31st Parliament, 4th Session

L063 - Mon 2 Jun 1980 / Lun 2 jun 1980

The House met at 2 p.m.



Mr. S. Smith: If I ask where everybody is, Mr. Speaker, would that be my first question? Are they all watching The Tin Drum? Is that where they are?


Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I will ask a question of the Treasurer. Could the Treasurer state his government’s position with regard to the removal of the inflation indexing provision for personal income taxes -- a removal which allegedly is currently being considered by the federal government? As the Treasurer will recall, a reconsideration of this particular indexing was requested by the Premier (Mr. Davis) towards the end of 1978 and the possible removal was suggested at that time. What is the position of the government of Ontario with regard to the removal of the inflation indexing provision?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I do not think we have been asked for our opinion on that since the days of Mr. Chretien as Minister of Finance. I do remember talking to him at least once, and I believe there will be a letter from me to him on that topic somewhere, because he asked me if I would confirm some oral discussions with him on it.

Of course, in Ontario, we are affected by that decision in terms of our revenue. Our provincial personal income tax is 44 per cent of the amount the federal government levies. Therefore, any change upward or downward would affect Ontario’s revenue.

At the time I last talked to Mr. Chretien, we were questioning the full indexing of the personal income tax exemptions because we were not sure the measured factors, the ones they use in the statutes, truly reflected the amount that taxation exemption should be indexed. That was the gist of our comments to Mr. Chretien then. In effect, it would probably still be our position in the sense that we would like to discuss with the federal government what is a fair level of indexing.

I would also like to say I think Ontario has been quite consistent across the years in worrying about automatic indexing of anything in the sense that we are beginning to believe inflation is becoming institutionalized in too many ways and few enough discrete decisions are left to anyone. Formulae, whether for salaries, for income tax exemptions or for payments by governments, are becoming tied to factors that may not truly represent needs of society and may not truly represent government’s ability to pay at times. We have argued that it is better to make discrete decisions than have automatic built-in indexing.

Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, since the Treasurer will agree that at least the intention of the indexing provision -- although I take it he may feel that the intention is not being accomplished by the present numbers -- is to prevent inflation from artificially bumping people into higher tax brackets, in that sense does the Treasurer not feel that to remove such provision basically will provide a windfall revenue for government, including his own government? Should it not be Ontario’s position to oppose that so that the people who are already suffering from inflation will not find themselves with an artificially increased tax bill as a consequence of government’s avidity for more and more of the taxpayers’ money?

While he is answering that, could he possibly tell us whether the Ontario government has any impact studies with regard to what the impact would be on Ontario taxpayers in various brackets if these indexing provisions were to be removed?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Those last studies would be easy to do because they would be simply computer printouts of available data. I suspect if I asked my staff if they have them available they wouldn’t need to do a study; they could simply give them to me. I suspect that kind of information is available.

Mr. T. P. Reid: You don’t have them?

Hon. F. S. Miller: I don’t have them in my head, let’s put it that way, even though my head is the closest thing to a computer one will ever see.

Mr. Kerrio: It is the same shape.

Mr. Breaugh: It might be the closest thing to a stone we will ever see.

Hon. F. S. Miller: It is an old-fashioned computer; it is run on a mechanical clock and it has to be wound up each day.

Mr. T. P. Reid: A whole bunch of beads on a string between your ears.

Hon. F. S Miller: It was a nice happy blend between the computer and the brain.

Mr. Nixon: Garbage in, garbage out.

Mr. Makarchuk: The computer just blew a fuse.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I obviously see I shouldn’t feed you fellows lines on a Monday. I have totally lost track of the first part of the question.

Mr. S. Smith: Shouldn’t the Treasurer be against this?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Shouldn’t I be against this? In a day and age when governments traditionally are spending more than they are levying, one of the impediments to balancing the budget is making discrete tax rate changes. In the days when this was provided for, I guess they followed the doctrine of Milton Friedman who said governments caused inflation; therefore, governments shouldn’t benefit from inflation.

At the same time, I suggest there is another danger. The federal government has seen its revenues in the last four or five years drop considerably below its spending rate. It has not been in a position or desiring to raise its revenues through the normal proper route of changing rates. Therefore, it has run a bigger and bigger deficit, which is simply buying more trouble in the future. I think it is not totally white or black on that issue. I sense that good economic management has been hampered to some degree by automatic indexing.

In Ontario, if we look at the increase in revenues since indexing began, we will find that the rate of revenue increase generally has been below the rate of the increased inflation rate or gross provincial product simply because we have taken what they call the elasticity out of our revenue sources by some of these factors.

2:10 p.m.

Mr. S. Smith: May I just ask a final supplementary from my point of view? Would the Treasurer agree that, removed of all technical terms, what he is really saying is that the governments would like to have even greater windfalls from inflation than they already have?

Rather than have the courage to come before the people with some kind of tax increase -- which I am not recommending, but if he thinks he needs the revenue -- he would rather get the revenue through the back door of removing the indexing provision, automatically forcing people artificially into higher tax brackets so that governments make more money. Is the Treasurer simply saying he would countenance the removal of this indexing provision because he does not like the notion of raising people’s taxes directly, so he raises them indirectly but the money comes out of the same pocket?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I have been keenly aware of that and obviously no one on the federal scene has been. In the years when indexing took place Ontario took what action was expected of government when indexing was brought in, that is steps to control spending. That did not happen at the federal level. The members opposite can agree with me on that because it is historical. It is not a question of decision; it shows fundamentally -- and I believe this is critical -- the difference in philosophy between a Conservative and a Liberal. The Liberals have consistently believed that big deficits do not hurt.

The members opposite lecture me in this House about those big deficits but the action at the federal scene tells me Liberals do not believe that big deficits hurt. At the present time, 20 per cent of the federal spending is just for interest.

Mr. Hennessy: Alice in Wonderland.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the Treasurer be kind enough to explain to me the schizophrenia within the Liberal Party by which its provincial leader takes one position the day after the federal Minister of Finance has taken another position? They talk out of both sides of their mouths.

Would the Treasurer likewise explain to me how, as a Conservative, he can denounce a scheme originally proposed by his federal counterpart when Robert Stanfield was the leader of the federal Conservative party? That party talks out of both sides of its mouth as well. When can we move to a fair tax system in this country and in this province based on ability to pay?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, my honourable friend made me think for a moment I was going to be embarrassed into supporting him but he cut me off at the knees as he spoke. He has now got both of us mad at him. Does he feel better now?

Mr. Nixon: That is all right. They will vote for the government in spite of that.

Hon. F. S. Miller: The fact is, Mr. Speaker, we have not deserted the principle. What we are suggesting to the members opposite is that we question whether the numbers being used serve the purpose first put forward as a principle by, I believe, Mr. Stanfield, that government should not automatically reap the harvest of inflation when it prints more money. That I agree with. The fact remains governments must be responsible and balance their budgets. That’s something we try to do and I think have bad great success with in Ontario. I think the honourable member would agree the federal government has had no success with it, regardless of whether he accepts it as a good goal.


Mr. Speaker: Before I recognize the Leader of the Opposition for his second question, I note the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Ziemba) has taken his seat. All members of the House will recall, as a result of an urging by the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg) for the chair to review what was said earlier by the member for High Park-Swansea, I had an opportunity to review what was said. I agree with the position taken by the member for Wilson Heights that actions attributed to him were not in keeping with parliamentary tradition in this House.

On Thursday last, at 10:30 p.m., I gave the member for High Park-Swansea an opportunity to withdraw the remarks. Now the confrontation between the member for Wilson Heights and the member for High Park- Swansea is no longer in that domain. The refusal on Thursday evening of the member for High Park-Swansea to withdraw the unparliamentary remarks is now an affront to the tradition in this House and an affront to the authority of the chair which has ruled that, in fact, the remarks do constitute a breach of privilege of a member of this House.

I now give the member for High Park-Swansea an opportunity to review his position and, if he so desires, to withdraw the comment without any editorial comment. Does the honourable member have anything to say?

Mr. Ziemba: Mr. Speaker, we all know what I said is true. I do not intend to withdraw the remarks. I do not intend to --

Mr. Speaker: Order. The honourable member has reiterated what he said on Thursday evening. His action and the position he has taken are an affront to the orderly procedures, the standing rules and the authority of the chair whose responsibility it is to decide what is parliamentary and what is not parliamentary.

In view of the action taken by the member for High Park-Swansea, I am going to refuse to see the honourable member. I am going to ask anybody who occupies this chair to refuse to see him. I am going to request that all members of all standing and select committees refuse to see the member for High Park-Swansea until he withdraws the remark.


Mr. S. Smith: A question to the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker: The Treasurer may be aware that the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz), who has been requested to find an extra $45,000 to keep the Three Schools of art in operation, said on television last night, “You can’t get blood from a stone.”

Since I presume the Treasurer is the stone in question, could he explain why it is that sum of money was not made available to the Minister of Culture and Recreation, whereas one Maurice Carter from Hamilton has had made available to him from the Ministry of Industry and Tourism the air fares for a 12-man crew in order that they can go to the Le Mans endurance race and race in his Camaro, which apparently General Motors was unwilling to support? Why was the stone able to bleed for that terribly important and worthy cause of sending the crew over to Le Mans and not able to bleed for the Minister of Culture and Recreation for the Three Schools? Does the Minister of Culture and Recreation have absolutely no clout in cabinet?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, in general I set the overall budget of the ministry with my colleagues in cabinet and then I allow the minister to interpret that budget as best he or she sees fit.

Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Since the matter of the Three Schools seems to be related to a Canada Council decision at the federal level that the school is an educational institution and falls within the purview of the provincial government with respect to the British North America Act, can the Treasurer explain why it is the Ministry of Education has not had additional funds made available to it to deal with the cases which the Canada Council has abandoned? Given the fact that these are important institutions which create a lot of employment, provide important educational and artistic opportunities, why has the Treasurer not made money available for that when he is apparently able to make money available to send a crew to Le Mans?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Again, Mr. Speaker, I would like to instruct my friend in the way money is disseminated by a minister. Once in a long while the Treasurer is called in for something as important as the farm assistance program or something of that nature, but in general, once the overall allowances are made to each ministry I have very little to do with the individual allocations and I think that is the way it should be.

Mr. S. Smith: The minister is not the stone?

Hon. F. S. Miller: I probably am the stone in the sense that somebody has to turn taps off in total. That is one of my jobs.

2:20 p.m.

Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Since it would appear that the Treasurer is saying the Minister of Culture and Recreation has not approached him for any additional funds, since the minister gave a very clear impression on television, when he said you cannot get blood from a stone, that he had tried everything possible to get the money, can we take it that the minister, in fact, has not approached the Treasurer, has made no effort at all to find additional funds other than from within his own budget, which undoubtedly was already accounted for?

If that is the case, can the Treasurer explain why the minister is giving the impression that he has turned every stone to try to find the blood necessary for this particular school?

Hon. F. S. Miller: If one turns enough stones, one might find some.

The fact remains, Mr. Speaker, that there are 24 or 25 of us in cabinet. Two of us are given the job to say no. Every other minister, outside of the Premier, the Treasurer and the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet (Mr. McCague), basically has specific responsibilities almost all of which, allowing for the natural positive leanings of politicians, can cost money and therefore every minister of the crown -- ask any of my colleagues -- would say that he or she could use more money effectively, but we do believe in responsible spending and it is my job to be --

Hon. Mr. Snow: We sure could, Frank, we sure could.

Hon. F. S. Miller: My friend on my left -- in one sense anyway -- constantly reminds me of his needs and so do others.


Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, are we to gather from your ruling presented to the House in association with the statement by the member for High Path-Swansea, that since you have indicated his statements were unparliamentary and therefore unacceptable in this House you are not taking the usual course of action but in fact you are indicating to the House you will not recognize his presence and that you are instructing the chairmen of committees he is not to be recognized in committee? Is that true?

Mr. Speaker: The first part of your assumption is absolutely correct. I will not recognize the member for High Path-Swansea and he will not be allowed to participate in the debates or in the question periods. I am not demanding that the chairmen of committees do that, I am requesting that they do so and I hope they will see the wisdom of such a course of action. What the member does outside the House is certainly his own business, but he does not enjoy the privileges of this House at the present time.

Mr. Nixon: On a point of order: May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to explain to the House the basis of this substantial departure from our traditions, which have been well understood and really immutable for over 100 years?

Mr. Speaker: It seems on certain occasions members know full well that on occasion they can say almost whatever they want to and, by absenting themselves for a brief period of time, they are able to do that almost with impunity.

It is a departure, I agree. It is something I feel very strongly about. The member himself bas chosen to disregard the rules of the House and the decision I took last Thursday night with regard to the responsibilities of the chair in the matter of unparliamentary language. It seemed that something unusual had to be done and I am trying this. Members of the House can challenge me if they wish, but I have made my ruling and it stands.

Mr. Nixon: Will you permit a further interjection on the point of order? May I bring to your attention, sir, that I don’t believe there has been an occasion where you have dismissed a member from the service of the House for any period of time when eventually that member has not withdrawn the words that were offending?

I, too, have shared the Speaker’s concern about such a procedure whereby unparliamentary statements might be made and then after a brief withdrawal the member resumes his or her place without withdrawing the remarks. But in my experience we have always had a withdrawal of the remarks and we have not accepted, as a House, that being sent out of the House, however briefly, more or less paid the price for uttering the unparliamentary remarks.

I personally must say, with great respect, that I am not impressed with the alternative you have brought forward and I would ask for your further consideration.

Mr. Breithaupt: Might I also speak to this point, particularly with respect to the contents of standing order 20? It would seem, Mr. Speaker, with greatest respect, that the alternative which is open to you is only to name a member and to see to the expulsion of that member after naming him. What we have seen this afternoon is indeed a challenge to you by the comments which, one could say, were flaunted by the member for High Park-Swansea in his refusal to accommodate your offer.

I think, sir, you have gone far further along this path than anyone could reasonably have asked you to do. Suggesting that the member is able to keep his place and yet not be recognized by you or by the particular chairman of committees to which that member may attend is not the purpose of rule 20. If I may say so, I believe you have been lenient and your position has been made somewhat more awkward by having this additional challenge thrown to you today by the member for High Park-Swansea.

As a member of this House, I believe a review by all members of standing order 20 would be useful in that the challenge which has been placed to the chair has put you in a very difficult and unfair position. I believe the leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Cassidy), and indeed the other House leaders and leaders of parties here, have an obligation to see you through this particular circumstance. I would call upon them in your presence, sir, to ensure that the rule, as it is set out here, is clearly and carefully enforced in the interest of all of us as members of this House.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I just want to say I think you have handled the situation with admirable dexterity, reaching into British precedent for the ruling you have given us today.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I think this has been a very disturbing matter. Certainly the comments that have been made in this House and the motives imputed and attributed to members of this party by another member of the House were remarks which could not be tolerated.

I think you were absolutely and perfectly correct in your review of those remarks and in your judgement that they did offend the member to whom they were directed and also that they offended this House. Those remarks do offend each member of this House and were not proper remarks.

I think how the matter we are now discussing should be handled is your decision as the custodian of the rules and the mores of this House. I think you have not handled it completely under standing order 20, but I must say I do not feel you are completely enclosed by having to use standing order 20. I think you have in your wisdom gone beyond standing order 20 to look for a remedy for this particular situation. The remedy you have come up with is a very interesting one and fits the circumstances.

I would say we support you on the solution you have come up with here. It may never have been used in this House before. I don’t think that is a just reason to say it cannot be used. In what is a very difficult and trying situation, I think you have come up with a very interesting solution, which I hope will lead to the honourable member withdrawing the remarks which offend all of us in this House.

2:30 p.m.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order I raised originally, may I point out to you, sir, that if in the event the member for High Park-Swansea does not retract, I know of no limit on the Coventry into which you have placed him by your ruling. While he may be able to sit there, evidently under your direction he will not be able to participate.

I personally do not join the government House leader in indicating that I think it is a wise move. I personally believe, sir, that if you wanted to follow an alternative you might very well have indicated, as you have, that the statements were unparliamentary. Then it is the responsibility of the government House leader to take the action to move that the member be dismissed from the service of the House until he retracts his statement. In that way, it would be definite.

But this way, you’re liable before the session is over to have six or eight people -- you’re going to have to keep a list of those you’re not going to recognize. I submit to you, sir, this is not going to be a workable addition to rule 20.

Mr. Speaker: I don’t know whether the remarks made earlier by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, and to some extent concurred in by the member for Kitchener, constitute an appeal against the ruling of the chair. if that is the case, so be it.

I think we are dealing with a very unusual situation, where it is no longer a question of exception taken to a remark made by one member against another member. It is a question of the chair resolving a situation that could become chronic if you allow one member to get up and speak almost with impunity, by simply saying, “I’ll say whatever I please, and I will be banished from the House for one sitting, and that’s the end of it.”

I think there needs to be a review of that standing order. I’m dealing with the standing order as it is written now. I think the situation we’re dealing with requires something of a departure from the normal. I’ve made my ruling and I stand by it. I want to tell all members of the House that a Speaker’s ruling is open to appeal. If that’s what the House wants, I would welcome it. But my ruling stands.

Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, this is very difficult for us. You’ll appreciate the individual instance of the unparliamentary remark becomes largely irrelevant in a sense, compared to the ruling, which is the important matter now before us. In fact, the original remarks did not pertain to any member of this party, and we have no particular cause to rush into the defence of the member for Wilson Heights or the member for Armourdale (Mr. McCaffrey).

Mr. Foulds: Then why are you doing it?

Mr. S. Smith: Not at all. We are not defending any members of the House; we’re trying to defend the traditions of the House. Your ruling adds a dimension to standing order 20 which I find would make the workings of this House very difficult indeed.

There may be a precedent for your decision in British tradition, but I don’t recall in the federal House any such precedent. I wonder whether we really want to add this option to standing order 20, so that there would be lesser and greater offences -- some of which would call for expulsion, some of which would call for a kind of Coventry, a kind of being ignored, an ostracism of some kind.

I personally feel the House has worked rather well with standing order 20. I think that adding this new type of punishment, with the greatest respect, sir, would cause great difficulties. Completely ignoring the original incident and dealing only with your ruling, I feel compelled to appeal your ruling, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: I have been remiss. If an appeal of the chair’s ruling wants to be launched it shall be done without debate. I have allowed three members over here and another member over here to speak. I will hear, finally, the leader of the New Democratic Party and then I will put the appeal to the House.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I simply want to reiterate the comments made by my colleague the member for Port Arthur. This is a difficult situation for everybody in the House. I believe you have handled it with dignity and with decorum, and I believe it is incumbent on all members of the House to accept your authority as the Speaker, as we do in this caucus.

Mr. Speaker: The question before the House is the appeal of the Speaker’s ruling with regard to the incident involving the member for High Park-Swansea.

All those supporting the position of the chair will please say “aye.”

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the “ayes” have it.

The ruling of the chair is sustained.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, in the absence of the Premier, (Mr. Davis) arising out of the film which we saw this morning, The Tin Drum, which I have to say, having seen many films, is a masterpiece and one of the finest works of art I have seen in the cinema for many a year.

Is the government prepared to bring in legislation to establish a classification system for films in Ontario which would ensure that, when there is a film that takes the top award at Cannes and the top award for foreign films in the academy awards, the people of Ontario may judge the film for themselves, along with the people of Manitoba, British Columbia and Quebec, of every country in western Europe and of 50 states in the United States?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I do not know why the reference was made to the Premier. It has been government policy for some time that the answer to the question is no. If the honourable member has a question of the Premier, then I suggest he ask it of the Premier.

His attitude today does not surprise me very much. He said on Friday exactly what his findings were going to be before he saw the film. He said the same thing on Friday. He wanted classification and not censorship. He also wanted me to fix the Ontario Board of Censors. He wanted me to intervene at the board. I know he is going to say to me it is on a matter of principle that I should intervene. Is that correct?

Mr. Foulds: The minister is answering the question.

Hon. Mr. Drea: If it is correct because of a great principle, Mr. Speaker, I tell you that the member told me some time last week, on Tuesday or Thursday, that a principle of one law for the rich and one law for the poor was not worth the minister’s signature. Obviously things have changed in a few days.

Mr. Cassidy: The minister is speaking in riddles. People across the province would like a straight answer to the question, which is whether this film, which is quite a fantastic cinematic experience, can be shown in Ontario. Since it is now the habit of the Ontario Board of Censors to wade in with its flat feet on films that are acknowledged works of art, and since the film The Tin Drum will be remembered long after the name of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is forgotten in Ontario, will the government adopt a policy which will allow films that are works of art to be shown in Ontario, or is it the government’s policy that, to be consistent, it now intends to go down to the Art Gallery of Ontario and start to censor the statutes and paintings in that museum?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, that is the stupidest remark ever made by a leader in the history of this House. We hear this lofty thing about artistic works of art et cetera. Once again, the member is getting into the thing that, if it is artistic, anything goes, but if it is not so artistic in the view of the leader of the third party then perhaps everything should go. Surely the member should stick to his original position. I do not understand why he cannot understand it. Some days it looks like he went a fast five with Nicky Furlano, but that is not my problem. I said no to the first one and I am saying no now.

2:40 p.m.

Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, agreeing that to draw a distinction between an artistic and a nonartistic movie would be utterly impossible, may I ask the minister whether he has had a chance to check with Mr. Sims to find out whether there did occur a telephone conversation the day before the meeting in which Mr. Sims was made an official offer of the one-cut version? Has the minister had a chance to check that? Right now it is the credibility of the lawyer versus the credibility of the minister, and I think that should be settled.

Hon. Mr. Drea: I do not think there is any dispute on the credibility of that one. I went through it last week. I said specifically, and I have gone over it both days --

Mr. S. Smith: Sims, not Brown.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Yes, I know. The member has a mental block on this one.

There was a phone call made to the director. At the same time, or just about the same time, a phone call was made to the assistant director, Mrs. Brown. The phone call to Mrs. Brown is a very significant one, because it said, “Don’t make the offer to the board unless the board will accept it.” On the basis of the commitment that Mrs. Brown made, Mr. Sims regarded the phone call as an unofficial negotiating position. Only when the letter arrived was it considered an official position and by that time the decision had been taken.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that the minister so clearly thinks this is an offensive film that will corrupt the people of Ontario, would he be so kind as to tell the assembly when and where he saw the film? Secondly, as a result of my seeing it today, would the minister please enlighten me as to which scenes the board wants cut from the film because, after having seen the film, I could not find four pieces of the film that even the minister would want to cut.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, obviously the member is massively misinformed, even as the critic. I am not the censor. The board is an independent board. I am no more responsible for the actual decision of that board than I am for a decision of the Ontario Racing Commission, the Ontario Securities Commission, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario or the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario.

The people in the New Democratic Party are opening up a very interesting little scenario of having the minister overrule the board when he does not like the decision. That is not the way it is set up. I have not seen the film. Why should I see it? It is the theatres branch or the censor board that has made a decision.

Mr. M. N. Davison: The minister is the one who is responsible.

Hon. Mr. Drea: I am responsible only in informing this House what has been done. The honourable member knows that and I know it.

Mr. Foulds: That is an interesting theory of ministerial responsibility.

Hon. Mr. Drea: It is an accurate one.

I suggest the New Democratic Party is ploughing a new field. If they are telling me that, any time I do not like the decision of an administrative tribunal or a board which operates at arm’s length from the minister’s office, I should interfere and have it done my way, I do not think they want to put that one out to the voters. That is what the member is asking me to do.

Mr. M. N. Davison: We asked for a film classification hoard.

Hon. Mr. Drea: The answer was no, and the member’s last one was be wanted the saloons open all night in Hamilton because he was not a puritan.

Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, while the minister no doubt would agree that he may not be responsible for each decision, would he not agree with me that he is responsible to see that the proper and thorough procedures of the board are carried out? If so, would the minister be prepared to state to the House that the proper procedures of the board have been carried out to date in this particular circumstance?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, the member makes a very good point. Obviously I have responsibility to make sure that the due process in whatever form it takes or the administration procedures are carried out properly. In this case, yes, I am sure.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Minister of Natural Resources. I am tempted to say that not only is the censor board an anachronism but so is the government an anachronism; and that exempts the Minister of Natural Resources since I am going to ask him a question.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Minister of Natural Resources. Is the minister aware that in Dubreuilville, a logging town north of Wawa in north-central Ontario, some 300 jobs could be created by adding a second shift to the lumber mill and by the construction of a waferboard mill if there were adequate wood supplies to make that possible? Is he aware that many independent sawmills in the province are constrained by timber shortages, which are largely due to the fact that 87 per cent of the timber limits in northern Ontario are in the hands of the pulp and paper companies? What action is the government intending to take or taking to resolve the conflict over access to timber limits between the sawmills and pulp and paper companies in the province?

Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, surely I did not hear the honourable member correctly if I heard him say 87 per cent of the timber limits in the north are in the hands of private companies. Ninety per cent of those limits are in the hands of the crown. If the honourable member is talking about Algoma and the land owned by Algoma Central Railway -- given to them in the 1930s, I believe -- that could be correct.

I understand there are provisions made by Algoma Central to sell or give third-party agreements a variety of ways to access that timber to both the lumber and the pulp and paper industry. However, I am aware of the Dubreuilville situation; as a matter of fact, the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Brunelle) has brought it to my attention on several occasions. We are unable to find any crown timber available to them in an economic area to add to their present licensing.

I am afraid I have no way of requiring that private owners turn over timber to other people. We do encourage that, and on occasion we have been able to assist people through our good offices. But I have no statutory power to do what the honourable member is suggesting.

Mr. Cassidy: I trust the minister was not trying deliberately to misunderstand my question. The minister knows that some 87 per cent of the crown timber land in northern Ontario which is licensed is licensed to the pulp and paper companies. The Armson report of 1976 states specifically that the legacy of very large licensed areas in the hands of these pulp and paper companies cannot be justified when forest management is both possible and feasible. In the light of that what plans does the government have to reallocate those timber limits more equitably so that both the pulp and paper industry and the independent sawmill industry can thrive and grow?

Hon. Mr. Auld: I think it is fair to say, certainly in my experience to date as Minister of Natural Resources, that the vast majority of operators in the pulp and paper and lumber industries believe that they are being treated equitably.

Our problem has been that the pulp and paper industry has, at last, again had good times; their markets have improved and they want more wood to cut. In most cases we do not have it available for them. The same thing applies to the sawlog industry. Until perhaps three months ago not a week went by that I did not have at least one operator in my office to see if we could find more wood for him because he had either updated or expanded his equipment. He wanted to get on to two shifts or, if he had been on two shifts, to get on to three.

The woodfibre industry has been booming and it still is in pulp and paper. But it is not possible to find all the wood that everybody would like. If I were to say to the honourable member that I could find more wood for the Dubreuilville company, we would have a lot of people at Queen’s Park wanting to see the Minister of Natural Resources tomorrow.

There are still a number of people -- even though the sawmill operations, as I say, are soft at the moment -- who are anxious to expand if they can get the wood.

As far as those companies with crown licences are concerned, and particularly in the pulp and paper industry, we have assisted in arranging many third-party agreements where the hardwood and some of the softwood is made available by the crown licensee to another operator.

2:50 p.m.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, the minister has a letter similar to this on his desk, or somewhere in his ministry, from myself. Would the minister not agree that it is not good forest management to see an eight-inch or 10-inch or bigger butt piece of timber going into a pulpwood mill, where it is going to he ground up for pulp, when that same 10-inch butt, or larger, could very well he allocated to sawmills in the area?

The minister used to have a policy in this regard. Does he not think it is time he went back to that policy and made it necessary that the pulpwood companies allocate those areas where there is large timber and where it will not he an expensive culling process to allocate anything over a 10-inch butt to a sawmill operator?

Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, as regards those companies that do not have their own sawlog operations, I am inclined to agree with the honourable member. The problem, as I understand it, is that in many cases there are few logs and they are a long distance from a sawmill. But we do encourage, as I am sure he is aware, that logs of larger sizes be made available to the sawlog industry as opposed to going into pulp.

Mr. Cassidy: Is the minister not aware of the concern in the sawmill industry that far too many sawlogs are being used for pulp by the pulp and paper industry when they could be used to create a higher value product by going through sawmills? Is the government prepared to require that any merchantable sawlogs that go to the pulp and paper industry be diverted to sawmill operators and to require, likewise, that the pulp and paper companies take the chips from sawmills? This would ensure that in northern Ontario we would achieve the twin objectives of stabilizing communities that are threatened and identifying opportunities for growth and jobs that could be there now if they ran the forest resources better.

Hon. Mr. Auld: The member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) in his question pointed out that under a certain size it is not the best use of the resource to make it into saw-logs. One can make a two by four out of anything that is five inches across, but it is not a very economic way of using a resource.

For those pulp and paper companies that do not have their own sawlog operation -- and many of them do, as I am sure the honourable member is aware -- we encourage the use, where it is economically feasible, of the larger logs for the sawmill industry. However, that is assuming there is a good market for sawlogs. At the moment that is not the case.


Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Now that the minister is on record as saying the Hamilton and District Association for the Mentally Retarded has funds in its budget to bring about a settlement to the strike by its 53 workers, does he not think it is his responsibility to use some influence to have the association actually bring an end to this 10-week-old strike?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, that question may overlook the fact that any agreement requires co-operation on both sides. Exerting whatever influence the honourable member is suggesting on the association alone may not achieve that.

Mr. Blundy: Is the minister not prepared to discuss this matter with the Hamilton association, or to admonish them for not meeting with the strikers to try to reach a settlement?

Hon. Mr. Norton: It always surprises me when the honourable members opposite purportedly believe in the free collective bargaining process until such time as an issue arises which does not make them happy because it isn’t being resolved as quickly as they wish. Then, suddenly, the collective bargaining process is no longer important; somebody should be stepping in and directing one side or the other as to how they should conduct the negotiations.

I would indicate to the member it is my understanding the staff of the Ministry of Labour is in contact with both parties and has indicated its good offices are available as soon as either party is willing to make another move. I don’t see that there is anything additional that can be done at the moment.

Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, by way of suggesting at least one more thing that may be done, may I ask the minister whether he would agree to release the results of the audit, which has been done, according to the minister himself, by financial officers of the ministry and, secondly, by auditors? Would he agree to release that information in view of the fact the bargaining unit has not been given financial information on the situation of the local association? As well, in the light of the Toronto settlement, it would be interesting, not just for the bargaining unit ‘but also for the public, to have that financial information made available with respect to the minister’s assertion that funds exist in the budget of the local association which ought to lead to a settlement.

Hon. Mr. Norton: It is correct I did suggest that last week; but, again, any suggestion I have made would presuppose some willingness on both sides to reach an agreement. I don’t believe any release of information relating to the audit that was done would further the negotiations at this point.


Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism. In view of the fact that Massey-Ferguson Industries Limited lost money in 1978 and 1979 as a result of losses in foreign operations and White Farm Equipment Limited may be experiencing some similar problems as a result of other than its Brantford operation, and in view of the fact that we have a trade deficit of approximately $1 billion in farm equipment, is the minister and his department at this time considering some special contingency plans to ensure that the Canadian agricultural implement industry will not be faced with possible future plant closures?

Will the minister consider the possibility of establishing a combined tractor and mining equipment manufacturing industry in Ontario as most of the tractors that are used in the resource and agricultural industries are imported from outside the country?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, we will be looking at opportunities though our manufacturing opportunity shows for that particular industry, as we already have in pulp and paper and in mining. To be realistic, I think we should not pretend that, short of an upturn in the market for the goods produced, there is going to be a short-term answer for the very critical situation in Brantford. There is little we can do about increasing market demands for whatever products are already being made there.

Mr. Makarchuk: In view of the fact the uncertainty in the market is to a great extent the result of the embargo placed by Carter on the selling of wheat to Russia as well as the Canadian government commitment not to sell any more than it had committed, and in view of the fact other countries in the world -- Argentina and West Germany, for example -- are prepared to sell anything and everything at any time, will the minister perhaps lobby with the federal people to ensure that some understanding is reached between the Canadian and Russian governments as to the future of wheat sales between the two countries, because the Russians are interested in knowing and finding out what is going to happen?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I will be pleased to discuss that matter with my colleagues. Obviously any position we may take with regard to pressuring for more grain and wheat sales from Canada to Russia would be a matter for this government to consider in its whole context not simply in that of the situation with Massey-Ferguson.

3 p.m.

I think it is an overstatement of the situation to suggest that the embargo on sales to Russia is the cause of these particular layoffs. As the member has indicated, that firm lost money in the two years preceding the embargo in any ease. That is a firm indication that the embargo did not cause the situation.

On a personal level, I might add that I think governments have to show some resolve in international situations to shore up efforts to deal with the kinds of matters the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) brought before this House last Thursday in private members’ period.


Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources, who I trust will be making a statement later about the fire situation in northwestern Ontario. My question concerns crown lands.

In view of the fact that the assessor in crown lands, who assessed the crown lots in the Fort Frances area, did so on the basis of three improved lots with septic fields, roads, hydro and so on, and used that as a basis for market value on these crown-leased lots, would the minister now reconsider his program to sell these lots to people based on figures that are obviously erroneous? I will send him the information if he does not have it.

Secondly, will he find some time this summer to travel to Kenora and Fort Frances to meet with the crown lot lessors to discuss this whole matter, which they feel is an injustice to them?

Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, as far as the first part of the question is concerned, as the honourable member is aware, when we indicated that those who had leased lots would have the option of purchasing them, we said the purchase price would be the price without lessee-added improvements. There are a number of places where people have made major improvements to the shoreline and that sort of thing.

My understanding is that in some areas where the lots were made available for lease, the Ministry of Natural Resources or the crown in right of Ontario paid for other improvements, such as area improvements like roads.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Not in these cases.

Hon. Mr. Auld: There is a variety of problems in different parts of the province. We have indicated that if the lessee who wishes to purchase is dissatisfied with the price offered by the Ministry of Natural Resources based on the Ministry of Government Services appraisal, then we are prepared, first of all, to share in the cost of an appraisal by an appraiser of that person’s choice. We would pay half the cost of that. Failing that or in lieu of that, we have set up an appeal board to hear submissions as to why the offered price is too high.

In answer to the second part of the question, knowing the hospitality of the honourable member, the beauties of the Fort Frances area and the pickerel available in the Rainy Lake Hotel, I will try to work that in.

Mr. T. P. Reid: I will ask one short supplementary which I hope will only require one short answer.

In view of the fact that the government appraiser appraised one lot and applied that price to other lots in the subdivision, will the minister allow the crown lot lessors to have one lot appraised and apply that price to the lots in those subdivisions or in that area? There are two problems: the cost of getting a qualified appraiser to the area and the time to do that.

Hon. Mr. Auld: If we were to have the same lots appraised, on the one hand, by the government appraiser and, on the other hand, by the lessee’s appraiser, it would wind up in the lap of the minister to be Solomon-like. I think the ministry would probably be very much influenced by something in between those two appraisals, assuming there was a great difference.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, does the continuing difficulty of these individual cases that are coming to the attention of all members of northern Ontario not point out to the minister the impossibility of any of his assessors or anyone else setting a fair market value for cottage lots? Is not the program a failure in that regard?

Hon. Mr. Auld: I know it is very difficult, but we hope to find a fair and equitable way -- fair and equitable to the people who want to buy and to the rest of the taxpayers of the province, who are really the vendors.


Mr. Lupusella: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Solicitor General. Could he report on the details of an incident involving the wounding of Constable R. Pilon in Dubreuilville early Sunday morning?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Where did this incident take place?

Mr. Lupusella: Dubreuilville.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No, I am not aware of it, but I will obtain information and report back, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Lupusella: The constable was shot by two robbers and, given the fact that my colleague the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) has been trying for two years to convince the Solicitor General to put a second Ontario Provincial Police officer in the community, is the Solicitor General now prepared to review the position he has taken against providing a second OPP constable for Dubreuilville to ensure local backup, rather than leaving them dependent on the Michipicoten detachment more than 50 miles way?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I do not think that issue has been raised, to my knowledge. The issue that has been raised, as I recall, is the suggestion that there automatically be a second man in an OPP cruiser. That was the issue that I recall was raised by the member for Algoma. I said to him on that occasion, and others, and I repeat, that obviously in certain circumstances a second police constable is warranted, but it is not warranted in each and every situation. The OPP, given their modest resources, must utilize them in such a way as to provide the maximum service. An automatic requirement that two police officers be in every cruiser at a certain time of the day would not, in my view, be a wise utilization of police resources.

I do not recall any issue raised about a second officer in this one detachment. I will look into that aspect of it.


Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations; my question relates to the activities of Madasa Attractions of Michigan, acting in the capacity of promoters for charitable fund-raisers. What protection do Ontario charitable organizations have when a non-Ontario promotion agency, such as Madasa, fails to live up to its contractual commitments, particularly in the Kitchener-Waterloo area the Sertoma Club was left holding the bag with a loss of $4,000? For example, could the minister require the promoters to post a bond?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat mystified as to how you can hire a fund-raiser and be left holding the bag. If the member could communicate the details to me, I would be able to give him some assistance.

3:10 p.m..

We have cautioned service clubs and so forth about their responsibilities. Basically, when one hires an outside company -- by outside, I mean other than their own members -- to solicit funds on one’s behalf, one had best be awfully careful of the manner in which those funds are solicited, that there is an accurate description given to the public as to where exactly the funds will go and the nature of the event, and that the utmost precautions are taken in contractual relationships so that the person does not vanish.

I say to the honourable member I am totally unaware of that company and what it did. If he would like a detailed answer, perhaps he could give me all the circumstances in writing and I will be very glad to respond to him here within a day or two.

Mr. Sweeney: I will do that for the first part of my question. There is a second part to it, however.

Is there any protection under Ontario law at the present time for Ontario citizens who receive phone calls from such promoters, deceiving the callers into believing it is the charity itself that is calling, especially when we discover later on these promoters are taking in considerably in excess of half the money that is raised?

Hon. Mr. Drea: There are two routes for the person who is being called by the boiler shop. I think the member would agree it is a boiler-shop operation. The first one is through this ministry in terms of civil regulatory law. We can move in and establish the validity of the operation, particularly just what message is being disseminated from the boiler operation. Secondly, a person can go the Criminal Code route through the regional or municipal police or through the anti-rackets branch of the Ontario Provincial Police. If memory serves me correctly, we have had some similar incidents where both those approaches at a particular time in the investigation were merged.

I say to the honourable member -- and it is always in hindsight -- I cannot emphasize enough the difficulties a service club, a community group, a charity, a nonprofit group or a religious group -- I give it the broadest possible definition -- gets into when it decides it will hire a professional fund-raiser, rather than relying on its own members. The history of Ontario is dotted with disasters. They may not be the stuff of which headlines are made and they may not be the stuff from which long jail sentences result. But they do result in the fact that the public is left with a bad taste in its mouth and, in the final analysis, it is the public that is going to be contributing.

What happens is they honestly believe the person doing the phone solicitation is a member of the organization, and therefore they contribute. When they find out it is a boiler-shop operation -- in this case, as the member says, from the state of Michigan, an operation that is probably well known to authorities -- they are left with that bad taste.

If the member will give me the details, I will give a full statement on it.



Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs be authorized to sit from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 4, 1980.

Motion agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the standing committee on administration of justice be authorized to travel to the Burtch Correctional Centre in Brantford, Ontario, on Wednesday, June 4, 1980, and that the time remaining for the consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Correctional Services be credited against the time allocated for the said estimates, and that the provisions of section 66 of the Legislative Assembly Act be not applicable.

Motion agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the supplementary estimates of the Ministry of Industry and Tourism be referred to the standing committee on resources development for consideration within the 17 hours already allocated to that ministry, and that the supplementary estimates of the Ministry of Natural Resources be referred to the same committee for consideration within the 23 hours already allocated to that ministry.

Motion agreed to.



Mr. Swart moved first reading of Bill 88, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Swart: The purpose of this bill is to declare that the designations “member of the Legislative Assembly” and “MLA” are the official designations of the persons who are elected to the Legislative Assembly. The bill provides that only members of the Legislative Assembly are entitled to use either of the official designations in association with themselves while sitting as elected members of the assembly and during the succeeding election period.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I would like to table the interim answer to question 170 standing on the Notice Paper. (See appendix, page 2432.)


House in committee of supply.


On vote 603, local government affairs program:

Mr. G. I. Miller: I believe we finished on Friday with a couple of questions to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. One question was in regard to the Great Lakes flood damage. The minister indicated that the funding for that program was only available to municipalities on an 80:20 basis. I would like to know if that is correct.

The other question related to the assistance program for protection of shoreline property. That again is available to property owners in municipalities on the basis of eight per cent. I wonder if he would like to bring us up to date on how much money was utilized in that program and give us a little background information on it.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes, Mr. Chairman. On the Great Lakes flood damage payments to municipalities, the balance of grants approved in prior years that will be paid in 1980-81 amounts to $136,866, with some audit adjustments of $7,757, which makes a total of $144,623. That is to three municipalities, the townships of Sarnia, Pelee and Gasfield South. There have been no new payments approved to date in 1980-81 under the Great Lakes flood damage payments to municipalities.

3:20 p.m.

Approved in prior years for five municipalities, with the balance to be paid in 1980-81, was $93,820. They are the town of Dunnville, the regional municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk, the township of Harwich, the city of Nanticoke and the city of Port Colborne. That group and the other three I just gave you represent $237,443. The total in the 1980-81 estimates of $440,000 includes funds for unanticipated payments which we cannot designate or know what they might be. That is the amount under the Great Lakes flood damage program.

Under the loans to municipalities for property owners, the shoreline property assistance program, 1980-81 payments, as of May 31, April to May debentures, are $235,100; the number of municipalities involved, 14; and the number of individual loans, 47. The total in the 1980-81 estimates is $560,000, of which $235,100 has been committed.

Mr. G. I. Miller: In other words, there has not been a lot of money utilized and there has not been a great expense as far as your budget is concerned. With regard to the disaster relief fund, in particular the tornado that went through western Ontario last year, how much money was raised locally and how much was contributed by the province through the ministry?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I have the most up-to-date figures we have. Final claims entered by property owners against the disaster fund, I want to make clear, were less than the original estimate of $20 million. A great many of the losses were covered by insurance and some losses were for luxury items and other items that were not eligible under the fund.

However, on May 5, 1980, the local disaster relief committee was disbanded. Last week it submitted its audited report which is as follows: revenue donations, $3,766,549.98; interest earned, $87,206.26; provincial payments to May 15, 1980, $3,100,000, for a total of $6,953,756.24 in the fund. That is the money collected and the money paid out by the provincial government. The $6,953,000 is the revenue. The expenditures paid to claimants are $6,959,480.38 and the administration and related costs are $146,110.47, for a total of $7,105,590.85. Therefore, there is a difference between expenditures and revenues of $151,834.61; and that difference will be paid by the province. Therefore, the total provincial contributions will come to $3,251,834.61.

As members hear these figures, they can see the promised ratio of three to one has not proven out. That was why when I first looked at the statement, that it struck me that we are paying on the basis of one to one. What has happened is the amount of the total provincial contribution will be just about one to one, maybe even a little less than one to one. This is due to the large number of donations received from the members of the public, the business community and the municipalities around the province, by that area.

In other words, the disaster committee set up operation, collected money and received about $3.7 million. We matched that money with enough money to pay all the claims that were submitted and judged by the committee to be eligible to be paid. As I said, it worked out to about one to one.

If the claims had come to $12 million, we would have paid on the three to one basis. In other words, they raised their $3.7 million; if they had $12 million in claims, we would have ended up contributing the provincial share up to that amount.

Mr. G. I. Miller: One final question: How much money was loaned out at 6 per cent interest? Wasn’t there some money made available at that rate? I would like to make it clear that it is obvious with the response from around the province and the particular area, that money did come in well. The damage wasn’t as great as was anticipated and we are thankful for that too, but the province still didn’t have to contribute as much as they anticipated in the very beginning.

Again, the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston) has been trying to make the point that there was a disaster in his municipality and the government, at this time, has not seen fit to give them any special aid -- even on a loan basis. I guess it gets back to the resolution I introduced back on May 1, where if a disaster relief fund program was established, money could be borrowed at a reasonable rate of interest which would be beneficial for the province of Ontario.

Hon. Mr. Wells: As I understand it nine guarantees for six per cent loans were approved for a total of approximately $366,000.

Mr. G. I. Miller: How could one qualify for those particular loans?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Those loans were handled by the Ontario Development Corporation. They were available for repair, restoration of business buildings and equipment to pre-disaster conditions. The approved applicants borrowed the money from the local banks, as I understand it, at six per cent and they were guaranteed by ODC. They paid the banks the difference between the six per cent and the prime rate that was in effect at that time. The maximum loan was equal to replacement costs less insurance proceeds or $100,000.

Mr. G. I. Miller: One final comment I would like to make is about the second homes and the loss of livestock. I think there were something like 200 head of livestock destroyed and 25 to 35 second farm homes, for which they were not able to get any assistance. They were requested by a couple of municipalities. The township of Burford and the city of Nanticoke passed a resolution and sent a letter to that effect, asking the minister for support for those two areas. I wonder, would the minister give further consideration to those requests, or is it now final they will not receive any further help either by loan or from the capital fund?

3:30 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Wells: It is my understanding, as far as the local fund is concerned, the local disaster committee decided that second homes and livestock would not be covered. As far as the ODC loans are concerned, they were not eligible for those. The statement that I just gave was on the ODC loans for the businesses. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food handled the farm loans. They were available in this area for the restoration of farm buildings and equipment to pre-disaster conditions.

Mr. G. I. Miller: At six per cent interest?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes. The applicants were able to borrow the money from the bank at six per cent, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food paid to the bank the difference between the six per cent and the prime rate that was in effect at the time. Residences, livestock and crops were not covered by the money provided through these loans.

The maximum loan was equal to replacement cost less insurance proceeds and amounts received from the disaster fund, or $100,000. Thirty-eight guarantees for loans were approved, for a total of approximately $1,831,880 to farms, under that part of the program. So there were the ODC loans of $366,000 for businesses and the ODC loans of $1,831,880 for restoration of farm buildings and equipment.

Mr. G. I. Miller: But they did not include livestock?

Hon. Mr. Wells: They did not include livestock or second residences; or, in fact, first residences. The first residences were not included in the loans. They, of course, were eligible under the capital fund.

Mr. Bradley: Very briefly, under this vote on local government, I would like to discuss government that really is not local, because it is regional government. I think the minister is very familiar with my views on the experience in the regional municipality of Niagara with regional government, but there are a couple of items I would like to bring to his attention once gain.

First of all, I would say that the opposition to regional government has not diminished significantly in our area; at least I couldn’t detect it. Last year, I did one of those surveys that we do with the newsletters we send out to our constituents. I received about 2,100 or 2,200 replies. Eighty per cent of the people in my constituency expressed opposition to regional government and, if it were put on a municipal ballot in the city of St. Catharines, I suspect the figure might even be higher than that

In the last survey, and I am just about to release the results of this particular one, which I conducted at the end of March this year, I included a question that I had discussed with the minister before which was regarding the construction of a new headquarters. The question I put on the questionnaire was, “Do you think that municipal tax dollars should be used to build a new headquarters for regional government?” Twelve per cent said yes and 88 per cent said no; in actual figures that was 298, yes; 2,221, no. I suspect, out of the 298, a number were probably regional employees who had replied to the questionnaire, or people in the construction industry who would look forward to the new palace on the hill being constructed.

I believe the last time the estimates of this ministry came up I discussed the possibility of the minister intervening with the municipality at least to convey the message that his ministry was interested in restraint in terms of financial expenditures, particularly those which would not be essential expenditures. At that time, he expressed the viewpoint that this was a local decision, and I appreciate the fact that the minister does not want to get involved in local decisions on every occasion.

I would suggest to the minister, however, since the government has decided it is not going to implement regional government in any other areas, at least in the foreseeable future, that he prevail upon regional governments in this province, specifically the regional municipality of Niagara, to exercise the kind of restraint we in this Legislature hope local government will exercise.

The last thing we need in the Niagara Peninsula at the present time is a new palace on the brow of the escarpment to house regional government. If they wanted to make regional government popular, or at least acceptable, they would avoid sticking the knife in the back of the taxpayers in the Niagara region and turning that knife by building a new regional headquarters.

Last week they announced the purchase of the land from Brock University. Some people directly involved with regional government are itching to get the first shovel in the ground to get the palace constructed. I am saying to the minister that in his discussions, informal or otherwise, with regional chairmen, he might well prevail upon them to exercise caution in the expenditure of dollars in those areas that are not absolutely essential.

I recognize they say this will establish an identity for regional government, which really means it will solidify their position. That position is not very strong in the eyes of the average individual citizen in these areas or of many of the people who sit on the local municipal councils as opposed to the regional council.

I had about 2,519 people reply to this last survey. I recognize surveys are not necessarily always accurate, but the government has been involved in the taking of polls. When we look at the results -- that is, the policies brought forward by the government -- we recognize that the government does at least have some faith in polis, although they may be more professional than the ones I have conducted. I bring this to the minister’s attention, first, so that he will express that caution to the chairman and, second, so that he will once again take a look at local government across Ontario -- I will speak parochially now and say within the Niagara Peninsula -- to see whether it can possibly work better.

My view is it can work better if many of the powers that have gone to the regional government are returned to the area municipalities where there is accountability and the politicians are familiar with the projects and programs in effect. There is a commonality of interests. At the present time, the regional government is too remote. It lacks financial accountability. The mayor of Port Colborne is not really familiar with what is going on in the city of St. Catharines, for instance; so he either relies on the staff, who are often interested in getting projects under way, or he relies on the politician in St. Catharines. It becomes a back-scratching session where we trade off roads back and forth.

I remember the former member for St. Catharines at the opening of a bridge over a waterway in St. Catharines saying: “This is proof that regional government works. Here we have a $2-million structure, and it shows that regional government is working.” The question I asked at that time was how many bridges and roads in the rest of the region it cost for that to be demonstrated as a benefit to the city of St. Catharines. I suggest that St. Catharines taxpayers paid for many more works that were not absolutely necessary at the time but were commenced because they needed to trade off to get this particular structure completed.

The regional municipality of Niagara has some very good people working for it. There are some excellent people among its employees. I think we recognize that. We appreciate in many cases the job they are trying to do. But unfortunately we see an empire being built in many areas of the province as the regional municipalities want to assume more powers. They recognize the province wants to transfer some powers back.

Certain area municipalities start saying: “It is in our interest to get the region to do it, because they are doing it at the other end of the peninsula. We are crazy if we don’t turn our roads over to the region in a specific area and get these works undertaken at regional expense as opposed to at our own expense.” Again we have lack of financial accountability and of financial restraint, because everybody wants to get as much from the pie as possible. It can be avoided, once again, by transferring many of these powers back to area municipalities, even if perhaps we have to have an amalgamation of some of those municipalities. That may or may not he a solution the minister would be interested in.

3:40 p.m.

I have said this on other occasions. One of the reasons I am standing in this Legislature today, rather than a government party member standing here, is regional government Mr. McKeough, the former minister, said that was a courageous step and he was prepared to pay the price.

I suggested to the member when he became the minister that because he had no background in implementing regional government, he had the opportunity to make innovative changes because he did not have to say his baby was wrong. It was something new he could start with, and I implored him to do so at that time.

The minister has been in the office a couple of years now. I think he is doing a credible job as the minister. I suppose I should not say a good job as we near an election because that can come back to haunt our members. I think the minister is very sincere in what he is attempting to do as a minister, and he recognizes there are not easy solutions to many of these problems.

I ask him to have his officials, or particularly the minister himself, review regional government because the officials sometimes are ingrained in these things. In fact, I do not think Mr. McKeough was necessarily the architect of regional government. It was probably some of his officials in conjunction with him who convinced the Conservative Party it would be reasonable to implement it. I ask the minister to review regional government and how it is working on a periodic basis. He has had Mr. Archer in with his travelling circus. I do not think that was very useful, but I suggest that perhaps next year he take another look at it on an ongoing basis to see which powers might be returned and how we can save the taxpayers money, because the regional levy went up substantially.

I think what the minister is going to see happen in Niagara is what we are seeing in other areas. The local politicians are going to say: “Let’s put it on the ballot. Let’s try to secede.” St. Catharines tried to secede in 1971 and was not successful, but a bag of money came over to alleviate the pain of regional government at that time.

All I ask the minister at this time to do is review it and see if he cannot make local government work better. I am sure his goal is to make local government work as efficiently as possible. The erection of a palace on the brow of the escarpment will not do that.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I still must say, Mr. Chairman I stick by my original thoughts on these matters, which are always not to tread into areas where I have no jurisdiction. Regional councils do have certain powers and jurisdiction to build their own headquarters building and a few of them have been opened recently. I would not presume to interfere in a way that would seem we were trying to be dictatorial.

Having said that, I do not disagree with the member about the need in the Niagara Peninsula. I met the regional council at its present office and I saw nothing wrong with that office. I do not see any particular need to build a palace to give regional government some kind of focus in the Niagara Peninsula.

I am offering the member my opinion on it. I am not saying I am going to do anything more than offer my opinion to him today. It is not my prerogative to go around and start saying to them, “Don’t you build that,” just as they cannot come up here and tell us we should not build a new office building in Kingston or a new LCBO warehouse in Whitby. They may or may not agree with those decisions, but I guess we have to make them.

As for reviewing municipal government in the Niagara Peninsula, we are always happy to look at ways to make local government work better and we will always be studying those ways. Where that will lead us and what we will do, I cannot tell the member at this time, but I would never say that what we have is perfect and that we are never going to look at any change in it. We are always going to be looking at ways to make it better. I think say friend knows I do not particularly like these big fancy reviews we have had. I do not think they are necessarily the best way. I like to see the local people coming up with some suggestions.

We had a discussion in the House the other day about direct elections. I am not a big fan of direct elections to the upper-tier government. There are direct elections in the Niagara region. I do not know that it makes that region work any better than the others where they do not have direct elections. It certainly has not made regional government in Niagara more successful or more popular with people.

When some of the arguments are put forward to me about direct elections here, I look at some of the other areas where there are direct elections and I say, why take something that is working very well, and I think regional government in Metro Toronto has worked well, and bring an innovation that is not necessarily working that well in other areas?

All I can tell the member is that we will be looking at ways to make it work better in all areas of the province and in Niagara, but I do not know what we will be doing at this point in time.

Mr. Young: Mr. Chairman, I would like to enter into this discussion on regional government. I was one of the members of the original committee that recommended regional government. That is quite a long time ago now, as the minister remembers.

At that time, we had close to 1,000 municipalities across Ontario and we felt they were not efficient, particularly the municipalities with a population of less than 1,000. They would not hire the staff, the equipment or the machinery to do the job that should be done.

The committee went through this whole process and decided that somehow or other we had to reduce the number of municipalities, make them larger, spread them out across certain territories so that cities in the hinterland would be part and parcel of one municipality. This would, of course, mean they would have a bigger tax base and that the struggle for industrial assessment would be minimized because no matter where the industry might be located in that larger municipality, it would still pay taxes into the one treasury.

Most of us at that time thought in terms of one unit for the municipality. That may be one of our problems. Instead of carving out larger municipalities with one government -- I guess for political purposes, because politically it looked as if that kind of step would be impossible t that time -- we carved out a larger unit, but we also brought several smaller municipalities within that unit so we had municipalities within the larger regional government. We had two power centres, one big one and half a dozen at the second level; so we had a squabble there.

The second thing that happened was that somehow or other we failed to give to those regional municipalities a proper tax or financial base. We did not work that out properly, and that was a subject of much discussion in this House. Somehow or other, that taxing or financial base was not adequate; so there has been a lot of unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

I do not think the route we should go is to divest the regional municipalities of certain powers and give them back to the smaller municipalities. Perhaps we should be looking at unitary government within these regions so we would have a council looking at the total picture and not at this town versus that town or the advantages of this area versus that one. Inevitably, that must happen, even in small municipalities. Certain areas get sidewalks when other areas go without them. Certain areas get the swimming pools and the libraries when other ones are clamouring for them. Very often it is the areas with the largest tax bases, the well-to-do areas, that get first attention. They have a little more clout perhaps, but I think that is inevitable. In the regional governments, if we can work them out, we will still get some of that, but I think that struggle between the two levels of government can be eliminated.

3:50 p.m.

I wonder whether the minister is giving any thought to that kind of step, which at tin time, admittedly, was to come. Even the minister at that time looked upon this dual level as part and parcel of the total process which must come to its ultimate culmination.

Should we not be seriously thinking of these two things: (1) adequate financial bases and (2) instead of divesting power, bringing more power into the hands of the regional governments? Perhaps some powers that are now in the hands of the province should be given to the regions. I know some progress has been made along this line. But these are the kinds of things that many people are discussing today, and I think they should be put into the hopper. Perhaps the minister should give us some idea of what he’s thinking.

The unhappiness that exists in some these regional governments is there. It is something we cannot ignore. We should be asking ourselves what are the things that must be done in order to do away with this unhappiness. What must be done to make the regions more efficient and effective, to give them the kind of basis they need to give them a better kind of organization and minimize the struggle within, and perhaps come out with the kind of thing which many of us, at the time that committee was working, thought was going to come out of all this hassle?

Perhaps the minister could express himself on this, and perhaps we could enter into some further dialogue.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the comments of my friend. He had been around in municipal government for a good number of years before he was in this House, and he has had a great background in things here in Metro, as well as generally in the province. I appreciate his comments.

I do not have any plans to move in the direction of more unitary government. One of the member’s suggestions was that perhaps one of the answers to regional government was to create a larger unit. That is the example I used in this House the other day about greater Winnipeg, which went from a Metro Toronto type of operation to a directly elected upper tier, as I recall. Another level of government was added: lower tier, upper tier, directly elected. That did not work; so the government of the day, which I guess was an NDP government, created a unitary system in Winnipeg.

I do not know whether it is working well or not. I suppose it is working. It has got to be working. Winnipeg is thriving and prospering. I do not know that it is working any better than the two-tier system we have here in Metropolitan Toronto.

I think of the regions we have in this province and of the fact that those regions were created by a number of amalgamations to give us the cities we have within the regions. I think of Markham and the towns and townships that were brought in to create what is now the huge town of Markham. I think of Cambridge and some of the other lower-tier municipalities that have been created within the regions. There was a feeling of some people in those areas that they should never have lost their identity, their little town that had its own individual local government. Then I think of the member wanting to create one large unitary system.

I suppose where this is most called for regularly is in the Hamilton-Wentworth area. There, the suggestion is that we should create one large Hamilton, or Hamilton-Wentworth, rather than the two-tier regional system we have there now. I cannot buy that at this time, and I do not see that as a solution at this point to the problems of better local government or as a means of improving regional government. I do not think that would be n solution.

The matter of turning over more of the province’s powers to local and regional governments is a good theory, and we have been trying to do that, where possible. We have been trying to do that through the establishment of bodies and through giving bodies like district health councils and others a lot of the powers that normally might be done by provincial departments making those decisions at the local level. I think that is a good thing, and I think we are moving in that direction in a lot of areas. It is not easy, but one sets one’s mind to do it.

I remember five years ago we decided that most of the planning functions could be turned over. We still have not turned over a lot of them. We still have an elaborate set of procedures whereby planning decisions have to come up to the Ministry of Housing and go back to the local level. We have not turned them over to the regions although we have turned some things over. The new Planning Act, as I recall, points us in this direction in some way; so there are areas where we are trying to do this with municipalities.

The third point the member raised was about a better tax base for local government. I think that boils down to better financing for local government. We are not looking at any new taxing sources for local government. We have looked at that very carefully because there are always requests for new sources to cover special projects. If Ottawa wants a convention centre, it suggests that perhaps it should have the right to put its own sales tax on hotels. This would get the municipalities into the sales tax field and a number of other fields.

The Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) and I have looked at these things but decided it is far better and more economical for the province to collect from its revenue sources -- sales tax, income tax, corporation tax, et cetera -- and transfer that money than to have a fragmented system where some municipalities might use some of those other tax sources.

Basically, we still find that we have the property tax system as the main system for municipalities, with all its imperfections and all its perfections, whatever they are. We work towards trying to find a better way to use the property tax system to serve the needs of municipalities. I do not see any immediate change in that area in the very short term. In the long-range future there may be, but in the short term I do not see any particular change from the property tax being the basic source of revenue for municipalities, along with the whole area of fees and services that they are able to charge. I must say that I am a supporter of that revenue source for municipalities.

The member may recall that a few years ago we introduced a bill in here on licensing in order to reform the licensing procedures for municipalities. We are still working on that bill, but one of its provisions was that you could not charge more than $5 for a licence. It represented a thinking that said you do not raise money through licences or fees.

I happen to believe that you should at least raise enough money to cover the services you provide to those that you are licensing. In other words, you can have a fee-for-service basis here. If you are going to license a whole segment of industry in a municipality you should at least be able to get enough money back on licences to pay for that service. You probably should not be able to make an actual revenue income for the municipality from licensing services, but certainly the philosophy that has to be adapted is that you can at least recover the provision of all those services you provide to your various client groups in the municipality through fees and licences.

Municipalities do get a lot of revenue from these sources. When we get that licensing bill back in here, it will have provisions in it that will allow municipalities to make a proper return for the money they expend in that area.

Mr. Young: Mr. Chairman, I would agree with the minister that the problem is one of a financial base for the regional government. When I mentioned the tax base before, I corrected myself in each case and said there should be some better financial arrangement. That arrangement should be done by using the power of the province for raising funds and then having a better sort of distribution.

4 p.m.

We have discussed many times in this House the tremendous natural resources base we have in this province and the fact that we are not getting as much as we should out of those natural resources, out of our minerals and timber. If we would think of using them as a taxing base, as a source of revenue for the provincial government, then we would have far more largess to distribute and to make regional governments more viable.

There is no question that this matter of identity is a tough one. We get into certain habits and we rather dislike to see too much change. In the political field that is true in one area, which has certain buildings in the centre, certain institutions and certain leaders. They do not want to change that. I suppose that is the strength of the Tory party over the last 35 years. Because people do not like change, we have not got the change some of us think ought to come in Ontario. That is a fact of nature and we have to accept that. But surely sometimes that change should be urged on a little faster by the ministry here and by the government itself.

I am wondering whether the minister has given up entirely on this whole matter of the development of regional government or whether he is still thinking of setting up more regional governments within Ontario. One of his remarks may have been a bit crucial here. The size of the municipalities we tried to set up may have been a little too large. Instead of setting up a city state with a couple of cities in the hinterland, we set up too many states with three or four or five cities within the hinterland. It may be the step we should have taken was smaller regions and more of them.

I do not know. One never can go back in history and live it over again. I am wondering whether this might not have been one of the steps we should have taken at that time. It may have been more successful. We would not have had this large area where the pulling and hauling inside frustrate so much and where, as the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) points out, there is a desire to set up the Taj Mahals, the great headquarters. Then along with that go the larger salaries and the bigger departments which demand again higher salaries at the head of those departments and more at the second level of departments and so on. It may be we should have thought in smaller terms, rather than the large terms we thought of in those days gone by.

Has the minister given up? Is this dream we had years ago, that we were going to build more regional governments and regionalize the whole province, dead now? Have the difficulties we have encountered been so great that this government has decided there shall be no more regional governments in Ontario? If so, where does that leave all the smaller municipalities we still see dotted around the countryside?

Municipalities of very limited population elect their councils, their reeves and their mayors. Then those councils, reeves and mayors are frustrated because they cannot afford the kinds of services, equipment and technology which this age should be giving them and which should be brought into use to service the people of Ontario.

I wonder whether this ministry and this government have given up and whether there is any hope whatsoever of this process continuing, even though we may try now to find ways and means of making the governments that are now in effect more workable. I wonder whether the minister could express himself in this regard and tell us whether we have reached a dead end as far as this government is concerned.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, all I can do is repeat what I have said many times in the last year. We are not planning any new regional governments. We do not have any in the works and we are not thinking of them. We do not have any plans out there percolating around the developed regional governments because, if my friend looks over what has happened in this province, most of the growth areas, if not all of the growth areas of this province, where a justification for regional government could be made, are now covered with regional governments.

In the areas that are not now covered with regional governments the member says: “What do the mayor and council of a small area in the province that doesn’t have a regional government look forward to? What do they do?” I suggest to him that most of them breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to the fact that they are not going to be in a regional government. I do not think they have to worry too much about that; they are not worried about that. Even if a case could be made for their areas having a regional government, I would suggest they would not be very happy about it.

What kind of options are open? You can’t always have a closed door because, as I said to my friend a few minutes ago, you always have to be looking at ways to improve the system. One of the things we have adopted is that if a local area decides a restructuring can occur in its area, basically we have called it a restructured county. I think that is something that is forgotten in this province. We have had two-tier government in this province for more than 100 years. We have had the county system with a quasi-second tier, with lower-tier municipalities.

There may be a way in some areas of this province that you can restructure the county. We have done it in Oxford county; that is one of our examples of a restructured county. We started to do it by working with the local people in Northumberland county, but when the kind of restructuring that was going to occur was written into a piece of legislation they, in their wisdom, decided they did not want to proceed and we did not proceed. That, I would suggest to the member, underlines the approach we are taking today.

If a county council and the municipalities within that county want to consider a restructuring, we have the manpower and staff to help them and can go in to show them some of the ways to do financial calculations and get them the information. They can look at all the facts and we can help them write some legislation. If they want to do it, we will help them do so and we will bring the legislation here. If they do not want to do it and it is not acceptable to them, we are not going to push them to do it. But I suggest to the member, one option open to some of the other areas of this province is restructured counties. --

The other option and the other place that we are putting our eggs, so to speak, if you can use the analogy of putting your eggs in the basket, is we are looking at the whole area of amalgamations and annexations and of a much fairer process. To a degree it is based on the labour-management type of model where the municipalities, in some cases a larger urban area with those rural areas around it, can go through a process that does not involve the confrontation process, with large legal fees, that we have known in the past.

They can look at the amalgamation/annexation process, work with the mediator process and so on and come up with answers, as I hope we are going to arrive at in the situation involving Brantford township, Brant county and the city of Brantford. That is a situation where at one time they were looking at regional government, and at another time at a protracted, bitter confrontation dispute. Perhaps we are now at the point where we will be able to bring into this House a piece of legislation that represents what all the communities have agreed to as the way the people and the future of that area can best be served.

If the amalgamation/annexation model we have tried out in Brantford township area can be put into some kind of general legislation, I think it will represent one of the things that will be used and is used in a lot of the areas of the province now, rather than a restructuring approach. It will help them get at their problems.

As my friend knows, there are a number of areas of the province where this is a problem. The Sarnia area is still a problem; the Barrie area is still a problem. I guess that example is the one that has pushed us into looking at some new methods, because the Barrie-Innisfil annexation is still going on. It is costing millions and no one seems to know when it will end. It may be getting close but we do not know yet.

That is a bit of what I see happening in the future. But we have no regional government studies or plans or any areas that will say, “Yes, we will put a regional government in,” because we just do not have any and we are not planning to do any.

4:10 p.m.

Mr. Young: The minister has just told us that he is looking forward to certain changes in municipal government in the future, but he has discarded the idea of using the name “regional government” for those changes. In other words, it is a change of name, a change of strategy, but the process inevitably will go on -- I think that is what the minister said to us -- under a more voluntary method. There will not be quite so much compulsion and not quite so much wielding of the big stick: “You get together, or else.” There will be this kind of encouragement taking place.

As far as county governments are concerned, they have never been regional governments in the sense of the now regional governments. I am wondering, as counties are restructured, whether there is again a long-term view that they should be unitary governments rather than a whole conglomeration of smaller municipalities. That is one of the things we have to look forward to and try to work out for the future.

I can see the sense of what the minister says, where we have had so much difficulty with the regional government foisted upon us by the Duke of Chatham-Kent and others in days gone by. He is not giving up, and that is encouraging to know. These municipalities that are breathing a sigh of relief and saying, “Sure, that’s fine, we are not going to be dragooned into this regional government idea,” have to recognize the fact that development in the future will take place at these growth centres the minister mentioned. The development will take place where regional government exists and where stronger municipal government exists. If the smaller municipalities in the areas where they do not want this sort of thing face up to that fact and realize they are going to be bypassed by the development of the future, they have to accept their fate.

I hope the minister is going to do more than just tacitly agree When the municipalities come to him and say: “We want to amalgamate, We want to join together; we want to build a county unit.” I hope he will be actively encouraging this process so that the number of smaller municipalities will be gradually merged into the larger unit, and we will have more efficiency and more effective government in this province.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I do not want to leave the wrong impression. We are not going out suggesting to any counties that the restructure and using that as a subterfuge to introduce regional government in another form. It is the other way around. Counties may come to us and say, “We have looked at our problems and our situation, and we would like to enter into this kind of arrangement.” If they do that, we will do it. But we do not have a list of counties we are going to descend upon and say, “You should restructure.” I want to make that very clear.

We are certainly not looking at restructured counties as unitary systems. We are looking at a restructured county as an embodiment of the county system, which is a two-tier system; the local municipalities are preserved and there is a larger tier that covers the total area for certain services over the whole area.

I cannot think of all the examples, but counties have served that purpose -- maybe not in a completely perfect way -- even in their present status, which is, as we said, more than 100 years old. Originally they were created probably to do very much the same kind of thing as regional governments were created to do in the last 10 to 20 years, and they have done that over the years.

The welfare function to a large degree has become a county function across this province. There are probably very few municipalities that have their own welfare social service operation. It has become a county operation. I think that has improved the operation as opposed to what it would have been if the counties had not been willing to take that on.

We have had county road operations where the same principle applies within, say, Metropolitan Toronto where the metropolitan roads are looked after by the metropolitan government and there are the local roads, the county roads, which the county has looked after to give a system of through roads and a good road system in a total county, unrelated to all the municipalities that make up that county. There have been county boards of health and in many cases combined boards of health which have looked after the public health functions over a whole area.

Through the county system, we move to carry out a lot of the functions that people see in two-tier governments, and they have been carried out well. It may be that some county, when it looks at its operations, will say, “We could do it a little better if we restructured.” If they want to do that, we will help them. But we do not have a list of counties that we are going to descend upon to suggest that they restructure.

Mr. Ruston: Mr. Chairman, I suppose this has been brought up many times before in the minister’s estimates, but with regard to our municipal financing and so forth, I was just noticing some of the local reports as the municipalities set their tax rates and mill rates for this year, and the problem that some of them have and where the tax money goes that they have to assess in the municipalities.

I notice in the township of Sandwich South that for each dollar the township collects, 12 cents goes to the county, 15 cents goes to the township and 73 cents is paid to the school boards. That is the whole gambit of municipal financing, which I know has been brought up on a number of occasions, with unconditional grants, conditional grants, highway grants, police grants and the whole hotchpotch of grants from the different ministries. Not many people actually understand a lot of them.

It is frustrating for a municipal councillor when he tries to hold the line on municipal spending and then the school boards feel they require more money. In some places they have declining enrolment but they still have to keep the schools going, although not all of them. They are closing one in my area; however, I guess everyone has that going on in some areas of their municipalities.

In another township it is a little different. The school boards take 58 cents and the balance goes to the county and the municipality. I realize they are not all the same and that is because of their tax structure, but it has been a concern for many years. I do not know if we ever find a panacea for tax structures and those with the most ability to pay. I do not know if we will ever get to that.

Probably what has hurt the municipalities most in the last few years is not this ministry, but the education grants, which went down from 60 cents to about 51 to 52 cents in our area. Boards could not seem to cut their spending; so their share of the total taxes in the municipalities is going up to anywhere from 58 to 75 per cent of the total taxes collected in the municipality. No doubt we are going to have to address ourselves to this matter eventually, because I think certain taxes should be paid by the municipalities and the household residents.

I suppose another argument against it has to do with the Ministry of the Environment, which is constructing sewage systems in many municipalities. The Ministry of the Environment, with some money from the federal government, is paying a fair amount of that cost in some of the municipalities. It is a hotchpotch, and I know the minister is aware of that.

I was looking up some remarks I made about 13 years ago before I got elected to this fair edifice and place. I had a suggestion -- and I do not know if it was my own original idea or not -- with regard to education costs. We had a lot of problems prior to 1970 with regard to school taxes on farm land. The Minister of Agriculture and Food finally accepted one of our suggestions and a resolution that part of farm taxes be refunded by the province. That helped a lot.

It seems to me in one of my conversations or one of my speeches someplace before being in this body -- I think it was when I was on municipal council -- I was suggesting at that time that as part of the education costs the province bears it should pay for the teachers throughout Ontario and leave the municipalities the responsibility of furnishing the locations and the buildings. I still think it would not have been too bad an idea, although we know that in some areas of Ontario, outside of the heavily builtup areas the grants run up to as high as 90 per cent.

I was basing my speech and my thoughts at that time on the builtup areas in southern Ontario where, if I remember correctly, the professional costs of the school boards ran in the vicinity of 70 to 75 per cent of their total costs and the busing, the buildings and so forth covered the balance. At least then under that type of circumstances, the local municipality and the local school board would know what they were responsible for.

However, I am sure there are many people who would not agree with that type of situation, and nothing ever came of it. But I am not sure we are not that far from looking at something similar to that, where we have some sort of a percentage, whether it should be 60 per cent or whether it should be even higher. At one time back in 1967 and 1971 -- and I do not know whether it has changed -- the policy of our party, if I remember correctly, was that we would assume about 80 per cent of the total cost of education and 20 per cent would be borne by the local municipality.

This government did go up to about 60 per cent, and now it has gone down to about 51 to 52 per cent through the present Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson). There have been some thoughts and study given to grants, but it seems to me we should be coming down to some serious consideration of just what grant structures we should have so that the municipalities have a guarantee of some form. We can all remember the Edmonton commitment which the previous Treasurer, Mr. McKeough, made. That went by the wayside after about thee years.

Those are just some of the concerns I have, and I am sure the minister shares them to some extent. I do not know that anyone has the answer to them, but we should be coming to an answer soon, because we have been left with a hotchpotch of grants. It is time somebody got down to doing some serious thinking on these and came up with a basic situation in grants so that the municipalities would be aware each year of their costs and the school board too.

Ms. Isaacs: Mr. Chairman, I know the minister is aware that I felt earlier there was a chance we would not be here today, but the quality of the comments that have been made by some of the previous speakers makes me very glad we are. I have five or six items remaining on this vote which I would like to raise with the minister. The fact that we are here today gives me the freedom to feel I can take a little longer on each one.

I want to thank the minister for already commenting on the matter of municipal licensing and for indicating to us what I interpret to be something of a reversal of his predecessor’s policy in that at least municipalities will be able to recover all the costs that are associated with the operation and the issuing of the licence. If I understand the minister’s comments correctly, that is much closer to what the municipalities have been asking for than was the proposal introduced by his predecessor.

I find it interesting that we are talking here today about a licensing provision that was originally recommended something like two years ago, and yet we still have no bill before us. Things seem to move remarkably slowly around here.

The matter of regional government was raised by the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) and he made some very reasonable suggestions, particularly relating to the region of Niagara.

I referred to regional government, in some sense, in my opening remarks and I now want to make a few more remarks about Hamilton-Wentworth. I have found the minister’s almost stubborn refusal to deal with the problem that Hamilton-Wentworth is facing to be incredibly frustrating.

I am surprised, as an aside, that in mentioning the situation in Winnipeg, the minister had not expanded a little more on the problems that have existed since the unitary system was introduced there. I am sure the minister’s staff are aware of those, and I would have thought the minister would have seen it appropriate to remind us of those, in view of the present circumstances.

I want to suggest to the minister that the Winnipeg situation was an experiment. It was a very far-reaching experiment in unitary government and it was one that was almost inevitably bound to create some problems. There have been problems but the situation can be resolved and I am sure that the people of Winnipeg and the people of Manitoba are going to work it out. I believe we can learn from the Winnipeg experience.

I am concerned that the minister appears to believe that by sitting back and saying things are okay, the situation in Hamilton-Wentworth is going to resolve itself. That is surely the farthest from the truth.

We have one suburban mayor who has ad- miffed on numerous occasions -- in fact, very strongly and as recently as last week -- that she is prepared to play the role of a Joan of Arc and lead her municipality out of regional government. We have another suburban councillor who states very clearly, and I think fairly responsibly, that in his view the regional government system we have now is the lesser of the evils that could exist. But while he is saying that, he is losing the battles, slowly, one by one.

We are seeing cost transfers come about. We are seeing situations arise that, little by little, are gnawing away at the fabric of the structure of the region that exists right now. We have a situation where suburban and rural taxpayers are paying more than they should be, more than they need to be, and more than they would be if there were a restructuring undertaken in Hamilton-Wentworth.

At regional council meetings, we see language being used that, in my mind, is completely inappropriate for any elected body. We see regional councillors calling each other liars. We have cases of regional councillors accusing each other of deliberately providing misleading information to regional council and to the public. We cannot go on in that kind of situation. It is impossible that regional government will work when the situation is so tense, so fraught with personality conflict that is brought on by conflict between the various powers within that region.

Unfortunately, I have to look forward to the municipal elections in November; I have to realize that in several of the suburban municipalities, there will be regional councillors elected who are determined to cause the breakup of the region. In the city, we will have a majority of city councillors elected who are determined to fight for a unitary system in that region.

4:30 p.m.

As a result of those municipal elections, and as a result of the fact that those people will go to regional council meetings believing they have a mandate to put forward and fighting for their point of view, we are going to have a worse situation come December and January than we have flow.

I know these views will be successful in the elections, not because I have any way of predicting the outcome of municipal elections but simply because the information is not being put on the table. The facts are not available to members of the public; sometimes they are not available to regional councillors themselves. The power struggles that are going on now are not going to get better.

Sitting back and saying that the two-tier system was what we thought was best in 1972 and is what we still think is best is not going to solve anything. We have to have some action on the part of the government. We have to have an indication of a direction. If not, the people of Hamilton-Wentworth are going to face a regional government in 1981 that serves them even less well than they are served by the regional government they have now.

The regional government they have now does serve them well in some areas. There is no doubt about that; there have been some great achievements and some great strides forward. But in terms of day-to-day business, in terms of the attitudes being conveyed to taxpayers within Hamilton-Wentworth, we have a desperately serious problem.

I want once more to ask the minister whether he is prepared to do anything to help cut down the tension in Hamilton-Wentworth and to help ensure that the local government system, whatever it be, becomes much more a system that serves the people and ensures that taxpayers are being treated in a fair manner rather than in an unfair manner. We cannot go through the next municipal election with what we have. That municipal election is not going to solve anything.

I would appreciate the minister’s response, and then I will deal with my other four concerns.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, I would like to deal with the Hamilton-Wentworth situation. It has been mentioned by many of the speakers. My friend from Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) is the only one who in his opening remarks did not refer to Hamilton-Wentworth.

I think my friend from Wentworth will agree that there were problems facing the whole region in the 1970s, when this system was brought in. The former village of Waterdown, for example, he may recall, had an equalized assessment of only $4,000 and could not afford to replace its water storage facilities, which were beyond repair.

The jurisdictional separation of the city of Hamilton from Wentworth county made regional planning almost an impossibility. There was a joint planning board, but it was never able to develop an official plan because of the requirements for unanimous approval by the member municipalities. This greatly restricted the availability of serviced industrial land in the whole region.

The population of Cootes Paradise, on Burlington Bay, as increasing, and only one out of 10 garbage disposal sites in the area met the Ministry of the Environment’s standards. Dundas and Stoney Creek bought their water from the city of Hamilton. Thus, they had no say in the planning of the overall system, while the city sometimes had unexpected demands put upon it for its water servicing. There was a lack of co-ordination in the delivery of social services because of the existence of two separate administrations, one for the city and one for the county.

I give the members a bit of that history because they have to remember there was a problem there, and that is why people were looking for a solution. When you think of the problem there back in the early 1970s, against that background, the accomplishments of regional government have been quite dramatic.

One of the things we tend to do is to dwell upon some of the problems which, I suggest, are created more by people than by the system. The member can dispute that, and I am sure there are people who will, but I think the regional council can work and the regional two-tier system can work. It can work if the people in the area, realizing the gains it has made and the advantages it has brought to the area, try to make the system work rather than wondering how they can break it down to get one big, unitary city of Hamilton. Rather than doing that, I think we can make the system work there, and make it work to the betterment of the whole region.

Think of some of the things that have happened since the regional government came in as opposed to what was there before the 1970s. Regional councils adapted and submitted to the Minister of Housing an official plan to guide development over the region for the next 20 years. The integration of water and sewer services has made possible significant improvements in the outlying communities, including a new water tower for Waterdown. The equalization of water and sewer rates has facilitated a more orderly planning process throughout the region, and reduced the per household financial burden on residents of Ancaster and other communities.

By this fall, Hamilton-Wentworth will be operating what I am told will be the most advanced solid waste disposal system in Canada. If it is, that will be a real achievement for the regional government in Hamilton-Wentworth.

Other achievements include bringing on stream the Stoney Creek and East Mountain industrial parks, the takeover of rural policing from the province, the establishment of a single housing authority, the east-west north-south freeway and the maintenance of transit services to the suburbs. These are the kinds of things that have happened in the area, and in view of them I just cannot agree with statements that --

Mr. Mackenzie: We made no advances.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I suggest that there has to be some advantage to the area. I cannot agree with statements that are made to me that the present two-tier system of regional government in Hamilton-Wentworth is not working and will not work. It has worked.

Of course, any two-tier system has both strengths and weaknesses. Some of the weaknesses would perhaps be eliminated by a j. - one-tier system like that recommended by the Stewart commission. However, one of the main strengths of the two-tier system is the provision of the safeguards for local and community identity. If the member is not interested in safeguards for local and community identity, then the one-tier system would probably make a lot of sense. But there are some of us who are prepared, looking at the full area from a distance, to give some safeguards to Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Flamborough, Dundas and so forth. I think those communities deserve preservation of some of their identity and not just in a name that will perhaps be long forgotten if they become part of the big city of Hamilton. I think some case can be made for that argument.

Quite frankly, I am somewhat surprised that the call is now for the government to impose -- and that is what is being asked -- the Stewart report on Hamilton-Wentworth in the aftermath of the recent difficulties experienced by the region. Our decision not to proceed with the report two years ago reflected the fact that there was not sufficient support for it in the region or in this Legislature. Remember that. When the Stewart report came out, there was not sufficient support in the region for it and there was not sufficient support in this Legislature, as far as I am aware. All the suburban municipalities in Hamilton-Wentworth have repeatedly expressed their total opposition to a move towards a one-tier system. That opposition still remains, as far as I can see.

I think it should be noted that the current controversy that is causing us to raise this issue to the very dramatic proportions that we are giving it today has nothing whatsoever to do with the day-to-day operations of regional government. These day-to-day operations are going on quite well in Hamilton-Wentworth, and the people are being served by their region. The services that are being provided by the city of Hamilton are likewise being carried on quite well.

4:40 p.m.

A proposal that would seek to permit one body, the city of Hamilton, to make the policy and administer certain facilities and to require another body, the region of Hamilton-Wentworth, to pay the cost, is the kind of proposal we see today. It is a proposal to transfer costs from the city of Hamilton to the total region, and I do not think it is necessarily fair or necessarily workable.

That does not mean to say there are not services that could be regional which are now local Hamilton, or perhaps there are regional services that could be broken down into the constituent municipalities, but I think we have to look at what those services are and decide services the region properly should take responsibility for and should finance and which services the local areas, particularly the city of Hamilton, should undertake on behalf of its own municipality.

I know I was very gratified when the vote finally came on the transfer of a number of financial obligations from being the responsibility of the city of Hamilton to that of the region, and the vote was not to do that immediately. As I understand it, some time off in the future they may be transferred, but I happen to believe that perhaps saner minds will prevail and that people will look at the right responsibilities for the region and the right responsibilities for the city of Hamilton, which will be sorted out so the region can continue to operate.

What I am saying is, there was just cause for a two-tier system in Hamilton-Wentworth when it was imposed. The government conducted a study for it which suggested a one-tier system, and the response after that did not show the kind of support for that system that would have led us to change that legislation, and the government so indicated in this House.

We are now committed to the two-tier system, and we are not prepared to consider adjusting that system by legislation. We think the fundamental distribution of responsibilities between the upper and lower tiers could be altered. We think this should only happen when those benefits would accrue to the entire region and only when the shift would encompass both the assets and the administration of any of the financial obligations.

In other words, one should not try to administer something in one jurisdiction and put all the financial obligations for it off in another. If the convention centre is to be run by the region, the whole administration et cetera should go over to the region, not just the responsibility for the debenture cost and the deficits, if any, in any year. I think those matters can be worked out. If there is some way we can assist by appointing someone or by mediating, I think that can be worked out.

The position I am putting forward is supported by the regional chairman, who believes, and she has told me, that the region can work. If people would just get down to business and have some faith in the system, it could work. I happen to believe it can work. I think it has done good things for the area over the years since it was created. I think it can work, and the position of this government is to do everything possible to make it work and not to create a unitary form of government in the Hamilton-Wentworth area.

That is our position very clearly and very simply, and I sincerely believe it is not going to lead to chaos in the Hamilton area.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: I believe the member for Wentworth had some additional questions.

Mr. Isaacs: Yes, Mr. Chairman. I would like to respond to the minister’s comments on Hamilton-Wentworth, and then I know my colleague from Hamilton Centre (Mr. M. N. Davison) wishes to speak on Hamilton-Wentworth. Perhaps that aspect of it could be wound up and then I will move on to my other items.

It is interesting that the minister refers to the views of the regional chairman, because I want to remind the minister that the regional chairman is the only person on regional council who is not elected by people from somewhere in the region. I respectfully suggest to the minister that the most unimportant view of structure in Hamilton-Wentworth is that held by the regional chairman.

If the minister were to tell me that the majority of members of city council or of all the suburban councils combined were to believe in maintenance of the existing system, then I might put at least some credence on that view. But it is very clear that the overwhelming majority of members of regional council are opposed to the system that we have now. The majority of members, because they are city members, believe we should move to a unitary system and we now have emerging a system where a significant number of suburban members on regional council appear to be prepared to scrap the whole thing, whatever that means.

It is interesting that the minister referred to the water system in Waterdown as being one of the main reasons for having regional government, because it is the mayor of Flamborough who is the leader of the forces that wish to destroy the region by dismantling it. I agree with the minister that dismantling the region and going back to what we had, however one does that, would not be in the best interests of the people of either the entire region or of any one of the existing municipalities.

We have a situation where the mayor of Flamborough has indicated very clearly that she wants industrial growth in Flamborough that regional council is not prepared to see there because of the lack of services. She is prepared to go out and attract industrial growth to Flamborough and somehow provide the services; I do not know how she expects that to be done.

In Ancaster, the neighbouring municipality, we have the reverse situation where regional council wants to put industrial growth there, wants to put services there, and the council of the town of Ancaster does not want it. When regional government is working under those kinds of tensions it just is not going to continue to work.

There is no doubt at all in my mind that if one were to take a plebiscite across the region at the present time, the residents of the city would continue to express the view they have expressed before; that is, in favour of a unitary system. The residents of the suburban municipalities, if given the three options, would vote for no regional government at all. That is not necessarily because they have as full an understanding of the situation as we have or of the need for the region or of the benefits that will accrue to them from the region. It is simply because the system is working so badly and under the existing system they are being hit so hard for taxes which appear to be going to pay for services from which they receive no benefits that they are throwing in the towel and saying that they have had enough, they want no part of it. That view is going to be carried through to the municipal elections whether we like it or not.

To touch briefly on the example the minister used of the convention centre, I agree entirely that you cannot play around having part of the costs borne by one level and part by another and some administration here and some administration there; it all has to be in one place. But we have forgotten the important part, that it is the city businesses that will benefit from the convention centre, not the suburban ones, and that business taxes in the city at the moment are only going to regional purposes by half the amount that they would if we had a unitary system in place. It is only the regional portion of business taxes within the city that is benefiting suburban taxpayers, whereas, if we went to a unitary system, 100 per cent of the business taxes would benefit suburban taxpayers.

4:50 p.m.

We cannot even do it by saying to the city, “Look, as long as you transfer the entire operation, then it is okay by us to transfer it to the regional level,” because we are still asking the suburban taxpayers to pay for that service, the convention centre, when they receive absolutely no benefit from it and when the business taxes that are generated by the businesses surrounding the convention centre are going to suburban taxpayers at only 50 per cent of the rate at which they should go to the suburban taxpayers. It is the suburban people who are losing out all the time.

When you look at a financial analysis, when you sit down with the books of the region, the financial statements of the region and the financial statements of all municipalities, even discounting the duplication which does exist and discounting the mess we have in knowing who is responsible for what, you still get a situation where, under the present system, suburban and rural taxpayers are paying more than they should and rural taxpayers in particular are paying far more than they should. We have no mechanism under a two-tier system for dealing with that terrible inequity.

The reason I believe we should move to a unitary system is so that we can legislate the protections that are needed to make sure people pay for what they get and that the benefits of growth in one part of the region are properly shared among all the taxpayers of the region.

As I know my colleague from Hamilton Centre wants to speak on this particular item, I will keep my other remarks for later in this review.

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Chairman, initially I would like to say -- this is a compliment -- that of the entire cabinet the current minister is probably most suited for this position in view of his even temper and sense of fair play. I mean that sincerely.

I was born in Hamilton, on the mountain, and I lived there for the first five years of my life. I am very proud of that city. I root for the football team, sometimes even when it is very difficult to do that, in these days where the ownership seems to be in Toronto, which is more difficult for some of us who are long-time football fans.

I moved to East Flamborough against my will when I was four and a half or five. I now reside in Waterdown, where I brush my teeth with the water to which both gentlemen have referred. I suppose the water issue is a microcosm of the problem itself. The whole system of regional government has caused a great deal of expense to the provincial government, the taxpayers and the businesses doing business within that region itself.

The water tower, to which the minister referred, is about 300 or 400 yards from my home. They kept me up many nights while they were making it. When it was finally completed, it cost $1 million. The member for Wentworth (Mr. Isaacs) might recall that in so far as he was involved in municipal politics, albeit not at the regional level. He may have seen some itemization of what that cost was. It certainly was not cheap.

Prior to the imposition of regional government -- and I realize there is an inflation factor -- the estimate for providing such a facility was in the area of $300,000. The point I am trying to make is that on almost every occasion there is very little consideration for doing it on the cheap.

I read with interest an article in our local newspaper, the Hamilton Spectator, about an exchange involving the mayor of Dundas on the subject of a new car for the regional chairman. The old car was a 1977 vehicle which should be replaced. There was a discussion in the paper about a Lincoln Continental. This is a champagne budget, not a beer budget. It is a budget that is being exacted on the backs of people in the city of Hamilton and in the outlying municipalities, many of whom have a tough time making their payments as it is.

Many people in my constituency are senior citizens. They have retired on fixed incomes that are being ravaged by inflation. Many of them retired long before any contemplation of double-digit inflation. Many of them are paying well over $1,000, some upwards of $1,500 and $1,600, in municipal taxes on lots that are not serviced. There are no sidewalks and no street lights. I am not criticizing the force, but police protection is not that great. They are a long way away from the fire department, and their children have been educated. In short, many of them are not obtaining a great deal of benefit for the privilege of living out in the sticks, as some people refer to it. That is a problem for many people. The cost of regional government concerns us all.

Another facet that receives scant attention in discussions of regional government is the quality of government itself. There is a denial, in my view, of local freedom. The member for Wentworth represents a constituency that is going to have imposed on it a garbage dump. I call it a garbage dump because that is what it is. It may be the most modern garbage dump in Ontario or in Canada, but a dump is a dump, and that is what it is going to be.

That, too, is a microcosm of the problem. The proponents of that particular facility -- I might add, at the expense of a recycling facility -- did not live in Glanbrook. The people who opposed it naturally did. Here we have a situation where a 500-acre dump is going to be imposed on a municipality that had its rights trampled at the regional level. That is, in my view, a denial of local freedom. That dump could easily have been located in the township of Flamborough, not far from the village of Waterdown, where I live, and I would find that equally unfair.

That brings me to the discussion we are into now, the issue of one tier versus two tiers. Like the minister, and like the member for Wentworth and many other people, I tire of the acrimony that exists. I have tried not to be a part of it. In retrospect, on occasion, maybe my conduct has exacerbated it. If that is the case, I regret it, but I too am tired of it. However, I am not sufficiently tired that I am prepared to say we should move to a one-tier or unitary system.

While the desire of my friends in the New Democratic Party to do that is well-intentioned, and I mean this with respect, I regard it as a somewhat simplistic or expedient method of solving the problem, not unlike the position taken by the Hamilton and District Chamber of Commerce. Let’s have a unitary or one-tier system; we will all be one, located within the confines of this black line that surrounds us. We will be called the Hamilton-Wentworth region, or Hamilton-Wentworth, or Wentworth, as my friend Henry Stewart would have it, and everything will be all right. I just do not think that would be the case.

I think the acrimony will increase even more as people’s individual rights and freedoms become submerged in the mass of Hamilton-Wentworth. It would be bigger government, it would be less responsive government, and it would not be accountable government. The councillor for the ward of Waterdown or the ward of Flamborough could hypothetically justify certain conduct at this one level of government by saying, “I voted against it but I got trampled at the council level, and that’s the end of it.”

There is a time when the minister has to look at restructuring it. I believe sincerely he should look at phasing back the responsibility -- not necessarily wiping the whole thing out or scrapping it; many people would prefer that, but I think every day that goes on that becomes less of a viable alternative -- phasing back the primary responsibilities to local governments so they can be just that -- local.

If I am concerned with a certain matter as a constituent in Waterdown, in the township of Flamborough, I can write to my mayor, Mrs. Ward, whom I think is doing an excellent job. She may get back to me and we may entertain some dialogue with regard to how we are going to correct the situation in the municipality where I live.

I like Stoney Creek; it is a nice place. I used to go out and get ice cream there every now and then. It has one of the finest dairies in Ontario. I like Glanbrook, and I like Hamilton -- but I do not live there.

Mr. Nixon: Where do you stand on Lynden?

5 p.m.

Mr. Cunningham: I love Lynden. I am there quite regularly because of old classmates -- and I mean old classmates -- of my friend from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.

The point I would make is that I do not think it is incumbent upon myself or anybody else from the township of Flamborough to impose our will on people in Stoney Creek or in Glanbrook, or in Hamilton for that matter, and I would suggest to the minister that the same would apply.

When the mayor of Hamilton makes his case that an overwhelming number of people -- I forget what the percentage was; 82 or 88 per cent or whatever -- in the plebiscite indicated that they favoured one tier, I think there is an element of deception on the part of the mayor of Hamilton. I think many people felt that would be a return to the good old days, the days when Hamilton ran Hamilton’s affairs and that was it, that was the end of it.

I think legitimately that if a clearly worded, unambiguous plebiscite were taken and the option to go back to the old system were made, people would opt to go back to their own system. I would challenge the minister to encourage that in the form of a plebiscite in this next election.

I agree with the member for Wentworth that there is a great deal of acrimony, and we are going to see more of it. The problem will not go away. That was the context of remarks I made in 1975 on this very subject. I believe the problem is structural. While the minister may seek some comfort in the good graces of people who seem to be somewhat broadminded at regional council, and who currently are attempting to demonstrate a sense of fair play, those individuals may retire. I understand that one of them, Controller Morrow, has indicated that he will be retiring from politics after a fairly lengthy and distinguished career, albeit as a Conservative. He is a fine man nevertheless. When those people leave, the structural problems will remain.

I do not think we can ask that the mayor of Hamilton go on a holiday when he gets a little hot about something. I do not think we can continue to hope and pray every election that fair and broadminded people are elected every time because, quite frankly, that is not always the case. We may find ourselves in the situation where people who are a little parochial are elected, and then what do we do? The problem will remain, and I would forecast that if something is not done in the next little while, the problem will only be exacerbated. It will be exacerbated whether the minister is here, whether I am here, or whether the member for Wentworth is here. The problem is going to continue.

I would like to make a couple of suggestions. An individual should look into how this structure could be revised with a view to putting more responsibility in the hands of the local municipalities and, with that, the accountability that flows from it. That is the same kind of accountability we have in our constituencies, both in our ridings and across Ontario. Such an individual could meet with the various councils individually, meet with the regional chairman, meet with staff and come up with recommendations that he could share with the minister and with the public so that we might look at this once and for all.

The minister should give serious consideration to getting a co-ordinating committee of the municipalities set up to see that those powers, those responsibilities, the taxing privileges and the moneys that go with them are phased back into the municipality.

The minister can correct me if I am wrong, but currently there are very few, if any, regional systems where the lower tier has fewer responsibilities than has Hamilton-Wentworth. I am not an expert on this but in almost every occasion that I have seen, whether it is the Durham region, Halton region, Metro or Ottawa, there is a fair balance that exists between the upper and lower tiers.

That does not exist in our constituency and day by day, whether it is the issue of store hours or whatever issue comes up, the powers of the local municipality are very gradually being eroded. Tacitly we are going to see ipso facto, if this continues, a one-tier system, and that simply is unacceptable.

I want to tell the minister, because he is going to he contemplating this if he has not contemplated it already, the people of Ancaster do not want the Allarco development in their community. As their representative here, I want to tell him I do not think it is a good idea. It is not in keeping with good planning. It is an awful idea. Quite frankly, I am attracted to the argument that the mayor of Ancaster and his council have made. I can see some kind of development there, but not anything to the extent that is inherent in that proposal.

Who should determine, other than that municipality, what should go on within the confines of that municipality? The mayor of Hamilton? The mayor of Glanbrook? Somebody down here? The Ontario Municipal Board? I think not. The elected officials within that town of 17,500 or whatever have decided that they do not want to increase their town to 25,000, which is what that proposal would do. That is their decision. If they have not accurately represented the views of the people in that town on probably the most important issue that has faced them in years, then I would think they would be replaced somewhat readily in the election this fall.

Consequently, I would also say, people in Waterdown and people in Flamborough are quite anxious to have some industrial assessment. They are most keen on seeing some industrial assessment at the junction of Highways 5 and 6, Clappison’s Corners. While I do not want to start an argument with the member for Wentworth, that is a good area for development; albeit it is underserviced in the context of provision of water, water could be made available to it. There are other forms of development that could take place at the junction of two highways that are propitious in terms of transportation. What I am saying is that it is a good place for industrial assessment.

For years in the regional environment, our taxpayers -- my neighbours -- have been thwarted in that because the mayor of Hamilton, primarily, did not want it to happen. I think this is another instance of a situation where, structurally, the region is not working to the advantage of the people it is designed to serve.

We can be friends. I think we can co-operate. In the contemplation of a restructuring situation, I sincerely believe that if the township of Flamborough wants to co-operate with the town of Dundas on some matter that is a local government item and they decide freely, on their own, that they would like to do this -- whether it is the removal of snow, the maintenance of roads or whatever -- so he it; let them do it. That kind of contract, openly entered into, is going to be much more valuable and of much more long standing.

That situation exists. The township of Flamborough, specifically the village of Waterdown, buys most of its water from Burlington. We, in return, send our sewage down the Grindstone Creek. The Waterdown Public Utilities Commission has its servicing done by the Dundas Public Utilities Commission, a contractual arrangement that works out very well. I would think hypothetically, that if Ancaster, Dundas, and Flamborough would like to get together to hire a social worker, to accommodate their responsibilities under the Child Welfare Act, then so be it. I think that would work.

In short, what I am saying is I think it is time to put the responsibilities back to the local municipalities wherever possible. We should look for every occasion that we can to do that. I mean roads, I mean recreation, I mean planning -- especially I mean planning. There is nothing to stop us from co-operating. There is nothing to stop us from having, at another level, a co-operative type of co-ordinating body that would keep tabs on what is going on and help facilitate better planning on a permissive basis.

But let my people in Ancaster determine whether they are going to increase the size of their municipality twofold in the next five or 10 years. Let my people in Flamborough, my mayor in Flamborough and her council, determine whether they are going to have industrial assessment at the junction of Highways 5 and 6. I believe that would be in the best interests of the people in the outlying regions, and I believe it would be in the best interests of the citizens of Hamilton.

If the minister moved in that direction, I believe we would see more accountable government, smaller government, cheaper government and better government. I hope the minister will give some serious consideration to this. I know he is a fair-minded person and I believe he is concerned.

5:10 p.m.

Many of us can be cynical about the current political situation in so far as there are six or seven seats there and none of them is represented by the government party. Their prospects are not all that good either, but that is another matter.

I think the minister should look at their interests in the same way he looks at the interests of the people in his own constituency. The longer we let this thing sit and fester, the worse it is going to get.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Chairman, in the past half hour I have developed an incredibly bad headache. I think it is the result of trying to understand the minister’s position on regional government. People -- and, as a matter of fact, politicians -- always complain about politicians because it is alleged that politicians say one thing in one place one day and the next day, to a different audience they say something different. The minister has gone a step beyond that and has managed in the space of only five minutes this afternoon to say two different things and take two different positions on one issue to the same audience.

He dealt with the use of the word “imposition.” I am intrigued and confused by the government’s position on imposition as it relates to Hamilton-Wentworth. As clearly as I can understand it, the position is -- the minister can correct me if I am wrong -- that in 1972 and for some period of time bracketing that year on both sides the ministry and the government were in favour of imposition of regional government. But now, some time previous to six minutes ago, the government changed its position and is now opposed to any sort of imposition.

I found it curious that the minister would go back to try to put the current Hamilton-Wentworth problem in a historical context. It seems to me that the problem started when the government had all these commissions, surveys and study groups wandering about in the wilderness some decade ago deciding what to do in terms of new municipal government structures.

They rolled into the head of the lake area. I am not exactly sure what the difficulty was. For some reasons which certainly had nothing to do with the cultural, economic, social, geopolitical structuring of the Hamilton-Wentworth area -- so I can assume it was a political reason -- they decided there should be a truncated Hamilton-Wentworth region which went against the advice of all the experts at the time. We started back then.

I remember John White and his travelling roadshow pouring into Mohawk College one evening. They had maps and graphs. CHCH television was up there, and it was broadcast to everybody in the region. They had two bad choices they were quite willing to impose. I remember the line, “We have choice A and choice B, and I rather like both choices.” Consequently, the government went ahead and imposed something that was not a sensible region and nobody wanted.

The minister is right when he talks about a historical context. He is right when he talks about imposition. The government imposed a bad region. It did not listen to anybody at the time. After all these years, we are trying to deal with the aftermath, with problems created by the provincial government. It seems to me, as it seemed to me since these problems started surfacing about 27 minutes after the imposition of regional government, the government has a responsibility to act.

In terms of the government’s position on regional government in Hamilton-Wentworth, I have seen a degree of inactivity over the past decade that frankly amazes me. I think it is without comparison. I have never seen anything like it. In the four and a half years I have been in the House, I have never seen such a display of masterly inactivity.

I am really curious as to the circumstances under which, at some time down the road, the ministry and the government might be prepared to do something in terms of structural changes in Hamilton-Wentworth.

It seems to me you have had the complete range of problems set before you over the past years. Maybe in the future they will be more serious; maybe some of them will be less serious; maybe there will be changes of players. But I would not be surprised if we could find more difficulties in the region to dump on your door. Maybe we can. We are fairly imaginative people and it is a fairly serious problem. But if you have not expressed a willingness up to this point to do anything, I am really at a loss as to what it is that may cause you to make changes.

You talk about regional government and say the reason you did not move after the Stewart commission was because there was no support. Nobody could agree on a different strategy, a different structure. It may be true that there was some disagreement -- and there was -- about what changes should be made, but the corollary is not true. It is not right to say that everybody liked regional government as it was. In fact, I would challenge the minister to indicate to me people who allegedly liked regional government in Hamilton-Wentworth beyond the ranks of his own caucus and party and the regional chairman. That is a pretty select and fairly tiny group of people in Hamilton-Wentworth. It could meet in a telephone booth. In fact, it does.

When you say that Miss Jones really likes regional government, she thinks these things can all be worked out and everything can be cheerful and wonderful, the is the same person in Hamilton-Wentworth who has been busy telling everybody over the past six months, in her capacity as regional chairman, that building an expressway down our last remaining valley, the Red Hill Creek Valley, is a really great idea. She says it will open it up so that more people can see it. So I am not too sure about that fine lady’s credibility.

We are talking about imposition; I am not too surprised the person imposed as a regional chairman originally should agree with you. It seems quite reasonable that she should.

If the minister is getting bad advice because there are not many Tory MPPs in Hamilton to sit in his caucus to tell him what the situation is really like -- if that is the problem with the government’s weakness on the ground in Hamilton-Wentworth -- I would invite him to come down to Hamilton Centre and tell my constituents things are going just swimmingly and there are all of these wondrous advantages being brought to them by regional government. I think they would eat the minister alive. I do not think he would get out of there.

I think maybe it would be good if you spent some time with the people in Hamilton-Wentworth and found out what they want. I understand, not having any members, it is probably difficult for you and you get an odd slant on the picture.

We have gone through the whole problem this spring with our regional councillors at each other’s throats. I really do not believe that is a personal thing. I admit that a large number of them are Tories, and Tories do have a penchant for slicing away at each other on occasion. But I do not think the reason the regional councillors are busy bashing away at each other is a personality thing. I think it is a structural problem, and it reflects the structural problems in the Hamilton-Wentworth region. It is serious.

We had a time this spring when, for all intents and purposes, regional government was totally dysfunctional. There was no regional government in Hamilton-Wentworth. So I do not think you can say the problems are not severe, and that everything is terribly fine, the picture is rosy for tomorrow. I think you are going to have to rethink it. I think you are going to have to look more closely at it.

5:20 p.m.

As nearly as I can see, your position is more or less to ignore Hamilton-Wentworth, to pretend it is something that is not really there and he really does not have to deal with it, and somehow the problems will go away. They will not. Every MPP from the region who speaks in these debates tells the minister that constantly, and the regional councillors tell him that constantly. The problems will not go away. What I think the minister should do is to sit down with a wide group of people, seek to build consensus and seek to provide solutions to the problems and difficulties in the region. With an exhibition of goodwill we can build a much better structure for government in the Hamilton-Wentworth region.

We are not bad people in that little corner of the province, and if the minister would work with us actively to build a structure that was appropriate for our area he would see a lot fewer problems and a lot less difficulty in that area. We are capable of running our own municipal government effectively and we can be a very good city of which the minister can be proud.

I think the beginning has to be the government realizing it just cannot continue to ignore us. There must be a commitment to vigorously seek to build a consensus towards a new structure of government in the Hamilton-Wentworth area. I think it would be most inappropriate and most unfortunate if the minister, on behalf of his government, continued his dance of inactivity. It is a display that remains unwelcome and in no way helps us to build a better government in the Hamilton-Wentworth region.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I appreciate all the comments. The only ones I vigorously disagree with are that we are ignoring Hamilton-Wentworth or that we are inactive in the area. I think the honourable member can probably realize that he and I differ as to what we think the ultimate solution is. I went over and met with the council and I told them, “Come on, bury the hatchet, let’s make the thing work,” because I happen to believe the thing can work. It can work if the personalities are forgotten and the people there get down to business.

If they want a mediator appointed to settle a few matters that is okay, but we are not going to appoint another study commission. If they want a mediator to settle some of the matters of what level should handle certain responsibilities, we will do that. I am just as interested in the government as the honourable member, but I think the two-tier system can work. The member feels it has to be a unitary system and we have to impose that. I do not see that as a solution, but I just don’t want him to think we are ignoring it.

We probably spend more time collectively looking at the problems of Hamilton-Wentworth and what goes on there, and I get more advice from more people on that particular regional government situation than all the others put together. I have a great file on it and we are studying it and people come and talk to me about it.

It is nice to dismiss the fact that the regional chairman is not a directly elected person. I have been trying to get the exact report from the last election, but I think she was either elected unanimously or by a very good margin of the members of regional council. If I am incorrect, perhaps the member can correct me, but I would suggest she was probably elected by council by a pretty good margin and she does represent, in a very fair and very calm manner, the hopes, the aspirations and the realizations for the whole of the area. She was a controller in the city of Hamilton, was she not, before she assumed that position?

Mr. Nixon: She is a fine lady.

Hon. Mr. Wells: She is a very fine lady. She has had a miraculous conversion somewhere along the line and is working hard.

Mr. Nixon: On the road to Dundas.

Mr. Cunningham: She found life insurance easier to sell.

Hon. Mr. Wells: As a former Hamilton controller, she obviously knows and respects the wishes of the city of Hamilton and she is trying to act as a mediator and catalyst between the suburban areas my friend over here represents and the city on the kind of things that can be done in the area.

Mr. M. N. Davison: I think you like her because she is saying what you want to hear.

Hon. Mr. Wells: No, I like her because she is doing a good job.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, in case the minister wasn’t aware before, I am opposed to regional government, but I will make that speech again some other time. I want specifically to bring the minister’s attention to a problem in regional government which is partly the responsibility of his ministry and certainly wholly the responsibility of a couple of his predecessors. It has to do with the regional municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk.

Without going into great detail on it, one of the municipalities is known as the city of Nanticoke. I have the honour to represent a part of it, that which is in the former county of Norfolk. My colleague, the member for Haldimand-Norfolk (Mr. G. I. Miller) represents the rest of it, that part that is in the former county of Haldimand.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Read Paul Hellyer’s column in the Sun.

Mr. Nixon: I really must do that right away. That is in the Sun, though, isn’t it?

The point is that when the regional government was established it was decided that while there would be one regional municipality there would be two school boards. The city of Nanticoke is divided down the middle by school jurisdiction as well. The minister’s colleague and a predecessor as Minister of Education allowed that to happen.

Also, one of the minister’s other colleagues, the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck), granted them permission to have a section 86 reassessment. The result has been real chaos in the financing of education in the city of Nanticoke. They have two school boards but they have an overall reassessment which, for reasons I do not understand, has compounded the inequities and inequalities.

I am told a supplemental grant of $300,000 will solve all of their problems. If the minister is discussing this with the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) and the Minister of Revenue, that is probably the position he should take. However, I have a sneaking suspicion the problem will stay unless some more drastic improvement or remedy is brought to bear.

I want to bring this to the minister’s attention because I have a feeling we are going to have to get government policy elicited on this, either directly or in question period in the next few days, since it is a real problem with the local municipalities and, far more important than that, it is a real problem for the local taxpayers.

I have a second thing briefly. I know the minister is anxious to introduce the government bill dealing with the rationalization of the borders and boundaries in the city of Brantford and the township of Brantford. As the days go by, the minister is more aware than probably any of his colleagues, and I have a feeling more aware than any of his staff, that the time to deal with legislation is rapidly disappearing. If that bill were to be introduced on June 12, that is, the Thursday before the recess, there is only one day on which we can deal with legislation, which would be the following Tuesday.

There may very well be arrangements made otherwise, but if you accede particularly to the request by the member for Brantford and send it to committee, we are going to have difficulty dealing with it. We all have views about the bill and we will debate it at the time, but I simply bring that to the minister’s attention.

Since the bill is not completed just yet, I wish the minister would bear a second thing in mind. As this is the alternative to regional government in the area -- we will have been successful in keeping the regional government concept out of there if this bill proceeds -- I hope somebody is looking at the grant programs available to those areas that have gone through the trauma of regionalization.

We haven’t had that kind of difficulty, but using local initiative and the kind of guidance we have very much appreciated from the minister and his staff, we have accomplished this thing which may or may not go into effect in the next few days or weeks. We have done this and we think we deserve the same kind of treatment vis-à-vis grants the regional governments have been getting for some time. There are certain transitional grants, but they don’t compare in any way with the capital-T transitional grants that have been available to the regions.

5:30 p.m.

I suggest this since, when the bill comes in, it is a matter I want to pursue. I hope the minister will be able to assure me and the taxpayers in the area they are going to get the kind of treatment the other areas have received.

Hon. Mr. Wells: We will certainly make sure we are ready to give the member those assurances when the bill is brought in. The school board situation in Nanticoke has become very complicated. I will have to study it a little further. They did do a section 86, but the application to properties in one municipality where there are two school boards does present a problem, I imagine. I will be glad to look into it a little further. I don’t have any further information on it now.

To elaborate further on what I said, in yesterday’s Sunday Sun, Paul Hellyer said that future generations will look upon Nanticoke as one of the great municipal areas of Canada. He outlined its very early beginnings over the last few years, and said that most people don’t even know the name today, but they will some time in the future. I presume he is right.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, I will be glad to see the defeated candidate for the leadership of the federal Progressive Conservative Party’s column in the Sunday Sun. The Sunday Sun doesn’t get out our way every Sunday, but I may get a look at it. I like to check out what Claire Hoy has to say about us, too, so I don’t miss any of those things.

The story of the decisions about the new town of Townsend will form a very interesting chapter in the history of this province. Since the minister has raised it, even though the responsibility is with the Ministry of Housing, I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, that the commitment to that thing is in my view at this time a substantial waste of a lot of taxpayers’ money. We will be talking about it, I am sure, in the future.

For example, the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) flew down there in a leased government jet with room for probably 12 people in it, all the way from Toronto to Brantford to speak in Simcoe. He went down there and said, “There is no backing out of Townsend,” even though he has backed out of every single commitment having to do with land assembly except this one. They are going ahead with it anyway.

The big news is that they have a semi- commitment of 14 lots for building. I really think it is a mistake. Some time in the future we may need something there, but there are very fine towns, such as Waterford, Port Dover, Jarvis and Simcoe, where one can buy a street of serviced lots. Actually, one can buy a street of finished houses if one has the money. The towns are all serviced; the roads go there; they have airports. The schools are closing down because there are no kids to go to them. God knows there is room in the churches. It is all there except the government has gone out in the middle of the farm land -- good farm land, not the best, but very good farm land -- with absolutely unlimited money -- it is just typical government initiative and waste -- and cut the devil out of the place without any limit on expense at all, because this is a great concept of a new city.

It is as dumb now as it was when John White went out and bought two city sites within 12 miles of each other because he figured if one was good, two were even better. There may come a time -- but everybody working at the Nanticoke steel mill is already looked after. There is not a huge work force moving in there. I feel there are some serious mistakes being made in that connection.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I didn’t intend to get into a discussion of Townsend. My colleague the Minister of Housing can do that when his estimates come up. The defeated candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, who wrote this article, was really talking about the great development that Stelco Inc. had put in there -- I haven’t seen it, but I am sure my friend has. They built that dock out there and people couldn’t imagine it when it was first envisaged. Now Stelco is there and turning out plate steel and it is one of the great success stories of Ontario industry.

Mr. Nixon: Even the government planners couldn’t imagine it; you people were the last to know.

Mr. Cunningham: All done, I might add, with private enterprise.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: I think we are getting a little off topic.

Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Chairman, as I indicated before, I have four topics remaining which I will try to deal with fairly rapidly. They are matters about which I have strong feelings and which I think are important. Perhaps, in order to enable the minister not to have to use his voice too much, which appears to be suffering from the same problem he had on Friday, I will run them together and then he can comment at the end.

The minister will be aware last session I introduced a bill that would set up a provincial office of a municipal ombudsman. I want to say to the minister, as time goes by I become more and more convinced that this kind of province-wide function is necessary in order to allow citizens of this province to assure themselves that their municipal councils are acting in their best interests, and also to deal with those instances where a municipal council, for whatever reason, is treating a citizen or a group of citizens in some unfair manner.

I know the minister is going to come back to me and say that local councils can set up their own ombudsmen if they so wish. That is the approach we heard in the past and I am sure it is the approach we will hear today. But I want to say to the minister, the bill was introduced after a great deal of consideration and after a review of the advice that had been given by the select committee on the Ombudsman, by municipal people themselves and by other groups who were involved in this area.

In this Legislature and in the federal House we have a situation where there is an opposition party, in every province there is an opposition party, but in municipal government we very often have a situation where there is no visible opposition, where the government, because of its supposedly non-partisan approach, appears to be acting as a coherent group.

I want to suggest to the minister that if we need an ombudsman in Ontario, and I believe very strongly that we do, then we need an ombudsman in each and every municipality across this province. It is not feasible for most local councils to set up their own ombudsmen because the number of complaints would be very small, the work load would not justify setting up the operation and it is not reasonable to expect municipal councils to set up an ombudsman voluntarily unless they are at least given some incentive to do so.

After reviewing the various possibilities, it would certainly be conceivable that the government provide a special purpose grant to each and every municipality on condition that the municipal council set up the office of ombudsman. But, realistically, in many of our 837 municipalities, that would make no sense.

I came to the conclusion, and I know a lot of my colleagues came to the conclusion, that the only realistic way to do it would be to have an office of a municipal ombudsman at the provincial level to keep that separate from the existing provincial Ombudsman; to keep it separate from the functions of the Ontario government, but to provide that government as a recourse for people who have complaints or problems with their local municipal council.

In support of my argument I want to use a number of cases which are very important to the people involved and about which the minister may already be aware, but in which the citizens who feel aggrieved have absolutely no recourse under the present system.

The first is a petition I have from 51 residents of the town of Wasaga Beach. The petition will shortly be delivered to the secretary to the cabinet because it is addressed to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. In fact, it might expedite communications if I send it across to the minister and he can forward it to the secretary of cabinet. I am prepared to deal with it as the minister wishes. It is under section 323 of the Municipal Act and, like so many of these petitions, is asking for a commission of inquiry.

To extract just a portion of the wording: “Your petitioners, each and every one, have cause to be suspicious of mismanagement of public funds of the town.” They then go on in five items to explain why they are suspicious of mismanagement of public funds in the town.

5:40 p.m.

I am not in a position to investigate that and there is nobody within this caucus or within any opposition caucus who is in a position to investigate that. I suggest it is not appropriate that the government investigate that. You could set up a commission of inquiry under section 323 and perhaps you will respond that you are prepared to do so in these cases. But that commission is such a far-ranging commission that if we are to set up a section 323 commission every time there is this kind of problem we are not going to be dealing with things in the most efficient manner. I suggest to you very strongly that this ease demands a municipal ombudsman.

Another ease, very dissimilar, is that of a Mrs. Clark of Finch Avenue East in Pickering. She has evidence that the construction of the York-Durham trunk sewer in front of her property has caused very substantial flooding of her property and has caused her water supply to become polluted to the level where it is a health hazard.

Again there is a divided jurisdiction because much of the engineering work was done by the Ministry of the Environment. But the actual responsibility is a regional responsibility, and when the citizen is aggrieved by an action of the regional government, at the present time the citizen has no recourse. There is no body, no individual, no committee to whom the citizen can go to seek compensation for the situation in which the citizen feels he or she has been treated unfairly or unreasonably or has suffered at the hands of the regional municipality.

Another situation I am sure the minister is aware of is the 250 or so citizens of the town of Caledon. They have presented to him recently a petition asking for a commission of inquiry relating to a road closing. I am not able to judge the merits of the case they have put. I suspect it is a result of a very confused legal situation arising from the last century and I do not necessarily have a quarrel with the decision of the town of Caledon.

But I do believe that those citizens should have the opportunity to have their grievance investigated by someone who is seen to he impartial, someone who is not seen to be of the same party as the majority of the people on Caledon council, not someone who is seen to be wanting to make political hay out of it. I think it should be someone who will look into the situation and determine whether or not the town of Caledon acted properly in that regard and whether or not someone got something that they perhaps should not have got or perhaps they got something that they were entitled to.

A fourth case, and it will be my last example, is again different. That is a newspaper report in the Spectator on Friday of last week where the council of the town of Glanbrook was being accused of improper dismissal and being accused of all kinds of other things.

Again, I am not in a position to judge whether there is any merit at all to those accusations, but they have been made in a public newspaper and I believe that the citizen who made those accusations have a right to a fair and unbiased hearing. I also believe the council of the town of Glanbrook has the right to have its name cleared, if its name should be cleared.

With the kind of smut that gets printed in the papers from time to time and the kind of accusations that are hurled around from time to time, I believe a municipal ombudsman would be of very substantial benefit to municipal councils. He would be an impartial person who would come and look at things, when accusations have been made, and assure the public that things were done properly, if they were done properly. He would also assure the public they have a right to recourse if a mistake was made or if something was done improperly.

There are many other examples to indicate what I believe to be a very serious need for a municipal ombudsman in every municipality in this province. I suggest the best way of doing it that has come to light at the present time is to set up an office of a municipal ombudsman for the entire province and to allow that person to investigate complaints against any municipal council. If there are other effective ways of dealing with the problem, I would be very happy to listen to them, but I suggest that the answer that every municipal council can, if it wishes, set up an ombudsman is just not good enough.

The next matter I want to raise, which will not require so much detail, is the Home Buyers’ Protection Act, also a private member’s bill that I introduced last session. The minister will be aware that municipalities, and particularly municipal building departments are very often blamed for defects in new home construction or for other problem that home buyers encounter subsequent to their purchase of a new home. It is some time very unfair that municipal employees have to bear the brunt of the wrath of the citizen who has been sold a home that is defective in some general regard. However, there are circumstances where it is indeed the responsibility of the municipal employee. I know the minister has brought in legislation to deal with that through errors and omissions insurance.

In terms of the broad matters of drainage, water safety, zoning in the immediate area, access to schools and access to public transit there are very serious problems. I hope the minister will use his influence with his colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) to say that a Home Buyers’ Protection Act, something that provides information to home buyers before the deal is finalized, would help municipal employees and municipal councils in dealing with situations which currently arise because there is no protection for home buyers and no requirement that home buyers be given the truth and the whole truth before they sign on the bottom line.

I hope he will see fit to provide that little bit of support for the bill with his colleague because, unfortunately, the opportunity for private members’ bills to come forward in this House is very limited. I would like to see those two issues, the municipal ombudsman and home buyers’ protection, dealt with through government legislation rather than having to wait until such time as the lottery system enables us to get them on the Notice Paper.

The third matter I wish to raise is the Involvement in Municipal Administration program. To cut a long story short, I was aware of the operation of that program when I was a member of town council in Stoney Creek; I felt it was an excellent program, it provided great benefit to students, and it provided great benefit to municipal staff.

I am aware, too, of correspondence the minister has had with the central Ontario chapter of the Canadian Institute of Planners. It is the concern that has been raised by the Canadian Institute of Planners that I would like to pursue with him today. I sincerely hope that he will take the CIP advice when he introduces changes to that program. I sincerely hope he will reconsider his position so planning students from colleges and universities around this province will continue to have the very valuable experience that they gain in municipal offices under this program.

I share the CIP concern that if it is left without the incentive of the IMA program, the number of students able to participate in this experience will be curtailed. That would be unfortunate, because planning is important to this province and it is important that we have new planners with new ideas, bringing forward the future design of our homes, our communities and our cities.

I hope the minister will respond that he has taken the Canadian Institute of Planners’ concern into account and that we can be assured that the existing program or something equivalent to the existing IMA program will be continued in 1981.

5:50 p.m.

The fourth matter I want to raise with the minister comes down to the matter of communication which we dealt with before. The minister will be aware that I recently tabled a question on the Notice Paper dealing with section 352(64) and 352(66) of the Municipal Act which deal with the right of municipalities to pay Ontario Health Insurance Plan benefits specifically to pensioners before the age of 65.

The minister indicated in his response that he would be prepared to consider legislation to change that. I am not quite sure how to interpret “prepared to consider.” I hope it means intending to bring in, and I look forward to the minister indicating that it does.

This brings up the whole problem of communication. Municipal councils are not going to bring forward private bills to deal with this kind of thing. It is just not in their immediate interests to do so.

Firefighters’ associations and other groups that might encounter this kind of problem do not have the ability to bring in private bills. We do not have a mechanism through which concerns about municipal government can clearly be channelled to this Legislature for action.

I must say I am concerned that private bills seem to he used more and more for matters of policy, instead of matters of administration, as I believe they were in the past. Where policy matters are concerned, I would prefer to see the government dealing with bills as government bills, rather than allowing municipalities to change policy for their municipalities.

As the minister indicated previously, we can deal with those kinds of things through referrals to committees, but with the number of municipal bills coming up, I hope we do not get into a position where we would have to refer them all to committee.

We have a situation where the minister has indicated that he would not bring in amendments that had been requested, and this was his response last week, because he was scared there might be opposition amendments that would be unacceptable to him. If we had a committee dealing with these things, we might be able to work them out. There are ways of ensuring that the business of this province and of the municipalities of this province is advanced, even though there may be political differences between the three parties in this House.

It is not enough to keep the peace, to pour oil on the troubled waters, and to kill the mosquito larvae that are breeding in those troubled waters. What is needed is action on the issues we have outlined during these estimates, and on the many other issues that are of concern to municipalities, and which are of concern to our citizens in their dealings with municipalities.

I hope the minister will pick up on my earlier comments and my colleague’s earlier comments concerning a select committee or a standing committee, or some kind of committee, that will begin to review municipal problems.

I also hope we will get an assurance from the minister that estimates next year -- if we are here next year -- will be dealt with in committee, where we can question staff and where the possibility for going into some of these things in more detail exists, rather than being dealt with in the relatively impersonal surroundings of this House.

With those comments, Mr. Chairman, I will wind up. But I very much hope I will receive a response from the minister on those four issues: the municipal ombudsman; home buyers’ protection; the IMA program, and the matter of communication, with immediate and specific reference to the sections of the Municipal Act I mentioned, but also with further regard to the broad problem of how people get things done when the present Municipal Act needs amendment, or when the municipalities are using the Municipal Act or the whole mechanism of private bills in an inappropriate manner.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I will respond to those concerns very quickly, Mr. Chairman. I might say to the member for Wentworth that the matters he has brought up as examples for the need for a municipal ombudsman are to some degree quite different from the matters that are handled by the provincial ombudsman. In a great many cases, these are not complaints against administrative decisions of employees of the municipality but are complaints against decisions or actions of the elected municipal government. There is a little difference.

The provincial ombudsman is here to act on behalf of the citizens of this province who feel that some administrative decision, basically not by an elected member of this Legislature but by a part of the vast provincial civil service, is not just towards him.

All of these cases the member indicated here are at present the subject of study by people in our field services branch. That is the way they are handled. When people petition us for an inquiry under that section of the Municipal Act we carry out an investigation. Those members of my staff make recommendations to me and give me a report upon which I can make some decision as to whether an inquiry should be held, always remembering that a municipality itself can carry out an inquiry. However, I would submit that these cases do not suggest the municipality would appoint an inquiry body on its own. But I remind the member that the city of Toronto, in a plumbing inspection case, appointed its own commission of inquiry.

The idea of a municipal ombudsman appeals to me. I think there is a place for it. I do not know all the parameters that would have to apply. I do not know enough of the details to say, “Yes, it is an idea that could be put into effect,” but it is something that I would be willing to discuss with the provincial ombudsman and, perhaps, get some more details on. I do not know enough about it to give a definite answer now.

In the area of the Home Buyers’ Protection Act, I will be happy to talk to my colleague. I know we have brought in a home warranty program. I believe that program, together with the fact that most home buyers do obtain the services of a member of the legal profession, protect them to a great degree today.

Where they cannot do that, they talk to their local member when they get into a problem and we act as the ombudsman representative against the builder et cetera for them. I am sure my friend does the same as I do in my area. We usually get some kind of successful conclusion to a lot of these problems. But I will talk to my friend about that program.

We changed the Involvement in Municipal Administration program this year because we wanted to bring in what we call the Ontario Municipal Training Program. That is a program where, in the first year, we have created positions for 11 management trainees who will work for up to two years in various municipal departments, including administration, finance and planning. There was great interest from recent graduates of university and college courses that were directly connected with local government.

We had 94 candidates who submitted applications, and 78 were deemed eligible for the program. Nineteen municipalities submitted proposals outlining work assignments which would provide the successful candidate with a very wide range of in-depth experiences in a number of areas. Of the applicants, 11 were approved for 1980. An additional 14 will be approved in 1981, bringing the total participating at any time to 25 municipalities and trainees. This is a two-year program. We have put some of our financial resources in this program, and we cut down a bit in the municipal administration program.

As far as planners are concerned, we provided subsidy for planning students for municipalities of less than 50,000 population. About 104 planning students were employed there. We found from experience that the larger municipalities will hire the planning students anyway, whether we subsidize them or not, so we felt the need was in the smaller ones. We will continue the subsidy there but, in order to get the money for the other program, we cut down on planning students in the larger municipalities.

We have 234 students of administration in the program this year, for a total of 338 students in the program.

I recognize the problems the planning groups have put before me, I have given them this answer. We knew that all this would be a bit of a problem with them when we made the changes. But we think the change, in order to accommodate the Ontario Municipal Training Program, was a good one and, in balance, will not jeopardize any municipalities. Perhaps, when more money is available in the future, we will be able to expand the program again a little bit.

As regards the last question the member raised, concerning the amendment to the Municipal Act, amendments to the Municipal Act come in from a wide variety of sources, such as municipalities, municipal associations, members of the Legislature, citizens writing in and so forth. All are looked at twice a year in order to bring in the omnibus bill. The suggestion the honourable member put forward about municipalities being able to provide OHIP benefits et cetera for retired employees under 65 will be looked at for the fall amendments.

Item 1 agreed to.

Vote 603 agreed to.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: That completes the estimates of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of supply reported certain resolutions.

The House adjourned at 6:01 p.m.