The House resumed at 8:01 p.m.
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. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to join in the debate on the speech from the throne.
I am very enthused, of course, to see that six members have turned out to hear what I have to say. However, I am speaking to you, Mr. Speaker, and you’re the important one.
In that regard I would like to congratulate you on the manner in which you have conducted yourself in the office of Speaker. I believe that you have been fair to everyone in the House and have done a very commendable job.
About the speech from the throne, I am told by several people that it was one of the longest in recent years. But I found that it was also a speech that contained the least in really concrete programs to answer the problems that are facing the people of Ontario as we go into the 1980s.
This government having been in power for so long and with the decline in the growth and wealth of Ontario in comparison to other provinces, I suppose it is difficult to know what to say.
I would like to make comments about four or five different matters, and the first one I am going to comment on is what I consider the plight of the municipalities of Ontario. Over the last five or six years they have experienced the same inflationary pressures that have been experienced by all of us, whether in business or as private individuals.
We remember the Edmonton commitment, which was made to the municipalities of Ontario back in the days when I was the mayor of Sarnia, and we looked upon that as a promise by the Treasurer at that time, Mr. McKeough. We realized that the municipalities couldn’t ask for anything more. If the grants from the province to the municipalities were to keep pace with the increase in revenues to the province, there would be no complaint by Ontario municipalities.
However, we know what happened to the Edmonton commitment. The municipalities of Ontario today are looking for some commitment from the government of Ontario now. Over the last four or five years, they have had ever-increasing costs primarily because of inflation and increased wages. They have not been given sufficient transfer funds --from the province to the municipalities -- to keep up with the inflation rate. As a result, throughout Ontario in the past month, municipal councils have been poring over their budgets for 1980. All have found it looks as if there will be an increase that is almost unacceptable to the taxpayers in the municipalities.
In my municipality, the increase in the tax rate for the municipal side of the budget, without regard to the board of education portion, is 8.5 per cent. That is after the council cut things that I believe are absolutely necessary for the continued wellbeing of the city -- things that will cost more down the line. That 8.5 per cent increase on a regressive tax base isn’t going with inflation as other taxes do, such as income and sales taxes. The county board of education is currently dealing with its budget. It’s going to find the same thing.
What has happened here is that the education grants to the local boards actually have been reduced over the last four or five years. I grant that the school population has dropped, but everything else with which they have to deal has increased far beyond the amount of money they’re getting. Once again, the local taxpayer is going to be feeling that in his taxes for 1980. What a way to start the 1980s.
I would like to see a new formula produced by the province in regard to the municipalities of Ontario. If the formula could promise the municipalities that grants would grow as provincial revenue grows -- somewhat the same as the Edmonton commitment -- then the municipalities would be able to plan how to cope with the problems of growth and inflation with which they’re faced at the beginning of the 1980s.
Another thing I would like to speak about in that vein is senior citizens’ property taxes. These people have paid property taxes all their lives, during which time their children were educated and raised, and are now gone. Many of them are living on retirement income, most with one that doesn’t increase with the cost of living or inflation. They are in a bad way. I believe the province is going to have to increase substantially property tax credits for seniors. This is the year there must be a substantial increase -- and I don’t mean a token increase of five per cent. These people are going to be heard.
I say this with a selfish thought, because if we do not help them to stay in their homes -- which in most cases is the cheapest way to keep the elderly who have worked all their lives -- they’re going to have to go into some other kind of accommodation provided largely by the revenues of Ontario. I call upon the province and government of Ontario to look very closely this year at substantially increasing the property tax credits to the elderly.
The second topic I want to talk about is the environment. We hear so many people today speaking about the protection of the environment. I support that 100 per cent. We have to live with it, and we want to make it work for us and be able to enjoy it for years and years to come.
I would like to say that the record in Sarnia and Lambton for protection of the environment is one of the best I am aware of in Ontario. That is at a time when we have the highest incidence of the petrochemical industry in Canada within the boundaries of Sarnia and Lambton. Those people who are involved in that industry have spent massive sums over the years to change their means of production and the various materials they use. As a result -- and you can look it up, Mr. Speaker -- the daily air pollution index of the city of Sarnia, with that high incidence of petrochemical industry, is seventh, eighth, ninth or tenth on the list for Ontario, almost invariably. We are lower than Toronto, Hamilton, Sudbury, Windsor and many other cities. That is a fact. I pay tribute to the industry of Sarnia and Lambton for what it has done over the past 10 years when the amount of industry has increased tenfold, while the amount of air pollution has decreased by about the same amount.
The same thing applies to water. We remember 10 years ago the lead matter in the St. Clair River. That process by Dow Chemical has been completely abandoned and that whole plant has been torn down. A new electrolytic process now is doing the same job with no lead involved. It is easy for us to talk about protecting our environment. I just want to point out that this actually has happened. I am proud of it, and I know that our industries should be able to be proud of it as well.
The third thing I want to speak upon is energy, which is a vital concern to someone from our particular area. We have to know that we are going to have to conserve energy; there is no question about that. Known reserves of conventional oil will not last longer than 30 years. There are other forms from which we will get oil that are down the way and much more expensive.
I would like to draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, that I don’t believe the government of Ontario has paid attention to the supply of oil, under these conditions which I have outlined, to the extent it should have done. As I mentioned in the House the other day, I asked the Premier (Mr. Davis) on December 12, 1978, what he was doing to protect and secure the supply of crude oil for the industries of Sarnia and Lambton. He went on for more than a page in Hansard. There is only one paragraph on that page in which he addressed the question I raised. In that one paragraph, he said: “I am told by the people of Petrosar that there will be sufficient market in the petrochemical field that there will be ample room for expansion of Petrosar to deal with the midwest and eastern markets, and certainly any petrochemical industry in Alberta will be a viable source for the western United States.” The rest of the time he was talking about everything else. That was December 12, 1978.
Now the day has arrived that I feared back in 1978. We see in the Financial Times of Canada the headline “Alberta moves could close Sarnia refineries.” This refers to the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission setting down certain guidelines to govern who will get oil and who will not. In those guidelines it is specifically stated that Petrosar and Suncor will not fit into their scheme of things.
Fortunately, there are freehold leases in Alberta not governed by the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission. Those two plants have thus far been able to make purchase deals with the companies having freehold leases. Otherwise, the mass of production in our province, the mass of money created in our province and the jobs created in our area would be jeopardized.
I am not saying these plants are out of the woods yet, that they know or have any security of supply, but I am saying that as much as a year and a half ago when I brought it to the attention of the Premier I got no answer to the question now being written about in our media.
In addition, I have here a column from the Calgary Herald, dated Thursday, March 13, by Roy Farran. It is headed, “There Is Glee in Sarnia.” This column says all the things I don’t believe are true as far as the city of Sarnia is concerned. The writer talks about the people in Sarnia laughing all the way to the bank as they make money on the cheap oil from Alberta. I want to point out that I have never once in my comments about crude oil supply to the petrochemical industry talked or complained about price, or taken a position on price. I know this is something over which we have no control, but I am talking about supply.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Just one moment. Whichever honourable member threw that missile, I want him to understand that is not permitted in this House. I want to make it quite clear that is uncalled for.
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, I was not paying any more attention to them than they were to me; so I will carry on.
I won’t read all this column, but I must read the last paragraph, which is very short and succinct. An Albertan says: “As for myself, I would rather be a blue-eyed Arab than a jackal stealing from under the tent.” That is what they think about the people in Sarnia, and all we are asking for is security of supply so that we can go on doing the things we know best to provide for this province and this country in the 1980s.
I would like to revert for a moment to my own city. I want to tell the House about the current redevelopment of the core area under the provincial program of the Downtown Revitalization Program.
I want members to know also that this program started in 1973 and 1974, while I was mayor. During those years, the city went on its own. The federal program of urban renewal had been abandoned just at the point when we were ready to participate in that federal program; so the city went on its own. We acquired all of the properties on the west side of Front Street in the block between George Street and Lochiel Street. Those properties have all been torn down and the world headquarters for Polysar Corporation stands in the middle of that block, still leaving over 50 per cent of the land open for convenient and pleasant access to the river by the people of Sarnia.
That first agreement for that development and renewal was signed by me, as mayor, in 1974. Since that time we have continued the renewal of the waterfront. In the second block we have a very substantial high-rise with more than 50 per cent of the block open to access and enjoyment by the people. It is a credit to the area.
We are now in the second phase of the program, and just last week we received word that we would get a further loan from Ontario under the Downtown Revitalization Program; so that second phase is about to start. Our downtown area will be a renewed and beautiful place for people to shop and live.
One of the things I have always wanted to see is some assistance in getting a marina or some attraction settled in the downtown area in the bay and river for all those Americans who come up from Detroit. So far, no development is going on there, but this is something we are working on.
The fourth matter I want to speak on has to do with my area of criticism, community and social services. Just yesterday, we had the announcement by the minister of the 10 per cent increase for family benefit assistance recipients and general welfare assistance recipients. There was a meagre increase in January 1979, but there has really been no major increase since 1977. Just stop and think how the costs have gone up for those people on this meagre income. Everybody one meets is complaining about inflation, but what about these people who started from such a small base and have had so few increases and of a very small nature?
The government has been very cheap in this regard. These people are living on a sum of money that makes me wonder how they do it. We hear about people ripping off the welfare department and so forth, and I am sure there are some who do that, but the majority of them have been living on what I consider a pittance. The minister made quite a display of his 10 per cent increase announcement yesterday, which brings a single disabled person from $286 to $315 a month. Can members imagine a single person living in a city today with an income of $315 a month? I don’t know how they do it in Toronto and I don’t think they could do it in Sarnia. I believe we should be looking at trying to bring these people to the point where they would be able to live in some form of decency, which is not available to them now.
The next thing I want to talk about is the needs of the senior citizens in Ontario. The minister will say, “We are doing this and doing that, and we are providing this and that,” but there isn’t very much provided for the senior citizens of Ontario. We have a few senior citizen drop-in centres, but most of the municipalities of Ontario do not.
We have meals on wheels, which is of some help, but it is only made possible by the volunteer wok of the people in our community. It is not made possible just by the funds of the government of Ontario in this regard.
There are more and more people actually being driven into institutions. The minister will say, “We want to emphasize this; we want to control the institutionalization of the elderly,” but they are not doing that by providing the alternatives in the community that the elderly require if they are going to stay in their own homes.
We hear, “We have to restrain; we have to cut back,” but I think sometimes they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces in these things. It is often the case where money spent today is going to save a good deal more money on the same thing later down the line. I don’t believe that is being looked at now.
The next thing I want to speak about is the children’s aid societies of Ontario. There is a sad story. Of the 51 children’s aid societies in Ontario, 31 of them appealed their budgets for 1979 because they saw what we see. The workload was increasing, there were more programs such as child-abuse programs -- very good and logical programs -- put at their door, and they had to have more help to accomplish them. They did get a small increase for the child-abuse program, but the general increase was totally unable to carry the load. Thirty-one societies out of 51 appealed their budgets.
On the other hand, 22 municipalities appealed their share of the budget. So here we have a situation where the budget of the children’s aid societies is not sufficient to do the work that is allocated to them, which is obvious to us all, and on the other hand we have the municipalities appealing against how much they have to pay in their 20 per cent to the children’s aid societies. What a terrible situation.
There is no need for me to go into the increase in work load of the children’s aid societies. With the breakdown of families and all the things that have gone with that, the work of the children’s aid societies has increased astronomically over the last five or six years. I noted in a newspaper that the Association of Municipalities of Ontario were going to meet last Friday with a view to saying that they should take over the children’s aid societies. That was one of the main things they were going to do. I say that would be a mistake. The municipalities of Ontario have a regressive form of taxation. They simply don’t have the funds to pay for something so important to the future of Ontario as the children’s aid societies.
I believe there should be no change. The children’s aid societies were started by good, God-fearing people in the communities banding together as societies to look after the children in need. Let us keep that input, let us keep the municipal input, and let us keep the provincial input. But it is going to have to be increased or we are going to pay through the nose a few years down the line. Those children who have not been looked after by the niggardly response of this government will be in institutions that are going to require a lot more money down the road.
I have covered the four major issues about which I wanted to speak. I am looking forward to working with the government to provide these needs for our people. I want to be able to criticize when these needs are not being met. I urge the ministries responsible for these areas to take some leadership so that we will be in a position to take advantage of all the possibilities of 1980 in Ontario.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, if order in a speech means anything, energy is the government’s priority in 1981. From the throne speech: “Ontario will seek to lead a full-scale energy initiative that combines responsibility, resolve and resources towards ensuring provincial and national security in the 1980s.” It’s a back-to-the-basics curriculum for energy policy; the three R’s, according to the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch).
It’s a notable throne speech, not simply because it places priority on energy, but also because, for the first time, the government gives priority among energy efforts to a policy of conservation. According to the speech, the government will “embark on an extensive and ambitious energy program for the 1980s, a principal objective of which will be to reduce our dependence on crude oil.” It continues: “The most easily achieved and quickly developed approach towards this goal is through energy conservation.”
These are welcome words, even though it has taken so long to hear them said by this government. I feel our thanks must go directly to the Minister of Energy. Recently, he quoted from the report on energy which Darcy McKeough had prepared for the government in 1973. At that time Mr. McKeough commented: “Ontario has one of the world’s highest per capita rates of energy consumption. The province has historically had an abundant supply of energy at a relatively low cost which has influenced the patterns of industrial development and domestic use. The province has historically been more concerned with an assurance of adequate energy supply than with the efficiencies and conservation in the use of energy.”
Mr. McKeough’s conclusion was: “In a period of rapidly rising costs and incipient short supply we must now be as preoccupied with efficiency and moderation in demand as in enhancing the supply of energy.”
Those were wise words back in 1973. One has only to compare the disappointing quantities of oil which have so far been produced by the Syncrude project with the amount of saved oil that could have been produced, each year, by the investment of $100 million in insulating oil-burning buildings in Ontario to know what the enlightened Mr. McKeough meant. He was also correct in describing the preoccupation of Ontario with increasing traditional supplies of energy, because that’s exactly the choice this government proceeded to do.
The Conservatives invested $100 million in the Syncrude project. While we got our money back, we haven’t seen much oil, even at world prices for Syncrude oil. If the government had taken Mr. McKeough’s analysis seriously, we could have lent that $100 million to Ontario homeowners and small businesses, had our money returned as they saved on energy cost and produced an energy saving equivalent to 600,000 barrels of oil each year in the past and every year in the future.
The Syncrude deal produced a profit for the Ontario Energy Corporation, but a comparable insulation loan program would have produced a profit where the Conservatives always claim they want to see it -- in the hands of thousands of individuals. It’s not as if the government’s fixation with Syncrude-like ventures is firmly behind us. According to the 1978 annual report of the Ontario Energy Corporation, the corporation has already spent almost $12 million as one of four partners in the ill-fated Polar Gas project. If this project gets under way at all, it would probably be designed initially to provide natural gas for the export market, because it would not be au economic venture for the domestic market until about the year 2000.
In spite of this fact, the Conservatives point proudly to the Polar Gas project as one of the major investments in energy resource development which the OEC will undertake on our behalf in the next year or so. Surely if Ontario is going to be making major investments in the natural gas field, it would be more appropriate to consider purchasing natural gas holdings in Alberta which are ready to market at current prices, rather than investing in high-risk Polar Gas investments which may only have an export potential if, indeed, they turn out to have any market potential at all.
But let’s return to the question of the Ontario government’s priorities in the energy field as they are outlined in the speech. I suppose there’s no use crying over wasted oil, but one would wish that the current government enthusiasm for energy efficiency had been unleashed seven years ago. Better late than never, of course, and certainly the current Minister of Energy seems intent on getting the government’s priorities straightened around. We welcome that. We’ll monitor the government’s deeds as well as its words in the area of energy efficiency, because the importance of making our energy use more efficient cannot be exaggerated, and the seven-year deficit in government policy has been outrageous.
We turn our attention now to those elements of the throne speech which deal with energy supply. We see a few more new wrinkles. The government promises to “carry out initiatives in such areas as energy from waste, synthetic liquid fuel, cogeneration, upgrading of heavy fuel oil, small hydro-electric developments, and the full development of our nuclear power capacity for industrial purposes.”
These are all useful and interesting proposals, many of which have been processed previously by government press releases, and some of them should now be well established. The Energy from Waste program, for example, has been recycled theoretically ever since I arrived in this Legislature and, in fact, as far back as 1972. All this was with the promise that the Solid Waste Reduction Unit project for garbage burning in Hamilton would soon have the bugs worked out and be pumping out useful energy. But when we run through the estimated in-service dates for municipal solid waste projects under evaluation in Ontario -- all of which are provided for our delectation in the glossy publication called Energy from Waste: A Program for Ontario, which last week rated a press conference plus a luncheon hosted by the minister -- if we run through that list only one of 12 projects may be under way this year, and poor old Swarn, which was commissioned in 1972, now has a projected in-service date of 1983.
Another interesting piece of information to be garnered from the Energy from Waste glossy publication is that of the 72 million barrels of oil per year equivalent projected for the Energy from Waste program by 1995, one third “could be in the form of synthetic liquid fuels made from agricultural and other forms of waste.” However, the publication notes that methanol “can be produced from a variety of sources, including natural gas, coal, crude oil” and, almost as an afterthought, “peat and biomass.” In the words of the poet, one might think, “Some agriculture, some waste.”
I hope that once the Ministry of Energy gets together a mimeographed sheet of details about its plans for the Edwardsburgh hybrid poplar pilot project we will see that it is designed to demonstrate -- or, as Atomic Energy of Canada Limited would say, to prove -- the efficiency of producing biomass energy, though not from waste, and not to prove what we already know, which is that natural gas, coal and crude oil can be liquefied at reasonable cost.
The flashy document entitled Energy from Waste will provide questions enough for several hours of estimates considerations; so I’ll move lightly from the government promise of “initiative in such areas as energy from waste and synthetic fuels” to the promise concerning cogeneration.
Cogeneration in Ontario is practically a black hole, an absolute vacuum. Industry doesn’t cogenerate for itself because industry has not been informed that current accounting methods misinterpret the economic benefits of cogeneration, and industry does not cogenerate electricity for the electric grid because Hydro won’t buy it.
Industrial cogeneration of electricity in California is a huge success. The reason, in the words of Emilio Varanini, commissioner of the California Energy Commission, to the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs, was: “What we did was, the Public Utility Commission of California ordered the utility to pay full marginal price for cogenerated energy.” In other words, if you are a cogenerator you see a price that’s the equivalent of being a nuclear generator, for example. So if you’re generating at a cost of 10 mills per kilowatt-hour, or whatever it might be, and the cost of nuclear was 40 mills per kilowatt-hour, you put 30 mills in your pocket. That’s the way to do it.
Next is the promise of an initiative to upgrade heavy fuel oil. Everyone knows heavy oil can be upgraded now; so what has the government promised? The problem’s not technical. The problem is not the economics. The problem is skewed markets and ridiculous contracts. All that is needed is the initiative or the will to straighten them out. Why doesn’t the government simply announce that it intends to achieve that goal in straightening out the market and drop the sonorous tone that implies ethereal effort?
Then we move to the initiative promise for small hydro-electric developments. Here I must pause and pay tribute to the energy critic for the Liberal Party. The member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. Reed) believes in small-scale hydro-electric projects. That’s not hard. More than that, he has for four and a half years told the government that the financial figures on which Ontario Hydro had rejected small-scale hydroelectric development were totally screwy. That is hard, but not for the member, because he owns a small-scale hydro-electric project.
He has at last convinced the government enough that Hydro has been forced to come up with a list of hydro-electric projects which are economically sound, even if they aren’t particularly small. The problem is that Hydro plans to take as long to develop this list as it would take to build a major nuclear plant in an era of violent environmental opposition and dropping demand projections. It’s a real wonder.
Then there’s the final initiative in the throne speech: the promise to “move to the full development of our nuclear power capacity for industrial purposes.” This is, indeed, an interesting proposal, and it has been recycled more often than a Christmas turkey. What it means, of course, is that two thirds of the energy from nuclear reactors, which is now poured into our Great Lakes, will be tapped to make things grow. What things is really a moot point. The problem with growing food in a nuclear environment is that the food tends to end up containing non-negligible amounts of the nuclear environment which tends to be radioactive.
According to the best Hydro estimates, based on studies of tomatoes and cucumbers, you’d have to eat about five pounds of tomatoes a week grown in this environment, every week, to achieve a significant intake of carbon 14, for example. I can just see the label: “Foodland Ontario -- the AECB advises that this product can be injurious to your health, and danger to health increases with the amount eaten.” It sounds like the slogan that was fed to the native peoples of Wabigoon River.
Fish grow well in warm waters too, but the fish condominium idea, which created such a big splash just a few months ago, is no longer mentioned in the recycled nuclear energy proposals. We haven’t seen scale or fin of it for months now. Perhaps its position on the back burner is related to the fact that commercial fishing has been long banned in Lake Huron; PCBs, you know.
For a few fleeting weeks after I first heard of the idea for fish farms from nuclear-warmed water, I had the hope that we were on the verge of proving that nuclear radioactivity had at least one benefit for health outside of hospitals. Perhaps it could destroy PCBs. Before I could investigate this possibility, the government stopped issuing press releases about the fish farm condominiums. I should have known better when this government talked about condominiums, but that’s for another speech.
These are, in sum, the major “new” initiatives in energy policy which the throne speech offers. Let’s make no mistake; they are policy areas where initiatives would be most welcome.
The Minister of Energy announced on March 13 that “within the next year or so,” the Ontario Energy Corporation “could be making capital investments of $40 million in several areas.
One area of activity is resource development, meaning the polar gas project and three other joint projects to explore oil, natural gas and lignite coal. A second area is alternative energy, involving two projects: the use of municipal solid waste, and feasibility studies for methanol and ethanol fuels. A third area is power-sharing, which means agriculture can use waste heat at Pickering and Bruce and a review of smallscale hydro. A fourth area is transportation, involving negotiations on a public-transit information program, a proposal for a van-pool operation, and the proposed “examination” of more efficient automobile engines.
When one reads all this, one has to be at least dubious. The Ontario Energy Corporation is nowhere near making capital investments of $40 million on such projects, and it is clear that famous phrase “in the fullness of time” is about to be displaced by the phrase “in a year or so.” The Ministry of Energy, headed by Malcolm Rowan, doesn’t have its act together well enough so that such talk can be taken seriously, even if the Ontario Energy Corporation were not also headed by Malcolm Rowan.
Let’s move on. The throne speech intrigues us with initiative and then it declares: “At the same time, greater reliance will be placed on natural gas and electricity as substitutes for petroleum products.” First, we are given the promise of energy efficiency programs as priority number one. Next we have the promise of these aforementioned initiatives. Then we have the offer of greater reliance on natural gas and electricity.
Given that the first two areas of promise are still ephemeral in terms of real programs, I suppose we had better have an offer of greater reliance on something. What exactly is the government proposing? It is easy to have a reliance on old standbys, and as oil prices and even oil supplies become more dicey by the day, it is probably easy to develop “greater reliance” on natural gas and electricity. If we place greater reliance on these two old standbys, will natural gas actually be available, and will it be available at a bearable price to Ontario? Will electricity, which is over-available, and will continue to be over-available in terms of megawatts on paper, be available in a form that will heat our homes and run our transportation, and will it be available at a price that is bearable?
If the government can’t provide clear answers in these two areas, it should not be pronouncing itself in favour of “greater reliance” on natural gas and electricity. Seek as we may, we can find no evidence that the government actually has clear answers to these questions.
This is the government that has done no comprehensive analysis of the nature of the Ontario private vehicle fleet or the reasons why V8s make up the same proportion, about 58 per cent, of that private fleet as they did five years ago. That same government had no plans to deal with heating oil shortages if the past winter had been normally cold. That same government helped defeat a federal Conservative government in its infancy because Ontario consumers and industry were not being protected at the national level.
What has this government done to protect us in the traditional energy field? In policy terms, this government hasn’t even provided a sophisticated analysis of what we use energy for or how, in specific ways, we could use it better. In program terms, it has treated the energy question as if the problems would disappear with a wave of a few provincial press releases and a federal government which made decisions based solely on Ontario’s need for cheap, traditional energy supplies.
This government helped create a federal government which will see us pay perhaps 50 cents less for a 1980 barrel of oil at the wellhead, but at what price? When Mr. Lalonde has done with his striptease, we will probably find out that he has traded a year’s supply of natural gas to Ontario, which is approximately the size of the new export application by Pan-Alberta. He has traded that for a measly 50 cents on oil, which we will have to pay anyway some time in the next five years.
What is this government saying to the National Energy Board about the export of half a trillion cubic feet of the natural gas on which we are supposed to have greater reliance? If we look at the documents Ontario presented to the NEB hearing which just concluded, we would have to be kind to say they contain seven pages of argument -- seven pages that include the notice of intent to intervene, plus the “final argument.” On top of that, the argument is not very strong.
It is not just in the current hearings of the National Energy Board that the Ontario Conservatives have failed us. The previous hearing, late in 1979, was for the export of 375 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The Conservative government in Manitoba presented such an excellent case against the export that the NEB had to worry itself for several pages of findings to try to dismiss the Manitoba presentation. The Ontario presentation was cast aside in a few lines.
It is not only the supplies of natural gas which this government fails to protect. When was the last time we heard a vigorous argument presented by this government on the subject of unpegging the price of natural gas -- which we have in such surplus we must export -- from the price of oil, which we must import? There is grave cause for concern about, and even suspicion of, the Ontario Conservative government on the matter of natural gas. Natural gas now is abundant in this country. It is a bargain, even at the pegged rate of 85 per cent of the cost of the BTU equivalent of oil, and it is beating electricity hollow in the heating market of Ontario. But, as anyone can see, there is a price for natural gas at which electricity will be able to compete for new heating markets in Ontario.
Is it the aim of this government to see that price achieved? Is it the aim of this government to oversee the development of a natural gas shortage through the same mechanism that gave us our oil deficiency? Is it possible that this government cares more about protecting itself from well founded accusations of negligent spending on the nuclear mission than it cares about the real energy security of the Ontario economy? These are bitter questions. It’s not healthy to have to ask such questions about the motives of the government, but it is time we had some answers.
These days the energy bill in Ontario hovers around the $11 billion mark. Of that bill, over $3 billion is spent through Ontario Hydro. The Ministry of Energy proposes now to double its budget for the coming year and spend about $31 million to help us analyse, plan and meet our energy needs for today and for the 1980s. I would be happy to see that budget increased if I felt confident that the ministry was capable of carrying out the grand phrases of the speech from the throne! “It goes without saying that the fundamental changes implicit in a new energy horizon for Ontario will necessarily be present in the shaping of our economic future.”
I have read that phrase many times now, and I actually think I know what it means. I have even got to the point where I think I approve of what I think it means, but maybe I am wrong. Maybe we should just expand Mr. Welch’s three R’s in the throne speech to four. We could make it responsibility, resolve, resources and rhetoric.
Mr. J. Johnson: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for the opportunity and privilege of adding my comments in support of this government during the throne speech debate. Her Honour, the Lieutenant Governor, in her remarks made on March 11, outlined many positive steps this government intends to take during the fourth session of this parliament. I intend to add my full support, as the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel, to these initiatives.
I believe there are two major concerns of the constituents of my riding and the people of Ontario. First is the rising level of inflation and the second is the ever-increasing demand for more job opportunities in this province. The throne speech highlights many positive steps this government intends to take, if the opportunity is presented, to tackle these very major provincial problems. Over the last four years this government has demonstrated its responsible budgetary management. For the first time in five years Ontario’s projected total cash deficit has dropped below $1 billion. This fact clearly reflects the growing strength of the Ontario economy. This is a very positive achievement, especially during a time of very slow real growth in Canada and North America. This government knows there is still a great deal to be done. I believe it is vital that all of us, and especially the leaders of this province as well as those across Canada, are honest about our circumstances as a modern, highly developed and infinitely complex economic country.
Despite the ravages of inflation, Ontario’s economy continues to be strong and the backbone of the Canadian economy. Ontario shows no serious signs of decline now and certainly will not in the near future. There is no place for complacency, but Canada is not about to fly apart and our Ontario economy is not winding down.
During the past 10 years, Ontario led Canada in employment growth. We have created an average of 121,000 new jobs in each of the last three years. That represents 40.8 per cent of all jobs created across Canada and is well in excess of the province’s 37 per cent share of Canada’s working-age population.
This government is committed to strengthening the private sector. Consequently, both our government and the government of Canada must assume an active and openly co-operative responsibility to help our communities adjust to change and, when necessary, help our industries realize their full potential.
The first step to achieve this goal is the urgent need to come to grips with the overriding and menacing reality that as a country we are not winning the fight against inflation. Inflation will strangle creative growth, the credibility of our market, the economy and all the fine goals we share in this Legislature. This very complicated problem cannot be solved by one simple solution or by one government or even one province. I believe this challenge cannot be successfully addressed without some reasonable level of national agreement. The government of Canada, the 10 provincial legislatures and, most important, the private business sector must participate together in discussions aimed at developing a new, vigorous and independent economic policy for Canada.
Two sectors of the economy that are hit hardest by inflation and tight financial times are small businesses and the agricultural community. Small businesses account for 40 per cent of total employment in Ontario. There are 240,000 small businesses in Ontario, accounting for 23 per cent of total sales. Largely Canadian-owned and developed in response to local conditions, small businesses provide regional growth in all parts of Ontario. I strongly feel that small businesses contribute significantly to the economic strength of Ontario. This can be maximized only 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.
As an incentive to encourage investment, this government will be continuing the small business development corporation program. As a rural member on the fringes of Toronto and Hamilton, I also fully support the continuation of the Employment Development Fund and expansion of the Ontario Development Corporation to encourage Canadians to purchase foreign-owned businesses, especially the many Canadian subsidiaries in my riding and in the province as a whole.
The small business development program announced by this government last Friday is another positive step in assisting the private sector to retain its full potential. This program provides marketing and promotional assistance to a maximum of $7,500. Small businesses introducing a new product line will then be able to provide the high profile needed to reach fresh markets and a fighting chance to become successful in a very competitive marketplace.
Additional assistance through the program will be the TAP rebate program, technological assessment and planning. The aim is to encourage small business to utilize the consulting services of research professionals, scientists, engineers and technologists from the Ontario Research Foundation or from a contract research agency. The program will cover 90 per cent of the cost to a maximum of $3,600.
The small business development program will also improve communication between government and the small private sector, making its needs and concerns known. This will be accomplished by a province-wide board of directors to assist owners of small firms with advice and information and in obtaining government contracts. The Ontario Development Corporation and the Ontario Research Foundation, to reflect more active assistance to small companies, have had an additional $600,000 in funding added to their budgets to finance the two new programs.
Ontario’s Shop Canadian program is another initiative undertaken by the government. Ontario provides a little over eight million customers to the business of the province; yet Ontario still imports over $1.7 billion worth of agricultural products. The farming community of this province could feasibly replace $767 million worth or 45 per cent of the imported produce. Canadians must be encouraged to support Canadian farmers, processors and manufacturers. This government will continue to encourage this practice through the Foodland Ontario program and through the Shop Canadian program of the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman).
Multinational firms will be encouraged to purchase Canadian-made parts and supplies. This initiative represents an extension of the Shop Canadian program designed to increase the public awareness of the importance of supporting Canadian-manufactured products when shopping at the local shopping centre. As a rural member, it is encouraging to see the increased interest this government is taking in the rural agricultural communities.
A number of very positive programs aimed at assisting Ontario farmers were announced by Her Honour last March 11. Energy management is a growing concern in rural Ontario, due to the farm communities’ heavy dependence on petroleum and fertilizers. The agriculture energy from waste program is a positive first step in assuring farmers of enough energy to carry on a viable, productive business when energy supplies become limited in the not too distant future.
While our agricultural sector does not use a large percentage of Canada’s energy resources, approximately three per cent, it is a very vital percentage, and at the present time requires gasoline and diesel fuel, with no other alternatives being available. For the wellbeing of all Canadians I hope we all recognize and support the priority of the energy needs of the agricultural community.
Mr. Kerrio: Haven’t you any confidence in the minister’s gasohol program?
Mr. J. Johnson: Not yet.
This government plans to further increase the drainage loans which will assist in increasing Ontario’s agricultural productivity. Last February, the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) made additional funds available for approved projects up to March 1980. The increased funding was aimed at eliminating the entire backlog of completed and inspected projects.
For the information of the members, I might mention the amounts of funding for this project: In April 1979, $18 million was allocated for tile drainage, and an additional $2 million was further allocated later in the year. In February of this year $6 million more was added to this funding and last week $5 million more was allocated to complete the funding of this very important project, making a total commitment of $31 million for the fiscal year 1979-80. To date, 3.2 million acres of land has been drained and another three million acres is expected to be tiled within the next three decades.
I’m pleased to see this program continuing with increased funding for the 1980s to be announced in the near future. I have supported this program since its inception and it is one of the most fully utilized government programs.
The introduction of the livestock protection fund by this government will guarantee the future of many independent farming businesses. The new fund will enable the establishment of a financial protection program for beef farmers. In recent years livestock producers and dealers have lost something over half a million dollars as a result of buyer bankruptcies. A number of farmers have suffered large financial losses and long-term hardship as a result.
The new self-sustaining financial protection program will be funded in the long term by the parties directly concerned. Under the proposed legislation, producers of other classes of livestock may also have financial protection plans set up.
I might mention at this time the continuing involvement of this government in the research and development sector. Later this month, the new swine research centre operating at Arkell, in conjunction with the University of Guelph and the Ontario Pork Producers’ Marketing Board, will be open.
One area of agriculture that I’m very concerned about is the nonresident foreign ownership of prime Ontario farm land. During the last session, I fully supported my colleague the member for Middlesex (Mr. Eaton) by seconding his private member’s bill calling for all Ontario nonresidents who want more than 25 acres of farm land to register their holdings. The registration of private and corporate ownership is needed when 25 per cent or more of the corporation is owned by a nonresident.
I am pleased to see that the government plans to introduce similar legislation this session that will protect the agricultural future and independence of our Ontario farming communities.
Mr. Kerrio: Jack Riddell’s bill, probably.
Mr. J. Johnson: No. This bill will allow local farmers to expand their businesses, preserve the rural communities and guarantee that prime agricultural land will remain in production and under the protection of a farmer who will maintain both his farm and land in order to protect his investments. Absentee land owners do not have the same reputation for long-term productivity.
A program that, in the future, could give additional financial support to farmers and rural communities and, at the same time, add to the growth of Ontario’s tourist industry, is the Ontario Farm Vacation Program. The member for Victoria-Haliburton (Mr. Eakins) might be interested in this program, this is clearly one small area of the tourist industry that, as yet, has not been fully developed. Farm vacations would provide an attractive alternative form of vacationing for tourists, both from inside Ontario and from other parts of North America and Europe.
I plan to attend the upcoming Canadian Country Vacation Association meeting in St. Jacobs near Kitchener this fall. The concept of farm vacations is based on farmers providing accommodation either within the farmhouse or, if possible, small cottages that will offer increased privacy to the vacationers. I believe there are many urban residents who would enjoy and benefit from experiencing life on the farm. In particular, I would suggest that this sort of vacation would appeal to families with children who had never seen or been near a farm. I hope the government will not only endorse this program, but also provide the resources that will enable it really to get off the ground.
Mr. Kerrio: Get cracking, Jack.
Mr. J. Johnson: We’ll repeat it to Larry when he returns.
The Ministry of Housing has recently announced the continuation of the Main Street Revitalization Program, I have many communities with populations below 30,000. This program is designed to assist these small Ontario communities to improve and upgrade their downtown areas. Many small towns often lack the capability to generate the front- end funding necessary for initiating improvement projects. The provincial government will provide low-interest loans of up to $150,000 to help the community improve and beautify municipally owned lands, buildings and eligible areas. The Housing ministry has earmarked $5 million for this program.
The Ministry of Housing is also taking steps to assist municipalities that operate Ontario Housing Corporation facilities. These municipalities will no longer have to share in the operating loss of these rental units. This will mean an estimated saving of about $20.5 million annually for the more than 300 municipalities in which OHC subsidies are now being paid. Under the new arrangement, which takes effect April 1, the province will absorb the municipality’s 7.5 per cent of the share of the losses.
Some additional programs recently introduced by this government are the energy conservation programs, such as van and car pooling, in which I encourage my constituents to become involved. Many of the people in the Wellington-Dufferin-Peel area travel to Toronto and Hamilton to work. I believe these commuters should become involved in a very effective energy saving program such as this.
The Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Walker) introduced the Correctional Institutions Food Self-Sufficiency Program. This program promotes food self-sufficiency at our correctional institutions. It now costs the provincial government $131 million a year to keep 5,000 inmates in provincial jails and correctional centres. Institutional operating costs at present amount to $50 per day per inmate. The total cost of feeding inmates annually is approximately $5 million.
Mr. Kerrio: Don’t let them grow beanstalks.
Mr. J. Johnson: Many of your friends are in there, and I know you want them out for the election.
The purpose of this program is to reduce costs and place more of the correctional cost burden on inmates and less on the taxpayers of Ontario. Having inmates grow most of their own food requirements will significantly reduce the institutions’ annual food bill as well as providing a healthy environment for the inmates. This is definitely a step in the right direction.
The Ministry of Health is continuing its efforts to restructure our health system to meet the needs of our ageing population. The expansion of the chronic home-care program is one excellent way in which patients and taxpayers benefit. The patients are returned to their homes and receive the support of their families and visiting nurses or home keepers. The taxpayers benefit because the patients are not taking up costly hospital beds and tend to recover faster at home. Since most of the patients are over 65, their OHIP costs are free.
I’ve had some small experience in examining the OHIP system. It is this kind of program -- one of many -- that goes on serving people very quietly and efficiently that makes me realize there are a great many good things in our health-care system. Having served on the select committee on health care financing and costs which was set up by this Legislature to review our health-care system, and having examined and compared Ontario’s system to that of other provinces, the United States and several European countries, I want to state emphatically that we in Ontario are blessed with one of the best health-care systems in the world. All of us are pretty fortunate to have so many highly skilled people to count on when we really need them.
As a member of the resources development committee during the previous session, I participated quite actively in the examination of acidic precipitation in this province and the terrible effects it is having on Ontario’s lakes, rivers, forests and wildlife. I am pleased to hear the Inco Metals Company is at present developing two different processes that will reduce the emissions from North America’s largest point source by 50 per cent. This will move Ontario one step closer to fulfilling its commitment of doing its share in solving the North American acid rain problem.
Most precipitation in Ontario is a result of the northerly transport of moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and the midwest United States. Their acidic air masses, originating in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago and the Ohio Valley, deposit 80 per cent of the sulphur and nitrogen falling in Canada. I fully support the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott) in calling for an international agreement with the United States in order to attack this problem.
Mr. Kerrio: Put them down in Niagara on the SCA thing. We have a lot of work.
Mr. J. Johnson: Even if we could completely eliminate every source in Ontario, it would not resolve our problem. This must be a joint effort between our neighbours and ourselves. An arrangement, much like the International Joint Commission, which is successfully cleaning up the Great Lakes, is needed. I see the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) is nodding in agreement. Acidic precipitation is not a problem that is going to go away overnight. Ontario is committed to doing its part to resolve the problem. I hope other jurisdictions will follow Ontario’s lead.
I’m very pleased to see the government will be streamlining and improving Ontario Municipal Board hearings and Environmental Assessment Board hearings. The white paper on the Planning Act outlines the proposed changes for cutting red tape and reducing the number of planning-related appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board and the Environmental Assessment Board. An omnibus streamlining bill will be introduced this fall which will include the appropriate amendments to all applicable acts and regulations.
Mr. Speaker, I again would like to thank you for the opportunity of participating in this debate. The government of this province has introduced many excellent programs that will benefit the people of Ontario. I fully support these programs and will make an extra effort to assist both the small business investors of the province and Ontario’s agricultural committees.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The honourable member for the great riding of Rainy River.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Ruston: Notice he says “the great riding,” not “the great member.”
Mr. T. P. Reid: It is certainly nice to have friends, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. F. S. Miller: How would you know?
Mr. T. P. Reid: When I finish with you, you will know you have one fewer.
Mr. Speaker, I want to speak on three or four topics, none of which was mentioned in the throne speech and all of which were noticeable by their absence.
I want to speak first about the land use policies of the present Conservative administration in Ontario. They are the most balled-up, screwed-up, contradictory programs that we have in this province. It is almost unbelievable what the Conservatives have done to crown land use in Ontario.
With regard to that, I want to deal with two topics. One is the present policy of the government in regard to crown land leasing and the purchase of lots, and the other is the general subject of crown land policy.
I want to deal with something I find completely unbelievable and almost despicable that this government has done -- what is referred to by the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Auld) as his lease conversion program.
I and others were very strong some years ago on the fact that much of our crown land and cottage lots, particularly in northern Ontario, was being bought up by nonresident Canadians, mostly Americans. In parts of my riding of Rainy River, 70 to 80 per cent of the crown land was owned by Americans. It was with that in mind that I and others suggested vehemently that this program should come to an end, and that we shouldn’t be selling our birthright and our country in this wholesale manner.
After years of browbeating, the then administration decided not only that nonresidents could not buy crown land, but that residents could not buy crown land either. We went into a crown lease situation where a person was able to lease a lot from the Ministry of Natural Resources, but was unable to purchase it. The government, when it found something wrong, instead of treating the disease, buried the body instead.
This was a program that while not universally accepted -- everybody wasn’t happy with it -- people learned to live with and could accept what they were paying as far as leases went, and were prepared to continue doing so. Then, Mr. Speaker, while the present Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), who was then in one of his earlier metamorphoses as the Minister of Natural Resources, was over in Romania or Czechoslovakia or Hungary --
Hon. F. S. Miller: Yugoslavia.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Yugoslavia; I knew I would get it sooner or later. The minister has a lot of Yugoslavians in his riding, as you know, Mr. Speaker.
The present Treasurer was then the Minister of Natural Resources. While he was in Yugoslavia, in Dubrovnik or wherever, at the gambling tables, no doubt, the then previous minister, the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier), convinced cabinet that there were votes in it for them if they changed the policy of leases and went beck to selling crown land. That was put in the throne speech and the program was set in place. Since then it has been an utter mess.
We now have the lease conversion program of the present Minister of Natural Resources. He has said to the people, primarily in northern Ontario, “You can now buy your lots at market value. You have to the end of the calendar year 1980 to do so. If you are not satisfied with the appraisal done by the Ministry of Government Services, you can get another appraisal, and then you and the local district forester or district manager can sit down and negotiate a price which may be lower than what Government Services assessed the lot at.”
One point I wish to make clear is that the Ministry of Government Services in Toronto -- Toronto, again -- sent appraisers up to northern Ontario who were supposed to appraise a lot in its undeveloped state in 1971-72. People have had seven, eight or nine years to improve their lots, to put in roads, to put in hydro, to put in septic fields, to do everything to make liveable cottages, enjoyable for themselves and their families.
We are taking an appraiser from Toronto, whose experience is no doubt best in that expensive territory in the Muskokas where the Treasurer is well known as one of the larger land holders, and where he will be happy to retire after the next election.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I will make you a bet.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I didn’t like the bets you offered yesterday. The point is that we take somebody from Toronto and we put him or her up in northern Ontario and say; “Now appraise this lot,” if I may use a word that I am sure will catch the Treasurer’s attention, “in the virgin state of eight years ago and tell us what that lot is worth at market value.” I emphasize again, we are taking somebody whose experience and training have been in the high-cost land of southern Ontario or, to coin a phrase, the near north of the Muskokas, Huntsville, Haliburton and that area.
All of these appraisals came in at ridiculous figures. People who have been paying maybe $100 per year in rent find themselves faced with cottage lots at the price of $10,000 for a lot that has now been developed and improved by the owners. That is supposed to have been market value at today’s prices, but based on some undeveloped state that existed in 1971 or 1972.
It is impossible for somebody, particularly from the Toronto area, to come up and visualize what that lot was like seven or eight years ago. I want to put on the record that I am for market value. I agree with that. For years we gave our crown land away cheaply to everybody, residents and nonresidents alike. I agree with the market-value concept except for two matters. First of all, it was this government itself which created the high prices in land values by cutting off the supply of crown land that was going to be made available to the residents of northern Ontario.
I don’t have to tell members, I am sure, that most people live in northern Ontario because they want to. They enjoy the forests, the lakes, the outdoors, the fishing and hunting. This government came along and cut that enjoyment off for many people by restricting the number of lots that, in the first place, were available through the Ministry of Natural Resources, through its environmental restraints, through its planners who came from Toronto and told us again in northern Ontario what we wanted, rather than the people in northern Ontario saying what they wanted.
They created an artificial market by restricting then the sale of crown lots which automatically and obviously made the supply of titled land that was available then inordinately expensive for almost anybody except our southern neighbours of whom we know there are 10 times as many as there are of us. Many of the areas in northern Ontario are relatively close to Chicago, Minneapolis, Duluth, Milwaukee and these kinds of centres.
The Ministry of Natural Resources in this Conservative government -- and I won’t say in its wisdom, but in its stupidity -- created a false market by restricting the amounts of land that were available for lease if not sale. It also drove the price up of a title deed to property by three, four and five times the value and put it out of reach, in most cases, of a resident of northern Ontario.
Eight years later, the minister has the nerve to come along and say, “You can buy this lot you have been leasing for the last seven or eight years, but you have to buy it at market value.” That market value is a false market value because it is a market created by the ineptitude of the present government itself.
I hope that is clear, because many people now who have been leasing for a number of years want to buy that property, but they cannot pay $10,000 for a lot on top of what they put into building their cottage, putting in the septic field and, in some cases, putting in roads. I have talked to many of the real estate agents in the area and they say these assessments done by Toronto appraisers through the Ministry of Government Services are absolutely ridiculous. They don’t have any bearing on what the actual market value is and certainly they don’t have any bearing on what that land was worth in its undeveloped state.
Mr. Nixon: You had better go over that again. The Minister of Government Services (Mr. Wiseman) has just come in. He is responsible for that fiasco.
Mr. T. P. Reid: The other point is that the government has said in its wisdom, “We will give you a break. We will be very generous with you after we have already messed you up completely. That break is, you can go out and get a second appraisal. If it is too low compared to the one that our Government Services have come up with, of course then you will have difficulty negotiating. But you can go out and get another appraiser, get a second opinion if you like, and then we will negotiate and half of the cost of that second appraisal will be deducted from the cost of the lot.”
Of course, what the Minister of Natural Resources doesn’t understand, or nobody bothered to tell him -- and he demanded this -- is that somebody from the Appraisal Institute of Canada, with a special degree behind his name, must do the assessment. We tried to point out to the minister that there aren’t any of these particularly qualified people in most of northern Ontario.
I think if one lives in Fort Frances or Atikokan or Kenora or Red Lake or Dryden, the closest one is in Thunder Bay. It is going to cost people in some instances $400, $500 and more to have this appraisal done. It could run even higher than that because obviously if somebody has to travel from Thunder Bay to Fort Frances or Kenora or Red Lake, wherever it happens to be, and travel back, that is a day travelling, a day back and then the actual appraisal that has to be done.
Then there is no guarantee that appraisal or anything reasonable will be accepted by the ministry; in fact, the tenor of the minister’s letter is, “Boy, you had better not come in too low, or we are not even going to talk to you about it.”
The minister has turned down the suggestion of the two organized groups in the area -- in Fort Frances and Kenora -- that they allow the appraiser to come in and appraise one of a block of lots. Then he could use that as the figure to give the people, who are being done in by the government in this regard, an even break at least on the appraisal. The minister will not accept that. The minister has said that the end of 1980 is the last chance one gets to purchase these lots. The average price of those lots is between $8,000 and $10,000, at a time when interest rates are running at 16½ per cent prime, which means from the bank 17½ or 18 probably at the least. This government, with the interests of the people of the north at heart, is saying, “You go out and borrow $8,000 or $10,000 at 18 per cent.”
But that is not the end of the story. The rest of the story is, if one doesn’t wish to purchase and if none can’t afford to purchase -- and many can’t and will be unable to because of these high appraisals -- one can continue one’s lease. The leases are based on 10 per cent of the appraised value, according to Government Services again. This means that if your lot has been appraised at $10,000, then you are paying somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1,000 rent or lease per year. For people making salaries that range from $10,000 to $25,000, that is an awful lot of money to be paying out in rent for a cottage on top of their everyday living expenses which in northern Ontario are higher than they are in southern Ontario to begin with.
I say this policy is unacceptable; it is unfair to the people who live in northern Ontario. It is unfair because they got into this situation, or were put into it by the government itself in the first instance.
We have heard a lot about the Assisted Home Ownership Program, how people were sort of coerced into AHOP and that it is the responsibility of the federal government and perhaps the provincial government to assist those people because they were induced into that program and the government has a responsibility to ensure that they don’t lose their homes and they are not hurt.
I say that this government opposite has that same responsibility to assist the people of northern Ontario in regard to allowing them to own a cottage lot in their part of the world, in the part of the country that they live in and they love. The government should not be depriving them of that opportunity because of the mangled and contradictory policies that this government has come up with in the last 10 years in regard to this aspect of crown land.
I hope the Treasurer, a former Minister of Natural Resources, will pass these comments on to his counterpart, the present minister.
I want to speak also about crown land policy generally, again not touched upon in the Throne speech. Two thirds of the land mass of the province lies in northern Ontario. Of that two thirds, at least 90 per cent is crown land. Another example of the poor planning, and twisted and contradictory policies, is what that government opposite has been doing for 37 years in regard to crown land and the resources that go with it in Ontario.
For years, I have been after the government to cut down on the use of crown land by nonresidents, who are able to come into Ontario, bring their campers, tents, trailers, all their food, all their supplies and their liquor, and for the price of a fishing or hunting licence be able, under legislation of this Conservative government, to camp on crown land for up to three weeks without it costing them anything, without enforcement on them, without any restrictions whatsoever. We have been giving these resources away for years. There is not another jurisdiction that does it to the extent that this government does.
The people of northern Ontario are fed up with it. They are fed up with the fact they can’t own a lot and the government is giving the rest of the northern country away to our friends from the United States. I’m sure, before the Treasurer leaves, he would be the first to complain if there were lots of crown land beside his tourist camp where people could come and put up their tent, throw their garbage on the beach, not leave a nickel, but have their tin cans for him to pick up.
I have a fairly lengthy report here that the present Minister of Natural Resources was kind enough to send me. It’s entitled: A Trial Program to Control Overnight Camping on Crown Land, Northwestern Region, 1974 to 1976. The report is dated May 1978. It’s an interesting report, and I take some credit for it because in those days I was a member of land use planning groups in almost all of northwestern Ontario. I endeavoured to push the government to control crown land camping.
After a while I had convinced almost all the land use groups that they should recommend to the Minister of Natural Resources -- now the present Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier ) -- that we should have a policy on crown land camping; we should try to see whether we could control what was going on. The minister finally responded and set up a program with funding of $675,000 for three years.
As is the wont of the Minister of Northern Affairs, he never finished the program. He did away with the program after three years and we are back to the pork and beans syndrome where people can come up, they can use the crown land, they can hunt, they can fish and they can leave their garbage and the Ontario taxpayer is left with the mess and very few dollars in the pocket because those kinds of people do not spend money in tourist establishments in Ontario, and they don’t provide any employment and they don’t provide any taxes.
How we can, in this province, keep squandering these resources instead of conserving them and using them, first of all, for the benefit of the people of Ontario is beyond me. A year ago in this Legislature I asked the Minister of Natural Resources if he would restrict nonresidents coming into Ontario to licensed tourist camps, to provincial parks, to licensed trailer parks or motels or hotels and if -- I add this at this time -- he would require them to use a guide when hunting and fishing.
The minister’s response was: “I don’t know how we can do that. We don’t want to put any restrictions on anybody. We really don’t see how we can do anything like that.” If you travel in the United States at all, Mr. Speaker, you would know there is no possibility of doing in any state in the United States what an American is entitled to do in Ontario, which is to go anywhere in northern Ontario he wants, park his trailer, pull his boat and motor with him, bring all his groceries and all his liquor and camp there on one spot for three weeks absolutely free with hardly any restrictions on him at all. I say there are hardly any restrictions and there is hardly any enforcement. Mr. Speaker, I know you are particularly interested in this.
As to enforcing the game and fish laws or dealing with the garbage problem or whatever it is, in northwestern Ontario we have approximately 250,000 square miles. The whole northern area is two thirds of Ontario. In northwestern Ontario with 250,000 square miles, we have 21 conservation officers to go around checking for fish and game violations. Even those people opposite can figure out themselves that that comes to a little over 10,000 square miles that each one of these conservation officers is supposed to patrol.
How do we know what these people are taking out of this province by way of game and fish, whether they are obeying our laws or what they are doing? In fact, we don’t know. We do know about the hunting and fishing pressure. More than two thirds of the people, in northwestern Ontario at least, who are hunting and fishing are nonresident Americans; yet the Ministry of Natural Resources is talking about restricting the fishing and the hunting to residents because we are allowing all these other freebies in at no benefit to the province and the provincial taxpayer.
The north-central area -- an area again in the Speaker’s riding -- is over 150,000 square miles. There are 32 conservation officers. In the northeastern area of the province there are 32. Have you ever looked at a map, Mr. Speaker? I am sure I don’t have to ask you that. In all of northern Ontario we have about 110 conservation officers to enforce our provincial laws over 750,000 square miles.
That is just ridiculous. It can’t be done; it’s an impossibility. We all know that. But there’s a way around that. If the government would accept my suggestion of forcing these people to stay in licensed establishments, as is done in every state in the United States, as far as I know, then the conservation officers wouldn’t have to be covering 10,000 squares miles of bush. All they would have to do is go around and check the camps and say: “I want to see your freezer. I want to see what these people have by way of game and fish.”
Their garbage isn’t removed from the bush either. We are spending thousands and thousands of dollars -- it was $500,000 about eight years ago -- for cleaning up garbage left in the bush in northern Ontario, some of it by Ontario residents, unfortunately. But the majority of the people in the bush are Americans who are not spending more than $10.50 for a fishing licence, most of them, or maybe $40 or $50 for a hunting licence. And what are we getting out of it?
If they were in these establishments, if they were forced to stay there, the conservation officers could check them. It would solve a lot of the garbage problem. The tourist operators would get revenue out of it. We would see a burgeoning of tourist operations in northern Ontario. We would see a burgeoning of trailer parks.
What is the incentive now for anybody to go into business in these establishments? There is none because if one has a tourist camp in the wilderness or down a road -- and this happens to friends of mine constantly -- where one has $100,000 or $250,000 worth of investment by way of cabins and all the facilities necessary, a pork-and-beaner can pull up beside the establishment, park down at the end of the bench and pitch his tent there for three weeks and not spent another dime in Ontario.
I’m not the only one who is concerned with this matter, obviously. The Kenora and District Campowners in 1978 in their Issues publication entitled -- and I think reasonably so -- “Fifth in a Series of Long-Frustrated Howls,” passed a resolution on crown land camping to the Ministry of Natural Resources. It read. “Indiscriminate camping on crown land causes serious fish and game management problems and pollution control problems and results in poor monetary returns for resources used.”
The recommendation of this body -- situated in the riding of the Minister of Northern Affairs, for those who may be interested -- was, “That campers be required to register at a commercial or government campground or a licensed tourist outfit or establishment to assist in proper and adequate supervision as well as support the user-pay concept.”
That’s interesting, the user-pay concept. This was the buzzword in the Ministry of Natural Resources a few years ago as members well remember. What it’s turned into is that the Americans use it and the Ontario taxpayers pay for it. I say to you, Mr. Speaker, as far as I am concerned, it’s time that came to an end.
I hope the Minister of Natural Resources will review this policy, because people in northern Ontario are fed up. Our resources of fish and game, clean water and clean areas are dwindling. This ministry and this government are doing nothing to deal with the problem at all except to say to the people in northern Ontario, “You’re the ones who are going to suffer. You’re the ones we’re going to cut back as far as moose hunting, fishing and all the rest of it go.”
The ministry says that even though it well knows it’s our American friends who are coming and using the resource and not paying for it. It’s just absolutely ridiculous. A government that’s supposedly interested in free enterprise and the user-pay concept is allowing these hordes to come across the border and use crown land in the way they do. The government does absolutely nothing about it.
I’m sure my friend from Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) would agree with this. He has a lot of people in Fort William who are fishermen and hunters who are not going to stand for this much longer.
Because my time is limited, I wish to touch on a couple of other matters. We heard earlier tonight from some of the speakers about alternative energy sources. One that has not had due recognition and hasn’t been looked at sufficiently by the government is peat moss in northern Ontario. We have a great deal of peat in northern Ontario. In the Rainy River district alone, I’m sure we have miles and miles of bog that could be better utilized.
If I may be personal for a minute -- and I’m sure you’ll allow this, Mr. Speaker -- nine months or so ago when I was in Ireland on my honeymoon, I noticed large peat areas.
Mr. Hennessy: Tell us about it.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I didn’t think my friend could remember those things.
Mr. Kerrio: How come my colleague didn’t come to Niagara Falls?
Mr. T. P. Reid: That would have been the second biggest disappointment. Amongst the other things I noticed there, was the fact that the Irish, as they have for generations and hundreds of years, utilize peat as a source of fuel. One can see as one drives through Ireland -- again, my friend from Fort William would know this probably as well as I -- the large peat bogs and the people out cutting. It is an interesting thing that in Ireland a family has a certain section of bog that belongs to it and which it can use as a source of fuel.
We have lots of peat in northeastern Ontario, northwestern Ontario and eastern Ontario. There are people who are interested in doing something about this, and given the energy situation we have I would suggest that the government should be taking some initiative in this regard and doing something more than providing a lot of gas that is self-generated by the Minister of Energy.
Finland, for instance, has carried this technology much further than we have in North America. Ten years after the start of its peat industry, Finland is producing the equivalent of 45 million barrels of oil annually and expects to double that before 1985. Development of this industry cost the government an initial investment of $1.5 million which is only $10 million over the 10 years.
“Compare this,” the article goes on, “to the $150 million in annual tax concessions to Dome and similar concessions to other oil companies that aren’t even Canadian.” We have this resource in Ontario and we are doing nothing whatsoever to exploit it.
If I may quote as well from NORAK from northeastern Ontario, one of the editorials that they had in their July-August newsletter dealt with the same matter. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you weren’t aware that there are some 800,000 square miles of Canada on which there is some kind of muskeg vegetation which produces or has peat in it.
The peat is more accessible than the far north oil and gas reserves. Mining it would not require constructing mammoth projects, such as pipelines that cut across and ruin the landscape and the environment to the same extent. Horticultural peat, the nonburning layer lying above fuel peat, is already a thriving Canadian industry and there is no reason why we can’t expand it.
A peat power generating station may be operating in eastern Canada within 10 years, if all goes well. It is interesting that the peat can be used to fuel hydro generators and, in fact, produce electricity without the acid rain and the other kinds of problems we have heard about.
It is a resource that we have and it is absolutely ridiculous and quite impossible to understand why we are not making use of it. It is something we have in the province and something for which we could very well be forerunners in the technology. It would cut down our reliance on coal, which we already know produces acid rain, and it would cut down on our relying, as we have been in the past few years, on nuclear energy.
Mr. Conway: Any more on the honeymoon?
Mr. T. P. Reid: You wouldn’t understand. I will deal very briefly with two other matters, but because I speak briefly does not mean that they are not important.
Mr. Hennessy: How about the honeymoon?
Mr. T. P. Reid: I will tell the member for Fort William later, in the confessional.
Actually, I will deal with only one other matter, because I want to leave some time for other people.
I must admit it came as a shock to me that under our Ontario Health Insurance Plan we are not providing artificial limbs to people who need them. To my mind that is completely unconscionable. These are devices that are required, that are needed; they are not fringes, they are not something people can do without. They absolutely have to have them. This government refuses to provide them under the health care program. I must say it boggles my mind.
I have written the present Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) and brought this to his attention, and I have had nicely-worded letters back saying that is very unfortunate. I am not sure whether he said the Ontario Medical Association or someone has decided these matters should not be included under OHIP. I just cannot understand it. People who need an artificial leg, an artificial arm, whatever it is, should not have to go begging to a welfare agency or the war amps or some social service agency or even volunteer organization for something as essential as this.
It makes no sense at all when the government puts these people in the situation of beggars, because they have to do that if they are going to get these devices. It is interesting that OHIP will pay a doctor somewhere between $1,000 or $1,500 for cutting a leg off, but we won’t provide the patient with the artificial limb that he needs.
The province of Manitoba in the fiscal year 1979 is unfortunate in having a Conservative government, but at least they provide these prosthetic devices. In 1979 it cost the Manitoba medicare program $389,137.84. Our population is seven to eight times greater. On that basis, if we can use rough figures, it would cost the Ontario government somewhere in the neighbourhood of $2.5 million to $3 million for prosthetics for the people who need them. I wonder where this government’s priorities are when it cannot afford that for the unfortunate people who find themselves in this situation.
I might point out that sometimes those with really bad problems may need a change of the prosthetic device twice in a year. They are very expensive. If these people are supposed to be in the community trying to fend for themselves, trying to earn a living, then they have this added burden on top of it. When OHIP allows the kind of elective surgery that it does and denies this kind of assistance, I quite frankly do not understand it. Our sister province of Quebec also has these prosthetic devices covered under its medical plan; yet Ontario does not.
I will bring to your attention the third annual report of the Ontario Advisory Council on the Physically Handicapped for the period ending March 31, 1978. If I remember correctly, Mr. Dunlop, a former member of this Legislature, is one of its members. I would like to read, if I may, from this report:
“The chairman later reported that Mr. McKeough thought it made a lot of sense that essential prosthetic, orthodic and assistive devices be insured benefits under OHIP and was very encouraging regarding the outcome of the recommendation.”
In a letter to Mr. Dunlop dated May 24, 1978, Mr. McKeough said: “I am confident that somewhere in our $14 billion program we can find a low priority $2 million item which can be cut out to provide the necessary funding for coverage of assistive devices.
In 1978, there was a $14-billion budget, and in this day and age we can’t afford $2.5 million to $3 million for these devices for people who are in absolute need of them. Where are the government’s priorities?
The report goes on to say: “Unfortunately, it seems there has been no further action taken beyond the matter being under review by the Ministry of Health. The council will continue to press for this important amendment to the provisions of OHIP.”
There must be some members sitting over there who are ashamed of that, and I would hope they would support me in pressing the Minister of Health to include this in the program so that these people can be provided with the assistance they need.
Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to participate in this debate. I will see if I can complete my remarks before we close this evening. Rather than talk about the contents of the speech from the throne as such, I would like to talk about the climate or the circumstances behind it.
There is a politician in Canada who proclaimed on the night of February 18, in Ottawa, “Welcome to the 1980s.” If we transfer that to the provincial level, and in the absence of any such proclamation by the leader of any party, I suppose the speech from the throne is probably Ontario’s welcome to the 1980s.
What I would like to do is compare six areas, how the welcome into the 1980s compares with the welcome into the 1970s, rather than, as I say, the specific contents of the throne speech.
First of all, if we look at the whole situation regarding interest rates and mortgage rates, obviously interest rates are at an all- time record high, and the same is true of mortgage rates. In fact, both of them are obscene, obnoxious and tremendously harmful to small business, farmers, working people and anyone else seeking renewal of a mortgage this year.
The present exorbitantly high interest rates will mean fewer jobs for the people of Ontario, less economic expansion by business, more bankruptcies of small businesses, farmers and even some larger corporations, not to mention the fact that 140,000 mortgages have to be renewed this year and the tremendous burden that is going to place on the home owners of Ontario.
The high interest rates also prove how almost totally dependent our economy in this country is on the American economy. The rise in Canadian interest rates is almost immediately dependent on the rise in American rates. What a difference from the 1970s in terms of mortgage rates and interest rates!
Another area where we can compare the welcome into the 1980s is the energy situation. Despite the confusion and cynicism of many people there is a growing realization that the energy situation in Ontario in particular is getting worse. Here in Ontario, where for more than 80 per cent of our energy needs we depend on imports from other provinces, other countries and other continents, we are becoming increasingly dependent on increasingly unstable situations, countries and political leaders.
We all know that prices will be going up again soon. The supply of foreign oil is susceptible to interruption, and I would emphasize here that in my part of the province we depend on foreign oil, not on Alberta oil. We are increasingly susceptible to frequent and sometimes drastic price increases, without any advance notice. Clearly, Ontario is no longer in the secure position it was as it entered the 1970s. The days of cheap energy for our manufacturing industry are gone, and we are now dependent on the Albertas, the Saskatchewans, the Newfoundlands, the Venezuelas, the Saudi Arabias, the Kuwaits and even the Libyas of the world.
A third area, if we compare the entrance into the 1980s, is inflation. Most people now face the prospect of double-digit inflation in this country, and we all know that the rapidly increasing cost of money will only create further inflation. With the next federal budget we face the prospect of higher oil prices, and that again only serves to stimulate the inflation cycle; so it’s pretty self- evident that by the end of the year we will have double-digit inflation in Canada. What a difference from the beginning of the 1970s in terms of inflation rates!
We talk about the dollar. Most people now are probably resigned to the fact that the dollar will stay around the 85-cent mark. But surely that in itself is only a symbol and a further reminder of the increasingly fragile nature of our economy in Canada and in Ontario and of decreasing confidence that both investors and Canadians have in the future of our economy. Again, compare that with the entrance into the 1970s.
As for the country itself -- and here there is a tremendous difference obviously -- in 1970 we knew there was a separatist party in Quebec, but we also knew it had only eight seats in the National Assembly. The people of Quebec had voted in a federalist government with a solid majority, and many people thought that solid majority would never be overturned by the separatist party -- possibly by one of the federalist parties in opposition but never the separatist party. Here we are in 1980: we have a separatist party in power with a solid majority and now, according to the Institut Quebecois d’Opinion Publique poll they are now leading in the referendum battle and most people accede to the fact that they, not the federalist forces, have the momentum at the present time.
We all have to face the real possibility that the Parti Quebecois or the “oui” forces may well win the referendum in May or June. If the result of such a referendum were a “oui” vote, it could only serve to strengthen the separatist cause and their eventual determination to leave Canada, to create an independent Quebec along the lines of Jacques Parizeau and the original intention of the movement to break away from the Liberal Party and ultimately, obviously, that would seriously weaken, if not destroy, the unity of what would remain of Canada.
Never before in our history have we been faced with such an imminent threat to our whole existence as a country, and yet this is what we are facing at the beginning of the 1980s. What a contrast to the beginning of the 1970s!
Another area is the growing lack of confidence, and I don’t say this in a purely partisan vein or even a provincial vein. But people are wondering more and more out loud about their jobs, inflation, the energy situation, national unity and the entire future of our society. They seriously wonder, do any politicians have the answers? Does any political party have the answers, or the will, or the fortitude to tackle these problems frontally? Is the western world actually in a period of full and complete decline, and does the quality of life have any possibility of ever returning to its former level?
Obviously there is a lot of cynicism about the whole parliamentary system and the political system, and the last election obviously did nothing to lessen that cynicism. All one has to do is pick up the paper and read the latest report from the Conference Board in Canada, the front-page story. “More Jobless, Higher Prices,” the study says. The conference board now predicts zero growth rate, higher unemployment, a higher inflation rate
-- in fact, some observers say that the conference board is too conservative in its inflation rate predictions based on oil prices -- and it also predicts the lowest housing starts since 1968.
We begin the 1980s in the midst of an economic recession. Again, this stands in stark contrast with the beginning of the 1970s. The overall mood out there is not one of tranquillity, buoyancy or confidence; it is one of concern and somewhat growing pessimism.
In eastern Ontario we are traditionally a slow-growth area in this province, and we really wonder what lies ahead. We read the comments and the contents of the recently published DREE report on Economic Development Prospects for Eastern Ontario. When one reads for example on page 10 where it talks about Ontario’s position relative to other provinces in the 1970s, one sees how poorly we rate.
For example, in terms of annual average percentage growth, provincial product growth rate, we rank eighth; in terms of annual average percentage growth of per capita gross provincial product, 1970 to 1977, 10th; annual average percentage growth of per capita income, 1970 to 1977, 11th; annual percentage growth of per capita federal transfer payments to persons as a percentage per capita income, 1970 to 1977, sixth; annual average percentage growth rate of per capita personal disposable income, 10th, last; annual average percentage growth rate of public investment, 1970 to 1979, 10th, last; annual average percentage growth rate of manufacturing investment, 1970 to 1979, eighth; annual average percentage growth rate of estimated manufacturing investment, by province, 1970 to 1979, seventh; annual average percentage of residential construction 1970 to 1978, 10th, last. Figures like that hardly inspire confidence.
Further in the report they talk about regional prospects and about eastern Ontario. I’d like to quote this from the report on page 23; again, it hardly inspires confidence:
“Following a year of moderate recovery and output during 1976, the eastern Ontario economy lapsed into a period of slow growth during the next two years. As a subregional component of the provincial economy, it has been tending to lag provincial developments more and more. The key public administration sector, which accounts for approximately 25 per cent of employment in the region, has had a major dampening effect on economic performance ...
“While performances in other sectors, such as manufacturing, trade, finance, insurance and real estate, have been fairly good recently, they have not been strong enough to pick up the slack left by the public administration sector; the service industry has been directly affected in a negative fashion in its performance. The end result has been a constantly increasing unemployment rate in the region, with figures being 7.8 and 8.5 per cent for 1977 and 1978 respectively. According to figure 12.2, eastern Ontario currently has the highest subregional unemployment in the province.”
Later on it says, fortunately: “The manufacturing sector, whose performance reflects provincial trends, albeit in a somewhat exaggerated fashion, has performed well in the past year. Led by good performances in the food and beverage, pulp and paper and textile industries, the sector appeared to be benefiting from the lower value of the Canadian dollar and strong tariff protections provided for clothing and textile commodities...
“On a spatial basis, economic performance is varied. In the eastern portion of the region, the city of Ottawa ... is experiencing some difficult times adjusting to the decentralization of civil service jobs out of the area ... Other areas of difficulty may be associated with a large arc of high double-digit unemployment and declining opportunity which straddles highway 7 in the west, sweeps down through Smiths Falls and incorporates parts of Brockville and then splits east to Cornwall in the east and Gananoque in the west. In contrast, the communities of Kingston and Belleville appear to be performing well.
“The outlook for the region is not overly bright. The present difficulties associated with stagnant growth in the public administration sector are not expected to improve substantially. One major proposed development in this sector, the move of OHIP to the Kingston area, is constantly being delayed by the provincial government ... The manufacturing sector, while performing fairly well under favourable market conditions, is actually masking a very antiquated and technically deficient industrial structure which is generally uncompetitive, particularly in regard to foreign manufacturers. However, protection for comparatively weak industries, such as textiles and clothing, which are represented in eastern Ontario, will be maintained or reduced only marginally as a result of the GATT negotiations....The forestry sector, which has potential, is being continually neglected and run down. On a spatial basis prospects look best for the Ottawa-Carleton area and the major communities of Kingston and Cornwall. It is generally the smaller communities and the rural areas that have the bleakest prospects. The outlook for the region as a whole, therefore, is for continued slow growth, retarded structural development and a high degree of economic vulnerability.”
Hardly a report, as we enter the 1980s, to inspire much confidence. Fortunately, in the city of Cornwall things have been on the move in the past few years. Our pulp and paper industry is doing well; also textiles with urban development. There is a sense of buoyancy and confidence in our area and we now are in a situation where the textile plants are actually expanding -- something unheard of in the past 20 years.
If we look around the entire eastern Ontario region, things don’t look that well. Looking at the unemployment rates, almost every time the Golden Horseshoe has the lowest rate. Take the latest ones from Statistics Canada, for example, and look at them region by region -- I should point out that these are for February: “Ottawa-Hull, 7.4 per cent; Sudbury, 7.8 per cent; Toronto, 5.1 per cent; Hamilton, 4.5 per cent; St. Catharines-Niagara, 11.9 per cent; London, 7.8 per cent; Windsor, 19.0 per cent; Kitchener-Waterloo, 8.3 per cent.’’
Those of us who live beyond the Golden Horseshoe wonder what’s going to happen to this province and to these slow growth regions. We wonder about things like the long promised move of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan facilities. We were told that would be a major stimulus for eastern Ontario. Here almost four years later, there is still no OHIP in Kingston, and still no prospects of an actual move.
We look at the speech from the throne, we look at our fears about regional development and increasing emphasis on the Golden Horseshoe, and we see very little to assuage our fears and our concerns for the future. We look at the government’s strategy and we have even greater concerns, because there are two fundamental components of that strategy that make us, beyond the Golden Horseshoe, wonder.
First of all, a fundamental premise of this government’s strategy is foreign ownership. Our manufacturing industry, especially autos, machinery and electronics, are in trouble at the present time, as evidenced by the 1979 trade deficit and the ensuing loss of jobs. Much of that problem has to be traced to the fact that 57 per cent of our industry in Ontario is foreign owned. For example, electronics is 65 per cent foreign owned, autos 96 per cent, and machinery 69 per cent. In this interesting look at the deficit situation, the trade deficit, for electronics it was $1 billion in 1979, autos $3 billion, and machinery $3.6 billion.
Our export of end products is as weak as imports of those goods are dominant. We simply cannot depend on the export of raw materials, crude or fabricated materials, as the basis for export and development policies.
It’s because of this that some economists are now talking about deindustrialisation in Ontario. Let’s look at some of the costs we have to pay for this foreign ownership in our economy. In 1979, the net drain of interest and dividend outflow amounted to $5.2 billion, up $2.5 billion from three years earlier. Since the Foreign Investment Review Agency was established, the net outflow has been about $20 billion in interest and dividends in Canada since 1974.
Mr. Wildman: Farce.
Mr. Samis: You’re right, it was a farce, and it is a farce.
In 1975, royalties, rent, professional fees, management fees, research and development expenses, et cetera, totalled over $1.5 billion. Everyone is aware of Canada’s pathetic performance in the field of research and development, and this is exactly where the future lies.
The extent of foreign ownership is still growing, and judging by the number of approvals that FIRA announced recently it really makes one wonder whether this government supports almost all the takeover applications, and strongly supported the former Clark government in its desire to further weaken FIRA, if not abolish, it altogether. If there is anything we need in Ontario it’s a stronger FIRA, not a weaker FIRA. Yet this government seeks even greater foreign domination of our economy as part of its industrial strategy.
Surely we have learned the lesson that we pay a high price for foreign domination of any sector of our economy, especially in manufacturing? Surely the answer to the problems of our branch-plant economy is not even more of the same? Surely the answer to our trade deficits, our terrible research and development record, our technological fragility and dependence on outsiders and the drainage of $18.2 billion to non-Canadian sources since 1974 is not more of the same? We must do more to encourage Canadian industries and manufacturers to modernize, to become more involved in research and development, to develop higher technological skills and become more competitive on world markets.
I support initiatives to redevelop and restructure our industries, sector by sector, in order to revitalize Ontario’s manufacturing industry. I support the program to assist the pulp and paper industry, although I strongly disagree with the extent of outright grants and the lack of equity, and the lack of insistence on Canadian purchases, especially when companies like Abitibi-Price receive outright grants. I do support programs to modernize our textile industries, although I strongly suspect that the estimated $12 million made available will be far from enough for the job at hand.
It’s ironic that we have something called the Employment Development Fund and, when we look at the result of the grant to
Abitibi, what it was in terms of jobs or employment, it was the loss of 250 jobs. The result of the grant to Ontario Paper was the ultimate loss of 200 jobs. Here we are using the taxpayers’ money in the name of modernization with the end result that we have lost 450 jobs in the pulp and paper mills in this province. This is part of the Employment Development Fund.
We would like to see the Employment Development Fund used with more direction from the government, and with a more specific strategy for specific sectors of the economy, rather than just giving it out holus bolus on an ad hoc basis with very limited criteria. Much remains to be done in the fields of electronics, machinery and the auto industries, to name but three.
The second principle of this government’s economic strategy that causes me concern is the whole concept of global product mandating, which we hear so much about from the minister. Global product mandating involves restructuring so that the Canadian subsidiary produces only a limited range of products, theoretically for an expanded world market. Ideally, under the GPM system, a subsidiary would perform the full array of operations, including research and development, design, production, marketing and exporting of this limited number of products. Unfortunately, by embracing the GPM, this government has simply thrown in the towel with further rationalization of Canadian manufacturing industries into the North American market, a policy referred to by most people as continentalism.
Global product mandating involves the same production-sharing concept embodied in the auto pact the defence-sharing agreement and the terms of trade in agricultural machinery, all of which have been disastrous for Canada’s trade balance. Under the GPM system Canada would make only one line of goods, but this ensures that the other 60-odd lines would be imported. This will also apply to manufacturers buying parts and components, because the parts industry will be fully rationalized.
It’s little more than a pipedream that research and development and world marketing functions will be carried out here. In recent years, consolidation of research and marketing functions at American head offices has been, in fact, the trend. Policies of export-led recovery and broadening our trading partners have a hollow ring when set in the context of numerous auto pacts.
As mentioned earlier, nearly 60 per cent of Canada-US trade consists of interfirm transfers between branches of multinationals. Since the majority of foreign ownership is American, GPM can only increase the volume of trade with that country. GPM will not broaden our trading partners.
If global product mandating is the centre- piece of this government’s trade strategy, one would have to conclude that the Ontario government believes the answer to our manufacturing problems lies with improving the performance of the foreign capital already here. The futility of this approach is seen in the trade difficulties which foreign ownership has already created. It’s ludicrous to believe that the cause of the problem is, at the same time, the solution.
I do not intend to go into any great detail tonight debating the whole question of industrial strategy, except to point out that our system and our economy are in difficulty. This throne speech really does very little to come to terms with those difficulties, and the government’s overall economic strategy is a source of serious concern on this side. Obviously, in the budget debate, we’ll go into far greater detail on the whole question of industrial strategy, regional economic development and the alternatives being proposed by this party.
Since it’s almost 10:30 and I have more to say, I don’t think I can conclude in the remaining two minutes. I will stop here.
On motion by Mr. Samis, the debate was adjourned.
USE OF HERBICIDES
Mr. Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 28, the member for Carleton East (Ms. Gigantes) has given notice that she is dissatisfied with a response to a question posed to the Minister of the Environment. The honourable member has up to five minutes to state that dissatisfaction.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, during question period I asked the Minister of the Environment if it was his clear intention to spray 2,4,5-T in areas of Ontario this year. I also asked him if, given a spray program, he’d be informing pregnant women about which areas would be affected.
In response the minister reread to the House portions of the March 1979 report of the Ontario pesticides advisory committee which dismissed the findings of the US Environmental Protection Agency that there was a probable correlation between the use of 2,4,5-T and the rate of spontaneous abortions in three areas in Oregon.
I was not asking the minister for his judgement, or for the judgement of the Ontario pesticides advisory committee on the causal relationship between miscarriages and the use of 2,4,5-T. I was asking him if he would provide the information on where the spraying would occur so that pregnant women who have the brains to come to a judgement different from that of the minister and his advisory committee could take all due precautions to avoid the spray areas.
My reading of the advisory committee report does not lead me to the conclusion that the EPA study can safely be disregarded where it associates 2,4,5-T and miscarriages. It is possible that a far more thorough epidemiological study of the association would be scientifically desirable. In the meantime, it seems to me to be the height of folly to conclude, as the advisory committee has, that “the EPA Oregon study cannot be used on a scientific basis for recommending any change in the provincial regulation of 2,4,5-T.”
While the minister seems prepared to sanction the risks of miscarriage, which are clearly indicated by the EPA report, the least he could do for pregnant women in this province is to permit them to make up their own minds about these risks and avoid exposure to them if they so choose. The verdict is not in on 2,4,5-T and other chemical defoliants.
There is mounting concern in the United States about the association of the dioxin contained in such chemicals with birth defects in the children of men who have been exposed to the chemicals. This afternoon I checked with the Australian High Commissioner in Ottawa and had it confirmed to me that weeks of parliamentary controversy in that country have led to the establishment of a government probe into the possibility that Australian veterans of the Vietnam war who were exposed to defoliants now are fathering a very high number of deformed children.
Among the defoliants to which American and Australian soldiers were exposed in Vietnam was the chemical known as Agent Orange, which is composed of equal parts of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D. The defoliant 2,4,5-T always contains the dioxin known as TCDD, and it is 2,4,5-T in particular which is suspected of being related to birth defects in both countries. One veterans group in Australia estimates that 400 children born to Australians who soldiered in Vietnam had serious birth defects which may be associated with the exposure of their fathers to wartime use of defoliants.
I do not approve of the minister’s proposal to spray 2,4,5-T in areas of this province, nor does my colleague, the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden), our environment critic. We are dealing here with a very stubborn and very self-righteous minister, as we know from past experience in similar issues. Surely it is not too much to ask him to reconsider his position on 2,4,5-T. After all, we seem to have the capability of storing extremely hazardous quantities of reactor wastes in Ontario, pending the time, God willing, that we can safely dispose of them completely.
I feel that even if the minister will not relent on his spray program, he should at least be willing to inform residents of Ontario where he intends the spraying to occur. He might be willing to camp or pick blueberries in those areas, but he should give the rest of us a choice about the kinds of risks we want to run.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to make two very quick comments, and I will use a very short period of time to read a statement as well.
The material is not sprayed in the sense of just giving someone a permit to spray. It is used under very controlled conditions. It is in use as spray, of course, but the impression has been left that somehow or other one just decides on a certain territory to spray, and that is the end of it. That is not the way it is.
It is also very sad that someone would compare the product 2,4,5-T, as it is used in Ontario under strict and limited controls, with a material that was used in Vietnam and was quite a different product; it was in concentrations of 400 to 500 times as much. That in itself makes it a different product. To make that accusation, to say the least, is unfortunate, because to leave that impression with the people of Ontario, the member just cannot, must not and should not make that comparison.
I am sure you would agree, Mr. Speaker, considerable discussion on this subject took place during the question period. In reading into the record the opinion and the assurances of the Ontario pesticides advisory committee, I had hoped the honourable members would have been assured that their concerns with respect to safety and environmental hazards would be answered. I would have hoped I had answered the member’s concerns with respect to the safety of those who intended to camp this summer.
In case those assurances were missed during this afternoon’s proceedings, I would be glad to send over to the honourable member a great deal of information on 2,4,5-T, together with the conclusion of the pesticides advisory committee that the substance does not constitute a public health or environmental hazard as regulated and used in Ontario. May I send that to the member?
Ms. Gigantes: Don’t be patronizing.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, regarding that last comment, I didn’t think I could use a more modulated tone and I don’t think, sir, with respect, that I have been answering in a patronizing way. I do hear the interjections, and it becomes difficult not to respond.
Might I also say that members will find there are several categories of pesticides and herbicides listed. This one, 2,4,5-T, is in a category which demands the greatest amount of control. It is used only after a permit is issued, and a permit is issued only after great details are supplied to the pesticides section of my ministry, including such details, for instance, as a map to show the exact area. No. permit, no spraying. It is that simple. No one will spray the material just to get rid of it. It will be sprayed in use and in use only. As I have said a dozen times, that spraying would occur under very controlled and safe conditions.
In particular, I would draw the honourable member’s attention to the following paragraph, which outlines the use to which the herbicide is to be put. It says, “2,4,5-T and mixtures of 2,4-D are registered for eliminating brush near roadsides and rights of way and minor usage on pastures for the control of certain noxious weeds. 2,4,5-T is not registered for use on lawns, recreational areas or food crops. 2,4,5-T must not be applied to water, along stream banks or on the inner sides of ditches, banks or to wet lands.”
That is quoted from the information I have supplied to the honourable member. In other words, the use of this herbicide will be strictly controlled and restricted to certain areas. I have no hesitation in assuring the honourable member that Ontario will continue to be a perfectly safe place for all those women who are in the member’s condition so that they may camp and have similar recreational activities this summer.
The House adjourned at 10:40 p.m.