The House met at 2 p.m.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I have a message from the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor, signed by his own hand, which replaces the message of Thursday last as there was a typographical error in the estimates accompanying that message.
Mr. Speaker: John B. Aird, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor, transmits supplementary estimates of certain additional sums required for the services of the province for the year ending March 31, 1981, and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly, Toronto, November 24, 1980.
REPORT IN TORONTO SUN
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I must speak now to the further point of privilege regarding the defamation of my character. I have carefully read Hansard of November 20 and I have now determined that a further slander has been committed against me since November 20. For this reason, I must speak further to this matter here and now, even though the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) and the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham) are not in the Legislature.
Before I proceed, I would point out that numerous interjections were made while I was speaking to my point of privilege in this Legislature last Thursday. What I thought I heard on a number of occasions disturbed me greatly. In reviewing Hansard, I found none of the interjections was recorded. I will not tolerate the attempt by any member of this Legislature to ridicule or embarrass me further on this matter. If there has to be a libel and slander action, I will not hesitate to add further names to the style of cause in the action.
I am asking you, Mr. Speaker, and I am directing the members of Hansard to report in particular any interjections and to identify the authors thereof. I direct the Hansard reporters in particular to that area of the Legislature where the member for Hamilton Centre (Mr. M. N. Davison) is sitting.
There are seven points that I must have you consider in this matter so that there will be no question of my position in this matter.
First, the false portrayal of my behaviour arising out of my attendance with fellow colleagues of this Legislature in a cocktail lounge in the city of Washington four years ago, while a member of the select committee of the transportation of goods committee, has done irreparable damage to my character and reputation, and it has been of great public embarrassment to me, my wife and my family. I have been humiliated before my family and friends.
My anger on last Thursday was so great, Mr. Speaker, that I did not give you the benefit of having before you the basic facts of the incident surrounding the false and malicious charges that have been made against me. It is, therefore, absolutely essential that I set the record straight.
The establishment which the member for Wentworth North, the member for Rainy River, the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane) and I attended in Washington four years ago was a cocktail lounge. What became a private embarrassment to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin and me at that time was that after the waitress had served us our drinks, she left our table, walked to the dance floor, removed her top and started to dance. It had to be degrading to the girl. It was certainly embarrassing to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin and me. He and I finished our drinks and left the premises.
Second, the libel contained in the note sent to the Sun reporter alleging I was dancing with a stripper in the Washington cocktail bar was a malicious, blatant and total lie. Not only must I have a total and absolute apology from the guilty member, I must have his admission that he deliberately lied about me.
Third, with regard to the first slander made in the Sun article, which said, “The first guy I see in the bar is John Williams. I would have given $100 for a camera that day,” any reasonable person would interpret that slander to mean that I was involved in some gross impropriety, that I was doing something inconsistent with good moral conduct, that I was doing something other than enjoying a drink with my friend, the member for Algoma-Manitoulin. I demand the apology and an acknowledgement that there was no impropriety.
Fourth, the other slander was that “Williams seemed to be enjoying himself. It was not a classy place.” From this innuendo, any reasonable person would conclude that I went to the cocktail lounge for the express purpose of seeing a nude performance, and that the establishment was not the type of place a reputable person would visit. I demand an apology for both those slurs.
Fifth, on Thursday, the member for Rainy River admitted to the members in this House that he was the author of the slur, “None of us is squeaky clean.” At that time, the member complained that I accused him of seeking out a reporter to speak to him on this matter. I tell the member, and he will have to read it in Hansard because he is not here, to read Hansard carefully. He will find no such statement made by me. He alone made that suggestion.
On Thursday, the member for Rainy River also said he had read the article in the Toronto Sun with “some amusement.” I suggest to Mr. Reid that before he shoots off his mouth again, he have a long, hard talk with his lawyer. The general, all-encompassing nature of that slur, within the context of all the charges made against me, makes it perhaps the most serious slur of all. It was clearly designed to give credence to the libel and the other innuendoes. Any reasonable person could conclude from the inference that John Williams would be likely to commit those indiscretions. I remain resolute in my demand for an apology for this slur.
Sixth, on Friday, November 21, I was further slandered, specifically by the member for Wentworth North in the Sun newspaper of that date on page five, in an article dealing further with this matter. The member was quoted as saying, “The place -- “ meaning the cocktail lounge -- “was so sleazy you would want to flush with your foot, but I do not begrudge anyone going to a place like that.”
The clear implication is that everything about the establishment was so bad that no self-respecting citizen would want to go in, certainly not four persons in public life, four members of the Legislature of Ontario, and that it is the type of place not even a skid row bum would want to frequent. The irony of that slur is that the member for Wentworth North and the member for Rainy River were both in the bar in question, sitting two or three tables away from the member for Algoma-Manitoulin and me. In fact, they were still there when he and I left the establishment.
I demand an apology from the member for Wentworth North for this most vicious of slanders.
Seventh, the integrity and privileges of all members of this House must be protected from unprincipled personal attacks of defamation by any other member of the Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, you must discharge your duty in this regard. If you do not demand the apologies and admission of false statements on my behalf, and if those apologies and admissions are not forthcoming before I walk out the door of this Legislative Assembly, when I walk out that door I will be instructing my lawyer to initiate an action for libel and slander against the member for Wentworth North and the member for Rainy River in the Supreme Court of Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: First, I want to remind the honourable member that it is not his responsibility or his prerogative to direct Hansard to add anything to or subtract anything from the official record of this House. That will be done in the normal manner as the editor of Hansard sees fit and that will continue to be the policy of Hansard. I want the honourable member to disabuse himself of any authority that he thinks he might have with regard to directing Hansard to do or not to do anything.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order --
Mr. Speaker: No. Order. I have been very patient and very tolerant of the member and allowed him to put whatever it was he thought he must put on the record.
The second thing I want to remind the honourable member is that anything that is said in this House is privileged and can’t be used as an action outside this House.
The third thing I want to remind the honourable member of is that I have heard one side of the story from the honourable member on three different occasions. One of the members who is named in the allegations made by the member has had an opportunity to respond. The other member has still not appeared in the House. I will await his arrival to hear what it is he has to say about it and decide at that time whether or not any action is deemed appropriate by the chair.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, may I ask a question?
Mr. Speaker: Order. No, I am not listening to you any more. You have had an opportunity to put your case on the record and that is it.
Mr. Williams: I wish to ask a question of you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: No. I am not in a position to answer questions. That is the prerogative of the ministers.
Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that even though the Legislative Assembly Act makes it discretionary with the Speaker as to whether or not he should issue a warrant, I feel that in view of the clear direction of the House on Thursday last, the warrant should issue. It will, therefore, be served this afternoon.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, if I might, I’d like to rise on a point of order about the matter of direction. I think it is important, and I think we would all agree, that this be done in the most orderly way possible.
I have had discussions with the chairman of the justice committee dealing with the process in the event that you made the ruling that you have, sir. In view of the fact that we have a number of issues to be concerned about -- and I won’t trouble you with all the details now, but for example, the security of the documents being one principal concern, and there are others -- it was understood between the chairman of the justice committee and me that we possibly would have some discussion today and that he would; in turn, deal in committee with the matter with respect to the process -- the mechanics of the execution of the Speaker’s warrant.
I thought it would be important to acquaint the members with the understanding because I think once the warrant is issued, the manner in which the documents are delivered and the manner in which they are dealt with are, of course, very important. It may be that the delivery of the documents could await the deliberations of the justice committee on Wednesday, but I think it is important that we have some understanding about that.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, on the point raised by the Attorney General, the committee is sensitive to the problems of security, in particular, and to obtaining these documents in an orderly way. I instructed the clerk of our committee this morning that should the Speaker make the decision which he has now announced and issue the warrant, the clerk, immediately on hearing this, should contact the Attorney General and the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations to discuss those methods whereby security and the orderly transfer of those documents may be made to the committee.
I have no doubt that he is in the process of doing that at this very minute. Of course, I will he happy to meet with the Attorney General or the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) to see if I may be of any assistance in this matter.
On the other matter of the scheduling, I have asked that the steering committee of the justice committee meet tomorrow, and the clerk is sending out notices of that to that committee. The Attorney General and any other member who is interested will he kept informed of our proposals. We will present a proposal on Wednesday morning for the scheduling of the committee for the rest of this session.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Davis: On behalf of the government of the province, I would like to express to the House our deep sympathy for the victims of the massive earthquake that struck southern Italy during the weekend. The first reports indicate that several hundred people were killed, many more injured and extensive damage occurred in at least 29 cities and towns.
This new tragedy causes special concern and anguish in this province, for a large number of residents are of Italian origin, many of them with relatives in the region affected by the earthquake. May I remind the House that in 1976, after the Friuli earthquake in northeastern Italy, the Ontario government, in conjunction with local Italo-Canadian organizations, played an important role in the large aid project for the reconstruction of the area destroyed.
The Ontario government is now following closely the situation in southern Italy and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) is keeping in constant contact with the appropriate organizations with a view to obtaining detailed and updated reports. We are prepared to give immediate emergency relief assistance to the citizens of this stricken region as needs unfold. We are already working closely with the Canadian Red Cross to do what we can to help in this tragic situation.
To their families, particularly those resident in this province, we extend our sincere condolences.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I would like to associate the Liberal caucus with the comments that have been expressed by the Premier. Being a person of Italian origin and having been born in that country, I can well imagine what this terrible event is doing to the small villages and towns of southern Italy. I wish to commend the Premier for his quick action. I sincerely hope that the Ontario government moves quickly in order to approve funds for food, medical supplies and clothing and possibly any other staples that might be necessary in this type of emergency.
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, I would like to express my sympathy and feelings and associate myself with the Premier and the member for Essex South in their remarks.
The earthquake that hit Italy yesterday is the worst in the last 70 years and certainly the worst disaster since the Second World War. Cities, towns and villages have been destroyed and wiped out. The death toll, as announced at this point, is 792. The Ministry of the Interior of Italy announced that two towns have been completely wiped out. If that is the case, the toll can go as high as 5,000 people dead.
I would like to express to the Italian people, to the relatives of the victims and to the thousands of Italian-Canadians who live in Ontario and in Canada and who come from the area hit by the earthquake, my sympathy and condolences and a sense of solidarity at this time of grief and sorrow. I am sure I express the feelings of all the members of the assembly.
I would like to say we are close to the populations who have survived such a tragedy. I want to thank the Premier for his action. I am sure it will be as generous as it was in 1916 when a similar tragedy occurred in the northern part of Italy.
DEATH OF JULES LEGER
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would like to express on behalf of the government our very deep regret at the passing of the former Governor General of this country. The Honourable Jules Leger was one of the very great public servants, known to a number of the members of this House in a personal way, I am sure. He was a gentleman who really dedicated the bulk of his public life to endeavouring to do his best to further the interests of this country, both at home and abroad.
I would extend in a particular way our sympathies to Madame Leger, also chancellor of the University of Ottawa, a very distinguished Canadian who, I know, speaking for many of us, made us feel very much at home in her presence.
I had the privilege of being with both Jules Leger and Madame Leger here a few days ago in what was, I guess, their last public appearance in the city of Toronto. I can recall the warm words expressed by so many at that gathering about the contribution he had made to the public life of our nation.
In very simple terms, he was a great Canadian. I extend my particular sympathy to his wife, who shared those responsibilities with him for so many years and who, in her way, has done so much for this country as well.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the official opposition I want to extend our sympathies to Madame Leger and the family on the death of the former Governor General.
The Premier has indicated some people in this House knew him reasonably well. Unfortunately, I was not one of those, but shortly after he became Governor General I did have an opportunity to have dinner with him, along with the other members of the Legislature and a number of government officials, at a very special event which was hosted by the government of Ontario.
I am sure everyone will recall the dignity with which he and Madame Leger conducted themselves that evening. His remarks made it clear to all of us that we had as our Governor General, an outstanding citizen, a man of great intellect and moderation, but as well and perhaps just as important, a man of good humour and breadth of understanding. It is a great loss indeed that, for a part of his tenure, his illness prohibited him from being as active in his responsibility as Governor General as I know he would have wished. This is very much to be regretted.
We were all delighted at his recovery, but during those years Madame Leger assisted him in very special ways which were obvious to anyone seeing them in action performing official duties. I know on one occasion she even read the Speech from the Throne in Ottawa.
I want to join with the Premier and other members of the House, on behalf of my colleagues, in saying we sense the loss of a great Canadian, a man whose career must be an example to all of us.
Mr. Cassidy: De la part du Nouveau Parti Démocratique, j’aimerais joindre mes hommages destinés à M. Léger, ancien Gouverneur général et homme dont tous les Canadiens peuvent être fiers.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to join my voice, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, in paying tribute to Jules Leger and in expressing our sympathy to Madame Leger, two great Canadians. In the case of the Honourable Jules Leger, he was a Canadian who came from the most modest of back- grounds in a small town on the fringe of Ontario and New York state in western Quebec. He had modest beginnings, yet came from a family that gave not only a man who became Governor General of Canada, but also his brother who we all know as Cardinal Leger, another distinguished Canadian.
I took part in the recent banquet of the conference of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews where an award was given to the Leger family. There was a great deal of emotion at that time because of the distinguished contribution this family has given to our country over so many years.
Jules Leger was originally a journalist. He was an ambassador. He was a civil servant. He was Governor General of Canada. He spoke throughout for Canada. He expressed in the finest and highest ways what we want to achieve in Canada, the melding of our two founding peoples, the French and English people in Canada. Jules Leger in his years as Governor General displayed exceptional courage in overcoming a debilitating stroke, the second of which took his life this weekend, and in continuing to serve his country through an entire term.
I had looked forward to the chance of making closer acquaintance with the Legers because, when they retired, they moved into my constituency just a few blocks from where I live in Ottawa. That will not be, but on behalf of all of my party I join in the tributes that are paid to him and in paying thanks to him for his contribution to our province, to our country and to the world.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the ministry and this government, I would like to acknowledge a compliment paid to this province today by the United States Interstate Legislative Committee on Lake Erie.
The committee’s chairman, representative Roy Wilt from the state of Pennsylvania, presented a resolution today to Premier Davis. I have it here and a copy is attached of the statements I have sent to the other parties. In this resolution, the committee commended Ontario for our achievements in urban air pollution control, air quality monitoring and an air quality alert system.
The resolution mentioned specifically our sharp reduction of both sulphur dioxide and particulate matter in the air of Metropolitan Toronto and other major industrial centres. It also commended our clear identification of acid rain as a priority, our action program and my ministry’s efforts to seek Canada-US accord on a strategy to deal with this problem on a continental basis.
I appreciate the endorsement and the support that was offered by this committee, representing as it does four of our neighbour states -- New York, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. While we have observer status rather than membership in the committee, I am pleased we have been able to co-operate in resolving policies on offshore drilling in Lake Erie, in finding common ground on regulating wastes from pleasure craft, in phosphorous controls on detergents and in a number of initiatives in controlling toxic substances on both sides of the border.
I would like to express Ontario’s appreciation of this gesture of support and the sincere environmental commitment of these, our neighbour states, and to wish the committee every success in the issues it is dealing with during its meeting here today and tomorrow in Toronto.
I would like the members of the Legislature to join me in welcoming, and to recognize in the Speaker’s gallery, Chairman Wilt and the members of the interstate legislative committee, our fellow legislators from New York, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to draw the attention of all honourable members to the presence of yet another distinguished guest in the Speaker’s gallery, the Honourable Ken MacMaster, who is Minister of Labour in Manitoba. Would members also welcome him to our assembly.
RURAL ELECTRICAL RATES
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I am tabling later this afternoon a report with respect to rural residential electrical rates received from Ontario Hydro in response to the request made by the Premier (Mr. Davis) on April 10.
Members will recall Ontario Hydro was requested to prepare proposals to reduce the differential between the retail rate for electricity paid by rural residents and that paid by urban residents.
Ontario Hydro has recommended that the target differential be set at 15 per cent above the weighted average municipal hydro utility rate at a monthly consumption of 1,000 kilowatt hours. Two options are recommended in order to provide the funds for reducing the differential. These are as follows -- I quote from the report: “The government provide an annual operating grant to Ontario Hydro for this purpose or the funds be obtained by separate and distinct charge to the bulk power costs.”
As the members are aware, the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) in his wisdom, in his budget statement of November 13 advised the House that the province will provide a $20-million grant to Ontario Hydro during the coming fiscal year, so that Hydro can provide a direct discount to its rural residential customers.
This operating grant to Ontario Hydro will reduce the differential between the average municipal retail rate and the rural residential rate to about 20 per cent for the year 1981; I point out that without that grant the differential would have been about 30 per cent.
Effective January 1, 1981, some 525,000 rural and farm residential customers, using 250 kilowatt hours per month or more, will receive a discount on their electrical bill. The grant will not be available to intermittent occupancy cottages and chalets, and will not cover commercial or industrial customers.
As members are aware, the rural retail system is only one part of the total hydro system. The majority of the power consumers of Ontario, some 2.1 million customers, receive their electrical service from 325 municipal electrical utilities. As well, there are some 100 large industrial customers, which while small in number, use more than 15 per cent of the electrical energy consumed in the province.
In its preparation of the report tabled today, I am advised that Ontario Hydro discussed the rural rate differential issue and obtained the views of these two major customer classes. Their letters are contained in the report I will be tabling this afternoon.
The 30 per cent reduction in the rate differential announced by the Treasurer, measured against the goal recommended by Ontario Hydro, is an interim measure pending further action for the year 1982. The precise way subsequent reductions in the rate differential will be made is still under discussion.
It is anticipated, however, that in the coming months further discussions will be held with the municipal hydro representatives and industrial customer representatives, with the objective of making another adjustment in the rate differential for the year 1982. The change for 1982 will take into account the proposals now before these customer groups for the change in rate structure, and will attempt to achieve the dual objectives of an equitable rate structure and a reduced rural municipal differential.
Mr. Nixon: Pretty weak.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I thought that line was pretty good, to tell you the truth.
Mr. Nixon: I have a story I want to tell the minister about it.
Hon. Mr. Welch: English was never a strong point for the member. He should remember that.
As the members of the House know, Ontario Hydro is also reviewing its rate structure as a result of recently concluded hearings of the Ontario Energy Board and currently has proposals before its customer classes for changes in the basic rate structure for 1982. The interim reduction in the differential between the rural residential rate and the municipal retail rate should not be confused with this ongoing review of Ontario Hydro’s rate structure.
That is put in for the benefit of the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald).
Similarly, it is not appropriate to confuse the general rate increases announced for 1981 by Ontario Hydro with this special grant, as the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) has been reminded recently.
The bulk power rate increases, which are approximately at the level of inflation or below, are applicable to both urban and rural rates. However, the special discount is applicable to rural residential customers only, so as to reduce the rate differential between urban and rural residential electricity customers. The interim measure is a first and significant step in achieving that particular goal.
In summary, whatever the 1981 electrical rates for rural Ontario and for municipal utilities may be, the differential at a consumption of 1,000 kilowatt hours between the average rural and urban bills will be reduced by 30 per cent as a result of the progressive measures taken by this government.
RURAL ELECTRICAL RATES
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Energy relating to the statement he has just completed.
First, why would he have rejected the concept of equality of rate structure and opted for the goal of 15 per cent, which will continue to penalize our rural hydro users as opposed to the rural users in many other jurisdictions? It will still leave us with one of the higher rate structures.
Second, why is it that he would permit the chairman of Ontario Hydro to announce an 11.2 per cent increase in rural rates, effective January 1, and then come out with this $20-million handout to the farming community, which is going to go into effect just after that? Does it not occur to him that the $20 million is even less than the government is investing in Minaki Lodge, and that it is an insufficient step to improve the inequality that has burdened the farming community for the past 36 years?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I suppose one should be somewhat appreciative of the persistent attempts of the House leader of the official opposition to strive to continue to confuse this particular issue.
Mr. Nixon: Is there anything I have said that was incorrect?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Absolutely. It is quite clear from the statement that the member is confusing an annual exercise that started some months ago in determining 1981 rates, to which reference was made in the statement. That is a process about which the member has all kinds of information.
I do not recall reading that the member attended the Ontario Energy Board public hearings to make any representation with respect to the general rate consideration. In due course, the increase was reviewed by the Ontario Energy Board and subsequently announced by Hydro. Hydro, of course, has some obligation to notify customers with respect to the adjustments to become effective on January 1.
The municipal utilities commissions’ addition to the bulk rate has hardly increased -- perhaps at the rate of inflation or below. As the statement says, they add their cost of distribution to the municipal system; so, therefore, there are these adjustments. We are talking here about the differential, whatever it may be.
One point has to be made particularly clear. Regardless of the rate increases to all customers in 1981, the differential between the weighted averages will be reduced by 30 per cent. No matter how many times the member tries to confuse the issue, that is what the rural customers are really entitled to know, namely, that the differential in 1981 between their rates and the weighted average municipal rates, because of this transfer agreement to Hydro, has been reduced in this first year by 30 per cent.
Mr. Nixon: Why would the minister think that I, or even my colleague, should attend the rate hearings held by one of the government boards when our responsibility is to do what we have done, that is, repeatedly bring it to the attention of the Premier, who no doubt told the Minister of Energy what to do about this matter. It was the pressure of the farm lobby, if one wants to call it that, present right here at Queen’s Park, that prompted the Premier to pull a sorry situation that he found himself in back into a little bit of limelight when he promised he would do something about the rates.
Is the minister implying that anything I have said is incorrect when I simply put to him that he and the chairman of Hydro, the good friend of the Premier, have allowed the rural rates to go up by 11.2 per cent on January 1 and then balance it --
Hon. Mr. Welch: And the urban rates are going up as well.
Mr. Nixon: They go up by less than 11.2 per cent. They even increase the disparity.
Mr. Speaker: Would the member ask his question?
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, would the minister not agree that it would be unfair if he did not agree with me that the $20 million, being less than what is spent on many of the puffing programs that the minister and his colleagues are supporting elsewhere, is not sufficient to meet the needs for the electrical costs, which have been unfairly high for the farming community of this province, and in fact really does not require any support from us?
Mr. Speaker: The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I have three observations. When the Premier rose in his place on April 10, he read from a statement indicating that the government was committed to this and that I had received instructions as to what can be done to reduce the differential. The statement is there to be read; it is quite clear. It is in Hansard.
Secondly, there is an ongoing process every year with respect to reviewing rates and power at cost. That process was going on and adjustments will be made as of January 1, 1981, reflecting those increased costs. What we are talking about now is addressing ourselves to the differential. The member makes reference to the target percentage which, I remind him, is simply a recommendation from Hydro. The government has not responded definitely with respect to this report. It has taken step number one for 1981 and made $20 million available from the consolidated revenue fund of Ontario to reduce the differential between rural and urban rates in this province by 30 per cent.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: There has been considerable confusion out in the public as to whether the objective in the government’s new statement of policy is to reduce or to eliminate the differential.
My question to the Minister of Energy is this: Does he accept Hydro’s target differential, in other words a permanent differential of 15 per cent between rural and other rates? If so, is it his intention to take money out of the public treasury and subsidize Hydro in order to bring it down to that 15 per cent or lower? Or, as an alternative, is he going to suggest to Hydro by a policy statement, which presumably it must abide by, to do here in Ontario what has been done in four other provinces -- that is, to pool the revenues from the three different kinds of customers and equalize rates at least between residential and rural?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, in keeping with the spirit of the statement, the government has not as yet accepted the report from Hydro. I am tabling the report today. Second, as an interim measure for 1981, we have gone the consolidated revenue fund route and are making available to Hydro $20 million to reduce the differential. What happens for subsequent years is referred to in my statement -- we want time to further consider the implications of reaching some target with respect to the rate differential. We must keep in mind that we have some obligation to consult with the municipal utility organization and other users of hydro because of some of the implications that are involved.
In summary, the report is here to be considered and we are not committed to it as yet. In 1981 the answer is a direct grant to Hydro for the 30 per cent reduction in the differential. What happens in 1982 and subsequent years will be the outcome of discussions and consideration of this report, and the attitudes of other customers of Hydro.
Mr. J. Reed: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if the minister could explain, if he has backtracked to the point today where he said that the objective was to reduce the differential, could he explain the statement in the mini-budget on page 16 that says “the government has decided therefore to instruct Hydro to eliminate” the undue differential between rural and urban electrical rates by 1982.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I leave it to the House to decide whether or not “to reduce” or “to eliminate” the undue differential mean the same thing. I direct the member to the Premier’s statement on April 10 which talked in terms of reducing the differential.
HOUSING AUTHORITIES’ MEDIA RELATIONS
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I would like to put a question to the Minister of Housing. Can he confirm to the House that a special training program began on October 16, 1980, involving his housing authority managers, in which they are supposed to be taught what elements reporters are looking for in a news story and to give suggestions on the handling of bad news?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, in the course of running the housing authority --
Mr. Conway: Are you taking the course too?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: No, but I suggest that honourable member should try it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: What are the members opposite doing about Carleton? Was that bad news?
Mr. Riddell: Greatest fabricators of the truth you would ever want to run into.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Boy, you have been working with great teachers from Ottawa in your party.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I see that one of the perpetrators is moving. If the other one will join him behind there, we will get on with the business of the House.
Mr. Conway: I would not be seen with that minister after some of his remarks.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Huron-Middlesex made a statement that I am sure, on reflection, he would want to have removed from the record.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, reflecting on the type of information that came out of the Carleton by-election --
Mr. Speaker: I don’t want you to do that. I want you to reflect upon what you said in the House, which was clearly unparliamentary. Would you please withdraw it?
Mr. Riddell: Very reluctantly.
Mr. Speaker: You will withdraw it?
Mr. Riddell: I will withdraw a statement which I firmly believe to have contained more fact than fiction.
Mr. Speaker: It is not what you believe, but what you are allowed to say in this House.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, in the course of trying to serve the public and keep them informed on the running of housing authorities, whether it be in the Windsor area or the Ottawa area and so on, what we have been trying to do is offer to our chairmen and members of the various authorities some opportunity to understand the way they should be dealing with the press in answering specific questions. In no way has it been to try to flavour or colour their stories. But obviously some of the chairmen --
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Margaret, if you would sit and listen for a while you might just improve your knowledge. You are not the fount of knowledge in this great province.
Mr. Speaker: Order. It may help if the Minister of Housing would speak to me.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I agree with you. If the member for St. George would speak to you too, I would not have that problem.
Very clearly, when people are going into some of the chairmanships and various memberships of the boards of directors, they do not have the understanding of how they are going to face the questions of the press. What we have very simply tried to do is show them how they should cope with the situation and be able to answer the questions the press asks. In none of our housing authorities have we a thing to hide or colour or flavour. We give exactly what goes on within those authorities.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The interjection from my colleague, the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) is a good one. Why are they not just instructed to tell the truth and give the information as requested? Why would it be necessary, for example, in trying to convince the press of the efficacy and usefulness of John White’s vision in Townsend, after spending $50 million to develop a town site in which only 14 lots have been sold, for the minister to have his managers in so that he could persuade them and teach them to convince the press that that was some sort of a good thing and not just a ridiculous bad judgement that has been a burden on the taxpayers for all these years?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, very frankly, I do not accept the acting Leader of the Opposition’s remark that our people have to be brainwashed or fed, or would indicate to the press something that is not correct. Through our housing authorities and through our staff in various areas of this province, we have always given to the press exactly what they have asked for as clearly and concisely as possible, because we realize they are the communicators to the public and it is the public’s money we are spending wisely and soundly.
BOYCOTT OF ONTARIO GOODS
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. Has the Premier received a letter from the group of Alberta oil companies that committed themselves to boycotting Ontario goods? Did the Premier take the opportunity this weekend to discuss the matter with the Premier of Alberta when they were sitting a seat or two away from each other at the Grey Cup game, and specifically ask the Premier of Alberta to ensure that Alberta does not try to take out its anger on a federal Liberal budget by boycotting goods manufactured in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I was in fact one seat away from the Premier of Alberta. The intervening seat was occupied by a very dedicated loyal Ontario fan, cheering vigorously for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with some measure of futility --
Mr. Nixon: Great girl.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That was my wife who was -- yes, a great lady.
Mr. Peterson: Did she get hit at all between you two guys?
Mr. Speaker: Order. Just ignore the interjections.
Hon. Mr. Davis: But he was getting very personal, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Peterson: No one else would put his wife through that. Why would you?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Anybody who watched the game yesterday knew who was sitting between you and the Premier of Alberta, but the question has nothing at all to do with that
Hon. Mr. Davis: With great respect, Mr. Speaker, it did. The question very clearly said --
Mr. Speaker: No, not who was sitting between you and the Premier.
Hon. Mr. Davis: “ -- when you were sitting close to or near the Premier of Alberta,” and I wanted to clear up for members of the House just how close that proximity was on Sunday. The member for London Centre asked how my wife could tolerate being between the two of us, and I was just replying --
Mr. Speaker: Order. That was not the question I heard. I heard an interjection that I ignored totally and I want you to do the same.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I did not actually see the Sunday edition of the Toronto Star until after the game was completed. I left fairly early on the Sunday morning, at least for me, and I must say I had not seen the story. I think it originated in the Sunday Star; anyway I had not seen it.
I have not raised it yet with the Premier of Alberta. I certainly did not yesterday because I was not familiar with it during the Grey Cup game itself or the festivities preceding it.
I would make the general observation, because I have been asked by one or two others, that in spite of the story I have read, this government would not and will not adopt any policy that precludes the free operation on a competitive basis of business within Canada.
In this province we have not limited our procurement policies, nor have we given instructions to agencies or other areas in the general government service to buy solely Ontario goods or not to buy goods from some other province of Canada. No matter what the provocation may be, that will continue to be the policy.
I think it is fair to state we are going through a period of some controversy. Quite obviously, there are people in our sister provinces -- perhaps including Saskatchewan, I do not know -- who are upset about the directions of the government of this country, partially related to the recent budget, obviously in the energy field.
I spoke in Ottawa on Thursday with respect to some of these issues, suggesting it would be wise to try to reduce some of the rhetoric and to make it clear these are important issues that must be resolved. Nothing will be served, in my view at least, by further exacerbating the situation by increasing the rhetoric or making threats of “we will do this if you do that,” et cetera. To me that is not a solution, nor is it the route we should go at this time.
On Thursday, I repeated the messages I sent to both the Prime Minister of this country and the Premier of Alberta, that I believe it would be in the national interest for them to sit down once more to see if they can negotiate an acceptable solution to the present energy debate. I would hope both those gentlemen would consider this very seriously as being the best route to go.
I want to make it clear that I regret the point of view expressed by, hopefully, a small group of people in the business community in Alberta and that this is the approach they are taking. I think it is a negative approach, quite frankly. l do not think that sort of thing produces positive results in a political or economic sense. I would only add this to it, in case there is a supplementary, that I think for most Canadians, at least, this kind of approach will not provide the kind of solutions we are looking for.
I think it is fair to state that with some companies, at least, the shareholders or even the boards of directors might start to take a modest interest because, if steel happens to be one of the products they may be considering boycotting or what have you, I would suggest those who are interested in the business activities of those organizations really would question the judgement whereby they would be importing Japanese or West German steel. With the amount of differential in money at this time, and knowing the efficiency of, say, the steel industry in this country, I think shareholders and boards of directors would have to be a little careful about saying, “We are prepared to spend substantially more on a given product,” knowing that would reduce the economic viability of those organizations for which they have responsibility.
Mr. Speaker: That answer took five minutes.
Mr. Cassidy: Given that energy investments in western Canada will approach $100 billion over the next 10 or 12 years, and given the need to recycle oil and gas revenues in western Canada back to the rest of the country if we are not to get a completely lopsided economy, when the Premier discusses this matter with the Premier of Alberta, will he seek to have Alberta introduce Canadian content requirements for the oil industry to ensure that the benefits of those investments in western Canada are spent in Canada and not elsewhere and, therefore, to ensure that Ontario benefits in a major way from the investments being made in the oil industry?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think the history up to this time has been by and large very positive. It is something I keep reminding people about in this province. When another Syncrude plant is committed, the Ontario economy is the beneficiary, not only from the standpoint of steel and other goods being provided to the development of these major undertakings, but also in the long-term objective of sufficiency of oil supply. There is a very positive impact on the economy of this province.
I think it is fair to state -- and the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) can correct me if I am in error -- that while there may not have been any written or stated policy, there has been a recognition that the marketplace is somewhat relevant, that in the marketplace Canadian suppliers have been very competitive and that we have had our fair share of supplies to the oil industry in Alberta.
The Minister of Industry and Tourism can correct me if I am wrong, but I think that is factually the case. I would be very optimistic when we get through the next short period of time, with hopefully the two governments sorting out the policies at present in conflict, that that will continue to be the policy. I see no benefit for anyone in not having it the policy.
I might have reservations if we were not as competitive. In the steel industry in particular, we can compete with any offshore supplier in terms of quality and price. I have no reluctance in making that observation because those happen to be the facts.
Mr. Peterson: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Before the events we are reading about escalate to the point where they become unsalvageable or at least very difficult for the respective parties to back down from, would the Premier consider leading a delegation to the west to do the best he could to be an honest broker in this situation and, in the process, as best as he can, protect the interests of the manufacturing sector in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, one would like to convey messages. I intend to be in Vancouver a week this Friday and have some observations to make. I think there are some things that can be stated and can be said. One thing that would give me some difficulty is that when I say some of these things, I am always confronted with people saying, “What does the leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario say? We recall a few months ago he said that Alberta producers should not get another nickel.” Have the Liberals once again changed their policy on energy, so that if I say some of these things, I can speak on their behalf as well?
Mr. Nixon: That is terrible.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That is true, that is exactly what he said.
The honourable member asks me, why don’t I be the broker. We have made a very genuine attempt to resolve some of these --
Mr. Nixon: You are making a mess of this.
Hon. Mr. Davis: People have to be accountable for what they say. The honourable members are always very reluctant to accept the responsibility for what they say, and when they are reminded of it, they do not like it.
NUCLEAR WASTE DISPOSAL
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Energy. Last Thursday, I asked the minister about a Gallup poll on nuclear waste disposal that was taking place in a number of Ontario communities. We have since learned that the poll was carried out by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and it was conducted in August and September of this year.
Would the minister explain how this poll, which was clearly designed to help AECL soften up resistance to nuclear waste disposal, could be conducted in Ontario without the knowledge of the ministry and apparently without the knowledge of the joint Ontario-Canada committee which is supposed to oversee all research into nuclear waste disposal in this province?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, surely the honourable member does not find it unusual for a lot of things to be going on that would not necessarily be specifically brought to the attention of any particular minister.
In fairness, the honourable member will remember that as he was asking me that particular question last week, he sent the document across and asked me if I had seen it. I said honestly that I had not seen the document. I undertook, as I am sure he found out later, to find out who had prepared these questions for a regular Gallup poll survey.
As I did my follow-up, it is my understanding -- and I apologize to the honourable member for not reporting the next day -- that that particular survey was the sixth survey of an ongoing series done by the federal commission and these results are made public and are part of their report. I suppose eventually we would have access to the information that is made public as part of the publications of the commission.
Mr. Cassidy: Perhaps the minister could say what is going on. He does not know that polling is taking place, but it turns out there are six polls by AECL that have been done up until now. Is the minister aware as well that AECL has now gone into the area at East Bull Lake near Massey, west of Sudbury, without informing the local council or consulting with them, in order to carry out research into using that area as a nuclear waste disposal site?
Does the fact they are polling and not telling the minister, and the fact they are now contravening their previous policy and going into potential waste disposal sites without telling the local council, mean there has been a change in their policy of consultation with the province or with local communities? What are the changes in the consultation program and why have they not been announced?
Hon. Mr. Welch: I do not think the member is being fair in suggesting I indicated I did not know anything about polling going on. I remind him once again that he sent across to me a particular set of questions and asked me if I was familiar with those questions. I said I was not and he has subsequently confirmed that fact.
General polling going on to get certain public attitudes on the part of the commission is another matter. The member once again is confusing the fact that there are five centres about which Atomic Energy of Canada Limited announced particulars, in unorganized territories, where they were, at least at this stage, simply doing flyovers and walkovers. That was the only aspect of the program they were doing. The five areas publicized in their news release indicated that. The information was quite public at the time in those organized territories.
Mr. J. Reed: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if the minister could explain what was meant by the statements made by AECL to the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs when they told us they would not enter an area without local approval. Indeed they said that if they could not get that approval, they would not go into those areas.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I don’t think I am accountable for the activities of AECL. However, I do point out once again by way of emphasis that the five areas we are talking about now are all unorganized territories; AECL announced what their plans were with respect to flyover and walkover and that has been completed. It is my understanding there was some consultation with federal and provincial members of Parliament in whose ridings the unorganized territory was located -- and I repeat, the unorganized territory. They are the five we are talking about at the moment.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: During bearings of the Hydro committee, the minister indicated he was postponing any effort to renegotiate the Canada-Ontario agreement with regard to developing an acceptable waste disposal management program until he got a copy of our report. The minister has a copy of that report and he has had it now for some time.
On page 29 of the report there is a recommendation that the governments of Canada and Ontario should establish, under joint ownership, a nuclear fuel waste management agency that would have an overall responsibility for the Canadian program, et cetera. Is it the government’s intention now to move to establish that agency in order to take away from AECL the overall political management of the program and leave them to do what they are capable of doing and equipped to do -- namely the research work? What is the minister’s reaction to that recommendation?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, as the member notes, the minister attended before the committee and indicated he wanted to see the report, he is quite correct in that regard. That report has not yet been debated in the House and we are soon to debate that. The minister wants the benefit of that debate, and the government’s intention with respect to the recommendations contained in that report will be made in due course, following the completion of that debate.
SALES TAX EXEMPTION
Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Revenue, and I ask it on behalf of a constituent of mine who is a double amputee.
Will the minister give consideration to expanding the retail sales tax exemptions to give greater coverage for the purchase of special vehicles for those who are handicapped? On the purchase of a van, for instance, the rebate is given only for special controls and/or a wheelchair lift. Will the minister consider expanding this rebate to include other installations to assist in the comfort of those handicapped people who must often spend a longer period of time in their vans and require these installations for medical reasons?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact I directed my staff a month or more ago to look into the very type of situation that the member has brought up. There are many people in the province who may not require a modified vehicle but may need special options -- for instance, power steering, power brakes or an automatic transmission that they would not need under normal circumstances. We are looking into that situation at the moment and hopefully some solution can be found to it.
Mr. Eakins: Will the minister give special consideration to medical reasons for the equipment of a van? I am thinking of couch facilities or toilet facilities which many amputees require.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: That would be part of the overall package. Any special equipment that would be required or special option that would have to be ordered is being considered.
Ms. Bryden: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Since the cuts in the retail sales tax were designed to improve purchasing and employment in this province, would it not be a sensible approach to make this change when the bill to put in the sales tax cuts that were in the mini-budget is going through?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Speaker, I do not believe it is necessary for me to bring in legislation for this purpose. I think it can be done by regulation. I believe the rules we are working under now, which deal with vehicles that have been altered, are by regulation rather than legislation. I do not think the fact that the legislation is before the House or not would have any bearing on it.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Health. Has the minister seen recent statements by Robert Ferguson, the administrator at Humber Memorial Hospital in which he states, “Humber Memorial Hospital receives the smallest Ministry of Health annual allocation of all the west suburban hospitals,” and, “Were it to receive even the average received by other west suburban hospitals, it would have received an additional $1,428,482 for this year”? If so, does he agree with Mr. Ferguson’s figures? Does he feel this is equitable? What action is his ministry taking at present to remedy the situation at that particular hospital?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I have not seen the particular quotes to which the member refers. I have met several times in recent months with the entire board of that hospital, most recently about four weeks ago, at which time we discussed their present operational plans and the 1980-81 budget situation. To the best of my knowledge, any problems they were forecasting are being addressed.
Mr. Philip: I wonder if the minister would help me to understand why the hospital has been underfunded from the time it opened, as alleged by Mr. Ferguson. Why has this one particular hospital been so underfunded historically?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, at the last meeting with the board we established that it has not. The hospital had a significant addition in 1972 or 1973, for which the hospital projected certain operating costs, which projections the hospital exceeded significantly. That has led to a battle of words from time to time between the administrators of the hospital and my own civil servants over whether the original forecasts were accurate or whether there was a difference that had to be settled.
At that very meeting I submitted to the chairman and members of the board that that meeting should be considered the meeting at which we resolved that matter once and for all. I believe we have.
PALMERSTON PROPERTY TAXES
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. The minister is probably aware of recent public revelations concerning the town of Palmerston where the records showed that up to 70 per cent of the property owners were in default of paying their property taxes. Since municipalities are the creatures of the province and since the province is supposedly the watchdog over municipal actions, why was his ministry not able to detect the great discrepancy between what was actually paid by the residents and the amount recorded by the clerk-treasurer, a shortfall of several hundred thousand dollars in a budget of $1 million or $2 million for a population of 2,000 people?
This theft has probably been going on from three to 10 years, and neither the town’s auditors nor his ministry officials detected anything wrong during this period. In fact, it was left to one of the councillors of the town of Palmerston to detect that it involved 70 per cent of the property owners, a figure which is about 10 times the provincial average. What steps are being taken by his ministry to correct this particular problem in Palmerston and, secondly, to try to detect it before it might happen again in the province?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, the best way I can answer the question is to say, first, we do a computer printout and make it available on the percentage of tax arrears to levy. Therefore, as a ministry we know and are able to tell the various municipalities, if they do not know or if the figures they have are different from those we have.
The Palmerston situation involves criminal charges. Criminal charges have been laid against the clerk-treasurer of that municipality. I understand he subsequently submitted his resignation. There is a new audit firm coming in to do an investigation. Hopefully, after that has been completed, we will have more detailed information as to how the various events occurred in that area and what steps can be taken to prevent them from occurring in other areas.
In view of the fact the matter is before the courts and charges are pending against this person, I really do not think there is anything else I can say about the matter at this time.
Mr. Epp: Does it not appear odd to the minister that, in a municipality the size of Palmerston, the rates would go up from 10 to 15 to 30 to 50 to 60 to 70 per cent and no one in his ministry would think it odd these percentages were that high, that people were not paying their taxes? Up to 70 per cent of the people in Palmerston were suspected of not paying their taxes, 10 times the provincial average. Did nobody think it was odd?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I certainly do think it is odd and it did occur to us it was odd. For that very reason the ministry asked the crown attorney about the matter and he asked the police to investigate. Subsequently, the charges were laid.
SCHOOL TRUSTEES’ ALLOWANCES
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. As the minister is aware, many school board members now carry out the job full-time. Since there has not been a major review of the allowances for some time, for people who are trying to do the job on a full-time basis the present allowance is clearly inadequate. Does the minister have any intention of introducing an amendment to section 164 of the Education Act to increase the allowance to members of school boards across the province, an allowance now fixed at a maximum of $7,200 even for large metropolitan areas such as Toronto?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member is aware that, up until this date, the role of the school trustee has never been considered philosophically to be one that required full-time activity. However, it is becoming obvious some trustees are making the job a full-time activity, in spite of a fairly massive increase in the administrative staff employed to administer the schools under the jurisdiction of the board.
There has been a request from the Ontario School Trustees’ Council that we consider this matter. As the member is probably aware, or he may not be if he has not read Issues and Directions, there is at present a thorough-going review of the role of the school trustee and his relationship to the roles of others within the structure of education in Ontario. This is an integral part of that examination.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Is there consideration in that review of the establishment of a new formula that is not based on enrolment, like the present formula, but is more in terms of the duties performed?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I have not considered a new formula. The philosophical base upon which the whole process is established is what is being examined at the present time. There may be any number of ways to determine the appropriate level of remuneration.
Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Does the minister have any records or statistics to show where in Ontario trustees are performing their jobs on a full-time basis?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: No, Mr. Speaker. I am sure we could do a survey asking trustees. We have the public statements of certain members of school boards that they consider their jobs to be full-time. I am very aware that, in the vast majority of boards, the role is still considered to be a part-time rather than a full-time activity.
CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY FUNDING
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Is the minister aware of the precarious financial situation of the Lambton Children’s Aid Society and the concern by the board of that society that it will go broke by the end of the year? According to the write-up in the paper, the director says, “The CAS is going broke by the end of the year.” Apparently the funding situation is that it is not able to provide the funds for the work load of this children’s aid society. Is the minister aware of this and, if so, what is he planning to do about it?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I cannot claim to be intimately familiar with the details of the financial situation of that society. I can assure the honourable member, though -- as has been the case throughout this year when we moved into the new funding approach with children’s aid societies -- that any society experiencing financial difficulty or projecting a deficit situation at any point during the year has been urged to notify the ministry immediately.
We have a group of staff who will work with the society in what we are calling a special circumstances review. If, as a result of the work done with the society, it becomes evident that it is facing a financial situation as a result of unforeseen circumstances and the only solution is to look at the possibility of additional funding, then we will do that. But the first step, of course, is to look at the total budget situation and to make recommendations to the society of ways in which it might otherwise cope.
In the case of the Sarnia society, I am not sure whether there has been a special circumstance review at this point or not. I would have to check with staff to find out.
Mr. Blundy: I do not believe such a review has been held. Apparently the great increase in the case load of juveniles in the system is one of the things contributing largely to the substantial deficit of the board. I would like to know whether the minister will look into this matter and take whatever steps are necessary.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I will certainly check with staff to see if there has been a request for a special circumstances review from that society. If there has not been a communication from the society, I will certainly ask staff to check with the society to see what the situation is.
I do think, though, it is important to recognize that in many instances where the special circumstances reviews have taken place, they have resulted in finding a resolution to the budgetary difficulty the society perceived itself to be facing. In fact, in one case, a society was projecting a deficit of $160,000. As a result of the review, working with our staff, it agreed it was able to reduce that projected deficit to something like $25,000 and would be able to eliminate it by the end of the fiscal year.
Mr. McClellan: If memory serves me, Mr. Speaker, there was a royal commission inquiry into the Sarnia Children’s Aid Society. I believe we have been waiting some three years for the report. Does the minister have some explanation as to why there has not been a report as a result of that royal commission?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, His Honour Judge --
Mr. McClellan: You have forgotten his name.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It has been a long time.
Judge H. Ward Allen, I believe, has been writing the report for some time now. I have not received the report. I do not know precisely when it will be received. I have been expecting it for months now.
Mr. McClellan: Years.
DRUG PRESCRIPTION RECORDS
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health concerning the practice known as double doctoring. We have now had court cases in regard to the practice of double doctoring, whereby drug addicts identify which physicians in any given community are either extremely loose in their keeping of records or extremely loose in giving out prescriptions for drugs and feed their habit in that manner.
Does the ministry have any accurate records on precisely who these physicians are? Is the minister condoning the practice known as double doctoring? What steps is he taking then to correct that problem?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We certainly do not condone it. We are in the position that we are dependent, to a great extent, on the co-operation of the federal government, which gains after the fact -- and sometimes quite a while after the fact -- access to the records of whoever is prescribing which narcotics. Based on that information, usually through the auspices of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and sometimes of the police, we are able to follow up on these cases. The ministry does not have a direct line to all the prescribing habits of every physician. That would be nigh unto impossible.
Mr. Breaugh: Since it appears that drug addicts on the street, federal law enforcement agencies and local police forces know who these physicians are, it should not be that difficult to find out -- from the minister’s point of view -- who they are. What steps is the minister taking to correct the problem?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I have been in discussions with the college. My officials have been discussing the situation with the federal officials. At this point I don’t have any particular remedy to suggest, but as the member indicates, clearly the police authorities are aware of it and they do lay charges with our full co-operation where they are able to obtain the evidence.
Mr. B. Newman: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: May I ask the minister if his ministry operates a data bank into which is inserted information concerning doctors who seem to prescribe an unusual quantity of drugs, as well as individuals who have purchased a substantial quantity of drugs?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in answering the initial question, the federal government does maintain a record of the dispensing habits with respect to narcotics, which is the area of concern here.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: All scheduled drugs.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The Minister of Education reminds us it records all scheduled drugs, but particularly narcotics, which are the problem. We are reliant on that data bank, which exists in the federal government.
LABOUR RELATIONS BOARD RULINGS
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I will direct this question to the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development in the absence of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie). With your permission, I will put the question and a supplementary because I am sure he will take it under advisement.
I would like to know from the minister if he agrees with the perverse and ludicrous ruling of the arbitration board in the case of Graham Cook, whose appeal for being unfairly discharged was upheld by the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Further, I would like to know what steps the minister is taking to protect the public interest in the light of the often apparent interest of the labour relations board to protect only the interest of the worker?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Mr. Speaker, I am not familiar with the case and I will be pleased to get the information for the member.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I have a very general question for the Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker, regarding the nursing home situation in the province. Given the amount of controversy surrounding the situation in nursing homes in the province, is he going to undertake a major review of his policies for nursing homes in Ontario, especially in terms of how the profit motive in nursing home care may be affecting the quality of care, specifically in terms of the use of physical restraint and drug abuse in those institutions?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, only six months ago we revised the regulations under the Nursing Homes Act. I may say that I think in the last four years we have been very successful through a variety of means, including changes in methods of inspection of our branch, in bringing about some salutary improvements in a few of the homes that were giving us trouble two or three years ago. I think we are now in a position where more than half the nursing homes in the province are new; that is, they have been built since the new act became effective in 1972.
I do not believe the profit motive inhibits the quality of care. I do not believe there are grounds to suggest other than that belief.
With respect to drug abuse, one of the changes in the nursing home regulations made clear the responsibility of a consulting physician for each nursing home. Unless the member has some specific questions in that regard or specific concerns, it is very difficult to respond, except to say we have placed in the new regulations a greater responsibility on the physicians to be responsible for the courses of treatment they are prescribing for their patients.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: There are any number of specifics that could be raised, Mr. Speaker. The reason I asked the general question was because I thought it was important.
I guess the way to raise this in a question is to ask the minister how he reacts to a case where a woman is restrained in a wheelchair in an institution and is drugged to the point where her speech is slurred and her eyes are glazed. This is on one day. The next day somebody from the outside gets that individual out of the home and has her performing kitchen duties for a volunteer organization in the community. The day before she was restrained physically in a chair and was drugged to the point where she was slurring her speech. She came out the next day and, after being out eight or nine hours, was able to participate as a regular functioning human being.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member is suggesting that there is some professional misconduct here, that somebody had mistreated the individual --
Mr. R. F. Johnston: The same thing happens all the time.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, with respect, the member makes these kinds of generalizations, but let us be fair. I know the member does not have any use for anybody who believes in profit, no matter who they are or where they are, but let us be fair. If he wants to give me the specifics so I can have a medical consultant look at that and see if there is something untoward, I will be glad to do so; but he should not make those ridiculous generalizations.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, supplementary to the member’s very general question about government policy with respect to nursing homes; I note in the minister’s current tender call for an additional 300 nursing beds for the city of Toronto he makes mention of heavy nursing care. However he does not spell out in the tender, nor have I seen it spelled out elsewhere, what he imagines to be heavy nursing care. Recognizing the extreme importance of this category, does his ministry have an operational definition for heavy nursing care? Second, is he now prepared, or does he expect to be shortly, to fund to an additional level, or fund and recognize as a special category, the increasingly important area of heavy nursing care?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I indicated when I released the report of the review on Metropolitan Toronto that one of the things we are looking at is the possibility of revising our regulations so as to require the holding of a certain number of beds for persons needing heavier nursing care.
It is a difficult area to comment on because what is heavy nursing care to one may not be to another. To be covered as an extended care patient, the patient must require a minimum of 90 minutes nursing per day. There is no maximum indicated. Some of the operators and some of the reviewers of needs in certain parts of the province have commented that there seems to be a heavier level of nursing care being required than was the case five and 10 years ago.
I think one might argue that some of those patients should properly be in chronic hospitals if their needs have become that heavy. That is one of the things we are looking at, and if we do that we would have to amend the criteria for extended care. Then it would become part of the general negotiations with the nursing home association, which are carried on annually with respect to the overall per diem rate. Even those who are covered now as extended care patients have varying needs of nursing care.
FIRE SAFETY IN NURSING HOMES
Mr. Nixon: I would like to put a question to the Minister of Health about his nursing home policy. Is he familiar with the situation in the village of Ohsweken in the Six Nations Indian reservation, which has been well provided with hospital and later nursing home care in the same building, known as the Lady Willingdon Nursing Home, which has become old and I believe probably offers some fire danger? I do not want to over-emphasize that but it obviously is a matter of concern for the local Indian council.
Does he recall receiving a letter from the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton), being a copy of a letter to me, bringing the matter to his attention? If he does not recall that, will he get somebody to dig that out and give us some information about what should be done to co-operate with the government of Canada to build a proper nursing and chronic care facility without too much delay?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I do recall it. My staff are looking into it. I may say that in a related matter, namely the provision of institutional care for the native people, I was disappointed recently in discussions with the federal minister to find that apparently they will not participate in any way in funding facilities that they consider to be nursing homes.
It was indicated to me by the federal minister that they would consider sharing in the funding of “what they consider to be hospital facilities” but not nursing homes. So it is related and it could be an additional problem. Our staff are looking into it.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: This community, as the minister knows, has a population of 9,000. There is every justification for a modem facility and I do not believe the minister is incapable of putting it to his federal colleagues in such a way that they could not turn him down. This community has to have a proper facility and since nobody else is taking the lead, I believe we should take the lead.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The honourable member may recall -- perhaps he did not see it -- that last week my colleague, the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Brunelle), and I issued a press release dealing with the beginning of planning to replace the two hospital units of the James Bay General Hospital at Attawapiskat and Fort Albany. It was specifically with respect to those two units that I put to the federal minister that the assistance of the federal government in funding would be helpful. I was told in no uncertain terms that they consider those to be nursing home units, not hospital care, and they would not consider participating.
I will be glad to take this matter up further with the federal minister, but having been turned down once I am not all that optimistic that she is going to change her mind. If, in fact, the need is for a nursing home as such, then in the absence of any federal assistance, the money would have to be raised privately, as it is for new construction at all nursing homes in the province.
Mr. Warner: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I am wondering if the minister has any intention to introduce changes to the Nursing Homes Act as a result of the recommendation from the coroner’s jury at the inquest on the fire that occurred in Mississauga.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We have had that now about five weeks and we are working on it. In fact, I have the first draft of an analysis my staff are working on now.
Most of the recommendations have to do with staff training and with the question of smoke detectors versus closure devices and various other things. I think it is a little early for us to comment until we take the matter up with the fire marshal’s office, but it is under review. I will be making a statement at some point in the next couple of months once that review is completed.
Mr. Speaker: So as not to establish a dangerous precedent, I would like to advise the House that that was not a supplementary.
Mr. Warner: But it was an important question.
Mr. Speaker: Yes, but not a supplementary.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Minister of Health and it concerns a comment in Mr. Justice Emmett Hall’s review of our national medical program. Reading from page 46, I quote Mr. Justice Hall as saying:
“During the public hearings I was surprised at the wealth of complaints regarding the numbers of persons reported by community groups and by medical and hospital spokesmen as not being insured in the three provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, which still levy premium taxes.”
Can the Minister of Health for Ontario indicate whether he has evidence to indicate, and to assure this House and the people of Ontario, that as of this month not less than 95 per cent of the people of Ontario are enrolled in our medicare program as it is defined and described in the Medical Care Act of Canada?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I do not receive monthly reports on the percentage of the population enrolled. I can tell the member, though, that the numbers on premium assistance are up this year over last. Currently, approximately two million people in the province are receiving some form of OHIP premium assistance, be that full assistance to the elderly or to those of extremely limited income, or partial 25, 50 or 75 per cent subsidization. I do not receive a monthly report on the actual percentage coverage unless there is a problem, and to the best of my knowledge there is no problem.
Mr. Conway: Could you give me an assurance to find out?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Sure.
REPORT IN TORONTO SUN
Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Speaker, earlier today the prurient-minded member for Oriole (Mr. Williams) -- or Topless John as he is known in some quarters -- drew attention to some alleged and purported problem with Hansard’s recording of interjections and took the opportunity to name me specifically in that regard.
He stated this afternoon in the House, “I will not tolerate the attempt by any member of this Legislature to ridicule or embarrass me further on this matter.” Surely the honourable member does not need any help from me in his bizarre and twisted penchant for self-abuse.
He did go on to say, “If there has to be any libel and slander action, I will not hesitate to add further names to the style of cause in the action.” Regarding this rather bizarre threat, if there is any doubt in his mind or the mind of any other member of the House, let me say I think the member for Oriole is a moralizing little twerp and I invite him to sue me.
Hon. Mr. Welch presented a report entitled Reduction of Electrical Retail Rate Differentials in Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the subcommittee on agenda and procedure of the standing committee on the administration of justice be authorized to sit on Tuesday, November 25, in the afternoon.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Martel moved first reading of Bill 206, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 1974.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to work more than five consecutive days without a day’s rest.
RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Philip moved first reading of Bill 207, An Act to amend the Residential Tenancies Act, 1979.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to require a landlord who obtains vacant possession of a rental unit for the purpose of making repairs or renovations to the unit to apply to the Residential Tenancy Commission for an order determining the rent that may be charged for the repaired or renovated unit.
RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Philip moved first reading of Bill 208, An Act to amend the Residential Tenancies Act, 1979.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to authorize the Residential Tenancy Commission to conduct an inquiry on its own motion to determine whether a tenant has paid an amount of rent in excess of the amount permitted under the act.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF GOVERNMENT SERVICES
House in committee of supply.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make some brief introductory remarks concerning my ministry before we proceed with the discussion of the various votes and items in the 1980-81 estimates.
The general mission of the Ministry of Government Services is to provide accommodation facilities and a wide range of goods and services in support of government programs. The operations of the ministry are organized into three major programs of service: accommodation, supply and services, and communication and computer services.
The accommodation program has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of accommodation for ministries and agencies of the government.
The supply and services program involves the provision of a wide variety of centralized services and facilities to achieve efficiencies and economies in the supply of purchased goods and services as well as certain commonly used government support services.
The communication and computer services program is responsible for the supply and promotion of computer processing services as well as the provision of local and intercity telephone service for government use.
The ministry’s annual report for 1979-80 provides information on the achievements of all ministry programs and also provides complete information on tenders and contract awards. The 1980-81 estimates are within the target established by the government and are in accordance with the government program on expenditure restraint.
This concludes my introductory remarks and I will be pleased to answer any questions concerning the estimates of my ministry.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Chairman, to start off on the estimates of the Ministry of Government Services, this ministry covers a wide-ranging area of responsibility, much more than a lot of people probably anticipate, with the number of buildings involved, with leasing and supplying services to the government in other ways, with purchases and so forth.
I thought I would make a few remarks this year with regard to the overall leasing and ownership of buildings of the ministry, especially in Metropolitan Toronto. I know it has buildings in many other cities and towns throughout Ontario, but I have had a cursory look at the buildings and some of the leasing in Metropolitan Toronto and I must say it is a hotchpotch of a number of areas leased, parts of buildings leased and four or five floors in some buildings taken over. One ministry moves to another area, and so forth.
I think it would almost take a royal commission or a select committee of the Legislature really to look into all the leasing and owning of buildings in Metropolitan Toronto if one wanted to delve into it thoroughly. If it is not too much trouble to the ministry and its officials, I would like at some time to have a complete list of all the buildings, parts of buildings or property leased in Metropolitan Toronto, the owners of each building and the cost per square foot of that property. In the past we have had some information to that effect to some degree, but it could probably be updated without too much trouble.
However, in the last few weeks I have looked around at some of the property we have. The other day I went to 77 Bloor Street West, where the Ministry of Culture and Recreation is located. They have leased many floors in that building, as have the Ministry of Revenue people.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food is located on the very elegant corner of Yonge and Bloor. It is, I suppose, one of the most elite corners of Metropolitan Toronto. When you say “Bloor and Yonge” to people outside Metropolitan Toronto, they figure that is the corner. We talk of Bay Street, where the financiers are located, but most people are more familiar with Bloor and Yonge in Toronto. That is where the Ministry of Agriculture and Food is located.
Many people, farmers in particular, would wonder why it is necessary to have the Ministry of Agriculture and Food officials on the corner of Bloor and Yonge streets where the asphalt and pavement are pretty thick. Those people would probably think the ministry should be located in an area where there is a little green grass around, or the odd field of wheat, or where tomatoes or soybeans are growing and blowing in the wind. It would give a little better feeling to those officials who are looking after the farmers and the ministry might have a little better outlook on what is going on, especially if there was a driving rain or a flood and they could not see the soybeans for the water lying in the fields. They would then have a little more sympathy for them when there is a little trouble in the farming community.
I suppose the same could be said with regard to the Ministry of Natural Resources. Their offices are across the street from here. I understand they would like to get into a larger building into which they could move all their people. That would probably be on the corner of Bay and Wellesley streets, where the ministry has a fair-sized piece of property. I believe I read in an article that they have about 18,000 square feet in either that area or on Grosvenor Street. Maybe some of their staff who deal with day-to-day operations in Northern Affairs should be in the great city of North Bay. It is still all part of Ontario.
I realize that when one starts moving offices, one runs into problems such as the Ministry of Health is having in regard to moving the Ontario health insurance plan to Kingston. One of the promises was that it was to be moved. Of course, that means a lot of people have to move with their jobs. That is a real problem. If one were going to make a policy of decentralizing government, one would have to make it over a long-range period in order to avoid those problems with employees who would have to sell their homes and move. That is quite understandable. However, this government has been in power 37 years, three months and 21 days. I have a feeling they created their own problems and they keep trying to solve them.
This is not directly related to these estimates, but I am sure you will not rule me out of order, Mr. Chairman. When I was the critic for the Ministry of Correctional Services, they used to have problems when they tried to replace some of the old jails through the assistance of the Ministry of Government Services. They had systems in Correctional Services 15 or 20 years ago that many people thought were pretty good.
As the change in government policy came along, it had to become more modem so it did away with all the facilities having any livestock or any gardens or any farms around the jails. They made a great statement about it, but I will be darned if the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Walker) is not bringing it all back in. That is the problem with the democratic system. When we have one party in power so long, we lose a little bit of that democratic system. They resort to repeats and change their minds and do not have a complete new look at where we are going. It is just a rehash of the old.
There are buildings scattered in different places. I know they are probably leased and rented on the basis of “we can’t be building new buildings all the time.” That is right; sometimes it is cheaper to lease. We have Consumer and Commercial Relations at Yonge and Wellesley. I believe a portion of Northern Affairs is across the street at 10 Wellesley. We have the Minister of Housing at Bay and Wellesley at the new Sun Oil Building. Downtown, the Ministry of Labour has large offices on University Avenue. The Attorney General’s massive offices are on King Street East.
As the lease was going up on the property where the Ombudsman was located, that office is moving to the corner of Bloor and Avenue Road into the Massey Building. I believe it is part of the university and it is being refurbished. The building apparently has been vacant for some time. From what I gathered when I was in the estimates of the Ombudsman last week, the lease seemed to be fairly reasonable. It was $10 a square foot.
However, there is a lot of proper floor space that might be a bit of a problem to use. I understand the hallways are very wide and he said that by using low partitions and so forth he could use some of the hallways for office space. The lease is quite reasonable compared to leases in most areas, especially when one considers the corner of Bloor and Avenue Road is another prime real estate property. I understand they are going to take the top two storeys. It is only a three-storey building. A bank would be going into the lower floor. There again, we are scattered around considerably.
I suppose some would say the Ombudsman shouldn’t be located in a government building or around the Legislature here because he is independent -- an arm of the Legislature itself and not of the government. Perhaps we would agree that he should be in a place outside the government buildings.
Then there is Correctional Services. Some of its offices are located out on Eglinton East in the Scarborough area.
One has some reservations about all this. I think probably it has come about as government has grown so much over the last 20 years. We have taken over many functions that were done previously by -- the capitalist system, I guess. For instance, the health care system is a big business with government -- hospitals and OHIP and all that
-- so naturally we have a great many employees; we have expanded in other areas. This, I suppose, was never planned by the government as to where they were going to put all the people.
They built some new buildings, of course -- we are well aware of the ones to the east of these buildings where some of them have been named after the Premiers and so forth. We are well aware of the buildings that are close by and are serving a good purpose. Also there is Ontario Hydro, which is not really a part of this ministry, as we are well aware. But in a way it has probably one of the choicest pieces of property in Ontario, on the corner of College and University Avenue.
I think anyone who ever comes to Toronto and drives down University Avenue would have to say it is one of the nicest streets in any city on the North American continent. I think whoever laid it out, and the people of Toronto who have kept it the way they have, are to be commended because it is a beautiful street. We have the massive Hydro mirrored building on the corner. There again, I am sure Ontario Hydro could have been located in many other places in the province than on the corner of College and University. However, I think that was thrashed out before in this Legislature a few years ago.
They have other buildings next door. I was down a few weeks ago and was given an opportunity to go through their two adjoining buildings. Since we are looking for space, the province is looking for space, and the members here are looking for space so as to be housed in proper offices, I went down to look into the Ontario Hydro buildings. The building directly south of the new tower has, I think, only two floors not leased out yet. The executive suite on the top floor, of course, is not leased out. I do not know who will take it. It is a very sumptuous place with nice high ceilings and built-in panelling and, I suppose, it is a little more difficult to lease out. The building is in good, satisfactory condition.
I went into the adjoining building built around 1915 or 1920, apparently, the Historical Society of Toronto has named it as a historical building. What to do with the building now is a real problem as far as I am concerned: if I own a building and someone designates it as historical, what I am going to do with it? In the case of that Hydro building, the cost of rebuilding it and making it usable for offices and so forth is really more than that of having it torn down and building a new building. This is a concern to me.
I am not sure about that building -- and I suppose I would ruffle a few feathers of some of those in heritage and historical groups. I believe in our history as much as anybody, but I do not think one needs a lot of buildings restored so that we will know our past. I question the case of that building, when one looks at what it is going to cost to have it refurbished and rebuilt. The stairways and elevators are all on the same hallway; of course, that is against all fire regulations. An addition would have to be built on the back end to allow for stairways. Of course, the elevators have to be all closed in with hallways around them to avoid spaces where a fire would go up.
I have great reservations about that building when I understand that Hydro is going to have to pay $55 or more per square foot to refurbish it, and then have to look for tenants to whom to lease it out. I think we have had some problems there, and I think that was some space that probably could have been taken over by the government prior to Hydro’s doing anything with it to use it for future space. It certainly is close to here. I just wonder if that is a possibility. However, I do realize there are those who feel the front does look like a historical building. I know there are some beautiful historical buildings in Toronto. I notice between here and downtown there are a number. I am not sure that we need to reserve them all for posterity.
As far as members’ accommodations here go, we have had many discussions and meetings with regard to this. I know there are other people in this Legislature who are more familiar with the situation than I am, as far as having meetings with regard to it is concerned. I find it very difficult as a whip, whenever the bells ring, to find out where everybody is located because we have them situated in about four different parts of the building. I suppose the only way to solve that is to win the election, to have them all in one place, and let everybody else do with the best they can find.
I am sure it is a problem for all the members and all the caucuses, and is something that is going to have to be dealt with as soon as possible. Some of the members have very small quarters. I myself had very small quarters for some time but, somehow or other, I happened to be near an area that had a very large room and happened to be there at the right time. Now, I must say, I have ample room.
However, everyone is not in the same position. It just happened that the rooms were there and a number of us were in that corner where four or five of our caucus members are, and we now have ample space. It is much nicer to work in than before. I find myself more content and more willing to stay in the office when the House is not sitting than I was when I had a hole in the wall. It was about eight feet by eight feet and had no windows and there was material piled all around. I know we talk about whether there should be an addition on the north side, and whether this should be torn down or that didn’t look very satisfactory. The property the government owns east of Bay, as I mentioned previously, is something that needs some consideration.
I don’t envy the minister his position with all the leasing he has to do. He leases floors on one street, and maybe five miles away he has another couple of floors leased out. I can see the problems that creates. I just wonder whether we should take a new look to see whether in the long range we should be having some staff and some of the offices located in areas other than downtown Toronto.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications has most of its facilities on Highway 401. It seems like a good logical place for the highways department to be located, more or less on the outskirts, but I wonder whether there are other offices, other ministries such as Agriculture and Food or Northern Affairs that should be looking at locating closer to areas where they are actually working, and dealing with people and problems in connection with their offices. That is something I have concern about.
I really don’t have anything else right now, other than that I will be asking the minister some questions with regard to telephones and some of the contracting, et cetera, that I have run across in public accounts. That is all for right now, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Chairman, it is my privilege to participate in the opening statement on these estimates. I want to say at the outset that I consider this ministry to be very important, although it is one which I suppose is very quiet in terms of public perception. When you think of government you normally think of the large ministries of Education, Health and Transportation and Communications and so on. The ministry of public services is perhaps left behind in terms of being considered to be very important, but it is an important ministry because it delivers a lot of services.
As we go through the estimates I would like to deal at some length with some of the services, such as providing courtroom space. The Ministry of Government Services is involved whenever there is talk of a new courthouse or trying to get courtroom facilities. That is an extremely important role in this province. There are quite a few other important areas I intend to raise as we go through the estimates. I would like to give the minister my list of things I would like to deal with and perhaps we will have an opportunity to discuss them as we go through the estimates.
I am curious about the status of the east of Bay project in Toronto. The whole area of the project has been spoken about at some length. Many of us are not sure about the future of that entire area. We would like to know what role Government Services will have in that project and when the minister believes there will be a final determination of the status of that project.
I wish to discuss the future of several courthouses, starting with Hamilton, of course, because there is a very serious shortage of courtroom space in Hamilton. I think the shortage is the equivalent of at least two courts. There are other areas too, of course. The Cartier Square development in Ottawa is still under discussion. If the minister can unravel some of the mysteries of that, I would certainly be most grateful.
In connection with that, and I am hoping the minister will see the connection, I would like to know the ministry’s involvement with historical buildings and whether the ministry has had an active role in attempting to identify historical buildings for possible use as courtrooms, or other government offices if they are not suitable for courtroom space. As the minister well knows, not every building is suitable for a courtroom, but as we are now going through this phase in Ontario of taking a closer look at our buildings before we decide to demolish them -- and, where we can determine their historical significance, we are having a second or third guess at what the building should be used for -- that is a very healthy exercise and I, for one, am pleased to see that.
It suggests to me there is not always the need for a restaurant, that sometimes a historical building can serve a good function as office space or perhaps commercial space or, in some instances, as a good location for some government services. I am wondering how active the government is in pursuing those historical buildings in various parts of our province, particularly, of course, if they can be used for courtroom space.
I think we need to have some discussion about the future of this building, the future of the Legislative Building here at Queen’s Park, particularly the north wing, which has been under some discussion. The government has --
Mr. Warner: If we put the Liberals into the north wing, it would definitely qualify as an historical building housing artifacts.
The government has a legislative building expansion presentation. At the appropriate time, I would like to deal with that submission because the government brought forward three particular alternatives with respect to the accommodation which will be needed in the future. Part of it hinges on whether, following the 1981 census check, the Legislature decides in its wisdom to expand the membership of the Legislature. If we follow the Camp commission reports, then we are looking at a sizeable increase in the number of seats in the Legislature and, with that, the attendant space which would be required by members. Even if we accept the status quo of 125 seats, but accept another recommendation of the Camp commission, that members be entitled to one researcher plus an assistant, then obviously we again have a space problem. From that come the various suggestions as to what should happen with the north wing. As I say, at the appropriate time I would like to go into detail on that
Along with that, I would like to know from the minister what he has been doing and what his thoughts are on a residence for the Lieutenant Governor. The subject crops up from time to time as to whether the Lieutenant Governor should have separate residence outside of this building. If I understand my history properly, this was the situation at one time. Those who are much older than I, such as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), could probably enlighten us on that point. I would like to know if the ministry has followed that up and whether it has any specific suggestions.
I would like to talk about procurement policies, whether the government has what I would think is a more enlightened procurement policy than has been the case in the past with respect particularly to small business in Ontario, that is, small business owned and operated by Canadians. I would like to know whether there is a preferential procurement policy with respect to Canadian-owned and, I would hope, Ontario-based small business and what the ministry is doing to try to promote such a procurement policy, obviously in an effort to aid small business endeavours in Ontario involved in manufacturing and processing.
I would also like to discuss something which has come up from time to time -- I think the standing committee on members’ services has dealt with it intermittently -- and that is the split jurisdiction which exists within the Legislative Building between the Speaker and the Ministry of Government Services. The minister is no doubt aware that, under the previous minister, we had a prolonged discussion about the future of the part of the building which still comes under Government Services and the reluctance to turn it over to the Speaker.
If we believe the Speaker represents a neutral position with respect to the Legislature and the functioning of the Legislature, all the space within the building should come under his jurisdiction and all members, no matter what party they belong to, whether in government or opposition, should be treated in an equal and fair way when they come to the Speaker with requests for use of a portion of the building. I would like to know this minister’s feelings. We are well aware of the previous minister’s feelings on the subject, but I would like to know if this minister is perhaps a bit more flexible than the previous one.
Mr. Chairman, perhaps I am at your mercy here, but I have had some difficulty in raising this matter with other jurisdictions, so I am going to try the Ministry of Government Services. It seems to me that within the building all members should have the same treatment with respect to hearing the debates and with respect to the ringing of the division bells. I understand the government members have been equipped, I presume by way of Government Services’ action, with individual bell systems in their offices to acquaint them that a division has been called. I think the same should be available to all members of the Legislature.
Similarly, the nice little squawk box I have in my office, placed there because of my position as caucus whip, whereby I can work in my office, listen to the debates and then come down here at the appropriate time, should be available to all members of the assembly. I think that is legitimately a function of the Ministry of Government Services. If I am wrong, I am sure either the minister or the Chairman will correct me.
Those are the topics I wish to discuss. As I said at the outset of my opening remarks, this ministry is important because it can take an active role. It can take a leadership role in the issues, whether it is a courthouse facility which is needed, whether it is a procurement policy or whether it is protecting this historic building in which we are situated now. Regardless of which issue, it can take a leadership role and can provide good, efficient service to the people of Ontario, but we need to know from the minister whether he is prepared to take that leadership role. Those are the kinds of questions which I and my colleagues will be asking as we go through the ministry estimates.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make some brief comments on what the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston) had to say in his opening remarks. I would like to start by saying how pleased I am he took the time to go around and look at the different buildings. As the minister, I am always pleased when my critics or other members want to go around and look in a constructive way at what we rent and lease. We are only too pleased to have them go there. I was only sorry I could not go along with the members when they went to look at the old Ontario Hydro building, but I am sure they were well looked after by my deputy and those who attended from the ministry.
That shows the interest of the member for Essex North and I am pleased about that. The member did mention the number of leases we have in the city. We ourselves own 8,966,338 square feet of space in the downtown area and we lease 3,290,325 square feet, made up of 220 leases in 150 separate buildings. From the comments the member made, if we do come forward in the future with a building and find the capital to do it, I hope this means he will be supporting us for the east-of-Bay property. From the remarks he made, I am sure he would.
I am sure the member will agree also that in order to change a lot of that leased accommodation in downtown Toronto, we would need a considerable increase in our capital. We all know that in time of constraint capital is not forthcoming as fast as some of us might like.
I was pleased that members, including the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel), went down to look at the old Hydro building. No doubt he will comment on it when his time comes around. The member commented that the money would be a lot better spent tearing it down and rebuilding rather than putting it back into good repair, taking into consideration energy conservation and the utilization of space on the floors.
Perhaps I could answer both the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere and the member for Sudbury East at the same time when they talked about accommodation for the members. We did make a proposal to the Board of Internal Economy. At that time, we had three proposals. The first was to take out the top and put one storey on the west wing. We found the cost of that to be quite high. I was hoping to have the cost here for you. Perhaps when we talk about it again later on, I will have those figures for the member for Sudbury East. The cost was high and it still would not give us the space we feel we need to meet the Morrow report and others in the future as far as more members of the Legislature are concerned.
The second proposal was one my predecessor brought forward. It was to tear down the back section and rebuild it with parking underneath. I have those figures here. For the first proposal I mentioned, taking off and adding one floor to the present north wing, the cost would be just under $13 million. It would be 15,600 square feet and the cost would be $828 per square foot. For any of you who have anything to do with cost of construction, that would appear to be away out of line.
The demolition of the north wing and the addition of the new project my predecessor mentioned would give us 147,000 square feet of usable space, but would cost $44 million plus. The third proposal was to carry on the way we are and build a building east of Bay, between Grosvenor and Bay, to use the land up between where the YMCA has purchased and on out to Bay Street. This would be 297,500 square feet, and the estimated cost would be reduced to $153 per square foot, which would put it in line.
I believe the member for Essex North mentioned relocating some of the ministries. I think one he zeroed in on was Culture and Recreation. Another one was Natural Resources, where all their offices in Metro Toronto could probably be together east of Bay, and then we could renovate the Whitney Block. It was not the member for Sudbury East, as he would have us believe, but my ministry that suggested that if five or six or seven different groups of people moved to the Whitney Block, this building then could be used for the members. We would then have enough space around in the main building for the members that would meet their needs for some time in the future.
The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere suggested that we should go beyond the 300 square feet per member to accommodate researchers and so on in the future. On this, a lot of people say, “Go back to the drawing board again,” but I would only say to the members that there is a limit to what we can do. Rather than just saying, “Go back to the drawing board,” I would hope some constructive ideas come in on that as well.
The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere asked about the east of Bay project. He can see that we are looking into the future with the possibility that that is how we might be able to work to get a building there that would accommodate the members in this building eventually. We have a planner who is working with all the interested parties and we expect a report soon.
As to Cartier Square in Ottawa, it is coming along reasonably well. We hope some time early in the new year we will have a model we can show to the interested city officials and the National Capital Commission planners and all who attended the meetings up until this point and we hope to have a meeting after that time with the public.
When we have the model there, that probably will show, at least on the outside, something of the concept of the new building, how it is going to sit on the lot, et cetera. It will be better understood by the lay people, in my opinion, than showing them all the drawings we have at the present time. That is basically where that stands, and it seems to be going along relatively well.
The member also asked what we were doing with our heritage buildings and suggested they could perhaps, be used for courthouses. I would suggest to the member that the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) sets out the priorities for courthouses in his ministry. If the member for Victoria-Haliburton (Mr. Eakins) were here, he would have to agree that the training school we converted into court facilities in his area has worked out fairly well. We are not finished, but in just a few months we were able to move in the courts which are now located there, with the alterations our people were able to do.
Both members mentioned space for the members. I think I have covered that before. The Lieutenant Governor’s residence has been talked about but, at the present time, it is felt it is perhaps best to leave it in this building. On the possibility of having bells or chimes in all members’ offices, I am told that when I was in this building not all offices had them. You could usually hear them. I do not know whether it is a plus to have them in your office, or better to have them somewhere in the hall if they happen to ring as long as they did last Thursday night. The member noted what happened a week or so ago when he mentioned to the Speaker about not being able to hear the bells. I believe it was one of his members who had a bit of a problem, as I do myself, with hearing. An extra bell or chime was installed almost immediately. That member came over and thanked us for doing that.
Those are some general remarks for the two leadoff speakers. I am sure we will have more questions as we get into the votes.
On vote 501, ministry administration program; item 1, main office:
Mr. Martel: I have been sitting on the select committee on plant shutdowns at the present time, Mr. Chairman, but I have a couple of comments I want to put on the record with respect to the building.
Let me begin by saying to the minister I well recall the day the three proposals as outlined were put before the Board of Internal Economy. I turned to my friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) and I nudged him as we got to the third proposal. I said to him, “That is it. That is the one he wants. He is presenting it with such relish and such delight that I am sure that is the one the government wants.” Sure enough, it was. It was not to accommodate members. The new proposal was to build a new building on Bay Street to house some civil servants across the way.
I have been in this building 13 years and it has been a struggle, so help me, even to get half-way decent accommodation for members of this Legislature.
Mr. B. Newman: You are lucky compared to the days before you came.
Mr. Martel: I want to tell the member I was here a short time after him. I do not recall writing letters in this Legislature, but I certainly well recall five of us in an office that now houses the Sergeant at Arms. There were five desks all one against the other. Space and accommodation for members have always been wanting in this place save, of course, in the last five or six years. If one is a government member, the choice is much better than if he happens to be on this side of the House. That still applies. As the minister knows since he visited my quarters -- and I speak on behalf of the New Democratic Party -- there are 70 or 80 of us on the second floor in the north wing. There are still members who have piddly little offices.
Mr. Worton: Piddly?
Mr. Martel: Piddly, yes. It is a little puddle.
I want to go back to the proposal because there is something rotten in the state of Denmark. I listened to the three proposals. We went along a little better than two years ago with your predecessor. We said we were prepared to wait until the government was prepared to demolish that north wing and make accommodations big enough to accommodate members and the services offered.
I looked at the three proposals, and I grant the first one is out of whack. It is far too costly at $12 million or $13 million to put one floor over there. I am the first one to accept that. What bothers me is that number three becomes so attractive. Whatever you are going to put up over there, you could well put up here, depending on the design, and house as many people.
In fact, I suggest as a positive suggestion to the minister, for a change we should lease some of our buildings to somebody in the civil service. We might put the Ministry of Northern Affairs, which is one of the offices being contemplated, up on the seventh floor instead of over on the corner of Bay and Wellesley. In other words, the additional space that would be left over we could give to the various government offices that require it, but this building is to serve the Legislature. That does not mean taking out part of the library, as is now being considered. In fact, at the Board of Internal Economy last Monday, we had difficulty in ascertaining where part of Dr. Land’s new group of people are going to go, because we cannot find space for them across the way in the Whitney Block. There is no space available there now and he needs it.
The library space is inadequate. Somebody should tell you it is totally inadequate. It does not house the people who are there, nor is it going to house the complement of people who are at present being hired as we expand the service of the library to bring it into a first-rate library system similar to the one in Ottawa. We are moving towards that end. There is not sufficient space now for them at this very moment, I say to the minister. They are looking for space and they haven’t got it.
To suggest we should remove other services is crazy. I checked with the Hansard people. I went to Ottawa. The select committee went to Ottawa. There is some difficulty with it. I say anybody who is going to utilize this building in this way to serve the needs of this Legislature must stay here. As you go through the list, tell me who does not serve the Legislature in this building?
As I sat there on that auspicious day when the thing was unfolding, I knew what would happen. I turned to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) and said, “This is the one they want.” I must say I did not stay to the end to see if that was the one they were going to propose, but that was it. The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk can come in later on and verify that. From the way it was being presented, it was a totally different ball game.
I say to the minister that his responsibility is to serve the needs. There are some things that have to go on in this building. They talk about too much space left over in option two. We know from a select committee, the Morrow report, that the existing building has to be brought up to standard. As we bring this building up to standard, we will have to take from the fourth floor right down to the basement and lop a third off. For a year at least that is not going to be serviceable. Then we will go to the east end and will lop off a third there and go right from the top to the basement. Then we will do the remaining part of the building, which is going to take roughly another year. You are going to have to house people from this building in the extra space you spoke of that was going to be surplus space which you did not know what to do with. You are going to have to house the very people who are here if you are going to bring the rest of the building up to any standard.
One just has to look behind the curtains in this building to find wires that are illegal in the rest of Metropolitan Toronto. In this building they are all nailed into the frame because the cost to refurbish the building is going to be so great. My friend from St. George and I sat on the select committee and we know. I believe the cost then to bring this building up to standard was over $20 million. It has further deteriorated.
I ask the minister, where are you going to house that one-third you do not have space for now when you start to do this building? Are you going to shove us over to the Whitney Block? That is totally crazy.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: If we take the second proposal, you have to move out for three or four years.
Mr. Martel: Right. You will tear that down and build a new one, but then you can refurbish the rest of this building. If we take your first proposal, we will be out for ever.
Mr. Ashe: Hear, hear.
Mr. Martel: The member for Durham West won’t have anything to do with it. That cannot be overcome. You are going to have to do that anyway. It was recommended in 1975 or 1976 that we start to renovate this building. It has not improved since then. You are going to have to find accommodation. The easiest way, of course, is to tear that old section down and start from scratch.
Build a little extra space and then take the Ministry of Northern Affairs out and put it on the eighth floor. Then take another small ministry and put it on the seventh floor because that is putting the priorities where they belong. If you want to put an eight-storey building over there, put it here and serve the Legislature’s needs first. I am sorry, but that is not being considerate.
The standing committee on members’ services had an opportunity to look at this several weeks ago and it is not happy either. I think it said, “Go back to the drawing board.” That might not be a bad idea. You might take into consideration that you are going to lease the remainder on a lease-back arrangement to some ministry. It is as easy to put the Ministry of Northern Affairs on the eighth floor here as it is to put it over on the corner of Bay Street. I would suspect it is simpler because the minister just has to come down the stairs and into the Legislature to vote. I suspect that option has not been considered. Somebody is going to tell me: “The design of the building is such that we cannot do it. There is that rock outside, which is a different type of rock.”
We all know that if we tell an architect to design a building that complements the existing structure, it can be achieved. I am no architect, so I will not tell you how it can be done, but I can tell you architects who can do it. We have looked all around us and have seen old buildings renovated and added on to that come out very well. The north wing is totally inadequate.
Speaking about a little additional space, shall I remind the minister there are six members of my party who sit in little offices that are vastly too small? Forgetting the members for a while, I have a woman’s co-ordinator who is in an office six feet by seven feet. I can show you staff who are overcrowded, and not just there. I was invited once to the Premier’s office where I recall one of his staff showed me where some of them were working. They were in an old vault. They still are in an old vault. Can you imagine the working environment?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: They are not females.
Mr. Martel: It is not right for either of them. That is why it is not right for a female in my office to have a six foot by seven foot space. We talk about providing space for the civil servants. To hell with it. It is time the minister said, “No, we are going to look through this whole shack and we are not going to allow people to work under some of the conditions that exist in this building.”
The conditions are deplorable. To try to cook the books a little bit to doctor this building isn’t going to work. We all know what Morrow recommended and we are moving towards it. Your predecessor recognized it because in his drawings he had space for a researcher for each member of the Legislature. That is coming as sure as I stand here. Society is getting more complex. It is more difficult to deal with any problem and members are going to need researchers. Where are we going to put them? If we are talking of about at least 80 members in this building and probably 90, exclusive of the cabinet, we are talking about an additional amount of space. When they look at the space the Legislature is going to require, I would like to go over it item by item with whoever designs it because there is something wrong in the state of Denmark.
I don’t think we can even start to consider taking any of the library services out of here. In fact, we should enhance them. I don’t think we can take Hansard out. Mr. Brannan can’t keep up with today’s demands of the Legislature. It is impossible. He is being ordered from pillar to post to produce yesterday’s Hansard for today’s considerations of a select committee. It is totally impossible. That service is going to expand.
I say it is unrealistic and the books have been cooked to make it appear as though we need that building over there and that in this one our needs are not that great. Well, they are. I am prepared to argue with the minister. I am prepared to go over the figures and, in fact, I will bring in my own architect, if he wants to go over the figures. I have found that over the years -- and this is my fourteenth year in this Legislature -- the last to be served around here have always been the members. The minister shakes his head. I want to tell him that even to get a tape recorder at one time was difficult around this place.
Last week I said to the staff when they were looking into the bells, “Instead of that stupid bell that makes so much noise it drives all of us crazy, could you put in a chime?” They said, “Oh, no, we can’t put in a chime.” I said, “Why can’t you put a chime in the main corridor?” “We just can’t do that,” they said. I said, “Why can’t you?’ They answered, “It has always been done like this.”
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: If someone can’t hear the bell, how is he going to hear chimes?
Mr. Martel: The bells can’t be heard when they are not ringing.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: It was not working.
Mr. Martel: You tell me why. This place is so bound in outdated tradition. He complains because he couldn’t hear the bell. The bell wasn’t working. You can’t hear it if it is not working.
Mr. Martel: You could do then as you do for cabinet ministers. You could put a chime in every office. I will tell you an interesting story. When I first became House leader, I was wandering around the premises with Bob Fleming. I don’t want to take his name in vain but I think I saw him come in a few moments ago. We happened to be in the government House leader’s office. There were a number of other people with him from Government Services. I don’t want to make him feel uncomfortable. I said, “Do you know there is a refrigerator in Mr. Welch’s office? He is a House leader and I am House leader. Do you think I could have a refrigerator?” he said, “Why certainly, Mr. Martel. What colour?” My colleagues don’t have a refrigerator.
Mr. B. Newman: Have you got one now?
Mr. Martel: Yes, I have one now. That is all it took. If you can find someone at your level in this place, you can get anything you want. Within days there was a refrigerator in my office. When aren’t my colleagues entitled to a refrigerator?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: What for?
Mr. Martel: The government House leader had one. I thought if he were entitled to one as House leader, I would be entitled to one too and, lo and behold, I was. I had a refrigerator. Isn’t that magnificent? That is the way things are done around here. Nothing changes on merit. It is a question of who you can catch with his finger in the cookie jar. If you catch somebody with his finger in the cookie jar and you are at the same place, you too are entitled.
I well recall when Sidney Handleman was on our select committee. He never used to be able to get the equipment he wanted. He went to the cabinet and then came back. We still couldn’t even get a portable Stenorette; it was impossible, it was a horror. Other people had them. They came to the Board of Internal Economy and, lo and behold, those who wanted could get a portable machine. There has been no great run on them.
It all used to come in a book from Government Services. If you were at this level in government, you had an office that was big, if you were down one notch, you had one that was a little smaller. As you got further and further away, they just kept getting smaller and smaller. It is part of getting up there.
But we never even fit in that book. Members of the Legislature didn’t fall into any category, from the lowest to the highest. We weren’t even included. When you wanted something it was a battle royal to get it. Slowly within the Board of Internal Economy we are cleaning out some of that problem. When members have a requirement, they can now get the equipment they require through their caucus office. But the battle to get it was insurmountable for a while. It is funny what minority government does.
The same applies to this building. This should be the most important building in the province. I was in three legislatures this year and none of them was the dingy, drab facilities that we see here.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Which ones?
Mr. Martel: We saw those in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Quebec. I suppose I am being selective. Then I went to Prince Edward Island where they are now refurbishing theirs after 105 years. I can understand why theirs has fallen a little behind.
Where else can you walk into a building where the rug is kept down with Scotch tape or binding tapes? Go to the other quarters, the wing I come from, and the whole rug looks as if it has been sewn together with bands of masking tape -- that is the word I am looking for. All along the floor it is held together. Before the stairs were repaired, I think I had five assistants who fell on them. Finally, they tore the whole rug out. It’s nuts.
I use those silly little examples to show that the priority in this building has never been for the people who occupy it. I, for one, am fed up with the nonsense that goes on with respect to it. It is obvious the government’s intent now is to dabble with this building, move some of the people out of the Whitney Block eventually and give that to the members of the Legislature.
I remind the minister we are the ones who are here until nine, 10 and 11 at night and we are the ones who are in our offices when the House is sifting from nine in the morning. It is time this building was for members. Don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about plush living quarters or anything like that, but decent services and decent accommodation to work with the people we all have to work with in here. That includes offices for cabinet ministers.
I have been trying to kick cabinet ministers out but only for one reason -- lack of space. I think one cabinet minister surrendered her office a number of years ago because she hadn’t been in it. I believe that was the Minister of Education if I am not wrong. She said someone else could use it because space was at a premium. Those offices should be there to do the business of this province appropriately. I get offended every time I turn around and see they are going to try to hijack another building for civil servants over on Bay Street.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: The Whitney Block is not that far away.
Mr. Martel: But the Whitney Block has problems. One only has to witness what went on here last Thursday. One can’t divide the services. One cannot take one half of the library from here and slough it over to the Whitney Block. That is within the plans and that is unfair.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Move the members over there instead of the library.
Mr. Martel: That poses a real problem. It poses a problem for your whip and my whip. It poses a problem for members who want to come in and who have scheduled an hour or an hour and a half to get in and out. Why should we be the ones walking over there?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I have to go over to the Mowat Block, which is farther away.
Mr. Martel: It is crazy. I say to the minister that the services in here are for the members. They are not for anyone else. I am hard-headed about it; I really am. Even at the Board of Internal Economy this very week, I am sure the members’ services committee will be looking at a couple of other problems, one of which deals with closing down the lounge for the members. We are going to close that down. We can close that. It is a dungeon; it is the most unattractive place in Toronto. I would not say it was sleazy, mind you, but it is an unattractive place.
The bill they gave us to make a few repairs was $80,000. I am not the world’s greatest carpenter, but for $80,000 I could make just about any type of room you want down there. I know enough about it. The things we suggested down there would not cost $80,000.
I suspect that the same high-jinks are being played with respect to the building. If we can make it so costly, $340 per square foot, then how in the world could anyone in his right mind say yes.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: It is $300.
Mr. Martel: Even $300 per square foot. How could anyone in his right mind say we were going to go for $300 when they are offering us double the space somewhere else for half the price? Somebody is going to have to convince me of that too, unless you are telling me it is going to cost $100 million to tear that place down. That is what it boils down to, because you say for $3 million more than the cost of rebuilding, you are going to end up with double the space. That means it has to cost over $100 million to take that building down.
I have some friends in Sudbury who do a lot of mining. They are real experts. They can blow as much as they want, just a little bit, or a little more, without damaging anything else. If you want me to bring one of them down, we can get rid of the building in a hurry. I do not believe it can be that much. I simply do not believe that for $3 million you are going to get double the space. I find that unacceptable, unless you are telling me the difference is going to be in tearing this building down. I think Greenspoon Brothers Limited could tear it down in a hurry.
I recall saying to my friend, the member for St. George, when we were doing the Morrow report that it was strange, even at that time, we could not get the money for this building. But we could find $28 million, for what? Some building down the way. We found how many million for Hydro? Everybody found money in those days. We cannot even find money to fix this building up appropriately.
Mr. Warner: The ceiling has fallen down. It almost killed one of the employees.
Mr. Martel: That is right. The place looks like a zoo.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I was there when it happened.
Mr. Martel: Did it hit the minister? I will bet if it had, we would have a new building under construction right now.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It did not almost kill anyone.
The Deputy Chairman: Order. The member for the Sudbury East has the floor.
Mr. Martel: I am prepared to let anyone in, Mr. Chairman.
The Deputy Chairman: I know, but I am not.
Mr. Martel: That is up to you. I will continue in my place.
The minister has to tell me the costs have not been cooked. I want to know how you can get double the space for only $3 million more. The only way I can assess it is that the cost of demolition is certainly going to be high. Also, I want to know precisely what services there will be. The minister gave a whole list in that rundown. What services are not involved with the Legislature and the ongoing operation of this building? Perhaps John Thatcher can help you on what services are not required in this building. The first one that is off the list as far as I am concerned is the library. You cannot split it. Dr. Land is having trouble right now frying to find a place. Finally, there are all the other lists. Perhaps you can tell me how they do not fit into the everyday workings of this building and what goes on and how we are going to overcome that little problem.
I leave that for a moment to deal with one other minor problem -- Burwash.
Mr. Ruston: Good old Burwash.
Mr. Martel: It used to be Burwash; it used to be Government Services. The goats are gone. You and I knew about a year ago when we visited Burwash that it was just a matter of time for the goats to go with Schaffernicht. He is now in Algoma-Manitoulin trying to pester the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane), thank goodness. The legacy he left behind is a debt of about $112,000. That has gone.
I am pleased this minister came to Sutton and took the time to look at that accommodation. He was involved in the second study of the utilization of Burwash. It boiled down to a point where we have to agree on how we lease. I think in the final assessment it is a case of leasing. As I understand it, the ministry would like to lease the property to the regional municipality of Sudbury and the regional municipality would like to lease it, but not in one shot.
In other words, if they take over Burwash as of now, the cost to the region would be about a half-million dollars, give or take a few bucks, to provide the services and do the maintenance work. The region certainly is not in that kind of position any more than the province is. The province would like to get out of that half million they spend annually for nothing.
I suggest to the minister he might approach it this way, that Burwash be divvied up in such a way that when the region leases a portion of it, the region should bear the responsibility of maintenance for that portion. As I understand it, the first portion under active negotiation would deal with a training centre sponsored by the Labourers International Union of North America. Ultimately, a whole range of training could go on there, including the Canadian Union of Public Employees people who are in need of training for operating heavy equipment in municipalities. That is the first phase.
If the second one were to be turned over to Dr. Newbury and the native group from Laurentian University working with native people -- and the member for Algoma-Manitoulin is interested in this -- and if that took eight or 10 per cent of the operation, then the region would be responsible for the maintenance of eight or 10 per cent or whatever it is. Bit by bit, as the region moved in and took over a portion, they would bear the responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of that portion. Ultimately, we hope the whole thing could be taken over by the region, but no region can afford a clout of half a million dollars just for maintenance with nothing in return.
In addition to that, the other thing the minister could do is have the region look after it and maintain it. He knows what the costs have been over the past four or five years. They could maintain it for the ministry and bill it. As they took over more and more of it, the billing to the province would diminish. For example, if they took 20 per cent in the first year, the cost would be roughly $400,000 to the ministry and $100,000 to the region. That sort of lease arrangement could be carefully worked out. I think the region would be receptive to it. I would hope the government and this ministry would be responsive to that sort of approach so we could take it over bit by bit, reducing your costs and increasing ours as we start to lease sections of it for various programs.
I would mention a program that is of interest to my friend from Algoma and myself, which we have been talking about for two or three years. It is a program for the native people as they come out of institutions. They could go there and be helped get back into society properly with some sort of skill they could carry on and make a livelihood from. Certainly they are close enough. If we ever get that road over through the park, they will be within an hour’s drive of the island.
Mr. Lane: It is just a matter of time.
Mr. Martel: Just a matter of time. Certainly there are other programs. We lost one, by the way. The region was going to train people who were on welfare so that we could get them off welfare, but the discussions were so long and ongoing that they leased an old school in Sudbury. I believe the son of the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) was involved in that. They are now leasing premises in the city of Sudbury and have started to retrain people.
It is particularly difficult for the women in the Sudbury area to get any type of retraining, but they are doing it. They could have been there and possibly they will end up there. I am not sure how long a term their present lease is. Until we get the basis resolved as to how we can work that out, I cannot see any regional municipality jumping in to take it off the government’s hands when it is going to have to expend $500,000 before it even tries to utilize any part of that facility.
Certainly the government wants it off its hands. The longer we leave it there the more it deteriorates. I appreciate what the minister has done to date, the second report and so on, but the sooner we get a solution to the leasing arrangement, the greater the possibility is that we will start very quickly to lop it off into sections and see people utilizing it. I would hope the minister could give me an indication that he is prepared to enter that type of leasing arrangement with the region.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, in answer to some of the questions the member for Sudbury East has raised, I will get back to the building here. It would appear from the member’s comments he supports the second proposal. I am pleased to hear there is someone to whom we have made those three proposals who has supported one of them. This is a move in the right direction.
There are some costs that the member should know about. I think he knows me well enough to know I don’t cook the books or do those sorts of things.
Mr. Martel: I didn’t say you were.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Nor do my honourable staff do them.
The construction costs for phase two are estimated to be $37.8 million. As you know, we would have to move. The member mentioned moving the members across to the Whitney Block, as if it were a long piece away. If we followed proposal two, we would have to move the members -- probably the closest accommodation would be the Whitney Block -- for a period of up to four years.
Mr. Martel: That is only interim; the other one is in perpetuity.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Not really. There is construction for $37.8 million, the lease, which is, I should tell you, $5,537,000, and the leasehold alterations of $823,000. That is how we come to the figure of $44.16 million. That is how we arrived at that. I should just mention we are looking at a need for 32,000 square feet in this building. With option two, we would have 147,000 square feet if we tore down the north wing and put up the building the honourable member is suggesting.
What the member for Essex North mentioned earlier would indicate that perhaps he was in favour of putting some of those ministries in one of our own buildings rather than having them scattered all over. It would be interesting to hear his comments on that.
As far as the members who have the inner offices are concerned, the honourable member knows we did go around with our interior decorator to try to improve that situation. It is hard. You cannot put windows where there is no outside wall but we could have, in all fairness, brightened up those areas for those people and improved it in some way in the meantime.
It was said by the honourable member that he visited three legislatures throughout our country. I visited two this summer. When I visited our rich relatives in Alberta, I visited the members’ offices. I can say they are more crowded than when I came here in 1971 and about seven of us occupied what is now the government caucus office with about two secretaries among seven of us. They are really crowded out there. That is Alberta, even with its heritage fund and all the rest.
I saw the same thing in Manitoba. I did not see anything like the offices we have. I suppose you could compare theirs with the seven inner offices that we have for some of the Liberal caucus and some of the NDP. I believe the breakdown is thee and four. Even out there they are not as well off as we are. That does not mean we should not be looking after our members, and I think we have been.
I was interested to hear the member for Windsor-Walkerville say how things have improved since he came. I only know that in the nine years I have been here things have sure come a long way since the day seven of us spent some time in that one office with only two secretaries. Again, that is not to say that is what everybody should be back to.
As far as Burwash goes, the honourable member made some comments about our friend who raised the goats. I am sure the day we were there both of us wondered if that could ever make a profit. I know I did as a part-time farmer. I think I made that statement to my colleague, the member for Algoma-Manitoulin, and to the member for Sudbury East. I think we all agreed on that.
What the honourable member has said is along the lines of what we have been discussing with the region, as far as Burwash goes. We have had discussions. I was in one of the meetings with a representative from the region. I believe that person has had meetings after that with my staff. We were waiting for the results of the meeting of the region.
As early as today, I heard -- perhaps the member for Algoma-Manitoulin and the member for Sudbury East have heard as well -- that the region is going in on Wednesday with the chairman of our citizens committee, Ross Smith, to look at Burwash. I believe there are some new councillors in the region and they have not had an opportunity to see it. I hope they are able to view it without a lot of snow on the ground. I know I enjoyed seeing it. It is a lot better than looking at it on paper and I was pleased the two members I mentioned earlier came along with me and my staff at that time.
I am hopeful something can be worked out with the region. I believe the region is in a better position than we are, to be the landlord of that, as we’re so many miles away. But I am sure the honourable member will be keeping in touch with us as to what happens after they meet on Wednesday and perhaps have a full meeting of the region to discuss it further.
Mr. Martel: If I could just speak to the minister on one more point before I go back to committee. Would the minister be prepared to meet with the members’ services committee with all the figures, not just the quick presentation that was given to us several weeks ago, and possibly the Board of Internal Economy? I do not want to get us into more reasons, but to go over that.
I am not convinced yet, Mr. Minister. You tell me we only need 32,000 square feet. I find that hard to accept. For example, I do not have a room that my caucus can meet in, save a huge caucus room which has four pillars running through it.
Mrs. Campbell: Be our guest.
Mr. Nixon: Let’s have those removed.
Mr. Martel: Yes. If we want a small meeting with seven or eight people, I do not have a room unless I kick the member for Brantford (Mr. Makarchuk) out of his office. That does not happen.
Mr. Martel: You can pound your desks. It is the only way you are going to get your jollies, because he is coming back.
We cannot even hold small meetings, so when we say 32,000 square feet, I want to know if that includes a proper caucus room. Does it include a caucus room like the one that members on that side have down in room 229, that they took over from the kitchen? It used to be a cabinet office and was neatly seconded by the whip for Tory gatherings. Would you be generous enough to lend it to me whenever I ask? We do not have a room like that. In fact, the Tory whip’s office is about a quarter of the size of all the other space I occupy. You need a tour guide just to get through it.
I want to extract a commitment from the minister that he is prepared to sit down with us and show us where they got the figure of 32,000. Will he show us where all the bodies are going to go and just how he has arrived at this proposal, before any major commitment is undertaken? I dispute some of it and most of all I dispute that requirement of 32,000 square feet. Maybe he has it and I am prepared to be convinced; but I am not prepared to be convinced just by someone telling me that is it. I guess I am from Missouri. Show me.
I hope the minister is prepared to meet with the standing committee on members’ services with all the facts and figures to convince us and then to show us we are not going to take people out of this building who meet the needs of the members and have them scattered about.
I realize if we tear that down we are going to have to find other space. I accept that, but that is only an interim measure. He still has not answered what he is going to do when he repairs the main part of the building we are in now. It is going to have to be closed off, possibly including this chamber, a whole third at a time, for a prolonged period which is going to stretch over a number of years. There is just too much left hanging. I would like to extract from the minister a commitment to meet with the Board of Internal Economy if it requests it, with all the figures. I do not mean a short half-hour meeting but a meeting where we can go through it brick by brick.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I do not know whether all of us have the time to go through it brick by brick but I would give a commitment that we would review it with you. The indications from my ministry staff who have worked on this are we need 17,000 square feet immediately. For future needs, they estimate we need 22,500. They are going on the assumption that practically all these estimates are a little on the heavy side and they have taken off 20 per cent of that, bringing us down to what they feel is a more realistic future requirement of 32,000 square feet.
Mr. Martel: Does that include a little heavy on the costs as well?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I would not think so, because we are able to base that on what it is costing us for other buildings, as I am sure the honourable member will realize. We would welcome a meeting some time in the near future with the Board of Internal Economy and the members’ services committee as well.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Chairman, I will be brief. I would like to draw the attention of the minister to some of the debate we have had in the members’ services committee which prompted us to send your proposals back, requesting that you go back to the drawing board.
I think the member for Yorkview, who is probably one of the most highly respected members in this House, put the matter clearly when he said we could not go on with patching off or the little-dab-will-do-you approach to accommodate members and the services relating to them without some major proposals. It was, of course, the proposal in part from the members’ services committee that we should look, not to tearing down the north wing -- I do not think that is what we felt, although we will be discussing it further on Thursday -- but rather looking at a building to the rear of this building which could be designed in keeping with the nature of this building so we could accommodate, not only present needs but future needs, if we are going to require a redistribution five years down the road.
As far as we were concerned, with the legislative library, for example, if you have ever looked at the stacked --
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Where would you put that building, back of the parking?
Mrs. Campbell: Back of this building. For the purposes of staff, we do have underground parking over in the Whitney Block. It should not be such a difficult thing to get the parking underground. Let us have a building which will accommodate the needs of the people who work in this building, namely, in priority, the members. It has been a difficult thing for all of us to get through to various Ministers of Government Services the whole idea of the precincts of this House. I think it is time you got your staff together and told them what the purposes are because I really don’t think they understand.
You had previous staff who regarded this building as essentially for the government side -- that was clear in some of the discussions we had with the Morrow committee. The whole philosophy has to change. They have to learn, maybe step by step, maybe in an overall review, that this building is a legislative assembly building and belongs in priority to the members elected, all of them by the same route, to sit in this place.
When we were going over this booklet, to which my friend the third party House leader referred, we saw in very clear and carefully specified terms what a deputy minister had to have by way of office: size, equipment, support staff and other things. At that point, Government Services was of the opinion that if you were in the opposition you didn’t even need shelving. It wasn’t in the book, nor was anything else for the rest of us.
Over the years since I have been here a bitterness has developed because of the lack of understanding of what this building is all about. It is not a building for the Tory party. It is a building for all the members equally. Certainly, as you know, we advised the minister not to waste money painting windows on blank walls. Give our members at least what middle management in the bureaucracy here is entitled to. We have never had that.
We talk about costs with reference to this building and to any extension, but we never talk about the costs of building east of Bay. Where is the commitment? The commitment is not to the members in this building. The commitment is to further office extension in an area which seriously disturbs the people of my particular riding. We begged that the then Minister of Government Services would look at the old Hydro building with a view to holding that for purposes of relocation from this building in a set of three phases. No way would anybody listen to us.
I frankly welcome the attitude of this minister in trying to cope with what are serious problems. The philosophy is interesting, though.
The members’ lounge is in really one of the most inaccessible parts of the building now that we have members scattered throughout the building. It wouldn’t occur to the minister or his staff to suggest that perhaps we could have the members’ lounge where the cabinet lounge is, where it would be closer to the members as they are engaged in this House. Oh, no! You lose money in the north lounge, so you cut off the members’ lounge. It is the only thing you or your staff can think of, and it worries me.
I know the cost of the stewards and the rest are a matter for Mr. Speaker, but it is exactly the same kind of problem. Mr. Speaker can’t move the lounge up here because you won’t surrender it to his need to service the members. It gets back to that old tug-of-war. Surely your staff has enough to manage that they don’t have forever to hang on tenaciously to this building. Let the Speaker look after this building for the purposes of the precincts of this House.
I suppose that will come in the year 2000 or so, but I say to you it is wrong. When you refer to the various assembly buildings, I can say I was in the assembly building in Whitehorse. I was not in members’ offices. I saw very modest cabinet offices and I also saw modest staff provisions so that at least there wasn’t that difference among the minister, his deputy, and the private members in this House. That is a comparison that we see. It is all very well to talk about what members have in other places, but we have to look at the corresponding provisions for staff. That is where it is totally out of gear here. I beg your pardon. I’m sorry, I didn’t catch what the minister is saying.
Mrs. Campbell: I am of the opinion the cabinet ministers are entitled to some reasonable offices because of their position and because of the people with whom they have to meet, but I resent the fact that staff should be more important than members in the assembly. I think that is the comparison I am making. I wish that something could be done about the simple day-to-day efficiency of this particular ministry.
I drew to your attention my request, made I believe in February or perhaps in March, to have someone come to tear down these hanging strips that your ministry sticks in my window every year to keep the wind out. There has been no action. So when some of your ministry people were before members’ services, I asked again. Do you have several branches? Do you have one branch in your ministry that looks after a westerly window and another branch that looks after a southerly window? I wonder if perhaps there is some regulation. It seems to me, as a very simple soul, if they come in to tear the strip off one window they might do the other window at the same time. But they can’t do that. They did one window and I climbed up on a credenza finally to take the stuff off the south window because I could not stand looking at it any more.
It is the same thing with exterior lights at both side doors. We have steps which are themselves dark. In the wintertime, it is hard to see those steps. It seems to me the lights should be cleaned and should have sufficient wattage to cast light and not shadow on those steps.
I am not pointing this out to be picayune; I am pointing it out to say I believe we could increase the efficiency around this place. But I would like very much to have the minister once more go over the meaning of the assembly, go over its purposes and go over what is meant by the precincts of the House and the protection of the privileges of members in this place, so that he would understand and perhaps teach those who do not know what this place is all about.
If we could get the philosophy accepted, if we could get the Speaker properly in charge, as he is for the most part in this country, then it seems to me we could work together. There would be that force speaking out on behalf of the members, and not always on behalf of what people in the ministry consider to be good enough for members other than their own.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, I would like to reply to some of the remarks made by the member for St. George. Perhaps the member was not in the House when her colleague mentioned earlier that he had been down, along with a couple of other colleagues, to visit the old Ontario Hydro building. His comments, I believe, were that it probably is close to a heritage building, but it would take a lot of money to restore that and give us the energy conservation that we look for in a building today, the utilization of floor space and things like that. I think the member said it would probably be cheaper to tear it down and start from scratch than it would to do the renovations necessary on it.
Mrs. Campbell: I was just looking at it as temporary accommodation. You could take one third out then another third out and then the middle third out.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: There were a few remarks by the member for St. George and the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) about the east-of-Bay property. But, first, there is another point I would like to make to the member for St. George. There has been a study going on by a planner for the east-of-Bay project, taking into consideration possible users with the city, with our own people and so on, and that study will soon be forthcoming.
Mrs. Campbell: Can you tell me how many studies have been done?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: This was one that is quite neutral. It is being done by an outside firm and we are all looking forward to reviewing that report to see what it has.
Mrs. Campbell: But this is not at all the type of local autonomy that is used by this government.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: There have been some comments by a couple of speakers suggesting that it looks as though we are trying to steer everybody east of Bay Street to get some added space for civil servants, forgetting about the members. I do not look at it that way. Part of my job is to give accommodation to the ministers and to try to do it in the way that is most efficient.
I gave a commitment a while ago to the member for Sudbury East that we would go over the costs with the Board of Internal Economy and the members’ services committee. If you were in my position you would see a building costing $153 a square foot compared to at least $300 for the one the member for Sudbury East recommends. I am pleased he recommended one because until this point, after our presentation, it looked as if the presentation had fallen on deaf ears and we were not getting a response other than to go back to the drafting board.
I have a responsibility to get space, where I can, that is reasonable. Earlier this afternoon your colleague mentioned we had ministries in different places within the city. I think he was looking at putting them closer together or together rather than having them spread out.
The member for St. George mentioned the taping around her windows and asked whom you should call about it. We have a director, legislative services branch, in this building, Mr. Cameron, whose responsibility it is to look after the members. If you have a problem like that, I am across the floor from you every question period or as close as the telephone.
I would say to the members that next year we are anticipating changing the windows in the building. We will not do them all in one year. We realize we are losing energy through the windows and that you are getting drafts. We will be changing the windows. Tenders will go out early in the new year, probably for half of the windows. The second half will be done the following year.
We hope inconvenience to the members can be minimized. We may have to move a member out of his or her office for a day or two because we are going to take everything right out. Hopefully, before they take one out they will have the new one ready to go in. However, we will be disrupting your offices, probably for a day or two. The windows will be fixed. I did follow through on the lights the member mentioned. I followed it through the next day and I thought that had been corrected.
There was some indication -- at least I got that indication -- that we were not doing anything around this building. To do what some of the members have said and cut it off the building in wings, while we are doing each section, would be costly. We are doing renovations and trying to upgrade the building. You can see the Amethyst Room and you can see the second floor which we have carpeted. We have done the elevators in the last year, which I am sure is good for everyone. Anyone who has walked across through the tunnel knows the improvement there. As members, we saw improvements to the anterooms outside the Legislature. That has been a welcome change. We even have a ramp for the handicapped to get into the Legislature. We are making changes and we will continue to make changes.
I would like to ask the member for St. George if she would give me a little bit more of an idea of what she had in mind for behind the building because we would want something there that did not distract from the present building. If we tore down the present building under option two, we would try to save as much of the stone as possible from that. We are trying to get additional stone that will match the Legislature, although we haven’t got any yet. We would have to keep as much of that as we could, veneer it and cut it in two so that it would cover more of the new building and would be in keeping with the age and character of this building. I would be interested in what the member has in mind back there, either now or when we meet with the members to go over the three proposals.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Chairman, to respond to the minister, I did say that the members’ services committee will be meeting on Thursday. I have sent out a copy of the minister’s letter to all members, asking them to come forward with their proposals in writing, if they could make them. I trust by that time we will have a firmer position as to just what is requested by the committee as a whole.
My suggestion was simply as a result of a preliminary meeting when all of us felt that the proposals did not meet the needs of members and, therefore, we are prepared to discuss it. The minister shall have that as soon as we have completed those discussions.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, as a member of the members’ services committee, it comes home to me very clearly that we have outgrown this building. That is understandable over the years since I believe we are approaching the centenary of this building.
We do have members in very substandard accommodation, in rooms even without windows. My colleague to my right is one of those. We do have very many members who have not what is considered adequate office space for their operations. If we get to the stage, which I hope we will very soon, where members are provided with very necessary assistance in the form of research persons, we will not have space for those research people as part of the members’ offices. It is obvious we have outgrown the building and if we want to operate as a modern, efficient Legislature, we do have to look at new proposals.
The members’ services committee had three proposals from Government Services and it rejected all of them. The main reason they rejected them is that it appeared they were contemplating a patchup and renovation job. I don’t believe a patchup and renovation job can answer the modern needs of members. That is what has been going on in the past. We moved a few civil servants out of this building or out of an adjacent building; we took over space that was designed for completely different purposes; and we tried to patch it up to suit members’ needs.
It seems to me if we are going to spend money on new buildings -- and one of the proposals was a new civil service tower east of Bay -- it should be a tower designed for members, to meet our specific needs and to provide us with efficient office space. I don’t see why it should be impossible to design such a tower and at the same time have a building that is compatible with this building. I don’t think any of us want to destroy the park-like setting in which this building is located, but it should be possible for an architect to design a tower that could be attached to this building or connected by a tunnel which would fit in with the contours of this building.
In Europe one finds legislative buildings with many additions that have been built over the centuries and, somehow or other, they do harmonize. One does not necessarily get the same colour of stone, but one can get buildings that harmonize.
It seems to me if the ministry does not have architects with enough imagination to develop an east block, a west block or maybe an east and a west block to add to this building, or a single tower that could be compatible, perhaps it should have an architectural competition and get us a building of which we could really be proud. It might be a good idea to have the architectural competition over the next year, so when a new government comes in after the election we will have designs for a building that is designed to meet members’ needs. I hope we have that kind of government after the next election.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Chairman, as a member of some five years’ standing in this assembly I would like to comment briefly on some of the issues being dealt with here by the minister and the members for St. George and Beaches-Woodbine.
I have been surprised from time to time, and shocked more recently, at the condition of this building in some respects. I happen to be one of those people who was within a couple of minutes of the collapse of the ceiling underneath the main staircase. I noticed, coming up the other day, there is another big crease down the centre of the new plaster. Presumably, that does not betray any weakness in the renovation. But it struck me on that occasion just how in many ways we in this assembly have allowed this building to deteriorate in some significant measure, notwithstanding the improvements that have been made, which the minister has drawn to our attention. I think it important that everything be done to highlight the architectural and other aspects of the historic and working facility.
This summer and fall I spent some time travelling in western Canada and elsewhere in the country. I was impressed by the relative condition of many other legislative chambers. It seems to me our building does not stand the comparison very well. But that is, I suppose, secondary to my main point, which is this continuingly intolerable condition whereby the jurisdiction for the assembly of the legislative building is shared between the Minister of Government Services and the Speaker of the House. When you think about it, that is ridiculous, untenable and unfortunate.
I think it a first principle that a legislative building should be under the complete, the absolute and the undisputed jurisdiction of the Speaker of the assembly. To me, that is a transparent, unchallengeable reality. That it is not so in this jurisdiction says a lot about the independence of this Legislature. As I look around and see the changes that have occurred here in the past number of years, there is no doubt that because of the shared jurisdiction there continues to be a very determined and quite successful attempt by some to make this not a legislative building so much as an executive office building controlled by the ever-burgeoning first minister’s domain, the lower centre of which is located in the second floor of the east wing.
When I think about the proliferation of the executive branch, not in terms of jurisdiction and influence, which is quite a story in itself, but in terms of the physical plan here relative to the principal, prime intention of serving members of the Legislature, I am quite appalled. We have seen a growth in that executive branch here in this building which I think is unacceptable in terms of the amount of space now required to feed the apparently insatiable appetite of the executive branch.
Let me say as well that I do not dispute the right of any minister to have facilities in this building. I think that is a right which must be granted to the Minister of Government Services, to the parliamentary assistant, to the Minister of Energy, to the Minister of Transportation and Communications or whatever. I think they should have an opportunity to find physical space to meet their legislative requirements here in this building. That does not mean to me that under that umbrella they can justify all or most of the ministerial and executive traffic which some see, with some considerable success to effect.
I’m shocked when I look at the condition of some offices of members who have served here for 20 or 25 years -- the shabby, shoddy, dysfunctional corners of the north wing -- and also the offices of their staff. I am a relatively junior member here, but I think the conditions which the members of my staff and the staffs of the members for Haldimand-Norfolk (Mr. G. I. Miller) and Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) share in that corner of the first floor of the north wing are just intolerable. That members of the Legislature of any party and their very limited staff should be relegated to such a humiliating and, as I said, dysfunctional environment is totally unacceptable.
As one member of the Ontario Legislature, I resent the implication that this assembly might be compared with its equivalent in Prince Edward Island or Tasmania or with Perth county council. We are, as I see it, an important legislative assembly. We have an extremely important role to play in terms of our province and as full-time members with full-time staff assistants. I am shocked at the conditions in which many members find themselves, members of all parties and many with considerable seniority and standing. That they should be driven into near hovels in the north wing, I find totally objectional. At the same time, the burgeoning empire of the executive branch, in its multi-tiered, carpeted splendour, sprawls ever widely across the entirety, it seems, of the east wing. I think we are not doing justice to the prime function which is a legislative assembly building.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Have you told the other members that?
Mr. Conway: I speak as a private member in this debate and I think the Minister of Government Services would do well to realize that. But I find unacceptable the suggestion that members of the assembly should be packaged off to the Whitney Block or some new complex on the corner of Bay and Wellesley or the old Hydro building downtown, while hundreds of bureaucratic minions reside in the legislative building itself.
Speaking as a private member, I want to reiterate my concern about the continuance of the shared jurisdiction here between the Minister of Government Services and the Speaker of the assembly, a jurisdiction which I believe should not be shared. A jurisdiction over this building should be exclusively in control of the Speaker. I believe the sharing of that has facilitated in a physical sense the unacceptable growth in the executive branch in this facility.
I just wanted to take this opportunity as one private member to express, if nothing else, my resentment over a trend which I think has worked against the better interests of individual private members.
The House recessed at 5:59 p.m.