The House met at 2 p.m.
COMMISSION ON ELECTION CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENSES
Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that I have today laid upon the table the sixth report of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses containing recommendations with respect to the indemnities and allowances and salaries of members of the Legislative Assembly.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement about the tragic death on April 9 of Claude Dougdeen, an employee of Alcan Building Products Ltd.
As members know, Mr. Dougdeen was picketing in support of a lawful strike at the time of his death, which occurred when a tractor trailer was entering the premises of Alcan on Warden Avenue in Scarborough.
Since the police investigation is continuing and since an inquest will be held, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the precise circumstances of Mr. Dougdeen's death. However, there have been suggestions that it was caused in part by the inadequacy of our laws relating to strikes and picketing, and it is this aspect of the matter I wish to address briefly today.
Ontario, in common with almost every other jurisdiction in the western world, permits a struck employer to carry on business during the course of a strike. Two Canadian provinces have enacted legislation that in limited ways restricts this right. In British Columbia employers may not employ professional strikebreakers; that is, persons whose primary objective is to prevent, interfere with or break up a lawful strike. Quebec, while its labour code prohibits the use of external replacement employees to perform the work of bargaining unit employees during a lawful strike, permits the use of both management personnel and employees of independent contractors.
I might add that on the facts as they are known to me neither BC nor Quebec laws would have prevented the use of the transport company that was servicing Alcan on the occasion in question, a company that had apparently performed services for Alcan intermittently in the past two years.
I have received representations from the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour and a number of his senior associates to the effect that I should propose amendments to the Labour Relations Act to outlaw the use of all replacement labour during a lawful strike, including the use of professional strikebreakers. I have undertaken to study those proposals and I shall do so.
However, in the meantime I wish to say that in my view it is quite unfair both to the government and to Mr. Dougdeen's family and friends, who must be suffering grievously, to suggest that his death resulted from deficiencies in the law.
That very serious allegation, which was attributed in the press to a senior staff member of the bargaining agent at Alcan, I must reject categorically. There is no jurisdiction of which I am aware in which all access to struck premises is prohibited. I am not aware of any law, in any jurisdiction, which would have prohibited the passage of the truck in the Alcan case.
Having said that, I wish to repeat that I intend to fulfil my undertaking and to consider the genuine and deeply held conviction expressed to me at last Friday's meeting by Mr. Pilkey and his colleagues that there is a need for legislative change. While I have the deepest sympathy for Mr. Dougdeen's family and profoundly regret his untimely and tragic death, my consideration of the need for legislative reform must be carried out objectively, which I undertake to do.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, since the House prorogued in February there have been a number of significant developments related to my ministry's response to the problems that arose in the Crown, Seaway and Greymac Trust companies. I would like to report to the members on how we have dealt with these problems to date and what we intend to do in the future.
My statement will be rather lengthy and I therefore beg the indulgence of the House. I have in front of me, for tabling today, reports and documents which will add greatly to the information available to the Legislature. They are listed in an appendix to this statement.
The events of the past six months have engaged my ministry in two areas of its responsibility: one, the area of loan and trust corporations; and two, the area of rent review.
As far as the trust companies are concerned, there is no need to remind members of their importance to the economy of this province as financial intermediaries. They take deposits of funds from the general public, very often from small savers who are totally dependent on them for their honesty and expertise.
These companies in turn make investments, often on real estate, which, if the integrity of the system is to be maintained, must be made honestly, prudently and within the regulations of the Loan and Trust Corporations Act. This means the protection of depositors is a fundamental obligation of those who own and operate loan and trust companies.
As to rent review, members will recall the concerns that had been expressed in 1982 and earlier years about the application of the rent review process to the increased costs arising out of a sale and refinancing of a rental property. These concerns included not only the impact of legitimate arm's-length sales that led to rent increases but also the possibility of non-arm's-length arrangements being used artificially to inflate costs that were to be presented to the Residential Tenancy Commission in support of a rent increase.
In September 1982 it was reported that Cadillac Fairview had sold approximately 11,000 rental units to Greymac Credit Corp. for some $270 million. While tenant concern was growing over the effect this sale would have on rent increases, it appears that Greymac Credit sold its interest in the apartments to Kilderkin Investments Ltd. at a price said to be about $312.5 million. Kilderkin in turn is said to have sold the properties to 50 numbered companies at a stated price of $500 million.
The last two sales, or "flips" as they are called, came to light after the conveyances from Cadillac Fairview were registered on November 5, 1982. The financing for the $500-million transaction appeared to consist of an existing first mortgage put on the properties by Cadillac Fairview in the amount of $110 million, a second mortgage taken back by Cadillac Fairview on the sale to Greymac Credit in the amount of $113 million, and what may loosely be described as a series of third mortgages totalling $152 million advanced as to $76 million from Seaway Trust Co., as to $63 million by Crown Trust Co. and as to $13 million by Greymac Trust Co. Finally, the balance of the alleged $500-million sale price was said to include $125 million put up by the 50 numbered companies, which were said to he beneficially owned by Saudi Arabian investors.
These events raised important issues regarding both the trust companies and rent review. If, as we suspected, the $500-million price was artificially inflated, then the mortgages on the properties of $375 million, exactly 75 per cent of the supposed $500-million purchase price, were unauthorized under the Loan and Trust Corporations Act, and the depositors might well be at risk. On the rent review side, an inflated price would represent an attempt to circumvent the protection afforded to the tenants of these buildings by our rent review legislation.
As members know, we have taken steps to protect both the tenants and the depositors of the trust companies. On November 16, I announced a rent restraint bill to limit rent increases attributable to the pass-through of financing costs arising out of the sale of rental property. New guidelines were issued by the Residential Tenancy Commission to deal with problems arising out of the financing costs of sales and resales of residential rental properties.
Mr. Stuart Thom, QC, was appointed to conduct an inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act into the application of the existing laws to the regulation of rents. Mr. James A. Morrison, of the firm of Touche Ross and Co., was appointed under section 152 of the Loan and Trust Corporations Act to make a special examination and audit of the books, accounts and securities and to inquire generally into the conduct of the businesses of Crown Trust, Seaway Trust, Greymac Trust, Seaway Mortgage and Greymac Mortgage.
On December 21, 1982, a bill was introduced and, with the co-operation of all members, passed the same day, amending the Loan and Trust Corporations Act by establishing an approval process for the transfer of shares of a loan and trust corporation under certain circumstances; enabling the Lieutenant Governor in Council to authorize the registrar to take possession and control of the assets of a loan and trust corporation or to impose limitations or conditions on the registry of such a corporation; and finally, by strengthening the enforcement provisions of that act.
On December 21 I also advised the House that a white paper would be issued on proposed amendments to the Loan and Trust Corporations Act.
By January 7, 1983, I had received, among other information, interim reports from Mr. Morrison as well as a critique of the appraisals said to have been relied on by the trust companies. On that date, the Lieutenant Governor in Council acted pursuant to the amendments to the Loan and Trust Corporations Act. This action was undertaken in the belief that in the case of each of Crown Trust, Seaway Trust and Greymac Trust, among other things, that there existed "a practice of or state of affairs within the corporation that is or may be prejudicial to the public interest or to the interests of the corporation's depositors, creditors or shareholders."
The orders in council authorized the registrar of loan and trust corporations to take possession and control of the assets of the three trust companies. The registrar was assisted in this regard by the firms of Touche Ross and Woods Gordon. This action was carried out in consultation with the Canada Deposit Insurance Corp., which I shall refer to as CDIC; and because of the applicable legal requirements, we were compelled to limit the withdrawal of deposits to the statutory limit of the insurance, which was then $20,000.
I should point out that about the same time that the registrar was taking control of these three provincially incorporated trust companies, federal officials were asserting control under the federal act of the two federally incorporated mortgage companies, Seaway Mortgage and Greymac Mortgage.
Included in the material I am tabling here today are the three interim reports of Mr. Morrison and the appraisal critique prepared by A. E. LePage.
Following the takeover of the trust companies, the registrar had three objectives: (1) to carry on the businesses to the extent possible in the circumstances; (2) to review the state of affairs within the three companies; (3) to determine the appropriate courses of action to be taken.
On January 17 I reported to the House the highlights of the draft interim reports received from Woods Gordon with respect to Crown Trust and from Touche Ross with respect to Seaway Trust and Greymac Trust. Woods Gordon advised in part that Crown Trust, at January 7, 1983, did not appear to be in compliance with certain liquidity, investment and borrowing requirements of the Loan and Trust Corporations Act and that, as of that date, the company could not be considered a viable going concern in the absence of substantial injection of additional capital, interim support to assist in meeting liquidity demands and restoration of confidence by the public and the financial community.
Touche Ross advised that neither Seaway Trust nor Greymac Trust had a borrowing base for the purposes of section 118 of the act to support its deposits and other borrowings, that both companies had substantial parts of their mortgage portfolios invested in mortgages related to Kilderkin Investments Ltd, and that in most, if not all, instances of Kilderkin-related mortgages, the Seaway or Greymac mortgage was subsequent to a first and sometimes a second mortgage and represented a loan in excess of 75 per cent of the value of the property as permitted by the act.
Also on January 17 I advised the House that a complete review of our internal administrative procedures in the area of financial institutions would be carried out, initially by an internal review team but if necessary by an outside organization that is familiar with the operations of financial institutions and the problems that arise in the course of administering regulatory legislation.
On January 17 the Honourable Paul Cosgrove, Secretary of State for Finance, announced that CDIC coverage of deposits would be increased from $20,000 to $60,000 effective as of that date. To parallel this, I announced on January 19 that the deposit insurance applicable to credit unions and caisses populaires would be increased to $60,000 effective as of that day.
The federal bill, C-142, was introduced in the House of Commons on February 19 and received third reading on April 14. It is now awaiting approval by the Senate and royal assent. When this bill becomes law, depositors who have matured deposits in excess of $20,000 in Seaway Trust or Greymac Trust that they have not been able to withdraw because of the $20,000 limitation will then be able to withdraw up to $60,000.
Following the actions of the registrar to take control of the three trust companies, it was confirmed that deposits taken in by the trust companies from the public had been used in what appeared to be a very large number of questionable investments which disregarded the limitation to 75 per cent of value in respect of mortgages. It did not appear that it was appropriate to return the administration of these companies back to the controlling shareholders, nor did it seem appropriate, particularly in the case of Crown Trust, to take an alternative course of action provided by the Loan and Trust Corporations Act to initiate proceedings to wind up the companies. Such action would have reduced asset recoveries and resulted in losses to uninsured depositors and delays and uncertainties to all depositors.
This was particularly so in the case of Crown Trust because that company, unlike the other two, was carrying on a profitable and therefore valuable trust business. However, it was a wasting asset in the sense that public disclosure of the financial condition of the company and of the questionable investment practices of its management was resulting in trust accounts and agency business being removed from the company.
After careful consideration of the situation and in co-operation with the CDIC, which had agreed to provide financing, it was determined that the course of action that would result in the greatest recovery of assets of Crown Trust was one that would see the company taken over as a going concern by a responsible trust company. This course of action, which promised the greatest return for depositors, shareholders, creditors and others, was not possible under the then existing legislation. We therefore decided to seek legislative approval to dispose of the assets of Crown Trust. As members will recall, this resulted in the introduction on January 24 of the Crown Trust Company Act, 1983.
In order to make the acquisition of Crown Trust assets at all attractive, it was necessary to guarantee prospective bidders that if they took over the company, they would not immediately become embroiled in litigation. This required that the new act preclude any legal actions to set aside any agreements made in respect of the disposition of the assets of Crown Trust.
I note that while it was necessary to enact the Crown Trust Company Act to protect the interest of depositors, the recourse of shareholders to the courts for any losses caused by improper or imprudent behaviour by the registrar or his agents was fully preserved.
On January 25 I made a further statement to this House commenting on the need for speedy passage of the Crown Trust Company Act. At that time extracts from the Woods Gordon report submitted on January 15 were tabled. At the same time information was given on how the $152 million advanced by the trust companies had been distributed. Further information on the distribution of these funds has recently come to light in the report of Coopers and Lybrand, the court-appointed receiver of Greymac Credit, and that information is included in the materials being tabled today.
This House was also advised that none of the lawyers acting for any of the parties involved in any of the transactions of sale, resale and mortgage of the rental units appeared to have actually dealt with the $125 million that was stated to have been paid by the numbered companies.
On January 27 I made a further statement to the House explaining the need and import of that bill. At that time I dealt with an issue that is still raised and is clearly not understood by some. I refer to the question, "Why have no criminal charges been laid?"
The taking of deposits from the public by a trust company is not a right but a privilege that is granted by this Legislature through the provisions of the Loan and Trust Corporations Act. When those privileges are abused in a manner that puts in jeopardy depositors and those who provide the insurance and premiums to protect them, we have a duty to act. That action could not and should not await the outcome of any criminal investigation.
On January 31, before the administration of justice committee, which was considering the Crown Trust bill, I explained at length the significance of a trust company having a proper borrowing base and how the mortgages on the Cadillac Fairview rental units and another very significant mortgage transaction were both capable on their own of eliminating the borrowing base of Crown Trust and thereby preventing it from accepting any further public deposits. The bill was passed and received royal assent on February 1.
As members are aware, the operations of Crown Trust are now largely in the hands of Central Trust. There remain under the control of the registrar a number of assets of uncertain value, which we have characterized as soft assets. Major among these are the mortgage loans made on the Cadillac Fairview rental units in the amount of $63 million and a mortgage loan made in respect of real estate in Vancouver in the amount of about $50 million.
At the time Woods Gordon reported on Crown Trust it was not clear how matters would develop. With the arrangements made with Central Trust, the role of Woods Gordon has significantly changed, and I have now been advised that, with the exception of subsequent reports on soft assets, they do not intend to submit any further reports on the affairs of Crown Trust.
I have already tabled the Woods Gordon report of January 15 on Crown Trust. I am tabling today reports of Touche Ross on the affairs of Greymac Trust and Seaway Trust. From these reports the members will be able to see the extensive nature of this assignment and the difficulties encountered. It is clear that, had the government not taken this action on January 7, the problems uncovered and referred to in these reports would have been aggravated beyond their present state. Those whose funds were on deposit with the three trust companies and any who might have placed their savings with those trust companies would have faced greater risk of loss had the government not acted. The losses to the CDIC, which potentially are in excess of $100 million, would also have been even greater if the government had not acted.
These reports indicate that the Cadillac Fairview transaction was only part of an overall pattern of behaviour. I expect that the precise analysis of that behaviour will be a central element of the final Morrison report when it is available and will be a matter for a decision in the courts. In the meantime, it may assist the Legislature in its understanding of the situation if I refer to an affidavit filed in court by my adviser, Mr. John L. Biddell, where he states as follows:
"Investigations conducted into the affairs of the plaintiffs since January 7, 1983, suggest that the Cadillac transaction was not an isolated example of the improper use of the moneys of the respective plaintiffs with the object of securing immediate profits to those responsible for the management of the plaintiffs' affairs. On the contrary, it appears that the Cadillac transaction was just one of a number of similar transactions involving initially Seaway and Greymac Trust before Greymac Credit purchased control of Crown, and since that purchase all three of the plaintiffs. A number of such transactions appear to show a systematic misuse of the plaintiffs' moneys.
"The transactions to which reference is made in the previous paragraph ('the relevant transactions') all have a common involvement between one or more plaintiffs and companies controlled by or associated with Rosenberg and Player or one or other of them. During 1981 and 1982 the relevant transactions comprised a substantial part of the respective businesses of Seaway and its wholly owned subsidiaries (the Seaway group), and of Greymac Trust and its wholly owned subsidiaries for the time (the Greymac Trust group). During the period between October 7, 1982 (when Greymac Credit acquired control of Crown), and December 8, 1982, Crown became involved in the relevant transactions as hereinafter appears.
"The relevant transactions involve one or other or both of the following two elements:
"(a) An artificially inflated rise in the apparent value of the property concerned secured by a purchase on the open market and an immediate resale to parties within or associated with either the Seaway group or the Greymac Trust group, and the application of such profit in the increase in the equity base of one or other of the plaintiffs, thereby increasing the statutory limit on the amount of money the relevant plaintiff could borrow from the general public. I hereinafter call this element 'the self-fuelling element.' The self-fuelling element progressively gave increasing scope for the application of the plaintiffs' money in the second element in the relevant transactions, namely:
"(b) An advance of the plaintiffs' money to complete the relevant transactions so that on such completion such money or a substantial portion thereof was paid either directly or indirectly in some form or other to Player or Rosenberg or some associate of theirs. The said advance of the plaintiffs' money was made on the basis that the property concerned had a value at least as high as the subsale price and that such property was a proper security for the advance. As will hereafter appear, in most cases no or no proper appraisal was made of the value of the relevant property before the plaintiffs' money was advanced and no proper inquiries were made as to the financial standing of the borrower and no proper steps were taken to ensure the protection of the plaintiffs."
The registrar has instructed counsel to initiate certain lawsuits against those companies and individuals believed to be central to this scheme in an effort to trace and recover all moneys improperly paid out and to seek damages against corporations and individuals who may be found by the courts to have participated in an unlawful activity.
As recently as yesterday, proceedings in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands resulted in a broad order which I am tabling in this House together with all the materials filed in those proceedings and in support of them. Counsel for the registrar in those proceedings in the Cayman Islands hopes we will be able to trace and recover any funds located in that jurisdiction which properly belong to the three trust companies.
In addition, there are numerous court proceedings under way seeking to compel various law firms that have direct knowledge of the dealings by the three trust companies and other related companies to divulge any information they may have pertaining to these matters. In fairness to some of the lawyers who have resisted disclosure, it should be stated that they may have been precluded from co-operating with the registrar and the Morrison inquiry by their clients claiming solicitor-client privilege. The validity of this claim of privilege is currently before the courts and until this issue is finally resolved some of the information needed to explain many of these transactions may be unavailable to the authorities.
Notwithstanding these difficulties, various actions have been instituted for the tracing of moneys said to belong to the three trust companies, and in a number of instances the courts have granted interim orders freezing funds and assets until all these issues can be finally adjudicated upon. Because many of these matters are at present before the courts and more lawsuits are contemplated. I do not propose to comment on them. I do, however, wish to make it clear that both CDIC and this government are committed to ensure that every effort will be made to seek appropriate recovery for all the losses that the public has been made to suffer.
With respect to the future of Seaway Trust and Greymac Trust, documents I am tabling today are quite lengthy and complex, but I wish to share the highlights of those reports with the members of the Legislature.
The Seaway Trust report confirms that after making appropriate provision against many of Seaway's assets, there is an indicated deficiency in assets in the amount of $75 million. That is, the company not only has no borrowing base for the purposes of section 118 of the Loan and Trust Corporations Act, but it is also in a negative position with respect to its net assets.
The Seaway report also gives many examples of questionable practices in establishing value for lending purposes, many of which relate to the now all-too-familiar pattern of chain or flip transactions among related parties with rapid and substantial escalation of property pricing. This served to remove trust company funds as loans at the expense and risk of Seaway's depositors.
Touche Ross also reports that certain of the Seaway transactions appear to have been entered into more for the benefit of its controlling shareholder or its officers than for Seaway itself as a deposit-taking institution. The report also suggests that the apparent disregard of Seaway management of the growing dependence of Seaway on the financial capacity of Kilderkin raises at least an inference that Seaway may be in some manner controlled by William Player.
The Greymac Trust Company report by Touche Ross indicates a deficiency in assets of $62 million after making appropriate provisions against many of its assets. As is the case with Seaway Trust, this means that Greymac Trust not only has no borrowing base for the purposes of section 118 of the Loan and Trust Corporations Act, but has a deficit with respect to its net assets.
Touche Ross reports that some of the transactions which the principals of Greymac Trust authorized were so complex as to raise the inference that the complexity was intended either to circumvent regulatory requirements or to cloud the underlying values of the properties involved, or both. Examples are given in the report that illustrate the close working relationship which existed between the Greymac group of companies and Mr. Player.
The report on Greymac Trust also describes Mr. Rosenberg's interest in and growing ownership of the Canadian Commercial Bank, a chartered bank established under the Bank Act of Canada. The Greymac Trust report indicates that through a series of transactions commencing in 1982 Mr. Rosenberg arranged for the Greymac, Seaway and Player groups of companies to purchase 27 per cent of that chartered bank. The bank has announced that it has refused to register the transfer of shares purchased by Crown Trust, Greymac Trust and Seaway Mortgage, stating that if these companies are associated within the meaning of the Bank Act, it would contravene the statutory 10 per cent limitation of individual equity ownership in a chartered bank.
The Touche Ross report states that from correspondence on file at Greymac Trust it appears that Mr. Rosenberg planned to acquire 100 per cent of the shares of the Canadian Commercial Bank, and Touche Ross concludes that this was for the purpose of extending the interest and influence of the shareholders and senior officers of Greymac Trust and Seaway Trust into areas that would give them access to even more public deposit funds.
The review of the affairs of the trust companies on behalf of the registrar also indicated that Kilderkin Investments Ltd. was substantially indebted, directly or indirectly, to Seaway Trust and Greymac Trust and that payment of interest on such borrowing was significantly in arrears. This indebtedness and default was in respect of numerous transactions separate and apart from the Cadillac Fairview transaction and led to numerous foreclosure actions and considerable confusion among the tenants.
On February 15, Seaway Trust and Greymac Trust commenced action against Kilderkin to recover their loans. In the course of that action, the court appointed the Clarkson Co. interim receiver and manager of Kilderkin and authorized it to collect the rents from the 5,600 tenants in the buildings Kilderkin was obliged to manage.
In its report to the court on March 29, the Clarkson Co. reported that in its view Kilderkin had not been in a financial position to meet its liabilities for some time prior to its appointment and that Kilderkin was only able to continue in operation by virtue of obtaining ever-increasing sums of money on new property transactions involving funds from the Seaway and Greymac groups of companies.
That report sets out in detail examples of how funds were obtained from the trust companies and applied to the purchase or management of buildings that had in many cases been sold in chain transactions involving Kilderkin, the trust companies and their principals and affiliates at ever-increasing prices. The report also describes how large sums of money were transferred outside the jurisdiction to the Cayman Islands and other places without any backup documentation or justification.
Indeed, millions of dollars appear to have been paid out by Kilderkin on the basis of only a cheque requisition or a telephone call. This is typical of the business operations of the company where documentation for multi-million-dollar transactions, including the Cadillac Fairview transaction, ranges from sparse to nonexistent.
This situation has been worsened by lawyers who acted for Kilderkin on these transactions refusing to provide reporting letters and other documentation to the interim receiver. The interim receiver has determined that Mr. Player is personally indebted to Kilderkin in the amount of $10.5 million with no indication of his ability or intention to repay it.
The receiver has also noted that there was no overall direction in the financial management of Kilderkin and the cash-flow forecasts for many of the management projects undertaken by Kilderkin, including Cadillac Fairview, were simply not available. On the best available information, the Clarkson Co. estimated that Kilderkin would incur a loss of $10.5 million for its financial year ending April 30, 1983.
I would remind the Legislature that Kilderkin was a central figure in the Cadillac Fairview transaction where it specifically agreed to underwrite millions of dollars of cash-flow deficiencies from the Cadillac Fairview buildings, which agreement was said to justify the stated purchase price of $500 million.
I now turn to some other related matters.
First, I should say that discussions have taken place with representatives of the numbered companies with a view to possible settlement of existing lawsuits against them and parties related to them. I am advised that those discussions are still under way and I do not therefore propose to comment on them at this time. Contrary to media reports, these discussions are not in respect of any resale of the Cadillac Fairview buildings to the numbered companies, which are still the registered owners of those properties.
Second, I would like to comment on the story that William Player has found another buyer prepared to pay $500 million plus for the buildings. Let me state most emphatically that no such offer has been produced by Mr. Player. It appears that he had some discussions with the Reliance Group of New York and that they displayed possible interest in the proposal as it was described to them by Mr. Player.
Certain lawyers appeared in Toronto last week, apparently on behalf of the Reliance Group. It now appears that they were here at the request of Mr. Player to promote a deal that might be sold to the Reliance Group. The Reliance Group has advised us that the New York lawyers who came to Toronto last week did not represent them.
It would appear that what Mr. Player offered for sale was the Cadillac Fairview buildings with some guaranteed rental income stream that was sufficient to justify the selling price he quoted. Needless to say, the registrar and this government totally reject any proposed solution to the improper borrowing from the three trust companies that places the burden of the solution on tenants through government guarantees of rental levels outside the rent review process.
Third, I expect that Mr. Morrison's report will add to our understanding of what has gone on. His job has been a large and complex one. He has faced delays in reporting to me as a result of the failure of some individuals to extend to him their full co-operation.
I want to thank many others who have voluntarily come forward and assisted him in his inquiries. I am advised that Mr. Morrison's work is nearing completion and I expect to have his report in hand by the end of May. I have already undertaken to table that report in the House and to make it available to the Thom commission.
As I have said, I have instructed my officials to prepare a white paper on the regulation of loan and trust corporations in this province. As Mr. Morrison's report will doubtless contain relevant information in this regard, I intend to allow one month after delivery of that report for delivery of the white paper. It ought to be released in June.
I would also like to make some observations about how we are likely to approach the white paper and any changes in the administrative procedures concerning financial institutions in Ontario.
First, we are reassured that the loan and trust industry as a whole in Ontario truly deserves the high degree of confidence placed in the industry by the public. Indeed, if anything, loan and trust companies in Ontario, with very limited exceptions, have not altered their long-standing prudent approach to mortgage lending and other investments and in this respect may have actually conducted their business in a more conservative and secure fashion than many other participants in the financial system. This means that we do not propose to overreact to a situation which I believe the Morrison report will make clear was a very particular situation.
Second, new powers were granted to the registrar and cabinet by the legislation of December 21 last. These powers, together with changes in administrative procedures which take into account the lessons of the present affair and general changes in the economy and financial system, will, I believe, go a long way to ensure that we will not see a repetition of our problems with these trust companies.
Mr. Kerrio: What about Re-Mor and Astra? What are you talking about?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I cannot hear you. Speak up a little bit.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Finally, our response to the need for new legislation and different administration procedures will build on these two elements, while minimizing changes which would make the practical position of those running their business in a sound and prudent manner more burdensome or restrictive in any material and unnecessary way.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the excellent co-operation and assistance we have received from CDIC. As I have explained on previous occasions, the arrangements for the continued operations of the trust companies were only possible because CDIC provided backup financing that enabled the companies to meet their obligations on maturing deposits. These arrangements are an essential element in the Crown Trust management by Central Trust and will be essential in any arrangements for the management of Seaway Trust and Greymac Trust.
To give you some idea of the scope of the CDIC involvement, I would like to provide the House with the following information on the net amount of advances made to date by CDIC even after some recoveries to the three trust companies: Crown Trust, $80 million; Seaway Trust, $33.5 million; Greymac Trust, $7.5 million. The advances to Seaway and Greymac will increase in the near future. That will be so even if we are able to make alternative arrangements for their future operations.
I would remind the members that payments made by CDIC under its obligation to insure deposits become a claim against the assets of the trust companies that is payable before there can be any distribution of surplus assets to preferred or common shareholders.
The practical and effective co-operation of the federal government, through the Honourable Paul Cosgrove in getting the insurance limit increased to $60,000 and through the arrangements made by CDIC in respect of the three companies and our own government, is an excellent demonstration to the public of how our two levels of government can work together to achieve positive result in the public interest.
We are working very hard to complete negotiations which would lead to the transfer of the operations of Seaway Trust and Greymac Trust to other institutions. We contemplate agreements similar to the Central Trust agreement with respect to Crown Trust. If such arrangements can be achieved, this would hopefully lead to seeing arm's-length depositors paid in full as their certificates mature.
I would like to conclude with some observations. First and foremost, we have endeavoured to act in a manner which contributed to the stability and soundness of the financial system as a whole so that the public would be justified in continuing to place its confidence in it and its participants. We have sought to protect depositors and achieve maximum recoveries for the three trust companies and their depositors. We are determined to ensure the loan and trust industry is one in which there can be public confidence based on a balance between reliance on laws and regulatory administration on the one hand, and on market forces and private sector responsibility on the other.
Finally, it has been my determination throughout to make as full disclosure as possible as soon as possible. I have felt subject to four major disclosure constraints which I would like to outline.
Obviously, my first constraint was to avoid saying or doing anything which might create unnecessary public uncertainty or a lack of confidence in the financial system or any of its members.
Second, I have been constrained in that at any given time I may not have had all the relevant information necessary to make public statements.
I have also sought to avoid jeopardizing depositors through untimely disclosures which might damage possibilities for recoveries and the preservation of the business of the trust companies.
Finally, relating to matters which are either before the courts or properly subject to the courts, I have felt that, to the extent possible, information should come forward under the protection available to all parties from the courts.
The protection of depositors dictates firm action on the part of government, and that is what is taking place.
Mr. Speaker: I would ask all honourable members to join with me in welcoming and recognizing Mr. Dov Shilansky who is a member of the parliament of Israel. I am also advised he is the parliamentary deputy to the Prime Minister of Israel.
USE OF TIME IN QUESTION PERIOD
Mr. Speaker: Just before proceeding with the most interesting part of the day, I would like to ask the consideration and co-operation of all honourable members. In my opinion, there seems to be a growing tendency to usurp more time than is justified in question period by the insistence of some members on asking more than one question at the same time, referring to them as three-, four-, five- and six-part questions. This, in turn, leads to exceptionally long answers which are often an abuse of question period as the minister tends to go even further in his answer than the multiple questions warrant and perhaps elaborate more than necessary.
Mr. Speaker: Will the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) just listen? I am asking for the co-operation of all honourable members by keeping their questions to a single, specific question which may be answered by a specific answer, as is the obvious intent of the standing orders. This will enable more members to participate in question period. Therefore, I will henceforward rule multiple questions and multiple answers out of order.
SALE OF RENTAL UNITS
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. As one attempts to sort through the plethora of material he has supplied to us, there is one recurring theme that comes back all through his statement and the reports we have read. This has turned out to be the greatest regulatory boondoggle in the history of this province.
I refer the minister to page 7 of the Touche Ross report on Seaway Trust which says, "The files relating to mortgage loans are lacking in data, including appraisals, financial information on borrowers, etc., which would normally form the basis for the prudent lending of deposit moneys."
I refer to the Touche Ross report on Greymac, and I quote from page 15, "The management philosophy appears to have been closer to that of a speculator or gambler rather than the prudent regard required for the investment and safeguarding of depositors' funds."
It is obvious, is it not, that this boondoggle, this mess, has been going on for some considerable period of time -- indeed, two years before the great Cadillac Fairview transaction? How could that possibly have happened when the government has a team of regulators who are supposed to prevent this from happening?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I assume that the initial comment about a plethora of material was not meant as a criticism, because in his endeavours to be on all sides of all issues the Leader of the Opposition has continually criticized me for not submitting information. Let me say that he has plenty of information, the Legislature now has plenty of information and the public will surely have good confirmation of the steps this government has taken to protect the depositors of this province.
Mr. Speaker: And now to the question, please.
Mr. Sweeney: Just answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The Leader of the Opposition knows very well, and we have talked about this many times in this House before, that the issue with respect to the business practices and the activities of the trust companies in question is under thorough and complete review under section 152 of the Loan and Trust Corporations Act by Mr. Morrison.
I have also indicated very clearly that an internal review is going on, which may result in an external review. The combination of that information will present to this House a very full and complete story of what has taken place, and it is going to take place when that information is available.
Mr. Peterson: Obviously, the issue here is regulatory failure, that the minister should have known what was going on. He was aware, I am sure, that Seaway Trust was in front of the cabinet twice in 1982 for regulatory approval, and as I understand it, never once was there an objection to the way it ran its companies then.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Peterson: That, I am sure, he is aware of. Who is conducting the internal review of the failure of the regulation system?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: First of all, the honourable member's statement that there were never any questions asked of the companies involved is a mere assumption on his part. I assume he is interested in the actual story, which will be forthcoming, because we are going to know the full story and it is going to be told in the context of what has been going on and in the context of the Morrison report.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I would like to know from the minister in answer to this question, why he met privately with the three publishers without the press being there --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Sargent: That is important to what he is saying now.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Your leader has asked his question.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I do not agree with the initial assumption of the Leader of the Opposition. Again, I only re-emphasize that the details of the internal investigation, which may require an external investigation, will be made known when it is completed and when the Morrison report has also been completed. It is being carried out at the present time by a representative of our policy and priorities branch in conjunction with a member of the administration and finance division.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, can the minister disclose to us now who the principals are behind the numbered companies that are the registered owners of the Cadillac properties?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, the situation with respect to the ownership of the numbered companies remains the same as it was when this House prorogued in February. The honourable member understands that quite well and understands the problems related to it.
Mr. Peterson: Given the major failure of the ministry to spot what was going on for two years: given the fact that there were warning signals: given the fact that we had a little company like Seaway going from $1.2 million in assets in 1978 to $300 million in 1982; given the fact that they were before the cabinet; given the fact that they were on intermittent or monthly licence and then Greymac was switched, for example, in October 1982 to a yearly licence, obviously giving passive if not active approval to what it was doing, how can the minister have any faith that those regulators or the people who are giving him advice are on top of the situation as it took place here, let alone with other trust companies in existence right now?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I can only reiterate that I trust that the Leader of the Opposition, along with all members, would be interested in the whole story, and it is the whole story that will be reported.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask a new question of the minister with respect to the apartment buildings. It is my understanding that he has launched legal action against every bank in Grand Cayman, trying to trace down $109 million. I would like him to confirm or deny whether that is the case in the affidavits and the variety of documents he filed yesterday, the day before and possibly today. If it is the case, does it confirm, in the minister's judgement, the existence of that money? Does it say the Arabs exist and there was an arm's-length transaction? Does it say the buildings were sold for $500 million and thereby confirm the value?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, which question do I have permission to answer?
Mr. Speaker: Any one.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Any one or all, my choice? I may confirm then that a writ called a Mareva writ was issued in the Cayman Islands on behalf of the trust companies against all the parties, including the numbered companies, with respect to any moneys in the possession of those banks, be it the so-called $109 million that was said to be advanced or be it any other moneys, such as the money that Mr. Player indicated last week was in an account on his behalf in the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Peterson: On that subject, can the minister confirm at this point that the Arab transaction was a legitimate arm's-length transaction and that they were in a position to buy those buildings? Is the minister now categorically denying that the Reliance Group offer is not an offer, but is a mere speculation on the part of Mr. Player, and that we still do not know who owns those buildings or where they are going to end up?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Again, with respect, I think the member is asking a question about the initial so-called transaction or payment of $125 million, a question that still remains in some degree of doubt. Certainly, the interim reports of Mr. Morrison that the member now has before him will indicate that Mr. Morrison has some doubts about it.
Whether it took place, it has been said before Mr. Morrison that it did take place and that there is money in the Cayman Islands and, therefore, the registrar, on behalf of the trust companies and the depositors of this province, has an obligation to proceed on the basis of that statement. In addition to that, there have been statements with respect to other moneys deposited in the Cayman Islands.
With respect to the Reliance Group, what I am saying is that there have been no Reliance representatives in Toronto. There have been no documents forwarded. There have been no offers made, and the only parties that attended in the city and met with Woods Gordon, it now turns out, were representatives acting on behalf of Mr. William Player.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, if the minister will not tell us who the principals are behind the numbered companies that are the registered owners of the apartment buildings, will he give us specifically the names of the representatives of those principals and those numbered companies with whom he is carrying on discussions or negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I do not think it is any secret that Mr. Qutub of Saudi Arabia has been the official representative of the reported Saudi Arabian investors. That has been made very clear.
Mr. Peterson: Has the minister determined whether there was an arms-length sale to the so-called Saudi Arabian investors at a valuation of $500 million? That is the key to the whole question of whether there were soft assets in the various trust companies. Is the minister still hanging on to his opinion that they are only worth $300 million and, thereby, they were soft assets jeopardizing the deposits in the trust companies? Is that still the essential dilemma in his view?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: This government and this ministry have no dilemma. It has been very clearly put what our view is with respect to the value of those properties. That remains unchanged.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Labour and it concerns the statement he made today as well as the general question of strikebreaking legislation. On pages 3 and 4 of his statement the minister says it would be unfair to both the government and to Mr. Dougdeen's family and friends, who must be suffering grievously, to suggest that his death resulted from deficiencies in the law.
Would the minister agree that if we had legislation in Ontario that gave to the Ontario Labour Relations Board clear carriage of the conduct of a strike and of a picket line and clear legislation that restricted the movement of goods in and out of a struck plant it is very likely that Mr. Dougdeens death would never have occurred and certainly likely that no such incident would ever be repeated in this province?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I cannot agree with my learned friend in the statement or question that he just put. I can only repeat my earlier comments in respect to the other two provinces that have some sort of legislation in place, that the tragic accident would still have occurred had we had in place in Ontario either or both pieces of legislation that are in place in British Columbia and in Quebec.
Mr. Rae: What we are suggesting to the minister is that Ontario be a leader and if there are deficiencies in the legislation in BC and Quebec they need not be repeated in Ontario.
I would like to specifically ask the minister, given the absence of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), whether he would not take up with the Attorney General the very serious situation which is taking place in the strike at the Central Precision plant in Rexdale. I am sure the minister is aware that the Securicor firm has gone before a justice of the peace in west Metro, Mr. Kashuba, and that as a result that gentleman has issued warrants for the arrest of several individuals. As the minister knows, it is a somewhat unusual practice, when a JP has been presented with a series of private charges, that rather than issuing a summons he has actually issued warrants for arrest.
Given the severity of that action taken by the justice of the peace in this situation and the dramatic contrast between the response of the authorities in this situation and the tragic events at the Alcan plant, would the minister consider taking up with the Attorney General the whole question of the way in which justice is administered on a picket line, and the very real hardship and tension and extraordinary deterioration in collective bargaining relationships which is taking place as a result of that kind of action?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: My first responsibility and concern as far as the circumstances at Central Precision are concerned is to mediate a settlement. In that respect we have had several meetings over the past couple of weeks. I personally have met with representatives of the union; they were accompanied by my colleague, the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie). Since then I have had meetings with the management of Central Precision.
We have some new parties involved in the negotiations and we are anticipating a full-scale mediation effort on Friday of this week. I am optimistic that the settlement of the resolution, of course, will settle the problems on the picket line.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary to the minister revolves around the general need for some kind of legislative action on his behalf in the area of strikebreaking, particularly as a result of some of the actions and the enormous tragedy at Alcan and some of the activities at Central Precision in recent weeks.
Does the minister not believe the time has come, as was suggested to him last week by the Ontario Federation of Labour, for him to put an end to professional strikebreaking in industry in this province? Does he not believe that legislation which is now in place in some states in the United States, such as Massachusetts and New York, would be useful in Ontario to bring to an end the abuses of many of these so-called security firms in labour relations situations?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member is aware, there is a matter of this nature before the Ontario Labour Relations Board at present and we are awaiting that decision. The member is also aware that the whole matter of security firms is being studied by the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) through the Ontario Provincial Police, and possible amendments to the appropriate act out of the Solicitor General's office are being considered.
As the member is also aware, there is access to the courts in these matters. There have been two very significant judgements in our courts in the last couple of years with respect to illegal action of this nature.
We are looking at all these various matters in concert with the representations made to us by Mr. Cliff Pilkey, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, and his senior colleagues on Friday. I made a commitment earlier in question period that I would study matters from all sides in a very objective manner and I fully intend to do that.
Mr. Rae: The minister has responsibility not only for protecting collective bargaining rights, which we believe are being undermined today by the work of these security firms and by the strikebreaking activities of many employers, but also for human rights and the protection of human rights legislation in Ontario.
When the minister undertakes this review of strikebreaking legislation, will he consider the impact of any refusal on his part to move not only on labour relations and collective bargaining but on the sense of fairness, justice and hope which many new Canadians have, and had prior to the kinds of events we have seen at Central Precision and Alcan? Will he take that into consideration when he considers the kind of legislation that is necessary?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I will certainly take that into consideration. I would have done so without being lectured by the leader of the third party. I resent the implication that he and his colleagues are the only ones who are interested in a sense of fairness, a sense of hope, and so on.
Mr. Rae: The minister is very touchy.
WOMEN'S ISSUES MINISTERIAL APPOINTMENT
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my second question is for the Premier. It concerns one of the few specific promises that was made in the speech from the throne yesterday. It said on page 13, "My government will move to name a senior minister who will be responsible for women's issues with a complete mandate to review, initiate, direct and promote policies favourable to and in support of women in Ontario society."
Are we talking about a senior minister who already has other responsibilities or about a minister whose sole job will be to promote the interests of women, and are we talking about a ministry which will have the ability to support that minister in his or her work?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I reply to the earlier admonition. I think there were three questions. I guess my simple answer, in order to meet the spirit of the Speaker's admonition, is that I will answer all three fairly soon.
Mr. Rae: With the absence of not only a fair reply but of any specific statements in the speech from the throne with respect to equal pay for work of equal value, affirmative action, skills training, child care or pensions, I would like to ask the Premier how he can justify the fact that statements made even in earlier throne speeches, for example, with respect to equal pay for work of equal value are not contained in this throne speech? How can he justify the omission of any specific measures that would provide for greater equality between men and women in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I do not think it is necessary to repeat some of those things. If we had done that, the honourable member would simply have asked me, "What did the Premier mean in the throne speech of a year ago?"
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, if the Premier is interested in advancing the cause of equality for women in this province, which is a laudable aim, why would he not show specific good faith in this matter by removing the government's veto of the child-rearing drop-out provision, which is affecting women all across this province and is a major sticking point in the great pension debate?
He is the only holdout. Why would he not show his personal bona fides in this matter by at the very least removing that veto so we can advance that cause?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that is a supplementary question but I will answer it anyway. This government has always been sympathetic to that particular point of view. We have made that clear on a number of occasions and have also indicated to the members of this House the reason that we have been reluctant to move because of other matters that were being discussed with the government of Canada. However, I can assure the honourable member it is a matter that we have addressed and are addressing very carefully.
Mr. Rae: In the throne speech yesterday we were told the minister would have "wide-ranging responsibility for taking steps to close the gap in wages, as well as the proportion of women who are clustered in particular areas of employment." Can the Premier simply tell us what steps he intends to take?
Hon. Mr. Davis: After the first question, in which the member suggested there were no specifics in the speech, I am delighted he has now found two. He will get the answer to those two specifics in due course.
NORCEN ENERGY RESOURCES LTD.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I am trying to understand the thought processes of the minister. On the one hand, with the trust companies and under the act that we passed before the session broke off in February, he proceeded to confiscate the property of certain companies, parcel it off, sell it off and prevent recourse to the courts, and yet there is apparently no evidence to lay any charges under any statute.
Yet in a decision just in the last week involving Noreen Energy Resources Ltd. and certain other individuals, he decided not to acquiesce or give his consent to a prosecution when he had reports from his own investigators, from the Ontario Securities Commission, he had the police investigation which recommended charges --
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Roy: -- and he had recommendations and a suggestion by the chief law officer of the crown and the crown law officers to proceed with charges.
How is it, based on that particular evidence and on those recommendations, he decided to refuse to give consent or to allow the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) to prosecute under the Securities Act?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I apologize beforehand, but there will be some detail in the response to this question because it is fundamental and shows a lack of understanding of the Securities Act in this province.
First of all, let me say there was no confiscation. If the member would have chosen the alternative route, which caused a loss to everybody, then that is on his head and not mine. Second, the issue of whether or not there are criminal charges does not relate to the activities of this ministry and what it had to do. If he has a question in that regard, he knows where to put it.
Third, let us be very clear -- and I do not say this with any disrespect, but just as a fact -- I do not think he understands the true meaning of the Ontario securities legislation as it was established by this Legislature. That body was established, under section 2, to be entirely in control of the administration and activities with respect to the securities market in this province, and it was to maintain an independence and an arm's-length relationship to the ministry. That they have done and that they continue to do.
There have been no requests of me, either by the Ontario Securities Commission or by the Attorney General, to lay any charges. So his statement is out of order.
Mr. Roy: Does the minister deny that under the act, section 119, any prosecution under the securities legislation requires his consent? Does the minister deny he has refused to grant that consent over the wishes and the suggestions of his own securities officials? Considering that under section 125 of that act the limitation period was one year for bringing this matter before the courts, is the minister going to prohibit the commission from taking any proceedings as it can do under section 125, subsection 2, to bring this matter before the commission for a full hearing and a full and complete airing of this whole matter?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Once again I think there is not a full understanding of the functioning of the legislation nor the functioning of the commission.
The commission, on its own, I believe following a series of three meetings and following discussions and meetings with the Attorney General's representatives, chose not to request my permission to proceed with a charge. They do not have to get my permission in that area to not lay a charge; they only have to get my permission, which then requires evaluation of the basis for it, if they wish to proceed with a charge.
So the member is totally in error in saying that I have refused to allow them to do this. They have unanimously felt that there were not sufficient grounds to justify their proceeding. That is their decision.
The Attorney General, in conversations and correspondence with me a week ago today, indicated that some of his crown law officers had a differing point of view and asked if, in the light of that, I would ask the commission to review its decision. This I did, enclosing a copy of his letter and, at the request of the Attorney General, allowing representatives of the crown to attend at that subsequent meeting of the commission. Remember that this was an administrative decision they were making, not a judicial one. As a result of that prolonged afternoon and evening meeting a week ago the commission again unanimously reaffirmed its decision not to ask me for permission to lay a charge.
So, with respect, I think the member has not got the process quite clear, and there has been no request made to me.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, my question also relates to the actions of the minister with respect to the Noreen Energy Resources Ltd. matter and the matters before the commission. It also relates to section 119. Why did the minister, in accordance with the terms of that section, not direct the commission to proceed in the matter for the following reasons.
One is that the investigators submitted to the commission a report with the following statement, "We are of the view that a strong case can and should be made in an appropriate forum that Noreen and certain of its individual officers broke the law by making false statements about, and omitting to disclose, an intention which constituted a material fact and decisions which constituted material changes within the meaning of the act."
The minister knew that the chairman of the commission, whatever his bona fides with respect to his conflict of interest decision may have been, was at all material times a partner in the law firm that advised Norcen Energy Resources Ltd. during the period of the occurrences that were under investigation. Indeed, it was a partner in that firm who approached and intervened with the Attorney General of Ontario with respect to these matters.
Why did the minister not direct the commission under section 119 to proceed with the charges under the Securities Act?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, there are two very important elements to the question asked, and I accept the bona fides of the question because I understand the issues raised here.
First of all, I think the honourable member appreciates that these proceedings were at the administrative decision stage. The commission sitting as a whole body came to the conclusion that the recommendations of its investigative officers were not in line with its views with respect to the appropriateness and the justification of charges being laid as a result of those views.
What the member is really saying is that I should publicly say I have no faith and confidence in the Ontario Securities Commission --
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Well, he has publicly praised some of the members and individuals in that commission.
And he is saying I did not accept their recommendation and chose to override them and evaluate administrative documents provided to them and therefore say that they were not capable of giving me the kind of advice and the securities industry the kind of advice that was required.
I really do not accept that. I think the member has raised something that I find very troublesome, this issue of the conflict, because he knows very well the kind of things that people give up in order to come into public life and the sacrifices they make.
Mr. Renwick: Oh, come on now. That does not override it at all.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: He knows very well that the chairman, of high esteem, competence and great regard, has severed his relationship totally with that firm with no commitment or understanding that he will return.
He has no relationship to it at all, was never in any way related to the Noreen brief in that company; sought advice from counsel with respect to any conflict he might have, and put that problem before his fellow commissioners who unanimously said he, in their opinion, should proceed to take part in the discussions. If that is a conflict, we will have problems forever in getting the kind of competence we wish in positions such as that in the securities commission.
Mr. Renwick: The very fact that the chairman had to ask an opinion of counsel indicates very clearly the conflict of interest which should have disqualified him in the minister's eyes and should have led to his instructions to that commission to proceed.
My supplementary question is, to what extent has the minister's action under section 119 intervened and prevented his colleague the Attorney General from proceeding with charges under the Securities Act if possible, and if not, under the Criminal Code?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I am not aware that it has had any detrimental effect with respect to anything the Attorney General chose to do. As a matter of fact, the Deputy Attorney General was advised on Tuesday evening of the decision of the commission and at that time, had we wished and had the Attorney General wished, still could have put a request to me for permission to commence charges.
He feels, as I do, that the statute, the securities legislation in this province, particularly section 2, places, through the Legislature, the administration and the regulation of the securities industry in that commission. Nevertheless, the Attorney General still has an overriding obligation with respect to administration of justice and he has demonstrated his concern very capably.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, will the minister not understand that what my colleague and I are suggesting is not interference in the day-to-day affairs of the commission. Surely he will understand that when one has a report from one's own investigators -- the investigators from the commission --
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I do not get it.
Mr. Roy: No, the minister did not get the report but he knew the commission did and he knew the police were investigating this. Surely when the minister gets a letter from the chief law officer of the crown asking his permission to proceed with charges that the commission will not proceed with, why at that point would he not intervene as the minister, as he is authorized to do under the statute?
Considering all the possibilities, including the possible conflict of interest as mentioned by my colleague referring to the chairman, why at that point would he not acquiesce to the request of the chief law officer of the crown and allow him to prosecute or to proceed with charges under the Securities Act?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I seem to be having difficulty getting a very clear message across. The first message is that the securities commission exists to administer and regulate the securities industry. It does not report to me nor submit its investigative officers' reports to me for my approval or comment before it makes administrative decisions; nor should it, nor would this House expect it to. It is inappropriate for the member for Ottawa East to suggest that.
Second, he is in error again in saying that the Attorney General requested permission to lay charges. There was no such request and I have said that twice already.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food.
In view of the fact that this government's promises to farmers in this year's throne speech are nothing more than a rehash of last year's promises and continue to ignore the real financial problems facing our farmers, given that Ontario farmers continue to go bankrupt at the alarming rate of one every two and a half days and because of this government's lack of meaningful assistance find themselves in the same financial crisis today as they did last year, other than blaming the federal government for its alleged lack of co-operation with this government's programs, what solutions does the minister have to offer Ontario farmers, many of whom are postponing making decisions on spring planting to the last possible moment because they simply cannot predict the future stability of the agricultural industry? Considering the low commodity prices, the high input costs, the uncertain interest rates and the lack of a meaningful government policy, does the minister not feel this province desperately needs a focus, an agricultural strategy within which farmers can make long-term decisions, rather than relying on disjointed ad hoc programs?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I would certainly agree with the honourable member there is a need for clear, concise policies. I have been minister now for going on 15 months and I would be interested to know what ideas he has over there. I have certainly not been one to reject out of hand any possibility that there might be an original idea in that party.
If we were to read Hansard from a year or so ago, the member stood in his place and at that time made the same assertions that people were unwilling to plant crops and that there were going to be thousands of acres left unplanted in 1982. All his pessimism came to naught. All his predictions were unfounded. In 1982, this government was able to assist well over 3,000 farmers to cope with the problems brought on by high interest rates, a policy of the member's party in Ottawa that has wrought havoc not just on agriculture but on every sector of the economy.
It has to be repeated that we put forward in 1982 and have carried forward into 1983 some very substantial policies and policy proposals that will make agriculture more secure, more stable, more predictable and more attractive, to keep the present investors, and by that I mean everybody involved in agriculture right from the producers through the processors through the retailers, and to make it more attractive for the future.
I am talking about the farm assistance program. I am talking about the beginning farmers program we are going to introduce. I am talking about our proposals for property tax reform, and I would be interested to hear the member's views on that. I am talking about our very substantial leadership role in this province and this ministry in establishing a new national income stabilization program, which the Liberals have done precious little to help us bring about.
Mr. Riddell: The minister says my assertions have come to naught. In view of the fact that his promise to introduce a young farmers credit program is a repetition of a promise made in last year's throne speech and budget that never materialized, will the minister assure us that this program will be made available to the young farmers this spring?
Will he provide us with some of the details of the perceived program, since he has had well over a year to work on it? Will he give us some of the details of that program? What are the eligibility requirements? Is it going to be a long-term financial assistance program? Is it going to be at low interest rates? Will the minister give us some of the details of the program if he knows all about it?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: First of all. I can assure the member he will not qualify.
Second, in 1982, the member will recall, both here in this House and in countless meetings around the province, when asked about that matter I was very frank, very honest and very open with everyone involved. I pointed out that subsequent to the throne speech of 1982 we had formulated certain proposals which, like proposals from various other ministries, had to be held because of the significant increase in the deficit that came to light because of declining revenues in the late spring or early summer of 1982.
I know that as a Grit the member believes he can have it all ways. He can say to the people: "On one hand, we will give you everything you want. On the other hand, we will not increase taxes. We will decrease taxes and we will decrease deficits." That simply cannot be done.
Mr. Speaker: I do not think that was the question.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The people see through that party's phoniness. It has never been elected in 40 years.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I presume the minister in his meetings with the banks and other financial institutions would have determined the situation with regard to farm mortgage loans in default this year compared to last year and would therefore know that in the Farm Credit Corp. alone the amount of default is 50 per cent higher across the nation than it was last year and 60 per cent higher in this province. Recognizing that, how can he justify the throne speech, which gives no additional assistance whatsoever to farmers who are in this serious situation?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, obviously the honourable member was not listening, because in fact we are going to introduce a program for beginning farmers this year.
Let me just comment on the meetings I have had with the financial institutions. I indicated to members at about the time the House was wrapping up in February that I was going to meet with the financial institutions. I must say I have been very pleased with the results of those meetings because, contrary to the kind of pessimism that the members opposite like to spread about agriculture, I found in my meetings, particularly with the chartered banks, who are heavily involved in farm credit in this province and in this country, that they continue to consider agriculture to be a very good investment. On the whole, rather than a decline in farm credit, I found that the banks were telling me they anticipated lending more money, that they are going to be more heavily involved in supporting the efforts of our producers and everybody involved in agribusiness in this province.
I am sorry. I know the member would like me to confirm his pessimism; I know he would like to see nothing but negative predictions. But I do not have that to give him today.
CLOSURE OF AUDIO LIBRARY
Mr. Allen: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Provincial Secretary for Social Development on a matter on which she and I have had some exchanges in the past.
In February of this year the Speaker of this House wrote a letter to the president of the Peterborough branch of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation in which he declared, "The Honourable Margaret Birch and the Honourable Bette Stephenson have both assured me that the audio library at Trent University will continue in operation with the support of the Ontario government," only to receive about a month later a communication from the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson) in which she said she had not changed her position; she was still holding that Trent must "get the funding required from other educational institutions using the service." As we all know, that would bring that institution to an abrupt end.
Mr. Speaker: I presume you do have a question.
Mr. Allen: Yes, it is coming.
The provincial secretary's handling of the question has continued to be clouded in some contradiction. At least the mechanism to provide the service a week or so ago was so threatening to the Trent audio library's board that it went into emergency session last week while some papers were speculating that the institution would remain open.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I just point out to the honourable member, who has referred to me and the riding I have the honour to represent, that he has not had the opportunity of the latest information. Would you please place your question?
Mr. Allen: In view of the attempt by a student at McMaster University as late as last week to place orders with the Trent audio library for a date after April 30, orders that were rejected, and since the Hamilton Council of Women delegation is coming this afternoon to this Legislature, will the provincial secretary please finally announce the fate of the audio library services and end the tortured course of the issue and the uncertainty in which post-secondary print-handicapped students have laboured for so long?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to respond to the honourable member's long question. In fact, he is well aware that a very positive resolution to this whole issue of the provision of Braille and audio materials to the print-handicapped post-secondary students has been resolved to the satisfaction of all of those who have provided services. It is anticipated that a very positive statement will be made in this House.
I just wish the member would discontinue trying to stir the pot by issuing press releases and by meeting with people to continue this discussion.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Allen: Mr. Speaker, I venture to suggest that if I had not tried to stir the pot it would not have boiled.
Will the Provincial Secretary for Social Development assure the Legislature that when she makes her announcement, and I hope it will be soon, it will (1) include permanent funding arrangements that will be of an ongoing nature; (2) provide for a direct service from the library to students and not a convoluted, time-consuming structure; (3) involve clients in the service in such a way as to assure them of participation in the activity; and (4), and I think this is most important, assure print-handicapped students that they are the responsibility of the Ministry of Colleges and Universities?
Mr. Speaker: I think that was a four-part question. I would direct the minister to answer the last part.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I would just say that of all the groups that are involved in the provision of these particular services to the students in our post-secondary institutions, Trent did hold out. We were able to reach a compromise, and I have received a letter from them today advising me that they are very happy with the solution we have arrived at and are delighted to proceed to develop a policy that is going to benefit all the post-secondary students across the province.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, as late as last Friday a student at the University of Western Ontario contacted my office. Apparently that student was not aware of what the provincial secretary has just revealed in this House.
Given that the number of students is not that large, I am wondering whether we might put them at ease by notifying them individually that this wonderful announcement will not be the announcement of another makeshift program but, rather, of something permanent they can rely on for the remainder of their days at the university, and so those who are coming along after them also will not have to worry from day to day whether they will have any assistance.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, I think I can assure the honourable member that this will be an ongoing, permanent arrangement to provide the very necessary equipment for the students to continue with their education.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Premier with respect to property rights. Given that the Prime Minister has promised to pass legislation by June to enshrine property rights into the Constitution if agreement can be made with the official opposition in Ottawa, and given that a total of seven provinces must pass similar resolutions for such legislation to take effect under Canada's new Constitution, will the Premier commit the government of Ontario to support the resolution which I introduced into the Legislature last October and reintroduce today, will the Premier propose his own legislation, or does he plan to continue doing nothing, as he has done on this issue previously?
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I could not hear the member for Grey (Mr. McKessock).
Mr. Speaker: Never mind.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am doing my very best to abide by your very proper admonitions at the beginning of the question period today. I will reply very briefly to the honourable member by saying I think it is likely that I will have something to say on this very important issue on Thursday afternoon.
Mr. Epp: Given the fact that we have waited for some months now for some indication by the government that it will come forth with an announcement, why does the Premier have to wait until Thursday afternoon to do it? Why can he not do it on April 19?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I sometimes hear a little criticism from across the House that we prolong the statements. The minister had a very important and I think lengthy statement today. We did not want to usurp all the time. I just say to the member to be patient until Thursday. He is not going to go away and I am not going away. I will address this issue on Thursday.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I did not expect the Premier to move so quickly on the matter. I wonder whether on Thursday, in any remarks he might want to make about entrenching already well-protected property rights, he will include some statement with respect to protecting the right to economic security of large sections of the public in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I can only assume that the member for Riverdale is referring to his own economic security, and I know he would not want me to do that in the Constitution.
CLOSURE OF CHRYSLER PLANT
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Trade. The statement was made in the throne speech yesterday that "Ontario has pursued discussions with the government of Canada and business and labour leaders to promote its revitalization and future development." That was in reference to the auto industry.
In this regard, what efforts has the minister made to secure the maintenance of the spring plant, a Chrysler operation in the city of Windsor, and to secure a car to be built in Windsor rather than relying on vans and van-wagons? If he is concerned about the revitalization of the auto industry, why does he defend Chrysler's decision to close the spring plant instead of attempting to keep it here and the jobs here?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that Chrysler is maintaining an employment level that far exceeds anything imagined a few years ago. Second, I am told the spring plant lost $5 million a year. If a plant is losing $5 million a year, one has to wonder whether that is going to continue. The third thing is that for the past two and a half years it has been known that the spring plant was going to close. The honourable member has known it.
Mr. Cooke: It is obvious why the United Auto Workers refuses to meet with this minister. He does not have the facts and he does not attempt to get the facts. That plant is not losing $5 million a year.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Cooke: What efforts has the minister made to secure the production of a car in Canada? Why has this government backed off on a commitment made by the former Minister of Industry and Trade that we wanted 100 per cent Canadian value added by foreign auto makers? In yesterday's throne speech the government backed off and now we are going for 65 per cent, which is part of the Canada-US auto pact. Why are we willing to settle for 65 per cent now when it was 100 per cent a year ago?
Hon. Mr. Walker: The member himself knows we have arrived at a figure that is a reasonably accepted compromise with the entire industry.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, to go back to the spring plant and the minister's claim that the plant is losing some $5 million a year, that is the third or fourth time the minister has made that claim. I would like to know on what basis is he making that claim. Quite frankly, the facts we have are entirely different. If he is so concerned about revitalizing the industry, why does he not protect the spring plant and why did he allow Chrysler to back out of the research and development facility which would have revitalized another segment of the auto industry in Windsor?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the claim of the $5-million loss, I understand that is documented in Ottawa in terms of the auto pact understanding and it has been provided to me by Chrysler officials. I indicated a moment ago that I was told those were the figures. I have not conducted an audit to determine whether it is $5 million, but I am told that is the case. I am told it is not refuted, and that is the situation. That is the first bit of information.
Relative to the R and D centre, the option was theirs to pick up that part of it. We had no hold over them as to whether they would or not. It was up to them to take down any of the money. Chrysler Canada chose not to take down any of the money that had been set aside for the purpose of the R and D facility. That was their choice. It was not our obligation.
ONTARIO YOUTH EMPLOYMENT
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. My question refers to a news release from the minister's office, dated March 24 and concerning Ontario youth employment programs.
Given that youth unemployment in Ontario has increased over the past year by 50,000 to a new high of 233,000 and has increased from 17.3 per cent to 22.2 per cent in that age group, can the minister explain why in that release he is announcing a reduction in provincial support to the Ontario youth employment program from last year's $34 million to this year's $23.7 million and from serving 57,000 young people last year to only 41,000 this year, a reduction of 16,000? It does not seem to make sense.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, the honour- able member will recall that also in the past year we brought in a program to try to develop some youth employment programs during the other months of the year. Indeed, that had to be redistributed from the youth program we had in past summers.
The member will recall also that in the press release we said very clearly, and the speech from the throne yesterday repeated it again, that while the government has added some opportunities for encouraging people to employ young people, the responsibility should not fall entirely to the government; the private sector should become more of a participant at this particular time and indeed was given the opportunity to do so.
Mr. Sweeney: The minister is surely aware that the private sector, this summer in particular, is going to have almost no job openings because its first responsibility is to hire back those who have been laid off.
Is the minister aware that a program operated by his colleague the member for Scarborough East (Mrs. Birch), the summer Experience '83 program, is going to provide service to 300 fewer young people this summer than there were last summer?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Yes, I am aware.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. Can the minister tell us how he justifies his decision to close the sign shop at the Ministry of Natural Resources facilities in Huntsville and transfer the four jobs there to inmates at the Mimico reformatory?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member wrote to me about this before; I cannot recall my response, but I will get it to him.
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
Before I recognize the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy), I would like to thank all the honourable members for their co-operation. We are a little rough around the edges, but I am sure we are going to make it work.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: You know how critical I am sometimes about the proceedings in the House, but I just want to comment that the admonition seems to have had a very positive effect. I am especially impressed -- and I do not say this very often -- by the shortness and brevity of the nonanswers from that side.
Mr. Speaker: That is hardly a point of privilege.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege, perhaps as a reminder to the Minister of Labour. On February 9, in answer to a question I asked him regarding the closing of Dylex's Lakeshore operation in Toronto, the minister said I should have a complete report on it in the very near future. He was not able to get that before the end of the last session.
Mr. Speaker: I am sure the minister has taken note of your nonpoint of privilege or nonpoint of order and will respond quickly.
CLOSURE OF FACILITIES FOR MENTALLY RETARDED
Mr. Sheppard: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition here with more than 7,000 names on it which I would like to present to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) in regard to the closing of D'Arcy Place.
FEES FOR PROVINCIAL PARKS
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I too have a petition, which reads as follows:
"We, the undersigned, request a revision of the new legislation governing all Ontario provincial parks, re Ontario senior citizens. We should not be charged the $8 a night weekend fees. We feel that Ontario seniors should have free overnight privileges to these parks year round as we did in the past."
It is signed by approximately 150 senior citizens from the Rainy River area.
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, just to clarify the record: Senior citizens do in fact get free use of all areas in the parks on all weekdays during the regular park season. They also have access to the campsites at regular fees during the weekends.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that commencing tomorrow, April 20, the House will not sit in the chambers on Wednesdays unless otherwise ordered.
Motion agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the first day for consideration of private members' public business be on the first Thursday following the completion of the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne and that in accordance with the order of the House of February 23, 1983, the order of precedence established in the first session and as amended from time to time be continued in the third session.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that, due to the interruption of the consideration of private bill legislation occasioned by the prorogation of the second session of the 32nd parliament, application for private legislation relating to Bills Pr8, Pr9, Pr13, Pr20, Pr34 and Pr36, which received first reading in the second session, be considered during the present session without publishing further notice of the applications and without lodging further declarations proving publication, and that the application fees paid by the applicants in the second session be applicable for the continuation of the applications in the present session.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the member for York Centre (Mr. Cousens) be appointed deputy chairman of the committees of the whole House for this session.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
EMERGENCY PLANS ACT
Hon. G. W. Taylor moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Eaton, first reading of Bill 2, An Act to provide for the Formulation and Implementation of Emergency Plans.
Motion agreed to.
MOTOR VEHICLE DEALERS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Elgie moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Gregory, first reading of Bill 3, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am sure everyone here today has heard of the Ontario travel industry compensation fund. In the past seven years, this fund has paid out more than $2.5 million to consumers who had claims arising out of the collapse of travel agencies and companies. This is the kind of industry initiative that deserves the full support and appreciation of the government and the public. I am pleased, therefore, to reintroduce today amendments to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act that will set up a similar fund to compensate consumers who are caught in the collapse of a car dealership.
By way of background, the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act was set tip in 1965. At that time a $5,000 bond posted by each of the car dealerships was enough to cover potential consumer claims but, as the industry has rightly pointed out, it is not enough today. Some dealerships are running trust accounts as high as $20,000 and acceptance of $1,000 deposits is commonplace. A $5,000 bond would not go very far if a dealership ever went under and the trust account was not intact.
As well, the industry has told us that posting bonds has become increasingly expensive and the processing of claims is time-consuming and cumbersome. After meetings with the industry, we have decided to amend the act to establish a compensation fund.
COLLECTION AGENCIES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Elgie moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Gregory, first reading of Bill 4, An Act to amend the Collection Agencies Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, today I am reintroducing for first reading an amendment to the Collection Agencies Act. By way of back ground, we have now in place a set of guidelines outlining the kinds of methods that should be used to collect debts. The registrar of the act ensures that all collection agencies are aware of these guidelines, which have been in effect for many years, but the industry feels it would be everyone's best interests to have the guidelines clearly spelled out in the act so that all agencies are following a set of rules enforceable by law. This would also give the public a clearer understanding of what collection agencies can and cannot do.
At present, the act only allows us to draft regulations governing methods. In the regulation, we are planning to formalize practices. The difference between a method and a practice is not clearly defined so we decided our best approach was to amend the act to enable us to draft regulations governing both practices and methods. Once this is done, the new regulations can be finalized.
These amendments to the regulations will include prohibitions on the following: (1) trying to collect money from someone who says he or she is not responsible for the debt, without checking all the facts; (2) phoning a debtor before he or she has been informed by letter that the account has been turned over to a collection agency (3) demanding payment of a debt without first identifying the agency, individual collector and the creditor; and (4) launching legal action without first telling the debtor.
BOILERS AND PRESSURE VESSELS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Elgie moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Gregory, first reading of Bill 5, An Act to amend the Boilers and Pressure Vessels Act.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am reintroducing for first reading amendments to the Boilers and Pressure Vessels Act aimed at eliminating unnecessary slowdowns when boilers, pressure vessels and plants need repair.
Section 32 of the act now requires that when a boiler, pressure vessel or plant is found to be unsafe, it must be examined by a ministry inspector both before and after being repaired. Since most boilers, pressure vessels and plants are insured, they are inspected by government certified inspectors. Clearly, the function performed by our inspectors can be performed by government-certified personnel from insurance companies. This bill would make this permissible but not mandatory.
Officials from my ministry have reached agreement with the appropriate insurance companies that their certified personnel will supervise and approve repair work done to boilers and pressure vessels that they insure.
In addition, under subsection 32(3), it would authorize the government chief inspector to exempt owners of plants operated around the clock from having major repairs approved by either a government or an insurance inspector when the chief inspector is satisfied that the repairs will be performed safely and properly by qualified personnel. Current provisions represent a hardship for refineries, petrochemical plants and similar operations which have their own trained inspection staffs which operate around the clock. There is little point in making them shut down while a government inspector checks their work. The terms and conditions of exemption will be clearly set out in regulations.
Amendments to section 2 will extend the definition of employer for the purposes of section 36 of the act and will eliminate the unnecessary testing of welders changing jobs but still employed members of the trade association.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY ACT
Mr. Breithaupt moved, seconded by Mr. T. P. Reid, first reading of Bill 6, An Act to provide for Freedom of Information and Protection of Individual Privacy.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, this bill provides a broad and comprehensive scheme for public access to and protection of individual privacy with respect to information held by government. While the topic of freedom of information was referred to in the speech from the throne in 1977, in 1980 and in 1981, no such reference was made yesterday. Since apparently the matter is no longer a great priority for the government, the bill again shows how seriously we in the opposition view the need for legislation in this important area.
SUCCESSION LAW ACT
Mr. Breithaupt moved, seconded by Mr. T. P. Reid, first reading of Bill 8, An Act respecting the Succession to Estates of Deceased Persons in Ontario who have Beneficiaries residing in Designated Countries.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, this legislation is commonly referred to as the Soviet estates bill. The purpose of it is to ensure that payments from the estates of persons domiciled in Ontario at the time of death are not made to foreign beneficiaries who are unlikely to receive for their whole benefit or use substantially the full value of any payments made under the estate and who reside in certain countries designated by regulation.
The bill provides for an application to be made to a court for an order permitting payments to a foreign beneficiary. The court may also order that no payment be made to a foreign beneficiary, in which case the court shall make an order disposing of the estate in accordance with the rules of succession contained in the Succession Law Reform Act with necessary modifications.
While the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) has in the past shown interest in this matter, and it was Bill 1 on one occasion, the failure even to refer to this subject in yesterday's throne speech is disappointing. Here is a bill that can do the necessary job, and I commend it to the Legislature.
ELECTION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Breithaupt moved, seconded by Mr. Epp, first reading of Bill 9, An Act to amend the Election Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, this bill amends the Election Act for several purposes and is a repetition of the bill I introduced some time ago. The principal changes to the act include the following:
First, the British subject basis for qualification as a voter or candidate in an election is removed so that all voters and candidates must now be Canadian citizens.
Second, the chief election officer is given authority to set standards for convenient access to polling places by persons who are physically handicapped.
Third, the bill provides that so far as is reasonably possible all polling stations should be and all advance polls must be accessible to persons who are physically handicapped.
Fourth, persons who are physically handicapped are permitted to name voting proxies up to and including the day of the election.
Fifth, the political affiliation of candidates would be shown on the ballot.
Sixth, campaign material is prohibited from being brought into a place near a polling place on election day.
Seventh, the procedure for establishing the qualifications of a voter whose name has been omitted in error from a polling list is extended to all polling subdivisions rather than simply rural subdivisions.
Eighth, the restriction that limits a person to assisting only one blind person in voting is removed.
Yesterday the speech from the throne told us of the preparations for Ontario's bicentennial in 1984. The best way we can mark that anniversary would be to ensure that in any future general election in Ontario only Canadian citizens will have the right to vote.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Breithaupt moved, seconded by Mr. Conway, first reading of Bill 10, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, again I introduce this bill, whose purpose is to provide for the appointment of a curator of Queen's Park. The curator of Queen's Park would be responsible for advising the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and the Lieutenant Governor in Council concerning the conservation, protection and preservation of the heritage of Queen's Park.
Again, the reference in yesterday's throne speech to our bicentennial reminds us that this 1983 is the 90th anniversary of this building. I suggest it is most appropriate to ensure that the fabric of our legislative heritage be maintained and strengthened for the years to come.
LANDLORD AND TENANT AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Philip moved, seconded by Mr. Swart, first reading of Bill 11, An Act to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, some members are upset that I have created more housing than the government, but this bill, which should have been introduced by the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Kolyn), is to protect his tenants. It is a bill intended to prevent the circumvention of municipal condominium conversion bylaws and section 60 of the Condominium Act by making it clear that, despite the recent unreported decision of the Divisional Court in Medeiros versus Fraleigh, the owner of a percentage interest or a share in an apartment building cannot evict a tenant under section 105 or clause 107(1)(b) of the Landlord and Tenant Act.
LABOUR RELATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Mackenzie moved, seconded by Mr. Breaugh, first reading of Bill 12, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, this bill would make the hiring of or acting as a professional strikebreaker an offence; prevent the hiring of persons to replace employees who are on a legal strike or are locked out except by agreement with the effective bargaining unit; and control access to work premises affected by a strike or lockout.
Transport, removal and handling of the employer's product would be prohibited during a strike or lockout except by agreement with the effective bargaining unit or by order of the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
A designated representative of the bargaining unit would be entitled to inspect the employer's work premises and the board would be empowered to make and enforce its actions concerning contraventions of the prohibitions contained in the bill.
Mr. Barlow: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I would like to point out to you and to the members of this Legislature that last night in the Shade Street arena in the great city of Cambridge the Cambridge Hornets returned the Allan Cup to Ontario and to Cambridge.
Mr. Barlow: I understand it was a little bit on the rough side. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend last night's game. It was the fourth time in about the past 14 years that the Allan Cup has rested in Cambridge. We are very pleased at that, and I would like the members of the House to join me in congratulating the Cambridge Hornets.
MOTION TO SET ASIDE ORDINARY BUSINESS
Mr. Mackenzie moved, seconded by Mr. Foulds, that pursuant to standing order 34(a), the ordinary business of the House be set aside to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, the harassment of workers on legal picket lines at Central Precision and Alcan in Scarborough, which has led to numerous arrests, confrontations, some injuries and the death of a worker, Claude Dougdeen, and which undermines the faith of working people, particularly new Canadians, in the fairness of the justice system in this province.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to mention to all honourable members that the notice of motion under standing 34(a) has been received in time. I will be prepared to listen for up to five minutes as to why the honourable member thinks the ordinary business of the House should be set aside.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, what has been happening in the one or two cases I mentioned in the motion makes the case as well as I can. What is happening to faith in the justice system in this province is a serious question. No worker takes a strike lightly. If one has been through a few of them, either oneself or had the responsibility for them, one knows it is a decision which is a serious one for workers to make. I want to treat this matter in a responsible and serious manner.
Once a worker has decided his only recourse is a strike, a vote has been held and he is now in a legal strike position, he is up against the loss of his paycheque and the threat to his job. To get conditions he feels are fair to work under, he has had to make that decision and take that risk.
What happens and what has been happening? I do not know a case that underlines it better than the Central Precision strike in this city. Within a matter of hours of that strike starting, a private security firm, Securicor, had been called. What is the general practice from day to day? Almost from day one the security firms cars are inside the plant. They move up to the picket line at 6:45 in the morning with the strikebreakers the company is hiring to try to keep that plant going, people who are seen by the workers as stealing their jobs, in effect, or trying to. The cars move up and the cameras start rolling, right as the cars come through with the strikebreakers in the operation.
What happens? The harassment is rather fantastic. One would think responsible people would not react to provocation, but it has to be understood it is their jobs at stake and they have taken a very serious decision already. What they get from inside the vans from the workers being brought in is the famous finger -- if one likes, "up yours;" and I apologize to the House -- and a series of provocations. Not only that, senior officials of the security firm in there have come up to the picket line with big grins on their faces to say to the workers and officers of the local: "Keep it up. It does not matter if a couple of cars get scratched. The longer you keep this strike up, the longer we are picking up $20,000 a week." The kind of harassment there is fantastic.
What happens then? The security firm goes down to the local justice of the peace and swears out a warrant, usually for mischief. There have been 27 of them sworn out. On one occasion, April 6, the local police chose seven o'clock in the morning to arrive to arrest four of the key people in the strike, based on warrants which had been issued days before. This is a new wrinkle we are getting in the whole picket line scene. They arrest them on the line, demoralizing the workers there. They take them down. Three of those four workers spent the night in jail. They went through all the processes. Only one of them was released. We have now had 27 such warrants issued.
In one case, a young Portuguese worker who did not know the warrant was out for him was called by the union, went down to the police station and was immediately put in handcuffs. That was a mischief warrant that was sworn out. The union itself has great difficulty in filing charges with this same justice of the peace.
This is the kind of situation we have going on. One wonders why occasionally there is some trouble on that picket line. Those same workers see, after the confrontation has taken place, usually in the morning, the police car go across the street to the parking lot and the Securicor car park beside the police car. They roll down the windows, exchange smokes and talk for one half to three quarters of an hour right in front of the workers on that picket line.
One wonders why something happens such as happened at Alcan. While there had not been the immediate trouble on that line, they decided to run the trucks in the middle of the night without telling anybody. Then one wonders why the workers on those picket lines, more and more, just as in the case of injuries in another strike that came to me while I was preparing for the House today, say to us, "Where is the justice?" These are new Canadians. In this particular plant they are mostly Portuguese workers who came to this new country because they thought there was fairness here. They ask: "How can the police do this? How can the company do this? We are in a legal strike situation. Does it not mean anything?"
This is the danger, Mr. Speaker, that I am raising with you. We have a problem, and what is happening? Not just deliberate harassment but deliberate intimidation of the workers in legal strike situations. It is time this province took some action to deal with this kind of situation, and if that means legislation, then it is long overdue. Yes, there is a responsibility for what happened on this government.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, my party will support the motion as submitted by the honourable member for Hamilton East asking for an emergency debate on this very important issue, the issue of protecting workers on picket lines from the effects of strikebreakers. It is not only very important, but certainly in the case at Alcan, ultimately a very tragic circumstance.
It seems to me very important that this Legislature be offered an opportunity to debate this matter. It is a matter on which my colleagues have from time to time introduced private members' legislation. The late member for Sarnia, Mr. Bullbrook, introduced such legislation; my colleague the member for London North (Mr. Van Horne) introduced legislation dealing with the issue of strikebreakers back in 1979; and my colleague the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) also introduced legislation a few years ago.
I think it is very important that we debate this whole matter and then have the government present legislation that would bring Ontario into an area that has so far had legislation only from British Columbia and Quebec. It is certainly an area that is long overdue.
It is clear that the actions and activities, particularly of professional strikebreakers, organizations such as Securicor, in the long run damage good labour relations, not obviously at the time the strike is occurring, because good labour relations have already suffered a certain amount of damage, but they damage a recovery of good labour relations and a co-operative attitude between the two parties for months and sometimes for years after the end of a legal labour dispute. That is clearly not in the interests of either side and ultimately it is not in the interests of Ontario.
It is unfortunate, it seems to me, that we have given the right to strike to working men and women in this province and then have not taken action to ensure that they are not victimized by harassment and even worse by these professional strikebreaking firms during the legal dispute.
In reading this motion, I was bothered by one area, and I want to bring this particularly to the attention of the House. It is the section at the end of the motion that says, "and which undermines the faith of working people, particularly new Canadians, in the fairness of the justice system in this province."
I want to take quite strong exception to that because it represents to my mind and to that of my colleagues, perhaps in an innocent way, a very insidious attempt to introduce some kind of artificial distinction. Indeed, some would suggest that, perhaps inadvertently, using the phrase "particularly new Canadians" borders in a sense on some kind of racism.
Mr. Mackenzie: Obviously, you people are never in picket lines.
Mr. Wrye: I have been on a picket line. I do not need to be lectured by the member for Hamilton East.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Wrye: I think the incidents are serious enough that they can be treated with real integrity and that the use of the wording "particularly new Canadians" tends to cheapen it. I think I would have wanted it to say at the end, "which undermines the faith of all people in the justice system of Ontario," whether they are new Canadians or whether they have been here for generations on end, because it ultimately does affect all of us here in Ontario when we have a situation where working men and women are subjected to the kind of problems that have occurred, most particularly with the professional firms at Central Precision Ltd. and those that have led to the tragedy at Alcan Building Products Ltd.
I hope the minister will stand in his place in a minute and indicate that the government is prepared to proceed with this emergency debate and that it will use the time and listen to members from all three parties during the emergency debate to hear the various legislative initiatives that members of all parties would like to see this government take, and that we will not stall with study upon study but move quickly so we can have legislative initiatives introduced during the spring session and passed into law, for they are long overdue in this province.
We have a multitude of examples not only from Canada, but from many of the states south of the border. I think the time for study has passed and it is time for the minister and this government to proceed and bring us legislation which will end this very shabby practice which really lowers labour relations in Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to the resolution by the member for Hamilton East which calls upon this House to set aside its ordinary business and to conduct a special debate in respect to incidents which have recently occurred on the picket lines at Central Precision Ltd. and Alcan Building Products Ltd.
It submitted that the developments of recent days, including the tragic death of Claude Dougdeen, have served to undermine the faith of working people in the fairness of the justice system in this province. I cannot accept this statement.
At the outset, we must understand what picketing is all about. In Ontario the right of employees engaged in a lawful work stoppage to peacefully picket their employer's business premises has long been recognized. The primary purpose of the picket line is to communicate information concerning the dispute, to achieve solidarity within the work force, to influence other workers not to displace the striking employees and to appeal to the community at large for its moral support.
By and large, picketing in this province has been conducted in a peaceful manner without incident. Generally speaking, trade unions and their members are aware of their rights and obligations in relation to picket-line activity. Similarly, the police forces of this province are aware of the purpose of the picket line and are capable of ensuring that the rights of employers and employees are protected. In my view, the existing collective bargaining procedure with its attendant right to picket has well served the interest of the labour movement over the years.
Currently, we all recognize that the tensions inherent in the collective bargaining of a dispute often find their expression on the picket line. Understandably, emotions run high amongst employees who have experienced an interruption in their income, are concerned about preserving their jobs and are uncertain about the outcome of the dispute resolution process. Despite the potential for confrontation, the record shows that our system has generally accommodated these tensions without incident.
The resolution by the honourable member refers to two particular collective bargaining disputes, the facts of which are quite distinct. As I have noted and as I am sure all members of the House are aware, a member of the United Steelworkers, Claude Dougdeen, died as a result of injuries sustained on the picket line at Alcan Building Products Ltd. This was a great tragedy.
However, no evidence has come to my attention to indicate the improper conduct on the part of the employer or any of the employees on the picket line. It is my understanding that the investigation is continuing and that an inquest will be held. At the present time it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the precise circumstances of the tragic passing.
In contrast, there has been a great deal of continuing tension in the dispute between Central Precision Ltd. and the United Steelworkers of America. It is alleged by the striking employees that the security firm retained by the employer has engaged in improper surveillance and provocation. The consequent anger and frustration have been expressed by the striking employees establishing a picket line at the personal residences of officers of the company and by leafletting the neighbours of at least one of the company's officials. There have been a number of arrests and charges laid related to alleged unlawful conduct on the picket line.
I have spoken with my colleague the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor), who is receiving detailed reports regarding the involvement of the Metropolitan Toronto Police in this dispute. The Solicitor General advises me that he has carefully reviewed these reports and has concluded that there has been no improper conduct on the part of the police in the performance of their most difficult and sensitive functions.
If the honourable member or any other person has any particular complaints in respect to the conduct of the police, he may wish to address them to the Solicitor General in question period or by telephone or letter. I am sure he would be interested in receiving any such information.
I understand that the justice of the peace before whom informations have been laid in this matter has in some cases issued warrants for the arrest of certain employees rather than proceeding by summons. I also understand that many of these informations have been laid by the agents of the security firm retained by the employer. The member will appreciate the decision as to whether a warrant or a summons should be issued is ultimately a matter of judicial discretion.
It is certainly not appropriate for the Minister of Labour to comment on the exercise of such discretion. If the member has reason to believe that this discretion has been abused he may wish to communicate his complaint to the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), bearing in mind that that no minister would have the right to interfere with the exercise of judicial discretion.
While I can certainly understand the member's concern, I believe the matters he has raised can be and are being adequately addressed in existing procedures. For this reason I would oppose the member's resolution for an emergency debate.
Mr. Speaker: I have listened with great interest to the submissions put forward by the representatives of all three parties in the House. I must say I do find some grounds for the debate. However, I must say, too, that because of the beginning of the throne speech debate we are going to have a better opportunity and more opportunity to discuss this and other matters without any time limit, as would be imposed if we were to discuss it this afternoon. Therefore, I am of the opinion that the motion should not be put at this time.
Mr. McClellan: I am afraid, Mr. Speaker, you leave us no choice other than to challenge your ruling.
The House divided on the Speaker's ruling, which was sustained on the following vote:
Andrewes, Ashe, Barlow, Bennett, Bernier, Birch, Brandt, Cousens, Cureatz, Davis, Dean, Eaton, Elgie, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Grossman, Harris, Havrot, Henderson, Hodgson, Johnson, J. M., Jones, Kells, Kerr, Kolyn, Lane, Leluk, MacQuarrie, McCaffrey, McCague, McLean, McNeil, Mitchell;
Norton, Piché, Pollock, Pope, Ramsay, Robinson, Rotenberg, Runciman, Scrivener, Sheppard, Sterling, Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, G. W., Taylor, J. A., Timbrell, Treleaven, Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Welch, Williams, Wiseman.
Allen, Boudria, Bradley, Breaugh, Breithaupt, Bryden, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, Copps, Cunningham, Di Santo, Edighoffer, Elston, Epp, Grande, Haggerty, Johnston, R. F., Kerrio, Laughren, Lupusella, Mackenzie, Mancini, Martel, McClellan, McKessock, Miller, G. I.;
Newman, Nixon, O'Neil, Peterson, Philip, Rae, Foulds, Reed, J .A., Reid, T. P., Renwick, Riddell, Roy, Ruprecht, Ruston, Samis, Sargent, Spensieri, Stokes, Swart, Van Horne, Worton, Wrye.
Ayes 58, nays 49.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE
Consideration of the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
Mr. Brandt moved, seconded by Mr. Eves, that an humble address be presented to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor as follows:
To the Honourable John Black Aird, an officer of the Order of Canada, one of Her Majesty's counsel learned in the law, Bachelor of Arts, Doctor of Laws, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario:
We, Her Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario, now assembled, beg leave to thank Your Honour for the gracious speech Your Honour has addressed to us.
Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, first I would like to say how pleased and proud I am to have the honour to move adoption of the speech from the throne. I would also like to suggest that no member be allowed to leave his place until I have finished my remarks.
This marks the opening of the third session of the 32nd Parliament of Ontario and I am especially proud to be speaking as a member of the great Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.
Over the past year, being a member of this government has allowed me to contribute to many worthwhile activities. For instance, in my capacity as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay), a gentleman I have great admiration for, I had the opportunity and was able to guide through the House changes to the Workmen's Compensation Act, an act which, for one thing, changed its name to the Workers' Compensation Act in order to reflect this government's recognition of the growing role of women in this province and the role those women are playing in our labour force.
The bill also increased Workers' Compensation Board benefits to help recipients cope with increases in the cost of living. As I recall the debate at that time, there was concern from a number of members on the opposition benches with respect to the level of increase that was being provided by this government. I am proud to say that if one looks at the levels of inflation at this time and the increases that were approved by the government one will note that the workers' compensation benefits are substantially above the present level of inflation.
I have also been honoured to represent the Minister of Labour and the ministry on many other occasions, both in public and in government activities -- none that were paid for by the government, members will be pleased to know, other than when on occasion I did make the odd trip where I managed to quite accidentally bump into certain members of the other parties.
Mr. Roy: I was a member of a one-man task force.
Mr. Brandt: I have had the opportunity to participate in hearings on the standing committee on resources development as it studied the Weiler report's suggestions for ways to revamp the entire system of workers' compensation in Ontario. I think the members of the opposition will agree with me, at least in this one remark, that this is essential and critical legislation that we will be looking at very carefully in the weeks ahead.
I have also been part of the select committee on pensions and of the standing committee on administration of justice as it examined both the government's economic restraint package and the rent restraint bill.
As the member for Sarnia, I was able to introduce a bill establishing the City of Sarnia Foundation, which would receive, manage and use donations for charitable purposes in the Sarnia community. Sarnia was once almost a forgotten part of this great province but I believe, now that representation has changed, that forgotten part of the province is now being remembered.
As a member of the government under the leadership of our great Premier (Mr. Davis), I would like to bring to the attention of the members opposite the number of different ways in which the Sarnia area has been remembered.
Highway 402, which goes through the London area, as the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker) will know, and is so important to our community in the Sarnia area, was completed in 1982, not only on time and not only as promised, but within the budget limitations as set by the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow). That is certainly different from some other levels of government that I might point to on occasion that have great difficulty in keeping their budgets in line.
Our community has received $2.75 million from the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development for the Sarnia Bay marina project. We expect this project to act as a catalyst for more development, both private and public, for the Sarnia area and, more particularly, to attract new visitors to our area from the United States. A boost in tourism will naturally create more jobs in the related service industries.
A little more than a year ago, the Honourable Lieutenant Governor of Ontario was in this chamber to deliver the speech from the throne for the second session of our 32nd Parliament. The Lieutenant Governor noted then that this House was meeting at a time when the people of this province were facing severe economic difficulties. These problems were not endemic to Ontario, but were being experienced throughout Canada and by all nations in the industrialized western world.
The speech from the throne made it clear that the top priority of this government would be to put Ontario on as positive an economic track as possible. This government has honoured that commitment. A courageous budget, an equitable restraint program and innovative job creation and economic stimulation policies have not only helped the people of Ontario through a prolonged severe international recession, not of our making, but have placed us in a position to take full advantage of current positive economic developments.
I say with justifiable pride that in Ontario these positive developments have been encouraged and assisted by the programs and policies of the Progressive Conservative government.
Ontario now faces a time of great opportunity and challenge. There are many positive indications that our economy is poised to make a sustained recovery. Business confidence, especially when one looks at a number of current conditions, has strengthened very considerably in the last few weeks and months. Lower mortgage rates have stimulated the housing market at both the national and provincial levels.
Mr. Martel: Oh, you'll take credit for that too, will you?
Mr. Brandt: Well, we were being blamed for it earlier.
Nationally, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reports that housing starts in March translated into an annualized rate of 177,000 units for 1983, and I might add that this is considerably higher than the 150,000 to 155,000 housing starts that were originally forecast for this year.
In Ontario, housing sales are extremely encouraging. Last month the Toronto Real Estate Board reported that March 1983 -- thanks in great part to some of the stimulative measures taken by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) was the third best sales month in the entire history of that board. As the board noted, buyers have expressed their confidence in the economic upturn by investing one third of a billion dollars in homes over that period.
The stimulative effect this recovery will have on the furniture, lumber and appliance industries can only be estimated but it will be very substantial. Depleted inventories and increased demand should contribute to a healthy turnaround in those sectors and ultimately strengthen employment opportunities as well.
All indications from the automotive industry suggest equally brisk expansion in 1983. Canadian exports of automotive products increased sharply in January from their late 1982 levels. The country's current trade surplus in vehicles approaches $5 billion, and the parts shortfall has recently narrowed to $3 billion. Reduced United States inventories of Canadian-made car models have been supporting the pace of auto exports and production.
The effect of this recovery is already being felt in Ontario. For example, General Motors has recently returned to double-shift operations at all of its assembly plants.
Mr. Nixon: Who wrote this?
Mr. Brandt: As a matter of fact I did. I would like to say to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.
The stronger output trend has been equally beneficial to the province's steel industry, where activity has begun to accelerate after a very disappointing year of operation in 1982.
Although there has been a marked and real improvement in the performance of our automotive industry, there remain a number of problems that threaten the long-term viability of that very important sector of our economy. The speech from the throne demonstrates that this government is not only aware of those problems but has committed itself to help solve them. The introduction of a quota system for imported cars and the introduction of Canadian content rules strike me as being practical and effective solutions to the difficulties that beset this industry. I am sure all members of this House join me in applauding this government's determination to press Ottawa for the creation of these safeguards to protect the Ontario industry and Ontario jobs.
Mr. Conway: Where do you stand on the Lada?
Mr. Boudria: Does Jim Taylor still drive a Lada?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Order.
Mr. Brandt: I will see if I have time to tag it on to the end of this one; I know the speech well.
In the longer term, I think the idea that all imports of automobiles into the Canadian market should be governed by the same requirements as those set out in the Canada-US auto pact should be adopted by the federal government. I hope Ottawa will respond positively to Ontario's suggestions and recommendations with respect to the automotive industry.
Interest rates have dropped dramatically from the stratospheric heights to which they had been boosted by the policies of the federal government. At times it appeared that the federal Liberal government was unaware of the devastating impact high interest rates had on consumer purchases. People simply stopped buying and they are still proceeding only with great caution and uncertainty when it comes to major purchases. Fortunately this trend has reversed to some extent over the past couple of months, but only after causing considerable damage to our industries and considerable hardship for our people.
Lower interest rates cannot be anything but good news to manufacturers and consumers. Consumers will be encouraged to make purchases, particularly of big-ticket items, which they have postponed because of those high rates. Increased consumer buying will deplete already low inventories. Certainly the liquidation of business inventories represents a real opportunity for economic growth in 1983. More than $8.5 billion in stockpiled merchandise was siphoned off in 1982, sometimes at the expense of unemployed workers who remained inactive while inventories were reduced, but now the cupboard is bare in many retail outlets and that bodes well for accelerated employment and production.
Another factor that points to a recovery is the significant decline in the rate of inflation. In 1981 and 1982 the consumer price index grew at rates of 12.5 per cent and 10.8 per cent respectively. By 1983, on a year-over-year basis, the inflation rate had dropped to the six per cent to seven per cent range. This moderation in the rate of inflation will increase the spending power of consumers throughout Ontario.
Already there are signs of increasing consumer confidence. Statistics Canada reported that Ontario's retail sales in February had increased by 7.5 per cent, one of the highest of any province in the entire country.
All the elements necessary for an economic recovery appear to be in place. It is up to us to bring together and build on those elements. If we are to take full advantage of the opportunities offered to us, as the government we must do two things. First of all, we must design and implement policies that will enable us to exploit positive economic developments for the immediate good of the province. At the same time, however, these policies must not have the unintended effect of stifling those very sectors on which our recovery is being built.
We in this Legislature have the opportunity to make a real contribution to economic recovery by supporting legislation and programs that will enhance and speed the improvement of economic conditions. It has been the practice of this government in the past to constructively participate, as opposed to destructively interfere, in the economy of the province. We must continue this approach and act only in those areas where support or stimulation is required -- in other words, in a very selective way. We must not compromise the opportunities before us.
The programs outlined in the throne speech prove that this government intends to continue its constructive participation in the economy of the province. The three-part program in particular represents a constructive response to the economic realities of the day.
The second thing we must do is to maintain a feeling of optimism and confidence both in this House and in the province at large. The world recession has created what is a crisis of confidence in the minds of many. It has made many of us fear the future and lose faith in our abilities because of the economic uncertainties that are all around us. This loss of confidence paralyses the will to act, to take risks, to invest and to persevere.
Just as important as the economic aspects of any recovery will be the recovery of our self- confidence, which I believe we need very desperately in this very difficult age. Indeed, we may not attain the former unless we at first achieve the latter. We must remember that we do not get the plum unless we have the courage to shake the tree. With this throne speech this government demonstrates that it is looking to Ontario's future with confidence and optimism, something that I wish was shared to a greater extent by some of the members opposite.
Mr. Brandt: Pessimists; purveyors of doom and gloom.
I share that sense of confidence in our strength and abilities, and optimism in our future. That is not to say that I do not on rare occasions experience moments of doubt when I question the ability of our province to successfully meet the many challenges that await us.
However, I have never fallen into the depths of despair and timidity that appear to be the natural habitat of many of the members opposite. Their unshakeable conviction that the sky over Ontario is falling is really exaggeration in the extreme. The gloom which emanates from that part of the House is nearly impenetrable. The entire area over there reminds me of a large black cloud that is constantly hovering above their heads.
I do not think the negativism of the opposition parties is in any way an accurate reflection of the mood or the spirit of the people of Ontario. Rather, I believe Ontarians have confidence in themselves and in the government of which I am proud to be a part.
I appreciate that one of the tasks of the members opposite is to attempt to convince first themselves and then anyone who will listen that the people of this province do not have confidence in this government.
I recall an advertisement sponsored by the Liberal Party of Ontario during the last general election. Other members may remember that particular advertisement as well. The video part of the ad showed a suitcase being snapped shut and labelled with stickers bearing the names of destinations to the west of Ontario. I am sure some of the members opposite recall that sparkling ad with great clarity.
Meanwhile, the voice-over was intoning that every 17 minutes somebody left Ontario. The ad made a particular point of telling us that many of these people were young people. The ad, I believe, concluded with some suggestion like, "What will your kids be doing 17 minutes from now?
The intent and implication of the advertisement was quite obvious. The effectiveness of the ad and the rest of the campaign is evident in the seating arrangements in this House.
Mr. Nixon: More people voted against you than voted for you.
Mr. Brandt: Far more people voted against my friend and his collective cohorts, if I may suggest that.
Canadians have always moved within the federation in search of greater economic opportunity and for other reasons which, while they may have nothing to do with money, are of considerable importance to the individual's self- fulfilment.
Many Canadians exercise their mobility rights. Many who do exercise these rights come to Ontario. I believe the immediate past leader of the official opposition came to Ontario from Quebec. In fact, I think the family of the current leader migrated some time ago from western Canada to Ontario. I would venture to say that in each case, aside from their rather unfortunate choice in politics, each of these gentlemen has prospered here in Ontario.
Mr. Conway: You've been on both sides of the fence.
Mr. Brandt: That is why I am over here, because I have seen what the other side of the fence looks like.
Leaving that aside -- I ask my friends to listen carefully to this, because I am going to return to the Liberals' 1981 theme; I think it is quite valid in the context of this debate -- it is apparent that the Liberal Party was attempting to link the fact that Ontario had a net migratory deficit in 1981 to its claim that this government had mishandled the affairs of this province and had consequently reduced opportunities for its people. I believe that was the story they were attempting to tell in that fine ad they put on.
I will speak slowly so members opposite can follow this. If a migratory deficit can be taken as proof of mismanagement, then following the official opposition's reasoning, surplus should be taken as proof of good management. Would the reverse not hold? I expect that members opposite will be saddened to learn that in 1982 Ontario experienced a net interprovincial migration surplus of almost 3,500 people. So much for those great suitcase ads. Even during the 1981 campaign, I must confess that I found the Liberals' ad somewhat puzzling.
The Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr. Brandt: One of the provinces whose name appeared on the suitcase, supposedly a prime destination in this mass exodus, was Alberta.
The Acting Speaker: Order. The honourable members are interjecting far too much.
The Acting Speaker: The Speaker is losing patience.
Mr. Brandt: In that ad campaign I believe one of the destinations being suggested by the opposition party was the province of Alberta. I would like to say that Alberta has two things to recommend it. First, they have oil, of which we would dearly love to have a larger supply here in our own province. But they also have a strong Progressive Conservative government, I might add. Those people who for whatever reason did leave Ontario went to a province that was also being served by a Progressive Conservative government.
There was another province which received mention on the side of the Liberal suitcase that was used in those infamous advertisements; it happened to be the province of Saskatchewan. I need not remind this House that the good people of Saskatchewan have recently elected a Progressive Conservative government as well. It seems that when the people of any province want sound, responsible management of public affairs, they turn to a Progressive Conservative Party.
Of course I am certain the Liberals would have preferred to have been able to put the names of provinces governed by the Liberal Party on their suitcase. However, that is just not possible in this day and age since there are no provincial Liberal governments anywhere across this great country of ours. That is the truth. I was hesitant in bringing it up, but I felt compelled to bring it up because of some of the questions that were asked across the way.
I would also like to point out to the members of the official opposition that since the member for Brampton (Mr. Davis) entered the cabinet, the Ontario Liberal Party has changed leaders on the average of once every 3.3 years. I would like then to ask them what their current leader will be doing 17 months from now, because that is the average tenure for a leader in their particular party.
This year this House reconvenes at a pivotal moment in the history of our province. All around us technological, economic and social changes are occurring at an incredible and at times bewildering rate. Ultimately these changes will affect every area of our lives -- how we work, the type of work we will be doing, how our children are educated, how we will use our leisure time and where we will live.
Mr. Brandt: It ties in very directly if the member will listen carefully, I am sure.
To ensure a complete understanding of the nature of these changes and their impact on our society, this government intends to undertake an extensive and serious study of major projected developments. Knowledge gained from this study will ensure that we will be able to respond pragmatically and effectively to what may well prove to be a fundamental restructuring of our society as we know it today.
The way in which we respond to these changes and their impact on our social and economic lives will determine the type and nature of our society in the future. To manage these forces of change in a manner which will best serve and further the public interest will require imagination, flexibility and courage. The record of this government indicates it will be more than able to meet this challenge.
It is often said about government that as an institution it possesses the pivotal role in bringing together society's conflicting interests. Speaking personally, I see the role of government as one of mediation between opposing social forces; to improve the relationship between business and labour, between consumer and producer, landlord and tenant. Increasingly in our society, government has come to mean more to the citizens it serves. Today, in addition to its role as arbitrator of competing forces, government is being asked to accept the role of co-ordinator of harmonious interests. I staunchly defend an economic system that follows the principles of a free enterprise market, but I also recognize the importance of government as an institution of conciliation, of strategic planning and leadership.
In Ontario, as an example, the government's Board of Industrial Leadership and Development strategy is a perfect illustration of this new, evolving role of government. To date, 77 projects have been approved by BILD, part of the five-year, $1.5-billion program of new reindustrialization in this province.
First and foremost, BILD is a long-term plan, but in the past year alone 40,000 short-term jobs were created by BILD initiatives. Equally important, BILD is a multifaceted approach to preparing Ontario for the 1980s. If we exclude electrification projects and highway improvements, more than half of all BILD initiatives include private sector funding. In total, the private sector has committed more than $330 million to the BILD strategy, and support from the federal and municipal governments exceeds $120 million to date.
Mr. Conway: Was Morley Rosenberg part of BILD?
Mr. Brandt: Not the last time I looked.
Most important, BILD helps people in a very practical and very sensible way. Just ask the people of Sarnia, who will benefit enormously from the Sarnia Bay project, what they think of the BILD initiatives; or the citizens of Point Edward, who will have an expanded arena, a project that will also enjoy BILD support.
In short, the BILD strategy is a timely addition to the economic priorities of this decade. On the one hand, it will help co-ordinate, primarily with the private sector, a growth-oriented approach to the Ontario economy -- something that some of the members opposite would not understand. Witness the investment in technological expertise, in job training, transportation and electrical infrastructure.
But, on the other hand, BILD will bring communities together. It is very much a human approach to economic co-ordination. It is an approach that already has significantly improved the quality of life in my constituency and indeed in many constituencies right across the province. It is my belief that economic recovery in the future will belong to imaginative people who can come up with imaginative programs like the BILD initiatives taken by this government.
This government's plan to develop internationally competitive, world-class industries in Ontario will ensure that the future will belong to the people of this province. This may well prove to be the most significant and important program announced in the speech from the throne. This government recognizes it is essential that all our business enterprises be on top of technological innovation if they are to find inventive ways of reducing operating costs, increasing productivity, creating competitive products and achieving higher profitability.
If our firms do not modernize their production processes, if our industries fail to join the technological revolution that is sweeping the industrial world, they will be left far behind. It is the obligation and the responsibility of this province to see that this does not happen. Canadian businesses, particularly those in manufacturing, are facing the greatest productivity challenge since Confederation.
Large segments of our manufacturing base are facing economic hardships, not to mention the possibility of elimination, due to an intense wave of international competition. The domestic tariff barriers which largely kept the Canadian market for Canadian-based manufacturers are currently being lowered by approximately 50 per cent as a result of recent General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations.
Many of our manufacturers use outdated, uncompetitive manufacturing tools and equipment. This is in stark contrast to their foreign-based competitors, predominantly in the United States, Japan and West Germany, which have invested heavily in modern computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing equipment, robotics and microelectronics.
As a result of all of this, foreign manufacturers are increasingly more efficient than their Canadian-based competitors and can sell higher quality goods in many instances at lower prices in both Canada and throughout the world. To assist our companies to effectively compete and survive in increasingly competitive domestic and international markets, BILD has taken steps to help our firms keep pace with technological innovation.
Our technology centres are focusing on the needs of smaller firms in specific sectors. Their primary purpose is to advise and assist small and medium-sized firms to apply the latest technologies to their operations. This confidence in the adaptability of smaller enterprises is well founded. Studies have shown that smaller firms are substantially more innovative compared to larger enterprises. Small businesses form the backbone of the economy of Ontario. They are by far the principal source of new jobs in this great province of ours.
A 1979 study conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found that Canadian manufacturing companies with fewer than 20 employees created jobs at 20 times the pace of larger companies. There are more than 240,000 small firms in Ontario, of which 14,000 are manufacturers and the remainder are service companies, retailers and technological enterprises.
Our government's policies and those policies which were reinforced in the throne speech are intended to stimulate entrepreneurial talent in order to take advantage of the opportunities offered by new technologies. The auto parts industry, for example, is dominated by small manufacturers requiring assistance to reduce process costs, to improve plant layout and product quality, and to resolve design problems for products and manufacturing processes in order to compete with the Japanese challenge of a high-quality, low-cost automobile.
For this reason Ontario established an auto parts technology centre in St. Catharines. The focus of that centre is to provide programs which will ensure, firstly, sustained productivity improvement; secondly, world-competitive quality; thirdly, timely delivery of parts; and, finally, product innovation. These four factors will be the keys to success for Canadian parts manufacturers in the new competitive environment we are going to face in the decade ahead. The centre will assist manufacturers in finding and implementing the managerial, manufacturing and product technology necessary to meet these factors for success.
In addition, the centre will help parts companies to identify and to capitalize on opportunities for diversification into related industries. That is the kind of government intervention that creates meaningful, long-term jobs. There are tremendous opportunities for converting many manufacturing and industrial facilities to using new technologies that are available today. One of our government's objectives is to work closely with small and medium-sized firms on identifying the needed changes in their operations and to assist them through this difficult conversion period.
The microelectronics centre in Ottawa, the CAD/CAM centre in Cambridge -- home of the great Hornets hockey club that just brought back the Allan Cup for the fourth time in 14 years as I recall -- and the robotics centre in Peterborough are currently in the position to demonstrate how these new technologies will affect productivity and profitability. All were initiatives of the government of which I am proud to be part. There is no doubt in my mind that these technology centres will be instrumental in facilitating the plant modernization and product innovation of small businesses in this province.
I might add for the benefit of some of the members of the third party that is where some of the new jobs are going to come from in the decade ahead, as a result of the initiatives and as a result of this kind of proper thinking taken by the government I represent on this side of the House.
The technology centres are but one example of how Ontario continues to demonstrate its leadership and fulfil its commitment to strategic planning and a more prosperous future for the people of this province.
During this session we will no doubt have a number of opportunities to discuss the issues of job creation and the problems of the unemployed. The topics of jobs and joblessness will still be important even as we head out of the present recession.
In the last session of this Parliament, the government undertook a number of immediate measures to create jobs. Those measures were intended to deliver jobs to those groups, regions and sectors of our province where they would do the most good and in a way which would produce the greatest impact per dollar spent.
Mr. Stokes: What about those one-industry towns in the north?
Mr. Brandt: I am going to mention those shortly.
Since those new programs were introduced, the number of jobs created actually exceeded the expected level, and the final count is not even in yet. In other words, the number we are going to reach is greater than we told the members.
All of us will remember that last May the government allocated an additional $171 million to create about 31,000 short-term jobs. We have been honest with the people of Ontario. We have told them these are short-term jobs to get over the immediate problem the economy is facing now. I might add we do not suggest, as members of the third party do so frequently, that one can simply legislate jobs into existence because one wills it so. It simply is not that easy. One has to work at it and one has to work at it in the way the programs of this government have been laid out for the members to look at.
I can tell the members that most, if not all, of these programs were very successful, such as the Ontario employment incentive program which funded some 8,000 jobs in many municipalities across Ontario, about 900 more jobs than anticipated. In being honest with the members, we always reduce the target somewhat so we can exceed it and so they will applaud our efforts, but still they do not applaud our efforts.
I am sure all of us have constituents who have benefited from the many programs this government has brought into being. To my mind, the most successful programs, such as the ones I have just mentioned, were those which did their job in the fastest possible time with the least amount of red tape and bureaucracy.
Another of the efficient programs whose popularity greatly exceeded expectations was the farmstead improvement program which created over four times the expected number of jobs and for which the Ministry of Agriculture and Food granted additional funding to keep up with the large demand.
But even with these measures in place, we all remember unemployment rates continued to increase until the start of this year. To create further jobs, Ontario and Canada each contributed $100 million to the Canada-Ontario employment development program, COED. As well, our government agreed to spend an additional $50 million to create 7,500 jobs co-ordinated through BILD. The COED program was established in particular to provide jobs for those who had exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits. It is currently well under way, providing employers and municipalities with opportunities to speed up and complete many worthwhile projects. For example, in my own municipality a number of projects have already been approved, ranging from a pollution study of storm sewers to additional programs for mentally, physically and emotionally handicapped children and for restoration work at one of our homes for the aged in the municipality of Sarnia.
The speech from the throne leaves no doubt that the creation of new employment opportunities for our citizens will continue to be the top priority of this government. There is also no question of this government's intention to continue to assist those of our citizens who require help in the job market. As noted in the throne speech, the recovery and the increased job opportunities that will result from it will centre mainly on the private sector.
It is my view, shared by most of the members on the government side, that the most effective job creation programs are those fiscal and development policies that will enhance investor confidence, encourage capital formation and stimulate growth in the private sector. Given that the private sector in Ontario over the last decade has generated well over 80 per cent of new permanent jobs, this approach appears to be a sane and sensible one on the part of this government.
In closing, in order to allow my colleague an opportunity to make a few very important remarks, I want to add that I listened very carefully to some of the suggestions offered by some of the members across the way. Part of the program for recovery that I hear so often is simply to spend more money, increase the deficit and, by so doing, increase the number of jobs that might be available to the citizens of Ontario.
Let me share with members a concern I have about taking that particular method of recovery on the part of this government. If it could be done as simplistically as that, simply by increasing the deficit, by spending more money and throwing it against the problems the unemployed have today, I want to tell members there would not be a poor country in the entire world, because they would simply continue to spend, to increase their deficits, and there would be a brighter day tomorrow. That is the fallacy of socialism. It simply does not work in the real world. That is why the policies and the directions and the objectives suggested by the third party in particular, and I might add quite often by the official opposition and its cohorts in Ottawa, will not work in this country and will not work in Ontario.
I am proud to represent this government and to move the throne speech on behalf of the members of this party and on behalf of the government of Ontario.
Mr. Eves: Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate it if you would control the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché). He is eating into my time.
Having heard the remarks from the member for Sarnia --
Mr. Eves: Mr. Speaker, is it too late to change my mind? The member for Sarnia is always a tough act to follow.
Mr. Kerrio: Not this time.
Mr. Eves: Of course, I am always impressed by anyone who had a majority in the double digits.
Mr. Eves: Is that right? I did not know there were such people.
Mr. Brandt: It was an easy riding. It was a Liberal riding.
Mr. Eves: It is with great pleasure that I second the motion of my colleague the member for Sarnia that this Legislature accept the proposals set out in the government's throne speech. I know our Liberal colleagues opposite take a rather cynical view of throne speeches but that is hardly surprising, seeing as how their brethren in Ottawa have introduced only one since 1980. But in spite of opposition criticism our throne speech proposals are sound proposals. They are responsible suggestions, suggestions that are right for Ontario and right for the times.
It is true that our province has suffered along with the rest of the western world from the worst economic slowdown in over 50 years; no one is denying that, nor is anyone denying the seriousness of the plight of the unemployed. But our support systems are in place in Ontario and they are working. Ontario, in co-operation with other levels of government and by herself, is helping to provide meaningful work for the unemployed. Equally impressive is the fact that all of this was accomplished within a framework of financial and fiscal restraint.
Mr. McClellan: What is the unemployment rate in Parry Sound?
Mr. Eves: Maybe a little bit less than yours, sir.
Following a policy of restraint and responsible management has kept our province from the disastrous economic pitfalls stumbled into by other jurisdictions. We have only to look to our sister province of Quebec and, indeed, to the federal government for those examples. We do not face a staggering uncontrolled deficit, as does Ottawa, a deficit that we have now learned will perhaps run to over $31 billion this year if Marc Lalonde's recent leak can be believed.
In Ontario, our policy of restraint has helped us to weather those economic storms far more successfully than most other jurisdictions while still allowing us the leeway to hold out a hand to those Ontarians who have been hardest hit by economic conditions. This should be especially gratifying to my New Democratic Party colleagues who are quick to proclaim themselves the saviours of the socially disadvantaged. They have the only answers. These are the same NDP members who did everything in their power to block passage of our restraint legislation last session.
Our fiscal responsibility has given us a firm basis for future optimism. The economy is beginning to turn around and, as the throne speech indicates, our government will be doing all it can to help assist that recovery.
My colleague the member for Sarnia has taken a look at the overall picture, where our government's programs and policies have led and are leading the province. I would like to change the focus of this discussion and look at some of the individual projects and programs that are going on in various ridings across the province. Looking at our policies in this context is particularly appropriate, I think, because the story of economic hardship and recovery is one of real individuals and real communities pulling together.
Let us start with job creation, because that is one of the most important areas we have had to tackle during the past year. As the member for Sarnia has pointed out, the government's record in this area is more than impressive. The $176-million job creation package of the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) from the last budget far exceeded all expectations, with over 40,000 new jobs now being created. Since then ventures such as the Canada-Ontario employment development program have also proven effective in sending our people back to work.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Peterson) was recently quoted as saying that the COED program has achieved very little. That kind of distortion serves only to weaken the credibility of the Liberal Party in Ontario. In fact, to date some 14,0000 jobs have been created by some 1,700 approved projects.
Let me give members a few examples of the success of this program, starting naturally with my own riding, in Parry Sound --
Mr. Stokes: Is that in northern Ontario?
Mr. Eves: It certainly is, since 1977.
All 34 organized municipalities in my riding have received COED funding for job creation programs. The projects being carried out will help improve the quality of life in various communities. The township of Bonfield will be building a community centre with the help of the assistance it received; a new firehall will be built in the town of Parry Sound; McKellar township will eliminate safety hazards on various township roads; the village of South River will use grant money to help pay for renovations for a senior citizens' complex.
But they are not just limited to my riding or to government members' ridings. As a matter of fact I have personally assisted two projects that have recently been funded in the riding of the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway).
Mr. Eves: A private sector project in the riding of my colleague the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon) will convert a fire-damaged building to a senior citizens' residence. Government funding for this project is over $200,000 and 25 full-time and part-time staff will be employed at the home after 35 construction workers have completed the conversion. I think that brings the total jobs created in his region to over 400.
Of municipal proposals, the riding of the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) recently had 14 projects approved for over $1.5 million which will provide 87 jobs in his riding, one of those areas of our province, few and far between as they may be, among the opposition benches. In the riding of the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley), for example, the regional municipality of Niagara has received approval for six projects for over $3 million, creating 95 jobs; and in Windsor there are 28 projects for a total value of $2.2 million, creating 194 new jobs.
I could go on at much greater length but I think the message is clear. Not even the most negative member of the opposition benches could dispute the merits of the Canada-Ontario employment development program or the good that will result to these communities and the people throughout our province.
I could talk at great length about another important job creation program in the northern areas of our province, the Canada-Ontario job creation program sponsored by our own Ministry of Natural Resources and the federal government. Since February of last year, this program has seen our province contribute over $18 million to create 80,000 weeks of work for 5,600 laid-off workers in the resource sector of our economy.
Equally encouraging is the employment incentive program of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) which opened more than 8,000 new jobs in over 700 municipalities. I could list dozens of other initiatives. I could mention the renter-buy program, which has seen over 85 applications in my riding alone and which economists believe will create almost 40,000 man-years of work in construction and related trades across the province.
Impressive as these figures may be, I know the opposition will argue that these are temporary job creation measures, that they do not solve long-term economic problems and that we need long-term solutions. That kind of opposition response, although predictable, surprises me a little because when we get past the rhetoric the opposition is entirely bankrupt of ideas and has no positive alternative to offer.
On the other hand, I can offer a host of illustrations of our government's activities to create new long-term opportunities for businesses and individuals throughout our province. Obviously the biggest part of our long-term economic strategy is the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program.
I would like to take a moment or two to highlight some of the smaller community-oriented projects which will prove just as important in our economic development. BILD projects to improve conditions at the Sarnia Bay marina, already alluded to by my friend; the Wye-Heritage Marina in Midland, which actually does exist, which will help bring new tourist dollars to these areas; as will the creation of the Crary Park marina in Peterborough, a project carried out with the help of $1.7-million BILD grant. Just think of the construction jobs that these projects will create, not to mention the economic boost they will provide their communities. These benefits will certainly be long-term.
BILD is also promoting the development and expansion of industries all over Ontario. In the riding of the member for Haldimand-Norfolk (Mr. G. I. Miller), the Norfolk Fruit Growers' Association of Simcoe received $150,000 from BILD to finish a new apple packing line. By 1986, the association believes that this expansion will help them replace imports and increase exports for a total value of $6.5 million.
In the riding of the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip), the Farmers' Market at the Ontario Food Terminal has been expanded with the help of a $2-million BILD program to house 150 new stalls. This means more local farmers can sell directly to Toronto food and produce retailers. Obviously, the BILD program creates many jobs in many areas, a fact which I know every opposition member will appreciate.
BILD is not alone in its efforts, however. There are all kinds of other programs to help our businesses and industries get off the ground, expand and diversify. This kind of support is especially important in the north. The northern Ontario rural development agreement is helping to support and expand promising ventures in northern Ontario. In my riding alone, over $1 million in NORDA funding has been approved -- for 13 ventures recently in the Parry Sound area alone for over $800,000.
The same can be said of our government's many other business support programs, such as the Northern Ontario Development Corp.. Eastern Ontario Development Corp., the federal-provincial eastern Ontario subsidiary agreement. These encourage some flourishing businesses in the communities east of the Metropolitan Toronto border. Over the past two years $375,000 in provincial funding has gone to the riding of the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J. A. Taylor), to name just one example.
In my own riding I can sense a feeling of optimism and confidence in the future. Businesses and individuals are talking about economic growth and diversification, about making the most of our resources and about increasing our competitive edge.
Just let me use my own riding as an example of what can be accomplished, even during difficult economic times, with a positive attitude. The economic development commission, a fairly new idea for attracting new businesses in the west Parry Sound area of the riding, has proven extremely successful. They now have one in Mattawa, and on the east side of the riding as well.
The work of the EDC has brought to our region an electronics firm from California, a transportation firm, a whitewater rafting project on the Magnetawan River. Many of our established firms are proving themselves more than equal to the task of developing new opportunities, even during difficult times.
One of the most recent innovations to hit the boating industry is the new hydraulic trailer made by Stanley Machine of Parry Sound. This device is revolutionizing the work of hauling boats, lifting them in and out of the water, allowing one man to do the work of loading or unloading boats of up to 20 tons.
On the subject of boats, let me point out that Canada 1, the yacht now being prepared for this fall's America's Cup, was built in Parry Sound.
Mr. Martel: Is that part of the BILD program?
Mr. Eves: Certainly.
Again though, let me show members another approach; the cynical, pessimistic attitude often displayed by our opposition counterparts. The NDP member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) indicates in a recent story that Canadians have been deceived into believing there is a recovery. He calls this a cruel hoax and says if anything things are getting worse, not better. The evidence of improving attitudes and conditions in my own riding is enough to disprove that pessimistic evaluation and all we have to do is look at the facts.
What about the recall of the 11,000 workers in Sudbury recently? What about the fact that only 3.4 per cent of Chrysler's workers are now on an indefinite layoff, compared to 39 per cent in the United States?
I could quote a recent Globe and Mail article entitled "Promising Economy Remains In Rebuilding Stage." I could cite the fact that Canada's inflation rate has hit a new four-year low of 7.2 per cent. I could tell members the prime rate yesterday was cut to 11 per cent by all major chartered banks across Canada.
I can tell members in no uncertain terms that a belief in our government, its proposals and its leadership is one important reason so many of our communities continue to be optimistic and plan for the future in the face of current economic problems. They know the economy is turning around. They have faith in Ontario's future; they have faith in this government and in its leadership.
The Deputy Speaker: I am wondering if at this time the member for Parry Sound would like to move the adjournment of the debate.
Mr. Eves: I have concluded my remarks. Mr. Speaker. Thank you.
On motion by Ms. Copps, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.