The House met at 10 a.m.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
GRANT TO LONGBOAT HEIRS
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to introduce for first reading An Act respecting the City of Toronto which I believe will be supported enthusiastically by all members of this assembly. The proposed legislation will enable the city of Toronto to make a grant of $10,000 to Thomas C. Longboat, Junior, Phyllis Winnie and Theodore J. Longboat. They are the children of the late Thomas C. Longboat, who was one of Canada’s greatest long-distance runners.
Tom Longboat was born on June 4, 1887, on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford. He emerged as a runner of championship calibre in 1906 and won the important 15- mile Toronto marathon in three successive years. In 1907, he became recognized as the finest long-distance runner in North America by winning the famous Boston marathon in record time. It gives me pleasure to point out that the most recent Canadian to win this historic race was Jerome Drayton, who is a member of the sports and fitness branch of our Ministry of Culture and Recreation.
Toronto city council, excited by Mr. Longboat’s Boston victory back in 1907, at that time decided to honour his outstanding achievement by giving him an award of $500. However, no payment was made at the time, probably because of a concern that it would jeopardize his amateur standing. The city now would like to make up for the fact that the money was never paid to Mr. Longboat by making a grant to his three children, to be divided equally among them.
My colleagues and I in the government, and I am sure the members of this Legislature, are particularly pleased by this gesture by Toronto city council. We are, therefore, presenting to the Legislature today a special act which will give Toronto the necessary authority to make this grant in the very near future.
Mr. S. Smith: I see the Premier (Mr. Davis) coming, Mr. Speaker, and I have a question of him. Perhaps I will give him a moment to take his seat and wish him a good morning, as it is indeed.
Given that the three parties in this House are working together to produce a resolution for the Confederation debate, and I have no doubt we will easily be able to do that; given the fact that whatever differences we may have regarding this subject they are relatively minor compared to the amount of common ground we have -- we don’t want these differences to be in any way exported to Quebec -- what would the Premier think about taking up the suggestion offered by a Globe and Mail columnist yesterday of having the leaders of the three parties in Ontario go to Quebec together to make it clear to the people of Quebec that when the Premier of Ontario speaks on this subject he speaks with the support of all the people of Ontario and to present a common position to the people of Quebec so there can be no room for misinterpretation of how Ontario people feel on this very sensitive and important matter?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, if the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) or the leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Cassidy) wish to become involved in their own capacities, they have every right to do so. It has never been my intent to do other than represent what I feel will be a consensus in this House in terms of the resolution that I hope will be adopted with unanimity. That resolution will be part of what I would endeavour to communicate.
I think it is fair to state that not only will that point of view be expressed, but also I will take the opportunity to restate, in a more particular sense, some of the things that have been said in relation to the economic situation, to the suggestions one reads about in the press with respect to life going on as before in terms of economic relationships. That will be part of what I have to say.
I am always intrigued by suggestions from journalists in whatever paper, including the Globe and Mail. I have not had an opportunity yet to read that column. I am sure that journalist probably would like to go to Quebec himself and probably would go sailing on the St. Lawrence River while he is there. I would not be surprised.
I certainly would not suggest that the Leader of the Opposition or the leader of the New Democratic Party not go. I would have some reservations about how one would do it in terms of the three of us going et cetera. I think probably it would be a more understandable route if I were to go to Quebec. I will not be there for a prolonged period of time, just long enough to restate some of the things that have been said and, I hope, to communicate the resolution that is passed in this House.
Mr. S. Smith: May I ask the Premier to take a day or two to think about the idea? It’s my intention to go to Quebec anyhow. It seems to me that the press coverage given some items in Ontario is given almost to the point of distortion in the sense that the good things that happen here are frequently not covered, our differences are frequently played upon and our common ground is frequently played down.
I wonder whether the Premier might not think that either before -- or preferably after -- the resolution is passed, the idea of the three of us there on a platform and on a television channel might carry additional weight in this matter and prevent Mr. Lévesque from continuing to say, “Well, yes, Mr. Davis may say this but, you know, opinion may well be divided.” It seems to me it makes it a lot easier and a lot more impressive for the largest province in Canada and the sister province of Quebec to have the three of us there. In any event --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I believe the question has been asked.
Mr. S. Smith: The question has been asked, Mr. Speaker. I assure the Premier I will be going anyway, but I think it might be a good idea for the three of us to go together. It’s a thought which I hope the Premier will consider.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I have already answered the question, but I am delighted to hear the Leader of the Opposition acknowledge that there are some good things happening in Ontario. And I know there was nothing personal in his suggestion of adding weight to the representation.
Mr. Cassidy: J’ai une question supplémentaire, M. l’Orateur. Dans l’esprit de la résolution qui sera adoptée par les trois partis de ce parlement et en me joignant à la suggestion que le trois chefs de parti iront à Québec pour participer au débat sur le référendum et pour démontrer l’unanimité de la position prise par la province d’Ontario, est-ce que le Premier ministre est prêt avant ce voyage à résoudre personnellement la question de l’école secondaire française a Penetanguishene?
Mr. Speaker, before going to Quebec --
Hon. Mr. Davis: I understand. I can reply to the question of the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy). This is one of the concerns, of course, as we enter this particular debate on the resolution.
The honourable member is suggesting that, prior to any visit, we resolve some internal difficulties within this province. I would say to the leader of the New Democratic Party that I think it would be very questionable to have a debate on what I hope will be a resolution that will receive unanimity here if we endeavour to resolve certain outstanding problems in the course of that.
If the leader of the New Democratic Party is saying that Penetanguishene should be resolved prior to, I can only say to him that this government, through the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson), has been making consistent efforts to assist the board, the local community and the people within that community to come to a reasonable solution to the problem. I would hate to see that become a precondition to anything.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: In view of the questions being asked about the Premier’s travelling to Quebec, I wonder if he could report to us the results of his meeting with Mr. Yalden yesterday, specifically to do with the enumeration question, which is another outstanding issue, in terms of whether he will be able to say he is taking action or will be able to promise action by this fall before going to Quebec?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am the last one to become technical about the rules. I would be delighted to give the House that information, but I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, listening to the admonition of the Speaker yesterday with respect to obeying rules a little more closely, in my humble opinion that is really not a supplementary.
During the course of the question period if the honourable member would like to ask me that question, I do have an answer for him.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) or the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott), I will have to address this question to the Premier. I am not sure whether he has been following this matter but, if he could enlighten us, I would appreciate it. It has to do with the proposed sale of hydroelectric power generated by the burning of United States coal in our own facilities here in Ontario and exporting firm commitments for hydroelectric power to the United States. Is this government policy?
Can the Premier tell us whether it is the intention of the government to permit Ontario Hydro to enter into contracts with the United States for the export of coal-generated power? This would mean we would be importing American coal and to some extent American capital, which Hydro has borrowed from time to time, and we would be exporting clean energy while creating the pollution here in Ontario. Is this government policy? Where does this stand? Can the Premier explain why it would even be considered when, if the quotation from the Hydro official is correct, there will not even be any additional export profits from the deal? What is the reasoning?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am not totally familiar with the possible sale of further power to the United States. I would only point out to the honourable member that the United States is in itself, the northern states and even some of the other states, under the policy that has been suggested, in the process of changing from certain fuels to coal.
I raised this concern in a community as far away as Dallas, as a matter of fact, where I suggested that in terms of acid rain this posed a significant problem, we felt, not only for us, but also for people in the northern United States. I was interested to see even in the Dallas press that there is some concern in the state of Texas with respect to acid rain.
At this stage, I cannot give the honourable member information, because the studies are not completed and nothing has been finalized. In terms of export of power, however, a certain amount of power can be wheeled, say, from Darlington through to any interconnection. I do not think it need necessarily be from fossil-fuel plants. If the choice were -- and I am only thinking out loud -- between having acid rain coming north from the United States because of their electrical generation system or going south from here, I know how I would make that choice. The answer is to minimize the impact whichever direction the wind happens to be blowing.
It is not necessarily a question of American coal; it could be western coal. As I look at some of the figures, I would suggest that a part of it could be through nuclear generation. I cannot understand the statement by an official of Ontario Hydro that it would not add to the moneys for Ontario Hydro in terms of export sales. If they were to increase their sales by X percentage, whether it be firm or interruptible, quite obviously it is going to be at a higher market price than if they were selling internally within Ontario. I do not understand that particular statement, and the matter has not been considered by the government at this moment.
There have been studies underway for a period of time. The suggested interconnection is by some form of cable under Lake Erie. I think that is the technology being explored. If they do not find some new form of technology, then the capacity for interconnections that exists at this moment would not accommodate much by way of increased export to the United States.
I am sure that the Minister of Energy and other ministers of the crown, as they pursue this matter, would be delighted to share any information they have with the members of the House. It is still very much in the tentative discussion stage. It has not received any consideration by the government at this point.
Mr. S. Smith: I note that it has not been considered yet by government. I am grateful for that information.
If the plan, as reported in the newspaper, is substantially one to burn fossil fuel, namely coal, and export clean electricity, and if the statement is accurate that export profits -- I did not say export sales, but export profits -- would not be increased, I would like from the Premier some assurance that such a plan would not be accepted by his government. Irrespective of whether the acid rain is generated on this side and flowing south or on their side and flowing north, it is plain that adding to the problem does not make much sense as far as Ontario is concerned.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I do not think it adds to the problem. They are going to generate a certain amount of electricity in the United States using some form of fuel. As we read in the information coming from the United States, a good part of their electrical generation system obviously is going to move to coal.
The minister has made statements on this. We have communicated this to others because we have a real concern about its impact. I can only say again to the Leader of the Opposition that it would not add to the problem. It is a question of where the problem is going to be generated and where the results will flow. With the prevailing winds the way they are traditionally, I think the Leader of the Opposition can make that assessment.
Certainly the government would not have a great deal of interest in the exportation of additional power, if the market were there, if there were not some economic return. That is part of the story -- I have not read the story in detail -- that I cannot quite understand. It has never been the tradition of Hydro, as I recall it, to sell anything at less than cost. I cannot see them exporting to the United States on a firm contract basis without a reasonable economic return.
Mr. Cassidy: Since the Minister of Energy, during discussion of his estimates last December, made it clear that this contract was supposed to be from coal-generated electricity and not from nuclear power, and since the Minister of the Environment is looking like a hero by saying he is going to oppose the particular proposal in cabinet because of the dangers of acid rain it carries, will the Premier get the Minister of the Environment to get serious with Ontario Hydro about its present acid rain emissions, which make it one of the largest sources of acid rain in the North American continent?
Hon Mr. Davis: With great respect, Mr. Speaker, Ontario Hydro is not one of the largest sources of acid rains on the continent.
Mr. Foulds: Where does it rank?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Where does it rank? In terms of per capita amount of fossil fuel generation, whether it is in terms of the electrical industry or of industry generally, it is not.
Mr. Foulds: Give us the number.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t have a number, but I can tell the member it is not.
Mr. Foulds: How do you know it is not one of the largest then?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I know what the largest is.
Mr. Foulds: When are you going to do something about that?
Hon. Mr. Davis: That particular organization is in the process of doing something about that. Members opposite have said they have made some improvement. The member for Sudbury (Mr. Germa) has made statements saying they have made some improvement.
Mr. Warner: They spend more money on Carter’s pension than they do on pollution.
Hon. Mr. Davis: What does this have to do with Magna Carta?
Mr. Warner: You’ll find out in a minute.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I feel intimidated. I feel inhibited. I am going to slink into my seat. I feel overwhelmed by the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner).
I can only say to the leader of the New Democratic Party that we will assess very carefully all of the implications, problems or complexities in terms of any export of electrical energy to our neighbours to the south. We will be very careful.
Mr. Kerrio: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Does the Premier not think it is time for us, in concert with the federal government, to see if we cannot reach an agreement with our American friends to put the kind of controls on plants using coal to produce power to cut down on the emissions? Is it not time we made such a commitment here in Ontario and with our neighbours and the federal governments of both countries?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I did not see all the news reports this morning, because I had another meeting, but I would bring to the attention of the honourable member that the former Minister of the Environment for Canada, a very distinguished gentleman from the west coast of this country, had been making some headway and had become very familiar with the problem. In fact, I think he was making some progress with respect to the whole issue of acid rain as it relates to the United States and Canada.
That interest was interrupted. However, I was encouraged to notice on cable television this morning, which is one of my instant accesses to news that has taken place overnight, that this very afternoon, according to Rogers channel 10 in Brampton -- and that’s the only cable television we get; so I am not giving a plug to any particular cable system -- Mr. John Roberts is heading to Washington, not to look at the cherry blossoms but to discuss acid rain. I think that is what the report says.
Mr. Kerrio: And pollution on the Niagara River.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I just heard acid rain.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier if he could give us an assurance that before any contract of this nature were undertaken by Ontario Hydro, the government would see to it that it was tabled in the Legislature for the consideration of the legislators and the public of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am not as familiar as I used to be with some of the procedures. My guess is that not only would that be a possibility but, if there were to be a firm contract for the export of power, there would have to be approvals by the National Energy Board, The member is shaking her head. There has to be. I am being a bit facetious, but I do know enough about it to tell her there would have to be hearings before the National Energy Board. Quite obviously, the details of this would be there for discussion.
GRANTS TO PULP AND PAPER COMPANIES
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman). On March 12, the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Auld) gave a speech in Sault Ste. Marie in which he mentioned six companies in the pulp and paper industry with which Ontario was negotiating forest management agreements. All six of those companies now have received Employment Development Fund grants with the announcement today of a grant to Great Lakes Forest Products Limited in Dryden and in Thunder Bay. Those grants total $140 million. Does this mean that the Ministry of Industry and Tourism and the Ministry of Natural Resources are together using taxpayers’ money to buy forest management agreements for regeneration?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, with respect, that is one of the more foolish questions the leader of the New Democratic Party has asked in the whole area of pulp and paper.
One of the things the leader of the third party wishes to forget is that what we are buying with the pulp and paper assistance program is, first and foremost, jobs for the people in Iroquois Falls, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Dryden. I remind the leader of the third party that it was he who rose in this House almost exactly a year ago, on April 26, 1979 -- I will read the question he asked me at that time: “In view of all that the minister has said” -- with regard to our refusal to give money to Reed Paper Limited for the Dryden mill -- “and what that indicates about the major industry in the town of Dryden -- a town which has 1,200 employees in the paper mill and which is several hundreds of miles from any other major centre of employment -- can the minister say what plans the government has to maintain the economic viability of the town and its surrounding area?”
The precise thing we had in mind, as I indicated to him at that time, was to find a good company to go into Dryden to buy the mill and to present us with a comprehensive, efficient, modernization program, one that is always energy-efficient and one that has a substantial amount of environmental works going into it. That was the major way -- let’s face it -- that we could look after the 1,200 employees in Dryden.
If the leader of the third party suggests there are other industries that can look after the 1,200 employees in Dryden, I would like to hear about them. But what this government is doing is putting money into those pulp and paper mills to look after the employees.
I know he wants to cast it in the sense of us putting in funds to look after the companies, but that is not the case.
May I remind the leader of the third party that every time he talks about this government supporting large companies and neglecting to acknowledge the fact that what we are really doing is supporting jobs through those companies, he forgets that not only a large number of the shares of those companies are owned by people who belong to his party and to unions throughout this province, but also a large block of the shares of those companies we are helping out is employees’ pension funds. I wonder what his union employees’ pension fund would think about it if we abandoned those investments in those companies.
Mr. Cassidy: I would just point out to the minister that every time we have talked about these grants to large companies like Canadian Pacific Investments Limited, which made profits of $420 million last year, we say the people of Ontario should get equity in return for the taxpayers’ money going to those companies.
My supplementary is to ask the minister to respond to that specific question: Can he explain the coincidence that the six pulp and paper companies which have received Employment Development Fund money are all companies with which forest management agreements are being negotiated? Can he explain as well why it is that when the government sits down to bargain with those companies to give them money from the Employment Development Fund, until this stage they keep on putting back, a year at a time, the date at which the first forest management agreement will be signed?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I do not find it at all unusual to discover that the major companies, which are the ones that have the mills in northern Ontario, and therefore the ones we must assist to modernize to secure those jobs, are the same firms that are negotiating forest management agreements. We are talking about literally all the firms in the industry. Of course, there is going to be an overlap, that is the case. To pretend that it is otherwise is rather foolish. Of course, we are doing this.
I must say that the leader of the NDP always neglects the fact that the firms, in addition to the $100 million we are putting into the program, have put $1.4 billion worth of investment into those same operations up to date. Obviously, those firms see a future for northern Ontario, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, who thinks we should gamble with northern Ontario. Just see if the companies will stay without our assistance. Then he will stand up and whine, “Why didn’t the government do something before the plant closed instead of standing up and explaining layoffs?”
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Cassidy: The press statements surrounding the Great Lakes Forest Products Limited agreement on the Employment Development Fund states that it is to maintain jobs in Dryden. Can the minister say whether the maintenance of those jobs is guaranteed, or are we getting another deal like we got with the jobs that were meant to be guaranteed at Ford?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member now has in his hands, and has had for some time, a copy of the form of agreement that is used for all of the EDF pulp and paper grants. He knows there are firm and secure job guarantees exactly and precisely in accordance with the press release issued yesterday.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, in view of the minister’s somewhat faulty and sketchy information about the corporate investment patterns of the companies to which he is feeding money, could he tell us what steps the government is taking, since it is so ideologically hidebound that it refuses to take equity for the taxpayers’ money, to find out the corporate investment patterns of the companies to which it gives money, including Canadian Pacific Investments, which now controls not only Great Lakes Forest Products and, therefore, a major portion of the forest products industry in northwestern Ontario, but also Steep Rock Iron Mines Limited, Bending Lake, St. Joseph Lake and the Algoma Steel Corporation, which controls the major iron ore industry in northwestern Ontario? Does he not think it would be kind of nice if we, in this House, knew what their investment plans were with regard to all of northwestern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I want to put the answer to the member quite directly. I suspect that if he went back to the people of Thunder Bay and told them that one of the key Canadian-owned firms -- Canadian-owned by a lot of employee pension funds -- was going to have to assess the 1,900 jobs it provides in Thunder Bay, and that the member’s position and that of his party was that they would not have supported any assistance whatsoever to the 1,900 jobs and the firm in Thunder Bay unless it opened the Steep Rock Mines through one of its other companies, then I suggest to him that that would be a very tenuous position for him to put.
I will be very interested in seeing if my colleague the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) will come back here with press clippings indicating that the member has gone home to Port Arthur this weekend and said to them that he would not have given any money to secure the 1,900 jobs in Thunder Bay unless CPI had undertaken to reopen the Steep Rock mill. Will he go home and say that this weekend?
Mr. Foulds: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: The minister has just misled the House and, therefore, the public of Ontario.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Would the member explain how the minister has misled the House?
Mr. Foulds: Yes, Mr. Speaker. If he would take a look at Hansard in regard to what the minister has just said, he stated a position which he claims to be mine but which I do not recollected ever having stated.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I invited the member to return to his home community this weekend and state as a position -- and everyone here was listening to it -- the clear implication behind his suggestion that we should investigate the investment pattern of CPI, including the Steep Rock mill.
If the honourable member wants to stand up and suggest there is something nefarious about what we are doing, then let him stand up in his home community and have the courage to make a direct accusation. He should make a direct statement that we should not do one without the other, else why would he ask us to investigate the investment pattern of a company that we are supporting?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. It appears there is a difference of point of view. However, I will look at it in Hansard.
The member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) with his second question.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I do regret the kind of twisting that the minister is doing.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. That matter was dealt with, and I said I would look at it. Would the honourable member ask his second question?
AUTO INDUSTRY LAYOFFS
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, l have a question to the Premier (Mr. Davis), who will recall the statements he made two years ago welcoming an American Motors decision to transfer production of Jeeps to the plant at Brampton and to take away all production of motor cars from that plant.
In view of the slump in production of Jeeps there which has led to the elimination of one shift and which has had that plant down as often as it has been operating over the course of the last five months, and in view of the continual problems that American Motors has been having which have led it continually to seek, and get, duty remissions for its obligations under the Canada-US auto pact, will the government insist that AMC retool its plant in Brampton to build small, fuel-efficient cars which will have a market during the 1980s, rather than large, somewhat luxurious Jeeps which clearly do not have a future in the 1980s the way things are going right now?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I really do not know how the honourable member could describe those products in Brampton as large or luxurious; they are Jeeps.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: How is his Honda running?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Does the member for Ottawa Centre run a Honda? I don’t believe it; I know the honourable member used to drive a Datsun.
Quite obviously I have a personal interest in American Motors, not just as Premier, but also as the member for that constituency. There have been difficulties in the recreational vehicle market, whether it involves a Jeep or some other form of vehicle that is being produced by other companies in other places. The market share has fallen off very substantially.
However, I would remind the honourable member that they experienced some two and a half very good years in terms of employment and production at that very efficient facility. I have had discussions with American Motors fairly recently. I am concerned about the possibility of that vehicle not being able to maintain its position in the marketplace in the short run, and there is some further information I might share with the House later on next week.
Mr. Cassidy: In view of the fact that AMC has plans to produce Renault cars in the United States and therefore risks getting even further into the red in terms of its obligations under the Canada-US auto pact here in Canada, will the Premier undertake to table in this House a summary of that corporation’s plans for getting back onside as far as its obligations under the auto pact are concerned? Will the government do the same thing with respect to the other three automobile corporations before we see a continuance of the pattern of layoffs now occurring in the industry?
Hon. Mr. Davis: We are very concerned about the so-called pattern of layoffs in the industry but, as I mentioned yesterday, and I think I was fairly close, the layoff figures on a percentage basis are very comparable in the United States.
Mr. Breaugh: Wrong again.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We are right -- and the honourable member knows we are right.
I am delighted to share any information I am given which is available for the public from American Motors or anyone else. I do not happen to have, shall we say, their five-year or 10-year projections. I am not sure they have themselves. But I would be delighted to share with the honourable member any information I get that is not of a confidential nature.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, if I could redirect my question to the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman), I would like to ask the minister if he is aware that --
Hon. Mr. Davis: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I have just checked the rules, and I do not care that much, but my understanding is -- and we had some evidence of this yesterday -- that the initial question can be directed to a minister, and the minister or the Premier may in turn refer that question to a minister who might have more information.
I am not sure when the pattern developed that we get into redirecting supplementary questions. I just raise, as what I think is a legitimate point, whether we allow the pattern of asking an initial question of one minister or of the Premier and then a supplementary question being redirected to another minister at the option of the person asking that question.
If the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Cooke) wants to ask a supplementary question, it has to relate to American Motors. That was the issue. The original question was about American Motors. I can only assume the member for Windsor-Riverside is now going to ask the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) something about American Motors. I am delighted. I might refer the question to him myself, but I just raise the principle or the practice, because I think it does perhaps alter the question period.
Mr. S. Smith: If I might just speak to the point of order raised by the Premier, as I read the rules -- and, of course, Mr. Speaker, I will be guided by your interpretation -- there does not seem to be anything in the rules actually to prevent that from happening. I must say that, until recently, people had not felt they had the privilege to redirect a supplementary to a different minister from the minister who was answering the original question, but I have not seen anything in the rules to make that impossible.
In the federal House, just for the interest of members, that is commonly done. The Premier will appreciate, and the Speaker would want to reflect upon, the fact that a question might be asked on a certain topic of one minister. The minister’s answer may in one way or another raise in the mind of the questioner something which is actually pertinent to the topic but more apropos another member of cabinet. I do not think it particularly hurts the question period to be able to share the question between ministers. There is nothing in the rules I can see to prevent it. It is a tradition in the federal House.
From this side of the House it does make it a little less strained, because there are frequently many ministries pertaining to the same topic, and from our point of view -- and one can only hope some day the Premier will have a more personal knowledge of that point of view -- it certainly makes for a fairer question period.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, if I might just be succinct on the matter, the rules do provide for some form of redirection of questions. I would suggest that the precedent has been set as late as yesterday by the Speaker himself in allowing a redirection of questions. If there was something out of order, it should have been brought to the attention of the chair at that time. The chair having set the precedent, and the rules being rather clear in the matter, it would strike me that it certainly is in order.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I acknowledge the point of order raised by the Premier. To my knowledge, the only thing in the standing orders regarding redirection of questions is the redirection of a question on the advice of the Premier to a parliamentary assistant or a member of another board. I believe the precedent has been set here to redirect questions. However, with the discussion that has taken place on this point of order today, I will be glad to look at it and report back to the House, or possibly a suggestion should be made to the procedural affairs committee.
AUTO INDUSTRY LAYOFFS
Mr. Cooke: Supplementary -- and I would like to redirect my question to the Minister of Industry and Tourism --
Hon. Mr. Davis: As long as it pertains to American Motors.
Mr. Cooke: If the Premier wants to be Speaker, perhaps he could resign as Premier and take the job as Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary for the Minister of Industry and Tourism in regard to the provisions in the auto pact that my leader has been addressing. It concerns Ford, which also is not meeting the obligations under the auto pact. The minister will be aware there were articles in the Windsor Star and the Financial Post that the Ford Motor Company now is asking for duty remission from the federal government. In fact, Ford Motor Company was considering moving 1,000 jobs from the United States to Oakville to produce vans to meet its obligations under the auto pact.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Cooke: I would like to ask the minister if he will take a tough stand and encourage the federal government to take a tough stand with Ford Motor Company --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Mr. Cooke: -- in terms of the auto pact? I am in the process of asking my question.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I would like to redirect that.
Mr. Breaugh: I bet you would.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, I wouldn’t. I did not hear all of the question, but I think the last part was, will I ask the federal government to take a tough stand in terms of auto pact provisions. The answer to that is I not only will but I have been for several months and I was long before the layoffs started to occur.
HAMILTON-WENTWORTH REGIONAL GOVERNMENT
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) relating to the current deadlock that exists in the Hamilton-Wentworth regional council as a result of the walkout by suburban and rural councillors. In view of the serious structural difficulties, which now are more obvious and evident than ever, is the minister prepared to meet with representatives from the suburban and rural areas with a view to straightening out this problem?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, although the member represents that area, I have probably met with all the mayors in the past three or four months more times than he has to talk about this particular matter. As I indicated in this House last week, the mayor of Stoney Creek was down talking to me about this matter.
Mr. S. Smith: He was a Liberal before he changed colours and became a loser.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Doesn’t my friend like and respect --
Mr. S. Smith: He never lost anything as a Liberal, but he lost as soon as he became a Tory.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The mayor of Stoney Creek is a fine gentleman, and if you want to learn something about --
Hon. Mr. Davis: It upset the Leader of the Opposition when the mayor became a Tory.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Eventually, my friend finds that everyone sees the light. I read in the paper this morning that a truce has been declared in Hamilton-Wentworth. The mayor of the great city of Hamilton is going away on a 10-day holiday, and everybody is going to ponder the events over the next week and a half. I think that is probably a good idea for the honourable member and myself, to think about some reasonable solution to this problem.
Mr. Cunningham: I hope the minister doesn’t think a 10-day holiday on the part of the mayor of Hamilton is going to be a solution to a serious problem such as this. Currently, there is a $69-million budget that must be held in abeyance as a result of these difficulties. I was wondering whether the minister could provide us with some insight specifically with regard to what he would like to do to sort out this problem so we do not have this continuing difficulty in the region?
Hon. Mr. Wells: The answer to that question is that we have been and will be meeting with various people from Hamilton to try to work matters out. We will try to do that in a reasonable and proper manner.
I read in the Hamilton Spectator that my friend was reported as having had a meeting with me where he pounded the table and suggested a solution. I tried very hard to think when that meeting occurred, and the only meeting I could think of was when he came over in front of my desk the other day while we were having four conversations, spoke to me and then went and held a press conference. I do not think that helps the situation there.
DISPUTE AT AMR CENTRES
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton). Is the minister aware of the situation at the centre for the mentally retarded in Hamilton where some 59 workers dealing with more than 300 trainees and mentally retarded people are on strike because of a wage level averaging $8,500? This is some 35 per cent less than the next closest centre and considerably less than all such other major operations in Ontario. Can the minister tell the House whether he has any proposed additional assistance to see that there is some catch-up in terms of the wage gap that exists with those dedicated professional workers?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the situation to which the honourable member refers. Through my staff I have been in regular contact with the agency in question. Obviously, we are looking for any way in which we can be of assistance to them. I am not in a position at this point to be any more specific than that.
Mr. Mackenzie: I wonder whether the minister can tell me if it is true, as I have been told by some of the officials of the Hamilton and District Association for the Mentally Retarded, that they have been attempting to present and make their case for the absolute necessity of catch-up in this situation and have not been able to get through to the ministry for the additional assistance needed? Obviously the gap is one that does not exist anywhere else.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It is true that there has been communication with the ministry, if that is what the member is suggesting. I am not aware that there has been any difficulty in getting information through. Certainly I have been receiving information, from my field staff on the situation, from the agency on a fairly regular basis.
With respect to the catch-up situation the member refers to, I think that has to be seen in the broader context of other comparable agencies across Ontario. There are other agencies in similar situations, and I do not believe any solution can be found on an individual basis without taking into consideration the broader context.
BELL CANADA PURCHASE
Mr. J. Johnson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow). On March 26 of this year the Ontario Telephone Services Commission held a public hearing on the application for approval of an agreement of sale filed by the Community Telephone Company of Ontario Limited.
In view of the interest of many of my constituents regarding the sale, I wonder whether the minister could advise me when the commission will hand down its decision?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, it just so happens I believe the chairman has released a decision this morning. If she has not, it will be released very soon. A copy of the decision was hand-delivered to my office this morning so I assume the decision is public by now.
The result of the hearing and the decision of the board was for the approval of the purchase by Bell Canada.
FOOD SUPPLEMENT DRUGS
Mr. Peterson: In order to avoid procedural problems, Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton) and to the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell). They can take their choice, because they have had discussions about the problem I am going to ask them about.
Is either gentleman prepared to announce a policy change whereby the food substitute Flexical or its equivalent will be automatically entitled for inclusion under the Drug Benefit Plan? Has a policy been announced whereby people like Peggy Ann Walpole, Angela Barnes and many others in this province will not have to go through the humiliation, the terrible time and the personal cost of trying to support themselves at the rate of $25 or $35 a day with all the attendant problems thereto? Is there a new policy, as opposed to the patchwork bureaucratic policy, for dealing with patients individually, and how will this be handled on a generic, province-wide basis?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, let me start off in response by saying the food supplements are covered under the Drug Benefit Plan, and those who qualify for drug benefits are entitled to them on the order of a physician and a special authorization.
Mr. Peterson: Does the Minister of Community and Social Services have a program whereby people who may not qualify exactly for the Drug Benefit Plan will qualify for some type of assistance for this very expensive drug? The minister is familiar with the application for welfare --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, at present there is a way in which that individual might qualify. The unfortunate thing is that in the case the member brought to our attention the other day, to the best of my knowledge, the individual involved had made no application either to a municipality or to my ministry for such assistance with the program.
Mr. Peterson: That is not true.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I checked, and the information I received back was that there was no record of any request having been made. As a consequence of that, I believe a representative of my ministry will be in contact today with that person to review the personal or particular situation. The person may well be eligible at present and it may not be a problem. But we had not had the case actually before us on the basis of an application previously; so it is being checked into today.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) about Outboard Marine Corporation of Canada Limited in Peterborough. It is the question we asked the Premier yesterday and received a totally unsatisfactory answer.
Since the parent company of Outboard Marine in the United States has announced it is closing the machine shop of Outboard Marine in Peterborough at a cost of some 276 jobs, and since this means that no parts for lawn mowers and outboard motors will be made in Peterborough now -- as a matter of fact, the parts will now be imported -- does the minister not feel betrayed by this US-based company and that we are being treated in a very cavalier fashion by Outboard Marine, particularly since it has already moved its ring-gear production facilities to Milwaukee? What action does the Minister of Industry and Tourism plan to take to protect those almost 300 jobs in Peterborough?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, in fairness, when the member talks about being betrayed by an American or foreign company, to put it in perspective, yesterday, the same day on which it announced 120 employees were being laid off in Peterborough, that some company parent in the United States laid off about 2,500 employees in the United States.
In terms of betrayal, it would seem to me that somewhere in a legislature in the United States of America someone is saying, “Don’t you feel betrayed by this multinational firm with its head offices here in this fine state which is so disloyal to the state that it lays off a lot fewer employees in Peterborough, Ontario, than it does here in its own country?” I think that’s quite an interesting thing for the member to think about.
Second, the layoffs yesterday, as I know the member knows, had nothing to do with the reorganization of equipment and production facilities within the company. Yesterday OMC decided to strip some 3,700 or so employees off its white-collar work force, because it is losing money. Of all of those, only 120 came out of the Canadian facility, which is by far a better ratio than the Americans suffered.
I would say to the member, it is interesting to note two things. Long before his party or any other party in this House brought this issue to the fore, our ministry was in there working with that company on a day-to-day basis to try to find the new sources of customers for the excellent components that firm makes. I have a list in front of me, which is confidential in order to keep the negotiations going on, but I want to leave it at this: We have given them so many leads that the company itself is so busy chasing up those leads and trying to turn them into new business that it is unable to join us at our major auto parts mission to Geneva next month to help it get that business.
I have in front of me a list of all sorts of pieces of equipment it is now bidding on, thanks only to the efforts of this ministry in taking that company to new sources of customers here in Canada. I predict it will have some success in that endeavour.
Finally, may I say that when the member talks about whether I have been betrayed by the company, the member will recall that Outboard Marine Corporation, in terms of one of its operations there, was saved in part by the actions of this government in supporting a group of employees in buying out what is now the Pioneer Chainsaw division of that company. I might add it was on account of the fine effort of the member for Peterborough (Mr. Turner) that we went into what appeared to be a very risky endeavour.
In terms of betrayal, has the member called the members of the union who subsequently sold out the shares which we helped them purchase? The members of the union sold to a multinational corporation, and now they are in bargaining negotiations with them. Has he felt betrayed by the union?
Mr. Laughren: Does the minister not understand that what Outboard Marine is doing is stripping us of our export sales to other countries, that they are selling their entire production from the Peterborough plant, and that we are not talking at all about rationalizing a continental market in North America? They are talking about that.
Does the minister not understand this is a result of his scheme for global product mandating and that, as long as the market in the United States is depressed, the American- based companies are going to shut down their operations here and do their exporting from the United States, and we are paying the price?
Finally, would the minister not agree that it is time to shift the emphasis of this government from promoting exports to replacing imports so that we can get on with the job of rebuilding and repatriating the Ontario economy?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It’s interesting to hear that the New Democratic Party of Ontario does not believe we should emphasize export promotion. That is quite a brilliant statement to make in view of the fact that 10 minutes ago they were complaining about our deficit in automobile trade. The last time I looked, the way to look after an international balance of payments deficit, particularly in the automotive field, was to emphasize promotion of exports.
In any case, I answered this question as put by the leader of the third party (Mr. Cassidy) some time ago.
Mr. Foulds: That will be a first. Try it for once.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I am picking on the NDP today. It is their turn this week.
I answered the same question last week. In a mature way, let me say to the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) that he jumps up and suggests I was misleading the House simply because he is a little worried about going back home later today.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Would the minister just answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I was trying to make the point that I answered the question to the leader of the third party last week. He knows very well that because one plant, which was product-mandated many years ago, happens not to have succeeded because of markets, that does not mean global product mandating is not a good scheme. I say to the leader of the third party and his colleagues that to suggest that, when a firm loses employment in a product-mandated operation, global product mandating is therefore wrong, makes the same amount of sense as suggesting that, when a unionized firm closes, unionization is wrong.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell). Is the minister aware of a news report out of London today that doctors in at least one department of Victoria Hospital are using a lottery system for admitting patients to elective surgery? If he is not aware of this, will he investigate and report back to us? If he is aware, could he tell us whether he approves of such a practice?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am not aware of it, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact, I have visited the board and the chairman of the London Victoria Hospital twice in the last couple of months. My deputy minister and assistant deputy minister spent a day at the London Victoria Hospital. At no time in any of those meetings, here or in London, was there any reference to this whatsoever. Like many press reports it could be misleading, but I will certainly look into it and report back.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the select committee on the Ombudsman be authorized to sit on Wednesday, April 23, at 2 p.m.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
CITY OF TORONTO ACT
Hon Mr. Wells moved first reading of Bill 45, An Act respecting the city of Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
MUNICIPAL AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved first reading of Bill 46, An Act to amend the Municipal Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, this bill proposes a number of important amendments to the business improvement area provisions in section 861 of the Municipal Act. In addition, it proposes amendments to ensure that members of council can act as volunteer firefighters. It is also an amendment to permit councils, if they wish, to pay costs and damages sustained by former councillors or employees as a result of legal actions arising out of the performance of their duties and to allow councils to determine the size and composition of parks, boards of management.
CROSSROADS CHRISTIAN COMMUNICATIONS INCORPORATED ACT
Mr. Warner, on behalf of Mr. Lawlor, moved first reading of Bill Pr22, An Act respecting Crossroads Christian Communications Incorporated.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of supply.
SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Chairman, I don’t have a formal statement to make, but perhaps I could make some opening remarks by way of a brief explanation that might be of assistance to the honourable members in reviewing the supplementary estimates.
The total amount in the supplementary estimates is $17.5 million. I would point out to the honourable members that not all of that is new spending or new money. In fact, some portions of it are transfers from one program to another which were necessary in the course of the year.
In the area of children’s services, the following are some of the explanations of the need for the supplementary estimates. For example, with the children’s aid societies each year the pattern has been that the adjustments to deal with their caseload increases occurred at the beginning of our fiscal year, which is April, as opposed to the beginning of the children’s aid society fiscal year, which is January.
This year, because of the situation with respect to interest rates and the fact that some children’s aid societies had to, or might have had to, resort to borrowing funds to maintain their cash flow, we made an adjustment in our procedure and, in fact, flowed funds to them on an increased basis at the beginning of their fiscal year. That has resulted in some increased expenditure during the past fiscal year, in January, February and March, which in other years would have been expended by us at the beginning of our fiscal year or, in this case, 1980-81.
With respect to adult services -- and this is rather sketchy; I’m sure the honourable members will have more detailed questions during the course of our discussion -- in the area of income maintenance there is an additional appropriation of $6.7 million for municipal allowances and benefits. That appropriation will provide the additional funding needed to cover caseload increases during the winter months.
As the honourable members know, there is a significant fluctuation each winter in the case load on the general welfare assistance program. In the last two or three months of this year there has been a somewhat more exaggerated increase, presumably because of the general economic situation combined with the usual seasonal influence upon that case load. I would point out, though, it’s interesting when one tries to analyse those data, that it does appear to vary quite dramatically from community to community, which would appear to be a clear indication that there is a significant fluctuation based upon local economic circumstances.
We also require an increased appropriation for the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan, that portion of it for which my ministry has responsibility. We have experienced additional costs as a result of about a 15 per cent increase in utilization of the plan over this past fiscal year. Again, this is something over which we really have no direct control.
As far as developmental services for adults are concerned, the additional appropriation there of $1.7 million is necessary to provide for some inflationary increases in the operating costs of the residential accommodation. As it turned out, we began the year with actually only an allowance in that budget item of 3.5 per cent for inflation. Needless to say that has not been enough, so we are asking for the increased appropriation. That applies particularly to the residential accommodation for the developmentally handicapped.
Mr. McClellan: You thought inflation would be 3.5 per cent.
Hon. Mr. Norton: That was what we were allowed. Normally what we would have done, had it been possible with that allowance of 3.5, is that during the course of the year we would have sought to find some savings elsewhere within the program. Given the circumstances this year, that didn’t materialize either.
I think that at least touches very sketchily upon the various areas. I think in the course of the next while, the honourable members will have more incisive questions they would like to direct to me and I will try to respond as they arise.
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Chairman, the remarks of the minister have been very sketchy. I would like to comment on a few of the problems that I see facing the minister this year and in the coming years that I feel have not been sufficiently addressed or planned.
First, I would like to make some comments on a recent editorial taken from the Globe and Mail which talks about the poll that was done by the ministry.
In this poll 160 respondents suggested that the children’s aid societies of Ontario were “administratively incompetent, inefficient and unorganized.” The reaction of the ministry was not that there was a problem that had to be addressed, but they thought maybe they had better have another poll. The money that is being spent on the poll could very well help to relieve the problems within the children’s aid societies of Ontario that make them appear to be administratively incompetent, inefficient and unorganized.
When you look at the increases in appropriation over the last several years to the children’s aid societies and compare them with the increases we have had in everything we do and everything we have to buy, it is no wonder the operations of the children’s aid societies over the past year or more have been a nightmare for the local societies. Not only the usual problems of the society had to be addressed, but there has been increased work load because of programs such as the child abuse program and so forth.
I am very concerned about the societies in Ontario and I would like the minister to give me some of his views on these matters when he has that opportunity. I don’t have the figures here before me but I think two thirds of the children’s aid societies in Ontario appealed their budgets to the ministry last year. That is on one hand; on the other hand, I believe 12 or 15 municipalities in Ontario appealed the municipal proportion for the children’s aid societies. This must tell the minister something. Even though the children’s aid societies themselves have been saying they don’t have enough money to do the required work, out there in the municipalities they don’t see why they need as much money as they do.
This is a disturbing situation. The work of the children’s aid societies has been growing not only yearly, but monthly. With the increase in marriage breakdowns and in unmarried mothers keeping their children, the problems of the children’s aid societies are going to increase more and more. I do not see how the minister can fail to see that being so niggardly now with the increases to the children’s aid societies is going to make the costs greater in the future. There is no doubt about that.
I feel strongly about the work of the children’s aid societies. I look upon their work not only as looking after today’s immediate problems but also as directing and channelling the children in their care in such a way that an increase in the problems will not necessarily follow in the years to come. I think the pose the ministry is taking is not the answer. I believe we have to look at long-term effects and long-term improvements in the children’s services delivered by the local children’s aid societies.
I would like also to ask the minister to make some comments on day care in Ontario. At the time he brought out his program to encourage women on family benefits to enter the work place, I said the thing most women would look at is the quality and convenience of day dare. I believe the minister said at least 35 people have availed themselves of this program. I believe these people still are concerned about day care. Additionally, there are people not on assistance where both the man and woman are working, trying to manage their family in the inflation in today’s society. These people have to pay for day care and it is becoming a sizeable part of their family income.
The ministry should address the problem on two counts: first the availability and quality of day care for people who are on assistance programs and, second, by looking at all the people with two incomes in the family who are trying their best to keep home and family together while faced with extremely high day-care costs.
I think these people should be encouraged in what they are doing. Encouragement by some form of day-care assistance would be a tangible way of showing them we feel that to have both father and mother out working to keep up the home and family is a worthwhile thing. We have to keep the family unit together. To do that we are going to have to look at the subsidization of day care in our communities for people other than those on benefits.
In talking about adult services, the minister has mentioned the additional $6.7 million in adult services, mostly due, I presume, to coping with inflation. We have all kinds of reports and studies that show that the aged population of Ontario, as well as the rest of the country, will be increasing substantially in the coming years. The minister says, “Oh yes, we must have community services, alternative programs and so forth to keep these people in their homes.”
That is a very laudable idea. I believe in that too, but I am saying that people are calling me and talking to me all the time about how difficult it is to get the kind of services and the quantity of services in the community to keep people in their homes. I agree with that. I think it’s a great thing if we can keep elderly men and women in their own homes. I believe it is the cheapest way and I believe it is also the most compassionate way to handle a situation, but there is a need for a new look at alternative services in the community in order to do this.
We read about the increases in the population of people aged 65 and up. They are living longer and we are not going to be able to keep them in their homes forever. Yet in the last five years I don’t believe there have been any new homes-for-the-aged beds authorized and provided. It just stands to reason that we are not going to be able to go on like that forever. The people who are in the business of delivering services in the community realize these things and have commented on these matters. I would like the minister to comment on those particular areas.
The third thing I would like to mention is the recent 10 per cent increase in the benefits paid. While I am glad the minister has done that, I wonder how people in receipt of these benefits are actually getting along. When we look at inflation rates -- and I know there have been increases before, but modest ones in my opinion -- the inflation rate has been climbing: 7.5 per cent in 1976, eight per cent in 1977, nine per cent in 1978, and 9.1 per cent in 1979.
The benefits increases that have been paid have not kept up with inflation. After all, those people have to live in our inflated society just the same as all those of us who are working and earning money, and the plight of these recipients must be growing worse each day because of the amount of money that is being paid. Even with the increases they have not been able to keep up with inflation. Inflation is bad for any of us who are going out and doing any shopping or meeting the needs of our families and our homes, but to these people it must be a nightmare. I would like to plead with the minister to look at the needs of these people in that light and justify to me the increases he has made in those benefit payments.
1 know I can’t go on forever and I know we will have every opportunity to go into specific programs and policies in depth in our estimates. I will cut my remarks at this point and I will be very pleased to have any comments the minister has on any of the problems I have raised.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Did you wish to reply now or wait for the member for Bellwood’s (Mr. McClellan)?
Hon. Mr. Norton: The only concern I would have, Mr. Chairman, is that with the number of points that have been made, if I were to wait until both speakers have spoken I may get them thoroughly confused. I will try to deal with them as briefly as possible and in the order in which the honourable member raised them.
I think his reference to the children’s aid society, and in particular to that issue that was dealt with in the editorial in the Globe and Mail, was really very unfortunate because there has been a very serious misunderstanding of what that document was for and what it indicated.
I think it is more accurate to refer to it as a research document as opposed to a poll because of its purpose, although I suppose the way in which it was conducted was to seek out opinion. It was the first phase of a two-phase effort directed towards the development of a program to address some of our concerns about foster care in Ontario.
In that first effort, 160 people were sought out, particularly to try to find out what negative views people had. It wasn’t a balanced study and it wasn’t intended to be. It was to give some guidance to us in terms of where the problems were in people’s perception of foster care so that we could then take the next step, do a more detailed assessment of that and then design a program to try to address those misconceptions or misgivings that people had, leading to a public education effort to interest people, who might not otherwise have thought of it under those circumstances, in becoming involved in the foster-care program across Ontario.
It was not a poll in the sense that we were simply out to sample public opinion and find out what people thought. It was clearly part of a research effort designed to developing an improved approach to foster care, one that would address the misgivings that people had.
On the matter of funding -- and the member has accused me of being niggardly in the funding of the children’s aid societies -- I would point out to him that although we don’t have the final audited figures at this point, it appears that by the time the supplementaries have been paid to the children’s aid societies the increase in funding to them over this past year is certainly in the ball park I had predicted earlier in the year.
In this case, the total increase across the board for us in the program will probably be about 15 or 16 per cent and maybe as high as 17 per cent. I took great pains, as the member will recall, in our estimates this year. I said I took pains; actually some of my staff took great pains to try to explain to him in great detail how we justified the percentage increases we claimed were being made.
Everyone was saying he didn’t understand it or believe it. I don’t think Doug Barr understands it to this day, even though we tried to arrange a private briefing for him.
Mr. McClellan: Peter Barnes is the only one who understands it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: He understands it very well, let me tell you. If you need a further briefing, just let me know. Anytime you want it, Peter Barnes is at your disposal.
Mr. McClellan: Very soon.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes, I’m sure we will be doing it again. We will prepare another presentation for you this year. I think the accusations about niggardliness and so on are a little unfair. I realize that in this august chamber sometimes we do get a little carried away in our allegations to each other --
Mr. Blundy: Why don’t you ask the people outside?
Hon. Mr. Norton: But you have access to good information and you should know better. Maybe some people have to rely upon the Globe and Mail for information. I can understand they have a misconception about what is going on in this province. You have direct access to me and I can keep you well and accurately informed.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Is this a new policy?
Hon. Mr. Norton: It has always been the policy of my ministry, you know that.
Mr. Chairman, I know there were some problems historically with the funding approach that had been developed. Last year there was a manifestation of considerable unhappiness on the part of the children’s aid societies. I suggest to the House that the changes that we have introduced in our approach to funding have been very well received by the societies across the province this year, and --
Mr. McClellan: We will see.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Well, no system is perfect and I fully expect there will be difficulties from time to time, but we are prepared to work with the societies and address those problems. I am sure we will see far fewer appeals; I would hope none this year, but that might be excessively optimistic. I am becoming more realistic the longer I have the opportunity to serve in this office. It tends to give one a daily dose of realism.
Mr. Chairman, on the question of the work incentives program that the honourable member raised, with specific reference to day care, we have some very early results on that. I say very early because they only go to mid-March. I discuss them hesitantly because I do not think, on the basis of two or three months’ experience, one can project accurately what the situation will be at the end of the year. On the basis of those first two and a half or three months’ experience I am, perhaps I should say cautiously, ecstatic --
Hon. Mr. Norton: That’s the way we are over here. We are always very cautious about the way we approach things, but the --
Mr. Cooke: Like Progressive Conservatives.
Hon. Mr. Norton: That is right; that is why we are Progressive Conservatives. It is the same thing as saying cautiously ecstatic or ecstatically cautious.
Mr. Chairman, in the first two and a half months, the number of persons who have applied for and gone on to that program have totalled about 589. That exceeds any projections we had in advance of the numbers who might avail themselves of it.
It is interesting to look at who these people are because, as the honourable member said with respect to day care, that has been a major concern about the program on the part of some of its critics, both inside and outside the House. Half of the mothers, the majority of the people who have availed themselves, are single mothers. About 50 per cent of those single mothers who have availed themselves have at least one child under the age of six, and the other half have no children under the age of six, so it does not appear that it has been, up to this point at least, a major deterrent.
I am trying to determine in the course of our next round of collection of information what kind of arrangements those persons with children under six have made in terms of providing for care for the children while they are at work. I do not have that detail at the moment but I hope by next month I will. I would say the program has all signs of being quite successful. It does not appear at this stage that it is deterring those parents with younger children who choose to go into the work force from doing so.
On the question of income maintenance and the rate increase, I think --
Mr. Blundy: What about the subsidies of people who are not on day care?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I will certainly deal with that. I think the issue one has to keep in mind -- and I resist and resent at times the accusation that in any way day care is being viewed as a welfare program --
Mr. McClellan: It is. It’s funded under the Canada Assistance Plan. It is a welfare program.
Hon. Mr. Norton: If the member means assistance, one has to get assistance somewhere. That doesn’t mean it’s welfare.
Mr. McClellan: It is.
Hon. Mr. Norton: By the same token, then, I suppose the member would allege that education is welfare because people need assistance for that. It just happens to be transacted in a different way.
Mr. McClellan: No. It’s universal, and you don’t have to pay a fee for it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The commitment in this province to quality day care is indisputable. It can be demonstrated if one looks at what we have accomplished over the last decade in Ontario, as compared with other jurisdictions.
I’m not suggesting there is not a demand for service that we have not been able to meet absolutely. There is a demand for different levels of subsidization that we have not been able to achieve at this point. But look at what we are doing.
We are spending -- in fact we spent in the fiscal year we are discussing in these supolementary estimates -- in excess of $42 million in subsidies to children in day care over this past year.
Compare that with what others are doing. Quebec is an example. There has been great publicity this past year about the marvellous strides Quebec is making in the area of day care. But after almost doubling their financial commitment to day care, they are now spending about half of what we are.
Even if one adjusts for differences in population size between Ontario and Quebec, it still means that the commitment of the people of this province is greater than anywhere else in Canada. And the number of subsidized day-care spaces continues to grow each year at a time when there is a decline across the country as a whole.
I think when the member makes his observations, especially those which are critical of what we’re doing, he should bear in mind that we are doing a better job than anywhere else. That’s not to say there aren’t areas in which we can improve, and we will obviously always continue to try to do that.
Mr. Grande: Why do you always use that justification?
Hon. Mr. Norton: All I’m suggesting is that the member keep some balance in his perspective on things.
One can always talk about Utopia, but that doesn’t always solve the problems of today. One of the realities of being in government is that you do have to deal with the realities of today. If the member for Oakwood (Mr. Grande) would like to come over and sit with us for awhile and get a little dose of reality it might help.
Mr. Grande: Not with you, but sit there, yes.
Hon. Mr. Norton: There he goes talking about Utopia again. He shouldn’t mislead himself. That’s not likely to happen.
On the matter of income maintenance -- and I’ll try to wind up quickly on this point because I’m sure the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) has lengthy remarks, to which I will wish to respond -- I’m not trying to minimize the difficulty of persons living on limited incomes, particularly on public assistance, the difficulties they have in coping at a time of inflation, such as we have today in our society. It’s difficult for everyone, but particularly for those who have less flexibility at the low end of the income scale.
When you talk about percentages, be careful that you don’t fall into the trap of oversimplifying things. For example, it’s important to look at the total family income when you do that.
When you talk in isolation about the six per cent increase in January of last year, you overlook the fact that also last year, in terms of total family income, there was the introduction federally of the child tax credits which, for those persons with children and when combined with the increase that was introduced by the province, on average resulted in about a 12 per cent increase in income last year, and not just six per cent, if you look at the total from both levels of government.
We are talking not about six per cent but about 12 per cent plus for those who pay their own fuel costs. That does not affect everyone, but fuel has inflated dramatically in price in recent years. We will meet their actual fuel costs so there is that added protection in one of the most volatile areas of inflation.
Drug benefits are covered. Health care, dental care and eye glasses for the children are covered. They do not have to worry about those. They still have difficult things to cope with, but this should be seen in perspective.
This year the increase has been substantially better than last year. I do not know what plans the federal government may have with respect to the portions of family income they deal with -- for example, the child tax credits. Those, I believe, are indexed -- or did they de-index them last year? The family allowance is still indexed so there will be some increase there as a result of it being indexed to inflation whether any other adjustments are made or not.
Without trying to minimize the difficulties those people are living with today -- as are all people on lower incomes, and some on higher -- do not make the mistake of looking at only one component of family income when talking about percentages. I think that can be misleading for all of us.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, the minister has caught me by surprise. I thought he was going to go on for a few more minutes.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I wanted to be generous with the member today.
Mr. McClellan: The minister was in such an ugly mood last night, I should hope so.
To lead off, I would like to touch on a couple of points relating to the items in front of us. I do not intend to repeat the estimates process since we went through it thoroughly last fall. There are a couple of follow-up items which happen to fall under the purview of the votes that are before us on which I would like to touch. I will start in reverse order with children’s services.
During the estimates last fall we focused on the enormous problems of what the ministry now is calling hard-to-serve children. We talked at length about a report that had been put together by five children’s aid societies, a five-agency report that detailed, with a number of case illustrations, a state of chaos and despair, to use the language of the report, within the network of agencies trying to provide service to adolescent children who have these frightening and complex problems.
I do not minimize the difficulty of establishing a treatment network, but the problem I continue to have is the refusal of the ministry to provide adequate resources to permit the social agencies in the community to provide effective service.
We went through a number of bases. I want to thank the minister for responding with respect to each of the cases that were outlined in the five-agency report. I gather that, if nothing else, service has been obtained for each of the children who were referred to in the five-agency report.
I think there is another productive result from that report which has been released recently by the ministry in a series of position papers with respect to the fifth phase of the four-phase system. The fifth phase is to phase out the four-phase system and I think that, quite frankly, is long overdue. We have never been very impressed with the four-phase system since its inception. I have gone back a little bit into past Hansards and looked at the response when it was first initiated.
The problems that have plagued the four-phase system are not going to be resolved simply by tinkering with the structure. I think the staff in the ministry understand that full well. Certainly, staff who have laboured in frustration under the four-phase system understood that full well too.
The problem, in a nutshell, is that there have never been enough resources for hard-to-serve children. There simply aren’t enough treatment facilities for hard-to-serve children; that is what the problem is. You can devise the fanciest co-ordinating mechanisms in the cosmic universe, and you can come up with all kinds of incomprehensible flow charts and models and schemes and designs, but when it all comes down to the crunch, one doesn’t have a place to put this particular child.
What happens then, of course, is the treadmill starts and we start bouncing people around different phases of the four-phase system because there is no place to put the child, or because the Queen Street adolescent unit has been closed, or because beds have been cut in this treatment facility, or because there have been cutbacks in that area, or because proper expansion of services has not been allowed for in the budget.
The situation isn’t going to change. I support the move to replace the four-phase system with the new structures that are being discussed within the ministry, but unless the minister changes his basic attitude towards the funding of services for particularly troubled children we are going to be back here in three years wondering what went wrong with the new service delivery approach for hard-to-serve children.
I want to really stress with as much urgency as I can convey to the minister that he simply listen to his own staff. I have the document that the ministry was kind enough to send me, entitled, A Proposed Service Delivery Approach for Hard-to-Serve Children Within the Central Region. It was produced by the central region working group in March 1980. The first thing that is discussed is how many kids are we talking about? How many hard-to-serve children is the network of social agencies trying to contend with? It is not really that many.
I think the report identifies on page five that the most recent data indicate the hard-to-serve youths in the central region number roughly 300. It seems to me that is not an insuperable task for the government of Ontario to address in terms of adequacy of treatment facilities.
The report goes on to say at page six:
“In a perfect world, to identify the problem is to be half way to the solution. The reality is grimmer. Even if it becomes possible to define the hard to serve with a degree of precision to satisfy a clinician, intractable difficulties remain.” Bluntly put, there do not now exist sufficient resources to meet the current needs of the hard to serve. There is a lack of number, of quality, of distribution. Long-term and secure residential beds are the most pressing need.
That is not really news. It is not a new insight. I could open the pages of Hansard at random at any point between 1965 and 1980 and find the same message being conveyed by Stephen Lewis, by Jan Dukszta, by people on all sides of the House. We have discovered again in 1980 that the province has consistently refused to provide sufficient resources to develop an adequate network of services to disturbed adolescents.
I do not want to dwell on any other point. There is a wealth of incredibly constructive criticism within this document. I take it as constructive criticism and I hope the ministry will do so. I want to focus on that one issue, the failure to provide sufficient resources.
On page eight of the report, in the section entitled “Guidelines for the Future,” the authors say: “The austerity now gripping the system suggests there is no other way to go than to increase co-operation at the local level. The situation is of loaves and fishes dimension and with the probability of miracles remote, ingenuity and co-operation will have to substitute.”
I say to the minister that is not good enough. Staff have to live within the confines of government policy and budget restrictions. The minister’s responsibility is to give a little bit more leadership so we are not talking about providing frequent services to disturbed adolescents as something analogous to a miracle involving loaves and fishes.
Finally, on page 22 of the report, in the section where the authors are discussing the pros and cons of the new system in candid terms -- trying in realistic terms to anticipate some of the difficulties that are involved in the transition from the four-phase system to the new structure -- they say in conclusion, “Again and again, contributors to the discussion on the hard-to-serve have stressed, ‘You cannot contract for services which do not exist.’”
I look forward to hearing from the minister with respect to the additional resources to provide for the first time in this province an adequate network of services for profoundly disturbed young people. We still do not have it. It is not in the supplementary estimates. It was not in last year’s budget. The resources for the development of an adequate treatment network for hard-to-serve kids still are not in place. All the minister does is talk about co-ordinating mechanisms.
The folly of that approach is that it is based on a false assumption that the services are all there but somehow are being underutilized or utilized improperly. If only we could come up with the proper interagency co-ordinating mechanism -- I am sure this sounds familiar to the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) -- all our problems would be solved and all of the children with profound disturbances would receive treatment.
Of course that’s bunk because the problem isn’t simply a problem of maladministration or poor co-ordination, although that is part of it. The core of the problem is that the services don’t exist. They have never been created. The ministry has never provided funds to create them. They have never been tough enough with the existing agencies. They have allowed them to set their own admission policies. They have allowed them to turn away kids. They have allowed them to say: “No. This child has an unacceptable pathology. He will mess up our programs. Somebody else can take him.” Then 20 agencies later, he or she is in training school and is a lost person.
All I can say is we wait for the budget; we wait for the ministry’s estimates in 1980; we wait to see what kinds of new initiatives the minister intends to bring before us to deal with this. I think the structure he has designed is an enormous improvement over the four-phase system. We are prepared to support his initiatives in this regard, but he will have to match it with money. It’s as simple as that. He will have to put his money where his mouth is in terms of this problem. He can’t deal with it by tinkering with the structure. He is going to have to build those treatment facilities for kids and stop that game.
The minister is going to have to make sure there are enough services available. He has to stop what appears to be an ongoing process of squeezing the system without any coherent planning. He may dispute that perception, but that is the perception with which I came out of last year’s estimates after going through the estimates process and watching him trying to take money from one part of the system and put it into another part of the system. I think that does too much damage to the system. I don’t think any of us have the techniques to do that kind of thing without doing damage.
The minister does the damage in Community and Social Services. The Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) does the damage in the health system by trying to squeeze money out of one part of the health system and simultaneously develop new programs. The transitional period is very destructive. That is the process we are going through here. This is an area where the minister has a responsibility simply to provide the resources he needs to do the job and to get on with it, and we will support him on that.
Let me not take too much time. Perhaps it would be wiser to do this in the vote, but I will tell the minister I intend to ask him during this session of the estimates for some more information about his program of individual assessments for retarded people in homes for special care. That is another problem that festered in limbo between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services for a number of years.
I have to confess to a certain amount of personal regret that I did not get on top of that issue as fully as I should have as a critic until fairly recently. I don’t think I realized the enormity of the problem until relatively recently. I don’t think the ministry was particularly helpful to us in our attempts to learn what the situation was. I recall questions on the Order Paper on the number of retarded people in nursing homes and I recall getting figures back that don’t bear too much relationship to what the current figures are. We finally learned there are close to 3,000 retarded people in nursing homes.
Nursing homes are homes for special care. Homes for special care are nursing homes. You’re talking about the difference between a finding mechanism and a place. The minister can call them homes for special care if he wants but we’re talking about nursing homes.
I will use the term “homes for special care”; I don’t want to hassle the minister about it. There are about 3,000 retarded people being neglected in terms of what the minister should be providing to them and what he is not providing in comparison with retarded people who have the good luck to end up in the right part of the program as opposed to a home for special care.
I still don’t understand where that population came from. Quite frankly, I have to say that I am not sure that I believe the ministry’s assertion that no retarded people have been discharged from the schedule one facilities into homes for special care. Perhaps we can clear this up once and for all, now that I think I understand it a little better. I understand the only way that a person can get into a home for special care is on referral from a provincial institution.
I stand to be corrected on that but I think that’s the only way you can get in. If that is so, I don’t understand how the population could increase. The number of retarded people in homes for special care has gone up over the past few years. We still don’t have a coherent set of statistics on that despite repeated attempts to get it.
Perhaps some time during the coming months the minister could ask his staff to sit down and answer this question. How do so many retarded people get into homes for special care? Why are they there instead of into Community and Social Services programs? What is the route by which a retarded person can win or lose the luck of the draw? If he or she wins, he or she ends up in a program run by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, and if he or she loses, he or she ends up in a home for special care. What is the process here?
I confess to some real confusion and real apprehension because I don’t understand why that population is increasing. I have my suspicions which only the minister can set to rest.
The other point on that issue is for a progress report on the program of individual assessment of the residents in homes for special care. Perhaps we could leave that particular item until we get to the vote. That’s simply for purposes of time. Time is fleeting and other people want to speak. Perhaps the minister would agree to leave the question of a progress report on the individual assessment of the retarded people in homes for special care until we get to vote 2902, item 4.
The final comment I will make is very briefly with respect to day care. I don’t understand why the minister gets so agitated when we describe day care as a welfare service, because it is a welfare service.
Hon. Mr. Norton: But you use that term so disparagingly.
Mr. McClellan: Yes, I do.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The member doesn’t believe in welfare, but I don’t know what the member believes in.
Mr. McClellan: I don’t believe in humiliating people as a condition for entitlement to service. That’s what I don’t believe in. I don’t believe in degrading people through sending somebody who wants day care down to a welfare office to fill out what is still the most degrading means test used in our society. That’s why I don’t believe in it. What I do believe in is that every child in this province and every family that needs day care should have access to day care. Is that clear enough for the minister?
The minister keeps talking about his marvellous accomplishments. There have been no accomplishments in this province since the capital expansion program ended five years ago. Nothing has been done to meet the demand for day care except a kind of inch-worm increase year by year which has no relation to day-care needs.
I don’t know whether the minister is just deluding himself. I am not worried about that because the need for day-care centres in this province is overwhelming. The extent to which the minister can continue on his merry, self-deluded way thinking he is making an accomplishment in the area of day care really is his problem. What we are talking about is no mystery to any family that is trying to obtain day-care service for itself in this province in 1980.
I know my colleagues from the Windsor area want to speak on the urgent needs of their community in view of the current economic crisis and I don’t want to take up any more time at this point.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I don’t think I have any hope of completing this today, but it might be well for me to reserve my remarks until the members from Windsor have had their say and I will then try to be brief.
Mr. Bounsall: I, too, will try to be brief, Mr. Chairman, in view of the time constraints.
I would like to have the minister’s answer in definite terms as to what he can do for the need for services in Windsor at this time when we are approaching 24,000 unemployed out of a total population of 200,000. This means close to one third of the work force is unemployed, and means the demand for services across the entire service field is escalating out of hand.
We brought to the minister’s attention that those United Way agencies which are funded 20 per cent/80 per cent, with 80 per cent coming from the province, have no way in which they can get more funds for their 20 per cent. The majority of the funds coming into United Way come from hourly rated employees’ payroll deductions and the unemployment occurring affects this.
With that decrease in employment those contributions automatically cease and they have difficulty maintaining their present rate of service under their 20 per cent United Way funding. There are no more funds they can find from any source which the province would match on that four-to-one basis. There’s a problem with the decrease in it.
We can go through agency after agency to indicate the terrific increased demand placed on them. Credit counselling was the one which first came to our attention. They now have over a month’s backlog in returning phone calls requesting credit counselling because of the demand, and no means whereby they can increase their staff. There is no means whereby they can contribute another penny to their 20 per cent. It goes on and on -- the family counselling service has an increased need as families break up over the economic situation they are facing and the difficulties that arise.
We say to this government there has to be some way in which each of those service agencies in Windsor can receive funding from this province to help them over what will be a one- to three-year interim period in which they will desperately need services, with no funds to increase the staff to provide those services.
I need go into no more detail than that. The problem is very severe. What can be done? When one wrote to the ministry a representative said the ministry was quite willing to give more funding -- of course, on the four-to-one basis. There’s no way that that one can be obtained so that you can match it with four in the Windsor circumstances. There are no more funds at all to provide the one part of that four-to-one equation. The ministry and this government must find some way to get more funds on this one- to three-year temporary basis into Windsor and to all those service agencies for services which are desperately needed.
I will conclude my short remarks by saying I will get in detail to the minister, very soon, the situation that pertains in the Windsor welfare situation. The way we read the act -- and I’m sure the minister would agree with us in our interpretation of the act; I think there’s no disagreement on it -- the Windsor welfare officers have complete flexibility under the act to determine which rules they are going to apply to someone who is in the employable category but seeking welfare. We read it as their having total flexibility to set those guidelines.
In a very bureaucratic way, the director of Windsor welfare has said, “I don’t feel I have the flexibility, unless I am so informed in writing by the province, to drop that requirement of five job searches per day.” They have as much as said, “If we get a letter from the province saying they will continue to pay welfare benefits for all those unemployed workers who now need welfare, and if the province will say five job searches per week will be adequate to meet provincial guidelines for giving out welfare, we will do that. But until and unless we get it in writing from the province, we are going to insist upon five job searches per day.”
There are 24,000 people unemployed in Windsor, and there are now 3,000 Ford workers off their unemployment insurance and supplementary unemployment insurance benefits needing welfare, and they are making all those workers conduct five job searches per day for jobs which are completely nonexistent in the community. In the months of January and February, a lot of the great increase in unemployment in Windsor came in the service area. Two years ago welfare could always say there’s always a job around washing dishes in some restaurant. Now you go into a 30-table restaurant in Windsor at 6:30 at night and find three tables occupied.
There are no jobs left in the traditional low-paying service area. What is going to be required is a letter that simply says, “We are not opposed to continuing to pay welfare benefits to those in the employable category if the job searches decrease to something like five per week.”
I would expect most employers in Windsor are being absolutely hassled to death, as thousands of people are knocking at their doors every day saying, “Would you please sign a piece of paper that I’ve been here trying to get a nonexistent job at your place of employment?” This is what is happening in Windsor.
It’s a nice stimulus to the economy of the individual employer. He has to hire another person continually to sign chits of paper that Joe Blow has been in trying to get a job, because welfare has said five job searches per day is what they are going to insist on, with that kind of unemployment, which is now running at the rate of 21 per cent, which is 24,000 people.
They finally fall back on saying, “If the province tells us that five job searches per week is acceptable we will apply that, but only when we are told by them that is okay.” But in the absence of anything saying the province will still continue to pay its share of welfare and that five job searches per week is acceptable, they will continue to insist on this absolutely irrational, unreasonable requirement of five job searches per day.
I would say to the minister the sooner they get out that letter indicating an attitude that five per week under the circumstances may be acceptable, the sooner the hassle of employers and unemployed workers in Windsor will be alleviated. In the Windsor area, we would find that a very helpful move to alleviate the situation that has arisen in the Windsor welfare office, the ridiculous situation of the Windsor welfare officer hassling both recipients and employers in the Windsor area.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Chairman, I think the minister can answer to all three Windsor members at the one time. I do not intend to be lengthy, because I don’t want to reiterate what my colleague from Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Bounsall) has made mention of. I think the minister should have some of his officials down to the Windsor area. Maybe he has had them down.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I have some living there all the time.
Mr. B. Newman: I would think some who are a little closer to the minister than is the Windsor area, because we are 250 miles away. Sometimes it feels as if we are a million miles away when it comes to trying to point out to the ministry the problems that have confronted the community. Never before in the history of Windsor, to the best of my knowledge, has unemployment been as bad. Even during the Depression days, I don’t think it was quite as bad as it is today. Some of the regulations and rules that are required by the local welfare office are not realistic at all.
I’m not going to make mention of the number of job searches and everything else, but I say to the minister to please look into it and provide the extra funding that is needed in there, because he is only punishing those who cannot afford to be punished.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Chairman, I want to begin by making one comment to the minister about the announcement he made a week or so ago about single employables not getting the same welfare increases others are getting.
A week or so ago we had a meeting with the social services in the Windsor area. One of the things the representative -- I believe he was from the Salvation Army -- pointed out to us was that one of the most needy types of people in our area, because of the lack of public housing for these people and the lack of affordable private housing, is the single employable on welfare.
With the ministry’s lousy, cheap allowances, they are having extreme difficulty and are not able to live adequately in the Windsor area. I’m sure that applies to other areas in the province. For the minister to make the statements he has made over the last couple of weeks that these people have flexibility in that they can move to other areas of the province where there are very few jobs, just doesn’t wash and doesn’t hold with the people in the social service field, because every day we hear of more and more layoffs.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Is the member saying it is harder for a single person than for a family?
Mr. Cooke: It’s difficult for anyone who is unemployed in Ontario today, because every day we hear about more massive layoffs, not only those in the auto industry, but also the layoffs that were announced in Peterborough and other layoffs. The only thing the minister’s announcement does is to continue to stigmatize the singles who are unemployed. It says to them: “It’s your fault that you are unemployed. Get out and get a job.” That’s exactly what the minister is saying to them. It is the same old philosophy that we’ve heard from the Conservative government for years. It is the same old stigma they put on anyone who is on welfare, and it is a very unfair, lousy policy.
Hon. Mr. Norton: That’s malarkey, and you know it.
Mr. Cooke: I want to talk specifically about Windsor and to go into some of the details my colleagues from Windsor have already talked about. There is nothing wrong with talking about it two, three, four, five, 10 or 20 times. Then maybe we’ll eventually get some action from this government.
With respect to the welfare department, I must say it is my understanding that we have not had the same problem in the county of Essex that we have had in the city of Windsor. In fact, the statistics show that the welfare recipient rate in Essex county has risen dramatically, whereas in Windsor for the first two months there were 300 applicants a month, according to the welfare administrator, who were being rejected on the basis of a job search.
I can give one specific case without mentioning the name. We eventually got the problem resolved. An individual who had worked for one of the auto companies was laid off for more than a year; so he ran out of his unemployment insurance benefits. He was able to find a job that lasted for only six weeks. Therefore, he didn’t requalify for unemployment insurance. That company, an auto parts manufacturer, also laid off people. Then the individual was forced to go to welfare. He had been looking on his own and had a list of 12 places where he had gone and put in applications. He showed that list to the welfare administrator, who sent him a letter 48 hours later saying he was rejected because he wasn’t registered with Manpower.
I think that is ludicrous. There is flexibility within the General Welfare Assistance Act by which he could have got his first cheque from welfare instead of their saying to him on a Friday afternoon: “You don’t get a cheque. You will have to go and register with Manpower on Monday. Then come in and see us and we will reconsider.” Of course that takes two or three more days.
The other thing is that the welfare office was asking right from the beginning for the five job searches a day. Thank goodness, they have at least dropped that. They say one has to have an active case with Manpower and then they will give out the first cheque. Then one goes to look for a job.
I would suggest to the minister that what he should be saying to the Windsor welfare office -- and they say they are looking for direction from him -- is that workmen’s compensation for recipients who are on rehabilitation no longer requires the three job searches per day. The Unemployment Insurance Commission no longer requires the job search in the Windsor area. Why should the minister’s program require it? When we have 20 per cent unemployment, 24,000 to 25,000 people unemployed and the number growing daily, since there are obviously very few jobs, there is absolutely no need to force people to go to look for work.
I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask them to be registered with Manpower. I don’t think there are any recipients who would object to that, because if there is a job available, believe me, they want the job. In fact, when our group was in Windsor a couple of weeks ago, the people at the unemployment help centre indicated to us there had been a rumour going around that there were a few jobs available at General Motors. There was no formal announcement and nothing in the paper, just a rumour going around. The next morning at nine o’clock there were 400 men lined up in front of the Manpower office to look for those jobs that hadn’t even been confirmed. In fact, they didn’t even exist at that time. Therefore, I can’t buy the argument that some people would use, that these people are lazy and would just as soon go on welfare than go to work. That just isn’t accurate.
We have had several meetings with the mayor’s unemployment committee as well as with the city manager and other people over the course of the last 12 months or more, talking about the problem in welfare. It came to the point where I wrote a letter to the mayor, asking in writing from our local welfare office exactly what the guidelines were that the welfare office was using for recipients to qualify.
The mayor’s unemployment committee got a letter back stating they wouldn’t put anything in writing because it required a municipal interpretation of the General Welfare Assistance Act which they weren’t in a position to do. I don’t buy that argument. I think they could have put down their guidelines. They should give them to the MPs, the MPPs, the aldermen and, more important than anything, the staff at welfare. They don’t even know what is going on with the requirements.
They should be letting people know what they are required to do to qualify for welfare. They will not do it. They will not put it in writing. They have said, if they get a directive or a letter from the minister, they will then follow whatever guidelines he sets out. I suggest that those guidelines should be no job search at all in the Windsor area until the employment problem clears up, which I anticipate will not happen at least for another two and a half years.
We went to visit the social agencies. I have talked to the minister about this before, but I want to give him one specific example. The unemployment help centre in our area is having to run bingos to get operating money to run the centre. As the city is in a crisis, they have to run bingos to get their operating funds. I think that is also ludicrous. If we had a federal government and a provincial government sensitive to the problems in Windsor, then there would be grants available from various ministries and departments to operate that unemployment help centre.
I would ask the minister to look at that problem and see if his ministry can provide funding so that their staff can continue to meet the needs of our people in Windsor.
Many other agencies are also experiencing problems. I know the minister’s field staff comes out to the mayor’s unemployment committee, but I understand from being at those meetings that his representative has no authority to grant any kind of assistance to those agencies. He did make one recommendation regarding the credit counselling service, but my understanding was that was going to be on a 60-40 cost-sharing basis, which obviously is of no help at all to that agency. We cannot raise the 40 per cent right now through United Way.
What the minister should be doing -- what he should have done months ago -- is going to that city. It would be a good idea if he, instead of his local field staff, met with the social agencies and heard their concerns, as we did. I am sure the social planning department would be glad to set up a meeting of all the executive directors of the agencies to go and talk to the minister. He should hear their concerns and hear the pressures on the agencies. Then he could make an appropriate response. We need bucks in our community to run the social agencies to meet the increased need.
First, I hope the minister will get a letter off today to the local welfare office indicating that the General Welfare Assistance Act has enough flexibility in it to meet the needs of a community like Windsor, and that there is no requirement for a job search under the General Welfare Assistance Act.
Second, I hope the minister personally will go down to Windsor in the next week or so to meet with the executive directors of the various agencies and find out exactly how serious the problem is.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Will you be out of town if I do?
Mr. Cooke: I would be glad to go to the meeting with him. I am sure I could set him straight.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Chairman --
Mr. Chairman: Order. Three members of the committee have asked specific questions regarding Windsor and on item two. Maybe the minister would like to reply to those questions.
Mr. Haggerty: This is on the same point Mr. Chairman. I want to inform the minister that the problem does not exist only in the city of Windsor, but also in the Niagara Peninsula, where there is high unemployment. It is changing day by day. It is getting higher and higher as the automobile industry in St. Catharines and within the regional municipality of Niagara feels the pinch right now.
I attended the community social services offices in Welland a week or so ago. I talked to the administrators at that time. I too was concerned about the guidelines that were set down in regard to persons being denied general welfare.
It relates to the area of job search again. I asked: “How do you get a piece of paper signed -- by going to a plant-gate or something like that -- saying you were there today applying for a job?” If the minister has ever been out around plant gates, he will know it is difficult to get through to many of the offices unless one goes past a guard or a person who states you cannot go inside the gate. Signs are posted saying no jobs are available today. How can persons go to the welfare officer and tell him they have made job searches? They can be registered at Manpower. All one has to do is call Manpower and they will tell one the number of people seeking employment in a particular area. Jobs are available in my area, in Fort Erie and places like that, if a person is skilled.
They do have a program there. It is called the Basic Job Retraining Program (BJRP). I am sure the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) is aware of it. I consider it a Mickey Mouse program. What it does is get people off the welfare rolls for about six or eight weeks to learn how to fill out application forms for employment. I do not think such a program is good enough.
What is lacking -- I am directing this point to the Minister of Education -- is an apprenticeship program. There are many people today who are exceptionally handy with their hands and who want employment. They may not have the academic background but with the proper training in schools and an apprenticeship program in industry, we can take many of the people off the general welfare rolls and find the jobs are there.
I think of that program they had a number of years ago at Fleet Industries. Every time the aircraft industry seems to be in an upswing, the federal government will step in to help fund a training program for that industry. You are good until you’ve been there about 90 days; around the day you are going to get on the seniority list, then out the door you go. Then another group comes in, works for 90 days, and the company may pick one or two out of a group of 30 or 40 who are under that program and say: “Okay. You can become a permanent employee as long as work is here.” But these other persons who go into that training program go back out and they are on welfare. We have to look at the government programs we have. They can be made to work if proper direction is given. It is difficult. I think of a chap in my area who called me up and said: “I will be out on the street next week.” He’s a truck driver of a certain classification. He is experienced in that area, but the trucking industry is dead in my area and there is no way the truckers are going to get any help. He said: “I will be out on the street. What am I to do?” I talked to the administrator about it, and he said, “We feel he isn’t looking for a job.” If I were to go in there, chop the axe and say, “You go out and find a job in the industrial sector,” he would have a hard time finding a job too, because the jobs are not there in my area.
I don’t know what the guidelines are that are sent out by the ministry which relate to job searches, because the minute you question them about it, they will say they have some other things. If you ask, “Is it done by regulations?” the answer is, “No, it is not done by regulations.” It is done by a group that says this is what we will do today, and it changes from day to day. I think that is wrong.
There are many people who need help today. Instead of taking the stand the ministry is taking now in saying, “We are not satisfied with your job searches,” knowing full well that the jobs are not there in the first place, the ministry is going to have to take a hard look at the situation and come up with a program to train many of these young persons. It is hard on these young persons when they are told, “You can go home and let your parents look after you.” Many parents are facing many difficulties today without also having to look after a person of 18, 19, 20, 21 or 22 years.
I suggest the minister is going to have to change her viewpoint in this particular area. I hope the Minister of Education will get off her good intentions and bring in an appropriate apprenticeship program under which we can train these people. I know the amount of money we are receiving from the federal government, and I have questioned many times whether it is being spent as it should be in a training program. I doubt that it is, because the evidence is not there today. I think the money perhaps has been used for something else. I don’t know for sure, but the minister has been a complete failure in this area.
If the minister wants to remove many of these people from the welfare rolls, I suggest she get them into a decent apprenticeship program. It’s there and people want to get into it, but it’s hard for them under the existing conditions. And it has to be done in co-operation with industry, not with the educational system and that’s where it is. Some of the ministry’s programs are good. It takes them off the welfare rolls and helps many students for summer employment. The ministry subsidizes the wages. If industry can do it for six months in the summertime, surely they can do it year-round. Just look at some of these programs --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: These are the estimates of the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
Mr. Haggerty: That’s right. But we are dealing with welfare -- people unemployed. Some of them may be on welfare and some may not, but they are having difficulties. I just can’t accept some of the guidelines that some of the regional administrators of welfare are handing out at the present time. I think it is being unfair to the number of persons looking for assistance.
I hope the minister will reconsider some of the viewpoints suggested by the previous speakers, because I think they have raised a valid point and I support them on it.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: If the minister wishes to respond, we will hear him now.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I wish to respond with regard to the particular point raised by the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Bounsall) and the honourable member who just spoke.
To be perfectly honest, there are times when I don’t know who to believe. For example, on the issue in Windsor, when it was first brought to my attention -- I think it was by the member for Windsor-Sandwich, or maybe it was the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Cooke) -- the issue of administrators requiring five job searches a day, I did respond to that. In fact, I think there is a letter on its way back to whichever of the honourable members raised it.
The provincial director of income maintenance, at my request, was in touch with the administrator in the member’s community or municipality. It’s my understanding that he denied they were making such requests. I’m not going to stand here and suggest that he is lying or that the member is lying, but I don’t know who is telling the truth. Surely, the administrator, in a city of that size, knows the legislation. He should. All the rest of them received our guidelines over a year ago now, I believe --
Mr. Bounsall: He is part of the problem, not part of the solution. That is our point.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I will, if it is necessary, but I don’t feel that I should have to be sending out a letter to people following up receipt of the legislation, guidelines and so on, saying: “Look, if you don’t know how to exercise your discretion, this is how you should be exercising it,” because really it is important.
Mr. Bounsall: That’s what he is asking.
Hon. Mr. Norton: If that is what that person is requesting, it seems incredible, because the whole purpose of having flexibility is so that local municipalities can take into consideration local conditions such as the extreme conditions that may exist in Windsor at the present time.
Mr. Bounsall: Not only is the situation incredible, but he is an incredible person.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I’m not going to comment on the personality, because I don’t know him personally. Even if I did, I probably shouldn’t comment on him as a personality. But we will see if there is anything further we can do.
Mr. Cooke: What’s the minister’s position on job searches?
Hon. Mr. Norton: That’s what I’m talking about. Just listen; don’t get so excited. Let him listen carefully and he will understand.
What is my position on job searches? I believe that job searches should be part of this program. It would appear to me to be unrealistic in a community with a very high rate of unemployment to be asking people to do five a day. In fact, I don’t know how a person could do five a day at the best of times if you are going to try to go around and talk to people about jobs.
Mr. McClellan: That’s right. It’s a pretty stupid policy.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It’s not my policy but, if that is the situation, we will see if we can help to get it sorted out. It does strike me as being unrealistic.
Mr. Cooke: Do you support job searches with 24,000 people unemployed?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I would support jobs searches if there were 500,000 people unemployed, because it seems to me that one of the things people have to keep doing is keep trying. I’m not going to encourage people to throw up their hands and say, “I will never look again.” But I do think one has to be reasonable about it. If the member is suggesting I should abandon the job search requirement, no, I have no intention of doing that.
The other thing the honourable member has to remember is that not all jobs are clearly structured and advertised in the newspapers and registered at Manpower. There are other jobs available in some communities. All I’m saying is that sometimes it is possible to find things that way. Even though the unemployment rate is high, there are ways to find some work from time to time.
I grew up in a family which was mainly seasonally employed but they were never unemployed, and the concept of moving from one job to another for a few weeks or a few months during certain seasons was not foreign to us.
Mr. McClellan: We are getting soft, aren’t we? You think people should hitchhike around, right?
Hon. Mr. Norton: No, listen to me. We have perhaps become a little more rigidly structured -- in our perception of what a job is in today’s society. I think we have to maintain some flexibility about that. I think it is not an unrealistic expectation that people try to --
Hon. Mr. Norton: Listen, we are not getting into a philosophical argument here, I trust.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: You are supposedly replying to some questions raised by the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty).
Hon Mr. Norton: I am trying, with great difficulty, Mr. Chairman.
I also have responded on the situation in the agencies in Windsor; at least I have carried that further since it was raised by, I believe, the member for Windsor-Sandwich -- no, it was the member for Windsor-Riverside; I am sorry. Every time anybody from Windsor asks anything I can count on at least three people standing up and endorsing it.
As has been pointed out, the area director from my ministry is serving on the mayor’s committee, as I understand it, and at my request he came to Toronto to meet with me about that and about the situation in the agencies. There was specific reference at that time to the credit counselling agency, I believe, and he advised me that at that point none of the agencies had indicated to him a request for any special funding.
I asked him specifically to follow up with the credit counselling agency and he couldn’t, at that point, because at that time, as I understand it, the director of that agency was away on two weeks’ vacation. If he is back, then that meeting may have taken place, but I haven’t had confirmation of that yet from the area director.
Mr. Cooke: Other agencies will certainly talk to us.
Hon. Mr. Norton: That’s one way of approaching it, I suppose. But one of the purposes for my ministry’s decentralizing and having field staff in communities across this province is so people can and will communicate with them and, it’s hoped, bring these things to our attention if the situation is as critical as the member is portraying it in the agencies. I will once again follow up with our area director and see if that communication has gone any further.
I think I have touched on most of the points the member raised. I haven’t got around to the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) --
Mr. McClellan: We will be coming back.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Coming back on these?
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Chairman, I have a couple of brief questions. They are not new ones; I know they have been raised with the minister by any number of people. I think there is an injustice or an unfairness -- and it’s certainly perceived as an unfairness by those involved -- in terms of the people who are recipients of provincial benefits, disabled, permanently unemployable, widows, those on mothers’ allowance and so on, who find that when the cost-of-living increase goes through in the federal portion of their Canada Pension Plan funding they automatically get a decrease in the amount of the provincial benefits.
I know the argument that is usually used, and I would like to have the minister explain to me why he has this problem working out something with the federal authorities on funding. If there is a cost-of-living increase given through the CPP, somebody who is drawing as little as $200 or $300 a month -- we have them, and we are referring cases to the minister all of the time -- finds that upon the receipt of the increase in the CPP payment the provincial benefits have been decreased. They can’t understand, and we have one hell of a job trying to make them understand, the fairness of the increase they have just got -- supposedly because of cost-of-living increases in the benefits -- and why the cost- of-living increase they have received through the CPP is reduced in the provincial benefits.
It is impossible to rationalize on the basis of some kind of federal agreement with these people. For most of them, that is their only income. To this day, I still marvel at how long Mrs. DiMascio survived -- and we’ve raised that case with the ministry. For most of these people, it is their total income. They see a small increase because of the cost-of-living increase in the federal share, but then they see the provincial share immediately to drop by that much.
I don’t care how the ministry rationalizes it. They see the province saving or culling out that amount of money. Whatever the rationale is, the fact is that those people who may be receiving $300 a month, to take a general figure, get an 11 per cent increase based on the increase in the CPP, but then see the 11 per cent dropped from the provincial share. They don’t understand why they have received no benefits from that particular increase.
I would really like to have an explanation that I can go back to people with that justifies what is happening to them. They are people at the low end of the income scale. That is their only income and they are being hurt. When I say hurt, we can document some of the examples of this very well We’ve done some of it.
I would like to have a rationale from the minister as to why we have this situation.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Perhaps I can respond to that at this point, as the member may have further things he wants to raise. I think I have explained the mechanism of why it happens and the problems in terms of federal-provincial agreements.
There is another important thing to consider. I presume this lies behind the requirement that was laid down in the federal legislation. I think it is important to remember what was agreed upon with the provinces. I’m not arguing about levels of support at this point. I’m arguing about what the purpose of the program is. The program is to provide an income maintenance support to individuals who are in need in our society. What is agreed to is a certain level. The member may say it is too low, but at least it is a guaranteed level of income that those persons may receive as a minimum.
Let’s say it is $300. What are the consequences if you pass through other benefits, if the federal requirements were changed? If you see this as assistance between neighbours or taxpayers, one neighbour assisting another, you might very well have a situation where, as a result of the pass-through, you create great inequities. One person was perhaps not in the labour force and, therefore, not a Canada Pension Plan recipient or did not have a spouse who had been in the work force. That person may have no CPP benefits and would be treated differently from those who did. That person would be receiving less in total income than those who do receive Canada Pension Plan benefits.
By having the agreement between the federal government and the provinces establishing levels with each province as a standard level for certain categories of people, up to which they will receive assistance, at least it does not allow for the other kind of inequity, where your neighbour may be getting $300, but nothing from the Canada Pension Plan, while you may be getting $300, plus additional amounts from the Canada Pension Plan. Presumably, you would have to allow as well for additional income from other private pension plans or whatever. You could have a great inequity created if you pass everything through.
Where do you draw the line? I ask that as a rhetorical question. I don’t know. The agreement between the federal government and the provinces does specifically require that other sources of income from the federal government be deducted until such time as there is an agreement to a general increase in the level of benefits -- for example, the family benefits we recently had.
What would probably solve that problem would be if we could manage each year to co-ordinate our increases with the Canada Pension Plan increases. Then it would not be a problem, even if we did not index it. I do not think there is much chance of that. But if our increases coincided with the federal increases, there would not be the same perception problem and everyone would go up whether or not they got CPP and they still would be maintained at a constant level. There is a degree of equity in that as well. Just to say “Pass it through” is fraught with difficulties.
Mr. McClellan: What is so difficult about implementing that kind of simultaneous adjustment?
Hon. Mr. Norton: As a matter of fact, in January 1979 they did coincide. I think the problems are sometimes technical and sometimes economic.
Mr. McClellan: There really are no technical problems, are there?
Hon. Mr. Norton: There is a technical problem in getting one’s hands on the money sometimes.
Mr. McClellan: Or is it because you’re just too cheap?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Oh, come on now. Let’s not engage in that kind of vitriolic argument. I’m trying to be nice to the honourable member today.
Mr. McClellan: Just miserliness. All right, the minister can do it, but the money isn’t there.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It depends when the money becomes available to introduce it.
Mr. McClellan: Administratively, there is no problem, is there?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes, there could be. The member has to talk about a specific time, a specific place and a specific set of circumstances before I can answer that question. As a general statement, certainly there could be.
Mr. Foulds: Let’s try January 15, 1980, for a start.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It was not possible for me to do it then, because the money was not available at that point. It’s as simple as that. In fact, it happened in March.
Mr. Foulds: Make it an ongoing thing.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Every March? What he wants is to get it to coincide with the increase in the Canada Pension Plan. I agree that would solve a lot of the confusion.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: At this point would the minister like to move that the committee rise and report?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I certainly would, Mr. Chairman.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Norton, the committee of supply reported progress.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would like to announce a slight change in the business of the House for next Monday. We were going to proceed with the 1980-81 estimates of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs in committee of supply. Since the supplementary estimates for 1979-80 are not concluded, I would like to suggest that we continue with the Ministry of Community and Social Services and then with the Ministry of Culture and Recreation and the Ministry of Health; if those are completed, we will move to the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.
We would send the 1979-80 supplementary estimates for the ministries of Colleges and Universities and Education, by motion, to the social development committee, which will be meeting on Monday afternoon to begin consideration of the 1980-81 estimates of the ministries of Education and Colleges and Universities. That committee can deal with the supplementaries first, report them back to the House, and then continue with the 1980-81 estimates.
The House adjourned at 12:59 p.m.