe and serious problem in Canada of opted-out doctors and there is no escaping that, none whatsoever.
Other members wish to participate in the throne speech. I want to leave one clear message with this government: they are incapable of improving the economy of Ontario; they will not take any of the measures that are necessary. They won’t take the action that’s necessary because they march to the beat of a different drummer. The guys on Bay Street decide their course of action. The board rooms of Imperial Oil are the ultimate masters. Aside from public opinion polls during a minority government we know where their Conservative policies emanate.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Oh, come on.
Mr. Warner: Not the member for Scarborough Centre personally and certainly not the member for Scarborough North. They’re men of integrity.
Mr. Warner: Thirty-seven years is too long. I certainly wouldn’t subject the people of Ontario to have one Conservative government switch for another one. The real change will come, Mr. Speaker, with the New Democratic Party. I look forward to that day.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to participate in this debate. Because of the lateness of the hour, though, and while I do not have very lengthy remarks, they have to be put in context together, so it might be for the benefit of the House were I to move to adjourn the debate until Monday.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Drea, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 12:54 p.m.