32nd Parliament, 1st Session



































The House met at 2 p.m.



Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that I have today laid upon the table the fourth report of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses with respect to indemnities and allowances of members of the Legislative Assembly.



Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, later this week I will sign an agreement with the president of the Ontario Medical Association covering OHIP benefits payable for physicians' services for the coming year. It is based on the recommendation of Professor Paul Weiler who, as chairman of the Joint Committee on Physicians' Compensation for Professional Services, has produced a fact finders' report which I will table at the appropriate time in today's proceedings.

The agreement provides for an overall adjustment of 14.75 per cent in the OHIP schedule of benefits. The detailed adjustments of the individual items will be made by the Ontario Medical Association subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

Both Dr. MacMillan, the president of the OMA, and I would like to publicly commend Professor Weiler and the members of the committee for their report, which we believe will contribute to the high level of medical care which we all enjoy in this province.



Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the Minister of the Environment in his new capacity. Would he comment to the House on the action his ministry will take in the light of the information revealed over the weekend that 89 pesticides, including many herbicides commonly used by the farmers of the province, have not been adequately tested? As a matter of fact, the testing has been shown to be fraudulent, or at least questionable.

How can we assure the users of these herbicides and those who would be exposed to them in this province that, in fact, they are not undertaking any substantial or undue risk?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member may recall, this is not the first time concern has been raised with respect to this particular list of pesticides and herbicides. The matter arose, first of all, some few years ago and we have had ongoing communication with the federal government which, as the member may also be aware, is responsible for listing or not listing the particular chemicals in question.

The difficulty we have had in this regard relates primarily to the availability of information from the federal government. On numerous occasions we have requested specific information about the type of testing that had been done on the various chemicals. This information was submitted to the federal government for its consideration at the time of the original decision being made with respect to listing, and we have repeatedly been denied that information, most recently by way of a letter from the Honourable Monique Begin, the Minister of National Health and Welfare. She had been advised by the federal crown law officers that, because of the nature of the information submitted, it was confidential and protected. We have, therefore, only been able to receive assurances from the Minister of National Health and Welfare that its efforts are continuing to validate the testing that had been done, to try to identify if deficiencies in the testing exist.

As the member may know, the list appears to be being whittled down. Originally, the list we received contained some 97 chemicals; the most current one we have in our possession has 89, and I understand that now there is some discussion of the figure 79. But we are awaiting an updated list from the federal government.

The information we have at the moment, as I say, contains 89 and we requested, as recently again as this morning, information as to whether the figure 79 indicates that a further 10 have been tested, or checked rather, and the information reviewed and the list reduced.

We have also been requested by the federal government not to take precipitate action. I am obviously very much concerned about what, if any, effects there might be in a situation like this, but the Minister of National Health and Welfare has, in correspondence with my predecessor, indicated the concern about precipitate action and the impact it might have upon food supplies in this country.

We do not, ourselves, have the information on which to do any validation. The federal government has brought together a staff of experts, toxicologists from a variety of federal departments, and they are working on this at the present time.

If the member is asking me specifically what assurances I can give, frankly, the only assurances I can give are those the federal government has given. I can assure the member that it is an area in which I have a very deep concern about the question of safety. I will continue to review and monitor it as much as I can on a regular and daily basis.

2:10 p.m.

Mr. Nixon: Is the minister not aware that farmers such as myself would have read that list in the Globe and Mail this morning and picked out the chemicals we ourselves are ordering right now? Can he not give us more assurance, particularly through his advisory committee which has known about this for three years, that the officials of his ministry have done more than just sit back and complain about other levels of government not doing the testing that originally was done by the American parent companies in a fraudulent or, at least, a completely inadequate way?

Hon. Mr. Norton: I think the member ought to use the word in the singular. I believe the tests that are in question and about which questions have been raised relate to the activity of one particular testing company in the United States.

Mr. Nixon: They did most of the testing.

Hon. Mr. Norton: That is correct. I believe they did all of those on the list. The problem with respect to our own advisory committee is our getting the necessary information to do any evaluation, because that information is in the possession of the federal government. It is precisely that information which we have not been provided with, so that our advisory committee has been handicapped in terms of passing any assessment such as the member requests.

The closest I can come, or that my predecessor was able to come, to an assurance in correspondence with the federal minister is simply that there is no evidence of any harmful effect. They are now still in the process of checking, literally I understand, rooms full of test material and data that was submitted to them.


Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I have a question I would like to direct to the Premier on one of his favourite subjects, which is the provision of suitable staff facilities for the administration of Ontario Hydro.

Does it not bother him a bit that Ontario Hydro is leasing additional facilities in downtown Toronto at the corner of Bay and Dundas streets at $21 a foot to house an additional 1,000 to 1,500 employees when, over the past two years, it has been trying valiantly to rent its former headquarters which it abandoned some years ago and which they renovated for $5 million? Hydro has been trying to rent that at $14 a foot.

Would the Premier not feel there has been inadequate planning going back, let us say, a certain number of years but certainly in the last few months, which is going to cost the consumers of electricity funds they should not be called upon to pay?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) is quite prepared to deal with that question. He may be here later on.

I can only go by press reports, but my analysis of those reports indicated that Ontario Hydro entered into certain leases for the renovated old building at a time when the determination to move ahead with or expedite Darlington generating station, as requested by the government of Ontario, had not been made. As a result of that it is necessary, I gather from the press reports, for Ontario Hydro to house some of the people who will be involved in expediting Darlington in accommodation other than the accommodation it owns, which it has renovated and leased.

Mr. Nixon: Since the government has on two previous occasions expedited and then slowed down Darlington, why should the most recent expedition have electrified the leaders of Ontario Hydro to the extent they should have undertaken this when, even if it were finally decided the government had made up its mind it would not do another flip-flop on that matter, if they were going to hire additional technical people there is no reason for them to be in an office just under the Premier's window?

They could very well have been established at Pickering or somewhere else where they could get suitable facilities for less than $21 a foot. Why do they have to be maintained in downtown Toronto, which is usually reserved for Tory fund raisers and people like that?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I recall during the election campaign the leader of the Liberal Party was saying how little association the Tory party had with the business community and how he was going to sweep Bay Street. It is quite obvious that he swept Bay Street and lost everything else in the process. In fact, he is lucky he did not lose another half a dozen members in the process with the way he conducted his campaign. But we will raise that on another occasion.

I think it is fair to state as well that I can see a great deal from my window -- I know when the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk pulls up to the building in his car -- but I really cannot see the corner of Dundas and Bay from my window; it is not right under my window.


Hon. Mr. Davis: Don't you come by car? Well, I do too. The member has driven by me on occasion. He even waves on occasion as he goes by. His seatbelt is always done up and I have to make this abundantly clear. It is usually within the limits. I don't mean the seatbelt but the speed.

Mr. Breithaupt: -- stretched to the limit.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Is the member saying his colleague has to have his seatbelt stretched to the limit? I was talking about him, not me.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Davis: You are quite right, Mr. Speaker.

Also I would have to go back in history. I do not think the government really has flip-flopped on Darlington nearly to the same extent as the Liberal Party of Ontario has flip-flopped on just about every energy issue that I know.


Hon. Mr. Davis: The member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) should be the last one to talk about energy. He got his party into a lot of trouble with his energy statements which conflicted with his leader's policy and which conflicted with every one of the other Liberal candidates.

Anyway, back to the question, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Energy will have all of the details and the explanation for the member.

Mr. MacDonald: The government's request to Hydro to accelerate the construction of Darlington is only going to increase the startup of Darlington by six months. And this planned expansion of personnel and staff by Hydro is to deal not only with Darlington, which isn't affected seriously by that six-month acceleration, but Bruce and Pickering as well.

So may I put to the Premier the question that was put earlier: What is there new in the picture that could not have been anticipated six months or a year ago before the government requested Darlington to be accelerated? If done then it would have been able to put this added staff in the old building at $14 a square foot, rather than into new quarters at $21 a square foot.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the House leader for the New Democratic Party asked why I didn't say at the beginning of my answer to the supplementary question what I said at the end. But in that the member has asked the same question as the acting Leader of the Opposition, I would hope the House leader will understand that his member has asked a question that is really very similar.

I would only say to the Hydro expert in the New Democratic ranks that the Minister of Energy I am sure will give him a totally adequate answer as Hydro has answered every question during his chairmanship of that committee -- as I understand it, usually to his total satisfaction.

Mr. J. Reed: Will the Premier tell us if this space is required specifically for the speedup of Darlington or is the requirement for other staff additions in order to catch up on work which was ordered stopped last fall?

While he is ruminating on that, could he undertake to find out how much empty space is still available in the original Hydro building?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to get all of this information. I have said three times this afternoon that the Minister of Energy will have this information for the members.

I know the member for Halton-Burlington said to the press a few days ago he would ask this question immediately he had an opportunity and this is his first opportunity because he has not been here yet, but his acting leader has already asked the question for him. I would be delighted to find out that information for him.

I do not know of any project that Hydro is starting again. My own guess is, as the member for York South has said, that all of the personnel will not be directly involved with Darlington per se. There are other Hydro activities, including some of the --


Hon. Mr. Davis: The power lines? The power lines will ultimately be up and the members opposite will all be enthusiastic in supporting their specific location whenever that location is determined. The only regret I have is that I do not think the location will go through London Centre, so the member for London Centre won't have anything to say.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Housing about the problems that people on average incomes are having in buying homes in Metropolitan Toronto, including the fringe areas.

2:20 p.m.

Last week the minister thought the problem of affordability was restricted to core areas of the city. I would like to ask the minister how it is then that half the families in Metropolitan Toronto last year earned less than $27,000 a year in family income, and of the houses that changed hands in March of this year, only 17 per cent were sold at a price they could afford.

Does that mean that those families earning less than $27,000 a year are not to be able to have a home of their own? What action does this government intend to take in order to ensure that people on modest incomes, and not just those with high incomes, can have a home?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, in order to assess the situation which the leader of the third party is speaking about today, one has to consider whether the individual is a first-time home owner or is in the market for a second or third home. Unless one has all the facts and figures, it is very difficult to say that somebody with an income of $27,000 cannot afford some of the units which are available in this market.

In March, 1,700 out of some 5,000 units which were sold on the multiple listing service were sold at less than $60,000. In the same period, 311 people in this area bought homes at prices in the range of $40,000 or less. There are other statistics I could go through, but I am sure the members of this House are familiar with them.

We are not trying to exclude any particular income group from buying units. I have said before and I repeat that I do not believe that this government or any government has the right to try to interfere in the rights of the market to flow in accordance with the economy.

Just two and one half years ago, members on both sides of this House were complaining to me about developers in their communities going bankrupt because they could not move the stock which they had built. Some of them were selling at far below what it had cost them to build.

I think the question that is being asked has a number of ramifications and that it is simplistic to say that somebody with an income of $27,000 cannot afford to buy a home. I think one has to know a little more about that individual's financial position and whether it is a first time or second time purchase.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Last week, the minister said that affordability was restricted to the core areas of the city. Is he aware that in not one of the 50 areas into which Metropolitan Toronto is divided by the multiple listing service of the Toronto Real Estate Board was the average price of property sold below the $50,000 mark? Since the average home in any of those areas was not accessible to families earning less than the median income in Metro, surely there is an affordability crisis.

I ask the minister again if he is prepared to bring in a land speculation tax to stop the dizzy rise in the price of property. Is he prepared to take any other measures in order to protect ordinary working families whose only sin is that they didn't buy a house before the prices started to skyrocket?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat what I said last week. The leader of the third party knows very well that to start talking about averages is not at all a realistic situation.

I met with the Toronto Real Estate Board this morning and reviewed with them their press releases on a monthly basis. To try to talk about averages really makes very little sense. They admit frankly that if you took an average of the real estate sold in the core area of this community and compared it with the average of the balance of the real estate that was sold, particularly single family units, there would be a drastic difference between those averages.

Those averages tell us virtually nothing. They tell us that perhaps the overall price of real estate is escalating as a result of the downtown prices. It is no different from averaging the price of a Volkswagen and that of a Rolls-Royce. It tells one extremely little.

I am not going to get into an argument about average real estate prices on homes because there is no rationalization for it at all in this market.

Mr. Speaker: Before continuing with question period, I would like to make an announcement.

As honourable members know, the Sixth Commonwealth Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers is being held in Canada. I am sure the House will wish to extend a warm welcome to the many Presidents, Speakers and Clerks of parliaments who are in our galleries today. Their numbers do not permit individual introductions but I know you will give them a very warm welcome.



Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, if I may resume my question: Is the Minister of Housing not aware that according to the Toronto Real Estate Board the average price of homes sold in the east districts of Metropolitan Toronto in the first three months of this year was $73,989, and that the average price of the houses sold in the west district -- in both cases excluding the central core -- was $74,246? Is the minister not aware that to buy homes at that level at today's interest rates one requires an income of about $40,000 a year?

I ask the minister again, how can a working family earning $15,000, $20,000 or $22,000 a year afford that kind of housing when it is the only kind of housing available in Metropolitan Toronto?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I refer to the fact that averages are just one of the things that can be so misleading in the market of today.

Let us just look for a moment -- and I will take a few moments of the House's time -- at the multiple listing service listings and the real estate sales in March of this year.

Under $40,000 there were 311 sold, as compared to 184 in 1980; between $40,000 and $45,000, 228; between $45,000 and $50,000, 360 sold in the month of March in the current year. For $50,000 to $55,000, 377; between $55,000 and $60,000, 435; between $60,000 and $65,000, 374 units; between $65,000 and $70,000, 411; and between $70,000 and $80,000, 636. That is at the limit the leader of the third party is talking about at the moment -- the average individual, the average price. There are many that fall well below the average price and which are available to the average income earner in this province.

Mr. Ruprecht: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister aware that the 1981 inventory of new houses ready for occupancy is down 68 per cent in the last four years, and that the Ontario overall starts last year were the lowest in 14 years?

Is the minister still saying cheerfully, and I quote an article from the Toronto Star, "The day is fast coming when we could very well recommend to the Premier that the Ministry of Housing could disappear"? Is this the kind of policy the minister has been propagating in the last three days with his non-answers and his obfuscations, as I said earlier? Is he indicating to this House with this kind of policy that he wants to disappear, not only from his own seat here but from the very ministry of which he is the head?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, as I said a few moments ago, I recall over the last two and a half or three years in this House there were many problems in the construction industry with developers in London, Hamilton, Ottawa and in this particular market of Ontario that had more stock and inventory than they could possibly move. A number of them had to make assignments and went into receivership because there were no purchasers.

The ambition and desire of that industry -- and I support it -- was to try to move that dead inventory they had at some considerable expense to them. Frankly, the government through its mortgage corporation and so on tried to assist a number of them to stay in the business of the development of housing until things turned around.

The member speaks of their inventory being down at the moment. I recognize that fact, that the inventory in the last relatively short period of time has moved exceedingly well, but, I am told, there is still in the Metropolitan Toronto area something in the range of about a nine and a half month supply and in the outlying areas of Ontario something in the range of a three and a half month supply of housing available to the market at this time.

Mr. Philip: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: As the minister who only a few months ago appeared before a committee of the Legislature and decried the creating of ghettoes for the poor, how can the minister advocate a "no action" that in fact creates the kind of ghettos for the rich where only the rich can afford to live in downtown Toronto?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I have to say I find that question completely irrelevant to this discussion today.

2:30 p.m.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, we will come back to this, because the Minister of Housing is abdicating his responsibility and so is the government.


Mr. Cassidy: I have a question for the Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker, arising out of the announcement of the settlement of physicians' salaries made in the House today.

According to the Weiler report, the increase in the price schedule that has now been agreed upon will generate an average increase in net income of $10,500 for full-time practitioners in Ontario. Since Mr. Weiler continues by saying that if the historical two per cent rate of increase in physician utilization continues unabated, the actual income increase will be closer to $12,000 in net income this year. Would the minister tell us whether we can assume that the doctors have agreed to terminate extra billing and opting out, and if not, given the generosity of this settlement, why not?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, we have discussed the latter frequently, and I think the honourable member understands why not, and the answer to the former is no.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, since the doctors' increase of $12,000 a year is equal to almost the entire annual earnings of the average hospital worker in Ontario, could the minister explain why the government did not insist in its negotiations with doctors that if they wanted to have a major increase in incomes and a catch-up, which is what they were seeking, from what they were getting before, the people of Ontario had a right to a quid pro quo, and specifically to the assurance that when they go to the doctor they will not be billed extra by the doctor because he has opted out?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member will recall, we have discussed this matter in this House on a number of occasions over the last three years. On all such occasions I have indicated to the honourable member that in my view, and in that of my government, to follow the course of action he recommends would lead to a very serious disruption of our medicare plan, one which, in my view, would be irreversible -- not unlike what happened to his favourite province of Saskatchewan.

Second, I would point out to the honourable member that the government has been able, by means of working with the profession, to bring opting out in the province down steadily. In fact, in March, opting out dropped again, so the effective rate of opting out now is somewhere around seven per cent when one considers the percentage of the claims on the plan.

It is still my view that to follow the course of action the honourable member recommends would lead to the kind of ongoing confrontations, such as we have seen in other jurisdictions, which only undermine the quality of the health care system and lead to ongoing trench warfare which the public can only lose.

I would point out, while we are talking about the stability of the system, the kind of thing the honourable member proposed during the election campaign, of giving the doctors the right to strike, would do anything but stabilize our medicare system.

Mr. McClellan: The doctors do have the right to strike now, if I am not mistaken.

Supplementary to the Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that according to the ministry's figures -- and the most recent figures I have, I am afraid, are May 1980, and I would be happy to be proved wrong, but assuming these figures are still valid -- there are no opted-in anaesthetists in Middlesex, Nipissing or Perth; there are no ophthalmologists in the plan in Etobicoke, Sudbury or Victoria county; there are no opted-in urologists in Peel, Halton, York region, Wellington or Etobicoke; and in Peterborough, Peel and Grey there is not a single orthopaedic surgeon still practising within the plan, can the minister tell us whether the announcement he has made today will make the slightest bit of difference in that thoroughly appalling situation?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Let me point out, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member perpetuates the folly of looking at the percentage of doctors billing the plan as the relevant standard. It is not the relevant standard. One has to look at the percentage of the claims on the plan which are extra billed, now at about 350,000 a day, which is down around seven per cent.

The fact that a physician is nominally opted out does not mean he is billing all of his claims at rates in excess of OHIP. There are a great many physicians in this province who have never been opted in and have always billed at, or close to, the OHIP rates. So one ends up with only about seven per cent of claims extra billed, and many of those are extra billed a nominal amount.

Second, because of settlements in the last couple of years we have been able to bring back into the plan, on a participating basis, an opting-in basis if you will, a great many physicians. That includes specialists as well as family practitioners, and I am optimistic that, just as in the last few years, the settlement we have arrived at will result in many more coming back in. There is no problem of access to the system.

Mr. Nixon: What about the commitment I seem to recall the minister making in the previous session when this matter was raised, that all public hospitals would have the basic specialities manned by doctors who would accept OHIP fees?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I think by and large that commitment is being lived up to. There have been a few isolated problems and we have again reminded the hospitals, which we rely on to work with their physicians, of this. Where we have individual complaints, which we do get from time to time, or complaints through the Ontario Medical Association, I think we have been able to work them out, with very few exceptions.


Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations regarding Astra Trust and Re-Mor Investment Management Corporation.

It was the recommendation of the standing committee on administration of justice on the last day before the dissolution of the House that:

"The committee regrets it has been unable to complete its inquiry. It believes a great deal of information remains to be placed on the public record, information which would clarify what went wrong in the Montemurro affair and why."

In view of the fact the committee recommended its inquiry be continued and completed should the Legislature and committee be dissolved, would the minister assure the House he will refer the Astra Trust/Re-Mor matter back to the justice committee forthwith, in order that the investigation can be continued?

If he is prepared to do so, would he also assure the House that all the documents secured for the committee through the Speaker's warrants, after considerable discussion and fight with the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), will be provided willingly to the committee so it can complete its investigation in an appropriate fashion?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I am not able to give either assurance. The matter will be considered on the overall question.

Matters that relate to mortgage brokers and other forms of licensing will be considered by the government in the next few months. It will take some particular form, but at this moment we do not know the form it will take. I would be interested in the member's observations on it. The preamble he has made this afternoon is an observation on it, but in relation to the committee itself, that committee, of course, came to a conclusion at the end of the last Legislature and presumably that is where it now stands.

Mr. Bradley: If this matter is referred back to the committee through procedures available to members of this House, would the minister assure members of the House that all the necessary documents would then be provided willingly by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations and any of its agencies as recommended under the Speaker's warrant?

Would he assure us that, despite the fact he now has a majority in this Legislature even though 56 per cent of the people of Ontario who voted did not vote for his party, he is still prepared to provide those documents for the committee willingly to show his good faith to all the people of Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Walker: If the matter were to be considered by that committee, if it ever were to be referred back to that committee, if it were to be restruck under similar terms, and if the matters referred to it were similar to what the matters were when the committee was originally struck or originally charged with the problem, then undoubtedly it would have those papers.

We are not talking at this moment about whether that would be referred to the committee. The real question at the moment is now before courts and will be dealt with in that way. The matter of mortgage brokers and their relationship to the government, and the relationship of the government and the mortgage broker licence to the people, is another matter that will have to be considered in future. It may involve a committee and it may not.

2:40 p.m.

Mr. Swart: Supplementary to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Mr. Speaker: Recognizing that interim report recommended compensation to the investors, and recognizing the Premier has stated that the investors will be compensated if negligence is proved, he must be aware that section 8 of the Act states there can be no liability on the part of the officer of the government or, in fact, the government itself, unless bad faith is proved, which is a very different thing to negligence. Will he say to this House that he is prepared to waive that section of the act so that just negligence has to be proved and they will then be compensated?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, that very question was, in essence, posed to the federal government during a period of time when negotiations were under consideration. The fact of the matter is that the federal government advised us we would have to respond to all our defences or they would not be prepared to participate in any particular sharing of the expenses. I would think it is up to our friends across there in the Liberal Party to perhaps put a little heat on their kissing cousins in Ottawa to solve this problem.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The Minister of Revenue (Mr. Ashe) has the answer to a previously asked question.


Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, on Friday last the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) asked the following question in the form of a supplementary: "Is the minister also seeking, as is the case in some instances, a rebate on a prorated basis for those people who have died during the last half of 1980?" Of course, the question had reference to the property tax grant.

The response, Mr. Speaker: In the case of a pensioner who died after he had applied for the 1980 property tax grant, the grant is not prorated. Where death occurred in 1980 after the July 1 implementation date of the grant program, but before the pensioner had applied for the grant, the estate of the deceased is entitled to a 1980 grant on a prorated basis, with the calculation based on occupancy cost attributable to the portion of the year the deceased was alive.

If there is a surviving spouse who is also 65 years of age or older during 1980, occupancy cost up to the date of death is divided between the estate of the deceased and the surviving spouse, keeping in mind that in many instances the estate and the survivor are one and the same. The surviving spouse can claim his or her own grant based on 50 per cent of the occupancy cost prior to the death, plus any occupancy cost incurred following the spouse's death.

Mr. Nixon: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Will the minister explain why the additional cheques were sent out to the people in regard to whom his ministry had to take such Draconian action to get the first cheques back that were sent out in error?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk is not referring to death; he is referring to the ones that were sent again. I think I answered that question last Friday.

As I indicated to the House at that time, over half a million cheques were dispensed earlier this month to seniors who had received, or were on the list to have received, grants last year. In some instances, it would appear to be a relatively small number.

Some of those who had received grants in error last year -- albeit they did apply for them, probably in all good faith -- did receive a supplementary 1980 interim grant. They had, in the meantime, been contacted by way of a letter which indicated that they had in error received a 1980 grant, and because of computer programming, it might be the case -- I quote a specific paragraph from the letter they received:

"Because interim grants are based on grants made the previous year, you may receive a 1981 interim property tax grant. If you do, please return it to us for cancellation."

There were people -- there is no doubt about it -- who had not been pulled out of the computer programming, but rather than hold up the system, hold up the 530,000 people who were anticipating these cheques, some of this did happen. Again, they have been notified and repayment or the return of the cheque is not anticipated to be a problem.


Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health and it concerns urea- formaldehyde foam insulation in Ontario homes. In view of the health hazard that is becoming increasingly connected to this insulation, in view of the statement by the federal Minister of Health that she has discharged her responsibilities by banning the further use and by informing the public, and in view of the moral and legal responsibilities the minister opposite has as Minister of Health, will he commence a program at once of testing for formaldehyde gas in all homes in this province which have this foam insulation?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, the advice I have had from the federal government is to the effect that the expert medical committee that assisted the federal minister in the evaluation of this material has not as yet determined that it is in fact an actual or potential hazard. It has apparently indicated the need for further information.

We are in touch with the federal authorities. In the meantime, we have kept the local health departments informed, the 43 municipal health units, as we have been receiving information from the federal authorities over the last number of months, going back to December when they put on the temporary ban and since then the permanent ban. We have made the municipal units aware of the availability of assistance from the Ministry of Labour to offer them technical assistance in dealing with individual complaints.

At this point I don't believe the federal government has completely discharged its responsibilities. There are a lot of unanswered questions, and we will be pursuing the matter with them.

Mr. Swart: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: May I send to the minister a letter from Mr. Paul Toderick of 765 Church Street in Fenwick whose family has had considerable health problems?

He will note this contains two reports. The minister will note the one report, dated March 17, 1981, and signed by the medical officer of health for the Niagara region, which states that tests taken for formaldehyde gas in Mr. Toderick's home show levels 30 times the limits recommended in the Canadian ambient air standards. He will note the other report, signed by the previous medical officer of health for the Niagara region, showed the minister and his government knew of these dangers as early as December 1979.

At that time the medical officer of health stated -- the minister will read this in the report -- that whenever a report of suspected formaldehyde release is received, the Minister of Health can order the Ministry of Environment to conduct tests. They may not want to be involved in homes, but their laboratory is obliged to assess.

Would the minister not think this risk, as documented by this letter and other letters that I have, is serious enough that the ministry should do the investigations into every home that has this foam installed in the walls, so that this kind of health hazard, which has now been documented fairly well in 1979 by a medical officer of health, does not continue?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I have not had a chance to read in detail this memo on file from the former medical officer of health, but let me say to the member that under the Public Health Act the medical officer of health has extensive authority to do what he or she considers to be appropriate under the circumstances.

I would repeat that it was the federal government that approved this substance for use in the Canadian Home Insulation Program specifically, and it was the federal government that, quite rightly, when it determined there might be a problem, put on a temporary ban and kept all the provinces advised of what it was doing. We in turn kept all the local health authorities advised.

I repeat what I said before: I don't think all the questions have been answered as to whether this is a health hazard and, if so, what the corrective measures should be. That is not as yet clear.

2:50 p.m.

Mr. Nixon: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Since the bad effects of this insulation depend upon whether or not it was properly installed in the first instance, particularly if it was installed below a certain special temperature, would the minister authorize his medical officers of health, through their staffs, to provide the kind of inspection that individual home owners must surely be looking for? It certainly does not seem to be provided at the federal level. If these people could phone the MOH office and have somebody come out and do an inspection, they may find their insulation is properly installed, and I think that is the case in more than 90 per cent of the installations.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, the health units would not have, in their offices, the technical expertise necessary. That is why we pointed out to them several months ago, when we gave them the details of the temporary ban, that technical assistance was available from the Ministry of Labour. I would prefer to take the extra day or two to be certain of what the federal government's position is, and also the medical advice it has had, before we determine whether that is necessary.


Mr. Sheppard: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food on seasonal housing. Could the minister advise the Legislature what he plans to do about needed additional seasonal housing for farm workers? Our farmers are dependent on a good supply of workers to harvest their crops and I believe good housing is important in attracting good workers.


Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, first, it is easy to understand why that party is over there. They really are not interested in the people of the province.

In answer to the question of the honourable member, we have worked out an agreement with Ontario fruit and vegetable producers whereby we will share the costs of seasonal housing for up to 10 employees. The total grant will be 50 per cent or $1,000 per unit, and we believe it will supply the necessary housing.


Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Revenue following on the Ontario property tax grant scheme. As the minister is aware, some 2,000 senior citizens have had demands on them for repayment of the grant where those persons are residents of apartments owned by charitable organizations exempted from paying municipal property taxes. Will the minister look at section 9 of the act and inform the House whether the procedures under the act have been followed, especially as to whether notices in writing properly went to the applicants who were not eligible for grants, and advised those persons of their right to object to such a decision?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I will look at the section and get back to the member accordingly.

Mr. Breithaupt: While the minister is doing that, will he review this letter, a copy of which I am sending over to him now? It was sent out the week after the election and brusquely demanded repayment. If the letters are not in compliance with the act, would the minister agree that these pensioners are eligible for the 1980 grant?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I will look at the letter and respond at the same time.


Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism. It concerns the document on the Tory Board of Industrial Leadership and Development. There is one quote regarding the auto industry that says, "There is good cause to believe that the worst is past."

How can the minister make that statement, in view of the fact that our trade deficit with Japan from 1979 to 1980 doubled to $854 million; our deficit with the United States is still over $2 billion; our world deficit is $4 billion; production at Ford Motor Company for the first three months of this year is down 23 per cent; production at Chrysler is down 22 per cent; total production is down 10 per cent, and the unemployment rate remains at about 25 per cent for auto workers in this province?

Is the only response to the crisis in the automobile industry the government's Automotive Parts Technology Centre, which was promised to three quarters of this province?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the member may recall that recently a lot more auto workers were laid off in this province than currently are laid off. In this province there is something like 8,900 workers currently on indefinite layoff; in the United States there are 180,000. So we are doing far better than the Americans in terms of our employment.


Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member's colleagues may not be aware of the situation with regard to plant closings, which sometimes they would like to believe occur only in Canada. Let me tell them a little bit about what has been happening if they want to compare where the various auto industries are.

In the United States, in terms of General Motors plant shutdowns, we had a Pontiac assembly plant shut down in Michigan. St. Louis assembly, St. Louis Corvette assembly, Detroit Cadillac engine plant, Flint foundry and Detroit Cadillac assembly have all closed down.

Would the member like the list of Chrysler plant shutdowns in the United States? They include Lyons trim, Michigan; Hamtrack assembly, Michigan; Fostoria iron foundry, Ohio; Eight-Mile/Outer Drive Stamping, Detroit; Missouri truck assembly; Warren RV assembly, Michigan; Huber Avenue foundry, Detroit; Cape Canaveral, Florida; Mack Avenue stamping, Detroit, and Lynch Road, Detroit. The total employment loss there was almost 25,000.

Ford plants closing in the United States were Los Angeles assembly; Mahwah assembly, New Jersey, Dearborn assembly, Michigan; Flat Rock foundry, Michigan, and Cleveland engine plant. Those are all the plants that closed in the United States auto industry.

What has happened in Ontario? Members will recall the great fuss in this assembly, and quite properly, over the loss of the Chrysler engine plant and the Ford foundry. I recall standing in this assembly and saying to the members that the Ford foundry plant was not closed forever, that it might well be cranked up again. I do notice that I did not get an open letter from the member or anyone else noting that the Ford foundry plant had reopened, as we indicated was a major possibility. At this date we have one major plant shutdown in this country as opposed to the list I read from the United States.

I think it is also important to note, and the member asked the question, why it was I had some optimism that we have bottomed out.

Mr. Laughren: That was not what he said.

Mr. Cooke: That was not it.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: That is what the member said. He asked why we believe the worst is past. I can tell him one reason why we believe the worst is past: It is because this jurisdiction has done far more to rescue its auto sector than any other jurisdiction. We have the auto parts technical centre. We have SITEV America coming to Toronto instead of Detroit for its first show ever. We have perhaps one of the leading experts in auto parts working for this government in Paris and talking to the international auto parts people. We have major programs under the employment development fund which the member's party specifically opposed.

Last year we offered 20 loans and grants totalling $15.4 million to the auto industry; from Ontario Development Corporation and others, 13 loans and guarantees to the automotive industry. The total under those two programs was almost 5,000 jobs. We have had 73 major new auto plants or expansions in the past 24 months. Let the member show me another jurisdiction that has done that.

Finally, may I say one of the reasons I believe things are going to improve for our auto sector is that I read the special supplement in the Windsor newspaper. Why did they put out a special edition? It was because of the opening of the Ford V-6 engine plant, which is here expressly and only because this government took the initiative to put that major auto parts plant there and put in 2,000 jobs for the people that the member should be defending and protecting.

Mr. Cooke: It is too bad the minister does not put as much energy into getting jobs created in this province as he does into his long answers in this Legislature.

As a supplementary, I would like to ask the minister why he continues to have this optimism when the Ministry of the Treasury and Economics put out a study -- to which we never had a chance to get this minister to respond, because he refused to come to the select committee one week and the following week the plug was pulled and we had an election -- that indicates the Ford V-8 engine plants will be closing in Windsor and the V-6 engine plant this government talks about so often has a limited lifetime; that over the next three years the Chrysler car plant will be operating at minimal production and van production will be limited; that the American Motors car plant is likely to close over the next few years, and that the Holmes Foundry Limited plant is likely to close over the next few years.

3 p.m.

It also indicates that in the auto parts sector, where in 1970 Canada accounted for 70 per cent of the United States' imports of auto parts, in 1979 we accounted for 43 per cent. The report says, "If recent trends continue, Japan could displace Canada as the single most important supplier of automotive parts to the United States in the very near future," and its employment projections indicate a 35 per cent loss in auto jobs in this province.

How does the minister develop optimism from those kinds of statistics which were produced by his own cabinet colleague?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I believe the member was present when the report was tabled in front of the committee, or has taken the time to read Hansard when it was presented, so he knows it was a worst-case scenario developed by the Ministry of Treasury and Economics. It did not have the blessing of the cabinet or the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) of this province, as he made clear.

I know the member understands that any careful and cautious government does not simply rely on optimistic views of how the world might turn out; he always criticizes us for doing that. We can develop optimistic scenarios because we have done the homework, which includes looking at the worst-case scenario, the likely scenario and the best-case scenario. If the member is not too busy writing me open letters, I hope he will drop into the consideration of my estimates, where he will hear the best-case scenario. It may be informative for him.

Just to emphasize the point, may I say that the member and the select committee know the reference was to the worst-case scenario. It is the kind of thing a responsible government must do in order to know what the downside is and to develop programs that will ensure that that worst-case scenario does not develop. If he studies the figures, he will also note that, unlike every other jurisdiction in North America, to date we have avoided the worst-case scenario, and we will continue to do that.

Mr. Wrye: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that of all Ontario cities, Windsor has suffered the largest impact of this prolonged series of layoffs, especially at Chrysler, where, as the minister himself points out, the engine plant is going to close, throwing permanently out of work some 2,500 people, and the assembly plant has been cut back to a single shift and production at the Ford engine plant is only sporadic, is the minister now prepared to reconsider Windsor as a site for the auto parts technology centre, rather than putting it in one of the more politically favourable sites suggested by the government during the campaign?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I understand the honourable member is asking that question for reasons totally unrelated to political purposes for his own sake, that he thinks that is the best place to locate it for economic reasons. I am sure he has particular views on the situation.

May I say to him it is our view that the best two locations, from an economic point of view and as good business judgement, are the two places indicated. If the member or the city of Windsor believe they can argue successfully that Windsor is a better location, economically, for the location of that centre, we would be pleased to receive their submissions.

In fairness, I would not want to raise expectations for Windsor, because I should caution the member that the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development document was very carefully researched and drawn, particularly when it comes to the auto parts section. Therefore, I must caution the member that we, the Ontario Research Foundation and the auto parts people did a great deal of homework before deciding on Chatham and the Niagara Peninsula, which includes some opposition-held ridings, just to assure the member that politics had absolutely nothing whatever to do with this decision.

Mr. O'Neil: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Will the minister be recommending to the cabinet that the select committee on plant closings and employee adjustment be reconvened so that the final report can be brought in and some of these problems can be dealt with so that we do not encounter them again?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: My recommendations to cabinet are not something I ordinarily make public. The cabinet will have one position on that question.

Mr. O'Neil: What are the minister's personal feelings?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: What are my feelings on it? I will vent those this Wednesday or perhaps next Wednesday at cabinet.

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


Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege. As a member of this assembly representing the largest constituency of francophones in Ontario, and also a very large agricultural area, I feel my privileges as a member have been abused. My community is outraged by the statements by the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) -- I will translate, after I read the text in French -- that "Un paquet de fermiers français n'y changera rien," which means in English, "A bunch of French farmers will not change anything." That was reported in Le Droit of Ottawa on Saturday, April 25.

Even if the minister is reflecting government policy, which I hope is not the case, I would request at the very least that he withdraw the statement and apologize to the Franco-Ontarian community of Ontario as he has already been asked by L'Association Canadienne-Française de l'Ontario.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, let us get one thing straight in this assembly. Nobody is telling me where to put juvenile offenders. Nobody is telling me where to move them. They will be moved when they have proper places to go. I realize juvenile offenders in a training school are not the most glamorous part of life in this province. Indeed, such a school may be unpleasant, but it is very necessary. I say to the member, neither he nor anybody else is going to send me a demand note telling me to leave there.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I will take the point of privilege of the member for Prescott-Russell under consideration.

Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, the minister has not answered as to whether, in fact, he made that statement. Nor, of course, has he apologized to the constituents if he has.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I do not recall making the statement "a bunch of French farmers." I referred to them as a French farm organization which sent me a telegram. I am not going to apologize to them. I want them to apologize to me in the Legislature. The member can tell them that.

Mr. Speaker: I repeat to the member for Prescott-Russell that I will take his point under consideration.


Mr. T.P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order dealing with the present Minister of Natural Resources. My congratulations on his appointment. His predecessor, in the Natural Resources estimates before Christmas, gave me and the committee a commitment that he would have a statement in March on the use of crown land and, in particular, on nonresidents' camping for free on crown land. The then-Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Auld, at that time indicated he would make a statement to the House in March in regard to this matter, which is of great concern to people in northern Ontario. Due to circumstances beyond our control we were not here. I wonder if the minister would indicate when he is going to make that statement.

3:10 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the question is, I have already reviewed the Hansard of the estimates committee last fall and I have been discussing the matter of a number of commitments that Mr. Auld made during the course of those estimates. We will be honouring the commitments. We are working on a number of them now. As soon as I can, I will forward them to the member.



Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker. I have a petition that reads as follows: "Under standing order 33(b). we, the undersigned, petition that the annual report of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations for the year ending March 31, 1980, be referred to the standing committee on administration of justice at the appropriate time." This is signed by at least 20 members.



Mr. Mackenzie moved first reading of Bill 8, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.

Motion agreed to

Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to prevent the hiring of strikebreakers and to control access to a work premise that is affected by a strike or lockout. The bill prohibits an employer from hiring or using the services of a person to do the work of an employee who is on strike or locked out, unless that person is specifically authorized to do so. Similarly, when a picket line is established at a place of access to a work premise, access is limited to persons specifically authorized by the bill.


Mr. Mackenzie moved first reading of Bill 9, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to provide the Ontario Labour Relations Board with authority to settle the terms and conditions of a first collective agreement between a trade union and an employer where the dispute settlement procedures in the act have not been effective. Each collective agreement settled by the board should be for a term of between one and two years in duration,


Mr. Mackenzie moved first reading of Bill 10, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Mackenzie: The purpose of this bill is to clarify the status of an employer before the Ontario Labour Relations Board. On an application for certification by a trade union, the employer is permitted to present evidence and make submissions concerning several matters listed in the bill. The employer is not permitted to present evidence or make submissions relating to other matters.


Mr. Mackenzie moved first reading of Bill 11, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to preserve the collective bargaining rights of employees of a business that is relocated. In addition, in order to continue the prerelocation bargaining rights and collective agreements in force after the relocation, the proposed amendments provide for a 60-day period from the date of the notice of relocation, during which an employee can choose to continue his employment at the new location. Once the relocation has taken place, the Ontario Labour Relations Board has the authority to determine whether a bargaining unit exists.


Mr. Mackenzie moved first reading of Bill 12, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to clarify that the Labour Relations Act applies to employees who are engaged in agricultural employment in an industrial or factory setting. Section 2(b) of the act currently states that the act does not apply to a person employed in agriculture. This provision has been interpreted broadly by the Ontario Labour Relations Board to exclude from the act persons whose employment relates to agriculture but who are employed in organizations that resemble industrial plants.


Mr. Mackenzie moved first reading of Bill 13, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Mackenzie: The purpose of the bill is to repeal a provision of the act that prohibits the inclusion of security guards in a bargaining unit. The repeal of this provision would permit security guards to join or establish an association or union for collective bargaining purposes.


Mr. Mackenzie moved first reading of Bill 14, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to delete the exclusion from "employee" of persons who exercise managerial functions. The effect of the amendment is to permit these persons to join or establish an association or union for collective bargaining purposes.

3:20 p.m.


Mr. Mackenzie moved first reading of Bill 15, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to reduce the percentage of employees in a bargaining unit required to be members of a trade union in order for a board to direct a representation vote. The proposed amendment requires the board to certify a trade union as a bargaining agent without a representation vote where the board is satisfied that more than 50 per cent of the members of the bargaining unit are members of the trade union. A representative vote held under this section must be held within seven days of the date on which the board directs the vote.


Mr. Mackenzie moved first reading of Bill 16, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is in section 1 of the bill. It repeals a provision of the act that permits an employer to request, either before or after the commencement of a strike or lockout, that a vote be held on the employer's last offer. Section 2 of the bill repeals a provision of the act that permits employees in a bargaining unit who are not members of a trade union to participate in a strike vote or a vote to ratify a proposed collective agreement. In effect, this is a removal of the two negative parts of Bill 89 that we discussed.


Mr. Martel moved first reading of Bill 17, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 1974.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to work more than five consecutive days without two days of rest.


Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I am sure all the members would want to join me today when I extend good wishes and congratulations to the Petrolia Squires hockey team. Yesterday in Thunder Bay they won the Allan Cup game with stiff competition from Manitoba. The important thing is this team also won this particular honour two years ago. I think they do deserve congratulations.


Mr. Cassidy moved, pursuant to standing order 34, that the business of the House be set aside to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, that there is a crisis in housing because home prices are rising to such levels it is becoming impossible for most families to purchase homes. Furthermore, the prices result from the inaction of the government to control speculation and profiteering in the housing market, and the refusal of the government to monitor and control the inflationary influx of foreign capital into Ontario's housing market.

Mr. Speaker: This notice of motion has been received in time and complies with the standing order. I will listen to the honourable member for up to five minutes as to why he thinks the ordinary business of the House should be set aside.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, beginning early this year, there has been a dizzy escalation of housing prices in Metropolitan Toronto and in the surrounding areas of Durham, York and Peel, and it is now extending everywhere in Ontario. Up in my own riding of Ottawa Centre and in the surrounding ridings of Ottawa, the pressure is just beginning. It is very clear that if action is not taken by the government with the most urgent possible means, in the most urgent possible way, we will see a further disappearance of the chance for ordinary families to own a home of their own.

The issue is affordable housing. In March of this year there were only 800 homes -- that is only 17 per cent of the homes that were sold -- that families of a medium income in Metropolitan Toronto could afford. To buy the average home in Metropolitan Toronto would require an income of $44,600 at today's interest rates, and that is far greater than the average family income in Metropolitan Toronto. In particular, it is far greater than the average income of first-time house buyers who, in many cases, have only one income or who have to pay heavy expenses for day care because they have one or two young children who require care and who cannot be left on their own while both parents go out to work.

We have a major problem with speculation and it is coming at us from all quarters. There are people in this community, and in our communities across the province, who are buying a second, a third or a fourth home, who are buying duplexes and semi-detached homes in order to speculate in housing, despite what that does to people of modest means who are trying to get a home of their own.

There is money coming into Ontario from the west coast and from Alberta. People are, in fact, buying homes on a wholesale basis. They are buying them sight unseen. People are picking up the telephone after reading the newspaper and are telling their agent or their broker, "I want this home, that home and that home. Don't spare the expense," because they are treating housing like a commodity, as though it were the stock market. We have the further problem of foreign capital coming in. It is coming in from Europe, it is coming in from Hong Kong, and goodness knows where else it is coming in from; it is buying property in Metropolitan Toronto and rapidly spreading out to the rest of the province.

Faced with that situation, we have a minister who believes no action is required. We have a government that accepts the minister's recommendation that no action should be taken. We have a minister recommending that his own ministry should, in fact, be phased out. We have a government not prepared to take any responsibility for providing housing at a price that people can afford.

People in my party happen to believe that housing should be a social right. It is a primary duty of government in this province to make sure that housing is available to the ordinary citizens of our province at a price they can afford, whether they wish to buy a home or whether they wish to rent a home.

But the minister refuses to act. He refuses to recommend a speculation tax. He refuses to do the research necessary to determine how much foreign capital is pouring into the market right now. He refuses to investigate the situation. He refuses to require residency. He refuses to look into the facts all of us know, which are that week after week the price of housing is being driven up and nothing is being done.

On top of that, we have the situation where people who bought homes four or five years ago at interest rates of 10 and 12 per cent are being threatened with losing those homes because they cannot afford to renegotiate the mortgage at the 17 per cent rate. No relief was provided last year and no relief is being offered by the government this year.

We have a Ministry of Housing so committed to the rights of developers that it refuses to take any action at all. The minister says, "The developers had a bad time last year and the year before." All he thinks of is what is happening on their balance sheets and on their profit sheets. I ask, what about the balance sheets of the ordinary citizens? What about the right of families that should be able to have a house of their own? What about a working family threatened with unemployment now, with a wife who cannot keep her job because of unemployment -- and the government does nothing -- with a family that cannot get day care so that it can get two incomes to afford to buy a home? Do those people not have rights as well?

I ask, Mr. Speaker, is this government not committed to the family as the basic unit of the social structure of our society in Ontario? If that is the case, do families not have the right to have a home of their own where they can raise children, or is that right something we had in the 1940s, we had in the 1950s, we had in the 1960s, we had for part of the 1970s but is something that we are to have no more?

3:30 p.m.

We cannot wait until the end of the throne speech debate. We cannot wait until May 19 when the budget comes down. We cannot wait forever while the government says they will take no action. The need for action is urgent. Action is required now, and I believe this emergency cries out for debate in this Legislature today.

To that end I am prepared to accept that tomorrow, if we have the debate today, my speech in the throne debate will follow that of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith) in order to make sure that this subject gets debated now and does not get shoved to one side by the Conservatives, as it has been for so long.

Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Liberal Party to support this motion. As you know, my leader and the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) indicated throughout the preceding question period their great dissatisfaction with the minister and his total disregard of the plight of those who want to own their own shelter.

I am not quite sure whether the minister realizes that we in the metropolitan area are indeed having a crisis. We now know -- and he has admitted this apparently -- that the ordinary person and the ordinary middle income family cannot afford to buy a house in the metropolitan area. What kind of an admission is this?

The Toronto Star indicated this on April 24. The writer quoted the minister directly. He admitted that the average-income family in the metropolitan area cannot afford to purchase a home in this location. I think that is really abominable. We know that the average family income is about $36,000 and that is required to purchase a $70,000 home, but apparently that leaves a big gap.

In 1982, we now know, the prices of new housing starts will be 18 per cent higher than they are today -- 18 per cent on top of the gap that already exists. Furthermore, what is even more important is that the supply of housing is down. In fact it is at its lowest point in 14 years.

We now know, as was already indicated, that foreign money is playing a great role apparently in the speculative rise in housing costs today. We know -- and I have the questionnaire right here -- that Price Waterhouse and Associates were hired to do a "profitability" study to determine just how much profit the land owners and the apartment owners will have in this city. Yet the minister sits over there, quite smugly, and does not even indicate he wants to do something about monitoring or even finding out in the smallest way whether foreign money is indeed driving up house prices in this metropolitan area. And we do know that money is coming in from all over the place, including Europe and Asia.

We are asking why the minister is not prepared to take any action in this crisis situation. We should not be surprised, however. Look at the record of this government. We have Darcy McKeough, who singlehandedly wanted to dismantle the federal Ministry of Housing. And we have the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) right here in this chamber who says, and I quote, "The Housing ministry as such is no longer necessary."

Members should think about that. He says that the Housing ministry is no longer necessary and when he is asked if he should get together with the federal minister and try to work out some kind of an arrangement whereby the people in this municipal area would have help to purchase housing, he says no.

I quote again from the Star. "I do not wish to jump into bed with these people." No one is asking the minister to jump into bed with anyone. We are not asking the minister to jump into bed with the Prime Minister or with Mr. Cosgrove. What we are asking, this opposition especially, is that he try to do something about the housing shortage that has befallen this city.

If he is neither able nor willing to do so, then we suggest that, having made the statement that the Housing ministry is no longer necessary, he give it to someone who is ready, able and willing to handle the severe problems that are indicated in Toronto.

Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired.

Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, if I may be permitted to make one more statement, there are some options outlined in this position paper which the minister should look at.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, the government is not going to argue that the substance of this motion is not something of public importance. Of course it is of public importance. It is of great importance to every member of this Legislature.

But I think the real question before us today is whether this is indeed a matter of urgent public importance, an emergency, something that should intrude in the orderly business of this House today, at the first opportunity members have had to raise it. Does it really fulfil the necessary requirements for that, or, as May says, is there a possibility of the matter being brought before the House, in time, by some other means?

May states that is one of the criteria Speakers over the years have applied to resolutions such as this, where it is asked that the orderly business of the House be interrupted to consider something that is of urgency or an emergency. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that that criterion does not apply to the motion before us today.

What is the business of the House that is to be suspended in order to allow this debate to go on? The orderly business of today is the speech from the leader of the official opposition, a speech which I am sure will, among other things, touch upon housing. I would be very surprised if it were not at least a part of the speech that my friend will be delivering.

Housing has been talked about in the question period since this House began its sittings last Thursday. Housing was touched upon in a speech from the member for St. George (Ms. Fish) on Friday. The ordinary business of this House that we are now engaged in, I submit to you, is the most important debate of this House, the debate on the speech from the throne; a debate where every member of this House can speak -- and indeed, many are lined up waiting to speak.

The business of this House is so ordered that tomorrow evening, Thursday and Friday of this week, and next Monday, every member of this House who so wishes can get up and discuss housing or other matters of public importance. In fact, those matters can be and will be discussed in this House. I think it is important to underline that the speeches of the members in that case will not have a 10-minute limit and that, if such is the wish of any member, a motion of no confidence in this government may be placed and be voted upon.

Certainly all matters concerned with housing are of public importance. I have been in this House for 18 years and we have discussed housing in every one of those years because it is one of the important people issues of this province. We will continue to discuss it, and it will be a major discussion point in the throne debate. But certainly this motion, Mr. Speaker, does not fall within the criteria of urgent public importance as rule 34 perceives matters presented under that rule would.

3:40 p.m.

I would further like to say to my friend, the leader of the third party, that he suggested that he would speak after the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith) tomorrow. I would like to propose to him that he speak after the Leader of the Opposition today in the throne debate and he can then have his housing debate today and do it completely within the present business of this House. The government does not feel that the case has been adequately proven, that under rule 34 this is a matter of urgent public importance.

Mr. Speaker: I have taken a very close look at the motion. It is one of public importance, there is no doubt of that. However, I am of the opinion that it would be more properly discussed during the throne debate, particularly when I take note of the fact that the leader of the third party, who filed this notice of motion, is scheduled to speak on the throne debate tomorrow, or possibly today, and will then have a more ample opportunity to actually deal with this subject, or any other subject he chooses, in detail at whatever length he finds necessary rather than being limited to the 10 minutes provided by rule 34.

I have listened very carefully to the member's presentation and the presentation of the Liberal Party and the government House leader. I do not see any reason to change my opinion. I, therefore, rule that the notice of motion is out of order.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise to respond to the speech from the throne. I must confess I would have preferred to make a speech on this throne debate from the other side of the House, but it was not the will of the people of Ontario that it was to be so. Nonetheless, I am happy to address the House on this occasion and to refer not only to the contents of the speech from the throne but, even more important, to certain matters that were not included in the speech from the throne.

The amazing thing about this speech from the throne is its total lack of reality. People looking at this speech would honestly think that Ontario was not afflicted by problems of slow growth, by problems of deindustrialization, by problems of high unemployment, crushing interest rates, and rapidly rising prices. They would honestly think that none of these things such as plant shutdowns and deindustrialization were happening in Ontario. It has a total unreality about it.

I know the Premier (Mr. Davis) went south just prior to writing this speech from the throne, but I have to ask, where did he go? Did he go to Fantasy Island? I have to ask this question.

I understand politics and I realize that in the last election it was good politics to pretend that none of these problems were in existence in Ontario. It was clever politics -- thigh-slapping politics I imagine, as in the back room, Hugh Segal, the Premier and other members of the executive council just rolled about and doubled over with laughter at the notion that the opposition was trying to bring the news to the people of Ontario that we had exceptionally slow growth, high unemployment, layoffs, and factory shutdowns. All they had to do was sing jingles and reassure themselves with their knowledge from public opinion polls that the public simply either did not believe it, did not care about it, hadn't seen it clearly enough or whatever.

I know it was amusing and it worked, admittedly, but, my friends, the election is over. The only conclusion I can come to, since I know the people opposite are not so foolish as honestly to believe what they said in the last election campaign, is they thought it would be embarrassing, after a whole campaign of saying everything was great in Ontario, suddenly to produce a speech from the throne one week later saying there were real problems in Ontario.

Basically, I take this speech from the throne, and my colleagues accept it, as a sort of epilogue to the election play, the little amusement which was presented for the people of Ontario. This speech from the throne essentially is a sort of epilogue which, like the election campaign itself, has to ignore the real issues.

I would hate to think this was actually the prologue for the play to be played out here for the next four years. I would hate to think there is any member on the government benches -- even including those many on the back benches who sought to be Liberal candidates at one time and have since presumably become enlightened in some manner -- leaving those aside, I would presume that among the members on the government side of the House there is sufficient intelligence to recognize the total unreality of the document which was read and read rather well. In fact, the only good thing about the document was the way in which it was read by His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor.

The truth is we need a government that is willing to come to grips with the real problem before all the harm has been done. I realize public opinion polls will always show the public is unaware of problems until the problems have actually hit large numbers of individuals right in the face. But, as Homer said many years ago -- and I think even the member for Brock (Mr. Welch) may be too young to remember the actual statement made at the time; the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve) might remember it, but I don't think the member for Brock will recall it. As Homer said, "Once harm has been done, even a fool understands it." We, as leaders of the people, presumably have to respond to trends before all the damage has been done.

Before dealing with what is not in the throne speech, let me deal with what is in the speech. First, there is a call in that speech for the Prime Minister of the country to call a first ministers' conference to deal with the problem of inflation. This heartening call, this clarion call to action in the face of today's problems was issued by coincidence in the middle of the election campaign, and this call to action says to the Prime Minister: "We have a huge problem in Ontario. For God's sake, call a meeting."

What we are all waiting to find out, and what the Prime Minister of the country would like to know, as I noted in question period, and what I would like to know, is what proposal does Ontario have to offer at such a meeting? That, of course, has not been heard in so much as a whisper. There are no proposals from this government. The only thing this government proposed was to be re-elected. It succeeded in that. It will let us know day after day of its pride in the fact that it succeeded in that.

Soon the jokes about the fact they have a majority will wear a trifle thin and the fact is they have no recommendations whatsoever to make to the government of Canada except to call a meeting. Ontario has become irrelevant.

When Darcy McKeough was the Treasurer of Ontario, I can tell the House the government of Canada wanted to know at all times the view of the Treasurer of Ontario on important economic matters of the day. They used to call him to find out. It is a fact.

If the government checks, it will find out in Treasury, from those few people left in Treasury who have not been taken up by the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) into his ministry for his leadership campaign; those few who remain in Treasury today, Mr. Speaker, will tell you they used to receive phone calls from the federal government, but with the present head of Santa's Village acting as Treasurer of Ontario, I can say that his opinion is sought by no one. His opinion is given at no time that anyone has been able to make out. Therefore, the entire charade of calling for a meeting cannot really hearten anyone who is genuinely worried about the impact of inflation on Ontario. I will have more to say about that as time passes during this short speech.

Mr. McClellan: As the sun sets.

Mr. Smith: As the sun sets. As those remaining members of the NDP huddle together for what little comfort the few of them can give to one another, the least I can do is to offer my gratitude for their attendance in the House. I will attempt to be present for their leader's talk tomorrow.

What follows in the speech from the throne? There is reference made to the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program. The interesting thing about that BILD program is that we hardly know which way to attack it in the opposition because it is so tempting to attack the $1.5 billion figure as extravagant. The fact remains, however, and what everyone in the press gallery knows -- whether the population knows it or not I frankly cannot say -- the $1.5 billion is really only three quarters of a billion dollars. The rest has to come from a magical source unspecified elsewhere.

That three quarters of a billion is to be divided over five years, which is about $150 million a year. That is to replace something called the employment development fund, a fund which largely turned out to be emergency assistance to the pulp and paper companies of Ontario just at the time that their shares were about to skyrocket to record levels and takeover bids were to be made for a good many of them. Out of the taxpayers' pocket this kind of emergency relief was given.

But the interesting thing was that there was some $200 million a year in that fund. So we are now to see in essence, a reduction of $50 million a year towards industrial development in Ontario. And that is referred to as great leadership and is given a new title of BILD and all the rest of it.

Mr. Speaker, in your more unbiased, less partisan moments, such as when you are sitting in the chair, you must laugh to yourself that such a massive hoax could have been perpetrated on the people of Ontario, a program with massive signs behind the Premier, all to announce a $50 million a year reduction in industrial development funds for the province of Ontario.

Then we have in the speech from the throne a total commitment to an electrical strategy. The energy program of Ontario is to be "Live better electrically." Members may remember that. That is familiar, isn't it? The Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz), when he was still an average citizen with certain Liberal inclinations, will remember "Live better electrically." Suddenly that was replaced. Anyone who referred to "Live better electrically" was an outcast.

The Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) will remember that because we had a barking dog telling us to turn off every light switch, that anyone who failed to do that would be turning off a friend. We had to turn off all the electricity as rapidly as possible. Now what do we have? We have "Live better electrically" in a new guise. There is going to be money for anyone who puts electrical heat into his home.

We are, in fact, so committed to living better electrically and the news of this had such an impact at Hydro they had to rush out and rent space throughout downtown Toronto at the highest rate available in the entire province for thousands of new staff. Upon hearing the news we were once again to stop turning off friends, or turning on friends or whatever, and we were to start living better electrically, they needed to be accommodated smack in the middle of town. So we now have, as members know, the Hydro empire expanding into Bay Street, where undoubtedly it will be exceedingly welcome. But I will have a little more to say about the electrical strategy as we go along.

What else is in the speech from the throne? There is one good thing. There is the biotechnology centre; that is a good thing. The Innovation Development for Employment Advancement Corporation -- there are some good possibilities there. I say frankly and without wishing to be excessively partisan, I think there were some better ideas in our proposals of research institutes that could be jointly operated by industry and by universities and could be located at various post-secondary centres in Ontario. I would hope that the IDEA Corporation might spawn the kind of institutes we have referred to. We will look forward to see what that can develop.

We have a few words about agriculture; some long overdue storage facilities in food processing help. But, of course, the agricultural performance is pitiful. Agriculture is the only segment in this economy where in real dollar terms since 1971 the average income has gone down in the decade -- the only segment.

In Quebec, for the first time in our history, Mr. Speaker -- and I address you because I know the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) does not like to hear this kind of news -- the average farm income in Quebec -- a province we used to laugh at in their efforts to scrounge a living on the farms where the soil is not anything like it is in Ontario, where they were having to scrabble about among rocks in half the farms -- the average income has now gone above the average income of a farmer in the rich province of Ontario. That is due entirely to provincial policies in Quebec and a lack of provincial policies here in Ontario.

There is mention in the speech from the throne of the Urban Transportation Development Corporation. We all hope it will succeed, but it looks as though Los Angeles, which was trotted out just prior to the election, might have to be trotted back in again. It is unfortunate but it looks as though a few chickens were being counted there before they hatched. But if it wins elections what difference does it make? However, we wish it well. We hope it will do well.

Frankly, we still have not received one penny back from the UTDC for the $64 million of public funds that have been spent, but we all live in hope. We also live in hope about the one sale they have been able to make, which is with a federal subsidy from our friends in Ottawa whom this government is fond of talking about, a federal subsidy so that Vancouver could buy it, that has been underwritten by a $300 million guarantee by Ontario. I just sit with trepidation and worry about what might happen to that money. But we will see. We will hope for the best.

I will say this; there is the courage in the speech from the throne to mention South Cayuga. That is amazing. I would not have thought when a site, which has been chosen for patently political purposes -- 17 sites were looked at by experts, the 17 best in Ontario -- then the government has the nerve to say: "Oh, by the way, we have decided it will be an eighteenth site which you have not looked at. It is not one of the 17 best in Ontario, but it has the most wonderful qualifications imaginable." And we are stuck with it.

4 p.m.

To choose a site like that and not have proper environmental hearings under the Environmental Assessment Act was nearly criminal, frankly. It took away the confidence people have in justice and fair play in Ontario. Then, during the election campaign, to find that this vaunted site, this marvellous site, this site about whose safety we were assured time and time again, was under water, and still to hear the government insist the site is excellent -- it boggles the mind; it staggers the imagination; it beggars description.

Did you hear what the deputy minister said at the time, Mr. Speaker? He said, "This was not a flood, this was excessive snow melt." Have you ever seen that? I invite the Minister of Agriculture and Food -- who, after all, would know something about snow melt and flooding -- to come down and look at the bridge over the tributary of the Grand River, a bridge which was covered to its middle railing in water as the tributary flooded, and tell us that was excessive snow melt.

I suppose any flood that occurs in springtime somewhere or other might be related to the fact that upstream somewhere snow may have melted. But my friends, a flood is a flood is a flood, and the South Cayuga site is in the flood plain of the Grand River. That can never be denied or pretended otherwise.

The only way the government is going to get public confidence in the procedures of justice -- which it may not care about with its great majority -- is to have the guts to have a proper environmental assessment hearing under the great Environmental Assessment Act. It has trumpeted the act all over North America as a great piece of environmental assessment legislation, only it has never been used. Why does the government not have the guts to finally put that under the Environmental Assessment Act where it belongs and where the Liberal Party would have put it?

Mr. Speaker, have you had a chance to read the speech from the throne? You look a little puzzled. I recommend it; I really do.

The Deputy Speaker: Bedtime reading.

Mr. Smith: Bedtime reading, well that is fine.


Mr. Smith: It is just amazing the way the government does nothing and gets elected. It reminds me of the very words of Isaiah. Isaiah 30, verse seven, says, "Their strength is to sit still." That is precisely what it is.

The speech from the throne goes on to mention pensions. Here we are in Ontario in 1981. We have women inadequately covered by pension; we have working people, some 70 per cent of them, with virtually no pension fund at all; we have factories which close and the people who leave have no pension coverage because their pension has not been vested yet.

Inflation is proceeding at some 10 to 12 per cent a year and is predicted to continue that way for another five years at least, if not longer, and still pensions are inadequate. For four years we had a royal commission on pensions in Ontario and the government said, "We cannot do anything about pensions because we are waiting for the royal commission."

The royal commission actually reported. One newspaper in town, I understand, was so shocked it could have been headed by a woman that it even got the name wrong in one of the articles, but we will leave that out. It finally reported. What was this government's immediate response to this crisis, with the entire royal commission report in hand? It was to set up a committee to examine the report.

I ask my fellow members of the Legislature, how much longer do the ordinary working people, the men and women, whether they work in factories or at home, have to wait for some kind of action on the part of this government? What is the purpose of having royal commissions if all we are going to do is then study the studies of the studies?

We have to start acting now. We have to move on this issue now. We cannot continue to leave people without protection. I am going to talk about inflation as this speech progresses. I want the members to recognize that what is happening with inflation today is that those with condominiums in various resort areas, and those with summer homes in various resort areas, and those with paintings and antiques, and those with money to invest in stocks and bonds, particularly in commodities, or in gold, are profiting today from inflation and that is a transfer of wealth -- unless we print up all the new money and have worse inflation -- from the person who is working right now in a factory on Spadina Avenue and has no money to invest in these things.

Wealth is being transferred from that person into the pockets of the wealthy. The only way to protect the people on Spadina and elsewhere who are working at close to minimum wage is with decent pension funds that can then be invested in assets, in commodities and can grow with the passage of time to protect their future.

Without proper pension protection, we are robbing those people day by day. The poor are getting poorer and the rich richer, and all we are to have here is yet another committee to study the results of another committee which presumably itself studied a previous committee. It is shameful. Action is needed on pensions now and, had we been elected, we would be moving this very month to assure proper pension policy in Ontario.

There is an amusing note on the whole subject of pensions, and that is the recent statement by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller). The Treasurer went to Burlington. I happen to live there. It is a very important issue that I live there. I think you should make a note of that, Mr. Speaker. They seem to regard it as trivial. I want them to know their candidate in Hamilton West thought that was the only issue worth mentioning in the entire election campaign. Therefore, it is obviously a very important issue.

In Burlington, the Treasurer made the most amazing statement I have heard an Ontario Treasurer make in many years. He said: "We must not have an expansion of the Canada pension plan. We must go the private pension route." What is the reason for that? The reason is that if we put the money in the Canada pension plan, it is then available to provinces to borrow at less than the going rate of interest. Well, he ought to know that because he has borrowed $8 billion, almost the whole Canada pension plan, at less than the going rate of interest. He is the chief offender in this regard.

He reminds me of a person who comes in to decry prostitution while living off the avails, or even, in another way, perhaps less shocking to people of Conservative persuasion who obviously want to hold their ears -- certain members are actually holding their ears; there is no need to. Conservative governments have heard no evil, seen no evil, spoken no evil. In fact, they have done virtually nothing. That is the secret of their great success, let me assure the House.

It is like a person saying he wants to give up smoking. But there had better not be any cigarettes around, because if there are, he cannot resist the temptation to take them.

The Deputy Speaker: Like the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid).

4:10 p.m.

Mr. Smith: Yes, like the member for Rainy River, exactly. It is the same situation. The member for Rainy River has quit smoking many times, and let that be on the record.

The Treasurer says, "Do not put the money in the Canada pension fund where it might help all the citizens because I might be too tempted to dip into it." Would it not be a lot easier to expand the Canada pension fund and change the Treasurer of Ontario? Would that not be a much better solution?

There is not much written in the speech from the throne on the subject of French services. There is one statement -- written, interestingly, in French, lest anyone in English actually might understand it; the government would not want any of its supporters to think it had suddenly gone soft on French, would it? One sentence in there is in French and it says there will be special services in the French language. The time is at hand in this country when our minorities deserve not to be given special services and special gifts on the part of the government from time to time, but deserve to have their services as a matter of right inscribed in a statute.

I would like to know what the member who is now the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) thinks in Ottawa. What does he say in Ottawa? Does he think the Franco-Ontarians should be forced to come and beg his ministry for services from time to time? All of us from various ridings worry about the member. He is a member of the executive council of Ontario and he did not have the guts in the executive council to stand up and make French services here something by matter of right, rather than something that has to be begged for from his government from time to time. This country is the poorer and the weaker as a consequence of his weakness.

This government is being begged to do something a little better than what it has done. It is being begged by its own Tories in Ottawa, by David Crombie from this city, who must be ashamed of his former assistant, sitting there from St. George as part of a government that actually turned the tide of election by taking a stance against any kind of French language rights in Ontario. David Crombie would be ashamed of her, I will tell her that.

We are also told in the speech from the throne that there will be a police review bill reintroduced for Metropolitan Toronto. I suspect it will be the same business of letting the police review themselves for 30 days. If so, it will be a travesty and will be seen to be a travesty.

I would remind the people opposite that while they might not care much what the Globe and Mail editorial said about their bill, and the Globe supported us in that particular bill, they might care about what the Star, their recently found friend, says. The Star supported us in that bill. They might even care about what their own private organ, the Sun, had to say about it. Even the Sun supported us in that particular bill.

I would recommend, therefore, that when they bring back the police review bill they allow for the civilian commissioner to do the review right off the top and not have to wait for the police to investigate themselves for 30 days while the community is sizzling.

Then, of course, there is mention made of freedom of information. That, my friends, will be the day when the most secretive government in history, the one I am looking at right now, has genuine freedom of information. It will not happen in our lifetime, I am sure.

What is there that is not in the speech from the throne? In many ways that is far more important.

Mr. Mancini: The Minister of Agriculture and Food should stick around.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: I have listened for a long while and I cannot understand any of it.

Mr. Smith: The Minister of Agriculture and Food is quite right. He has listened for a long while and he has understood nothing yet. I agree with him. That is exactly true. That is his problem. He reads material and has managed to absorb nothing yet. If he read what the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has sent him and has to say about him, he would have absorbed something by now. He would have learned something about the state of agriculture. He would have known something about the number of farmers going bankrupt every week, every day, in Ontario and having to move off the farm. He would know something about the needs of farmers and about the way our income in Ontario has fallen behind Quebec.

But he has heard none of that. Mr. Speaker, you heard me speak of agriculture. He has heard none of it. You heard him say he has heard nothing yet. Well, I suppose he has heard nothing yet. Maybe what he means is that the problems are going to get worse and "you ain't heard nothing yet." Conceivably, that is true.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Nothing from the member opposite.

Mr. Smith: I look forward to the day when the present Minister of Culture and Recreation and the present Minister of Agriculture and Food exchange portfolios. It will be a very interesting day indeed for all concerned, I can assure you.

Now, where was I? I tend to get sidetracked. I do not understand it. It is obviously my colleagues in the Liberal caucus; they are distracting me.

Hon. Mr. Baetz: Why don't you wake up the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon)? He is sleeping.

Mr. Smith: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk is deep in thought. That is where he usually is. He is taking it all in, I can assure the minister. He is reflecting on the pith and substance of every word his present leader is saying, just as I always listen to his comments with the greatest of attention.

What is not there in the speech from the throne? This is the real problem. As I said earlier, of course, there is no recognition of the real problems facing Ontario. There is not a single job created; there is no program of skills retraining for the thousands of people now on layoff; there is no expansion whatsoever of the apprenticeship program; there is no help for farmers, for small businessmen, for home owners, all faced with high interest rates. There are no long-term arrangements for municipalities for their financing, for school boards, nothing at all.

It is as though those problems do not exist. It is somehow as though this government fails to understand the comparison between a small business and a large business. When interest rates go up for large businesses, if they have to pay, say 16 or 18 per cent, for money, they are making profits; they pay 50 per cent in tax; their effective rate, therefore, is about nine per cent. For small businesses struggling along, they are not making profits; they are not at a 50 per cent tax rate; if they pay 18 per cent, they pay 18 per cent.

So high interest rates, in effect, are an advantage for the large business over the small. They further load the dice in favour of concentration of ownership into a few large companies. We in Ontario, although it is not our fault that inflation is here, have to do something if we want to redress that problem and save our small businesses, which are, after all, the lifeblood of our smaller towns and villages. Many of the members in this House represent the people of the small towns and villages. They should remember that.

Without small business, with farms going bankrupt, with small businesses going bankrupt, the young people have no choice but to leave those towns and villages and move into the city, creating the incredible pressure for homes, which the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) thinks is only right in the centre of Toronto but which is in all Toronto. That is not good for Ontario.

There has to be some help for the small businessmen with their high interest rates, and there are ways of doing it that the government knows very well. There are ways of getting money to small businesses at much less than the prime interest rate. This government ought to be doing that, just as it should be helping farmers and home owners as well.

What else have we found since the speech from the throne? Certain promises turn out, as Richard Nixon said, to be inoperative. What we find is that the Re-Mor clients were told by the Premier (Mr. Davis) -- I heard him; I cannot imitate the Premier too well; obviously, if I could, I might have been elected -- but, roughly speaking, he said something like this: "Oh, I can give you my personal assurance that those people have nothing to worry about. We are going to speed up the Re-Mor case. It is just a test case of some kind. I can give you my personal assurance that the people who lost their money in Re-Mor do not have to worry. Everything will just be fine." He gave "my personal assurance."

4:20 p.m.

Now we find that unless the Re-Mor clients can jump through every legal hoop that this government, using public funds and hiring a battery of lawyers, can throw up in front of them; unless they can prove bad faith occurred in the Re-Mor licensing, they are not going to get their money -- a promise which has been rendered inoperative.

We find the same with rent review. The Premier said it would be unaltered, but that was during the election. Now we are told we have the new "reality of March 19." We are told we do not understand the reality of March 19; which is, of course, that whatever was said before is inoperative afterwards. We are told that there would be "fine tuning" in the rent review. The small matter of the six per cent guideline would be altered by some two per cent or maybe four per cent. That is fine tuning.

They forgot to mention it during the election, when they said it would be unaltered. They just did not think of it because it was so minor, so trivial. Who would even think of mentioning it during an election? But in 1977 the precise matter of a difference of a half of one per cent in the guideline was taken as a matter of no confidence. An election was called on the issue by the same Premier and the same Deputy Premier, who said that was a matter of such fundamental importance that we had to have an election on that issue. Now it is a matter so trivial that it was not even mentioned during the election campaign.

I know what they are thinking across the way; I am not stupid. They are thinking, "Who gives two hoots? The people will have forgotten, four years from now, and we will buy their votes again with another spree of gifts in every riding. We will come up with something as glamorous as a BILD program, and who will remember the ancient history of four years earlier, or even three, two or one year earlier?"

I know that type of politics. I understand it. It was not invented by those fellows opposite, although they have become masters at it. But one on the side of right is a majority, and I tell the House that if they tamper with that rent review guideline, it will mean they lied to the people of Ontario during the election campaign. That is God's truth. At least some people in Ontario will remember that, I am convinced, even if the rest do not.

Mr. McClellan: Ruprecht is campaigning already. You should tell him to stop.

Mr. Smith: The excellent member for Parkdale (Mr. Ruprecht) has come up to consult with the excellent member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley). He wanted to get a little closer in order to hear my comments a little better. I can appreciate that. I would invite the member for Bellwoods to move a little closer as well.

I realize he had a very close call. What was it -- 400 votes or so?

Mr. McClellan: It was 395.

Mr. Smith: I understand that he is a bit nervous. But let him get a little closer; we won't bite.

I want to speak about two matters now, before I draw my remarks to a close and present an amendment to the throne speech motion.

First, I want to talk about energy. I mentioned earlier the reversion to the policy of "live better electrically." We are now going to have a policy in which all the eggs will be put in the nuclear basket. That is a very big mistake. The notion that Ontario should put all its billions of dollars strictly into the expansion of our nuclear system is, in my view, a mistaken notion. Of course nuclear power is with us, and of course it provides a very important and essential part of the energy mosaic in Ontario, and it will continue to do so. But to put all our billions into the expansion of the nuclear system at this time in my view is wrongheaded.

Our problem is not electricity. After all, why did they cancel Wesleyville and lose $160 million? They cancelled it on the basis that even if it were to change to coal, they said, there would be no need for that electrical generating capacity. Yet they are rushing ahead with billions of dollars to build more nuclear capacity. We have not yet solved the problem of the disposal of nuclear waste, yet they are moving ahead.

But the most important thing wrong with moving ahead with the nuclear program is that it fails to address Ontario's real problem. That is the drain of billions of dollars out of this province to buy oil and, specifically, to buy gasoline. Our problem is that one has no choice but to run around in this province in automobiles. it is going to stay that way. It is not going to change dramatically, even if we improve transit. We need a substitute fuel for gasoline and, at the moment, electrifying people's homes and trying to persuade them -- as Kate Reid does in those commercials -- that natural gas is imported when it is not imported, it is Canadian, is not the answer. We need a substitute fuel for the automobile. That is what Ontario needs, because we have no oil.

But we have many other resources in Ontario that can be harnessed to make automobiles go. We can make fuel alcohol. If one wants to use electricity to produce hydrogen then I am willing to discuss it; but there is no real commitment to hydrogen production from Darlington. Darlington is going to be brought on stream either to heat homes or to export. Frankly, my suspicion is that from beginning to end the intention is to export electricity rather than to have an intelligent energy program for Ontario to free us from the tyranny of oil at the gas pump. Instead of that we are going to put all our eggs in the nuclear electricity basket and, frankly, that is a great error. We also have tremendous peat resources which should be utilized immediately to substitute for oil.

I just want to finish by saying a few words about inflation. I said earlier that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. What is really happening now is that a division is occurring in the middle of the middle class in this province and in this country. Those who have money to invest in RRSPs and can direct the RRSPs into commodities of various kinds, those with money to buy condominiums, those with money to buy antiques and other commodities that will increase in value are profiting from inflation at the time. Those who have houses in Toronto are obviously profiting from inflation right now.

Those who do not have money after they take their pay packet home and pay for the staples -- the milk, the bread, the basic shelter, the gasoline to get back and forth to work and a little bit of recreation -- those who do not have that extra money are being robbed day by day in a transfer of wealth from them into the pockets of those who are wealthy enough to invest in various hedges against inflation. That line between those on the one hand who have cash to invest or who have pension funds investing for them, and those on the other hand who have no pension funds or who have no cash to invest and who are being robbed daily, is now becoming a gulf and little by little the middle class is going to be eroded in this country and we will end up a polarized country and province similar to Britain. That is where we are heading right now.

4:30 p.m.

Mr. Laughren: You could have helped by not supporting the abolition of the succession duties tax.

Mr. Smith: I will get to that in a moment. That is where we are heading right now and the fact remains that we are going to have to take steps to make sure the middle class is protected against inflation.

There are two things we could do immediately provincially -- there are a lot of things we could do federally including taxing certain profits and certain gains -- but we could do two things provincially. First, we could make home ownership possible because a home is the best hedge against inflation for the average citizen. Second, we could make sure everybody is a member of a decent pension fund. These are things we can do in Ontario.

We have no right to come before the people with this speech from the throne -- which, if one read it, one would imagine inflation was not even a problem in Ontario today -- we have no right to sit on our hands and talk as the folks across the way do about their great majority unless they are prepared to take drastic action to bring pensions and home ownership into the realm of average working people in Ontario.

That is a commitment we in this party will make and it may be another four years before we can implement it but, by God, we will do it eventually.

Just think about it. I don't know the origins of all the members opposite in terms of social or economic class, but just think about it. Some of them I am sure come from poor families. Some of them I am sure worked their way up from poor families and just think what it is to be working in a factory and earning -- I am not even saying a small salary -- let us say earning $15,000 or $16,000 a year.

Just think of that in today's inflation and knowing one has no real pension fund sitting there waiting for one and knowing one is going to find oneself in a few years' time with a dollar that, even as low as its purchasing power is today, will only be worth 37 cents in 10 or 15 years. Put oneself in that situation. What conceivable protection will these people have? They will be a class of the most poverty stricken elderly in the history of this country if we do not do something for them. We have to get decent pension coverage for these people in the midst of this inflation.

It is a virtual emergency and I would say to the House that we should bend every effort to move quickly in this regard and it is a shame and a travesty there is no mention of this vital problem in the speech from the throne.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have gone on at some length but basically the speech from the throne is a most inadequate document. As I say, it was necessary to pretend everything was great in Ontario because it would have been an embarrassment after that slogan-riddled, jingle jangle election campaign to come out and say, "Everything Smith said was actually true and now we are going to try to do something about it."

They had to have a speech from the throne that pretended everything was great and Ontario was on the way to more and more marvellous achievements but we are in plenty of trouble in Ontario. It has to be dealt with and it has to be dealt with sincerely and soon.

We set aside this speech from the throne as a silly document that is basically the epilogue of an even sillier election campaign, which managed the great tribute of both a Tory majority and the lowest voting turnout in the history of Ontario, a great achievement of the geniuses opposite. But we say we trust this speech from the throne is not to be taken seriously as prologue for the next four years, or else Ontario is in very serious trouble. Because we find it so inadequate and because we believe the government itself is a stale government that has run out of ideas, I wish to move an amendment to the motion.

The Deputy Speaker: Mr. Smith moves that the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session be amended by the addition of the following words:

This assembly, however, regrets that the speech from the throne fails to recognize the most serious and fundamental problems facing Ontario today and condemns the government for all the following:

Refusing to recognize Ontario's industrial decline and the need for a definitive and industrial strategy as well as massive retraining programs for Ontario workers;

Having no policies to help low- and middle-income earners avoid further hardship from the effects of rapidly rising prices;

Presenting no specific programs to help small businesses, farmers and home owners to deal with record high interest rates;

Failing to address or act upon the crisis of escalating housing costs which are making the dream of owning a home an impossibility for average Ontarians;

Proposing no legislation, despite a previous commitment, to provide adequate and definitive levels of severance pay for Ontario workers who are laid off their jobs;

Making no new or increased financial commitment for the development of Ontario's health, social and education sectors, specifically towards hospitals, day care, services for the elderly and post-secondary institutions;

Pursuing a shameful policy of harassment with regard to victims of the government's mistake on Re-Mor investments, instead of accepting proper responsibility for ensuring adequate and equitable compensation for these people;

Failing to protect against the sale of large amounts of Ontario's most valuable farm land to foreign buyers;

Undermining the provincial rent review program by threatening to alter the present guidelines;

Placing excessive and unwise emphasis on the development of electricity to meet Ontario's future energy requirements, instead of utilizing abundant and indigenous renewable and alternative sources.

Therefore, this assembly declares its total lack of confidence in the government.

On motion by Mr. Cassidy, the debate was adjourned.

The House adjourned at 4:37 p.m.