The House resumed at 8 p.m.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF GOVERNMENT SERVICES (CONTINUED)
On Vote 501, ministry administration program; item 1, main office:
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) asked a couple of questions before the House recessed at six o’clock.
We have looked at her suggestion regarding space out in front of the main building. In our opinion, there is not enough space to put two buildings in a horseshoe around the park at the front and still have the Legislature look proper as one comes up University Avenue.
She also mentioned the possibility of researchers. I am told that the space I mentioned earlier this afternoon, the 32,000 additional square feet that were needed for this building, did include every member having 500 square feet, which would give enough room for a researcher as well.
The member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) mentioned a few different areas. One was the plaster on the ceiling going out to the north wing. I live in a plastered house myself, and I don’t know how from seeing the odd crack one can tell when it is going to fall down. It is pretty difficult. But I am sure he would agree that we try to eliminate a problem before it becomes a disaster as that could have been. The member said he was just a couple of minutes away from being there at the time.
When I first heard of this I asked my deputy if anyone had been hurt. We can repair the building; the main thing was to ensure that no one was hurt in the accident. As far as a crack going into it since it has been up, we will have a look at that. But, having lived in a plastered house, I know it is pretty hard to eliminate those kinds of cracks. I am sure the member must see the odd crack when he visits a friend of mine, as he does occasionally, who lives in a beautiful old home in the town of Perth. I am sure the judge’s wife and family aren’t afraid that plaster is going to fall down because they see a crack.
I was pleased the member mentioned the county council chambers in Perth. I know we don’t have the fanciest in the world, but I would ask the member some time to go and have a look. They did fix it up, but it is not as fancy as some other county chambers I myself have seen. I don’t think he really meant some of the things he said about the condition of this building when he mentioned that he had visited other legislatures across the country, as I mentioned earlier this afternoon that I had. Maybe I am prejudiced, but I think our Legislature can stand up to most of them.
Some of the designs are a little different from ours but, as I walked through the ones I visited, I thought they could take a few lessons from us. For instance, the way we have our art displayed, from a visitor’s standpoint as he comes through the building, I think is very interesting and educational for all our visitors to see. When I was in the two legislatures I mentioned, they seemed cold. There were very few pictures, very few things on the wall that would interest visitors, other than a lot of marble and so on.
When it comes to members’ accommodation, as I said earlier this afternoon, I feel we do not have to take a second seat to the ones I have seen. That is not to say that in the case of the seven members we have in inner offices we should not try to eliminate these conditions as soon as we can. I believe that is what we are trying to do with the three proposals we brought in. Whenever we get discussing those again with the Board of Internal Economy and the members’ services committee, I hope we will end up with some constructive ideas to add to our own and get on with the job of providing additional space for members.
Mr. Conway: The minister has drawn my attention and the attention of the House to a couple of things which I think deserve to be responded to very briefly. I would appreciate some comment from him because what he had to say, for example, about art is of some interest to me.
Not too long ago it was mentioned to me that the rather splendid art collection, which is now publicly housed in the halls of this particular building, is in considerable jeopardy and threat as a result of little or no control. I was told by one person, whose judgement on these matters I would normally respect, that the process by which these very valuable, important and attractive paintings are allowed to hang in the hallways in the worst of Toronto’s summer humidity without very much climate control will very seriously and negatively affect the quality of the art work over time. Since the Minister of Government Services brought that to the attention of the House, I wonder whether he has a view on the prospect of problems in that connection.
I want to say as well that he commented about the Perth town chambers. It was a fault on my part. I was simply suggesting the Lanark county chambers by reference, only to suggest that we here in this legislative chamber have an extremely important mandate and jurisdiction. To compare it with rather less immediate points of reference does not serve a very useful purpose as far as I am concerned.
I do not agree with him and I just want to reiterate my feelings about the building. I was surveying my own empire back in the north wing over the dinner hour. I know that my assistant would be angry if she knew I was in one way or another invoking her for part of this debate, but the conditions in which those three assistants are forced to manage in that particular part of this building are intolerable.
One imagines the executive washroom at the ministry as being more spacious than the entire anteroom of the three members in question in the north wing. I have to reiterate my disgust at some of the conditions that are prevalent here as far as members are concerned and to reiterate my unhappiness about the very successful, skilful and determined efforts by some to render this legislative building not so much as a place for private members as legislators as in the first instance an executive office building to meet the ever-growing requirements of the first minister.
I want to conclude my remarks by simply saying again that I think much could be served if the split jurisdiction of this building could be ended in the very near future and the Speaker of the assembly, representing each and every one of us, could be given complete and absolute control over a building which in most other cases and most other jurisdictions, as I understand it, is indeed the unchallenged preserve of the Speaker as well.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, in regard to the member’s remarks on climate control and the protection of our art, I think we are all concerned about that. We have spent a lot of money over the last few years restoring it. We have an art consultant who has done a good job placing it and seeing that it is properly refinished. As we said this afternoon, for us to put in central air conditioning and do some of the things my predecessor had mentioned would necessitate three phases within the building itself and involve quite a heavy cost.
Wherever we are renovating at the present time, we are putting in a better system of air conditioning than window units. Millions of dollars would have to be invested, and there would be a lot of inconvenience to the members here if we went the other route. If we follow the proposal the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) made this afternoon, proposal number two, and have extra -- I believe it is 147,000 square feet, when we predicted we need 32,000 to look after the members -- we will have some room to move around, if that suggestion is supported by the members of the Legislature and cabinet.
Mr. Conway: On that point, Mr. Chairman, I wonder aloud whether or not any analysis or any cost benefit has been done by the ministry to see whether the cost of a partially or more significantly ruined art collection has been determined as compared to the cost of making this building what it is now being asked to become, that is, an art gallery. It seems to me if we are going to display what I assume are hundreds or thousands or millions of dollars worth of art here in this building, then we have to at least consider the improvements that go along with an art gallery structure.
Recognizing the cost factor, and I think we are all sensitive to that, has any analysis been done about the impact and the cost of a partially or otherwise ruined art collection as a result of long-time exposure to conditions that are very deleterious to the quality of the materials.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: If I could briefly speak to that, Mr. Chairman, this afternoon for about two and a half hours I heard that my number one concern should be for the members in this Legislature. I said a little while ago if we were to do this it would mean a three-stage construction and members would be uprooted. I know our art collection is important to us, but I think we are really talking out of both sides of our mouths if we say, in this case, the art is more important than the members. Maybe I didn’t hear that right. They are both important, but I think this afternoon the message I got was the members are number one.
Mr. Conway: Don’t misunderstand me. I just wonder aloud whether you have any understanding or any feeling for the impact of displaying very valuable, important and historic Ontario and Canadian art collections over time in a facility that is not constructed for that kind of display. I am not at all suggesting that you rush out immediately and spend vast sums of money. What I am wondering about is the potential impact of ruining the art collection by housing it in a place that is not constructed for such a display.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: We will look into the member’s suggestion.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Chairman, I have just a couple of things. Perhaps I missed it along the way, but I am wondering whether the minister said he is now prepared to relinquish those parts of the building at present under the control of the Ministry of Government Services to the Speaker of the assembly. Is that what you mentioned in your response?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: No.
Mr. Warner: Is there any particular reason why you are not prepared to do that?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I feel very much like my predecessors. I feel it is working quite well the way it is. Some members don’t agree but I happen to feel it is. I guess it really boils down to your view against mine, but I think there are pros and cons and I think the members are well looked after with the Ministry of Government Services looking after the portion as at present.
Mr. Warner: I understand clearly now. The double standard will prevail: the higher standard for the government members and particularly ministers, and the lower standard for the rest of the members of the assembly. I object to that and I will continue to object to that. Only when all of the building comes under the direction of Mr. Speaker will each of the members of the assembly be treated equally.
In my opening remarks, Mr. Chairman, I said I would like some discussion on procurement policy and the minister perhaps hasn’t had a chance to respond to that. I was wondering if he could open up that discussion on what he has done in terms of a procurement policy, particularly as it relates to Ontario-based small businesses.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, it might be of interest to the members to see where the additional space went. After my predecessor talked about space, some of the secretariats were moved out downstairs and I became Minister of Government Services and was moved over to the Whitney Block. We have broken it down in percentages. The Legislative Assembly got an increase of 181 per cent; the Legislative Library got 23 per cent; the assistant clerks to the Clerk of the House got 31 per cent; the Progressive Conservative caucus got 39; the Liberal caucus got 30 per cent and the NDP got 25 per cent. I wonder, in the light of those percentages, if the honourable member would be better looked after having someone else look after a larger portion of the Legislature.
Mr. Warner: Come and visit our little closets in the north wing.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I visited there with your House leader, the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel), and I did make a commitment that we would try to improve the look of those offices. I went back and talked two or three times with our interior decorator about getting the work done on those seven inner offices and we didn’t get very much support for doing it. I know we can’t put outside windows where they are, but I think in the meantime, when we are talking about possible extra space for members, we should have got some co-operation to make those offices a little better for the seven members. To my knowledge we didn’t get that.
Mr. Conway: How do you propose to give them a window?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: That will be in the future, but a lot of improvements could have been made with just a little bit of help from our interior decorator and so on.
As for a purchasing policy, we don’t have a buy-Ontario policy but we do have a buy-Canada preference of about 10 per cent. We do not have one, province to province.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Chairman, I think perhaps the minister misunderstood my question. What I wanted to know is whether the ministry has a firm policy with respect to small businesses situated in Ontario; that is, do they get preferential treatment in any way? Do you make sure the first opportunity for tendering for a Ministry of Government Services project goes to Ontario-based small businesses, ahead of foreign-owned companies or large corporations? That is really what I was asking. Do you have some guideline, policy or some preferential treatment for Ontario-based small businesses?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, any small business that writes, which is not already on our list, asking to tender when tenders come up is added to the list. Many of the members opposite have written to me asking if So-and-so could be put on our tendering list, and this has always been done. In that way we try to include the small businesses. As you know now, we have even gone to paying interest. We hope there are not too many overdue accounts, but to help all businesses, not just small businesses, if there is a case where we have not paid in the allotted time, we pay the interest on that account. They do have a chance to take a business approach. Being a businessman myself, you have to put your own foot forward and at least apply and say you are interested in government work, if and when it comes up, and that you are willing to tender for it.
Mr. Warner: There seems to be a little communication problem, Mr. Chairman. If I am correct, in the United States of America there is a policy of the federal government in the country that a certain percentage of government contracts which go up for tender will be restricted to small business operations by their definition of small business. What I would like to know is whether or not this government has a policy that a certain percentage of the work that it puts out for tender from the Ministry of Government Services will be designated for small business, preferably Ontario-based, but beyond that, Canadian-based. In that way there is some guarantee that the small businesses, by our definition of small business, will be guaranteed some percentage of the business with the Ontario government.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, 55 to 60 per cent of our purchases are made from small businesses. This happens because out in the regions the directors up to a certain level can buy locally, and do. So again, being a small businessman, that percentage looks pretty good to me.
Mr. Warner: But there is no guideline.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I d not know. I have met with my federal colleagues and my other provincial colleagues. I have had the opportunity to meet with them twice, in New Brunswick last year and this year in Winnipeg. Many of these things were discussed, but I do not recall any of them ever saying they had guidelines similar to what you have mentioned. Perhaps they do, but I am not aware that they ever spoke about it.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a few comments to the minister and elicit his consideration of the recommendations or suggestions I would make to him.
In the first instance, Mr. Minister, have you given any consideration at all, in the period you have been the Minister of Government Services, to updating the method of voting in this House? We rise, we bow to the Speaker and we go through that tortuous routine. Maybe it is not tortuous; maybe it is good for us from the physical fitness point of view.
When one goes to the various states in the United States and sees the method they use in their legislative chambers, one wonders whether we are going to stay in the fifteenth century or whether we are going to move into the nineteenth century and hopefully the twentieth or twenty-first century.
Mr. Chairman: I have been listening to the honourable member and I feel this comes under the standing orders rather than this particular ministry.
Mr. B. Newman: If you want to rule me out of order, Mr. Chairman, that is quite all right. I will make a different type of comment.
It concerns improvements to the building itself. Is the minister considering the provision of an area in the building for the fitness of members? I can recall being on a committee that looked into it years ago when the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) was the Minister of Government Services. Also, in the last several years, the member for Armourdale (Mr. McCaffrey) chaired a committee that looked into the provision of fitness facilities for the members. What has happened to the studies and recommendations made concerning that?
May I have your answers to the few questions I have asked?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I am told my predecessors looked into that and checked it out with the Management Board of Cabinet, but we were never able to get financing for that. I know the honourable member exercises regularly himself. Perhaps, as we look across and see we all have a little tighter fit to the suit, something like this would be really good.
Over the supper hour, I was talking to one or two of the staff who jog every day. My deputy minister does his regular exercises. I do not know whether he is trying to tell me that as minister I should be doing the same.
It would be nice to have that to keep us all fit but, at the present time, I am told, Management Board has not seen fit to grant us the money for that. The other reason may be space in the building. Perhaps when we get settled on where we are going as far as the three proposals are concerned, something like that might be looked at in the future.
Mr. Chairman: Is the member for Windsor-Walkerville finished?
Mr. B. Newman: That is all. I cannot get answers anyway.
Mr. Lawlor: I would like to put my spoke into the wheel on that same subject for a moment or two. The number of pear-shaped individuals around here is atrocious. It is difficult to contend with this. As far as I can see, there is hardly a single healthy or Atlas-like figure in the whole lot.
While I do not think I will be here to enjoy it, you, as minister, can do a great service to this assembly by having some relatively inexpensive room in the building for that purpose with a couple of machines and a bicycle. We do not need a track or a pool; we just need a few contraptions. You supply them in abundance to every high school in the province, but we do not seem to be able to get one here.
We could take an hour or two off or slip in between committee meetings, et cetera, and have a spurt of exercise. It is enormously valuable, stimulating and even makes the brain work on occasion.
As I remember, there were gestures towards Hart House at the University of Toronto for all of us to take out membership in those facilities. Some members of this House already belong and play squash and other games there. In our caucus, I remember signing a document in a sense petitioning for this particular scheme. I think it was found to be unduly expensive, taking out that kind of membership for all members of the House, particularly when some might not use it, so it came to naught.
There is a lot of emphasis on health and health facilities these days with people being toned up and the sight of all the walkers on the landscape. None of them are colleagues of mine, so far as I can see. Very few of them even take bicycles, like certain former mayors of Toronto, as a kind of exemplary exercise to show us what a bunch of slouchers we are.
In the future, while I fall into desuetude and begin to decline into a sedentary life, as I trust it will be, I think you can give some stimulation to this place -- God knows, something is necessary -- and open a small gym in a room downstairs somewhere. Surely there are areas in that basement which are not being utilized. It may even have the beneficial effect, instead of them talking so much, of actually getting rid of some of that excess energy in a purely positive way, lifting all our burdens including that of the flesh.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, I would say yes right off the bat if I was sure the last statement from the member for Lakeshore was correct. I refer to the remark that if we had regular exercise in the gym, it would get rid of a lot of the extra talking -- we would wear it off in the gym instead of in here or other places. Even although I look a little overweight I try to get exercise on weekends so I am not opposed to it. We will look at it, although we can’t move very far without money from Management Board. But we will look into it and see what can be done.
Mr. Lawlor: There is just one further sentence: I always used to think the most beneficial thing about election campaigns was the loss of avoirdupois at the end of the campaign. We can always lose 20 pounds, so the more campaigns the better.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Chairman, I would like to pursue this problem. The first speech I ever made in this House back in 1960 was based on fitness. The government promised to act on that but never has.
I cannot understand where we would spend $600,000 to try to convince people not to smoke and then we ourselves, as members, cannot convince the minister and his government to put aside some small portion or some small area in this building and the minimum amount of equipment. I just don’t understand what is wrong with you people. Is the minister not concerned for the health and welfare of his own colleagues?
Mr. Chairman, can I have an assurance from the minister that he will pursue this with his cabinet colleagues so that maybe in the twenty-first century, if not in the immediate future, something will be done in here?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, I think I said I would look into it. I am just as concerned as all the members in the House and as my colleagues over there. I like to see those smiling faces on the other side too. Perhaps if we exercised, from what the member for Lakeshore said, we would have a happier, healthier House. We will look into it -- perhaps for the clerks as well.
Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Chairman, I guess as a pear-shaped contraption who has come here a little more recently from the world outside, I would like to return briefly to the state of this building. I get a fair bit of exercise running around the north wing of this building.
Certainly, there are very serious space problems, and some of those have already been touched on. They are space problems to the extent that when a parliamentary intern decides she wishes to come and work in my office for two or three months we literally have to find room in a broom closet because there is nowhere else. The space problem is so serious that when, simultaneously, a social work student from my riding wants to spend as little as one day a week working in my office to find out how this place works and what we do here, there is absolutely nowhere for her to sit except by sharing a desk with my assistant.
But space problems aside, the back end of this building is positively seedy. It is so bad it would not be accepted in any business, nonprofit organization, local government or anything else. It would not be accepted anywhere else.
To start from the bottom and move up, we have a carpet that has holes in it. It has patches of black plastic stuck over it to repair the holes. There are cigarette burns all over the place. Last week, along every join in the carpet, were little strips of invisible Scotch tape. It is invisible when you put it on paper but it looks terrible when you put it on the carpet. This week they put strips of the black plastic Scotch tape you buy from Canadian Tire along every join in the carpet.
Then we move up to the walls. The walls are yellowing. I should not say this with my colleagues around but I guess I have become used to offices that do not have windows. I am prepared, temporarily, to put up with the fact that there is not a window in my office, but when you look at the dirty, yellowing walls that have nail holes, pin holes and everything all over them you have to wonder what kind of place this is.
Then you look at the furniture. The method by which your ministry provides furniture to members opposite, Mr. Minister, is just incredible.
I do not know whether you ever tried to get a bookshelf, but three weeks ago, because of the burgeoning volume of paper in my office, I decided it was appropriate to try to obtain another bookshelf in order to hold some of the paper. It might have been better to throw some of it out but I decided that a little bit of what the government puts out is worth keeping so we can throw it back at you when the time comes. Mr. Minister, you would not believe the hassle you go through. The bookshelf arrived right enough, but the shelf that goes in the middle was two inches too short. After some phone calls and the like, they took it away and brought another one that is three inches too short. To this day I have a bookshelf with a centre shelf that is three inches too short, and it won’t stay up. It is useless.
That is just one example, Mr. Minister. We have tried from time to time to get bits and pieces of furniture repaired or replaced when problems arise. There are always those kinds of problems.
Then we come to the ceiling, which is yellowing. Around every one of the air vents in the ceiling there is a big black mark where the soot that has come out of the air ducts has deposited itself on the ceiling.
I am prepared to accept that we do not need plush offices like those of the chairman of Imperial Oil, or even plush offices like those of some of the aldermen in the city of Hamilton. But I do think there is a responsibility on the government of the province to make sure the place does not look like a dump, so that when our constituents come to see us -- some of whom may not even be our supporters; Tories do come and talk to me occasionally -- and they look at the surroundings, they won’t have to think to themselves, “What kind of a place is this?”
I hope you will really try to find a way of at least cleaning up the area that is there now so we can feel comfortable in it, instead of feeling we have to cower in the corner and keep blaming the mess on your government.
I want to touch on one other matter that relates to the building. That is the problem of energy conservation. Does the minister know that every single night of the week in the north wing the janitor comes around, opens all the doors, turns on all the lights and leaves those lights on from 6 p.m., when he comes around, until 11 p.m. or midnight when he comes around to lock up the doors? Every single night, every office light in the north wing is burning regardless of whether the member is in the building. I have talked to him about this and he is a very reasonable and likeable man. He assures me this is the instruction he has received, that he is required to come around every night and to turn all the lights on and to leave them on for the entire evening.
I see other examples as I walk around this building in the evenings, where lights are left on unnecessarily, where energy is wasted unnecessarily. I hope the minister will look into that and find a way whereby we in this House can set an example in energy conservation, instead of being seen to be wasting it in an unnecessary and inappropriate fashion. I say to him, please make this place a little more habitable than it is now.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, many of the areas that the honourable member has mentioned really come under the jurisdiction of the Speaker and the Board of Internal Economy. I think if he talks to his representative, his House leader, the member for Sudbury East and mentions the furniture and this sort of thing, he will probably get it corrected.
As to the paint, when work needs to be done in that area, if we are requested to do it, we will. We try on a rotating basis to paint the different areas. I did say earlier this afternoon, perhaps the member was not here, that in regard to the seven inner offices, I made a commitment when I went around with his House leader and I believe -- maybe not the leader of the Liberal Party, but some representative was there --
Mr. Nixon: To paint windows on inner offices.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I mentioned that, not to make windows, but to put in artificial windows or something to spruce them up a little for you. At that time, we did not receive, or our interior decorator did not receive, very much co-operation.
The member was talking to me about all those cigarette burns. I do not smoke, but it must be people in the offices who tramp them into the floor, or visitors. I am sure it is not the Minister of Government Services who is doing that. Perhaps a little discipline within the area would get away from those cigarette burns.
As far as the lights go, when I was in the north wing there was quite a hullabaloo, even by myself when I came in at night. Whether the House is sitting or not, most members still work in their offices, at crazy times maybe, or so our constituents would think. Some of them think we have very short hours, but we all know they are quite long. You can come over here at different times and see members using those offices.
I think the lights are on to make sure those members who are coming in or are there are not having to walk out through the halls in the dark, or come into a dark office. After all, we do have some ladies in all of our caucuses, and it may not just be the ladies who are nervous in the dark. Some of the rest of us cannot find our way around as well. I know when I was there, somebody would turn the lights off and you would hear a holler from one of the offices, “Turn those lights on,” and a few adjectives sometimes that did not fit the occasion.
For the honourable member to know what we are doing in energy conservation or other areas, we are trying to help. I think he was out of the House this afternoon when I mentioned that next year we will be starting out on changing all our windows in the building and it will be a two-year program. As some of the honourable members mentioned, a draught is coming in around some of the windows. In the north wing you have a newer section so it is not as draughty as in some other parts in the front. We will have the windows replaced next year and in the following year.
I think I have covered most of the areas. The member should approach his House leader and the Board of Internal Economy about some of the problems he mentioned.
Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Chairman, I wish to respond to a couple of items. With regard to artificial windows, forget that. I really don’t need to be fooled, thank you very much.
On the matter of lights, I recognize there may be some members who would prefer to come into lighted offices if they know they are going to be coming back later in the evening. But it really irks me to leave my office at 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., deliberately to turn the light out, as I always do, only to come back later in the evening and find the light has been turned on because the janitor or security person has been instructed to turn all the lights on.
That seems to me to be an absurd waste. I would draw the minister’s attention to the “Save” program that has been implemented by the University of Toronto, one of whose offices I used to occupy. There the “Save” sticker, put on a light switch, means, “Don’t turn it on unless you need it turned on.” It is a very good program, one I would commend to the minister’s attention for possible implementation in this building.
There was one other matter I intended to mention but which I forgot as I talked about the state of the building. I will be very brief. It relates to the state of the windows, particularly the very large window located on the north staircase of this building, at the far north end over the north door. Every time I go out of that doorway I look up and look out through the window, seeing the sun, or the stars or the clouds and every time my immediate reaction is that it is snowing outside. That window hasn’t been cleaned in 37 years and there is a large population of pigeons living out there. It’s a real mess. Perhaps the minister could take a look at that too.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I have lived and still live on a farm. I’m sure the honourable member opposite knows pigeons do gather and, if that window is washed on Monday, by the weekend it could be that way again. I can say without even checking that it has been washed in the last 37 years, but we’ll check it again.
We did have a problem at the front of the building. We think we have corrected that.
Mr. Makarchuk: They’ve all moved to the back.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: One would think they were taking target practice.
On the matter of lighting, I listened all afternoon to people telling me whom I should be putting first -- and that was the members. Is it more important for a member to come into his or her office and have it lit than to have what the member for Wentworth mentioned? I heard this afternoon from someone that one of his staff had tripped or fallen. I think it was over a rug, but it could have been in the dark.
I’ve been through the building fairly late at night at different times and it is seldom that as one comes in the east door one does not see that there are a fair number of members here, even on weekends.
We can look into it, if that is really the member’s wish, but I have been told again this afternoon to look after the members and that is what I feel we are doing in this instance.
Mr. Nixon: I know you would agree with me, Mr. Chairman, that this is a very stimulating debate. Almost every comment back and forth makes one think of something one would like to contribute.
I was actually afraid that, in the temporary absence of the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell), who is busy about the affairs of her constituency this evening, her point of view would not be adequately put forward. Having heard the member for Renfrew North, I need not have feared. I had not actually realized his accommodation was so bad. I had the office right next to it, which was a bit bigger than his, since I was a bit senior. I can see it would be inadequate under many circumstances.
But I tell you, I have difficulty in supporting my colleague, and not just the member for Renfrew North but others who have spoken about office accommodation. I will have more to say about it, but my experience here is, the better the offices, the fewer people participate in this House. I am not sure what the correlation is but when you have an air-conditioned office, and they are air-conditioned in the north wing, and you have easy telephone access to your constituency, which is not true for all constituencies but is for some, there is a tendency to make what you call “one more call.”
Mind you, even an important subject, a gripping subject of provincial importance of the type we are discussing tonight, you can see does not command the attendance and attention of the number of members one would expect. Even on the government side there are a few empty seats on an occasion such as this. It has to concern us. Frankly, it does concern me, I say most seriously, when we have the kind of debates where any reasonable person would expect all members to attend if possible. I am talking about the inauguration of constitutional debates and certain of the estimates and certain bills that really are of provincial importance. Still, we have somehow conditioned ourselves that other things, whatever they are, are important. It is almost like employees who have two jobs. It never works because they are never at either place and each boss expects they are at the other job. I do not make that very clear, but when we defend ourselves against the criticisms that come from the gallery, when our friends and constituents come in and say, “I did not see you in your seat,” or, “My God, there were a lot of empty seats and there was even one member reading a newspaper” -- of all heinous things to do -- we have to explain to everybody that we are extremely busy. As the member has already said, we work far into the night and often on the weekends there are a number of committees functioning. We all know how valid and invalid those reasons are.
In my view, the excellence of office accommodation leads members more and more to become servants of their constituents, which obviously we are, rather than legislators, which too few of us tend to be. While we all pride ourselves in being able to contribute to a debate such as this, even without elaborate preparation, still it seems to me we tend to forget that our first responsibility is to be in here arguing about different points of view and putting forward an alternative on a political basis. I think that has to be the most important thing. After all, we are provided with constituency offices and secretaries here and there and all our phone bills are paid. We have people to deal with a good many of the routine matters.
A lot of the very wise members, particularly those who have survived, know when they deal with those matters themselves and it is their voice on the phone and their signature on the letter, with copies to all and sundry who might even be remotely interested in the subject, that that is the way to maintain the kind of service that all people really appreciate.
So I return to the point: the more elaborate our facilities are as individual members to do that part of the work, the more our duties as members in this House suffer. I simply put that point and I find I am a bit torn. As the honourable minister knows and the member for Renfrew North knows, I have a satisfactory office, very close to the House. It is not that big but it is big enough. As I look out through the enormous window all I can see is the new headquarters for Ontario Hydro. If you know anything about my political background, you know it keeps me humble.
I am well provided for and many members are reasonably well provided for. Whoever built and designed the north wing, except for its façade or outer structure, did not do us a service. The fact that they even put it on a different level with the original plan was a mistake -- I will not say a stupid mistake, because there might have been reasons -- but we feel we are going up and down stairs all the time. The honourable member talks about the crummy carpet and dirty walls. All those things are true. A few years ago there was a massive renovation, but the place looked third rate right away.
I worry about that a little bit, but I also worry about the grand luxury of ministers’ offices. I don’t know whether it ever occurs to you, when you wade through the broadloom and sink in the executive vibrating chair with the big back that almost curls around your ears, that it is really a bit much, a bit ridiculous. I just put it to you. I don’t spend a lot of time in ministers’ offices, thank goodness. When I get into one, of course, I will have it replaced with nothing but sackcloth and ashes, and I look forward to having the opportunity to do that, but I do think you and your colleagues, in competing one with the other for the very last word in luxury and services, are becoming a little bit close to the border of the area marked “ridiculous.” I just advise you, that is one member’s opinion.
I want to say something about the building and particularly this chamber. I think this is a gorgeous chamber.
Mr. Haggerty: Except for those television lights. Shoot them out.
Mr. Nixon: Well, there are a few things that bother me, but it really is a grand chamber. I don’t think anybody ever comes in here but that he or she feels it is an impressive and suitable centre for the meeting of this assembly. It is much lighter than it used to be, the paintwork and so on is all good, the lighting has been improved, but those of us who do spend some time in here find even these lights get a little bit bothersome at times.
I, for one, would look forward some time to a rearrangement of the interior. Nobody agrees with me on this but I do want to put it forward. One of the recommendations made by the Camp commission on the future of legislative representation was the substantial increase in the number of members. We would have smaller constituencies and the redistribution would be more fairly implemented, but the numbers would be much greater. Of course, they can add more desks. I was interested to see the minister’s officials provided us with a plan with a bit of a fourth row over there -- that would be for Mickey and a few others -- and it was a little bit longer in the ends and so on, so you can add numbers to this.
It is very difficult to make the number of members smaller. Former Premier George Henry did this as an economy measure in 1933. He reduced the House from about 120 members to 90. I believe there were close to 30 seats made redundant. You can imagine the carnage in the Conservative caucus when that came about and the blood-letting in all parts of the province when it came to nominations in the election. It turned out to be all academic because that was the election in which Mitch Hepburn came forward and all the Tories were slaughtered anyway, just as we are going to do in 1981.
The concept of having more members here does not bother me too much. I think it would be an excellent idea.
I would also like us to consider some time, particularly if we are going to have individual offices, as we have and we will have -- and they are going to get better because I know the minister is going to respond to the complaints from a number of members, valid as they are -- that perhaps we do not need the individual sort of seat and desk, individual microphone and individual everything that we have. It is obviously redundant most of the time, irrelevant, unnecessary, because there is nobody here. For a debate like this, I almost feel we ought to go down to a committee room and we could have a much easier discussion without using all of these grand facilities. But it is nice to be in here. We are elected as members of this House and we like to participate.
I would like to see this all done away with and replaced by benches à la Westminster. I suppose certain areas are reserved for the leadership in the government and the opposition, but essentially all the members are equal. If there is not a big crowd, you gather close to the table and the debate takes place, instead of having somebody dozing in the back and somebody reading at the end. I think it would be far better for all sorts of reasons if we could simply make it a better debating hall. You can imagine there would be plenty of room for more members and on grand occasions it would be even grander than it is now.
I am aware that nobody agrees with that concept, but having had an opportunity to examine the system at Westminster for a period of time, I was extremely impressed with the different attitude and the different qualities that are possible in that other system. As the arguments go on over the years, there might be an opportunity for us even to consider that.
When I was a boy and sitting in this gallery, these desks were arranged in a U. There was no public address system at all and it seemed to be easier for the individual members to communicate without a PA system. They didn’t bother with such fancy frills as Hansard or anything like that in those days. We have come a long way since then, until every word that is uttered is taken down like a great pearl of wisdom, as it sometimes is, and preserved for all time.
Mr. Conway: Even some of the interjections.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, although not all.
I would agree with the comments that have been made about using all the facilities of this building for the members. Yet since this building is seen in the eyes of everyone, and in my own mind, as the seat of government, I believe the Premier (Mr. Davis) and his office and his ministers have every right to be here. Frankly, if I were to think of myself as one of those some time in the not too distant future, while I would have great respect for Mr. Speaker, I still feel our system calls for His Honour’s chief advisers to have the power to recommend to His Honour that they be provided with the facilities they feel they need. The members of the House, through their spokesman, have the right similarly to be provided as they see fit with the facilities they need.
I am not one of those who feels Mr. Speaker has to have complete jurisdiction over everything in the Legislative Building. I think the cabinet ministers still have some rights. If we lose the next election, I might change my mind about that and push you right out, but I do feel that way.
As a matter of fact, it has changed dramatically. In the early days, the former member for Brant used to say, there were no offices for private members at all but the cabinet ministers had apartments in the building. They would bring the wife and family down and the wife would be cooking flapjacks in the morning. This building was far too big for the necessities of government as recently, let’s say, as 1919, which is just the day before yesterday in the chronology of history.
We have come a long way since then. I do believe the way to find enough space in this building to house and serve the private members adequately is to persuade some of the cabinet ministers and some of the legislative officers to give over some of the space they use. Somebody pointed out, and it struck me as a good analogy, that we don’t need three or four offices full of busy little beavers up the hall on the second floor addressing next year’s Christmas cards for the Premier, and performing all those important duties that go on, when they could very well be elsewhere doing the duties that the Premier and his executive officers require.
Of course, I believe the Premier has to have his office. I don’t blame him for having a cabinet meeting here and the important offices around him. But as I walk up and down the hallways of the east wing, I think he has too much space; I really do. I think it’s a waste when we are looking with such difficulty for just a few extra square feet to provide properly for private members.
I think a reasonable discussion is all that is needed, and you are the man to do it. Take the Premier aside and explain to him that you will provide for his acre and a half of ladies who are addressing Christmas cards and answering all that great mail he gets. Tell him they could do it somewhere else. I really think that is so.
Mr. Conway: Let the record show that the minister is laughing.
Mr. Nixon: He’s laughing at the prospect of telling the Premier something; that’s for sure. He may not disagree entirely with the concept.
I also want to say something about the art that has got my colleague from Renfrew North in such a furore because the humidity is just not right. It’s an interesting argument, but I am really delighted that you or somebody has pulled those old chestnuts out of the gallery. I do not really think it is great art. Maybe it is, particularly now that representational art is a bit more in vogue. I see you have even taken that monstrosity down at the end of the second floor. There is only one other monstrosity to take down and that is the portrait of John Robarts. I would be willing to move in this House that we allocate $40 or $50 for a new portrait just to replace that terrible thing that is sitting there. When I take my friends there, even though they are great Grits, they do not think we have done John Robarts a great service by hanging that terrible painting. He looks like the President of Egypt looking over the great pyramids. It really is terrible.
The one you must finally remove is the one across the hall. It has to be about 35 square feet of crimson paint with a yellow line that looks like nothing more than a nude lying on her back in the sand. You just pull it out some time. Of course, some people have more imagination than others.
There is one minor complaint and it has to do with a very fine painting that hangs out on the NDP side of the lobby here. It is of turkeys. Was there something in mind that made your art expert decide to hang the turkeys in the NDP lobby? It is a very fine painting, mind you, and they are a hell of a lot better turkeys than the ones sitting in the chairs.
Actually some of those pictures are absolutely excellent. My favourite of all is the one that is opposite the door of the gentlemen’s retiring room at the end of second floor. It is enormous and it is entitled The Foreclosure of the Mortgage. If anybody has not seen that, just spend some time down there because the story will break your heart. There is a little baby in the crib and the poor old daddy is absolutely done in. He is in bed, the ladies are around, and it is game over in a way that could not be portrayed in any other way. I do not know what that painting is worth, but if it ever goes up for auction -- I well might bid on it; I like it just where it is.
Continuing in a serious vein, the most valuable paintings we have, in my view, are the portraits of former Lieutenant Governors. There are a lot of good ones of Speakers and Premiers, but the most valuable ones are the ones hanging in the music room of the Lieutenant Governor’s suite. Every time we go in there to have a glass of sherry with His Honour when he is giving royal assent, I always like to go around and look at those portraits. They are truly excellent and I am sure they are valuable. Of course, we are not concerned because their great value is that they are here in this building.
I also think the portrait just outside the door to the left of John A. Macdonald and the other one of George Brown -- and they are very properly placed so they can glare at each other a bit -- are also the best portraits of those worthy gentlemen I know of anywhere. They are absolutely outstanding. I want to congratulate whoever had that initiative; I do not recall its being called for from the opposition side, but it should have been. Whoever had the initiative to do that really did something, in my opinion, that was worth while.
The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere was saying he felt the government should consider establishing an appropriate residence for His Honour. I want to be sure my views are known on that just so there is no mistake. I think it would be a very serious mistake for Ontario to undertake that.
Most of us in the course of our various responsibilities have visited other provinces and have been impressed with the majesty and the largess of the governments and taxpayers over the years in all of the provinces except this province. I do not think our Lieutenant Governors, except for a few exceptions, have publicly indicated they were concerned about this.
I was quite pleased to hear our present Lieutenant Governor, when he was sworn in, indicate that he wanted to provide a maximum of service with a minimum of pomp. I should not paraphrase his words, but that is the way I understood them. I think that being the gentleman he is, he certainly would not suggest we should provide him with anything other than the respect we all agree the office deserves.
The last Government House in Ontario was constructed in 1917 and was called Chorley Park. It was built on a beautiful piece of property in Rosedale and, beginning about 1919, the Lieutenant Governors lived there until approximately 1936 or 1937. It was a political issue of the day. Naturally, it was built at the initiative of the Conservative government in office before 1919 and the building was said to have cost a little over $1 million. This seemed to be an extremely large amount indeed, particularly when it was undertaken during the war years.
Looking at some of the old political comments I have had a chance to read over in the last year or two, it was a singularly important issue. The opposition parties in particular somehow got themselves conditioned against the concept of Government House by criticizing the government for such an unwarranted expenditure in those times. That may be why some Liberals tend to react negatively even today to such a suggestion.
When the Liberals took over the seals of office in 1954, it was clear they did not want to continue with the fairly large expenditures associated with the office. The first indication came when the traditional dinner held at Chorley Park by His Honour for the returning members and their wives was boycotted by the Premier and also, under his instruction, by the cabinet. Although the dinner was planned, it was cancelled at the last moment since all the Lieutenant Governor’s advisers had indicated by their attitude they did not want it to proceed.
As the war approached, the Lieutenant Governors tended to move away from some of the pomp that had been formerly associated with the office, and since the government was particularly concerned about cutting costs, the trappings of the office tended to be somewhat reduced. During those years, Chorley Park became a hospital. I understand after the war, and I did not research this the way I should have, the condition of the building was such that it was considered wise to have it taken down. That was the end of Government House in Ontario.
There was a time when a well known, well-to-do citizen, Sigmund Samuel, who donated a beautiful museum just across the road, also wanted one of his residences to be donated free of charge to the government for use as a Government House. On examination, it was found that the tax involvement in this regard meant it would cost, in a capital way, a good deal of money. It was decided by the Conservative government of the day, I believe it was Mr. Drew --
Mr. Worton: No, John Robarts.
Mr. Nixon: Robarts was not Premier when Sigmund Samuel was trying to give them the house.
It was decided by the government of the day that it was not going to proceed in that way.
My own feeling is that respect for the Lieutenant Governor in this House and this province has never been at a higher level. People understand the decisions and the power of government are all enacted in the name of the Lieutenant Governor and still the power lies with the people through their elected representatives. Frankly, I get a bit sensitive when I hear the Premier reaffirming his commitment to the concepts of the British tradition and the Queen herself.
Mr. Makarchuk: Is this part of Government Services?
Mr. Nixon: It is difficult even to object to that. On the other hand, since the New Democratic Party already raised the matter of Government House when the member for Brantford was not in attendance, aggrandizing the concept of the office is one we should not seriously consider.
We should provide for the expenses of the Lieutenant Governor, of course, and whatever else is necessary. As much as I believe the apartment the Lieutenant Governor now uses is a beautiful place -- I am always impressed when I go in there -- essentially, if it became completely necessary, that apartment, which used to be the Speaker’s when the Lieutenant Governor was elsewhere, could be turned over for the use of the Speaker, and through him, for the use of all members.
I want to conclude by saying I know the minister and his predecessors have been fooling around for quite a while with property to the east of Bay Street. The government owns that whole block south of Wellesley. It is not one of the finest blocks in the city by way of the buildings there now. It is just a matter of time before one of the ministers gets up the energy, or the nerve, I suppose, to convince his cabinet colleagues to level that block and put up another huge edifice for whatever purpose.
The needs and requirements of Government Services are never fulfilled. The minister will find the needs and requirements of the members of this House are never really fulfilled and satisfied, but they do continue to improve. We do have buildings around here that can be used. If services must be moved out of this building, and I believe they must, we have buildings already extant close by, not to be used by the members but by those people at present occupying space here who could very well perform their services without being directly in this building.
I simply want to draw to the minister’s attention again that the old Hydro building is even closer to this centre of government than the block he wants to build on the other side of Bay Street. It may not be the kind of building you are looking for, but I notice Hydro has a sign outside saying, “Will remodel for tenant,” or something like that. I am sure we could have it made over into whatever we require for those people and offices that might be moved out of here into that other building. It would be cheaper than levelling that big block east of Bay and putting up another huge building.
I would like to see most of that property kept in park land, if possible anyway, but I know this is going to be developing over the next few months and years. I do believe we can provide for the proper and growing requirements of the members of this Legislature without ripping everything down and without the expenditure of the kinds of funds the minister is talking about when he talks about the new building east of Bay.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Chairman, if we could I would like to get into each individual vote. I think we’ve had a pretty good discussion on the needs of members. I was looking over the total expenditures of the minister’s budget and it is $287 million. We have been talking for about three and a half hours mostly on this building, which of course is a very important building because of its location and because of the use made of it.
I was going to ask a couple of questions about this building too, about the general construction of the roof and its present condition and what you are going to have to do to maintain that condition. I haven’t looked over it completely, but I have made a cursory examination of it and talked to some people around here. I am wondering about the present condition of the building, especially the roof and the supports to it, and how much remodelling it is going to have to have over the next few years. Is the minister aware of that?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, the roof on this main building has to be replaced. I was just asking my deputy if we had an estimate of the cost of replacement, but we have not at the present time. It would be quite costly. I am familiar with a large building near Cartier Square in Ottawa -- the armouries, if anyone is familiar with it -- where the federal government put a new copper roof on. It cost about three quarters of a million dollars, I understand. With the design and architecture of the roof here, I would imagine it would be quite expensive. At the present time, I would have to say we do not have an accurate estimate of the cost, but it will have to be done soon.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Chairman, could we go to vote 501 and then start down? I know some members want to bring up a couple of items on vote 502. I want to get into leasing, if I can.
Mr. Chairman: Shall I put the question, shall item 1 carry? No? On item 1, the member for Grey.
Mr. McKessock: Yes, Mr. Chairman. I think personnel services would come under vote 501.
Mr. Chairman: Shall item 1 carry or does the honourable member have something under item 1, main office? The member for Huron-Bruce.
Mr. Gaunt: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a very brief comment concerning the building. We dealt with the various aspects of the building during some of the considerations in committee with respect to the Camp commission report. The commission was appointed by this Legislature to look into various aspects to do with the building. We did do some research and spent considerable time with respect to this particular building. Frankly, as far as I am concerned, I think it should be a legislative building, that is, a building that houses the chamber, the offices of the members and all the support staff who go to make up the legislative process.
Members’ offices have been mentioned. That was one of the considerations in that particular report. Certainly, I think a lot of them are inadequate. The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk talked about his office and some of the other offices, and the fact that attendance in this House sometimes is not all that great and is proportional to the grandeur of one’s office. If my attendance in this House was conditional on the grandeur of my office, I would be here all the time because my office is not all that great. It is functional, mind you, but barely so. However, I never really complained about that.
It has not been an impediment to me in making one last call; I am always able to do that and carry on my work in the normal course. But I think it would improve the working conditions if one had more space, and if the circumstances surrounding the office were just a little better. I think a little more improvement is needed in that respect. All things come to him who waits, so perhaps those things will come in the next little while.
I want to mention the lights, which were discussed previously. It seems to me there is a great waste in terms of lighting in this building. I do not come in often on the weekend -- very seldom, as a matter of fact, because I am not here; I am in my riding -- but on occasions I do come in on the weekend when I happen to be in the city for one reason or the other. It seems to be very good on weekends. The control of the lighting is quite good, but it is not so good during the week.
When I leave my office at night I turn off the lights. My experience is somewhat similar to that of the member for Wentworth. I come back in later at night and the lights are turned on. I think the minister makes a point, but there is no reason the lighting in the halls cannot be left on while the lighting in the members’ offices is turned off. After all, when you come in from the hall, the light switch is right inside the door. One should not be stumbling around in the dark if one is in full possession of one’s faculties. I think there could be something done there to have instructions left with the supervisory people to make sure the lights in the members’ offices are off after normal working hours. That would be a great energy saving.
I have another matter, Mr. Chairman. I think it really comes under the second vote, but if the minister wants to have me deal with it now I will certainly do so. It would save me getting up again.
Mr. Chairman: We have spent a considerable amount of time on item 1.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, a couple of members have mentioned the lighting. I will undertake to look into that. It was my understanding that what I mentioned earlier was the reason for the lights being left on, but if the members feel they should be turned off we will investigate and see what we can do. We are all energy conscious.
I should just mention while I am on my feet, that the Ministry of Government Services has in three years accomplished a 16 per cent saving in energy, which represents many millions of dollars of savings to our taxpayers, which is what we are all interested in. I just wanted members to know that our ministry is doing its part on energy conservation and has very heavy goals to meet in the next two or three years to even further that saving.
Item 1 agreed to.
Items 2 and 3 agreed to.
On item 4, personnel services:
Mr. McKessock: My point under item 4 pertains to when government personnel are transferred from one area to another. It is my understanding that if their house is not sold within a period of time, either they are paid for it or the ministry takes on the job of selling the house.
I know of a case recently where three Ontario Provincial Police officers and one employee from the Ministry of Natural Resources were transferred from the small town of Markdale. The point I wish to bring up is the government lists these houses, I believe it is with National Trust, which then sublets them out to real estate firms. The firm is in Owen Sound and the houses I am referring to are in Markdale, which is 20 miles away. It seems to me -- and I have had real estate firms contact me on this point -- it would be more logical for the government to give the listings to the real estate firm in the municipality where the houses are rather than have them listed with a company in Owen Sound, which then phones the real estate companies in Markdale to find out the prices of the houses and the Markdale firms do the work on it and yet do not have the listing for the houses.
A similar situation has happened under Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation in the federal government. At that time, I was also contacted by a real estate firm asking if, instead of having them listed with a firm in Owen Sound, they could be listed with the local firm. I contacted the federal minister in charge of the CMHC and they made that change. They have now listed them with the local firm rather than in the larger centre miles away from where the houses are for sale.
My question is, could the minister do the same thing as CMHC did in that regard? If personnel are leaving from any small municipality that has a real estate agent or firm in it, could these houses be listed with them rather than with a real estate firm many miles away?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, for the many cases that we have where employees are transferred from one place to another, we have very few complaints about this. What happens is they both get appraisals done and, providing the appraisal is accepted by both, they would have 90 days for a real estate firm to sell that at that price or higher. If one happened to come in at $50,000 and the other at $52,000, they would probably accept $51,000, using that as an example. If the owner of the house could sell it at $58,000 or $$55,000, so be it. He would be ahead of it.
After the 90 days we would guarantee him the $51,000, as I used in the example. He and his wife would then be able to go out and purchase a new home in the area they were transferred to, as well as getting their relocation expenses out of that. Then we would try to sell that house for the $51,000 we paid the person who was transferred.
The member mentioned National Trust. In a high percentage of the cases we do get the appraised value for the house through National Trust, which at this time is our agent. There are a few cases where, when we pay, say, the $51,000, conditions change. Maybe it is higher interest rates or employment in that area. In a few cases we have to have a reappraisal and have to accept something other than the $51,000 we paid the employee. All the cases where we do not get what we paid the employee for his or her home have to be submitted to cabinet for approval.
It seems to be working quite well. Anyone I have spoken to seems quite happy. There seems to be a problem sometimes trying to get a house when a person moves from one area to another. I had someone in Brockville who was transferred to an area where he had to pay a higher cost for the same house. To get an equivalent house where the chap was being transferred to was probably going to cost $15,000 more. Those sorts of conditions I think will always happen. I don’t know how we get around it. For the most part it is working well.
Mr. McKessock: I am sorry if I did not explain it well enough, but the minister has missed my point. I am speaking for the real estate agent in the small town where the houses are for sale. The agents are complaining to me, asking why the government does not list with them rather than with a real estate agent in Owen Sound. The Owen Sound company calls Markdale to find out what the price of a house is and the Markdale company is really doing the work but it is the Owen Sound company that has the listing. What the local real estate company is saying is it would like to have the listing.
The same thing happened with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, as I mentioned previously. It was listing its homes for sale with a company in Owen Sound and one of my small towns contacted me and asked if the government could not list with it, instead of with a firm 25 or 30 miles away. At that time I wrote to the federal minister in charge of CMHC and he made that change. Instead of listing in Owen Sound, it now lists with Dundalk, Markdale or Flesherton. If the town has a real estate agent they will list with them rather than taking it 30 miles away.
My question is: Will the minister consider doing the same thing? Rather than have National Trust contact a firm in Owen Sound, if the houses are for sale in Markdale have them contact the agent in Markdale or Dundalk or wherever and list them there rather than 30 miles away.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, we do. Right now I mentioned we are using National Trust, but we do put that out for tender. It is usually the trust companies that get into this because it requires a fair bit of money on their part to carry this. Some of the smaller firms would not be able to do it. I understand they split the commissions with the real estate agents out in the areas. But I am told they have to be tied, in, in some way, with National Trust.
You ask if we would be willing to look at what the federal people are doing. As I mentioned, I think this is working quite well and I feel we should carry on the way we are doing it. I have not had any complaints other than where they go from one district to another where the cost of an equivalent house may be $10,000 to $15,000 more. They have been living in a three-bedroom modern bungalow and they want something the same in another district but the cost is higher. I have some sympathy for that, but I do not know how you would get around it. It is working well and I would not want to give a commitment that we go the same route as the federal people at this time.
Mr. McKessock: Mr. Chairman, I just want to make one further point. I know it is working well as far as the personnel are concerned. It is the real estate companies that are upset. Another point is that the keys to the house are in Owen Sound -- 25 or 35 miles away -- and yet there are real estate firms right in that town where the houses are that do not have access to the houses.
They are on a multiple-listing service, that is right. They will split the commission if they sell them, but they feel they should be listed in the local towns where the houses are for sale. As I say, CMHC was doing the same thing you were doing up until this year. After I contacted the federal government and the minister in charge, giving the same presentation as I am giving to you on behalf of the real estate agents, they did make that change. They now list in the local municipalities where the houses are for sale. I would ask if you would consider doing that as well.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, if the member is having a particular problem in his area regarding that, if he were to put it down in writing and send it in to us, we will see what we can do to try to correct this situation. But I would not give the commitment at this time that we will go the same route as the federal people have done.
Item 4 agreed to.
Items 5 to 10, inclusive, agreed to.
Vote 501 agreed to.
On vote 502, provision of accommodation program:
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Chairman, in your program administration, do you have any different attitude or changes in policy with regard to purchasing or lease buy-back? You are still in the lease buy-back system? I know in one building in Windsor you are leasing it back and at the end of 25 years you own the building. Are you still following that in some areas?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, we have three ways of providing accommodation for ministries and agencies of the government: outright lease; lease purchase, the one the member is talking about; and capital. One only has to look at how much capital we have had in the last few years. Perhaps the member was critic when the capital in our ministry was much greater than it is today. We have had to go to lease purchases on some of our buildings. We have found lease capital the best way to go and lease purchase very close to it.
We probably have the Kingston building on a lease purchase and the Oshawa building for Revenue is a lease purchase. Those are the only two new ones we have on lease purchase this year. There may be one or two in the future that will go to lease purchase, if Management Board agrees. With the limited capital we have, I think the member will agree we will either have to go that way or to straight lease. But lease purchase is better than straight lease.
Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Chairman, first of all, could I confirm that this is the appropriate vote with regard to the provision of courthouse accommodation? Given that it is, I would like to raise some questions with the minister about the provision of courthouse space in the city of Hamilton for the entire judicial district in Hamilton-Wentworth.
From time to time, my colleagues and I have been assured by your colleague the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) that he has been pushing as hard as he is able for additional court space in Hamilton because of the seriously overcrowded accommodation that exists at the moment. Particularly, there are simply too few courtrooms available for the use of the judicial system in Hamilton. I wonder how loudly those pressures from your colleague have been reaching your ears and whether you have been able to respond to them, whether you can respond to us tonight about the need for court space and about your ministry’s intention to provide that court space in the very near future.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Perhaps I should explain that we now have a five-year forecast we are trying to follow. In order to get a priority we have it go through the policy fields. Each policy field decides what capital projects are going to be brought forward in that field. That is not to say if something very important comes up that needs to be done one cannot be stood down and another brought up in its place.
I believe the tone at the end of your statement was, “What is Government Services going to do about it?” We seem to have been the people who got it in the neck, so to speak. Now it is up to the policy fields to decide and help us in our five-year forecast as to what they want and what their priorities are within that field.
Knowing that, and having been in the ministry for 15 or 16 months now, I know the demands on added court facilities and changes to our present courts are not just limited to Hamilton. Changes need to be made in a lot of areas. We all know within the ministry that we could probably spend all the capital we have just meeting that one ministry’s request of us. But it is really their responsibility to tell us what their priorities are and then we try to meet that priority for them. As far as Hamilton itself is concerned, I will have an answer here for you in a minute, about what priority that is given. Just bear with me for a minute and maybe we could go ahead with another member and then come back to that.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Chairman, while the minister is discussing court facilities and so forth, he is certainly aware of the Windsor situation and Windsor’s need for additional court space. I did communicate with him and he replied to me by letter dated October 20 that he was going to provide additional court space in the provincial public building located directly across from the provincial courts building in the city of Windsor.
I think the legal profession in the community does not look upon it as a pro tem measure. They look upon the solution to the problem as requiring permanent space and that is why I did mention to you the possibility of leasing the Steinberg building that is directly across from the provincial courts building. The city would be willing to buy the building if you would be willing to rent space in that building because they could use the building for other purposes. Also, the new facilities would have substantial room for expansion, as we anticipate expansion will be necessary in the not too distant future.
Have your officials looked into the possibility of leasing one portion of the Steinberg building -- not the whole building because it is not needed at all, but one portion of it so that courtroom facilities could be established there on a permanent basis? It struck me as strange that you were going into the provincial public building when the various offices in that building seem to be clamouring for additional space and apparently you must have dislocated several of the offices in there to provide that space as a resolution to the problem for additional court space in the city of Windsor.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, we were just discussing this. The Attorney General has a backlog in the city of Windsor, as you know, and we are making this space available. It was provided in the Ontario government building. I think it is good to use up our own building at this time when this space is available and is surplus. At such time as we need it for the other ministries that are in that building, then perhaps a suggestion similar to what you have just made would be in line. I think it would be false economy for us to have space in our own building that was not being occupied and go out and rent additional space, but we will keep your thoughts in mind, regarding the building you mentioned and others, for such time as we need more space or have to move them out of our government building there.
Just while I am on my feet, I understand that in Hamilton, if the member is listening, we have had no request, as I understand it from staff, to go ahead with additional courts in the Hamilton area. That is all I can say at this time.
Mr. Warner: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: Did the minister say that there was no request from the Attorney General for additional court space in the city of Hamilton?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I am sorry, I will rephrase that. We have had no requirements given to us from the Attorney General’s department. That is not to say -- I should correct myself -- perhaps he needs the space, but we have not had any requirement saying how many courtrooms or whatever are required, if I can just be corrected on that.
Mr. B. Newman: In my questioning of the minister concerning the court space in the Windsor area, I understood there was not sufficient space in that provincial public building. In talking to various people working in the building, they all tell me they are cramped for space in the building. If there is space in there, all well and good. I would not, by any stretch of the imagination, suggest renting other facilities if there are facilities available right in one of the provincial buildings. But my understanding is there was not sufficient space in there. If there is, as you or your officials say, then that is all well and good, but I am fairly positive you are still going to be pressured by the legal fraternity because, from my discussion with them, the amount of space there would not be sufficient for their needs.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, my staff tells me we do have extra space in the Ontario government building in Windsor where we hope to put in this extra courtroom to take care of the backlog. In the Windsor area we are asking the Attorney General to confirm his needs. When we get that information, we will be in a better position to say if any additional courts, besides the one in the Ontario government building, are needed.
Mr. B. Newman: I hope you will not delay in developing those facilities, because the backlog just continues to grow in numbers. Where justice is delayed justice is denied.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, that is why we are going ahead with one courtroom in the Ontario government building at this time, to look after some of that backlog, but we will be looking for a report from the Attorney General as to his exact needs for that area.
Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Chairman, I am just a little taken aback by the minister’s reply on the Hamilton situation. I am not in any sense being critical of the minister, but my colleagues and I have been assured over the months and over the years by the Attorney General that he recognizes there is a serious problem in Hamilton with regard to lack of accommodation for the courts. Indeed we have had very recent acknowledgement, certainly in my interpretation, from the Attorney General that he is aware that the administration of justice in Hamilton-Wentworth is being frustrated by the lack of space.
Yet we hear tonight the Attorney General has not taken the trouble to put together a requisition for space, or whatever the request is, to go to the minister in order to rectify that. That just horrifies me, and I wonder if you could explain a little more what the process might be. What should the Attorney General have done in order to bring to your attention the need for space? Those of us who have the concerns of Hamilton-Wentworth at heart might be able to do something the Attorney General has failed to do, despite the fact he has given us repeated assurances that he is aware of the problem.
I find it quite incredible that there is a situation where there are very serious crime problems in parts of the city, very serious problems recognized by a lot of the lawyers and a lot of the assistant crowns, where there are too many remands and the courts are just not properly dealing with cases that come before them, not because of any inability of the courts themselves, but because they just do not have room to set up sufficient hearings and to deal with justice in a proper way. Then we learn tonight that the Attorney General has been sitting on his hands, that nothing is happening.
Mr. Gaunt: He is out there chasing all that hockey violence.
Mr. Isaacs: Hockey violence may be a problem in some places, but I have to tell the member for Huron-Bruce that hockey violence is not the greatest concern in the city of Hamilton when people are murdered at Hamilton Place. Violence is a serious concern and we need something done about it. It is the view of the police, the legal profession and many of those intimately involved in the administration of justice that one of the serious problems is a lack of court facilities in Hamilton. The courts are overcrowded, they are trying to push too many cases through the physical space that now exists and the problems in dealing with the criminal elements could be overcome, at least in part, if we had more courtrooms.
I hope the minister will initiate something along this line so we can begin to see some progress in dealing with Hamilton’s crime problem. I am horrified to learn the Attorney General is not moving in that direction when he has been telling us for so long that he recognizes the problem.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: As I mentioned earlier, the Attorney General could probably use our complete budget as far as capital goes in a lot of areas in the province, including the great county of Lanark. We are usually law-abiding citizens, but we could use another courtroom as well.
I believe it comes down to which is a greater priority. The member for Windsor-Walkerville was talking about the problems they are having in his area. We know what the problems are in Ottawa and other areas. There are a lot of priorities, and in fairness to the Attorney General, he has to try to put them in some sort of perspective.
For the benefit of the member for Wentworth, I have been given a note that says Mr. B. McLoughlin has been in Hamilton today. He is the accommodation person with the Attorney General’s office. He was there looking over the situation as late as today. One has to keep in mind that the Attorney General has a lot of demands made on him and has to put them in their priorities. On any of these two, there would have to be Management Board approval. That has not been sought yet because we have not had the demands.
Mr. Warner: We understand what a priority is. What is so deeply disturbing is to learn the Hamilton court space is not even on the list of priorities. The Attorney General clearly indicated to us he understood the situation in Hamilton and that at least two extra courtrooms were needed.
The problem of violence in Hamilton has been brewing for some time. It is deeply disturbing to the community at large. The minister may or may not be aware of the murder that took place at Hamilton Place. As a result of that murder, the police were urged to crack down on the Parkdale gang and some of the other thugs in the community to try to restore some law and order to that community.
In so doing, we discovered there was a tremendous backlog of cases in the courts in Hamilton. The Attorney General acknowledged in a meeting we had with him that what would help in the Hamilton situation was the establishment of two more courts to try to clear the large backlog that existed.
We now discover he has done absolutely nothing; otherwise, the extra court space would be on your priority list. Maybe it would be at the bottom of the list. Of course, there are courts needed around the province. We all understand that, but at least he should have taken the initiative to forward the request for extra court space in Hamilton to your list of priorities. He should have done that months ago yet he has done nothing. I am quite shocked.
I want the Minister of Government Services to understand I am not directing my frustration at him. I am hoping that message gets through to the Attorney General because the situation in Hamilton should not be tolerated any longer; it really should not. The people in Hamilton deserve much better.
Mr. B. Newman: Is the Windsor situation all clear as far as Management Board approval is concerned? Will you be using the provincial public building in setting up the additional courtroom facilities? The city would like to know that you will follow up on this rather than waiting for Management Board to come along and give or not give its approval.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: What we are doing in Windsor is a little different from the Hamilton situation. We have to take the Hamilton situation to Management Board when we get the requirements. On the Windsor one, I am told, we do not. The one courtroom I mentioned to the member will be finished and in operation as soon as possible to get rid of the backlog that is there.
Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Chairman, while we are on courthouses, everybody has a problem with courthouses. This possibly speaks to the quality of the administration of justice in this province because it is a problem that seems to be common everywhere, with the exception of the county of Peel.
As I understand it, the minister has had his officials down at the Brant county courthouse. We don’t want a replacement, although perhaps at some time in the future we can use a new one. We do have a nice building with some historical significance to it which fits in well with the landscape in the square next to Victoria Park and so on. The building itself, however, is totally inadequate for the purposes it is supposed to serve in terms of facilities for the female staff, facilities for the judge, air conditioning, matters of security or storage of records. Anything you name, we ain’t got it.
I was advised some time ago that your people have been down and certain architects have been hired and plans drawn up and all the things that were supposed to be done were on the road. Could the minister indicate at this time what stage he is at in this matter and when we may see some carpenters, builders, masons, plumbers and electricians on site and the building being renovated?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, the Brant county people have asked us to look at purchasing that building and we will be down to look at it in the future. We have had a lot of requests from different counties about buying the court facilities, because in most cases we take so much of the county building they feel we should take the whole operation. In some cases where they are looking for expansion of the courts, that would mean we would need almost 100 per cent of the occupancy of that building.
We are going to have someone go down and have a look. If memory serves me correctly, they were not looking for an answer right away, but they could put it in their long-range forecast for something down the road, to know whether or not we were interested in a possible purchase of that facility.
Mr. Makarchuk: Whatever the situation is -- and it seems to change from day to day, or new council to new council -- I think initially they wanted something done to the section of the building used for the administration of justice. There were plans in the works that the ministry is going to do some work there. In effect, if you had a safety committee in that building it would probably condemn the building and say the working conditions are dangerous and the facilities, particularly for the female staff, are totally inadequate. Some arguments could be made in terms of health, and so on, where the operations would not be in line with the requirements of the various Ministry of Labour regulations.
I think the county council is interested and perhaps frustrated because it has been waiting for a long time to see what you are going to do with the building. The county chambers are not adequate for them so they want either you or them to take it over completely. I suppose their wish is that the county chambers could be moved into another building or possibly a new downtown redevelopment could be fitted in there. So there are various things down the line.
However, the building itself should be preserved and could possibly be renovated for total use as a court building. As I understand it, what is in the plans is that you are going to discuss purchasing the building and possibly renovating it. Is that the rumour right now, or is there something reasonably concrete on that matter?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Many of the old court buildings would probably not meet the Ontario Building Code standards today. We all realize that. Living in an old town as I do, probably my own in the county would not meet them all. You should be aware that the major improvements in the courthouse would be the responsibility of the county. The lease type improvements, the inside furnishings and so on of the courts, would be ours. That is the way it is broken down. It is too early yet to say whether we are interested. We have not had the money to buy county buildings since I took over the Ministry of Government Services. We have not had the money to purchase these. There were one or two purchased in the past.
We did agree to go down and tell them our intentions of what we would try to do in the future so they could plan. I suppose they would like to know whether we are interested in buying it all out. It may be that they will not go ahead with the improvements if they are going to sell it to us. They will let us do it when we get it. I am only guessing at things like that, but that is probably what would happen.
Mr. G. E. Smith: Mr. Chairman, as the minister may be aware, several years ago his ministry, in co-operation with the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, built a new court facility in Orillia on a leaseback arrangement. At that time, when the plans were being discussed, representatives from your ministry’s property branch as well as from the Attorney General’s department met with the then mayor of the city of Orillia. I had the privilege of sitting in on the meeting, along with some other people involved with the court facility.
It was indicated at that time, because of the location on Front Street, which is a very busy thoroughfare, that the government would consider a second entrance off a street running parallel to the back of the property. This satisfied the needs of the city council and those at the local level. As a matter of fact, there was property available at the time but I gather, because of the cost of the property and I suppose because of limited budgets, the ministry never went ahead with the second entrance or exit. It is still causing some real problems of heavy congestion. The property in question is no longer available; it has been used for other purposes.
What I am leading up to is how do you or your ministry staff propose to resolve this problem? It would seem, despite what your staff says, there is not really adequate parking on court days when the police are there with their cruisers bringing the prisoners in from Barrie. It is really a tight situation. I think you should be looking further down the road to resolve this problem if you are not already doing so.
I suppose this leads into another proposal that has been given to me. As you are likely aware, there are a number of provincial offices in Orillia, the sales tax office which is using the existing building, the Ministry of Industry and Tourism regional office, maybe half a dozen of them. While I am certain the landlords who rent the space to the various ministries are very happy with it, from time to time people come to me and say, “Why does the government not have a long-range plan to locate all the provincial offices in one building?”
I know this is done in some areas. I am not necessarily recommending it at this point in time, but do you have any policy or any long-range planning, maybe three or five years down the road, that there might be a provincial building in the city of Orillia to house all the government offices? Perhaps you could give some indication of just what your plans might be in the foreseeable or a little more far distant future. I would be interested in your comments.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, I understand the court facilities in Orillia are in leased premises, not lease-purchases.
Mr. G. E. Smith: I am sorry, I meant leased. I did not indicate that you were going to purchase it eventually.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: My staff tells me we have looked into the parking there and there seems to be concern among some of the users that there is not adequate parking space. Our formula or criterion for arriving at how many spaces should be available has been met. It is something we can look into and monitor a little more closely. It is in keeping with the formula we use, so many parking spaces for the number of people using them.
I think at most courts on a particular court day, using my own area as an example, you are lucky to get within two blocks in any direction of the court. Again, that is not to say we have a lot of bad people in Lanark county. We will look into the parking area situation.
We have not looked at the consolidation of different ministries in Orillia because we did not think it was large enough yet to do that. We are trying to do it in areas where it seems feasible. As members know, we just opened a new Ontario government building in Sudbury a couple of weeks ago. I believe we have 14 ministries located in that building. It is something we are working towards. It has its pros and cons. Many of the people we lease from at the present time are, I think, providing a good service to us. When you consolidate, all those people are looking for new tenants.
One of the good parts about it is that everyone knows where it is and it has a high profile in the community. They are not spending a lot of time looking around for one particular ministry or the other, such as they would do if you find one ministry here and another somewhere else. That is one of the good things about it. We are doing it where the numbers seem to warrant and where funds are available, or where we can get someone to take it on a lease-purchase.
Mr. G. E. Smith: Just to clarify a point, I was not really suggesting that the minister build a government building. I was thinking of looking at expanding the leased facilities, if they were available in that particular area. I was passing on comments I have received from local people that there would be some convenience to have them in the area. It might be at this point that there would not be additional space in that general area, but I just draw it to the minister’s attention that it has been suggested to me that there would be some convenience, particularly where we do have a number of offices in the area.
Certainly it provides some return on investment for some of the smaller landlords in the area and it might prove a hardship to them. I am not recommending it at this point. I am suggesting that perhaps even on a leasing arrangement, you might be taking a look at consolidating the offices in one area.
I am not really that concerned about parking. As you say, you do work on the formula. I do feel that from a safety standpoint, you should continue to monitor the exits and entrances -- the one exit which goes out into a busy street -- and perhaps be looking at some point in the future to following up the original suggestion that was made that there would be a second entrance and exit. I will leave it with you.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: The member for Huron-Bruce is on a list that Chairman Edighoffer left with me. I have others, so I am not asking you to speak. I am just trying to follow the list which was left for me.
Mr. Gaunt: I have a matter on the second item of the second vote.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: We are on vote 502. I think we can look at the whole vote together.
Mr. Gaunt: In that case, I am on the list. I just wanted to find out what the ministry has done with respect to the former Grandview Training School. I think it is about two miles south of Highway 401, on Highway 24, near downtown Galt.
I did have some communication with the ministry a number of months ago with respect to this particular property. I know the city of Cambridge came and conferred with the minister. I gather a number of other people came in at the same time. I think the regional police commission has taken up some of the property. I think there were a number of other organizations interested in some of the property. I am wondering how it sits at the moment.
Have we made any progress with respect to this particular property? Will the city of Cambridge actually get control of that property and then make their own deal as best they can with other interested parties? What is the situation? What will the price be? I gather it will be market value price, but I am wondering what has been accomplished in the seven or eight months that this matter has been on the minister’s platter, so to speak. Have we made any progress? If not, when?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, just about a month ago, or less, I signed the agreement of sale for the regional police force to buy the front part of the lot next to the highway or the main street. As the member is probably well aware, my predecessor and myself met many times with Her Worship and members of her council. My predecessor mentioned, as I have mentioned, that there was no way we could sell that property for one dollar. Her Worship came back again and again, after we had said we could not accept that offer, with the dollar.
I told her there was no use in us continuing the discussion, if that is what it was. We told her we would look at something other than market value. I believe my deputy had discussions with one of the planners or someone from her staff and had come in with a price that would be for limited recreational use for the balance of the property after the regional police force area was sold off. That price was considerably less than market value, with a stipulation in it that if they wanted to use the property for other than the limited uses, they would have to pay market value at that time.
We have had other people who are interested in it. One group that approached me, if it were to purchase it, was interested in turning the area into small apartment building for senior citizens or some other people -- they were apartments anyway.
I understood the mayor was going to make a submission to cabinet about it. That is where it stands at present. I would like to do something with it as soon as possible, because it has been sitting there for a considerable length of time. If we do not do something with it soon, I suppose the provincial auditor will be mentioning it, even though we are trying to work with everyone concerned to come to a suitable solution.
Mr. Gaunt: As I understand it, the regional police have taken the front seven acres. You are still negotiating with the city of Cambridge for the remaining part -- the price of which has not been exactly determined. It is something less than market value. Is that the state of the nation?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: That is basically what has happened. But I understand there was a submission that came in after -- and I have a copy of it -- we had said we would take something less than market value. The fact now skips my mind but it was quite a bit under the market value. Then the mayor and council saw fit to try to go around Government Services again and make a direct appeal to cabinet for the dollar. So until cabinet deals with that, I do not know where it stands.
As soon as it is dealt with and cabinet agrees that the Ministry of Government Services will handle it then I would be prepared -- if they are not interested and still appear to be, in my words, playing around with us on it -- to put it up for public auction.
Mr. Worton: Mr. Minister, on Friday of last week I had delivered to my residence correspondence and a report made by our chief of police to the board of police commissioners, to the crown attorney, to the city administrator, to the judge and to myself the information I have forwarded to the Attorney General with a copy to you, Mr. Minister. Briefly, it contains the concerns expressed by the chief to those people mentioned in regard to the lack of detention cells at the county court in Guelph.
While we were all pleased last week to participate in the opening of the new provincial jail, the removal of that provincial jail from the rear of the county buildings has now left us without any facilities close at hand for persons coming before the courts for trial. There have been instances in the past year that have caused the chief of police and the Ontario Provincial Police concern for the safety of the judge, court officials and the public.
You are aware of the good co-operation you have had with the county. You have treated them very fairly with regard to the county buildings and the old police building. They are at present renovating some of their offices and perhaps now would be an appropriate time for your staff to work out some arrangement whereby adequate detention cells or accommodation could be brought into being for the use of that county court.
After receiving the correspondence, I talked with the chief. I know him well enough to know he does not become alarmed easily and he only reacts when there is justification or need for something in the way of detention quarters. I would appreciate very much if you would have your staff and that of the Attorney General act on this matter as quickly as possible. In talking with you personally, you indicated that situations of a similar nature happen in other jurisdictions. When we now have something which is a matter of public knowledge, I do not think we should hesitate too long before doing something, because of the seriousness of the matter.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the honourable member. He did give me the correspondence earlier this afternoon during question period. I will discuss it with the Attorney General and with the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Walker), who will be involved in it as well. Last Tuesday we did have the privilege, with the member, of opening the new detention centre in Guelph. It seemed like a pretty good centre, as those kinds of holding areas go. We will look into it and get back to the member.
Mr. Worton: I appreciate that consideration. One of the places I visited quite often was the county jail. It will be something out of the ordinary now on Sunday morning, on my way to church across the road, not to get called to the jail to discuss some matter about some person who feels he should not be in jail. He calls on me to tell me his story. I will now have a little farther to go to do that.
While it is taking away from my original intent, I must add we are well pleased with the new facility for these people in our area who do occasionally get off the track and into trouble.
The Deputy Chairman: What is the wish of the committee? I note the hour is 10:30. I have the member for Haldimand-Norfolk on my list yet.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Chairman, I think we will resume the review of the estimates on Friday.
The Deputy Chairman: I do not know what day they will be on again.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Whenever it is, I will leave my questioning until that time.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of supply reported progress.
The House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.