32nd Parliament, 1st Session


The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the third report of the standing committee on procedural affairs on agencies, boards and commissions.

Mr. Gordon: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond briefly to the recommendations made by the procedural affairs committee about the Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers.

In regard to recommendation nine, the board is in the process of developing a draft bill in consultation with the Ministry of Health. This bill will provide a forum for the review of some of the matters raised by the committee. For example, the committee recommended that the name of the act be changed from the Ophthalmic Dispensers Act to the Opticians Act. This is being considered.

In recommendation 10, the committee recommended the ministry make a determination as to who amongst ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians should be made responsible for the fitting of contact lenses. It is the ministry's position all three professions should continue to be allowed to fit contact lenses.

When fitting contact lenses, opticians rely on a prescription provided to the patient by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. This prescription ensures that quality standards are laid down and that the patient's ability to wear contact lenses safely has been determined by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Should the patient's eyes have a medical contra-indication to the fitting of contact lenses, this would be indicated on the prescription by the physician.

Opticians are trained to fit contact lenses. The programs for opticians at Georgian College and Seneca College include courses in contact lens fitting. In addition, Seneca runs a postgraduate course for opticians who intend to specialize in contact lens fitting. The Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers runs programs to train already licensed opticians.

The ministry believes the competitive market for the provision of contact lenses and spectacles is in the public interest and that all three professions should continue to fit contact lenses. As to recommendation 11, when the Ophthalmic Dispensers Act is revised or re-enacted, it will remain a separate act. There is no plan at present to include opticians in the Health Disciplines Act. Existing accountability mechanisms will be strengthened in the new act, making it comparable to the Health Disciplines Act.

Various other issues were raised in the committee's report without recommendations being made. All these have either been addressed in new regulations which were put in place last year or are being reviewed in the process of developing new legislation.

The report says a serious conflict-of-interest problem exists with the Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers. I would like to point out to the Legislature that no evidence was presented to the committee to substantiate this allegation, although concern was expressed that Imperial Optical employees dominated the board. Currently only two of the 10 members of the board are employed by Imperial Optical.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I would like to start out my comments this evening by going back to some of the remarks made two weeks ago this evening by the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet (Mr. McCague) in his comments on this report. I would like to start at the beginning of his comments where he said the government has been able to accept some recommendations and not been able to accept others. He was referring in that quote to the specific recommendations in this report and the fact that some of them have already been implemented and some have not.

The procedural affairs committee of this House is probably the most nonpartisan committee that exists in this place. Those of us who have been members of that committee for some time, from all parties, have prided ourselves that we have been able -- in most cases at least -- to overlook the partisan political aspect and deal with issues, both procedural and related to crown agencies, boards and commissions, from a logical and unbiased perspective.

The recommendations of the committee contained in this report were virtually unanimous by all members of all parties on each and every one of the recommendations. Perhaps the government and the Management Board should be looking at this report from that perspective -- that we tried to assess each one of the agencies we reviewed honestly from the point of view of their usefulness and whether they were adequately fulfilling the functions they were created to fulfil.

I specifically refer to comments the Chairman of Management Board made that the government was somewhat proud that it has had conflict-of-interest guidelines in place for some years. We accept that comment and do not have any quarrel with the contents of those conflict-of-interest guidelines. However, we found in reviewing agencies, boards and commissions not only in September 1980 but again in September of this year when we were reviewing an entirely new set of agencies, boards and commissions, not one of the ones we reviewed were aware of those guidelines. Not one had ever heard of them or knew anything about what was contained in those guidelines.

The case that became particularly blatant this year for example -- a full year after we made this recommendation about guidelines for conflict of interest -- was that of the Ontario Racing Commission. They said not only were they not aware of any guidelines on conflict of interest but they did not see the potential conflict of interest that existed on their board. It was clearly in violation of the guidelines the Chairman of Management Board referred to.

8:10 p.m.

So whether or not the Management Board of Cabinet has a set of conflict-of-interest guidelines is irrelevant to the recommendations of this committee. If those guidelines were intended to apply to all agencies, boards and commissions most certainly the people who run them have never been told. Neither have they ever been given those guidelines nor have they ever been approached about the need for conflict-of-interest guidelines, whether they are universal guidelines set by Management Board or conflict-of-interest guidelines they set themselves.

Although this year's report has not been finalized and I am therefore not in a position to discuss it this evening, I am afraid it is quite likely the same recommendation will be made in this year's report. If nothing else, that should say something to the Chairman of Management Board about the communication process over there. I think it is important that he review the comments he made in this House two weeks ago and that he make some effort to ensure that the guidelines we are now aware exist get circulated to all of the 280-odd agencies, boards and commissions to which he refers.

I want to comment on some of the specific recommendations. The first set of recommendations in the report deals with the Ontario Educational Communications Authority. We found when we were talking to the people who run that authority that it has developed and is continuing to develop programming, in some areas at least, that the government and the people of this province have reason to be proud of.

On the other hand -- and it is part of what we have recommended in this report -- the flexibility of the authority to market some of its programming effectively outside Ontario is limited. This is especially so in children's programming, which is particularly good both from the educational point of view and because of its uniqueness and its appeal to people, not only here in Ontario but right across the country and perhaps even around the world. It has been somewhat limited and somewhat hampered by the approach this government has taken to funding that authority during the last number of years. This is a complaint we have had with a number of ministers and ministries.

The government's approach to funding has hampered the Ontario Educational Communications Authority from marketing effectively, to the extent that the costs to the taxpayers of this province are higher than they should be instead of much lower. The reality is that in some areas the programming is so good and so marketable that the authority would be in the position, if allowed to do so, to substantially reduce its financial demands on the taxpayers of Ontario. It could largely fund its operation from the sales of some of the work that it does and to expand its ability to produce that unique and useful programming if it had received the kind of assistance from the government that it should have.

That comment is particularly relevant in the context of what this Legislature has been talking about over the last four years in relation to restraint, hard times, balancing the budget and a number of other items we have had to go through. It would be very nice for a change to see one of the government agencies, assisted to whatever degree is necessary, get to the point where it can become self-financing for all intents and purposes and still perform the same benefit for all of the people of Ontario.

The second bee in the committee's bonnet in relation to the Ontario Educational Communications Authority was the question of serving all the people of Ontario. Although the authority is serving 90 or 95 per cent of the people -- and we applaud that -- five or 10 per cent, unfortunately, do not have access to the programming that authority provides. The programming is useful, very beneficial, and they do not have effective access to it. One problem area is Windsor, specifically the areas outside the city. Some areas of northern Ontario are other problem areas.

The other major problem our committee found with the authority was that the government needed to provide, not a lot but just a little additional capital financing on a one-shot basis. Then the authority could expand its operations and make them available to all the people in this province. We would like very much to see that happen as quickly as possible.

The second agency dealt with in the report was the Ontario Lottery Corporation. We found a number of problems related to the way in which this agency was fulfilling its mandate. The committee was led to believe the Ontario Lottery Corporation was originally created so the province could attempt to deal with lottery money already being put out by the people. It was to make an effort to see that lottery money stayed in Ontario to serve the same kind of useful and charitable purposes that lottery money was serving somewhere else in the world.

Although that was probably the mandate it set out to fulfil initially, and it accomplished that fairly quickly, we found the Ontario Lottery Corporation has turned into a rather aggressive commercial operation expanding rather rapidly in spurts. We were not quite sure -- at least I am certainly not sure -- the expansion of that whole process in the lottery sector is in the best public interest.

8:20 p.m.

We started out in this province with one lottery, Wintario, and we now have four. During the course of our hearings with the Ontario Lottery Corporation we suggested to them we did not want to see any further expansion of their operations. We said we did not want to see any further endeavour on their part to expand the number of lotteries and the way lotteries were run, attracting even more money than they were already attracting.

Yet within months of our session with the corporation, within months of us telling them from the perspective of all three parties that we did not want to see that corporation dragging any more money out of the people of Ontario, the Provincial was changed from a monthly to a weekly lottery. We all have seen those people who get hooked on those kinds of things -- those people who really cannot afford to buy the lottery tickets, but continue to do so anyway. We saw the Provincial lottery become the first weekly lottery in Ontario. Many people in this province find themselves in difficulty with those kinds of hopes and dreams of potential wealth -- those who used to buy one Provincial lottery ticket a month for five dollars and now run out and buy one a week for five dollars.

At some point this government has to sit down and decide what its policy is on the proliferation of lotteries in Ontario. It has to take a look at the social effect of lotteries and make a firm policy statement on the future of lotteries in this province. At present, although there is a minister across the way who is responsible for this corporation, it sets its own mandate now. This is the best we could gather from the people who run the Ontario Lottery Corporation. For all intents and purposes they are now setting their own mandate. They decide what they want to do, where they want to go, how many lotteries they want to run and then have their decisions rubber-stamped by the government.

There seems to be no political social policy over there in relation to how this lottery corporation should operate. I think it was very clear from all the members of our committee of all parties that we did not want to see the lottery corporation move in the aggressive overly-businesslike direction it was moving. It was for the sole purpose of increasing its take every year, as opposed to sitting down and dealing with how it should operate in a proper social fashion in Ontario. In our last recommendation on the lottery corporation, we have asked that this government sit down and work out a policy and that the Management Board of Cabinet table in the Legislature some guidelines as to how this lottery corporation should operate in the future. I think it is a very important recommendation and I do not want to see it left aside by the government. We were assured by the lottery corporation when it was before us a year and two months ago that it had no intention of expanding its operations any further.

Five months after they talked to us last January it did expand its operation again. If this government does not take some action to set policy and some carefully thought out guidelines, both from the perspective of what it wants to accomplish in dollars and cents and in social responsibility, that corporation is going to end up out of control. The prime objective of the people running it is to maximize the number of tickets they sell and the number of dollars they take in and pump into the system. It is not a socially beneficial tax to be applying in this province.

The last speaker made some comments about the Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers. I do not want to make many comments in this area because a couple of my colleagues who spoke two weeks ago went into fairly great detail on these recommendations. This was the one agency we reviewed where we found three groups working in basically the same field -- not identical fields but overlapping fields -- where the competition, the distrust and the dissent among them, in terms of who should be doing what, was not only significant but somewhat bitter.

Early in the course of the hearings on this Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers, a gentleman by the name of Mr. McLean who was a practitioner in my riding came to see me because he read about it in the newspaper. He is a former chairman of this board and his comments were somewhat confusing to me because I am not totally familiar with the field. I would not want to put myself in the position of taking his side or anybody else's side in this argument.

I see the minister shaking his head and smiling. I do not know the answers to this question because I am not familiar enough with the expertise of the various groups, but it became clear to me there is a problem there and somebody with some expertise in the field needs to sit down and attempt to sort it out. The bitterness that exists between the three groups involved and the way they seem to be going at each other's throats cannot be serving the best interests of the people of this province who need eye care of one form or another.

I am not suggesting to the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) that any one of the several positions put to us is right. I do not know the answer to that. But I think everybody on the committee perceived a problem that needs to be looked into, probably by the Minister of Health. I have never seen such feelings in any competition between competing professional groups. We have all seen them between dentists and denturists and between a number of other professional groups, but the animosity and bitterness in this case seemed extreme. The problem needs to be dealt with. I am going to limit my comments to that in relation to this agency because I am not familiar enough with the specific expertise that each of these groups are supposed to have. I, therefore, do not have a good handle on who should be doing what. But certainly there is something there that needs to be looked at.

8:30 p.m.

The next group we looked at was the Ontario Labour Relations Board. We as a committee were basically satisfied with the overall operation of the board. It was one of the boards we reviewed where there was never any question about whether that agency should exist. But we did find a number of minor problems. One of the problems we found with the labour relations board -- and it is reflected in our first recommendation on the board -- was that it had been set up to reflect the problems that occur in the industrial and private sector areas of labour relations. We found that to a large degree the representation on the board did not properly reflect some of the newer areas that have come under the jurisdiction of the OLRB. Those were in the white collar areas and those of the public service that have become particularly active in trade union organizing over the last decade. That was the first problem we saw -- the need to update the board and to get people who represent both management and labour on the board in those new areas that have been gone into.

We also found one other basic problem. That was the problem of the forms the labour relations board uses. All the forms the board uses are in English, regardless of the area of the province it serves, regardless of the area where the problem arises. Even in those areas of the province that have been designated by this government as French-bilingual for services from other ministries, forms from the labour relations board in the French language were not available.

They were not available in areas of this province, like here in Metro Toronto or in downtown Hamilton, where there are large ethnic communities. Ethnic working people are the very ones who are having the greatest number of problems in the labour relations field, where there are people who are trying to deal with their problems at the labour relations board. There was very little assistance for those people in their own language. That is another problem that should be dealt with. Those were the only two real areas of concern we found.

The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission was the next agency we reviewed in 1980. We found a number of interesting things in relation to that commission. One of the problems we found was the whole way in which the commission is doing its bookkeeping. We not only found ourselves confused when we started trying to look at its figures, but when we started asking the people there questions we got them totally confused as well, simply because there are two very definite aspects to the operation of that commission.

One aspect is the transportation that is being provided in northern Ontario in areas where transportation is just not an economic proposition. That is why there was no other form of public transportation. There were no railways, no bus lines, no trucking companies, there was nothing, simply because in those areas the population was so small and the need for service so limited that transportation was just not an economic proposition.

This government made a commitment to provide subsidized transportation in those areas, and rightly so. We understand that, we concur with that; we want to see that continue and perhaps even to see it expanded.

The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission now has another major mandate, which deals with those aspects of the Ontario Northland operation that do not fall into the subsidy category. There are operations of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission that are straight commercial operations. They are money-making operations; they are in competition with other commercial operations in the transportation field.

It is our view on the committee that those two aspects of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission should be carefully separated, in estimates, in their financial reports and in their annual reports, so that it is clear to us here in this House, to the people of northern Ontario who have to deal with that commission regularly and to the rest of the people in the province who might take an interest in the operation of that commission -- not necessarily citizens and voters, but perhaps some of the commercial operators who find themselves in competition with the strictly commercial aspects of that commission -- so that it is clear to everybody who might be concerned how much the people of Ontario are subsidizing those areas that are not economically viable in terms of transportation and, therefore, so it is clear to them what subsidies we have to provide.

At the same time, it should be clear just how commercial and how competitive the commercial parts of that operation really are. Are they being competitive? Is some subsidy money going into those commercial operations to make them competitive? Is that commercial part of the operation really as profitable as it appears to be, or are they competing with other private sector operations on an unfair basis?

Although the commission assured us they were profitable, they could not tell us for sure whether any small subsidy went into them, because they were not sure themselves. There is a very clear need to clean up the bookkeeping in that operation so that those two aspects of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission are cleared up and laid out well.

There were also some serious problems in the bookkeeping with a clear line on the unfunded liabilities against the commission's contributory pension plan. That needs to be cleaned up as well, because again everybody knew there was a problem there, including all the people from the commission board, but nobody was exactly clear how much of a problem there was or what it would cost them to fix it.

8:40 p.m.

There was also a question of one of the commercial operations of that commission, an operation called Star Transfer. Our committee recommended that the sale of Star Transfer not proceed, at least until all other aspects of all other alternatives had been investigated. Because, although Star Transfer was supposed to be -- and this was where the question of subsidy versus commercial operation comes in -- supposed to be one of the commercial operations of the commission, it was also providing service in areas that were not economic in terms of transportation needs.

The problem we found was that, although the commission was saying to us, "This is supposed to be one of our commercial operations, but it is losing money," they could not tell us exactly which portion of Star Transfer's service area was really commercial, which portion of it was really competing with other private sector companies and which portion of it was really dealing with those areas in the north that nobody else would service.

They knew there were both aspects. They were clear that there were some areas where, if they sold Star Transfer to a private operator, there were all kinds of runs in Star Transfer's service area that would be cut because they were not economic. But there was no clear picture on the part of the commission of which of those runs were commercial and which of them should have been subsidized by the mandate that the original Ontario Northland Transportation Commission was given. It was supposed to be one of their commercial operations, but it was not in total because they were trying to provide both services.

The question became that the government was saying to us that Star Transfer is supposed to be a commercial operation and because it is losing money it wants us to sell it, but, on the other hand, we know that some of the runs that Star Transfer performs in terms of delivering goods and services to small communities in the north will get cut if we sell it to a private operator in the north, and there will be no transportation service into that little general store to get supplies of food for the people in those communities. Nobody could tell us clearly which was which and how many areas would be affected if those runs were cut.

Hon. Mr. Snow: How would a Socialist from Hamilton Mountain know anything about that?

Mr. Charlton: The only reason I know anything about it is that the people from the commission told us, thank you.

There is a serious problem there that needs to be looked at. That again was why we were saying that the mandate of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission needs to be clearly separated out into those areas where it is providing a public service because it is not economic in the commercial sector and those areas that should be purely and strictly commercial.

Mr. Wildman: You represent the people of Ontario, not just Hamilton Mountain.

Mr. Charlton: Exactly -- especially the people of northern Ontario, because if I do not, my colleague here may have some harsh words for me when I get outside.

We also dealt with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. We found some serious problems there. The first basic problem we found was with the hiring policies of the LCBO. I should say that the then minister, now the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea), came before the committee. In fact, he was the only minister of all the agencies, boards and commissions we have looked at in the last three years who has come before the committee. But he came before the committee in a very defensive role, very strenuously, as he has done in this House, denying that there are any problems with hiring policies, even though members of the committee threw a number of specific examples at him.

There is no question that, although there has been some effort on the part of the former minister in question and a number of others to clean up the hiring policies of the LCBO, there are still some problems, and those problems have to be dealt with.

Mr. Wildman: You are not suggesting there is patronage involved in the hiring at the LCBO, are you?

Mr. Charlton: There is not only some patronage involved but also a little sidestepping and bad labour practice involved.

I had a recent case. This is a year after the hearings at which the minister assured us flat out that if there were any problems he would personally go out to the local area and stamp them out. This is an entire year later, and I got a call from some people in my riding. The woman in question has been working in one of the LCBO stores for a number of years. She is what they call permanent part-time.

Mr. Wildman: Casual.

Mr. Charlton: She is not casual; she is permanent part-time. She is part of the union.

Mr. Wildman: But she cannot get a full-time job, can she?

Mr. Charlton: Not only can she not get a full-time job, but also there is a second problem. I have no way of knowing whether it is because of somebody here in the head office or whether it is a local manager who is causing the problem, because in my efforts to get to the root of it, nobody talked.

She has worked for them on a permanent part-time basis for some 12 years, and they have to pay her the full union rate. They cut her hours from some 17 or 18 hours a week to an average of four or five hours a week, and they are bringing in nonunion part-timers to fill in the rest of the time at half the rate.

That is not a labour practice this government should be proud of, nor is it one it should allow to continue. That says clearly to me that there are still some problems in hiring procedures and labour relations procedures at the LCBO. They still need to be looked at more carefully than the government is prepared to do.

The other thing we learned through the course of our discussions with the people from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario was that their prime objective, bar none, was revenue raising for the government for the consolidated revenue fund, that place where all the taxes in Ontario go.

We have no objection to the LCBO raising revenue for the Treasury of Ontario, but if that is what it is going to be let us make it clear to the people of Ontario that is what it is -- not a board set up to control the sale of liquor in Ontario but a board set up to maximize the sale of liquor. It is to take in as much money for this government as it possibly can, not only through the liquor taxes but also through its markup policies. It is a very commercial operation.

If that is what the major mandate of this board is, then let us be honest. What we have recommended is that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario should be moved to the place where it rightfully should be, the Ministry of Revenue, so it can be administered as a tax program and so it can be up front where everybody can see it.

All we have seen up to this point, in terms of the budget and budget policy in this province, is the specific tax on liquor; but the Treasurer does not set forth the markup policies of the LCBO as part of his budgetary process or his revenue-raising process, even though that is how it is being used.

8:50 p.m.

That was the last agency we looked at in 1980. I want to go back just for a moment to where I started out, talking about conflict-of-interest guidelines. I want to repeat briefly what I said at the outset, that this committee recommended that the Management Board of Cabinet introduce legislation establishing rules governing conflict of interest with respect to all agencies. Two weeks ago tonight, the Management Board of Cabinet told us that had already been done some years ago.

Although I cannot get into the content of what this year's report will say, I want to repeat that that whole conflict-of-interest question was an issue before our committee again this year in the agencies we reviewed. The fact that conflict-of-interest guidelines supposedly exist means nothing, because none of the agencies we reviewed knows anything about them.

I urge the Chairman of the Management Board to take on the responsibility of seeing that every agency, board and commission is made aware of those guidelines. He stood up very proudly two weeks ago and declared to this House that they already exist and it is not a problem. Since he is responsible for administering those kinds of things, I urge him to take on the personal responsibility of apprising every agency, board and commission in this province of the existence of those guidelines and their content and of seeing to it that each one responds by dealing with those aspects of the guidelines that affect their operation so that we will not have to ask for conflict-of-interest guidelines again next year.

I want to wrap up my comments there. We found the process of reviewing the agencies very useful. I think all members of the committee found it a useful process. In some cases, we were actually able to offer some assistance to those agencies. If they felt they needed assistance in terms of changes in legislation, new mandates, a plug for additional funding in a particular area of their endeavour or whatever that they had not been able to get, we were able to help them go after it.

Over the course of the last three years, all of us went through a useful learning process about some agencies that some of us had not even heard of before. But I want to repeat that this was an all-party committee and very nonpartisan in its approach to the agencies reviewed. For the most part -- there may have been one or two exceptions -- the committee's recommendations, made in its third report on agencies, boards and commissions, were unanimously endorsed by all committee members from all parties.

In that light, the Management Board of Cabinet and its chairman should sit down and look again at some of the recommendations they found themselves unable to accept and perhaps even talk to some of their own members on the committee who reviewed that agency so they can better understand the kinds of things we heard and learned that caused that recommendation to come out.

I know full well from the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet's comments made here last week that some of the recommendations he found himself unable to accept were recommendations about an agency that he knows no more about than the members of our committee knew before we sat down and talked with them.

I am asking that the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet reconsider some of those recommendations and that he do it in the light of asking some of his colleagues for comments and perhaps even of going and talking to people on the agency involved about the realities of the operation of that agency.

Ms. Fish: Mr. Speaker, my remarks will give some information and an update on some of the matters touched on in the recommendations that speak to the Ontario Educational Communications Authority and in those that speak to the Ontario Lottery Corporation, with the exception of recommendation eight, which is directed to the Management Board of Cabinet.

I want to deal with the first two recommendations together, because they really are related. The first suggests that OECA pursue alternative funding sources, notably from the private sector, and the second suggests that OECA adopt a more aggressive marketing strategy for the sale of its programs.

I think it might be interesting to note that, between 1979-80 and what is projected for 1981-82, OECA expects an increase in its non-Ministry of Culture and Recreation and non-Ministry of Education revenues of approximately $3.3 million.

Fully one third of the slightly more than $3 million increase that is projected is expected to come from additional sales. Those sales are the result of some considerable attention that OECA has been paying to the possibilities of marketing its programs in precisely the fashion that I believe was contemplated in recommendation two.

That increase, which has been steady over the years in the areas of other revenue and sales but which has shown a marked increase in more recent years when a more concerted effort was put into it, certainly speaks as well to the first recommendation, which calls on OECA to diversify its revenue base and funding sources, again notably from the private sector.

I suspect that the first recommendation was speaking to something other than sales -- sales are indeed specified in the second recommendation -- in an effort to suggest that the authority might look to a variety of other possibilities or options that might be available to it for raising money.

It is useful to note that in September 1980, a very short time before the formal filing of the report that is before us this evening, TVOntario undertook a major reorganization, part of which included the establishment of a revenue development branch and a marketing branch. Both of the new structures that were developed have now had an experience of close to a year, and both of them have been involved in the question of alternative funding for OECA, again notably in the private sector.

However, the question of the proportion of private sector funding and the type of private sector funding that might come to OECA has been a subject of discussion and consideration even beyond the framework of the report that is before us this evening, notably when OECA was considering the possibility of expanding alternative funding sources. The authority was looking primarily at two possibilities. One of them was individual memberships, a fairly common, simple, and I suspect relatively noncontroversial aspect of private sector dollars; and the second was what the authority has termed corporate donations or corporate memberships.

9 p.m.

This area was reviewed in part in the last few months, albeit not in completely explicit terms, by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission when the matter of TVOntario's licence came before it.

I think it is noteworthy that the CRTC did not announce its renewal of the network licence for the next five years until September 30, 1981. That is a fairly recent CRTC decision. However, in the course of issuing its decision and considering various aspects of the licence renewal, the CRTC was advised by TVOntario that they did not anticipate anything more than approximately 14 per cent of revenues through public and corporate contributions.

Even within that, however, the CRTC did express some concerns, which certainly have been echoed in other forums, about the kinds of programs that would be funded, not from individual memberships but through corporate memberships. The licensing decision seemed to indicate that the CRTC would not permit underwriting news and public affairs programs or children's programs from the corporate contribution sector.

Members will realize that, notwithstanding the efforts of OECA to diversify its revenue sources and to engage in some considerable fund-raising efforts, notably in the private sector, the authority must operate within the clear guidelines and bounds of the CRTC decision that provided the renewal of the licence for the next five-year period.

I will turn now to recommendation three, which seeks the extension of TVOntario broadcast services and notes a couple of particular areas. I wish to bring members of the Legislative Assembly up to date on where we stand with respect to new transmitters announced last year and at the beginning of this year for Timmins, Owen Sound and North Bay, which represent quite considerable additional coverage throughout the province of TVOntario broadcasts.

Just before I move into that update, it is useful to advise members that the question of those transmitters was also a matter for consideration and approval by the CRTC.

In respect of the Owen Sound service, TVOntario will broadcast on channel 12. The communities that will be served by this additional service include, in addition to Owen Sound, Wiarton, Southampton, Port Elgin, Walkerton, Hanover and Wingham. It is interesting to realize that the estimated signal that TVOntario will broadcast is expected to reach approximately 132,300 residents in the Owen Sound area. We expect to broadcast some 16 hours a day, with the first off-air broadcast scheduled for January 1983.

The second area to be provided with additional service from transmitters is North Bay. Members may be aware TVOntario will be broadcasting on VHF channel six in the North Bay area. The communities served by that transmission will include North Bay, Powassan, Callander, Trout Creek, South River, Sturgeon Falls and Burk's Falls. Again, for the interest and information of members of the House, the population it is estimated will be served by the TVOntario signal in this area is approximately 75,000 residents in North Bay. TVOntario expects to broadcast for 16 hours a day, and is planning its first off-air broadcast for January 1983.

The third area that will be receiving additional service as a result of the transmitters is the Timmins area. In Timmins TVOntario will be broadcasting on VHF channel seven. The communities that will be served through that broadcast will include Timmins, South Porcupine, Cochrane and Iroquois Falls. The population TVOntario hopes to reach through this additional service is some 63,300 residents in the Timmins area. As with the others, TVOntario expects to broadcast for 16 hours a day, and its first off-air broadcast is scheduled for September 1982, somewhat ahead of the others in the scheduling of transmission and service.

In that recommendation the committee made special reference to the question of service in the Windsor area. Windsor has been a bit of a problem for TVOntario for a considerable period of time, and it is certainly not for lack of trying that there has been somewhat lower coverage in terms of the number of individual homes in the Windsor area that are watching TVOntario.

I think it is useful to explore for a minute what some of the difficulties are. The location of the TVOntario transmitter is one of the problems. The transmitter is located on a side of Windsor that residents tend not to turn their antennas towards. Residents tend to turn their antennas so they can receive American television broadcast services. One might say, "In that case why do we not simply move the transmitter so it will broadcast from a direction that residents have set their aerials and antennae to pick up?"

There are two significant problems. One of them, obviously, is cost. We have an existing transmitter, and to alter its location would be extremely costly, notably when there is continued pressure from this committee as well as from other members of the Legislature and other forums to continue to expand the availability of TVOntario throughout the province. There is some question, therefore, particularly when one considers the very high cost of relocating the transmitter, whether dollars should be devoted to that relocation rather than to building an additional transmitter in an area that now does not have service.

The second problem in relocating the transmitter is that in order to place it in the location from which it is likely to be best received in accordance with the way Windsor residents now aim their antennas means that we would have to place it on US territory. That seems like an odd thing for TVOntario to do, and, frankly, the Ontario Educational Communications Authority is not contemplating it.

In an effort to move instead to encourage some residents in the Windsor area to tune in to TVOntario, to be aware of the kind of programming that is available and to move in a direction where we might perhaps compete with some of the other programming, TVO undertook a very significant awareness project in 1979 using summer students. The project itself, according to TVO's own monitoring, suggested that it increased awareness very substantially among Windsor residents of TVO's service. In an effort to build on that initial base of a couple of years ago TVO has also increased its local advertising and generally its promotional efforts, including, for example, its program listings in local publications, newspapers and so forth.

9:10 p.m.

Finally, I think it is useful to note that in a number of communities that are as developed, for example, as Windsor, TVO is often received on a cable service. Cable, of course, does not operate in Windsor and appears likely to continue, frankly, to be economically unviable, in view of the competition that is readily available from the number of off-air signals it is possible for residents to pick up directly.

TVO will be monitoring that situation carefully, and if pay TV comes forward, or if other activity comes in with cable companies, that would certainly be something the Ontario Educational Communications Authority would want to be very much a part of. It would want to have its programs, information and so forth brought into homes perhaps more directly and without the kind of problem I was discussing earlier with transmitter locations in the Windsor area.

I move, Mr. Speaker, to recommendation four, which is again speaking to the OECA. It is calling for the adoption of a standard accounting format similar to that found in other government departments and agencies when presenting the authority's annual report. I am advised there was some considerable discussion of this in the committee prior to this recommendation coming forward. Committee members reportedly were made aware that TVO's financial statements -- the categories and so forth, the manner in which the information is both broken down and then subsequently aggregated -- was specifically designed for the needs of the OECA. Then OECA could be quite certain of where its funds were going, in a reporting mechanism that was going to make sense in terms of their main charge, which is educational and public programming across the province.

The authority is indeed sensitive to the concern of members of the Legislature that the information contained in the report be placed in a form that is somewhat more familiar to members and that might be more readily comparable with information that comes from other sources as well. To that end, I am very pleased to advise members that while the last annual report, which was presented in September 1980, was done only in the form I described earlier of the accounting method and presentation that was suitable particularly for OECA, the next report covering 1980-81, which is now very near completion, will have a dual reporting element to it.

The financial information contained in that report will be structured and set out both in the traditional fashion for OECA and its purposes and in a more standard government format to make a translation of some of the figures and a comparability of some of the figures that much easier for members who may wish to review the report. When the next report comes forward for consideration I hope we will see some acknowledgement of the changes that have been made in that regard.

I move now to three recommendations that deal with the Ontario Lottery Corporation and were directed to the Ministry of Culture and Recreation. Dealing with recommendation five, which suggests that the Ontario Lottery Corporation review what has been termed an aggressive marketing policy, it is instructive to realize that something in the order of two per cent of sales are spent on advertising by the lottery corporation, a figure much in line with any average sales-advertising ratio one can find in almost any area of activity, whether a public corporation engaged in sales or a private corporation.

Even with two per cent, fully one-half of that figure, one per cent, is devoted to informing winners they have won. In terms of marketing directed to telling people about the lotteries, as distinct from advising them who has won, it is only one per cent of sales.

The questions of strategy, of the amounts to be devoted to these areas and of the types of media to be used to put the message from the lottery corporation across to the citizen, whether that message is by way of information in respect to the games the corporation administers or whether it is informational in respect to those who have actually won, are under regular review by the board of the lottery corporation and decisions in that regard cannot be taken without that board's approval.

I move to recommendation six, also addressed to the lottery corporation, which requests that a moratorium be placed on the proliferation of its lottery games. I can advise the House that the lottery corporation has indicated to the minister it does not contemplate any expansion or additional games at the present time.

I move to recommendation seven, the final recommendation about which I will be able to provide information to the House this evening. That is the recommendation which deals with the question of the rates on commissions for distributors with regard to the tickets in the several lotteries.

Some information might be useful for members of the Legislature in this regard. As a general piece of information, the total commissions to distributors for 1980-81 was approximately 1.6 per cent of sales in terms of the amount or the scope of expenditures of the corporation that went into commissions, in this case for distributors, which is specifically referenced in recommendation seven.

Mr. Ruston: That is 1.6 per cent of what?

Ms. Fish: It is 1.6 per cent of sales, I am advised, for 1980-81.

Taking it down to information on the commissions that are paid and the commission structure in terms of individual tickets, is another way to examine the question of what the commissions are. For the information of the House, I have reviewed some of those and I would like to share them with the members because I think some of the figures on the decisions of the corporation in this regard are indeed interesting. I should add, the corporation does undertake periodic reviews of the commission's structure with respect to the tickets in the games which it administers.

In terms of Wintario, which of course is a dollar ticket, it is interesting to note that in April 1975 the commission rate structure was seven cents per dollar ticket sold or seven per cent, a fairly high commission per ticket. In July of that year the rates moved down to five cents for the first 50,000 tickets sold, four cents for the next 50,000 sold and 3.5 cents for each of the next 100,000 sold. In May 1976, the lottery corporation, having reviewed the matter yet again, reduced the commission still further to their current rate, a rate which was set in 1976 and which has not altered since then, of three cents on the first 100,000 and two cents on all tickets thereafter. Quite a considerable reduction from the original seven cents and from the subsequent mixing formula of July 1975.

In the case of the Provincial, which is a $5 ticket, the September 1976 rate structure on commissions was set at 15 cents per ticket sold. That was reviewed as recently as January 1980 and reduced to 11.25 cents per ticket sold. Phrased another way, it is something in the neighbourhood of 2.25 per cent of the actual ticket price.

In the case of Super Loto, a $10 ticket, the rate structure, which was set in January 1980 at the time the Provincial rate structure was altered from 15 cents to 11.25 cents, was set at 22.5 cents for each ticket sold. Again, expressed in percentage terms, it works out at 2.25 per cent.

I think that information provides a general overview for members on the several recommendations that were addressed to Culture and Recreation with respect to the Ontario Educational Communications Authority and the Ontario Lottery Corporation.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Is there any other honourable member who wishes to participate in this debate?

Mr. Robinson: Mr. Speaker, I also take pleasure in participating in the debate on the report on agencies, boards and commissions this evening.

As a new member of the Legislature, it has been my pleasure during the past number of weeks, indeed since the end of the summer, to participate in the review of a number of agencies which will be introduced into this House sometime in the very near future.

During our review this year, we again identified many of the same difficulties, the common practices which may not have been entirely desirable -- similar characteristics and some different ones that were encountered in the report we are reviewing tonight.

I think one of the most difficult areas we were asked to take a very serious look at in a general sort of way was the matter of conflict of interest on agencies, boards and commissions. Conflict of interest is a very difficult and a very individual matter. Within the municipal framework of Ontario, there are a number of places where conflict of interest takes on a very specific and very exact meaning. The guidelines for it were recently very well defined to the extent one need not declare specifically a conflict of interest in a municipal debate but only the potentiality or the possibility of having any conflict of interest whatsoever.

That sort of exactitude has not been conveyed at this point to the agencies, boards and commissions of the Ontario government, although there are reasonably strict and specific guidelines dealing with conflict of interest reflected in the Ontario Manual of Administration. I would like to share many of those with the House this evening. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide conflict-of-interest guidelines for government appointees to agencies.

One of the practical difficulties identified in the third report before us tonight -- as will be identified in the fourth report introduced in this House in some brief period of time -- is that although we are dealing in specific terms with a variety of agencies and boards, there is also the difficulty of finding people who are truly capable of being able to adjudicate. It is difficult to find people who can bring some input into a very specific area of interest or a specific area of government or interpretation, who are completely on their own and divorced of that interest themselves.

We found that particularly in the area of the Ontario Racing Commission where, by the structure of the board at this time, there are horsemen dealing with horse-related issues. I would submit that even in the face of the guidelines we have before us now in the Ontario Manual of Administration it would be very difficult to try to come to equitable and reasonable solutions on behalf of for instance the horse community without having some input from people who are involved either in the sport or in the business of horse raising or racing.

But back to the guidelines themselves: A member is interpreted as "an individual appointed to the board of an agency by the government or elected by shareholders where the government owns shares." One of the difficult areas to come to grips with, and it is often one that is confused, is the matter of family and what actually, in a technical way, constitutes "family" from the standpoint of conflict of interest. The manual has attempted to overcome that by indicating that family includes the spouse and the children of the member. Specifically, in other debates we have had in this House and in committees, that interpretation has ranged to include in-laws, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews, but from the point of the guidelines dealing with agencies, boards and commissions it is limited and includes spouses and children only.

Another area of interpretation this guideline attempts to come to grips with is the area of what is a pecuniary interest. Under these guidelines it is interpreted to be that of an individual interest rather than an interest common to a class of persons. Again, I draw on my municipal experience when it comes to terms of conflict of interest, because that is not as clearly spelled out municipally. In fact, I would venture to suggest to other members of this House who have municipal experience that in dealing with the business of setting tax rates or setting mill rates within a municipality or even in a more localized way -- for example routing or repairing roadways -- a local member of a municipal council may indeed have some pecuniary interest, however abstract, in whatever overall financial decision is made by a council.

This manual attempts to overcome that, to relieve the problem of dealing with a person of a particular class. The guidelines indicate that, "Any member of an agency who has a direct pecuniary interest, either personally or through his family, in a matter under consideration by the agency, shall disclose that interest at the first opportunity and will refrain from voting on or participating in the matter in any other way." It also requires that, "No member shall divulge confidential information obtained as a result of his position, unless legally required to do so, nor shall he employ such information for his own benefit."

The difficulty with conflict-of-interest legislation generally is that it is very hard to define an individual and to draw the line between his individual and private interests and how he attempts to serve either the provincial community or the local community.

9:30 p.m.

"Where a member of an agency is a public servant, that member will also be bound by the conflict-of-interest rules prescribed in the regulations under the Public Service Act. In addition, where applicable, the conflict-of-interest provisions of the Business Corporations Act of Ontario, the Corporations Act of Ontario, the Canada Corporations Act and the Canada Business Corporations Act and any other act affecting the members of an agency will continue to apply."

The fact we may from time to time or in conjunction with members of the public at large appoint civil servants, their responsibility is equally onerous as it relates to the matter of conflict of interest.

"In the event of any conflict between the legislative requirements and the guidelines, the legislative requirements will prevail." Again, I think that is important for the protection of the citizens of Ontario. "Individual agencies," it goes on in part (b), "are not precluded from adopting more comprehensive guidelines which might provide for disclosure of interest in other conflict situations." It goes on in (c), "That the head of an agency is responsible for applying and administering these guidelines."

Mr. Ruston: Stop him from filibustering.

Mr. Brandt: Invoke closure.

Mr. Robinson: Isn't that charming.

Mr. Brandt: They are accusing my colleague of filibustering.

Mr. Robinson: Not we on this side of the House, surely.

It is interesting to note, again as we deal with conflict of interest and such things, there is some difficulty with a number of areas in this report. In the second report the agencies review committee made a commitment "to develop a process to assist ministers to undertake a variety of reviews of the agencies and commissions within or under the purview or direction of their own ministries. The procedures and guidelines are outlined and they are designed to meet that commitment." We are having some problem coming to grips with this area as well, and it is reflected in the third report before us tonight.

One of the most commonly used buzzwords of government legislation is the process of "sunsetting." Sunsetting is essentially a mechanism designed to trigger the examination of all or selected government activities or programs. In its simplest form it sets a termination date for the activities or programs before which they are to be reviewed and evaluated to determine whether they should be re-established or terminated as declared.

I believe there are some 700 agencies, boards and commissions operating at this time under the government of Ontario. As we have found in some of our examinations, it may be that under close examination the mandate or the reason for having established many of these boards or commissions no longer exists at this time.

Sunsetting, by the way, has its roots in the last decade's broader debate regarding the size and growth of government, an argument that has been going on in virtually all jurisdictions across North America during the past 10 years. It relates to the difficulty of the increasing role of government in our social and economic life. Its implementation to date in the United States points to a number of constraints on its effectiveness.

Nevertheless, an appropriate sunset mechanism can assist in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of government operations if it is selective and based on realistic expectations as to what can be accomplished over a period of time and if it aims to minimize the costs associated with the uncertainty it creates and the time and resources it requires.

The essential ingredients of effective sunsetting may be summarized as follows: It may be described as the placement of the burden of proof on the proponent of an activity so that the principles of sunset are streamed into existing management systems. If a board or commission is established for a particular purpose at a particular time, either in reaction to or in anticipation of a particular public issue, it can be reconsolidated after an initial look and become part of a government program mainstream, which may allow for the sunsetting of the original group by itself.

Sunsetting also assists the central co-ordination and the monitoring to provide for consistency and objectivity. Again, if one has a specific problem or area one wants to investigate, one may be able to do it more effectively by assembling a group of individuals, skills or talents to take a one-time look objectively coming from the outside rather than perhaps using one's mainstream government programs, which may be somewhat more subjective, to examine the same area. It also provides for a strong and sustained commitment to reform in the senior levels of government.

I do not need to tell other members of this House that often, as things are in place for longer periods of time and their mandates are not reviewed, they tend to become comfortable and to become moderately self-sustaining. The application of sunsetting laws and regulations to agencies in Ontario is a very important issue but, unfortunately, because of the constraints we have, it is difficult to establish review procedures for 700 or more agencies at one time. We will attempt to do it on a staggered basis, and it should begin in an advisory way on agencies in March 1982.

While it is recognized that advisory agencies do not represent a large direct drain on the public purse and that indeed they can provide important support to government operations, the institution of sunsetting does reflect a concern that they continue to be relevant and useful. I draw attention particularly to the clause requiring that they be relevant and useful. I think I can say fairly that we probably have 700 agencies today because, without the benefit of review, many of them are no longer either relevant or useful in the terms of their original mandate.

There are also arguments to be made about the philosophy and goals of sunsetting in Ontario. The intent of sunset review is not necessarily to eliminate all agencies, nor is it necessarily to limit in an arbitrary way the activity of those agencies for which there is a continuing need. Its objective is to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in the contribution of these bodies to the overall policy and program formulation process. However, it does require the elimination of agencies that are no longer needed. It offers the opportunity to review the mandate, structure and operation of these agencies and to consider alternatives to the agency form of organization.

The more tentacles we have the more difficult it is to have a truly uniform and consistent approach to any particular problem of government. To ensure a smooth flow in the process and the consistency of reviews in the follow-up on the decisions made, a further definition of procedures and the establishment of guidelines for both the review and the implementation plans were required. These have been incorporated in the policy I referred to earlier, and they are now published in the government's manual of administration.

In many ways it really goes without saying that it is actually very difficult to look at these agencies in a consistent manner. In some cases we have found that the original mandate, the original orders in council that established them, no longer bear any relation to the actual job being done by the agency.

It was on my resolution recently in the procedural affairs committee that we were going to look at a great number more of these agencies, boards and commissions with each year that went by in this term of the Legislature. However, the time involved in doing a thorough enough job to be able to identify whether the mandates are still appropriate or still being followed does and may create a situation where we will do a greater disservice to an agency by reviewing it than by leaving it in place to do a worthwhile thing.

Mr. Speaker, I think you will find in the fourth report on agencies, boards and commissions, which is the review of the agencies undertaken by the procedural affairs committee earlier this spring and which I hope will be presented to this House shortly, that we have again come up with some realistic recommendations, as the third report did in many ways, and that we will be able to continue at a more intense rate, which will serve a very useful purpose on behalf of the citizens of Ontario for some time to come.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member for Sarnia. I saw you standing up.

Mr. Brandt: I will give the floor up if the member wishes to go first.

Mr. Bryden: I will defer.

Mr. Brandt: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. In the absence of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie), who is currently tied up --

Mr. Mackenzie: Are you going to send this out to your constituents?

Mr. Brandt: Certainly. Would the member like a copy?

Mr. Mackenzie: No. Nobody would understand it.

Mr. Brandt: The Minister of Labour is tied up with the amendments to Bill 7 and is unable to be here, but I want to make some comments on this third report on the agencies, boards and commissions by the standing procedural affairs committee and the recommendations they have made, particularly with respect to the Ministry of Labour. I wish to speak to the recommendations that have come out of that report specifically this evening.

9:40 p.m.

As the members know, the Ontario Labour Relations Board is a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal with responsibility for hearing and determining applications coming before it under the Labour Relations Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and certain other collective bargaining statutes. Section 102 of the Labour Relations Act provides that the board shall be composed of a chairman, one or more vice-chairmen and such equal number of representatives of employers and employees as the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers proper. The chairman or a vice-chairman together with one member representative of employers and one member representative of employees constitute a quorum for the purpose of exercising all of the jurisdiction and powers of the board.

Recommendation 12 concerns the selection of the employer and employee side members on the board and was one of the matters that was referred to in some of the earlier comments by members of the New Democratic Party. Recommendation 12 reads: "That the appointment of sidesmen to the board be made so as to reflect the labour relations concerns of the newer category of workers that come within the scope of the act and also the increasing number of women in the labour force. While it is recognized that the cabinet has the ultimate responsibility for appointments, the board could facilitate the selection process by making appropriate recommendations."

In providing for side members, the Legislature has recognized the importance of including a labour and management perspective in the decision-making process. I fully agree, as does the Minister of Labour, that the side members bring invaluable insight to the process which enhances the quality of the board's adjudication. However, we do not accept the committee's suggestion that the present body of labour members is unable to adequately represent the interests and concerns of employees in this province.

The Minister of Labour, as I am sure members recognize, is responsible for recommending the names of individuals for appointment by the Lieutenant Governor in Council as members representative of employers or employees. It is the general practice to consult with organized labour and with employer organizations to identify potential labour and management members.

A determining factor in formulating a recommendation to the Lieutenant Governor in Council is the extent of the candidate's knowledge of and experience in industrial relations. The particular trade or industry in which the individual has acquired this expertise is only incidental. It is assumed that the skilled practitioner will be able to translate his or her specific knowledge of industrial relations to differing situations that might occur.

Moreover, given the volume and the variety of matters coming before the board, there would be great practical difficulty in attempting to match the particular industry or service from which a proceeding originates with a panel composed of side members having compatible backgrounds. This would require a significant increase in the number of labour and management members from the present complement.

I am convinced that the effective administration of the board's responsibilities requires the service of side members who are generalists and who are capable of accepting assignments, regardless of industry or service involved.

To this general principle, the act makes one exception. Section 102(5) of the act requires one of the divisions of the board to be designated as the construction industry division to adjudicate matters arising under the construction industry provisions of the act. This subsection recognizes the unique characteristics of the construction industry and, in keeping with this requirement, four of the existing full-time side members have been selected from the construction industry. It should be noted, however, that all these side members are also assigned to cases outside the construction industry and they are not limited in their areas of endeavour to the construction industry.

In recommendation 13, the committee proposes that the board create simplified forms in both French and English and in other languages, and that has been spoken to by some of the members opposite. The labour relations board has taken a number of steps to inform employers, trade unions and employees of procedures under the act.

The board publishes a guide to the Labour Relations Act which summarizes the operations of the act and its implications for both labour and management. I am pleased to indicate that the guide will soon be available in French, and the Minister of Labour has asked the board to publish it in other languages commonly in use in the work place.

In addition, the board is preparing to publish two pamphlets, one that deals generally with the rights of employers and employees under the act and another that deals specifically with the certification procedure. The Minister of Labour has requested that the board arrange for similar translations of this material so it will be available in a number of different languages for the workers of Ontario.

For the first time, the board has published its own separate annual report in which its responsibilities, composition and recent case activity are described. The first report was released recently by the board, and the Minister of Labour has made arrangements for copies to be delivered to each member of the Legislature.

All of these initiatives are intended to facilitate a better understanding of the board's role and of the rights and obligations of employees and employers under the relevant collective bargaining legislation.

At the present time, the Labour Relations Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder are in the process of being translated into the French language. The regulations include the complete series of forms prescribed for use in applications to the board.

I understand that a French-language version of form five, which is the notice that must be posted in the work place to advise employees that an application for certification has been made, is now available upon request to the board. In addition, this form is being translated into several other languages for use in the work place as required.

Those are some of my comments on behalf of the Ministry of Labour. Again, I am speaking in the absence of the minister, who is unavailable at this time. I trust this will answer the questions that have been raised by some of the members of the House.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the recommendations in this report, because I think there are some very important ones in it. I hope we will get an opportunity to vote on it, but it appears to me there are a lot of speakers on the other side who are going to make sure that there is not a vote.

One of the recommendations that particularly interests me is the question of conflict of interest. There is a recommendation in the report that legislation should be brought in to ensure that conflict-of-interest rules apply to agencies, boards and commissions. It is high time we had extension of legislation in this field to agencies, boards and commissions. There have been so many cases in the past of scandals arising in connection with agencies, boards and commissions; if we had conflict-of-interest legislation, some of them would not have occurred at all.

Another recommendation that I think is very important is that the appointment of people to agencies, boards and commissions should be made much more open. There should be opportunities for citizens from all walks of life and all segments of our society to apply for membership in agencies, boards and commissions. A number of municipalities are doing this now with their special-purpose bodies and advisory committees.

It is high time this openness in appointments was adopted. Otherwise, we have what is known as the patronage system, where the appointments are all made from a secret list made up entirely by the ruling party and there is no opportunity for anyone who is not on that secret list even to be considered.

9:50 p.m.

Another recommendation that I feel very strongly about is that the hiring policies of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario should be in strict accordance with the rules of the Civil Service Commission. In the past, there have been too many cases where it appeared that people were hired if they belonged to the right party or if they had a letter from a member of the Legislature who belonged to the right party. There still appears to be the feeling that a person must have a letter from an MPP before they can be considered.

I would also hope that the rules of the Civil Service Commission would include no discrimination on account of sex. Certainly, the figures on the number of women and number of men in the employment of the LCBO indicate there has been considerable discrimination on the grounds of sex in the past. I would hope that in the very near future there would be an emphasis on hiring women to overcome the imbalance between the two sexes in the number of employees.

I am not going to speak longer, because I think that this report should come to a vote. I would hesitate to invoke closure on it, but it seems to me there has been adequate debate and I would hope that the question will be now put.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I want to comment briefly on the report of the standing committee on procedural affairs that had before it the chairman and the other members of the commission.

Mr. Ruston: Use rule 36.

Hon. Mr. McCague: That's right. That is not closure. That is just a rule of the House. Where do you see closure?

Mr. Ruston: It is in here.

Hon. Mr. McCague: Show me.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The minister has the floor.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I want to comment briefly on the report of that committee. As I pointed out a moment ago, the committee did hear from the chairman of the commission, Mr. Mathews. It also heard from the general manager, Mr. Beatty, on the overall operation of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.

To remind the members and to bring them up to date about the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, I want to put a little bit of the history of the Ontario Northland Railway on the record, as I am sure some of the newer members will not be aware of the Timiskaming and Northern Ontario Act, which was approved back in 1902. It was to approve the construction of a railway from North Bay northward for approximately 114 miles to develop and serve the small farming communities situated around Lake Timiskaming, or that area now known as the Tri-town area, including Cobalt, Haileybury and New Liskeard.

During the 1903 construction period of that roadbed, particularly through the Cobalt area, silver was discovered. As we all know, at that time there was a massive silver boom in the Tri-town area that really lifted that particular area. By 1908, the railway had been extended to the Cochrane area, and it joined the transcontinental Canadian National Railway, which originated in the city of Quebec.

Gold was discovered during that time in the Porcupine and Larder Lake areas, and considerable activity was taking place in the Iroquois Falls area. These were boom times in that part of what we refer to as the northeastern Ontario corridor.

The Northern Telephone Company of New Liskeard was authorized to use the railway telegraph lines for long-distance telephone calls. Of course, that became a very integral part of the ONTC.

For the first 10 years, there was a time of great achievement for the Ontario Northland Railway, as it was in the next two decades, because gold was discovered in real quantity at Kirkland Lake. Copper was discovered in the Noranda area in Quebec, and a paper mill was established in the Kapuskasing area.

Wherever developments occurred, the railway's role was to assist these further developments. I think that mood and that tone are still carried forward today as we see the insignia on the ONR cars referring to it as the development railway of northern Ontario.

In 1928, the commission launched its last significant route expansion, to extend the railway from Cochrane to the only seaport in Ontario, known as Moosonee, a distance of about 186 miles.

In 1937, the commission began a bus operation that provided highway passenger transportation service between the various communities in the northeastern part of our province.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the commission operated at full capacity and, I might say with a great deal of pride, it was one of the few railways in Canada at that time that earned a profit, which is something of note.

Following the Second World War, the commission launched a very extensive equipment acquisition program, acquiring about 1,000 boxcars during 1949 and 1950.

In 1947, a program of conversion from steam to diesel locomotives was commenced, with the completion of the conversion in 1955. I think it is fair to say that the ONTC was the first railway on the North American continent to become fully dieselized.

The 1950s represented a low point in the railway's operation as automobiles became the predominant passenger mode. Trucks were more and more profitable for the carriage of small goods and during the recession of the 1950s caused a significant reduction in activity. Finally, the gold mines of Kirkland Lake and Timmins were winding down at that time.

While the early 1960s started off on a very low note, I remember that time as the introduction of a new modern era in the commission's history and the beginning of a period that was to be completely different from its first 60 years.

In 1959, the commission acquired a trucking company, and the northeast had its own large highway transportation service. At that time, the Premier of the day, the Honourable Leslie Frost, in his wisdom, recognized that the highway transportation requirements of northeastern Ontario were not being met by the private sector, and he felt that in the next short period of time the ONR should become involved, primarily to reduce the cost of transportation of goods into that part of northern Ontario.

Between 1961 and 1963, the communications branch, in conjunction with the Department of National Defence, embarked on a microwave program that would result in the ONTC having one of the most technologically advanced long-distance telephone systems in the entire world.

Those of us who are from northern Ontario take a great deal of pride in the efforts and the successes of the ONTC in the field of communications. Many of the small communities along the eastern shoreline of Hudson Bay owe their communication links to the outside world directly to the efforts of the ONR and the ONTC. They have modern telephone systems, and they have colour television.

I had the pleasure of being up in the area this past summer, at Attawapiskat, Winisk and Port Severn, and to witness at first hand the excellent service that the ONR is providing in those remote native communities.

10 p.m.

In 1962-63, an eight-mile spur line was constructed near Kirkland Lake to serve the Adams iron ore mine. In 1966, a similar four-mile spur was built near Temagami to serve the Sherman iron ore mine that was developed there.

In 1967, the biggest bonanza from the railway's point of view was the beginning of operations of the Texasgulf property at Timmins. Those of us who have been to the Timmins area are still amazed at the size of that operation. It is certainly adding considerably to the operations of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, particularly as it relates to their railway operation.

In the mid-1960s, we saw the beginning of what has become the famous Polar Bear Express, an excursion train running between Cochrane and Moosonee. In 1964, the twice-daily passenger rail service was reduced to a once-a-day operation. That particular operation gives literally thousands of tourists and people from southern Ontario an opportunity to visit an ocean port and take a very exciting trip along the lowlands, past such interesting spots as Fraserdale and the huge lignite deposits at Onakawana.

I am sure those lignite deposits will be developed one day to benefit all residents in the north, and particularly in the northeast, I hope for the generation of electrical power. If not, we may see that very valuable energy resource in the lower James Bay area developed possibly for briquettes, heat briquettes or lignite briquettes, or for gasification.

I point out to the honourable members that we have a very active private sector involvement in the Onakawana lignite deposits in a firm known as Manalta Coal, from Alberta. Along with Ontario Hydro, they have spent literally millions of dollars to date doing some very extensive studies. If my colleague René Brunelle, the former Minister of Natural Resources, were here tonight, I am sure he would gloat to some extent about the amount of development.

Mr. Haggerty: They have been 10 years developing that process.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Well, it is coming. I think the member for Erie will share with me the enthusiasm that we all share in this House about the possible development of that massive lignite deposit in the lower James Bay area.

I hope many members of this Legislature will get an opportunity to see it at first hand. In fact, while my plans have not been approved in detail, it is my hope that the members of the Legislature will join with me in a very extensive tour of northern Ontario.

Mr. Haggerty: When?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: In the late summer of 1982, I hope. Some members of the Legislature approached me about a possible tour on the Ontario Northland Railway to Cochrane last year. After some discussion, we felt that if we let it sit for a year, let the new members have an opportunity to get their feet on the ground, so to speak --

Mr. Haggerty: What about the gas and oil you keep promising?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I will come to that. If the member is interested, I will discuss that in a moment. But I want to say to the members that I am as anxious, as I know my other northern colleagues are --

Mr. Gordon: Is the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) asking for peaches?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, they will get peaches on the trip. I am sure they will be anxious to get up to northern Ontario, to see firsthand the operations of norOntario and the bus service that the ONTC operates. I hope we will have an opportunity to take them through the shops at North Bay; they are extensive, modern and up to date, and they are serving that area of northeastern Ontario with a great deal of ingenuity and innovation while keeping the costs down to a minimum. I think that is the thrust of the Ontario Northland Railway.

I might point out we have had some preliminary discussions with Via Rail on the possibility of its taking over the runs we have on the ONR. They originate right here in Toronto. Many honourable members and former members will share with me the excitement of the TEE Trains that were purchased a few years ago and unloaded right here in Toronto from the oceangoing vessels that came from Europe.

They were put into operation and now are the pride of the fleet of the ONR that plies between Toronto, Timmins and Cochrane. It is one of the most modern types of railway travel we have in Ontario. I wish Via Rail would some time take a page out of the ONR's book to let the Ontario public know what service is all about, because the ONR does an excellent job. I know the enthusiasm shown on this side of the House is shared equally by members on that side of the House.

Mr. Haggerty: How much is it subsidized?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I do not make any apologies for the subsidy for the ONR when I look at the amount of subsidy going into urban transportation in the southern part of this province and the amount going into Metropolitan Toronto alone. This railway through the northeastern Ontario corridor is literally a lifeline that does something the major railways have not done. I think it is fair to say they have ignored that part of northern Ontario, that rich resource base of northeastern Ontario.

It was the imagination and the initiative of this government that put the ONR in place and has contributed handsomely to the development of northeastern Ontario. I think the members will share the enthusiasm I have for the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.

I am sure the members would want to know who actually makes up the commission. It is a self-operating body reporting directly to the Minister of Northern Affairs. We have such notable northerners as Mr. W. J. Matthews, from Cobalt, who is chairman of the ONR. Mr. P. A. Burns is a commissioner who has specific responsibilities and interests in the air arm of the ONTC, norOntair --

Mr. Haggerty: Is Taylor on there?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, Mr. Taylor is not on there. At that time we had Mr. Gordon Carr, from North Bay, who served for a considerable time and contributed tremendously to the operations of the ONR.

An hon. member: Where is he from?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Gordon is from North Bay. He is a well-respected businessman in North Bay and has had a broad experience.

Mr. Bradley: Is he a Tory? That is the question.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I never checked whether Gord was a Tory or not. All these men were selected because of their capabilities and because of the contribution they would make to the operation of a transportation system that literally is second to none on the North American continent. I say that with a great deal of pride.

We also have Mr. L. A. Foucault, who is the mayor of Espanola and has been recently appointed --

Mr. Gordon: A former Liberal.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, a former Liberal; I am glad you mentioned that.

Mr. Gordon: As a matter of fact, he probably still is a Liberal and so is --

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am glad the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon) mentioned that because he is a recognized Liberal in that part of northeastern Ontario, but he --

Mr. Bradley: The token Liberal.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: He contributes. There is no question he has an interest and a desire to make sure this commission continues to contribute as much as it has in the past.

An hon. member: A true northerner.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, he is a true northerner, there is no question about it. We also have Mr. I. W. Hollingsworth who is a highly respected businessman from Sault Ste. Marie. Anyone who has been in the retail trade and has had the opportunity of using a maple butcher block will recognize the manufacturing position or place of that butcher block. It was likely built in --

10:10 p.m.

Mr. Ruston: Is that in this report? It is not in this report, Mr. Speaker. Bring him to order.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am speaking to the Ontario Northland Railway. I have a copy of the annual report in my hand.

Mr. Ruston: That is not in this report, Mr. Speaker. Would you bring him to order.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I have it right here and references were made in the report.

Mr. Speaker: The Ontario Northland is part of this report.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I think it is fair to say to the honourable member that the facts must be put on the record in order to reach a valid decision on the results of the committee's findings. Ian Hollingsworth, who has now served his time on the commission, has recently retired. Certainly I want to take the opportunity of thanking both him and Mr. Carr for the invaluable contributions they made in the six or eight years they were part of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.

A new addition to the commission is Mr. Norm Karam from Cochrane. Mr. Karam is a well-respected lawyer from that part of northeastern Ontario and has also contributed extensively to the operation of the ONR. I am proud to say that up until April 18, 1980, a member of this Legislature, the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché), was a commissioner of the ONR. I am sure in the course of the next several years we will hear the member for Cochrane North expound at great length on the ONR, the contribution the commission has made and his contribution, because he is recognized in northeastern Ontario as someone who has a real desire to see improvements in the transportation facilities.

In fact, the member for Cochrane North, prior to becoming a member of this Legislature, was chairman, I believe, of the Action Group of northeastern Ontario. The group was made up of all the mayors and reeves of northeastern Ontario. So he played a dual role, not only as a member of the commission but as leader of an independent group known as the Action Group, which prepared statistics and submitted briefs to me and certainly to my colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow), on ways and means of improving transportation in the northeastern part of Ontario. Some very intelligent reports came out of his committee. We are looking at some of those yet today, because I think they are very fitting as to how we can improve, which we are always trying to do on this side of the House.

We have a very able general manager, Mr. Bob Beatty, who is a member of the ONR. He has spent a lifetime; I believe it is fair to say that Bob Beatty came up from the ranks. He climbed the ladder. At one time he used to deliver messages for the telegraph system and he worked his way up right through the entire system. He knows it inside and out. He is an authority, and I am sad to report to the House that he will be retiring within a year. He has made an invaluable contribution to the operation of that public transportation body. When we find a replacement for the general manager, and we are looking for one now -- as the members no doubt have noticed in the Globe and Mail, the headhunters are out -- we are looking for somebody who, we hope, will be of equal stature and make a similar contribution to that of Bob Beatty --

Mr. Haggerty: How about Elmer Sopha, a dedicated lawyer?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I would have to give that some thought. Does he know anything about railways? I do not think he does.


Hon. Mr. Bernier: He is railroading all kinds of people. He tried several times to come back into the Legislature but he was quite unsuccessful.

Mr. Haggerty: Don't be so biased. You asked me for a name. I suggested one.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I know Mr. Sopha is an expert on wolves. We have heard Elmer expound at great length on wolves in this Legislature. In fact, I would have to admit to the member that as a member of this Legislature for some years now, I kind of miss Elmer coming around.


Hon. Mr. Bernier: We have excellent people on the commission; that is the point I am trying to make. We have people from northern Ontario who are dedicated to seeing that we have the best possible operation in northeastern Ontario. Of course, the calibre of people we have running the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission is second to none, and it is with a great deal of pride that I report that to the House.

I would like to get back to the general operation and history of the ONTC and move on. In 1971 we saw the inauguration of a full-fledged airline in northern Ontario by the ONTC, and it was my privilege to recognize that event just a few weeks ago in the Ontario Legislature: 10 years of history, 10 years of invaluable contribution that we have witnessed in northern Ontario.

Mr. Ruston: The minister is reaching.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Those from southern Ontario can laugh at that little airline, which has nine Twin Otters --

Mr. Haggerty: Nobody is laughing. We need the same service down in southern Ontario.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I believe we do, and maybe some day we will extend norOntair to southern Ontario, because it makes a contribution. In fact, I would have to say that because of the norOntair operations, northern Ontario is much closer today to itself and, indeed, to the other parts of Ontario and Canada. Now you can move from the small communities. Twenty-one communities have daily, scheduled, reliable service on aircraft that are manufactured in Ontario, nine Twin Otters built right here in Toronto. We have had so much faith in the aircraft made by de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited that we have bought two more of their Dash-8s. They are still not off the assembly line; they are still on the drawing board.

Mr. Haggerty: I bet you will not land the jet on one of those strips up there.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We may take the jet under our wing, too.

That is the type of faith and foresight this commission has. They have nine Twin Otters. We were looking to the future and we purchased two Dash-8s. They are 36-passenger aircraft; they are pressurized; we will have attendants on those aircraft. In fact, Mr. Speaker, should you visit northern Ontario and travel on one of our Dash-8 aircraft we may have the opportunity of providing you with some of the extra comforts you would find on Nordair or Air Canada or even Canadian Pacific Railways: lunches, refreshments and all the things that will bring us to the level of service we find on a national carrier.

I want to talk about the rate of subsidy. The member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) will agree with me; I know he uses that aircraft on a regular basis. I believe that some members across the House were looking for a pass on the norOntair operation, and I had to point out to them --

Mr. Haggerty: The minister is filibustering.

Mr. Ruston: I am not going to listen to the minister's filibuster any longer.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: But when we started the norOntair operation we were subsidizing our passengers about $75 a passenger, and this year we are down to about $5.61 per passenger. I think that for a government-run operation, one cannot find anything better. I call it the transportation success story of the last decade --

Mr. Wildman: He is not kidding. He might even be converted.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is right; and maybe some day I will run the norOntair operation.

Mr. Speaker, I have a considerable amount to put on the record, particularly for the benefit of the new members and the members on the opposite side of the House who may be totally unfamiliar with the Ontario Northland Railway operation. I want to direct my comments now to the recommendations of the procedural affairs committee.

I believe they directed three recommendations to the ONR, and I would like to read them and put our response on the record. The first recommendation was "That the commission in its financial statements clearly delineate those operations which are noncommercial and therefore subject to subsidization and those that are commercial and not subject to subsidization. In addition, the commission set out the rationale for this division."

10:20 p.m.

Our response would be that the officers of the Ontario Northland Railway or the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, in consultation with the Office of the Provincial Auditor, established a revised format for displaying commercial and noncommercial operations in financial statements. This format, approved by the Provincial Auditor's office in January 1981, was used in the 1980 annual report of the commission, as shown in schedules three and four, pages 20 and 21.

With regard to the second part of the recommendation, the rationale is determined by the provincial government and the division of commercial and noncommercial services is established in a formal memorandum of understanding between the Minister of Northern Affairs and the commission.

The second recommendation was that the commission establish a clear policy regarding unfunded liabilities of the commission's contributory pension fund. I want to report that the commission and its subsidiaries have been making payments of interest and principle since December 1978 towards the unfunded portion of the contributory pension fund in accordance with the regulations under the Pension Benefits Act.

The policy of the commission has always provided for the distribution of liabilities for the unfunded portion of the fund on the basis of percentage of payroll distribution, discounting smaller and newer services such as the ChiCheemaun ferry and norOntair to reflect their smaller responsibilities for the historical unfunded liabilities.

The third recommendation was that the sale of Star Transfer should not be proceeded with until all alternative courses of action have been considered and evaluated, including the study that is being undertaken now by the Ministry of Northern Affairs. I want to report to the chairman of the standing procedural affairs committee that this recommendation is being given full consideration within my ministry and the commission itself.

I have to report further that we are not excited about the performance of the Star operation. I think it is fair to say that we have had some financial downturns, as is reported in the annual report of 1980. The net loss incurred by Star Transfer before extraordinary items amounted to $939,000, compared with $705,000 in 1979.

We are very much aware of the recommendations of the standing procedural affairs committee. I want to take this opportunity to thank the chairman for his efforts and for the recommendations of the committee. I think they are very positive and straightforward, and some that we are addressing certainly will be of benefit to us as we move forward in trying to improve the operations of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and to make it responsible to the Ministry of Northern Affairs and ultimately to the Legislature of Ontario.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Bernier, the debate was adjourned.

The House adjourned at 10:24 p.m.