31st Parliament, 4th Session

L035 - Thu 1 May 1980 / Jeu 1er mai 1980

The House met at 2:02 p.m.



Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I have a message from the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor signed by her own hand.

Mr. Speaker: Pauline M. McGibbon, the Lieutenant Governor, transmits estimates of certain sums required for the services of the province for the year ending March 31, 1981, and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly, Toronto, May 1, 1980.



Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table today for the information of members two policies which will shortly be published in the government’s Manual of Administration. These policies formalize the various measures outlined in the second report of the agencies review committee, which was tabled in the Legislature on March 25, 1980, by my colleague, the chairman of the committee, the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Pope).

The first of the policies sets out a process to be followed by ministries when establishing new agencies. It provides for Management Board of Cabinet and cabinet review and approval of such matters as the need for a new agency, or the possibility of modifying an existing agency, and the terms of reference.

Guidelines are also included that will assist in the development of necessary legislation and in the determination of the number of members to be appointed to the agency. Other measures incorporated into the policy include conflict of interest guidelines for government appointees. The second policy reiterates the government’s intention to develop a framework and process to assist ministers to undertake the required sunset reviews of advisory agencies.

The first round of reviews is to be completed by March 1982, in accordance with the order in council tabled with the second report. The policy provides that an appropriate review process be developed by March 1981, to enable ministers to complete their first round of reviews within the time limit that has been established.


Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, I have been asked by the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) to inform the House that there was a major fire at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton this morning. There was considerable smoke damage and it became necessary to evacuate the hospital. All patients and staff have now been safely moved and I understand the fire has been brought under control.

The Hamilton area hospital emergency plan was activated immediately and patients have been transferred to neighbouring hospitals. The Minister of Health is on the scene in Hamilton at the moment and will have a further report for the House when he returns.


Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, I believe the people of Ontario and the honourable members are well aware of my commitment to the battle against acid rain, in which Ontario has consistently led this continent. Reduction of the emissions that contribute to acid rain is one of my major objectives, and my ministry has been preparing necessary measures for some time.

Today I wish to advise the members of the first of several planned steps aimed at reducing acid rain. My ministry is introducing new control measures that will substantially reduce the volume of SO2 emissions from the smelting operations of Inco Limited at Sudbury.

The proposed control order limits total emissions from the Inco smelter complex to an average of 2,500 short tons per working day. This will consist of a combination of stack and ground-level emissions. Ground-level emissions can vary from 50 to 200 tons on a given day. The company will also be required to have in place the facilities necessary to reduce total emissions, both stack and ground-level, to 1,950 short tons per working day, effective on or before December 31, 1982.

In addition, and of great importance, the order further requires Inco to provide my ministry, by the end of 1981, with an assessment of the technical options necessary to reduce emissions of SO2 to the lowest possible level. Inco officials have told me their concerns that any reduction in the emissions limit below the daily average of 3,000 tons will have serious effects on the company’s operations and drastically curtail its ability to increase production. The second stage, which will limit total emissions to an average of 1,950 tons per day, is considered to be a lid on Inco’s production capacity and I recognize this as a serious factor.

I am well aware that the impact of these restrictions does place a significant burden on Inco Limited and potentially upon the economy of this province. The proposed new levels would not permit the company to expand its operations beyond the existing moderate level of world demand. These negative economic effects could be offset by technological improvements.

While I understand the severe restraints that are being placed on Inco, I fully believe the environmental considerations are paramount and do constitute the clearly overriding factor. The combined orders will provide a strong incentive to Inco to apply its considerable resources to develop the necessary technology to reduce emissions. I believe the company can, should and will meet this challenge.

I must emphasize that this proposed control program has been under consideration and in preparation by my ministry for some time as a part of Ontario’s comprehensive acid-rain program. On January 18, I discussed our action plan to reduce emissions throughout Ontario with the Honourable John Fraser, the previous federal Minister of the Environment, and with the Honourable Douglas Costle, the administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Our discussions centred on Inco Limited. As part of our ongoing co-operative efforts on acid rain, we have kept officials of Environment Canada advised of our intentions concerning Inco and other emitters for some months now.

2:10 p.m.

On April 21, I resumed discussions with the new federal minister. At our meeting I outlined our proposed control program to Mr. Roberts. At the same time I stressed to him it was vital that the federal government tackle head on the American inaction against acid rain. With his hand now strengthened by Ontario’s lead, I look to my federal colleague to make effective use of these new controls on Inco in his efforts to obtain an international agreement.

We have re-evaluated the 1978 control program based on the proven need to provide greater controls on SO2 emissions. Therefore, we are proceeding with measures to establish a drastically lower ceiling on Inco emissions. As soon as the control order takes effect, it will provide for further substantial reductions by the end of 1982.

I have notified Inco Limited of our intention to issue a new control order under the Environmental Protection Act. Consistent with my policy, the draft control order will be submitted to public scrutiny and comment by the public. Following the public meeting we will prepare a notice of intent of a new control order and serve this on Inco. The act then provides a 15-day period during which the company may appeal. If there is no appeal, I would anticipate the order to take effect by July 1 of this year.

Here are the other major thrusts of the new control order: emissions from the iron-ore recovery plant shall not exceed an average of 250 short tons per working day. This average will be computed quarterly over a 12-month production period.

By December 31, 1980, the company shall submit a report detailing the facilities and the implementation schedule necessary to limit SO2, emissions from the Copper Cliff smelter to 1,950 short tons per working day averaged over a calendar year. These facilities are to be in place by December 31, 1982. The report must include information on all factors involved, including capital investment, operating costs, a feasibility assessment of the technical options, and an analysis of the environmental and socio-economic implications.

The control order continues the existing program designed to bring all low-level emissions from the company’s nickel refinery into compliance with provincial standards as set out in the Environmental Protection Act. The company must complete installation of the necessary facilities and have these in operation by December 31, 1982.

In addition to these major requirements in the control order, we are also issuing a provincial officer’s requirement under the Environmental Protection Act. This directs the company to conduct studies and to report its findings by December 1981 on methods necessary to further reduce SO2 emissions from the Copper Cliff complex to the lowest levels possible. This report is to include analysis of the economic and feasibility factors outlined previously. I am also ordering the company to report on the various processes and testing programs that it has undertaken to date in its efforts to reduce emission levels.

Another major part of our program is the establishment of an Ontario-Canada task force to investigate all air-pollution-abatement technical options for both Inco Limited and Falconbridge Nickel Mines Limited in Sudbury. The working committee of this joint task force will include senior representatives of my ministry, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the federal departments of the Environment and of Energy, Mines and Resources. In addition, nongovernmental representatives will be on the committee. I believe this to be a new departure, one that is a continuation of my program to include the public at large as part of our team approach. Quebec, which chairs the federal-provincial control strategies group on acid rain, may also nominate a member.

This task force will examine all technical alternatives for further abatement, including the financial impacts of abatement on the Sudbury smelting companies, the cost-efficient mixes of abatement technologies to achieve specific emission reductions, and comparison of the environmental and other benefits of abatement and control measures.

I wish to emphasize that we are taking a major step in reducing Inco’s emissions, which have already decreased under government programs by more than 40 per cent since 1969. The proposed program will result in a further reduction of 46 per cent.

I deeply regret, however, that there has not been a comparable decrease in emissions from the nonferrous smelting industry in the United States, which accounts for 2.8 million tons per year. This reflects the lack of action in the US smelting industry. I am similarly concerned by the lack of progress in establishing control standards on US power generating plants, which account for 18.6 million tons per year compared with one half million tons per year generated by Ontario coal-fired plants. I find this record unacceptable.

I have said before in this assembly, and I believe it should be repeated at this time, that the long-range transport of pollutants is an international problem for which all jurisdictions share some responsibility. Both Canadian and US sources must be controlled if Ontario’s threatened areas are to be protected. Ontario is prepared to enforce necessary controls in concert with control measures in other jurisdictions. As I have said, we are prepared to act singly and in advance of other jurisdictions, but Ontario cannot act alone and solve Ontario’s acid-rain problems.

Ontario will continue to set an example and to lead in responding to the threat of acid rain, but we now expect a positive response from our US neighbours; in fact, we must have this response. Without it, we are going to lose the fight against acid rain. The onus for stimulating US response clearly rests with my colleague, the federal Minister of the Environment, and I look forward to his progress in his negotiations with Washington.

Ontario’s action program is well under way and our fight against acid rain goes on each day. Given support and action from those who also have a great deal at stake, I know that we in Ontario will save our lands, our rivers and our lakes for the future.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: In regard to governing by headline such as we have just heard, section 26(c) of the standing orders says, “After any policy statement the minister shall table a compendium of background information.” I wonder if there is such a background of information available in regard to this statement, including the poll taken by Decima Research Limited last year, to the tune of $56,000, entitled Attitudes Towards Environmental Matters. Is there a compendium of information? Will that and the poll be tabled?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Yes, Mr. Speaker.


Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I was going to wait until the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) was here, hoping that he would be here, but since he is not, I want to raise it before question period starts.

Over the last couple of months, our party has been asking a series of questions on aid to Chrysler Corporation, and we have received vague answers, to say the least, from the government. Yet yesterday and the day before there were all sorts of statements that were made by the Minister of Industry and Tourism to the press, giving specific answers to specific questions.

I would just like to ask the Speaker if, when the Legislature is in session, it would not make more sense for the government to answer questions in the House and report to members of the Legislature rather than giving statements though the press. There are five members here from Essex county. There are 125 members who are concerned about what’s going on in the automobile industry and those questions should be answered in the House, not by statements outside the House just to the press.

Mr. Speaker: I am not aware of the statements to which the honourable member refers and I would like to hear what the Minister of Industry and Tourism has to say in response to your alleged point of privilege.

2:20 p.m.


Mrs. Campbell: I regret the absence of the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry), Mr. Speaker, but feel my point of personal privilege must be raised as early as possible in these proceedings.

On April 29 of this year the leader of the New Democratic Party addressed a question to the Solicitor General in which he said: “Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that the suspect in the case last fall was involved in a case concerning property damage and the suspect in this particular case, Luc Savard, was involved in a domestic dispute, would the Solicitor General make it very clear to the authorities in Quebec that we in this province do not think that suspects in such cases should be shot at with firearms...” I will leave the rest out.

The response of the Solicitor General was: “Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the involvement of the police in domestic disputes, I think the member for St. George might have a different view as to the extent to which police should get involved.”

Mr. Speaker, I have deplored violence wherever I have seen it, whether in the hockey arena, on the highway or in the home. I have never, in any of those cases, advocated the use of firearms and if the Solicitor General was speaking lightly on this occasion, I deplore his levity.



Mr. S. Smith: I would like to question the Minister of the Environment with regard to the statement he has made on Inco.

Would the minister not agree that his statement, in fact, has declared that Inco can continue at the level of emission that is at present going on there -- not the present allowable limit of 3,600 but the present level that is going on day to day? Basically, the minister is saying there need be no change in that for the next couple of years and that by 1982 it would be reduced to 1,950 tons as the allowable limit.

How does he reconcile that with the fact that five years ago Inco offered his ministry a plan to reduce emissions to 1,500 tons per day at a proposed cost then of $300 million? How does he reconcile the alleged strength of today’s statement with the fact that five years ago his ministry was offered a plan by Inco to reduce much lower than the level the minister himself is now asking for by the end of 1982?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, I think several things should be made known on this. First of all, that offer was never made to the ministry. It was alleged to have been made but wasn’t. More particularly, if we are going to reach the 1,950-ton level by 1982, it will require very positive action, starting right now.

The technology to reach that level has not been proved commercially. Therefore, the study that will be required for this year will outline all of those complications, those implications of applying new technology, but whether that technology exists or not, they must come to those levels in 1982. I am sure the company can meet that challenge one way or the other. To reach that level requires action this month by that company to reach the level we are proposing. No inaction is possible for the company in that regard.

Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Since the present levels of emission are no greater for the next two years than the limit proposed by the minister, there is obviously going to be no change. Since the minister says there was no such plan in 1975, with your indulgence I will read just three lines from the select committee report on this matter:

“In 1975 Inco developed and discussed with ministry officials a plan to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions to 1,500 tons per day by December 1979 at a cost of about $300 million. Ministry officials decided at that time to leave Inco with a 750-ton-a-day target and not accept that particular offer of the company.” That is from the report of the committee.

I simply ask the minister again if what the minister has now done is bring in a level somewhat higher than that which Inco itself offered five years ago. Furthermore, may I ask whether, if Inco appeals this order, the appeal will be heard in public and not just in a cozy meeting with ministry officials?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, I guess the Leader of the Opposition just plain doesn’t understand what an appeal process is. There is never an in-closet, if you will, appeal process. It is before the Environmental Appeal Board with their recommendations made public. Nothing could be more formal or more open than that.

Mr. S. Smith: I’m talking about the hearing, not the recommendation. I’m talking about the hearing.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: I am talking about the hearing. It will be public.

Mr. S. Smith: It won’t be.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: I said it would be public. That is exactly what I said and if the honourable member would just stop talking long enough to listen he would have heard that point. Every appeal to the Environmental Appeal Board is in public and their recommendations are made public. Nothing could be clearer than that.

The honourable member says there will be no reductions. Let me read the levels for him. The levels in January were 2,584 tons per day; in February, 2,623, and in March, 2,523. If one superimposes those levels on a company that was hoping to increase its production significantly in these coming months, something which is also very important to this province, then I tell the honourable member that is a real restriction. If there is any doubt about that part, it is absolutely incorrect. That is a very stringent requirement of that company and it has a rather long-term effect. We should not underestimate the importance of these controls today.

The last point I would make is that the offer talked about in 1975 was firmly rejected by the company. It was never accepted as part of their program because it was based on a technology which had not been proved.

Mr. Mattel: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary question: Today we checked with Environment Canada and by use of a pyrrhotite rejection, flash smelting and byproduct sulphuric acid plant, Inco could reduce its emissions to 1,000 tons a day by the end of 1985.

Is the minister prepared to contact Environment Canada, obtain those documents, present them to the House and give an analysis from his staff as to whether or not the Environment Canada studies are factual? Would that then necessitate the type of study he is indicating in the rest of his document?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Exactly, Mr. Speaker. I would like to reread very briefly: “The working committee of this joint task force will include senior representatives from my ministry, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the federal departments of Environment and of Energy, Mines and Resources.” That is a public task force which will hold hearings to understand once and for all -- and I think this is very important, Mr. Speaker -- understand and put to the world at large all the various studies, all of these various facts so that we will then not engage in competing, one study versus another, one proposal versus another.

2:30 p.m.

We will have a very independent board, including federal government representatives from a jurisdiction outside Ontario, with public people on that board, to come to a final conclusion of what is possible. I welcome the member’s participation in that process.

Mr. Germa: Mr. Speaker, how can the minister say this is going to strengthen Mr. Roberts’s hands with Washington? Does he suppose that Washington is not aware of the Environment Canada study that shows off-the-shelf technology is now available to reduce the tonnage to 1,000 tons per day?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, there is no proved commercial system yet in operation -- that’s point one. Second, while Ontario is reducing its emissions, one after another in the United States they are increasing their emissions. They are going up while we are coming down. They must follow our lead.


Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Housing the other day I directed a question, I guess to the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch), on the matter of Seaton. Since the Minister of Housing is here, perhaps he might care to answer the question today.

Basically, the question concerned the minister’s statement on March 24 that he was delaying the construction of Seaton because of prevailing economic conditions, describing his decision as “knowing when to cut your losses and not being foolish enough to extend them.” Could the minister explain why the Assistant Deputy Minister of Housing has told Durham regional council that housing construction was merely delayed by two years and will start in 1984?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I think if one reads the article in the Toronto Star of Saturday, it clearly indicated that the assistant deputy minister, who is also the chief executive officer for the Ontario Land Corporation, answered clearly that we were looking at a five-year cycle to put it back on stream. The five-year cycle they were working on would bring it into about 1984. There was no indication by the assistant deputy minister that we would commence construction in 1984.

Mr. S. Smith: Perhaps the minister would care to write to the Toronto Star and complain about the article. The article itself says, “Target date for start of its construction is now 1984, Robert McDonald, Assistant Deputy Minister of Housing, told Durham planning committee this week.” Unless he wishes to correct the record, I have to assume that’s what the assistant deputy minister said. Therefore, what I would like to know is how much money is the government or any agency of the government spending on the North Pickering/Seaton project this year in addition to the money it has already spent, and what is that money being spent for?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I don’t take the Toronto Star as being the record of this House nor of statements by the government. They can quote as they wish; I am not going to find fault with them. That is the reporter’s responsibility, to print whatever he or she believes he or she has been told.

The fact is we are very clear that 1984 was a possibility date. When the assistant deputy minister was asked if it could come on stream in an earlier period, he said it would be a five-year cycle, which brings it to about 1984. It is not the intention of this government or this ministry to commence the project in 1984. I think I made that very clear in this House back on March 24 when I made the statement to this House. We indicated too at that time that our costs over the next short period, in continuing to process the amendments to the official plan to accommodate the Seaton community sometimes in the future, will likely run us in the current year about $400,000.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I seem to be having some difficulty with the English language today. First the minister says he will and then he won’t. What is that start date, if there is a start date, for the Seaton project? Does he have one? Will he continue with that project, and if he is going to continue, when?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I thought I made it very clear on March 24 that we did not have a commencement date. We indicated very clearly it was being put on the back burner; we were not commencing it because of economic conditions and market conditions.

I am certainly not going to stand here in the year 1980 and try to predict what the market conditions will be in 1983, 1984, 1985 or 1986. When conditions turn around -- and I said that very clearly in the statement of March 24 -- when economic conditions change and the market warrants the type of construction, we will then try to commence it.

In the meantime, we will be working with the region and the local government in trying to put the official plan in place to accommodate a Seaton if and when it is built.

Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Might I ask the minister to respond to my other question about how much money is being spent on Seaton this year and what it is being spent for? Might I also ask him whether he is not somewhat alarmed, after he tells this House that we’re not going ahead with Seaton, and in view of a consultant’s report indicating that the region of Durham has enough serviced residential land apart from Seaton for the next 14 years and serviced industrial land for the next 50 years, that his bureaucrats seem determined to push this thing forward and to proceed, mentioning target dates to the region and to the press? Is he going to do something about that to make it perfectly clear that we’re not going to waste any more money than has already been lost there?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I’ll make it very clear: My statement of March 24 was that of this ministry and the government, and clearly indicated the position. I do not take, as I said earlier today, the Star report as being the position of the government. Mr. McDonald reports through this ministry to this House, that’s correct. Mr. McDonald had discussions with them and very clearly indicated in a positive way. To the question, “What is the earliest date that Seaton could possibly come on stream?” he said, “The earliest date is 1984.”

That is not to indicate that was the government’s intention. I think the question asked and the answer given are very explicit. Frankly, I have said that the project will come on stream when the economic conditions in this area justify that kind of advancement in the Pickering project.

I indicated earlier in my answer that our expenditures this year will be in the range of about $400,000 on legal fees and other things required in bringing forward the official planned amendments to accommodate Seaton’s development.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Minister of Industry and Tourism relating to the future of the automobile industry and the negotiations with Chrysler Canada Limited. Will the minister say, now that Chrysler Canada has announced it will have no V-6 engine production in Windsor, what steps the government is taking to ensure that Chrysler’s new operations in Canada will give us a fair share of manufacturing jobs in the parts sector as well as assembly?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I can only say at this time that we’re doing a great deal, as is evidenced by the fact that we haven’t been able to strike a deal at the present time.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: In view of the fact that, with the pulling-out of the engine plant in Windsor, not only are 4,000 or 5,000 potential jobs threatened but Chrysler is only going to have a small trim operation and a spring plant in Canada and no other production of parts at all, can the minister say whether Ontario has been trying to get some other engine plant such as a four-cylinder engine plant from Chrysler here in Canada, or is the minister simply going to allow the production of parts by Chrysler Canada to come to a virtual end in this country, leaving only an assembly-line operation?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I want to assure the leader of the third party that these negotiations have been carrying on well into the night and early morning, as late as 2.30 a.m. today. Those negotiations include all the items we’ve discussed in this House for very many months.

With regard to the engine plant, may I say with respect that any understanding, here or elsewhere, that effectively the closure of that engine plant was related directly to the negotiations that are going on, is not accurate. The decision to close that engine plant was not a decision made as a function of the negotiations that are carrying on now. It wasn’t on the table in a serious way at the serious stages of this negotiation.

Chrysler, in closing that engine plant, is trying to address its short-term cash problems. In order to keep that plant, which is currently employing 350 people, as part of their system, would mean they would be retooling it for the next two years, laying out several hundreds of millions of dollars to retool it for production in 1983.

Chrysler Corporation, as a result of the conditions laid down by the Chrysler Loan Guarantee Board, has a problem with cash flow over the next couple of years. Therefore, they took the decision that they could not afford to spend $200 million, $300 million or $400 million to retool that plant over the next few years because they didn’t have the cash available. They took the decision not to worry about the engines now, but to worry about engines if they were in business in 1983, and buy them. The decision they made was essentially related to their current cash position.

2:40 p.m.

The only extent to which that can be tied to our current negotiations is if someone were to suggest seriously that the governments of Canada should pay hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in upfront grants to alter that decision. Quite frankly, that is not something I think this assembly would suggest this government should do.

Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, in the minister’s negotiations, is he asking for a guarantee of so many employees, or is he asking for a guarantee of a percentage of the total employee hours in both the United States and Canada? Would it not be better to ask for the second type of guarantee since no one knows how many cars they are going to sell? If there were so many cars sold, at least we would have the percentage we should have under the auto pact.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, as far as I am concerned, the interest of this government is in making available a certain amount of money in exchange for a certain number of jobs. As I stated in this House before, and I think the member’s party and the New Democratic Party has it stated in this House too, it has to be a certain number of jobs.

When we get into a situation in which we are supporting a company in the large way we are considering supporting it, and the company has the still uncertain future we are talking about, we do not have the sort of guarantees to fall back on that we have when we are dealing with other automobile manufacturers. Therefore, it is our position that everything that is done must relate to cold, hard job figures. That’s where we are right now.

Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister whether he realizes that by retooling the van plant and closing down the engine plant, if the parent corporation does go bankrupt in the next few years, we will be left with assembly operations in Ontario that will mean nothing, whereas if the engine plant is retooled and the parent corporation goes bankrupt, we will be left with an engine plant that is viable, one that will produce engines and continue to provide jobs?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, of course we are aware of that. The question becomes one of what this government ought to do to ensure that engine plant stays open.

I have indicated the sole thing we can do with a company whose urgent problem is a current cash flow is to give them millions and millions of dollars of upfront grants to make the decision to leave that engine plant open a viable one. I do not think we should neglect the fact that the Chrysler corporation is deciding that it need not worry about having engines in 1983 if it does not get through the next short period of time. Therefore, its major concern is its cash-flow position over the next period of time.

I say to the member I am distressed at the loss of that engine plant. It will have the consequences the member refers to. All that reinforces the fact that we must get the kind of job guarantees I am insisting upon before we consider participation in this operation.

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister whether officials of his ministry have checked out the situation to see if this decision not to retool the engine plant, made in the United States by the parent company of Chrysler Canada, is in any way a contravention of the auto pact. If it is, what action does the minister plan to take on this matter?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Two things, Mr. Speaker: First, the member raises a point that has been forgotten in some of these discussions. That is, presuming that Chrysler Corporation, the parent company, does survive by virtue of its arrangements with the loan board, and presuming it would still want to serve the Canadian market -- which is a very important and strong market for the company -- it would have to continue to provide employment here pursuant to the auto pact requirements.

I have had no indication from Ottawa that there is any intention to relieve Chrysler of its auto pact requirements. So when we talk about the net new jobs to be gained by the participation of this government and the federal government, we must look at the numbers of jobs that are in excess of the number of jobs that the auto pact would require be in there if Chrysler is to continue in any form whatsoever.

Second, the company could not close that operation unless it was in compliance with the auto pact. Having raised that question with Ottawa, I am informed by Ottawa that the company still is complying with the pact.

I should also indicate to the honourable member that I have just returned from giving a speech to the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, where I indicated quite firmly and publicly that this government insists the figures that traditionally have been held confidential between the car companies and the federal government regarding compliance with the auto pact should now be made public so that this government, this assembly and the people of Ontario can assess for themselves the terms of compliance of the Big Three with the auto pact.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question, of the Minister of Labour, arising out of the list of companies that was tabled in the Legislature last week, companies where workers have suffered occupational disease because of exposure to asbestos. Can the minister tell me why, when workers in more than 80 companies across the province have suffered from asbestos exposure and have had Workmen’s Compensation Board claims arising therefrom, his ministry is still establishing a registry for workers at only one company, namely Johns-Manville Canada Incorporated?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member recalls that I asked my staff to look into the possibility and value of a nominal roll in any other industry. I might tell him, and I am sure he knows very well, that all workers who are exposed to asbestos regularly attend the chest survey and pulmonary function testing routine either on a biannual or annual basis. So workers who are exposed to asbestos do attend an X-ray checkup unit, and that involves an X-ray and pulmonary function testing on an annual or biannual basis. They are being followed now.

What the member is talking about in a nominal roll is going back to some date in the past and gathering a list from the past. I am telling him that I have asked the staff to look into that to see if it is feasible and if it would accomplish anything that we all want to accomplish. It is being looked into.

Mr. Cassidy: Can the minister explain why he says his ministry now is looking into the possibility of establishing a registry and tracing workers who have been exposed to asbestos when almost three years ago his predecessor stated in a letter to somebody in the Canadian Chemical Workers Union at Johns-Manville that the occupational health branch of the ministry “will develop an asbestos register on current and former workers,” clearly indicating that the registry would cover workers who have been exposed across the province and not just at one company?

Will the minister undertake now to implement the promise that was made by his predecessor almost three years ago and have a registry for tracing workers who have been exposed to asbestos from any company, rather than just the one?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I do not want to commit myself to something I have not reviewed yet. It may be that someone else has said something, but what I am saying to the member is that I have asked staff to look into it and give me some advice on it. I think that is the only rational way I can approach it. I am not trying to be obstructionist. I am simply trying to be logical.

Mr. Ziemba: Mr. Speaker, since there is a great concern about the exposure limits of asbestos, and since there is now no legal limit to asbestos, when can we have that list of hazardous substances which was supposed to accompany Bill 70 last fall?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, at the estimates last year we tabled our targets in terms of substances on an annual basis for the next two or three years. As I am sure he also knows, we have already gazetted certain substances, one of which is asbestos, and we now are in the process of considering a change in the occupational standard for asbestos.

I might tell the member it is clear that it is not an easy problem. As he knows, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health made recommendations in 1975 and 1976 that still have not resulted in change. So it is not an easy problem, and we are not a province that is behind anybody else in North America in this matter. We are reviewing it now with a view to a change.

2:50 p.m.

Mr. Cassidy: It seems the minister is telling the House that a promise made by a former minister is no longer a promise when that minister is moved to another ministry. Under the Conservatives of this province, a promise is not a promise if there is a change of ministry. It is a way of evading promises made in the past.

Is that what the minister is saying, or will he now undertake to implement the promise made by his predecessor and start an effective program of tracing workers who have been exposed to asbestos in every work place in Ontario, rather than doing it in just one or two companies?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I have already indicated many of the measures that are already under way. I might also indicate that there already is a roll for some 1,000 insulation workers. As the honourable member knows, we also have a roll for some miners up north. I have asked the staff to look into whether it is feasible to do anything else in any other area.


Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, I have an interim response to the question of the leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Cassidy) on April 25 regarding the merger of Gage Publishing Limited and Macmillan Company of Canada Limited, an operating division of Maclean-Hunter Limited.

I share the member’s view that the publishing program of Macmillan of Canada has been important to Canadians and that the effects of the announced merger on that publishing activity need to be clearly understood.

Earlier this week I met with representatives of the Writers Union of Canada and the Association of Canadian Publishers to discuss the questions they have raised concerning the merger. This morning I met with the chairman of the Maclean-Hunter board of directors and the president of Macmillan. I have also contacted both the federal Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce, Mr. Herb Gray, and the Minister of Communications, Mr. Francis Fox, concerning this transaction. I have arranged to meet with the president of Gage next week.

I have been told that Ron Besse of Gage has called a press conference for tomorrow, and it is to be hoped he will shed new and additional light on Gage’s plan for Macmillan. Once these meetings are completed, and after the Foreign Investment Review Agency has indicated whether there is any reason for it to be involved in reviewing this transaction, I will provide a full and further response to the member’s question.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, can the minister assure the House that, should the government not be satisfied that Macmillan’s distinguished trade publishing activities will be maintained under the proposed new owners, the government will be prepared to participate if there is another bidder who is prepared to maintain Macmillan’s trade publishing activities?

Specifically, will the minister assure the House that, if the offer by Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited is renewed and it is prepared, as it indicated earlier, to carry on Macmillan’s distinguished activities, Ontario will be prepared to share in the financing if that participation is necessary?

Hon. Mr. Baetz: I can only answer that in a general way. We are as concerned as anyone that there be a strong publishing industry in Canada. However, I would not like to respond more specifically to any questions at this moment, because there are a whole range of possibilities under consideration. I wish to hold that reply until perhaps next week or the week after to look at more facts.


Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism: Is the minister aware of the confusion that now exists for both municipalities and campgrounds as a result of his announcement one year ago regarding the withdrawal of his ministry from the licensing of private campgrounds in southern Ontario? Is he aware that, because all municipalities have different bylaws or no bylaws at all for licensing campgrounds, there are currently no guidelines available that would provide uniformity in licensing throughout the province?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the misunderstanding of the honourable member. I think what the people out there have failed to grasp is that our licence added nothing to either standardization or supervision of the campgrounds in this province. It was merely an indication from this ministry that the campground owner had complied with the requirements of a whole host of other ministries and local authorities. It added nothing, except one more layer of red tape and another fee for the campground owner to pay.

It was our hope that we had reduced the regulatory process and reduced the cost to campground owners of having to go to one more level after they got all the necessary approvals. In other words, we could not turn down an applicant for a campground licence if he or she had received all the other approvals. It was our desire to remove that red tape that caused us to do this.

I am aware there is a lot of misunderstanding out there. I am also aware that many municipalities now have moved into a field which they were always free to move into, and many had moved into, in terms of laying down licensing fees and new rules and regulations. That is causing some concern.

I seek the honourable member’s advice on this. If our returning to the field would moderate that situation, I would be happy to consider it. But I see no instance in which municipalities, having become aware of the power they have always had, would withdraw if we re-entered the field.

Mr. Eakins: I am not suggesting the ministry return to the field. But the confusion on this issue is the result of two factors. First, the Municipal Act currently is being studied to clarify the sections dealing with campgrounds. Second, guidelines currently are being drafted by the Ministry of Housing to assist municipalities in the evaluation of campgrounds. Why would the minister not have waited until these two considerations had been established before getting out of the licensing? Then his ministry might at least have remained as a guiding force for both the municipalities and the campgrounds, rather than creating this period of uncertainty. I would ask the minister, what liaison will his ministry be playing in this period of transition?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Our field staff are dealing directly with that problem to try to provide advice and assistance, as they always had done, to the campground owners throughout the province to help them through this period. We are also working with the other ministries to ensure that the rules and regulations brought along through standardization are realistic for the sake of the campground owners.

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, since many small municipalities in Ontario do not have the resources which are necessary to prepare themselves to issue these licences or to prepare bylaws, would his ministry be willing to prepare a draft bylaw that could be sent to all the municipalities which might request such a bylaw?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs is working on that specific project right now with our guidance and assistance.


Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry and Tourism. It concerns the announcement by General Motors that 750 employees in its St. Catharines plant will be laid off indefinitely.

I would ask the minister whether he is aware that this layoff, following one of 300 or so last fall, is a result of even lower than anticipated sales of V-8 engines. Does he know that GM has left St. Catharines as the only GM plant in North America producing this dying breed of engines? In its projection for employment it anticipated that half the engine employees would continue to be producing these V-8s. In the light of this dying position of that sector of the engine plant in St. Catharines, would the minister meet immediately with GM to insist that some of the future North American production of small engines, in addition to the V-6, be switched to the St. Catharines engine plant?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, may I say that the member’s information is not quite accurate. First, this is not the only GM plant in North America making V-8 engines. There are two other plants in North America making V-8 engines. Second, there is obviously some sort of market left for V-8 engines; I don’t know quite where it is, or who is buying them, but GM --

Mr. Swart: But it is much lower than for the smaller engines.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: There is no question about it. But in terms of what we have seen other companies do in other situations, it is in a relatively better position. GM had, as an alternative, consolidating all V-8 production into one plant in the United States or in Canada. They have chosen instead to keep all of their V-8 plants operating, admittedly at reduced capacity.

3 p.m.

Lost among my Chrysler material is a copy of the news release GM issued this morning confirming that St. Catharines was the subject of a $250-million new investment program to shift the construction of some of its works there that now are becoming outdated, into front-end transmission and other works. That is $250 million worth of new light vehicles going into the St. Catharines operation, which I think is a sign of GM’s continued commitment to St. Catharines and that this province is still getting some good share of the new investment for the lighter vehicles. So it is not all bad for St. Catharines.

Mr. Swart: May I inform the minister that we know of this $250-million expenditure, but it still will not make up anything like our fair share here in Canada, in Ontario and St. Catharines.

Does the minister not realize it is becoming more and more obvious that the four-cylinder engine is going to be the engine of the future? Therefore, does he not realize that by letting the new small-engine production slip away to the United States -- and it is all slipping away to the United States -- he is dooming our auto industry to an even more inferior position and is selling out the auto workers?

Can we expect a comprehensive statement from the minister in the very near future with major proposals to ensure there will be a healthy auto industry in this province in the future?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: That was a terrific speech.


Hon. Mr. Grossman: It could be as successful as putting toilet paper on his desk. I am not sure.

I am afraid I am not going to take responsibility for letting the four-cylinder engine production slip away to the United States. I admit to having a very modest degree of power over here but I suspect that, even if the member saw the day when he was over here, it would be beyond even his capacity to make the decisions for GM with regard to letting the four-cylinder engine plant slip away to the United States.

Mr. Peterson: That is the first humble remark you have ever made.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I am trying it on. It is like contact lenses.

May I say that the member’s seatmate immediately in front of him has just received a copy of the speech I referred to earlier where I did address some of the major problems that our auto parts and auto industries are facing. Chief amongst those remarks was the announcement that we are creating an auto parts technical centre at the Ontario Research Foundation to provide the sort of research and development assistance that the Canadian-owned auto parts industry needs to keep up with the changes in the industry. It will amount to quite a substantial financial commitment by this government to the Ontario Research Foundation and will directly assist the auto parts industry in this province to keep abreast of new technology, research and development and innovation.

Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, could the minister inform the House whether the officials of the Economic Development Fund have had discussions with General Motors within the last year and a half regarding the provision of funds for an expansion of the plant in St. Catharines? If they have had these discussions, could the minister reveal what the job guarantees would be in regard to those discussions?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, we have not, Mr. Speaker.


Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Attorney General: Given the growing concern in many Ontario communities that murderers and rapists who are classified as criminally insane and who have been committed to indefinite detention in a mental hospital under a Lieutenant Governor’s warrant can be treated and released under a loosened warrant and then can proceed to terrorize more innocent victims, can the minister assure this House and the people of Ontario that such patients judged to be fit for release will be kept under some kind of surveillance by police and medical authorities?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, it would be helpful if the honourable member could be specific. For example, I was in London last week, and I know there is a considerable amount of concern about the release from one of the federal penitentiaries of an individual. I believe he was convicted of murder prior to a period of incarceration and there was another similar offence within the prison. I gather this is not the situation the honourable member is talking about: where an individual has been found not guilty by reason of insanity, is confined to the hospital at Penetanguishene and at some point is released.

I want to make sure, having heard so much about the situation in London last week, that I understand the question. Are we talking about a release from a penitentiary? That, of course, is a matter within the jurisdiction of the federal government. Or are we talking about, as I think the member said, a loosened warrant for someone who has been found not guilty by reason of insanity? I can tell the honourable member a great deal of care goes into the decision-making process with respect to the board. The board comes under the Ministry of Health, because we are talking about people who have been confined to mental institutions.

I would be happy to describe what I know about the process in order to assure the honourable member that a great deal of care is taken before the release of anyone from a mental hospital pursuant to what the member quite properly describes as a loosened warrant. There is a board made up of psychiatrists who have no association with the particular inmates. It is chaired by a former judge or a judge of the Supreme Court of Ontario.

Mr. Van Horne: This is a serious matter, and I would like to go back to the minister’s assumption that I am concerned about the care given to the process of release. That was not the question. The question is about the surveillance of these people, after they are released, for the good of those citizens who are possibly innocent victims.

Let me further point out to the minister that there was a study of 206 male patients discharged from Ontario’s maximum-security mental health centres which showed a 46 per cent failure rate. If that group is so concerned about the process through which they are released, that had better be reviewed. But, beyond that, what is the minister doing with the failure rate?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I would be interested in knowing more about that study, because that figure of 46 per cent is much, much higher than any figures I have heard. The figures I have heard in the past have been closer to 10 per cent. Police forces are obviously interested in matters such as this, but there are certain practical limitations with respect to the type of surveillance that I think is being suggested by the member. For example, is the member talking about somebody who has been released from a mental institution having a police officer following him around 24 hours a day?

3:10 p.m.


Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Labour: Given the clear evidence, as outlined in the Ontario Labour Relations Board decision, that Westinghouse Canada, with deliberate and premeditated planning from head office USA, connived to move its Hamilton operations to escape the union, will the minister now order the company to retain the Hamilton operation? In the event of a plant move, will the minister now recognize the need for tough legislation which would require the extension of bargaining rights in any existing collective agreements, as these were the obvious major shortcomings in the labour board decision?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, if I may answer one part first, no, I do not have the power or the authority to order Westinghouse to do anything of the nature the member has suggested.

Second, I have some reservations about commenting on the judgement when we still do not know whether there is going to be an appeal. But assuming the judgement is upheld, I recall a discussion we had in estimates last year when the member was very pessimistic about the possibility of any resolution which would be appropriate to problems such as this. I indicated to the member that I believed we had set up a democratic process in our Labour Relations Act to allow resolution of problems.

If the judgement we have seen in the past two days is upheld, I think it is good proof of what I said to the member in December, and I say it again: It is apparent now that we have the means to resolve problems in a democratic process. I do not know why the member is suggesting something else needs to be done when it should be apparent to him the process is there, it is one that works and it has been demonstrated to work.

The other matter the member raised had to do with the rights of the union in the dislocated plants. I am sure the member knows it has been the view of this government that workers in new plants should make whatever decision they feel is appropriate.

Mr. Mackenzie: That leaves a lot open, but let me ask, is the minister aware of the reported intent of the company to go to court? Is the minister prepared to fight any company appeal of this decision in the court so that the workers do not have to go through the same thing that Radio Shack workers had to go through, and to ensure compliance with the board order?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: No, I am not aware of any appeal having been filed. If it is filed, then the board is represented by counsel, as are the parties to the action, and that is the way in a democracy.

Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister, since in this case the judgement was based on the fact that the board had available to it a written document from the executive of the company which indicated guilt clear and simple, in black and white, does he expect in every case of this kind the board will be able to make a judgement without such a memo?

If the minister considers this precedent so important, how is the precedent going to be helpful unless we have a memo in each and every such case? We need legislation.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the suggestion of the member for Carleton East, I would hope that every time a decision is made by anyone, whether it is a minister, a judge or a jury, he bases it upon facts. That is the essence of our system of justice in this country. All of the facts may vary and the evidence available may vary. I think we have shown we have a good system of labour relations in this province.


Mr. Bradley: A question for the Attorney General, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that the Preservation of Agricultural Land Society has received from the Ontario Legal Aid Plan a legal aid certificate for up to $40,000 to assist in fighting its case involved in the Ontario Municipal Board hearings over the urban boundaries in Niagara north, and in view of the fact the city of St. Catharines has expended some $109,000 and the city solicitor has asked for another $100,000 to fight these hearings, will the minister inform the House whether the legal aid plan or the provincial government would be prepared to reimburse the municipalities to the same tune as they have the Preservation of Agricultural Land Society for fighting the case before the OMB?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member fully appreciates that the Ontario Legal Aid Plan is administered pursuant to legislation passed by this assembly. It is given the responsibility of administering the Ontario Legal Aid Act. So I cannot assist the member either in relation to what decision was made by the clinical funding committee in relation to this particular certificate, and given the independence of the administration of the plan, obviously I cannot speak on behalf of the Law Society of Upper Canada in this respect.

Mr. Bradley: If this aid cannot be forthcoming from the Ontario Legal Aid Plan, will the minister consult with one of his cabinet colleagues, either the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) or perhaps the Minister of the Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells), to determine whether the funds can be provided to these municipalities, which are expending taxpayers’ dollars to defend a position in which they believe?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: There is nothing to prevent the member from asking the question of the Treasurer. I must admit I have other concerns that I am more likely to be troubling the Treasurer about.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, given that the amount being provided by legal aid is only a small fraction, perhaps one tenth of the money that the taxpayers in the region are having to provide for the other side, and in view of the fact that legal aid generally is considered to give somewhat of an even contest -- some balance -- and some legal rights to those who do not have the power to raise money willy-nilly, will he not agree this would be the kind of a circumstance where this aid is appropriate and has rightly been given through legal aid? Will he not agree that the municipalities, which already get assistance from the provincial government in a variety of ways, should have some provincial funding to help them out now?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I understand the question other than I assume there has been the suggestion from the Liberal Party that the Ontario Legal Aid Plan has been overgenerous in relation to this certificate. That is what I infer from the question. I assume the New Democratic Party feels that the legal aid plan has not been generous enough. I invite both the members who have asked questions to communicate their concerns to those who are responsible for the administration of the Ontario Legal Aid Plan, and who are the individuals who have been given the mandate of this Legislature to administer the plan.

Mr. Hall: Mr. Speaker, on the same matter, bearing in mind that these hearings have to do with the appeal against a cabinet decision, and inasmuch as there are many individual property owners, either inside or outside the urban area boundaries, who are going to be affected by this and do not have the opportunity to raise money willy-nilly as the member for Welland-Thorold suggests, I ask the minister if, in his opinion, it would not be fair to provide equity by also seeing to it, if the funds are given to the one group, that the individual should also be recognized, if indeed that is the policy as he sees it?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Again, Mr. Speaker, these are questions that might properly be directed towards the legal aid funding committee so far as their policy is concerned. I do not think there is anything further I can add to the questions I have already answered, other than to say that I do know the funding committee views these applications on the merits of each particular case. If the honourable member wants more information about the decision that was made by the legal aid plan in this particular case, I will be happy to obtain it for him.

Mr. Swart: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Speaker: There is nothing out of order.

Mr. Swart: There is something out of order. May I point out that this is not an appeal to a cabinet decision whatsoever that is taking place down there.

Mr. Speaker: That’s not a point of order. With all respect, it’s not a point of order.

3:20 p.m.


Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, has the Solicitor General had an opportunity to examine the recommendations of the coroner’s jury on the tragic death of three firefighters at the Kimberly-Clark plant? In particular, can the minister tell the House what his ministry will be doing to implement the specific recommendation that there be a more effective training program that would instruct firefighters in fighting industrial fires?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I have not yet seen those recommendations. I will be reviewing the recommendations of the coroner’s jury. I will be discussing them with the fire marshal, and I will report back to the honourable member.

Mr. Philip: Is the minister prepared at this point to reconsider the position he took in a letter to me on February 21? In it he refused to adopt the system of sending coroner’s recommendations to MPPs on those inquests affecting their constituents, on the grounds that he has only one staff member handling the follow-ups and does not have adequate financing to hire an additional staff person. If he is not prepared to reconsider, what assurance do we have that this one lonely staff person in his ministry will do the appropriate follow-up and put the appropriate pressure on his own ministry so that the kinds of recommendations that have been adopted in the Kimberly-Clark instance will be implemented by the Solicitor General?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: To repeat what I said when this was discussed in the Solicitor General’s estimates at the end of last year, we will continue to assure the honourable member, and the Legislature generally, that these recommendations will be followed up, as they are at present.


Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health, if I might have his attention.

His response to my colleague the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) concerning the Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers, on March 25, 1980, was, “I can assure the member that the present makeup of the [Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers], which is larger than the board was when I found it three years ago, is less connected in any way to the particular firm [Imperial Optical] to which he makes reference...” Is the minister aware that the just-retired chairman of the board says this statement is “the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard”?

Is the minister aware, and can he confirm or deny, that five of the 10 members of the Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers are at present working with, or in one case just retired from, Imperial Optical? Is he aware this is quite unlike how he found the board three years ago when he became minister, when not five but only one of eight members was connected with Imperial Optical?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I do not have the complete list with me, but my recollection is that it is something in the order of two or thee people who at one time or another have had some connection, some business dealings, with the firm in question.

I guess I would have to say at the outset that the honourable member, in framing his question the way he has, seems to have decided that any association with that firm is tantamount to some form of criminal activity.

The fact remains that the firm in question is a very large one, one that has had a very large role for a great period of time in that industry. We have recently enlarged the board to add a number of independents to try to ensure it has as diverse a membership as possible.

I asked the current chairman of the Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers why the former chairman would say that. I am not sure, but that is his business. He hasn’t said that to me. I am intrigued that the honourable member would make the kinds of assumptions he seems to have made. If he has any specific allegations to make, I would be glad to look into them. But I believe --


Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions expired one and a half minutes ago.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Could I complete my answer?

Mr. Speaker: If you want to complete it, instead of listening to interjections.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I have no choice but to listen to them, Mr. Speaker. They are supposedly honourable members; that is, the members making the interjections. Those members who were not making them should not get upset.

Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.

Mr. Conway: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: I doubt that you have one, but I’ll let you place it.

Mr. Conway: I do believe I have a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker. I think the Minister of Health would wish to withdraw the imputation that in my question there was any suggestion of criminality in the association of Imperial Optical with the Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers. I think the honourable minister would wish to withdraw that imputation.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner).

Mr. Nixon: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Surely it is your responsibility to respond to that. It was clearly indicated that the member felt the reference was tantamount to criminal activity.

Mr. Speaker: I did not get that. I will have to look at the record.


Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I believe my privileges as a member have run afoul because of the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton). He may have not only misled me -- and I leave it to your discretion -- but also the agency of an important social program in the province.

On April 21, in this House, I asked him a question with respect to a program called Youth Assisting Youth. I asked him, “Will you give us an answer before April 30? Yes or no.” The minister responded: “Of course I will, if that’s the deadline. I will give the agency an answer.”

I am informed by his staff that, as of today, which is beyond April 30, there is no decision and that it will come later. I submit that the minister has caused a serious problem for that program and that agency, as well as misleading me and the House.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I will immediately check into that. The decision has been made. The answer is no, and I understood my staff had communicated that to that agency. We already fund that agency in the amount of approximately $31,000.

It is my understanding that Metropolitan Toronto has agreed to contribute to the funding of it. There is a shortfall of something like $7,000 in community support. As I suggested to the honourable member at the time when he raised the question, I think someone with his influence in the community could head up a fund-raising campaign and raise $7,000.

Mr. Warner: The minister said he would give me an answer, and he did not.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I will check to see whether the decision was communicated. The decision was made, and I asked my stall to communicate it to the agency.


Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I have a point of privilege, which I hope you will rule on. There appear to be contradictions in the written answer tabled in this House by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea). There are statements which contradict previous statements by his predecessor and which leave me and other members of this House in a very difficult position in determining the ministry’s position.

I am referring specifically to the answer to question 111, tabled in this House on April 24, in which the minister stated that he was unable to provide, as was requested in the question, working papers that his ministry had produced in developing the concept of vacant land condominiums for an amendment to the Condominium Act.

Mr. Speaker: Is the honourable member objecting to the fact that the policy has changed?

Mr. Wildman: No, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Would the honourable member please get to his point of privilege?

3:30 p.m.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, the point is that his predecessor stated in October 1978, in testimony before the standing committee on the administration of justice, that his ministry had been working on that concept for 60 days and that he was quite prepared to table to the committee, and provide to me personally, those working papers. When I did not receive them I subsequently wrote to the present minister, who said he would live up to the commitments of his predecessor.

I wrote and asked for them and I still have not received them. I put a question on the Order Paper asking for them and he stated in his answer that there were no working papers. How can his predecessor say there are working papers and this minister say there are none?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member wants to know what the policy is, may I humbly suggest that he stand up and ask the question. In a written question he asked me to produce all the working documents that I had. I do not have any working documents. I do not operate with working papers. I make decisions in other ways.

Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, in the same vein as the point of privilege raised by the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, when a member asks a question of a minister and the minister responds that he will look into it or check into it and respond, and two or three weeks go by, is it proper for us to redirect the question or should we wait? In other words, is there anything in the standing orders that would give direction to a time limit on this?

On April 10 I asked a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) and on April 18 I asked one of the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell). Both indicated they would respond and they have not done so.

Mr. Speaker: There is a time restriction with regard to written questions that are placed to a minister. There is none that I am aware of with regard to an oral question, but if a minister makes a commitment and has forgotten, perhaps it would be useful if the member reminded him that he did make that commitment.

Mr. Van Horne: Would this then serve as notice, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker: I would certainly hope so.

Mr. Van Horne: Thank you.


Mr. Speaker: Honourable members will note that they have received a copy of a background paper on the future of Confederation. This paper was prepared for the use of members by the research service of the library in anticipation of next week’s debate on the constitution.

I can also report to the House that the legislative library research service will be preparing and distributing a summary report of highlights of the Confederation debate after each sitting. The purpose of this summary report will be to keep members informed of the major points raised during the course of the debate in order to promote better continuity. It is not, of course, intended as a verbatim report of speeches but simply to help the members.



Ms. Bryden: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly signed by Mr. Guy Babineau, who lives in my riding, requesting that the Ontario Legislature ask the federal government to submit the following question to the Supreme Court of Canada:

“Does the fact that the acts of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba are assented, printed and published in the English language only render those acts void and inoperative?”

Mr. Babineau submits this petition as part of his continuing effort to obtain full equality for both the French and English languages in the legislatures and courts of all provinces in Canada.



Mr. Villeneuve from the standing committee on resources development presented the following resolution:

That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Energy be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1981:

Ministry administration program, $1,934,000; conventional energy program, $2,786,000; renewable energy program, $6,971,000; energy conservation program, $17,552,000; regulatory affairs program, $1,465,000.


Mr. Cureatz from the standing committee on general government presented the following report and moved its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:

Bill Pr11, An Act respecting the City of Brantford;

Bill Pr22, An Act respecting Crossroads Christian Communications Incorporated;

Bill Pr24, An Act respecting the Borough of Scarborough.

Your committee would recommend that the fees plus the actual cost of printing be remitted on Bill Pr22, An Act respecting Crossroads Christian Communications Incorporated.

Report adopted.



Hon. Mr. Snow moved first reading of Bill 65, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. McCaffrey moved first reading of Bill Pr7, An Act respecting Montreal Trust Company and Montreal Trust Company of Canada.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. Mackenzie moved first reading of Bill 66, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 1974.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to require that no employer shall require that any portion of the tips or other gratuities paid to waiters, or waitresses will be other than their own property, unless they make the decision themselves.


Mr. Mackenzie moved first reading of Bill Pr27, An Act respecting the City of Hamilton.

Motion agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day I would like to table the answers to questions 64, 73, 74, 75, 90, 121, 127 and 129, and the interim answers to questions 122, 126 and 128 standing on the Notice Paper.


Hon. Mr. Wells moved resolution 10:

That this House approves the radio and television broadcasting of proceedings on orders of the day in both languages of the House from May 5 to May 9, on the basis of principles similar to those that govern the publication of the printed official reports of debates; and that Mr. Speaker make the necessary arrangements for such coverage in both languages of the House with simultaneous translation; and that, notwithstanding the standing orders and practices of the House, leave be given to Mr. Davis, jointly seconded by Mr. Smith (Hamilton West) and Mr. Cassidy, to have a resolution respecting the constitution, to be tabled today, stand on the Notice Paper in both languages of the House in the name of all three leaders; and that the House be authorized to sit, in addition to its usual sittings, next Monday night from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., next Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. without routine proceedings and, on motion, next Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and that private members’ business next Thursday be deferred one week; and that next Monday night, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday any speaker on the resolution with respect to the constitution be limited to 20 minutes in length for purposes of accommodating wide participation in the debate.

Resolution concurred in.

3:40 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, that motion having been passed, I will now table with the Clerk in English and en français the motion for the Confederation debate.




Mr. G. I. Miller moved resolution 13:

That in the opinion of this House the government of Ontario should set up a permanent relief program to provide grants and low-interest loans to individuals and communities for severe damage and loss due to natural disasters, and that this assistance be handled by municipalities in organized areas and by a ministry in areas not organized.

Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, it certainly is a pleasure to speak in support of the resolution. I would like to give members a little background on the reason behind it. In 1974, a member of the council of the city of Nanticoke was trying to sell the possibility of setting up a lottery fund in Ontario. He finally sold the council of the city of Nanticoke on supporting this resolution to the province of Ontario. Since that time the lottery fund has come into existence, but it wasn’t utilized in the manner suggested by the original designer of the lottery.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, a point of order.

Mr. Speaker: What could possibly be the member’s point of order?

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, there is nothing in the resolution that mentions lotteries. Are we discussing lotteries or the resolution?

Mr. Speaker: It is the honourable member’s resolution. Surely he should be given sufficient freedom to discuss why he saw fit to bring in the resolution.

Mr. G. I. Miller: Back in October 1977 my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) introduced a similar resolution. At that time he also suggested that an emergency relief and disaster fund should be established, financed by portions of the lottery revenues.

Since that time there have been numerous floods and a tornado, not to mention the disastrous blue mould on tobacco plants which occurred in our district of southwestern Ontario. Yet the government has persisted in taking an ad hoc approach to the assistance of individuals in communities where natural disasters, such as wind storms, floods, fire and hail, have caused damage that could not adequately be met by regular insurance procedures.

Only last Monday night the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) was down to Tillsonburg. Through the Ontario insurance program I think 1,200 farmers received something like $38 million from the public treasury. While there were 2,600 producers in the area, 1,400 of those producers were not able to receive any assistance except by way of a loan at one per cent over the prime rate. We all know what that would do to them at the high interest rates of today.

Frequently, there is particular difficulty in obtaining government and even community assistance when these disasters affect only a few families. What we need is a widely recognized and well coordinated approach to these matters, whether they involve many hundreds of people or just a few.

I would like to point out as an example in our area that Port Maitland, a small community on the mouth of the Grand River on Lake Erie, has been flooded out four times since I have been a member of this Legislature. We have discussed this with the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, through the local council, and there has been no assistance made available up to this time.

Surely it is time that Ontario had a clear financial program for the designation of disaster situations, a program whereby citizens directly affected could have immediate assistance. How can there possibly be any question about the need for a disaster relief fund to help communities devastated by a tornado which has left in its wake destruction and even death? One went through the Woodstock, Scotland and Waterford areas only last summer.

When a tornado strikes, homes are damaged, greenhouses are smashed, trees are toppled and crops are flattened. In rare instances, livestock and human lives are lost. I would like to point out that about 200 head of livestock were lost in that tornado last summer and 20 homes that were used for the workers, who weren’t able to qualify for assistance. I brought that to the attention of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs because apparently about $6 million remains in that fund, which has been oversubscribed from that tornado and not all of the money has been used.

Most of us welcome the spring of the year, but to some Ontarians the season means the danger of spring thaws, swollen flood waters, shoreline erosion, incredible loss and damage to property. We have experienced that many times with the Grand River coming though the Brant and Haldimand-Norfolk areas, and it has done considerable damage over the years. Not only that, the Thames River near Dresden flooded only last year. The Ganaraska River at Port Hope this year was another example of what flooding rivers can do.

For years we have been aware of the possible dangers to farm crops from weather conditions, not to mention disease and pests. What happened with the blue mould comes into this category. Blue mould has been termed the number one enemy of the tobacco producers. This fungus disease caused losses to the North American tobacco crop last year totalling $242 million, including a 30 per cent crop loss in Canada valued at $90 million. By late July and early August, it had spread in epidemic proportions throughout the heart of southern Ontario’s tobacco growing area.

The United States legislation on disaster relief defines an emergency as any hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, drought, fire, explosion or other catastrophe. A major disaster means similar occurrences which are considered to have caused damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant major disaster assistance above and beyond emergency services.

The legislation expresses a need to issue timely disaster warnings and, in the area of agriculture in the US legislation, it is intended to assist farmers who are prevented from planting any portion of the farm acreage allotment or who suffer substantial loss on planted acres because of drought, flood or other natural disaster or conditions beyond the control of the producer to protect against economical injurious plant and animal diseases or pests and to share the cost of approved emergency conservation measures. It is intended to provide assistance to prevent widespread liquidation or undue severe culling of livestock because of natural disaster.

The development and management of certain publicly and privately owned resources are covered, and assistance is provided in the aftermath of a natural disaster for the cleanup operation and the repair of electrification and telephone services. In addition, provision is made for the removal of damaged timber. Only last Monday night, as I drove down to Tillsonburg to a meeting of the chamber of commerce, we went through the tornado area. Those wood lots certainly need a lot of work; they are full of tin, metal, et cetera. It is hard to believe the damage caused by that tornado last summer to the wood lots in that particular area.

3:50 p.m.

Business repair loans, economic injury loans and product loss loans are also covered. The legislation mentions the provision of temporary communication facilities in disaster areas when these have been severely disrupted, the removal of debris and wreckage, the provision of emergency flood-lighting and rescue operations, and the supply of food and water, including mass feeding and shelter services.

Protection of life and property are covered, as are evacuation and search and rescue operations, including temporary public transportation services, victim identification, water supply equipment and fire suppression assistance.

Provision is made for bank protection of highways, high bridges, essential public works, churches, hospitals, schools and other nonprofit public services endangered by flood-caused erosion, not to mention control of beach and soil erosion to public shores, flood control projects, flood plain management and watershed protection. We have municipalities for which we have tried to get assistance, such as Port Dover, where the foundations of 40 or 50 homes are being eroded because of the high water levels in the lake. There are also municipal roads and the municipal sewage system within a few hundred feet of the lake bank. There do not seem to be any programs available to give assistance to protect homes and protect the assessment that lies within that area.

The legislation covers the establishment of public health controls, the protection of the general public from contamination by unsafe food and drugs and the establishment of health, medical and sanitary services.

Home repair loans are also covered and financed, and there is financing of mobile home purchases for home disaster victims. Rural housing is specifically mentioned, including assistance to farm owners and other home owners in rural areas for the replacement or repair of dwellings and related facilities damaged or destroyed by natural disaster, Temporary housing facilities are also mentioned.

In addition, the United States legislation covers individual and family grants, legal services, tax information, unemployment insurance, building damage research, emergency medical services, emergency operating standards, school construction, school maintenance and operation assistance, and numerous other subjects.

The House will realize from what I have said that the United States legislation is quite comprehensive. Surely the people of Ontario are entitled to the same kind of assistance as is available to our neighbours to the south. Their needs are no greater than ours on a per capita basis.

The provincial government has dragged its feet far too long on this question. Meanwhile, Ontarians have been forced to struggle against tremendous odds to rebuild their lives, which have been severely affected by natural disasters and circumstances entirely beyond their control. Obviously this is quite a complicated matter, and there will be some reservations about the establishment of a disaster relief fund. I know we have discussed it many times. Perhaps the government will put up some strong opposition.

Its administration needs to be considered very carefully. The cost factor has to be taken into account as well as the question of individual insurance coverage.

I would like to point out that it is not intended to be construed as an alternative to individual insurance coverages. That is not the intent of the resolution at all. I would be foolish to promote that. It would be additional and strictly for disaster cases.

Nevertheless, events in recent years have made it clear that some kind of disaster assistance program is necessary to help communities and individuals caught up in natural disasters. Certainly some kind of disaster warning system is essential; therefore, I would strongly urge the members of this House to give their support to this resolution, which calls for the establishment of a permanent relief program to provide grants and low-interest loans to individuals and communities for severe damage and loss caused by natural disasters.

We have received some resolutions from various municipalities, and I would like to conclude my portion of the debate by reading this resolution into the record. It came in on April 28 from the town of Dunnville, and it reads as follows:

“That whereas disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods and other acts of God frequently strike without warning, causing extensive property damage as well as personal injury and occasionally death;

“and whereas in most cases the victims of such disasters, as well as the municipality, are totally unable to provide the necessary financial assistance to rehabilitate the area and help the unfortunate persons who suffer loss and injury;

“and whereas the source of funds available to municipalities is limited almost entirely to municipal taxation, which is now a tremendous burden on the big majority of the citizens;

“be it therefore resolved that the federal and provincial governments be requested to establish a special reserve fund and adopt a uniform policy or criteria to administer and disburse such fund when disaster strikes.”

We have received messages from several other municipalities supporting the resolution that was brought forth by the town of Dunnville in the region of Haldimand-Norfolk.

With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I would like to leave the debate to the opposition members.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member has five minutes remaining in his allotted time. Does he wish to reserve any of that?

Mr. G. I. Miller: Yes.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for Haldimand-Norfolk for bringing this matter before the House. I also want to explain my previous intervention.

I was quite prepared, and am still prepared, to discuss what he has to say in his resolution. Unfortunately, though, I am unable at this time to speak to his suggestion that this proposal be financed through lotteries. Since that was not in the resolution as is printed on the Order Paper, I was not prepared to discuss that particular aspect. Frankly, I think that suggestion raises some serious questions which could really affect the overall debate and perhaps get the thrust of it away from what the member intended. I will not speak to that. All I will say is that I have some serious questions about those suggestions in his comments.

The reason I want to participate in this debate is that in the last couple of years I have had some extensive experience with having to persuade the provincial government to provide funding for communities and individuals, home owners, farmers and small businessmen who have sustained severe damage caused by floods, especially last year in northern Ontario when we experienced very serious flooding and we had to apply for assistance.

I want to make clear that although there was no permanent fund in the particular flooding situations last year in northern Ontario, the provincial government, after some serious prodding by local members from a number of the parties, did respond. They did respond, I will admit, in an ad hoc fashion. Normally, the criterion for their program is a one-to-one cost-sharing basis. For every dollar raised locally, the provincial government will provide one dollar to areas that have been declared disaster areas to assist in compensating people who have sustained damage and to help them make repairs.

4 p.m.

I suppose partly because of the ad hoc nature of this program, the government last year, in the response to the Field flood, agreed to provide $4 of provincial funding for every $1 provided locally. That was then extended to the other communities in the north that experienced flooding last year, to the extent that three communities in my riding benefited significantly. Iron Bridge, for instance, received approximately $79,000; White River and Goulais River each received approximately $55,000 in provincial funds, matching on a four-to-one basis.

If the member is suggesting in his resolution that a permanent relief fund, if it is set up, would not allow for adjustments in relation to the size of the communities and their ability to raise funds locally, I am afraid I am not in favour of that. The reason is that some small communities, especially small rural communities or small isolated communities in northern Ontario, do not have local industries that are able to contribute funds.

If, however, in his permanent fund proposal he is suggesting there would not be any need for local funding in this program -- that is, that all of the compensation and funds to assist in repairs would come from provincial coffers -- then I suppose that is no longer a problem. I have some difficulty with the resolution in that it does not spell that out, and I do not think the member himself spelled that out in his comments in leading off the debate.

Personally, as I said, after some prodding, I was satisfied with the response of the staff of the subsidies branch of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, and I want to congratulate them for their concern and their hard work in trying to assist the communities in my riding.

However, since this is not a permanent program and is dependent upon the declaration of a disaster, either by the municipality or, in unorganized areas, by the Ministry of Natural Resources, we run into problems where small numbers of people have sustained serious damage but it is not considered an overall disaster for a large area and so the funding is not made available.

In my particular riding, the community of Goulais River this year again experienced flooding, although not nearly to the extent of last year. But home owners who were just recovering from the damage done by last year’s flood again experienced flooding this year, and we are running into some problems in persuading the provincial government that we have a disaster again and that they should become involved.

They are saying, “There weren’t as many people, as many homes, as many properties involved, and we don’t believe it to be a disaster.” They may be correct in that, but it is a disaster for the individual people and for the home owners and small businesses involved.

From my view, the main purpose of any permanent relief program must be to ensure that people are able to maintain shelter, that they will have a place to live while repairs are made and that repairs will be made in such a way that they will not suffer long-term damage and inconvenience because of a natural disaster.

I believe those funds must be made available by the province. I also believe we should continue the thrust towards assisting farmers and small businessmen who would have a difficult time in raising the capital to stay in business. They are very important to small communities, not only for themselves, but also for their neighbours and the jobs they provide. I would support the suggestion in the resolution that low-interest loans be made available to farmers and small businessmen.

The one question I have in regard to the comments made by the member for Haldimand-Norfolk, however, is related to his discussion of crop damage. We do have a crop insurance program and, if there is damage caused by weather, drought or too much rain, or a fungus, or some predator and its effect on a crop, there is provision for crop insurance to deal with those kinds of problems. I am not sure we need a permanent disaster relief fund to deal with those kinds of problems. I think they can be dealt with in other ways.

Overall, I believe we have to get into the question of how this kind of program could be administered. Although the resolution says the funds will be administered by municipalities in organized areas, the member does not make provision in it for an approval procedure by a ministry. I think it’s obvious we have to have some kind of provincial approval process by which an area is determined to be in need and in which the province is involved. We cannot just leave a permanent fund there to be tapped by a municipality, when and if it thought it desirable, without any real provincial input.

I am also concerned about another aspect of the resolution, especially in my area, where the community of Goulais River is located in an unorganized area. Last year was the first time any such community received assistance under the disaster relief program of the government. I am concerned about what the resolution says about a ministry administering this program in an unorganized area.

We should be more specific. I would think it should be dealt with directly by the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs. It should not be the Ministry of Northern Affairs, not because I necessarily have anything against the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier), but because in the past the Ministry of Northern Affairs has been accused -- not by me -- of being at times involved in what used to be called, in less enlightened days, pork-barrel politics. I would hope this kind of program would never become anything like that.

I would prefer to have a ministry that is not directly involved in the distribution of grants and funds throughout the unorganized areas involved in something as serious as disaster relief. If the Ministry of Northern Affairs wishes to continue handing out cheques the way it has done in the past for nice little recreation programs or even fire protection programs, then that’s fine.

Overall, I support the resolution. I am a little concerned that it is not more detailed in expressing exactly what the member is intending.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.

Mr. Wildman: I will support the resolution, but I believe it does not speak to the overall problem we have, which is getting into flood prevention, for which there is very little funding from this government.

Mr. Rowe: Mr. Speaker, just to ease your mind about the order of the speakers on the program, I expect the minister will be here shortly. At his request, we have switched places.

Mr. Foulds: It is a more than adequate substitution.

Mr. Rowe: Thank you very much. I am very much interested in this resolution. I am glad to see this resolution rather than some sort of a private member’s bill. I am also in receipt of the resolution by the town of Dunnville which purports to do approximately the same thing as the member’s resolution. I might say I have also had support from one of the councils in my area for a resolution such as the one proposed by Dunnville.

This is a rather timely resolution for us to consider as we have experienced several major disasters in Ontario in the past few months.

There was the Woodstock flood, which we all remember; the Mississauga train derailment; and the severe flooding in Port Hope. I will have more to say about that shortly. The Mississauga train derailment was not what one would call a natural disaster, as referred to in the member’s resolution.

Mr. Wildman: Marc Lalonde administered disaster on Port Hope too.

Mr. Rowe: He’s more natural. I don’t suppose the people who had to evacuate their homes and businesses in Mississauga gave much thought at the time to the cause of the problem. In the urgency of the situation, I believe most people are primarily concerned with basic survival. I also agree that in a well-managed jurisdiction, such as Ontario, the public has every right to expect the maximum degree of protection from disasters and of help in the face of unavoidable actions and occurrences which disrupt their lives.

I refer to Port Hope in my riding. It would be impossible to describe in words the feelings that I and many others experienced as we watched the flood waters destroying homes, recreational facilities, offices, stores, roads, parks and manufacturing facilities that night. As I have described oft-times to individuals, while watching the flood that night there were literally three rivers flowing down through the centre of town, with the odd refrigerator, door and stove floating along down into Lake Ontario.

I might also say that as a result of the 1973 flood, last summer they dug an automobile out of the harbour when they were digging the harbour out. Many strange things can happen when nature runs wild. In fact, many tales of weird sights and events could be told, and have been told, about that night in Port Hope.

4:10 p.m.

However, speaking as an interested eyewitness, I can assure every member of this House that at no time did the residents of Port Hope and area feel a lack of confidence in the support provided by both their local and provincial governments. Indeed, the very next morning, representatives of various ministries from this government were on the scene. In fact, on the Monday morning, two days later, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) himself was there, as was the Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications and officials of the Ministry of Natural Resources, and so on.

Also, lest we think Port Hope was the only place hit by that rain that day, because of severe damage in many pockets around the whole county of Northumberland -- perhaps not enough in every case to declare each individual municipality a disaster area but certainly enough in total to perhaps justify the declaration of the whole area as a disaster area -- action has been taken to gather together the total picture. This information is being collected and there will be an application through the county, I am almost certain, for further action similar to what was taken in Port Hope, where, of course, it was quite obvious it was a disaster situation.

This prompt action was appreciated and recognized by the council and various organizations in the town. They still express their appreciation to the minister, to myself and to other people who contributed.

In the midst of their tribulations I am sure it was comforting to the people in Mississauga when they got the same prompt attention last year to see the way in which their own municipal officials and members of this government did provide leadership.

I recognize that the basic subject of the resolution we are considering today is not moral support; nor is it leadership in crisis situations. However, it seems to assume that this government does not already have disaster relief programs in place. Let me assure every member of the House that Ontario has very adequate disaster relief programs and that, in spite of everyone’s best efforts to prevent disasters, they have been thoroughly tested in the past year at Port Hope, Mississauga, Woodstock, et cetera.

I am happy to report that our programs of assistance to victims of disasters in all these cases have withstood these tests and trials. They have, so to speak, passed with flying colours.

The Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs already has in place three programs which provide grants and loans to individual municipalities. These are for repair, replacement and protection of property damaged in natural calamities.

First, there is the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program. It is administered, and very capably I might add, by the subsidies branch of that ministry. In the ministry’s estimates of 1980-81, this program has allocated a contingency amount of $404,000. Once the Ontario cabinet has declared a disaster area affecting one or more municipalities, this program is then activated. It gives help on a dollar-for-dollar basis by matching contributions made by the general public, businesses and other municipalities to a local disaster relief committee. This may be dollar for dollar; it may be two for one or three for one, as in the case of Port Hope, or even higher, depending upon the seriousness of the situation

This program is not intended, of course, to be a substitute for adequate insurance coverage. In many cases, such as the flood in Port Hope, it is impossible to buy adequate flood insurance. It is different, however, in cases such as hurricanes, heavy winds and so on, where insurance protection is available, and in those cases -- and it does happen quite frequently where severe damage does take place -- public money should not be expected to come to the rescue there. When insurance is available, people should be carrying insurance.

This is not a government which tries to foster the illusion that government can do everything for the citizens. But it is a compassionate government, and when disasters strike which cause people to suffer losses so widespread and severe that they cannot possibly cope alone, or with the assistance of the insurance, the Ontario disaster relief program is there to help. I emphasize it is administered by a local relief committee with help, where necessary, from the province.

In the past fiscal year, a total of $3.5 million was paid to nine disaster committees. In the Port Hope case and in the Woodstock case a provincial disaster relief co-ordinator has been appointed from Intergovernmental Affairs, to help co-ordinate provincial ministry’s efforts in providing help to those communities. The field services branch of the ministry is there to help such municipalities clean up immediately after a disaster.

We have other programs in place as well. There is, for example, the special emergency assistance program. It too is administered by the same ministry. Under this program help is available to all communities which have suffered flooding or erosion problems as a result of high water levels in the Great Lakes. The program provides for a provincial grant of 80 per cent of the eligible costs incurred by the municipality in repairing and improving roads and dikes and pumping flood water from lands for which the municipality is responsible and in constituting protective works to prevent erosion of roads. In the fiscal year of 1979-80, a total of $450,000 was provided to 21 municipalities under that program.

There is also the shoreline property assistance program. It provides help to owners of shoreline properties in the province which have been or may be damaged by high water levels or the action of ice. It provides a low-interest loan of up to 90 per cent of the cost of repairs and protection. These are repayable through the borrower’s property taxes in 20 equal annual instalments of principal and interest. In the past year, a total of well over $500,000 was lent to 82 applicants under that program.

In addition, provincial financial assistance may also be made available by other ministries. For example, low-interest loans are made to business owners under the Ontario Development Corporation. In Port Hope, those storekeepers and so on who suffered losses which were not covered by insurance are able to borrow money at six per cent, with the balance being subsidized through that program.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications may assist municipalities to repair public roads and bridges and so forth, and that is in addition to what was normally budgeted for that particular community.

There is no question that these programs are functioning and quite adequately. This government is providing the leadership and the material support Ontarians have a right to expect. It is doing so without --

Mr. Acting Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.

Mr. Rowe: I have the same reservations about the resolution introduced by the honourable member as the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) expressed as to how it finally would be administered. But it is worthy of consideration, and I thank the House for the opportunity to express these few thoughts.

Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I wish to take part in the resolution this afternoon standing in the name of my colleague from Haldimand-Norfolk, with regard to disaster areas.

In speaking on resolution 11, I feel compelled to enlighten the members of the Legislature and the government about a recent disaster in the town of Essex which has caused a great deal of damage.

An impaired driver of an automobile crashed into a natural gas meter and plunged his car through store wall. About 30 minutes later a great explosion occurred at 2:15 in the morning, and left a town block in ruins.

The resolution we are speaking to today refers to natural disasters. How does one define “natural”? I suppose an impaired driver behind the wheel of a car could be expected to lose control of his car, because the natural thing when impaired is to do that. We have records to prove that, and a report of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications shows the number of accidents that happen from impaired driving. It is rather an odd way to put it, but I guess if somebody is going to get drunk then the natural thing for him to do if he is driving a car would be that. I may be stretching the point a little bit, but it is an interesting way of looking at it.

The town of Essex sent the mayor and the clerk-treasurer and one councillor to meet with the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and his officials. However, the minister did not show up. The delegates were disappointed, but they met with staff of the subsidies branch and the parliamentary assistant. They were given some encouragement as to the possibility of aid through the Ontario Development Corporation for low-interest loans at a possible six per cent. There was some question as to how the matching fund grant might be applied. This was to be decided by the cabinet; in this case there were only three small apartments included in the stores, and all the rest was a commercial area.

4:20 p.m.

To this date there has been no decision as to a designation of the area and, in answer to my questions of April 11 and April 24, the minister passed them on to the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) for a review by the Ontario Development Corporation. The problem with the present system as compared to the resolution we are dealing with today is we would at least have a fund set up and a group aware of the serious situations wherever they may be and able to take action immediately.

The recent flood in Port Hope, as was mentioned by the previous speaker, was so designated and six per cent interest loans were made available to businessmen rebuilding and purchasing inventory. We realize, however, that there is some question as to similarity in Essex, as in most cases one cannot obtain insurance for loss from flooding.

The town of Essex has set up a disaster relief committee to raise funds, and up to the present time a little more than $20,000 has been received. In this particular case, a cheque from the city of Detroit Rotary Club for $1,000 and some smaller cheques from individuals in the United States were received, because of the rescue of the six hostages by the Canadian embassy in Iran.

Many are aware of the fire disaster in Cobalt a few years ago when more than 400 people were left homeless. That was a major fire disaster. The provincial government matched four dollars to one dollar on what was raised locally.

Essex has been advised it could be eligible for relief funds from the province, as a result of the loss of assessment which will come through the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, because of the number of buildings destroyed by the fire.

In supporting the resolution today, I want to tell the members of the Legislature about the need for such a fund to protect ourselves from future disasters. We realize that the people involved in the Essex disaster in most cases did have the usual fire and explosion insurance, but it is most difficult to cover for such a major disaster. I can think of some cases where they may have had $100,000 of insurance on what was considered an older building. Yet, when one rebuilds from the ground up at today’s prices, it would probably cost $250,000 to replace. If one borrows the difference between the $100,000 insurance and the cost of $250,000 -- that is $150,000 -- at today’s interest rates of 17 per cent or more, it is almost impossible for a businessman to handle such an expense.

By having a fund set up as stated in the resolution, it would take it out of the immediate political situation. A general consensus of many people is that sometimes a decision made under the system may be used for political purposes. Of course, we would hope that would not be the case.

The town of Essex, hard hit by its own disaster, sent an additional $100 to the ailing Field-Springer relief fund. The two sparsely populated northern Ontario townships were hit hard by flooding last year and have been unable to meet their fund-raising objectives.

Essex had already sent $100 following a decision made on July 3, but decided to send the extra money after receiving a letter from fund organizers. The committee in that town has $2,444,844 in approved claims to pay out but has only managed to accumulate $1.8 million. The total includes $373,544 raised privately and matched four to one by the provincial disaster relief fund. The two townships need an additional $114,116 plus the provincial money to reach their objective.

In the case of Essex, the Ontario Development Corporation came down and made a survey and interviewed a number of business people. They did offer some money they could make available at 11.5 per cent. The problem is when we build new buildings, at what they cost today and with the insurance people have, it seems we are all the same. We think we have enough insurance on our buildings, and when the crunch comes and we start rebuilding, in many cases it just is not enough.

The other thing is that in some of the disaster areas in the past year, I understand if one person had full insurance and his neighbour had no insurance, the disaster relief fund would give the neighbour who had no insurance the same amount of money as the insured neighbour. He is as well off as the one who had insurance, but he paid no premiums for the previous 25 years, say. That is one of the problems with any disaster fund, and that is why I am not sure.

In the case of Essex, where there was a natural gas explosion, not a flood or tornado, maybe the people there also should be entitled to some assistance. They are not asking for grants or anything; they are just asking that a lower interest rate be supplied though the Ontario Development Corporation. The town has not been designated, and yet it has $20,000 in its fund to assist those hardest hit. If it were designated, it would be eligible to be matched dollar for dollar. That would be another $20,000 from the province, which would help those in direct need. But it would not be nearly enough to help somebody rebuild, get the inventory back in and be in business.

I am supporting the resolution. I think we need to have something like this available so that it is ready to go into effect the minute a disaster happens. It may have to cover more than what we classify as natural disasters. What is a disaster and what is natural is a matter of interpretation.

Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Speaker, I too rise to support the resolution that was introduced in private members’ hour. I want to say to the member that perhaps it would be a stronger resolution if he did not mention the matter of lotteries. I can visualize a situation where a certain amount of lottery funds is available for disaster relief, there is a series of disasters and the fund is expended; then if there is another disaster, there is no money. What do you tell the people then? “You are out of luck”? I think the funding should be out of the consolidated revenue fund provided by the provincial government.

The attractive part of this resolution is that it brings down the decision-making process to the municipality. In time of disaster, whether it is a tornado or a flood, a lot of damage is done in terms of roofs being removed, floors being skewed and walls being out. The basement may be flooded with water and mud. Heating systems are knocked out. All sorts of things happen that make it impossible for people to continue their normal habitation or their normal life.

One of the things they have to do is to respond, and they have to respond immediately. In other words, they cannot wait until such time as some government official decides, “We are going to provide you with assistance,” and makes a public statement. Then a man has to try to get the money, or perhaps the promise of money, to try to repair his roof. Most people do not operate with thousands of dollars in the bank where they have an emergency fund to draw on to replace a roof that got blown off a day or two before, to clear out their basements, to replace a furnace, or to do all sorts of repairs needed after a disaster.

Therefore, the fact that the municipality would have the responsibility to administer this kind of fund is a very attractive idea, because the people are closer; they also know the situation a lot better. We also have to recognize the fact that the municipality has the resources. Most major municipalities in Ontario, certainly the urban ones and many of the rural municipalities, have the resources to implement some kind of relief program provided they know the funding is available. There is a building department in every municipality. It has its building inspectors. The city engineer is available, and he has a staff. Those people can help provide immediate assistance to people in the community.

4:30 p.m.

There is the city works department, which also has trucks, bulldozers, forklifts, front-end loaders and so on. There is equipment available and skilled staff. There are the pubic utilities people with their skilled staff and the knowledge to be able to deal with disasters.

There is the fact that the municipality is assured of funding or knows that the funding is there and is not at the whim of some minister or of somebody else. It is not waiting for the royal tour to happen when the Premier or the local cabinet minister makes a tour and says: “Yes, I think we are going to give you money” or something like that. They can go ahead, knowing full well the money is available.

Specifically, as I said earlier, the average individual can then go to the lumber yard or to his supplier and get the lumber, the shingles, the water pump, the furnace or whatever he needs. The supplier knows he will get paid despite the fact that this individual does not have the money at the moment, may have to fight it out with his insurance company and may have to wait for some period of time. The point is, there could be some assurance coming from the municipal officials to the supplier, indicating to him that this man has been in a disaster and he will eventually get paid. I think that would ensure that the supplies were provided.

The other matter of concern to me is that the mayor of a disaster area does not have the opportunity to call out the militia to help in a disaster. We had a flood in Brantford about 1975 when the water system was knocked out in a city of 75,000 people. It is a real disaster in the morning when one is sitting there trying to deal with the situation and has to bring in tank trucks and everything else to provide water for a community of that size. It is a problem, but one has to go to the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and so on. I feel that through legislation those rights should be provided to the local militia and the mayor. If there is some kind of agreement by both parties, they should not have to wait at that time for approval from the Attorney General, wherever he may be, or the Solicitor General.

At this time I want also to give credit to people in the Norfolk-Haldimand disaster. The people who ignited the spark that started the fund that raised more than $500,000 were my constituency assistant; Alderman Deborah O’Connell --

Hon. Mr. Parrott: It was $4 million, not $500,000.

Mr. Makarchuk: Yes, it was $4 million -- but the money that was raised initially was started by my constituency assistant; Alderman Deborah O’Connell; the president of the Brantford and District Labour Council, Dan O’Reagan; and Alderman Dave Neumann of the city of Brantford council. They used the facilities of my office to get the fund started, to set the spark that would eventually raise a lot of money, which I think was necessary and justifiable. It started right there.

I want to say that in all these situations dealing with disasters, one cannot do very much about tornadoes. It is very difficult to prevent a tornado. As soon as that is figured out, mankind will have moved a great distance. However, in regard to floods -- and I am referring again to the 1975 flood of the Grand River -- if the government earlier had provided the necessary funding that was requested by the Grand River Conservation Authority, perhaps the flood could have been prevented; but if not totally prevented, it could have been lessened to a much greater degree. This is the kind of a problem we have in dealing with this government. After the horse has been stolen and the barn has been cleaned out, it will close the doors.

This has been raised with the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Auld) in the past.

The government should be looking at these recurring situations, where there is flooding almost on an annual basis or every second or third year, to try to bring in prevention. It is quite possible, not only through the building of dams, but in terms of reforestation, acquiring more valley lands and reforesting or planting trees and so on. There are various means available to this province and to this government. If the government had the initiative, the energy and the desire, everybody would benefit in the long run, because we would be preventing floods instead of going through a crisis, having the problem, then spending as much money or more to deal with it and having it recur in the future.

I have one more point that I would like to raise. That is, during the efforts of various community clubs to raise money for the Oxford, Norfolk and Brant tornado disaster relief, one of the clubs in Brantford, the Ex-Imperials Club, had a bit of a difference with the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario. There was some difference of opinion as to whether a door was slammed in the face of the liquor inspector or not. Of course, the gentleman who was handling the decor didn’t know the liquor inspector from anybody else, because he didn’t identify himself. The place was getting crowded so he closed the door and, of course, he reported this matter.

The point is, the club wanted to throw a benefit party, a bash, whatever it was, to raise funds, which they do normally. They have done it for all other types of community projects in the past. They have an excellent record of being very successful and the people are involved. Anyway, the club tried to do this, but the liquor licence board would not allow them to go ahead with this project despite the fact that it was explained what it was for and so on.

I hope that somebody on the other side tells it to those officials that somewhere, sometime they should have a little heart. They shouldn’t be so bloody sticky about the way they enforce their regulations. They shouldn’t get so uptight; they should look at the people down there. They may have made a mistake in how they run their club, or they may have not, but surely, when it comes to something that is useful to the community, it’s useful to the county, it’s useful to everybody and they are genuine. They have a record of accomplishing things, and perhaps we should allow them to go ahead and do these kinds of things if they are trying to raise funds for a disaster area.

Mr. Worton: Whisky versus water.

Mr. Makarchuk: That’s right. The water was undrinkable in some cases. When you have a flood, the water is not drinkable.

Anyway, I will support this resolution. I think it has merit. I think it is a step in the right direction. It brings it down, as I have said, to the municipal level. It takes it out of political control. It takes it out of the sort of will-he, won’t-he type of attitude that appears after a disaster. Everybody sits there waiting, wondering if he is going to provide funds or not. We know that if the money is there the municipality can do the job, and I think the resolution has merit.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Before recognizing the member for Oxford, I have a little problem. The time for debating this item expires at 4:46 p.m., and the member for Haldimand-Norfolk has reserved five minutes. Does the member wish all of the five minutes?

Mr. G. I. Miller: No, Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear the comments of the member for Oxford. I would like to save a couple of minutes.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: It won’t be easy to do it in three or four minutes, Mr. Speaker, but I’ll try.

Having had perhaps the worst experience of my life on August 7, 1979, I can’t rise to talk about this issue without a great deal of feeling, without a great deal of emotion. I will never forget the total desolation that occurred to my county as well as to Brant and Norfolk counties. When I flew over a community and saw the homes of my friends literally wiped out totally, it was bad. But not until the next day, when I had the opportunity to walk the streets, did I fully comprehend what it meant to be totally wiped out.

It meant those precious things that all of us hold dear to us in our lives; those things like a wedding picture, a wedding ring or the remembrances of a child no longer with us, and it would be very easy to become very emotional about the things that were lost forever. Only then did one understand the trauma, not just in a physical way but also in a psychological way, of what had happened in that disaster and, I am sure, what happens in all other disasters.

Had that been the end of the story, one’s heart would have been so saddened that one would perhaps not recover, because that’s exactly how I felt the day afterwards. But, the day after that, and I mean literally the day after that, I saw something develop in my community, and I know it was shared in all the other communities; that made all of us proud to be a member of our society: friends helping friends and, even more important, strangers helping strangers -- people work in under unbelievably difficult circumstances, all with a cheerful attitude.

4:40 p.m.

Much as I would like to dwell on that, because time does not permit I cannot. But I do want to offer a few thoughts about the role of the municipalities. I think to put it all in the hand of the municipality would be a mistake.

I think it should be known that one of the conditions of the provincial government guidelines is that a local disaster relief committee must be established. In the disaster of which I spoke, that committee worked extremely well. Such committees do the administration of the funds; they do all of those things that I think the members thought were, somehow or other, done by the province. We had a coordinator there, and that’s all. Sure, there were a few guidelines, but most of the final decisions were made by the local decision-making body, and that’s as it should be.

I want to spend a minute or two on the following point: it isn’t the declaring of the fund or the funding of the fund that’s important, because it literally takes weeks or months for the money to come into that fund. But people have to respond instantly, within hours sometimes, and certainly within a few days of the rebuilding. They could not possibly wait until they know the amount of assistance they were going to receive. They have to react instantly.

Now that I have had a chance to look back at it for some nine months, I realize that the lingering problem is the relationship between the money raised from the private sector and contributed by the insurance companies and the relationship of those two sources.

If it was a clear-cut case of whether or not you have insurance that decided whether you receive benefits it would be very simple. But the problem is there is a great variation in the amount of insurance that one carries -- from zero to perhaps full coverage. Where and how do you effect that relationship?

I’m going to put forward one positive suggestion. I wish I had the time to explore it fully. I believe we must not destroy the principle of insurance. The way any fund should be administered in this way is to take the total amount of damage and the total amount of insurance. If I can use figures to illustrate the case, let’s assume that the total damage was $5 million and the amount of insurance was $3.5 million. You would then deem that everyone carried 70 per cent insurance, and you would distribute your funds to every participant on the basis of the damage they had received. If someone had more than 70 per cent insurance, they would do much better than someone who had zero. But the person who had zero would be treated in exactly the same way as the person who had a great deal.

It is the only way I can see that a fund can be administered where the aftermath does not cause some very serious problems.

Mr. Acting Speaker: I’m afraid I must ask the minister to end his remarks. I do so regretfully, because I think what he is saying is important.

I give the member for Haldimand-Norfolk a minute to reply.

Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the contribution that all members of the Legislature have made towards the resolution, and I will make a couple of points quickly.

While I did mention the lottery fund, I don’t think the resolution does mention that; so I think that perhaps clarifies that.

The meaning of natural causes, which is in the resolution, was based in my portion of the debate on the United States legislation. That clearly indicates that it covers drought, fire, explosion and other catastrophes. I think that clarifies that.

The third thing I would like to point out, as members of the government have indicated and particularly the member for Northumberland, is that they do have a fund now and that it is available. I will admit that, but it hasn’t worked in some cases in our area. I think it would require an extensive review of legislation and it could be based on the American legislation to simplify it and make it more responsive to emergencies. If it were dealt with by local governments, it could be similar to the way the drainage money is provided, which is handled locally and quite effectively. With major disasters it might have to be broadened.

I think it needs to be reviewed and upgraded. I hope members will support the resolution so this will come about in the future.

Mr. Acting Speaker: The time for debating this item has more than expired.


Mr. Breaugh moved resolution 11:

That this House urges the government of Ontario to implement a program of dental care modelled on that now operated by the NDP government in the province of Saskatchewan.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to introduce this in resolution form today because I sense a growing concern in my own community about the expense of dental care. The provision of those dental services in many parts of the province is now being questioned. Whether or not people can get good dental care at all is questioned, setting aside the problem of expense.

The reason I moved to the Saskatchewan model for discussion purposes this afternoon is that this is a plan which has been in effect now since 1968, and it provides a rather clear model of how the services would be provided.

If I may spend a few moments briefing the members on some background information from the Saskatchewan plan, the project provides dental health education, preventive services and treatment services to children through a dental team consisting of a dentist, two dental nurses, three dental assistants and one receptionist-recorder.

They use mobile clinics. They began with young children in the schools. In 1972, they moved to include children between the ages of three and 12. In May 1978, they announced the extension of the program to include all children between the ages of three and 14.

The heart of the system is its dental nurses, supported by dental assistants, who provide most of the dental services under the supervision of the dentist.

The dental clinics have been located in schools to make access more convenient for children and parents. An important part of the service is referral and emergency services. These are also provided for in the plan.

In the Saskatchewan model, which has been working for better than a decade, we have a plan that is not just theory but is in operation.

There are some comparisons that can be made between Saskatchewan and Ontario.

If anything, one could make the economic argument, as is often done on this question, that Ontario, with its resources and with its industrial wealth, certainly can afford the kind of program now in operation in Saskatchewan.

I notice the Liberal health critic has endorsed the proposals and the type of plan that has been offered by the government of Saskatchewan at this time. I know that the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) on occasion has spoken to the needs and the desires and the wishes of providing some kind of dental care in this province.

I note too that the number of participants in private dental plans is up by 25 per cent this year. That’s a clear indication that, for most of the population, the services of a dentist pose an economic strain.

One way around that is for those people who are lucky enough to have a bargaining unit, or in some other way, to participate in a dental care scheme. It is becoming an economic necessity. Even if it is simply a matter of having regular inspections and some minimal treatments, these days for a family of three or four children that can easily run into $1,200 or $1,500 a year. If one runs into the need for specialized kinds of services, the costs associated with those repairs can easily be a rather substantial economic hardship even on a family with a good income.

I note too that in parts of the province -- and in particular we’re focusing these days on the decisions that have been made in the Kenora-Rainy River area -- the district health council has pointed out there is a severe problem in getting dental services period, let alone whether you can afford them. There are several proposals that I am aware of, one by the district health council, although unfortunately I am told that the ministry is saying there is no funding for that particular plan. The ministry has said, as late as April 1, in the London Free Press, that there would be no extension of current services to provide for that.

4:50 p.m.

I note too that there is a new president of the Ontario Dental Association who is proposing a scheme, which I am told has the support of the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier), to provide a kind of flying dental squad which would visit northern communities and use clinics and school facilities as the base of operation, and would move them throughout the north in a regular process.

Whatever variation of the scheme might be used, I think the need has been clearly established. I want to spend some time going at that question of need. In response to a question which I put on the Order Paper on March 15, 1980, the minister tabled this report. It is not ministry policy, but I am going to use it, not necessarily as a policy document, but for some of the pertinent information that has been developed in here. It is the report of the committee established to develop preventive dentistry corps programs, the theory being that this might be included in some new health protection act. It is interesting to look at this kind of study. I want to quote quickly some excerpts, because I find them interesting. In the summary it says:

“The standards for the delivery of public health dental services have been developed and promoted in recent years by the Ministry of Health and the Ontario Society of Public Health Dentists. In spite of this thrust, it has become increasingly evident that a consistent and effective level of services has not been provided equitably to the citizens of Ontario.”

That goes right to the crux of the problem, that neither in the private sector nor in the public sector do we have proper dental health programs.

I note, though, a recurring phenomenon whenever this government sets about designing any kind of care services. The first order of business in the study that was tabled for the ministry is an estimation of administrative costs. The first thing they have on their minds is 16 public health directors at $40,000 a year, seven assistant directors at $37,000 a year, 21 program co-ordinators at $20,000 a year and 43 secretaries at $10,000 a year.

One of the flaws in this province may be that each and every time we set about to deliver a service to a group of people, it seems we can clearly identify the need but, when we start about structuring how we will provide that service, we start at the top. I note that the Saskatchewan model does not start there, but with the provider of the service. It clearly defines and somewhat changes the role as to who provides the service. It does so, I think, under proper supervision, and it works reasonably well. But I think it says something about how we do things in this province. This study started at the other end.

One of the interesting sets of statistics gathered during the course of this investigation is this particular one: “Twenty-nine per cent of decayed teeth in five-year-old children are not filled. Twenty-eight per cent of decayed teeth in seven-year-old children are not filled. Thirty-two per cent of decayed teeth in 13-year-old children are not filled. Fourteen per cent of 13-year-old children have lost one or more permanent teeth.”

I think that speaks to how well the services are being provided and whether we are clearly meeting a need. It would be my contention that we are not.

This survey also attempted to do something else which is a favourite sport around here these days, and that is to make some estimation of the cost-effectiveness for dental health measures. I find the analysis on this rather alarming. I quote two examples here:

“For males at age 15, every dollar in preventive care saves $16.61 in treatment. For females aged 15, every dollar saves $15.30 in treatment.”

It strikes me that in the long run the government of Ontario would save its citizens a good deal of money by moving to this kind of preventive care program. I note in passing that the Toronto Board of Health in its studies and the city of Toronto social services department are beginning to feel the pinch of trying to provide dental services on a social service basis using dentists. Their estimation of cost savings -- one that I saw, at any rate -- indicated a saving of nearly $20 million a year if we moved to a proper preventive dental health program as opposed to the current system.

Here is another interesting number out of this study. The cost of providing preventive dental care for 12 years would be $8.88 per student. To be cost-effective, this program would only have to prevent 0.5 cavities per child.

It strikes me that there is ample evidence that here is a program that is needed; it is one that has been carefully studied in Ontario. While we might have some difference of opinion as to the precise mechanisms that are going to be used, I think it is undeniable that the case is there.

I want to quote from the conclusions in the recommendations. “Dental disease is a ubiquitous and unique health problem, occurring in much greater proportions among the developed nations and societies of the world. It can be dramatically reduced, however, by adopting simple preventive measures in community-based public health dental programs. The recommended minimum service levels represent organized preventive programs which have been demonstrated to be cost-effective. The local official health agency would be the most appropriate institution through which to implement this program.”

The final recommendation was that the government of Ontario “ensure the consistent delivery of the attached recommended minimum services through the enactment of public health legislation.”

That of course is not now government policy, but is a matter that has been before the minister, so it has had some study. Part of the report of the task force on community dental services contains these rather alarming statistics: 75 per cent of decayed teeth in three-year-old children are not filled; 60 per cent of decayed teeth in seven-year-old children are not filled; 44 per cent of decayed teeth in 13-year-old children are not filled; 82 per cent of seven-year-old children have lost one or more primary teeth; 29 per cent of 13-year-old children have lost one or more permanent teeth; 10 per cent of 13-year-old children requiring orthodontic treatment actually have it done -- 90 per cent don’t; 80 per cent of the adult population have some form of periodontal disease; and 67 per cent of persons 75 years of age and over are dentureless -- don’t have any teeth.

The need for this kind of preventive care program has been clearly established in this province by the ministry’s own task force. The model now used in Saskatchewan has been functioning long enough for us to say that way of providing the program is one that would be flexible, is one that is cost-effective and is one that works; perhaps it uses some nontraditional roles, but it does so effectively.

The statistics which have been gathered by the government of Saskatchewan establish and correspond to the statistics presented to the minister here in Ontario, showing that this kind of a program saves one money in the long run. We get down, then, to whether this need can be met in any other way, and I would contend to the House this afternoon that it cannot be.

There are vast parts of this province which are badly underserviced by dentists or by dental services of any kind. They are particularly underserviced through the northern part of the province, which is obvious when one looks at the geography of the north. Population there is dispersed, travelling times cause some difficulty, and in all kinds of health care there is that common thread of reality running through northern services that there is not the level of service that there is in the southern part of the province.

I want to put to the House another side of the argument. In many of our large urban centres, like Toronto, there are literally thousands of children whose parents are not covered under private dental plans and who do not receive proper dental care.

I suppose it would be reasonable for some members to assume that one simply escapes the cost, that sooner or later those children will grow up and will get proper dental care on their own. The reality is quite the contrary. There are certain kinds of dental care -- most of it, in fact -- which, unless you do get the cheaper preventive care in the beginning, you cannot correct subsequently. If you don’t find the proper program and put it in place and have it operational for the seven- to 12-year-old bracket, as an example, you will find that you cannot correct that when they are 18 or 19 years of age and employed and perhaps covered by a private plan.

It also speaks to the problem that the vast majority of our citizens are not in a position to bargain for a private carrier. Even though they might cover those costs, these people cannot get themselves in that position. They are unlikely to be able to afford private dental care on their own. The end result, as the statistics show so dramatically, is that they simply do not get dental care at all. It just does not happen.

5 p.m.

There are a number of members who want to speak to the resolution today, and I would like to reserve some time to sum up at the end, but I want to conclude this first part of my remarks on this simple note: I think we have here a problem which has been clearly defined. I think we also have found, in the Saskatchewan model, a solution to the problem, a way of doing it that is cost-effective and provides good preventive dental health care for a reasonable amount of money, so the initial costs are as small as they can be.

Unquestionably, it has been established that the kind of preventive care is the wisest investment that a government could ever make. On humanitarian terms, in terms that provide a good health-care program, and I would even make the argument from the viewpoint of straight economics, it is far better to invest that money now in a good preventive health-care program, particularly in the field of dental work and dental care, than it is to let the unfortunate consequences occur and then attempt to repair them afterwards. The sad fact is that the statistics are already clear on this: after-care simply does not happen for a large number of people.

One other aspect needs to be put in place. Whatever model might be devised, whatever kinds of service might be put in place, the cumulative effect is important. Even if we used the precise model now used in Saskatchewan, where not all forms of dental care are covered, but most are, for the vast majority of our population we would have relieved an economic strain. If there were some uninsured services, it would be far different from the current situation.

I believe the Saskatchewan plan is a workable one. I believe it would be necessary to tailor parts of that to Ontario, and perhaps the recommendations of the minister’s task force to do so through the public health agencies would be a workable suggestion here. I believe the concept they use in Saskatchewan is sound. I believe the need has been clearly established in this province. What is more, I believe the economics dictate that the government move to this type of a program now.

I would like to conclude my initial remarks on that note and save my remaining time for the windup.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member has four minutes remaining.

Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I have mixed feelings about the resolution that is being debated in the House this afternoon. In many ways I can appreciate the concerns and sentiments of the member opposite as far as dental care is concerned. I think it is very important that adequate and proper dental hygiene should be an important part of the daily personal maintenance for everyone in this province. In fact, my oldest daughter is a graduate dental hygienist.

However, I believe in fairness we must examine the excellence of the present dental care standards in Ontario. I really don’t think we can try to relate the conditions and problems faced by the Saskatchewan government to those we have in Ontario. More than 80 per cent of Ontarians live in urban areas, with access to a sophisticated variety of dental practitioners. Nearly one quarter of Saskatchewan’s population consists of farm families, and another 25 per cent live in communities with populations of less than 1,000. Ontario has a population of approximately 8.5 million, while Saskatchewan has approximately 960,000 residents. In 1979, incentives began to attract dental students to rural areas in Saskatchewan. Ontario established a bursaries program for dental students in 1969, 10 years earlier.

As one can see even at a quick glance, the circumstances in Saskatchewan and Ontario are quite obviously different. Those circumstances are reflected in the different actions taken by different provincial governments.

As my honourable colleague will mention a little later in this debate, Ontario already has in place a number of dental programs designed to spot and prevent trouble and to encourage people to take more responsibility for their own personal health. Saskatchewan established its dental care program in the mid-1970s because there was quite obviously a need for one. A shortage of dentists and a lack of educational and preventive programs especially for children were contributing to a very general, low-quality level of dental health. Ontario was not then and is not now facing those same sorts of problems.

The target group for the other program is school children, which makes sense from a preventive point of view. On a longer-term basis, the Saskatchewan government should be saving money, because these people will likely pass on their good dental habits to their children.

I think the approach we have for dental health care in this province is an excellent one, because it is geared to the needs of our particular regions. This is, of course, done through the public health branch of the Ministry of Health. Reviews are made on a yearly basis to assess dentistry services in the light of community needs and within available funding. This built-in element of responsiveness has contributed to the success of our public health system. One cannot compare a system such as the one in Ontario with that of Saskatchewan and draw the conclusion that Ontario is somehow inferior in its dentistry services.

This does not mean that the procedures and impact of our public health services are not continually reviewed and assessed. They are, and always will be. I would refer to two examples. In 1974, there was a task force on community dental services. Preventive dental guidelines and staffing standards for all health units were outlined in the report. At present, there are 26 dental directors administering dental programs in Ontario.

Members will recall that a little more recently, in February, a dental care task force submitted its report to the Minister of Health. Reports do point out existing problems and make recommendations to the minister. Solutions in the most recent report include a tripling of the $7 million already spent on preventive care and the fluoridation of water in areas not equipped with those facilities. It stands to reason that if more people get into the habit of preventive care, then it will be more beneficial for Ontario.

In Ontario, dental treatment is available to recipients of social assistance free of charge. The special dental needs of the emotionally disturbed and mentally retarded members of our society are covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan. Another fact I am sure members will appreciate is that more than 40 per cent of employees in collective agreements are covered by dental plans, and the numbers are growing rapidly. At present, some three million Ontario residents are covered by private dental insurance plans. When we add this number to the people who are already being served by the public health system, we get a rather substantial figure.

Living in a northern riding makes me a little more aware of the absence or presence of dental facilities and the impact this has on the local population. The underserviced area program and the northern Ontario public health service are two examples of successful approaches to bring care to people in remote areas.

Saskatchewan had virtually nothing in place before 1974. For one thing, there was a severe shortage of dentists and very little in the way of public health programs, so there was a genuine need to implement a dental program funded by the government.

In summary, I share many of the concerns of the member for Oshawa for adequate dental care in this province; however, I disagree with some of his comparisons between Saskatchewan and Ontario and with his criticism of the efforts of the Ontario Ministry of Health. Ontario has much to be proud of in respect to dental care and is committed to regular reviews and upgrading, as resources permit.

Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and to join the debate and to support my good friend from Oshawa’s very timely and excellent resolution. I do so feeling that it is a matter of public policy that should be squarely joined by the government in the public interest.

I appreciated the remarks of our distinguished friend from Sault Ste. Marie, and I want to return to one or two of the things he said, because I have had a bit of experience which qualifies at least some of the current government policy in that connection.

I am delighted to agree with my friend from Oshawa that the Saskatchewan example is perhaps the best possible one in place to which we might look for guidance in so far as the Ontario jurisdiction is concerned. Though there are clearly some demographic differences between the two provinces, I feel none the less that the Saskatchewan program is a very good place to start.

The Saskatchewan plan, as I understand it, was as the member for Sault Ste. Marie indicated, and I think the member for Oshawa may be wrong in his remarks, if I heard him correctly. My understanding is that the Saskatchewan plan became effective in 1974, not some time earlier. Although it is not particularly important, I suppose, it certainly was an initiative of, shall I say, the New Democratic government and not the previous Thatcher government.

5:10 p.m.

I want to come to the member’s aid, in a partisan way, to set him straight. The plan that was created and established in Saskatchewan in 1974 was initially one to provide for free dental surgery, dental hygiene and preventive services for children between the ages of four and nine. As of September 1978, as I understand it, that program was extended to cover children, for the same benefits, up to age 12. As of the recent March 13 budget, there is a commitment from the Saskatchewan government to extend the coverage up to and including those in the 18-year-old bracket.

I remember talking to the former Minister of Health for Quebec, Mr. Castonguay, about his involvement with the Quebec plan and their desire to begin in a similar way with a limited coverage for children and to move that eligibility, as they felt finances would allow them, upward into the adolescent years.

The Saskatchewan budget in March 1980 raised the appropriation for the Saskatchewan dental plan from $8.2 million to $9.7 million. I think that figure is a good one in providing some guidance as to what we might expect as a cost to the Treasury of Ontario if we in this province were to implement such a program.

I do not know whether either of the honourable members who spoke before me mentioned the study done for the Ontario Economic Council by Messrs. Evans and Williamson, entitled Extending Canadian Health Insurance: Options for Pharmacare and Denticare, published a little over a year ago. As a poor layman, I had some considerable difficulty this week and last year when I reviewed this weighty document. I am sure the minister and his assistants, from Dr. Surplis down, have surveyed it much more carefully and much more intelligently than I have, but I was interested in some of what the study said about denticare.

Quite properly, they argue the case against universal denticare. I have always felt it would not be a proper intervention for government to establish a universal, comprehensive denticare program. I have never felt, and do not today feel, that would be wise. In fact, on the basis of the evidence presented by these very learned economists --

Mr. Wildman: Why do you say that?

Mr. Conway: I am sure my friend from Algoma will want his question answered as only these economists can answer it.

Mr. Wildman: Economics is a dismal science.

Mr. Conway: A dismal science? I don’t know that his leader would necessarily agree, but I felt that their arguments were good ones in terms of many of the questions I have had with respect to universal denticare. They argue, at least on page 221 in their summary and conclusions, that a “partial plan would be superior.”

They go on to cite -- in a pharmacare example, I might add -- the Saskatchewan experience, but they suggest that a partial denticare program for children in Ontario could be expected to cost anywhere between $50 million and $100 million, depending on what one wanted to include in the insurability areas.

I recommend this particular study to honourable members because it does deal, in reasonably current terms, with the Ontario jurisdiction.

In my travels around the province, in discussions with various private and public personalities with respect to health care, it has struck me that one of the things I hear, as often as complaints about our medicare system, is a lament about the very significant economic burden of ever-mounting dental bills. The average person that I represent in Renfrew county seems in many ways to be as concerned, if not more so, about the cost of providing good dental care for his children as he is about what is happening in our medicare sector. I think that is important.

I know the member for Oshawa cited a lot of telling arguments that the Minister of Health might consider, but I think he missed the most compelling one of all. That is something I firmly believe this government listens to above and beyond all else, namely, a Weekend magazine poll, done not more than a year ago, which indicated that nine out of 10 Canadians interviewed favoured the introduction of some sort of medicare style of denticare program.

There, for the minister and his cabinet colleagues, is surely the kind of evidence which they have not in the past been able to ignore, a poll done for no less a publication --

Mr. Mackenzie: We don’t know that they paid for that one.

Mr. Conway: Presumably they didn’t. But it’s a telling bit of evidence that surely must guide the minister in supporting some sort of denticare initiative.

It was said by my friend from Sault Ste. Marie that the current situation is, by and large, adequate for the needs of the community. I was interested to see an item in a publication, which I know all members read, the Renfrew Mercury of April 9 and April 16.

The April 9 edition of the Renfrew Mercury pointed out an interesting situation about the small community of Calabogie in the southeastern corner of Renfrew county. I have checked some of these facts, and they are accurate as I know them. The headline reads, “Calabogie Residents Up In Arms About Dental Coach Cancellation”. Briefly, for my friend from Sault Ste. Marie, the story about this situation is as follows: This community is 19 miles from the town of Renfrew, in which is located the nearest dentist.

Mr. Wildman: Nineteen?

Mr. Conway: Nineteen miles; not 20. That becomes important, because what happened in this case was that the government and the Ontario Dental Association had agreed to send the dental coach into that community to service the needs of that rural eastern Ontario community where 200 school kids were expecting to be able to participate in the benefits of that dental coach. Because one unnamed dentist in the town of Renfrew raised an objection, and because the present policy is that no community within 20 miles is eligible for the services if one of the dentists in the area objects, those 200 kids in the town or village or hamlet of Calabogie were denied the services of the dental coach program.

I say shame on the program, such as it is, that denies those people who, I can tell members, are as deserving as anybody in this province of services which many of them outside of this kind of public intervention will not ever receive. Surely that is the kind of loophole and that is the kind of inadequacy that only a public denticare program for all school children in this province can effectively deal with.

I have talked in recent months with some dentists and dental care workers who have had an experience with the various programs for the school-age children. They tell me it is there and to some degree it is adequate, but most of these people with whom I have spoken wonder whether there is a better way to spend the resources for the provision of these services.

Clearly, as my friend from Oshawa stated and as we can all agree to, the preventive health-care ethic must drive us all to an immediate recognition that there is no better place we can move or we can travel than to a dental care program for all school-age children. Or, at least as I have indicated in policy deliberations with my party not too long ago, those in the primary school age categories surely should be covered with a comprehensive program like the one in Saskatchewan, but also others that are available in the Canadian context might be looked at as well.

The preventive, cost-effective, health-care ethic about which we hear so much must lead us all, including my friend the minister, to an immediate recognition that this is a timely intervention for government and a right and proper course for us all to support.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, while my friend from Pembroke is still in the House: I have had a chance to examine Instant Hansard, and I would like to apologize to him for the construction of my words earlier, to which he took exception. I apologize.

Mr. Speaker: I want to thank the honourable minister for his generosity of spirit.

Mr. Conway: As I will.

Mr. Bounsall: Mr. Speaker, in that generosity of spirit which we have seen displayed in the last moment or two, we would hope to have unanimous support from all members of the House for this very excellent resolution put forward by my colleague.

Certainly in my mind what is needed in Ontario without question is a universal, comprehensive, government-operated dental care program heavily geared towards prevention.

One of the concerns that I had brought to my attention when I was first nominated, within a day or two of my nomination and quite some months in advance of the 1971 election, was from a group of people who phoned me about the problems they were having in the Windsor area in getting adequate coverage. Certainly in their minds, way back in the spring of 1971, they were convinced that the only way out would be to have, for themselves and their friends, a program in Ontario such as existed in Saskatchewan.

5:20 p.m.

We need a universal comprehensive plan, and I think Saskatchewan has gone about it the right way. They start with a group which they then expand in coverage year by year.

This would be the way which any province like Ontario could use as a model and get into the whole program of comprehensive dental care.

I would like to quote from the report of the committee established to develop a preventive dentistry corps program tabled in December 1979. It was a report that dealt with dental care; they just didn’t want to call it that. In that report, it is very clear there are great numbers in Ontario who are without any kind of repair program, let alone a preventive program.

I would like to quote several paragraphs from that report. It says: “Eligible residents in nursing homes and homes for special care receive dental care by private practitioners financed by the province. There is no preventive component in these programs; nor do all the residents receive the dental care needed.” This is what the committee found. Not only is there no preventive program whatsoever in these homes, but also not all the residents even get the repair care that is needed.

They go on to talk about the overlapping programs in Ontario that are already financed by the government, the numbers of them, and the fact that one program differs from the other, and in some cases people aren’t aware of them.

I quote the next paragraph:

“There is concern about the lack of dental care for geriatric and for physically and mentally handicapped persons in the community. Legislation provides for dental services under various acts, such as the Homes for the Aged Act, the Homes for Special Care Act, the Charitable Institutions Act, the Family Benefits Act and the General Welfare Assistance Act. However, inequalities of care exist, due partly to the different interpretations of these acts, lack of local facilities and funds, and the inability of the individual to gain access to the dental care system.”

We have six acts, all interpreted slightly differently across Ontario, and therefore people not knowing, as they progress from one program to another, what sort of dental care they can get. They are too often discouraged by the people administering the program whose intent seems to be to save money where possible and not to provide the adequate care at all.

Throughout these programs there is virtually no preventive aspect whatsoever. If someone on family assistance, parents and children, or someone on disability pension applies -- and they qualify under the special assistance portion of the General Welfare Assistance Act; that is, the regional government -- the municipality is the one that approves the application. There is virtually no way at all that person can get, through a dentist, the type of modern, preventive dentistry that anyone gets who can afford to pay. They will get their teeth filled, they will get their teeth pulled, but don’t talk about a partial plate, about a cap, or about cleaning at the same time, which are standard services now provided by dentists. Dentists claim this is the way, if teeth need repair, that you proceed with the repair of those teeth in such a way that future problems do not result.

There is not a dentist in this province that I know of who will pull a tooth if he can cap it. It isn’t just the cost; that’s the proper way to do it. All these recipients have virtually no opportunity at all to have that kind of proper dental care under our programs as they exist now in the province.

A program of government insurance and dental care such as they have in Saskatchewan would certainly change that entire situation and would allow dentists to give to their patients the kind of dental care they are giving to all their other patients who are not on some sort of assistance and make them much happier in their minds about the work they are performing.

If I have talked to one dentist in the last couple of years, I have talked to six or eight dentists from my area who are quite frustrated over the level of service they are being allowed to provide to people in receipt of assistance. They know they are not professionally doing the proper job. They are not being allowed to do it because of the payment structure under our system. That has to end as it is affecting not only adults, but also children in the province.

There are also dentists in Ontario who in their own practices would institute a thorough preventive program so that we don’t need the repair in the first place. A program of the type in Saskatchewan would ensure that kind of preventive emphasis gets through to all the children in the province on a continuing basis. It would not be just hit and miss, depending on the particular dentist and on one’s ability to be able to go to a dentist and pay for it oneself out of his own pocket, rather than receiving it through a program.

A comprehensive program would certainly be cheaper than the private plans in operation in Ontario. There is evidence in this regard. In a thorough government program of this sort we could have the whole area and persons involved -- what one might call dental practitioners -- thoroughly integrated and working together in harmony. It would be a program which would have the dentists, the dental hygienists and the denturists doing the jobs they are trained to do best in the most effective way and, therefore, for the coffers of Ontario, the cheapest way.

I have talked at some length about the savings that would be involved in this. That is not to underestimate the very great service this would provide to all residents of Ontario from the pure aspect of their health. There is certainly a need for all aspects of our health to be treated and to be taken care of. There is a need for a heavy emphasis to be put on prevention wherever we can. Unless and until we have a dental care plan geared to the preventive aspect in Ontario, we are not adequately looking after the health and welfare of the residents of Ontario in the way in which we should and in the way in which we are capable.

I hope every member of this House supports the resolution of the member for Oshawa. I certainly recommend it to all members and expect and hope there will be unanimous support for it.

Mr. Hennessy: Mr. Speaker, there is no one in this party or in this House who is not aware of the benefits of good brushing every day. Good dental care prevents tooth problems from happening or from becoming too serious. Don’t forget that last week was Dental Health Week. Murphy the Molar and the Ontario Dental Association are doing their best to appeal to youngsters of Ontario to brush their teeth every day.

Mr. Conway: Hear, hear for Murphy the Molar.

Mr. Hennessy: You look like him too. During 1979 the Ministry of Health spent almost $350,000 to get the message of dental care across to Ontario children. The Ministry of Education is putting together guidelines for primary and junior teachers so that they will know the best ways of teaching this to the youngsters. Ninety per cent of our dental problems could be solved by regular checkups and brushing. Overall in Ontario, we have quite a good level of dental care.

Let me remind members about the program that has been around in northern Ontario for a good 10 years. I refer to the underserviced area program operated by the Ministry of Health. Seventy-nine dentists are in the program, the majority of them in the north. The ministry operates 10 dental coaches that provide preventive and basic treatment services to pre-school and elementary children who live in more northern parts of Ontario. There are one dentist and an assistant in each coach.

5:30 p.m.

The first dental coach was started in 1931.

The member opposite me can correct me if he feels I am wrong, but the people living in rural areas in Saskatchewan do not have the kind of access to a dentist which northern Ontario residents have had for many years.

The Ministry of Northern Affairs has a bursary program for third- and fourth-year dentistry students to help them locate in parts of northern areas. The northern Ontario public health service helps provide dental service to residents. If this government was not concerned about promoting dental care, then Ontario might have been in the same position as Saskatchewan in the early 1970s.

I don’t think there is any doubt that proper dental habits now prevent a lot of pain and dental bills later on in life. More than 30 per cent of the people of Ontario are covered by a dental insurance plan. There are ways of dealing with the situation of filling in a cavity, so to speak. Various things contribute to good dental health, such as proper eating habits and the fluoridation of water.

The Ministry of Health is encouraging high school students to find ways to get junk food out of their schools. I think there is some junk across the road too. Today more people are aware of at least looking at what kind of food they eat and going towards more natural and less processed goods.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: There is decay in that party.

Mr. Eakins: There’s no decay over here.

Mr. Hennessy: Mr. Speaker, will you stop the audience?

Almost two thirds of the people of Ontario have access to fluoridated water. That helps to prevent cavities. It does not mean we are not open to good ideas. Adjustments can be and have been made to meet the needs of certain areas in the province. I feel this government will continue to respond to the needs of the people.

As a resident of northwestern Ontario, I welcome any suggestion to improve the lot of the general public. There are many people who cannot afford the high cost of dental care. There are those of moderate means, or those who do not have insurance or the necessary qualifications to get the funding in order to meet the bills as they mount.

They are very expensive. My daughter has had occasion to go to the dentist, and when I get the bill, I have to make sure my glasses are operating right when I read what it costs.

I think this matter deserves very careful consideration. I would say that northwestern Ontario could well afford to have better dental care. I think the Speaker and other members in this House who represent northwestern Ontario would agree with me.

Mr. Eakins: You should have got that Minaki budget.

Mr. Hennessy: I wouldn’t be surprised. In all fairness, I have to support this resolution, and I will vote for it.

Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the general thrust of this particular motion. I notice that it is worded carefully to give full credit to the NDP government in Saskatchewan. If the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) didn’t see those letters “NDP,” he probably would be inclined to support a resolution that is obviously one designed to move the province in the right direction.

The right of the people of this province and this country to medicare is a right that was established some years ago. Saskatchewan pioneered medicare at the provincial level. The former federal government of Lester Pearson moved a long way in providing the kind of financing for a national medicare program, I believe under the Honourable Judy LaMarsh and, later, under the Honourable John Munro, both of whom were Ministers of Health and Welfare. I think most Canadians, even those who dragged their feet initially in terms of the provision of medicare services by the public purse, now concede this was a movement in the right direction and are prepared to support it. I suggest the same would be true with denticare in this particular province. I think we recognize in terms of dental care that people tend to neglect the care of their teeth because of the substantial cost for the services that are provided by dentists in this province on a private basis. Even those who participate in private plans, we find through certain studies, do not participate as adults as much as possible, so the private plans continue to function and make some money, but they ensure that their children are involved in these programs and participate.

We recognize as members of this Legislature that it would be financially prohibitive to implement immediately a denticare program in Ontario covering everyone. This is not the suggestion; nor has Saskatchewan done this up to this point. It has done it in stages, which I think is the only way it can be implemented practically in any particular jurisdiction. The first stage is the coverage of those who are youngest, in their formative years, where dental care is of particular importance in terms of the future.

There are those in the dental profession who suggest those are the most important years. I haven’t had the opportunity as an individual to experience the care of a dentist, because I lived in the city of Sudbury for my first 12 years. Sudbury had fluoridated water, that rat poison that is introduced into the water system. As a result, I attribute that to producing something in me, perhaps a vindictive streak, but at the same time it did prevent me from incurring damage to my teeth to a certain extent.

I think we also recognize there are people other than children who require dental work and are unable to afford it. Each one of us as members of this Legislature receives telephone calls and letters and is approached personally by individuals who are receiving a certain government benefit, or who may be just above the level where they are receiving family benefits or some form of assistance from the provincial government.

When these people are confronted with very heavy medical bills, some of which are essential in terms of dental care, they are either forced to borrow money to cover these costs or to sacrifice other essential items in their own livelihood, These kinds of people, particularly those in their senior years and those who do not have the kind of financial wherewithal to deal with dental problems, should be assisted by any dental program which would be introduced in this province.

The suggestion that some would make, that we have a fee -- in other words, a premium -- would be one that would not be productive, in my view. Once again, those who are hit the hardest by premiums or deterrent fees are obviously those in the low-income bracket. They are the only people who will be deterred from seeking these services, as opposed to the fact that those who are capable of paying would be prepared to pay that additional cost.

The Saskatchewan plan, as I understand it, does not involve private dentists, at least very extensively, but instead it has staff dentists who are on salary with the province. Obviously that province wants to avoid the situation it is confronted with at the present time in terms of its medical care. The fact is that doctors in Saskatchewan do opt out of the program in a certain way by providing additional billing or separate billing.

We recognize that even in those jurisdictions where we have a Socialist government, we also have a situation where doctors for various reasons are permitted to bill over and above the plan, although the experience may be better in that particular jurisdiction than in Ontario.

We now have coverage in terms of chiropractors in this province. If one were to suggest we should exclude from any health-care program care of the ears or some other part of the body, one could question the logic of that. This is why I think it is most logical to extend coverage to basic dental care.

5:40 p.m.

Just as the Ontario Health Insurance Plan does not allow for cosmetic services to be provided for in terms of funding, one would recognize that cosmetic services would not be an essential service in terms of tooth care, and so we could recognize there would have to be only specific services that could be provided. Dental surgery and certain kinds of preventive care would be among those.

Ideally in any such program we should try to get the participation of those dentists who at present are practising privately. This would probably take a lot of discussion before they would be prepared to enter into a government program. Certainly I would expect they would not be prepared to serve as salaried employees of the provincial government, just as doctors in this province are generally not prepared to do so.

With the establishment of negotiated fees in Ontario, we might well see a number of people from the dental profession who would be prepared to participate in this activity. Since it would not be extended to the entire population, it would not be necessary to have virtually every dentist in Ontario participating, just as at the present time we don’t have every doctor in this province participating.

I hope representations will be made from various people to Mr. Justice Emmett Hall’s commission on health care, and that included in these submissions will be those, even from the dental profession itself, which would make representations on how a denticare program could best be implemented to serve the people of this province and perhaps across the nation. We would require some federal funding, in my view, to extend the service to all of the people.

I wonder whether any polls have been conducted. I understand there was one poll, which appeared in Weekend magazine and which said 90 per cent of the people of Canada were in favour of some kind of denticare. There was some dispute over how it would be paid for or who would be required to do the paying, but it is clear that with the skyrocketing costs of dental care in the province and right across the nation, with the fact that this is an essential health service, the people of this country and most specifically of this province are prepared to accept and indeed would look forward to the implementation on a staged basis, and within restrictions, of a denticare program in Ontario.

I enthusiastically endorse this resolution, although I might quarrel with the advertising that takes place in the latter wording.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I want to say very briefly that the major initiative that we in this country must take in expanding our medicare program is in dental care. I believe it is a shocking statistic that 22 per cent of the children in northern Ontario have never had dental attention of any sort. There are even more startling statistics for areas in ridings such as yours, Mr. Speaker, and in the Kenora area, where people do not have access to primary dental care.

Mr. T. P. Reid: And Rainy River.

Mr. Foulds: And Rainy River. We must take strong steps to ensure that those children have access to dental care. We can begin by passing this resolution today. We could ensure programs such as those that have been put forward by the Kenora-Rainy River District Health Council are fully implemented so that the children, at least in the north, have the access to dental care that they rightly deserve and will avoid a great deal of expenditure of both public and private funds in future years.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have enjoyed the comments from members on all sides of the House this afternoon on the resolution that is before us. I think it is a workable and conceivable objective to provide this kind of dental care program in Ontario.

Many of the people in my own riding are members of United Automobile Workers Local 222, which has the strength to bargain for private dental plans. It also had the strength, when there were problems in the implementing of that plan, of setting up its own dental clinic. It now provides dental services to some 22,000 members and their families in the Oshawa area. The tragedy is that not everybody has that kind of bargaining or organizational strength. Many of the people in our own area have a need for dental services and simply do not get them. In parts of Ontario the services are not available. Whether or not you have the money, there are no dentists and no one to provide that kind of dental care.

I do understand that under a multitude of programs, social policies, welfare programs, assistance programs and public health agencies, there are now in place in Ontario different kinds of dental care. There also seems to be a heavy emphasis on public relations.

None of us has anything against Murphy the Molar, or any of those other people who might convince small children to brush their teeth, but I do think it is necessary that here in Ontario we look at dental care in the same way that we looked at medicare, where the arguments are much the same. There is an amalgamation of public service programs and private insurance carriers at work. Individuals are insured in some manner for full or partial coverage of dental care.

It always seems to come down to several basic arguments about whether we can amalgamate all these programs into one dental care program. I put to the members of this House that this was possible and was achieved in the provision of medical care services in this province, and that it is desirable to do so with one publicly funded and operated medical care program for dentistry services.

The other overwhelming argument is the economics of it. I think it has been proved in Saskatchewan and here in Ontario that the economics of denticare make good sense. Frankly, for anyone, free enterpriser or no, who says we could invest $1 and get better than $16 in return, it seems to me that is clearly a good investment from anyone’s point of view.

I urge all members in this House to support this resolution. As health critic, I find this is a major area that has been totally neglected in Ontario, and it needs now to be finally addressed by the government. I propose a model here, not meaning it to be perfect, but meaning it to be one that is in existence, does work and generates substantial cost savings as well as good service to the people of Saskatchewan. I am simply asking that the same kind of service and the same level of dental care be provided here in Ontario.

5:50 p.m.


The House divided on Mr. G. I. Miller’s motion of resolution 13, which was agreed to on the following vote:


Blundy, Bolan, Bounsall, Bradley, Breaugh, Breithaupt, Bryden, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, Cunningham, Davidson, M., Davison, M. N., Dukszta, Eakins, Edighoffer, Foulds, Germa, Gigantes, Grande, Haggerty, Hall, Hennessy, Isaacs, Johnston, R. F., Kerr, Kerrio.

Laughren, Lawlor, Lupusella, MacDonald, Mackenzie, Makarchuk, Mancini, Martel, McClellan, McEwen, McGuigan, McKessock, Miller, G. I., Newman, B., Nixon, O’Neil, Philip, Reid, T. P., Riddell, Ruston, Sargent, Smith, G. E., Sweeney, Taylor, G., Van Horne, Warner, Wildman, Worton.


Auld, Belanger, Bernier, Brunelle, Cureatz, Drea, Eaton, Elgie, Gregory, Havrot, Henderson, Johnson, J., Kennedy, Lane, Leluk, MacBeth, Maeck, McCaffrey, McCague, McNeil, Newman, W., Norton, Parrott, Ramsay, Rollins, Rotenberg, Scrivener, Sterling, Timbrell, Turner, Villeneuve, Watson, Wells, Wiseman.

Ayes 55; nays 34.


Mr. Speaker: Mr. Breaugh has moved resolution 11. Shall the motion carry?

Those in favour will please say “aye.”

Those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the ayes have it.

Resolution concurred in.


Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in her chambers.

First Clerk Assistant: The following are the titles of the bills to which Her Honour has assented:

Bill 2, An Act to amend the Drainage Act, 1975;

Bill 6, An Act to amend the Durham Municipal Hydro-Electric Service Act, 1979;

Bill 7, An Act to repeal the Welfare Units Act;

Bill 15, An Act to amend the Game and Fish Act;

Bill 26, An Act to amend the Live Stock and Live Stock Products Act;

Bill 31, An Act to amend the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1976 and to provide additional powers in certain other Acts with respect to Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires;

Bill 32, An Act to amend the Telephone Act;

Bill 33, An Act to amend the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act;

Bill 34, The Elevating Devices Act, 1980;

Bill 38, An Act to repeal the Railway Fire Charge Act.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, just before the dinner hour, I would like to table the answers to questions 27 and 120 standing on the Notice Paper.

I would also like to advise honourable members that I will inform them of the business of the House for tomorrow and next week following the vote tonight.

The House recessed at 6 p.m.