The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, my point of privilege pertains to the rights of all members of the Legislature to be able to meet with their constituents. I am speaking in this case particularly of those handicapped constituents in wheelchairs. I want to bring this matter to your attention, sir, and to the attention of the responsible ministers as a result of a visit to this building by a handicapped constituent of mine last week.
This individual, who came to the Legislature with a companion without a car and thus was not driven, pointed out there is no proper wheelchair access for a person who is not being driven to the front of the building. Those individuals, as in this case, who wish to avail themselves of the wide promenade sidewalk which runs from Queen's Park Crescent to the front of the building face two obstacles.
The first obstacle is to get on to the sidewalk from the street, because there is no ramp. The second is in getting from the sidewalk into the parking area and the assembly area directly in front of the building, because once again there is no ramp and on either side there are flower beds, so there is really no way a handicapped individual can get up from the sidewalk into that assembly area.
I would ask you, sir, and the responsible ministers to look into that problem and perhaps to put a ramp in at both ends of the promenade sidewalk so that all our constituents can use the main sidewalk when they come into the Legislature at the front entrance.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. I am sure the appropriate minister will take note of that.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would like to --
Mr. Foulds: Are you or aren't you?
Mr. Kerrio: Who is going to be the first to know?
Hon. Mr. Davis: You.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Are you announcing the resignation of the front bench?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I notice that until you arrived there were not many over there.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I am just here to balance them.
Hon. Mr. Davis: And I am here, so what more could you ask?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Ah yes, but it is always quality that is more important than quantity.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That is what we have been saying for years.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I know you have been saying that for years.
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: They are interrupting me, Mr. Speaker.
ONTARIO ARTS COUNCIL
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask members to join me in celebrating the 20th anniversary of one of Ontario's most innovative, successful and respected institutions, the Ontario Arts Council.
This is an organization whose reputation has spread internationally and whose methods are copied by other provinces and states far beyond our own borders. To have achieved all this in the short period of 20 years is further testament to the council, which was established in April 1963 when this Legislature unanimously passed Bill 162, giving it a unique mandate to serve a growing constituency.
I am sure every member of the House will join me in extending our congratulations to the council on its 20th anniversary and in thanking all those members of the council, numbering 42 over this period of time, who have contributed so significantly to the growth and current vigour of the arts in this province.
It is ironic and highly fortunate that the arts are one part of our society that do not measure their worth purely in economic terms. Yet the arts in Ontario can be extremely proud of their contribution not just to the quality of life of our people but to our standard of living as well.
Today cultural industries generate $3 billion in economic activity annually. They account for 50,000 man-years of employment and at least $2.5 billion in tourist revenues. In fact the Stratford Festival, to take but one example, is such a powerful magnet for tourism that it is one of North America's most popular theatres.
In access to the arts and opportunities to participate in them, Ontario is second to no other jurisdiction in the world. Today this city, Metropolitan Toronto, is a major world centre of the arts. Next to New York and London it is the largest producer of live theatre in the English-speaking world. It is the third largest music production centre in North America and, with the Festival of Festivals, hosts one of the most popular film festivals anywhere.
Today Ontario's cultural superstructure includes dozens of professional theatre and dance companies, 49 symphony orchestras, hundreds of museums and libraries, nearly 100 publishers of Canadian books and another 100 Ontario publishers of Canadian magazines.
Thus it is fitting, I think, that as we pause to reflect on the accomplishments of the past 20 years we also speculate on what the next 20 years will hold for the arts and the people of this province.
In 1973 the government passed guidelines for cultural policy development that outlined the relationship it thought should exist between government and the arts. Those guidelines have served us well through the last decade of tremendous growth, and while recent years have not been easy ones for many in this province, including those involved in the arts, we are fortunate indeed that both the quality and the quantity of our artistic endeavours remain very high.
Now, on the 20th anniversary of one of the primary catalysts of the arts, it is a pleasure to reaffirm my government's commitment to continue support for the council and to say we will work to ensure the council's mandate is most effectively executed.
If the years 1983 to 2003 are as creative, healthy and successful as the past 20 years, I am confident that a good deal of the credit will go to the Ontario Arts Council.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to welcome many members of the council who are seated in your gallery and to thank them publicly for their efforts for these past many years.
Mr. Speaker: I am sure all members join in welcoming the members of the Ontario Arts Council. I can only make one observation, and that is that it is a much more subdued appearance than I had expected.
FOREST MANAGEMENT AGREEMENTS
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, today I would like to bring the House up to date on my ministry's progress in forest management agreements.
I know that honourable members recognize the economic significance of forestry to our province. Forest management agreements, or FMAs, are a major factor in achieving Ontario's long-range objective of ensuring regeneration to guarantee that this contribution to our provincial economy continues.
Under these FMAs, which replace existing timber licences, forestry companies agree to accept the responsibility for all forest management practices, including harvesting, regeneration, tending and road construction. My ministry, with assistance from the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development, provides subsidies for forest access roads and funding for silvicultural work.
The companies also carefully consider the interests of other forest users, working with my ministry to set aside areas that cannot be cut, areas important for activities such as hunting, fishing, canoeing, camping and wildlife habitat. They also protect these values through controlled cutting techniques.
In the last two months, I have signed five new FMAs with four companies. I signed an agreement with Ontario Paper Company Ltd. for the Nagagami Forest near Hearst and another with E. B. Eddy Forest Products Ltd. for the Pineland Forest near Timmins. I signed two agreements with Boise Cascade Canada Ltd. for the Seine River Forest near Atikokan and the Manitou Forest near Fort Frances.
The agreement I signed with Waferboard Corporation Ltd. for the Romeo Malette Forest in Timmins has particular significance because it is the first agreement made with a company not involved in pulp and paper production. As such, it shows my ministry, and the Ontario government, is sincerely interested in involving as much of the forestry industry as possible in the management of our forests. It is just one way we are acknowledging the industry's expertise in forest management.
Our agreement with Waferboard also shows that forest management agreements are not exclusively for larger corporations. This is just the beginning of our efforts to involve smaller but just as important operators in the FMA process.
I am sure the honourable members know that small independent operators hold licences in many areas of our province, licences that are not large enough to ensure a supply of timber on a sustained yield basis. We are proposing that these independents consider establishing a forest co-operative to manage the forest in their areas.
This would allow them to enter into their own FMA so they can manage the forest in all its aspects, from harvesting the timber and directing it to a mill that needs it, to reforestation. Should these efforts prove successful, and I am confident they will, I would look upon them as another breakthrough in the management of our province's forest resources.
Since 1979 we have signed 13 FMAs covering an area of more than 64,000 square kilometres. My ministry, with the help of BILD, will spend some $35 million this year alone on the agreements.
FMAs have a valuable side effect. They protect forestry jobs of the future and they directly create jobs. In addition, FMAs are creating a demand for planting stock that we have not experienced before. We have enlisted the help of private industry to keep up with this demand for seedlings caused by new FMAs.
By 1985, we hope to have 30 FMAs in place, covering more than 70 per cent of the forestry operations on currently licensed crown land in Ontario. My ministry's involvement by that time will be well in excess of $100 million annually. This represents 60 per cent of the total cost of the FMAs; the rest comes from industry.
Last year, FMA holders regenerated more than 11,000 hectares of forest land at a cost of $4.2 million. The holders carried out further silvicultural activities on another 29,000 hectares and constructed more than 600 kilometres of forest access roads. These roads, which cost $11.3 million, are also used by the public generally and provide access to areas for harvesting overmature forests, regeneration and silvicultural work.
These FMAs and those yet to be signed map our transition from the harvesting of a natural forest to intensive management of the forest to produce crops on a sustained yield basis. They ensure that our forests will maintain the current forest industry base and also provide, over the longer term, for growth and development of our forest-based communities.
As the honourable members can see, the private sector and my ministry are doing much to ensure that Ontario's forest industry remains strong and prosperous well into the future.
BUY CANADIAN PROGRAM
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. It is my understanding the Ontario Manpower Commission recently purchased a computer from an American manufacturer, Altos Computer Systems of San Jose, California. Even though the purchase price was less than $100,000 -- in the minister's terms that amount is probably not significant -- there seems to be an important principle involved in that case, particularly while the minister's colleagues are promoting the shop Canadian program wherever they can. I understand even the Premier (Mr. Davis) believes in it.
Why was this machine purchased in the United States? Were tenders let for this contract in Canada? Were Canadian companies given the opportunity of bidding on this contract?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I will have to take that question under advisement. I will report back to the House on Thursday of this week.
Mr. Peterson: When the minister is reporting back to this House, would he table the specifications, the bids received and the analyses of those bids made by his ministry before the purchase of that particular equipment, which has had some technical problems and has not been performing? Would he table all the specifications, the bids and all the relevant documentation so we can assure those Canadian manufacturers who maintain, to us at least, that they could have done it better for 25 per cent cheaper, that they were not shortchanged in the selection of that machinery?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I am confident I can provide all the information the honourable member is requesting.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), I have a question for the Premier.
Mr. Peterson: There is a delegate up there for him. Does the Premier want to go up and shake hands?
Hon. Mr. Davis: He or she will be a voter.
Mr. Peterson: She is in pink. She looks a little too smart for him to me, to be perfectly honest.
I am sure the Premier is aware of a great number of things, obviously, but he is aware that the Treasurer has been conducting some prebudget meetings with a variety of groups across this province.
He may or may not be aware that the Ontario School Trustees' Council bulletin, which I understand came out today, made the following report of that meeting with the Treasurer. I am only quoting excerpts. It said: "OHIP premiums may be increased by as much as 15 to 20 per cent. The province is considering extending the current Inflation Restraint Act beyond the current nine and five, two-year period."
Could the Premier kindly inform this House if the Treasurer is contemplating those options? Is the government going to proceed with those options, particularly in view of the fact that the option with respect to Ontario health insurance plan premiums is clearly against the law and its own act as it is currently written?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will not get into a debate with the Leader of the Opposition as to whether or not it is contrary to the law; that is a subject for another occasion.
I have not been present with any of the groups at the Treasurer's prebudget meetings. I can only assume the discussion is fairly wide ranging. No commitments are given to any group the Treasurer meets with, obviously, because he has not made any determinations.
While today is April 26, I think I can tell the honourable member that probably on a number of issues the Treasurer is still reaching a final conclusion. I cannot help him beyond that except to assure him, as I would on any occasion, that the Treasurer's budget, when it is presented, will be logical, intelligent, sensitive and in keeping with the economic conditions of this province and our financial obligations, as has been the case in every budget that I have been witness to.
Mr. Peterson: I want to refer the Premier to the legal opinion tabled in this House by the Treasurer and Minister of Economics with respect to the legality of the last OHIP premium increase. This is under the minister's signature. He said:
"The opinion of the legal staff of my ministry is that future increases in OHIP premiums are subject to part III, i.e. administered prices of the bill" -- so they are an administered price -- "if they take place within the period mentioned in part III, that is, in most cases between September 21, 1982, and January 1, 1984."
That being said, it is the ministry's opinion that the OHIP premiums are an administered price and that any attempt to increase those in the operative period would be in contravention of the act, unless, of course, the minister goes to cabinet to get special dispensation to increase those prices.
Can we have the Premier's categorical assurance as the first minister that he will not run around the act, that he will not go and seek an OHIP premium increase in excess of five per cent, and that when thousands of people in this province are restraining themselves, the government will restrain itself?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would venture to offer a point of view to the Leader of the Opposition that he might exercise a certain measure of moderation and restraint himself in some of his observations; but that would be asking a great deal, and I would never presume to give that advice.
If the Leader of the Opposition understands the statutes, as his researchers have prepared his material for him and he understands very clearly what the process is, this government is not intending to get around the legislation.
But it is also important to point out without any reference specifically to OHIP that the legislation was specifically drafted so that with respect to some administered prices, if in fact the actual cost -- or the pass-through, whatever term you may wish to use -- is in excess of the five per cent, that principle has been established in the statute.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I really do not understand why the leader of the Liberal Party wants another $32 increase in the family rate, which is already the highest in Canada. If the Premier does not understand it, there is already a mountain of evidence indicating that our premiums are so high in Ontario that there are tens of thousands of citizens who cannot afford and do not have coverage.
Instead of a five per cent increase, as the Leader of the Opposition is suggesting, or a 15 per cent increase, which the Treasurer is brooding about, would the Premier not agree that it would be much wiser to replace the premium assistance program entirely with a tax credit and, second, begin to shift the burden of paying for health care from the regressive premiums to progressive income and corporation taxes?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think it is perhaps proper to engage members of the House in this discussion at the time of the budget. We have debated on a number of occasions whether there are in fact better alternatives. The member opposite has a philosophical point of view that the government has not accepted. I think his party has explored the payroll tax as an alternative, if memory serves me correctly, and there are --
Mr. McClellan: It was your idea.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, I am just saying that the member's party has also explored it, and there are some negatives with respect to that, as I understand it.
I also really wish the honourable member understood that when it comes to the payment of premiums, the premiums do take into account the capacity of some sectors of our society to pay. With respect, I wish he would document those thousands of people who cannot afford to pay a premium.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, since the Premier will not give the people of Ontario his categorical assurance that OHIP premiums will not rise on the order of 15 to 20 per cent, as predicted in the document read by the Leader of the Opposition, does the Premier, as the architect of this restraint program, not feel it to be hypocritical in the extreme to ask people by the tens of thousands to restrain their wage demands to the five per cent limit, while at the same time dishing up for the second year running a double-digit premium increase of the kind mentioned in the document referred to by the Leader of the Opposition?
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member for Renfrew North should not get carried away and excited. It has been my experience before budgets that figures are mentioned and so on. I cannot give a guarantee as to what the budget is going to contain. Some members opposite would then accuse me of leaking some of the information. I can only assure the honourable member that the Treasurer of this province --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, the members of the Liberal Party know all about leaks of that nature.
Why not be patient and wait until the Treasurer's budget is presented? The member is aware of the sensitivity, the concern and the problems imposed by the economic conditions and also by the restraint program. But if he goes back to many of the things his leader said when he was the financial critic for his party, the number of occasions he berated the Treasurer because his incomes did not come close to matching the revenues and said we should balance the books, not have any deficits, if he would look at some of that material, he might then remind his leader of some of the things he said before his reincarnation.
LEAD ASSESSMENTS AT WILCO-CANADA
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my question is of the Minister of Labour. It concerns an issue that has been being raised in this House since April 1982, and that is the question of lead poisoning of many workers at Wilco-Canada Inc. in London.
I would like to ask the minister how he explains the appropriateness of six charges being laid against workers in that plant for "not using respirator equipment provided by the employer on November 23, 24 or 29," when at precisely the same time the government was laying charges against two supervisors, as well as against the company, for failing to give workers appropriate respiratory equipment for the type and concentration of airborne lead.
How does he explain the fairness of punishing workers for failing to wear equipment, when at the very same time ministry inspectors are clearly saying to the company that the equipment they are giving to these workers is completely inadequate? Is he blaming workers for taking the same steps as his inspectors have taken?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, with respect, the honourable leader of the third party is talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time.
I have been criticized in this Legislature by members of the third party for not acting in respect to the Wilco situation. When they said they were well aware of the fact we had closed that plant down on one occasion to get it to comply with the regulations and to put in the correct control procedures. They continually recommended to me that I go further than that, or what they considered to be further than that -- I thought closure was the ultimate position to reach -- nevertheless, to prosecute the company and all those involved in the improper compliance with the regulations.
Our inspectors went in there and did a thorough job. Our legal branch agonized over all the information that had been received for some time. There was considerable consultation by all our senior officials to make sure we were on solid ground in every respect. The end result has been the charges that have been laid. Those charges are laid, and I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further now that they are before the courts.
Mr. Rae: Not one of the charges relates to the company's failure to clean up its act and to provide decent ventilation and to get lead right out of the environment at Wilco. Not a single one of those charges relates to that problem.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister about a particular individual whose name is Larry Grafstein who worked at Wilco for 12 weeks only between June and September 1982. If the minister's department has been on top of this issue for so long, how can he explain the fact that, after working at this plant for only 12 weeks, Mr. Grafstein in 1982 was monitored as having lead levels well over 1.00 milligrams per litre?
He was subsequently put on workers' compensation benefits, and as recently as February 1983 his blood levels shot up to 1.90 milligrams per litre. He spent three weeks in hospital. He almost died. Because the blood was having difficulty passing the lead, they had to switch the drugs they were using on him. Since then he has spent the majority of time in hospital for chelating treatments. It takes about five days in hospital for him to recover from the weekly four-hour treatments.
I would like to ask the minister, if the ministry has been on top of this issue, as he is so proud in saying, how can he explain the fact that this worker is suffering from lead poisoning to the extent that he practically died and has spent the last three weeks in hospital? How does the minister explain the condition of this worker if his ministry has been on top of this situation?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I am aware of the particular case history that the member is reading out in the Legislature today. I do not want to minimize it in any way, shape or form, because it is a very serious matter, but the information I have had certainly does not indicate the same gravity of a problem. I will be happy to follow it up and look into it again, but my information certainly has not coincided with the information the member has brought forward.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, on February 9 I asked the minister whether he was aware of the following facts.
Mr. Mohsir Najjar, a five-year worker in the shipping department at Wilco, was told in January that he would have to do his own job plus drive a forklift. When Mohsir offered medical evidence that his respiratory problems precluded his being exposed to lead he was laid off.
In the case of Brad Tunks, a young tube mill assistant, he was literally poisoned from exposure to lead at Wilco and suffered nerve damage.
In the case of Dan Wood, who had his blood lead level checked in September 1982, Wilco management would not provide him with the blood lead level tests. However, he was removed from the tube mill and later laid off.
I also asked whether the minister was aware that four workers who were on compensation were laid off immediately on being told they could resume work.
Finally, I asked if he was aware that Wilco still had not implemented the ventilation program that was laid down.
In a subsequent letter, the minister refused to answer those questions and he has not answered them yet. When is he going to lay charges on the real gut issue, the failure to clean the place up?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I did respond to the letter the honourable member raised in the House. Mind you, I did not give him the information he requested, simply because charges have been laid and the case is now before the courts.
NURSING HOME CARE
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman), I would like to address a question to the Provincial Secretary for Social Development. It has to do with the government's intentions with respect to nursing homes.
Is the minister satisfied that the one and a half hours per day of nursing care provided for in the regulations for extended care residents in Ontario's nursing homes is an adequate standard of care in Ontario? If she is, how can she explain the kinds of problems and complaints and concerns that I raised yesterday?
I know the minister was here for much of the speech yesterday with respect to several nursing homes, including the River Glen Haven Nursing Home, the Tender Loving Care Nursing Home, the Lincoln Place Nursing Home and several other nursing homes. How can she explain the inadequacy of staffing and the staffing problems that have been revealed time and time again?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member will know the Minister of Health has already indicated that he has several concerns within the nursing home area and that he is addressing those concerns. He is improving the inspection. He is certainly communicating to the nursing homes that we will not tolerate care that is not at the level we expect nursing homes to provide to those who require their services.
I know that even with the best of programs and the best of intentions there are still occasions when circumstances develop that we certainly do not approve of, but the minister has indicated he will not tolerate anyone in any nursing home within this province not receiving adequate care.
As to the one and a half hours' nursing care, that is a policy we are addressing at the moment.
Mr. Rae: I ask the minister again, if she is so satisfied with the inspection process and with its adequacy, can she explain how it is possible that Mr. Gould, who is the current manager of nursing home services, was quoted as saying at a meeting on April 11, 1983: "Our staff are being run off their feet. A lot of pressure is on"? Does she think it is appropriate to have staff being run off their feet and to have a mere 14 inspectors with respect to nursing care for 340 nursing homes in Ontario? Is she satisfied that the inspection staff is there to do the job that needs to be done?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I do not think I indicated I was satisfied at all. I said the minister was aware and concerned about inspection of nursing homes where there have been complaints. It is an issue he is addressing. I at no time indicated I was completely satisfied with the inspection that was taking place.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, has the provincial secretary, in her role as superminister, been involved with the Minister of Health in discussions that will lead up to the tabling of legislation which he has already promised for this session?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, yes.
Mr. Rae: In conclusion, can the minister explain to us how it is possible that in the last very few years complaint after complaint has been registered with respect to individual nursing homes with respect to the problem of staffing, with respect to the problem of enforcement of existing standards, with respect to the problem of fire hazards and with respect to the problem of adequate programs for residents of these nursing homes, that time and time again the government has been made aware of these problems and to date absolutely nothing has been done in terms of changes in the act or changes in the regulations or changes in basic procedures being followed by the inspection service?
Can she explain why it has taken all this time, coroner's verdict after coroner's verdict, complaint after complaint, and to date absolutely nothing has been done?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I take exception to the member's comments when he suggests nothing has been done. A great deal has been done and I am still not satisfied that enough is being done. Those questions are all being addressed by the Minister of Health.
Mr. Speaker: Before proceeding, may I ask the co-operation of all members in limiting their private conversations please.
EMPLOYMENT OF HANDICAPPED PERSONS
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour dealing with the problems of the handicapped community in finding any employment. I know it is a subject which the minister is deeply concerned about, because just last week he attended a conference in his home riding regarding the employment of handicapped persons.
I would like to remind the minister that in January 1982 the Ontario Manpower Commission released a report which disclosed the rate of unemployment among the employably handicapped was just under 30 per cent. According to the handicapped employment program in his own ministry, the true figures are more than double that rate.
In Sault Ste. Marie, as the minister knows, and in my own community of Windsor, it is estimated that 80 per cent of the employable handicapped are without work. Here in Toronto the estimated figure is 75 per cent and the list goes on and on throughout the province.
The Pigott task force completed its work and submitted its report to the minister about a month ago. Will he tell us today when we can expect from the government a comprehensive strategy on employment initiatives for the handicapped? Will he tell us why there was no mention of this subject in the speech from the throne?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted the member has brought up the conference that was held in Sault Ste. Marie because I was told by my officials that it was by far the largest conference held anywhere in the province, with over 200 participants. It was also the best conference ever held in the province. I had the opportunity to tell them I was not surprised at all because that sort of circumstance happens all the time in Sault Ste. Marie, regardless of what the issue may be.
In fact, with the greatest respect to those who reside in Toronto, I was told by my officials that they could never hope to attract as many as 200 people to a conference on the handicapped here in Toronto. It was reassuring to have such a good turnout in Sault Ste. Marie.
To answer my friend opposite, as far as the Pigott task force report is concerned, I have not yet received a copy of that report. I am anticipating it shortly. I am looking forward to receiving it because I know Mrs. Pigott has done just a gruelling and complete exhaustive study of the whole matter. She was totally dedicated to the task she had and very enthusiastic about it.
I would also like to report to the member that the affirmative action programs that have been introduced by my ministry are starting to pay dividends, even despite the recessionary times.
We now have some case histories for some major companies that have made great strides forward. I would be delighted to share those with the honourable member or with anyone else. There are companies in this province that have hired the handicapped and they have done studies of the work of the handicapped. They have found that their work habits, in just about every category one could pick, when compared with a person who is not disabled, usually come out on top.
In other words, the old myth that hiring the handicapped is hiring problems has been completely dispelled. The handicapped are demonstrating and proving that they can do a job and do it better in most instances than a person who is not handicapped.
Mr. Wrye: To go back again to that huge number who do not have a job and the lack of initiative from the ministry in rectifying that problem, during the estimates last January the minister stated, "There is no hesitation at all on my part as far as the priority of the handicapped employment program is concerned."
If there is such a priority, the handicapped employment program is not even an official program; it is a developmental initiative constantly under review without the status and protection of an independent ministerial program. This program has a staff of seven workers and one secretary. The entire budget of this so-called program is $600,000 and that budget for 1983-84 has been cut 13 per cent from last year.
How can the minister pretend that this kind of staff and funding represents any serious commitment to rectify the disgraceful state of affairs where four out of every five employable handicapped people in his community, in mine and in so many others across this province cannot get a job?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: There is no doubt about the priority but there is doubt about the funding. I am not alone in that respect. Every minister here has had to tune in with the times and tighten our belts as far as our operations are concerned.
I would like to have additional people in my women's bureau. I would like to have additional employment standards officers. I would like to have additional people in various areas, but we have to realize that the resources are just not there and try to do the very best we can with the resources we have.
I maintain we have done that and we have shown improvement over the years in handicapped employment and we will continue to do so. We have some extremely dedicated and competent people. All seven that the member mentioned fit into that category, entirely dedicated. I repeat myself in saying that despite the recessionary times, with the co-operation of industry, we have been making strides.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister could file with the House information as to the numbers of unemployed handicapped. Is it as high as 75 and 80 per cent?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I will not say that I will be happy to do that, because when we look at the figures in that perspective they are not good. The point I was making was that progress is being made and there is improvement, but we are starting from a pretty disastrous figure. The figure of 75 per cent mentioned is probably closer to 80, and that is a totally unacceptable figure, I fully agree.
LUMBER MILL AT ALBAN
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Natural Resources regarding Martin Lumber.
Last fall the minister said his government took the position of processing resources at source. Since the federal government has indicated its willingness to put industry and labour adjustment program funds into a new mill in Alban to provide jobs for the over 100 workers who are currently unemployed, can the minister indicate to the House what action he intends to take to ensure that the funds which are available for only one year from the federal government will be made available so that the mill will be constructed this year?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, I presumed the member for Sudbury East would rise in his place to congratulate this government on the announcement of the allocation of surplus wood north of his community, his great riding, for the purposes of the construction of a new waferboard plant that will create in excess of 400 jobs for the Sudbury community; all of which would process wood at source, would it not?
Mr. Speaker: Now to the question please.
Hon. Mr. Pope: That is precisely the point of the announcement that was made last Friday. I have indicated to the member previously, in writing and also verbally, that when we were looking at the Rogerson's limits and what should be done with them and the Alban mill, we allocated the transfer of the licences and we allocated the wood on certain conditions that were expressly stated in the transfer documents. I think the member is aware of them. They were that by May 1 of this year Mr. Martin was to indicate to us in writing whether he was going to refurbish the existing mill.
The member is aware of the problems or purported problems of that existing mill with respect to the environmental problems associated with the waste. He is aware of the problems or purported problems with respect to electrical supply, and the problems of efficiency of operation of the mill and the cost of operation.
If Mr. Martin were to give us an indication in writing by May 1 of this year of either the construction of a new mill in the Alban area or of the refurbishing or reconstruction of the existing mill, we are awaiting that advice in writing. He is aware that before he processes that wood in anything other than the Alban mill he must obtain the written consent of me, as Minister of Natural Resources. No such consent has been asked for and no such consent has been given.
Mr. Martel: I know all that, except I also know that Mr. Martin can come back to the minister again in September and ask for a further extension. We will have the process of logs leaving the Sudbury area, going down the Mattawa to be processed while 100 workers are out of work in the Alban area. That is the only employer. The minister will recall the throne speech last week said the government was going to look after one-industry towns.
Let me ask the minister what action he intends to take to ensure that mill is constructed, and is there a possibility of using the existing mill until plans are completed for a new mill, which would then see employment take place in yet another one-industry town in the north?
Hon. Mr. Pope: For one thing, I believe the honourable member is well aware that for any operation in that mill we would not get permission to turn on the hydroelectric power. The member is aware why that is. We would not get permission from the Ministry of the Environment for the disposal of waste in that particular site. Alternative sites would have to be found, and the member is aware why.
All I can say is I am as anxious as he is to have a new or refurbished mill located in the Alban area using that licence and the allocated timber within those licences. The member has a choice. We want a new, modern, efficient and competitive mill in that area which will give long-term job security. We are willing to give Mr. Martin a little bit of time to get his studies done, to get his applications and approvals through the federal government in order, and to give us an indication whether he is going to spend his money on refurbishing that mill to make it more competitive and more efficient or whether he is going to build a new mill.
The only alternative is to close it. If that is the alternative the member wants for the people of Alban, I am not prepared to accept it. The member cannot tell us we have had no concern about one-industry towns when we have had waferboard plants in the member's own riding, when we have had a waferboard plant in Englehart, and when we have had private nursery operations in many small communities throughout the north as a result of this government's policy on forest management.
DEATH OF JOSEPH MUGLIA
Mr. Kennedy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Attorney General with respect to the murder of Joseph Muglia in Mississauga last June, where there was a conviction for manslaughter and the sentence was only 21 months. Is the Attorney General's office reviewing this case and will there be an appeal of that sentence?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is a matter that was of some concern to us and an appeal as to the sentence has been launched in that case. The sentence that was handed down by the trial judge, in our respectful view, is simply inappropriate.
Mr. Kennedy: On the same incident, there were two other arrests made and one news article as of two or three weeks ago said there had not yet been a date set for trial of the other two persons accused in this incident. Could the Attorney General comment on that, please?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No, I am sorry; I do not know anything about the trial dates for the other accused, but I will obtain that information and advise the member accordingly.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, since the Minister of Health is absent I will ask a question of the Minister of Health's boss, the Provincial Secretary for Social Development. She is obviously aware -- if she is not, she just has to lean over and talk to the member for Ottawa South (Mr. Bennett) -- that unfortunately Ottawa and Carleton have had a long history of shortage of active care beds.
I am sure she is aware that recently a 54-year- old Ottawa lady died while waiting to be admitted to the cardiac unit of the Ottawa Civic Hospital. I quote from Dr. Keon, who is one of the top heart specialists in the country. He said very simply: "But in this case, there is just no excuse. She waited seven days and if we had got her a few days before, even four or five hours before, she probably would be alive today."
In another situation in which a lady from Vanier died last October, a coroner's jury just last Friday recommended that "the Ottawa and district health council and all area hospitals review the serious shortage of available beds."
Given this very unfortunate evidence, how long will it be before the government proceeds to give sufficient funds to Ottawa-Carleton so they can have the normal provincial ratio of active care beds like every other area of the province and prevent such unfortunate situations as I have mentioned here?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the cardiac beds are being supplied some time this fall. Of course those are very unfortunate circumstances, and one hopes that we will not be faced with those kinds of situations in the future. As I understand it, there are beds to be open in September that would address those particular issues.
Mr. Roy: The member for Ottawa South, who suggested the answer to the minister, is quite right. There will be the opening of 30 active care beds for the cardiac unit in September --
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Additional.
Mr. Roy: Additional, yes, but does the minister realize that for Ottawa-Carleton there is currently a shortage of 175 active care beds? The provincial ratio is something like 3.5 per 1,000, whereas in Ottawa-Carleton it is something like 3.2 per 1,000. Given this situation, when can we expect that the government will move to give adequate funding so that we can have the provincial average and thereby prevent situations such as these?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I can only say to the honourable member that the Minister of Health is moving as quickly as possible to make sure that all areas of the province are adequately served.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Labour. He seems very popular these days. I know the minister is aware of the Beverley Billing case, where a woman employee of an optical lab was denied a claim for the same pay as a male employee who was doing similar work on the ground that the male employee had additional but unused qualifications. This decision was the result of judicial review of a referee's decision and leave to appeal the court decision has been denied.
Since the minister has expressed his disappointment with the court's decision in a letter to my colleague the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) will he make a commitment to amend subsection 33(1)(d) of the Employment Standards Act to declare that consideration of unused qualifications is not an acceptable reason for a differential in pay between men and women doing substantially the same work?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, we have looked into that matter. It is correct that the member for Hamilton East wrote to me on April 18 and I responded to him. Following our investigations, we do not feel that an amendment to the act is required. We felt this was a particular instance and that the section of the act would appropriately cover other circumstances of a similar nature.
Ms. Bryden: Is the minister aware that Beverley Billing was led to lay her complaint after seeing the government's equal pay ads, which appeared on buses and television just before the 1981 election and which claimed that the present equal pay legislation guaranteed women equal pay for, and I quote, "doing substantially the same work as a man," as long as the skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions required are similar?
Beverley Billing has found, by bitter experience, that the ministry's ads were misleading and that we do not have equal value legislation in effect in Ontario. Will the minister concede that Beverley Billing would probably not have been denied the same pay as her male co-worker, who was doing substantially the same work, if the principle of equal pay for work of equal value was embodied in the Ontario law, as has been done at the federal level and in Quebec and as was embodied in a bill that my former colleague Mr. Bounsall introduced in 1979 and which passed second reading in this House?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I believe my ministry acted very responsibly in this matter. We were disappointed with the decision of the Divisional Court and accordingly we instructed our counsel to seek leave of the Court of Appeal to appeal the judgement of the Divisional Court. The Court of Appeal did not find cause to do so. While we did not agree with the decision, nevertheless we have to abide by that decision.
I am repeating myself, but I really do not feel that the legislation, as it stands, requires amendment. I feel we certainly do have strong legislation and that has been proven in many instances. This is one case that went the other way, but we can provide information to the members about other decisions that have been reached that have had far-reaching implications, not necessarily just in single applications but in multiple applications. A couple of very recent ones represented a substantial amount of money. There has been a lot of money awarded on equal pay decisions over the past two years.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, is the minister saying we are going to get no amendments to the act and there is going to be no new legislation in this area at all? I know in estimates he rejected equal pay for work of equal value. He indicated, however, that he was going to bring in legislation adopting the composite approach. Is that now out the window as well, or are we going to see some amendments one of these days?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: No, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Mackenzie: He is saying there is no justice for Beverley Billing.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Oh, that is ridiculous.
Mr. Mackenzie: That is exactly what you are saying.
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, please.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: As far as the member referring to the composite test is concerned, we have every intention of bringing that forward. We have not changed our position on that at all.
COMPLAINTS AGAINST METROPOLITAN TORONTO POLICE
Mr. Shymko: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address my question to the Solicitor General. I would like to ask if --
Mr. McClellan: Red herrings.
Mr. Shymko: That seems to be the fate the member gets caught with very often.
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, please.
Mr. Shymko: I would like to ask the Solicitor General whether he is aware of the allegations that were officially submitted to the mayor of the city of Toronto that seven demonstrators who took part in the demonstration on Saturday afternoon, April 23, in front of Queen's Park were severely and brutally beaten by members of the Metropolitan Toronto Police 52 division.
There were three testimonies of choking, kicking, using of a metal pipe -- three of them fainted -- punching and some beatings extending from five to 10 minutes. These allegations are apparently very serious. Could he provide some advice as to what recourse these people have for a full inquiry into the actions of the Metropolitan Toronto Police?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question, and I must confess to him that I have no knowledge of those allegations as so made. If those allegations have been made and somebody wants them to be investigated, there has been set up in the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, where the demonstrations took place -- and I assume the allegations are being made against members of the Metropolitan Toronto Police -- a complaints commissioner, who hears those complaints and can have a hearing into the matter.
I must add that this legislation is provided for and is under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), and the member may want to ask him further questions on the matter. Thus, if he wants to have it redirected, he might have it redirected to the Attorney General, who would answer more fully. But I think the available jurisdiction and benefit to those people who are making allegations happens to be there in legislation under the complaints commissioner.
Mr. Shymko: Since these details will be provided to the Solicitor General, I would like to know whether the Solicitor General would be prepared to provide detail to this House, since tomorrow is the anniversary of the Vietnamese boat people and the seven individuals involved were boat people refugees. The concern they have is one of shock as to the treatment they have received from the Metropolitan Toronto Police.
Would the minister be prepared, if they do provide him this information -- I believe it is on its way to him -- to give some of these details to this House?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: As I have mentioned, the legislation is not under my jurisdiction; but if I receive such content I will refer it to the complaints commissioner, as would be the normal practice under the legislation.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources in regard to fishing policy, or the lack thereof, in Ontario. Can the minister tell the House when he is going to make a policy statement on fishing in Ontario, specifically in regard to the most sought-after game fish in the province, walleye, or yellow pickerel? In particular, what is he going to do about the declining stocks in all the lakes in Ontario, from Lake Nipissing to Rainy Lake and all over?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the honourable member that in some specific locations in Ontario the walleye, or pickerel, population is under some stress and that in the past there has been some habitat deterioration for a number of reasons. But using section 38 and using some of the other existing programs of the Ministry of Natural Resources, in the past year quite a considerable sum of money and effort has been expended both to improve the habitat and to remove some of the sources of stress.
The member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) laughs at that, but about 1,200 laid-off workers in Ontario have been employed directly under section 38 in fish habitat rehabilitation work in different parts of the province doing very important work, and they have added well in excess of $4 million as the value of work done to rehabilitate the pickerel fishery. Furthermore, we have undertaken in existing ministry programs an additional $1 million worth of work in habitat rehabilitation.
The effects of this are not going to be immediate. There is going to be some period of time in some specific lakes where there are going to be some signs of deterioration, but in the long term that is the only successful way in which we are to restore the pickerel fishery in Ontario. We are committed to it and we are working hard at it as a ministry.
We are also looking at a couple of pilot projects with respect to pickerel in Ontario that involve some potential hatchery projects. We are looking at it in conjunction with the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. We intend to continue to work with them, looking at what is being done with pilot projects in other jurisdictions, and we hope, therefore, to make some progress.
Mr. Martel: Where have you been for 40 years?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Where have I been for 40 years?
Mr. Speaker: That was a very complete answer. Never mind the interjection.
Mr. T. P. Reid: The minister mentioned the possibility of a pickerel hatchery, which hardly any biologists in his ministry have recommended. The minister has indicated that he might put one in Lake Nipissing and perhaps somewhere in Rainy Lake or Lake of the Woods. Could he indicate whether he is talking about actual hatcheries or pond rearing for walleyes? When can we expect some kind of definitive statement on walleye fishing in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Pope: I think there has been quite a debate in the fish biologists' community in this country and in North America about the value of pickerel rearing ponds and pickerel hatcheries, and whether the survival rate in their natural habitat once they are stocked is adequate to warrant the expenditure. It is a very controversial issue. There are other strongly held points of view on the other side of the issue.
I indicated I would make my officials available, my biologists available and the Ministry of Natural Resources available to go into the midwestern states with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and NOTOA representatives to look at some of the projects that are going on there now on an experimental basis and see whether we can adapt some of those to the Ontario situation. I am willing to have an open mind on the issue and to work with the groups who want to get involved.
I have to say that under our community fisheries involvement program we have opened the way for fishing clubs and other interested and concerned groups in Ontario to initiate some of these projects for themselves. We are willing to work with them. The only conditions we put on is that there has to be some biological control to prevent the spread of disease and that once the fish hit the water they are a public resource to be available to all under our regular allocation systems.
We are willing to work with any group in Ontario which wants to expand on these activities, including those in the pickerel field, to make sure this happens. We are willing to commit our resources to some additional pickerel habitat rehabilitation programs and stocking programs in the near future.
One last point: I extend my apologies to the member for Nickel Belt.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, given the fact that the strategic planning for Ontario fisheries program has been floating around in the ministry for several years now, and given the fact that the pickerel fishery specifically is so important to the tourist industry right across Ontario, how much in actual funding is the minister prepared to make from his own resources, and through the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development, to make it the kind of potential that it could be, not only to the tourist industry but also to sports fishermen right across the province?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, I think I should say very clearly that we believe natural reproduction and maintenance of the natural habitat is the only important way in the long term to ensure the continuation of a strong pickerel resource in Ontario. We are not prepared to stand by and see the degradation of the habitat. We are not prepared to stand by and see uncontrolled exploitation of the resource and think that the only solution is to build hatcheries and keep on pouring fish into it.
That is why in the past year, under the BILD commitments of this government and under our accelerated capital program, we have increased our expenditures on the fishery resource of this province from $24 million to $36 million. That is why at present we have in place capital expenditures that will increase our stocking capacities in this province by 50 per cent.
We have indicated that the existence of pickerel hatcheries as the answer is controversial. We are trying to work out a mutual solution with other interest groups. When that solution is agreed upon we will put the same kind of financial commitment into that very important fishery in the province.
AMBASSADOR BUILDING MAINTENANCE LTD.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Labour. It concerns a company in the city of Windsor called Ambassador Building Maintenance Ltd., about which I think he has had some correspondence from my office.
Has the minister had a chance to review the situation? Does he think it is proper for a company to hire employees, making it a condition of employment that they must move into the buildings of which the company is the landlord, and then to deduct the rent from their paycheques? In many cases it has resulted in individuals getting zero paycheques because the rent is deducted from their paycheques.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, the honour- able member has brought that problem to my attention through correspondence. It is being fully investigated at present. I hope to be able to respond to his letter by the end of this week.
Mr. Cooke: First, I would like to point out to the Minister of Labour that the local employment standards office of his ministry indicated to me over the phone that there is nothing in the Employment Standards Act to prohibit this practice from continuing.
I would like to ask the minister whether he will also consult with the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson), because her ministry is in charge of St. Clair College, and St. Clair College uses Ambassador Building Maintenance, which contracts out its janitorial work. It pays employees $3.50 an hour and uses these kinds of employment practices. Does he not believe the government should not be participating with an employer such as this in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I believe it would be appropriate for me to bear the results of our investigation before I make off-the-cuff comments about a circumstance.
FLOOD PLAIN MAPPING
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. Is the minister aware that his ministry's guidelines as to flood plain mapping, administered by the conservation authorities, are causing extreme hardship on land owners in areas so designated?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, if the member for Essex North is asking me whether I am aware that from time to time some problems may arise with the application of provincial flood plain policies, the answer is yes. My own riding of Timmins was the site of the 1960 Mattagami River flood, or the Timmins flood, which is the standard for a good part of the province; that clearly indicated to this government back then the need to have a flood plain policy to prevent loss of life, loss of property and substantial damage. Based on that and on the Hurricane Hazel incident, as well as a number of other incidents, this government in the 1960s adopted a flood plain policy and started looking at areas that were susceptible to flooding.
I recall that we did flood plain mapping in the honourable member's area. It was very controversial when it was introduced. Everyone said that it was completely unrealistic and that the floods would never happen. Lo and behold, when the Essex flood came it was within half an inch of the predicted flood guideline.
I am aware that individual problems can be created for people. We tried to address that last year when cabinet adopted a refinement to the two-fringe concept to allow for construction in some of the areas less susceptible to flooding. We have tried to have special policy areas to moderate the impact of the flood plain guidelines. We have gone out time and again to discuss these policies with the people who are affected. We are trying to do our best to be flexible in the application, through both the conservation authorities and the government, but we are committed as a government to having in place some flood damage reduction program.
We do not want to see the situation now seen in the Mississippi River system where they paved over so much of the system, where they failed to allocate flood plains for the protection of people, and they get $20 million in damage every year in Louisiana state alone.
Mr. Ruston: The minister and I do not disagree to a point when one has flooding. But when the government designates areas that have never been flooded in 100 years, houses with basements are sitting there side by side and have never been flooded in 55 years, and when they cannot build on them but it is not even in the registry office, so the property is not even in zoning, that is ridiculous.
Hon. Mr. Pope: The member probably said the same thing about the Essex-Windsor region in 1978, and it was proved correct then --
Mr. Ruston: You don't know what you are talking about.
Hon. Mr. Pope: I do not know what I am talking about? I have done a specific study of the Windsor flood, and the member opposite does not know what he is talking about.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, surely the minister knows that the procedures under the present act are arbitrary. There is no notice of appeal to the individual when these flood lines are placed on his property. There is no way he can appeal and there is no arbitration from that decision.
Does the minister not agree with the Deputy Premier (Mr. Welch), who indicated when this question was raised last Friday that he felt it would probably be appropriate to change this whole system so it was brought under the Planning Act and there would be those rights of notification and appeal? Does the minister agree with him and will he promote that kind of a change?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows the flood plain policy is one of the policies that will be applied under the Planning Act. He has been aware of that for a considerable period of time. Therefore, he is aware that as a provincial policy that will take effect under the Planning Act, there is some right of consultation.
He is also fully aware of exactly what happened in Timmins. That city adopted, in its official plan and zoning bylaw, hazard land designation that affected 250 homes. It was brought before the Ontario Municipal Board. Every single property owner attended and each had his say. They had questions on the provincial policy and its application on a local basis. The member knows full well that right is available. As soon as the local municipality makes that designation under the official plan, they can have a complete, formal hearing. We have already had an informal hearing for them.
The member knows full well all the consultation on this issue that has gone on since 1977 between the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and all the municipalities in his area.
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
USE OF TIME IN QUESTION PERIOD
Mr. Bradley: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I think it is interesting to note that today, since you have adopted your new policy, by my calculation there were six questions asked by this party, five questions asked by the New Democratic Party and two questions asked by the Conservative Party, for a total of 13 questions. So it is obvious your new restraint policy in the House is working.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you very much. Obviously it cannot work without the co-operation of all members, and I wish to thank everybody.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
MISSIONARY CHURCH CANADA EAST ACT
Mrs. Scrivener moved, seconded by Mr. J. A. Taylor, first reading of Bill Pr4, An Act respecting the Missionary Church Canada East.
Motion agreed to.
DAVE HOLLIDAY LIMITED ACT
Mr. McKessock moved, seconded by Mr. G. I. Miller, first reading of Bill Pr8, An Act to revive Dave Holliday Limited.
Motion agreed to.
CHURCH OF THE VIRGIN MARY AND ST. ATHANASIUS ACT
Mr. Jones moved, seconded by Mr. Kennedy, first reading of Bill Pr16, An Act to revive the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Church of the Virgin Mary and St. Athanasius.
Motion agreed to.
CITY OF MISSISSAUGA ACT
Mr. Jones moved, seconded by Mr. Kennedy, first reading of Bill Pr1, An Act respecting the City of Mississauga.
Motion agreed to.
ARBOUR DAY ACT
Mr. Kennedy moved, seconded by Mr. Lane, first reading of Bill 21, An Act to proclaim Arbour Day.
Motion agreed to.
PARKING FACILITIES FOR PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED PERSONS ACT
Mr. Kennedy moved, seconded by Mr. Jones, first reading of Bill 22, An Act to provide Parking Facilities for Physically Handicapped Persons.
Motion agreed to.
THUNDER BAY UNITED CHURCH CAMPS INC. ACT
Mr. Hennessy moved, seconded by Mr. MacQuarrie, first reading of Bill Pr10, An Act to revive Thunder Bay United Church Camps Inc.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I possibly should --
Mr. Stokes: Recap.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Recap. That is a great suggestion. That is the most positive suggestion I have had come from the New Democratic Party today.
Mr. Wildman: He said recant, not recap.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I just want to refresh members' memories. I know they were all so attentive yesterday afternoon that they would want to put the remainder of my remarks in focus.
Mr. Ruston: I missed the last 10 minutes, Jim. Could you please repeat that?
Mr. Stokes: Did you read Hansard? It didn't read all that well.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: The last 10 minutes? I have not had the opportunity of reading Hansard, but I hope it makes some sense. Of course, I will be delighted to discuss it with my friend on some future occasion.
Mr. Speaker, as you know, I was very impressed with the remarks of the leader of the third party when he reminded the House of the growing needs of the elderly of this province and in particular the concerns he had for residents in nursing homes. I think he was serious. I think he was not acting in any political way in expressing his real, deep-seated, heartfelt concern for those persons who had to leave their homes and possibly spend the rest of their lives in nursing homes.
I was sympathetic, because I think all of us share that concern. It is not a matter to politicize. It is a continuing need of society that must be addressed regardless of which party is in power at any particular moment. It is a need that will continue to grow as the population ages. All of us become more mentally and physically disabled as we get older; it is part of the ageing process. I will not comment on the age of the opposition.
Mr. Stokes: Almost as old as the government.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: That may be. What I am really saying, and I think what the leader of the third party was saying as well, is that there is a big problem out there. There is a big need that not only is being addressed but also must be addressed in a more effective and sympathetic way in the future. I share that, as I am sure members of the Liberal Party would share that.
He read a litany of letters that were mostly negative. I think many of those criticisms were well-founded. But I tried to point out that there is another side. There is the side of those residents in nursing homes who have never had the level of care they are currently enjoying. I refer to people who have never had the attention and who have never been able to share with others, who were sympathetic, their problems and their concerns as many of the residents in our nursing homes experience today.
So there are the two sides. I suppose, if one wanted to get into a contest in terms of saying we have more letters in support of our nursing homes than we have objecting to nursing homes, we could do that, but that is not constructive; I do not think anybody intends that.
What I guess we are all saying is that there will be a growing need and that need will have to be continually addressed. There is probably some room for stricter enforcement of present regulations, and there may be some need for basic change in the types of accommodation that some elderly persons utilize at present.
I commented on that because --
Mr. Kerrio: Because you are getting older; that is why.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Besides my infirmity, I was thinking of the continuing and accelerating infirmity of some of my good friends and colleagues in the opposition parties and the need, if possible, for an improved system of care as we graduate to some of these other facilities.
Getting back to the relevance of those remarks to the principal thrust of the throne speech, which was an economic thrust, there is a continuing need to support in a financial sense the large spectrum of social services that we not only enjoy but must continue to expand and improve.
In other words, I suppose it is simplistic for the third party to suggest the answer is to nationalize the nursing home system. I personally do not agree with that and I do not think we have to find new ways of discovering government involvement. I think we must find new ways to create national wealth, instead of merely finding new ways to share it.
I then went on to what I perceive are some basic structural changes in the economy of this country, this province and this continent. In that regard, I mentioned we have seen an evolution of our productive system, an evolution or change from a high volume, standardized type of production to the need for, if not in fact the accomplishment of, a more flexible system of production; in other words, a transition. That transition would, of course, require a basic restructuring of business, labour and government.
In that process, I pointed out what is happening and what has happened since the early 1960s, which is basically the transformation of a domestic market to a world market, from a domestic marketplace to a world marketplace. In the early 1960s, for example, probably eight per cent of the commerce and industry of the United States was exposed in terms of imports; today it is probably 30 per cent.
The high volume, standardized production which really created the wealth of the United States and this country is a type of production that has now been transferred to what were developing countries or Third World countries. Those countries initially concentrated their production, in terms of their cheap labour, in the toy industry, the shoe industry, the clothing industry and that type of thing.
In regard to the transfer to those nations, I may say I had the opportunity some 15 or 20 years ago to visit a number of the Pacific Rim countries to look at those economies. Not too long ago I had the opportunity to return and to see the dramatic change and shift. The so-called developing countries now have the capital intensive, sophisticated, often automated equipment that mass produces.
This is mass production by a population that does not have the expectation in terms of general welfare and standard of living that we do in this country and on this continent, so that it has become very difficult for our industry to compete with that industry. We can now see countries that earlier got into mass produced, standardized production, such as Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, getting out of that into more sophisticated, flexible types of production where skills are more important. I would say Japan is the leader in that regard.
Mr. Conway: Have you been reading The Atlantic Monthly?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Yes, I have. If the member for Renfrew North was here yesterday, I referred to The Atlantic Monthly and to the article entitled "The Next American Frontier," by Robert Reich, in the March issue.
Mr. Conway: You have read the other one too?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Yes, I have, in response to my well-informed friend.
Mr. Conway: I was not here yesterday.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I know the member was not here and I accept his apologies for not understanding what I had said.
I think it is imperative that we appreciate what is happening in the world marketplace. Yesterday I pointed out in part that this world marketplace has also become a world marketplace for banks. I do not want to get into the banking system today and what has happened there -- the judgement calls, the financing of sovereign countries, the financing of very large multinational corporations, and whether banks really can control whom they lend to.
Mr. Stokes: Towers of Gold, Feet of Clay.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Yes. I will not be decoyed by that. I thought that Towers of Gold, Feet of Clay was a very interesting book. I have read that as well. I thought it was rather biased. If the author, Walter Stewart, had been more objective in his presentation, the book would have more credibility. He made some excellent points and I think he did a great deal of research. To some degree his credibility was weakened because of the obvious bias in the book.
I will not go into that area, but just point out that there is a world marketplace now in terms of our banking institutions. We could bring that back to --
Mr. Mackenzie: I think it is time to enter the temples and overturn the tables.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: The member can turn religious if he likes, but I am going to wait a little while. I am just an honest to God, solid, common Christian. I am not into the type of cult religion they have over there.
Mr. Breaugh: You are not born again.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I will not be drawn into some of the academic and philosophical arguments I am sure the member for Renfrew North might be drawn into or my good friend sitting behind him.
Since Bretton Woods and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, we have seen the development of the single marketplace; and remember the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which was philosophically to reduce world tariffs, so that again we become more exposed to world competition. I think it is imperative to appreciate and set that picture and understand that tone when we look at what government must do in a very serious and constructive way in terms of ensuring we recover and experience a healthy economy.
I would suggest that particular attention be paid to training or retraining workers to perform effectively in flexible production systems. This, in many cases, will involve more than learning a new set of technical skills. It will demand an additional change -- an attitudinal change, a mental reorientation towards really what constitutes a job. I say that because of the new flexible approach that workers are going to have to take. Not that straight line approach with a pecking order, but really a co-operative approach in terms of identifying problems and solving those problems.
Another area that will have a profound import on the way in which our economic future unfolds is labour relations. I have spoken on this over the past number of years. Frankly, I think it is time we took a more civilized approach in terms of settling industrial disputes. I think the adversarial approach, the approach that seems to polarize prejudice and create more friction, is obsolete.
But I will not develop some of the suggestions I have made in the past in that regard. I am just putting it to you, Mr. Speaker, that we are going to have to change our attitude and basic approach in the whole field of labour relations.
One of the causes of our poor showing on productivity is the amount of time lost in strikes and lockouts. Unfortunately, Canada leads the world in this category.
Mr. Conway: And the Ontario Legislature must lead Canada in that category -- what could be more unproductive than this Legislature?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, have we had enough interjections? May I carry on? I do not want to respond to the accuracy or inaccuracy -- may I say to some degree I rely on statistical material that my research digs out for me, and we can debate that, I know.
Mr. Mackenzie: I am not a betting man but I will make a bet on that.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Sure, sure, any time.
The Deputy Speaker: The honourable member for Prince Edward-Lennox.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Yes, Mr. Speaker, thank you for ensuring that I do not wander from my chosen path.
Mr. Conway: The chosen path took him from Scarborough to Napanee in short order, but that is another story.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Sure, and as I say, I will not let the member decoy me. Again, I was not speaking in a geographical sense and I will leave that for another occasion.
Between 1971 and 1980, for example, we lost on average 896 person-days of work per 1,000 employees a year because of industrial conflict. During the same period -- and I think members will be interested in this -- the United Kingdom, which we often perceive as a nation usually on strike, lost in the average year 539 days, the United States lost 437 days, Japan lost 103 days and West Germany lost a mere 42 days.
Certainly it is difficult to compete when you lose twice as much production time as your competitors. High-technology equipment is useless if it is sitting idle. Labour and management must finally accept that it is ridiculous in the high-tech 1980s to conduct their relations on assumptions and perceptions typical of the 1920s.
It is also vital at this very sensitive period that workers in the private and public sectors continue to exercise restraint in their wage and salary demands. I appreciate that the question of the level of wages and salaries is a contentious one. I am also aware of the Citibank study, which shows that for the period from 1970 to 1981 Canadian labour costs increased less than in any other industrialized country except the United States.
The problem in Canada has been that salary increases cannot be justified in terms of productivity increases. From 1972 to 1982 Canadian wages increased at an average annual rate of 11.3 per cent. During the same period our productivity increased at an average annual rate of 0.1 per cent. The hard fact is that entering the 1980s we were being paid more and were producing less. This is obviously a trend that cannot continue if we hope to compete effectively in the future.
The speech from the throne speaks of increasing entrepreneurship in small and medium-sized businesses and of increasing innovation in all sectors of our economy. I believe that government's ability to achieve these goals through unilateral action is extremely limited. In this House we cannot pass laws that demand that people take economic risks or have ideas. We can, however, create an environment in which risk taking is more attractive and innovation is more likely to occur and to be supported and implemented. I hope the policies and programs proposed in the throne speech will create that environment.
The focus on small business is quite appropriate. That sector has proved to be the most innovative and flexible in our economy; it can respond more quickly and effectively to new opportunities than can larger firms. All too easily do some relegate to the sunset category industries like the automobile industry, which would, and could if properly managed, continue to make a significant contribution to our economy. That is not a mistake this government will make.
Directly or indirectly the auto industry accounts for one of every six jobs in this province and serves as a base for approximately one fifth of our entire economy. It is our major manufacturing and export industry. This government believes that the auto industry can still be a very positive force in our economy.
Mr. Stokes: Do you drive a Lada or a Mercedes?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: May I just say to my friend the member for Lake Nipigon that when his leader spoke yesterday, I was courteous. I listened courteously to him. I thought that he was sincere in what he was saying. As a matter of fact, I was supportive of much of what he said.
Mr. Haggerty: Don't go too far, now.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I drew the line as I always draw the line, I would expect, for a party that wants to nationalize at an ever escalating rate -- and I understand their platform and their philosophy, I understand what they want to do to the health care industry. But I would hope that they would take me as seriously in my concerns for our economy. That is essential if we are going to fund these very necessary and vital social welfare programs. So I ask them to be serious.
If the member for Lake Nipigon wants me to answer his interjection, I will tell him what car I am driving. I drive a Buick LeSabre, if that is relevant to his party's philosophy. I might also say that I purchased, at the same time, a K car, a yellow station wagon. If he wants more details, it is a Dodge Aries. I discovered, after I bought it, that it has a Japanese engine. That is my patriotic gesture and that is what I am driving.
I do not think that is really relevant to the tone or to the thrust of my remarks.
The Deputy Speaker: And so you will drive back to the main road.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: But I did feel that possibly if that is critical to the core of that party's philosophy, I should respond in an appropriate way.
The throne speech did mention a number of items that will be the subject matter, I am sure, of government policy and programs. Pension reform is one of those.
Mr. Boudria: The child rearing, drop-out provision.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Yes, maybe it is appropriate to respond, Mr. Speaker, because I am not being decoyed to my Liberal friend's interjection in regard to the drop-out for women. I would subscribe to that and embrace that recommendation in the report of the select committee on pensions. I do hope that before long we will see that implemented into Canadian law.
Mr. Cassidy: It requires this government to give its consent.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: To the member for Ottawa Centre, I understand all our learning is not achieved in universities. I was vitally involved in this matter some years ago and studied the subject very thoroughly. As chairman of the select committee on pensions I had occasion to refresh my memory and to review the current situation.
I fully understand Ontario's veto in regard to this particular provision which, if I may say, was a reason for not adopting the drop-out provision some years ago. But I want to tell the members that I think the current climate is such that this provision should be adopted and I only repeat myself when I say that I totally embrace the recommendations of the select committee in this regard.
Also, of course, the reference in the throne speech is for an Ontario approach to the federal government. While I think it is essential that we co-operate fully with the federal government, there are many things that we, in this province, can do in regard to pension reform, things that are within our constitutional authority and which we should do.
Mr. Conway: The Legislative Assembly retirement act.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: No, I haven't that in mind. It is an area that may preoccupy the honourable member's mind because of his specialized interest, but it certainly was not a consideration of mine.
Mr. Samis: From a rotten borough.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: In responding to the member for Cornwall, first, on behalf of the constituents of Prince Edward-Lennox, I would like to say they express resentment at a remark that I represent a rotten borough.
Mr. Samis: They are not that touchy.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I am not that touchy, but we have such sound, conscientious citizens who have such a deep and long-embedded faith in the democratic process and the elected process that they would not like to hear that kind of remark coming from the New Democratic member for Cornwall. I just want to put that on the record for his edification.
Mr. Conway: The 1975 election results put that to rest anyway. What was it -- 600 votes?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: That is right. It certainly was. There is a historian. I can tell a historian.
Mr. Conway: Oh, I was just reminding you of that close race.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: The member does not have to remind me. I was almost a victim of that particular election, but fortunately the wife of the member for Cornwall was. She ran against me.
Mr. Speaker, through the member for Cornwall, I want to convey to her my congratulations on her election to the city council.
In any event, I do not want to be distracted from the remark and reference I was making in regard to pensions because I think most of the citizens of Ontario want to be self-reliant in their retirement. As a matter of fact, I think most citizens want to be able to stand on their own two feet throughout life.
If we are going to give our elderly citizens the opportunity to maintain their dignity and self- respect and self-reliance, then it is fundamental and, I think, vital that we implement pension reform in this province. That reform, of course, would and could follow the basic recommendations of the select committee on pensions.
For example, I would just mention the need to recognize in this day and age that employer contributions to workmen's pensions are in fact deferred wages, and as deferred wages those moneys should be seen as vested so they become a part of the property of the employee.
Mr. Cassidy: That is a good socialist principle.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: It is not a socialist principle, it is a principle of conscience. When the members over there become less doctrinaire and understand that all human beings, we hope, will become more civilized as history goes on --
Mr. Cassidy: That is a good socialist principle.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: That is what the honourable member says. He can adopt what he wants as a socialist principle, but I am not going to get into an argument on that. I will debate you on socialism --
Mr. Cassidy: It is better than the law of the jungle.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I do not want to get into practising the member's laws in this Legislature.
The Deputy Speaker: Reminding all honourable members that the member for Prince Edward-Lennox has the floor.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I do want to say, Mr. Speaker, that I am delighted that the opposition party subscribes to the principle of deferred wages and of immediate vesting. The select committee has recommended that the vesting initially be five years. We hope that vesting will evolve without too much delay so that we will have vesting, say, after a year.
Mr. Cassidy: It is a pity your party does not agree with us.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: If that happens, that would ensure to the workers of this province a satisfactory retirement in their future. It would certainly liberate them in terms of their mobility so they could travel from job to job. I think that is important today, and a flexible system of production is important so that workers can be mobile.
Mr. Cassidy: Workers of the world unite.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: That is right from Karl Marx. I appreciate the member's learning as well. You have only your chains to lose, gentlemen over there, and you have a world to win, a world to gain.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: The trouble with the third party is it seems it has no room to manoeuvre. They have to become radicals.
As a matter of fact, the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie), if I am not mistaken, referred to his leader as a radical socialist. I do not want to get drawn into that either, but I had hoped the member had become more moderate in his views and would support the government when it pronounces policies that are sensible and advance the welfare of the people of this province.
Mr. Samis: Announce your nomination.
Mr. Conway: Get the lead out, Jim.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I am not running for the federal leadership. I do not think so anyway.
Mr. Conway: What about the federal Tory nomination in Hastings?
Mr. McClellan: Are you going to the convention?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Which convention? If they send their invitations I will consider them all. No reasonable offer will be refused.
Mr. Cassidy: To make you feel better, we supported you for Speaker. We still do.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Thank you very much. In seriousness, I appreciate that. I take that seriously because I think he has, and I think we have, sincere people of good conscience on all sides of the House who are here because they really want to serve their fellow man. I mean that. I think the member subscribes to that.
I will not take up any more time but I thought I must say, talking in terms of the welfare of the senior citizens of this province, that we have to start in terms of our children, citizens of an early age, who spend their lifetimes in the work force and who would rather have a pension plan they have supported and towards which they have contributed so they have the independence and security any citizen of this great province should have.
I want to thank all the members for their kind attention.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, listening to the comments that have been made in this throne speech debate so far, I marvel that it is such a wise decision on the part of the proceedings of this House not to rule anything out of order.
I also feel it does nothing but improve the level of debate when it comes to this particular throne speech, because I must say it is probably the most repetitive piece of regurgitation we have borne witness to in this Legislature in many years.
However, the latitude extended by the Legislature to the speakers allows us to deal with subject areas that were not mentioned in the throne debate but which, it is the belief of some members, would at least have some level of importance to this Legislature.
Mr. Conway: Now tell us about water power.
Mr. J. A. Reed: I will tell my honourable friend that I will probably touch on the subject before these remarks are concluded, in spite of what the members may think.
Mr. Stokes: No, for the love of peat.
Mr. J. A. Reed: I would like to dwell at the outset on a subject area that had its active origin in the great town of Acton, Ontario, that town which was deleted from the official road map of Ontario in 1982 but for which a return has been promised in the next issue of the map. The good citizens of Acton were at least as incensed as I was when that omission was made and Acton was relegated to a blow-up view of the Toronto area.
A year ago, a handicapped citizen of Acton by the name of Lorne Doberthien, who is the owner of a business, undertook to bring to the attention of government the need for legislation governing parking for handicapped citizens. Mr. Doberthien is a recently handicapped individual and has therefore had the experience of both situations.
With visits and a campaign with various members of government and in the Legislature here, namely the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow), we were promised two things. One, that when the new plating system came into operation licence plates would be available on request to identify the handicapped owners of automobiles; and two, that uniform legislation would come into play to provide common legislation for all municipalities across the province.
To this date we have seen the move to introduce the licence plate for the handicapped owners of motor vehicles, but to the chagrin of many handicapped people we have discovered that to this point legislation has not been forthcoming from the government to provide uniformity for handicapped parking in every municipality in Ontario.
I was quite delighted that the member for Mississauga South (Mr. Kennedy) today introduced a private member's bill to that effect. He can be assured it will receive my support. The most the Minister of Transportation and Communications has been able to volunteer to this Legislature is that he is disappointed that municipalities have not adopted the uniform bylaw that was given to them concerning handicapped parking. To this date, no further action has been taken officially.
It is to be hoped the government might make a rare exception and accept the private member's bill delivered to this Legislature by the member for Mississauga South. However, if the past record of the government is any indicator, we are going to wait a long time yet.
In my hand today I have quite a large number of letters from handicapped people in my riding expressing their very deep concern that while the licence plate move has been made by the government no move has been made to impose uniform legislation. I would like to read into the record a letter from the Hamilton Automobile Club that explains it probably as well as any other. I will just read a couple of paragraphs.
"Unfortunately, most municipalities fail to accept the new MTC-issued plates as adequate to allow motor vehicles fitted with them to be parked in special areas designated for the handicapped. Presently, handicapped users are being misled into believing that their cars fitted with MTC issue may be parked in any reserved handicapped area.
"It is important that this misconception be cleared up immediately and that the Municipal Act be amended so as to provide a uniform bylaw allowing motorists whose vehicles are fitted with these new plates to park in spaces reserved for handicapped persons."
I cannot emphasize too forcefully the need for this kind of legislation. Surely in a province that prides itself as being enlightened we can give some very close attention to this important move forward and see to it that handicapped persons do not continue to be disadvantaged as they are at the present time.
Therefore this member, being the voice in this Legislature of one of the major creators of this idea, Mr. Doberthien, will continue to press the government to see that adequate provision be made.
I was quite impressed, as was the previous speaker, by some of the remarks made by the leader of the third party regarding nursing home care in Ontario and some of its obvious inadequacies. Incidentally, I believe those inadequacies are acknowledged by the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch). I do not want to restate the words of the leader of the third party, but hopefully to add to or expand on them somewhat.
The member summed up his comments on the problem by saying the answer lay in nationalizing or having all nursing home care in Ontario under government ownership and operation. I would like to respectfully suggest to the leader of the third party that the problem neither begins nor ends with the profit motive in this case.
The solution to the problems we experience on a day-to-day basis -- and some of us in this Legislature have personal experience with problems as they arise -- really lies in the provision of adequate inspection for nursing home operations. Until we have an adequate number of inspectors and can apply inspection on a uniform basis across all those areas that provide levels of nursing care, whether they be municipally controlled, private or whatever, we are going to have a continuation of these very serious problems.
There is one area that was not touched upon at all by the leader of the third party and I believe it is an area that has been critical in the province, concerning the care of elderly people, for at least as long as I have had the honour to serve in this Legislature. It concerns that group of residences known as rest homes.
We know there is a public perception that people who are residents of rest homes require a certain amount of care if they are elderly, disabled and so on. But to this date there is no legislation in place in Ontario governing the operation of rest homes, other than that provided at the same level for boarding houses. Yet the public concept is that those people who become residents of rest homes are entitled to certain levels of basic care. In fact, we have an appalling situation in Ontario where there are no rules of the game governing rest homes. While legislation has been promised from time to time, I believe since 1976, it has never been tabled in this Legislature.
The absence of legislation is unfair to the families of residents and to the owners and operators of rest homes. How can one expect any accepted level of care to take place as long as we treat them in a fashion no different from boarding houses, which is the way they are being treated at the present time.
I am deeply concerned about this matter. It is something the various ministries concerned have refused to take action on over the years. Perhaps the legislation is a little too difficult for them to consider, but the families of the people in rest homes and the people who operate rest homes need and want legislation. It is my belief the medical officers of health in the various municipalities agree legislation should be forthcoming. I urge the government at this time to proceed with that kind of legislation with a sense of urgency.
In the last year I have changed portfolios from Energy to Natural Resources. It has been about a 12-month learning process to try to have some view of some parts of the largest and most diverse ministry in the province. Indeed, in that area I can sympathize with the difficulty the minister had going into his new portfolio and trying to get a grip on just what is happening in that ministry.
I have been impressed with the broad subject areas he has to deal with. I have been so impressed that I have recommended to the minister that the ministry really should be divided. There is at least one subject area that should become a ministry unto itself, and that is the area of mining. As we go along and gain experience and depth, there may be more areas that might well lend themselves to a separate and distinct ministry.
Surely it is accepted that many of the subject areas overlap between mining and natural resources. There is also an overlap between natural resources and energy. In those areas, liaison has to be strengthened and policies adopted that complement the various ministries.
Once again, I suggest to the minister and to the government as a whole that a new look be given to the Ministry of Natural Resources in terms of the subject areas it is required to carry, because it is an incredibly steep order for any minister. It is no wonder we can say, and I am sure the minister would not disagree, that in many areas it is the bureaucracy that controls the branches of the Ministry of Natural Resources and which considers it has a mandate to apply the legislation. It is very difficult for the minister to undertake the innovative and creative measures he must undertake for the economic and resource development future in Ontario.
Recently the minister and I met at a public meeting in my riding discussing the concerns of citizens over the designation of land for future aggregate extraction. In Halton, outside the Niagara Escarpment, the ministry has identified and originally wanted to impose controls or designation on 16,000 acres of land. On top of that, a recommendation was made by the hearing officers on the Niagara Escarpment that a further overlay take place on the escarpment.
I have to tell members that the designation of land in the manner in which the ministry is proposing it is unacceptable to the citizens of Halton-Burlington and will be found, as time goes on, unacceptable to the citizens of those other ridings that contain aggregate potential. We have borne witness to the imposition of government by policy in this matter rather than government by legislation.
We saw initially a mistake make by the government when it used a threat not to approve official plans to impose land designation in Caledon and in Durham. We saw one judicial decision made in the township of Puslinch using the aggregate policy, the one that Mr. John Masham of the Ministry of Natural Resources says was not cabinet approved. We saw the attempt to make the overlay in Halton. That was when the good citizens of Halton stood up in a body, side by side with their elected municipal officials, to say: "Listen, this is going too far. You must not do this."
It is interesting to note that even now, in terms of the resource base available for the aggregate industry, in terms of licences and active pits at the moment, there is more aggregate available than will be used by the industry to the end of this century. So when we are talking about attempting to designate 16,000 acres of land in Halton for the exclusive use of aggregates in the future we are handicapping a whole municipality. Indeed, we are asking that municipality to do far more than its fair share in supplying aggregates to the Metropolitan Toronto area.
Now I recognize that the aggregate industry is important to the construction business in Ontario and the supply of aggregates is necessary, and an economic supply at that. But I say to the minister and to those officials in his ministry who wish to designate this land that if he were to proceed on the basis upon which he started he would be handicapping a whole ring of ridings around the Metropolitan Toronto area for years and years to come. He would be preventing them from carrying out their normal plans for the future. He would be preventing them from carrying on natural industrial development, and housing development as the need arises, and so on. He would be putting priority on aggregates to the detriment of all other uses.
There are a few exceptions and those exceptions have been made public. In one case the Ministry of Agriculture and Food has said, in concert with the minister's new aggregate policy, that agricultural land used for aggregate extraction would have to be restored to its original productivity.
Let me suggest to the minister that the people who created that statement either had no understanding of the difficulty of achieving a restoration of that kind or perhaps made the statement knowing full well it was impossible to achieve a recreation of productivity. One cannot recreate a microclimate, one cannot recreate the water table relationships that existed before aggregate extraction, so such statements really do not have much foundation in fact.
I would say to the minister that the attempted imposition of these policies has aroused a distrust in the participation process. It has aroused very deep fears and in some cases resentment and anger.
To this date we do not have a new aggregate bill to accompany the new aggregate policy, and therefore we have no real way of knowing just how the two will dovetail in the future. But there are some fundamental concerns that I believe should be addressed in the new bill.
One, of course, is not only to recognize that we understand that aggregates are not evenly distributed all over the province but also to recognize that municipalities should not be expected to deliver more than their fair share of aggregates. The minister knows I have been told that we in Halton deliver 50 per cent of the aggregates from this small area into the metropolitan area.
Surely the minister through his legislation can ensure that Halton is not asked to do substantially more, as it would be asked to do with the designation of 18,000 acres. Surely the minister can ensure legislation so that the municipalities can maintain control over the location of pits and quarries. Surely that could be a fundamental in the legislation.
The bill that died before the 1981 election, Bill 175 as it was known, placed the final authority in the hands of the Minister of Natural Resources. It gave the minister unprecedented control over aggregates in the future. The danger in this is that while one minister may have the finest of intentions governments do not remain and ministers do not remain. People change, personnel change over the years -- the present minister (Mr. Pope) replaced another one, the late James Auld, a very fine Minister of Natural Resources -- and people's attitudes and thinking change.
It is therefore not legislatively sound to give a cabinet minister powers that usurp the traditional powers of municipalities. Municipalities have their own plans, they have their own direction that they need to progress in, and that need should not be interfered with in the major way this matter is being interfered in, especially through the application of policy.
If the minister were to apply legislation, then this government and his ministry could stand or fall on that legislation, but we believe that government by policy is unacceptable. Policy can become a guideline, but to use the threat of not approving official plans, or to use other economic threats against municipalities if they do not accept policies, is cowardly, to say the least.
I suppose that politically it is a little more acceptable to the government, because it ends up not taking all the heat. The citizens of the riding of Halton-Burlington who are directly affected by future aggregate extraction do not subscribe to the notion of government by policy. They want government by legislation, because they want to know exactly where they will stand in the future.
A parallel situation could be referred to in terms of the flood plain mapping, an issue that has been discussed and raised in the past couple of days. That brings up an area of serious concern, because flood plain mapping is done by conservation authorities. We know that conservation authorities have no guidelines of process. They are kingdoms unto themselves. Their decisions on how they operate and what they consider to be their mandate are of their own choosing and their own creation.
Therefore, when flood plain mapping is being done in a particular area, one conservation authority will hold public meetings to discuss the future flood plain lines and another conservation authority will not. No guidelines are laid down to direct the conservation authorities as to their behaviour. They are only asked to subscribe to some government policy.
The result is that one set of flood plain guidelines will apply in one river valley and a completely different set will apply in another, although they are both supposed to originate from the same concept. That is because one conservation authority will have some public input and the management will undertake to take those views to the ministry when the final flood plain lines are being developed, while another conservation authority will ignore totally the idea of public input.
I may be open to criticism and I may be called not credible because I am not an engineer, but I suggest to the minister that some of the flood plain mapping is not done with accurate criteria. It is not done with the kind of competence that is needed in the flood plain. I speak from personal experience.
At present, 80 per cent of the land mass of my own farm is in the flood plain. The minister is here, and I suggest to him that the flood line passes through the second storey of my house. I say further that the house has been there since 1820 and during Hurricane Hazel there was no water in the basement of that house.
Perhaps some of the criteria are used and some of the flood plain mapping is applied by people who live in apartments in Toronto, who go downtown to their computers every day and never set foot on a flood plain from one year to the next, or who do not experience annual high water levels and so on.
Now, having said that- --
Mr. Harris: Put in a turbine so you can generate electricity when the flood comes.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Robinson): Order.
Mr. J. A. Reed: The honourable member suggests we might put a turbine in and use the flood waters. I will just tell him that we are about three years ahead of him now.
But in regard to preserving public safety, I have to go on record as supporting a reasoned application of flood plain lines. Certainly we cannot accept or tolerate a repeat of the devastation of Hurricane Hazel, and the flood plain guidelines are set up to prevent that. Presumably they are erring on the side of safety, and we will give them credit. But I suggest to the minister that the conservation authorities that are applying these flood plain lines must remain flexible; there must be a process of contact between the citizens who live in the flood plains and the government. If there is explanation to be made, it should be made.
I am often concerned that instead of explanations, the business of turning down an application for a building permit, for instance, very often is done in an atmosphere of intimidation rather than in an atmosphere of conciliation or of explanation or sometimes in an atmosphere of give and take. Very often it is too easy for a government bureaucrat simply to use an intimidating approach to those citizens who live in flood plain areas.
The reason it happens is that the ministry does not supply the kinds of guidelines to conservation authorities that tell them they have got to become involved in this reciprocal process where citizens and conservation authorities can sit down together through a process of reason and negotiation and come up with something understandable and solid.
That also goes with the necessity to be strong and strengthen the whole question of filling in flood plains. Filling in flood plains is one of the great sins of the past, which we hope has come to an end once and for all. It is one of the kinds of activities in flood plains that take the onus away from one land owner, or stop him from sharing in the rising of water, and throw the rising water on to the other land owners in the flood plain. There are areas of those controls that I find most acceptable and most supportable, but I suggest once again that it has to be a matter of reciprocity, of give and take and of understanding.
I have spoken on the subject of resource development before as the Energy critic, and I would like to refer the House to an article that appeared in the Toronto Star on April 25, entitled "Renewable Energy Use to Grow: Study." It says:
"Washington -- The world's use of renewable energy will double by the year 2000, when the sun, wind and water will be supplying power equal to the amount of energy obtained from oil, a study predicts. The Worldwatch Institute forecasts a great future for all forms of renewable energy."
If anyone feels that renewable energy is not a natural resource issue, I have news, because it is a most basic natural resource issue. Just to give the government a few examples of what is happening in renewable energy utilization in the rest of the world, this article shows that in China there are 90,000 hydraulic power installations in operation, including 15,000 that are being installed at present, and that 11 per cent of the homes in Japan and 33 per cent in Israel have solar water heating. The Israeli total should hit 60 per cent by the mid-1980s.
California is leading a global breakthrough in harnessing wind power. In the past year, 1,000 wind machines have been hooked into the state's electric power grid and another 1,700 machines are planned for 1983. I could go on.
It seems ironic that the whole question of renewable energy has been put on the back burner by this government, probably because it has not achieved the high profile it did a couple of years ago when we had what was an apparent glut in the ability to deliver oil. I use that phrase advisedly, a glut in the ability to deliver. There is no such thing as a glut of oil in the world, there is only an inventory. It is just the ability to move it compared to the people who want to consume it.
I believe the president of the Ontario Energy Corp. has gone on public record as saying, "Be sure that this so-called glut and this depression in prices is temporary." It has been predicted that if the free market continues to prevail, and I hope it does in petroleum, certainly outside of Canada -- it is not prevailing so much in Canada at the moment -- it will result in what will be a perceived shortage in seven, eight or nine years.
In other words, we are going through cycles that were predicted by the Club of Rome, in its book The Limits to Growth, as far back as 1967. As the world's nonrenewable energies reduce in availability, become more expensive and so on, this cyclical glut and shortage will apply for many years to come. Therefore, it behooves any government wanting to participate in the development of renewable energy to use this time as a relief valve to get on with the job.
Instead, what we continue to have through the various ministries is only a token addressing of the problem. The Ministry of Natural Resources, after seven years of effort on behalf of this side of the House, has finally released a couple of power sites on long-term leases to private enterprise to restart small hydraulic power installations. One can understand why they are reluctant. It is so embarrassing to Ontario Hydro. It has to be embarrassing because that power can be produced more cheaply by the private sector and wholesaled into the grid at a profit when Ontario Hydro cannot even touch it --
Mr. J. A. Reed: That is true. I know --
Mr. Andrewes: What time of day?
Mr. J. A. Reed: I beg your pardon. I missed that.
Mr. Andrewes: What time of day do they buy the power?
The Acting Speaker: Please ignore the interjections and continue with your remarks.
Mr. J. A. Reed: The only buyer of electric power is Ontario Hydro, and it does not buy it at retail. It buys it at wholesale from these independent entrepreneurs, and it will not buy it on time of day right now. If the honourable member tells me we cannot store the energy, he does not understand the technology. He should know that some of Ontario Hydro's newer installations are what are called peaking stations. He should understand that certain things can be done with hydraulic power --
Mr. J. A. Reed: The Minister of Natural Resources has a long challenge ahead of him to get his ministry staff, his own people, enthusiastically on side to support this kind of resource development.
I ask the minister to look upon the whole application of this technology as an exercise in conservation, because that is precisely what it is. If we have 7,000, or some people say 14,000, megawatts of hydraulic power available to be developed and redeveloped in Ontario, I ask him to get on with the job.
It is going to be embarrassing to them, especially when the Darlington nuclear plant comes on line at a cost far exceeding the cost of restarting a lot of these smaller sites by private enterprise, but it is an evolution that has to come. It is an idea whose time is long overdue.
The minister knows that, and I am sure he agrees with that, but he has to get his own people on side. Whatever good intentions he may have personally, he has to make sure they are being delivered out on the firing line. To this date, that delivery is not universal in enthusiasm. The minister knows that, and I know that.
This brings us to the question of economic recovery in this province. For each of the initiative areas the government outlined in the speech from the throne, one can put after it, as one of the answers, resource development to stimulate business investment significantly over the next two years.
If one really wants to follow that signpost in the speech from the throne, the thing one has to do is to go back and look at the regulations of the Ministry of Natural Resources regarding some of the resource development areas and the way they are applied. One will find that in some cases they will be obstacles to the kind of progress that has to take place.
To double foreign trade over the next five years: What a commendable objective. Here, one can go directly into renewable energy development. I say to the Minister of Natural Resources, if the free enterprise system can put renewable energy -- hydraulic power, solar power, wind power or whatever -- on stream with Ontario-created technology, Ontario-improved technology and so on, then for goodness' sakes, we have something to sell to the rest of the world, we have something to sell to the Caribbean.
I happen to have had the pleasure of being in the Caribbean for a couple of weeks during the winter, and I saw the incredible potential for export sales and reciprocal trade; but until we have some technology that we are capable of exporting, we are not going to get anywhere. One can talk all one likes about high-tech industries, but these are not high-tech industries; they are medium-tech industries where we can show the way and lead the world. Until we do it ourselves, we cannot take it anywhere.
Increase the domestic market expansion: Once again, one can go back to resource development. The minister knows there is an incredible energy potential that is sitting wasting in northern Ontario at present, which with a little seed money and assistance from government could provide a substantial energy base for the market that is already here, a market where money is being expended to the tune of $11 billion or more a year for energy that we bring into this province from outside. The minister knows this, and we have talked about this many times before.
We say that in 1983 it perhaps does not appear to be politically sexy to talk about making liquid fuels from forest wastes. Perhaps it does not, because we are paying as low as 19.9 cents at the gas pumps now. But mark my words, that is temporary. That is a temporary blip on the whole petroleum scene that will come to an end. We have the opportunity to use that time to get our technology working and make it applicable to Ontario. We are not touching it; we are not doing a thing to increase the productivity and entrepreneurship of small and medium-sized businesses.
Once again we can go back to resource development and renewable energy. A good many of these energy technologies lend themselves completely to small and medium-sized businesses. They do not necessarily lend themselves to large, production-line businesses, especially at present.
We have studied the application of solar water heating in Ontario, and it is ironic to look at the way we did it. We put the study of solar water heating in the charge of Ontario Hydro, and the result was not too promising. If there ever was an instance of the turning of the fox into the chicken coop, that was it.
I know my friends on the left want to have Ontario Hydro's mandate expanded so that it includes lots of other forms of energy, at least according to the former member for York South.
Ontario Hydro's mandate has to be confined, and it has to be confined to the thing that they have historically done best: the generation of electric power. These other ventures into new technologies for application in Ontario have to come under other wings. We cannot turn these things loose to an organization with as large a vested interest as Ontario Hydro. It is just --
Mr. Stokes: Confine it, something like Petro-Canada.
Mr. Martel: Touché.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Have it your way. Whatever you like.
Mr. Sweeney: Are the NDP against Petro-Canada now?
Mr. Martel: Not at all.
Mr. Stokes: We just want to know where he stands on it.
Mr. J. A. Reed: The honourable member brought up Petro-Canada, and I suppose nothing is out of order in this debate. We can talk about a federal issue if we like. If we want to talk about the oil business in Ontario, let us talk about Suncor. That is something that applies directly to Ontario, and I could talk the clock out on that exercise in idiocy undertaken with the opposition of the Treasurer of Ontario (Mr. F. S. Miller). There were four people privy to that purchase. One of them was opposed; he had to swallow the words he had spoken six weeks before in Quebec and come back here and justify that $650-million fiasco. That one has to go down in history as the largest ego trip the Premier and his henchmen have taken in a long time.
I do not think it matters much whether the price of oil goes up, down or sideways. We are never going to be able to look on Suncor as one of the moments when the government looked to the future with any kind of vision.
To digress back to the line I was working on here --
The Deputy Speaker: Digressing back to the throne speech.
Mr. J. A. Reed: -- increasing innovation in all sectors of our economy, I suggested a number of years ago to the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch), and the Minister of Natural Resources should be aware of this too, that we do have the opportunity to innovate if we will only seize upon it. We have literally billions of dollars' worth of assets sitting in Ontario which are not being effectively put to use.
Our concept of forest utilization is based on a combination essentially of the pulp and paper industry and the sawlog industry. We have continued to ignore the byproducts from those industries which have the capability of providing energy on a much larger scale than they provide at present.
I know that some of the pulp and paper industries have taken it upon themselves to utilize their own wastes, and they have done it very well. They have done it in spite of the apparent lack of co-operation, sometimes, from areas of government, or quasi-government. Ontario Hydro, which could be of great help in co-operating with the aspirations of some of the pulp and paper companies, is not. It is simply putting obstacles in the way, perhaps because it considers the generation of electric power, for instance, as competition.
I suggest to this government that such should not be the case if we are going to make progress. I believe Ontario Hydro has its own role to play in energy production in this province. It does not have the only role to play, nor does it have the only role to play in the generation of electricity, and should not be considered to have.
I say to the government that if Ontario Hydro, for instance, as the only purchaser of electricity from the private sector cannot pay enough for that electricity, then the private sector should be encouraged to go out into the marketplace and sell the power it can produce, because it knows its own cost. The real cost then would be boiled down to the ability of that entrepreneur to produce.
For goodness' sake, one cannot have a more free market than that. Perhaps that should bring reality back to this overexpanded utility so we could do it through innovation. We can do it through innovation and resource development. We have to get on with the job. We have to identify where the obstacles are, where they lie within the various ministries. Whether it is the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Natural Resources, or whatever, surely we can identify those obstacles, deal with them and move ahead.
I am concerned that the Ministry of Natural Resources has a protectionist instinct about it that often does not allow it, by virtue of its considered mandate, to move ahead. I think the minister would sympathize with me to a certain extent. It does not consider itself to be an organization of service to the people. In fact, the function of the ministry is changing. It is evolving, and it is evolving very quickly. It is evolving as we pay more and more attention to the need to develop resources in many different innovative ways than we have in the past.
Surely that should flag to the minister that he has to change the mandate of his ministry to a certain extent so it can serve the people rather than simply be the great arbiter that says no to every new idea that is brought forward.
It is unfortunate when that does happen. Very often reasons are not given for saying no and often, when reasons are given, they are quite debatable reasons. They are reasons that often do not have much foundation. I say to the minister that if we are going to move ahead there has to be a new joining of hands between the ministry and the private citizen. We cannot continue in this manner.
One of the specific items I would like to talk about before the hook comes out this afternoon has to do with the area of firefighting in the forest industry of Ontario. It has been suggested to me that the two water bombers which replaced the purchase of the now infamous Challenger jet are only about one sixth of the number necessary to be considered an effective fighting force for fire control in the forests of Ontario.
Perhaps this is a good time to put on record a question to the minister, which I hope he will answer in a future speech, about whether or not his ministry will participate in the new federal government budget program.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Help bail out the feds.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Well, it is going be a shared position, as the Minister of Natural Resources knows. If he is going to buy some water bombers, I wonder if he is going to buy some more of these.
It is ironic that the same minister rejected that very water bomber on at least two previous occasions. I have the correspondence in my files, which shows that those CL-215 water bombers were rejected as not being suitable for fighting forest fires in Ontario. One has to ask the question, and I think it is a reasonable question, why did he then decide not to proceed with the expenditure of $10 million for the Challenger jet but to proceed instead with the expenditure of $13 million for the purchase of two water bombers that had not been considered acceptable by his ministry.
I think perhaps we all know the answer. Politics caught up with him on that and he had to do something. It is probably evident that these CL-215s are pretty good aircraft, and maybe the ministry could use some more of them. The forest industry certainly says the ministry can use more of them, that we do need more if we are going to have an effective firefighting force over the forests of the province in the future.
Our province faces a lot of challenges in the resource sector. We will not make any progress until we recognize and accept the mistakes that have been made in the past and move on into a new future. It is the function of the critic of the official opposition to point out those failings and also to try to be constructive in his criticism so he can offer suggestions and help to the minister in order that he may move forward in a sensible and rational way.
I would suggest to him that the sooner he does, the sooner Ontario will embark on the economic recovery it needs and the sooner the north will embark on the economic recovery it needs so desperately. The minister must know, since he is from the good riding of Cochrane South, that of all of the basic demands in the north, the most important is to broaden the economic base so that people are not going to be victimized in the future, as they have been during this last recession, when one-industry towns closed up and people had to leave or go on unemployment insurance, welfare or whatever other option they had. To date this government has not paid enough attention to the north other than to its ability to provide some raw materials that come out of there.
There are so many opportunities, and we know mostly what they are. We need the political will to move ahead. If we do move ahead, sometimes haltingly, the Minister of Natural Resources knows he will get my support if he makes those forward moves. But if he continues simply to reflect the status quo, the minister will be criticized roundly in those areas as long as I remain Natural Resources critic.
So get on with the job. We have no place to go but up. The minister knows the government will get my support for all the positive moves I expect it to make as a result of this throne speech.
The Deputy Speaker: At this time I am very pleased to recognize the member for Sudbury East.
Mr. Martel: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I hope you will remain as pleased during my speech.
Let me say to my friend the member for Halton-Burlington that if the minister gets what he said as quickly as he gets a food terminal for Timmins, we are going to be a long time waiting.
I want to deal primarily and only with one issue at some considerable length. The first question I raised in this Legislature dealt with health and safety. I have since been involved with such issues as the sintering plant at Copper Cliff where several months ago we buried our 100th victim of cancer.
Along with my colleague the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren); the former leader of this party, Stephen Lewis; and Linda Jolley from the research staff of the New Democratic Party, I was significantly involved in that whole battle that ultimately led to Bill 70. Bill 70 is there, but I want to report that it is not working well.
First, let me say to my colleagues that I appreciate the time they are giving me in this debate because I am usurping a good deal of their time. I am grateful to them for the surrender of their time because I want to put on the record carefully and precisely what we witnessed during the past 17 or 18 months.
Let me begin, however, by acknowledging the assistance of a number of people. The report I am about to present is the culmination of about 18 months of intensive effort by many groups and individuals. It represents the first comprehensive study ever to be undertaken after the implementation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and I am glad to be able to publicly thank the following people:
The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which provided a major amount of organizational help for some months in working with various unions and communities; the Windsor occupational safety and health group, known as WOSH, which assisted us not only in Windsor at the hearings but in many other ways; Stan Gray, whom some of you know about, of the Hamilton District Labour Council, who organized the Hamilton hearings; the unions which made their halls available, provided meals and co-ordinated briefs both from their head offices and in the municipalities we visited; the unions who helped with the massive task of transcribing the tapes from our hearings; and all those groups and individuals who made presentations, both the unorganized and the organized;
My caucus colleagues who travelled with me: the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie), the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton), the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen), the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman), the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren), the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston), the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Cooke), the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh), the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden), Donald MacDonald, the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy), the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) and, in particular, the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) and the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds), who took my place as chairman when I was incapacitated;
From our own staff, Rose Bahr, caucus special assistant, and her staff, who looked after all our complicated travel arrangements; Linda Jolley, whose reputation as an expert in the whole field of occupational health and safety and on the act itself proved to be well deserved. She shared her knowledge and gave advice to us in full measure.
Janis Sarra and Anne Wordsworth of our research staff not only travelled with the task force, but spent untold hours in preparation for the hearings and eventually in drafting the type of report I am about to present. They also carried out the vital job of confirming the facts -- and we are attempting to do this very carefully -- in all of the issues which were raised with us. Without their help this would and could not have been done.
Maria Lopez, Linda Mitchell, Sandra Ferguson and Carol Freeman contributed much time and effort in support work for this report; and Elizabeth Diehl, my assistant at Queen's Park, worked on the never-ending correspondence, the phone calls and the endless details for our visits. Finally, special thanks to the ad hoc committee of some 40 people from the field of labour and outside it who worked and encouraged our efforts on this endeavour.
Because of the facts which have emerged and the tremendous effort put forth by all, now it is my hope that the government will at last respond positively to our concerns and implement our recommendations, which will for the first time give the workers of Ontario the health and safety protection they desperately need.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1978, came after a long battle by labour and the New Democratic Party. It came into existence in Ontario on October 1, 1979. After three years of experience with the act, the inadequacy of the legislation was becoming apparent to workers struggling to use the act to improve health and safety conditions in the work place.
Specific problems were presented to me, and as the occupational health and safety critic, I raised a number of these matters in the Legislature during the two sessions, September 1981 to March 1982. Each time an issue was raised, the Minister of Labour treated the particular case as an isolated example.
In order to examine in greater depth the failures of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and to gather information from the workers with first-hand experience in trying to make the act work, in the spring of 1982 the NDP set up a task force, which I had the honour to chair, to visit major industrial centres in the province. From September to November of 1982 the task force visited 10 cities and heard more than 100 briefs and personal accounts from trade unionists and unorganized workers.
The task force held hearings in Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Windsor, London, Kitchener, Hamilton, Peterborough, Toronto, St. Catharines and Ottawa. These hearings confirmed that the problems that were surfacing were part of a much deeper pattern of difficulties arising out of the interpretation and implementation of the act across the province. The hearings also found that there was widespread dissatisfaction with the Ministry of Labour's performance in applying and enforcing the act.
The cases, which the Ministry of Labour had portrayed in the Legislature as isolated incidents, in reality turned out to be an accurate reflection of the difficulties experienced in many work places. Not only does the act fail to provide workers with any explicit right to a work place free of hazard, it does not have any stated purpose.
In 1963 the International Labour Organization defined the objectives of occupational health as "the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social wellbeing of workers in all occupations." The Ontario act has no such objective. In this respect the act reflects the government's lack of commitment to a rigorous cleanup of the province's work places and has left workers vulnerable to the economic decisions of their employers.
Workers in every city gave detailed accounts of the difficulties they faced in making the internal responsibility system work as a means of resolving health and safety problems between management and workers. Ultimately, workers had to depend on the willingness of management to institute suggested reforms. There was widespread reluctance on the part of management to accept the interpretation of the act to protect workers. When faced with an uncooperative management, workers had far too little power to make their work places safe.
When the problems were severe enough, workers turned in frustration to the Ministry of Labour, which they often found unsympathetic and unwilling to act in response to legitimate concerns. Even when the act or the regulations clearly required management to undertake certain responsibilities, the Ministry of Labour would not use its legal clout to force the company's compliance. Clear violations of the act went unheeded by the ministry, often without so much as a slap on the wrist of the company. In the more severe and tragic cases, workers died or were seriously injured before action was taken to correct the problems.
In work places where the right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions was exercised, refusals were treated lightly by the ministry. Often the ministry did not even investigate the refusal immediately. Workers who became suspicious of chemicals being used in the plant tried to wrest information from the company on the toxic or the potentially hazardous nature of the substances. When information was given to workers, it was often incomplete, particularly in identifying the health effects of the chemicals on the workers. The difficulty in obtaining information compounded the difficulties for workers in identifying and raising specific health-related issues in their plants.
The task force found that medical confidentiality does not exist in many of these plants across Ontario. The task force was repeatedly told that when company doctors or nurses examined their worker patients, the information was made readily available to management. Workers could not be sure that the information would not be used against them in their work with the company.
The recent regulations on designated substances and the provision for testing workers for symptoms of illness have created new threats to workers' rights to keep their medical problems and histories confidential. They have also sparked a new battle between workers and management to allow workers to select the doctors of their choice when medical examinations are required.
These are some of the more blatant failures of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. However, throughout the province, the task force found workers engaged in struggles to force management to establish a safe and healthy work place. Although there was a general recognition of the economic hardship caused by the recession and the resulting loss of jobs, there was never a suggestion that the fight to health and safety should be relaxed.
Although regulation of occupational health and safety has made some forward strides in the past few years, there is a growing danger of reversing the gain. Increased unemployment and the overall economic slump put pressure on government to respond by relaxing the stand on basic worker rights under corporate pressures. Diligence must be maintained to keep a forward movement since, in reality, the needless loss of one human life because of preventable occupational illness or accident is too heavy a premium. I would like to simply indicate that the latter statement came as a result of a quote from Mr. Ron Rowbottom, occupational health and safety co-ordinator, Simcoe Can Workers' Union Local 535.
We have one recommendation with respect to this first section I have been dealing with:
1. A purpose for the Occupational Health and Safety Act must be established, such as the International Labour Organization statement, which defines the objectives of occupational health as "the promotion and maintenance of the highest degrees of physical, mental and social wellbeing of workers in all occupations." Our act contains none of that.
The area that caused the workers, I guess, the most difficulty and about which I want to go on at some length is the internal responsibility system. I would like to quote Cohn Lambert, the national health officer for the Canadian Union of Public Employees. When he appeared before the task force in St. Catharines, he made the following statement. "The internal responsibility became the proclaimed panacea for all problems at the work site."
Although the internal responsibility system is not defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Ministry of Labour's intent was always to use the system as the basis of the implementation of the act. Yet the mechanics of the system and its implications have never been clearly articulated.
The ministry's Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act describes the internal responsibility system in this way:
"Fundamental to the act is the concept that employers and workers must share responsibility for occupational health and safety and that both must actively seek to identify hazards and develop responses to protect workers. This internal responsibility system assumes assessment of the system itself by employers and workers through the appointment of health and safety committees and representatives and through regular inspections of the work place."
Under this system, the Ministry of Labour expects workers and management to co-operate in the work place and on the joint health and safety committees to clean up the hazards -- rather idealistic.
However, the task force was told repeatedly that the internal responsibility system did not work. The imbalance of power between workers and management meant co-operation and information sharing often broke down to the detriment of workers' health and safety. As long as management enjoys a monopoly over final decisions to clean up the work place, health and safety conditions can never be improved to the satisfaction of workers.
The Ministry of Labour sees its own role as a facilitator to be called upon to assist in the resolution of health and safety problems that cannot be solved by the workers and management sitting down together.
The Ministry of Labour was reluctant to intervene and management could and often did ignore the concerns of workers. Workers viewed the internal responsibility system ultimately as a way in which the Ministry of Labour could avoid its own responsibilities as enforcer of the act.
Furthermore, broad provisions or specific gaps in the legislation allow the Ministry of Labour to avoid taking a position and create irreconcilable problems for the internal responsibility system.
"The Ministry of Labour pushes an internal responsibility system whereby the company and union solve their differences and problems by themselves. It sounds good on paper, but in reality it does not work all the time. The company always has the last word: 'No.'"
I quoted that from Don Fraser of the United Steelworkers of America, Local 1005, Hamilton.
In some work places, rights that workers have been guaranteed under the act have not been recognized and the companies involved are therefore acting in direct violation of the act itself. In other cases, failure of the act to set out specific workers' rights or failure of management to co-operate beyond the precise wording of the act has led to failure of the internal system of co-operation.
Let me give some examples: First, the establishment of the joint health and safety committees.
Section 8 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act establishes the principle that each work place with more than 20 employees must have a joint health and safety committee with equal representation from workers and management. Sounds relatively straightforward, does it not?
If the objectives of the internal responsibility system could be accomplished, the work of the health and safety committees would be fundamentally important in achieving internal co-operation to resolve health and safety problems. However, even in the establishment of the health and safety committees, the task force found direct violations of the legislated procedures. The task force also found that the way in which management disregarded the health and safety committees' concerns was the first major impediment to cleaning up the work place.
Office, retail and construction workers and workers in libraries, theatres and social organizations are specifically excluded from these provisions of the act. This has meant that where employees do negotiate voluntary joint health and safety committees, they do not have the statutory powers which, under the act, guarantee access to information or the right to regular committee meetings.
In work places of less than 20 workers, regardless of the work involved, there is no automatic right to joint health and safety committees. The task force was told repeatedly that the act should be amended to establish committees in all work places.
Where there are legal rights to committees, making these rights a reality is another matter. In a submission by United Automobile Workers Local 27 in London, representing more than 4,000 workers in 24 companies, Francis Perencsik spoke of the frequency with which worker representatives are appointed by management and therefore are management-oriented.
For example, the management of Proto Canada in London initially allowed the union to appoint only one worker health and safety representative on a committee, while the company appointed the rest of the worker representatives. Since subsection 8(5) of the act specifies that half of the joint committee will consist of workers chosen by their union or by fellow workers, management does not have the right to appoint worker representatives.
In another situation in Toronto, workers faced similar problems in choosing their own appointees to the health and safety committee. At Jas. F. Gillanders Co. Ltd., a store fixture manufacturer, the company had appointed two management members to the joint committee but would allow only one worker.
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local 2679, spent months corresponding with management and the Ministry of Labour seeking to have an equal number. This right is guaranteed under subsection 8(5) of the act which states, "A committee shall consist of at least two persons of whom at least half shall be workers. . ."
In many work places, these minimum requirements of the act are adopted and two-member committees are put in place. It places the single worker in the untenable position of having to fight management alone for health and safety in the work place. The worker has no statutory right to assistance by fellow workers. The enlargement of such small committees was seen as a priority for health and safety committee members in this situation.
In terms of enforcement, there are no requirements to file with the Ministry of Labour the names of health and safety committee members. It means there is no central record of whether companies have set up joint health and safety committees or are meeting requirements of the act. Where committees are required, yet not set up, it is impossible for the internal responsibility system even to begin to work. This is particularly important in unorganized work places.
At Irwin Toy Ltd., for example, on Hanna Avenue in Toronto, where no union has yet been certified, workers have been exposed to methyl ethyl ketone, a toxic substance. Management reported to the Ministry of Labour that a joint health and safety committee was in place. However, according to the ministry's own report of May 26, 1982, the company had contravened subsections 8(5) and 8(10) of the act. The worker representatives on the committee had not been selected by the workers, and the company had never posted the names of the committee members. So much for the act.
Let me deal with a second problem workers encountered; that dealt with meetings. In practice, management often controls the health and safety committees by exerting its influence in those areas not clearly defined by the act: calling the meetings, setting the agenda, chairing the meetings and keeping the minutes. A code of practice for committees promised at the time of the enactment of the act has still not been developed. It takes a long time.
Minutes of joint health and safety committee meetings are a necessary record of complaints, problems and promised solutions to hazards, a vital part of the internal responsibility system. However, the act requires only that minutes of proceedings of committee meetings be kept. The minutes are also supposed to be made available for examination by Ministry of Labour inspectors, but the task force was told that inspectors rarely use this record to identify ongoing hazards and violations.
The act does not specify who will keep the minutes, whether the minutes need approval of both workers and management, or how disagreements will be resolved. The wide-open wording of the act has meant problems for workers. In the case of a health and safety committee meeting at Canadian General Electric Co. Ltd. in Peterborough, a version of the meeting prepared by John Ball of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, Local 524, and a health and safety committee member detailed a serious incident in the plant in which a worker was overcome by toluene fumes and rushed to hospital. According to Mr. Ball's evidence before the task force, management did not believe the worker's troubles were caused by the toluene fumes and would not accept the union's typed record of the minutes. It just chose to ignore them.
Another problem is that the minutes of the meetings do not correctly reflect the concerns of the committee. In St. Catharines, Bill Craine of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1287, told the task force that controversial items have been either mentioned briefly or left out of the minutes prepared by the secretary of the committee, a management representative.
A third problem is the failure to resolve issues. The act is silent on resolution of problems through the joint health and safety committees. The result is that problems are often not resolved. There are no time limits or even requirements for management to act or respond. The committee can have access to information and identify hazards, but under the act it can only recommend improvements to the employer. From there, there is no requirement upon the employer to act on these recommendations.
Workers observed at the joint health and safety committee meetings management rarely raised issues of any significance in terms of health problems. Almost every substantial item addressed at these meetings was initiated by the workers. Since management has resources and authority to act upon the recommendations of the health and safety committee, if management does not support taking action the problem is not corrected.
Workers have stated that the ease of having a problem corrected is directly proportionate to the cost involved. It is relatively easy, for example, to have a yellow line painted on the floor, but impossible to force management to improve the ventilation in an area where it is badly needed. Witness the Wilco situation today. The internal responsibility system consistently breaks down when management will not voluntarily undertake improvements in the work place to eliminate hazards.
Since companies resist accepting the financial costs of improvements, the Ministry of Labour should then become the final arbiter in these disputes. Where it is obvious that the act or its regulations are violated or where "every precaution reasonable in the circumstances" under clause 14(2)(g) is not taken to protect employees, the onus should be on the Ministry of Labour to force management to make improvements in the work place.
At Raybestos Canada Inc. in Peterborough, the internal responsibility system broke down completely. In November 1982, the union, Steelworkers Local 5141, withdrew its members from the joint health and safety committee to protest management's refusal to take any action on the frequent accidents in the plant. According to former health and safety committee member Ray Collet, the numerous accidents included several amputations in an 18-month period. Even the Ministry of Labour inspector, in the past year, described the internal responsibility system at Raybestos as "poor." The union has set up its own health and safety system within the plant to keep up its vigilance.
A fourth problem is management's responsibilities. The Occupational Health and Safety Act, under sections 14 and 16, directs employers to appoint front-line supervisors who are knowledgeable and responsible for the health and safety of workers, to inform workers of hazards, to provide information on proper procedures and to "take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker." This is critical to the success of the internal responsibility system if workers and foremen on the shop floor are to resolve unsafe conditions. However, there is no test of competency for supervisors, and inspectors do not require supervisors to demonstrate that they are competent and responsible as defined under subsection 1(2) of the act.
Front-line supervisors, who receive the first complaint on a work refusal, often are not trained or knowledgeable on the rights of workers under the act. This has led to failure to notify the ministry, failure to correct hazards, and the intimidation of workers. At Allied Chemical Canada Ltd., Amherstburg, when two pipefitters refused unsafe work on August 21, 1982, the supervisor told them the act did not apply on Saturdays and refused to follow the procedure under the act. Can you imagine that, Mr. Speaker? The act does not apply on Saturdays. In some cases, front-line supervisors jeopardized their own health by doing work refused by the workers.
For the edification of members, let me put on the record a case study of what we learned at Canadian General Electric Co. Ltd. as a result of our task force. In late 1980, workers belonging to United Electrical Workers Local 537 noticed an unusually high number of their fellow workers had been diagnosed as having tumours. The workers, almost all of whom were women, worked in the small coil winding department of the CGE lamp works in Toronto. At the time, the department employed approximately 50 people.
The union brought this concern to the attention of the company in December 1980. The company doctor, Dr. Jack Richman, immediately notified the Ministry of Labour. The union also raised the issue at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the health and safety committee in January 1981. Dr. Richman indicated he would investigate and report back to the committee.
Over the next two years the union compiled a list of 24 of their fellow workers who reported to them that they had tumours, many of which were malignant. Of the 24 women, at least five died from cancer. In March 1981, Dr. Richman told the committee that "there was no abnormal incidence of cancer" and assured them that a written report would be presented soon.
For almost two years, the issue of the high incidence of cancer in the coil winding department remained on the agenda of the health and safety committee meetings. Workers repeatedly expressed concern at the delay in receiving Dr. Richman's report, and in April 1982 the minutes officially reflected the concern of the whole committee. However, because the workers on the committee had no right to compel the company doctor to produce the report, they were forced to wait until the company wished to answer their concerns.
Finally, after the local union presented this problem to the task force in September 1982, I confronted the minister in the Legislature. The company was forced by the ensuing publicity to agree to a proper epidemiological study. Dr. Richman's report was finally given to the local president, Cathy Treacy, in October 1982, a month after her presentation to the task force.
This is very interesting: Contrary to Dr. Richman's statement to the health and safety committee in March 1981, the report revealed "a higher than expected incidence rate of gynaecological and breast cancer among the workers in the coil winding area." In company press releases of November 10, 1982, the company indicated the report had been completed in November 1981, 11 months before it was given to the workers.
The situation at CGE shows that the internal responsibility system as it exists only works when the company and the union are equally committed to making it work. Otherwise, management can ignore the concerns, even when the situation is as serious as the one I just commented on.
In this instance the Ministry of Labour was informed in December 1980 of a potentially serious situation, yet it took two full years for the union to receive vital information from the company and almost three years for a proper epidemiological study to be undertaken in this plant. Surely it must be said that both the company and the ministry have failed to make internal responsibility work.
With that in mind we decided that we had to make certain recommendations pertaining to the internal responsibility system. They are as follows:
2. The internal responsibility system must be redefined to ensure the right of every worker in Ontario to a healthy and safe work place. This right includes the worker's right to participate, the right to inspect, the right to shut down any operation that is unsafe, the right to full wage and benefit protection as a result of any medical monitoring program or during any work loss or shutdown due to health and safety problems, the right to know, the right to refuse and the right to strict enforcement of the act by the Ministry of Labour. These rights must be entrenched in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
3. The Occupational Health and Safety Act must be amended to cover all work places in Ontario under provincial jurisdiction.
4. All work places shall have the right to joint health and safety committees.
5. A code of practice for joint health and safety committees consistent with the principles of this report shall be immediately published. This shall include the number of workers on joint committees, departmental representation and guidelines to ensure that both union and management agree to the agendas and minutes of meetings, and guaranteed access by all workers to the information. This code of practice would require workers and management to co-chair the joint committee. Work places of 10 or more employees will have a minimum of two workers on the joint health and safety committee. In work places of less than 10 employees the health and safety committee shall have a minimum of one worker.
6. Major employers shall have committees in each large department, the numbers of which would be determined by the code of practice.
7. On construction sites the union or, where there is no union, the workers shall designate one or more worker health and safety representatives to carry out inspection and investigation functions.
8. In work places other than construction, the union or workers, in selecting the workers on the joint health and safety committee, shall have the right to designate one or more worker health and safety representatives to carry out inspection and investigation functions.
9. No worker shall suffer a loss of wages or benefits for work loss or shutdown due to health and safety problems.
10. Worker health and safety committee members and representatives shall have the right to shut down an unsafe work operation.
11. Worker health and safety committee members or their representatives shall be protected from liability if they have acted in good faith.
12. The act shall require health and safety committees to meet a minimum of once a month or at the insistence of either party.
13. Health and safety committee members or representatives shall have the right to a complete work place inspection at least once a month or at their request.
14. The act shall include an arbiter to resolve unregulated issues upon which the joint committee cannot agree. Issues covered by legislation or regulation should be strictly enforced by the Ministry of Labour.
I now want to turn to the second problem, lack of enforcement. I think one of the most interesting quotes we came across during the entire tour was by Len Belford, Brian Demers and Gloria Puckerin, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 503 in Ottawa. They made this very interesting statement:
"If the provincial police were to enforce the highway speed limits in the same manner as the Ministry of Labour enforces the Occupational Health and Safety Act, then the only thing on the highways doing less than 150 miles per hour would be a jogger."
That sums up nicely what people think of the enforcement by the Ministry of Labour on this. Although workers acknowledged that the act has been an important step forward in the struggle for a safe work place, the effectiveness of the act has been crippled by the Ministry of Labour's lack of enforcement.
Since the act does not provide any mechanism for resolving disputes between management and labour at the level of the health and safety committee, the Ministry of Labour must exercise its authority to enforce the act if workers are to be protected.
However, the Ministry of Labour has shown great reluctance to force companies to abide by the act. Consequently, the task force was presented with many startling examples of work places where hazards have been identified and remained outstanding since the introduction of the act.
By failing to enforce its own legislation, the Ministry of Labour has given a clear signal to industry that it does not have to fear the penalties set out by the act. This has resulted in bitterness and frustration on the part of workers who believed that the legislation would mean significant improvements in health and safety. Inspection of the work place was very significant for the workers, or should I say the lack of it?
The extent to which companies are cleaning up the work place under the act is monitored by the Ministry of Labour inspectors on regular tours. When the inspector visits a plant, he is accompanied by the designated worker health and safety committee member or a representative. The inspector subsequently writes his report on the problems observed, giving either recommendations or orders for remedying the problems.
Case after case presented to the task force showed that the inspectors would not force companies to comply with either the spirit or, in some instances, the letter of the law. This was the single most common complaint in submissions across the province.
Although clause 14(2)(g) of the act makes the employer responsible for taking "every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker," inspectors would not take advantage of this broad language in the legislation to make recommendations or to write orders that would result in specific improvements. Instead, the inspectors arbitrarily limited their own ability to force the company to clean up the work place. They resorted to the most narrow and technical reading of the act and regulations to avoid writing orders or taking positions that would be unpopular with management.
For example, in the utilities department of Stelco Inc.'s Hilton works in Hamilton, two boiler operators refused to work because Stelco wanted to use an unqualified person to put one of the boilers in operation. The two experienced operators felt that that this constituted a dangerous situation for them. This is the intriguing part. Although Stelco's own rule calls for a qualified operator, the Ministry of Labour inspector called in would not uphold the work refusal because there was nothing in the act that covered this specific situation.
Testimony was presented to the task force which had raised doubts about the commitment of the ministry to enforce the act. In particular, the task force heard of the ministry's reluctance to issue orders on ventilation and hazardous substances.
A pattern emerged that clearly showed the ministry inspectors would refuse to require the company to clean up a work place by issuing orders which involved extensive costs. Not only were inspectors reluctant to write strict orders, they often overlooked outstanding hazards at the plant. Union representatives pointed out time and time again reports from the inspector that understated the gravity of certain problems in their plants or omitted significant issues raised by the health and safety committee members during the tour.
In many instances, after tours on which numerous safety violations had been pointed out, the inspector did not write down many of the outstanding hazards. Instead, the inspector would urge the union to work it out with management.
Inspectors also asked specifically at the end of each tour if there were any unresolved problems. If the union said there were, the inspector would ask whether the problems were being discussed at the health and safety committee meetings. The inspector would consider the problem resolved if the matter was before the health and safety committee. This would happen repeatedly even though the continuing appearance of certain problems on the agenda of the health and safety committee clearly showed they were not being resolved. In this way the inspectors absolved themselves of their obligations to ensure companies would find solutions to difficult problems.
At Rheem Canada Inc., a water heater manufacturer in Hamilton, workers of United Steelworkers of America Local 6868 employed in an area where glass-lined water heaters are being made have been exposed for more than four years to free airborne crystalline silica many times above the exposure guideline accepted by the Ministry of Labour. The initial alarm was raised in 1979 at one of Rheem's first health and safety committee meetings shortly after the introduction of the new act. In spite of modifications to the silica spray booth, and after four years of discussions with the company and the Ministry of Labour, workers are still being exposed to the high silica levels. The most recent testing in September 1982 showed levels as high as nine times the guideline. In response to the highest levels detected in the last three years, the ministry has given the company yet another year to control silica. Great stuff!
Another common complaint heard by the task force was that even when inspectors did issue orders, the orders were often simply issued, reissued and reissued by the ministry after no action by the company, without charges ever being laid against chronic violators.
In fact, according to the Ministry of Labour's most recent annual report, 71,000 orders were issued from April 1, 1981, to March 31, 1982, in the industrial sector alone. Of the 71,000 orders, 8,500 were orders that were repeated. Even when the companies involved had to be told at least twice to comply with these 8,500 orders, the Ministry of Labour prosecuted only 82 cases.
Just to give members an example, Firestone Canada Inc. is a company that has been served with numerous repeat orders. Within a one-year period, from January 1981 to February 1982, 173 orders were issued at its Hamilton plant, including many repeat orders. On a tour the ministry inspector would find a guard missing on a particular machine and write an order for that machine. On his next visit the inspector would find another machine of the same type with the same problem and write a new order. Despite repeated violations of the same nature, the inspector has been reluctant either to close down a particular machine or to prosecute for breach of the act.
Many workers described inspectors in their regions as having an anti-labour bias, which they attributed to the Ministry of Labour's hiring practices. The number of ministry inspectors drawn from the ranks of management far outweighs the small number of inspectors coming from a labour background.
Although there was widespread dissatisfaction with individual inspectors, it was recognized that the inspectors were working within a framework of legal interpretations handed down by the Ministry of Labour's legal branch. These interpretations amount to an unpublished code of practice that has been used to reinterpret crucial sections of the act. The decisions of the inspectors, in accordance with the ministry's interpretations, have stripped away rights that workers believed they had under the act.
For example, in Sudbury, ambulance workers belonging to Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2412 were disfranchised from a joint health and safety committee because "work place" was reinterpreted in July 1982 by the regional manager of the industrial health and safety branch to mean each separate dispatch centre. There are not the minimum 20 workers required by the act at any one of these dispatch centres, so section 8 of the act does not apply.
In the case of Wilco Canada Inc., which we heard about today, the Ministry of Labour refused to lay charges against the company in London, even though the company sent letters in December 1981 to the workers who were the most militant against the excessive lead levels in the plant. I will come back to this in a case study that I will present.
In some cases the workers were not healthy enough to return to work at lower lead exposure jobs; yet the letter said: "If you do not accept this transfer, we have no alternative but to terminate your services with our company. You would not become eligible for workmen's compensation or unemployment insurance benefits." This is a letter written by the company. But there is no intimidation -- never.
The ministry excused its failure to take this action regarding these letters under section 24 of the act by explaining that the workers had not exercised their right to refuse work under section 23. To quote the minister's memorandum of July 29, 1982, "It is difficult to prosecute successfully under subsection 24(1) or subsection 14(2) when an employee does not exercise his right under subsection 23(3) of the act."
Workers found they had no protection from threatening letters unless they specifically invoked section 23 of the act. This interpretation runs directly counter to interpretations made by the Ontario Labour Relations Board. For example, in a July 23, 1980, decision in Gedraitis versus Adelaide Building Services, the OLRB determined "that provision [subsection 24(1)] does not, on its face, limit its protection or application to situations where a worker has refused to perform work." Then we get a new interpretation by the legal department which rules that out.
Another problem is the enforcement of designated substances. If the enforcement of the act itself has not been rigorous, when substances have been regulated under the act, the ministry has been even less vigilant in forcing companies to comply with the regulations.
The lead regulations have been in effect since August 1981; yet the legal obligation of companies using or storing lead to produce an assessment and a control program have been ignored by many companies, often in spite of repeated orders to observe the regulations.
At the time of the task force hearings in September and October, workers across the province, from Thunder Bay, where United Auto Workers members at Hawker Siddeley Canada Inc. complained that no lead assessment had been done, to Windsor, where workers at Windsor Bumper told the same story, companies were ignoring the new regulations. When assessments had been done, they were often inadequate, with the company ignoring obligations in the regulations such as their duty to consult on the assessments with the health and safety committees.
In the case of Dow Chemical Canada Inc. in Sarnia, a one-page vinyl chloride assessment was prepared by the company's manager of industrial hygiene. This assessment gave no information on the quantities being used or stored in and around the plant. The union did not accept the assessment and called in the Ministry of Labour.
Companies which have successfully stalled in completing their assessments are not forced to proceed with the introduction of control programs. Once there is an assessment, one would assume it would go on to a control program. That is not the case in Ontario.
At Westinghouse Canada Inc. in Hamilton, testing done in the transformer division revealed lead levels as high as 20 times the legal limit, demonstrating the urgent need to control lead levels in the paint shop. Despite two orders from the Ministry of Labour to produce a lead assessment and despite two orders to control lead exposures in the paint shop, Westinghouse did not comply with either directive for months until pressure from the union and the Legislature finally forced the Minister of Labour to intervene personally.
The House recessed at 5:59 p.m.