The House met at 10 a.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
PILOT PROJECT IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure for me to be able to share with the House initiatives designed to identify new ways of saving money. The Ministry of Government Services is undertaking a pilot project that should not only identify dollar-saving opportunities but will also provide information to enable us to improve service to the people of Ontario and our client ministries.
More than 85 per cent of all government business is conducted by telephone. That amounts to somewhere in the neighbourhood of 130 million telephone calls to and from government every year. We want to know how efficiently and effectively we are using our telecommunications system. We want to know how and where we can save money and we want to know how we can improve our service.
In order to collect this information, the Ministry of Government Services is testing a data-gathering system which will enable us to determine such things as the volume of calls on a telephone, how many times the phone rings before being answered, the number of calls coming in after normal working hours, as well as the chargeable calls to information.
Private sector corporations have shown savings of up to 25 per cent in telecommunications costs through this type of evaluation process, a very attractive figure in this time of constraint. During the trial period the datapulse system will be located solely at the Ministry of Government Services within the Queen's Park complex on a limited number of telephones.
The information we are gathering is purely statistical in nature. There is no capability in this procedure, nor would anyone want there to be, for monitoring conversations. We simply believe there is always a better way of doing things and we want to know how.
I would like to point out this is just one more example of the many initiatives being undertaken by this government and my ministry to identify potential cost savings as well as to promote new ways of better serving the people of Ontario.
NIAGARA RIVER WATER QUALITY
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I should like to bring the honourable members up to date on my ministry's continuing efforts to safeguard water quality in the Niagara River.
Late last summer, members may recall, I initiated an exhaustive study of the many factors that led to the gross contamination by waste chemicals of the Love Canal area in Niagara Falls, New York. Between 1942 and 1952 Hooker Chemicals and Plastics Corp. deposited an estimated 22,000 tons of chemical waste along the course of this abandoned waterway. Later, the city of Niagara Falls added municipal garbage. In addition, both during and after the Second World War, various United States federal agencies deposited unspecified toxic chemical wastes on this site.
Subsequently, of course, the President of the United States declared a state of emergency at Love Canal and the area was evacuated of some 2,000 residents. Since that time the United States state and federal agencies have conducted various studies and embarked upon certain initiatives to keep the contamination where it is and, above all, to keep it away from the shared resource, the Niagara River. At its closest point Love Canal is only a quarter mile from the Niagara River.
Quite frankly, neither I nor my officials have ever been completely satisfied with the progress the Americans are making. While the drinking water in communities on the Canadian side of the river is perfectly safe, as shown by our constant monitoring, we are conscious of the potential threat that exists if abandoned dump sites, such as Love Canal, are not properly controlled.
Members will recall that I have reported to them the discovery of trace amounts of dioxin and other chemicals as the result of our intensive, ongoing monitoring of water and testing of fish in the Niagara River and its tributaries. Most of these contaminants, we are convinced, are from American sources.
It was against this background of concern that last summer my ministry engaged a highly reputable engineering firm, Geologic Testing Consultants Ltd. of Ottawa, to carry out an independent technical review and interpretation of the hydrogeologic conditions of Love Canal. We wanted reliable, up-to-date data on which to base our future actions.
This report has now been completed and has been reviewed, resulting in a series of urgent recommendations which I am presenting to the government of the United States. The government of Ontario is asking the Secretary of State for External Affairs, the Honourable Allan MacEachen, to convey these recommendations to the government of the United States and to use the full weight of his office to make sure they are forwarded to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
I would also hope and expect that the federal Minister of the Environment, the Honourable John Roberts, will add his own endorsement to the recommendations that are being put forward and with which, I might add, his staff are in full agreement.
In summary, this what we are asking the appropriate American authorities for: the provision of funds for the cleanup -- not just further investigation, as things now stand -- of sewers, creeks and outfalls that have been contaminated from the Love Canal area; the dredging of contaminated sediment from Cayuga Creek, which both we and the Americans know to be heavily contaminated and which drains into the Niagara River; a monitoring system to establish the long-term effectiveness of remedial work already planned by the Environmental Protection Agency; additional monitoring programs designed and put in place to show whether there is a possibility of ground water at the site moving downward into the bedrock below.
If all the actions contained in these recommendations are implemented, together with the remedial measures already in hand by the Environmental Protection Agency, I believe that the problems caused by Love Canal will in large measure be contained; and if the other waste disposal sites adjacent to the Niagara River are controlled to the same extent, we will have made a tremendous stride towards protecting and improving the river's quality.
In conclusion, we must all realize that Canada and the United States are the joint custodians and protectors of the Niagara River. As the province which shares this waterway, Ontario has the mandate and the responsibility to take action on behalf of its residents.
DEATHS AT HOSPITAL FOR SICK CHILDREN
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I have a statement regarding the deaths of patients at the Hospital for Sick Children in 1980 and 1981. I have two basic matters to discuss and I would like to provide as much background information as possible on events leading up to the decisions through what has been an exceedingly challenging time for all involved.
First, no criminal charges will be laid at this time against any person who may be responsible for these deaths. Although this case is exceedingly complex, the reason for the Metropolitan Toronto Police and my senior criminal law advisers coming to this conclusion is simply that there is not sufficient evidence at this time to warrant the laying of any additional criminal charges.
I have personally reviewed the extensive police report, the report of the Ministry of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, the so-called Atlanta report, as well as other material, and I have met on numerous occasions with my officials and the police. I agree completely with the consensus reached by the police and my legal advisers as to the laying of additional criminal charges.
I hope honourable members will note that twice already I have used the phrase "at this time" in relation to the decision regarding charges. I want to assure members that if evidence ever becomes available to warrant the laying of additional charges, the public can be assured that charges will be laid and a vigorous prosecution pursued.
The second matter I want to discuss has to do with the process of accountability to the public in relation to the deaths and the circumstances surrounding them. Members will recall that the Ministry of Health announced a review of conditions and procedures in place at the hospital after the deaths. This extensive and comprehensive review was conducted by Mr. Justice Charles Dubin of the Supreme Court of Ontario and a team of medical experts. Their recommendations have either been acted upon or are under very active consideration by the hospital staff and administration. I should also add that there have been no unexplained deaths since March 1981.
I have already referred to a very extensive report of the Centers for Disease Control, which dealt with both patient care issues at the hospital and the cause of death of a number of infants. I need not repeat what I said in the Legislature on February 21 about that report and its conclusions except to indicate that all issues relevant to patient care were brought immediately to the attention of hospital officials. Even though there have been these two intensive studies by two separate authorities, as well as a lengthy preliminary hearing of the criminal charges lasting some 44 days, it is my view that a further public forum is required to deal with the circumstances surrounding the many tragic deaths at the Hospital for Sick Children.
On my recommendation the cabinet has decided there is to be the establishment of a royal commission of inquiry to look into and report publicly on the circumstances surrounding the deaths at the hospital and the subsequent criminal proceedings. The commissioner is the Honourable Mr. Justice Samuel G. M. Grange, a member of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, formerly a member of the High Court of Justice for Ontario, a most experienced, distinguished and respected jurist. He will have available to him the resources necessary to conduct the inquiry, including the authority to engage counsel, investigators and any other staff who may be necessary for his purpose.
I would like to explain briefly some of the considerations we have had to face in the last few weeks in what has been one of the most difficult and complex situations I have encountered as Attorney General. I hope you will recall my statement of February 21, in which I said, "we as a government are committed to providing the fullest possible accounting of the events and circumstances that led to this tragedy." That commitment will be met.
The terms of reference for the commission, a copy of which is attached to my statement, expressly provide that the inquiry is not to involve any conclusion of law regarding civil or criminal responsibility. This provision was made to ensure that the commission would not function or be regarded as a criminal or civil trial. Trial by commission of inquiry is simply a concept that is totally foreign to the laws and the traditions of this province.
While it is understandable that many members of the public would wish to have an inquiry to determine responsibility for the tragic deaths, this cannot be the function of a royal commission. The purpose of a public inquiry is not to attach criminal culpability. It is not a forum to put individuals on trial. The just and proper place to make and defend allegations of crime or civil liability is in a court of law.
In this context I am reminded of the remarks of an eminent Ontario jurist, Mr. Justice Riddell of the Ontario Court of Appeal, whose observations almost 50 years ago are equally applicable today: "A royal commission is not for the purpose of trying a case or a charge against anyone, any person or any institution, but for the purpose of informing the people concerning the facts of the matter to be inquired into. The object of a royal commission is to determine facts, not to try individuals or institutions, and this consideration is sufficient to guide the commissioner in the performance of his duty."
This principle is particularly important and relevant here because there have been criminal proceedings in relation to the deaths and civil proceedings are pending with respect to the initiation and prosecution of those charges. We are very sensitive to the need not to interfere with or undermine the rights of any litigant whose matter is now before the courts or who may come before the courts in the future.
I am advised that there is no precedent for an inquiry of this nature. To our knowledge there has never in Ontario been a commission of inquiry into deaths which are thought to have been the result of deliberate criminal acts by a person or persons unknown. Questions of that nature are ordinarily resolved in a court of criminal jurisdiction. Questions of unexplained deaths are ordinarily resolved in a coroner's inquest. Both of those mechanisms serve as the traditional methods by which the public obtains full knowledge of the circumstances of death.
Having determined that there will be no criminal trial in the immediate future and having considered the jurisdiction and procedural limitations of a coroner's inquest, we are of the view that a full public inquiry is the only method available to ensure a full public airing of all the facts referred to in the terms of reference.
The deaths, the legal proceedings which followed the deaths, and the subsequent inquiries and investigations, some of which have not been made public, have left unanswered questions of great public concern. It is in the interests of the parents of the children, the dedicated personnel at the Hospital for Sick Children and the administration of justice generally that the many issues raised, to the extent that it is humanly possible, be dealt with in a public forum.
It would presumably not be necessary for the commission to repeat all of the work done by the Report of the Hospital for Sick Children Review Committee chaired by the Honourable Mr. Justice Charles Dubin, the Report on Mortality on the Cardiology Service in a Children's Hospital in Toronto, Canada, by the Centers for Disease Control and the Ontario Ministry of Health and the 44 days of proceedings at the preliminary hearing. The terms of reference refer to the undesirability of duplicating unnecessarily the work done by them or unnecessarily subjecting witnesses to further questioning.
Mr. Justice Grange is therefore empowered to draw from such reports and the preliminary hearing whatever evidence he deems relevant and appropriate and to dispense with the hearing of any testimony that he considers unnecessary. This would ensure that witnesses and institutions are not subjected to unnecessary repetition of previous questioning, but it does leave the commissioner the widest possible discretion to hear whatever evidence he considers relevant.
The commissioner is given the full power under the Public Inquiries Act to require the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents and other relevant material. He has been given a specific mandate to hear whatever evidence he considers necessary to ensure full public knowledge of the completeness of the matters referred to in the terms of reference.
The specific matters to be inquired into are referred to as follows, and I am quoting directly from the order in council, which is attached in part:
"To inquire into and report on and make any recommendations with respect to how and by what means children who died in cardiac wards 4A and 4B at the Hospital for Sick Children between July 1, 1980, and March 31, 1981, came to their deaths;
"To inquire into, determine and report on the circumstances surrounding the investigation, institution and prosecution of charges arising out of the deaths of the above-mentioned four infants."
These terms of reference are designed to provide an opportunity for the fullest public knowledge of the circumstances of the deaths and the criminal proceedings that followed them. The qualification to which I referred earlier, that the inquiry is not to express any conclusion of law regarding civil or criminal responsibility, will, I repeat, serve to protect the interests of any past, present or future litigant in civil or criminal matters.
While it confers this protection, it does not restrict the commissioner from making the fullest findings of fact and any observations or recommendations he may have, short of determining any question that is or may ultimately be a matter for determination in a court of law.
I would like to say a brief word about the police investigation and about the parents of the children involved. As a parent of six, I have some understanding of the anguish and frustration these parents have felt over this tragic matter and have had to endure for over two years. At the conclusion of the police report of their investigation, the homicide squad officers asked that the parents be personally advised of any developments. They wrote:
"It is our firm belief that their feelings should be considered above everything else. No arrest, no particular line of investigation nor any particular type of public inquiry will ever bring their children back to life. For the most part the parents simply want to know, 'Was my baby murdered?'"
The police have again been in contact with the parents in recent days in an attempt to keep them informed of developments. The police investigators, together with my crown law officers, are now preparing a detailed written report for each family, setting out to the fullest extent possible in the circumstances the medical circumstances of each death.
Thousands of hours of diligent work have been put into this case by the homicide investigators. Expert help was provided by my ministry and other ministries whenever required. Medical specialists from throughout North America were made available as analysts and consultants. For several months we engaged experts from York University to analyze the enormous amount of information and statistics. We installed a terminal at the hospital and connected it to my ministry's computer to help digest the material and assemble it in useful formats for the investigators and scientists.
The police made use of the expertise available through the behavioural sciences section of the Federal Bureau of Investigation academy at Quantico, Virginia. A full-scale epidemiologic investigation was completed, using the resources and experts of several Ontario ministries as well as the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and outside consultants in paediatric cardiology, pathology and pharmacology. With the consent of the parents involved, nine exhumations were carried out at the height of the investigation. Our own Centre of Forensic Sciences conducted the analysis of tissue samples preserved at the time of death and obtained after exhumation.
I mention this to give members and the public at least some indication of the scope of the investigation and the complexities that were encountered. It is worth noting that although they approached these deaths from different perspectives and backgrounds, the police investigators and the medical investigators came to essentially the same conclusions. As well, it is important to keep in mind that these deaths represent a tragedy of horrific proportions, simply unprecedented in Canada's history.
In conclusion, I would state that there is no guarantee that all of the unanswered questions will be resolved as a result of the inquiry. However, it does present the most appropriate mechanism for a high degree of public disclosure. I am sure its deliberations and findings will underline the importance of the accountability of society's great institutions to the people that they serve.
DEATHS AT HOSPITAL FOR SICK CHILDREN
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Attorney General.
In the terms of reference in the statement he tabled today he seems to make some limitations. If one looks to term of reference 4, he states that the public inquiry has been empowered with the responsibility of inquiring into determining and reporting "on the circumstances surrounding the investigation, institution and prosecution of charges arising out of the deaths of the above-mentioned four infants."
Can he clear up that the investigation will be empowered with the possibility of looking at institutions and all of the full details, not only surrounding how the babies died, which is referred to in order in council section 3, but also the treatment by the Attorney General's office and by the police after all of the 28 deaths were discovered?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I hope there is no confusion over the two areas that will be inquired into.
First, all the deaths that occurred between the dates of July 1980 and March 1981 will be the subject matter of the investigation. The other fundamental aspect of the inquiry relates to the police investigation and the prosecution of charges. That is where the four specific infants are involved because the criminal charges arise out of the deaths of four infants. The inquiry in so far as the cause of death of infants in that period is concerned will cover all children who died in the cardiac wards during that period.
Ms. Copps: Not having had the opportunity of seeing the full details of the Atlanta Centers for Disease Control report, which I understand the minister has been studying for a number of weeks now, it was my understanding that was the mandate of the Atlanta Centers for Disease Control and that they determined, as a result of information which the Attorney General issued in the House, that at least seven of the deaths were purposeful overdoses of digoxin.
The question I would like to determine is whether the public inquiry will be mandated not only with looking at the conduct of the crown attorney, the Attorney General's office and the police, as well as events following the laying of charges in the case of the four deaths, but also with looking at the treatment by the Attorney General's office and the police and the whole series of events following the discovery of 28 potential overdoses?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I would simply ask the member to read the terms of reference. I think they are self-explanatory.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, can the Attorney General please explain to this House why the terms of reference do not include a specific section which addresses the question of the investigation by the hospital authorities themselves of those 28 deaths which occurred between 1980 and 1981? Why is that question not being specifically addressed? Surely that is central to the question of restoring public confidence in the hospital and answering the question that the parents have, which is, "Why was my child allowed to die?"
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, the terms of reference are very broad in that respect. They simply say, "to inquire into, report on and make any recommendations with respect to how and by what means children who died in cardiac wards 4A and 4B at the Hospital for Sick Children between July 1, 1980, and March 31, 1981, came to their deaths." I think that is a very broad term of reference and appropriate in the circumstances.
Ms. Copps: I think the second issue that certainly must be highlighted in the statement made by the minister today is that he continues to insist that the possibility of charges being laid has not been eliminated. In fact he repeats, for all and sundry who may not have heard, that "at this time" are the operative words in his statement. I am sorry that over the last few months the minister has operated more by rumour and innuendo.
I wonder if the minister can confirm to this House that the police investigation has been completed and that there will be no charges laid. If the police investigation is not complete, what has changed since the time when called for a public inquiry one year ago and the minister said he could not call for a public inquiry as long as the police investigation was going on?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I will try to explain it once again. We said that as long as there was an active police investigation it would be inappropriate to have a public inquiry. I repeat what I said a few moments ago, which is that the fact of a public inquiry into deaths which are believed to have been deliberately caused is simply without precedent in this province. I would hope the member would appreciate the reason for that.
We are satisfied that the police investigation has been concluded as far as an active investigation is concerned. Obviously we expect, as has happened throughout, that additional information will come to the police that will have to be investigated. In this province charges have been laid, on occasion, many years after the deaths. Obviously one would hope that will not be the case here, but to suggest that the police investigation has been concluded absolutely and for all time when the simple fact is that the belief is there have been children who have died as a result of a deliberate overdose of digoxin is simply a ludicrous suggestion.
NEIGHBOURHOOD SUPPORT SERVICES
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Provincial Secretary for Social Development, or the superminister. The minister will be aware that in recent days the report of the Joint Task Force on Neighbourhood Support Services has been released here in Metropolitan Toronto. As she knows, that task force report paints a dark and sorry picture about the state of community-based social service agencies in much of Metropolitan Toronto.
I am wondering, and I know other members are as well, as are the many client groups and the people they serve -- the elderly, the singles, low-income families and others -- what precisely will be the reaction of the government of Ontario vis-à-vis the report I have referred to.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, I have not had an opportunity to read that report. I have not seen the report. All I have seen is the comments in the newspapers. It has been brought to my attention by the front page of the Toronto Star today that the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) has already indicated there is more money available for many of the agencies referred to in that report.
Mr. Conway: Will the superminister for social development give this House an undertaking that she will read this report as soon as possible, notwithstanding the commitments made by her junior colleague, one of the line ministers, the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea)?
Will the superminister not want to agree that the government's social policy turns on healthy community-based services, particularly in the social development area, and that this report indicates clearly that those social service agencies with a community base here in Metropolitan Toronto face an immediate critical situation? Will she not agree that is a situation of immediate concern that ought to be redressed at the earliest opportunity?
Will she also give an undertaking to look seriously at the proposal for a neighbourhood support fund, estimated to be worth in the first instance roughly $21 million with a large share of provincial lottery funding? Will the superminister give an undertaking to the people of Metropolitan Toronto, the disfranchised, the alienated, the lonely, who are everywhere reported in this report, that she will give that recommendation very serious attention and report back to this House at her earliest convenience?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: This government has always been concerned where there are any disadvantaged people who are not receiving the amount of support they should be. Unfortunately, those who wrote the report and prepared it have not seen fit to send it to my office. I will attempt to have one delivered to my office and then I will read it.
To the rather snide remarks of the opposition member, I would also like to respond that I do not consider myself a superminister and there are no junior ministries within our social policy field.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I think there is a general agreement around the House, Mr. Speaker, that nobody thinks she is a superminister.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: It was only meant in a funny way, not in a serious way, and was hardly snide at all.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Question, please.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I am sure the minister has a sense of humour, as I know.
Mr. Speaker, what specific plans does the minister have to make sure there is a comprehensive and not a gap-filled network of neighbourhood services in places such as Metropolitan Toronto and other places in the province? While she is answering the question, would she perhaps hand us a copy of the little briefing notes that the junior minister gave her a few minutes ago?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, I have no comments to make to that very snide and uncalled-for question.
DEATHS AT HOSPITAL FOR SICK CHILDREN
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the inquiry that he has established today, I would like to ask the Attorney General if he will please explain again to me and to the Legislature why the inquiry in a sense is being restricted.
I simply ask the Attorney General to look at sections 3 and 4 of the terms of reference. As I read section 3, it is essentially a medical inquiry into the cause of the deaths of either the 36 or the 28, depending on what the numbers are, that took place between July 1980 and March 1981. Section 4 is limited to an investigation of the charges arising out of the deaths of the four children who were the subject of the criminal prosecution against Susan Nelles.
Does the Attorney General not think a third question is being left unanswered, and that is, what were the management practices, the investigative practices, the general administrative practices of the hospital between 1980 and 1981 that allowed that number of deaths, for a time at least, to go undetected and unreported? Does he not think this question, which deals in a sense with the accountability of the hospital administration and procedures itself, has to be addressed by the public inquiry if we are going to restore full public confidence in the hospital?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: First of all, Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member will look at Mr. Justice Dubin's report again, as I recall, he devotes a whole section to that issue.
Second, I should point out that the matters of the internal procedures in the hospital during that period may very well be relevant to the cause of deaths if there were inadequacies, as has been suggested or implied in the question, and those obviously can be looked into, in my view, within these terms of reference. If there are any internal procedures in the hospital that could have contributed to the cause of these deaths -- and this is what we are interested in -- then they certainly can be inquired into under the terms of reference that have been given to Mr. Justice Grange.
Mr. Rae: The Attorney General knows full well that Mr. Justice Dubin's inquiry was limited and that it was specifically related to the future. He says time and time again, "I am looking to the future; I am not looking to the past." It was not primarily an inquiry into what had taken place in ward 4; it was primarily an inquiry into what kinds of changes could be made for the future. It was not the kind of inquiry that is needed to restore full public confidence with respect to the events that occurred.
I simply ask the Attorney General, given the fact that he stated in the House today he is willing for the inquiry to look into this question, why he does not make that a specific item in the terms of reference. He knows very well that once the public inquiry has been established he is no longer in charge of it and Mr. Justice Grange is limited by the words I am sure he is going to be reading very strictly, as will counsel for the hospital and counsel for everybody else included in this affair.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I repeat essentially what I said a few moments ago. Mr. Justice Dubin did have to examine the procedures that were in place during this period. That forms part of his report, if the leader of the New Democratic Party would care to look at that report. I repeat what I said a moment ago, to the extent that the procedures in place at the hospital could have contributed, or the inadequacy of any procedures could have contributed, to the deaths of any of these infants, they will be inquired into. To me that is quite clear on the face of the terms of reference.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, frankly I am shocked that the Attorney General has such a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of the Dubin inquiry. I think if he goes back and reviews the statement made by his colleague the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) in calling the Dubin inquiry, the minister specifically stated that the inquiry was to look at present procedures as they existed in the hospital and was restricted from looking at the events surrounding and leading up to the deaths of the four babies on wards 4A and 4B at that time.
Will the minister not agree that the terms of reference as stated here in the House today are limited, that the refusal, or perhaps the decision not to include the other 24 deaths in the expanded terms of reference included in point 4 could seriously undermine the possibility of getting to the facts, the post-mortem treatment of this issue by the hospital, by the Attorney General's office, by the crown attorney and by the police investigation, and in particular the treatment of the parents involved in all the 28 deaths?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member has read the terms of reference I would say she has clearly misunderstood them. I would simply ask her to reread the terms of reference and she will see that all the relevant matters relating to the deaths of all the children during this period will be part of the inquiry.
Mr. Rae: I think one of the problems in the way the government has handled this whole affair, from the time the Minister of Health established the Dubin inquiry and in regard to the extraordinary delay in the decision to launch this royal commission, is that the critical question in the minds of not only a great many citizens of this province but I suggest in the minds of the parents of those children who so tragically died in those months, may well go unanswered.
That critical question surely is not simply the spectacular, headline-grabbing question of murder or nonmurder, but a much more difficult question: How is it in a hospital that is a world-class institution, an institution whose reputation we all want to protect and defend, 36 deaths could have been allowed to occur in the months in question and many of those deaths were unreported, certain conclusions not being drawn quickly enough to get to the root of this thing? Why were they allowed to remain undetected and unreported over such an extended period of time?
I think the Attorney General has an obligation to the people of this province and to the parents of those children to deal specifically with that question and to stop fluffing around and leaking things and shuffling it off on other inquiries that never had to address that question. He should simply add another term of reference that will deal specifically with the question of how it is that this number of deaths could have gone undetected and unreported for such a long period of time in the Hospital for Sick Children.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: If the leader of the third party harboured the slightest sense of responsibility about anything, he would not be deliberately attempting to confuse unnecessarily a very tragic, complex issue. I think he should be embarrassed by the nonsense he is spouting. It is quite clear the terms of reference are adequate for the commissioner to inquire into anything that is relevant. The member knows that, and the fact that at this time he wants to turn this into a petty issue of political partisanship hardly does him very much credit.
Mr. Rae: It is called accountability, something the Attorney General does not know very much about.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
SECURITY OF TENURE IN RENTAL UNITS
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, by way of a second question, I would like to ask the Attorney General whether or not he is aware of an increasing practice in Metropolitan Toronto whereby the Landlord and Tenant Act is being undermined by buildings being sold to limited companies, to tenants in common in those limited companies, which is resulting in many tenants fearing that they will be evicted as a result of this loophole, in a sense, in the Landlord and Tenant Act.
I know the Attorney General is familiar with a recent decision of the Divisional Court in the Medeiros case, which has given rise to concern among a great many tenants. The Attorney General should be aware that there are tenants at 41 Lake Shore Drive, 22 Allanhurst Drive, 30 Allanhurst Drive, 785 Brown's Line, 3621 Lake Shore Boulevard West and 3625 Lake Shore Boulevard West, where there are literally hundreds of apartments which are now being threatened by this practice, which is increasingly common.
I would like to ask the Attorney General, is he aware of this development and is he prepared to introduce amendments to the Landlord and Tenant Act right away in order to provide some security of tenure for the tenants who are currently in these buildings?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we are aware of this, and I think it is fair to describe it as a problem. This is a matter that has been under active review by our ministry, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Some specific proposals are being discussed at this time and I would hope that within the next 10 days we will be able to make a joint statement to the House as to what might be appropriate legislation.
Mr. Rae: I would simply indicate to the Attorney General that this is not an academic issue. In the gallery today, Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and to the Attorney General Mrs. Bozene Zapletal, who is a 74-year-old widow living at 30 Allanhurst Drive and who has received an eviction notice from someone who is a part of one of these tenancies in common. That eviction notice takes effect on June 30, 1983.
I want to ask the Attorney General whether he will bring in legislation as soon as possible to protect people like Mrs. Zapletal who are going to be facing eviction unless something is done very soon.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I repeat, we are aware of the situation and the matter is under very active review. I cannot commit the government to introduce any specific legislation until it has, of course, been approved by the executive council of this province. I indicated that I expected we would be in a position to advise the House as to what we intended to do and obviously it would desirable if we could do that as soon as possible, but I cannot commit the government in advance of a decision by the cabinet of this province.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, the Attorney General will recall that on Wednesday, at a meeting with representatives of the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations, he was advised by a lawyer acting on behalf of tenants that a number of cases of evictions would come up by the end of May. He will also recall that he was asked to examine a private member's bill which I introduced on Tuesday as a possible solution to the problem.
Has he examined that bill and is he prepared at least to assure the House that legislation will be put before us by the end of May before those court cases are heard?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I cannot say anything other than what I have already said. This is not a decision to be made by an individual member; it has to be made by the government of this province. I expect a decision will be made in the very near future and the House will be advised accordingly.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food with regard to tile drainage. In view of the ongoing need for tile drainage of agricultural land, which can increase production yields of up to 50 per cent and return $18 for every dollar invested, will the minister assure us that the interest rate under the program will be reduced to the former eight per cent level in recognition of the present low cost of borrowing to the government, and will he adjust the program so it covers 75 per cent of the drainage projects rather than the present 60 per cent?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I expect to be announcing details of the 1983 tile drainage program within the next week.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, in view of the government commitment through the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program, which stated that one million acres of land would be drained in eastern and northern Ontario, the high interest rates the government has placed on that program now render it totally ineffective. In the case of one municipality in my riding, the township of Russell, where last year when we had lower interest rates there were 23 applications, only two people are waiting this year. Does this not make the program totally ineffective?
Is it not a fact that while the government is continuing with these high interest rates it will never achieve anything close to its objective of draining one million acres in eastern and northern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I am not entirely sure what point the honourable member is trying to make, but let me remind him that last year the program was restructured. The member may recall that while the legislation says support may be granted for up to 75 per cent of the work, in earlier years the level of support ranged very widely from as low as around 30 per cent in some townships to as high as 75 per cent in a very few townships. I recommended to all municipalities last year that they grant support at 60 per cent, which is roughly the average level of support of earlier years.
In addition, we indicated from the outset that the priority areas were eastern and northern Ontario. Every township in eastern Ontario in 1982 got, to the penny, what it asked for to spend on tile drainage, including in Prescott and Russell, to the --
Mr. Boudria: That is not the point. Nobody is using it.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: It is the point.
Mr. Boudria: No, the program is ineffective. Nobody is using it. Your interest rates are too high.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: Order. I think you have answered the question. Thank you.
NORCEN ENERGY RESOURCES LTD.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Attorney General and it relates to the decision of his colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie) and the Ontario Securities Commission not to proceed with charges under the Securities Act against Norcen Energy Resources Ltd., Conrad Black and Edward Battle.
I refer to his colleague's comment on April 19 that "the Attorney General, in conversations and correspondence with me a week ago today" -- that is, April 12, the day of the expiration of the limitation period -- "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." It goes on to say that this he did, and that his representative attended the meeting of the commission on April 12.
What exactly did the minister ask of his colleague with respect to that investigation carried on by the Ontario Securities Commission?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, my recollection is that we received a copy of the report of the Ontario Securities Commission investigators on April 9. It was reviewed and our law officers -- having been injected into the process at an early stage, which was unusual, but given the ongoing criminal investigation; that is the way events unfolded -- were of the view that the recommendations in that report were sound. When we learned they were not going to be accepted by the OSC, I was of the view that the interests of the administration of justice required that I at least request the minister responsible for the legislation to ask the commission to review its decision.
As the member for Riverdale knows very well, and he has some real degree of expertise in these matters, this legislation is largely regulatory legislation and any prosecutions under it require the consent of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
In my view, the Legislature, in structuring the legislation, obviously was of the view that a certain amount of prosecutorial discretion should reside within the responsibility of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. As I understand the legislation, in exercising that prosecutorial discretion as to whether to give a consent, the primary advisory body for him is the Ontario Securities Commission because it possesses a degree of expertise in relation to the regulation of the securities market as to what is in the interests of the market and the public interest that does not necessarily reside within the ranks of the crown law officers.
It was simply our view that, given the evidentiary base as we understood it, this matter merited reconsideration by the OSC and I advised the minister accordingly. I really do not think I can say anything more at this time because the criminal investigation into these matters has not been concluded.
Mr. Renwick: Since his colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations did not direct the commission to proceed, since the limitation period expired at midnight on April 12 with respect to the offences under section 118 of the Securities Act, and since his colleague indicated quite clearly he had not had any request from the Attorney General with respect to giving his consent if he were asked and, if he were not asked, asking him to direct the commission to lay the charges, is the Attorney General now precluded, as a result of that decision, from considering the laying of any charges under section 118 of the Ontario Securities Act, and is he now limited in his ongoing police investigation to the question of whether charges should be laid under the Criminal Code?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: With respect, and it may be that there are some who have other views, it is my view that the member for Riverdale is in error in part of his remarks.
First, if he will consult others and review the statute he will find that the minister in that statute has the power, under earlier sections, to direct an independent investigation into some issues, and as a result of those investigations, to direct the securities commission to do certain things. However, if the commission investigates matters on its own initiative, then the role of the minister is to consent to be requested, with respect to a consent to prosecutions if the commission so requests. I would like to point out that distinction to the member. That is my understanding and, therefore, if I am correct, he is in error in what he said.
Mr. Renwick: We will have ample opportunity to deal with it on another occasion. I want to know from the Attorney General, so that the question is clearly understood, does the action of his colleague and the failure of the Attorney General to ask his colleague to direct the commission to lay those charges mean that for all purposes of the ongoing police investigation, about which the Attorney General advised me it may be by the end of May that the decision will be made, it is now limited entirely to questions of whether charges will be laid under the Criminal Code?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The limitation period has expired but I want to make it very clear, and I think the member fully appreciates this, that it would have been quite improper for the Attorney General to direct the minister to direct the Ontario Securities Commission how to exercise its prosecutorial discretion.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Obviously the credit I gave the member for some modest understanding of this legislation was probably misplaced.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, now that the Attorney General has entered his condescending phase on this subject, as he does eventually on all others, I will give him a chance to fulfil that feeling. Would he not think it would fulfil his responsibilities better to this House, as well as those of his colleague the minister who interjected a moment ago, if the two of them undertook to make a full and complete statement on this matter to the House, even stooping so low as to take the two stories from Maclean's and to answer the situation point by point?
Would he not agree the indictment from Maclean's is an extremely important one that should not be dealt with in this House simply by the condescending answers to which we have been treated in regard to specific questions in question period which cannot possibly cover the field of this important and far-reaching situation? Without doing that, does the minister not realize we can only assume there is something to the charge of protection of people in high places or else serious incompetence?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, as has already been pointed out, there is an ongoing criminal investigation. When that matter is concluded, we will be advising the House accordingly in relation to that and in relation to any other matters which may be relevant at that time.
EDUCATION FOR MENTALLY HANDICAPPED
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education. Is the minister aware of the concern of parents of severely and profoundly retarded children that the implementation of Bill 82, instead of having a positive effect, will have an adverse effect on the education and care of these children?
At present they are under the auspices of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, fully funded and educated in developmental centres. If the minister is aware of this concern, is she prepared to entertain the idea of amending Bill 82 to permit boards of education to purchase services from associations for the mentally retarded and, therefore, maintain the developmental centres and/or modify the Education Act to provide for the category of severely and profoundly retarded, which would allow the school boards to deal on a different basis with these children and those who are categorized as trainable mentally retarded?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I doubt amendments to the act would be necessary since I think the honourable member understands that school boards are currently permitted under the act to purchase educational programs from other boards. The care and treatment of children does not fall within the ambit of responsibility of boards of education or school boards.
What we have been attempting to do is to find ways in which arrangements can be made to provide educational programs to pupils or children who are in care in institutions or in other kinds of arrangements. That certainly is a part of our intent in terms of the implementation of Bill 82.
In addition, I could tell the member that the definitions which are necessary in a broad way to implement fully, for example, the identification and placement review committees, are being examined and defined right now by the Advisory Council on Special Education. That activity has not been completed. They have most certainly looked at the area of the developmentally handicapped in a way which I think is somewhat similar to the direction the member was suggesting.
Mr. Bradley: These parents and others have expressed concern about the availability of elevators and ramps, supervised busing, student-teacher ratio, administration of medication, assistance with toileting and length of the school year for the profoundly and severely retarded individuals.
My colleague the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) during the debate on Bill 82 under subsection 7(9) suggested and had accepted an amendment which said, "Where the board determines that the pupil is a hard-to-serve pupil and the parent or guardian of the pupil agrees with the said determination, the board shall assist the parent or guardian to locate a placement suited to the needs of the pupil and reimburse the parent or guardian for any expenses incurred by the parent or guardian in locating such placement."
In view of the fact that that exists already in the act, and I know it is in the general part of the act as opposed to the other, would that circumstance permit what the people who are the teachers and the parents of the profoundly and severely retarded want? Can they achieve it through that section of Bill 82?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: If the member will read that section carefully, he will understand, as I said earlier, that under no section of the Education Act, nor within the philosophy of the educational activity within this province, are boards of education responsible for the care and treatment of children they are educating. That is a responsibility that lies outside their area of jurisdiction.
What we had proposed, which was modified slightly by the member for Kitchener-Wilmot, was that boards would assist parents in attempting to find appropriate placement for children who had educational difficulties as well as difficulties in other areas. What I hear the member suggesting is that those children who are currently being cared for within centres for the developmentally handicapped should have their educational program or their care in that program subsidized by the boards of education, and that is not a part of their responsibility.
As I said earlier, what we are making, and we have achieved it in a number of areas, is an arrangement that allows a board of education to provide an educational program for children who are currently being cared for in a different kind of circumstance. That is there already, and if there is an impediment in terms of dealing with the profoundly and severely retarded, the group the member defines, then I will most certainly look at that to try to remove any impediment.
EDUCATION FOR MULTIPLY HANDICAPPED
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, my question likewise is to the Minister of Education. The minister is aware that regulation 617/81 of the Education Act states that in no case should the enrolment in a multiply handicapped class be more than six students. I am talking about students who have profound deafness, profound sight impairment, are mentally retarded, quadriplegic, etc. Why does the Scarborough Board of Education have a policy that is in direct contravention to that regulation of the Education Act in the sense that it is placing nine children in a multiply handicapped class? Is there an explanation for that?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure it would be accurate to suggest that board has a policy about this, but the matter, which was raised by the member several months ago, has been addressed by the central regional office of the Ministry of Education. I would remind the member that this regulation is currently under review as a result of the activities involved in implementation of the amendments to the Education Act contained in Bill 82. Most certainly if a board is in violation of the regulation, that will be addressed vigorously. At this point I am not aware that there is an intentional violation, but that certainly is being investigated.
Mr. Grande: Surely the minister or the ministry's special education department ought to be aware that in the needs assessment progress report and plan for 1981 and for 1982 -- and the ministry has had these reports for two years -- the Scarborough Board of Education, while it makes mention of regulation 617/81 and the fact that enrolment should not be more than six pupils, states very clearly and very bluntly, "Your officials believe that Scarborough's policy of placing up to nine pupils in each multiply handicapped program with a special education teacher and a teacher's aid has been a viable one." Is this or is this not a direct policy of Scarborough and, therefore, a total contravention of the regulations of the province?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I believe the document the member is referring to is one of the planning documents developed by the Scarborough board as a result of its activity in the pilot year for the implementation of Bill 82, all of which he knows is continuing under discussion. The inclusion of that clause in the report suggested to the trustees of the Scarborough board that the arrangements they had suggested as being reasonable in that area were reasonable arrangements. They were also trying to draw to the attention of the ministry that perhaps we should be re-examining whatever it is we have in place in terms of that pupil-teacher ratio.
I think it is the responsibility of boards to do that but if, as I said, there is a real contravention of a regulation currently in place without valid supporting arguments, then obviously it will have to be addressed vigorously. It is in the hands of the central regional office now.
NIAGARA RIVER POLLUTION
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. The minister must be aware of a study conducted by a PhD student from Michigan State University that has found more dioxin in fish in the Great Lakes and rivers, and that the highest amount of dioxin was found in carp and suckers taken from the mouth of the St. Clair River, upstream from Windsor and Fighting Island -- 586 parts per trillion, more than 10 times the amount that the Ministry of the Environment showed in some of the fish it has tested. The dioxin content of the fish averaged 200 parts per trillion, 10 times higher than the amount the ministry considers safe in fish.
Every study taken by independent and government researchers builds up the threat of dioxin in the supply. Is the minister not aware that we must do something before we find traces too high to do anything about? Because of the fact that the federal government has given some $4 million to improve the facility at the Niagara Falls plant, is the minister going to make sure they put in the most modern active carbon filters and any advanced filters that are going to do a proper job in the event that these dioxin figures continue to increase?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the answer is yes, but I am just trying to figure out how many questions there were.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. That was a very complete answer.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I would caution the honourable member about jumping to any conclusions on the basis of the PhD student's results.
Mr. Kerrio: You got the same ones.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I am not trying to undermine them or say that they have not caused some concern within the scientific community and my ministry, but so far they are uncorroborated. They are so out of line with all the other testing that has been done that they are subject to question by the scientific community. So I think it would be folly on the member's part to jump to any conclusions until those results have been replicated.
Mr. Kerrio: On the contrary, Mr. Speaker, the student's study -- his name is Mr. Kaczmar -- has been validated by a distinguished panel of four experts for his doctoral dissertation, including the director of the Michigan State Pesticide Research Center, the director of Michigan's Institute of Water Resources and the pesticide expert from the Michigan department of wildlife. So the minister can see that this young gentleman's studies have been validated.
I want to remind the minister that it was a student from the University of Western Ontario who first discovered mercury in Lake St. Clair.
Mr. Speaker: Now for the question.
Mr. Kerrio: I make the point that dioxin continues to be a greater and greater threat. Because the minister made comments in his statement this morning that do not deal with one of the major concerns of the Niagara area, that is, the sewage treatment plant in Niagara Falls, New York, which is accepting toxic chemical waste from industries and not treating it at all -- he has not mentioned it in his whole subject matter -- it would appear that he has a long way to go.
I wonder when the minister is going to address himself to putting filters in before the toxic material becomes a danger to the people who are drinking the water.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, these questions range across the whole province. I wish I had time -- and I know I have not -- to give an equally full-ranging and complete response.
Mr. Speaker: He was speaking specifically of filters.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The honourable member keeps dredging up issues to which he already knows the answer. For example, in the case of the Niagara Falls waste water treatment plant, he knows very well that this ministry intervened in the United States on that issue and it resulted in a withdrawal by New York state. There was a complete review of the thing, a revision downward to make more stringent standards apply to that waste water treatment plant.
The member also knows that as a result of efforts by this government -- and we were given credit for it by the immediate past commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation in New York state -- the Environmental Protection Agency released several million dollars to New York so that plant could be put back in operation.
The member should not stand there and imply in this House that we have not been doing our duty. It is the vigilance of this government, and not the government of Canada I might add, that has resulted in the substantial progress that has been made on a number of these critical issues in the Niagara River area.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Kerrio: I am glad those people on the other side are joining us because we are going to need all the help we can get to fight that --
Mr. Swart: You always need all the help you can get.
Hon. Mr. Norton: You need all the help you can get just to keep up with us. That is your problem.
Mr. Kerrio: Oh, no. This is one fight we have to win together.
Mr. Speaker: Now having established your positions, I will recognize the member for Hamilton Mountain.
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, the ministers of the crown all seem slightly touchy this morning.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Charlton: The issue which the member for Niagara Falls raises is a very serious concern. We have raised with the minister a number of times the issue of the increasing dioxin levels found in the fish testing which his own ministry has done. Can the minister tell us when we can expect to see the next round of results from Lake Ontario fish testing for dioxin content?
Hon. Mr. Norton: The answer to that is, as soon as they are available. I have never delayed the release of that information to the public. As soon as the results of the ongoing testing are available they are released to the public.
Again, the perception of a dramatic increase in dioxin that the member is trying to propagate is not substantiated by the facts. What is happening is that our degree of sophistication as leaders in this field internationally has enabled us to detect the presence of dioxin at much lower levels; for example, in water it is measured in parts per quadrillion.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Norton: If one looks at historical results one will see that --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
OHIP TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Treasurer about the Ontario health insurance plan temporary assistance program. As members know, this program is designed to give free OHIP coverage to people whose income is temporarily interrupted by unemployment.
As closely as I can determine from the Ministry of Health's statistics, a relatively small percentage of the number of people who are on unemployment insurance in Ontario are receiving temporary assistance. Somewhere in the vicinity of 87,000 unemployment insurance recipients are receiving temporary assistance out of a total of 427,000 such recipients in the whole province.
Does the Treasurer not agree there is a serious problem with the temporary assistance program when it does not provide coverage to unemployment insurance recipients for the reason that the average weekly unemployment insurance benefit exceeds the eligibility cutoff line for temporary assistance?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I was just getting some statistics from the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) because, obviously, I would not know the exact figures. He is the minister who administers OHIP assistance through that office.
I would think there are a number of arguments one could use to determine whether the figure the member has used, 87,000 or whatever it is, is accurate or not. The other point one must remember is that many people in the work force are covered by other people's policies. If it is the only worker in a family or if both workers are out of work, I would think there is obviously a requirement for some assistance when resources run down. In the last three or four years I think we have been remarkably effective in making people aware of the general levels of assistance for OHIP. Compared to statistics of a few years ago, I believe there has been an improvement.
Mr. McClellan: I would agree with the Treasurer that they have improved, but the fact remains that there is a total of only 155,000 people on temporary assistance in Ontario. If he quibbles with my figure of 87,000, he still has tens of thousands of people who are receiving unemployment insurance who are not receiving temporary assistance under the OHIP premium assistance program. This is in addition to all of the other defects that have been documented since the select committee sat in 1978.
Does the Treasurer not think that surely it is time now? The evidence is overwhelming that the premium assistance program is not a success. It is too riddled with defects to be tolerated. Does he not think the time has come for him to implement the policy statement made in the 1979 budget that all low-income people in need of assistance should receive it -- that is what the government said in 1979 -- and bring in a tax credit related to OHIP until such time as the government is prepared to move to additional reforms? Would the Treasurer not indicate today that he would be willing to consider in his next budget replacing the whole premium assistance program with a tax credit?
Mr. Speaker: Just one question, please.
Hon. F. S. Miller: If that was the question, the answer was no.
Mr. McClellan: So much for his concern about low-income people.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the Deputy Premier regarding the announcement yesterday by the Premier which supported the amending of section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include the principle of the "right to enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice." Since this is the policy of the government of the day and this party supports and has encouraged the government in debate to seek amendments to section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, will the Deputy Premier, along with the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett), now reconsider the present government policy regarding flood plain mapping in that the regulations now in effect do interfere with property rights and freedoms?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I will be very happy to direct the attention of my colleague the Minister of Natural Resources to that question. However, the honourable member will recall that in our area, that is, in the great Niagara region, the Minister of Natural Resources did sponsor a series of public meetings on this whole subject. Indeed, I think many people from the member's area were there making certain representations to a Mr. Ferguson.
The minister himself has met on two or three occasions with representatives of an organization that has been established under the chairmanship of a former mayor of Fort Erie to review this whole matter. It was my understanding that the minister would be getting back to the members of that association in due course after he had had an opportunity to reflect upon the report of his official and to give some further thought to the representations made to him directly by those people.
Mr. Haggerty: I do not think the present Minister of Natural Resources is moving in that direction as perhaps he should. I suggest that the Deputy Premier should be twisting the minister's arm to some degree for him to meet with the public in the Niagara Peninsula, not the deputy minister or some special assistant to his office. I suggest there should be a meeting called here before the Legislature to meet with them, along with the minister, perhaps under the standing committee on general government.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Perhaps the honourable member did not understand. The minister himself was there. He has met on two occasions. First, he was there speaking to the annual meeting, I think, of the St. Catharines Game and Fish Association. He came early and spoke to them. I think there were 30 --
Mr. Haggerty: On this topic?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Yes, on flood plain mapping.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, recognizing that there is a need for flood plain mapping, but recognizing the arbitrary nature of the present legislation -- that there is very little consultation and no route of notification or appeal by the individual -- when the Deputy Premier is talking to the Minister of Natural Resources, would he suggest to him that perhaps this whole procedure should be brought under the Planning Act, where the notification, appeal and hearing procedures are laid out, so that it would lose its arbitrary nature?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I think that has been the emphasis in the representations made by a number of people. Indeed, in the honourable member's own constituency, as he knows, where those meetings were held, I think many responsible people have urged that particular approach on the minister.
Mr. Rae: Are you suggesting he is not responsible?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Oh. no, he is very responsible.
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, please.
Hon. Mr. Welch: No doubt the Minister of Natural Resources will have an opportunity to comment on that when he is next in the House.
RELEASE OF INFORMATION
Mr. Nixon: On a point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker: I raise a matter that has been brought to your attention more and more frequently over the last few months, and that is the growing fact that government information and policy are released to the press before they are announced in this House.
I know it is your view that there is nothing you can do about this without a specific action of the House, but I want to draw to your attention that it is my recollection and clear understanding that always in the past the head of the government and the ministers have considered it their responsibility whenever possible to make announcements of government policy and of any new information that would be of importance in the province in the House first. Now more and more it has become difficult to determine what falls into that category, and more and more the ministers are having difficulty retaining the information among themselves and among their staff until such time as it can be announced.
I was particularly concerned when I read in the Globe and Mail this morning the following quote: "Adrian Hines, whose baby's death is one of the ones being investigated by police, is angry that word of the public inquiry is out and parents have yet to be informed." On another level of annoyance I read on the front page of the Toronto Star today, "MPP Ross McClellan is concerned because the Star knows about some government plans and reports before he does." The whole connotation is that there is something childish about any member getting up in his place and objecting to our privileges being infringed.
In my view, privilege being infringed means that our ability to do our job and react as we are supposed to react on behalf of our constituents is being diluted and depreciated. It may be that there is nothing you can do about it, Mr. Speaker, even in a case as blatant as the one that happened over the last two days, where general information was released and then the minister, who probably has the very best press secretary of anybody in the government except possibly the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor), gave out a specific piece of information, the name of the royal commissioner himself, for publication in the Globe and Mail. Maybe the Globe was a little sensitive that the Toronto Star had got ahead of it and somebody was balancing it up.
Frankly, I think the time has come when the government should do something about it if we cannot do something about it. I should just say as a suggestion that if this happens to a minister, the thing that really sets it straight for him personally is to indicate to the House that these leaks are without the minister's knowledge and that he is going to do something to try to tighten it up so that his first responsibility to the House is unimpaired.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk for raising this matter and again express a concern that I tried to raise yesterday with respect to it. The fact is that the information that there would be an inquiry into the deaths at the Hospital for Sick Children has been before the public for two full days without the terms of reference of that inquiry being available to members of this assembly, to the parents or to the general public for purposes of public scrutiny and discussion.
The problem is precisely as my colleague said. We are unable to do our job. It is not a question of being scooped or some petulance; it is a matter of not being able to do our job as opposition members to scrutinize, comment on and analyse the public business when information is being released to the public, if I may say, through media manipulation, through carefully arranged leaks to the press. The pattern suggests that is what is taking place and it is a violation of our privileges inasmuch as we are unable to do the job that we are elected to do if the government chooses to use this route to release information about its activities to the general public.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, speaking generally on this, the point that has been made by my friend that this is somehow a case of government manipulation, prerelease of information and so forth, is just not correct. It is as much an embarrassment and a problem to us as it is to the members. It was as much an embarrassment to me as a member of this government to pick up the Toronto Star two days ago and read about something I knew my colleagues the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) wanted to announce in this House and intended to announce, as was done this morning.
There was no manipulation or prerelease of that information, and the matter of how it got to the media and how the Globe and Mail and the Star had the name of the judge will still have to be studied and found out by the appropriate ministers. We believe, as the member believes, that the information should be made public in this House and it should be available to all members. I think there is a legitimate degree of concern.
Mr. Nixon: Is the minister sure the Attorney General agrees with him?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes, he agrees with me.
Mr. Nixon: He has never said so. Why does he not say so in here?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Members have a legitimate concern in this matter and in this area. If a minister goes out and holds a press conference and releases information rather than doing it here, we will argue on the grounds of whether that should be done and why that should be done. But in this case the intention of the government was to release that information and report and to make known the terms of reference and the name of the commissioner here in the House this morning in a statement. That it happened to get out before was not something this government wanted. The terms of reference were not completed until yesterday, well after that story appeared in the Toronto Star.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I really do not want to prolong this, but my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk has pointed out that surely it was incumbent upon the Attorney General to get up and say something about it or preface his remarks with that. I bring to your attention another example, after what the Conservative House leader has said.
The Premier (Mr. Davis) and the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) held a well-attended and well-manipulated press conference yesterday at five o'clock in the Premier's office, in which they announced a program that is of concern to my colleague the member for Parkdale (Mr. Ruprecht) and others, without having made any statement about it at all here in the House. I understand even the Minister of Health did not know what was going to be announced at five o'clock.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I find it amazing that the very people who encourage people to get documents to them or to the press, people who went around in a committee last year waving a stolen document with great glee, are now standing up and talking about how the minister makes public announcements.
Mr. Speaker: Dealing with the alleged point of privilege the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk raised, and as he himself has acknowledged it is not a proper point of privilege, as I have said before, it is beyond my jurisdiction. I just do not have any control on this. The government House leader has made his point clear.
The point of privilege raised by the member for Rainy River is something quite different and separate, and again not a point of privilege but rather a matter of courtesy. You have made your point and I am sure the government will take it into consideration.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I have a point of privilege. I would just like to say that I hope I was not incorrect in my feeling and remarks to you a moment ago in indicating I did not feel it was a point of privilege. I think I said I thought there was very little you could do without a motion of the House, because I believe anything that interferes with our ability to do our job should be raised as a point of privilege and corrected by the Speaker, if he possibly can.
I would also like to point out to the Speaker that much can be accomplished by even his comments on a matter like this. If he is quick to say that is not a point of privilege I would not say there is a sigh of relief over there, because they are not too concerned about these matters anyway, but do not let them off the hook too easily. I believe it is a point of privilege and if you were really to express just a little personal concern as our principal spokesman, our Speaker, these birds might smarten up.
Mr. Speaker: That is an interesting observation. I did not think I had responded too quickly. As a matter of fact, I heard the representatives of each of the parties and I gave it due consideration before I came to a conclusion. However, you know as well as I do that I am governed by the standing orders and precedents and so on.
Just before we proceed any further, I think it is incumbent on me to acknowledge again and say thanks to the members for their conduct during question period. It is certainly a great improvement over past performances and I would hope it augurs well for the future.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Ruston moved, seconded by Mr. Boudria, first reading of Bill 17, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, this is not a raise in pay. The purpose of the bill provides for a deduction of $100 from a member's indemnity for each day of absence from the assembly while it is sitting unless the absence is because of illness, pregnancy, childbirth or other official business.
DENTURE THERAPISTS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Swart moved, seconded by Mr. McClellan, first reading of Bill 18, An Act to amend the Denture Therapists Act.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, this bill would amend the present Denture Therapists Act to refer to denturists rather than denture therapists and would permit denturists to make, repair and market partial dentures without requiring supervision by dentists or dental surgeons.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I would like to indicate the business of the House for next week. We will continue the debate on the speech from the throne. The leadoff speech from the third party will be on Monday afternoon, followed by other speakers taking part in the debate.
We will start night sittings next week. The throne speech debate will continue on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon and evening and on Friday morning. It will also continue on Monday, May 2, and on Tuesday, May 3, in the afternoon and evening. We expect the vote on the throne speech debate will be at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 5.
It has been agreed to ask the table to calculate the time after the leadoff speech from the third party until Tuesday evening, May 3, and apportion the amount of time to be used by the speakers equally among the three parties. The final windup speeches will be apportioned equally for time on the Thursday afternoon.
Next Wednesday morning, as is the custom, the usual three committees may meet.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Wells moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Gregory, resolution 2.
Reading dispensed with [see Votes and Proceedings].
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Gregory, resolution 3.
Reading dispensed with [see Votes and Proceedings].
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Gregory, resolution 4.
Reading dispensed with [see Votes and Proceedings].
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Gregory, resolution 5.
Reading dispensed with [see Votes and Proceedings].
Motion agreed to.
Hon. F. S. Miller moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Wells, resolution 1:
That the Treasurer of Ontario be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing May 1, 1983, and ending June 30, 1983, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriations following the voting of supply.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, since the Treasurer has not leapt to his feet to add to his motion I presume he does not have anything to add or say in this regard.
Carrying on from the points of order raised by the Liberal House leader earlier, we are being asked this morning to vote to give the government authority to spend something like $5 billion, if not more, between now and the end of June. I was glad to see the Treasurer withdrew his motion for a six-month approval by the House, and I therefore withdrew my motion making it a three-month period.
However, I think it should be incumbent upon the Treasurer to say something. I am disappointed in the Treasurer in this sense. I am referring again to the discussion that took place on the point of order. We had a federal budget three days ago in which the federal Minister of Finance outlined his views on the economy and what is going to happen not only this year but for the next four or five years. The House has not heard anything from the Treasurer in this regard except through the press. The comments that were attributed to the Treasurer, of course, are always editorialized, cut down and sometimes even misrepresented.
I was amazed the Treasurer of Ontario thought Mr. Lalonde should resign because of the so-called budget leak. I recall that last year in one of our ethnic newspapers there were two or three items, one particularly relating to the retail sales tax, that certainly seemed more of a budget leak in the sense that somebody could benefit by it than has happened at the federal level. The Treasurer, of course, pooh-poohed the thought that he should resign or even bother or deign to investigate that matter.
My point is this. I really think it was incumbent upon the Treasurer to stand in his place and tell us what he thought and what the view of Ontario was in terms of Mr. Lalonde's budget and how it was going to affect Ontario. He did not have to give us any thoughts, comments or previews of what the Ontario budget was going to be.
It is instructive that a few years ago, when Mr. Crosbie's budget came down, the Treasurer leapt to his feet to tell all and sundry, those who would listen with any interest at all, what he thought of that budget at that point. One can only presume from his relative silence that he thinks the federal budget was a relatively good one.
I am not here to say nice things about the federal government. I am more interested in finding out what the Treasurer and his staff of hundreds have done about analysing that budget and what impact it is going to have on Ontario. I have suggested before that I think it is incumbent upon the Treasurer of Ontario to make what I have called the reports on the state of the economic situation for Ontario at some relatively stated times.
The Treasurer or his ministry puts out a report about every three months in which the revenues and expenditures are delineated and so on, and it would be incumbent upon the Treasurer at that time to give us an update on how he sees the economy of the province.
As I say, we are being asked to vote $5 billion for the ordinary expenses of the province to pay civil servants' salaries and all that sort of thing, and the Treasurer has not deigned to give us any idea of, first of all, what amounts he will spend until the end of June without specific approval of the Legislature through the estimates procedures and, second, how he sees the economy of the province going.
I want to talk about one other matter. I want to know what the Treasurer anticipates he will be spending. I want to know how much of that will be going to job creation and, specifically, that of youth employment.
My colleague the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) asked the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) on April 19 about Ontario youth employment. My colleague pointed out at that time that the moneys coming from the Ontario government for this most important aspect of the unemployment situation in Ontario had been reduced by this government.
Both in terms of the program through the minister's budget and through the Experience program there has been a 22.2 per cent increase in the number of employed but the amounts of money have fallen from $34 million to this year's $23.7 million, and from serving 57,000 young people to only 41,000 this year, the youth experience program, through the government, has fallen by at least 300 people and there has been a cutback of funds in that area as well.
I do not wish to prolong the debate, but I do want to hear the Treasurer's reflections on the federal budget, its impact on Ontario and what amount of money we are voting. If he can give us a handle on that, because Management Board keeps a running tally month by month, and how he feels about the unemployment situation in Ontario and what, if any, moneys -- I am presuming anywhere from $5 billion to $7 billion -- will go into creating jobs in Ontario.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me say that we certainly do not intend to prolong the debate on this motion, but before you get your enthusiasm up too high there are two or three major matters I would like to deal with.
The first point I want to raise with the Treasurer is that in my moments of recreational reading I occasionally browse through the Ontario Gazette. I noticed in the Ontario Gazette on Saturday, April 16, 1983 -- which was Purolatored up to my office in Thunder Bay because it contained matters of such great pith and moment -- there was a Management Board order for 1982-83 dated March 1, 1983. It had to do with the Ministry of the Attorney General and it looked as if there were substantial increases in the area of salary revision. It had to do with vote 1404-1 which, when I look at the estimates book, has to do with the criminal law division under the crown legal services. It had to do with vote 1406-3 which has to do with county and district courts, and it also had to do with vote 1406-5 which has to do with provincial courts.
Because I am new to the economic field, I would like to know why it was necessary for the Management Board order to be issued at that time. Is it because over the next couple of months substantial increases have to be spent in those areas and the minister needs that approval before he brings the estimates directly to the House? I noted vote 1406-3 in the Gazette, in particular, had additional funding for work load increase. I wonder if we could have a bit of explanation on that.
The major thing I want to talk about is my sense of disappointment that the Treasurer has not made at least a tentative official response to the federal budget. I know his budget is coming down in a few weeks and I certainly do not want him to scoop himself in terms of whatever press he can get out of that, good or bad. I found it just a bit disturbing, once again in terms of the matter we brought up earlier, that any response the minister has we get through the press rather than in a clear statement in the House. I think a short 10-minute statement this morning might have been extremely important and extremely worth while if we are to take the government's plans for economic recovery seriously.
The economic situation we face in the province is so severe and the unemployment situation is so serious that we need clear and decisive economic leadership at the provincial level. I have been unable to distinguish anything that differs between the federal Liberal government and the provincial Conservative government when it comes to general economic leadership in the last 10 years, because both governments for the past 10 to 14 years have relied on four or five major operational modes.
One is, to try to pump the economy they have either given small tax concessions or holidays on consumer goods for brief periods of time. More important, they have tried to give concessions or incentives or giveaways to corporations.
During expansionary times and good times they have expanded their own budgets, but they have also budgeted deficits, and that is the most disturbing economic pattern that emerged in the last 14 years: that in good times they not only expanded their own spending but also expanded the deficit; there was deficit financing.
Now when times get had, what do they both do? They engage in cutbacks, restraint -- however we want to phrase it -- and budget deficits. So although I have never been a great believer that deficits are necessarily bad, what has emerged is that in the last 14 years there has not been any pattern or sense or use made of budget deficits when they were necessary.
The most disturbing thing about both levels of government, even though it may have had overwhelming public support, is the fact that in the last year the wage restraint on public sector employees was the only economic initiative taken by either the federal or the provincial level of government. Frankly, I believe that both levels of government, by following the Reaganomics from south of the border, have deliberately created unemployment.
I want to put to the Treasurer that unemployment is the major problem and I want to put to him that unemployment in Ontario is the major problem; that there is no economic recovery worthy of the name until we start really creating jobs. Even though investor confidence may be up, even though banks may be making slightly more profit, even though companies and corporations may be making slightly more profit, all of that is to no avail for the populace as a whole until we start creating positive and full-time jobs. The depression, or the great recession -- whatever term you want to use -- is not over until those people start having jobs.
In the six weeks that we had off between sessions --
Mr. Conway: Off?
Mr. Foulds: We did not have them off; we had them back in our constituencies. They were a very important experience for many of us. They certainly were for me, because every week in the office we see unemployed people, men and women, coming in to try to talk about the dignity of getting a job.
I will just use as an example a man who, because he was on unemployment insurance, moved out to the rural part of my riding where he had the opportunity of shelter at no cost. He had an opportunity for a job in the city, but he could not take that job in the city simply because he did not have the money either to get into housing in the city or to pay the transportation costs between his home in the country and his city job. There is no way around that in the bureaucracy, no way to find him a supplement, no way to find him public housing.
Then we realize that people are getting into very desperate straits and we know it is a depression and not a recession when one is shovelling snow in the driveway and the kid who delivers flyers stops to chat and asks if I can help his father find a job. We know when people take that kind of time to talk to us that we are in a very genuine depression.
I do not want to go on too long, but I think the statistics over the last three or four months certainly bear that out. The thing that is depressing is that the statistics are not getting any better when it comes to unemployment. The latest ones indicate that Sudbury still has an unemployment rate of 27.1 per cent, Hamilton has an unemployment rate of 15.7 per cent, St. Catharines-Niagara has an unemployment rate of 17 per cent, Windsor 17.4 per cent and Thunder Bay 14.6 per cent -- the first time in three or four months that Thunder Bay has been below the 17 per cent level. It is a major condemnation of this government that there are still 750,000 people in this province out of work.
To put it in a nutshell, I believe the strategy that was used in the Lalonde budget of an investment-led recovery is false. With the amount of unused capacity we have in our manufacturing sector in industry and with the debt load a number of corporations have, the kind of thrust Lalonde has tried will find the money simply going to retire the debt load rather than into new investment.
It is about time Treasurers called into serious question the theory of giving corporate grants and incentives. Recent studies in the research and development sector, for example, have indicated that government programs in Canada are relatively generous and relatively good in comparison to other jurisdictions in the world, yet we know the investment in research and development in Canada is relatively low.
Therefore, we have to get away from saying it is all right for governments to intervene to give corporate benefits, hoping the private sector will take those benefits and create jobs. If they are going to intervene and the objective is actually to create jobs, then the government must intervene more directly.
I would like to touch on two short-term and two long-term steps the Treasurer should consider while he is making his budget.
First of all, housing: Instead of cutting back on funds for nonprofit and co-operative housing -- and I admit the federal government has done more of that than this government -- funds should be dramatically increased. We still desperately need housing and single-family housing that people can afford. One of the few dynamic and growing areas that make that possible is the co-operative housing area.
Although I have no quarrel with municipal or provincial nonprofit housing, I think the co-operative housing area is one we could look at very creatively over the next year or so. That is what this government should do.
We still desperately need senior citizen and family units in every urban community in this province. As well as generating construction jobs in every major urban centre, that would, in my own parochial view, have a spinoff effect in northern Ontario because it would take up some of the slack in the woods and sawmill industry.
I also want to put in a plea that in the social services area we still desperately need crisis housing for battered women and children. Once again, renovation jobs, which would not be major ones but small ones spotted all over in every community in this province, would come first and then long-term social service jobs would follow.
I just want to mention three points in the long term; they all have to do with import replacement.
First, we could create 10,000 full-time, year-round jobs over the next 10 to 15 years if we simply developed a manufacturing industry for mining machinery we currently import to replace the mining machinery in this country that is worn out -- building and manufacturing it here. I am sure we could create a similar number of jobs by producing the manufacturing machinery for the woods industries and pulp and paper industries in this province.
Second, I think it is crucially important that we start on a five- to 10-year plan to diversify the manufacturing base of the province. Despite the current catch phrase about the importance of high-technology industry, and I have no quarrel with that, I do have the slight worry that both economists and government are looking at high tech as a quick fix, that for the next 10, 15 to 20 years our major jobs are going to be in our traditional industries, in manufacturing and the resource sector. Therefore, we must diversify that industry, both in northern Ontario and throughout southern Ontario.
Third, I think simply by insisting on our fair share of the auto parts manufacturing sector, we could dramatically improve the situation in southwestern Ontario and the Niagara Peninsula.
Those are the major suggestions I would like to make to the Treasurer at this time while he is thinking of putting together his budget. I would like to emphasize that I would like the Treasurer to seriously consider job creation in areas that are labour or job intensive, rather than capital intensive.
We do not need the kind of promise we got from Marc Lalonde that said, "We are on our way to recovery, but we can expect unemployment rates at the 12 to 10 per cent level for the next three years." We all know what an unemployment rate at the 12 to 10 per cent level means. It means continuing to have enormously high unemployment such as 27, 17 and 15 per cent in major urban centres in Ontario.
I would like to put it to the Treasurer that it is his job, now that there has been a failure to create jobs in the next two or three years at the federal level, to do so here at the provincial level.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to take the first opportunity -- and this is the first opportunity and it is in order under a motion with respect to supply in the assembly -- to bring to the attention of the assembly the serious default in the administration of the Ontario Securities Commission in the case of Norcen Energy Resources Ltd., which was before the commission and which has been the matter of question and discussion in the assembly. I want to do it as succinctly and as briefly as possible.
It is my misfortune, despite what --
Hon. F. S. Miller: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: May I ask is that in order for this interim supply debate?
Mr. Foulds: If I could speak to that point of order, Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that we are giving the Treasurer interim supply, that is, the money that the government spends in every ministry under the jurisdiction of the government in the next two months. That includes the expenditures under the estimates of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) estimates, and I imagine it is the Attorney General's estimates under which expenditures for the Ontario Securities Commission come. Therefore, it is my contention that the topic of my learned and honourable friend the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) is very much in order.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, if I may just speak to the point raised by the Treasurer, I believe that the subject is in order as well. I frankly think it might be discussed on some other occasion, but I know that whatever the honourable member is going to say about it will be useful and important. I would agree with what has already been said, that the funds made available for the next two months are going to be distributed among all ministries, unless the minister can assure us differently that they are channelled in some specific way other than that. I think our experience in the past over substantial objections has been that Mr. Speaker has allowed as wide a debate as the members of the Legislature saw fit to undertake.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rotenberg): The point of order has been raised by the Treasurer. I would have to indicate to the House that a supply motion does cover funds for all agencies of the government, including the securities commission. I cannot comment on the wisdom of whether or not it should be raised at this time, but if an honourable member wishes to raise any matter that involves the spending of public money, that is in order.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I will not comment on the wisdom of it either. I obviously assume it is wise and important that the matter be raised at this time.
I have raised it because there is a very serious misunderstanding going to the root of the administration of the securities commission that must be cleared up. I want it to be understood that in the course of what I am saying this morning I am not making any imputation of any kind against any of the staff of the commission. I am not making any imputation of any kind with respect to the integrity or honesty of any member of the commission or of the staff. I am not making any comment, judgement or otherwise on the persons who are involved in the matters under consideration and the judgements that are involved in connection with them, nor am I making any comment with respect to the ongoing police investigation into these questions.
What I do, however, want to say to the assembly I say because I happen, despite what the Attorney General said this morning, to have the misfortune to be one of the few members of the assembly who have some knowledge of a very specialized statute, the Securities Act of this province.
The securities commission exists solely and entirely by virtue of a statute of this assembly. It is not necessary in a parliamentary system of government to have a minor lecture in political science 1 at a university to say that the principle of government is that the minister is responsible to this assembly. I want to point out very clearly and very simply that the Securities Act describes and defines the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations as being the minister to whom the administration of this act is assigned.
Under the statute, a commission is created, the Ontario Securities Commission, which is responsible for the administration of the act. That commission is responsible to the minister and the minister is responsible to this assembly. The funds that are available to the commission are funds that are voted under the estimates of the government. The payments that are going to be made in this interim period are payments that are going to be made through the authority of this assembly.
With that minor introduction to the fundamental nature of the Ontario Securities Commission and its relation to this assembly, I want to say very clearly to the assembly that there has been a miscarriage of the administration of that commission in the matter relating to Norcen Energy Resources Ltd. and to the persons who were under investigation by the staff of that commission. It is a difficult question to get across to the assembly, a difficult point to make, but I am asking the members of the assembly to understand what I am saying.
The members heard on Tuesday of this week and again this morning the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie) refer to something called their version of that commission. I want to say to each of them and to my colleagues in the assembly that the statute provides the method by which investigations will take place by the commission when it is investigating questions that relate to offences under the Securities Act or offences under the Criminal Code.
The first point is a very simple and a very direct statement, and that is that the decision by any body at any time as to whether charges will be laid against any person cannot be described as a legal matter or in any way as an administrative decision. It is in legal terms a quasi-judicial decision and that decision has to be made in accordance with the principles of natural justice. The investigation that was conducted in this case by the Ontario Securities Commission was an informal investigation. It was not carried out pursuant to the statute. The decision of the commission was made on the basis of informal information placed before it as a result of a very thorough investigation, and it had to do with the reputation of businessmen of prominence in Canadian business affairs.
As a citizen, I would object very seriously if a body was investigating me and making a decision with respect to whether I would be subject to any charges and that investigation was being carried out by the Ontario Securities Commission and it dealt with it as an administrative matter in accordance with the internal regulations of the commission when there is a statutory code that says how it is to be conducted.
That statutory code is set out very clearly in subsection 11(1) of the Ontario Securities Act, which states: "Where upon a statement made under oath it appears probable to the commission that any person or company has, (a) contravened any of the provisions of this act or the regulations; or (b) committed an offence under the Criminal Code (Canada) in connection with a trade in securities, the commission may, by order, appoint any person to make such investigation as it deems expedient for the due administration of this act, and in the order shall determine and prescribe the scope of the investigation."
When that investigator has been appointed, he has very significant powers and authorities granted to him in the Securities Act. In addition, he has the power to take evidence under oath and he has the obligation then to report to the Ontario Securities Commission. The commission, in making its quasi-judicial decision as to whether a charge will be made, must have regard to the provisions of section 12 of the Securities Act, which states: "Where upon the report of an investigation made under section 11 it appears to the commission that any person or company may have, (a) contravened any of the provisions of this act or the regulations; or (b) committed an offence under the Criminal Code (Canada) in connection with a transaction relating to securities, the commission shall send a full and complete report of the investigation, including the report made to it, any transcript of evidence and any material in the possession of the commission relating thereto, to the minister."
Those are the salient considerations that we in this assembly by statute passed in 1978 detailed for the commission as the guide to be used if it was to proceed with any question about whether charges should or should not be laid against a person.
Now I want to come to the very specific case which was of concern to the commission and very briefly try to make clear to the assembly what the question in issue was, what procedure was followed by the commission and why that procedure of the commission was a transgression of the statutory code imposed on that commission by the Securities Act.
On October 27, 1981, a company known as Norcen Energy Resources Ltd. issued a document which in technical securities terms is known as an issuer bid circular and in common, everyday terms as a prospectus, a special kind of prospectus. It was a prospectus by Norcen Energy Resources Ltd. notifying its own shareholders that it was prepared to bid in, to buy back from the shareholders shares of itself, the very same company that was making the offer. That circular had to comply with the provisions of the Securities Act and the circular which was issued contained these particular statements:
"Norcen has no present plans or proposals for material changes in its affairs, including no plans or proposals to liquidate, sell, lease or exchange all or substantially all of the assets of Norcen or to amalgamate Norcen with any other body corporate or to make any other major changes in the business corporate structure, management or personnel of Norcen."
It then contained this certificate: "The purchase of common shares of Norcen, in accordance with this purchase program and the contents of this notice of intention and its sending to shareholders, have been authorized by the board of Norcen. There are no material changes or plans for material changes in the affairs of Norcen which have not been generally disclosed."
The point at issue was whether or not there were material changes contemplated by Norcen Energy Resources Ltd. which should have been disclosed in that circular. In blunt terms, the question was whether or not the circular by reason of the failure to disclose was misleading and by reason of the failure to disclose there was therefore a misrepresentation. The statute under section 118, which is the enforcement provision of the Securities Act, has this to say:
"Every person or company who makes a statement in any issuer bid circular that, at the time and in the light of the circumstances under which it is made is a misrepresentation, is guilty of an offence." The punishments are, in the case of a company, a fine of not more than $25,000, and in the case of an individual, a fine of not more than $2,000 or imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or both.
So there are significant penal consequences to being charged with having made that kind of an offence, and due process, if it was not guaranteed before the Charter of Rights, is certainly guaranteed now. It was therefore essential that if allegations were going to be made that Mr. Edward G. Battle, the president and chief executive officer of Norcen Energy Resources Ltd., who signed this issuer bid circular, or Mr. Conrad Black, who was chairman of that particular company, were to be charged with issuing a false circular, then it behooved the Ontario Securities Commission to look very carefully at the process by which they go about making that determination and to do it in accordance with the due process which this assembly established for the Ontario Securities Commission. That is what took place.
There was an investigation, but an informal investigation, not the kind of investigation which we had stated in the statute of this province should be carried out by the commission. What did they do in April 1982 in the midst of a raging battle with respect to control of Hanna Mining Co. in Cleveland? While it is interesting as to what went on and people enjoy reading about that kind of matter, it is not significant to the point before us.
It is sufficient to say that Hanna Mining Co., through its solicitors, Davies, Ward and Beck, made a complaint to the Ontario Securities Commission in April 1982 with respect to this very question of whether this particular circular issued by Norcen Energy Resources Ltd. to its own shareholders was or was not a false or misleading document.
By direction of the commission that investigation was stayed for a period of time because of reasons which, again, are irrelevant but which are set out and can be read about in either the Financial Post or in the items which have been referred to as the fine articles in Maclean's magazine. All that information is available.
There was a preliminary report to the commission made by Mr. G. W. Curran and Michael J. Lang on September 1, 1982. Because they felt there were some serious questions that offences may have been committed, they proceeded to make a fuller and more complete investigation, but it was always an informal investigation. They were investigating charges against reputable and leading Canadian industrialists about offences they may have committed.
The commission had before it a preliminary report. That preliminary report indicated that, yes, the investigation should continue, and the commission allowed it to continue. That is where the commission made its mistake because at that point, or shortly thereafter or after a further direction to its investigating staff to come forward with a more definitive statement with respect to the investigation, there came a time when the commission was considering whether charges could be laid under the Securities Act or, indeed, whether any other offences were committed because it was their responsibility to that special commission, divorced from the administration of justice in this province, to deal with these matters in that way. But they failed.
The chairman at that time was Mr. Knowles. I carefully point out, as I said in my opening remarks, that I am not casting any aspersion on the integrity or honesty of any of the men then or now on the commission, but the error which was made, a fundamental error and a misconception by the commission if it directed its mind to it at all, was that it was looking into the question of whether Norcen Energy Resources Ltd. and certain of its officers, advisers and others had committed offences under the Securities Act or any other offences under the laws of Canada.
At some time, whether it was on September 1, 1982, when the preliminary report was made about the matter that there should be a further investigation, or whether it should have been after some further investigation, say, ending in October or November, the commission should have said, "Have we got a sworn statement before us on which we can act in accordance with section 11 of the act?"
If they could not get a sworn statement before them, they should have stopped investigating it and it should have been very clear to everybody that investigation had stopped. But at that point they were obligated, under any system of due process and in fairness to the people and the company which was being investigated, to have asked for and obtained that sworn statement.
Then they could have gone on in accordance with the way in which this Legislature had dictated they were to carry out that process, "Where upon a statement made under oath it appears probable to the commission" -- it was their question to decide for themselves -- "that any person or company has contravened any of the provisions of this act or the regulations, or committed an offence under the Criminal Code (Canada) in connection with a trade in securities, the commission may by order appoint" an investigator with full powers to make the investigation and report back.
It was only on the basis of that kind of a report and no other kind of a report that the commission had any jurisdiction from this assembly to decide whether or not the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations should be asked for the consent to prosecute under the provisions of section 118 of the Securities Act or whether or not the matter should be referred to the Attorney General.
Members will note, as I have said, if they came to that conclusion after that careful investigation in which they examined sworn evidence and all the reports of the investigator appointed pursuant to the statute, and if they decided, yes, there were probable grounds that offences had been committed under either the Securities Act or the Criminal Code, then the statute is mandatory: "The commission shall send a full and complete report of the investigation, including the report made to it, any transcript of evidence and any material in the possession of the commission related thereto, to the minister."
On the basis of that, if that was being handled, the minister was then charged with the responsibility of whether or not the process should be carried any further. That is due process. The minister then makes up his mind. If he is going to pursue the remedies to enforce the provisions of section 118, he must then, if he chooses, either give consent to the commission, if they have asked to proceed under section 118, or direct the commission if they have not asked him but his review of the report received from the commission is such that the charges be laid. A properly conducted investigation would deal with both aspects of the matter; that is, the questions under the Securities Act and whether or not there were offences under the Criminal Code.
That did not take place. There was a detailed report with no sworn evidence of any kind, but making serious recommendations to the commission with respect to its obligations. I recited the appropriate part of that commission report to the assembly a few days ago.
In the recommendation of the investigators who conducted this informal investigation -- when they are talking about whether or not the men and companies should be charged under the Securities Act, the informal investigation -- their report said that the commission seek the consent of the minister pursuant to section 119 of the act to lay charges under section 118 of the act for 26 counts, eight against Norcen Energy Resources Ltd., nine against Conrad M. Black and nine against Edward G. Battle.
That report is dated March 24, 1983. It is limited to section 118 and was supported by this particularly forthright statement which I quoted to the assembly a few days ago. If I can find it again, it simply stated their views in very positive terms. This is the reason or the supporting statement of the investigators under this informal investigation:
"We are of the view that a strong case can and should be made in an appropriate forum that Norcen 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."
What kind of due process is it where that kind of statement can be included in the report of an informal investigation by the Ontario Securities Commission that is going to deal with the question of whether or not a charge will be laid against a citizen under that act? What kind of process is that?
If one reads the comment of the minister in the last couple of days about this matter, he emphasizes it is an administrative act. One can go and ask any justice of the peace or any lawyer who knows anything about the processes of the law as to whether or not the question of whether a charge should or should not be laid against a citizen in this province is an administrative act. It is a quasi-judicial act, if it is not a judicial act. Because of the maladministration -- and again, I emphasize without any fault -- of that commission, we have this unfortunate circumstance of immense confusion about what has taken place.
This memorandum of March 24, the result of this investigation -- which is very thorough, very complete within the limitations in which it was conducted, bearing in mind that it was informal -- contains that kind of a recommendation on matters and charges on which the statute of limitations is going to run out at midnight on April 12.
I am told that because the commission had three hearings to consider this report, one at the request of the Attorney General, and because they sat all day and all evening I am supposed to pat them on the back. I am not here to pat them on the back. Had they decided properly to have had a formal investigation then they would have deserved to have been patted on the back and told, "Yes, that is the way you were supposed to do it."
They came to a conclusion not to proceed any further. Do members realize that they could not have proceeded in any event? There was absolutely no way, after they had given consideration to the informal report of the investigators, that they could have now initiated the formal investigation under section 11, because the meetings all took place during the early part of April and the last meeting, of course, took place on the very day on which it would have expired.
I would say very clearly that even if the minister had consented on the basis of that informal investigation the matter could have been thrown out on the whole question of due process, because we in this assembly had said that if an investigation comes to the point where there is reason to believe as a result of that investigation there is some consideration of charges that should be laid, then the matter has to go the formal route and no other route.
I happen to feel very strongly about the due process of this matter, because ever since I have become involved in trying to follow it through I have been concerned about the commission and the way it has handled these matters.
That leads me to my last comment on this particular matter, and that is the question of the conflict of interest of Mr. Peter Dey. I am not saying whether Mr. Dey was or was not biased or could have had a conflict of interest or not. This is not the point and it never was.
The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations cannot take refuge in the point that Mr. Dey was making some decision of an administrative matter when he was deciding whether a charge would or would not be laid against a citizen. That is not an administrative matter, that is a judicial matter in which he participated and the rules are very clear.
I will simply interpolate what I believe to be the test. The test, as far as I know, is whether or not the person making the decision -- and Mr. Dey was one of a number of people -- should participate in making a decision on whether or not charges should be laid.
"Does a reasonably well informed person have a reasonable apprehension that there may well be a biased appraisal and judgement of the issues to be determined?
"The test of probability or reasoned suspicion of bias, unintended though the bias may be, is grounded in the concern that there be no lack of public confidence in the impartiality of adjudicative agencies. Emphasis is added to this concern in this case by the fact that the board is to have regard for the public interest."
One could read very clearly commission into that decision. That is the decision in a well known case, undoubtedly well known to everybody concerned. Mr. Dey was a partner in the law firm which was handling the securities matters related to Norcen Energy Resources Ltd. until the end of 1982. He took over as chairman of the commission from Mr. Knowles, I believe on January 4, 1983.
He was a partner in a law firm which was involved in the very matters which were before that commission. It is no satisfaction to a reasonably well informed person to say that he did not act on that particular file. It is of no satisfaction to me, as I believe a reasonably informed person, to believe that person should be asking whether or not he has a conflict of interest. If he had disqualified himself that would not have cured the fundamental error of the processes of the commission, but it would have maintained the integrity which the public expects from a chairperson of a commission of that importance.
I understand he asked his fellow commissioners whether they thought he would have a conflict and they assured him: "Oh no, you would not have a conflict. We have confidence in you." He apparently asked for an opinion. The very fact he had to ask supports the position which I think any reasonable member of the public would take that he should not have sat on the case in the first place.
I want simply to conclude. I took this occasion because this is a matter which cannot await these interjections by the Attorney General and the interjections by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations when they have a fundamental misunderstanding of the operations of that commission. The sooner they get with it and the sooner they understand it, the better.
The statute of limitations has run on section 118. The fundamental question has not been answered. The Attorney General is precluded from laying charges under section 118 of the Ontario Securities Act, whether he likes to admit it or not. The fact of the matter is there is an ongoing police investigation, which is another story and can be dealt with at the time that police investigation is concluded.
When we in this assembly establish a commission and provide very specific methods to protect by way of due process the character and reputation of persons who may have allegations against them, that charges may be laid under the Securities Act or, if it had been done properly, under the Criminal Code, they are entitled to the full panoply of the provisions of section 11 of the act and they are entitled to have the investigation conducted in accordance with those provisions that we have established. The failure by the commission to do so and its decision to substitute for it some informal investigation with respect to whether or not a citizen will or will not be charged is a matter that is of major and utmost concern.
It is with some diffidence that I always raise these kinds of questions in the assembly, because unfortunately the Securities Act is a relatively specialized area which is of interest to members of the public who are investors. But the integrity of the marketplace and the protection of persons who may be involved in those marketplaces have led to a special code being established.
The code is good. It is an excellent code. If it were adhered to by the commission that is appointed to carry it out we would not be in the mess we are in on the question of Norcen Energy Resources Ltd. and the question of who should or should not be charged.
I hope at some point the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations will take the trouble to read what I have said, to study the statute and to realize how improper the actions of the commission were in the way in which it dealt with the reputations of very important, leading Canadian industrialists. I make no judgement on any of those matters but I do say to the assembly that if we establish due process that commission must adhere to the due process that we establish.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on the points raised by the first two speakers. Both asked me to make some critique of the federal budget. I will be pleased to do so.
To begin with, the thrust of the federal budget was a pleasant change of direction, in my opinion, from the one of 1981. It emphasized to a large degree assistance for the sector that I believe is capable of increasing the number of jobs in the country, the private sector.
It did not undo some of the actions in the 1981 budget felt to be punitive, such as the first-year 50 per cent capital cost allowance. However, to be fair, it includes a number of measures that should stimulate investment in equity and investment by equity holders or companies in new plant. Obviously, improvements in productivity and improvements in liquidity are essential if Canadian companies are to survive.
In the last year or two, particularly 1982, the folly of the attitudes of the 1960s and 1970s in corporate financing were particularly visible in Canada since, compared to American companies, we were heavily debt laden relative to equity. So we saw companies like Dome in very grave trouble when the cost of that debt increased dramatically.
Mr. Kerrio: Hydro.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Hydro has a very good debt-to-equity ratio. But let me carry on. Therefore, the emphasis on the indexed securities investment plan, the investor package that protects from inflation equity investments made after the budget date, should be welcomed.
The capital works are harder to assess. The Minister of Finance tends to talk in multi-year numbers. That is a new technique. I understand the usefulness of it, because $5 billion sounds like a lot more than $1.2 billion. I believe though that while budgets should be able to give us some impression of future fiscal years they really only deal with one in a specific way. It particularly intrigued me when I saw tax changes that will occur in the next fiscal year included in this budget.
Mr. T. P. Reid: You raised personal income tax in Ontario in that manner.
Hon. F. S. Miller: No, I did that in my fiscal year. Those changes took place in my fiscal year. The calendar year was different, but the fiscal year was in that time frame. Please check that.
Mr. T. P. Reid: You announced a year in advance.
Hon. F. S. Miller: No, I did not. It became effective January 1 of the fiscal year during which my budget was announced.
The reason I could sort out in my mind, as a drafter of budgets, for announcing a future year's tax changes was not really to say they would occur on the dates mentioned, but I believe to give a slightly better picture to the cash requirements shown down the road, to indicate a change in attitude towards deficits. I hope this is a fact. I hope the federal government is going to start reducing its deficit, because $31 billion of $89 billion is being borrowed.
Opposition members quite properly come after me day after day about the size of my predicted deficit. Mine was $2.2 billion on $22 billion. I think one has to look at the difference between those two.
Mr. T. P. Reid: It is going to be a little higher than that.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Sure it is, but I point out that a year ago Mr. MacEachen predicted a $7-billion cash requirement for a year that ended up having a $23-billion or $24-billion cash requirement, over three times his original estimate. Mine is up between 10 and 15 per cent. His was up 300 per cent.
Other measures in the budget I believe worthy of support are the registered home ownership plan measures that allow people to top up the $10,000 towards the purchase of a home and/or take money out this year for furnishings and appliances for an existing home without losing their rights to the RHOSP. I believe several provinces had suggested this move. We support it. We believe it will help basically Canadian industries' sales just as much as a sales tax holiday would have helped. It gives people an immediate tax incentive to make a decision.
The Canada-Ontario employment development program, or the new employment expansion and development program as it is called at the federal level, was extended by about $180 million. In the last couple of months my concerns about the COED program being structured too tightly have diminished a bit.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mine have not.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Just a second, I said a bit. I am going to qualify that very quickly. My concerns still deal with the public service aspects of COED and NEED, in that we cannot take tenders, we have problems with union agreements and we have a number of difficulties in getting people back to work as the programs are structured. Yesterday we saw a city having to turn down a program because it would have involved hiring nonunionized people when unionized people were involved or had a right to certain priorities.
I would argue that the part that has surprised the federal government, and was only there because of Ontario's request, was the small business part. As the last two or three months have gone by, the small business sector has suddenly realized, almost all around the province, that money is available that can help it put on needed additions, usually on a 50-50 basis or something close to it. It doubles the total impact of government dollars, quadruples the federal share, since we match it in most cases; and, most important, puts in place an asset some businessman believes will make a profit. Not only are jobs created but an asset is improved.
I have to speak on behalf of the tourist industry; I am sure the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) would too. This has been an important opportunity for the tourist industry and many others, but particularly the tourist industry, to winterize, to renovate, to expand, to add a couple of units, whatever. Those are in our long-term as well as our immediate economic interest.
The biggest single problem then remains, in my opinion, the deficit. The tax changes incorporated in the budget did cost Ontario about $82 million in lost revenue in this fiscal year, so we will have that immediate loss of revenue because we either are going to be paralleling or are affected by some of the changes, or traditionally we do. I of course have to make those decisions, but traditionally Ontario has tried for simplicity to parallel federal corporate income tax moves.
I was asked to estimate the number of billions of dollars that would be spent between now and June 30. Five billion dollars would probably be low. I would be inclined to think it is closer to $7 billion or $8 billion, since the cash flow in the first quarter of the fiscal year generally is at one of its heavier points. That is one of the reasons I borrowed some money in the marketplace the other day.
The Management Board orders mentioned by the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) are something I am not able to answer. I simply cannot. The Chairman of Management Board (Mr. McCague) would be the appropriate person to answer that, and I am afraid the members opposite will have to get an answer from him.
The honourable member was saying, though, that he really did not see anything different between the Ontario government and the federal government with respect to fiscal management. I, of course, would argue that the fundamental difference in the two governments has been fiscal responsibility over the years. Why, for example, is the total funded debt of the province of Ontario in this year about 12 months' revenue whereas in Mr. Frost's day it was 22 months' revenue and -- who was the last Liberal Premier? Mr. Nixon? -- in Mr. Nixon's day it was about 43 or 44 months' revenue?
Mr. T. P. Reid: You are excluding Ontario Hydro.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Ontario Hydro has an 80 per cent debt-to-equity ratio. It has maintained a ratio of something on that order. It tends to put part of each year's profits into new construction and to borrow the balance. That is not unlike many other corporations that are expanding.
Mr. T. P. Reid: But that is not part of your equation.
Hon. F. S. Miller: No it is not, because it stands on its own. It earns its own money to pay its own bonds.
Mr. Speaker, I would gladly have gone on a bit, but at this point I would ask that my motion be passed.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, obviously we do not have time to proceed with the other remaining motion on the order paper today, so we will leave it for another occasion.
The House adjourned at 1 p.m.