The House met at 2 p.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, today I would like to table the road construction programs of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ministry of Northern Affairs for the fiscal year 1981-82.
In all, an estimated $319.2 million will be spent for construction on the King's highway system in northern and southern Ontario, an increase of approximately $17.1 million over the 1980-81 year. In addition, we will be subsidizing municipal road construction for another $237 million, which will generate about $408 million in total expenditures when the municipalities' shares are included. In total, some $727.2 million will be spent on projects considered critical to preserve the present quality of the existing highway system, a system that ensures the efficient movement of goods and people in Ontario.
Briefly, we are proposing new work on a total of 741 kilometres of the provincial system in southern Ontario, primarily on two-lane highways, including the scheduled construction of 56 bridges and, as part of the government's proposed expansion program under the direction of the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development, BILD, an extra $25 million is included in the road construction program for work in the Golden Horseshoe.
In northern Ontario, my ministry will continue to carry out the planning, design and construction of some 609 kilometres of provincial highways, a system that I am sure all members know is also the responsibility of the Ministry of Northern Affairs, which allocates funds for capital road construction. Again, the majority of the work is on two-lane highways, although the construction of passing lanes and remote airports is also included in our program.
Details of all these projects and others are contained in the program I have tabled with the Clerk, copies of which will go to all members via the legislative post office. In addition, we are including copies of the ministry's long-range perspective for provincial roads, reflecting this government's viewpoint of Ontario's future highway system, a perspective which, of course, is subject to annual review.
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable members are aware from news reports --
Mr. Smith: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I realize the minister probably intended to send me a statement, but I have not received it as yet.
Mr. Speaker: Have the statements been distributed, Mr. Minister?
Hon. Mr. Pope: They are being handed out now. I apologize to the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Laughren: And to me too.
Hon. Mr. Pope: Yes, you too, Floyd.
As honourable members are aware from news reports in recent weeks, we are facing another potentially severe forest fire season in our province. Now that the first five weeks of the official fire season have passed, I want to bring the House up to date on the situation.
The forest fuel conditions remain extremely hazardous in many forest areas as a result of the dry winter weather with a low snowfall. In the potential fire areas, we have enjoyed favourable weather conditions during the latter part of April and early May, with cool temperatures and some precipitation.
As of yesterday's provincial report, fire occurrences across the province were normal for this time of year, and primarily were grass fires. The number of fires to date is 201 and total area burned is 1,424.45 acres. But the favourable conditions have only given us temporary breathing space. The long-range forecast is still for drier than usual weather for the remainder of this spring.
Currently, the serious potential burning conditions are centred particularly in the ministry's northwestern and north central regions; that is, the area west of Lake Nipigon. Accordingly, my ministry has taken many special steps this year to build up our capabilities for fire prevention as well as for early detection and prompt initial attacks on fire outbreaks. The following is a list of steps already taken by my staff:
During the past two weeks, the urgency and importance of fire prevention has been publicized through appropriate news media. This campaign will continue, of course.
Staff in many northern districts has been assigned to the fire prevention program to facilitate contacts with woods, mining and railway operations and those involved with recreational and tourism activities.
The railway companies and the Canadian Transport Commission have been contacted to emphasize the critical need for sound fire prevention practices in their operations.
Major moves have been taken across the province to integrate woods workers into the fire management program this year. Ministry staff have met with woods industry senior and field staff to discuss initial attack strategies, and extensive instructor training sessions have been provided to enable companies to train their wood workers to handle initial attacks on fires occurring on their operations.
Our firefighting force has an additional 30 unit crews, making a total for this year of 175 crews. Each unit crew is composed of five members. Ninety-five of these crews are now on line, trained and ready for duty anywhere in the province. The remaining crews are undergoing training now and will be fully operational by May 15.
All nine Canso water bombers we have on contract have been in place since May 1. Aerial detection programs are fully operational in all regions. The lightning locator system is now operational in the northwestern region, where the incidence of lightning strikes is always extremely high. The system enhances our capability to immediately identify areas of lightning activity and put into gear the appropriate detection and initial attack operations.
Helitack systems have been partially in place since May 1, and all 17 helitack units contracted from the private sector will be in place by May 15.
The ministry fleet of water bombers are all on line, including two of the three recently acquired Twin Otters. These aircraft are being deployed as lake ice conditions permit. The third Twin Otter is scheduled for operational status next month. All MNR pilots have completed their float operation training.
Fire equipment inventories have been bolstered in the northwestern and north-central regions. In addition, casual staff support has been added to enhance the capability to manage and recycle the equipment.
During this spring, meetings were held between the Ministry of Natural Resources fire management staff and their counterparts from Manitoba and Quebec and from the federal and state agencies in Minnesota. The meetings were held to review the agreements about operating procedures for forest fire suppression responsibilities along the respective adjoining border corridors.
Also, the co-operative arrangements with firefighting agencies of all other provinces, with the United States Forestry Service and with the Canadian Armed Forces are in effect.
That is the list to date. I have included some items that might be described as housekeeping, because in an immense forest firefighting undertaking those details are vitally important to success.
Many lessons were learned from last year's severe season, which the staff of my ministry handled so capably with the assistance of others from many agencies and ministries and other jurisdictions. Several reviews were made after the season of the 1981 performance, and the improved and expanded moves we are making are based on the useful recommendations in those reports.
If we experience a normal weather pattern for this time of year, that means there will be some showers every three or four days and therefore the fire hazard will become moderate. However, if we get a period without precipitation associated with warm temperatures, things could become serious. But, as can be seen from this status report, my ministry staff are prepared to cope with the type of forest fire activity that the less-welcome weather conditions could bring.
Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson), I want to direct a question to the Provincial Secretary for Social Development.
The Provincial Secretary for Social Development may remember an exchange between the former Minister of Education and myself on November 15, 1976, when we pointed out that they were accepting applicants at teachers' college on the basis of postmark rather than merit. The minister at the time assured me it would be changed and even went so far as to say, "I suggest that my friend will probably fall out of his seat when he hears how we are going to handle the situation this year."
It took five years, but I did just about fall out of my seat at the way in which nursing students' applications are being sorted at St. Lawrence College in Kingston. I ask the provincial secretary to look into this. I refer particularly to the fact that admission there is not based on academic achievement, practical experience or a deep interest in nursing. Rather, it is based on a new method of gambling whereby applications are literally piled on the floor and a person comes and grabs handfuls and armfuls of these applications.
Mr. Havrot: Ah, come on!
Mr. Smith: Yes. I said the same thing: "Come on!" But it happens to be true.
Is the minister aware of this situation? Does she think this is the best method for choosing the future nurses of Ontario and, if not, what is she prepared to do to stop it?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of that method of selecting future nurses for Ontario. I certainly will have it looked into right away.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That is how they do it in psychiatry. In law they have a lottery system.
Mr. Smith: The Premier (Mr. Davis) seems to feel this is a reasonable system. He wonders if they use that in psychiatry.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I did not say that. I said it was the system they used for psychiatrists, not for nurses.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That's how he selected his cabinet.
Mr. Smith: If the member for Rainy River is correct, if the Premier formed his cabinet on that basis, I can understand his support for the method.
Hon. Mr. Davis: At least I was able to do it; you were not.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Smith, do you have a supplementary?
Mr. Smith: I do have a supplementary, but the Premier seems to feel the fact that he has more seats than we do -- "Na, na, de, na, na" -- is a good answer. He seems to feel that will suffice in a battle of wits for which he comes otherwise unarmed from time to time.
Does the provincial secretary not regard this as an inevitable outgrowth of the philosophy of this government, and one that was started by the Premier when he was the Minister of Education, by which standards, merit and standardized examinations in the school system have all been played down on the basis of some misguided egalitarianism, and is it not time we got back to common sense?
Mr. O'Neil: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: While the minister is checking into the particular case that our leader has mentioned, maybe she could also check into a situation at the community college in our area where, I am told, if the community college reaches over its quota, marks are not taken into consideration and the names are placed in a computer and picked at random.
May I quote from a letter that I received this week from one of the people who would have liked to have been accepted in that course? She states: "Our educational system should not be based on luck. A computer can pick out names, but a computer cannot pick out a good nurse."
Mr. Speaker: A new question, Mr. Smith?
Mr. Smith: I was quite bowled over by the extent of the answers, Mr. Speaker.
GRANTS TO PULP AND PAPER COMPANIES
Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I will direct a question to the Minister of the Environment. Given the report concerning the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment and the fact that its steering committee apparently told certain independent economists that it would rather these economists be not quite so independent in the expression of their views, particularly when their views run counter to those of the large pulp and paper companies or to those of the government of the day in Ontario, will the minister not agree that the royal commission has now lost its credibility totally as an objective body, that it plainly is going to be an apologist for the pulp and paper grants that this government has been making, and that the royal commission should be disbanded forthwith at a considerable saving to the public of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member wants a full response to that question, it might be more appropriately referred to the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope).
Mr. Smith: I take it then that the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment does not fall under the Ministry of the Environment. I point out, Mr. Speaker, that it is in the telephone book under the Ministry of the Environment. But perhaps the northern environment is a different part of the way the government operates. I will be happy to hear the answer from the Minister of Natural Resources.
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment is not within my ministry but I am glad to try to help the honourable member. I assume --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The minister has an answer.
Hon. Mr. Pope: I assume the Leader of the Opposition noted with the same amount of interest the comments that are alleged to have been made by the chairman of the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment with respect to the substance matter of that particular report.
Suffice it to say that my understanding is that both a draft copy of the report and the report itself were published in an unaltered form, expressing the opinions of the two individuals concerned who made that report. Needless to say, their conclusions are not necessarily the conclusions that others would draw under the circumstances. I would grant them access to more facts.
I believe that the policies of this government with respect to the pulp and paper industry, which were an issue up to and during the events leading up to March 19, provided for some discussion of that issue in the context of those events, and the people of Ontario, particularly of northern Ontario, made their judgement on who was following the right course.
Mr. Smith: Will the minister not agree that the public of Ontario could very easily obtain the opinions of these economists without having to have a royal commission to sift through it, giving its own opinions about these opinions, and certainly without having to tell the economists to soft-pedal their opinions?
Does the minister not feel that the commission itself has lost all credibility with the people of Ontario and that its very considerable list of expenditures could well be done away with, to the benefit of the public, and that the commission itself should be disbanded forthwith?
Hon. Mr. Pope: I do not believe the Leader of the Opposition's opinion on one specific incident makes the work of the commission unnecessary.
Mr. Smith: Useless and biased.
Hon. Mr. Pope: Useless. I do not believe that a system of public discussion of policy papers put forward by the northern environment commission and the public participation system in which that commission has engaged over the past few years are things that can be lightly discarded. They mean a lot to certain interest groups in northern Ontario. It has been an important process that everybody in northern Ontario has wanted to become involved in.
For the Leader of the Opposition to say right now that he does not believe that kind of public participation and public discussion on fundamental issues in northern Ontario should take place is just reflective of his attitude towards northern Ontario.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Since it appears that, despite the efforts of the steering committee of the royal commission to muzzle the authors of that study, the authors have strengthened their conclusion and have come up with tougher conclusions about the industry's ability to pay its way and the fact that the industry did not need those grants from the employment development fund, will the Minister of Natural Resources undertake to ensure that the people of the province get back in stumpage fees what we are giving away needlessly to the companies in terms of employment development fund grants?
Hon. Mr. Pope: First of all, part of the comments with respect to the pulp and paper industry are based on Canada-wide statistics and, quite frankly, do not apply to the situation in Ontario, where our finished product production is much higher than that in the rest of Canada.
Mr. Foulds: You are wrong. They examined particular Ontario mills.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Pope: For instance, our pulp production goes to the following in Ontario: 32 per cent to newsprint, 18 per cent to paperboard, 11 per cent to fine papers and 30 per cent to market pulp. That is not the 86.7 per cent; it is 30 per cent in Ontario.
We can make improvements in terms of finished product; that is one of the aims of our grants to the pulp and paper companies. I believe this is a successful program and one that will continue to ensure for the pulp and paper industry of Ontario that we do have a high percentage of finished product being produced.
Mr. Speaker: A point of order, Mr. Smith?
Mr. Smith: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: On the last matter, I simply want to remind the Minister of the Environment that the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment was established under an order in council by the Ministry of the Environment.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate to the honourable member that, if he thought I was denying what he said, I was not. I simply indicated that the specific question he was addressing would be better answered by the honourable minister to whom I referred it. I did not indicate it was not related to my ministry.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question to the minister of higher- and higher- priced housing with respect to the minister's statement on Monday that something better than 400 units were available through the Ontario Mortgage Corporation in the Peel and Brampton areas priced at less than $30,000.
Since the minister has now stated in the press that he was wrong to make that claim in this legislature on Monday, and since he said on television last night that one requires a $30,000 income to get a home even in the Peel or Mississauga areas, will the minister now tell the House where families who earn an average industrial wage of $18,000 a year should look to find housing to buy in Metropolitan Toronto or the surrounding regions? Is it not the case that this government's housing policies have totally failed average wage earners in Ontario, particularly in Metro?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, may I say that our policies have not failed the average income worker in this province.
I do stand to be corrected in the remarks I made in relation to the number of units that were available from the Ontario Mortgage Corporation at less than $30,000, and I will correct it today.
In the community of Mississauga, we have 70 units available in the range of $41,500 to $43,000 --
Mr. Cassidy: How many?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: If the member wants to add them up, and I trust he will have the capability of doing it --
Mr. Speaker: The minister will ignore the interjections and answer the question, please.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Particularly those from the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson).
I said there are available, in Mississauga, 70 units at $41,000 to $43,000; in Bramalea, 180 units in the range of $33,000 to $45,500, of which 150 are less than $40,000; in Ajax, 180 units in the range of $39,900 to $46,500; and in Oshawa, 337 units in the range of $36,500 to $55,000, with three units at the $59,900 level.
If members add those up, I think they will have something better than 700 units in a price range that I think is achievable for most in this province.
The member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) would like to correct me. I trust that I may be given the privilege of looking at his statement of Tuesday, wherein he quoted me as saying that "Perhaps suburban living will become a luxury that we can no longer afford."
If I may, I would like to read into the record exactly what I did say in the particular speech in which I accused the leader of the third party of being able to add or subtract to his liking. I trust he has the speech in front of him. I said:
"Perhaps suburban living and driving" -- he left out the very key point -- "to work in our private cars will become luxuries that we can no longer afford. Concentrating residential development and public transportation will become top priorities for urban municipalities of every size."
Mr. Cassidy: If I may, I want to come back to the houses that the minister said are available from the Ontario Mortgage Corporation for less than $30,000.
Is it not the case -- certainly our research at the OMC indicated that the three-bedroom homes in Bramalea are available for $45,500 or more; that those in Mississauga, with three bedrooms, for which there is now a waiting list, are available for $42,900; that in McLaughlin Square in Oshawa, the two-bedroom units cost $69,000, according to the information we were given when we checked; and that in the rest of Oshawa the three-bedroom homes were $45,000?
Is it not the case that, at the accepted rates of spending for housing, a $45,000 home is accessible only to a family earning $25,000 a year or more? Where does the minister propose that people with an income of less than $25,000, who have two or three children and need a family home, should buy a home in Metropolitan Toronto and region?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am not sure where the leader of the third party got his facts and figures relating to the price of housing. I have read the figures into Hansard today and clearly indicated that, of the 180 units in Bramalea that are owned at this moment by the Ontario Mortgage Corporation, 150 happen to be less than $40,000. I said there were 180 units available in Ajax in the range between $39,900 and $46,500, and I said in Oshawa --
Mr. Cassidy: How many bedrooms?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I will be delighted to get the complete breakdown on the units. I can tell the leader of the third party that they are either two-bedroom units or larger. Basically, we have been looking into two-bedroom units in the condominium operations in this province. Three hundred and thirty-seven units in Oshawa are in the range of $36,500 to $55,000. I understand that these figures are from the Ontario Mortgage Corporation.
As regards the average income earner getting into a $45,000 unit, the leader assumes that individual will move in with a very small or minimum down payment. But we are finding that the experience in the real estate industry today is that there are more substantial down payments being made in real estate purchases now than there were in the past, and that will afford the opportunity for average income earners to move into a higher-class type of unit.
Mr. Ruprecht: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I have heard it rumoured that the Minister of Housing is finally ready, willing and able to provide help for people whose mortgages are coming up for review and who are not in a position to pay 18 per cent for mortgages.
I would like to know two things: first, what he intends to do and, second, whether the rumours are true that he is planning special policies to help people who are not able to pay that kind of interest rate.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, it sounds like the member for Parkdale might be trying to design policies to serve only his own ends or, as the Premier said -- and I concur with the Premier's remarks -- he must have been talking to the federal Minister of Public Works, Mr. Cosgrove, who is letting out some secrets that he might do something at the federal level.
I maintain that is exactly the place that is responsible for our interest rates. It goes right back to the federal government and not to the provincial government. If some type of interest subsidy is to be put in place for those who currently own and for those who wish to buy accommodation in Canada, it will be by a federal move and not by this provincial government.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: The Minister of Housing has stated that the full responsibility for assisting home owners who cannot afford to renew their mortgages at high interest rates lies with the federal government. Was not the present Minister of Housing in the Ontario Conservative cabinet in 1975 when the Premier made a speech and said that, if mortgage rates went over 12 per cent, he would help Ontario citizens by subsidizing those mortgage rates? Did the Premier not make a speech and say exactly that?
Mr. Speaker: That is not a point of privilege.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier.
At today's auction of Treasury bills, the bank rate went up from 17.6 per cent last week to 18.71 per cent this week, an increase that is one of the largest at any time in our country, an increase that raises the bank rate to the highest level ever in our country and an increase that is going to bring mortgages past the 18 per cent rate, bank loans past the 20 per cent rate and consumer loans to 25 per cent or more.
In view of that, is it not time for the Premier to call in his chips with the federal government and insist that government turn around the disastrous monetary policy that is going to bring agriculture to a halt, that is going to affect hundreds of thousands of home owners in our province and that will have a devastating affect on the economy and the people in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I want to make it abundantly clear that I do not have any chips. Chips to me connote gambles, and I do not gamble with the political problems of this province. The leader of the third party may, but I do not.
Mr. Foulds: You invest. You just sell out.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The honourable member is interrupting again. His leader touched him on the shoulder. Is that a benediction or an encouragement?
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) says it is a benediction. It is quite obvious who at the moment is temporarily ahead in the sweepstakes over there.
I say to the leader of the New Democratic Party that the issue he raises, which I really had anticipated would be the first question asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith) but was not, certainly is of concern to every member of the House.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I say to the Leader of the Opposition that I am not one to judge what he is going to ask.
An hon. member: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I do not know who the honourable member is suggesting should come to order. If it is me -- oh, it is the Leader of the Opposition he is suggesting should come to order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am being interrupted again by the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt).
No one in this government is going to defend the fiscal or monetary policy of the government in Ottawa. While we were undergoing that activity for some 44 days, some of the things the Premier and leader of a certain political party were saying were not particularly noticed by the media, one of the points I made during the entire course of that campaign was about this government's concern with respect to the monetary and fiscal policy of the government of Canada. I telexed the Prime Minister during the course of that campaign. I have communicated with him since then, stating that in my view there should be a meeting of first ministers to deal with the economic issues.
I am not minimizing some of the other important concerns; but, to me, the question of inflation, which is very directly related to the question of interest rates, was, in the minds of a lot of Canadians, their single largest concern. I think it is fair to state, as the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) has said and as the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) has said on many occasions, this government is in no way involved in the setting of interest rates. We have no control and we have no say in what is done by the Bank of Canada. We have argued on a number of occasions the possibility of divorcing this country from the interest rate policies of the United States. I do not minimize the complexity. One doesn't have to tell me that when interest rates escalate in the United States the potential of the dollar flow to go south of the line is there. We know that.
At the same time, I have to say to the leader of the New Democratic Party I have communicated with the first minister of this country. I will continue to be urging a meeting of first ministers related to economic issues, including interest rates. But if he thinks there are some chips out there that one might call down, I guess, to use his terminology -- and perhaps his experience, which I do not have -- I can only tell him this issue goes well beyond that sort of situation and that I do not have any chips outstanding.
While I am on my feet, I want on this occasion to say to the Leader of the Opposition -- and I do not say this facetiously -- I know he is enjoying the many happy returns of today more than he did on March 19. I wish him a happy birthday.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, would the Premier say what the recommendations are that the government will take to that meeting which will make the decisive break with the present anti- inflation policy of the federal government, which has been to actively encourage the Bank of Canada's monetarist policy of driving the interest rates up week after week after week? Does the government of this province have an alternative to propose which will break the spiral of interest rates and provide protection for home owners who are having to renegotiate their mortgages and for all the other people who are being hit by the disastrous upward spiral of interest rates?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to state that this government has the same concern with respect to interest rates since they affect just about everybody, as has the leader of the New Democratic Party and perhaps even more so, I would say that if there is a first ministers' meeting this province will make whatever suggestions and engage in any sort of discussion that will be constructive. I do not pretend --
Mr. Renwick: What are your specific recommendations?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I will tell the member for Riverdale that one solution for this government or the government of Canada is not to go the route of the Socialists in this country of recommending increased expenditure programs. That is one reason this country is in difficulty right now. If we had ever adopted the member's philosophy, interest rates would be at 30 per cent.
Mr. Sargent: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Why does the Premier not acknowledge the fact that every time he talks about going to the feds it is a cop-out? That is all he is doing. In every area in the United States there are fine programs. The most recent one there is a program giving loans at six per cent to low income people, nine per cent to veterans and 10 per cent to all others.
A great boom in housing is coming about through that program. They are state assisted mortgages -- it is called SAM. We could call ours provincial assisted mortgages, PAM. Why doesn't the Premier get off his butt and do something, instead of talking about going to the feds? The government can give a $339-million interest-free loan to Denison Mines. Now they have bought a mine down in Mexico with our money, given to them interest-free. If the government can do things like that, why in the hell can it not do something important for our people here in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am perhaps less reluctant to get off my posterior than the honourable member who asked the question, although I do notice he gets up with great regularity, sometimes with relevance and sometimes without.
Mr. Sargent: Why doesn't the Premier answer the question?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I did not interrupt the member when he was so gracious in the way he asked the question. I will give him an interest-free loan to buy a tie if he wants. In fact, I will even go so far as to grant him one.
This government is not passing the buck; it does not pass the buck. The question of interest rate policy is a matter for the government of Canada. The honourable member knows it. He knows some of the complications. I am not going to defend the government of Canada, but one cannot isolate what is happening in this country either, in fairness, from the interest rate policies in the United States. Do not come here and say we are passing the buck. We are not.
Mr. Peterson: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: A new question.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, there has been one supplementary from a non-leader. Surely that is not fair.
Mr. Speaker: There have been three supplementaries.
Mr. Peterson: The leader had one supplementary and we had one supplementary. Surely this question demands more supplementaries than that, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: A new question, please.
Mr. Cassidy: Perhaps I could simply join, Mr. Speaker, in wishing the compliments of his birthday to the leader of the official opposition. I wish him many more happy returns, personally, I hope he enjoys this one and I wish him well.
Mr. Smith: I think the record should show, Mr. Speaker, that the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) also has a birthday today. We share something, apparently, if not a political stripe. I want to thank the Premier and the leader of the New Democratic Party for their kind wishes. I assure them both that this is one year in which I have aged a lot more than one year for reasons which will go unmentioned, but are well understood. I trust that further birthdays will be spent following more pleasant events than the one which this one was preceded by. I do thank them and all members of the House for their good wishes.
Mr. Elston: I have a question for the Solicitor General, Mr. Speaker. As he no doubt knows, the coroner's report from the Inn on the Park fire was released today. Since the report contains recommendations which are almost identical to those which were made in the coroners' reports concerning the Wentworth Arms fire in 1976 and the New Royal Hotel fire in Paris in 1974, does the minister not feel uncomfortable because of his ministry's delay in acting upon the earlier recommendations, a delay that possibly contributed to six more tragic fatalities?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have not read the recommendations, Mr. Speaker. I have the report. As a matter of fact, I started to read them. I understand from my brief staff report that the recommendations are regarded as very comprehensive and excellent recommendations which obviously deserve a great deal of consideration. They will be given that consideration.
Mr. Elston: By way of supplementary, Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that the Solicitor General has been concerned about the split jurisdiction concerning hotel inspections for some time, will the minister make a commitment today that he will move immediately to eliminate the confusion that has been fostered by the split in jurisdiction between the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and the office of the fire marshal, and will he make a commitment to implement immediately the provisions of the new Ontario fire code?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, the matter is a complex issue. I do not think it can be dealt with simply on the basis of yes or no, we are going to make this commitment or that commitment. It may be of interest to the member who asked the question and to other members that I am advised by my House leader that the Solicitor General's estimates are to start in about 10 days. I think we will have a good opportunity to discuss all the important aspects related to these recommendations and what might or might not be done. The member might be interested in participating in what I am sure will be some very useful discussions.
Ms. Copps: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Has the minister been so concerned with discussions on this subject he has been unable to call about or inquire as to why a fire marshal's report has not yet been submitted on the evacuation and near disaster of St. Joseph's Hospital of more than a year ago?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure of the issue the member is referring to.
AID TO PENSIONERS
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Revenue. Does the minister stick by his response during question period of April 24 that senior citizens are "not being badgered in any way," and that his officials are being as charitable as possible when overpayments are being made on property tax grants because of his ministry's mistake?
Hon. Mr. Ashe: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Does the minister not think it is undue harassment when Ministry of Revenue auditors are making unannounced visits to elderly people in their homes with no advance letter or no advance telephone call, just a knock at the door and the presentation of an identification card? Is that not unnecessarily unsettling? Will the minister state unequivocally to this House that he will end this insensitive practice by his auditors who tell me they intend to continue making surprise visits?
Hon. Mr. Ashe: There is no doubt I have had a couple of similar items brought to my attention recently. There have been a couple of occasions when auditors conducting their auditing functions have called at doors unannounced. In the case of a few seniors, I guess it has disturbed them.
We are looking into that policy, keeping in mind the auditors do have a function to perform. They are doing it, I think, in a fair, reasonable and rational way. If there is any way we can overcome this kind of issue that disturbs seniors, we will. I cannot make a particular commitment to the member at this time.
Mr. Breithaupt: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I have asked the minister about the repayment practice which was going to be followed by his ministry. Can the minister now advise as to what terms of repayment are going to be available, rather than these unfortunate demands which will upset senior citizens? Can he not come out with a statement that would give a $5 or $10 a month repayment opportunity, something by which they can more easily work out this obligation which the ministry's errors have caused?
Hon. Mr. Ashe: No, Mr. Speaker. In most instances with which I have been involved, I do not think this kind of set policy has been called for or is needed. In approaching these people who have received a grant in error, we are finding that in many instances they have strictly put it into their accounts. In some cases, they have not even cashed the cheques and are fully capable of repaying it financially in one payment.
In those situations where they have spent the money and where it would cause grief to them, we are working out financial repayments that will suit their particular situations. There is no need, in my view, to have a set policy that it would be X number of dollars a week or X number of dollars a month. Each case is looked at on its own merits in terms of the needs of the individuals involved.
Mr. Gillies: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment concerning the train derailment near Paris. At 9.20 am. yesterday, 31 cars of an 82-car train on the main Canadian National line were derailed just outside of Paris. Nine of them were tanker cars, eight were loaded with ammonia and one with ethylene glycol. I observed when I toured the site yesterday that a small amount of the glycol appeared to have drained into a stream which in turn drains into the Grand River system.
I wonder if the minister could tell me what steps are being taken to ensure that Brantford and other communities on the Grand River which draw their water from that river have safe drinking water available to them.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, the information the honourable member has is essentially correct. To the best of my knowledge from the preliminary reports at least, the only leakage that occurred was of glycol. Staff of the ministry was on the site shortly after the derailment occurred and throughout yesterday monitored the situation and took water samples from the stream as soon as it was realized that a very minor leak had occurred. I am assured by staff on the site at the time, and still on the site, that no hazard exists with respect to the stream or water supply for Brantford. Further testing is going on today to further ensure that.
As soon as I have a final and complete report on the situation, I will be pleased to share it with the honourable members.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Now that the minister has decided to close down Champlain school in Alfred instead of relocating it, which is what I suggested, resulting in the loss of 70 full-time and 15 part-time or contract jobs, can the minister tell us what special efforts are being undertaken to ensure that employees will be relocated without loss of salary? Will the minister also undertake to give a special severance pay to the contract employees, some of whom have been there for many years?
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I must admit relocating rather than closing is something new to me. The government will make every effort to find employment in the government service for those affected by this closure. If there are terminations because of lack of employment in the government service, those terminations will be handled under the normal government procedures.
When people rise in this House and draw to the minister's attention that he is supposed to move something out of an area, I would very sincerely suggest they consider the repercussions of such demands before making them.
Mr. Boudria: Is the minister telling us he is not aware of this document which I have in my hand, indicating three potential sites to relocate the Alfred training centre in the constituency -- one in Clarence Creek, one in Casselman and one in Alfred -- in three smaller, 6,000-square-foot homes? The schedule for completion of that is in my hands. Is the minister not aware this is going on?
Hon. Mr. Drea: There were plans looked at over a period of time about how best to provide service for the young offenders in the training school. But we should get some facts on the record for the sake of the taxpayers. There are 13 young offenders in the Alfred training school and more than 70 employees.
At the end of June this year, those 13 would be going back into the community, perhaps not all directly to their own homes, but into other staging areas. Why in the world would I, this ministry or the hard-pressed taxpayers of this province want that kept open when we have vacancies in other training schools?
Surely the member is not going to stand here and say, "There has been a deinstitutionalization program concerning young offenders in this province which has been mandated not by this party and not by this ministry, but with the full acceptance of this entire House. Now, Mr. Minister, go and build three mini-institutions even if you haven't got young offenders to put into them."
Surely, he is not suggesting that I start placing young offenders into mini-institutions just for the sake of having to build institutions.
Mr. Speaker: A new question, Mr. Charlton.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We did have a supplementary.
Mr. Roy: You did not. You just had one supplementary on this side and no further supplementaries.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order pursuant to standing order 28(a), I request that the question I posed to the minister today be debated at adjournment tonight. I am forthwith submitting to you, as per the same standing order, a written request for same. I will file with the Clerk my reasons for doing so before eight o'clock tonight.
KEATING CHANNEL DREDGING
Mr. Charlton: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment regarding the Keating Channel.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Roy: We want an even hand in this place.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Mr. Charlton has the floor with a new question.
Mr. Eaton: The member for Ottawa East should stay around until tomorrow and ask the question then. It will be nice to see him on a Friday.
Mr. Charlton: The minister is no doubt aware that last fall, as a result of proposals for dredging in the Keating Channel, Dr. Chant wrote to the Premier (Mr. Davis) suggesting that a hearing of this specific issue should be held as soon as possible and before any irrevocable approvals are given to the request for exemptions under the Environmental Assessment Act and Environmental Protection Act. The Premier responded at that time by saying: "I concur with Dr. Chant's recommendations and will be taking the necessary steps to initiate such an inquiry."
Is the minister aware that as a result of the decision to make that inquiry a private inquiry, an inquiry where the commissioner will discuss privately with the bodies concerned, the issues involved in dredging the Keating Channel but will not hold any public hearings, Dr. Chant has on May 4 written again to the Premier very clearly pointing out the difference between a hearing and a private inquiry?
Is the minister now prepared to change his mind and make the inquiry into a public hearing in which not only the public can be served with information but where the proponents of the dredging can be cross-examined and witnesses called so that the process is full?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I assume that the honourable member is aware of two stages in this process. There is a commitment that has not been backed away from with respect to a full environmental assessment hearing on the dredging of the channel. The purpose of the consultations going on under Dr. Lorant at the present time is a very highly technical matter to determine whether or not the degree of risk of flooding that some people have alleged to exist does exist and whether, in order to prevent perhaps a very serious accident in that area as a result of flooding, it will be necessary in the interim to do some dredging in order to minimize the impact of that.
I don't know that a commitment was ever made that the proceedings Dr. Lorant is conducting, to come to a technical determination of that question and to provide advice, was to be a public hearing.
Furthermore, the gentleman who is doing that work was selected primarily because of his expertise in that particular area. When one seeks that kind of advice from someone with that expertise, I don't think the quality of the advice is enhanced by virtue of cross-examination of witnesses before a public hearing. There will be a public hearing through the environmental assessment. In the interim, to determine the technical question with regard to the threat of flooding, Dr. Lorant is carrying that out. Anyone who has any submissions he would like to make to him or any advice he would like to give to him may do so, but it is not a process involving public hearings.
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I am well aware of the fact that the present process deals with exemptions to allow dredging while the environmental assessment is being done. The minister over there goes through the process with a great fanfare of applauding the experts his ministry appoints. Dr. Chant is also well aware of the process that is being conducted at this point. Is the minister prepared, on his recommendation, to see that the present inquiry in the present circumstance for exemptions is made public so that the process is open and full and so that all of the evidence is heard in relation to exemptions while the environmental assessment is going on?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member misunderstands the process again in terms of his talking about evidence and cross-examination and so on. The conclusions that Dr. Lorant comes to will be public information. There is no question about that.
If the member's question is: Am I prepared now to say there will be public hearings to determine whether or not there is risk of flooding? the answer to that question is no. I do have responsibility to make certain policy decisions on this side. I have made that decision -- that decision, in fact, was made by my predecessor -- and I will stand by that decision. No, I am not going to change the course of that exercise now.
MENTAL HEALTH PATIENTS
Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, I have been trying for three days now to get the Minister of Health in his seat. Apparently, I cannot get him in his chair, so instead I will ask the honourable member here --
Mr. Smith: Here he comes.
Mr. Ruprecht: Oh, he is coming.
The Minister of Health has assured this House that all is well in the mental health field and not to worry; things are going to be improving a great deal. In spite of the fact that I have tried to get an answer from the administrator of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre, who tells us that no one on the inside of the centre is supposed to speak to anyone on the outside, everything is well and things are improving.
Mr. Speaker: A point of order, Mr. Timbrell.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I thought this was question period and not a time for speeches, Secondly, what the honourable member is stating is quite incorrect. No one at Queen Street has ever made such a statement.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Ruprecht, would you ask your question please?
Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, in doing a little research, one finds that over 10,000 hospital beds have been shut down in 10 years, over 500 people have died in our mental institutions and that the return rate of treatment has risen from 65 per cent to 70 per cent. I have a report here from the --
Mr. Speaker: Would you ask your question, Mr. Ruprecht, please?
Mr. Ruprecht: That is my question, Mr. Speaker. I have a report here from the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry. That report indicates -- that is the question -- that 43 per cent of the patients need aftercare, but only 12 per cent are referred to community and health programs. I am asking the minister why that figure is permitted to stand.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, first of all this may be a long answer and you may want to add something to the question period. Every time I listen to that honourable member I cannot help but think of the age-old question, why it is there are more horses' asses in the world than there are horses' asses?
To proceed to the issue at hand, it is quite true throughout North America over the last two decades the incidence of institutionalization and the lengths of stay in psychiatric hospitals have gone down. There is no denying that. There is also no denying the reason for it: the improvements in treatment that exist, including the development and use of many more drugs to stabilize and control mental disabilities in the long term.
Our average length of stay in the psychiatric hospital system is approximately six weeks. I still take it from what the honourable member is stating, that it is his view that one should lock people away until it is possible to sign on the dotted line that absolutely 100 per cent they will never have another problem. That is just not possible. He is totally unrealistic in expecting such a thing.
In addition, the honourable member refers to the fact that a certain number of people have died over the years in the institution. The fact is, we do have a very high number of psychogeriatric cases -- a growing number, in fact -- and basically the 10 hospitals and more than 4,000 beds in the provincial psychiatric hospital system are tertiary care facilities. They are for the chronically mentally ill. We do end up with a lot of people who end their days there, unfortunately. They do not die necessarily by their own hand, which I think is what the member is trying to suggest; they simply end their days there.
The report to which the honourable member makes reference is a report that my ministry commissioned and funded. We have already acted upon the first and basic recommendation of it by funding the proposal from Community Resource Consultants for a program to better co-ordinate the staff at Queen Street with social service staff in the community in the best interests of the patients. The whole point of that report was to identify ways in which we could improve on discharge planning and on aftercare for patients.
I think the honourable member at least should give the ministry some credit for having commissioned the report and for having acted already on its first and major recommendation.
Mr. Ruprecht: I have a report here from the Metro Toronto social services and housing committee that indicates the same concerns I have raised in this House consistently, namely, the impact of people leaving psychiatric institutions on the community and the impact of no programs for aftercare.
Why will the minister have people pushed out of hospitals into our area? And when will he come up with a policy that will address itself to the question asked by the Metropolitan Toronto council of why people are being discharged when they should not be and why people have no aftercare programs when they should have?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: There is absolutely nothing on which the honourable member could base the allegations that people are being discharged when they should not be. He knows full well -- I have told him this repeatedly, but apparently he will not accept it -- that the question of admission and discharge is basically a medical decision using the best judgement that individual can apply at that point.
Second, the honourable member knows full well that over the last five years we have developed an extensive system of community mental health programs. In fact, in the last two years alone our spending on community mental health programs has doubled, and it will continue to expand in the future.
I am well aware of the concern of the people of Parkdale for their community. I think the very forthright action taken recently by my colleague the Minister of Housing in approving and reapproving the amendment proposed by Metro council will go a long way towards alleviating those concerns.
That, combined with continued growth in community mental health programs and continued growth in utilization of community hospital psychiatric facilities, with Queen Street and hospitals like it serving as tertiary care facilities for the chronically mentally ill, will go a long way to address the concerns of the honourable member's constituents. With respect, though, I have yet to hear a single constructive suggestion from the member for Parkdale.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Education and in the absence of the Premier, I will ask a question of the Provincial Secretary for Social Development.
Will the minister assure us it is public policy that the Ontario university system should be accessible to all people, including members of ethnic communities, by specifically dissociating herself and her government from the position stated by a member of the York University budget committee, who is reported in a memo by the dean of Atkinson College, Mr. Harry Crowe, to Ian Macdonald, to express support for cuts in the funding for Atkinson College, the university faculty for part-time students, by declaring "his unhappiness with Atkinson's successful outreach to Toronto ethnic communities."
Getting away from the argument about the autonomy of universities, will the government insist that our universities shall be as accessible to students from ethnic communities as they are to others?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the policy of this government is that every student has access to all our post-secondary institutions in Ontario. There is no doubt about it.
Mr. Grande: I am sorry to hear the minister say that in such a quiet voice. I would have expected a ringing declaration in this Legislature about the accessibility to students, no matter where they come from.
The minister has perhaps seen the ad in this morning's Globe and Mail, if she has had no other information through the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson) about the cuts that are going to be made at Atkinson College this year.
Will the minister not accept the fact that the $340,000 cut in the Atkinson College budget from the 1980-81 level will seriously damage the post-secondary education available to working people, many of them from ethnic communities, by requiring that 75 to 80 courses be cut and that between 2,800 to 3,000 students not be admitted?
Is that what the minister means by ensuring accessibility? Does she support that kind of cut, which apparently was made by a cabal of deans and vice-presidents at a meeting at the Board of Trade Country Club?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: The honourable member's question is full of speculation. If he is trying to suggest that this indicates our policy does not make post-secondary education available to everyone regardless of ethnic background, then I resent it very much. I find his comments very offensive.
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
PRESENTATION OF COOKBOOKS
Ms. Copps: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: In view of the recent admonition by a certain member of the government party to get back to the kitchen, I wish to advise that I did so yesterday and managed to unearth a couple of books. To the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) and in absentia to the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy), I am happy to present personally autographed copies of a cookbook entitled "Great Grits' Recipes."
I wish to point out to the honourable members that on this enlightened side of the House our members not only let women into the Legislature but also contribute in the kitchen; to wit, recipes by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. Newman) and the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio), among others.
I am only sorry to report that there is no recipe for egg on the face. I invite the honourable members to add their own recipes to our Liberal compendium.
COMMENTS BY MINISTER
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Parkdale (Mr. Ruprecht), I wonder if I could get your ruling on whether he is what the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) described him to be -- that is, the rear part of the anatomy of a horse -- whether that is parliamentary and whether the minister should withdraw that remark about the honourable member.
Mr. Speaker: I will take that under consideration. The minister is not here and, quite frankly, I did not catch that remark.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: As a member of this assembly, I can understand your various rulings to cut down the number of supplementaries and allow the greatest number of questions in this Legislature.
While I quite understand that, I want to bring to your attention that there are provisions in the standing orders, including standing order 27(a), which states clearly: "The minister may take an oral question as notice to be answered orally at a later sitting but where any reserved answer requires a lengthy statement, the statement shall be given under 'Statements by the Ministry.'"
As was the case again in this question period, the Minister of Health stated, in fairness to him, that he had a lengthy answer. These answers can probably be given --
Mr. Roy: That's fine. Whether or not they are in response to a question, the standing orders are there.
Mr. Roy: What is that good-looking member for Ottawa South (Mr. Bennett) saying now?
Mr. Speaker, if you expect members on this side to abide by your rulings as to supplementaries and to have respect for the chair, I suggest it is important that the chair understand as well that when ministers get up and answer by making lengthy statements there are provisions under the standing orders to make these statements at other times.
A precedent was set in this House by your predecessor that, when statements take too long, either the minister is admonished to give his statement at a time when statements are open or additional time is added to the question period. I think it is only fair and even-handed that, if the members on this side co-operate to make the question period work, we should expect the same co-operation from ministers on the other side.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, my friend the member for Ottawa East says he understands your desire to include more members in the question period. I must say, I have had serious difficulty in the last two weeks understanding what your desires are in the chair.
It would be helpful for all members if you would declare what your intentions are as the presiding officer in this House. It is my judgement -- and I say this respectfully, but there is no other forum in which I can say it to you -- that there has been exercise of discretion which in my judgement has not been consistent or fair.
I wanted to say that so that in your considerations in presiding over this House, when it is so important to you to have the full support and co-operation of all members, you can perhaps declare what your policy is, what your view of presiding over this House is, so we can all abide by it and you will have universal support.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, I have been in this place for 20 years now, and over the years I have had some trying times, but we are coming into the worst period in history in this province.
When matters of great magnitude are before the House, I do not think it becomes you to decide that there can only be one supplementary question. If the matter is important, we have had as many as four, five and six supplementaries allowed. There are matters very important to me and my riding on which I cannot get even one supplementary.
To be perfectly fair, matters of importance to the economy are important to you and to us. I know you are trying to be fair, but I wish you would bear that in mind.
Mr. Speaker: I am pleased that this particular matter has been raised, because I think it is important. You will notice that in the last few days I have been trimming the supplementaries, because they tend to be repetitious. Members from all sides tend to dwell on the same topic, on the same subject, and indeed ask similar questions.
Getting back to the original point of order raised by the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy), in actual fact you will have noticed if you were keeping time that I have been very lenient in extending the time for question period beyond that provided for in the standing orders. And I did so today. Maybe I should get up and announce that, but actually the question period has exceeded the allotted time every day since I have been in the chair.
Having said that, I think the member for London Centre brings up a valid point and indeed many members have brought it to my attention and to the attention of this House through their speeches in the reply to the throne speech. I think the problem quite simply is that when we get into a question that is of interest to many members, there tends to be a general desire for everyone to become involved.
What I would rather see, with respect to all members, would be to keep the supplementaries to a minimum, have a new question asked and give the back-benchers a chance to become involved as well.
Mr. Martel: But the length of the answer is important.
Mr. Speaker: The length of the answer is indeed important, but just as important, with all respect, is the length of the question itself.
I ask all members to bear in mind that the question period is for the benefit of all members, and not just for those who sit on the front benches on either side. I suggest that some consideration should be given by all parties to those people who sit in the last two rows.
Mr. Mancini: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Earlier today, during question period, I rose on a point of privilege to point out to the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) that some time ago it was the Conservative Party's policy to subsidize interest rates. I noticed that the Premier (Mr. Davis) was shaking his head, almost implying that I was not telling the truth --
Mr. Mancini: I would like to be able to finish my point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Mancini: I noticed that the Premier was shaking his head, implying that I was not telling the truth. I want to inform you, sir, and members of the House, and I want to remind members of the cabinet who were also members of the cabinet back on September 11, 1975, when the Premier delivered a speech entitled "A Clear Choice," that on page 11 of that speech the Premier stated: "If, however, the federal government fails to respond within 30 days, Ontario" --
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Are you in the leadership race too?
Mr. Mancini: I could finish quickly if I were not interrupted, sir.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. let Mr. Mancini finish.
Mr. Mancini: "If, however, the federal government fails to respond within 30 days, Ontario will have no option but to act once again in our own best interests. For rest assured that this government" -- those Tories over there -- "is not prepared to stand idly by to give up its housing objectives and to give up the jobs and the homes to a federal policy which gives in both to increased unemployment and inflation. What we would propose, if we are forced to act, is to extend tax relief to the present and prospective home owners through a new tax credit which would offset three quarters of the mortgage interest costs which are above 10.25 per cent."
Mr. Speaker: I would like to point out, with respect to the member who rose on that point of privilege, that when he rose originally he did not have a point of privilege. In fact, he raised a new question. Again, I find him out of order.
Mr. Mancini: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Surely, when a cabinet minister implies in the House that the government has no responsibility in an area, when he implies that it has never undertaken to have such a responsibility, and when there is evidence --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Will the member please take his seat?
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
Mr. Speaker: I wish to inform all members that pursuant to standing order 28, Mr. Boudria, the member for Prescott-Russell, has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) concerning the closing of a facility at Alfred, and this matter will be debated at 10:30 p.m. tonight.
REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE OMBUDSMAN
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that, notwithstanding the standing orders and practices of the House, the eighth report of the select committee on the Ombudsman of the thirty-first Parliament, dated December 1980, be placed on the order paper for adoption to be called for debate under standing order 30(c).
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved first reading of Bill 52, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I have just introduced a bill entitled An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act. In addition to a number of housekeeping amendments, the bill contains provisions to rectify the situation caused by a recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada overturning section 238(3) of the Criminal Code. This made it an offence for any person to drive a motor vehicle while his or her licence was suspended under any provincial statute or regulation. As a result, there are no longer any sanctions against motorists who drive while disqualified, except for those contained in section 30(b) of the Highway Traffic Act.
Section 30(b), however, does not provide adequate penalties to act as a deterrent; neither does it provide for the automatic six-month licence suspension that previously resulted from a conviction under the Criminal Code. We intend, therefore, to amend section 30(b), making it an offence to drive while disqualified under any Ontario law and beefing up penalties as well.
Under the amendment, drivers convicted under this section will automatically lose their privilege to drive for six months and will be liable to fines ranging from $250 to $2,000 for a first offence and $500 to $2,000 for each subsequent offence within a five-year period. Motorists convicted of driving under suspension will also be liable to imprisonment for up to six months.
The bill also amends section 100 of the Highway Traffic Act, prohibiting any passing on the left shoulder of the highway. At the moment, police are almost powerless to stop motorists driving down the left shoulders of freeways to pass stopped traffic. There is, of course, an exception for some emergency vehicles.
In addition, a new section is being added to make it an offence to back up a motor vehicle while on a freeway with a speed limit in excess of 80 kilometres an hour, because police have reported numerous accidents as a result of this dangerous practice.
Finally, section 128 of the Highway Traffic Act is being amended to empower the police to escort pedestrians found on a controlled-access highway to the nearest intersecting highway where pedestrians are allowed.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AND HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENT AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved first reading of Bill 53, an Act to amend the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I have just introduced an amendment to the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act. Briefly, the bill is designed to reduce Ontario's dependence on petroleum by encouraging municipalities to use electrically powered vehicles for public transportation.
Under existing legislation, the Minister of Transportation and Communications is authorized to subsidize public transportation at the rate of 75 per cent for capital expenditures and 50 per cent for operating costs, regardless of the fuel source. The amendment will permit the minister to pay a subsidy of 90 per cent of the capital costs of electrically powered vehicles and associated equipment.
Mr. Sargent: You just got $300 million for that last year. You are doubling up there.
Hon. Mr. Snow: No change is proposed in the subsidies for operating costs or for the capital costs not associated with fuel conservation programs. Mr. Speaker, this does not apply to Grey-Bruce.
PUBLIC COMMERCIAL VEHICLES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved first reading of Bill 54, An Act to amend the Public Commercial Vehicles Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I will not discuss this bill in detail, but I wish to point out that we intend to amend section 3 of the act to empower the ministry to refer ambiguous or unclear operating licences to the Ontario Highway Transport Board for clarification. This amendment, which is designed to promote better understanding of the privileges contained in operating licences, will benefit shippers, carriers and the public while providing for equitable enforcement of the PCV Act.
I also wish to advise the House that we are adding a new section regarding the provision of documents. At the present time, enforcement officers have no recourse but to charge the driver of a vehicle with an offence of failing to produce documents, even though the holder of the operating licence has failed to provide the driver with them. This is clearly an inequitable situation. Therefore, this amendment provides that the holder of an operating licence may be charged with, and convicted of, any offence that his driver may be charged with under the act.
MOTORIZED SNOW VEHICLES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved first reading of Bill 55, An Act to amend the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act, 1974.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, a section has been added to this act to require all snowmobile operators to stop when approaching or overtaking a school bus that has stopped and whose red signal lights are flashing. This is similar to the requirements applicable to drivers of other motor vehicles with respect to school buses as set out in the Highway Traffic Act.
In addition, a section is being added to the act to require snowmobile drivers to stop when approached by a motorized snow vehicle with flashing red lights, operated by a police or conservation officer.
The bill also sets a new and more realistic limit for snowmobiles involved in reportable property damage accidents. Under existing legislation, a snowmobile operator is required to report a collision if more than $100 worth of damage occurs in the accident. This will be raised to $400.
Finally, the bill contains two amendments designed to bring our snowmobile legislation in line with the Occupiers' Liability Act and the Trespass to Property Act passed in this House last year.
GOOD SAMARITAN ACT
Mr. Haggerty moved first reading of Bill 56, An Act to relieve Persons from Liability in respect of Voluntary Emergency Medical and First Aid Services.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to relieve persons from liability in respect of voluntary emergency first aid assistance or medical service rendered at or near the scene of an accident or other sudden emergency.
NONUNIONIZED WORKERS PROTECTION ACT
Mr. Haggerty moved first reading of Bill 57, An Act respecting the Rights of Nonunionized Workers.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to provide a low-cost mechanism whereby nonunionized workers may obtain a review by the Ontario Labour Relations Board where the worker is discharged or otherwise disciplined for cause and the contract of employment is silent on matters of discipline.
At the present time, a nonunionized worker who is dismissed or otherwise disciplined for cause may have no right of action against his employer, notwithstanding the fact that, having regard to all circumstances, the discipline is unduly harsh.
The bill provides for a two-stage process reviewing complaints involving harsh discipline. Initially, a labour relations officer would be appointed to effect a settlement, which would be reduced to writing and which would have to be complied with according to its terms.
If no settlement is reached or if settlement is not likely, the Ontario Labour Relations Board would inquire into the matter. If the board is dissatisfied that the complaint is justified, it will have the power to make an order substituting such penalty as seems just and reasonable in the circumstances.
LABOUR RELATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Haggerty moved first reading of Bill 58, an Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to provide a mechanism whereby the Lieutenant Governor in Council can order a 60-day suspension of any strike or lockout and order a return to work where the strike or lockout constitutes an immediate and serious danger to life, health or safety, or seriously disrupts the economy of the province or any area of the province.
The bill provides that the Minister of Labour must appoint a conciliation officer where an order suspending the strike or lockout has been made and may subsequently appoint a conciliation board where the efforts of the conciliation officer to effect a collective agreement are unsuccessful.
If conciliation efforts are unsuccessful, the strike or lockout may be resumed without a further strike vote. An order made under the bill would be enforceable as an order under the Supreme Court.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE PAPER
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the answers to the following questions standing on the Notice Paper: 1 to 3, 5, and the interim answer to questions 6 to 59.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
Mr. Andrewes: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As a junior member in terms of service in this House and to this caucus, I am indeed honoured to make comment in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of this session.
With all due respect to those members opposite who may think otherwise, it is with a degree of humility that I approach this opportunity as the member for the riding of Lincoln.
At the outset, Mr. Speaker, may I affirm the congratulatory remarks made by my colleagues in this assembly towards your appointment as Speaker and to wish you well in your role and offer my pledge to you that my conduct in this House will be in keeping with the high level of decorum you might anticipate from all members of this caucus.
I would be remiss if I failed to pay tribute to the former member for Lincoln, Ross Hall, who served this House, his caucus and the riding with honesty and dedication throughout his years as a member of this assembly. Indeed, the constituents of Lincoln riding have enjoyed a great tradition of dedication, having previously been represented by the Minister of Energy and Deputy Premier (Mr. Welch). It is in this tradition that I will continue to represent my riding.
For those whose travels throughout the heartland of this province have not brought them in close touch with the euphoria of Lincoln, let me briefly take this assembly on a tour of what many Ontarians might describe as a remnant of Adam's garden.
Stretching southward from the shores of Lake Ontario and rising through the heights of the Niagara Escarpment, the area is unique in its climatic and geographic character, thus lending itself to a broad range of agricultural endeavours. Below and immediately above the escarpment grow the famed tender fruit and grapes that give the area its notoriety.
Moving still further south from the escarpment face, the moderating effects of Lake Ontario are less prevalent and the agriculture scene shifts to one of cash crops and livestock.
Let us not neglect to mention that Lincoln is the home of some of the largest poultry operations in this province. For those members whose agricultural concerns are more intensive, the riding is proud of its many well organized and productive greenhouse operations.
Lest the honourable members get the impression that we in Lincoln are without cosmopolitan influences, let me add that the riding is proud of its four communities that can boast all of the benefits of urban life without the preponderance of problems of a metropolitan centre.
As a member of a family that has been farming in this province for several generations, I should like to make some comments on the farm community. I would like to set the stage for my remarks with some background information on Ontario's agriculture and food industry.
Most people think of Ontario as Canada's industrial heartland. I am not talking about people from other provinces; most Ontario citizens see their province that way. Too few of our citizens realize that their province is the nation's largest producer of agricultural products, that their farmers produce some 200 commodities. In 1980, the value of that production was in excess of $4 billion. It is estimated that for 1981 it will exceed $4.5 billion. To the rest of the country that represents 30 per cent of Canada's total output.
Ontario has a population of more than eight million people. Only a very few of us are farmers. A little more than 340,000 people live on farms in this province, which represents just over four per cent of our population. When you think of the size of the output from Ontario farms in comparison to the number of farmers, you get some idea of just how productive this small group is. The agricultural industry of this province has the capacity to supply virtually all of the requirements of the people of Ontario in those commodities which are commercially produced here.
I am very optimistic about the future of agriculture in Ontario. From my experience during my farming career and from many observations over the years I feel that we can be confident about the future and the continued productivity of our agricultural industry.
Growth and productivity do not just happen. They are the result of a lot of hard work and dedicated effort on the part of many people and many organizations. One of those organizations is government. The government of Ontario has developed numerous programs over the years in support of agriculture. There is a lot to be said about what government should do, whether it is about land, prices or emergency programs. But the government's major responsibility in agriculture is to help to ensure that our farmers can earn a decent living. If farming remains viable, if farmers can support their families at an income level commensurate with the work and investment they make, there will be no need of elaborate government programs to ensure our food supply. The farmers themselves will ensure it, because that is their business.
The approach this government has taken over the years is just that. All our agricultural programs have been designed to assist the farmer to do the thing that he does best, namely, produce and market food. We do not need complicated land preservation legislation to preserve agricultural land; we just need a climate in which farmers can make a decent living. I do not think anybody in this House would say that is an unworthy goal.
I am not going to review the programs that have been running for many years; most members and certainly all farmers are well aware of them. They have served the agricultural community well and in so doing they have served the province as a whole. Instead, I want to talk here for a few minutes about the new initiatives and recently developed programs.
The best possible way to make farming a viable undertaking is to ensure markets for farm products. It is not only a great deal less expensive than instituting fancy programs to shore things up; it is the only answer that businessmen or farmers really want. They do not want handouts; they want to be able to sell their products at a fair return.
In evaluating the markets for Ontario farm products, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food has done a great deal of research into domestic food production and imports. Its work has shown that Ontario's imports are in great amounts and growing. In fact, a couple of years ago a leading chartered bank predicted that Canada would be in a food deficit position in little more than a generation if present trends continued. It is only Canada's large export of western grain that keeps this country in a positive trade balance in food right now.
As a result of that condition, the government of Ontario determined it was essential to attempt to reverse the trend. In the spring of 1977, the government announced that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food would embark on a new consumer-oriented program, the objective of which was to increase consumption of Ontario agricultural products by Ontario citizens. This is the program known as Foodland Ontario.
The program has two thrusts. One is to inform people of the variety of high quality food produced by Ontario agriculture. The other is aimed at Ontario retailers and people in the food service industry, such as hotels, restaurants and institutions.
Consumer research carried out each year on the program has shown that progress is being made. For example, endorsement of the program has reached 87 per cent. One in two people are more aware of the high quality of Ontario food and they are becoming aware of the need to buy Ontario and keep this province healthy.
The Foodland symbol is now recognized by 61 per cent of Ontario's consumers. This program began in 1977. In the fall of 1978 the Ministry of Agriculture and Food was reorganized to give even greater emphasis to the marketing function. I think it is worth noting that since then similar reorganizations have occurred at the federal level and in other provinces.
In the future, import replacement is going to have an even greater urgency. Transportation costs just keep going up. In the future it may become too expensive to import food. Other nations may very well wish not to spend their scarce energy resources on shipping food to us. They may well find themselves in a position where production for export is not possible. We have no control whatever over any of these possibilities, so it is crucial that we have other alternatives available.
I have heard a lot of talk about the cost of producing food here as opposed to the cost of producing it in, say, the southern United States. But studies show it costs just about the same, for instance, to produce peaches from an acre of land here as it does in California. It is not the production cost that makes the difference; it is the productivity. But that does not have to be the limiting factor.
Let us look at corn, for example. No one, 30 years ago, would have believed how much corn we could grow in Ontario today. Now we are a major corn producing area and we did it with research. We did it by developing highly productive hardy varieties and we have done the same thing with soybeans. I don't think it has to end there. There are all kinds of crops in this province with the potential for increased productivity. I don't think it is too fanciful, for instance, to look forward to a day when our peach industry is nearly as productive as California's.
It is well established that a strong research and development program is an essential component of a reliable agricultural industry. It is fortunate that here in Ontario we have a strong and effective research and development program for agriculture. It is obvious to me that with a thrust towards significant replacement of imports of fruits and vegetables, it is imperative that a continuous flow of new technology be assured. This new technology must be forward looking in order to support an expanding and effective horticultural industry.
Research by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food at the Vineland Research Station, which happens to be in the riding of Lincoln, on the effectiveness of protective environments for peaches and, through industry, on storage and packaging systems, both aimed at extending the period and availability of fresh peaches, are examples of the forward looking research and development programs of this government.
Studies on long-term storage systems for both fruits and vegetables are on the high priority list for research and development activity for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food at Vineland, Simcoe and Bradford research stations and at the University of Guelph.
This discussion of expanding and improving our storage facilities brings me to the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program. As members are aware, the government introduced BILD in January of this year with a number of agricultural components. These are designed to give the kind of support to agriculture I was talking about a few moments ago.
Grants are being made available to cover one third of the construction or renovation costs to storage facilities. Also included are grants to upgrade packing and grading equipment. This program is being funded with $20 million over a five-year period.
In addition, a major tender-fruit tree replanting program will receive assistance. This program is designed to increase the production of fruit for processing, especially clingstone peaches. Bartlett pears for processing will also be included and $1.5 million has been aside for the program. This program will not only help raise production of Ontario fruit; it will help expand the processing industry.
Another area the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) has identified as having import replacement potential is that of asparagus. Under the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development, $1.5 million is being made available over five years to assist farmers to expand asparagus production. This is an investment that could lead to a return of something like $4.2 million a year in replaced imports. Similar assistance is being provided in the dairy sector to increase production and further improve quality.
There is a BILD committee working on all these projects right now. It has members from the BILD secretariat, the Ministry of Industry and Tourism and the Ministry of Treasury and Economics, as well as senior representatives from Agriculture Canada. The committee is chaired by a senior staff member of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. It is the committee's responsibility to evaluate proposals under BILD and to promote BILD projects throughout the agriculture and food industry. We can expect to see some interesting developments quite soon.
I mentioned my experience in agriculture at the beginning of my remarks and I would like to expand on one aspect of that at this time. I have been associated for several years with marketing and, in particular, with marketing boards. Marketing legislation was passed in this House some 44 years ago and it has proven its worth over and over again.
All parties of this Legislature recognize the fundamental right of farmers to organize themselves to improve the marketing of their products. I do not think anyone in this chamber would dispute that right. Nevertheless, from time to time there is criticism of marketing boards and this is particularly true of those boards which operate under supply management programs. I would like to put into the record a few figures on that subject.
Last fall a report was prepared on price increases. The findings were instructive because between 1975 and 1979 the farm gate price of eggs rose 27.8 per cent and the price of chickens rose 13.4 per cent. In that period turkey prices went up 33.7 per cent and milk 23.6 per cent. In the same period, the consumer price index rose 38.1 per cent and the food component of that index rose 45.4 per cent.
In view of these findings, I do not think accusations against marketing boards can be justified. Perhaps their biggest failing is getting their story across, because not enough people realize that marketing boards are among the most progressive groups we have.
Their role is to improve the marketing of their products. They participate actively in many programs aimed at increasing sales for producers all the way from advertising campaigns to new product development. One measure of their enthusiasm for promoting their products can be seen in the way they have participated in the Foodland Ontario program. They have backed this program strongly and have joined the ministry in many cost-shared campaigns.
I have dealt with a number of issues in my remarks. There are many facets of the agriculture and food industry but it is a highly interdependent industry where activity in one field quickly affects events in other areas. The programs designed by the government to assist agriculture are, in consequence, closely coordinated to achieve maximum benefits all through the industry from producer to consumer. A secure, safe and plentiful supply of nutritious food is the goal of everyone involved and that is clearly reflected in the programs of this government.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Andrewes, and now the honourable member, Mr.--
An hon. member: Mr. Sargent.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Just call him the shooter.
Mr. Sargent: The one who drinks.
Mr. Speaker, may I say at this time that this large gathering reminds me of the small church up our way. Its congregation is dwindling very seriously and on one particular Sunday, the bishop himself came to take the service. After he started his sermon he noticed, much to his chagrin, that there was an even smaller congregation than was there before.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr. Sargent, this is obviously in reference to the throne debate, is it?
Mr. Sargent: I will get to that later.
He turned to the minister and said, "Did you tell them I was coming?" The minister said, "No, I don't know how in hell they found out." So this large turnout may be because of the fact that I am on the floor. What were you saying, Mr. Speaker?
The Deputy Speaker: I was just inquiring whether this was in reference to the throne debate.
Mr. Sargent: I have a very wide range in this. You must know that. As a new Speaker, we have to train you. You will catch on.
I would like to say at this time and place that it is a time for reckoning. The arrogance of this new government after the last election is of great concern to the people of Ontario. The blatant spending during the election was a shocking thing. Just as important, I believe, is the fact that we must assess the position we are in now with the beautiful resources we have here in Ontario. We shall have problems.
Election promises have always been a part and parcel of the Tory program for getting elected by the Big Blue Machine. In the last election we had a list of the previous campaign promises of the Tories, and there were about $900 million worth. In this last campaign it was much more than that. Here we have probably a billion dollars' worth of promises, which is a total fraud.
In the last week, members may have received a copy of the orders in council. They want to pass now, to continue in business, a $4 billion bill that we have no chance to study or review. This is spending by the cabinet with no recourse by the elected representatives of the people.
That reminds me of the zebra who went into the barnyard and saw a bull. He said to the bull, "What do you do around here?" The bull said, "Take off your pyjamas and I will show you." The same thing has happened to the people of Ontario in my book.
No one is denying that. The Premier (Mr. Davis) decided to fight the election on his leadership ability -- his leadership, his ability as a leader. I would like to point to a list of events that would make ex-President Nixon look good compared to the leadership of this party in Ontario.
Before I start out, I will tell you the motivation behind the Big Blue Machine, Mr. Speaker. This government is not run by the member for Brampton at all. He is a good politician, a good figurehead and a good con man, but this Tory party is controlled by a group of millionaires called the think tank. They meet every Thursday in the Park Plaza Hotel to direct the plundering of the treasury of Ontario.
They tell the Premier exactly what to do. They told him what to do in the election. He was not to appear on the platform with the two leaders of the opposition parties, because they all knew that the Premier could not answer the questions and the public of Ontario would see him with his pants down. Those fellows would not be sitting there today if he had had the guts to face the electorate in a public debate. That was the gutless position the think tank took -- not the Premier. He had no control; he was told what to do.
When the election was called, everything was in the can ready to go. The government spent 50 per cent of its yearly budget for advertising in Ontario in the first two months of the election -- total skulduggery and misuse of the public funds. They even arranged for their buddy, Mr. Bassett, who owns CFTO, the most powerful Canadian TV station, not to agree to go along with the debate and to tell the people of Ontario they had no right to know what was going on.
That same station appointed only one reporter to cover the whole three parties, and last week that great Conservative friend was appointed by the government to be in charge of the new multi-billion- dollar convention centre development. They pay their friends. Even Global TV was in on the act not to cover the election. The people of Ontario were totally uninformed on the issues.
Hon. Mr. Welch: A fine Canadian.
Mr. Sargent: The Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) is the last man who should say a word when I am speaking. He has sat in that job, which had four ministers before him who had the guts to try to answer a question. When I questioned this minister, he had the nerve to give me some crap about "looking into the matter." It is an insult not to answer questions raised in this House.
The Deputy Speaker: I would ask the member to be more orderly in his references to his colleagues in the Legislature.
Mr. Sargent: I am running this. It is a wonder you got the job in the first place, so don't you talk to me.
Hon. Mr. Welch: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Let the record show that the honourable member who is now speaking has not asked a single question of the Minister of Energy this session, so why is he talking about answering questions? The only question he has asked me was in a note yesterday to the effect that he was having trouble responding to reporters of a certain radio station. I assured him we would be glad to give him all the information he needed. That is the only question he has asked, and that by written note. What is he really talking about?
The Deputy Speaker: We remind all members that we do indeed allow some latitude in the Legislature, but let us not get out of hand.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, you are going to see a lot of this in this session. I am not going to take from any minister the crap I am getting from him. I have repeatedly asked him questions -- all the opposition knows that -- but he never answers a question.
The Minister of Energy has never told us what happened on the $7.5-billion scam with Denison Mines. He gave them almost $500 million as an interest-free loan.
Hon. Mr. Welch: The estimates of this ministry will be before the committee.
Mr. Sargent: The minister always says that, but he does not know his portfolio. He is a joke. The reason he is there is that he will not answer questions in the House. The government has the biggest, most expensive portfolio in the cabinet run by a dummy like him. He has managed to sweep everything under the rug. I am incensed over the fact that I, who have sat in this place for 20 years, and the taxpayers, do not know what is going on. He has tricked us all.
He has allowed the Premier to open up the cash bag and to spread millions of dollars in any place he can buy votes for the past four years, all the while preaching total restraint. Since February 2, when the writ was issued, the bag has been open. The think tank decided how to spend the money and everybody marched along like little soldiers, giving away about $1 billion, bribing the public with its own funds.
One voter said to me, "Here we have the Premier boasting about his leadership while 143,000 of our young people under 25 years of age, representing 50 per cent of the population of Ontario, are walking the streets because they cannot get a job, nor do they have hope of ever getting a job." The unemployed rate of 14.5 per cent represented by that group of 143,000 people is the highest in the free world.
The Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) told me that was a lie. I told him to look it up and gave him the page and the date in his own publication from the economic council. He did not apologize at all. There are no job training programs to any extent; there are no apprenticeship programs; and now we are importing thousands of skilled workers into Ontario. And the Premier calls this leadership.
The name of the game for him is think-tank advisers and controlling the money flow for the establishment. Every single day they can stay in power, whether in a minority or a majority situation, they are making more millionaires. Someone asked Willy Sutton, the bank robber, why he robbed banks. He said, "That is where the money is." That is what the think-tank guys are doing. This is the big ball game, and they are running the show and pulling the strings. Name one guy on that think-tank adviser group who is not a multi-millionaire.
The first time I became amazed at the arrogance and skulduggery going on here was during the Fidinam affair. A reporter gave me a cheque for $50,000, which was cancelled, that had been paid off by Fidinam to get a construction contract for $20 million for the Workmen's Compensation Board building. No bids were called. I produced this $50,000 cancelled cheque in the House, showing the payoff from this Fidinam group. A firm that could not pay a $1,500 account that year was furnishing a $50,000 cheque to the government. They got the $20-million contract and also a $15-million loan.
I produced the cheque in the House, and they bounced me out of the House. In the meantime, they had an investigation, rapped a few knuckles and found they should not have done it. That started the ball game.
The next time we had the Premier and his friend Mr. Moog. He is a wealthy construction man who is a great buddy of the Premier. They got together and decided to build a classy, new Moog-an-Davis hotel here -- the Hydro building. Mr. Moog and the Premier took a trip to Germany to raise the funds. The Premier told our committee hearing about it. He said, "When they were raising the funds, I stayed at the other end of the room. I did not want to hear what they were talking about."
They came back and they let the contract. No bids were called. They got the contract for a $43-million building down here -- and nothing wrong with it. We had an investigation about that. They investigated themselves and they had a majority of their members on the committee; so nothing happened. A $20-million deal and away we go. I do not know how much Moog made out of the deal. The same guy, Moog, got the OISE building contract for $20 million with no tender bid. And he talks about leadership.
Last year Ottawa promised to give Ontario a $500-million equalization grant because we were a have-not province. The Treasurer (Mr. F.S. Miller) said, "No, we are not a have-not province. We do not want the $500 million." A half a billion dollars he turned down.
Mr. Riddell: Boy, could the farmers use that right now.
Mr. Sargent: You are damned right they could, and so could we at our hospital.
Mr. Riddell: We could keep the farmers right in business with that money. It is just a crying shame. It really is. It boggles the mind.
Mr. Breaugh: Just one speaker at a time.
Mr. Sargent: He is right on target.
Mr. Riddell: I love to get in on it because there is a dry rot over there.
Mr. Sargent: I am going to make a phone call.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Mr. Sargent has the floor, I believe.
Mr. Sargent: I do not know. Sometimes I think you are trying to take it, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: No. The standing orders specifically state that Speakers are not to take part in the debate.
Mr. Sargent: You can keep your head up.
Last year the Premier hurried a deal through the Legislature to meet a February 28 deadline. It was a $7.5-billion contract for uranium. At that time, uranium was selling for a dollar a pound at the mine head, but this contract called for a price of $40 to $60 a pound. They gave them a contract to the year 2010, and Denison Mines was guaranteed a profit of $2.5 billion regardless of what happened in the marketplace. That contract stood. On top of that, they gave them a $339-million loan, advanced interest- free for 40 years. This was signed by the Premier and hurried through the Legislature. It was a situation parallel to what Westinghouse had in the United States. Westinghouse renegotiated the contract with a cartel and won the case.
Mr. Kolyn: Who made the cartel?
Mr. Sargent: Trudeau, Denison and the guys. The honourable member is totally right, but the villain in the case is the fact this government could give a total package like that at unbelievable prices. They knew there were more finds in Saskatchewan, South Africa and Australia. What happened? Denison took our $339 million and bought a uranium mine in Australia with our interest-free money.
We cannot get a hospital in Owen Sound. We were promised a $5-million hospital 20 years ago. It was up to $10 million 10 years ago. Then it was up to $15 million. Last year it was $25 million. This year it is $35 million. In 20 years, what they are going to give us has gone up to $35 million but we never get the money.
They are always promising. It is no wonder I am angry. Here in the opposition we are being discriminated against, and I am fed up with the whole process. I do not know whether the question period means a damn thing or whether I should get up to speak and make a lot of enemies, but someone has to tell the truth. This will be the most corrupt situation in North America. It will make Watergate look like peanuts because they are going to have a blank cheque and no one can stop them. That is a fact. Who is to stop them?
John White, the former Treasurer of Ontario, was here and said he wanted to build a new city in Haldimand-Norfolk. He had a dream and he spent $60 million of our money to buy land.
An hon. member: A nightmare.
Mr. Sargent: A nightmare is right. What did he do? He had 20 visits in his apartment downtown, without the press, with the vice-president of A. E. LePage. He made a deal that L.ePage would get the whole contract. LePage got a $5-million commission but there was no contract, only a handshake. That is how the whole deal happened. That was the Treasurer of Ontario under the Premier's leadership.
Mr. Bob Macaulay used to be the minister of energy and was legal counsel to Ontario Hydro. The chairman of Hydro is Mr. Hugh Macaulay, who is the brother of Bob Macaulay. Bob Macaulay, as counsel for Hydro, had a bill for one year of $176,000 in legal fees. We have the family compact looking after its friends. I could go on right down the line.
The fact is retired cabinet ministers who had front seats in the Legislature have all got jobs at about $51,000 a year. They are on different commissions and are getting a $31,000-a-year pension on top of that. They are getting $82,000 a year because they sat in the front row and because they looked after their friends.
Our friend, Mr. John Yaremko, is making big bucks. He made a $1-million land deal the day before the Niagara Escarpment thing was to go into effect. He made the date for closure the day after he made the land deal and made $1 million.
I could go on down the line. We had Mr. Darcy McKeough here. He was a power, a real wheeler and dealer. He was at a cocktail party one night and promised Mrs. R. W. Todgham, the wife of the president of Chrysler, that he would look after $600,000 tax she had to pay on $2-million profit on a deal. Darcy said to her at the cocktail party: "I will look after you. I will cancel the tax for you." He cancelled the tax. I brought it up in the Legislature and was tossed out. She did not pay the tax. She has never paid the tax. That has been going on in Ontario for years and we still think it is good government and a good way to run an operation.
The current scandalous thing I am trying to talk about is what is going on at Ontario Hydro. We have a 40 per cent surplus of power, so they are going to build a $600-million line under Lake Erie to feed power, cheaper than what we pay for it, to the Three Mile Island group across Lake Erie. They are going to spend $6 billion on Darlington, despite our 40 per cent power surplus, when the overrun for all nuclear plants across the world ranges from 25 to 400 per cent. A case in point is the last unit put into effect at Douglas Point, which came on stream about three months ago, was to cost $280 million, but it cost $880 million -- a half a billion dollar overrun.
We have an overrun of maybe 500 per cent on the $6.6 billion on Darlington. We have the interest on the money, we have the $600 million to cross Lake Erie and now we have a new tax coming on -- and acres and acres of spent fuel rods in swimming pools. They have to have a life protection of 2,000 years. They don't know where they are going to put them; so they keep on making more swimming pools and putting these spent fuel rods in there.
They are going to take $59 million a year out of our pockets for Hydro to put into the kitty so that in 1995 or 2000 they will have enough money to go out and find some place to put these spent fuel rods. It is totally irresponsible. We are looking at $15 billion, with interest, for all the build-ons and all the add-ons for Darlington with a 40 per cent power surplus. And they are talking restraint. It is mind-boggling. I could go on, but I don't want to go over my time.
Our farmers are in trouble. The last speaker hit on some of the high points. Our rural farmers are paying 29 per cent higher hydro rates than those charged to city residents. The cost of electricity to the farmers of Ontario is the highest in Canada. The farmers' net income in Ontario declined 32 per cent in 1980. Their 1981 operating expenses are forecast to grow by 19 per cent and depreciation charges by 14 per cent.
In Owen Sound we have two and three pages of farm auction sales every weekend -- sometimes daily. I had a call the other night from a very successful farmer near Port Elgin. He started to tell me the whole story of what was going on. I said, "Just a moment. Do you mind if I tape this?" and I taped our conversation.
The bottom line was there were 24 farms on his line and his was the only one left. They were all prosperous areas. He said, "The only reason I can hang on is I have a good job at the Pittsburgh plant and I have my son running the show. But God knows how long I can hang on." Regardless of the price at the farm gate, they can't meet the high cost of money at the bank, the interest rates.
We have a great pride in OHIP, but we have a great shortage of hospital beds. I have had two serious things happen in my family related to terrible hospital conditions. Our garbage goes up and down in the same elevator as the surgical team going to operate. It is the worst hospital in the country. We have the best staff, but we can't get money from the government. They said in our election that if they voted for Sargent they wouldn't get a new hospital. I told the Premier many times that I would resign my seat if he would give us a hospital. He wouldn't fall for it. He wouldn't go for it. What a way to run a province.
I think it is scandalous. The people of Ontario don't know what is going on here. They don't know how the members opposite are running the show. We are proud of OHIP. It is the envy of the United States. They are trying to copy the program.
It is the right of every citizen to have a hospital bed in time of need. But the shocking fact is that many people are dying unnecessarily because they can't get hospital beds, even though they are paying for them with their OHIP. That is another form of fraud. They pay for them, but they can't get hospital beds. June Rowlands is one of the most important aldermen in Toronto. I think she is in charge of budget here. Her mother tried 12 hospitals in Toronto and couldn't get a bed. And Mrs. Rowlands is a top authority in that field in Toronto.
I say that the Premier has his priorities all mixed up. He will never sit in this House and let us tell him what we think of him. As a man he is a great guy, but he runs a corrupt machine; that is all he does. That is bad enough. I told him one time in the House that if one is in the States and is running a corrupt machine one goes to jail. That is what would happen. But this is corrupt. There have been enough commissions over the years to vote this government a clean bill of health.
The $6 billion being squandered on Darlington would build 100,000 new hospital beds in Ontario. It would keep the farmers in business. The priority in my life is to see some justice along this line.
The shocking fact is that there are no jobs. I believe the situation that has developed today is the result of the troubles that are being created by the lack of jobs for our kids, our people and our farmers. The full package, the full price of the plant closings, the shutdowns, and layoffs that have reverberated through much of the Canadian economy, is beginning to be paid. It is being paid in the coin of human misery, in the broken dreams, in the wrecked lives of many who find they cannot cope with unemployment and rising inflation. The interest point today is around 20 per cent and it is going to go to maybe 24 per cent or 30 per cent. I think we are facing a very serious recession.
In the past year, 68 plants and industries have closed in Ontario, in some cases throwing entire communities into the chaos of mass unemployment with all of the social problems that come in its wake.
There are now 320,000 jobless people in this province, where inflation is pushing 12 per cent and interest rates are now at 20 per cent. An increasing number of Ontarians are finding it simply impossible to deal with the rapidly escalating mortgage payments -- I am talking about today's food and energy costs -- or with the stress of watching their families do without because the main provider can no longer bring home the bacon. The toll of human tragedy and suffering is tremendous. It is reflected in the rising suicide rate and the incidence of wife- beating, child abuse, alcoholism and mental disorders.
In the Oshawa-Whitby area, one of the areas of the province hardest hit by the plant shutdowns, the number of suicide cases has jumped from 21 to 35 in one year. That is a challenge that can only be met through co-ordinated and comprehensive employment strategies at both the provincial and federal levels.
The realization that unemployment is not solely an economic concern, but a social one that affects the quality of life for everyone, and ensuring full employment in Ontario and in Canada would require a stable industrial policy with widespread job training, apprentice programs, retraining programs and co-operation of business, labour and government. Leave the think tank out of it and the millionaires who are making their fortunes on nuclear power. Leave them alone; they have had enough. They have put us in the spot we are in now. The messes that have been created for the people by regional government and school consolidation programs have cost unnecessary billions.
It is a task we cannot afford to put off any longer. The experience in Ontario sadly demonstrates that unemployment means more than embarrassing statistics. It means that people who desperately want to be productive, happy members of society find themselves caught in the web of economic circumstances beyond their control, out of work and frustrated as they are today. We can thank this government for many of our problems.
I am concerned, as I said before, about the plight of youth. I am very concerned about it. This ministry has a challenge to do something to put our kids into apprentice job training programs. I do not know what the future holds. I do know the future of Canada and of Ontario depends on our young people, and it is time we did something about it.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise and join in this debate -- I use the term loosely -- on the speech from the throne. It is usual, when one rises, to congratulate various people around the building and the club. First, I would like to congratulate some of the old boys who survived, rather than the new boys and girls who entered.
I have some very strong memories of my own first speech in this Legislature in debating the speech from the throne back in 1972. I was looking at it the other night and I was immediately filled with an enormous sense of depression because my response to this speech from the throne is very much like my response to that speech from the throne.
Unlike most of my colleagues on this side of the House, I was not disappointed in the speech from the throne because there was nothing in the speech from the throne. One cannot be disappointed if there is nothing of substance in it. I was struck also by an enormous sense not exactly of powerlessness, but of what drives us to rise in this place, in this marvellous theatre of the absurd, when the benches are overflowing as they are this afternoon? What do we think we are accomplishing? That speaks to something very profound in Ontario politics because there has been an enormous deterioration of the respect in which the Legislature has been held by the government of the day, particularly under the present Premier (Mr. Davis).
For example, this afternoon there is not a single cabinet minister sitting in his place. I do not take that as a personal insult, but I take it as an insult to the Legislature that not only is the Premier not here, but not a single cabinet minister is here. I take it as an insult to the Legislature that there are fewer Tory backbenchers, when they have a majority, than there are NDP members of the House. I take that as an insult to the Legislature because I see the Legislature as a place --
Mr. Shymko: Where is the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy)?
Mr. Foulds: Where is the member for Brampton (Mr. Davis)? Where is the member for Brock (Mr. Welch)? Where is the member for any of those 26 ridings where there are cabinet ministers?
The Deputy Speaker: Mr. Shymko, Mr. Foulds has the floor.
Mr. Foulds: I take it as an insult to the Legislature that nobody in the cabinet thinks it worth while to listen to the debate of their own back-benchers.
Leaving all that aside, I think we might just take a look at a few words that were spoken by William Faulkner when he had the honour of accepting the Nobel Prize for literature. He said: "It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure; that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening; that even then there will be one more sound, that of his puny, inexhaustible voice still talking." One of the reasons --
Mr. Shymko: I think he wants a Nobel prize for oratory.
Mr. Foulds: The honourable member is an insult to the people of High Park-Swansea with that kind of contribution.
Mr. Shymko: The people of High Park-Swansea made their opinion well known.
Mr. Foulds: That is right, and the people of Ontario made their opinion well known. Fifty-six per cent of the people of Ontario voted against the honourable member's party. Just let him keep that in mind.
Mr. Shymko: They voted against your former member.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Order, Mr. Shymko.
Mr. Grande: The honourable members in that party should be ashamed of themselves for the kind of election that was run.
Mr. Philip: If there was ever an example of patronage to incompetence, the member for High Park-Swansea is that example.
The Acting Speaker: Order. Mr. Foulds has the floor.
Mr. Foulds: When Faulkner was speaking, I think he was trying to illustrate that one of the few tools we have as human beings that does not lead to destruction, one of the few tools we have to bring about change, is man's voice, his words, because they express his thoughts, his desires and his dreams.
My friend the former member for Lakeshore, Pat Lawlor, was fond of saying --
Mr. Shymko: He is after the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Kolyn) now.
Mr. Foulds: Why doesn't the member for High Park-Swansea just excuse himself?
He was fond of saying that we in the Legislature are essentially wordmongers, people who exchange and, it is to be hoped, change things with our words. That is why we engage in this kind of debate and that is why it is for me an honour, as it always is, to rise and participate in this forum.
First of all, I happen to think this forum is a good and honourable place in which to work, and I think it is a forum for work. I think it is a bit insane at times and when we have done away with the zoo period of our activities, commonly known as question period, which was so ably caricatured this morning in the editorial cartoon in the Globe and Mail, I think sometimes we may even accomplish something in this place.
Occasionally there are victories, not only in a minority government situation but also even with this thoughtless, stupid and incompetent majority government situation.
Sean O'Casey had one of his characters say constantly, "The world is in a terrible state of chassis." Ontario is in a terrible state of chassis, a state of uneasiness and discontent. The province is not what it has been. One only has to read the front pages of the newspapers to get the sense that everyone in Ontario believes that.
Certainly if one listed six or eight major topics or issues of the day -- plant shutdowns and layoffs, housing, Confederation, inflation, health care, ageing and pensions, research and development, development of the north, and funding for social agencies and social concerns -- one would have to look at them and say, "Ontario is in a terrible state of chassis."
One would also have to say that Ontario has not really coped with the crises in each of those issues well or honourably over the last 15 years. One would have to say that when Ontario was in an enormous growth period in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it had the potential for building in revenues and resources the way Alberta has today. But Ontario was stupid, shortsighted and did not take advantage of that situation. For example, over the last 60 years of its history it did not lay in a heritage fund from its resource sector that we could well put to use at the present time.
On every single issue I have mentioned, any objective observer would say the government has failed to measure up to what the people had a right to expect of it. This government constantly fails to understand it is the business of government to intervene on behalf of its citizens. It is the business of government, because there is no other body or agency in society to deliver certain goods and services. That is a principle that even the Conservative government has reluctantly come to accept, for example, in the case of health care, even though I think it was John Robarts who called it originally "this nefarious scheme."
But, kicking and screaming, even the Conservative government in some areas of activity has been brought into the twentieth century. The trouble is, having been brought into the twentieth century, it poked its Conservative head up from under its blanket and saw the twentieth century. The present PC government wants to retreat to the nineteenth century; it does not like the twentieth century. It only understands certain things in the twentieth century that it enjoys, because they are like toys they play with.
The other night, my colleague the member for Cornwall (Mr. Samis) gave what I think was one of the finest contributions to the throne debate when he characterized the government party and its leadership as sleazy. He quoted extensively from a column by Allan Fotheringham. I would use another word. I would not use that word, although I have a lot of agreement with it. I would say the leadership of this government lacks guts.
The Conservative government under the Premier's leadership has never once taken leadership on an issue where it had to be unpopular. It has never taken a single initiative where it had to face against the prevailing winds. It has never once taken an issue where it took real courage to have a position.
This is government by public opinion poll. This is a government with no core, no soul, no leadership. This is government where power counts for everything and principle counts for very little. Even worse, it is a government and a leadership that will deliberately use an issue to flog a minority -- from the Franco-Ontarians in 1981 to the separate school issue in 1971.
The reason for that is very simple. The mentality of this government, having been so long in power, is that of the bully. It is an arrogant mentality. It is a mentality where the concept is that you only need the numbers in order to be right. It is not a mentality where integrity counts for much.
This gets me to the centre of the recent election campaign and to the recent speech from the throne. To get Ontario moving again -- in the immediately forgettable words of that Labatt's-based jingle, to help Davis keep the promise -- the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program has a budget of $1.5 billion. I do not know about other members of this House, but I find it difficult to conceive of $1.5 billion. Maybe the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché) can conceive of $1.5 billion, but I think the rest of us have a little difficulty doing so.
That sounds like a heck of a lot of money until one remembers two things. One must remember that $1.5 billion is about the amount of the annual deficit we have had in this province over the last six or seven years -- not the amount of the budget, but the amount of the deficit. One must remember also that, while the government is prepared to budget $1.5 billion on its entire economic program and put this forward as the frontispiece of its economic drive in the 1980s, the Ontario government is spending four times that much, $6.7 billion, on one nuclear station, Darlington, which we do not need to meet our electrical power demands in the province.
On the one hand, we have $1.5 billion to get the province moving again in all its regions. That is the centre of the BILD program. On the other hand, we have $6.7 billion being spent on one nuclear station we do not need. That seems to me to be a slight imbalance, if I may put it mildly, in our economic thrust.
I is no good to say that $6.7 billion is not taxpayers' money or government money, that it is Hydro's money and it has to raise it. That forgets two important things. When one demands or removes $6 billion worth of investment from the market, does Hydro have to go out and get bonds on the market for that? That sucks the well dry of other investment. Any of those megaprojects simply deny to the rest of the province the capital that would be available for investment.
The second thing that argument forgets is that it may not be the taxpayers, but it is the consumers of electricity in Ontario who are paying, and the overlap between the consumers of electricity and the taxpayers of Ontario is about 99.9 per cent; so it is the same people.
Just think what we could do in this province with $6.7 billion or $6.5 billion for investment. Think what we could do in northern Ontario. Think what we could do in secondary industry, such as mining machinery manufacturing. If we made not all our mining machinery, but just our underground mining machinery (for those who do not know much about mining, there are two types, open-pit and underground), we could create something like 3,500 jobs in Ontario.
We could create a similar number of jobs if we manufactured all own forestry equipment and pulp and paper equipment. With the pool of investment being used by the Darlington nuclear station, we could create something like 7,000 jobs spread throughout the entire province; so there would not be a distortion or breaking of the fabric of the economy of the province, but a strengthening of it.
Think what we could do with the development of additional secondary industry in eastern Ontario -- in high technology, for example -- with some of that $6.5 billion.
I found it very strange, when we came back from the recent wars on the hustings, that one of the first press releases by the Ministry of Natural Resources in my mail was this one, dated April 22. I took it in good faith but, when I saw the headline, I really could not believe it: "Canada Goose Eggs Headed for Arkansas." That is the heading.
"Cornwall -- Eggs of Canada geese will be taken from nests along the St. Lawrence River to be transferred to Arkansas to establish a new flock of the birds there, Natural Resources Minister Alan Pope announced.
"'We are pleased to co-operate in the Arkansas project, because the St. Lawrence flock has grown to the point that there are potential problems between local recreationists or farmers and the Canada goose flock. This project, we hope, will provide us with a means to control the size of our flock,' Mr. Pope said.
"'This spring, the ministry's Cornwall district wildlife management staff are expected to transfer between 200 and 300 eggs in an initial step of a three-year project to move 800 Canada goose eggs to Arkansas. Staff will not take all of the eggs from any one nest.
"'Geese were established here over 20 years ago, and numbers have increased to the extent that transporting eggs to other parts of the continent is now possible. The local flock is now estimated to be about 3,000 birds,' the minister said."
I think that is the government's entire economic program for eastern Ontario. That is its program for goosing the economy in eastern Ontario. It really boggles the mind. What else have they announced for eastern Ontario since we had the election?
Mr. Cassidy: Poplars.
Mr. Foulds: Poplars and geese. What they could do, if they had some sense, would be to use that $6.5 billion or some portion thereof to develop some cottage industry, some manufacturing industry and some additional tourism facilities. What they could do would be to use that money in a constructive way to create full-time, year-round jobs in eastern Ontario, just as we could in northern Ontario.
Six and a half billion dollars is a lot of money that we could be spending. We could be spending it in the many regions of Ontario. We could be spending it in the industrial heartland, in southwestern Ontario, to avoid a number of the effects of the plant shutdowns and layoffs that have been a tragedy of that area for the last three or four years.
We could use it in the Niagara Peninsula to help preserve our agricultural processing industry. We could even use it here, in Metropolitan Toronto, to demonstrate a real commitment to public transportation.
We could use that $6.5 billion across the province to develop its economy. That is a lot of money. Instead, this government decides, in its priorities, that it will spend one quarter of that to develop the whole province. It will spend that $6.5 billion of capital that is available to develop one nuclear power station for electricity for which there is no demonstrated need. That is just nuts. The BILD program is a sham, just as the recent election was a massive public relations exercise.
I want to deal specifically with three topics but, before I do, I want to point out that there is an interesting characteristic about the Premier: he is obsessed with technology; he was obsessed with technology when he was Minister of Education. Members should read a speech he gave in 1968, which is quoted in Loren Lind's book, The Learning Machine: A Hard Look at Toronto Schools, about the process of humanity from the incubator through to old age. It is the most frightening technological dream enunciated by a politician or a supposed leader that I have ever encountered. It is a dehumanizing view of humanity.
His great accomplishment as Minister of University Affairs and Minister of Education was the creation of TVOntario. I do not quarrel with that. I think TVOntario, especially Elwy Yost, is doing a good job; I like those Saturday night movies. But that was the thing he concentrated on. His commitment was to the technology of the twentieth century, not to the humanity of the twentieth century or our school system.
In terms of health care, we have a government that is obsessed with technology, with CAT scanners, with helicopters for medevac and helicopter pads on the tops of hospitals in northern and southern Ontario. All of those things are important, good and an enormous advance, but the central fact is that the basic need in our health care system right now is more hospital beds, more nurses and more staff.
It should be no surprise, because we have an ageing population, that people are going to need more hospital beds and that we, as a society, are going to need more chronic care beds. But the cutbacks in services, the so-called restraints of the last eight years, have put enormous pressure on emergency services. Every five or six months we hear horror stories from Metropolitan Toronto, Windsor or Thunder Bay, illustrating how someone has died inappropriately -- if one can use that inadequate term -- because of inability to gain admittance to an emergency ward. There is always the argument that the person might have died in any event, but the fact is that many times emergency admittance has not been available when it should have been.
There is also pressure in intensive care units, and requirements will not be met until this government recognizes the simple fact that when a person needs a hospital bed, it should be there; there should be no ifs, ands or buts about that. It should be taken as a right, because nothing is more important to human endeavour than basic health care.
I want to quote a few paragraphs from an editorial in this morning's Globe and Mail, which indicates in a succinct way how the present minister and government have their priorities topsy-turvy. It is headed, "Doc Timbrell's Potion," and reads as follows:
"What a sharp eye on Ontario, Health Minister Dennis Timbrell has. He knows the costs of the provincial health insurance plan are rising, and makes a couple of swift calculations. If the plan weren't being billed by so many doctors, it wouldn't have to pay out as much money; to reduce its bills, then, the government yearly has to cut down the number of doctors. The logic is flawless.
"By the same token, of course, if the hospitals throughout the province were closed, we could save a bushel of public money. The government had a run at these institutions two years ago, closing beds with devilish abandon until the Ontario Supreme Court ordered it to stop at the door of Windsor's Metropolitan Hospital; the minister, said Judge R. G. Trainor, wasn't living up to his responsibility under the Ministry of Health Act to ensure adequate health services. So at least one institution won a reprieve.
"Now Mr. Timbrell has turned his attention to the proliferation of doctors. He has suggested to Ontario's medical schools that they reduce their enrolment by a certain percentage, one he hasn't quite worked out. The government reasons that doctors are leading the people to make too many demands on the health care system, and that if there were fewer doctors, people wouldn't feel quite as free to drop by their office with minor aches and pains.
"To reach this conclusion, the government has to believe one of two things. Either there are hypochondriacs clogging the system, and a reduction in the number of doctors would dissuade them from seeking consultation -- a dubious proposition. Or the doctors, because their numbers are swelling, are encouraging patients to make unnecessary appointments and undergo needless examinations. If this is the case, surely the answer lies not in trimming the ranks of the profession, but in laying down stiffer guidelines for the individual doctors.
"According to Dr. Fraser Mustard, vice-president of McMaster University's Health Sciences Centre, the number of medical student places in Ontario is one per 13,700 people, compared with the ratio of one per 10,000 maintained in some other provinces and the ration of one per 14,000 in Britain. Why does Mr. Timbrell feel Ontario's rate is out of line? Has he considered that, since the median age of Ontarians is increasing, the province might have the need of extended health services, even if the population remains constant? The use of doctors' services has grown at the rate of two per cent for the past seven years; are people being given frivolous treatments, or are more of them receiving the care they need?
"The government has kept an astonishingly tight grip on medical costs; health costs totalled 4.5 per cent of the gross provincial product in 1975-76 and only 4.3 per cent in 1980-81, but there is no sense in keeping that grip at the expense of accessible and thorough medical care." I could not agree more.
Those are not the words of a raving socialist. That is by Dick Doyle, from Chatham, a member of the Conservative establishment, in an editorial in the Globe and Mail.
I want to talk for a few minutes about inflation. I want to talk about inflation because my leader, the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy), raised the question with the Premier (Mr. Davis) this afternoon and the Premier wrung his hands, as he is wont to do, and said it is a federal government problem.
Not only that, but he said: "I have already telexed the Prime Minister during the course of the election campaign to have a conference about it. I don't know what we are going to say to the Premiers. I don't know what we are going to say there." He refused to tell us what proposal he was going to make.
But he shoves that problem off on the federal government, saying, "We can't control it." And the federal Liberals, if you watch Allan MacEachen, wring their hands and say nothing can be done about inflation. It is a problem that is worldwide. We import it from other countries. We can't be entirely self-sufficient.
Last night he talked about those workers from the safety of the Albany Club. Was it there? It certainly was not at a local meeting of the United Auto Workers or the Canadian Paperworkers Union. It was at the Conference Board of Canada or one of those safe audiences that the treasurers of Ontario and Ottawa are wont to make their pronunciations about the working men.
He said: "Don't you guys expect to get more money to make up for the extra cost you are going to have to pay for your gas and oil bills. It has to be absorbed by the economy. That means you guys who work on the assembly lines, in the bush or in the pulp mills."
That is absolute nonsense. I suppose the fundamental difference between people in this party and people in the other two parties is that we believe in a redistribution of income. We believe that people on the lower end of the scale actually are entitled to a bit more.
If that means people at the top have to pay some more taxes to finance it, we do not find that unusual or abhorrent. We find it makes some common sense that those of us who are well and working in society and who are relatively well off should help those less well off and in need of assistance.
The Premier and the Treasurer wring their hands and talk about how the market forces must prevail. I point out to them that there is no market when it comes to houses. When the market is askew, the federal government says it is international forces. "International forces" reminds me of a sinister saying of Generalissimo Franco about the fifth column in Madrid.
I have a modest proposal to make. Even granting their denial that they can take any fundamental fiscal action -- and I and my colleagues would argue that there are actions they could take to ease inflation -- I have a modest proposal to make that would ease the impact of inflation on the average family in Ontario. It is not a radical proposal. It just has four or five commonsense elements to it.
First, we now have compulsory auto insurance in this province. If we had compulsory government auto insurance, we could cut the premiums of most of the drivers in Ontario in half. We could save the average family in Ontario about $90 to $100 a year, as in Saskatchewan or Manitoba. That great Tory government in Manitoba sure did away with public auto insurance, did it not? And the great public free enterprise government of British Columbia, which the government is so fond of endorsing, did away with public auto insurance, did it not? This government is just like these guys. When they get in, the service is just excellent. Have you ever heard anybody from Saskatchewan complain? If they did that, just from a consumer point of view, they could save the average family in Ontario about $80 to $100.
Second, if they took a really progressive step and managed to do something dramatic and fundamental to realign the tax structure in Ontario and to remove education from the property tax -- because education is a service to all the people of the province -- they could save the average property taxpayer in the cities and rural municipalities between $300 and $500, because they have to pay property and school taxes too. They would cut property taxes in half.
Third, they could free up some revenue the local municipalities could use to provide better services for those things that should be provided. Everyone could do it at the local level. Those guys are fond of local autonomy. And if they took a really radical step, if the Treasurer actually turned over in his grave on his way to budget night a couple of weeks from now and had the courageous thinking to do what six other provinces in Canada and the territories have done, abolish health insurance premiums, they could save a family up to $400-odd.
Fourth, we could stimulate the economy, not in one big flashy dramatic way, but to see if there was a way we could slowly encourage people to buy a few of the things they need, maybe a toboggan for the kids or an extra pair of boots, or maybe an automobile -- domestically produced, one would hope. If they reduced the sales tax from seven to five per cent -- not a huge reduction -- that could probably save $100 or $200, depending on the purchasing power of the family.
Those four modest steps are nothing outrageous and are something implemented in a number of other provinces that do not even have a left-of-centre orientation. If they were taken, they could save the average family in Ontario at least $1,000. Why not do something like that?
The government says it cannot control the international forces and it cannot control the federal government, and the Premier -- after being in bed with Trudeau over the constitution for so long -- says that he does not have any chips to collect, which is the cheapest giveaway that I have heard of in a long time, and I use the word "giveaway" politely.
If the government did all of those things where it does have authority, where there is no question about the government's authority to take action, it would at least lessen the impact on people of Ontario by about $1,000 per family, which in many cases is 20 per cent of their income or more.
There are two other topics I want like to deal with briefly -- well, not so briefly -- before I wind up my remarks.
An hon. member: Before six o'clock.
Mr. Foulds: It's all right. The member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Shymko) can relax. I have to catch a plane at 7; so I will be out of here before 6. Just relax.
An hon. member: Touch on three or four topics; it's all right.
Mr. Foulds: That is very good of the honourable member. His graciousness is overwhelming. But one is not supposed to heckle unless one is sitting in his own seat.
An hon. member: Your leader even came back.
Mr. Foulds: If the member wants to heckle he should get back into his own seat. Does he not know the basic rules of the game yet? It is sort of like sitting in the foul territory in a baseball game.
One of the marks of a civilized society is the way the government of that society treats its handicapped and those people less fortunate than most. In the social service area, it is a different story when it comes to funding those programs that those cabinet ministers responsible in the social service area are so fond of talking about, the community programs of deinstitutionalizing people from psychiatric hospitals and putting them in community care homes or putting them with special care hostesses, I think they are called, in private homes.
I have no argument with that theory; in fact, it is a program and theory that I would encourage, and would encourage the government to develop. I do not know about other members of the House but, over the years, I have known a number of people who have been committed to providing care for people who were -- I hate to use the word -- deinstitutionalized from the Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital. For each one of their residents they get the magnificent amount of something like $12.50.
Mr. Shymko: We want the exact figure now.
Mr. Foulds: The honourable member would like the exact figure, would he? I have the exact figures, and I guess I just misplaced them.
Mr. Shymko: You need some research assistance.
Mr. Foulds: One of the things that happens when your numbers get reduced from 33 to 22 is that you lose some of your backup staff. Anyway, it is actually detecting assistance that I need, and not research assistance. But now I have it right here.
Oh, my goodness! It used to be $12.50. Effective April 1, 1981, the per diem rate will increase from $13.14 to $14.56 which, as a total, represents an 11.14 per cent increase over the previous rate, which had been held steady for years.
Let us consider a person who is doing his job properly but who is not getting enough to feed a person properly or to house a person properly. And let us be realistic and admit that people who are in those kinds of homes will occasionally have some kind of emotional crisis and cause extra damage to the home; that cost is not picked up by the ministry. If the government really wants to make that program effective, I suggest it will have to pay a little bit more than that, because to keep them in the institution itself would cost a couple of hundred dollars.
The other thing in the social service area that I have found very difficult to cope with is the funding for the associations for the mentally retarded. I want to raise the example of the Lakehead Association for the Mentally Retarded, because it is not unusual. Because of the funding policies of the Ministry of Community and Social Services up until the negotiations that are taking place about the current budget, that association was having to pay its counsellors approximately two thirds of what counsellors in similar positions were being paid in government institutions, such as the psychiatric hospitals.
As well as that, in the sheltered workshop the budget is such that they can pay the clients who work an eight-hour day 21 cents an hour. I submit that if we want to encourage people who have been labelled as mentally retarded or retarded in any sense, one of the ways in this capitalist society that we can encourage their sense of worth is by paying them somewhat more than a lousy 21 cents a day. It might not even be a revolutionary concept that we would pay them the basic minimum wage. After all, they are working to the best of their ability to contribute as much as society will allow them to contribute. Is asking the minimum wage for them too much?
If one of the marks of a civilized society is the way it treats those less fortunate, I submit that this government has failed the society of Ontario when it comes to dealing with people who are in the community branch of programs in psychiatric hospitals and people who are under the care of the associations for the mentally retarded.
Finally, I want to talk a bit about northern Ontario. It is interesting that, during these days of provincial-federal wrangling over the constitution, northern Ontario remains, in my view, the forgotten land of Confederation. We are characterized by the west and by Quebec as being part of fat-cat Ontario. We are taken for granted by southern Ontario as its resource hinterland. Northern Ontario constantly has had to fight for its rightful place in the social and economic fabric of our province and our country.
We hear talk of deindustrialization in southern Ontario, we hear talk of western alienation and we hear talk of Quebec's possible separation. But we hear very little of northern Ontario's place in the province and our country, even though all three of those characteristics -- alienation, sense of separation and industrialization -- all apply to northern Ontario.
I failed to hear in the speech from the throne, and I have yet to hear from a single provincial Conservative from northern Ontario, any serious public commitment to developing northern Ontario's economic strength in a planned and orderly way.
The federal Liberals are obsessed with the constitution and the niceties thereof. The provincial Conservatives are obsessed with expensive technology, such as nuclear plants and no-strings-attached giveaways to their friends in the multinational corporations.
In terms of resources in northern Ontario, we have a crisis in our wood supply. We have had a crisis in that wood supply for the pulp and paper industry, and we have an iron ore industry in decline. On the other hand, in the manufacturing sector we have continued to have a strong and thriving steel industry, yet that strong and thriving steel industry in Ontario obtains 52 per cent of its raw ore or ore pellets from captive mines in the United States, while rich deposits in Ontario, at Lake St. Joseph and Bending Lake, lie idle.
We have great ports at Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie that could be the keys to industrial development in northern Ontario, but we have governments in both Toronto and Ottawa that see the primary purpose of those ports as being to ship out raw materials, natural resources. We in northern Ontario know that every time we ship out unprocessed raw resources instead of manufactured goods, we ship out jobs and we lose our young people.
What then should we be doing? We should develop northern Ontario ports on the seaway to assist in our economic development and to help prevent our consumers from paying outrageous prices for manufactured goods. I am sure that from time to time my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) will be talking extensively about the prices that consumers in his riding have to pay for goods that we in the cities of northern Ontario do not even face, even though our prices are higher than in the rest of the province.
We must guarantee jobs in the forest industry, now and in the future, not only by an all-out reforestation program but also by making sure that the reforestation program is integrated in such a way that it naturally ties in with the manufacturing sector of the pulp and paper industry.
We must guarantee jobs in the mining industry by insisting that the Ontario steel industry uses Ontario's iron ore. We must bring those rich deposits in Bending Lake and Lake St. Joseph on stream in an orderly and planned manner.
We must broaden the economic base of northern Ontario by using crown corporations and private and public capital to develop a mining machinery manufacturing industry and a furniture industry, using the wood resources that are currently being wasted.
We must insist on a northern research institute, using the human resources of our post-secondary institutions, such as Laurentian and Lakehead universities and our community colleges.
It is that kind of program that attracted me to the New Democratic Party and makes me proud to be a member of the New Democratic Party, and it is that kind of program that I know will eventually propel the New Democratic Party, in all the regions of Ontario, into government in this province.
To sum up this speech, Mr. Speaker, like all of my speeches in this Legislature, it is a thank-you to the people of Port Arthur riding. Going back to my first contribution to the speech from the throne debate almost 10 years ago, I said this about my constituency:
"Like all northerners, the people of Port Arthur are fiercely independent, sometimes ornery, but always a lovable type of people. I can think of no greater pleasure than representing that independent, gutsy, ornery viewpoint to the Ontario Legislature."
I particularly want to thank the people of Port Arthur riding in view of the last election. All the pundits were predicting on election day, and the day before, that the Conservatives would win. Just read those old clippings from the Toronto Star, the Toronto Globe and Mail, the Toronto Sun and even the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal. They all said the Conservatives would win Port Arthur riding. But the Conservatives did not win, for a number of reasons; they made a number of mistakes.
One of my colleagues says, "Tell us about it"; so I will. It felt pretty good to be in that campaign in Port Arthur during the last election. I felt a kind of special attention from the Premier for the first time in 10 years.
One night, I was able to watch television for an hour and a quarter with my two boys. During that time, there were five Conservative television ads. This was not during the hot part of the campaign towards the end but when it was just beginning. The ads were all first in the sequence of commercials in the various breaks. Mr. Speaker, you know enough about television advertising to know that is not natural in the roulette system that is used. One pays for that placement in the same way that one pays for placement of newspaper ads. There were five in an hour and a quarter. Goodness knows how many they ran during the entire campaign.
The ridings of about 12 of us, including my friend the member for Cornwall (Mr. Samis) and myself, received three visits by the Premier. Until that time, the Premier had not been in Port Arthur three times in his entire life. Those three visits were flattering to me but unfortunate for the Premier, because they did not work for him.
Mr. Cassidy: Talk about the ethnic banquet.
Mr. Foulds: I would read a clipping about it but, unfortunately, I do not have it with me. However, I do want to talk about the first visit. The first visit was the promise of the big contract at Can-Car. That was the first time the Premier came with his cheque book. I listened to the Premier very carefully. He said, "I will instruct the Minister of Transportation and Communications to begin to negotiate a contract."
An hon. member: That is pretty tough.
Mr. Foulds: That is really tough. To this day, the contract has not been signed.
Mr. Wildman: Has he begun, though?
Mr. Foulds: No. The layoffs in Can-Car will take place before that contract takes place. I think those layoffs will take place before the contract is actually signed.
The second visit was the ethnic-multicultural banquet. It was unfortunate that the press gallery could not make it. There was only one reporter, who fed the story to the other papers. I wish I could read to members the eyewitness account by the Thunder Bay paper, but I do not have it here.
However, while the Premier was preaching power and spreading Conservative balm to the ethnic community, one of the members of his party, who was wearing a big Davis badge with "PC" on it, engaged in unflattering descriptions of some ethnic people who had the temerity not to give the Premier a standing ovation, who had the independence to applaud the Premier for coming and for what he said but not to stand as the Tory hacks in the audience did.
That person slandered the ethnic community in a way that was unfortunate for the occasion, for the Premier and for the ethnic community. Basically, that person indicated that these people who came from lands other than Britain should go back to those lands if they did not want to stand for the Queen. It was much more forcefully put and in language that was much less parliamentary. It was unfortunate.
On the third visit of the Premier, we expected him to announce the second contract. The member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) had already announced the second contract, and the candidate in the Port Arthur riding had already hinted that there was going to be another contract for the shipyards, which happen to be in my riding of Port Arthur. Can-Car happens to be in Fort William, in the Tory riding.
This announcement was to come the day before the election. The Premier came and he did not make the announcement. Why did he come empty-handed? Because the Tories took a poll in my riding on the Monday before election day -- the third in the campaign -- and found they were not going to win it; so they did not bother to write the cheque or give the contract.
Mr. Breaugh: Did he bring his cheque?
Mr. Foulds: He brought his cheque but he left it blank.
Another strange thing that happened was that the Premier actually allowed his office to be used during the campaign. People were phoning on government lines from the Premier's office; they were phoning people in my riding to find out if they were going to vote Tory. I know this because the Premier or one of his assistants actually made the mistake of phoning my mother. That is scandalous, absolutely scandalous. She had moved to a senior citizens' apartment and had changed her phone number.
It was only at the third question when they said to my 77-year-old mother, who is slightly deaf, "What do you think of this guy Jim Foulds?" She said, "Well, he is my son, you know." She actually thought somebody from the Premier's office was making a personal phone call.
I really do not think the Premier should use his office that way. When the Premier chastises the Liberal Party for using the telephone lines for polling surveys, I really do not think he should have his office do it to conduct three telephone surveys in one campaign.
Another strange thing happened on the way to the ballot box in Port Arthur riding. There were at least seven cabinet ministers who visited, as well as three visits by the Premier. We have never been so flattered. People were saying, "Jim, you must be really working hard to get these guys up here." And I said, "I do my best."
There were six or seven cabinet ministers. We lost count. They even brought one cabinet minister in secretly -- no fanfare, no announcement. They brought him into a small meeting of 40 people in the rural part of my riding so that it would be a big surprise. It was one of those local services board meetings. The community of Lappe had decided to set up a community service board, and they thought they would get the then Minister without Portfolio, now the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope), with no advance publicity.
I happen to have good rapport with the people of Lappe. I happen to like them: they happen to like me. I do as much as I can in terms of being their elected representative, and I have gone to bat for them on a number of issues. They invite me to their coffee parties, their teas, their bake sales and their meetings. So they invited me to the meeting, because they had no advance warning the Tories were going to bring a cabinet minister to this meeting. They invited me, not to give a speech or anything, but just to say hello to the folks and listen to how the local services board is set up. We did that. What was nice was that the chairman of the meeting was absolutely nonpartisan.
At the end of the meeting, when they had done their business and adjourned, they introduced each of the candidates. There was the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope). He was a little out of his riding, but they allowed him to stand up, wave his hand and sit down. There was the Conservative candidate; they allowed him to stand up. They also introduced me. There were no speeches or anything. It really was odd for the Tories to fly a cabinet minister 800 miles just to wave his hand at 40 people.
Mr. Cassidy: It is 1,600 miles.
Mr. Foulds: Yes, 800 there and 800 back, and just to wave his hand at 40 people. There was nothing in the papers. There was no policy announcement. Then there were the five over- cover agents. Anyway, I felt as if I were a bit in my bunker, being strafed by the Tory Luftwaffe. But we survived. We have more than survived because we increased our margin. We tripled it from a landslide in 1977 of 339 to something like 1,460.
I have a number of people to thank. Let me take the unusual step of thanking them here in the Legislature. First, I would like to thank my wife because she is one of the most marvellous people it has been the pleasure of anybody to know. She has stood by me in political life and she is a fantastic canvasser. She is one of the world's best canvassers. She is probably better than me. She is just absolutely super and I would like to say thank you to her.
I would like to thank my campaign manager, an old friend for many years, a woman called Mo Davies, who did a marvellous job. I would like to thank my 77-year-old mother because canvassing for the Foulds family of Port Arthur is a family affair. My mother was quite ill at the beginning of January. But, as soon as the Premier called the election on February 2, she went to the doctor and said, "Can I go outside?" He said, "Yes, Dorothy, the exercise will do you good." She was out canvassing with me twice a day, every day of the campaign, for an hour and a half each time. For a 77 year-old-woman that is a remarkable achievement. I would really like to thank her.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: What about all those cabinet ministers?
Mr. Foulds: Why do you keep stealing my best lines? The member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) always does that to me as well.
I would like to thank the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) for coming secretly. I would like to thank the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson), the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) and the five other cabinet ministers. I would like to thank the Premier (Mr. Davis) for the overkill.
I just want to wind up with a word about my colleagues. Why do we engage in this? I admit this election was not the most successful election the New Democratic Party has engaged in. We suffered a considerable setback. We all recognize that. But why are we in such good form and spirits? Oh, we had a few moments of depression.
I will tell members why. It is because the people in this party, the people in this caucus, are committed to some fundamental changes in our society. That is what makes us different from the other two parties. It is not our wish merely to make the present economic and social system tolerable to those who are less fortunate in our society. It is our wish to change that economic and social system so they can be full partners in our society.
I thought I would just read a couple of sentences to put that in a nutshell. "When private profit is the main stimulus to economic effort, our society oscillates between periods of feverish prosperity, in which the main benefits go to speculators and profiteers, and of catastrophic depressions in which the common man's normal state of insecurity and hardship is accentuated.
"We believe that these evils can be removed only in a planned and socialized economy in which our natural resources and the principal means of production and distribution are owned, controlled and operated by the people. The new social order at which we aim is not one in which individuality will be crushed out by a system of regimentation, nor shall we interfere with cultural rights of racial or religious minorities. What we seek is a proper collective organization of our economic resources such as will make possible a much greater degree of leisure and a much richer individual life for every citizen."
Those are principles that were enunciated in the document called the Regina Manifesto in 1933. Those are principles that this party still believes in and still fights for. We will not rest in this province until this caucus and this party have brought about a greater degree of leisure and a much richer individual life for every citizen. It is because of that we will soldier on during the next four years. We will grow and develop and eventually we will become the government of Ontario.
Mr. Eves: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured and delighted to address this House for the first time as the new representative for Parry Sound riding. It is my sincere hope that in the years to come I will be able to represent this riding with the same dedication and ability as my predecessor the Honourable Lorne Maeck.
Although just newly elected, I feel that I may speak on behalf of Parry Sound riding with great confidence, having received such an overwhelming mandate on March 19. In fact, my victory was such that my colleagues have been moved to nickname me "Landslide Eves."
An. hon. member: All six of them?
Mr. Eves: They are all right here.
The election was a particularly memorable one for me because I had to fight off two Liberal candidates, once my NDP opponent threw in the towel and with five days left begged his supporters to vote Liberal. The Parry Sound race will probably go down in Ontario's history as initiating a return to the two-party system. Of course, if all the NDP candidates had been blessed with the same prophetic vision as my opponent, we would probably be spilling over into the opposition benches today, instead of just overwhelming the Liberals and the NDPs from across the floor.
In all seriousness, though, the riding of Parry Sound is made up of many different and varied groups, and its people are very individual in their opinions and philosophies. Because they are not inclined to follow a trend, I was particularly proud to have won their confidence and trust. I am honoured to be able to stand in this House today and address a number of issues that have particular significance for my riding of Parry Sound as well as being of great concern to our province in general.
As members are aware, Ontario is currently facing a serious threat to its clean, healthy environment in the form of acid rain. The severity of the acid rain situation in Ontario and the need for quick remedial action stems from the increase in acidity of precipitation, largely originating from the transboundary pollution of US air masses during the past 20 or more years.
I am told by officials of the Ministry of the Environment that acid rain has increased to the point where rainfall from many parts of southern Ontario is now 15 times as acidic as normal rain. The cumulative effect of this acidic rain could well, over time, kill most of the fish and aquatic life in Ontario's recreational heartland. In fact, Ontario scientists estimate that if 1980 levels of acid loadings remain constant or increase over the next 10 or 20 years Ontario could lose much or all of the aquatic life in some 48,000 susceptible lakes.
Although much of the Georgian Bay portion in my riding is protected from the effects of acid rain by its buffer capacities, approximately 90 percent of some 300 lakes tested by the Ministry of the Environment in Parry Sound and Muskoka districts are extremely to moderately sensitive to acid rain. These figures illustrate just how crucial the situation is to the survival of our region's aquatic life if acid rain, largely from United States sources, is not brought under control quickly. The damage this would do to tourism, particularly sport fishing in Ontario, goes without saying.
Obviously, a resolution of this issue is critical to my riding as well as to many other areas in the province in which tourism currently thrives. Cottagers from southern Ontario cities, such as Toronto, Hamilton and other centres, not to mention many American residents who come to our part of the province each year to vacation and fish, also have a personal stake in seeing this problem solved. The concern this problem is generating in many communities was reflected at a recent meeting of the Parry Sound District Municipal Association, when some delegates voiced concern that the district might eventually resemble some of the barren areas found in the Sudbury region. This, of course, is indicative only of the worst possible scenario and would fall within the realm of possibility only if absolutely nothing was done to curtail acid rain.
Fortunately, this government has an unparallelled record in dealing with the critical problem of acid rain. Ontario was one of the first jurisdictions in North America to recognize the extent of the threat that acid rain poses to our environment. Today, as a result of our research and monitoring expertise, our province is recognized as the leading authority on acid rain in North America. In this capacity, we have played a major role in bringing into public focus and to the attention of the Americans the phenomenon of acid rain and its transboundary effects. We will continue to do so until we receive a firm commitment that controls will be put back in place to curtail current emissions of acid-causing pollutants that flow from the United States into our province.
In view of the province's serious concern about pollution from existing plants in the US, our government has shown its commitment to combating acid rain by taking its case to Washington. In a precedent-setting legal step, it has drawn to the attention of the administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, actions which are believed to violate the recently signed memorandum of intent. Ontario is opposing the 20 applications before the EPA from six states to relax current emission requirements and to reverse the decisions affecting the plants approved last year.
Also, just about a week ago, our Minister of the Environment (Mr. Norton) attended a luncheon conference on acid rain held at the State University of New York. There he presented Ontario's concerns to the US government officials and representatives of the coal industry and coal-burning power utilities. In making his statement, the minister made this clear, and I quote: "To me, my government and our citizens, Ontario's environmental quality is simply not negotiable. There cannot be any increases in North America's emissions."
The movement of pollution across our national boundaries means that an effective, long-term solution to acid rain can only be developed if all jurisdictions involved work together. In fact, there is considerable evidence that the impact of acid rain on our province would not be significantly reduced if we eliminated every one of Ontario's emission sources. A solution ultimately lies in reaching agreement with our neighbours to the south.
Although the Reagan government is less than enthusiastic about supporting environmental programs at the expense of industrial expansion, Canada's voice is being heard in the United States and we are making gains. Of course, our efforts have not been confined to curtailing emission sources in the United States. The largest single source of acid-causing pollutants in Canada is Inco's smelting operations in Sudbury and the second largest source of these pollutants in Ontario is Ontario Hydro's thermal plants.
During the past year the government of Ontario has passed cabinet regulations, which are not subject to a statutory appeal, restricting current and future emissions at Sudbury by Inco and future emissions from Ontario Hydro's coal-fired generating stations. Inco is required to reduce its emissions by January 1, 1983, to a level which represents a 70 per cent reduction from the late 1960s. The emissions are to be capped at that level, regardless of future production. This can only be accomplished by innovative changes in the manufacturing process. Preliminary work is already under way to accomplish these changes.
A ceiling has been placed on the future emissions from coal-fired stations operated by Ontario Hydro. It will require a 43 per cent reduction from current levels by the year 1990. The level of sulphur dioxide emissions is specified at a ceiling of 260,000 metric tons by the year 1990. The level of sulphur dioxide emissions has a ceiling set at 260,000 metric tons to be achieved by 1990, regardless of increased electric output from the system.
A task force is currently studying further air pollution abatement strategies with the objective of reducing emissions from Inco and Falconbridge nickel mines to minimal levels. In addition, a new technology unit has been established by the Ministry of the Environment to keep a close watch on pollution control systems used by our industries and to ensure that they are operating effectively.
These significant steps which have been taken by the government of Ontario indicate a clear commitment to the reduction of emissions of these long-range air pollutants, the benefit of which will be realized mainly in jurisdictions outside provincial boundaries. Ontario expects the same philosophy to prevail in other jurisdictions whose emissions are harming Ontario's environment.
I am sure all members of this House appreciate the immense job to be done as Ontario and our federal government continue to work toward a US-Canada treaty on air pollution. I am convinced that an excellent job has been done by our government to date. Of course, the fight against acid rain is one that requires an ongoing commitment. This is the kind of commitment which the Progressive Conservative government has made in the past and which it rededicated itself to in the speech from the throne by its promise "to continue an aggressive campaign to counter the threat posed by acid rain, and to have controls applied against sources contributing to the problem both in Ontario and from beyond the province's borders."
While preserving our natural resources is an important priority for all Ontarians, it is particularly crucial for areas such as Parry Sound, which depends on the continuing bounty of our forests to support its vigorous logging industry. The importance of this and many other forest industries to Ontario's economy cannot be overestimated. The forest industry employs almost 79,000 people directly. For every job it creates in the industry, two are created outside of it. We export $2.5 billion worth of lumber and paper products every year to the United States, Britain, Europe and South America.
Nationally, the export of forest products contributes more to our balance of trade than farms, fisheries, mines, oil, gas, iron, steel, chemicals and fertilizers all put together. Perhaps most important is the fact that our forests are renewable resources. What they yield is in increasingly short supply in world markets. In response to this reality, a $1.6-billion reinvestment boom is currently under way in Ontario's forest based industries. Since the world demand for forest products is expected to rise substantially in the years ahead, Ontario's forests will remain one of its most important assets in the future.
Protecting the future health of our forestry sector requires an assured long-term supply of quality commercial timber. This, in turn, requires a comprehensive program of forest management, harvesting and regeneration. As a representative of a riding whose economic interests are closely tied to the forestry sector, I was particularly proud of the PC government's commitment to undertake just such a program, a commitment made in the BILD announcement and reinforced in the speech from the throne. Currently, forest management agreements exist between the Ontario government and major forest producers in the province. Harvesting and regeneration obligations must be met by these companies. Their success in meeting these obligations is subject to review.
To supplement this program, new BILD initiatives have been designed, including a forest improvement program for private forests and woodlots and the acceleration of the forest management agreement program to ensure that all forest management units are harvested and regenerated on a sustained yield basis. In addition, all tree nursery and seedling production facilities in northern Ontario will be expanded, as will our hybrid tree development program. All in all, this is an impressive example of foresight and planning for the future of our forests.
While protecting our supply of lumber in Ontario, vitally and equally important is the need to make the best possible use of these resources from an economic standpoint. In this area, I believe substantial improvements are both possible and necessary. The situation in my riding of Parry Sound is a perfect illustration of the untapped potential that exists in many areas of Ontario in the forestry sector. While the forest industries are vital to the economy of many parts of Parry Sound riding, as yet no local manufacturing base exists to take advantage of this primary industry. The benefits of such development in terms of job creation and economic growth in the region would be enormous, not to mention the benefits to the economy as a whole of exporting more finished products in place of raw materials.
I believe the potential for developing the manufacturing base in areas such as Parry Sound exists within the context of the BILD program, specifically in its commitment to achieving economic growth in expanding markets for Ontario's products. In the weeks and months to come I plan to work with my colleague the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) to try to realize this potential and develop it to its fullest in areas like ours.
The use of wood products as an energy source and the development of biomass technology are both commitments of this government and of special importance for ridings such as Parry Sound. Of particular interest are those wood materials currently not used in any processing capacity. Two recent surveys conducted by the Ministry of Natural Resources in the Algonquin region indicate that the use of fuelwood as an alternative heating source is significant in this region. The large supply of forest biomass material presently available from cutover crown land, and the removal and subsequent utilization of this material from both crown and private land, would substantially benefit our forest stands.
The Board of Industrial Leadership and Development has stressed the importance of forest biomass to Ontario's energy future. The Ministry of Energy has set a target date of 1995, by which time at least two per cent of Ontario's primary energy needs will be produced from forest waste or biomass alone. This is the equivalent of 15 million barrels of oil, enough to heat 750,000 homes annually.
Ontario is the recognized world leader in hybrid tree research and development. A ton of hybrid poplar wood chips can produce up to 80 gallons of ethanol or 800 gallons of gasohol for motor vehicle use. Generating energy through these new technologies will foster enormous economic growth in areas of the forestry sector as well as providing new, clean and reasonably priced energy for Ontario. These new initiatives with their employment potential will be welcomed in my area.
The BILD program's commitment to energy conservation, developing alternative energy sources and minimizing our dependence on oil, while working towards self-sufficiency of energy, are now vital priorities for Ontario. Oil price increases have cost Ontario an additional $3 billion a year since 1974. Further increases, which are probably inevitable, will slow down our economic growth, fuel inflation, increase unemployment and make our industries less competitive.
Ontario's energy policy must be based on conservation, especially of petroleum products, and replacing much of our dependence on imported oil with new Ontario-based energy sources. By 1995, the Davis government estimates that Ontario should be able to produce at least 35 per cent of its own energy. In reaching this target, the role of the Ontario government is to provide leadership and funding in high risk and development projects where profitability is yet unproven.
To that end, the Ministry of Energy announced a $165-million energy program in October of last year. One of the initiatives of this program, a $50-million, five-year program to accelerate development of solar energy, can be seen at work in my riding of Parry Sound with the opening of solar homes in Callander and Emsdale. I have personally received inquiries from several local contractors considering the inclusion of solar heating in their developments.
Along with developing new energy sources, the increased use and development of hydroelectric power is essential to our future needs. Ontario's electrical rates are among the lowest in North America and the world.
Mr. Speaker: I would ask the honourable member if he is at a point where he can terminate his remarks.
Mr. Eves: Ontario Hydro requires at least a 25 per cent overcapacity in reserve in case of a surge in power demand or breakdown. Overcapacity also provides the advantages of a guaranteed electrical supply for Ontario to attract industry. Exports of power to the US by Hydro has earned $7 million --
Mr. Speaker: I would direct the member's attention to the clock.
Mr. Eves: Thank you.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to standing order 13, 1 would like to indicate to the members of the House the business for the rest of this week and next week.
Hon. Mr. Wells: We have done it this way for five or six years.
An hon. member: Reluctantly.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The member has never heard us say we didn't want to do it. As a matter of fact, we believe in following the standing orders.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: It may be that the member for Essex South has never been here before at this time.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow morning and Monday afternoon we will continue the throne speech debate. On Tuesday, May 12, we will continue the throne speech debate in the afternoon. In the evening we will have the windup speakers for each party on the throne speech debate with any votes on the no-confidence motions, if necessary.
On Thursday, May 14, in the afternoon we begin our private members' ballot items. Ballot items 1 and 2, standing in the names of Mr. Havrot and Mr. Spensieri, will be considered by the House. In the evening the House will deal with the eighth report of the select committee on the Ombudsman on a motion for adoption.
On Friday, May 15, we will consider legislation. The House will be considering Bill 7, the human rights amendment bill.
The House recessed at 6:01 p.m.