The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: Just before embarking on the routine proceedings I would ask all members of the Legislature to join with me in recognizing the following new pages, who are beginning their first day of service:
Carrie Aitken, Parkdale; Paula Albinson, Frontenac-Addington; Lisa Barry, Sudbury East; Kelly Ann Cook, Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry; Shirley Couchie, Nipissing; Robert Donovan, Fort William; Scott Geddes, Peterborough; Garfield Gilson, Rainy River; Renée Girard, Cochrane North; Michael Kennedy, York South; Joshua Laughren, Nickel Belt; Lisa Livingstone, Etobicoke; Peter Manga, Ottawa West; Tanya McKinnell, Brant-Oxford-Norfolk; Sean Morley, Oakville; Scot Rutherford, Scarborough-Ellesmere; Cristopher Shepherd, Windsor-Walkerville; Donald Somerville, York Mills; David Taylor, Simcoe Centre; Michelle Timmerman, Wellington-Dufferin-Peel; Carolee Usborne, Wellington South, and Barbara Williams, Oriole.
I would ask you to join with me in welcoming the new pages.
ARTICLE IN NEWSPAPER
Mr. Kerrio: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I rise to correct the record regarding a newspaper article in the Sunday Sun on May 1. There was a remark in an article by Claire Hoy that was attributed to me. I will not go into the details; I do not want to add any credibility to the story by outlining the details.
I would like to say to the House and to those who are interested in the article that I did not make the statement that was attributed to me, and I hope this gentleman would have enough dignity to withdraw or make some kind of apology to the member.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT FACILITIES
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Speaker, the need to offer every single citizen of our province the opportunity to visit all of the public buildings across Ontario has been of the highest priority to this government and my ministry.
The member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Wrye) rose on a point of privilege last week with respect to access by the physically handicapped to this historic building from the promenade and garden area opposite the main entrance.
I would like to take this opportunity not only to answer the honourable member's question but also to bring this House up to date on the many initiatives we have taken to ensure access to government facilities by the handicapped, not only at Queen's Park but across the province.
Over the past number of years, we have been adapting our existing buildings to ensure accessibility in virtually every corner of Ontario. Ramps, electric doors, sloping curbs and special parking areas are only a few of the changes we have undertaken to make certain all the people of Ontario have access to their government facilities.
To help co-ordinate these efforts, the Ministry of Government Services has set up a barrier-free design office. This office will assist with a one-window approach to address the needs of the physically disabled as well as those of our client ministries.
Our design expert, who is himself a paraplegic, will work with community associations for the handicapped. He will provide technical advice and design in this special area of expertise and we will be keeping an up-to-date record of new developments in this field.
In all of our new buildings, such as the Macdonald-Cartier Building in Kingston, the Ontario government Ministry of Revenue building in Oshawa and the Newmarket courthouse, we have addressed the need for physically handicapped access during the design stage, as we will in all future government buildings across Ontario.
I am pleased to say we will presently be making modifications to the area mentioned by the member to ensure wheelchair access from the promenade to the parking area adjacent to the front door.
However, with respect to providing access at the far southern portion of the sidewalk, we do not feel it prudent to encourage those people in wheelchairs to negotiate the heavy traffic flow on Queen's Park Crescent and University Avenue by requesting the city of Toronto to install a sloping curb.
There are no stop signs, crosswalks or traffic lights at this location. It would be far safer not only for the handicapped but for all citizens to utilize the Wellesley Street crossing. However, the improved access area will certainly allow people in wheelchairs to enjoy the garden and promenade area.
The House might also be interested in knowing precisely what we have done in and around this chamber to facilitate usage by the handicapped.
We have access ramps located at both the north and main entrances. There is a special elevator for the handicapped located behind the main staircase. All washrooms have been redesigned to accommodate the disabled visiting our east, west and basement areas. Water fountains have been installed. We will continue to make further improvements in the future.
I believe, and I am sure every member of this Legislature feels the same way, that we must continue to do everything in our power to guarantee citizens with physical disabilities the same opportunity as all other Ontario citizens to meet their elected representatives and government officials.
We will continue to make changes and improvements to guarantee this right at every opportunity, and I certainly welcome any suggestions and ideas from the honourable members towards our constant desire to achieve these goals.
Mr. Speaker: Just before proceeding, I would ask all honourable members of the assembly to join me in recognizing and welcoming in the Speaker's gallery Mr. Robert McEwen, chairman of the United States section of the International Joint Commission, and Mr. Blair Seaborn, chairman of the Canada section of the International Joint Commission.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour arising from the observations of Professor Weiler contained in his second report on the subject of workers' disability and workers' compensation. While acknowledging that the Ontario Workers' Compensation Act is one of the best in Canada in dealing with occupational cancer, Professor Weiler goes on to present a litany of horror and grief with respect to a number of occupational cancer fatalities among workers.
He says, "Less than one out of 17 occupational cancer fatalities predicted by the conservative end of the scientific debate" receives compensation from the board. He then goes on to say, "Another way of putting it is that 650 workers (or their surviving dependants) who fall victim to occupational cancer each year are being deprived of 150 million in benefits which the law has promised them." Surely this is unacceptable to the minister, and I want to ask him his timetable for introducing reform to the current law to correct this very serious inequity.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I share the concerns and sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Opposition. We had been awaiting that report by Professor Weiler for some time. We did try to expedite it so that it would be available for the current hearings on the report, which started last Tuesday, and we were successful in getting it in time for that. Copies were circulated on Friday of this past week.
Meanwhile, there is one statement I would like to clarify, if I may. It was reported in the newspaper this morning that only 40 out of 700 work-related cancer fatalities are compensated each year by Ontario's Workers' Compensation Board. If the member would look at page 24 of Professor Weiler's report and the figures he has cited, that represents the potential number of work-related cancers in Ontario. The actual occupational cancer claims received by the WCB number less than 100 in any given year, and of those 40 received compensation. So it is actually 40 out of approximately 100, rather than 40 out of 700; but if there is only one, as far as I am concerned that is still an unacceptable level.
In response to the question the Leader of the Opposition asked about the timetable, the hearings, as I mentioned a moment ago, recommenced last Tuesday. They will continue for at least three more weeks and, during that period, it is planned to have Professor Weiler in attendance to answer questions to provide further information to the committee members. Then we will await, with considerable interest, the report of the committee. From that point on, we will try to deal as expeditiously as possible with changes to the legislation.
Mr. Peterson: I am sure the minister is aware that the original report was filed in November 1980, almost three years ago, and we are now only starting discussions at the legislative level. Surely there are some recommendations the minister could deal with on an interim basis. I refer him, for example, to recommendation 2.4 in the report, which I quote:
"An important issue at the intersection of the WCB, the ministry and the safety associations is the collection and analysis of data on industrial accidents. In effect, the board serves as the eyes and ears of the province on the size and distribution of the occupational injury problem. However, serious deficiencies exist in the current collection and transmission of this data, especially to the extent that either the ministry or particular associations wish to use it to better understand the causes and reduce the incidence of accidents."
What Professor Weiler is strongly implying is that the current co-ordination process in the ministry for detection and prevention is wholly inadequate. Surely that is something the ministry could move on immediately, rather than waiting for the results of the discussions, which may take some time.
Would the minister at least agree to moving immediately on some of these measures to make sure we do not wait any longer than we already have?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Without going into great detail, I would indicate that I believe we are already doing just that.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, Professor Weiler makes it very clear that one of the main problems as to why the board has not received more cancer-related claims -- the minister mentioned the number 95 in his answer to the leader of the Liberal Party -- is that the board has turned down so many claims, workers have been discouraged and doctors have been discouraged. That is the reason the board is not receiving the number of claims with respect to industrial disease that it should be.
I would like to ask the minister specifically, does he not recognize that he can, together with the Workers' Compensation Board, change the policy guidelines with respect to the recognition of industrial diseases so that we do not have to wait for changes in legislation? Does the minister not realize it is something which can be done right now so those workers and those families who are left out in the cold by decisions of the board, and by nondecisions of the board, will receive compensation starting tomorrow if the minister decides he can move to change the guidelines?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, the third party has three very capable, dedicated and concerned members on the standing committee on resources development that is studying the Weiler report at the present time. They are making their voices heard and we are listening to what they have to say. I am sure their advice and their input into the final report will prove to be very constructive.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, surely the minister understands it would be wrong in a sense to muddy the waters of the current committee hearings, which are really to look at the first report of Weiler and at the level of benefits, and to study whether we are going to have some changes in procedures.
While I acknowledge this new report does deal with some of the recommendations which flowed out of the first report, surely the minister must understand there are things he can do now without waiting for the legislative committee to act. I want to refer him to one thing, and that is recommendation 1.3 in which Professor Weiler says:
"The single most important legislative/administrative reform must be the creation of an Industrial Disease Standards Panel (IDSP) which will be charged with the primary responsibility for developing criteria for evaluating disease claims."
The minister knows he has proposed who the panel members would be and he has proposed far-reaching powers for them. Will the minister give us his timetable for acting on this recommendation? Will he give us his first indication that he will approve this recommendation?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am not in a position today to give any timetable, but I want to agree with what the honourable member has said in that I do not expect the resources development committee, in the study on the Weiler report, to deal with part 2 as well as part 1.
There is some relationship there and I would expect it to deal with those related parts, just as the member has pointed out. However, there are other matters there which my ministry, in concert with the Workers' Compensation Board, will have to deal with and we fully intend to do so.
Mr. Peterson: If the Treasurer is through hugging the governor (Mr. Bernier), I would like to ask him a question.
Mr. Breithaupt: He just wants an invitation to Minaki. That is all he wants. He wants to see where his money is going.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Peterson: I obviously caught them in an embarrassing position, Mr. Speaker.
I have a question for the Treasurer. He is travelling about the province setting people up for a nasty budget, implying there will be increases in Ontario health insurance plan premiums, implying there will be major increases --
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, could you contain him? He is so excited about that hug, he cannot --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Peterson: The Treasurer is travelling about setting people up for a nasty budget, implying there will be higher OHIP premiums, higher taxes, probably a higher deficit and a variety of other things.
Has the Treasurer done a calculation, and is he going to share with the people of this province his calculation, with respect to the costs to the taxpayers of this province of holding the one-quarter interest in Suncor shares for the first five quarters we have had it? Has he done that calculation to figure out how much net out of pocket as of this point it has cost people in this province in the first year and a quarter, ex the dividends, ex the increase in equity, laid against the interest costs payable directly out of pocket by the taxpayers?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I was hugging the governor. It was probably a $2-million hug, I would guess. He usually needs those kinds of moneys.
I want to say one thing about the governor, if that is what one would call him: no one in the history of this province has done as much for northern Ontario or has made the people there as loyal to our government as that gentleman.
Mr. Laughren: Oh, nonsense.
Mr. Speaker: Now for the question, please.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, was I stretching the rules?
Mr. Speaker: Yes.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Sorry.
Mr. Martel: No one has given as much away.
Mr. Breithaupt: No one has done as well out of it, either.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Back to the question, please.
Mr. Martel: Are you looking for a vote or a delegate?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I am in my blue suit today. The truth is my friend who likes to have John Turner come to his fund-raising dinners and pretends he is a Liberal one night --
Hon. F. S. Miller: We knew no one would come if it were just the member's dinner, so John had to go.
Mr. Speaker: I do not think this has anything to do with the question. I point out to all members we have used 12 minutes of question period and I ask the Treasurer to respond to the question please.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I was just using that as they do, as an introduction to my comments.
What I was going to say is that it is intriguing to me that he can complain about us buying 25 per cent of an oil company when the party he was espousing that night bought 100 per cent of two companies for a price at least double market value. We negotiated long and hard for what was then a fair market price. The estimates will show the true cost.
Mr. Peterson: Because the Treasurer perhaps does not know the answer to the question, I can assist him with the answer.
The reality is the 1982 earnings for Suncor were some $60 million, the 1983 first-quarter earnings were $22.7 million; total earnings were about $82 million, and the government's share was about $20 million. The 1982 interest was $93 million and the first quarter of 1983 interest was about $23 million for $116 million.
Would the Treasurer not agree with me that the net cost out of pocket to the taxpayers of this province for the joy of ownership of a one-quarter interest in Suncor has been $95 million. That is what it has cost us out of pocket to own those shares. Would the Treasurer not agree with that?
Second, would the Treasurer not agree with me that the $95 million would have been far better spent on, for example, the youth employment program he has cut back and underfunded by $50 million? Would he not agree it would have been better spent on the Ontario home renewal program which was cut back and underfunded?
Mr. Speaker: Order. I think I pointed out to all honourable members at the beginning of the session that each member would be allowed one question. I quite clearly heard your question. The Treasurer will respond.
Hon. F. S. Miller: My colleague is quick to try to assess immediate returns against immediate investment. I would suggest if he went through the investments made by Noranda and MacMillan Bloedel in 1982, and investments by hundreds of companies in 1981, and then looked at 1982, he could come up with figures like that.
Without a doubt, 1982 was one of the worst years for economic return on investment in Canada. Many a company had a loss last year. Does that mean there was not value in the assets of the company? Does that mean the basic investment in that company was not sound? I do not believe so.
Mr. Peterson: Would the Treasurer not agree with me that the $95 million which the taxpayers are out of pocket represents an amount similar to a five per cent increase in Ontario health insurance plan premiums, which he may attempt to impose on us? Would he not agree also that it represents in total a $50-million cutback in youth employment programs, an $11-million cutback in Ontario home renewal programs, the tile drainage loan program underfunded by $20 million, the young farmers' program not implemented for $11 million? All of those together would add up to roughly what it has cost the taxpayers out of pocket for the joy of owning those shares in Suncor.
Would the Treasurer not agree with me now that he was right a year and a quarter ago when he protested but did not have the clout to prevent that process?
Would he not agree with me that he should start the process of trying to realize a maximum gain by disposing of those assets, because it will continue to bleed the taxpayers for a long time into the future?
Mr. Sweeney: It's the oil version of Minaki.
Hon. F. S. Miller: If it is the oil version of Minaki, we ought to be proud of it.
The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. I would suggest to the member that I, for one, have never tried to defend that investment -- I do not believe the Premier (Mr. Davis) has very often -- on the basis of immediate financial return. As a matter of fact, there are seldom times in history when governments can justify an investment in a corporation, at least from this government's point of view, for the dollars returned on investment. There has to be a secondary, political reason.
The secondary, political reason -- there were three or four of them in this case -- was what effect that would have on Ontario's position and right to have a place at the table to discuss the pricing and supply of oil in this country. The member knows that was part of a coherent Ontario policy enunciated in 1979.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I would like to go back to the Minister of Labour about the report of Professor Weiler and the problem of industrial disease. I am sure the minister is aware that the criteria established by the board to decide whether to recognize a particular claim for cancer are internally generated criteria, and the policy guidelines are internally generated policy guidelines.
Given the pretty devastating criticism which Professor Weiler levels at the approach the board has taken and the impact this approach has had on rejecting a number of claims and on discouraging other workers from launching their own claims, does the minister not feel this is something he and the board itself can work on immediately?
Does the minister not see that it is not necessary to wait for the never-never report of the standing committee but it is something that can happen today with respect to people whose claims are being denied today and families who are being left out in the cold today? Does he not recognize the urgency of the problem?
Mr. Riddell: It's a never-never report because your colleagues wouldn't sit.
Mr. Rae: No, you wouldn't sit.
Mr. Riddell: Oh, you've got to be out of your mind.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Riddell: You're stupider than I thought you were. It was the Tories who wouldn't sit. You guys are right out of your heads.
Ms. Copps: You guys are the only ones who can afford to go to Florida.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I believe I answered that in the first round of questions, where I stated rather clearly, I thought, that Professor Weiler's second report does not have to wait for the report of the committee. There are many things in there that can be looked at right away, and I assure the members of this House they will be considered as quickly as possible.
Mr. Rae: With respect to the second major aspect of Professor Weiler's report, the need to develop a universal social insurance scheme that will cover people injured at work, at home and on the road, can the minister tell us what his position and the position of his government is with respect to that proposal, given the number of people in this province who are not covered by workers' compensation, who are not covered by public schemes and not covered by private schemes, and who are literally left out in the cold after suffering a serious disability? Can he tell us what the position of his government is with respect to that major proposal by Professor Weiler?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I first had the opportunity to read Professor Weiler's second report on a plane going back to Sault Ste. Marie on the weekend and on a plane coming from Sault Ste. Marie on the weekend, and I do not really want to be presumptuous at this time and make any statement that I might regret later.
I have to look at it in more depth. I have to discuss it with my senior officials. It is a very complex report. It is very enlightening. It has some dramatic departures from the current system. It is one that required a great deal of study and a great deal of contemplation, and again I commit myself to trying to do that as quickly as possible.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I want to return to the ongoing problem of our committee's deliberations, and the minister in his response to a question I asked earlier noted correctly that there is some interrelationship between this first and second report.
Can we have a commitment from this minister and from the Ministry of Labour that before the committee meets with Professor Weiler at the end of May we will have in our hands as a committee the initial response of the ministry in all of those areas that may overlap in our considerations?
To mention just one, there are the new changes that Professor Weiler has proposed with respect to experience rating in his second report, where he has gone much further, it seems to me, than the recommendation in the white paper and in the draft legislation. Can we have the ministry's views on the changes that Professor Weiler is now proposing?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I would truly and sincerely wish to be able to answer in the affirmative to that question, but I really do not think I can. I do not think it is something we can address, with all the other demands this month, in that quick a period of time; nor would it be appropriate to answer that quickly. This is a very important matter and one we are going to have to look at very seriously.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, since only three regulated substances deal with cancer, it would seem the only way to reduce the possibility of workers being exposed to toxic substances that are carcinogenic is for the minister and his ministry to move to ensure (a) that all new toxic substances are pre-market tested; and (b), that all labelling of materials would give the generic names, the chemical composition and the hazardous effects on workers exposed to those substances.
Will he move to do this so that workers will know what they are working with and thus put pressure on companies to test adequately to guarantee that we reduce the horrendous number of cancer cases from occupational disease?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, the answer to that is yes. I believe we are working towards that objective.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question of the Provincial Secretary for Social Development in the absence of the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) and the Premier (Mr. Davis).
Wakey, wakey, Margaret.
An hon. member: She will vote her own way, Dennis.
Mr. Rae: That's right. She will do whatever she wants to do, Dennis. Just because she is sitting next to you does not mean you can count on her.
I am sure the minister is aware of the agreement that was announced on Friday between the Queensway Hospital and Extendicare Ltd., which has been described as a trend-setting agreement that will give that private-profit institution, Extendicare, a very major stake in the operation of a chronic care unit at that hospital.
Is the minister prepared to table the agreement with Extendicare? And can she please explain to this House why taxpayers and seniors are being asked to pour money for 20 years down the throats of private-profit medicine in the field of chronic care?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the signing of the agreement, but I would ask the honourable member to pose his questions directly to the Minister of Health.
Mr. Rae: The minister is in Switzerland; I cannot very well ask him there. The provincial secretary is here and in the House and she does have a responsibility for the overall social field. This is clearly a very important element in the social policy of this government: the privatization of much of our public hospitals.
I would like to ask the minister a very basic policy question. Given the agreement with AMI (Canada) Ltd. in Hawkesbury and given this agreement here in Toronto with Extendicare, is it now the policy of the government of Ontario that private-profit medicine will be asked and encouraged to come into this province to run hospitals at a profit?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: No.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, would the provincial secretary be so kind as to find out from her colleague, when he gets back from his visit to the gnomes, whether she can obtain the information with respect to the ministry's share of the capital financing of this project, which I understand to be $2.2 million out of $6.5 million?
Would she tell us what the likely profit picture will be for Extendicare over the course of the mortgage on this facility and what return will there be to the taxpayers of Ontario other than the opportunity to pay a minimum $15-per- day user charge if they have to go to this chronic care facility? What other kind of benefit will there be to the taxpayers of Ontario?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, when the minister returns next week I am sure he will be prepared to give a full statement on the agreement that was signed with the hospital.
BUY CANADIAN POLICY
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Peterson) asked me a number of questions last Tuesday with respect to the purchase of a computer manufactured in the United States.
I have looked into the matter and I find that the Ontario Manpower Commission prepared a specification for a total system, part of which was a requirement for computer hardware. In accordance with established practice, the commission invited four Canadian companies to bid on the specification. These four companies responded with bids for the total system ranging from approximately $57,000 on the low end to over $200,000 at the high end.
The contract was awarded to the Canadian company that submitted the lowest bid. The Canadian company, in order to meet the terms and conditions of the specifications, supplied as part of the total package a hardware component manufactured by a California computer company. I have been advised by my staff that there is not at present a Canadian company that manufactures equipment that meets the commission's requirements.
The member also asked that I table the specifications, the bids received and the analysis of the bids made by staff with regard to this purchase. I will provide him with a copy of the specifications. It is not, however, government practice to make public the proprietary information regarding pricing structures contained in confidential bids. I cannot, therefore, table the bids received or the analysis of those bids.
I would note for the member that the commission has not received any complaints regarding this purchase. In accordance with the government's policy on competitive purchasing the ministry would, if requested, provide unsuccessful bidders with information on the name of the successful bidder, the bid price and the reasons for nonselection. The ministry stands ready to debrief any vendor who wishes to discuss any bid. Two of the unsuccessful bidders in this purchase have already discussed their bids with the Ontario Manpower Commission.
I have been assured by staff that the computer purchase at the Ontario Manpower Commission was carried out in a fair and equitable manner. The allegations that the commission is experiencing technical problems with this equipment and that it is not performing are not true. The equipment is operating satisfactorily and there are no problems either with the equipment or with the supplier.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, since it is obvious that the Canadian company was acting as a broker and presumably the minister did not specify Canadian machinery in his tendering documents or in the specifications he tabled, why are we told that Nabu, a Canadian corporation, a multinational with some thousands of employees in Canada, produces comparable models here? I am told they could be applied here, yet the company was not given the chance to tender. Why would that be in these circumstances?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Obviously, the member and I are getting different reports or different pieces of information. I can only reiterate what I said in my comments.
I would add that I did ask my staff to review the Canadian content of the four submissions. That review indicates that the successful bidder had the highest Canadian content. The next lowest bid was inferior in terms of Canadian content and was also incomplete.
DEATHS AT HOSPITAL FOR SICK CHILDREN
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Solicitor General. The minister is no doubt aware that the Centre of Forensic Sciences has completed its preliminary investigation into the Murphy death and that Dr. Hastreiter is already reviewing the results with a member of the team from the Atlanta Centers for Disease Control. Can the minister comment on confirmations by hospital officials that the police have already informally told them that homicide has been ruled out?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: I have no knowledge of what the member has said in regard to comments made to hospital staff by the individuals she has mentioned.
Ms. Copps: When the minister does receive information and when a homicide is ruled out, will he guarantee that a coroner's inquest will be called immediately, despite the fact that there is at present a backlog of two or three months, as indicated by the coroner's office today? Will he guarantee that a coroner's inquest will be called into the Murphy baby's death immediately, if and when he receives information that homicide has been ruled out?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: If this is a situation that warrants a coroner's inquest, I will accommodate the member and call for an immediate inquest if one is recommended by the chief coroner.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Provincial Secretary for Social Development in the continuing absence of the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman).
I will quote briefly from the minister's statement to this House on February 14, "Until the time arrives at which the member can stand up, not with statistics but with a real case where accessibility to medicare has been threatened by a doctor refusing to treat someone unless they pay an extra-billed amount which they were unable to pay, then we do not have a problem with accessibility."
Has the minister had an opportunity to read about the simply appalling case in today's Toronto Star? It is the case of a five-year-old child born with a deformed upper jaw who requires facial surgery and who has been unable to obtain it because her father already owes the doctor an outstanding bill of $2,100. The doctor will not perform the rest of the surgery until the bill is paid. Further, the compound interest on the outstanding bill will probably add up to $10,000 by the time the amount is paid off. How can this kind of case possibly happen in a province that is supposed to have a universal medicare program?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, I have not had the advantage of reading that story in the Star today, but I will certainly ask the deputy minister to give me a report and report back to the House tomorrow.
Mr. McClellan: I had an opportunity to do a little informal survey of my own constituents. Out of 150 respondents, 50 had experienced extra billing. That is about one third. A number of them were extra billed in amounts over $100.
On Friday the Minister of Health said five per cent of claims are submitted on an extra-billed basis. That is three million claims a year, in case the minister cannot divide.
Does the provincial secretary agree with the words of the minister on Friday that we have no problem in this province with extra billing and even less of a problem here in Metro? Does she agree with that when we have the kinds of cases such as the one on the front page of the newspapers again today and three million extra billing cases a year in this province?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: As I recall the Minister of Health's comments on that specific topic, I do not recall him saying we had no problem. I think he indicated with the large numbers of claims that go through we do have a minimum number of problems, but in any large system it is almost impossible to have a perfect count. Even with one case, as the member points out today, I am sure the minister will be most anxious to have that one looked into to find out exactly what the problems are.
FOREIGN IN VESTMENT REVIEW AGENCY
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Trade. While the minister is returning to his seat, I would comment that I had this question all last week for the Premier (Mr. Davis) but he was not here Monday, he was not here on Friday, he is not here today, and on Tuesday and Thursday he left after 20 minutes. One would think he has other things on his mind these days.
Mr. Speaker: Question please.
Mr. Sweeney: The question is to the Minister of Industry and Trade as the Premier's stand-in.
On February 21, the Minister of Industry and Trade for Ontario, in a meeting in Ottawa with other ministers of industry, and I would assume the federal minister, recommended that all those firms that have fewer than 600 employees, or less than a $15-million gross, be exempted from the Foreign Investment Review Agency applications.
Since this would represent 85 per cent of all of the applications that come before FIRA, their own office has said they might just as well go out of business. Yet only seven days later, in Paris, France, the Premier of this province is reported thus: "Mr. Davis defended the Foreign Investment Review Agency. He insisted some review was necessary for a country with such a high penetration of foreign control."
One has to wonder who speaks for Ontario with respect to FIRA? Does Ontario have a policy with respect to FIRA?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, let me remind the member that in this particular case he has failed to read the accurate information and has read only the story that was reported in the newspaper. Had he read the documentation which I think was sent to his office, I think he would have realized that the position I advanced was somewhat different from what he is now suggesting.
The position I put forward was a prenotification procedure whereby if an application fell within a threshold, in other words it was a below a certain threshold, in this case a $15-million threshold, in that particular case the Foreign Investment Review Agency would be notified. If the matter was considered to be in any way sensitive, FIRA would immediately contact the party and advise that it wished to have a full and complete application. If on the other hand it was not deemed to be particularly sensitive, and if no reply were received within 30 days, then the company would be deemed to be appropriate under the circumstances and considered allowed to go forward with its particular acquisition.
It is called the prenotification procedure. It has been something of a position advanced now by the Canadian Bar Association, a position we have adopted within the province to speed up the process of FIRA, which has to some extent been slowed down in the past.
I will say there has been a speedup over the past year that has been substantial. It has not had anything to do with me. It has had nothing to do with me. It has had something to do with Mr. Lumley, who has brought in a new machinery that has advanced the process a great deal.
The particular procedure, that I advanced to them in conjunction with the recommendation of the Canadian Bar Association, would go a long way to cleaning up the morass of the Foreign Investment Review Agency, which as the member knows approves 95 per cent of the applications anyway. This would be a process that would speed it up. It would be worth while and it is deemed by most people to be appropriate. Almost all of the trade and industry ministers present that day agreed and supported the point put forward.
Mr. Sweeney: Our understanding from talking to people in Ottawa is that they are substantially moving in that direction anyway. There is nothing new in that process.
Given the fact that Ontario is invited to comment on any application coming before FIRA which affects the interests of Ontario or an industry that might locate in Ontario, and using the Premier's words in terms of "penetration of foreign control" -- and we not talking only of investment, we are talking of control -- I would like to know how far this minister and the Premier are prepared to allow further penetration of foreign control?
As an alternative, how far are they prepared to assist small Canadian-owned businesses currently operating in Ontario to expand to fulfil the role that foreign control now fulfils or wishes to fulfil?
Hon. Mr. Walker: We are prepared to encourage as much investment as we can that is for the betterment of the public in creating jobs within the province. That is the first position. Any particular application that comes forward will be very carefully considered by us and encouraged as much as possible. We are more interested in the corporate behaviour of industries while here than in what their parentage may be. That is a position I have advanced before. The member is well aware of that.
Second, I can indicate that from a statistical point of view over the last 10 years, the degree of penetration of foreign investment as a whole has significantly decreased in this province and in this country. That is a point of view which the member's research might reveal.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to figure out whether the minister is a Pocklington or a Gamble supporter. Is he prepared as a matter of basic policy in Ontario to require that before foreign-owned firms move out of the province and close down factories they should at least be prepared as a matter of policy to offer those plants to the workers in those plants?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, that is a very valid thing and I would like to encourage that. I would certainly never be part of any organization that would pass a law that would require it. However, I am certainly prepared to encourage that wherever possible and find it would be unfortunate if that happened otherwise. I support the principle but I am not prepared to see a law passed that requires that to be done. I do not think that is in keeping with decent business in the province.
EDUCATION FOR MENTALLY HANDICAPPED
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services on a problem with which I believe he is familiar. The minister is fully aware that in the Sudbury area many retarded children are not getting speech pathology services because for one thing his ministry, which provides funds to the Algoma sanitorium, does not attach any strings to those and the san has refused to provide the service to school-aged children.
The ministry has refused to provide funding for assessment and programs because it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education. Education says it is the responsibility of the boards of education, and they say it is the responsibility of Health and Community and Social Services. In the meantime, these children are getting no services.
Will the minister tell us why he is not prepared to provide short-term funding for May and June in order to provide the service and to have a policy put in place down the road?
Hon. Mr. Drea: For the simple reason, Mr. Speaker, that there is a policy. At every other place where there is an equivalent to the Sudbury Algoma Hospital there is no problem with the provision of speech pathology; none. The member should not shake his head at me.
At the Windsor Western Hospital Centre they may be a bit short, but there is no problem as to whose responsibility it is. There is no problem in Hamilton. There is no problem in Ottawa.
Mr. Laughren: Those are not the facts and the minister knows it. It is a blatant distortion.
Mr. Speaker: Question please.
Mr. Laughren: Is the minister aware that when children are in institutions they are provided with a service but when they are taken out of the institutions and put into the community they are refused service from anybody in the community? This is at a time when the minister's deinstitutionalization program is in place across the province. How can the minister justify such perverse policies that say to people in the community, "As long as your child is in an institution, this service will be provided; when that child is not in the institution, that service will be refused"?
Does the minister really believe his own words when he says there is no problem in this situation across the province? Of course there is a problem across the province. How can he justify that kind of statement? It is nonsense.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I would appreciate it if the honourable member would not distort my words. He talked about a particular funding problem at the particular children's mental health hospital in Sudbury.
Mr. Laughren: No.
Hon. Mr. Drea: He did.
Mr. Laughren: Not just in Sudbury.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Drea: He did and that is the answer he got. He is awfully good at trying to distort everything.
The particular problem that the member talks about in the Sudbury area is one that does give me some concern; but I am not going to step in and accept all the responsibility or the very thing that he is complaining about -- that when one is out in the community one gets no service -- will get perpetuated. We are --
Mr. Martel: So the kids can do without the service.
Hon. Mr. Drea: What is the problem of the member for Sudbury East?
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, please. Just respond to the question.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I believe I did respond to the particular question.
ST. CLAIR REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY
Mr. Van Home: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Government Services. I realize the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Leluk) is hugging him; there must be something catching across the floor.
Given that his ministry has been directed by cabinet to act as an agent for the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority in settling the expropriation claims with land owners in Moore and Sombra townships, for land which is required for purposes of a water diversion system to divert water from the Sydenham River to the St. Clair River for flood control purposes, and given that an extension to February 28, 1983, for making payment was obtained by court order, would the minister tell the House why payment has been made to only two of the 135 owners whose land and/or property was expropriated?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Speaker, it is true that we were asked by the Ministry of Natural Resources to go in and do an appraisal of approximately 15 properties in that area. At the present time, I have just given my two colleagues an update on that. We have purchased or put through offers to purchase by the advisory committee, made up of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the conservation authority, for seven of those properties. The eight remaining will go through as soon as possible. Some of them are in the process of being accepted and on others there are still further negotiations.
There seems to be one lawyer working on behalf of all the people and he is working down the list of cases. As I understand it, the offer has been made in most cases but to the present time the lawyer acting on behalf of the people has not come back with a counter offer.
Mr. Van Horne: This whole proposal has been described by the inquiry officer, who made the first ruling back in the fall, as "a gross case of bureaucratic bungling." It would seem that the bungling is being carried on.
My understanding is that there are still more than 100 owners of property, or property and homes, who have not been informed in any way, shape or form of offers. Some of them are people who simply have an easement for flood control purposes now on their property.
Can the minister give me and those people any assurance that the deadline, which was to have been February 28, will not be extended any further and that some form of offer will be made to them in the month of May 1983?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I have to defend our ministry. The honourable member said there has been some sort of bungling going on and apparently it is still going on. I would like to assure him that since we were asked to come and give an outside, private appraisal on it we have done that and have done it very quickly.
We are just acting as agents, as I said before, for the Ministry of Natural Resources and the conservation authorities. The 15 that I mentioned were people who were going to have to be bought out, and we were coming in with offers. I mentioned the seven that have already accepted. The honourable member said two, but I think if he checks now he will find that it is up to seven.
Eight of those are in the process, and the lawyer for those people is looking after them one at a time. It seems that each of these people has sought legal counsel of the same person.
We are dealing with the ones where there are flood plains after we get the ones that we figure are complete buy-outs finished; but it is a big job, and I cannot give the member an exact time when it will be finished, other than to say that I have had meetings with my staff and we are moving along as quickly as possible.
PRICE RESTRAINT CRITERIA
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I am sure the minister will recall that Bill 179, which was passed four and a half months ago, requires that he review administered price increases under economic criteria that he is required to establish.
Will the minister tell this House when he established the criteria, if he has; how many prices he has reviewed; and, if he has referred any to the Inflation Restraint Board, what services and companies are represented in those referrals?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, it is my recollection that those criteria were tabled. Second, I do not have the exact number of matters that have been reviewed. And yes, one has been referred to the Inflation Restraint Board, and I am not prepared to discuss it at the moment.
Mr. Swart: If that is the price increase awarded to Consumers Gas, is the minister aware that the award they got of $20.1 million for their own use represents much more than a five per cent increase, that its profits in the first quarter of this year set a new high and that it has now asked for a further increase, which will amount to an additional 10 per cent increase in its own revenue for distributing gas?
If the minister has not referred that one to the Inflation Restraint Board, will he refer it? If not, why not?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I cannot recall any recent matter related to Consumers Gas that has been before the administered prices committee. When it comes before us. I will deal with it in the appropriate fashion.
FUNDING BY WINTARIO
Mr. O'Neil: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Citizenship and Culture. The minister is no doubt aware of the report released last week by the Joint Task Force on Neighbourhood Support Services, which highlights the desperate need for core funding in Metropolitan Toronto to keep neighbourhoods alive.
Considering their findings, which state that, excluding projects of a regional or provincial issue, the province paid out $3 per person in Wintario grants to every government riding in Metro while it paid out an average of only $1 in ridings held by opposition members, will the minister tell us whether he plans to increase funding to these other ridings?
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, I was aware of the report, and I am quite prepared either to share it privately or to table a more detailed response. While the report did imply that members of the government party received favoured treatment, at the same time it did show clearly that it is the central part of Metro Toronto, notwithstanding constituencies, that gets the support.
I just share with my friend the fact that the former member for St. George was a Liberal and the present member of St. George (Ms. Fish) is not a Liberal --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: I mention that because that particular constituency of St. George is in that urban centre and is a portion of downtown Metro that has received a goodly amount of money. Where the Royal Ontario Museum and Roy Thomson Hall are located has a great deal more to do with the history of those buildings than with the constituency they are in. I think an important point has been raised, and it might be fairer and more thorough if I tabled a more detailed response to it.
I think everybody understands that, from the outset of the Wintario program and the subsequent lottery games, there has been tremendous care taken by all members of the Legislature, who clearly at the time of estimates look to see if there are any of those kinds of abuses. We are extra sensitive in the ministry that those things do not happen, for very obvious reasons.
I think everybody understands that at the core of the Wintario money and the way it is distributed is the fact that we respond to local initiatives. To put it bluntly, the riding I represent is one of those that have received very little money. The fact is, we cannot put an art gallery or a museum in a community that does not want it and is not able to support it; but I would be prepared to give more details on that.
Mr. O'Neil: If the minister reviewed my initial question, I think he would see that I mentioned it was excluding such things as the Royal Ontario Museum and some of these other larger projects.
Is the minister disputing the graphs and figures that were released last week that definitely show a three-to-one ratio between government ridings and opposition members ridings? I would like to know, first of all, whether the minister disputes those figures.
I would also like to ask him whether he proposes to make a change so that some of the other ridings that are not receiving the proper amount of funding are assisted and will have the long-term core funding that is essential to some of these community services in Metro Toronto.
Mr. Speaker: Does the minister propose to make a change? That is the question.
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: No, I do not accept the reality of those figures; so there will be no changes based on that submission.
When the member takes a look at my detailed response, he will see that a change is not necessary. What is required is clarification as to Wintario, Lottario, Super Loto and Provincial moneys and how they are invested, and my work sheet will help in that regard.
MECHANICS' LIEN ACT PRACTICES
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations concerning some practices that have sprung up around the Mechanics' Lien Act.
It has been brought to my attention that some builders are now making it a condition of sale, on the purchase of a new home, that the purchaser set up the trust fund that is laid out in this act and that we all thought would be carried on by the builder. Is it legal to make such a condition of sale? It certainly imposes a great hardship on people who are trying to purchase new homes.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: With respect, Mr. Speaker, I could look into that but, as the honourable member knows, that particular legislation is from the Attorney General's ministry and I have no current information about what the practices are there. However, I will advise my colleague of the member's question.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, while the minister is looking into that, would he take a look at some of the practical problems people are experiencing? Many people trying to purchase a home with this kind of condition put on the closing of the sale are finding it very difficult to come up with financing that may be in the order of $10,000 to $15,000 for a 45-day period.
Would the minister take a look at some of these practices, and, most urgently, tell people what they can do if they are faced with a situation where they must close the transaction? What options do they have?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Again, Mr. Speaker, all I can say is that I will draw these matters to the attention of the minister in charge of that act.
Mr. Sweeney: Is the minister aware of the fact that the Royal Trust company has issued a directive to its district managers not to take on any residential mortgages whatsoever because of the Mechanics' Lien Act?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: No, I was not.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Citizenship and Culture on the document entitled A Foundation for the Future, the consultation paper on public libraries. I would like to draw to the minister's attention that the 28-page report was done without any mention at all of the francophone issues as far as libraries are concerned.
Is the minister aware that there was a report published only a year ago, known as the Desjardins-Gagné report, and that report number 8 of the Ontario public library program review was released shortly afterwards? Is he also aware that the Council on Franco-Ontarian Affairs, only a month before the release of this document, had recommended major changes in the structure of libraries of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whether I can quickly find the relevant section that I wanted to quote back to the honourable member. I think he may be correct that it does not specify Franco-Ontarian communities, but throughout the pages in the consultation paper there is consistent reference to the fact that the local library boards, and the municipalities that appoint the local library boards in main, are to be sensitive to the needs of their local communities. That has been a tradition for a century in this province which we have no intention of changing. It clearly refers to the francophone communities in a number of regions of the province.
The same point would hold with regard to ethnic representation and appointments from separate and/or public school boards, where we left some more options in here so the library boards would be able to run their policies on the basis of the needs of their respective communities.
So while the words "francophone" and "francophone representations" may not be there, and I cannot find it right off hand, there is no question that we were sensitive to that reality throughout and attempted to be consistent in each of the pages of the discussion paper to emphasize the need for these boards to respond to local needs.
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to standing order 28(a), I wish to give notice of my dissatisfaction with the incredible answer from the incredible Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea), earlier during this question period, and I wish to have the matter more fully debated tomorrow night at adjournment.
Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition, but I would ask your indulgence. To me, this appears to be a petition, or it may be ruled an expression of concern.
It is signed by the staff and students of Fenelon Falls Secondary School, Fenelon Falls, who are in the Speaker's gallery today. It reads in part:
"While we realize that the provincial government has no authority to act in regard to nuclear arms reduction, none the less we strongly urge the government of Ontario to take a definitive stand in favour of nuclear arms reduction and that this position be communicated to the government of Canada to support an effective program to lower the risk of nuclear attack."
It is signed by the staff and students of Fenelon Falls Secondary School.
Mr. Pollock: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition with the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman). The petition has 2,577 names on it, and it is from five bulk food stores in Campbellford, Belleville, Norwood and Havelock.
The petition is straightforward and states: "I am pleased with the method that the stores are using to dispense food."
The petition was delivered to my constituency office, and I would like to pass it on to the Minister of Health. I would like the record to show that it was delivered to the Minister of Health.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding any order of the House, private members' public business will be not taken up until Thursday, May 19, 1983.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
BOROUGH OF EAST YORK ACT
Mr. Williams moved, seconded by Mr. Rotenberg, first reading of Bill Pr6, An Act respecting the Borough of East York.
Motion agreed to.
BUDGET DAY PROCEDURE
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I thought I might clarify for the House the procedure that will be followed on budget day, next Tuesday, May 10. We will begin as usual at 2 p.m. with routine proceedings and we have undertaken not to have any ministerial statements. When routine proceedings are concluded, if there is still some time left before 4 p.m., the House will adjourn for a period of time, perhaps 10 or 15 minutes, and at exactly 4 p.m. the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) will begin the budget address, which will be concluded by 6 p.m. There will be no night sitting that night.
Pursuant to the motion the House just passed concerning private members' afternoon, it has been agreed that the responses from both the official opposition and the third party will be made on the afternoon of May 12. Again we will not have any statements and the time will be split equally, so that the two responses to the budget will be on the afternoon of May 12.
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. MacQuarrie: Mr. Speaker, when the debate adjourned, I had pointed out how important it was to ensure that Ontario industries have available to them the most up-to-date technology and equipment to allow them to compete successfully in the marketplaces of the world and that it was also important to develop a high-technology sector in Ontario.
I mentioned that we faced two problems. The first problem is inadequate domestic research and development and our comparatively low expenditures on research and development activities. The second problem is technological lag, with our traditional industries being extremely slow in adapting best-practice technologies to their operations.
I indicated that our comparative expenditures on research and development would have to increase. I also suggested that the Ontario technology centres would help to ensure that Ontario industry would be internationally competitive.
However, I noted that a number of points should be kept in mind when assessing the role the technology centres would play in helping us meet the challenge of the new industrial revolution.
First, the centres should give special emphasis to the development and transfer of domestic technologies without neglecting offshore technologies that our industries could use to advantage. We should bear in mind that a great deal of technology developed in Canada is exploited offshore.
Second, we must increase our own research and development efforts to avoid becoming more and more dependent for technology and technological advance on those nations that do invest heavily in basic scientific and industrial research and against whom our industries must compete.
If we do become technologically dependent on others, we will always be behind our competitors in developing, applying and exporting technologies. As I pointed out, in this case our technology centres will be able at best to help our industries keep up with yesterday.
Third, in my opinion it is vital that close links be established between provincial agencies such as the technology centres, the Ontario Research Foundation, the innovation Development for Employment Advancement Corp. and other agencies in other provinces and at the national level.
I referred earlier to the National Research Council, one of the world's foremost research agencies, with internationally recognized expertise across the whole scientific and technological spectrum and a strong, well-trained, skilled support staff.
The NRC was established to undertake, assist or promote scientific and engineering research to further Canada's economic and social development. It maintains a close working relationship with Canadian industries, universities and other government agencies. The NRC also enjoys an excellent rapport with industries, universities and government research establishments in many foreign jurisdictions.
Although the NRC operates research facilities in centres in various parts of the country and abroad, its major facilities are in Carleton East. The NRC operates a scientific and industrial research program designed, among other things, to assist Canadian industries to develop new and improved methods, products, systems, techniques and services.
This government shares with the NRC the common objectives of improving industrial output, encouraging technological innovation and effecting the transfer to industry of best-practice technologies.
It would be a waste if we did not develop a much closer working relationship with the NRC than exists at present. After all, the mandate of the NRC includes close co-operation with the provinces and with provincial research establishments.
I know the NRC is more than willing to co-operate with the province in attaining our common goals. For instance, almost two years ago the NRC indicated it would permit the province to establish a distinctive provincial technology centre on part of its Montreal Road campus.
The NRC is often at the cutting edge of technological research and new industrial techniques. A close link with the NRC would give us early access to research activities and research results which could be further developed by our technology centres or other research agencies or transferred directly to Ontario industry or Ontario entrepreneurs.
This could be particularly beneficial since the NRC is carrying out research and making significant advances in areas that are of special interest to Ontario, from energy to genetic engineering, from computer applications to fusion technology, from medical equipment and technology to flexible manufacturing and membrane technology.
Furthermore, a close link with the NRC would provide us with an excellent window on national and international research and development. A provincial technology centre on the Montreal Road campus of the NRC would place this province at the centre of the action in research and development. Such a centre would permit the ready transfer of NRC technology to our centres, industries or entrepreneurs.
In addition, such a centre could serve as a mechanism whereby we would be able to co-ordinate our research efforts with those of the NRC and other agencies in those areas of special interest to the province or of special significance to other industries.
The NRC is there to be used and wants to be used. In my opinion, we are not currently making use of this agency to the extent that we could. I would therefore strongly urge the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker) to immediately take up with the NRC the establishment of a centre of the type proposed. We cannot afford to wait.
The NRC is anxious to see that its technologies are made available to Canadian industries and that industrial problems are referred back to its laboratories for solutions. It seems to me the least we could do in the interest of our economy would be to work with the council to achieve that goal. It would cost us very little and the returns could be potentially great indeed. It seems to me that such a centre would be more than worth the investment.
Above all, I believe that if we are fully to realize our research potential and get the best return for our investment, it is essential that an effective liaison be established to ensure that national and provincial research and development efforts are co-ordinated. It would be a waste of resources to have all these centres busy reinventing the wheel or unnecessarily duplicating each other's research and development programs.
For instance, we have a number of computer- aided design/computer-aided manufacturing centres sprouting up hither, thither and yon, and something must be done to ensure that the efforts of these various agencies are co-ordinated. We are too small a country to be able to afford that type of waste.
In the throne speech the government suggests it will act to ensure that a skilled and appropriately trained labour force is available to Ontario industry. Obviously a priority will be the creation of a labour pool capable of performing in a high-technology environment. We must then invest in people as well as in technology.
In 1980, the microelectronics task force report stated: "The government has a positive role to play in the provision of the supply of highly skilled personnel." It also noted: "The government should be actively involved with labour and industry in creating training and retraining programs for workers." In the coming months, I look for our efforts in this area to be expanded.
Looking to the long term, we must ensure that part of this effort is concentrated on our universities. In Ontario we have some excellent universities. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say some of our professional and technical schools and departments are world class. In the future we must do what we can to maintain this standard and to bring more of our institutions up to it by providing the resources necessary to help them improve upon their already fine performance.
As part of this effort, we also must encourage more of our young people to pursue careers in scientific and engineering disciplines. It will not be enough, however, for this government to limit its efforts and programs to the provision of a skilled labour pool. We must also be prepared to deal responsibly and effectively with one of the negative consequences, at least in the short run, of industrial high technology, the loss of some traditional job opportunities in our industries. While high technology will create new jobs requiring new skills, it is also possible that it will lead to the creation of a new type of structural unemployment in our society.
To address this problem in the short term, this government must put in place programs to support the displaced worker. In the long term, we must be prepared to look at and seriously consider more novel solutions, such as concentration on labour-intensive as opposed to labour-saving technologies, or reduction in the working hours of the individual worker.
In the throne speech, the government notes that it will work to increase innovation in all sectors of our economy. At present, apart from the research being done by government laboratories, the most innovative and original research in the province is done by the universities and by industry. The government, through the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development, already supports research in both these sectors.
BILD and the University of Toronto, for example, have set up the Institute for Hydrogen and Electrochemical Systems. It is interesting to note that the National Research Council is also involved in hydrogen research. This serves to underline the importance of close liaison in our research sector.
In the private sector, BILD funds a high- technology financing program through the Ontario Development Corp. We would realize a better return on these investments if we co-ordinated the research activities in these two sectors -- industry and universities. Certainly the desire is there on the part of industry and universities for a greater degree of structured interaction.
In a recent address, the president of the University of Western Ontario said he envisioned greater interaction among communities of scientists in the future, including scientists in industry. Dr. Connell stated this interaction should be arranged by the university administration or even a higher authority.
On the industry side, the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers has called for closer industry and university liaison to overcome what it refers to as the two solitudes. This type of interaction would result in the better use of available technical manpower and equipment to the benefit of both industry and the universities.
Our lnnovation Development for Employment Advancement Corp. will supposedly serve as a technology broker among private, public and university research sectors. Although I am not sure if this broker role will involve the IDEA Corp. in direct organizational work, I think this is one area where we as a government could and should do more. For example, we could develop a provincial program similar to the federal industrial fellowship program. Under this program, qualified university staff would be able to spend a year in industry and become familiar with its production problems and research needs. This would not only help to direct university research towards industry's needs, but also might help motivate students to conduct research in the same area. Thus, this program could contribute, even if only indirectly, to the creation of the scientific expertise we will require to remain competitive.
In addition, we could use this program to encourage practising professional engineers and research scientists working in industry to teach in our universities. Again, this would provide an opportunity to improve communication, enhance interaction and interest students in the area of industrial research. An exchange and fellowship program supported by this government could be complemented by a special scholarship fund for graduate students in engineering and the sciences. Alternatively, the government could use the student aid program as a mechanism for attracting students into strategic fields of study.
Of course, there is little point in educating and training people to work in high technology if they find no place to work when their training is completed. We must develop our own high technology sector if we want to keep those highly skilled individuals in the province. Canada has too long been known as an exporter of brains.
In the speech from the throne, this government set itself two very ambitious goals: to increase domestic market expansion and to double foreign trade over the next five years. Expanding the domestic market will demand an increase in consumer confidence to the point where people feel it is safe for them to spend some of their savings. We can also increase domestic demand for domestic products by continuing our import substitution and buy-Canadian programs.
We need a significant growth in demand to bring our industries back up to operating capacity and to alleviate our unemployment problems. For real growth, however, we have to look beyond our domestic market to the export market. The Canadian market is simply too small to allow us to rely solely on domestic demand to support our industrial base.
It is apparent the less developed and newly industrialized countries are taking over the mass production industries which used to be the mainstays of the western economies. If we are going to compete with these producers, we run the risk of being constantly undercut. Reliance on resource industries for export revenues will be even more questionable in the future than it was in the past.
International resource commodity markets are always risky and uncertain. Last year our experience with the nickel market showed just how tough the competition can become. Technologically advanced economies are supplementing their export of commodities with the export of expertise. Trading nations such as Japan are beginning to broaden their export bases. The growth area in international trade is the export of techniques, of ways of doing things and making things better.
It will be no mean feat to double our export trade in five years, but it will be worth the effort since any increase in trade will mean more job opportunities for the people of Ontario. In order fully to realize our export potential, in particular I urge the government to support and encourage exports by high technology companies. This could be done through the international marketing and export financing programs under the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development.
In the throne speech, the government announced it will undertake an extensive and serious study of the impact these new technologies will have on our lives. This is a sound idea, and certainly there are enough unknowns about both potential effects and the implications for public policy to make this a valuable project.
Since the government appears to be in favour of serious and extensive studies, there is one that I would like to see made. I would call this study, to give it the proper bureaucratic ring, the Ontario industry technology assessment survey.
This survey would consist of two parts. One part would concentrate on Ontario industries and would involve an evaluation against the world standard of the production technologies and productivity of our industries. This type of information would help us identify our strengths and our weaknesses and where it would be best to invest our scarce resources.
Once we had identified the competitive sectors in our industrial base and the most competitive firms within those sectors, we could undertake a comprehensive market study to determine how the competitiveness and growth potential of these industries could best be exploited.
It has become commonplace when speaking about Canada's economic future at least to allude to our poor record on productivity. If our productivity problem could be solved by the number of newspaper and periodical articles written about it, then ours would have been solved long ago. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
In the throne speech the government says it will attempt to improve our productivity. To assist this government in reaching that goal I suggest that a provincial productivity centre be established.
I am aware that the federal government has indicated its intention to set up a national productivity centre. However, I do not see why that should preclude us from establishing our own. In the first place, the federal government is not known for its speed or its productivity. There is no reason we should wait for them to get organized. It could be a long wait.
Second, productivity is a major problem for manufacturing in Canada. About half, 49 per cent, of the national manufacturing plant is located in Ontario. It seems sensible that there should be one organization dedicated solely to the analysis and discussion of the problems faced by our manufacturers and the possible solutions to those problems. We need a forum in which representatives of Ontario's industries, labour organizations and government can have an ongoing exchange of ideas.
Finally, I must say I was disappointed that the speech from the throne did not announce the creation of a ministry of science and technology. Such a ministry is needed to design, implement and administer a co-ordinated and comprehensive plan for technological development in the province. A ministry of science and technology could co-ordinate the wide range of research activities being carried out by the ministries of this government and by our universities and hospitals.
The ministry could establish and maintain effective liaison with other research agencies at the provincial and national levels. Such a ministry would ensure that the taxpayer of this province would get the maximum return on his high-tech investment dollar. Most important, a ministry of science and technology would serve as a focal point through which new technology could be passed on to Ontario industry and interested entrepreneurs.
I am firmly convinced of the need in Ontario for a ministry of science and technology. Only a line ministry with a mandate focused specifically on this area will be able to do the job which must be done if Ontario is to be competitive in tomorrow's markets. High technology and its impact on our economy is not a momentary thing that will fade away at the end of the decade or at the end of the century. It is a self-perpetuating, evolutionary process that will constantly and continually present us with new challenges and new opportunities.
If we are committed to taking advantage of these new opportunities for the benefit of all Ontarians, we must put in place the infrastructure that will enable us to do so in the most efficient and effective manner. A ministry of science and technology is the essential element in that infrastructure. Only such a ministry would be able to devise, implement and administer the sustained, co-ordinated effort that is required to ensure our industries do not become economic mediocrities in this century.
Ontario has never been a second-best province. There is no reason, given our human and natural resources, why we should be so in the future. Let us not give high technology our second-best effort. If we do, we cheat not only ourselves but also our children. If we are to give our best effort, in my view we can only do so through a ministry solely dedicated to that task. I would respectfully but forcefully urge this government to give serious consideration to the creation of a ministry of science and technology.
In looking at the markets of tomorrow, shaped as they will be by the impact of high technology, I see a world such as that aptly described in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, where the Red Queen said that it is a world in which we will have to run as hard as we can just to stay where we are; if we want to get anywhere, we will have to run twice as hard.
In Ontario, we have the skills, expertise, resources and manpower which will let us run twice as hard, and we must run twice as hard if we are to improve our standard of living. This throne speech demonstrates we are at least in the race. I submit that if we expand some of our programs in the directions I have indicated, our prospects of winning will be improved.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, looking through the throne speech, one gets a little disillusioned with the system, as I suppose one would call it. Each year the government comes out with the ideas and generalities of what it thinks should be done in the province.
Some throne speeches spend more time talking about what other governments do or do not do. This one, this year, has not really spent any time on that and has not spent much time on the things the government should be doing. It leaves a great deal to be desired.
This gives a member an opportunity to put in some of his own ideas as to what he would like to see in a throne speech if he were making one. The time of eight days is allotted so people can reply to the speech from the throne under our system in the Legislature.
From looking over parliamentary rules, I know that time limits are allocated in a number of areas of operations of the House, such as bills, the throne speech debate, replies to the budget speech and so on. We have not necessarily done that in the eight-day time allocation. I suppose there is not the interest in it that perhaps some members should take, and that is understandable when one looks at the throne speech, because it really does not get down to the nitty-gritty of the things that should be done. Most people seem to look to the budget speech because that is really where the nuts and bolts are, when it comes to the financial part of government. However, even with regard to the budget which we will be dealing with on May 10, there is not the same kind of anticipation as to whether it will mean that much to the economy.
From looking at the actual budget over the last number of years, it would appear that this government has got itself into what I would call a corner, as far as financing goes. Of course, this government is not the only one. The United States is in the position of having one of the highest deficits it has ever had. The government of Canada is in the same position, and it is too bad that we are mortgaging our grandchildren's future.
It seems to me that at one time it was a common thing for a family to want to assist the grandchildren as they came along. The government seems to do the opposite. They appear to want to burden them with the debts of the last two or three decades. In a way, we are really putting an awful burden on our future generations. I suppose to some extent the fault lies in governments thinking the way many individuals thought, which was that there was no end to the inflation cycle and governments could continue to spend and print money without any problems.
With all of these deficits, it comes down to who will pay them and what they will do to the money market. Certainly I am not an expert in money markets, but I have read cursory reports here and there in magazines, newspaper articles, editorials and so forth from our so-called economists.
Economists are like other people who make up our society: they have certain ideas, and if one were to ask 10 economists what to do about the financial structure of our country, I suppose one would get 11 ideas. It is almost like that. I find even those who study books and go to university for five or 10 years and acquire long titles after their names are not really all that smart when it comes to financing. I do not know whether they read so much they get the idea it can be done on paper, but the trouble is, they forget that human beings think differently from what is put down on paper; they live differently and have their own priorities. One of this government's priorities in the last year or two was buying 25 per cent of a large oil company.
One person told me he thought that at the present time the financial structure of Ontario was bordering on a $3-billion deficit. That is more than the total budget at the time the Premier (Mr. Davis) took office in 1971.
The rationale for buying into this company was that one had to have a window on the oil companies to see what the others were doing. Someone said it is similar to a person who has been laid off work for about a year and has saved maybe $1,000; he has two or three children and the future does not look that great for him, but he goes out and borrows money at 15 per cent interest in order to buy a new Cadillac. As far as I can see, the Ontario government did about the same thing when it bought Suncor.
It did not bring any jobs; it did not make one job in Ontario. The federal government had already purchased a window on the oil companies. Of course, a poll was taken at that time and, if I remember correctly, about 60 per cent of the people in Canada felt it was a good idea that the federal government buy an oil company and have a window so they could see just what went on.
In my opinion, it would have been fine if they had bought an oil company in the development area; but as far as I am concerned, I would never have bought out British Petroleum; and I would never even have opened a service station under Petro-Canada. If I had been doing it, it would have been a window in the door of the processing and development end of it; but then I would have put my oil and gas up for sale, and if you wanted to buy it you would bring a truck in and buy it and we would sell it. That is the ideal situation that the government should be in, it seems to me, not in the everyday servicing of cars and so forth.
I know that the New Democratic Party thinks this is a great idea. They want to run all the gas stations in Canada and in Ontario.
Mr. Breaugh: Just the Petro-Canada stations.
Mr. Ruston: They want to be the ones who hire everybody.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: A little earlier you were telling us a Liberal was a Liberal.
Mr. Ruston: Now, that's an interesting point; and it is like a Conservative being a Conservative, I suppose. I think one of the your NDP friends in Ottawa is -- well, I don't know if I should really bring that up. I don't think you would like me to bring up the fact that the NDP were in favour of a lot of social things that you and I would not approve of.
But the interesting one was the Conservative Laura Sabia. She ran for the Conservatives here in Toronto not very long ago, and she thinks it is absolutely ridiculous for us to spend $650 million for a 25 per cent piece of the action in Suncor. She says:
"Thanks a lot, Willie, for adding $325 million to our present provincial debt, making it a walloping $1.3 billion for fiscal '81 with not even an extra barrel of oil added to our supplies or one new job created."
As I think our leader mentioned during question period today, we are paying interest of anywhere from $50 million to $75 million a year just to have that little window. You can buy a lot of jobs for that.
Mr. Breaugh: You could buy a whole Petro-Canada station for that.
Mr. Ruston: You could develop it into an awful lot of work. We have so much unemployment. There are a lot of small industries to which we could have lent that money at a low interest rate over a period of five or 10 years. We could have developed many thousands of jobs if it had been made available. That is what we should be doing.
Mr. Boudria: We could build our own window factory.
Mr. Ruston: Now there's another thing. The member for Prescott-Russell says we could build our own window factory. Well, I am not sure we want to do that, but in my area two or three entrepreneurs are starting new window factories and they are doing very well. If the government got into it, I do not think they would do that well.
Mr. Boudria: It would be like the post office.
Mr. Ruston: I think we should be lending the money to these small entrepreneurs and small industries, many of which are already developed. They just need the financing to put themselves into the new technologies that we are going to require for the next 10 or 20 years. For instance, we could lend them money that we are giving under the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program. We gave $3 million to the H. J. Heinz Co.; and $1.3 million, I believe, to another tomato factory in our area and that is an outright grant.
I had a fellow call me from one of the small tomato plants in our area. He said he had run his place for 11 years and up to the present he has had no need of assistance, but he thinks he should perhaps apply for some if they are going to start giving away money. His idea is not to give away the money but to give him a loan, perhaps in the first year with no interest or a very low interest rate, and as the years go on and the business picks up they could increase the interest rate over a cycle of 10 years until it was paid off. That is what I call recycling money; that would help considerably.
It is similar to what the member for Huron- Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) said about tile drainage loans. The Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell) will get up with the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) when he makes his report to say the government is going to give $20 million or $30 million for tile loans. But it is really not that amount, because he is putting it out in loans and it is coming back every year in payments, so he is recycling that money. He is not putting in $30 million or $40 million of new money every year, but it sounds as if he is. The minister likes to make it sound great.
Our agriculture critic, who is well versed on this matter, brings that to the minister's attention quite often when he starts to say the government is doing so much. They are really overstating it completely and trying to bamboozle the farmers into thinking they are doing a lot for them when really it is very little. If one looks at the total agriculture budget in Ontario it is only about one per cent or 1.5 per cent of the total budget, so it is very minimal. I see a figure popping up there of 1.1 per cent.
One of the things that concerns me is something a neighbour brought to my attention a couple of times. People who never come into this place sometimes have a different view from us. We do not always think about the real things we should be doing. Perhaps it is because we have to sit here listening to all the bamboozling that goes on by the government with all its fancy advertising, etc. They spend $30 million or $40 million a year trying to tell everybody what great fellows they are. I am thinking about the plans for house building. Just lately the federal government put out a grant of $3,000 to buy a home, and it was not long ago that Ontario had a grant of $1,500, back in 1975. I have a son who used that. I helped him move for two days so he could get in a day before the time for getting the grant ran out, and it helped some.
It really seems to me what we should be doing, especially at a time like this, now that we have interest rates coming down to a more sensible level, is taking that $3,000 or whatever -- the province had a grant of $5,000 that it was lending over a period of 10 years and then the borrowers had to start paying interest on it -- to guarantee an interest rate that goes along with inflation or something similar to that.
In other words, today if we could take a person who was buying a home for $50,000, $60,000 or $70,000 and give him a mortgage for 75 per cent of that and the mortgage rate would be at today's rate for three years, somewhere around 11.5 per cent, we could guarantee that mortgage for 15 years at 11.5 or the equivalent if inflation were to go over a certain figure. Then if his wages went up he could afford to pay a quarter or a half per cent higher interest every two years, or whatever the case may be depending on inflation.
Instead of giving a grant to buy, if we used that money to guarantee a fair interest rate over the next 15 or 20 years I think it would encourage the purchase of houses even more than giving a grant. People like a little security when they sign their name on a $50,000 mortgage. If they do not know what the interest rates will be in two years, it can be pretty devastating.
I could also talk about debts. There are people today, and I suppose they are economists, predicting that the interest rates could very well be 20 per cent by December 1984 or February 1985, due strictly to the high deficits of the United States government. That is worrisome. I read that in one financial paper which I think is printed in the United States.
I know it is only a prediction, but we can imagine what that would do to someone who had just bought a house in the Toronto area, where they cost $100,000 or $150,000, and got a mortgage for 11.5 per cent. Two years ago, when we had mortgage interest rates going up to 18 or 19 per cent, it was devastating. We cannot stand that. It is not bearable by anyone. I do not think any government can allow that to happen again, because that type of interest rate is unbearable.
We need some written guarantee. I read in some articles prior to the bringing down of the new budget in Ottawa that they were planning some kind of mortgage insurance, but to this time I have not seen anything from the federal government on that matter so it is something we should be getting into here in Ontario.
It seems to me that in slow economic times we should be looking into the methods and systems of handling sanitary landfill sites. We are wasting a lot of time. We should be getting people involved in researching and developing that. There are different systems now. They are sorting out garbage and using incinerators.
I had an opportunity to read some articles about a number of places in the United States. There is a heavily populated area in Florida where my retired brother spent some time this winter. They opened a new incinerator in January in the fastest growing area in Florida, Pinellas county. They have had a terrible time down there in the last 10 or 15 years trying to get rid of their garbage. It is going to take about 75 per cent of their total garbage.
When filling a landfill site, the specifications that have been given at some of the meetings I have been at are that they can reduce the total going into a landfill site by about 75 to 85 per cent.
In my own area, Essex county is pretty flat country. When one drives down Highway 401 and gets within about 12 miles of Windsor, in the township of Maidstone, which I had the pleasure and honour to represent for about eight years as a reeve and councillor, they now have a sanitary landfill site. We used to call it a garbage dump when I was on the council. We had a small one and we had lots of problems just looking after the local municipality. Then the city of Windsor and the county of Essex made landfill areas and they now have three of them in Essex county.
They call them sanitary landfill sites. It sounds nice. At one time when people were poor they would call it going on relief. They changed it to welfare and now they call it social services. It is great stuff. All these people from university get all these nice words and it makes people feel good. I often wonder what they do at university. I would like to find out some day. It makes me wonder sometimes. They get all these fancy words that make people feel good, but I do not think it really helps much.
A sanitary landfill site looks like a big mountain when one is driving down Highway 401. People are not used to seeing little mountains and hills in Essex county and they wonder what is going on. They will call up to ask, "What is that over there?" I say: "They are piling up the garbage for future generations. They may ski off it some day. They might play golf up there." I do not know whether that would be any good, but they are talking about all those things. It is great stuff.
I attended a public meeting not long ago in the civic centre in Essex. The county of Essex is doing something about it. The city of Windsor wanted to buy more land there and the county turned down the application for the land to be sold to Windsor for a sanitary landfill site. They already have 200 acres and they wanted to buy another 100, because at the rate they are going the 200 acres will be covered within about 10 years. I figure within 25 years, at the rate they are going now, they will have a hill from Highway 401 right down almost to Lake St. Clair. That is just not right. I do not think we should be damaging our future in that way. We have to have other systems.
I can assure members that the 250 people at this public meeting were totally in favour of having proper systems put in. Incinerators could be put in and perhaps the steam could be used; proper sorting systems would be used so that glass and metal could be sorted out. In this way we could take care of these things in the future as they are in many countries in Europe, I understand, and in some of the cities in the United States.
That is something we definitely have to look at. It should be done now. We have the manpower, we have the universities and we have the people who can do the testing. The government keeps talking about doing this and doing that and says it has money available for that. I think the initiative has to come from the province, because for each local, regional or county government to get involved in this it is going to take a lot of money to set it up. After it has been set up and is operating, I think people will be prepared to pay for it.
At the meeting I held, people asked what it would cost to have it dumped in and taken care of. At present it is costing about $5 a ton; they mentioned $20 a ton. Of all the people at the meeting, there was not one person who objected to paying for that to get rid of the mess. That is something that has to be done as quickly as possible.
There are one or two other things I would like to mention. One matter concerns the unemployment we have. We have make-work projects. and I will give the government credit for its co-operation with the federal government on the new employment expansion and development program, but again there is still a fair amount of criticism as to how that actually operates.
My understanding is that a person has to be off unemployment insurance benefits completely or on welfare to get a job in the NEED program. Of course, when one starts on a big project one has to call for tenders. Many companies employ a staff of 20 or 25 people, who may be laid off; but if they have not been laid off and are not collecting unemployment insurance, these companies cannot use these people for a lot of those jobs. There have been some problems getting that sorted out. It is not working as well as it should.
It seems to me we should be getting into some real projects that are doing things we need. In the city of Windsor, for example, there has been talk about building a chronic care hospital. The Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) keeps saying: "You have been recommended for a chronic care hospital. It's in the program, but we do not know which year, 1984, 1990 or when." It seems to me this would be an ideal time to go ahead and build a chronic care hospital.
We have to look at the overall good of the country and the province and of the people in the area. When we are talking about needs and helping people to get off welfare and get work, we should be doing something the community can use. In the city of Windsor and the county of Essex -- I do not have any hospitals in my own riding, and that is fine; we use the facilities in Windsor -- I suppose 80 per cent of the people use the Windsor facilities, while the rest use some in Chatham and some in Leamington.
In Windsor there is a great need for a chronic care hospital, because the waiting lists in some of those hospitals are just terrible. We need more nursing home beds as well, but we really need a new chronic care hospital. Chronic care beds have been transferred into every one of the hospitals, and there may be 20, 30 or 50 in each one.
The Riverview Hospital in Windsor provided very good care for its chronic care patients. It is an old building and needs replacing, but the care was excellent there. I have had relatives in there who really came along well. They had proper therapy for them. The staff there was trained to look after elderly people and I tell you, Mr. Speaker, you just could not get better care. But now that we have moved them all around I do not think any one hospital can really do that so well.
This would be the time to build it. I am sure when we are putting tenders out now for jobs, for buildings or whatever it is, whether it is constructing watermains, sewer lines, it is a very competitive time to have that done now and we could have a 250-bed chronic care hospital built there in 18 months if they really wanted to go ahead.
They have the plans pretty well ready and it would really solve a very serious problem in the city of Windsor in the future, because Essex county has a very high percentage of people over 60 or 65 years of age. We live in the sun parlour, as we call it -- and although we get a few snow flurries there are not that many, not every year anyway -- so we have a larger percentage of the ageing population in that area.
I would like to mention Ontario Hydro. Hydro has lost perspective of what it was really supposed to be: a utility for the people of Ontario. Where it went astray I am not sure. I am not sure if it is not the fault of the government or the Premier (Mr. Davis), or those he appointed into that little senate he has under the chairman of Hydro. He keeps moving his friends in there and we call these positions the senate in Ontario.
Ontario Hydro closed its plant in Windsor, the J. Clark Keith generating plant, a coal-fired plant. They closed it about six or seven years ago and mothballed it. Then they decided to open it up and take the mothballs out and they got a contract to sell hydro to the United States. Now the United States has cancelled that contract, or the contract ran out as of this year, and the old J. Clark Keith plant is going to be mothballed again.
They just do not seem to know what they are doing. They are able to generate about 50 per cent surplus hydro for what the requirements are for Ontario, and I think if anybody runs more than 25 per cent surplus in anything they are doing they are in deep trouble.
I can recall a few years ago when Chrysler just did not have the supervision or management or whatever. Not long ago they made thousands of cars and rented hundreds of acres to store them in. They said: "The cars are going to sell. We will just make them. Do not worry." They had to tow the cars out of the mud with tractors when they finally did sell them some place, through fleets and so on. They lost millions of dollars because they made them and did not have a sale for them.
Hydro has built more hydro plants than we will ever need for the next 25 years at least. To build a nuclear plant it takes about 10 to 12 years from the time they start until they are ready for production and then sometimes they have problems with them. Hydro has put the province into terrible debt because of this. Ontario Hydro now has a $15-billion debt and when you pay your hydro bill, Mr. Speaker -- mine is around $45 a month -- about 42 per cent of it goes to paying off the debt. That is an awful percentage to be paying on the debt of a utility company. It just shows the mismanagement over the past 10 to 20 years that has caused it to be in this position.
This is a burden on the people of Ontario. This is a mortgage on our backs that we and our children have to carry on over the future and pay off at some time, and no one is to blame but Ontario Hydro and the government of Ontario under this Premier, because since he has been here he has never thought it necessary to pay the bills as they go. He always figured, "Let somebody else pay them," and that is the way he has run the province as Premier since 1971.
I suppose a person could go on about the many things left out that should be in the throne speech and the things that we could do, but we have covered a number of the things that we feel are important. I have mentioned tile drainage and the way the government comes out with its announcements.
One of the best improvements for land is tile drainage. I know there are farms in Essex county and in my own family holdings of which some parts have never been tiled, partly because of the heavy clay soil. That heavy clay soil will work with tile and it saves erosion too. If one does not use tile the runoff causes some erosion of the land. That is a liability this property should not have.
The government raised the interest on tile drainage loans to 10 per cent two years ago. I asked the minister a question a week ago Friday about when he was going to lower the interest rates due to the lower prime rates now and so forth. He said he would be making an announcement on it in a few days. Last week he announced he had lowered it to eight per cent.
He still did not bring up the percentage he is paying. He left it at 60 per cent. A few years ago, 75 per cent of the total cost was included in that loan, but now it is only 60 per cent. At least he did go halfway and lowered the interest rate to eight per cent.
That did not cost him all that much because of the prime rate being what it is. I would hope that when the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) brings down his budget a week from Tuesday he will have considerably more money in it for the farm tile drainage system, because that is one of the areas where farmers can improve their production from 25 to 50 per cent or more; that is an area the farmers can use, and it improves the land.
That system is far better than the government giving a farmer a grant for a year just because he is a good fellow or he is a little short of money. Give him something to improve his production ability. Of course, we do need stabilization in the prices. This has been a good part of the problem this year. In the last three months the price of soybeans and corn has gone up almost a dollar a bushel, due mostly to the announcement in the United States that they are taking a lot of land out of production to try to avoid the high surpluses of corn and soybeans in the world now.
That is a very important matter, and if the farmer had this money available to tile his land, it would give him the opportunity for higher production and in that way he would be able to survive without government handouts.
I have covered all the things I wanted to. It is a little more interesting when one can deal with the budget because that is the nuts and bolts of it, the money part of it. The member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) just came in. I told him I would be speaking until around 4:25 or 4:30. I am disappointed. I know he wanted to hear my speech.
He is a very highly respected member of the Legislature. He has been here since 1963. I have had the honour to sit on a number of committees with him and hear his legal expertise and I have had a great deal of respect for his thoughts on many occasions. However, I do not agree with all his philosophy that he may spout each day. I am sorry he missed my speech, but I will look forward to listening to his tomorrow.
Mr. Renwick: I will read it.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, it is on days like this, when the weather is grey and rough outside, when the House is barely 20 per cent filled -- to be generous -- and when the newspapers are out, the correspondence is being written and the conversations are taking place that we all participate in all the time --
Mr. T. P. Reid: We are all starting to nod off.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Yes, there is some nodding off that takes place. It is on days like this that I sometimes get a little depressed about the relevancy of this august institution we have here.
I wonder who out there actually knows what we are discussing a lot of the time. Half the time I am not sure that all our own members here care very much about it. It is hard sometimes to get yourself up and enthusiastic for a speech when you know you are going to be looking at perhaps 21 or 22 members in the House out of 125 and nobody in the galleries except for the odd masochist who happens to have drifted in without realizing where he or she is.
It is also the case that I often feel -- and I do not know about other members --
Mr. McClellan: Make some comments about Elgie's section.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I must say that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie) seems a little isolated over there today.
Mr. McClellan: No more than usual.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: No, no more than his usual position in cabinet meetings, from what I hear. But I am a little disappointed to see not even the back-benchers there to support the red Tories in the caucus.
I cannot help but feel -- and I mean this seriously and not whimsically -- a little depressed these days about our position here, especially as an opposition member.
I remember the first time I sat in this chamber, in the last chair in the House at that point when there were by-elections in Scarborough West four years ago and a little bit. I started looking around and I thought: "You know, it is interesting. Everybody here has a role to play, like a little chamber theatre group where we all play our little part. We are all identifiable. They know us by our various categories." In fact, we get listed by the Toronto Sun, for instance, at the end of each year: who was the most eloquent, who was the funniest, who was the most irrelevant -- and that is often the hardest one to choose, I think. We all have our little positions.
Mr. T. P. Reid: You are going to be at least a runner-up at the rate you are going.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I am not sure. I find, especially because we are in a majority situation, that there is a kind of automatic tyranny of the majority -- that reality of March 19 -- which must take place in the ordering of business: the power of that majority always to maintain very strict control of the House.
We often feel we have no power here; we have no ability on this side of the House to get across a view that will have any major impact on the other side in any real way; that no matter how good one's question is that day, it is so easily just pushed aside -- "I will refer it to the minister when he comes back from Switzerland" or "I have no comment at this point; I will get back to you" -- or they come back in a partisan attack and the whole thing gets lost. The one question that gets picked up by the cameras that day is all that comes out of this place; it is all the people know about it.
Here we are at a time, in my view, when there are some really profound questions about the political morality of our governments today and about the relevancy of this whole body and its real effectiveness in touching people on the outside. I am burning with an anger that I think, if I might say so, is a little deeper and more depressing than the outrage that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Peterson) was feeling about the doctors recently. It just makes me feel like getting up here today and yelling and screaming at the other side to listen to what is going on out there and to look at the abject failure of our government in real moral terms before the people of Canada. I am attacking both the federal government and this provincial government when I say so.
I believe this government is morally bankrupt if it does not face the real issue of unemployment, meet it head on and accept the fact that it has failed up to now but that it must deal with the problem now and cannot avoid it now. I cannot believe what the federal government decided it would do in terms of approaching this serious crisis, the trickle-down notion it has come forward with.
I also cannot help but believe that our government must be inept, that it has got by for 40 years here because we have been so affluent and because the whole nature of our economy has been Ontario-based. In that affluence we have benefited; anybody at all could have run this province.
But when times get tough, this government really does not know what to do. It sits back there and responds to pressures when it feels they are getting a little high. It looks at the polls to see where the people want it to go and it follows those polls. But it has shown no leadership, no desire to react.
There are tremendous tragedies that are going on out there in our society today in Ontario. For that, I condemn this government in the harshest terms.
There is a tendency on this side of the House, because the Conservatives have been over there for so damned long, for us to start to look at ourselves as perennially in opposition and to say: "You know, they really are not so bad. Things in Ontario are not really that bad and if we keep pushing on the pressure, they will make changes." There is almost a desire that we be in opposition forever.
But, by God, watching the government's performance in the past number of years, when it has been needed most in terms of helping the people of Ontario, it has failed so abjectly that we must not persist in that tendency. These people have to be thrown out.
The government has been successful in defusing politics in this province and we have been unsuccessful on this side in politicizing things and polarizing issues. Mr. Speaker, look at the fact that only 58 per cent of the people bothered to come out and vote last time. The government has a huge majority with only 25 per cent of the possible voters supporting it. It has neatly made it seem as if there is no politics in Ontario; that there is no major disagreement about the way this province should be run, all it is is a question of management.
When we get up and we are outraged about something, with the kind of righteous indignation that the third party has been traditionally known for, the government always says it is concerned too. "I am just as concerned as you are," we hear from across the way; but the government will be judged by its acts. I suggest that in being judged by its acts now, it is found to be very wanting indeed.
In my view, the government has institutionalized poverty in this province. It has condemned hundreds of thousands of people to live in poverty, and it is unwilling to do anything about it; its record over the past couple of years shows that.
Along with the federal government, this government is now saying that maybe 10 per cent of the people in this province should be without work for the next number of years, that this is something we are just going to have to put up with. The rest of us will manage in this lovely trickle-down recovery we are going through, but those people will have to suffer along.
Now King Billy of Brampton wants to run off to another sphere of influence. I say, "Go; please go." Having overseen from the provincial perspective the deinstitutionalization of this province, maybe he should go to the federal level. Believe me, he will not have success there; he is going to be exposed for what he has done here.
Let us look at poverty for a second. The gap between the rich and the poor has been increasing in this province. We have a minimum wage of $3.50 an hour, $140 a week. Only Newfoundland has a minimum wage lower than Ontario's -- Ontario, the industrialized province; Ontario, the largest province in the country and the strongest in economic terms. That should he seen as a crime.
A Minister of Labour who can stand up and say that is not a crucial thing to overcome immediately -- and this was last year -- and does not move to increase that minimum wage substantially and to index that minimum wage to make sure it continues to increase with the cost of living is a Minister of Labour who is not fit to sit in his chair. Those are very harsh words, not the kind of niceties or playfulness we normally go through even when we are making attacks on the government, but I believe that fundamentally.
In the past year we increased the welfare rate by five per cent. Those people on welfare have not had an increase in 18 months, and in that time the cost of living has gone up by 26 per cent. The minimum wage did not increase in more than a year, but at the same time we in this House voted ourselves a five per cent increase, thinking that somehow should be accepted as equitable. We all know that is approximately the equivalent of what some of these people are living on for an entire year.
If one takes a look at what was given to the doctors in our society in the past 12 months while we have let these people live on $3,000 per year income, one finds we gave the doctors an increase of approximately $12,000 last year; out of the public purse essentially, through the Ontario health insurance plan. It is an interesting notion that at the same time as we have no money for the poor, we have hundreds of thousands of dollars for 14,000 already very privileged individuals in our society.
The balance of $52 million that went into all the programs for income maintenance in this province, compared with more than $200 million going to 14,000 doctors, is not something that should be forgotten and is in my view fundamentally immoral.
I am not questioning the right of doctors to be well valued and well paid in our society, but surely a government that in this kind of recession and crunch is assisting that broadening of the gap between rich and poor is a government that is out of touch with the basic moral precepts that any government should be functioning under in a democracy.
I believe what we have seen is a reinforcement of the class structure in this province in the past number of years as we have never seen before. We have even reinforced it through the tax system. Last year, instead of increasing the progressive income taxes, this government decided it would add to the sales tax and to the OHIP premiums, which affect poor people much more than they affect the wealthy; and it got away with it.
It is nuts to do that. The government has taken the position of bashing its provincial employees instead of helping those in the private sector get back to work. It has decided that punishing the one is better than assisting the other. At the same time that the government has been bashing labour in political terms in this House for being too greedy -- at a time when any of the statistics will show that they have not been too greedy in terms of the things they have been asking for -- it would not bring in legislation to help in first contracts, which would have helped many people at a lower income level, such as the women at Irwin Toy who receive just slightly more than the minimum wage.
It has done nothing to bring in anti-scab legislation, which again would give some kind of power to people at the bottom of the scale to fight for their rights. The government has done nothing to stop contracting out, which I mentioned the other day and which is destroying the capacity of nursing aides in this province, for instance, to earn an adequate living. The government has done nothing to bring in a justification process for plant closures. All of these are the sorts of things that could reinforce the working people in this province.
The government's major flaw has been in its failure to provide work, its failure to meet what is surely one of its major ethical responsibilities: to make sure that people in this society who wish to work and who are capable of work can get the gratification and financial remuneration from working. It is the failure on the part of the members opposite, as a government, to ensure that this has taken place, for which it should most assuredly be condemned and to which I address my remarks now in terms of its responsibilities -- not as outlined in the vacuous throne speech we have received, which touches nothing of any seriousness, but in terms of the need for a budget that will directly assist people who are in desperate need now of that kind of work.
In a society like ours, which takes personal, physical violence very seriously, we are hypocritical not to look at the kind of structured and accepted unemployment we have, which is just as violent an act against hundreds of thousands of people. This is perpetrated on them by the people who control the means of production in Ontario; and those people are the government, which could put large amounts of money into assisting the poor to allow them to get work.
What we get a lot of talk about is the need to start looking at work-sharing, a shorter work week and all those kinds of things about the notion of the use of leisure. It would be great for those of us who have jobs. In some ways it is already being used by many people who have jobs in the political sphere at this point. But it is of no use at all to those people who are on forced leisure at the moment without any of the sense of self-worth one should get from one's working conditions.
If there were any leadership in this province, we would not talk about the fact that during the recovery a bunch of us are going to do very well and 10 per cent are not going to do well. There would be a systematic plan to make sure that there was an equitable sharing in the recovery and that those who are most severely hurt would be helped the most. Those of us who are already doing quite well, thank you very much, would be given less help and would be asked to pay more of our share.
I have said about as much as I want to say on my own. As part of my frustration with this place and the incapacity to get word out about what some of the real issues are, I have done a number of things in an extraparliamentary fashion to try to attract attention to issues that are of major concern to me.
One of the things I did recently was to place an advertisement in a number of papers in Ontario asking people who were unemployed to write to me about what it was like so I could help them express themselves and be a voice for them to the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) when he came forward with the budget. I thought that might have more of an influence on him than it obviously had on the federal Minister of Finance.
I have received some coverage for that. The issue has had a bit more talk in the press than it otherwise would have had, I have also done something else. I replied to those people who wrote to me and asked them to write to me a month afterwards to tell me their situation. I again promised them I would read their words into the record of this Legislature.
These people come from all over the province. The members will notice that, because in many cases I will be able to use their names and tell where they were from. No area of this province is immune. None of these people has been identified before in the press. These are all new people who are willing to talk. They want to have their stories told.
The group of letters I have with me today is a small portion. I have received more than 200 replies. In the second group of letters, something like 80 per cent of the people said they were willing to have their names used. It was quite extraordinary.
Six to eight people out of the 200 have received jobs in the month since I talked to them. There was great rejoicing over that in my office. It was like knowing friends of ours were somehow going to get burdens lifted off them. For Vicki Warren it was only a six-month job planting trees. I will say to the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) that Vicki is from Renfrew. For somebody else, it was just a six-month contract doing some editing. Still, it brought to those people hope they had not had before, and we were very pleased to see it. But six to eight is not many when one considers all the work that is supposedly being done out there at the moment in job creation, which we are being told by both the provincial and federal levels of government is so successful.
Before I read some of the letters, I want to say that apart from the letters from people who allowed me to use their names, I would like to read from some who have not allowed me to use their names. Of course, I will not refer to them in that fashion. What I want to show the members is how remarkable it is that anybody would even allow a politician to use his or her name, given the cynicism they feel towards us. I also want to show just how hard and humiliating this whole experience is for them.
This is a letter from a woman in Aurora. It is about six pages. It details the difficulties she and her husband have been having. It ends in this fashion:
"If anyone had told us that we would have been in this position five years ago, I would have never believed them. For all of the hardships to endure, one not to be discounted is the humiliation and embarrassment. Keeping up a brave front. Never letting our friends know that we cannot go out with them because we are penniless. Pretending that we like the heat set at 45 degrees, do not need a phone or new dress or car. Therefore, I must ask you withhold my name and address."
This incredible sense of shame people have because they are unable to find work, and the way it affects their relationships with their family and with their friends, is something which I just do not think we can say enough about in terms of why it is so important for this government to react to these individuals.
Here is another: "Here is my letter concerning the work situation in Timmins. It is very bad. There is no work at all. I have been unemployed for 13 months as a construction worker. All construction projects for this area have been cancelled. Any government work projects will be given to students. We come second. Please wake up the government. Tell them that married men with young children want to work, not have handouts."
One from Toronto: "My unemployment ran out quite a long time ago. Then I had the chance to get a log truck, but I had to get a loan from the bank. Of course, when I bought the log truck there was lots of work. But things went sour. No one was doing any building; so no one needed lumber. Therefore, the mills did not need any logs. Now the bank has the truck.
"In the small town north of here where I was working with the truck I was also buying a house. After I lost the truck I was able to keep the house by doing part-time work in a garage. But then I got laid off from there in September and lost the house.
"I am looking for work in a garage as an apprentice mechanic as I have worked in garages for most of my working life, but I will take any kind of work right now. I am living on welfare right now, or at least existing."
This one from Stoney Creek: "Since coming to this country in 1966, I was continuously employed until August of last year, when I was laid off. I then applied for UIC benefits for the first time in my life. Although I have contributed fully to the UIC scheme over the years, and although I am able and willing to work, I have not received a penny in UIC benefits. Since August I have supported my family from my savings. Some welfare state.
"At the age of 51 I find myself without a job, with no prospect of finding one in the foreseeable future, and without any form of government support, despite the high levels of taxation that I have been obliged to pay for many years. A swift descent into poverty seems to await me if I remain in Canada. The moral would appear obvious."
The last paragraph is very angry and I will not read it, because I have some others later that will express it in even more articulate terms than this gentleman was able to do.
"I have been unemployed for two years," writes a young a man from Welland, "since I graduated from high school in 1981. I have been going to every possible place looking for a job, but it is useless. My father is the only one working in my family. My mother cannot work because she is deaf. I have a sister who is attending high school who is also unemployed. It is becoming harder and harder for my father to support us. I am 20 years old. I should have a job to help out my family. I know you must be hearing this a lot of times, but please give me some advice."
This one is from a woman in Scarborough: "My son, Robert, has been out of work for 16 months. He is a skilled tradesman, a home appliance serviceman. Could you tell him if there will be any work for his trade soon?"
In all these letters there is a real despair and a lack of belief that things could be as they are here in Canada with all the resources we have. These people, as one can tell from the emotion in the letters, are hurting a great deal.
This one is perhaps as poignant as any. It is a very short letter from a fellow who is now living in Kingston. "I went west to find a job. I met a lady. We now have four children, ages six to four months. My unemployment ran out February 5, 1983. I have search for over one year for a job. On February 16, 1983, we separated. I came back home. My wife put my kids in foster care. I here by myself. I miss them and I love them very much."
Here is a letter from Concord: "On May 2 of this year, I will turn 25 and thus not be eligible for youth employment projects; so I will be back on my own. Surely there must exist a job in which a university education will be of benefit."
This one is a little bit longer, but it is an incredibly moving letter from Toronto: "When things are so bad that a 24-year-old would even contemplate ending it all, then we are in a sorrier state than we are willing to admit.
"No, my head is screwed on right, thanks. I am not crazy for thinking to kill myself. I am probably one of the most well-adjusted, down-to-earth people I know. This crap about people who think suicide is for neurotics or loonies is exactly that: crap. When a man who is strong and healthy has to go to the Salvation Army for a $7 food voucher because towards the end of the month he feels dizzy from a lack of food, well."
I will skip a paragraph. "Allow me to be blunt for a moment. I even know a couple of young guys who sell their bodies for money and feel lucky because they do not have to claim it to welfare." This probably goes beyond the bounds of good taste, Mr. Speaker, and I will not go on because of the presence of the pages. He ends up by saying, "So you see, they are worse off than myself when they do not even care about their own physical being."
When we consider that this is a person who is considering suicide and talks about friends who have been selling their bodies for money to supplement their inadequate welfare, the last part seems a little strange in comparison.
"Now I come to the real depressing part. I have a front tooth that is in desperate need of repair or I will lose it, and one or two more. Welfare allows you $75 a year for a dentist, which I used $68 of in May of last year; so I cannot even get any dental work done for at least a month and I know it will be more than $75. So what can I do? Can you even imagine what a 24-year-old will look like with a front tooth missing? I am sure it will depress me to the point I will never be able to get a job and doubt I would anyway. Who wants a toothless employee where you work with the public?"
This is the state we have brought a 24-year-old to in this country, because of a lack of willingness to understand that it is important to put money into job creation for these people. It is important not just to say we are going to put money in but also to increase the deficit to do it and not to hide behind the fact that this is necessary. What is more important, that we increase the deficit and cause ourselves some credit rating crumbling perhaps, or that we leave people in this province feeling as if there is nothing here for them at all? For a government with any moral strength at all, the choice would be clear.
This is a letter from Jim Burkitt from Belleville. It raises some of the problems he has in believing that anything is going to be done.
"In this age of enlightened self-interest, I do not suppose we can expect a great deal of support from the people that have made it. This is not disillusionment particularly, just disappointment, more acrid by the insularity of our modern lives. We are all entangled by the degree of circumstance in human relations. The pain of dull despair and of boredom or wasted possibilities and talents has to be experienced in order for it to be very personal."
What I am trying to do is to make us all experience that today and hope the message gets through to this government before it is too late for these people. I just do not believe it is possible that we can accept the notion that we should have this kind of unemployment for the next four to five years and that the government is suggesting people should be going through this for that length of time.
A startling array of people have written. There is a letter from Doris Alleyne of Waterloo. Her husband, an assistant professor of social anthropology, lost his job in 1979. She says: 'I managed to get a job in Zellers department store in Waterloo and when the store closed last July, I lost my job. I was laid off on June 30 and have not been able to find work since, although I have tried hard.
"I saw my husband's morale sink deeper and deeper during his two-year job search. Then he could not take it any longer and in September 1981, he left for Trinidad, (where he was born) hoping to find work there. It was not easy for him to adjust to living conditions there, since he has spent most of his life in Canada. He finally managed to get a part-time teaching position, but the cost of living in Trinidad is very high and it was almost impossible for him to send enough money to provide the bare minimum to his family.
"For the past few years, we have lived on less than half of what is considered the poverty line. We have two sons. One has just turned 16 and the other is 20 years of age. I cannot leave Canada to join my husband, because my 16-year-old is in high school and there is no way he could fit into the Trinidad school system.
"Also, we all consider Canada our home and love this country. I think the fact I am here in our home gives my husband the feeling that Canada is not lost to him. In other words, there is a place to come home to.
"My husband has a PhD and is also a very practical person who can handle many different jobs. Can you honestly tell me there is no job in this country for a man like him?"
What an incredible, horrible irony that somebody has to go to what is called an underdeveloped country to get work because he cannot find the proper employment here in this country.
A letter from Hamilton, from Ellis Browning. It is to do with the kinds of things families have to do to consolidate and stick together. It answers specific questions I had in my letter.
"1. No, I have not yet got a job.
"2. I have not applied for make-work projects. I must confess it is something about which I know nothing about. I would be pleased for details.
"3. I mentioned in my previous letter that Brian Charlton was supporting an application for rehousing. This has gone ahead rapidly and new accommodation had been offered. However, in this short time, further ill luck has befallen the family and my older daughter's husband has become a victim of a layoff. My wife and I feel it is incumbent upon us to help them in whatever manner we can. As they have a spare room available, we have decided to pool resources and move in with them. We are reluctant to do this retrograde thing, but consolidation seems the wiser step in the event, with the hope that the need will be a short term."
From a letter from Heather Yettey of Sudbury, I will just read the postscript.
"Ask Mr. Miller what I say to my little girl when she needs a new baseball glove or money for swimming lessons. All her friends are involved and she cannot, because there is not enough money.'
The mother is living on welfare, looking for work.
A letter from Royston Earl in Don Mills, Toronto. He is a person who is unable to receive welfare because of his particular marital status, but to leave that alone:
"I also found out last week through Manpower that because I am not on welfare or unemployment insurance, I am not on the priority list regarding work in the government job creation programs which I have inquired into.
"I asked a Manpower counsellor if I existed at all. 'Oh, yes, you are class two,' was the answer. 'Unfortunately, by the time we come around to class two, the jobs will be taken.'"
This is a man who has been unemployed for three and a half years.
Patricia Wright has a story about one of the course fiascos that are out there all the time now in terms of retraining.
"I received your letter today. Your timing is perfect. I just got off the phone from the Canada Manpower office at 4900 Yonge Street. The call I made was regarding an ad in Sunday's Sun, April 10, for a new program, a food service and bartending course. It starts April 18, 1983, for 20 weeks.
"I phoned to enrol instead of going to 4900 Yonge, because I had no bus fare to get there, When I finally got through to someone, they told me I would have to make an appointment with a counsellor. The earliest appointment she had to offer was May 25, six weeks after the course started. I had no choice but to accept the date."
From a man named Richard Ott of Mississauga, who went for a job interview:
"I had one job interview which I believe is part of the job creation program. I am not sure if I am going to get the job as there were other applicants after the same job. It is only a temporary job for six months, but is better than nothing, because maybe by then it will be easier to obtain a permanent position." This is a typed letter, but by the time he had finished typing it he had to write a postscript. "Mr. Johnston, would you believe that yesterday I was informed that I was too old for the position mentioned herewith? I am 25 years old. The job is for 18-to-24-year-olds; and that is after two interviews, to learn of the age limit."
Here is somebody from Lambeth with the same kind of problem, talking about her husband: Monica and Russell Clark. She is talking about the course Russell took: "The course he took was sponsored by Canada Manpower and paid for by UIC benefits. In our area the course was taught at Fanshawe College. There were 25 people in his classes. It was to be a co-op course with eight months in school, an eight-month work term, and a final four months in school. However, when the eight-month work term came about, not one person could find a job to go to. As a result, the students were allowed to return to the school to complete the course. The government retraining programs have become a costly farce."
I cannot tell members the number of letters I received saying that sort of thing. I have limited time, so I will skip over some others, not because they are not important, but because I do not have the luxury of being able to read them all to the members, although I would love to. This has been a very depressing experience for me and my staff, and it has really brought home to me the human consequences of the failure in economic policy.
Carmen Leduc, who is now living in Markstay but moved there from Sault Ste. Marie: "My husband and I moved from Sault Ste. Marie when he was still receiving UIC benefits. At that time we could no longer afford the $350 one-room apartment we were renting. We moved to this place, although it was like a barn and used to store junk. We lived in this place and paid rent for some time, without plumbing, carrying the water from my parents. We have made this place liveable by putting boards on the cement floor, plastic in the broken windows, and borrowed a small oil space heater to help the wood stove heat this uninsulated shack. Now our landlord tells us that he has someone willing to give him one and a half times the rent we are paying for this place and we are going to be forced to leave even that accommodation." I have a similar letter from Markstay from William Lecky.
Here is a guy named Donald Lauric from Kirkland Lake. This one paragraph strikes home to me in terms of what we are about as a province. "I was born and raised in Kirkland Lake and love to stay here but, if it comes down to it, I may have to sell my house and move somewhere else, perhaps even out of the country, in order to find work. As far as going on welfare, I don't relish the thought; perhaps it is my pride, but it would be my last possible resort."
Then there is a fellow from Thunder Bay who talks about running out of toilet paper and having to go and get some from a local restaurant. Another letter from Thunder Bay comes from Wayne Hutsul: "As for employment, nil. Present economic conditions make it difficult for the shoulder-of-the-road sweeper in search for empty deposit bottles. In fact, I found $10 in empties last weekend which helped to supplement my welfare income of last month of $128."
Judith Foell, who has recently moved to Kitchener from London, talks about the reality of what is out there in terms of jobs: "About 80 per cent of the positions offered on CFPL Channel 10 London pay $3.50 to $4. an hour. One day on this TV station a position was advertised as collections clerk. I phoned and was asked if I had any experience asking or collecting money. Since I did not, they would not consider me. The next day I happened to be at UIC and just for the fun of it I inquired again about the collections clerk position. It turned out it was an escort service. I asked Manpower what I was supposed to collect, money or men. She said it was a type of dating service. I was really ticked off. I am sure you can understand my frustration."
Brian Pattison of Hamilton: "I have been out every morning about 7:30 a.m. to fill applications for different jobs, and I have decided to offer two weeks' free labour or skills to any company that will offer me a chance to join their company."
This is from a woman who left Kingston to move to Ottawa. She is 30 years old, single, university-educated: "When I moved to Ottawa from Kingston in 1980, I was fortunate to find a reasonably priced apartment in an older house in an industrial park in the west end of the city.
"With what I receive from welfare, a single person's stipend of $303 monthly, minus my part-time earnings, and what I get working six to eight hours a week for $3 an hour as a waitress, I have managed to sustain the necessities. I find it a strain though because most of my earnings are deducted from the base figure.
"A single person is allowed to earn $50 extra a month and then 75 cents is subtracted from each succeeding dollar. It seems that the more I work, the more I lose. For instance, in September I was sent a benefit cheque for six cents. If it were not for gratuities, an unstable and unpredictable amount at best, I would not be able to eat on a regular basis. It helps that I work as a waitress as I can eat the leftovers from customers' plates or scrounge in the kitchen as long as the manager does not see."
Michael MacIntosh of Thunder Bay writes, "Just one final note on unemployment benefits: While earning $4 an hour at a ski resort. I now look forward to receiving $87 a week, compliments of unemployment. Could you live on that?"
There is another case. Jack Armstrong from Sudbury also talks about having to subsidize his unemployment insurance benefits with welfare. When we have make-work projects for people with low incomes and expect them to be on a project for some 26 weeks so they can requalify, we have to understand they will be back not only on unemployment, but on welfare as well because the unemployment will not cover them adequately.
Amelia Allidone of St. Catharines is single with three children. "The only difference between my last letter and this is the fact that my frustration continues to grow with every turndown I receive. It is coming to the point where I will accept any job at any rate as long as I can find steady employment."
These letters go on and on. There are some from people who are obviously incredibly uneducated. Those members who think technological changes in our society are going to make a new nirvana for people must understand there is no place for these people in that technological revolution. We have to find other answers for them.
We must not say these people, a lot of them in their fifties, are going to be going on and off unemployment insurance for the next number of years because of the way the economy is going. We must not say: "That is all there is to it. We cannot do anything." The government must set as its priority the matter of trying to obtain full employment. We cannot accept this notion that eight or 10 per cent unemployment is what we are going to live with. It is unthinkable.
My time is nearly up. I want to read one letter from Toronto which I found very upsetting because it brings in some racist things. It is understandable people want to turn around and lash out at others when they find themselves without. There is a dangerous mood developing out there. Leaving this to brew will cause this society no end of trouble.
He lists the things he has been doing. "Article in Globe and Mail: '371 Jobs Created by Council.' These jobs were for unskilled labour. I was told, 'You do not qualify.' Three: Make-work project involving painting of hostels, etc., 'You do not qualify.' Four: Roman Catholic Archdiocese renovation project, 'Not available.'
"Maybe I should be an immigrant or a refugee or a francophone or some other qualifying minority. Maybe I should not be an adult. Adults do not seem to matter much in today's society. Ontario, Metro Toronto and Ottawa have all undertaken the task of employing youth. Now the federal budget, hah; more jobs for youth and nothing but the proverbial finger for adults.
"As for your question of permission to use my name, please do. My marriage is gone. I no longer have my children. I don't qualify. I am slowly starving to death. I may as well go on the RCMP's hit list as well.
"Regrettably yours, Paul D. Le Poidevin."
What are we doing? What are we breeding in our society when we say these people are to stew like this for the next number of years? If this government had any moral strength or any sense of leadership other than just the image leadership we have seen, we would have had a speech from the throne which would have spoken about that challenge. It would have spoken about the need to put massive amounts of money into job creation, into structural change in our economy so we could get control of it. It would have spoken about a protection of workers' rights in plant closings and of the need for a major stimulation of the housing industry.
It would have said, "We will cause a deficit to do this because it is morally necessary to do this. We cannot put these people on the chopping block just because it is easy to do."
If this government does not react now and bring in a budget that does this, then I would suggest to them that there is going to be open warfare in this House; that all the niceties of the boys' club we have here should be thrown aside, because this should not be a debating society when people are suffering like this; and that any government that sits and lets them suffer and any opposition that does not do everything in its power to make the government react is not worth its salt.
By God, I pledge myself to harass this government like the devil if they do not come through with some major response to the human tragedies that exist in this province today.
Mr. Mitchell: Mr. Speaker, I unfortunately cannot be as negative as the honourable member opposite when he made the comment a few moments ago that there is no room in the so-called high-tech area for the uneducated, because just a short couple of weeks ago a representative of a company in Ottawa-Carleton talked to me about a program he currently has going in which he has used such people, brought them into his firm and is working an apprenticeship program. I understand that he intends to try to continue that program.
Mr. Laughren: Is that the general rule out there?
Mr. Mitchell: No, I will grant you it is not a general rule, but the attempt is being made there.
I would like to goon and support, if I may, the comments made by the member for Carleton East (Mr. MacQuarrie), who enunciated his feeling for the need for a ministry of science and technology. Of course, the member for Carleton East and I, coming from Ottawa-Carleton, have seen the gigantic growth of all of those companies in the high-tech field. We see what they have to offer now and what they will have to offer, but also we see what can be there with the proper government support.
I should point out as well that I feel that a ministry of science and technology would perhaps be more directly able to liaise with the education system -- and I am obviously speaking of the Ottawa-Carleton area -- because companies there have told me they require not the engineers we are so used to seeing but the engineering technologists.
People at the community college level have told me they have a problem meeting that need. The problem is not totally provincial; they themselves have to look very seriously at the courses they offer and see where the demand is. In this regard, the demand for community college positions is growing; it is growing in those areas where the high-tech companies need employees.
Years ago when I was going to school it used to be that when parents were talking among themselves and one would say, "My John is going to university;" the parent whose youngster was going to a community college said so with his head bowed; but that is not the case today.
About a year ago, the area of Ottawa-Carleton, and particularly those high-tech firms in the municipality of Kanata, had an open house over one weekend when most of the firms there opened their doors wide for families to come out. And the interest was there. It was most amazing to see these families walking together among the Mitels, the Spars, the Norpaks and all of these firms that have grown so rapidly in Ottawa-Carleton; they went there with interest, with the idea in mind that maybe this was the direction in which their children would look for their goals in life.
Similarly, there have been two high-tech shows in the Ottawa-Carleton area, and those high-tech shows outdrew on a per-capita basis those that have been held in the famous Silicon Valley south. So the interest is there.
I see this ministry of science and technology perhaps being a subministry of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. I would not want to prejudge how it would best be handled, but specifically I see it dealing with industry and with education to make sure that the community colleges are able to meet what are seen as the goals and so the community colleges know what firms are going to be opening up in the area and what types of employment will be necessary.
I see this ministry as being there specifically to deal with those industries that are looking for government assistance, the companies that are coming in and saying, "We are prepared to go with 200 new jobs." These are not jobs moving around between the industry, but 200 new jobs, if the support is there for them to get that on the rails.
I support wholeheartedly the member for Carleton East. I have put that particular support in writing. It would be my sincere hope that ministry would be created to meet those challenges out there; and also the challenges in the technology transfer the member for Carleton East spoke about.
We have a gold mine, albeit a federal agency, in Ottawa that has worked very carefully and very closely with industries in Ontario. That is something we should be promoting, that continued relationship between the province and the National Research Council.
I would like to continue by making a few comments on agriculture. In the riding of Carleton, we still have some agricultural resources being actively farmed, and very well farmed.
Included in the throne speech was the government's view that farmers should be protected from the loss of their products, either when another business fails or through misrepresentations of a buyer. In particular, upcoming changes to the Grain Elevator Storage Act were mentioned. These will include better protection for farmers who store their farm produce in elevators.
The term "grain elevator" understates the scope of the act because it includes beans, cereal grains, corn and grass seeds produced in Ontario.
Mr. Laughren: You have not even put a food terminal in Timmins yet.
Mr. Mitchell: Come on now, Floyd. Don't tell any lies about us and we won't tell the truth about you.
We can all appreciate that if an elevator operator goes bankrupt or becomes insolvent, legal proceedings can take years. This can cause considerable hardship to a producer who has stored his produce in that elevator. The current act already gives the chief inspector certain powers to protect the property of producers of materials stored at grain elevators where the licence of the grain elevator operator has not been reviewed or has been suspended or revoked.
This government's plan to amend the act will make it clear that farm produce held in an elevator for storage remains the property of the producer unless that producer has been paid previously. As the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell) has already stated, the aim is simply to ensure justice by protecting the farmer's property rights. The envisaged changes will further protect the producer in sales transactions by ensuring the owner retains title to the grain until payment is actually made.
There is considerable support for these changes in the farming community at the level of both the producers' marketing boards and the Ontario Grain and Feed Dealers Association. Therefore, I look forward to this revision of the act and its speedy passage through this chamber. By helping producers in such areas as storage, we also come closer to meeting our goals to increase exports and reduce our own imports.
It is interesting to note as a very positive step that the construction of such storage facilities as has recently occurred has been made possible by assistance from the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development.
As the storage facilities are completed and are put into use, we will have to build and improve our already effective measures to market Ontario products offshore. With these storage facilities and the new technology for storage, it will be possible to store Ontario produce for longer periods. As a result, this produce will then become available for either export or the domestic market rather than lying in a field and being lost due to poor market demand at the time.
None of us has to be sold on the quality of Ontario produce, but we have to recognize the limitations of the growing season here in our province. Our growing season results in harvests for a particular product over a period of a few weeks, effectively flooding the market in some instances but not being sold in others.
In other words, even though we may grow enough of a particular crop, we still have problems making it available over a longer period of time. Better and increased storage facilities will go a long way to keeping Ontario food on the shelves of stores throughout Ontario and for a longer period.
While my constituency is becoming more and more urban, the issues concerning food and farmers should rightly involve us all. I would therefore like to concentrate my remaining remarks on another of our throne speech commitments in the area of agriculture.
Because food is important to us, I welcomed the initiative of the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell) to establish a national tripartite stabilization program to protect our producers against potentially disastrous fluctuations in commodity prices. This initiative is particularly welcome in the light of the federal Agriculture minister's inability to find funding for Ottawa's long-promised red meat plan. In my view, the program being worked on by Ontario and Saskatchewan would still be preferable because it would be available to all producers who want to participate.
Since last summer's meeting of federal and provincial agriculture ministers, there has been general agreement that we need a national farm income stabilization program. The challenge of developing the operational details for a national program can be enormous, but we face a time when the survival of many farms depends on establishing price stability for many farm commodities. A national program would also be easier to run than 10 totally separate provincial schemes, each operating with different criteria and only for certain commodities.
Other than the costs imposed, the drawbacks of individual provincial programs lie in support levels being set that give producers in one province an advantage over those elsewhere. In effect, provinces end up in a form of nonproductive competition between producers in one province and provincial governments in other provinces. Only two recognized approaches exist for producers to control fluctuating farm incomes: supply management and stabilization.
Supply management is a useful technique for many producers, provided, of course, that producers are willing to enter into a fairly structured system and conform to its rules, such as setting quotas. Currently in Canada, about one third of our farm producers are covered by supply management arrangements.
Income stabilization programs are the other option. The federal government has had an income stabilization program since 1958 which, in spite of changes, is no longer considered adequate. As a result, provincial programs have also been established in most provinces with the different levels of support that I mentioned earlier. Not only has this been costly, but the interests of producers and consumers have not been served as well as they could be.
Stabilization programs basically work like insurance, with the participants paying the premiums. Stabilization programs guarantee farmers a floor price for their product. In the case of the proposed program, the national program would put a floor under the prices the farmers would receive in the marketplace. The method of establishing the floor price is one of the more difficult problems which will have to be dealt with.
It has to be set high enough so that farmers do not suffer major losses, but it has to be low enough so that farmers are not encouraged to overproduce. Once set, though, the participating producer will be able to plan ahead with a reasonable knowledge of what the minimum price will be from year to year. In order to eliminate its use for speculation, the national plan would also require agreement on how producers could enter and leave the plan. I expect that particular scenario, however, is only a minor consideration.
Because the plans envisage payment into the program, one third by the province, one third by Ottawa and one third by the producer, co-operation is needed at all these levels. Already a federal-provincial task force has been established to look first at the needs of beef, pork and sheep producers. As other commodities are examined, the means for including them in national stabilization programs can be developed.
Federal-provincial agriculture ministers are expected to meet in Prince Edward Island this July. We may learn then about the prospects for a successful national stabilization proposal. This program, if it goes ahead, will benefit not only producers but consumers as well. The farmer is not the only one to worry about fluctuating prices for his commodity; the consumer also is often bewildered by the availability and pricing of many products.
A good example to use is beef. Whenever there is a large amount of beef on the market, prices fall. With lower returns, farmers decide to cut back, resulting after one or two years in a reduced supply of beef in stores and higher prices for consumers. The higher prices then bring about more production and another oversupply, thereby continuing the cycle.
A stabilization program would even out such variations in supply and pricing and would allow for a steadier financial return to the producer and a steadier supply at a reasonable cost to the consumer.
As an added bonus, indications are that a national program would not be more expensive to the taxpayer than the existing national hotchpotch of stabilization programs that have been established in this country. Governments, in fact, would find it easier since the greater stability in prices and production would allow more accurate budget planning. This is one of those too-rare moments when provincial governments have joined together on their own, with federal participation, to develop a full national program. It is my hope that this proposal will succeed.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I am very sorry I missed most of the remarks made by the honourable member who has just concluded speaking. I was busy with my duties on the Board of Internal Economy. Those of you who are driving home tonight will be glad to know there is another cent a kilometre on gas, which of course is long overdue. I thought perhaps I should just mention that.
The Deputy Speaker: How about the clock? Is there anything about the clock?
Mr. Nixon: I appreciate your comment about the new digital clock in here, Mr. Speaker. I should just mention that, contrary to Mr. Hoy's comment earlier this week, I think the digital clock is a very useful addition to this chamber.
All of us who have had an opportunity to observe the Parliament at Westminster will, of course, recall that there are digital clocks in that chamber for the benefit of the members and the observers in the gallery, because the question period is so stylized and structured that the questions are really never answered, or even asked. In our House they are never answered either. It is quite interesting because the topics for questions seem to change as the digits roll over the specific minute, according to the elaborate rules they have governing question period there.
It has also been brought to my attention that the intensity of the colour has been reduced since Friday. I did not notice that myself, but I was assured it had been adjusted over the weekend so that the bright green was somewhat less intrusive. Frankly, I feel it is quite an addition here, and I look forward to the time when some of our other procedures are brought into line with the modern computer age.
Mr. Conway: For example?
Mr. Nixon: I suppose, for example, even our voting procedures, while they are traditional and sometimes quite interesting -- even hilarious -- still put an unnecessary strain on our capable employees at the table. It seems to me other jurisdictions have found ways to determine the views of the members by their vote a little more quickly and a little more effectively.
Mind you, my wife has already recommended that the utilization of the members of the Legislature is limited in time anyway, and we will soon have an opportunity for all citizens to take part in the debates and, at least, monitor them through their televisions and simply vote themselves -- yes, no, maybe -- from the comfort of their own homes, in which case we would have the kind of democracy they have enjoyed in certain obscure cantons of Switzerland since medieval times. Of course, I have assured her that there will always be the necessity of the utilization of this chamber by members such as ourselves, giving the benefit to our colleagues of our views on these important emerging matters.
I am less than impressed by the presence of the ministry this afternoon. As I observe the government side carefully I cannot see a single minister. I see at least four people who should be ministers.
The Deputy Speaker: Wait a minute.
Mr. Nixon: But in the rather unlikely event of that taking place in the near future, I thought I should say so.
Certainly we are on the verge of tremendous changes in the ministry. When Kathy Davis herself says it is her husband's duty to run for the federal leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, can the decision be far behind?
Mr. Conway: Do you think the member for Mississauga South (Mr. Kennedy) might be Acting Premier?
Mr. Nixon: Could be. Actually, the leader of the New Democratic Party made a telling remark in that connection when he was reported to have said that the Premier (Mr. Davis) was giving indecision a bad name. I thought that was probably quite a good comment.
It now appears from the Toronto Star, which has been about as sycophantic as any newspaper has ever been in political support of an individual, that the Premier is going to make the decision. Whatever happens federally after that we can discuss at some other time, but what is going to happen here is really the interesting thing to which we have to give some consideration.
I thought one of the real giveaways if he does go is the fact that there has been no cabinet change even though the cabinet is in more serious disarray -- even chaos -- than at any time in the 21 years I have had the opportunity to observe it.
Mr. Conway: Twenty-one years?
Mr. Nixon: It is a long time, but not long enough, as the Premier would say.
It is difficult to go over the cabinet because, looking at the empty seats, I cannot even remember who they are. No doubt they are being driven down to the evening dinner at Winstons, or wherever it is going to happen tonight, with their executive assistants with their credit cards at the ready.
Mr. Conway: The Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) is in Switzerland.
Mr. Nixon: The Concorde has got to be kept flying somehow, and maybe he can do it singlehanded.
I really have felt that there has been a good deal of restraint on the part of the cabinet ministers who consider themselves upwardly mobile; there has been none of this untoward jockeying for position. As a matter of fact, there has been a lot of Alphonse-Gaston bowing and scraping. It is hard to see who is really moving into the fore, although, as members will recall, from time to time members of the opposition parties are prone to give a judgement when an answer is given in the House and so on.
But there is no doubt that with these huge war chests that have been gathered by calling in the faithful to $200- or $250-a-plate dinners downtown we are going to be subjected to an even more massive and impressive campaign than the group that gathered at Roy Thomson Hall Saturday afternoon is able to put forward.
Mr. Kolyn: It was Massey Hall.
Mr. Nixon: Was it Massey Hall? Oh yes. You are always second rate. You always miss the real style accomplishments. That's right; I saw it on television. The last time there was a political meeting there I think it was Mackenzie King in 1940.
The Deputy Speaker: No, Diefenbaker was there.
Mr. Nixon: Was he? Oh well, that was a good meeting too.
Frankly, I agree with Kathy Davis. I think it is the Premier's duty to save the Progressive Conservative Party nationally from a fate worse than death. We are all very interested in what is happening there, of course, because the polls indicate that if an election were held now the Liberal Party might not achieve its usual goals of success.
As the Premier used to be willing to bring to my attention from time to time, in the election of 1975 the Liberal Party was a clear 12 per cent ahead of him and somehow or other the election did not work out on the basis of the Gallup predictions. There are those in the front bench of the party here, Mr. Speaker, who will tell you in private what happened, but we will not give them an opportunity to do so right now.
When we see that lineup of federal contenders, there is always that warm glow that diffuses through our bodies when we see Joe Clark speaking. According to the handicappers in the Toronto Star, he is a two-to-one favourite. As a matter of fact, he is my candidate. He is the one most of us on this side would prefer to be elected.
I find the others quite interesting. There was an article in the Toronto Star last week in which Keith Davey was reported to have been describing the candidates as similar to our bird friends, referring to the grosbeak from Newfoundland and certain others, which I thought was quite amusing but somewhat unfair, because they are all extremely capable and well committed to the public good.
Having participated in leadership campaigns myself, I know that at about this stage in the federal Tory leadership there are delegates everywhere asking, "Why does someone of stature not come forward?" It is a syndrome in every leadership contest. I have even heard that put to me as a candidate myself, and been expected to commiserate with the poor delegates because they did not have somebody better to vote for. So it is bound to happen.
This will come back to the Premier of Ontario through his rumour network. It has to be the best that has ever been established any time, anywhere, by a politician. There is nothing that happens anywhere in Canada that is not reported to him by one of his friends or employees in the very near future. You may be aware of that yourself, Mr. Speaker, from time to time. You have been involved in events here that were probably reported to the Premier without delay.
The Deputy Speaker: Speaking of that, I should tokenly observe that I am sure somewhere in your dialogue we are getting around to the throne speech.
Mr. Nixon: What could possibly be more appropriate than the leadership of the government of Ontario, particularly when we are talking about the very man who singlehandedly wrote the throne speech? I shall certainly try to abide by your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I have a feeling that, even with your best efforts, you are not going to get me off this subject.
The Deputy Speaker: I said "tokenly."
Mr. Nixon: I agree with Mrs. Davis. I think it is his duty to run for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party. Actually, it would do him good to sit in opposition in Ottawa for a while. It would do him good to face the leader of the present government there for a little while, because I think it is a completion to a politician's soul to have an experience in opposition. Of course, it is our aim to give that experience to a handful of our friends opposite in the very near future. We are working towards that goal and I believe we are going to be able to achieve it.
The question is whether the Premier has to resign his seat or even the premiership of the province if he declares himself a candidate. We are often told by the cognoscenti that it is not necessary to resign. There are all the antecedents in the Conservative leadership who went for that role without resigning their position. I personally think the Premier's better judgement will prevail and when he goes he will be gone, because there will be no way back. As soon as the decision is made for him to contest the federal office, the floodgate will be unleashed around here and Larry and Moe and all the rest of them will be working very hard for the succession.
I expect he has already whispered in the ear of the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) so that he could be persuaded, perhaps against his better judgement, to take over the premiership on an interim basis. He would have to make a commitment, naturally, that he would not be a contestant for the leadership itself.
There have been those who have said that perhaps the present government House leader (Mr. Wells) might be persuaded to become Premier on an interim basis. I, for one, would be very much against that, because I do not believe his options should be restricted in any way. As far as I am concerned, the Minister of Energy would make a great interim Premier and maybe a full-time Premier. He got his background at McMaster, which is not always one of the earmarks of political success, but in his instance I think it would be great if he were to take on the interim responsibility and give the Premier a free hand to move away from the provincial scene and any ties to the provincial scene so he could campaign all out for the federal leadership.
In many respects, if Joe Clark were going to do the right thing in the broad scene of Progressive Conservative politics, he would have been persuaded by now to come to Queen's Park, meet with the Premier and say, "If you are interested in doing this, I will not only step aside, I will nominate you." After all, without going over all the historical facts associated with that. Mr. Clark has had an opportunity to be Prime Minister. I think it would be unreasonable to assume that a secondary role, actually as the new leaders right-hand man, would be something he should spurn.
Mr. Conway: Somebody has to speak French.
Mr. Nixon: Oh, that is a lovely, lovely comment.
I am quite serious about this. If the people over there had any influence in the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, and I happen to know they have little or none, they would persuade Joe Clark to get the Premier to go so they would stop tearing themselves apart. They would not have to have this kind of contest. They could anoint him. Joe Clark would be at his right-hand side. Some of them would perhaps remain to make it a fight, but he would go down there as Leader of the Opposition to face his fate.
An hon. member: With Crosbie on his left.
Mr. Nixon: No, Crombie has another destiny. Before the member gets too excited about David Crombie being on his left, it seems to me Crombie is a natural to come back here for the real leadership contest. After all, the member for St. George (Ms. Fish) could run his campaign. What would be better than David Crombie saying: "I am committed to the political life. I have offered myself as leader in Canada and I have fought hard for it. I came fourth out of seven, which is not too bad, but my true love is with the city of Toronto and its extension, the province of Ontario."
I think for the fellows lining up for the provincial leadership there is always a cloud the size of a man's hand in politics and, for those guys, it is Crombie.
Hon. Mr. Wells: What about Darcy McKeough?
Mr. Nixon: Darcy is coming into town tomorrow. I can probably tell the honourable member better on Wednesday morning, because Darcy is meeting with the Liberals. I do not know what his idea is, but maybe he is thinking the future belongs to a rather broader view of politics. He was never narrow in his approach.
Mr. Conway: On your primary thesis, you seem to have forgotten why Maureen McTeer, like Tom Wells, supported Bert Lawrence 11 years ago.
Mr. Nixon: Oh, I had forgotten. Thank God for the member for Renfrew North. He does not forget anything. He does not learn anything, but he does not forget anything. In that he is with the Bourbons. That is unfair.
Mr. Conway: Do you remember what Maureen said about Bill Davis in 1971?
Mr. Nixon: I would like him to tell us what Maureen said about the Premier.
The Deputy Speaker: It is rough enough as it is. How am I going to explain this to the second floor, to the guy in the corner office?
Mr. Nixon: If the Premier decides to go, I expect there will be a lot of blood on the floor. There is no doubt about that. Joe Clark should step aside but I have a feeling, having watched his career with care, he is not going to do that.
As soon as the Premier of Ontario's candidacy is established, he will have an opportunity to go across Canada with Joe Clark on the same platform and explain just where he was during the election of 1980, when he was in Fort Lauderdale for part of it, and why it was the Liberal Party actually used excerpts from the provincial budget, approved by the Premier and read by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), that were so destructive as far as Joe Clark's government and his budget at that time happened to be.
The real action we are going to get on the Davis candidacy is going to come from the west. I used to hear that the Premier of Alberta would run if the Premier of Ontario ran. I now hear he has stepped down from that a little bit; he just has not got the energy, but he is probably going to participate in a rather flamboyant way in expressing his view that there is something inadequate with the energy and other policies of central Ontario, as stated by the Premier of Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Wells: He will nominate him.
Mr. Nixon: It has been mentioned by the government House leader that probably Lougheed would nominate him. If they really wanted to do the right thing, and this is advice from somebody who has their interests at heart, they should get Joe Clark to nominate him and the Premier of Alberta to second him; then they could go out and say, "Don't say we are not united in this."
That is the thing to do. The others would fall by the wayside. They would probably get on the bandwagon, looking forward, in the unlikely event that the new leader were successful in winning the government of Canada, to having certain places of importance and maybe even preferment. That is the way it could happen. Opposition parties often cannot organize themselves that well, with the exception of the official opposition in Ontario, which of course is well organized and which has never experienced those difficulties.
Now we come back to what is going to happen here. One thinks right now of all the little groups meeting in the law offices downtown, just slavering over the succession here in Ontario. What happens in Ottawa is one thing, but this is where it is at, according to some of our friends opposite.
I do not know. I made a quick list: the member for Muskoka (Mr. F. S. Miller), the member for Eglinton (Mr. McMurtry), the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman), the member for London South (Mr. Walker), the member for York East (Mr. Elgie), the member for Don Mills (Mr. Timbrell), the member for Scarborough North (Mr. Wells).
Mr. Kolyn: Bette Stephenson.
Mr. Nixon: The member for York Mills (Miss Stephenson) maybe. She ought to run, but I do not think she will. I think the government members have probably run her, she being a very tough and capable minister, through the wringer so often on the fine legislation she has presented that she probably figures she has had enough of it.
I have to add to that list -- he is not really a dark horse; I would think he might even be the front runner -- Crombie.
We do not know how that is going to be set up, but the government will be operated by Premier Welch. That sounds quite good. We are going to make that Kemp-Welch actually. He has a hyphenated name, and there is something about Kemp-Welch that has got a little more class. It can really happen; Premier Kemp-Welch will operate things here.
The budget will be like the throne speech, with not very much in it; maybe small increases of certain taxes, but very little of anything. It is going to be a stand-pat budget, as somebody said, dropped into amber so that nothing is happening, and the real battle will be under way. Some time late in September, maybe even about the middle of September, this will be settled and we will have a new Premier.
If there is a new Premier here -- and if any of this comes true, there certainly will be -- then I think we would be facing an election, my fellow members.
Mr. Conway: Oh, no.
Mr. Nixon: I can hardly wait.
Mr. Ruston: There are signs already.
Mr. Nixon: That is right. I would not even mind a winter election, but I would think some time next spring. This could happen. It will really depend on what sort of response the new Premier gets.
I would just say, from my own experience in leadership campaigns, the time to get organized is now. Those guys on the back benches who have been sitting there with the Premier not even remembering their names since the last election might as well pick their candidate, which will really kind of lay out their careers for the next 15 years. But I say to them, do not make a mistake; pick a winner.
Mr. Conway: Tom Wells didn't pick the winner.
Mr. Nixon: We can see what happened to him.
This is the time for them to pick their candidate and really make a commitment. They should not sit on the fence to see who is going to win. They should just be sure they pick a person they can work with, who they think is going to have a role to play in the remaining few months of the Conservative regime in Ontario, and they might get a very good shadow cabinet position when they are over here. That is worth pushing for.
I felt I ought to give this kind of advice to some of the members present. I will not be participating as a delegate in that particular selection, but I have offered and will continue to offer my advice to both the front and back benches of the Tory party. They do not follow it, but they will eventually come around to realizing that my advice is correct in this. The time for action is now, particularly for the back-benchers. If they sit there waiting for the winner to look at them, then they are not playing the game properly. They should pick their person and get him or her elected. That is the way the system works.
Mr. Conway: What about the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg)? What is your advice for him?
Mr. Nixon: I do not know, but I understand the retirement age on the Ontario Municipal Board is 65, and we may have a Liberal candidate in that riding who will clean his clock --
Mr. Rotenberg: You have not been able to yet.
Mr. Nixon: Well, my friend has not run against this guy. I suggest one of the things he might do is extend the active age on the municipal board to about 80 and then he will be okay.
Mr. Rotenberg: Are you going to run in my riding?
Mr. Nixon: No, no. I have enough trouble in Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.
Speaking of that, there are one or two items I want to bring to the members' attention having to do, if not with my constituency, at least with problems that are evident there and shared by other constituencies. I want to speak very briefly about White Farm Equipment Co.
We in this Legislature have supported White Farm Equipment to the extent of about $7 million -- $2 million in an outright grant and about $5 million in guarantees. The government of Canada has been even more generous, making available $11 million.
This company was sold to American interests about a year ago under circumstances that make an interesting story. I am not going to take time to tell it since we have discussed it in this Legislature before. The result was that the Canadian partner was bought out by American interests -- given $1.5 million to get out of the way. It was wholly taken over by an American entrepreneur about a year ago.
At a public meeting in Brantford about a week ago, it was predicted by the New Democratic Party federal member that White would go into receivership within a few days or a very few weeks. This may or not happen, but I am sure it is a fact that White Farm Equipment is facing extremely difficult financial trials and tribulations.
They have not made a combine for something like 15 months and although their combine is considered to be one of the best, if not the best on the market, it is still difficult to sell since farmers do not want to buy a $100,000 item made by a company that may or may not be in business in the next few weeks. One can understand that.
When I went into the local White Farm Equipment dealer today to buy a couple of cultivator points, I was interested to note that there was a letter up there from the president of White Farm Equipment reassuring the dealership that their refinancing in the United States had been established and that they were confident the same sort of stability would be available in Canada.
It is interesting that governments at both levels have been somewhat more generous -- even on a per capita basis, if that phrase applies -- to Massey-Ferguson than they have been to White Farm Equipment. It is hoped the governments will continue to tide these companies over the next few months as farm prosperity, we hope and pray, regains some more momentum.
I should point out something the farm members are well aware of about the price of some of our products. Soybeans and corn particularly have gone ahead by 25 to 40 per cent in the past two months. This has been largely because of an initiative of the government of the United States which has resulted in reducing the acreage to be planted this year by about 20 per cent.
The US government has a very imaginative program called the payment in kind program. Farmers who make a commitment not to grow certain acres in corn and beans this year, corn particularly, have an agreement from the US government that they will receive not dollars, but the corn, free, that would have been grown on that acreage. This corn was bought by the government to maintain the price last year and has been in storage at high expense all this time.
Thus, the US government, without contributing -- that is, it is not handing out dollars -- is reducing its storage charge and giving the farmers corn in return for a promise not to plant the acres this year. This means the net crop will be reduced, and certain controls in that way will be advantageous to the American farmers. We in Canada get the advantage of this without participating in any way, and the price, as I have said, has gone up as much as 35 per cent in certain markets for corn, which is a good thing for us. As Canadians we tend to think of ourselves as really being an important part of the world market in grain, but we should remember that all of Canada produces only three per cent of the grain produced in the world; the state of Iowa grows more grain than all of Canada. It tends to give you a certain, let us say, factual basis when you are discussing this thing; I would not say humility. Instead of being sort of the breadbasket for the hungry world, we are not much more than simply an ancillary market, which must follow the American lead in the sale of corn, soybeans and other farm products to the world market.
This world market is expanding; there is no doubt about that. The population growth figures are familiar to all of us and to some extent are quite frightening. It is unfortunate that the population growth is largely in those parts of the world where the economy is extremely depressed and there is very little opportunity for those countries to participate in the world grain market in a way that is advantageous for them or for us.
But the prospects are improving for the farmers, particularly in the grain market, although the depression, particularly in the red meat business, is so serious in Ontario that we find our farmers who are engaged in that particular enterprise facing continued economic stress and a growing number of bankruptcies.
White Farm Equipment continues in operation. The minister, in answer to my question a week ago, indicated the government of Ontario is in no way dealing with the ownership of the company at present to maintain its operation. I intend to ask the minister further about this, since there is some indication the financing of the company is on a better basis, and we hope it can continue.
We must remember that even at the level of the economy four years ago there were 1,000 people employed in Brantford in the manufacture of these axial-flow combines, tractors and other equipment, and that for the past many months there has been only a caretaker staff available and a small group of people serving the dealership requirements.
There is no question that the quality of the implements is good and that the axial-flow combine itself is one of the best in the world. It would be a shame indeed if the ability and the technology to produce this combine were lost to Canada, and although we have an assurance from the company now owning White Farm Equipment that the technology will be maintained here, still in economic extremis the loss of that technology is a real possibility.
On motion by Mr. Nixon, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.