The House resumed at 8 p.m.
CHIROPODY AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Turner, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Timbrell, moved second reading of Bill 167, An Act to amend the Chiropody Act.
Mr. Turner: Mr. Speaker, I will introduce this debate on An Act to amend the Chiropody Act by outlining the need for and the importance of expanded foot care services for the citizens of Ontario. The Chiropody Amendment Act, 1980, will establish the legislative framework for improved foot care services in Ontario in accordance with the program outlined by the Minister of Health last March 13 and when he introduced the amendments on October 14.
The need of our citizens for foot care is growing as our population ages. The elderly in particular tend to suffer from foot problems requiring skilled care -- care that can make the difference between leading an independent life and having to move to an institution earlier than necessary. Disabilities affecting the feet can obviously immobilize a person, setting the stage for more serious health problems. An elderly person who lacks mobility has great difficulty providing for his or her basic needs.
How extensive is this problem? The need is increasing, because the proportion of elderly in our population is expanding rapidly. Persons aged 65 and over now represent nine per cent of Ontario’s population. In 20 years, they will comprise 14 per cent and their numbers will have increased by 75 per cent. The trend is attributable to both the falling birth rate over the past two decades and the fact that people are living longer.
A study done recently by the Burlington Social Planning Council showed that one in every three persons over the age of 65 interviewed had trouble with his feet, and in many cases this seriously restricted activity. In another study, carried out in Toronto and Orangeville by public health nurses, it was found that 44 per cent of those who lived in the city and 49 per cent of the rural population over 65 reportedly had foot problems. One British study estimated that 78 per cent of the elderly needed chiropody, while a further 15 per cent would benefit from such treatment.
Several organizations, too, have emphasized the need for foot care in Ontario. In 1978, the Ontario Council of Health report on health care for the aged observed, “The whole question of foot care has been underestimated.”
The Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens stressed in its 1978-79 annual report, “Foot care needs of seniors are not being adequately met province-wide under the present system.” In a 1979 report, the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto declared that “there is a need for more foot care services in Ontario.”
But the elderly are not the only ones who would benefit from expanded foot care services. Foot care is also of critical importance for children, who should be screened for disorders of the feet, particularly since they are more easily treated during the growing years. Expectant mothers and the physically handicapped are other groups requiring special attention a far as foot care is concerned.
I am sure the honourable members are aware that under the present system, which has been in existence for several years, we have fewer than 100 foot care specialists in this province. In the past five years, this number has remained fairly static. The result is that today our ratio of practitioner to population is about one to 98,000. In contrast, the United States has one practitioner for every 30,000, and the United Kingdom has one for every 20,000.
From the point of view of what our senior citizens say their needs are, from the point of view of some of the major organizations concerned with the wellbeing of the elderly and from the point of view of comparison with other countries, the need for more foot care services in Ontario has indeed been well documented.
A brief history of specialized foot care and how it has developed over the years will be helpful in appreciating the current situation and how our plans can be fully implemented following passage of the amendments to the Chiropody Act now before this House.
It is commonly believed that chiropody developed as a separate field apart from the medical profession some 150 years ago because the general medical practitioner simply was not interested in treating foot disorders. In the early days of this discipline, in the late 19th century, foot care in Ontario followed the British model, since most practitioners were trained in the United Kingdom. But as schools of podiatry opened in the United States after 1900, Canadians tended to seek training there. By the 1940s the US-trained podiatrists formed a majority of Canadian practitioners.
As late as the 1920s Ontario had no restrictions on the practice of foot care. This changed in 1925 when chiropody was regulated by the Drugless Practitioners Act. A full-fledged Chiropody Act was passed in 1944 establishing a board of regents, which prescribed standards for admission to practice.
In the 1950s, the educational requirements for licensing were revised in such a way as to virtually exclude British chiropodists from practising in Ontario. In effect, the right to practise is now limited to graduates of schools of podiatry in the United States, since there is no comparable training program in Canada.
Those who graduate from US schools of podiatry undertake a course of similar length to that of a medical doctor. Such courses cover all aspects of foot care, including surgery on the foot.
In developing plans for enhanced foot care services in our province, our ministry took into account the following facts:
1. The surgical management of foot disorders is being, and in the future can be, taken care of by surgeons, especially orthopaedic surgeons, of whom there is an ample supply in this province.
2. Ontario citizens wishing to enter the field of foot care cannot receive the appropriate training anywhere in Canada.
3. It is necessary to ensure the equitable distribution of foot care services throughout the province.
4. The British model of foot care, known as chiropody, has been endorsed by the Ontario Council of Health, the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto and the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens.
5. The pilot project at Toronto General Hospital has shown that chiropodists, trained on the British model, can work successfully and effectively with physicians in taking care of common problems associated with the foot.
It was therefore decided that the most appropriate way to create a better system of foot care services for Ontarians was to provide training in Ontario based on the chiropody or British model, and that such chiropodists would work on a salaried basis in hospital clinics and other community settings as part of a health care team.
Let me say at this point that, although we intend to follow the chiropody model in Ontario, podiatrists now practising here will still be able -- with no change in their status -- to practise on a fee-for-service basis under our new program. As well, Canadians studying in US schools of podiatry will also be permitted to enter Ontario to practise here upon graduation.
The honourable members will recall the minister announcing on October 14 that the Ministry of Health, in conjunction with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, would establish a chiropodist training program in our colleges of applied arts and technology. At that time, the minister indicated to the House that the first such course would begin in the fall of 1981 under the joint auspices of George Brown College and the Toronto Institute of Medical Technology. Representatives of these two institutions and of the two ministries are soon to visit Britain to seek the co-operation of British schools of chiropody in developing a program that adapts the British model to Ontario’s needs. Our course will probably be of three years’ duration like the British course.
The first of its kind in Canada, the program is eventually expected to produce about 40 chiropodists a year. These chiropodists will be employed on a salaried basis in hospitals or other institutions and may be attracted to public health units. They will not be entitled to practise on a fee-for-service basis under the Ontario health insurance plan. Our initial target is a practitioner-to-population ratio of one to 30,000 in this province.
To implement these plans, legislative changes are necessary. The bill under consideration proposes two amendments basically designed to recognize the right of chiropodists to practise in Ontario. The first amendment will increase the lay membership of the board of regents appointed under the Chiropody Act to facilitate representation of the interests of chiropodists.
The second amendment will give the Lieutenant Governor in Council the authority to make regulations under the act, paralleling the authority already established under the Health Disciplines Act. At present, only the board of regents can propose regulations under the Chiropody Act.
A new regulation will recognize chiropodists registered in the United Kingdom. This will allow them to teach in our community college program and to work in our hospitals. A further regulation will recognize the eventual graduates of the Ontario program.
As the minister indicated in his statement last month, we do not intend to wait until our first chiropodists graduate to begin expanding foot care in this province. We are launching a pilot project at Toronto General Hospital in January 1981 which will involve an intensive six-month course in chiropody for registered nurses. These nurses will come from a variety of settings: from the Victorian Order of Nurses for Canada, the St. Elizabeth Visiting Nurses Association and from family practice units of public hospitals. The ministry will pay for this course, and the salaries of the six nurses participating will be jointly covered by the ministry and their current employers.
Upon completing the course, the nurses will teach the principles of foot care hygiene to registered nursing assistants in courses of three to four weeks’ duration beginning later in 1981. This will equip the registered nursing assistants to recognize foot problems in need of treatment and to perform minor tasks that the elderly may be unable to do for themselves, such as cutting toenails.
After assessment of this project, we hope to be able to make this program available on a province-wide basis.
We are confident that this policy of expanding our supply of foot care practitioners coupled with the training of auxiliary help workers in basic techniques will greatly enhance the level of foot care in Ontario in the years ahead. The program will particularly benefit our senior citizens who will be better able to remain independent members of the community if spared the pain and disability of foot disorders.
I am sure the honourable members are aware that those of our citizens over 65 make greater use of the health care system than their numbers would indicate. While the elderly now account for nine per cent of our population, they account for about one third of the capacity of our health care system. Therefore, anything we can do to keep older people mobile will contribute to their general health and sense of wellbeing. It will also contribute to keeping them out of institutions and at home, where they can live fuller and more independent lives. Finally, an extended foot care program will help prevent minor foot problems in children growing into more serious problems as they become older; it will prove of benefit to pregnant women; and it will make life easier for many handicapped people who would not otherwise be able to provide themselves with basic foot care.
Accordingly, I urge the adoption of the proposed amendment to the Chiropody Act which will allow us to proceed with the measures necessary to expand foot care services in Ontario.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, it is a terribly fateful evening for those of us representing the great virtues of liberal democracy to have to stand in our place and proclaim it is not Bedtime for Bonzo. We will all now have to live with what I am told by early returns will be a Reagan presidency. I am sure Bill 167 will more appropriately apply to some of that gentleman’s more immediate health care needs than others. Not since Warren Harding swept in from Ohio in 1920 has mediocrity shown so well in American presidential politics.
I very much appreciate the words of wisdom, extemporaneous as they were, from my good friend the member for Peterborough (Mr. Turner). I really do appreciate the presence, the words and the wisdom of my friend from Peterborough, who has carefully taken us through 12 pages of very precise script and in some considerable measure shed some light on the past, if not the present and future, of this most important matter of public policy.
I, as one member of the assembly, am more than passingly thankful that I have at last seen some indication of the intentions of this government with respect to expanding foot care, however late and however imperfect the legislation may be.
Mr. Ruston: Major legislation.
Mr. Conway: I have to tell my friend the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston) that with this legislation, following as it does upon the serious and immediate matters discussed in the Vicious Dogs Amendment Act this afternoon, I feel that we are in a weighty part of this legislative timetable. I certainly appreciate this bill as an improvement over some of the other things we have been discussing here.
I have waited some time for this legislation to come forward. I have been health critic for this esteemed official opposition now for at least three and a half years and I am a very patient fellow; but I thought the sun would be rising in the northern sky before we saw what intentions the Minister of Health had in so far as chiropody was concerned.
Remember my great friend the member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman) coming forward not one, not two, but thee years ago with that doctrine that was going to set a new course in this connection? During those intervening months we have waited -- how we have waited. In the intervening time I recall the lobbying, the discussion -- maybe more than anything else I recall the lobbyists, or, I should say, the lobbyist. I do not see too many here tonight, but I am sure that at the committee stage they will be present.
I agree with the remarks of my friend from Peterborough where he drew to our attention that the matter which is dealt with in Bill 167 -- that is mainly foot care for the elderly -- by and large in this province is a situation of seriousness and real immediacy. He, I think, has very appropriately taken us through some of those statistics which indicate that the need is very great and by and large unmet within our current health care delivery system.
I do not know how my friend the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) feels. I expect to hear his words shortly. But we are, I am sure, in some kind of a corner here because, as sure as I stand in my place and as sure as I have waited lo these many years, I now see a bill at this relatively late time in the session, at least in the life of this 31st Parliament.
As I stand here, I receive hurried letters in the mail from august bodies like the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto. There will be, to be sure, more of the same enjoining me and my colleagues to get on with the job, to get this serious business discharged in the name of goodness and light, not to be obstructionists, but to help our embattled, beleaguered friend, the poor Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell), who has had so little time to bring this matter to our attention.
An hon. member: Do your feet hurt?
Mr. Conway: Do my feet hurt? They do not hurt nearly as much as my soul on this troubled night of presidential politics.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Keep going, Sean.
Mr. Conway: I thank the minister publicly, happily and enthusiastically for that, but I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, speaking to the principle of this bill, that I do not find myself disposed to be intimidated by some of the ungracious tactics engaged in by the gentlemen opposite. I do not accuse the member for Peterborough because I do not assume, with all due respect, that he is so close to the councils of real power that he would have anything to do with this business.
Mr. Breaugh: It’s all these back-benchers.
Mr. Conway: I know the member for Oshawa is experiencing some of the pressures that are coming to bear upon us. I see broad and obvious smiles beaming across the faces of certain important politicos underneath the ministerial gallery. We in this party do accept the seriousness of the situation. We think there should be a change. What a situation we have got! As I understand it, and I do not profess to have a great and abiding knowledge about the intricacies of chiropody and podiatry, but for those who may not be aware I will try, with the benefit of some briefing papers, to indicate what we have at this time.
My friend from Peterborough drew to my attention that we have fewer than 100 licensed foot care people, largely podiatrists, in this province to deal with this very serious problem. As I understand it, we have a Chiropody Act, administered by a board of regents, which for many years has been controlled by American-trained podiatrists who, not surprisingly, have been disposed to license only their kind so they can go and practise according to, not a podiatry model but a chiropody model. It is the legacy of Tory management in health care. Can you imagine a more ridiculous, outrageous, counterproductive situation than the one I have just drawn to the members’ attention? That is the kind of morass, and ridiculous situation we seek to redress in Bill 167.
Bill 167 is an interesting bill. We see just how gentle and generous Old Iron Heel, the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell), can be when he sets out to deal with recalcitrant elements in his domain. The parliamentary secretary very noncontroversially outlined what he thought to be the import of sections 1 and 2. If you look at this rather innocuous one-page bill, Mr. Speaker, even you with your not inconsiderable parliamentary legislative experience might be surprised to see that so few words could have so significant an impact.
Section 1 of this particular bill says simply: “The board of regents is continued and shall be composed of not fewer than three and not more than seven persons appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.” There are currently five persons on the board.
I read that to be a not too thinly disguised effort by the executive branch to ensure that certain things occur with that very important body. That is the intention of section 1 -- to be able very quickly and immediately to control the membership of this board of regents given over to those podiatrists, which God knows, the ministry has less and less private, if not public, use for.
Then there is section 2. I am not a great expert on these matters of legislation, but I am sure my friend the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg), who is more knowledgeable than I with his long municipal and provincial career, would be shocked to see section 2: “Where the Minister of Health requests in writing that the board of regents make, amend or revoke a regulation under section 3 and the board has failed to do so within 60 days after the request, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make the regulation, amendment or revocation specified in the request.”
One is left in fantastical wonderment as to what kind of toady will ever want to sit on that kind of board. Perhaps there will be no trouble. I do not know; I am only wondering aloud about what I think that section means. But it certainly gives me the impression it is the clear desire of the Minister of Health to ensure that nothing at the board of regents for the Chiropody Act will occur without his imprimatur.
It strikes me as passing strange that any self-respecting person would want to sit on that kind of a board. But I have been surprised before. There are people in this province who are prepared to sit on this government’s district health councils and other such peculiarities with respect to real control and planning authority.
The minister’s parliamentary assistant draws to our attention this will provide the opportunity for the government to proceed with a rather rapid expansion of chiropodists within a clinic setting throughout public health units and certain hospitals.
Mr. McGuigan: Putting the best foot forward.
Mr. Conway: My feet, like my brain, are in remarkably good condition, relatively speaking. I cannot speak from the point of view of having had the service involved, but I have to take some issue with what the parliamentary assistant says about what this means for podiatrists.
This is, as I read it, the death knell for podiatrists in Ontario. My friend the parliamentary secretary shakes his head vigorously. If he is not careful he will need a chiropractor -- God help him -- before the night is out. He should restrain himself in such movement, and I beg him to accept from me -- if not publicly, at least privately -- the suggestion that he knows is the transparent truth; that is, Bill 167 represents nothing less than the end of the podiatrists in Ontario. We have 81 and it is certainly not likely that if this bill is proceeded with as the sum and substance of our legislative resolve with respect to improved foot care services, in a few years there will not be a podiatrist to be found in Ontario.
We in this caucus believe that to be a regrettable set of circumstances. We believe there is a place for the chiropodist, whom the government seems to be concerned about. I sometimes think it is a holdover from their United Empire Loyalist loyalty. If given the choice, they are British subjects; they will go to the wall on that, and will take their chiropodists over podiatrists, if only for the reason that one comes from Britain and the other comes from that horrible democracy to the south. We believe there is a place for the chiropody model the government has identified here. We think there should be a move to proceed with that in some significant measure as quickly as possible.
Twelve to 14 minutes into this little address, this might be a good opportunity for me to tell you and anyone else who might have an incidental interest that my caucus, after serious, positive and dynamic consideration, has resolved itself to vote for Bill 167 on second reading, to allow it to go to committee as soon as possible for the most thorough, serious committee-stage examination as we can manage.
Lest my friend, the special assistant to the minister, collapse of apoplexy, I want to say to him again, we will accept the principle of Bill 167 for the purposes of (a) a partial redress of the serious foot care problem in the province and (b) getting it to our much beloved social development committee for a very vigorous debate, in which I am sure all honourable members will wish to participate.
I am sure all honourable members have read with keen interest the private member’s bill standing in the name of my very illustrious friend the member for Kent-Elgin, Bill 149, An Act to amend the Health Disciplines Act, 1974, which sets out from our point of view the role we believe podiatrists can have. Tonight it is important for this assembly to realize that, while we believe chiropodists have a place at a certain level of care within the proposed system, we do not share the government’s ideological commitment, which is there and is likely to expand considerably in the near future with respect to foot care, will be met on the one hand by the chiropodists at the more basic general level, and at the other more specialized level by surgeons and orthopaedic surgeons in particular.
We do not believe that is going to be sufficient to meet the needs. We believe there is a place for podiatrists within that program. We deeply resent the unnecessary, unjust, cruel attack of this government on the podiatrists who are providing a service in Ontario today. We think the overt discrimination to which Bill 167 speaks is regrettable, if not worse.
In committee, my colleague from Kent-Elgin, my colleague the member for Windsor-Walkerville and many others far more knowledgeable on this subject than I, will be directing the attention of honourable members on the basic and positive position with respect to podiatrists, and that is that they too have a place within the foot care policy we want to see for Ontario in the 1980s. To that end we will be expecting a very active debate within the committee.
I have spoken more than I require. Other honourable members, including the very enthusiastic member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. Reed), will obviously want to speak of their general or particular points of view and clinical requirements in these cases. I just want to say in conclusion, and very seriously, we do have a problem here. It is regrettable, if not worse, that 37 years of dynastic, uninterrupted Toryism should have left us in such a state of mismanagement in 1980 that we have this preposterous situation in foot care, a contemptible set of circumstances, which has weighed very heavily upon the senior citizens of the province. We in the Liberal Party believe there must be a serious, immediate, balanced and fair-minded redress.
While we think Bill 167 is a belated and half-hearted measure in that connection, I want to say on behalf of my colleagues tonight that I will support it on second reading in principle for the very important task of getting it to our committee, where I expect a very quick and useful debate.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I want to say at the beginning that the New Democratic Party will support this bill, particularly because we are dealing in second reading with the principle of the bill. We have for some time now pointed out as dramatically as we could that there is certainly a sad need for foot care specialists of all kinds in the province. Although the bill itself does not state a number of things which the minister has put into words on previous occasions and in statements, we are generally supportive of the actions of the ministry in this regard.
Having said we support it, I think we should in all fairness point out we have some severe reservations about the mechanisms that the ministry has proposed in this bill. That will be more properly dealt with in the course of committee deliberations when we go through clause-by-clause debate. We will attempt at that stage to point out that we do feel this bill in particular contains the most obnoxious part of any kind of legislation, that is, the minister’s ability by order in council to set regulations outside this House, and puts that in front of us. In fact, what we are being asked to do is to trust a minister of the crown. On this side of the House, we have made clear over the last three or four years that we have very little trust left for the current Minister of Health.
I think it noteworthy to point out for those who will read Hansard afterwards that the temporary Minister of Health did not deem it fit to show up in this House this evening to present this bill. In fact, very few of his colleagues on that side are here to show any interest at all in the provision of foot care for our seniors, our young people and our handicapped.
We believe that is a very important piece of business. It is certainly one that has been a long time coming and some rather silly disputes have ensued along the way. I think it noteworthy as well to mark that fully 40 years after this government put in place a Chiropody Act, we will finally get some chiropodists. In the best language, that is called glacial speed. They are hardly stumbling over one another, although I have noticed in the last few days the old horse came to life with phone calls and a little smear campaign outside the House. It took 40 years before there will be 40 graduates in the field, one for every 200,000 people in the province. That is hardly a significant achievement.
I agree with the rather insipid address that was presented by the parliamentary assistant this evening that there is a need. It is unfortunate that government has not addressed itself to that need over the last 40 years. I am in agreement that it would be a good idea now to recruit some chiropodists and to put them in place. I am in agreement with the concept that is being proposed as a trial project that some six nurses be trained for a six-month period to provide a slightly different form of foot care. Again, I have to point out that is six nurses for a population of eight million after government has been looking at the problem for 40 years. That is hardly what one would call an enthusiastic response.
As other members have pointed out, there has been a long-standing dispute among different practitioners in this field. The government, I suppose in its own inept way, is stumbling on to its form of a solution to the problem. We should be always grateful for small mercies and we certainly do have a small mercy presented to us in the form of this bill.
Although nothing in this bill talks about the practice of podiatry, I am mindful that on several occasions now the minister in private conversations, and I believe in one or two public conversations, has put on record that he does not intend to punish podiatrists. In this House we have to take him at his word as an honourable gentleman presenting those matters to other honourable gentlemen. I would hope that nothing in this bill can be taken or construed to be, or will in future become a punitive practice against other practitioners in the field.
Mr. Speaker, you may know that in the New Democratic Party one of the prime concerns we have in the provision of health care services is that we really do feel there ought to be different practitioners and they all ought to be covered under various health disciplines. Particularly, if one moves to a rational model, one would say that one Health Disciplines Act would cover all practitioners in the field. We ought to have some variety presented to the people of Ontario so they can choose the kind of health care that best suits their individual needs and no one group in that field ought to be given a monopoly. It is sad that that is not at all proposed in this particular act before us now, but it is something.
The thing I want to point out to all members here and to those who may read Hansard afterwards is that it is a pitiful presentation that is before us. It is not even a half measure. It is tokenism at best. I wish the minister well in his endeavour to do something, but I want the world at large to note how small the contribution really is and that we have nothing. The members of this Legislature are really buying good intentions this evening when we support this bill in principle. We are, without question, buying a pig in a poke, and I support it with all the reservations I could put on that kind of presentation.
I wish we had had the courtesy of the minister’s presence this evening to clarify precisely what it is he has in mind with this. I do not understand how they can sit around for 40 years and all of a sudden have panic set in over a period of 48 hours. I wish we had a better, more rational reason for this quick rush to get this bill through in principle this evening. I realize I cannot question the motives of another honourable member, but I must say that my gut instincts, everything about me, tells me that something is fishy here.
I sincerely hope that when wet get to committee and we get the explanations from the ministry -- with all of the little hacks gathered in the back of the room to see that the media do their job properly and Mr. Boddington writing the usual crummy speeches he writes for the minister -- that we will get questions and answers and a presentation on the part of the minister that is somewhat better than other explanations we have had on other pieces of legislation the minister has presented.
The bill deserves our support because the need is so great. I think if I were to summarize precisely where we as a political party stand on this particular presentation, we believe the need is so great that some action must be taken. We must take the bill at face value as it is presented to us. We must accept the stated principle that the parliamentary assistant so poorly put before this House tonight. However poorly it might have been put, we must accept that, and we do.
We do understand and accept that there is a crying need for foot care in this province of a different kind than is now practised. We also understand that for many of our citizens -- young, old and the handicapped -- the provision of good foot care is the critical factor that allows them some measure of mobility. So the problem is a serious one, and the government is at least paying lip service to that particular problem by the presentation of this act in the Legislature this evening.
We have no illusions that it is going to solve the problem. We have no illusions that this government is actually going to do very much about anybody’s problems these days. We have no illusions that this is good legislation at all. As a matter of fact, in my personal opinion, it is a pitiful excuse of an act to solve a very serious problem; but we do accept that they are at least now recognizing the problem.
As usual with this government, there have been countless surveys and recommendations by various groups, and study groups and presentations, and after all this time, this is what we get for all that effort. I think it is a sad day indeed; but it is, as they say, the tiniest crumb that we are ever going to get, so with some humility we accept it.
Mr. McGuigan: I rise to support this bill reluctantly because, as other members have pointed out, the need for foot care is so great.
I am very sorry and disappointed that the bill I presented last spring, Bill 149, An Act to amend the Health Disciplines Act, the purpose of which was to constitute podiatrists as a self-governing profession under the Health Disciplines Act, 1974, was not accepted by the government.
My interest was prompted first by my leader’s explanation, as a medical doctor and a person very knowledgeable in this field, that podiatrists are highly skilled, well-trained physicians, and are equal to doctors in the field of foot care.
Shortly after coming to this position, I received a letter from a constituent in Dresden, Don Spearman, who was concerned because of his mother’s foot problems. He pointed out to me that we assume that many of those older people we see sort of hobbling along, perhaps with the aid of canes or moving very slowly, have trouble with their legs. The saying is that with hockey players it is the legs that go first, but he pointed out it is really the feet that go first, and many of those people lack mobility because they have problems with their feet.
Many of these people are very reluctant to go to their medical doctor and take up time when they see the office filled with people with children and with acute cases. There may be a long waiting list in the doctor’s office, and they are embarrassed to bother their doctor over such a small matter as foot care. So they hobble around and perhaps even add to the cost of medical care in this province, due to the fact that lack of exercise contributes to other bodily ills.
I became more interested in this when my wife was advised by her private medical doctor to go to a podiatrist because she was having trouble with her arches. I accompanied her to Windsor to a Dr. Tolbert, who operates there. I was very interested to note that so many of the people who were waiting in the office were women. I found myself the only man among quite a number of women.
As I had a little problem with one foot, I thought I would never be closer to a podiatrist than I was there, so I managed to persuade the podiatrist to allow me in. I had a little corn on one toe and he gave me a very academic explanation of it. I guess he wanted to put his best foot forward, realizing my position as a member of the Legislature, so he told me about a good many of the procedures they have.
One of these procedures involves the matter of a toe curling inward and pressing on the next digit and causing a wart or a corn at that point. He said they have a very simple surgical procedure, and the whole cause is not the matter of our shoes, as most of us suspect -- and I guess it is a part of ageing -- but of calcium deposits gradually accumulating in various parts of the body. These calcium deposits will accumulate on one corner of the joint and that forces the little extremity or digit to turn inward and, therefore, bother the next toe and so on.
The surgical procedure is just to make a little cut in the joint. They have what would amount to a very small sanding or grinding wheel. It is a very minute microscopic wheel that they insert in almost bloodless surgery. They grind off that piece of calcium and sew the joint up again. He showed me many pictures of people who came in with very distorted toes. After one or two of these operations, they had a normal foot again.
This is the sort of thing that orthopaedic surgeons might claim is properly their business, but they are mostly concerned with the major bones of the body, such as hip replacements, and looking after hockey players and football players who are injured, getting them back on the ice and on to the playing fields. We really do not commonly think of them as the people to look after our feet, though I submit that there is a very pressing and unanswered need in society for the practice of podiatry, and perhaps in the long run it would actually result in lower health costs.
A piece of literature I picked up in his office talks about one of the other procedures they have, which is the walk-away bunion operation. It takes about 45 minutes; no crutches, no cane, no cast. All you have is a bandage and a slight limp for a few weeks, then a nice, new, better-shaped foot. They go on in the fine print to explain the operation and I will not bore the House with all the details.
I remember my own grandfather always wore shoes with hooks on them; instead of the top three or four buttons, there were hooks. Looking back on it, he obviously had a bunion on the outside of his foot, because whenever he bought a new pair of shoes he would immediately take his jack-knife which, as a good horticulturist he always carried, and he would slice a couple of rips through the side of the shoe to allow a release of pressure to accommodate his bunion. If these operations had been available at that time, no doubt he, as the forward-looking person he was, would have had this 45-minute operation and been a lot more comfortable for it.
Those are some of my personal interests, Mr. Speaker, which I bring to you to indicate my reason for sponsoring the podiatry bill. It is still my hope that such a bill might be considered by this government. I do not wish to threaten the government in any way --
Mr. Conway: That may be a mistake.
Mr. McGuigan: We are a threat to them and they know it. We might just put the boots to the government on the Chiropody Act if it does not give some indication that it would be willing to consider the podiatrists as well, because there is a crying need for it.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a few comments concerning Bill 167, An Act to amend the Chiropody Act, and bring to the attention of the House a communication that was directed to me by a podiatrist in my own city who, in 1977, expressed his deep concern that government was moving into the position where eventually podiatrists would be a thing of the past. He wrote me a letter and, in addition, attached to that letter a position paper presented by the Ontario Podiatry Association to the Ministry of Health concerning foot care services in Ontario.
This letter is from Raymond P. Tomaszewski. Dr. Tomaszewski is a doctor of podiatric medicine and has a DPM at the end of his name. In his letter to me, he says:
“I am a member of the Ontario Podiatric Association and wholeheartedly support the comments contained in the Ontario Podiatric Association’s submission.” I do not intend to read the submission paper. I would assume the ministry officials have had it and, more than likely after having read it, decided that they are going to eliminate completely, in the course of time, the podiatric profession.
“As a personal comment, I would like to add, as a young practitioner having had the benefit of the surgical residing training, I have found the present chiropody thoroughly frustrating in that I have been able to utilize my professional skills only in the most superficial manner. Under the present act, I have no idea how the government will be able to meet its objective of lowering the practitioner-patient ratio from one practitioner for every 98,700 persons to one practitioner for every 30,000 persons by 1986 or sooner.
“There is absolutely no incentive whatsoever for recent graduates to practise in Ontario. If you will pardon the simplistic example, recruiting podiatrists to Ontario under the present act would be as difficult as recruiting pharmacists to Ontario if that pharmacist would only be permitted to type out labels under the law.”
You can see, Mr. Speaker, this one podiatrist from Windsor, speaking for himself but I would assume with the support of his own association, is very much concerned that the attitude of, as well as the actions by, this government in the introduction of a Chiropody Act, as illustrated in Bill 187, is eventually going to lead to the elimination of the American-trained chiropodist. I do not know why the government would be so anti-American in its feeling. Surely if we can obtain skills from another country that we do not develop in our own, we should be more than pleased to accept them.
We all know that senior citizens and others who have a need for foot care services have a difficult time obtaining those services, especially in my own community. I know there are chiropodists in Windsor who go from one nursing home to another in an attempt to take care of the foot problems many of the senior citizens have, and they are extremely overworked. By the actions of this ministry, I am afraid we are discriminating against the training many Canadians go into the United States to obtain. They come back into Canada but they, according to what chiropodists are able to do, cannot administer any type of medicines if I am not mistaken.
I do not intend to speak any more on it, other than to bring to the attention of the honourable member piloting this through on behalf of the Minister of Health the concerns of only one in my community. He may be the only podiatrist in the area and, as a result, others don’t want to come in, I would assume, simply because they find they are going to be limited in their practice.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to have kept you waiting. Some of us were just trying to get caught up on the most recent results from the American election. I think you had better start looking around for two-for-one sales on bomb shelters. It appears there is a landslide for Reagan; the right wing has risen again in the United States and the rest of the world had better look out. I doubt it is safe for anybody in Windsor with Reagan in power.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. MacBeth): Will the honourable member for Scarborough-Ellesmere please return to the principle of the Chiropody Act?
Mr. Warner: It is not embodied in the principle of the bill?
The Acting Speaker: I do not see that Mr. Reagan is mentioned in the bill.
Mr. Warner: I did not mean to stray, Mr. Speaker. I do not intend to speak at any great length on it, but as a private member, like other members in this assembly I have had quite a few letters sent to me by constituents --
Mr. Ashe: Two.
Mr. Warner: Far more than two. If the member would like me to bring in my file I would be most pleased to. I am sure if I got half a dozen pages we could haul the file in here.
But the fact of the matter is, like other members of the assembly, I too have been the recipient of numerous letters from constituents who have been and remain deeply concerned about the future of the podiatrists in this province.
I suppose it is partly because of my young tender age and good fortune to have good health, but frankly I was not aware of the seriousness or the importance of podiatry prior to being elected. I certainly had no cause to have that service rendered and was not aware of the seriousness and importance of the profession. But I learned, as an elected member, that there were a lot of people out there who attend podiatrists and who have been the recipients of some excellent care.
The letters I received, I am pleased to report, were not form letters. They were handwritten, personal letters. In them one could read a certain amount of frustration and deep concern. These were primarily from elderly people, although not all the letters were. But these were from people who had problems with their feet and who were getting professional care. They were concerned because they had heard rumours that this government was going to put the podiatrists out of business.
I gather from the general tone of the debate this evening that that is not the intention of the government. I hope the government will forgive me if I am a tiny bit cautious or sceptical when it introduces legislation.
Mr. Turner: It is on the record.
Mr. Warner: The member for Peterborough (Mr. Turner) and I both know it but we will not go through it tonight because it is not on the principle of this bill. There certainly have been other pieces of legislation where we are guaranteed that everything is A-OK and then we find out to our chagrin later on that such is not the case.
So I guess what we are looking for here tonight, or at least what I am looking for, is some kind of ironclad agreement or undertaking that the podiatrists who are servicing my constituents are not going to be put out of business. While I am most pleased to answer any and all letters from my constituents, if there is any doubt about the future of the podiatrists there will be another flood of letter writing. The member for Peterborough does not need to put me to that kind of effort, even though I enjoy writing letters to my constituents.
The general issue of foot care has to be addressed in more than one way, I believe. I believe there is sufficient scope there to ensure there are various types of foot-doctor specialists involved in the field of medicine. I believe there has to be some way of ensuring that coverage will be under our public health scheme -- either as a part of OHIP or as a part of what we call the delivery of public health services. But there should be some way of ensuring that people continue to receive the type of medical treatment they deserve and that we are not dealing with private medicine the way one runs a Becker’s store or whatever.
To reiterate, health care is primary and essential. The single most important thing we can do in a society is to create a health care delivery service so that all people receive health care, regardless of their income. We have a long way to go to achieve that in Ontario and, as we know, the government, unfortunately has done a lot to erode that.
Having made those few brief comments, I look forward to what I hope is a statement from the government that will indicate podiatrists are not being put out of business.
Mr. Turner: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues on the opposite side for their part in the debate tonight. I would also like to thank them for their support of the bill in principle.
Mr. Conway: It is only because you brought it through tonight.
Mr. Turner: The member for Renfrew North is very flattering. As I know -- he did not have to assure me -- he is the essence of sweet reason, and that is why I am addressing him. He is very understanding.
Mr. Van Horne: You kept a straight face too.
Mr. Turner: I always do. I am a good poker player. However, all the members who spoke on the opposite side -- the members for Oshawa, Renfrew North, Kent-Elgin, Windsor-Walkerville and Scarborough-Ellesmere -- touched upon a common concern. They all mentioned the number of letters they have had both from people practising podiatry and from the patients of podiatrists in this province. I would like to take this opportunity to assure all the members that the status quo of the podiatrist will be maintained. They are not even mentioned in the bill, with all respect.
Let me quote directly from a ministerial statement of October 1980. The minister said, “I want to assure podiatrists currently practising in Ontario, as well as Ontario residents now training in podiatry in the United States who wish to practise here, that they will be able to practise under the Ontario health insurance plan as at present.” There is no thought, as I say, to make any changes there.
The member for Renfrew North is not only an example of sweet reason, but he has also exemplified his patience in waiting for this. I think all the members agreed there is a very serious need that has to be met if we are to maintain and deliver the high-quality health care system in this province to which our residents have become accustomed. I want to tell all honourable members that the purpose of this bill is to provide a service that is not -- the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere might be surprised at this -- universally available outside the larger metropolitan area in this province.
Mr. Breaugh: And it won’t be.
Mr. Turner: Yes, it will be, with all respect. That in itself procreates a problem but it will be available.
Mr. Breaugh: Is the member pretending that 40 podiatrists are going to provide for the needs of eight million people?
Mr. Turner: The member is being very selective in the interpretation of this. I would love to take the time of this House to expound on this.
Mr. Breaugh: Go ahead. Explain to us how 40 podiatrists are going to provide these needs.
Mr. Turner: I think the member is being very selective in his view of this.
Mr. Breaugh: I am using your numbers.
Mr. Turner: With all respect, the member is displaying a lack of knowledge. There are clinics operating and providing this service.
Mr. Breaugh: No, there are not.
Mr. Turner: With all respect, there are. The member for Renfrew North raised some concerns about sections 1 and 2. He sees a devious plot on behalf of the ministry to control or do something like that. Let me assure the member that the provisions of the bill are exactly the same as in the Health Disciplines Act; there is no problem at all.
I would like to draw to the attention of the House -- and to that of the member for Renfrew North in particular, with his rather extravagant language in defence of podiatrists whom he saw as being put upon by the ministry -- that that is just not so. Podiatrists have delivered a service that is obviously well received by recipients in the province. The simple fact is there are just not enough of them.
The member for Oshawa raised similar questions, again indicating his concern. I want to assure the members there is no plot on behalf of this ministry or the government to terminate the services of podiatrists. Just as an aside, I received a letter from a podiatrist who thought the purpose of the ministry was to exterminate them. I thought that was a rather interesting choice of word.
I think I have addressed the concerns of the various members. I thank them for their support and for showing confidence in the ministry by supporting this bill on second reading.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for standing committee on social development.
CITY OF SUDBURY HYDRO-ELECTRIC SERVICE ACT
Mr. Ashe, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Welch, moved second reading of Bill 175, An Act to provide for Municipal Hydro-Electric Service in the City of Sudbury.
Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, I think it safe to say, first of all, that this bill was recognized as an interim step in the restructuring of the utilities in the regional municipality of Sudbury. Bill 115 deals only with the city of Sudbury and accommodates the local utility, with the recommendation of the study committee. There was also an expression by others that they would like to have the area known as ward nine or Broder-Dill incorporated into the hydro utility in the city of Sudbury. The bill allows that to happen as an interim step, realizing there will be further legislation anticipated during 1981 relative to the rest of the regional municipality of Sudbury.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, we support Bill 175, An Act to provide for Municipal Hydro-Electric Service in the City of Sudbury, and are in agreement with it in its entirety. It really is a bill to serve the city of Sudbury. I see the bill does not affect existing agreements for the supply of power by private companies. We support that principle too, so we have no objections to the bill.
Mr. Germa: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note how the government of Ontario can move its tentacles into every last and remote corner of the province. In this bill they have come to the townships of Broder-Dill.
To better understand what is happening, we should have a little lesson in the geography of what is entailed here. I am sure a lot of people, most of the honourable members from this House, are not aware of the structure of the regional municipality of Sudbury. We were formerly a community of 15 town sites or mine sites, with a nucleus known as the city of Sudbury central to all the different mines.
In 1973, in their wisdom, the government of Ontario introduced a regional form of government. They reduced the number of municipal councils from 15 to seven, for which I have to congratulate them. Now this is a continuation of the regional concept and the philosophy behind regional government that a common community of people numbering probably 165,000 should have a common service, a common cost and a common rate across the entire area. This bill restructuring the Sudbury Hydro-Electric Commission is one more small step in the concept of regional government.
Maybe I should enunciate what is at present in the regional municipality so the members of the Legislature will have some understanding of the enormity of the problem. It is hard to believe that to deliver electrical power to 165,000 people requires the amount of administration and varied structures at present in place. This bill, when one strips away all of the chaff and gets down to the wheat, is transferring 2,000 customers in the former townships of Broder-Dill and adding them to 32,000 customers in the city of Sudbury. That is precisely what we are dealing with here tonight. It is a very narrow piece of legislation.
What has to be resolved in the future, and there is going to be difficulty, is to rationalize a common power rate throughout the whole regional municipality. In the region at present we have various structures for delivering electrical power.
In the area municipality of Capreol, for instance, we have Capreol Hydro-Electric Commission. We also have Ontario Hydro delivering power to one customer only; the rest of the people of Capreol are serviced by the commission. One account, it is a switch on the CPR, I think, some 12 miles distant from Capreol, is serviced by Ontario Hydro.
Nickel Centre, another community within the region, is serviced by Coniston Hydro. Coniston is a mine site, a small company town within the region. It has its own commission.
Falconbridge Nickel Mines Limited delivers power to the town of Falconbridge. Ontario Hydro also delivers power within that same area municipality.
Onaping Falls, another area within the region, is serviced by Huronian Company Limited. Now Huronian Company is a 100- per-cent, totally owned subsidiary of Inco Metals Limited. It is a company town. It is part of our history that the town of Levesque should be serviced by Inco through its 100-per-cent-owned subsidiary, Huronian Company. Also, part of Onaping Falls is served by Ontario Hydro, that area of the municipality which is outside the builtup original town area.
Rayside-Balfour, which is an amalgamation of the former towns of Chelmsford and Azilda, is totally serviced by Ontario Hydro. It was a rural area in the beginning -- it was not a mine site in its history -- and it remained with Ontario Hydro. They were the first to supply power.
The city of Sudbury, which is what we are dealing with tonight, is now serviced by Huronian Company, which is Inco Limited, Ontario Hydro and Sudbury Hydro, the commission. Valley East is totally serviced by Ontario Hydro. The town of Walden is serviced by Huronian Company, an Inco subsidiary, and also by Ontario Hydro.
The only part we are dealing with in that whole complex structure is those delivery systems in the city of Sudbury having to do with Ontario Hydro that were formerly the townships of Broder-Dill. These were annexed to the city in 1973 against their wishes and against the wishes of the people of Sudbury during the regional government process. It was a marriage of convenience -- a shotgun wedding. We have had great difficulty in consummating that marriage, and this is one more move to try to consummate it.
What it will mean is that the 32,000 customers in the city of Sudbury are willing to take a rate hike in order to accommodate the 2,000 customers in Broder-Dill. Broder-Dill are two very sparsely settled townships, serviced by rural power -- Ontario Hydro -- and consequently they have a rate which is now approximately 14 per cent higher than the rate enjoyed by the people within the city of Sudbury.
It is no big thing for 32,000 customers to absorb 2,000 other customers. The increase, I understand, will be not less than one per cent and not more than two per cent. I suppose any customer can swallow a two per cent rise. But I think it should be known that the people of the city of Sudbury are willing to accommodate what was imposed upon them by the forced annexation of these two townships to the south of the city.
Despite the fact it says this is a bill to deliver retail power to the city of Sudbury, there are still two areas of the city which will not be served by the power commission. The town of Copper Cliff, approximately 1,500 customers, will continue to be serviced by Huronian Company. Formerly it was a 100 per cent company town, owned by Inco Limited, and historically Inco Limited used to supply power to its employees. In the old days power was so cheap there were not even meters in the houses. It was part of the package of employment. One had not only a job with Inco, but a house with Inco with free water and free electricity.
Those things have changed to some degree. Inco has now sold off its real estate in the town of Copper Cliff and about 90 per cent of the houses are now privately owned There are meters in the houses, but the power being delivered to that community is approximately 14 per cent cheaper than the power the Sudbury Hydro-Electric Commission can deliver to its customers.
How does it come about that Huronian Company can deliver power at a rate so much cheaper than what the Sudbury Hydro Electric Commission can? I think if one understands how Ontario Hydro sells power, one can realize why that happens.
The big consumers of power, such as Inco, buy block rate industrial power at a preferential rate. They transmit and distribute that power, which they bought more cheaply than Sudbury Hydro can buy it from Ontario Hydro. They distribute that power to their customers. The residents of the town of Copper Cliff enjoy the benefit of an industrial power rate, which in round figures is 12 to 14 per cent cheaper than most of the people in the city can enjoy.
Inco has made efforts in the past to try to ameliorate this difference, and they have gone before the Ontario Energy Board and asked for a rate increase, so the power that is distributed to the residents of Copper Cliff, which is part of the city of Sudbury now, would be somewhat relevant one to the other. The Ontario Energy Board has said, “No. You cannot raise the rates because you then will be profiting by distribution of power.”
There is some rationalization for that position as well. Consequently, there has been this disparity in rates between the town of Copper Cliff and the rest of the city, and there appears to be no local politician on the local study team looking at this who is willing to address the fact that the principle of regional government is that a common rate should be charged across the community for a common service.
I believe that is why this bill does not address the problem of the town of Copper Cliff. There is provision under the Power Corporation Act that the Sudbury Hydro-Electric Commission can take over the private company, but to this point they have not been able to agree on a price. I understand Inco’s price for its distribution plant is such as to be not attractive to the Sudbury Hydro-Electric Commission, and also that the distribution system Inco has in place is not compatible with the distribution system in the city of Sudbury. Consequently these two systems will not meld together.
When the time comes for this private power distribution system to be taken over, there is going to be a major expenditure in updating the system, but that is down the road. This is something else we will have to face.
There is one other pocket of houses within the city of Sudbury also supplied by Huronian Company and that is the town of Frood Mine. It is barely one mile from downtown Sudbury and yet here is a pocket of 25 houses which also enjoy the benefit of Huronian Company’s industrial power rate. Even within the city of Sudbury there is that anomaly remaining after this bill has passed the Legislature.
The bill goes to great lengths to restructure the municipal hydroelectric service. It changes the structure from a three-member commission to a five-member commission, a majority of whom will not be from the city council. I have no disagreement with that. Whether or not our future councils after 1982 will be elected or appointed will be the decision of the Sudbury city council. I have no argument with that.
But I do have an argument with the price that the restructured commission is going to have to pay for the assets from Ontario Hydro. The plant at present in place has to be bought and paid for when this transfer of authority takes place. We have to come to a determination as to its value and the people of the city of Sudbury will have to fork over X number of dollars to buy that plant. There is some argument, some debate and some justification for the dispute over the price that will be paid.
Until 1971, in order to encourage power distribution in northern Ontario, the province had a grant system in place known as grants in aid, where the government would make grants to Ontario Hydro in a particular district to the tune of approximately 30 per cent to encourage making a power district a viable entity in delivering power to the residents concerned. Once Ontario Hydro has received a grant in aid, that should not be reflected in the present cost that the people of Sudbury will have to pay for the plant.
The people of Sudbury have paid for the plant through their grant in aid to the tune of 30 per cent. Any figure arrived at as to the value of that plant should be reduced by the amount of grant in aid which was delivered by the government to Ontario Hydro in order to get that power district in a viable situation.
There is a precedent for this in the Thunder Bay area where grants in aid were used to reduce the value of the plant which had to be transferred. I am told that the government has been consistent since 1971 and that it has not seen fit to reduce the acquisition value by that amount of money.
It is true that the Hogg commission set up in 1973 did recommend that grants in aid should remain with Ontario Hydro. I still do not know why or how they arrived at this recommendation. Recommendation 7.9 of the Hogg commission says: “Past grants in aid from the provincial government associated with rural distribution facilities [should] remain with the consolidated rural power district.” That is what we are up against, despite the fact there is a precedent where this did not happen, where the grant in aid was a benefit to the people who were assuming the responsibility of distributing power.
I am also happy to see that the bill protects any employees who might be transferred from Ontario Hydro to the restructured corporation. I see there are such things as pension benefits, sick leave benefits and availability of the Ontario municipal employees retirement system plan. I do not see any reason why there should be a concern for any employees who have to be moved. Perhaps there are not going to be any moved in this particular case, but at least the government was thinking along those lines and did make some provisions to ensure their security.
I intend to support the legislation. I am just surprised that after years of study -- we have had the local study team working for five years and the provincial Hogg commission working for some seven years -- from all this labour we get this little mouse in that 2,000 customers out of 165,000 customers are going to be transferred from Ontario Hydro to the Sudbury Hydro-Electric Commission. That is the extent of all this consideration over the past seven years.
If the principle behind regional government is that people should enjoy a common price for a common service, then surely there should be more action than that. No one has expressed it more clearly than the mayor of Onaping Falls when he wrote a dissenting opinion to the recommendations of the local study team. I would like to put on the record the dissent of Mayor I. J. Coady, the mayor of Onaping Falls, in a letter dated March 26, 1979, to Roger Levert, chairman of the local study team, on the restructuring of the electrical utility in the regional municipality of Sudbury:
“Although I recognize that the conclusion of this report adequately represents the opinion and decisions of the majority of the members of the local study team, I find that it is so completely in opposition to my thinking that I cannot, in all conscience, sign it.
“My opinion is that the only equitable and reasonable solution is a regional electrical utility with uniform rates and, if this is not feasible at this point in time, I intend to recommend to my council that Onaping Falls retain the status quo and not consider the feasibility of the modified lower tier option.”
Surely the ultimate goal of regional government is to have one utility servicing the entire regional municipality of Sudbury. I despair that this will not happen because of the lack of resolve by the government, and we will have to accept a piecemeal restructuring, probably on an area level.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a few words. I guess I started to write to this ministry even before the time of the present minister. I appealed a long time ago to bring Broder-Dill under the wing of the city of Sudbury commission to give the residents of Broder-Dill at least one break out of regional government.
I first wrote on this bill in conjunction with the then representative from ward nine, Ron Yeomans, who started the request years ago to give that one break to the Broder-Dill citizens after the establishment of regional government. Here we are tonight, as my colleague has said before me, still dealing in a piecemeal fashion. In fact, for a while this spring, I thought we might never get to this bill.
There was a great exchange of correspondence between the minister and his assistant and myself, my colleague and the city of Sudbury and the councillor representing ward nine. There seemed to be some serious problems because, as my colleague the member for Sudbury has said, we are dealing in a piecemeal fashion. It is a move from outside of Broder-Dill, the push is coming from the ministry to establish those commissions.
My colleague from Sudbury says region-wide the study team has broken up into pieces and, because of the dissension, I did not think we would even get this bill. But the push to establish the various commissions is coming from the Ministry of Energy. One of the items I want to talk to a little later on is the grant in aid, and it seems to me, since the push is coming from the province, they should be prepared to accommodate that.
I have three concerns. I have expressed them in correspondence and received acknowledgement to my correspondence just today by hand delivery. I am not pleased in terms of the three concerns I expressed. I want to tell the parliamentary assistant, before I proceed to deal with the three, I have just received a letter from the chairman of the Sudbury hydro commission, and he makes the point:
“Thank you for your letter of October 21, 1980. Your letter to the Honourable Robert Welch, Minister of Energy, spells out clearly the position of our commission and we are most appreciative of your assistance.”
So when I speak to the three issues I am going to mention, the commission in Sudbury supports those three positions. The people opposing them, of course, are the very people who are pushing to get the commissions established in Sudbury.
The first one is Huronian. My colleague has indicated that Huronian is a wholly owned subsidiary of Inco. They are leaving it out of this bill. We believe there should be an amendment in the bill which says, “permissive legislation allowing for the purchase.” The reason we will not go the whole hog and insist that it be mandatory is the commission, and I am inclined to agree with them, knows full well that Huronian, alias Inco, is going to try to get maximum bucks out of their system which they have allowed to deteriorate to a point which caused me to request of this ministry that they get Hydro involved to do a study, not only on the original capital costs but also on what it would cost now to bring it up to standards.
Inco has a faculty for getting its way. I recall a couple of years ago, Inco got very generous with the city of Sudbury, that part of it in the town of Copper Cliff. They said to the city of Sudbury, through the school board: “We are going to give you our arena. You can have the Copper Cliff arena.” That looked like a pretty lucrative offer, except they had to tear the arena down. The roof was in a state of collapse. It would have been nice if they had given it to the city of Sudbury; then the school board or the city, through the recreation committee, could have paid the price of demolishing it. Can you imagine that for generosity? They are not pikers when it comes to negotiating, as my friend the parliamentary assistant knows. That is why I want Hydro involved in a study. I do not want them with their high-priced technical staff to shaft the commission in Sudbury.
What bothers me even more, and it is not in this bill, is as the minister prepares to bring in the other legislation next spring he still has to deal with Huronian in Walden, Levack and Onaping, and he will have to deal with Falconbridge. He does not even set the stage in this legislation; so we are going to have a belt where residents in those particular areas are going to have a preferred rate. As my colleague explained, Huronian gets a much cheaper rate for hydro than does the utility in Sudbury. They get an industrial rate. They have been able to sell it more cheaply to their customers than in the rest of the area. The minister does not deal with the problem in this bill. Before the ink is dry on this bill, when the minister brings in the rest of the legislation, he will have to amend this one anyway. So he really shied away from dealing with the problem forthrightly, because next year we are going to have to come back and deal with the next piece of legislation which will entail the other four or five areas in the study. At the same time, we will have to go back and amend the Sudbury bill.
While I still hope that will be done, I am told we really do not need it, because under the authority of another act the commission can purchase Huronian. What I would have hoped, though, was to see it written in so there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind that that dual system was not going to be tolerated, not only in the city of Sudbury but also in the rest of the region. So we will have to come back to it. We will also have to deal with Falconbridge, which I am told is not in much better shape than Huronian in Copper Cliff.
I am told by the commission that if they paid $1 for the Huronian system, the cost to bring it up to standard would increase the rates in the city. I have no way of proving that except that when my colleague met with the commission, they indicated that they thought, even for a buck -- and one can believe Inco is not going to give that system away for a buck -- it would increase the rates just to bring it up to standard.
That is why I asked the minister and parliamentary assistant to put together a study team, using the expertise of Hydro, to find out the capital value of it and to assess what it is going to cost to bring it up to standard. Only when we know that will we be able to start to negotiate the purchase of that plant so that, we hope, it will not result in an increase in hydro rates in the city to the rest of the citizens of Sudbury.
The ministry said they were prepared to allow staff to get involved with Inco and the city of Sudbury -- but to fund part of the study? Nyet -- no, no. At the same time they are saying nyet, they are the ones pushing for the establishment of four more commissions. Does the minister want it every way possible? He wants to get rid of it and he wants the local consumers to pick up the total tab. How can he have it both ways?
Surely the minister can supply funds to the degree it would cost Ontario Hydro. The city has indicated it is prepared to meet the cost of its staff. I guess out of Inco’s heart, generosity, kindness and benevolence they might even be prepared to pay their own representatives, because they will have them there in droves to guarantee they get top buck for something that has been allowed to deteriorate over the years.
I am told that in the town of Coniston, although there has been a commission there for a number of years, with much of the work done on a contract basis, it is also in a state of decay.
One of the problems that Hydro wants to get out of is the amount of moose pasture in the various commissions that will occur outside the city of Sudbury. I can understand their desire to get out of offering the service because there is so much moose pasture. But that is a fault of this government. This government, through the former Minister of Municipal Affairs, used to grant subdivisions for everybody and his dog.
For example, in the towns of Valley East and Rayside-Balfour, they put in sewer and water services that cost $50 million for 30,000 people because they have allowed strip development along Highway 69 south for fully 11 miles. The system has been in since construction was started in 1971 or 1972. It is because this government has never had the courage to say to those land speculators and developers, “No, we have had enough of this nonsense.” It is the citizens of the province who pay for that nonsense. In fact, it is still going on.
One would be amazed to learn that in the town of Valley East there are 4,000 serviced lots, and yet there is an attempt now to open up another subdivision. It boggles the mind. That is why I am somewhat reluctant to allow municipalities to have the power over all the subdivisions. Giving them so much authority really bothers me, because they knuckle under to the pressure of developers.
I would like to see the system speeded up. When I look at Valley East, I am glad the Minister of Housing is here, because he has been with me when I have argued publicly in Sudbury that we cannot allow that sort of nonsense because we pay the price.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: That is part of the agreement.
Mr. Martel: That is right. That is why we are giving it to the region. We will pay the price there too, because in Valley East they just lifted an E zone. Now they have put in $5 million worth of sewers to satisfy one subdivider who has 40 lots in the area. He is behind it.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: That’s local autonomy.
Mr. Martel: The minister can call it what he wants. Before we had local autonomy, it was allowed to go totally rampant.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The member’s leader talks about local autonomy time and time again. He says to give the municipalities the right to make the decision.
Mr. Martel: Tories like to play the game of local autonomy when it is convenient. When it suits their purpose, they scream local autonomy.
Mr. Warner: A crook by any other name is a crook. A crook is a crook is a crook.
Mr. Martel: Right. In Valley East we have $50 million worth of sewer and water services. Now the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe) wants to give us a hydro-electric commission because Ontario Hydro does not want to foot the bill. If the government had stopped some of that nonsense, that would not have occurred.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Did you appeal it to your regional council?
Mr. Martel: I have not. I have gone to them to try to get it stopped.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: You are a citizen of that community. Appeal it.
Mr. Martel: I have. It is like talking to the wall.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It is the local people who make the decisions.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, can I allow the minister the floor for a few minutes so he can get off his chest whatever is bothering him and then I will continue?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am just trying to change your misleading statements.
Mr. Martel: I am misleading? Would you ask him to withdraw that, Mr. Speaker, before I continue?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I will certainly withdraw it. You got the meaning of what I said.
Mr. Martel: I say to my friend the parliamentary assistant he cannot have it both ways. If he wants us to take it over, then we should get involved with some of the funding in a program to determine the actual value and what it is going to cost us. I believe, if the government wants those commissions, it should help to pave the way. It is not in this bill. The government is going to have to deal with it next year. I hope my words will get to the parliamentary assistant and he will say the government is prepared to pick up Hydro’s share of whatever it costs in that study. That would show a little desire on the part of the government to do it fairly.
I want to get to grant in aid for a moment because there is something I cannot understand about it. The provincial government paid a certain percentage -- I think it was 50 per cent -- for the development of that service a number of years ago. Now the city is going to purchase it from Hydro, and Hydro wants to include in that cost the portion which the province paid for. In other words, it wants to include the bill the taxpayers helped to foot by whatever amount the province put in at the beginning. If Hydro now sells it to the city of Sudbury, the province says, “You have got to pay for that anyway,” even though the taxpayers picked up the cost. They are paying twice.
As my colleague from Sudbury said, I cannot understand why the Hogg study said we had to discontinue it. In the last nine bills we have brought into the House, I cannot recall anybody ever questioning why we are insisting that the taxpayers pay twice. The province’s share came from consolidated revenue fund, which is taxpayers’ dollars, and now we are going to buy it from Hydro and, in addition to what Hydro paid out, we are going to pay again the provincial input.
There is something crazy about that. My colleague from Sudbury said he does not understand it. Neither do I. Mr. Speaker, I am sure you will agree with me that if the taxpayer has already paid a portion of it, why should he pay again for a transaction of this nature? The commission in Sudbury is agreeable with that position. Mr. Levert in a letter to me went to great lengths to explain it. He said: “In southern Ontario prior to January 1958 and in northern Ontario prior to December 1971, new rural distribution plant was subsidized by 50 per cent capital contributions from the provincial government. When calculating the sale price of the rural facilities being transferred to a municipal utility, Ontario Hydro does not allow grant in aid as a reduction to the original cost.” I am really amazed that we have to pay twice.
I know it is in nine bills, but because we made a mistake in nine others does not seem to me to be any reason why we should continue to make the same mistake and insist that people who were already taxed to pay that share should now pay again to meet Hydro’s determination of what the ultimate conclusion to that should be.
I agree that we should amend the nine bills that went before and not continue this mistake, because it is double taxation. I do not care how one cuts it, it is double taxation of the residents of this province. I do not think that is acceptable.
The question I raise is, why? I agree that the bill is long overdue for the residents of Broder-Dill. It has been eight or nine years in the making. I agree that much of the bill does and will reduce the costs, but it leaves a couple of areas that I would have hoped could have been dealt with now. As I said earlier, the ink will hardly be dry when we will have to amend it. It will have to be amended when it is brought in and when some resolution is found to the outlying commissions that are going to be established, I think the government hopes, outside the city of Sudbury proper.
I hope the government will pay its share of a study. I hope it will give us the $350,000 deduction, and I hope a permissive clause will be written directly into the bill as the Sudbury commission indicates it wants to see done.
My colleague the member for Sudbury indicated he was satisfied with some of the other aspects of the bill. I thought it was all above board and that the employees would stand to be in the same position they were in prior to the date of this bill coming into effect, but I think my colleague the member for Wentworth is going to speak to a certain part of this bill which indicates that not to be the case. Therefore, I reserve the right to determine whether we are going to send this to committee until after we hear the response from the parliamentary assistant.
Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the House very briefly of some experience with hydro restructuring that we have had in Hamilton-Wentworth. As has already been indicated in this debate, the principle of this bill is the same as the principle of its nine predecessors.
I must say I would have found it very useful if at the time we were debating Bill 93 earlier this year some members who had experienced hydro restructuring previously had shared their experiences with me. So I feel quite justified in taking a few moments to share with the members from the regional municipality of Sudbury and with the parliamentary assistant some of my experiences about a couple of the important considerations in this bill.
First of all, I must say it concerns me very greatly that we are here again, with a hydro restructuring bill that is being proceeded with through this House at an incredible rate. I look at this bill and find it was given first reading on October 27, and here we are on November 4 giving it second reading. I find that to be nothing short of ramming the legislation through the House.
The parliamentary assistant and I have had some correspondence on this matter with regard to Bill 93. I am sure the honourable members will recall that Bill 93 was given first reading on June 5 and received its third and final reading before June 19 of this year. There seems to be something about hydro restructuring bills that causes the government not to want them circulated very widely among affected people. I know the parliamentary assistant is going to say this bill was discussed freely with the members from the area and with the hydro restructuring committee in the area. I am certain from the conversations I have had with my colleagues that the procedure on this bill is exactly the same as it was on Bill 93; namely, yes, it was discussed with members from the area, but members from the area were not given copies and were not allowed to take copies away from the meeting in which it was discussed; and yes, it was discussed with the hydro restructuring committee, but it was not given to the councils of the various municipalities in the affected area, to hydro employees, to the full membership of existing hydro commissions or to the members of the public and the electors in the area who are to be affected by this hydro restructuring.
This kind of hydro restructuring being rammed through is totally and utterly unacceptable to me. I do not understand to this day why the government refuses to allow full and proper debate, but I have a hunch that, when one starts asking detailed questions about what it means to the residential power consumers of the area affected by the restructuring, it does not come out nearly as good as has been promised.
Again, relating the issue of restructuring to what is happening in Stoney Creek, which is one of the restructured hydro communities within my own riding, we were promised for years that hydro restructuring would mean lower hydro rates for the people who lived in the area of the municipality served by Ontario Hydro. That was the big benefit that was promised by hydro restructuring and by Bill 93, which we got earlier this year.
Subsequent to that bill being passed, the mayor of Stoney Creek, who happens to be the Tory candidate as well and is probably fairly well informed about these matters, suddenly came out publicly and said, “Maybe it doesn’t mean lower rates; perhaps it means that rates won’t increase quite as much in the future.”
That is not the commitment the people were given. That is not a benefit, to have a restructuring now on the basis of some unidentified future benefit that may or may not come about. Indeed it may not come about if some of the arguments in this House for lower rural hydro rates are put in place by that government, or by this party as a future government, as they should be, because the government’s handling of rural hydro rates through Ontario Hydro is nothing short of despicable.
Bill 175, which we are discussing today, is a pig in a poke. The people of Stoney Creek do not know to this day, almost six months after Bill 93 was passed, what their hydro rates are going to be effective January 1 of next year. A great flourish was attached to Bill 93, and yet the promises are evaporating as time goes by. There may not be any benefit to anybody and there may be just a loss to the people who were in the old Stoney Creek hydro area and who are now having to pay some kind of equalized rate.
I suggest to the members from the Sudbury area that before this bill is supported they should be looking at hard facts as to what the hydro rates will be on January 1, 1981, because while the bill has promise of lower hydro rates for the people who are at present rural customers of Ontario Hydro, that promise may evaporate in the same way that so many Tory promises evaporate and there may not be any real benefit to the bill.
Mr. Warner: Typical Tory trickery.
Mr. Isaacs: That is right. The second point I want to raise relates to the matter of protection for employees of Ontario Hydro who now are working in the area that will be restructured. There is an assurance in this bill that there will be protection for such employees, but I want to suggest to the House that there is one clause in that protection that is dubious, to put it mildly. That clause occurs in section 9(3). It is that last piece which reads, “a wage or salary not less than the wage or salary he was receiving on the day nine months before the transfer date.”
That nine months appears pretty innocuous. One says: “Okay, nine months. There must be some great legal reason for putting in nine months in there.” That nine months is desperately important. That nine months is there because Ontario Hydro employees will sign a new contract somewhere after nine months before the transfer date; in other words, some time after April 1, 1980. That nine months clause means that for the transferred employees, for those employees who are at present working for Ontario Hydro but who may end up working for the new restructured hydro utility, the new contract that will be signed in 1981 is completely voided.
I think that is despicable and is an indication of the attitude of this government towards protection for the workers. I suggest it is a completely and utterly inappropriate way to move. The jobs, salaries, working conditions and fringe benefits of employees who elect to transfer should be protected 100 per cent, not back to the contract before, but to the contract that is in force on the day of the transfer of the responsibility of those employees to the new hydro commission.
I think that clause is desperately important. It is one that the government has put in there because it knows it can attempt at least to allow the new hydro commission to be a cheapskate and to cut back on salaries from what they were on the day of transfer. I urge this House and my colleagues from the Sudbury area to give serious consideration to that, to discuss it with the union involved and to see whether that clause should not be struck from this bill, because it is one of the most despicable anti-union clauses one could imagine coming from a government of this province.
There is another category of person who is not so directly affected by the bill, though the impact is indirect. That is those people who are at present Ontario Hydro employees in the area that is to be restructured but who ought not to transfer their employment from Ontario Hydro to the new hydro commission. Those employees of Ontario Hydro could well end up with a salary that has been red-circled by Ontario Hydro because their employment is surplus to Ontario Hydro’s requirements in the area.
We should not be passing bills in this House which, while they are perhaps designed to give benefit to the hydro consumers, can very clearly be detrimental to the working people who have dedicated their lives to the service of Ontario Hydro. Those people deserve better than this, and their working conditions and their future should be protected far better than this bill is protecting them.
I pass those comments on to the House and to my colleagues for their very serious consideration as a result of my experiences with hydro restructuring in Stoney Creek. I want to sum up by saying that our local hydro restructuring is not yet completed, but it may well be that, by the time it is, I could share even more wisdom with the members of this House. Unfortunately, we are proceeding through these things in such a rapid-fire order that I am not sure we are learning from one before we proceed to the next.
I hope the parliamentary assistant will realize the ministry’s approach to these hydro restructuring bills is not acceptable to the working people who devote their lives to Ontario Hydro. It may indeed not be acceptable to the hydro consumers who are supposed to benefit, because the promised benefits may be virtually fictitious.
Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, I will try to cover some of the points made by the member for Sudbury and the member for Sudbury East. Some are somewhat duplicated; so I will try not to cover them twice wherever possible.
There is no doubt about the important issue in this legislation. It is fully recognized; it was identified in the statement by the minister in the House, and I identified it earlier this evening. The member for Sudbury and the member for Sudbury East know that it is or if they would rather wait until next year, which is what we were originally going to do, instead of using what they call piecemeal legislation, then so be it; it is entirely up to them.
We are quite happy, as we always are, to co-operate with the wishes, particularly of the member for Sudbury East. That was his word -- I made a particular note of it -- piecemeal. That is fine; I do not deny the charge that this is piecemeal legislation. We did not want to go this way; we went this way to accommodate the wishes of the members, to accommodate at least one aspect of the service recommendations of the study team and, most important, to accommodate the people living in Broder-Dill, known as ward nine in the city of Sudbury.
If it is the wish of the members representing that area to leave it, that is fine. Let them just tell us and we will not go forward with the bill. We would be quite happy to put it on the shelf until next spring. They just have to let me know.
A lot of references were made to the difficulties that have been encountered in trying to come to a consensus and a conclusion as to how to reorganize or restructure the whole of the Sudbury region. There is no doubt what part of the problem is, contrary to the reference made by the member for Sudbury. He made reference to the length of time the study team has been in operation. He made reference to Hogg and seemed to say they are both saying the same thing; so why has the government not implemented it? Obviously he is not fully aware of the background on the issue and the differences.
That is exactly it. There are significant differences in the views as expressed by the study team and the principles as espoused by Hogg. They are not the same at all on many major issues, and that has been part of the problem. In the meantime, this legislation was introduced to try to alleviate the problems of some, namely, the Broder-Dill area.
It is also our understanding, as I think was referred to particularly by the member for Sudbury, that the rate impact upon the rest of the consumers within the present Sudbury hydro system is anticipated to be something in the area of one per cent and one per cent only. I do not think that is significant, but it does give a significant relief to those who are being brought into the system, and I am sure it is well appreciated in that area.
There were some references made by both the member for Sudbury and the member for Sudbury East relative to the concerns within the legislation, particularly vis-à-vis the valuation of the system. As we identified and acknowledge, there is no doubt that if the system ultimately, in one way or another, is to be expanded within the rest of the boundaries of the city of Sudbury, particularly that service to which the reference was made, Copper Cliff, then we feel that is the time, if there is any consensus over the next number of months -- the time really does not matter -- to look at the value of the system.
There seems to be, if you will, a willing buyer and a willing seller of the systems, and we are quite prepared to be of assistance. Ontario Hydro also is quite prepared to be of full assistance at that time to the degree of its technical information, its valuation and the figures it has in the system. They do not feel they should be out doing any physical inventories on the part of the local utilities, because that really is the job of the local utilities. Ontario Hydro has given us every assurance that, if it is asked by the parties that may ultimately consummate a sale, it will assist in every way possible to help come to a proper evaluation of the system.
I think there is general agreement and there is no doubt that the system will need considerable upgrading, and undoubtedly that will ultimately be reflected in the value of the system before any transfer would take place.
There have been several references to the grant in aid program, and I hope this has already been clarified for the members by a letter sent by the minister to the member for Sudbury East with a copy to the member for Sudbury. There is a misconception even by the study team director, who is the chairman of the present hydro system in Sudbury, about the original purpose of the grant in aid program. Contrary to his view, the program was a grant to improve the financial viability of the rural power district.
This was obviously recognized by the Hogg recommendation. The member for Sudbury read it but I think it is worth repeating: “Past grants in aid from the provincial government associated with rural distribution facilities [should] remain with the consolidated rural power district.” The policy in that regard has been consistent through the nine previous pieces of legislation and, when one looks at the background of the philosophy behind the grant originally, it is consistent.
In the case of Thunder Bay, that was not the grant in aid being deducted. There were, as I understand it, some separate circumstances there at that particular policy time which warranted a grant from the government of Ontario. Although I am sure the dollars and cents probably equated to those numbers, it really was not from the rural system.
Mr. Martel: Give us a grant. We won’t reject a grant.
Mr. Ashe: I appreciate that.
The honourable members of course know that any time we are taking something or would intend to take anything out of the rural system, we just compound a problem that is already there which we, the government, and Ontario Hydro with our direction, are trying to resolve. If we are continually taking away assets, or capital in the case we are talking about, we are going to compound that problem further, and that is why it was there to start with.
Mr. Martel: How?
Mr. Ashe: Because if we are increasingly taking capital out of the system, we are putting that much more onus on those remaining in the system to pick up the shortfall. Somebody still has to pick it up. That is why it was put into the system in the first place. The member is talking about taking away moneys they would get for the sale.
Mr. Martel: No.
Mr. Ashe: It is the same thing. We are taking money out of their pocket.
Mr. Martel: No. All we are talking about is that portion of the payment to the province already.
Mr. Ashe: An analogy was made by the member for Sudbury East in relation to the piecemeal legislation. As I say, if he does not want to proceed with this bill, that is fine. But the analogy was made to the sewer services that were extended to the various areas around the city of Sudbury.
It would be very interesting to look back in the records and see if the member for Sudbury East supported or, in fact, was vocally in disapproval of the extension of those sewer services to those areas. I suspect he may have thought they were a good idea, at least around election time.
Most of the issues raised by the member for Sudbury and the member for Sudbury East have been touched upon. I will now get back to the issues raised by the member for Wentworth (Mr. Isaacs). As a matter of fact, I think there was a comparison here too. I would like to know what the official position of the New Democratic Party really is in this regard.
The member for Sudbury said -- again, I noted it specifically when he made the remark -- there should be a regional hydro. I know from the past bill the member for Wentworth referred to that he also wanted a regional hydro.
Mr. Isaacs: That is right.
Mr. Ashe: Then put it on the record. If it is the position of the New Democratic Party that all the restructured utilities should be regional, that is fine. We will then know what its position is. But do not use it as an argument and, at the same time, come in here and be holier than thou on the whole issue. The whole thing is, there is no doubt about it, in the reports of all the study teams to date, including the one in Sudbury, it is the wish of the local people -- even, I might say, in the case of Hamilton-Wentworth, where it was perceived there would have been financial benefits -- that they do not want a regional hydro. So this government reacts to the needs and wishes of the people even though the members opposite try to play both sides against the middle.
Mr. Martel: We asked for a grant in aid. Why do you not respond in that way conveniently? You pick and choose, don’t you?
Mr. Ashe: No. Not at all.
Mr. Martel: Sure, you’re responding to the people for that $350,000 --
Mr. Ashe: Oh, come on. That is ridiculous. The member is talking about apples and oranges.
The member for Wentworth also talked about fast action. How inconsistent can he be? When a bill sits around for six months he criticizes it. When it is brought through expeditiously, because some people want it brought through, regardless of which side of the House, he still criticizes it.
The member for Wentworth does not even know what the system is around here yet. He does not know of the discussions that have gone on in the past with the study teams. He does not know of the discussions that have gone on in the past with the members. He does not know of the discussions that have gone on in the past with the utility. He does not know of the discussions that have gone at all.
Even though he gets in on the issue at the eleventh hour, he figures that is the eleventh hour for everybody. Of course, that is not the case. The member should be consistent for once in his life.
Mr. Martel: Send it to committee.
Mr. Ashe: That is fine. It can sit in committee until next spring if the member likes. That is no problem at all. We have no problem with that. If the member wants to delay the bill, I can assure him the government has no problem with that whatsoever. The member can determine that right over there. The member for Wentworth also talked about the rate in Stoney Creek. As usual he and his colleagues are trying to play both sides against the middle. Sometimes they say: “Don’t tell the local body, whether it is commissions or elected councils, what they should do. Let them decide themselves.”
If he knew the issue and the subject, he would also know it is the local commission, established and put there by the council, that determines what the rate should be. It determines whether they should be higher, lower or the same. Which does the member want? Does he want us to go in and say they must be lower, or does he want the local commission to decide what they should be? He should be consistent.
To my knowledge, we have had no great difficulty -- I say great, because I cannot say there has been none -- regarding protection of employees. But if there had been any significant difficulties in the past, I am sure they would have been brought to our attention, and none has been.
There is no doubt at all there is adequate protection in the earlier bills that encompassed the same general employee protection. We did have input from the various unions and employees involved, and that ended up in what we have here. The protection sections of this bill are entirely consistent with the other pieces of legislation, and I can assure the member they have served us, they have served the employees and they have served the new utilities well.
Mr. Martel: Can I ask the parliamentary assistant a question?
The Acting Speaker: You can ask him a question if you want. It is up to him whether he answers.
Mr. Martel: The parliamentary assistant said quite nicely that he listened to the people in the Sudbury basin and in the city of Sudbury. He said he took their advice and went along with them. He said we want it both ways. I would like to read just one short paragraph --
The Acting Speaker: Just a very brief question. I am not going to allow you to read anything into the record at this point. You may ask a brief question if you have it.
Mr. Martel: The city asked for three things and the parliamentary assistant has rejected all three of them. How can he stand in his place and say they accept what the city requests and that we want it both ways when the commission asked for three things and he turned them down? The parliamentary assistant cannot have it both ways.
Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, I was talking about a regional utility versus a local utility. We take the wishes of the local people. Also, there is no doubt at all that every utility, every council, would ask for money for nothing from any source they can get it. I do not think that is wrong. I would and I did when I was in their same place. But we are not even talking about the same thing.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for third reading.
The House adjourned at 10:29 p.m.