32nd Parliament, 1st Session























The House met at 2 p.m.



Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have two points of privilege that are totally unrelated to one another. The first stems from an article in the Toronto Sun under the byline of Mr. Hoy on Friday, November 20, 1981. In it Mr. Hoy quotes the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) as saying he has "'never seen or heard of' the first letter," the letter I said had been sent by Mr. McMichael to the minister. He then also quotes the minister as saying I was incorrect when I said an unofficial board meeting was called at the Canada Trust building and that the McMichaels were not invited. Mr. Hoy says, "There are only two explanations for this: either Smith is making it up or Baetz is covering it up."

I agree totally with that statement. That is an absolutely accurate statement by Mr. Roy, but it does leave a certain doubt hanging over people as to which of us is telling the truth. Consequently I think it is very important I give members the information on which my statement was based so they can compare it with whatever information the minister might care to supply, since our integrity is important, I am sure, to both of us.

With regard to the question of whether or not there was a meeting, the news the meeting had been called found its way to the McMichaels, who heard about it from, I think, one of the board members. We checked on that by having one of my researchers call Michael Bell's secretary. Michael Bell's secretary said at precisely 2:00 p.m. on the day I made the statement in the House that at the request of Mr. Allyn Taylor she had telephoned the board members to inform them of tomorrow's unofficial board meeting and that there would be no ministry personnel in attendance. When she was asked whether the McMichaels were included in the invitation she said she had better let Mr. Bell answer anything further on this matter.

On the subject of the second letter, which was an earlier letter than the one tabled in the House by the minister, we have now checked with Mr. McMichael, who has asked his secretary whether the letter of August 8, to which I made reference in the House, was sent to Mr. Allyn Taylor and a copy sent to the minister as indicated. Mr. McMichael says his secretary says, "Definitely yes. Those letters were sent, including the copy." That is as of August 8, 1980.

The record, I think, has been set straight, from my point of view at least.


Mr. Smith: On a second point of privilege, if I may ask that you consider this, Mr. Speaker: Members of this House were promised that in their various caucuses they might be able to hear the very same government-supplied experts who spoke to the Conservative caucus some time ago. After the general government committee refused to consider the Suncor matter again, I immediately sent invitations to those self-same experts. I received an answer from Mr. Malcolm Rowan essentially suggesting arrangements should be made with the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) and that the Ontario Energy Corporation would "be happy to accommodate whatever arrangements you and Mr. Welch agree upon."

Furthermore, another member of OEC, Mr. Peter Lamb, says that he understands arrangements have to be made through the Minister of Energy. The Minister of Energy called my office on Friday to say the earliest such a meeting could be set up would be Thursday, December 3. I do not understand this. He was able to get these experts for the Tory caucus on virtually a moment's notice. Yet our caucus day is normally a Tuesday and the request was made last Thursday but we are told we have to wait at least two weeks. Even then the matter is uncertain and even then we have to change our caucus day.

If he is able to produce these experts for his own caucus on virtually a day's or a moment's notice, I have to ask why he cannot produce the same experts for the official opposition caucus at short notice, as well, on a matter as serious as this. I feel our privileges are not being taken sufficiently seriously by the government when we are being put through these hoops to hear from these self-same experts whom the government will not allow to appear before a tripartite committee.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to this as well. I was unable to speak to the Energy minister when he called my office on Friday, and I was unable to reach him today because he was at a luncheon in St. Catharines. I, too, had the message that he would be happy to provide the experts on the Suncor purchase, but not until December 3. How he intends they could be in the Liberal caucus and the NDP caucus at the same time is beyond me.

But the fact is the government has quite deliberately kept any access to people who were in the know about the Suncor deal from the Legislature. It did this both by manipulating its members on the general government committee and also because of the consistent pattern of delay, procrastination and obfuscation which has come from the Minister of Energy. This is the same government which professes it is in favour of freedom of information and has been thinking about a freedom of information act for the last five or six years. I suggest the Suncor performance indicates we will not see that legislation for at least another 15. This does affect the privileges of this Legislature because when it came to getting any information through debate or through the compendium we got none there either.

Mr. Nixon: On a point of privilege: While the offer from the Minister of Energy was, I suppose, generous in his view it would be much more sensible if his offer would extend to the committee of the House. There is no indication at all -- in fact, quite the contrary -- that the caucuses referred to would be private. Would it not be better if the officials were asked to attend a committee of the House and all members taking part in the meeting could get the information they feel they could lay before us, and we could ask questions that might be in the public good.

Since the Premier is here today he might even use his own good offices to see that such a meeting might be arranged. It is the only sensible thing to do.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I did not hear the initial point of privilege, but I assume the Minister of Culture and Recreation can deal with that because I understand the Leader of the Opposition was dealing with two.

With respect to the second point of privilege, with great respect to the House leader for the Liberal Party (Mr. Nixon) there is never just a single intelligent way to deal with an issue. I would be delighted to talk to the --

Mr. Nixon: The way the government has chosen does not fall into that category.

Hon. Mr. Davis: That is a matter of judgement where we might agree to disagree.

Mr. Nixon: Judge it yourself.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I understand the Minister of Energy made an offer both to the New Democratic Party and to the Liberal Party on two or three occasions with respect to those people who offered advice and judgement to the government. There would be the opportunity to visit with them. I am sure that is what he would like to do. I understand the offer was made a few days ago. I was not familiar with part of the conversations but there was no finality when he first made the offer.

He is not here today. I would be delighted to talk to the Minister of Energy and I am sure he will have some observations to make tomorrow afternoon. If he has them before, he will communicate them to the two caucuses even before tomorrow afternoon. But I do not think I will be able to reach him before about six o'clock today.

2:10 p.m.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a different point of privilege to raise with the Legislature on a matter of great pleasure as a resident of Ottawa. I hope all members of this Legislature will join with me in congratulating not only the winners of the 1981 Grey Cup but also the Cinderella team of the 1981 Grey Cup, the Ottawa Rough Riders. They were not even deemed to be in the same league as the Edmonton Eskimos but came within six seconds of winning the Grey Cup. I think they did a magnificent job.

I know of the Premier's partisanship for the Toronto Argonauts, but even he can join in congratulating the Rough Riders for doing a job not only for Ottawa and the eastern conference of the league but also for Canadians.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I want to make it abundantly clear, because this does come under confidentiality, that I was a modest recipient of the results of yesterday's game. There was a point spread and I was more than enthusiastic about making a modest --

Mr. Smith: Did you bet against the east?

Hon. Mr. Davis: No, I made a bet on Ottawa and I am the recipient because of the point spread. I was given the offer --


Hon. Mr. Davis: I appreciate the leader of the New Democratic Party getting up and bringing this to the attention of members of the House. Unfortunately, as he is on occasion, he was inaccurate in what he said. I wish it were so that they had lost in the last six seconds but the reality is they were tied with six seconds to go. It was that last field goal that did it.

I might even have some observations to make about the officiating. I watched the replay very carefully. If one is going to call a pass interference penalty -- and my understanding of the rule is very simple -- either there was interference or there was not. The Edmonton player interfered with Gabriel. Ottawa should have had first down on the Edmonton 58-yard line and they should have won the game. That came from about the centre field stripe on the other side of the field, but I saw it very clearly. I communicated it to everybody around me. In fact, I communicated to the Premier of Alberta that I thought it was an erroneous decision.

I made another bet at the game, I must confess, on behalf of all members of the House. In fact, I made this wager on behalf of all Ontario. I wagered our deficit against Peter Lougheed's Heritage Fund. How could I lose in that process? Unfortunately we did.

Mr. Smith: You should have asked for a point spread there too.

Hon. Mr. Davis: We would have been the recipients of that. We came within six seconds.

I would like to add my congratulations to the Rough Riders, having been with the general manager of that great organization, one of the more colourful athletes in this province, Mr. Dunlop. I can assure the member for Ottawa Centre that while my loyalties during the eastern conference season have been for some years with the Toronto Argonauts, when it comes to the Grey Cup I always support the Ontario team that is participating. I did so. I wore an Ottawa button. The fact I had a Toronto Argonaut scarf hidden under my jacket was just by accident.

I offered my best wishes to Mr. Waters, the owner of the Ottawa Rough Riders, and to Mrs. Dunlop, because Jake had already gone down to the dressing room. It was a great day for Canadian football, one of the best Grey Cups we have ever had, and Ottawa nearly made it. As I saw it, with that one play they could have done it.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, just as with Ontario against Alberta in the economic area, there was a time the Premier would have bet on Ontario and not just on the idea of them losing by a little less than expected.



Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, later this afternoon, I will move first reading of the District Municipality of Muskoka Amendment Act. This bill will alter the method of selecting the council of the district municipality of Muskoka.

As at present, the mayors of the six area municipalities will be members of the district council. All other members of the district council will be elected directly, either from wards or from an entire area municipality. All the district councillors will also be members of their particular area municipal councils. Neither the number of representatives from each area municipality or district council, nor the total number of members on district councils will be altered by this proposed legislation.

This bill will also make a number of minor amendments to the District Municipality of Muskoka Act. These include a method of changing the status of the area municipalities, provisions for resignation and disqualification of district councillors and a change for the terms of debentures. Amendments to make similar changes to other acts will be introduced at a later date.



Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, there are slim pickings today.

Hon. Mr. Davis: No slimmer than your own numbers over there.

Mr. Smith: The cabinet ministers are getting paid a lot more than my own members over here; they are supposed to be here.

I will ask a question of the Attorney General concerning the Astra and Re-Mor victims. The Attorney General will recall the many instances in which the Premier assured the victims the government intended to treat them all equitably and fairly.

Is he familiar with the case of Mr. Allan McIver, a person who put $30,000 into what he thought was Astra? It was diverted into Re-Mor. He tried to get his money out. They would not give it to him but they loaned him $30,000 against the money he had there. He then paid back some of the loan and invested the rest. He now finds himself in a position where, by letter from the legal firm of Goodman and Goodman acting for Astra Trust, he is being sued to pay back the $27,000 he owes the Astra bunch, but he cannot get his hands on the $30,000 of his money the Astra people have. He will lose his home if this law suit proceeds.

Will the government explain how it can happen that people who are owed money by the Astra bunch should also be sued by them for money they owed to Astra? How can this occur? Is it not time the government brought the receivers together to make sure this does not happen?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I do not know the details of this claim. We are engaged in a process, as far as the licensing of Re-Mor is concerned, to determine what assistance, if any, should be given to these investors by the taxpayers of Ontario through their government.

I assume the Leader of the Opposition is entirely sincere in expressing his concern about the investors of Astra and Re-Mor. I suggest as part of his concern he might communicate with some of his colleagues in Ottawa who have refused to engage in any meaningful discussions about their clear responsibility with respect to the trust charter given Astra Trust.

I know the Leader of the Opposition is well aware that charter provided the framework within which so much of this activity, which we believe to be illegal activity, took place. I hope he will communicate his concern to his federal colleagues. If they had been a little more co-operative, they would have been prepared to face up to their considerable carelessness with respect to the granting of this trust charter. Then we might find a much earlier resolution. But in so far as any of the other ongoing litigation is concerned, I will consider the question that has been put and determine if there is anything further we can do to assist in this process.

2:20 p.m.

Mr. Smith: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the minister not agree it is entirely unfair that this man, Allan McIver, should now be in a position where he may lose his very last possession on earth? I assure the minister he is absolutely at the end of his rope. He does not know what to do or where to turn next. He has already had his money taken by the Astra Trust group. He wanted to get his money back, they loaned it back to him, and now they are suing him for his own money. Does the minister think that is right or fair? Would the minister not at least call in the receivers for Re-Mor and the receivers for Astra Trust and tell them in a case where they have his money and are also suing him for it they ought to just set that case aside and stop persecuting him? Would that not be a reasonable thing for the government to do?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I will inquire into the circumstances of the matter the Leader of the Opposition has brought to my attention, and, after having reviewed that, determine whether the government should play some further role in this matter. We certainly will look into it.

Mr. Swart: By way of supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I am intrigued by the Attorney General's statement that the federal government should face up to its responsibility because of its carelessness. I am assuming he means it should face up to the responsibility by accepting some liability and making a voluntary settlement with the investors. If that is what he is saying, in view of the extreme carelessness, or perhaps worse, on the part of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, will he now reassess the situation and recommend to the Ontario government that it make a voluntary settlement with the investors because of its carelessness?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think the mechanism that has been put in place with respect to this matter is a very fair approach as far as the government of Ontario is concerned.

Mr. Cunningham: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I am surprised the minister has forgotten about the obligations of the Loan and Trust Corporations Act administrated by this province. I would like to ask the Attorney General if he would use his good offices to endeavour, once and for all, to try to get the receivers together to co-operate on this matter, in the hope that people like the McIvers and hundreds of other people, who are in a terrible situation with this sad fiasco, could get their money back. We are wasting a lot of taxpayers' money while these receivers are running around. Could he not get them together?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think what I said to the Leader of the Opposition pertains as well to this suggestion. We will pursue the suggestion as put forward.


Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Colleges and Universities. Now that she can no longer blame the federal government -- which, after all, increased its share of university funding while she decreased hers -- and now that she has turned to the students, who are already paying as high a proportion of the cost of their education as students in other parts of this country, if not higher, she has decided the alumni will have to make up for her underfunding of the universities over the last several years.

Is the minister aware that voluntary gifts are a small and diminishing source of support for universities? In the United States it dropped from 14 per cent to 6 per cent from 1957 to 1978. Even at Trent University, which the minister holds up as an example of great planning, only 2.9 per cent of revenue came from endowment and gift income. Will the minister not agree that instead of constantly pointing blame at students, the federal government, alumni, and everybody else, it is this government, according to its own report, that has to stop the underfunding of universities? Why does she not get on and do the job properly?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the question asked by the honourable member is whether I agree. No, I would not agree. There is a joint responsibility even he cannot shirk as the graduate of a university. I believe that is a moral responsibility each one of us should assume. The province has not treated the university system in any way differently from any of the other institutions for which government has responsibility. We have, along with those institutions, attempted to demonstrate it is possible to live as closely as possible to the level of our means. That is a very reasonable kind of activity, I think, in any jurisdiction.

But the honourable member also suggests the federal government has continued to increase its donations, specifically post-secondary, to universities. He cannot make that statement, nor can the federal government. It designed the format that ensured the amount of money that was transferred under established program funding was directed towards both health and post-secondary education and could not be subdivided.

It cannot have it both ways. It goes around saying it has increased its contributions to a level of 60 per cent or 80 per cent in this province. That is bunk. Over the last few years of the term of the agreement on EPF, the federal contribution to health and post-secondary education in this province has been only a little over 44 per cent of the total amount contributed to those two sectors. The feds are really going to have to stop talking out of both sides of their mouths, just as their kissing cousins in Ontario will have to.

Mr. Smith: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The facts will show the federal contribution, as a result of the established program financing, actually has increased at approximately the rate of inflation or greater each year. The provincial contribution to post-secondary education has increased at far less than the rate of inflation each year. The provincial share of actual funding of academic programs and support services fell from 18.5 per cent to five per cent.

The facts and figures are there, and the minister knows them. Rather than throwing up a smokescreen of the responsibilities of alumni, she should recognize that whatever donations are made in the private sector, however much Ontario may now well be a charity case, whatever she expects to receive by way of charity for hospitals and universities will probably find its way out of other charities such as the United Way, the Canadian Cancer Society, and so on. Will the minister recognize that taxpayers want to support the post-secondary sector? Will she recognize she has a responsibility to put money into that sector -- her own report tells her that -- and stop trying to blame the alumni or the parking attendants or the students or anybody else? It is a problem that is precisely of her own making and no one else's.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I have attached no blame for any situation to anyone. If I were to attach blame I can think of the most appropriate body, which I will not mention here, but it has nothing to do with this provincial government. There are many sources of funding for post-secondary education at the university level, which have been traditional and are universal. Simply because we live in Ontario does not mean we should forget about those other sources, and indeed, we shall not forget about them. I am very much concerned the honourable member seems to be saying that Canadians should not practise charity. I think that is one of the virtues that is terribly important for all of us, and I do hope he will change his mind about that position.

Mr. Grande: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker --


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Grande: A report of the committee of presidents of colleges of this province, talking about the underfunding by the government between 1973 and 1981, says the colleges are receiving, as a result of inflation, $428 less per student than they did eight years ago. Is the minister aware of that and is she aware the presidents of these colleges are calling for the establishment of quotas in our colleges to prevent our students from attending the college of their choice?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am aware of that letter. I am also aware of the kind of motivation that naturally proposes that kind of position, and I understand it thoroughly.

Mr. Wrye: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I would like to read just a couple of the comments of Carleton's director of development, Mr. Michael Roberts, who was asked to comment on the minister's new charity funding ideas on the weekend. He suggested: "It is easy to make simplistic statements. I just wish she'd come to Carleton to see how strapped we really are. We are at the point where we only clean the rooms once a week, empty the wastepaper baskets once a week, and the bulbs have been removed from two out of every three fixtures."

I ask the minister to comment on Mr. Roberts' view that her proposal of university funding through a tag-day system is simplistic? Would she explain whether it is her view that raising $25 million a year in donations, as she suggested on Friday, will solve the funding crisis that threatens the very existence of Carleton and every other university in Ontario?

2:30 p.m.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, there was never any intention on my part to suggest there would be any reduction in the commitment and the responsibility the provincial government feels for universities as a result of any other activities the universities might carry out.

But I do feel strongly there is a very major personal responsibility on the part of each one of us as citizens to provide additional funding over and above that which we provide through the tax system. If we are interested in maintaining the high quality of our university system, which is being maintained at present, then each one of us has a responsibility to look at that.

There is no doubt in my mind that most of the universities are aware of the other potential for finding additional sources of funds. They perhaps have not been as aware as they should have been for about 10 years, but they are now becoming very much aware. They compare themselves, I am afraid to their disadvantage, with their counterparts in the United States and in other jurisdictions, where the citizens are much more generous to universities than they are in Canada. I do believe that is a Canadian fault which should be corrected, and that was the simple statement I was trying to make.

Mr. Smith: They had faith, they had hope, and all they get is charity.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: They wouldn't get it from you, anyway.

Mr. Speaker: Order.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. Last Saturday afternoon I was in Ottawa with some 100,000 men and women from across Canada who had come together on Parliament Hill to express their concern about the economic situation and, in particular, their opposition to the high interest rate policies of the federal government in this country.

Will the government of Ontario join with those 100,000 Canadians who were on Parliament Hill on Saturday, by making a clear and unequivocal statement that this government opposes the high interest rate policies of the federal Liberals? Will it call on the federal government to use its powers to put a ceiling on interest rates and to provide mortgages at 12 per cent for home owners and farmers in this province and across the country?

Will his government enact a moratorium, as was done in the 1930s, to protect home owners and farmers who are having their mortgages rolled over at exorbitant interest rates? And will his government restructure the Province of Ontario Savings Office to turn it into an institution that can work with the credit unions to provide mortgages at reasonable rates for people across this province?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, actually there were a series of questions there. I am not sure I can remember them all. The government of this province, through the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), has already made clear its views on interest rates to the government of Canada. In fact, the ministers of finance are meeting in Halifax at the moment to discuss many aspects of Mr. MacEachen's recent budget. I expect the Treasurer once again will reiterate his position; that is, the need for this country to develop an interest rate policy that is independent of the United States.

We have said on many occasions that we do not agree with the interest rate policy of the government of Canada. I think this is well known to that government. I do not put it in partisan terms, but the message has been conveyed on more than one occasion.

Mr. Cassidy: Is the Premier prepared now to act at the provincial level to ensure that Ontario does what it can to bring the interest rates down?

I recall the Premier's statements back in 1975, when he said his government was not prepared to stand idly by and to give up jobs and homes to a federal policy that gives in to both increased unemployment and inflation. At that time the Bank of Canada rate was going up to about 9.75 per cent from about 9.25 or 9.5 per cent previously. That was the crisis to which the Premier promised to respond six and a half years ago.

Is the Premier prepared to respond now by declaring a moratorium on rollovers to make sure they take place at the same interest rates and by turning the Province of Ontario Savings Office into a genuine provincial savings bank that will provide credit and mortgages to people at interest rates they can afford?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I recall the situation in 1975. But I also make it abundantly clear to the leader of the New Democratic Party that while part of the problem, without question, is interest rates in this country, the one reason we are having difficulty in three or four sectors of our economy, the farm machinery sector, the auto sector, et cetera, is not the interest rate policy in this country but the interest rate policies south of the border.

He should be aware of this more than most members of the House. Eighty per cent of the cars produced in this province are sold south of the border, and a great deal of the farm machinery is sold either in the United States or abroad; so that whatever is done even by the government of Canada with respect to interest rate policy in some sectors of the economy really does not have an impact on their markets.

If it is interest rates in the United States that are discouraging the automotive sector -- and I happen to believe this is one of the important ingredients in the downturn in the auto business -- then even if the government of Canada were to alter its interest rate policy, it would not solve that part of the problem.

I make it abundantly clear that over the years this government has taken steps either to alleviate or to stimulate the economy. Some members were less than enthusiastic about the short-term program with respect to the Ontario sales tax on sales of 1981 automotive vehicles. If members check with dealers in the province, they will find that we have had nothing but positive comments from 99 per cent of them: 1981 inventory has been moving and the situation is extremely encouraging. It has an impact on the dealers and, with great respect, some modest impact on the industry itself, which incidentally is something that the head of the Ontario Federation of Labour, before he proceeded with his brief on universal day care, acknowledged as a positive contribution by the government of this province.

Within our jurisdiction, we have always taken whatever steps we could to assist in terms of both inflation and employment; that has not altered and it will not alter.

I cannot assure the leader of the New Democratic Party that the Province of Ontario Savings Office will be turned into a bank in the full sense of the word, with resources that quite obviously limit somewhat the amount of capital that is available to enter into an interest rate subsidy program that would help some and perhaps not solve the problems of many, like the small business community.

We have argued, and will continue to argue, that if there is going to be a policy or program on interest rates for home owners and farmers, that program should be national in origin. We believe that; that is the only way it will work in this country. We are prepared, as the Treasurer has said, to participate in any such federal initiative.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, although the Premier is indicating to the House that he does not feel high interest rates have interfered with, for example, sales of farm machinery made in Brantford, will he not agree that a provincial program to assist farmers in making capital acquisitions, such as other provinces have, undoubtedly would stimulate the market at least to the extent that they would not have to close down during the winter months and lay off the extra 1,650 employees who are now out on the street?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I heard the honourable member's first reference.

Mr. Nixon: If I may clarify, Mr. Speaker: I thought the Premier said, in answer to the question, that it is not a fact that interest rates are high here but that they are high in areas where, for example, Massey-Ferguson is trying to sell its combines.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I am sorry; I did not mean to convey that impression. Interest rates are a problem here in our market as well. I was just pointing out to the leader of the New Democratic Party that my recollection is that approximately 75 per cent of the combine production at the Brantford plant of Massey-Ferguson goes to the United States or offshore. As to what proportion of the remaining 25 per cent is sold here in Ontario and in the western provinces, I do not have those figures at hand; I can get them for the honourable member.

I was only pointing out that the bulk of Massey-Ferguson's production is exported. It is the interest rates in the United States, I believe -- there may be other factors -- that are one of the prime considerations, and that is where 75 per cent of their production goes.

2:40 p.m.

Mr. Cassidy: Is the Premier not aware the Alberta Treasury Branches now have $1.9 billion worth of loans outstanding in that province? That is an example of a provincial savings office that has been used creatively to help people in the economy, to help home owners, people in small businesses and farmers.

Why could Ontario not take that step and use the Province of Ontario Savings Office to provide credit here, to provide mortgages to people in this province? That is not a situation that depends on the Americans; it is a situation affecting people in Toronto today and people who were in Ottawa on Saturday because they have been driven to the wall by high interest rates. There is a way the government of Ontario could act creatively and positively to help the victims of high interest rates.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I tried to point out to the leader of the New Democratic Party that there are two aspects. One is the real concern we all have with respect to interest rates in relation to home owners, farmers and many others. What I was saying in my answer to him was that it is interest rates other than in Canada that are having a major impact in terms of layoffs in a number of our industries.

There is no question that the layoffs in the automotive sector relate to the high interest rate policies in the United States, because that is where roughly 80 per cent of our production goes; I could be out by one or two percentage points but I am close. It is also true in the farm machinery business.

I say to the leader of the New Democratic Party that we share this concern with respect to mortgage interest rates as well as interest rates for small business and the farm community. Many people feel the impact.

I do not think we can contemplate changing the Province of Ontario Savings Office into a significant lending institution, both in terms of the amount of capital -- I cannot give the leader of the New Democratic Party the amount of funds that might be there -- and in terms of other government responsibilities.

What we are saying, and I know he will not agree with me, is that we feel it is important, if we are going to have a program in relation to mortgage interest rates, as an example, that it should be a nationally initiated program in which this province is prepared to take a share, whatever that share might be.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question, also for the Premier.

Last week, several ministers of the government waxed lyrical about the impact of the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program and what it would mean for the people of Ontario.

I want to ask the Premier whether he can say what the BILD program is going to mean to the people of St. Thomas, for example, which has been so hard hit by the recession that 15 per cent of the manufacturing work force now is on layoff or unemployed, where the unemployment insurance case load has gone up by a third, where the number of repossessions at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has gone up by two thirds and where the welfare rolls have gone up by 38 per cent.

Exactly what is BILD going to do for people in that community, who have now had month upon month of economic recession with no respite at all from this government?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, with great respect, the leader of the New Democratic Party was never that enthusiastic about the BILD program, partly, I guess, because he never understood it --

Mr. Swan: Do you understand what is happening in St. Thomas?

Hon. Mr. Davis: If the member for Welland-Thorold will sit back, be quiet for a change and listen, I will try to explain it to him.


Hon. Mr. Davis: I agree with the member for Oshawa. It is going to be hard to get the member for Welland-Thorold to understand. I know what he is saying. I have perhaps a greater regard for his colleague than he does.

If the leader of the New Democratic Party understood the BILD program, it was specifically designed to deal with specific sectors. It was designed to give stimulation and encouragement to certain aspects of economic development. It was not designed to be the cure-all for economic difficulties experienced because of market conditions outside Ontario.

If one looks at the situation in St. Thomas, my guess, and I am only guessing, is that part of it does relate to the downturn in the automotive sector. I think he will find some of the figures relate to the degree of production at the St. Thomas Ford plant, which moved to the smaller car, which had a degree of market acceptability but which, I guess, at this moment is not generating as much activity as had been anticipated.

The BILD program was not designed to affect some of those market conditions. What it was designed to do was to introduce government encouragement in certain specific sectors, including that of the automotive parts industry, where within a short period of time this government will be moving ahead with a decision that will give stimulation to the auto parts sector in terms of technology. This is true with respect to many other aspects of the BILD program, such as microtechnology.

I spoke to the food processors this morning. We had allocated in the BILD document, if memory serves me correctly, some $20 million for the food processing industry over a five-year period. As of this moment, I think we have spent some $8.5 million. After six or seven months, it is having an impact.

I say to the leader of the New Democratic Party, he has to draw the distinction between the availability of government funds for specific sectors or areas to create new job opportunities down the road and finding solutions to market conditions over which, as a government, we really have very little control.

He should be totally consistent in his approach, because those initiatives that we have taken will lead to greater employment in the longer term. His party has consistently opposed them, day after day, week after week, and I will not go through chapter and verse on this occasion. He knows what they are, and he is just as embarrassed, as he should be, in dealing with them with his own membership when he happens to be in those geographic locations.

Mr. Cassidy: I am not embarrassed. I am outraged about the fact that there are so many workers across this province who are unemployed right now.

In St. Thomas, to take that example, there are 1,350 manufacturing workers who are currently out of work and do not know when they are going to get back to work. The plant that the Premier so proudly inaugurated when the new Ford cars were coming off the line back in February -- or was it March, during the election campaign? -- has given those workers only four weeks of work between August and December, a period of four months. Other plants are having the same kind of shutdowns.

In the building trades in St. Thomas, there is only one sixth of the building permits up to this October as compared to a year ago. A dozen retail outlets in that community have shut down over the course of the last three or four months because of the recession. Surely this is more than just a matter of a slight market downturn.

Mr. Speaker: Supplementary?

Mr. Cassidy: If the Premier says BILD is not going to do anything for the people of St. Thomas, then when is the government going to act on behalf of the working people of St. Thomas, and what specific measures does he have in mind?

Hon. Mr. Davis: The member is singling out St. Thomas. There are a number of other communities, including Windsor --

Mr. Cassidy: I'll give you more.

Hon. Mr. Davis: That is fine. It will come as a great surprise to him that I happen to be aware of it. And I say once again that, as he was so early in the day, he is factually incorrect again. I was not at the inauguration of the plant in St. Thomas. That St. Thomas plant, if memory serves me correctly, has been functioning for some 15 years. I happened to be there when the first vehicles were produced, much to the enthusiasm of the workers there. The Ford people had predicted --


Hon. Mr. Davis: All right. They can belittle those people. They have to deal with them. They provide employment, and I just say that I am not in a position of being able to accurately predict the acceptability of a particular commodity. That is not a function of government. If he would give the same interest and attention to the government's involvement in the Ford engine plant and what was accomplished there, in putting us in a position --

Mr. Cassidy: That doesn't help St. Thomas.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, come on. The member knows, and I know, and so do his Windsor friends, the economic impact of that. Where was he when that was being done, other than being critical? Where is he ever when anything positive is happening, but being critical, or hiding behind the bush so he does not have to accept any responsibility?

Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, how can the Premier boast in this House about the performance of this government when in his own riding there are thousands of workers who have been laid off by McDonnell Douglas and he said during the election that he was going to have a chat with the management of the company and when the manufacturing sector in Ontario is slipping to the last place in terms of growth in Canada? If the BILD program does not apply, what kind of program will apply to some of the problems of the manufacturing sector in Ontario, which is basic to this province?

Can the Premier tell us how the people of Ontario can trust the policies of this government when, on the one hand, he comes to this House and tells us that he is buying Suncor because he is in favour of the national energy program and the next day he goes to Boston and speaks against the Foreign Investment Review Agency?

How can he reconcile the contradiction, and can he tell us what kind of programs this government will provide for the health of the manufacturing sector in Ontario?

2:50 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member probably has raised three issues in his one question. I will try to deal with them as objectively as I can, once again to inform him.

I think the first question related to McDonnell Douglas. I am not sure whether it was during the election campaign when I said to the workers of McDonnell Douglas, many of whom live in the great riding of Brampton and many of whom have been employed for many years by McDonnell Douglas and, prior to that, A. V. Roe, that I was quite prepared to go to St. Louis, which I did, to discuss with management at McDonnell Douglas the long-term economic prospects of the Malton plant of that organization. I made it quite clear to the chairman of the board --

Mr. Laughren: They said Bill Who?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Does the member want to listen or does he not?

I made it quite clear to the chairman of the board, as I did to members of the union and a number of people I happen to know who work at McDonnell Douglas in the Malton facility, that this government was not in a position to buy the DC-9s or the DC-10s. They know that; they accept it. I also told them that I would communicate my concerns to Air Canada, which was in a position to buy the DC-9 or the new Super series or the DC-10. They have opted for another form of aircraft.

I made it abundantly clear that as far as I was concerned I would suggest to the management of McDonnell Douglas that they should vary corporate policy so that the Malton facility might bid on components for competitors within the industry -- I think it is fair to state that is not only a possibility but also a probability -- so they could share in some of the aerospace activity that, as a matter of corporate policy, they were not allowed to do; in fact, they have now bid on components from other companies.

When the member mentions the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program, I would also say there is a rather significant aerospace industry in the great riding of Downsview. I think he will find that the BILD program purchased the first Dash-8, which is a great opportunity for de Havilland to indicate our support of that industry and what it has been able to do in providing employment in the honourable member's riding.

I also say to the honourable member that as part of my commitment to de Havilland, when I was in Australia on trade, I was in touch with one airline -- I think they have orders in for three or perhaps five aircraft -- encouraging them in terms of the prospects.

We now deal with the third question. I apologize for taking so much time, but there were three questions. The member for Downsview asked how I could support Canadianization of the oil industry one day and then go to the Boston Economic Club the next day and say that we were opposed to the Foreign Investment Review Agency.

I say to the honourable member that I am delighted to know he supports the acquisition of 25 per cent of Suncor. It is his support that has been the only negative in all of this debate. It worries me. But I say to the honourable member that he was not at the Boston Economic Club. He does not know exactly what I said.

I made it abundantly clear to our American neighbours that we believe in a greater Canadianization of the energy industry. I make no bones about it. I expressed some concern with respect to the expansion of FIRA. I said the same thing here in the House after I heard Herb Gray musing that he might extend the ground rules of FIRA. I said then that we felt it should not go any further. That is exactly what I said to them in Boston. I said I was encouraged by Mr. MacEachen's observation in his budget that they had decided not to further increase the scope of FIRA. That is exactly what I said.

Mr. Di Santo: I have a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker. The Premier said that I was not in Boston when he gave his speech. I was not because the Premier did not invite me in his jet. I read an editorial in the Toronto Star, and if the Premier thinks the press report is wrong, he should have corrected the report of the Toronto Star.

Hon. Mr. Davis: If I may reply to that point of order, Mr. Speaker: The Toronto Star did send a reporter, which I thought was very considerate of them. I have not read an editorial in the Toronto Star except to say what I have said here, and I repeat it once again. I am not suggesting that the honourable member should not get all of his information from the newspapers. If that is his source, so be it. I cannot quarrel with that. That is my source on occasion. That is where I find out what some of the members opposite are up to, which they deny they are up to the next day, but we all have to rely on that. I just want the member to know exactly what I said.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I want to return to the economic and unemployment problems. The Premier's response seems to be, "If in doubt, have a meeting or make a speech." Why is the Premier not doing something about the Caterpillar situation in his own riding? They are now in the process of importing 15 skilled workers from Scotland to work in that factory when we have those people here in the province.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, being Welsh, I am sorry the member is not enthusiastic about the Scots. With regard to some of the negatives he is talking about in the economy of this province, the decision by Caterpillar to move into the great city of Brampton with a very significant investment and long-term employment opportunities is a clear indication that a lot of people have confidence in the economic future of this province.

I am delighted the member raised the issue. I will certainly encourage Caterpillar to find as many people as they can within the work force of this province. But I hope the member recognizes that their commitment is a clear indication, in spite of what his leader said for 44 days, that the economic future of this province is very good.


Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. The headline in this morning's La Presse newspaper is about a letter that was written by the Premier to a Mrs. Ellen Sallmen of Ottawa last January 29. In this letter, the Premier says the guarantees in the proposed charter of rights in the constitution were necessary to counteract Bill 101 and not to improve the rights of Franco-Ontarians.

Does the Premier not think he has seriously jeopardized the chances of getting Quebec to rejoin the process with that kind of statement?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I know that the honourable member probably has read the paper and that he has been asked to raise this question. I think one or two letters were sent. I think the date of this one, as he said, was last January, when the question of Ontario's support for the constitutional resolution currently before the House was being questioned by some. It was a fairly lengthy letter dealing with several aspects, because part of the problem raised was the question of entrenching the educational provisions in the constitutional resolution. I think the letter pointed out that in our view this not only would entrench rights for the francophones in Ontario but also would give the same constitutional guarantees to the anglophones in Quebec, which I understand is something the member's party has supported. That is really the tenor of what the letter said, and I would like to think the member agrees with it.

Mr. Boudria: As far as education is concerned, we agree with that position. But does the Premier not think that if curtailing the power of Bill 101 is desirable to improve the Anglo-Quebeckers' situation, then improving the rights of Franco-Ontarians is equally important?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I should point out to the member, and he should be as well aware of this as any person in the House, that the policy of this government over the years has been and continues to be to extend the availability of services progressively to the francophone population in this province. There has been no diminution. There are no statutory requirements as to where a person comes from in terms of the availability or accessibility of services.

I introduced the amendments to the Education Act that provided for secondary school education to francophone students. The member should read the act very carefully. I challenge him to find anything in the act that says a person must come from a particular geographic location to be entitled to that education program. It just does not happen to be there.

In every move we have made, and the member can argue whether it has been fast enough or whether it should have been in some form of statute, the reality is that this government has moved progressively to improve access to francophone services for the francophone population in Ontario. The record is there.

Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, can the Premier tell the House whether there are any circumstances under which he would support the application of section 133 to this province?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, as one looks at section 133, the reality in the part of the constitutional resolution that deals with education is that while section 133 does not have application, that in my view is one of the principal areas if one is concerned about the preservation of culture and language. The member may disagree with me on that, but I happen to believe it is true. That will be in the constitution.

I have argued, in terms of this province's delivery of services in the field of the criminal courts, that we have made substantial progress with respect to the francophone population in Ontario. The question of section 133 was not a part of the discussions of two weeks ago. It was not raised by Quebec. I would like to see, not an awareness and understanding by members of this House, because some members have said, "We have done much of what is in section 133, even though we do not accept it in terms of any constitutional amendment," but a little greater recognition in Quebec as to the progress we have made in provision of services to the francophone population.

3 p.m.

Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary; the member for Renfrew South.

Mr. Yakabuski: Mr. Speaker, this is not a supplementary. I was just moving from the constitutional issue to a bread-and-butter issue, the cow-calf program. May I ask the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) a question?

Mr. Speaker: In rotation; if this is a new question, we have to recognize a member of the New Democratic Party.


Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment regarding the decision last week on South Cayuga.

Since there have been more than 200 exemptions under the Environmental Assessment Act allowed by this government, and since the public wonders if this government will ever allow that excellent piece of legislation to operate effectively in this province, is the minister prepared to see that there is a full environmental assessment for the industrial waste disposal facility, for which the Ontario Waste Management Corporation is going to be continuing to try to establish a location, now that the process has to start over in terms of a site?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the question is "no." The honourable member would have to acknowledge that the process established in the Ontario Waste Management Corporation Act is a process not only that is thought to work but also that we have seen in operation. I have confidence that process will do a very effective job in the course of the determination of the ultimate site. I am reassured also by the fact that -- as I understand it, although I was not present at the time -- at the press conference held by the chairman of the Ontario Waste Management Corporation, he also expressed confidence that process was working.

In the member's preamble he made some reference to a specific number of exemptions. It is only fair that he should put that into perspective. A significant number of those exemptions were made when the act was brought into effect and applied to projects that were at a certain stage of development then. There were also some specific target dates established for bringing others under the act, with provision for exemption of those projects at that time that might be well on the way either to completion of design or to construction. If one takes out those kinds of things, which it was understood by the Legislature and others there had to be some adjustments for, then the figures the member quotes ought to be much smaller.

Mr. Charlton: As a result of the decision last week, there is no lack of confidence now in the fairness of the process being used. On the other hand, there is some serious concern about the timetable it will create if, for example, the preliminary studies on several sites that are being proposed are done, one site is picked for in-depth study and the in-depth study again rules out that site. We will find ourselves back here two years from now, starting over again.

What we want to see happen, which the Environmental Assessment Act will allow to happen, is for several sites to be taken right through the process. Does the minister not think it would make much more sense to end up with in-depth studies of four or five sites two or two and a half years from now than to end up with an in-depth study of one site as is at present being proposed?

Hon. Mr. Norton: No, I do not. The honour- able member should look at what actually has transpired within the past year. I am obviously concerned about the passage of time, as he is. But the bulk of the time since the announcement by my predecessor of the establishment of the Ontario Waste Management Corporation about a year ago has been taken up by establishing the corporation, establishing the tribunal which would hold the public hearings and staffing the corporation. It took some time, as I understand it from speaking with people associated with the corporation, to make sure we had the appropriate staff on board.

In terms of the actual work on the site, there was some delay during this past year. I would say there was a delay of perhaps two to three months at the maximum. That related to the finalization of the negotiations with the remaining land owners in the area, those who in some cases had retained small parcels of land with the buildings, having sold their farms back in the early 1970s. Close to the end, those negotiations became more protracted than had been anticipated. This is not uncommon in those kinds of negotiations.

There was a loss of time over this summer of two or two and a half months. This meant that, given the commitments made by Dr. Chant and by my predecessor that we would not have hydrogeologists on the property until the negotiations were completed, it was almost the end of September before the hydrogeologists were able actually to get on the land.

The determination that has been made with respect to that, the work done by the hydrogeologists that led to this determination, took place in a period of about two months. I suggest that is a prompt response in terms of getting the appropriate information before the board of the corporation. I would anticipate there would be little time lost.

I hesitate to speculate, but I think that in the next three months the corporation will be well on its way to narrowing down the sites it is examining. We will find the perception of a year's delay is really quite an erroneous one because whatever we did, the first step had to be to establish the corporation, whether we were going under the Environmental Assessment Act or not. That was what took the bulk of the time this year.

Mr. Smith: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: Will the minister not admit that, when we asked why he would not use his own Environmental Assessment Act in the South Cayuga matter, we were told repeatedly it was because it would require that other sites be looked at? Does he not now wish that other sites had been looked at, so that at least that aspect of the work would already have been done?

Why would he continually arrange for exemptions? He spoke of classes of exemptions. If one includes those classes of exemptions there have been 916 exemptions. If he wants to talk about those, why would the minister continually exempt such major projects from his own Environmental Assessment Act? This is opening himself up to criticism that he is playing politics with the choice of these sites, when Dr. Chant says he is going to do as good an imitation as he can of the procedure under that act.

Why do an imitation? Why not use the legislation that is there and follow a policy that is obvious to everybody and, instead of an imitation, do the real thing?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the first two questions in that series is, no, I do not regret the decision. That was the second question. I have forgotten the first but it was related to the second and the same answer applies to both. I do not regret it. I still have confidence in the process.

3:10 p.m.

With regard to the latter part, I think he may have misunderstood what Dr. Chant said. I am basing it on the reportage from the press conference. I was not present, but it is my understanding he made reference to applying the definitions of environment found in the Environmental Assessment Act. I have not heard that he made any statement about trying to emulate as much as possible the procedures under the Environmental Assessment Act. If he did, he has not communicated that to me.

Mr. Yakabuski: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. A number of times during the past months, knowing many of our farm people are having a rough year on the land for various reasons, mostly because of high interest rates made in the capital city, there have been times when I am sure he and his staff have been giving consideration to instituting a cow-calf program to assist farmers. Where does that proposal stand at this time?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the government has been giving serious consideration to a stabilization payment for cow-calf operations in Ontario. We have one major problem. The people who were in the House earlier this year will remember I had a report that the government of Canada was going to reduce the payments we had made to the hog producers. They called it top-loading and they were not going to permit it. We convinced the government of Canada it should permit that. The federal Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Whelan, made it quite clear to the provincial ministers --

Mr. Smith: You can afford an oil company.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: The member should wait and hear the truth. He should not go off with his ideas --

Mr. Smith: Tell the farmers they now own one quarter of an oil company.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: They should wait and get the true facts. The party they are associated with caused a bit of the trouble.

The government of Canada has said no to top-loading. They made it clear at the provincial ministers' conference in Alberta this summer. We have had our economists working on the cattle prices being received by farmers this year. We believe there will be some federal stabilization for beef producers next spring.

The problem we are faced with is that, under the policies of the government of Canada, if a calf that gets stabilization from us qualifies and is sold for beef during the federal stabilization, they will deduct it from the payment at that time next spring. We hope this can be overcome. We hope the government of Canada will not penalize the farmers of Ontario the way it has been doing in the past.

The member for Renfrew South has brought this to my attention. I want him to know, and I want all the members to realize our government is concerned. We are working on it. We hope to resolve this, but the party over there could be helpful by contacting our colleagues in Ottawa to try to get them to remove that clause.

Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, I assume the minister is aware Saskatchewan has just completed a cow-calf program and that it is not waiting to see what the federal government will do. I assume the minister would feel that, since the federal government has not announced the plan thus far, it will not be for 1981. Does he not feel he could move ahead now with the program for Ontario for the 1981 crop?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member does not understand the federal government's plan. Beef cattle are listed under that plan once the price goes low enough. Then they are automatically covered. There is no announcement; it is automatic. I have just said I believe --

Mr. McKessock: Automatic?

Mr. Henderson: It is automatic. It is under the legislation. It is the main product. It is set at 90 per cent of the past five years' prices; below 90 per cent of the past five years' prices with increased costs. It is understandable those members cannot understand it because they do not understand the farm.

The member for Grey (Mr. McKessock) brought this question up, but other members would like to know that $8.5 million of our beef stabilization has been paid to the three counties of Grey, Bruce and Huron.


Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment.

An hon. member: Ruprecht for leader.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

An hon. member: He's getting a lot of support on the left.

Mr. Ruprecht: Yes. A lot of support there. Thank you very much.

Mr. Speaker: Does the member for Parkdale have a question?

Mr. Ruprecht: The residents in the junction triangle area of Parkdale have been complaining about odours and pollution from the Anchor Cap company for over a decade, as the minister realizes. Since the Anchor Cap company has duped his ministry for years into allowing it exemptions and extensions in their control order to clean up emissions, would the minister assure this House that instead of placing a control order on the company to abate its emissions, an order in council will be imposed on this company under the Environmental Protection Act to ensure that their pollution abatement equipment is installed by May 31, 1982?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows there has been concern in the junction triangle not just about Anchor Cap but about others as well over a considerable period of time. Having been the alderman from that area, he is probably quite familiar with it. As far as --


Hon. Mr. Norton: Oh, he was not the alderman for that area?

Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: The minister should realize I have never been an alderman in that area. So let us get the record straight.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Not only was he not the alderman, but he did not know about it.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the minister just reply briefly, please?

Hon. Mr. Norton: I shall try, Mr. Speaker, to keep it very brief.

I think the honourable member is aware we have prosecuted Anchor Cap and that there was an appeal board hearing this fall. We are in the process of determining what the appropriate next action is with Anchor Cap. I hope the member will recognize that, as a result of our efforts there, effectively state-of-the-art abatement steps have been taken by those for whom they exist, and a considerable effort has been made by some of the companies there who were contributing to the problem to reduce their emissions. Part of the problem, of course, is that some volatile substances defy effective abatement measures.



Mr. Harris from the standing committee on resources development presented the following report and moved its adoption:

Your committee begs to report the following bill with certain amendments:

Bill 7, An Act to revise and extend Protection of Human Rights in Ontario.

Report adopted.

Mr. Speaker: Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Ordered for committee of the whole House.



Hon. Mr. Bennett moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Wells, first reading of Bill 172, An Act to amend the District Municipality of Muskoka Act.

Motion agreed to.

3:20 p.m.


Mr. Rotenberg moved, seconded by Mr. J. M. Johnson, first reading of Bill Pr41, An Act to revive the Atlas Hotel Company Limited.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. Cassidy moved, seconded by Mr. MacDonald, pursuant to standing order 34(a), that the ordinary business of the House be set aside so that the House may debate a matter of urgent public importance, namely the resolution to amend Canada's constitution, now before the Parliament of Canada, and the need for positive action by the government of Ontario in order to ensure that the Constitution Act recognizes and protects aboriginal rights, that it give an unqualified guarantee of women's rights and that section 133 of the British North America Act be applied to Ontario.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, this notice was given to you, in accordance with the rules, prior to 12 o'clock.

Mr. Speaker: I would like to advise all members that the notice of motion was received in time and does comply with standing order 34. I will be pleased to listen to the member for Ottawa Centre for up to five minutes as to why he thinks the ordinary business of the House should be set aside.

Mr. Cassidy: I would assume, Mr. Speaker, that the government would agree with us that this matter is of obvious public importance. Next to the economy, there is no other issue of such importance to the long-term future of our country than the constitution before the Parliament of Canada right now. Its urgency also, it seems to me, is unquestionable.

The constitutional package was presented to the Parliament in its final form or in its penultimate form was just three or four days ago. On the weekend we learned the Prime Minister has set a deadline of Tuesday night, an arbitrary deadline, before which time he hopes to hear from the premiers as to whether they are prepared for changes with respect to the questions of aboriginal rights in section 34 and women's rights, the equality between men and women clause, in section 28.

The fact that there is a deadline lends added urgency to this debate. I believe the government thought we might have a discourse on the constitution in this Legislature sometime in the future, maybe after we saw the people from Suncor. By that time it will be too late; this matter must be debated today if there is to be any input at all from the opposition parties.

Apart from comments made in this House after the Premier's conference, the only clarification of the government's position we have had has been by means of debates such as this one or questions which we have been able to put in the Legislature. This is the first time we will have had to have a debate.

We, on this side, find it unacceptable that the basic and fundamental rights for women and native people have been excluded from the proposed constitution. We believe it is urgent to make every effort possible to see those sections that were taken out -- sections originally put into the act because of the efforts of the federal New Democratic Party, and I am proud of their efforts -- are restored and not in any watered-down version as proposed, for example, by the Premier of Alberta.

I know the Premier has suggested this government is prepared to see these rights included and I applaud him for that. However we would like to see clarification as to exactly what it is the government is proposing to bring in.

There is, however, a third part of this motion, which I believe is also urgent to be debated now. If it is true the act will be locked up in terms of any further changes by Tuesday of this week, then I think the question of what we do in terms of recognizing the difficult situation the country finds itself in now with respect to the isolation of Quebec should also be ventilated in this Legislature.

This motion says Ontario should also act to ensure that section 133 should be applied to Ontario. I cannot understand how the Premiers of the west, "the gang of eight," could compromise on the question of rights, how the Prime Minister of Canada could compromise with respect to his charter of rights, how even the Premier of Quebec could compromise with respect to the veto Quebec has traditionally enjoyed in constitutional matters -- and he did do that, even though he is not in accord with the whole charter -- yet here in this province we continue to have a Premier unprepared to see any means possible by which he could agree to section 133.

Last week the Attorney General got up in the Legislature and said the changes now being made in the courts will ensure every criminal court in the province will take criminal trials in French as well as in English. He said 83 per cent of the francophones in the province will now have access to civil trials in French and it is only a matter of time before that becomes 100 per cent. One can give credit to the government for being prepared at last to act in terms of implementing what is in section 133.

Dans cette legislature, on a le droit de parler en français et en anglais, les deux langues officielles du Canada. But the fact is that section 133, which would apply French in our courts and would give that right in our Legislature, has symbolic importance as well.

We need to be reaching out to Quebec even now, when Quebec finds itself isolated, and to be saying that in every way possible Ontario will extend leadership, will show it is prepared to ensure that French-Canadians are a part of Canada, that the promises it made at the time of the Quebec referendum will be implemented by this province. That is why it is so vital that we have a chance this afternoon to discuss how section 133 could be applied to this province. I think it is time Ontario took its place with the other bilingual provinces of the country, with Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick, and acknowledged the very simple but symbolic obligations of section 133. There is still time if the government is prepared to act now.

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, to put the matter briefly, since the Prime Minister of Canada has said he expects to have discussion wound up and a resolution dealt with tomorrow evening, if I am correct, then there is a certain reasonableness in the NDP leader's view that there is an emergency of sorts, if we are going to speak on the matter. In other words, if we are going to discuss this once it is a fait accompli, I suppose that would be interesting, but it is not of great pertinence to the actual actions of parliament.

If we think a resolution or discussion in this chamber could in some way influence the House of Commons, which is a very questionable assertion or assumption, then such a discussion ought to be held now rather than after the matter has been dealt with by the federal government. Obviously the earliest possible moment would be the best, if we hope to have any influence. So in that sense we have no trouble supporting the idea of having a debate now on the constitutional matter.

The resolution presented by the member for Ottawa Centre has three parts to it. I want to deal briefly with the portion dealing with minority language rights, but I think these rights are very important. Unfortunately, they are simply not on the table as far as the federal government and the provinces are concerned. There is nothing we can say here that is going to allow the reopening of that subject in terms of the constitution and, therefore -- regrettably as we may believe the situation has developed -- we have little choice but to accept that it is simply not going to matter and it is academic what we say here.

We should be a little worried about the heading in La Presse today, brought up by my good friend the member for Prescott-Russell (Mr. Boudria). I would advise the Premier to understand what is going on. If I may put the matter bluntly on the subject of French language rights, Quebec has a record that is poorer than Ontario's in the area of having brought in certain limitations with regard to education and with regard to certain aspects of Bill 101 regarding signs and so on. But Quebec's record of treating its minority is far better than that of Ontario in every other aspect of minority language rights and services.

3:30 p.m.

The Premier has admitted publicly on the front page of La Presse that his actions were taken to cut down the effect of Bill 101. He is unwilling to do anything, even something as mild as the member for Ottawa East's bill, other than handing out some services from time to time, as a gift. While he is unwilling to do anything to make up the other deficiencies that exist on this side of the border I think Ontario's position is undermining the unity of the country. That will become clear as the fight goes on in Quebec.

Mr. Lévesque may not have asked for this at the Premiers' meeting because, frankly, he does not want it. He prefers to have ammunition with which to break up the country. Unfortunately Ontario is giving him that ammunition.

On the subject of women's rights, I find it absolutely incomprehensible that we should be at the verge here in 1981 of declaring ourselves to have a new constitution -- a constitution in our own country -- with a charter of rights, and yet half of the population will not have their rights respected. In this day and age it is reprehensible that women should have to even fight to be regarded as having rights equal to other citizens. I find it inconceivable there should even be discussion on the matter. I also find it inconceivable that we should even be having to debate it, let alone that there should be serious opinion against having that position entrenched in the charter.

To the credit of the Ontario government, it has been in favour of this. Probably there is little we can accomplish in our discussion here, other than to say all of us agree with Ontario's position. Perhaps the NDP leader would take a moment after he has had a chance to speak here and call Premier Blakeney and let him know it is inconceivable that anybody as reasonable and as intelligent as he is -- or that anybody else for that matter -- would be against having women's rights in the constitution.

I would suggest further to the members opposite that when it comes to treaty rights and aboriginal rights for our people, the first Canadians, the people who have been treated shabbily over the years, have every right to complain of what is their lot today -- the poverty, the social disruption, the lack of health facilities, the lack of housing facilities. These people deserve to have their treaty rights respected. They deserve to have aboriginal rights respected. It should be entrenched in the constitution of Canada, and although Ontario has taken that position I wish they could be a little more forceful about it.

Why does the Premier not call Peter Lougheed and tell him what he thinks? Pat Kinsella, his friend who ran his highly-principled campaign in the last election, is now advising Premier Bennett. Call him and tell him to tell Premier Bennett to recognize the aboriginal rights.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment for a few minutes on the motion put forward by my friend. There is no question this is a matter of great public importance at the present time. It is a matter of importance to all the members of this House, and it had been our intention that this would be debated in a regular, proper, formal debate, with a motion on the Order Paper. This would be a motion which, of course, could be amended if desired by the House. In that way all members of this House would have notice of that debate and would have an opportunity to take part in what would be one of the historic debates of this House.

We have been, and are working on that proposition. I would submit to members that the debate will probably start next week if the House leaders can so schedule it. The matter with this resolution is that there is a certain degree of urgency this afternoon to have this debate. That urgency is based on the fact there are three things in this resolution. I draw to members' attention that there are a multitude of other things in the constitutional resolution -- things that were settled through what we term in this House a good old Canadian compromise. If the leader of the NDP had through some misfortune been Premier of this province we never would have reached that compromise, because he is not that kind of person.

The kind of thing that happened with the Premier as leader, the kind of compromise that allowed us to arrive at the point where we have guaranteed minority language education in the constitution in the nine provinces of this country -- and we all regret it is not in the tenth province -- and the kinds of things that have happened are a great credit to all those people who took part in that conference.

In so far as women's rights are concerned, it must be said that this province stood with only one other province and the federal government in support of the inclusion of those rights that women are entitled to. The province of Saskatchewan did not support the resolution with women's rights in it.

Mr. MacDonald: After the federal caucus took a firm position to put them in.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I want to say to my friend it is not a cheap shot that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith) took against the Premier of Saskatchewan. It is something all of us deeply and sincerely regret. A man of the stature and calibre of the Premier of Saskatchewan should be the last person standing in the way of the inclusion of women's rights in the constitution.

Mr. MacDonald: That's a cheap shot.

Mr. Cassidy: Talk about French rights.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Wells: The position of Ontario is very clear in all our communications. We want full rights for women in the constitution. We want aboriginal rights in the constitution. That has been made very clear. That particular discussion is going on at present. Whether or not a debate is held today, I submit it is not going to influence or diminish our fight on behalf of everyone in this Legislature to make sure that women's rights and aboriginal rights are in that new constitution. I can guarantee that to the members of this House.

Mr. Martel: What about francophone rights?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Section 133 was not discussed at the conference in the first week of November. It is not something on the table or being discussed at this time. There will be ample time for a complete discussion of that matter in the future as there has been in the past.

I submit that we do not need this emergency debate today. The matters outlined in the motion are being handled adequately on behalf of all members of the Legislature. What we do need is a full and proper debate on the total constitutional package, which I guarantee will be put forward by the government.

Mr. Speaker: I have listened carefully and with great interest to the honourable members of all parties, and I find the motion to be in order. I find there is a measure of urgency to be addressed.

4:10 p.m.

The House divided on Mr. Cassidy's motion, which was negatived on the following vote:


Boudria, Breaugh, Bryden, Cassidy, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, Copps, Cunningham, Di Santo, Eakins, Elston, Grande, Haggerty, Laughren, Lupusella, MacDonald, Martel, McClellan, McKessock;

Miller, G. I., Newman, Nixon, Peterson, Philip, Riddell, Ruprecht, Ruston, Smith, Swart, Sweeney, Van Horne, Wildman, Worton, Wrye.


Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Bennett, Brandt, Cousens, Cureatz, Davis, Dean, Drea, Eaton, Fish, Gordon, Gregory, Grossman, Harris, Havrot, Henderson, Hennessy, Hodgson, Johnson, J. M., Jones, Kells, Kennedy, Kolyn, Leluk, MacQuarrie, McCague, McLean, McMurtry, McNeil;

Norton, Piché, Pollock, Pope, Ramsay, Robinson, Rotenberg, Runciman, Scrivener, Sheppard, Shymko, Stephenson, B. M., Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, G. W., Timbrell, Treleaven, Walker, Wells, Williams, Wiseman, Yakabuski.

Ayes 35; nays 53.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the answers to questions 169 and 245 and the interim answer to question 241 standing on the Notice Paper. (See Hansard for Friday, November 27.)


House in committee of supply.


Mr. Chairman: We will wait for a moment until the House settles down.

Mr. Ruston: Until everyone leaves.

Mr. Chairman: Until everyone leaves; that is right. Traditionally, we have an opening statement by the minister. Do you have an opening statement?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Yes, I do have a rather short opening statement that might take a few minutes.

Mr. Chairman: I am wondering if by chance I might have a copy, along with the critics for the ministry, or do the critics have a copy?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: They are being distributed just now. We did not want anybody to get these words of wisdom in advance of the event.

Mr. Chairman: I see. You are so considerate. We appreciate that. Have you accommodated by providing me with a copy?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I will have one sent over to the chairman of the committee.

Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to have this opportunity to present the Ministry of Revenue's 1981-82 estimates. Before commencing with the detailed examination of the estimates, I want to review with the committee some of the significant developments that have occurred over the past year. The first is the ministry reorganization.

In January 1980, my predecessor, the Honourable Lorne Maeck, announced a restructuring of the ministry to meet increased demands placed upon its resources. This significant reorganization is now complete and is reflected in a changed vote and item structure for these estimates. I want to outline to the honourable members some of the more important aspects of the changes.

The Ministry of Revenue's organization remained basically unchanged since its inception, and work loads have increased steadily. For instance, the number of taxpayers served by the ministry has grown at 10 to 12 per cent annually. Alongside this, the scale and the consistency of our operations have grown dramatically in terms of the introduction of new transfer payment programs, new taxes and increased use of tax changes and incentives for fiscal policy purposes. Staffing levels had remained fairly constant. As a result, management and support systems had become increasingly strained.

In restructuring the organization, attention was paid to meeting government priorities of improving productivity, customer service and deregulation. It was also necessary to plan for the smooth transition to Oshawa in 1982.

The new organizational structure of the ministry is shown in a chart in the briefing material provided to members. This chart will be useful to members in following my remarks.

To improve the effectiveness of the branches within the tax revenue program, common functions such as revenue collection, data entry, research and information dissemination were centralized. These were consolidated in the new tax system operations and design division. This division became fully operational this year and includes the revenue and operations research branch and two new branches, the taxpayer services branch and the taxation data centre.

4:20 p.m.

I wish to pass on to the critics another guide the ministry introduced fairly recently, A Guide to the Ontario Ministry of Revenue, which has been made available to assist people, members and others, in identifying the areas within the ministry. I think it has proven to be exceedingly beneficial. I want to send a couple of copies across to the critics.

Mr. Haggerty: How come your picture isn't there?

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Always on the basis of conserving money.

The taxpayer services branch is responsible for information services within the tax revenue program, indirectly by providing advice and services that help individual branches communicate with their clients, and directly by talking to taxpayers and answering their questions.

I appreciate that the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) is not the critic but, since the critic is not here, he has the most local interest, I guess, in terms of Oshawa.

Mr. Breaugh: Bless you.

Mr. Chairman: Wait a minute. Let's be more specific. He is not the only member who has an interest; there is another member.

Mr. Breaugh: I believe he spoke right on.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Of that party, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Breaugh: Of any party. It's well known.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: An important part of the branch's customer service effort is answering questions from the public through their multilingual telephone information centre and walk-in public inquiry centre. Fluent in 18 languages, telephone representatives handle approximately 400,000 calls each year. The centre was established in 1974, and since that time staff have provided detailed information on statutes administered by the tax revenue program.

On this note, I should acknowledge some of the problems experienced in our telephone information centre during the recent Ontario tax grant application process. The members are aware that for several weeks our telephone lines were overloaded, and in some instances people have experienced long waits or have had to call several times before getting through.

This has occurred despite our best efforts to improve our service. That is, on the basis of our experience since the Ontario tax grant program was introduced in the fall of 1980, we increased and improved this service in a number of ways. For example, the number of telephone lines devoted to the program was increased from 26 to 29 and the number of trained inquiry officers from 26 to 34; computer-based systems were introduced to speed up the processing of applications and access by telephone guides to file information relating to individual applicants' inquiries; and additional staff were assigned to man the ministry's walk-in inquiry and assistance office on Bloor Street.

However, these improvements were the maximum possible, given the physical and technical limitations of our present location. Considerable investment would be required for us to move significantly beyond these limitations, and such an investment would not be justified in view of our impending move to Oshawa. Consequently, funds have been allocated to greatly expand and improve capacity in our new plant in Oshawa.

But customer service, of course, extends beyond the telephone. The taxpayer services branch also mounts exhibits for trade shows and provincial exhibitions. Additionally, it provides speakers for numerous community groups throughout the province and for radio and television interviews.

The taxpayer services branch, in conjunction with the ministry's communication services, advises tax revenue branches on communications strategy and assists in the carrying out of programs by writing, editing and designing material for all media.

Another integral branch activity is liaison with professional tax advisers. Through its activity in this field, the branch is able to inform consultants and their clients about the background and intent of ministry statutes and regulations and, in turn, it receives their opinions. In very general terms, the taxpayer services branch works hand in hand with the various tax specialists to provide immediately accessible and readily understandable customer service for the tax revenue program.

The second new branch within the tax system operations and design division is the taxation data centre. As the focus of the ministry's electronic data processing network, it is responsible for storing and controlling data. It also makes the stored information available to the other branches within the tax revenue program.

The centre does the initial handling of corporations and sales tax returns, processes all tax receipts and remits funds to the Treasury. It handles nearly two million tax returns annually, which represent more than $6 billion in deposits.

The overriding concern of the centre is to process returns as quickly as possible to maintain revenue at a maximum. On a given day, for example, more than $50 million may be processed and passed on to the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) for deposit and investment within 24 hours.

In addition to the rapid processing of returns, the centre uses electronic data processing to review the accounts of taxpayers, beneficiaries and tax agents to ensure they are accurate and up to date.

As well as handling the accounting and banking of all taxes remitted to the ministry, the branch has taken on a central role in the administration of the new Ontario tax grants for senior citizens' program. This year, on behalf of the guaranteed income and tax credit branch, the centre processed more than 500,000 property tax grant applications and more than 800,000 sales tax grants. Similarly, it took over the processing of applications for the light truck and van rebate program administered by the retail sales tax branch. In April, the processing of nearly 50,000 farm refund claims was transferred from the motor fuels and tobacco tax branch to the taxation data centre.

A notable achievement this year was the data centre's role in encouraging the establishment of a tax banking processing plant in Toronto. I am proud to say the branch was the driving force behind Ontario's new tax banking system. This system allows taxpayers to pay their corporations and retail sales taxes at any chartered bank in the province.

The success of this new service is well demonstrated by its use by taxpayers and particularly by small businessmen. For example, in October, 30 per cent of our total retail sales tax revenues were remitted through tax banking, along with 17 per cent of total corporation tax revenues.

An added advantage of this system is, of course, that it provides valuable alternatives to relying on the postal service. During the strike in July, use of tax banking increased dramatically to account for 65 per cent of retail sales tax revenues and 38 per cent of corporation tax revenues.

During the prolonged postal strike last summer, it was impossible to mail sales tax and corporations tax returns. To enable taxpayers to take full advantage of the tax banking system, the branch co-ordinated a plan to reproduce remittance forms in newspaper advertisements throughout the province. This emergency action was instrumental in helping to maintain the ministry's cash flow.

I am pleased to report that as a result of ministry efforts and the co-operation of taxpayers, revenue cash flows during the postal strike were maintained at approximately 85 per cent of normal levels and that since then delayed tax payments have been collected without particular difficulty.

The taxation data centre continues to meet its mandate to increase the ministry's efficiency through the exploitation of the latest developments in technology. By using these new systems, it ensures that taxes are collected effectively and grants are disbursed as quickly as possible to eligible taxpayers.

Members will note the printed estimates of the property assessment program also have been presented in the new organization format. This part of the new organization structure has a number of purposes: to expand our services to municipalities and ratepayers; to improve support to our assessment field offices; and, through the functional grouping of resources in head office, to reduce the number of headquarters staff without loss of efficiency and effectiveness.

The new program structure includes a new policies and priorities branch to provide staff support to the assistant deputy minister of property assessment in three areas: policy and legislation support and liaison with other ministries and municipalities; management training and professional development, including career development planning; and budget planning and management support to all branches and regions, including zero-base budgeting and management by results guidance and evaluation.

The day-to-day management of assessment activities is now the responsibility of the assessment services division and comprises three branches: a field operations branch which manages the 31 regional offices; a special properties branch which is responsible for mass valuation methods for all property types, training in valuation methodology and the defence of complex appeals; and a data services branch which is responsible for the co-ordination, scheduling and production of updates to master files and the printing of rolls, notices and supplementary assessments for all regions and municipalities.

4:30 p.m.

Additionally, the data services branch is responsible for developing new computer systems to promote quality and cost-effectiveness in the annual processing cycle.

With the new organization structure, we are also moving to increased budget and planning activity at the regional office level. This will ensure the best possible use of our limited resources, and members will note from the briefing material that we are down a further 63 positions to 2,174 for the property assessment program as a whole this year. Decentralized management will also ensure the best use of the funding made available to us.

While on the subject of staff, and also as a direct consequence of the policy to expand services to municipalities, we are in the process of realigning our regional support people to relieve the neighbourhood assessors of as much in-office work as possible. This will ensure that assessors spend the majority of their time in their neighbourhoods maintaining the accuracy of the municipal assessment rolls.

The second part of my opening remarks deal with overall resource plans in my ministry's 1981-82 estimates.

As members are aware, since 1975 the government of Ontario has pursued an aggressive constraint policy through a selective reduction in the size of the public service and a close scrutiny of spending in all ministries.

This resource management policy of "doing more with less" has had considerable success, and I am pleased with the significant role that the Ministry of Revenue has played in this process over the years. I am particularly pleased, in my first presentation of the estimates for the ministry, to be able to outline to members a strong contribution to achieving those important government policy aims in 1981-82.

I wish to draw the members' attention to the human resource summary and the expenditure summary tables in the briefing material. Members will observe that the human resource table describes the planned employment for 1981-82 by major program. The table shows that, overall, the ministry has made plans to increase its level of staffing by 97 man-years in 1981-82. I want to emphasize the word "planned" because, as members know, the ministry has for a number of years presented its manpower estimates in terms of maximum staffing potential. This most fairly presents the manpower needs for the consideration of members who will understand that the actual level of staff employed is most likely to be somewhat lower because of vacancies and staff redeployment.

This maximum potential staffing concept is particularly important to the planned increase of 63 man-years for the ministry administration program. The increase mainly arises from the staffing strategies designed to accomplish a smooth transfer of operations to Oshawa in 1982, which in particular must be achieved without disruptions to essential revenue flows and services to ratepayers and taxpayers.

Much of the provision, however, may not be required, as employees move to their new location and as staff is hired and trained to fill the positions of nonrelocating employees quickly and smoothly. I will have more to say on the impact of the Oshawa move later in my remarks.

The other major manpower increase is planned to head the expanded work load and service levels required by Ontario's program of tax grants for seniors. This new program was launched successfully in the fall of 1980, and a full year's staffing needs are included in the 1981-82 estimates for the first time.

Members will notice increased staff levels of 63 man-years caused by the Oshawa move and 117 man-years as a result of the expanded and improved tax grants program. These increases are offset by a planned decrease in employment of 83 man-years brought about by improved management systems and productivity gains in other areas of the ministry. Thus the ministry has held its staff levels to an overall increase of only 97 man-years for 1981-82 while dealing with steady increases in the volume and complexity of existing operations and, at the same time, implementing a number of important new programs.

The second table in the briefing material to which I want to draw members' attention is the expenditures summary. Members will see that this summary describes the 1981-82 estimated spending and compares it to last year's actual spending by major classification. The table shows that for 1981-82, the ministry's total operating expenditure excluding transfer payments is up by only $1.3 million over last year. Salaries and benefits are up by a little over $1.6 million, reflecting in part the higher level of staffing potential that I mentioned earlier. Travel, services and supplies are down by $300,000 in line with the constraints and economies we have been able to effect.

The result is, despite inflation and higher levels of spending on staff needs for the Oshawa relocation and new transfer payment programs, the total operating expenditure of the ministry has increased by only $1.3 million or less than one per cent. Even if we were to include potential salary award claims, the increase is a modest 10 per cent. In view of these results in resource management, I consider I am fully justified in stating the Ministry of Revenue continues to exercise real restraint and that its 1981-82 estimates follow the "level-lined" trend established in recent years.

The third section I would like to touch upon in my opening comments deals with resource management techniques for productive results. I have demonstrated that the ministry's estimates are being constrained in line with overall government policy. I would like to explain how that has been managed. For a number of years, the ministry has placed a concerted emphasis on methods to improve productivity. This has enabled ministry managers to constrain operating expenditures in the face of rising costs and continued increases in the volume and complexity of their work loads.

There have been two main thrusts to the ministry's productivity improvement initiatives. One has been in the systematic exploitation of opportunities for investment in computer systems to utilize available manpower resources more effectively. The other series of initiatives has been in the area of improved management techniques for resource planning and control.

Several years ago, it was recognized that management systems had to be improved to ensure the most effective use of our resources and to select and implement measures to improve productivity wherever possible. Consequently, in the last few years, the ministry has been engaged in adapting and developing zero-base budgeting and management by results techniques in line with our particular operating requirements and the government's overall management philosophy.

Very briefly, in our resource management system, the ZBB exercise rations the resources and sets program targets, while MBR reporting later monitors the actual performance during the year. The planning and management systems used by the ministry in preparing the annual estimates are explained in more detail in the manual produced each year to guide managers through the process. In the briefing material provided to members, I have included a copy of the fourth ZBB-MBR manual published by the ministry since 1978. I have also added a copy of our management showcase presentation of the process. I hope members will find these documents are useful in explaining what we have done in the past and what we plan to do in the important area of resource planning and performance review in the year ahead.

The fourth section I would like to touch upon is our tax revenue program application of improved planning for productivity improvement. I spoke earlier about the ministry's use of zero-base budgeting and management by results techniques to reinforce the effectiveness of resource management. These have allowed us to ration scarce resources and set precise targets in planning our operations. Also, we are able to monitor ongoing performance and take whatever corrective action might be needed to adjust operations, in response to changing conditions or to meet revised priorities. In order to achieve the tight financial control and utilization of resources required in an environment of budgetary constraint, the ministry has placed strong emphasis on improved management systems.

If honourable members will now turn to the expenditure summary table for the tax revenue program, vote 802, they will see some of the results of the zero-base budgeting and management by results process. They will notice there is a fairly substantial increase, nearly $650,000, in the area of services. This increase is due primarily to investment by the various branches in modernizing existing and implementing new computer systems and other technical support facilities.

4:40 p.m.

The tax filer received significant benefit from these improvements. For example, the retail sales tax branch continues to implement phases of its new system that provide vendors with the following benefits: faster service in answering account enquiries via video terminals installed in district offices; availability of more current account information with advent of overnight updating of master files; and third, general improvement in processing time in response to vendor requirements.

It is anticipated the system will increase overall revenues from the self-assessment system due to improved vendor goodwill resulting from positive service and increased credibility in the system. The system will also provide compliance staff with a new set of tools to identify the non-complying population.

The corporations tax branch is also in the process of improving its own automated processing requirements, providing benefits similar to the retail sales tax system. This investment in technological improvement has allowed us to effectively reduce our need to increase staff to deal with steady increases in the volume and complexity of our programs. The zero-base budgeting process has allowed us to monitor the activities in various sectors and deploy our resources in what we see as the most efficient manner.

This tradeoff between investment and staff has resulted in an overall net reduction in staff of 16 man-years in the corporations tax branch and made the reorganization of existing staff more effective.

It has also allowed us to hold the line on the cost of collecting revenue. My colleague, the Treasurer, has estimated that 1981-82 retail sales tax revenues will approach $2.8 billion. The cost of collection for $100 of this revenue will decrease from its 1980-81 value of 59 cents to 53 cents in 1981-82. Similarly the cost of collecting $100 of corporation tax will decrease from 48 cents to 44 cents. I am very pleased with this improvement in productivity and I assure the members that we will continue to work for further gains in 1982.

I would next like to touch upon the Ontario tax grant program. As the Ontario tax grant program for senior citizens continues to have a major impact on ministry operations, I would like to take some time to discuss the program and the current status of processing the 1981 grant applications and the mailing of grant cheques.

This is only the second year the program has been in operation. Certain difficulties were experienced in 1980, which were expected since it was the first year of a new program of considerable magnitude and complexity. A review of the 1980 operations gave us considerable insight for the 1981 year and enabled us to introduce improvements in order to minimize processing difficulties.

There are three major areas of improvement which I would now like to review. First, the property tax grant application form was redesigned to make it easier to fill out. Last year almost 40 per cent of the applications submitted to us could not be approved at the time of initial processing, mostly because of incomplete information. One part of the form that was particularly troublesome was the section where the senior citizen reported his property tax or rent. This year that section was completely redesigned. The requirement that receipts, or a rental statement signed by the landlord, be submitted with the application forms of senior citizens who rented accommodation also caused significant delays in processing last year. For 1981 that requirement was dropped.

The result of these and other changes in the form together with improvements in instructions for completing the application have reduced the number of deficient applications. Moreover, we expect the number to reduce as our program matures and our clients become more used to its operation.

The second major improvement was that as a result of last year's application processing, post audits conducted by the ministry and direct contact with administrators of senior citizen residences, we were able to identify the vast majority of ineligible residents prior to the 1981 applications. Application forms were not mailed automatically to these senior citizens, as in 1980 when, due to insufficient information and time, these ineligibles were not identified.

Third, we converted this year to a data base system with an online inquiry capability. This enables easier accessing of files and allows us to track the status of applications in process more effectively than we were able to do last year.

I would now like to outline the processing of 1981 property tax grant applications and the mailing of grant cheques. As of November 19, 1981, 518,700 completed applications had been received by the ministry for processing. A total of 399,700 property tax grant cheques have now been mailed to pensioners. We are currently running cheque production updates on a weekly basis. As a result of our update of November 20, an additional 40,000 cheques will be mailed on November 26, a few days hence. The remaining applications are in various stages of processing. Applications with deficiencies and late filers are being approved at the rate of roughly 10,000 per week. For those senior citizens who turn 65 between August and December of this year, sales tax grant cheques and property tax grant applications will be mailed in January.

The success of the 1981 Ontario tax grant program is attributable in no small part to the comprehensive public information campaign conducted by my ministry. In this connection, I wish to acknowledge the invaluable assistance offered to senior citizens by the members through their constituency offices. Because Ontario tax grants for seniors is a new program and because of the unique nature of the client group, it requires a concerted effort on the part of all politicians and service groups in order to ensure it is understood and that seniors receive their full entitlement. Let me express the gratitude of the Ministry of Revenue to the honourable members for their role in this information process.

The next item I would like to touch upon is something rather close to your heart, Mr. Chairman, the Oshawa relocation. I would be remiss were I not to devote a few moments to a discussion of this ministry's forthcoming move to Oshawa, a massive and challenging undertaking. The movement of staff will certainly be the largest single relocation undertaken by the Ontario government. Altogether it involves approximately 1,300 classified positions and as many as 400 temporary and seasonal staff.

The new building at 33 King Street West is expected to be ready for occupancy by the middle of August next year and will accommodate the entire head office staff of Revenue. In addition, 14,000 square feet of ground floor area will be leased to local retail businesses. A final occupancy plan has been developed which details the summer and fall 1982 move-in period to ensure a smooth transition of staff and operations to Oshawa.

Uninterrupted revenue processing services will be assured through parallel operations for a short time for the taxation data centre in both Oshawa and Toronto. The centre processes an average of $30 million per day and when its new facilities in Oshawa have been tested the Toronto operation will be discontinued. This is the only ministry program which will be paralleled.

Double banking of key positions, in which the incumbent trains the replacement before leaving the position, is in place to ensure a smooth transfer of operations from Toronto to Oshawa. Rather than hire extra clerical staff for all key positions where the incumbents have indicated their intention to terminate employment with the ministry, several cost-effective alternatives have been identified and developed. These include: identification of suitable back-up staff; systematic training of key position staff understudies; job rotation programs for existing staff; creating and updating procedures manuals; revised recruitment procedures designed to minimize duration of the vacancy and to hire contract staff when vacancies occur in non-key areas.

With respect to nonrelocating staff, as many as one third of ministry head office personnel have indicated they will not relocate to Oshawa. The government has pledged itself to assist ministry employees who choose not to relocate. All classified staff was asked for a signed statement of intent in March of this year and the results were as follows: 70 per cent will stay with the ministry; 30 per cent will leave the ministry. The 30 per cent who do not intend to follow their jobs to Oshawa are initially entitled to preferential access to vacancies in Metro Toronto of all other ministries.

4:50 p.m.

Only if no suitable candidate is available will the Civil Service Commission authorize a service-wide restricted competition. I should also mention that advertising job vacancies in Durham region media since September 1980 has yielded nearly 3,000 applications.

Candidate qualifications of Durham applicants are generally excellent although certain skills are in short supply. The success of Durham region recruitment may be seen in the more than 75 classified persons who have been hired from Durham together with more than 50 contract staff. We have established an inventory of Durham region applicants which we can use to speed up the recruitment process as we move closer to the relocation date.

On the subject of community relations, the ministry has developed a number of initiatives to ensure a smooth integration of its presence into the Durham region. The community liaison committee is the most visible of a series of programs and events that have created a community which is highly supportive of the ministry's move. The committee was established in the spring of 1978 and includes senior representatives of municipal government as well as local business and community groups from Durham region.

Our community relations program is designed to assist with the ministry's introduction and integration into the community and to provide Durham residents with information about the ministry's operations, employment opportunities and potential economic impact. Durham citizens generally are being reached through the media, public meetings and promotional displays. Potential suppliers of goods and services are being identified and contacted through the chambers of commerce, service clubs and business associations as well as one-on-one contacts.

The new head office building in Oshawa will be a unique, custom-designed structure that features state-of-the-art technology in energy conservation and efficiency. A conventional office building like the present head office at 77 Bloor Street West consumes approximately 60 kilowatt hours per square foot per annum, but the energy budget for the Oshawa building is expected to be no greater than 10 kilowatt hours per square foot per annum.

The building is seven stories in height, involving floor areas of 43,000 usable square feet per floor. This is approximately one acre per floor. A comprehensive public information service will be provided for taxpayers on the ground floor where the public will be able to conduct all routine business with the ministry.

Mr. Chairman: Usually the Chairman does not intervene in discussions, but if I can speak as the member for Durham East, I want to get it on the record we are appreciative of the ministry's move to Oshawa and of the location your ministry has provided, through staff now in the city, in terms of applications of people seeking employment there.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am sure your interjections were grossly out of order, but seeing as you are the Chairman I cannot rule you out of order. Your remarks were appreciated and well due.

The next issue I would like to touch upon is the office of the future. As you are aware, in announcing the creation of the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development, BILD as it is more commonly referred to, the Premier (Mr. Davis) indicated the Ministry of Revenue would work with private sector suppliers to produce a Canadian-built office of the future in the new ministry headquarters in Oshawa.

In addition to providing a showcase for Canadian manufacturers, the new facilities in Oshawa will also afford the ministry an opportunity to continue its policy of employing technology to increase productivity and cope with growth in work loads.

This new initiative is consistent with a series of goals and objectives the ministry identified in 1977 for the period leading up to the relocation to Oshawa in 1982. In this plan, we indicated application of new technology and improved staff utilization as important areas of emphasis for future development within the ministry.

The Ministry of Revenue has always been in the forefront and a leader in the government in utilizing recent advances in technology to perform its function more effectively and efficiently.

This summer, the ministry staff prepared a plan to implement the office-of-the-future concept in Oshawa. The plan identified policy issues and direction for the subsequent design and implementation phases of the project.

The concept proposed for Oshawa will include communicating word processors, electronic mail and messaging, integrated work and data processing and managerial and professional work stations. These advanced tools will help us to further automate routine functions and redeploy staff to deal with those tasks that require greater human judgement.

In addition, the increased capabilities for the generation, management and retrieval of information will assist professionals and managers in making timely and accurate decisions. The net effect will be to increase productivity in ministry functions and to enhance service levels to taxpayers and other ministry client groups as well as to provide a stimulus to Canadian manufacturers.

I would now like to move on to the property assessment program of the ministry. By referring to the financial data table and the comparison between 1981-82 and 1980-81 data for the assessment program in the briefing material, members will see that in spite of inflationary pressures, the total estimates for assessment have only increased by $4,200 on a $62 million budget. This means that inflationary pressures have been absorbed by the program, and this is evident in the reduction of manpower by some 63 man-years and in the real reductions in spending on services which the program has budgeted.

I have made several references to the application of zero-base budgeting in this review of my ministry, but I think one further comment is in order. The property assessment program has the largest administrative budget of any program in my ministry; it is also the most decentralized program. For the program to be able to constrain expenditure to the degree it has through the use of zero-base budgeting and in view of the fact it involved separate evaluations in some 36 cost centres is a demonstration of the value and power of the ZBB process.

I believe the decision taken by the program, as part of the reorganization I referred to earlier, to strengthen its own budget and planning capability and to increase regional responsibility for budget planning and management, has been totally justified. Furthermore, the printed estimates before this committee were compiled on the assumption that the province would be subjected to a full enumeration process in 1981.

We recently passed through this House amendments to the Assessment Act to undertake enumeration during municipal election years only and to simplify the designation of school support. These changes were recommended to my ministry by the municipal advisory committee on data services, which comprises representatives from the associations of municipal tax collectors, municipal clerks and treasurers, school board officials, separate school business officials and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

The substantial funds released as a consequence of this proposal are being redeployed in our efforts to get 1980 market value data established on an accelerated basis for 1982, to improve the speed with which supplementary estimates are delivered to municipalities in the current year and to improve the operation of province-wide open houses, which we operated last year for the first time. In fact, it is my intention to double the number of open houses this year to provide greater accessibility by ratepayers. I believe the availability of assessment staff through the open house process is a demonstration of our willingness to assist rate- payers in understanding their assessments. If we are successful -- and I believe we will be -- we will be able to reduce ratepayer appeals to the assessment review court substantially.

The property assessment program made a decision this month to commence work on a new generation of computer-based assessment systems. The application of up-to-date computer technology will permit the property assessment program to further improve its productivity and to bring closer the day when municipalities can have direct access to our assessment data base and thereby improve their own efficiency. The development of a new computer system of the magnitude and complexity associated with the assessment program will take several years, and members will appreciate that only the preliminary work is likely to be completed in the current year.

In order to achieve maximum productivity from the existing system until such time as the next generation system becomes available we are installing new data entry equipment in all our regional offices. The availability of this equipment has permitted us to make changes to our regional office staffing to improve regional productivity in the next year or so.

5 p.m.

This fall we will implement the section 86 program in approximately 100 municipalities. It is worthwhile noting at this time that we have reassessed 247 municipalities in Ontario under section 86, and another 138 municipalities have been reassessed to market value by proclamation. It is our intention to continue offering the section 86 program on a voluntary basis, and in order to maintain equity, to encourage municipalities already on section 86 to update their rolls on a regular basis.

Support for the section 86 program has come from a number of organizations, including the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. We have a responsibility to offer the section 86 option and also to develop it to the next stage to provide equity in the apportionment of regional, county and educational levies. This is an aspect of section 86 which my staff is now working on.

In order that municipalities may be assisted in making their long-term plans, I announced this summer the property assessment program will be moving to a four-year cycle in which the next market value base year is 1980. The 1980 market values will be available to municipalities on request in 1982 for 1983 taxation. With this four-year cycle, 1984 will follow as the next assessment-base year.

The concept of a four-year cycle will also assist the planning process in the regional offices of the property assessment program. They will now be able to plan their property inspection cycle with known deadlines for completion and better utilize the scarce resources available to the program.

This concludes my introductory remarks on the 1981-82 estimates for the Ministry of Revenue. I hope they have been of assistance to members in explaining some of the main elements and features of the ministry's operations as expressed by these financial accounts. I shall be pleased to provide further information in response to the questions I am sure will be asked during the proceedings.

Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Chairman, I wish to respond to some of the issues the minister put forward in his rather lengthy opening statement today. I do not think he covered many of the issues facing our economy. The minister did include zero-base budgeting, the BILD program and the changes in the property assessment branch but otherwise there is nothing new.

I thought the Minister of Revenue -- being the great tax collector he is and representing his colleague the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) -- would be coming forward with some new ideas and approaches in resolving the issues facing our economy. We are in a recession here and this government is not concerned about it. It is not concerned about high unemployment and the number of industries closing their doors day after day.

I was interested in an article in the Toronto Star on November 20, 1981: "Davis Urges Switch on Economy." With those headlines I thought the minister would be coming in with some great new ideas to revive a lagging economy. But there is nothing in his statement today that says we will see some tax changes.

Last spring the minister brought in the substantial increase in personal income tax and the ad valorem tax which we know will bring in additional revenue to the ministry of some $7 billion until the year 1985. There may be a shortfall to the province of $11 billion, as the Treasurer has stated, but I do not think he can overlook the additional tax revenue generated by the ad valorem tax. This had some bearing on the present situation in the automobile industry, for example.

The Treasurer came in and said they were going to give a sales tax break on the purchase of 1981 model cars. The member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) raised the question this past week about the problem of cars coming in from Quebec and similar places; this is another area where Ontario is noted for allowing the dumping of products from other provinces. Sometimes it can cause some discomfort to the persons and the recipients or, in the long run, the automobile industry. Although it may get rid of the 1981 models, there is going to be a serious problem in selling the 1982 models.

I do not have to tell the minister the serious situation the automobile industry is in today. There are going to be thousands of people laid off in that industry. I do not think they will be re-employed later in the year.

If we look at the policy of this government over the past years, which has been to base its budgeting on the American economy, then I say there is little hope for Ontario to get out of this recession for the next 14 months.

We can blame it on high interest rates, but the government is at fault in that area too. The minister nods his head; does he mean yes or no? I do not know just what he means by it. He cannot exclude himself in this area of responsibility.

"Divorcing Canadian interest rate policy from United States rates and creation of national economic policy should be priority goals for the federal government," the Premier (Mr. Davis) is quoted as saying. But he says nothing about what he has to offer. He is right in what he is trying to say but, according to the Financial Post this past week, this government sold bonds on behalf of Ontario Hydro. We can rest assured that many of them were sold on the American side; we are exporting dollars to our neighbours in the south. With the high interest rates, they are going to jump on the bandwagon and buy these bonds at the higher rates.

If the government wants to control the economy here, then it is going to have to look to other measures for solving our economic woes. It cannot be done by the tax increase measures put forward by the Ministry of Revenue.

This party suggested to the ministry last spring that if it wants to have a turnaround in the economy and make it grow, then it is going to have to put dollars back into the consumer's pocket. There is no other way this government, or the federal government, can turn it around. It is the consumer who can do that. For some unknown reason, the people over there cannot see that. I cannot understand why they cannot see it. It is there.

With high taxes, the government is not putting the dollars back into the consumer's pocket to go out and purchase goods. He has lost interest in buying goods in Ontario. He has lost interest in this government, and in the federal government, for not putting some of that money back in.

It cannot be done by piecemeal measures, by giving a tax rebate on 1981 model cars. That is not good enough. Perhaps if a reduction in the sales tax to four per cent had been applied across the board in the automobile industry to include even a person buying a used car, that would have spurred some action in Ontario automobile sales. Perhaps that would have saved some jobs. I suggest that the government has failed the public in this area.

5:10 p.m.

I was interested in the minister's comments about zero-base budgeting. I think he is the only minister who has ever taken the approach that something must be done in this area, and he is doing it. But let us take a look at what has happened in Ontario.

The minister and I both have municipal background, and he and I know what we were always taught about budgeting at the municipal level, even by staff of municipalities, that any expenditure by government in excess of current revenues was to be shown in the budget as a deficit. We do not see that any more in the Treasurer's budgeting. He does not call it a deficit; he calls it a cash flow requirement.

Formerly, a deficit was considered injurious to the health of the economy and to be avoided as much as possible, but this government has not taken that approach. One can only remind the minister of the situation that many municipalities faced back in the 1930s, namely, insolvency owing to the inability to cover budgetary deficits with sufficient revenue.

According to the philosophy of zero-base budgeting, tax revenue should be the only source of government expenditure, notwithstanding that expenditures for certain services, such as public utilities, transportation, water and sanitary sewers, are financed through user fees.

Unfortunately, the practice of zero-base budgeting has not been pursued by this Tory government. By continually establishing programs beyond our revenue-generating capacity, this government has established a dangerous precedent for the economy.

I am sure one need not remind the minister that the government led by the member for Brampton (Mr. Davis) has operated with a budgetary deficit since the beginning of his tenure as Premier in 1971. There have been at least 10 years of continued government deficit; I believe 1970 was the last year the province was in a surplus situation.

Moreover, I am sure I need not remind the minister of the ramifications of deficit spending in the economy, especially when the policy is continued in periods of economic growth. It is a policy of great significance and one we are now paying dearly for. It has contributed to high interest rates, a tightening of the money supply, high unemployment and a weakening economy.

Perhaps the minister will recall when long-term balancing of the budget was generally accepted as the government goal of public financing in the latter half of the 1970s. Indeed, his boss, the Treasurer, has repeatedly expressed a deep concern in planning for a balanced budget, but somewhere his priorities have become crossed.

I believe the Treasurer was not enthused with the government purchase of Suncor for $650 million when it was estimated that the cost of borrowing money to finance the purchase will eventually exceed $2 billion, putting the budget in a further deficit position and doing nothing to provide additional employment or secure future supply for Ontario.

We, the official opposition, expressed deep concern and have objected to this kind of government expenditure when borrowing money in foreign markets to finance a scheme of this nature only adds to the evils of inflation and further increases the tax burden of Ontario taxpayers. We contend that this is a misdirection of resources and an irresponsible method of planning for economic development.

The Minister of Revenue is also guilty of policies of an unproductive nature. The increase in personal income and ad valorem taxes seriously harms the average Ontarian, not to mention the private sector, which now has little incentive to invest in this province.

In summary, I want to remind the minister that there is a vital difference between expenditures for economic development and expenditures for borrowing money for white elephants such as Suncor. If this government proved more of the former and less of the latter, we might cure some of the economic ills besetting this province. We might once again be the province where the action is.

For some reason that I and members of this party cannot understand, this government ventured into the purchase of Suncor. The minister was not a member in 1974, but I can recall the involvement of the former Treasurer of Ontario, Darcy McKeough, and his policy on the purchase of an investment in Syncrude. That involved the purchase of a five per cent interest, I believe it was at that time, in a consortium consisting of Imperial Oil, Gulf Canada and Cities Service.

At the time we made that investment, perhaps we should have been looking at the Canadianization of some of the oil industry. We had that opportunity. But, for some unknown reason, things were going along very well out there, and they were going to secure and guarantee Ontario a supply of crude oil through the policy of the former Treasurer. Later on, I believe it was in 1978, the then Minister of Natural Resources said in a statement to the House:

"I am pleased to be able to announce that agreement has been reached for the sale of Ontario Energy Corporation's five per cent interest in the Syncrude project to Pan-Canadian Petroleum Limited of Calgary," which is about 85 per cent Canadian owned, "for $160 million. As members know, our primary objective when we invested in the Syncrude project in 1975 was to ensure a plant was constructed. That objective is now largely achieved. We are satisfied that the Ontario Energy Corporation has negotiated a good deal for Ontario. Our actual expenditure to date is approximately $106 million, to which could be added $19 million if one allows for the interest cost of that money."

I think the province made about $25 million on that sale. Of course, when Pan-Canadian purchased it at the price of $160 million, they figured that with a tax write-off they would pay for it in six and a half years. It sounds like a pretty good investment for Pan-Canadian to have purchased this.

I suggest to the minister that government involvement at that time in Syncrude should have been retained so that today we would not have to be spending $650 million that perhaps eventually will lead us into a cost, including interest, of close to $2 billion in the long run. I believe it is an area the government lacked leadership in by not maintaining its interest in the Syncrude operations and thus guaranteeing a supply of oil for Ontario.

To me, it is rather disappointing that they would go into this deal at this time since there was no mention of purchasing Suncor in the budget for 1981-82. Perhaps it was just by the way the wind was blowing that the Premier thought this was a good policy to get the province involved in.

I am sure that the $650 million could have been applied to a two-year Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program. It could have improved job opportunities in that area under that program. Of course, the minister did mention this in his leadoff speech this afternoon about the BILD program. That is another one that is perhaps misleading to the consumers and the taxpayers of Ontario. It covers everything, from the new Ministry of Revenue building in Oshawa, through almost every yard or ton of asphalt that lies on every street, to every stop sign in Ontario, including provincial highways. All this is included in the BILD program.

These are programs that were already approved for expenditure in the last three or four years; so actually there is no new investment in Ontario. It is something that is normally in their year-to-year budgeting.

The Treasurer is very critical of the federal budget, because it did not have any incentives for private investment. He did agree with plugging the loopholes on personal income tax. I suppose we all could agree in that area, although one wants to see equality in taxes on the basis of the same income.

I suppose certain people could take advantage of a loophole so that they could generate additional income. Whether one can call it an investment that would create jobs is another question; in the long run it was an investment to encourage better retirement days for many of the taxpayers. I believe we agree that we could accept this proposal in the federal government's new budget.

It is interesting to note, too, that the budget was endorsed by the president of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association. He thought it was a very sound budget that would be of benefit to all Canadians in the long run. I hope it will have that effect upon all Canadians in the long run.

5:20 p.m.

Going back to the Premier's statement in the press where he urges a switch in the economy, one would have thought this minister would have come in today with the suggestion that there should be a further reduction of the sales tax in Ontario to encourage consumer spending. It seems his policies are not in line with those of the Bank of Canada. The governor of the Bank of Canada has applied the brakes on interest rates. The government says it wants the interest rates high to discourage consumer spending. We cannot have it both ways. Sometimes inflation goes with high employment. I think of a situation in my area now where there are going to be some cutbacks in jobs in industries, as has happened throughout a number of municipalities in Ontario.

I suggest to the minister that he is going to have to come through with some new ideas to encourage consumer spending. When one picks up the newspapers, one sees the ads put out by the business sector today to encourage shoppers to get out and do their Christmas shopping earlier. They know this is the one time of the year when they can capture some of the revenues lost over the year. By reducing the sales tax, I am sure we could encourage consumer spending, and in the long run we are going to capture much of the sales tax lost because of a lack of confidence by consumers at this time in purchasing.

To turn the economy around, we are going to have to look at the consumer. There is nothing in the minister's statement today that indicates that he is looking to that turnaround. If we have to wait for six months from now or for a mini-budget -- I don't know what the government is going to do, but it is going to have to do something. There is quite a bit of unrest among the people on the streets right now. There is a disappointment in the way our economy is going. We can only blame it on the government in power.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: And your friends in Ottawa.

Mr. Haggerty: Don't blame it on my friends in Ottawa. The minister is just like his boss, the Treasurer, when he says there is nothing in the federal government to encourage job creation programs. In my local paper I saw an advertisement that had "Canada" on it -- it was not put out by the federal government; I do not know who it is put out by -- and it mentioned some things here, such as a shipbuilding industry assistance program costing $75 million annually for the next three years. There will be a benefit from that in Port Weller, in my colleague's area in the Niagara Peninsula.

The Department of Regional Economic Expansion program is going to be of great benefit to northern Ontario and other areas of the province. The new fighter aircraft at $2.9 billion is going to create some jobs in Canada and in my area too. If I am not mistaken, during the last election, the Treasurer came into the riding down there with $1 million and encouraged Fleet Industries by saying, "Now, here is $1 million that will create 400 new jobs." I hope those 400 new jobs are going to be there some time this coming year, but I doubt that.

Mr. Bradley: We are always glad to see the minister come during an election campaign, because he brings presents.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: I bring presents all the time. Our presents are continuous. It's called good government.

Mr. Haggerty: There is Ford of Canada and the pulp and paper industry. I do not have to tell the minister how much the federal government is involved in that. I notice the Treasurer does say the odd time that there is involvement by the two levels of government with the private sector in the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program. Northern Ontario development will receive $18.5 million of joint, five-year, federal-provincial funding to encourage development in northern Ontario. Pulp and paper modernization assistance increased from $239 million to $276 million.

The federal government does show some concern, and there is a spillover of this funding in the province; so I do not think the minister can say the federal government is not doing anything.

Nuclear waste research and development will receive $95 million over three years for research into the safe disposal of nuclear waste from reactors. The minister was a member of the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs and knows very well that they are spending large sums of money in this area in trying to find a suitable site. It is going to be in Ontario, so there is a spinoff here.

For the Dash-8 aircraft, there was a $450-million loan guaranteed to de Havilland Canada, and $50 million to Pratt and Whitney.

Mr. Ruston: Is this the federal government?

Mr. Haggerty: This is from the federal government. For Petro-Canada, there was an additional $900 million approved for the 1981 capital spending program, which is almost double the previous year's budget. Look at the benefit to Ontario.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Make up your mind. Are you supporting Petro-Canada?

Mr. Haggerty: What I am saying is that we come to Petro-Canada and here is $900 million from the federal government. If this government had taken the $650 million it is going to invest in Suncor, look at the jobs we could have created in Canada. We would have had the pipe mill in Welland employing 300 persons.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: What do you think is the difference between Petro-Canada and Suncor?

Mr. Haggerty: Well, Petro-Canada does not take Canadian money and put it over on the American side, and that is what the government has done with Suncor. There was a statement by the president of Suncor just the other day in which he said they are going to spend $500 million in Canada. That is like this government's BILD program: it was already earmarked about four years ago; there is nothing new in it.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: There is nothing new in the $950 million either.

Mr. Ruston: Even $10 million for the new jet. You didn't need it.

Mr. Bradley: The government spent $10.5 million for a jet.

The Deputy Chairman: Order.

Mr. Haggerty: Buying Suncor has guaranteed a fuel supply for the jet.

Research and development work connected with acid rain will receive $41 million over the next four years. I do not know what Ontario is putting into that, but that will go into research. There is a whole list of them here. It probably would take me an hour and a half to read all these goodies here. I say to the minister, don't say the federal government is not contributing something to the economy of Ontario, because it certainly is. I look at that area, and it is not the fault of the opposition members.

Mr. Gordon: An industrial strategy; that's what they gave us.

Mr. Bradley: First in line to take the credit, last in line to take the responsibility; that's you guys.

Mr. Haggerty: That's right.

Mr. Gordon: And never in the north.

Mr. Ruston: They're always wanting money from Ottawa, but they don't want to give them the credit for it.

Mr. Gordon: They gave us the branch plant economy.

Mr. Haggerty: Quoting from the Premier's remarks, he said, "We have to explore if we want to divorce ourselves to a greater extent from American rates..." To get around that, the government is going to have to take a whole new look at the Ontario economy. We cannot afford this branch-plant economy any more. We cannot look to the United States to put plants over here and to run the show from over there. We are going to have to have some input in here. If we had had any input from this government in the last 40 years, the automobile industry would not be in the fix it is in today.

I recall in 1974 saying to the first Minister of Energy, Darcy McKeough, "It is time to make some decision to tell the automobile industry that they will have to build a car that the Canadian public wants, not the large machines with 128-inch wheelbases, the gas guzzlers." He said, "There is no way that I or this government would interfere in the private sector."

I am reminded of that response when I hear the Treasurer saying again that the new federal budget and tax policies leave nothing to the private sector to invest. If we look at the policy of this government today, we do not need the involvement of the private sector any more. The government is in the private sector up to its neck now; it gives them grants, assistance and funding for the automobile industry and the implement industry.

5:30 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Make up your mind. Be consistent. Should we or should we not?

Mr. Haggerty: I am just saying the government cannot look to the private sector. There are ways of bringing this government to new directions on that.

If any of us walked into a bank in downtown Toronto or even in my riding at the end of October or the first two days in November, we could not get in to cash an ordinary cheque. Everybody is lined up in the banks with their little bankbooks pulling in interest on their money. Canadians are noted for their thriftiness.

That is a good sign. I only wish they would put that money to work in a better manner. I have suggested this before. Every time someone here wants to finance a scheme, he goes offshore to get the money to invest in a new industry or in one of government's projects. This is true regardless of which province it is. It is one of the problems we have with the provinces here in Canada, and it weakens Confederation.

The way to go about it, I suppose, is to encourage Canadians who save to make use of those savings. For example, they should be encouraged to buy government bonds; they do it in the United States, and it works very successfully there. We have a provincial bank sitting here that does nothing. We could put that bank to work for the benefit of the people of Ontario by getting them into that bank to put more into savings there.

We could give them certain tax advantages as is done with corporations, so that if they invested in bonds here in Ontario or in the Province of Ontario Savings Office they would get tax-free interest. We would get quite a few investments in this area so they would not have to go offshore. The figures will show that there is about $60 billion in Canadian funds in banks today. That is without the trust companies and the credit unions.

There is a great area that can be tapped without borrowing money offshore. For example, in Saskatchewan they bought the potash mine. One cannot blame the American company for selling it, because they were perhaps only getting six or seven per cent return on their investment in the mining sector. They sold out to the government. What did Saskatchewan do? To borrow the money for it, it had to go to the American side. Look at the interest they are paying today. Industry is sitting back, saying: 'Well, we are getting 15 or 18 per cent on our money. That is a good investment."

I do not think we have to do that. I think there are areas where we can encourage investment in Ontario by Ontario people. They want to see this province grow. They want to see job security for themselves and their children. I suggest this is an area we should be looking at. It is there to be tapped. When the Premier makes a statement urging a switch in the economy, that is one way to go that costs nothing.

We are doing it now, I suppose, with Ontario Hydro when it sells bonds and debentures over a period of 20 years. It is interesting to hear it said that the government cannot control interest. If one goes out and buys Canadian government bonds today, they are paying 19.5 per cent or something like that for the first year, but next year it drops down to about 11 per cent. I say to the minister, do not tell me the government cannot regulate interest rates, because it surely can.

Hon. Mr. Ashe: Sure, the federal Liberal government can overpay.

Mr. Haggerty: There are windfall profits there for almost everybody, and perhaps that is an area that should be taxed more. But we cannot blame the Canadian person who wants to save. I suggest that is an area the government should be looking at. If it really wants to do something good for the province, that is the way to go.

What bothers me most is that the province cannot maintain high equality in social programs unless it has an expanding tax base. To get that tax base, it is going to have to get new industries and more people employed. That way, there will be additional income taxes generated and taxes from people who go out and buy all the consumer goods they require.

If Ontario wants to do something towards the purchase of new homes, it should give them a tax break on the interest they have to pay. Letting the interest be tax free would help them some. The government can do that through personal income tax.

The Treasurer is critical of the government's taxing policies, but he forgot to tell us that the provincial government increased personal income taxes last spring. The Ontario government does not have a shortfall in taxes, that is for sure.

I am suggesting that if the government wants to turn the economy around, these are the areas they should look at. It can be done; they have had 40 years of experience to do it. Surely they can come up with something good this time to get these people back to work. I do not know what they are going to do with all the unemployed people and all the young people who are seeking employment in Ontario. They have not come up with any program that is going to give those young people and the people who have been laid off for a considerable length of time an opportunity for further job enrichment. There is nothing for them in the speech today or in the proposed mini-budget.

If they want to get the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program going, as they have done with the government revenue building in Oshawa, they can put their BILD program to work by building in my area. Almost every riding or municipality in Ontario needs some additional homes for the aged. There is a shortfall in the Niagara Peninsula. There are people on a waiting list, and they do not know where to turn. There is just no place for them. If they want to get into the BILD program, they can apply it there. That will create jobs in the construction industry in the Niagara Peninsula and in the Windsor area. You name it and it is needed there.

The minister goes on to say that Ontario has committed $614 million to its development program over the next five years, and it has generated another $275 million from the private sector and other levels of government. He does give credit to other levels of government, and I hope that is the federal government. For too long those fellows have been sitting in the back getting no credit at all for all their assistance to this government.

There are areas that are of concern to me. I thought the minister would be coming forward with a new program to put some life into a lagging economy, but there is nothing here. I think we talked in some detail about the issue of assessment during his amendment of the Assessment Act. Since there is a majority on the government side, they are still bringing in a bill year after year to further mothball market value assessment. Either it is a good program or it is a poor program, and the minister should have made up his mind by now whether he is for it or against it.

It is only fair to the municipalities to say that the government is not going to bring market value assessment forward, because it just will not work under the present circumstances. The market price of housing in Ontario fluctuates so much because of the high interest rates that there is no way an assessor can put a true market value assessment on any piece of property today. I suggest to the minister that he could effect a real saving to the taxpayers, and he talks about zero-base budgeting in his own ministry, by getting rid of this market value concept now.

They have no intention of moving in that direction. I guess section 86(3) is the direction the minister is going, and eventually he is going to have to come through with some form of evaluation to bring in further equity to property assessment in Ontario. In a sense, that is a regressive kind of property tax.

It is not becoming any cheaper for people in municipalities because of the high cost of administration of local and regional governments, and perhaps even of the province. If local municipalities are to survive, they must receive additional revenues.

5:40 p.m.

Look at what happened in the 1930s. Many municipalities may be heading in that direction now. One had better start looking at some other area from which to raise revenue for the municipalities, because I do not think market value assessment will work.

A few years ago, the reason the government gave for not implementing market value assessment was because it was a minority government. They were opposed to it. We know an inequity still exists and we want it corrected. It can be done without going to market value assessment. It can be done on a percentage basis. It would work itself out because it has in the past. There is no reason it cannot continue in that area.

I conclude by saying that I am rather disappointed the Minister of Revenue did not come in with some new tax policies such as a reduction on the sales tax to spur the economy. Hopefully, reducing the sales tax would encourage consumer spending and would create the jobs that are necessary now. If not, I see the province of Ontario continuing in a recession for the next 12 to 14 months.

There is an indication from American economists that by February the interest rates will go down considerably to about 13 or 14 per cent. Hopefully, the trend will follow here and that they will be perhaps much less than that. Again, if one accepts some of the proposals I have put forward to the minister, I am sure there are areas in which we could bring some stability to the interest rates. We could encourage Ontario residents to invest in programs that would bring some justice to the interest rates, and relief to home owners and future buyers of new homes.

If we do not move in this area, that will put the construction industry back and jobs will be lost. Another example is the appliance sector. Without construction of new homes, new appliances are not being sold. This is a case where initiative and new directions are needed from the government. According to the Premier's statement in the Toronto Star, we can look forward to new directions and new jobs for the unemployed in Ontario. I hope this is so.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Chairman, I will attempt to restrict my comments to those areas over which the Minister of Revenue has jurisdiction. I, too, am somewhat disappointed, although not for the same reasons as the member for Erie.

I am somewhat disappointed because this is the third or fourth year in a row that the minister restricted himself to organization and the changes going on in the ministry. Although this is his first set of estimates as the Minister of Revenue, the former minister did much the same thing for the last two, three or four years in a row.

I will start by talking about tax policy. As opposed to my colleague, the member for Erie, I did not expect the minister to stand here today and start spouting new tax policies. Most of us in this House fully understand the Minister of Revenue does not set tax policy. The Treasurer does that. We all know that because we have been through that a dozen times in the House over the last number of years.

I certainly feel and have always felt quite strongly that the Minister of Revenue's major role in tax policy is reporting on and influencing tax policy by reporting on the way in which policies of the Treasurer and the Ministry of Treasury and Economics affect people's attitudes in Ontario.

I do not want this comment to be taken in the full context of political partisanship. I want it to be taken in the context of the reality of some of the things that are happening in Ontario. One thing that has begun to happen, and it is something that we have not seen in this province for a long time or in any period that I am aware of in recent history, is the growth and development of a number of public groups such as tax reform groups, tax revolters, in some cities in this province.

One of our colleagues was sitting under the Speaker's gallery a few minutes ago. Unfortunately he has left now. He is a councillor in the city of North York, where we have seen a fairly significant growth in revolt against the way in which certain property assessments are done in that municipality.

What I am getting at is that there is a fairly substantial amount of discontent developing in the public about the kinds of taxes that this provincial government continues to emphasize every year, and either maintains or increases each year in its budget. There is a fairly substantial amount of discontent, to the extent that people are starting to organize against particular tax policies of this province. The government should not ignore these matters just because it has a majority. These are the kinds of things that should be monitored by those people who administer taxes, because they are the ones who are going to know about the complaints and hear the public's complaints most frequently.

We do not want to see this province get to the stage where we have to deal with rather massive public pressure as a result of the tax policies that the province has taken and/or inaction in terms of taxation areas in this province. The government already knows the problem and is failing to bring about resolutions. We all know what some of them are, and I will talk about some of them as we go through this estimate process.

In terms of tax policy in this province, it is imperative that the government respond to the kinds of things being said out there so we do not end up in a situation like they had in California, with proposition 13, where the government was forced, in a last minute situation, to do something it did not intend to do. As a result, major services this government provides could be cut, in interim and perhaps even in long-term ways, in order to accommodate public pressure about its tax policy. It is important that there be a constant assessment of public acceptance and public understanding of what is going on in terms of tax policy in this province.

This is one of the things that I feel the Ministry of Revenue has to do. It is the only ministry that can do it effectively, because it is the place where the administration of taxes is going on, where the complaints are registered, the protests are registered, and in many cases where the appeals against taxation are registered.

I would like to take that through the process a little bit. We have talked on a number of occasions in this House about the inequities that exist in the present property tax assessment system, and the need for reform in the assessment area. The minister and his predecessors have stated a number of times that the section 86 program deals in some ways with many of the inequities that exist between like properties in the same class of property.

5:50 p.m.

That is basically true, but the section 86 program does not deal with the overall problem of equity in the property tax structure. In no way does it assist the rest of the operation of this government to deal with the rather major questions of municipal finance and the inequities in the whole municipal finance structure. Unfortunately, most of these are based on this antiquated assessment system.

We have made some strides in the last three or four years to deal with some of those inequities in the transfer of funds from the province to the municipal level, but the minister has not dealt with it in an overall, planned, strategic way.

The minister may be aware of a white paper which was produced by this caucus a year and a half ago. I know that a copy of it went to the then minister, and that it was circulated fairly widely through the Ministry of Revenue, as well as to a couple of other ministries. We do not pretend that white paper, which in fact was orange or yellow in colour, had all of the answers to the property tax and municipal finance problems that confront this province, nor do we pretend the solutions we proposed were necessarily the right ones or the best ones.

Unfortunately, we do not have access to all of the computer data of the Ministry of Revenue, so although we feel our proposals would go a long way in dealing with many of the problems, we can in no way be sure it is exactly what this province needs or that it is the best approach to be found. However, I would urge the minister, if he has never seen it, to take it out and have a look at it.

I am suggesting that, again not because I think it is necessarily the ultimate answer to the province's problems in relation to property taxation and to the whole municipal finance and education finance structure, but as I have attempted to say in this House a number of times in the past, this caucus would like to reach a solution to the whole question of equity in property taxes and some realignment in the case of provincial transfers to the municipalities and the whole ability of municipalities to raise tax dollars.

I even think that in a strange way the comments of the honourable member for Erie reflect the same kind of concern.

I want to raise it again in the context of our sincere desire in this party to find solutions to those questions. Although there are some ideological aspects to the whole property tax question, from our perspective for the most part we have a sincere desire to find workable solutions. We have a desire to find solutions, regardless of whose they may be, whether they be ours or whether they be solutions that emanate from the government or from the party to my right.

I raise that again in the context of something which I suggested way back in the fall of 1978 to the then Minister of Revenue. Because we seemed to be at a stalemate stage in terms of the whole development of assessment and property tax in municipal reform, I suggested perhaps it was time we move that whole question into a select committee of this legislature. We have been through a number of stages in its development.

The government unilaterally decided, in 1968 or 1969, in which direction it was going to head. In the middle 1970s we ran into some roadblocks because of what was happening in the real estate market. Then we had a series of committees, all of which tried to involve, in some respect, the municipalities and various groups around the province. There was the whole scenario around the Blair commission and the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee and a number of reports came out. Then there was a white paper that came out from the Ministry of Treasury and Economics regarding property tax and municipal finance reform.

That whole discussion has been going on for 15 years now, perhaps even longer, and we are still not very far down the road towards dealing with the totality of the problem in the municipal sector. Perhaps it is time that we in this Legislature try to hammer it out among the three parties in an honest effort to solve some of the problems in that area and reach some kind of consensus on an approach and a direction, even if we have to put it into a select committee for two or three full years of study.

I am attempting to say this in all sincerity, not from a partisan point of view and not necessarily to push my own position. I have my own views, no question about that, but I think it is time we as a Legislature sat down and began serious discussions in some format involving all three of the parties, because this is the one thing that has never effectively happened through all the studies that have been done over the last 15 years.

The opposition has been an onlooker. To date, the only role we have had to play in the whole process has been that of opposition. We have not had a constructive role in any ongoing study and learning process, and we have not been involved in any of the discussions and compromises that can happen in a situation where you are trying to work out a particular problem.

I think it is time that all three of the parties in this Legislature got involved in a select committee or perhaps in one of the standing committees, whatever is felt to be most appropriate, to start working through the problems we have to solve and looking at the range of options that are available for getting at those problems so that at some point in the near future, I hope, we can come to some kind of all-party consensus on a direction to take with regard to property tax and municipal and education finance reform.

While we are on the topic of property taxes I would like to raise a couple of things --

The Deputy Chairman: I ask the member for Hamilton Mountain to watch the clock. It is approaching the hour of six. If your points are going to go on it might be a good time to break, but the last thing I want to do is cut into your presentation.

Mr. Charlton: I thank the Chairman for raising that with me. My comments are going to go on for some time yet. I am just getting rolling. Perhaps I will sit down and continue at eight o'clock.

The Deputy Chairman: Fine. I will vacate the chair.

The House recessed at 5:58 p.m.