The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: I would like at this time to draw all honourable members' attention to a distinguished group of parliamentarians from Saskatchewan in the Speaker's gallery who are here as guests of the Ontario branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to observe our procedures and to meet with Ontario members: the Honourable Herbert Swan, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan; Mr. Paul Meagher, member of the Legislative Assembly, and Mr. Dwain Lingenfelter, MLA, opposition House leader.
CLARIFICATION OF RECORD
Mr. Speaker: On Thursday last, the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) asked for the authority for a ruling that a member may correct his own record but may not correct the record of another member. For the benefit of all honourable members I would like to cite the authority on which my ruling was based.
The 19th edition of May's Parliamentary Practice states: "It is not in order for a member to obtain or quote during a current sitting the record made for the official report of the remarks of any other member...A member has sometimes been allowed, as a matter of personal explanation, to point out at a subsequent sitting an error in the report of his speech."
This precedent has been followed many times in this House and also in the House of Commons of Canada. In this regard, on May 28, 1982, Speaker Sauvé ruled: " ... if (an) honourable member wants to correct a statement of his own, he is perfectly free to do so, but one honourable member cannot correct the statement of another."
It comes back to the question of privilege, which has been dealt with in this House many times. I again refer members to standing order 18 and May's Parliamentary Practice at page 67. There is no privilege by parliamentary rule or precedent that allows a member to interrupt the proceedings of the House to correct a statement of another member; there are other ways of doing this if a member disagrees.
Standing order 19(d)(1) provides that a member may make an "explanation of a material part of his speech in which he may have been misunderstood." The member can be said to be correcting the record. However, there is no provision for him to correct the record of another member.
In reply to the often-repeated question, "Where do we find that in the standing orders, Mr. Speaker?" I draw your attention to clause (b) of standing order 1 which states, "In all contingencies not provided for in the standing orders the question shall be decided by the Speaker or Chairman, and in making his ruling the Speaker or Chairman shall base his decision on the usages and precedents of the Legislature and parliamentary tradition."
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
YOUNG ONTARIO CAREER PROGRAM
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to bring before the House today details of the new young Ontario career program.
Before I do, I would like to remind the members that this is the second youth employment program administered by my ministry, the first being the highly successful Ontario youth employment program. Now in its seventh year, this program has created jobs for thousands of young people across this province. This year, OYEP is funding in excess of 25,000 employers, creating summer jobs for more than 50,000 young people in Ontario.
To complement OYEP, the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) announced in his May 10 budget that $25 million would go towards an accelerated youth employment program which would extend beyond the summer months. This program, known as the young Ontario career program, will create an additional 12,500 jobs during the next year for both post-secondary school graduates and nongraduates to help launch them into their chosen careers.
The young Ontario career program co-ordinated by the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development is part of the government's $242-million, short-term job creation program announced by the Treasurer in his May 10 budget.
The purpose of the young Ontario career program is to help businesses, nonprofit organizations, and certain public employers such as hospitals, create additional jobs and career opportunities for our 20- to 29-year olds who are at present unemployed or underemployed.
The province will pay $2.50 per hour to eligible employers up to a maximum of $100 per week in respect to the wages paid to an eligible employee. Under this program, each job must be for at least 25 hours per week for at least 20 consecutive weeks. Funding will be for between 20 and 26 weeks. The job must be one which would not have existed without the program funding, and must provide substantial work experience and contribute to the employee's vocational development.
Through this program, Ontario's young people will gain valuable work experience. The skills and contacts they develop will increase the possibility of obtaining permanent employment in their chosen field. At the same time, businesses will benefit from the opportunity to assess possible long-term employees while receiving a subsidy to reduce their costs during this period of economic recovery.
This program is being introduced at a time when there is a pressing need to provide relevant work experience for our young people, especially our recent graduates of colleges and universities. Young people are one of Ontario's greatest assets, and the young Ontario career program addresses the needs of creating employment and helping the development of Ontario's businesses.
I would like to point out the Ontario government is spending $121 million on youth employment programs that will create an estimated 100,000 jobs in the current year.
Employers who wish to obtain application forms or information should write or telephone the young Ontario career program in the subsidies branch of my ministry. I believe all members will find full details of the program in their mailboxes today.
CAPITAL ACCELERATION PROGRAM
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the Treasurer of Ontario (Mr. F. S. Miller) announced in his budget economic stimulation and job creation measures which included a capital acceleration program co-ordinated by the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development.
On May 27, I announced to this assembly the government's support for the establishment of the Natural Resources Centre at the University of Toronto. Grants to the university for this year and next towards this project amount to $9.5 million and will be made available through this capital acceleration program.
I am pleased to announce today that in addition to the support given to the Natural Resources Centre, which is in effect a co-ordination of a number of programs at the University of Toronto, a number of projects in other Ontario universities will receive $7.65 million under this program, bringing the ministry's participation to an overall level of $17.15 million.
Included among these projects are a number of major renovations, as well as projects that enhance specific specialties within our universities.
McMaster University in Hamilton has one of the finest engineering faculties in Canada. It has provided a strong research base for the Canadian communications industry through the excellent research carried out at the McMaster communications research laboratory. The research is of high technological content, concerned with the design of specific communication systems, such as microwave and satellite communications.
Existing facilities in the John Hodgins Engineering Building are now inadequate for the faculty to maintain and continue the high level of research and graduate education. Therefore, $500,000 will be provided through the capital acceleration program for the expansion and alteration of these facilities.
In 1972, the joint federal-provincial agreement provided for increased enrolment at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph. At that time, a plan was developed to upgrade the buildings, expand the facilities and consolidate related activities of the four departments of the college: biomedical sciences, clinical studies, pathology and veterinary microbiology and immunology.
Since that time, various projects have been completed in line with this plan. The need to continue with renovations and expansion of facilities at OVC is recognized by both the provincial and federal governments. In this connection, my colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell) has approached the federal government to obtain its commitment to share equally the costs of renovations and expansion.
The ministry, however, will be allocating $250,000 towards the costs of a detailed planning and design study. It is hoped the federal government will provide an equal amount of funding for this important purpose. This study is expected to address issues regarding physical resources raised by the American Veterinary Medical Association, as well as the ongoing capital requirements of the college.
Other projects which will be receiving funding under the capital acceleration program will be the completion of the DeCew science wing at Brock University; the replacement of the MacOdrum Library exterior wall at Carleton University: alterations to the Centennial Building at Lakehead University; the replacement of the animal research facility at Laurentian University; and renovations and alterations to the former medicine building at the University of Ottawa, including those necessitated by the decision of the Ottawa-Carleton regional government to make Nicholas Street a major traffic artery.
They include, as well, renovations to the Crain Building at Queen's University; podium reconstruction at Trent University: renovations to the Old St. Denis Hall at the University of Windsor; and fire protection improvements to the Steacie Science Library at York University.
All projects funded under the capital acceleration program have been selected with due regard to the priorities of the institutions, the feasibility of early implementation and, in particular, the local burden of unemployment or welfare. Over the next two years these projects will create approximately 1,300 jobs.
In addition to the capital acceleration program, $13.5 million in regular capital funds will be provided this year to the provincially assisted universities, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and the Ontario College of Art, for roof replacements and a number of renovation projects which are required to meet fire, occupational health and safety code requirements.
Mr. O'Neil: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege. I think it is something you and the other members of the Legislature should be aware of because it affects quite a few of them also.
On the weekend I returned to my riding to find headlines in one of the local papers mentioning myself, the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. Pollock) and the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J. A. Taylor) as having outspent the Premier (Mr. Davis) and the leaders of the opposition parties.
I wonder if you would take it under advisement to re-examine the format that is put out which lists the individual members' expenditures. It is very misleading to the public back in our ridings. We all work very hard. When they compare each individual member as having spent the same as the Premier or the opposition leaders it detracts from us. In no way do I spend $2,233,500 to run my office, as the Premier must because of all of the work he has.
As I say, I wonder if you would take this under advisement, also taking into consideration that it is not only the Premier but the members who are cabinet ministers and parliamentary assistants, who have use of government cars, government planes, government staff, accommodation expenses, supplies and things like that which do not show in there.
Mr. Speaker, they also do not take into consideration whether we, as members, have one, two or three offices and the number of staff we must have in those riding offices and at Queen's Park because of the volume of work we have and the amount of mail. They also do not take into account the size of our ridings and the people living in them. I would appreciate your comments and report on this subject.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I know he is aware of the ongoing tension at a number of construction sites in the city of Toronto and Metropolitan Toronto at present. He will be aware that, given the dispute between the two conflicting unions, there is very little construction activity going on.
Given the fact that in the last three months there were roughly 5,300 new housing start -- I think my figures are reasonably accurate -- and at present some 250 construction sites in areas tend to be tied up, it appears that a number of people who have purchased homes and were planning on closing prior to the August 31 cutoff date for the renter-buy program will not be able to close by that time.
Would the minister consider having his ministry extend the program for those unfortunate people who are caught in this labour dispute, to make sure the people who were counting on participating in that program will not be denied eligibility?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, this government has always shown concern and compassion for people who are caught in a situation that is not of their own making, and this is no less true in this particular case. We have had people on this program who, the member will recall, were to have applications in by January 17. Because of circumstances beyond their control, some of which the member knows about, they did not, but we were able to extend the program to make it available to them.
In this case, I will await advice from the individual builders, contractors and sellers, and indeed from individuals. If they are experiencing difficulty as a bona fide result of this labour dispute, we will certainly be compassionate and understanding.
Mr. Peterson: Does the minister have any idea at this point in his communications with the home builders how many people run the potential risk of losing their participation in the program? Would the minister be prepared to make a clear statement that he is prepared to work with these people?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I will have the opportunity later this week when I meet with the Housing and Urban Development Association of Canada, the Urban Development Institute and the Canadian Institute of Public Real Estate Companies. They are the principal organizations in relationship to the development of housing and structures in this province. We will be seeking advice from them on this specific area as well as others relating to the housing field.
I repeat, we will show concern and compassion and be realistic in the judgement of those applications if the builders fall short of the mark as far as a delivery date is concerned as a result of the labour dispute that is at present confronting them.
ASSISTANCE FOR SENIOR CITIZENS
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Provincial Secretary for Social Development. I am surprised there was no statement in the House today with respect to Senior Citizens' Week. Given the fact that both the minister and the Premier (Mr. Davis) made very elegant and thoughtful speeches at noon today to celebrate the opening of seniors' week, I wonder if the provincial secretary would consider, in addition to the marvellous public relations programs in which she is participating, doing something of substance for seniors?
I think particularly of the area where most people feel we have the most serious problem in regard to seniors, that is, single pensioners over the age of 65, essentially women. Is the minister now prepared to use her good offices to recommend to her government that it subscribe to the various suggestions of the Royal Commission on the Status of Pensions in Ontario, the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada and a variety of others, so that Ontario would move immediately to increase guaranteed annual income system payments for singles to 60 per cent of the married rate? That would at least go some way to solving the very serious problem everyone recognizes.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, I did not really find it necessary to make a statement on Senior Citizens' Week in the House today because all members of the Legislature were invited to participate in the festivities officially opening Senior Citizens' Week in the Legislature at noon. I am sorry for those who could not attend. I think they would have been reassured, as we were, that the senior citizens in Ontario are a very grateful, a very happy and a very busy group of people. It was delightful to have an opportunity to meet with them.
With regard to the other question the member has put forward, I do not think it is a secret we have made those recommendations. We do feel there is great justification for increasing the rate of the single elderly and to those ends we hope that action will be taken as quickly as possible. The Treasurer (Mr. F.S. Miller) is aware of our recommendations and is, I hope, going to act on those in the not-too-distant future.
Mr. Peterson: I have no idea whom the minister is talking about when she says "we made those recommendations." I do not know whether "we" is the minister, some advisory group or whatever. The minister, as part of the cabinet, part of the decision-making group, clearly has a responsibility in that regard.
I am asking what the government's position is in that regard. The Premier spoke eloquently on the subject this morning in a speech to the Toronto Society of Financial Analysts. He said: "First, we should ensure the problems of the existing elderly, particularly single people, can be taken care of by adjusting income guarantees from the guaranteed income supplement and through provincial programs such as Gains. This will be the main priority in our own pension reform effort. In this instance, government alone has the responsibility and the resources to solve it."
Given that statement by the Premier, and the minister's own marvellous intentions, why will her government not move now?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I think it is abundantly clear the recommendations I have received through the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens and from other provincial organizations have all indicated they feel very strongly there should be an increase. I have forwarded those recommendations to the Treasurer of Ontario. It is now up to him, in his wisdom, to implement the changes when the timing is appropriate.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, the minister will know there is something called "cabinet solidarity." Has she taken the view to cabinet that there should be an increase? Can she tell us what the response of cabinet has been? What is her feeling about the inactivity of her cabinet colleagues with respect to help for seniors?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, I do not think I have to enlarge upon the comments I have already made. The recommendations have gone forward. I have suggested the Treasurer will make those announcements when the timing is appropriate.
Mr. Peterson: I find it very difficult to deal with this question with the minister's government; perhaps someone else should be asked, although the minister is obviously providing the thrust in this regard. How can she take one position and the Treasurer take another? When is he going to take a position on this issue? We have discussed it many times in this House and she now apparently recognizes the benefit of it and the justification for it. When is her colleague the Treasurer going to move on this subject?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I respectfully suggest the member should put that question to the Treasurer when he is in the House. The Treasurer is faced with many requests and he is the one who has to make the final judgement about the appropriateness of the timing.
INSPECTION OF NURSING HOMES
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. It concerns the operation of rest homes, or nursing homes masquerading as rest homes, in Ontario. The minister already has extensive powers available to his inspection services under sections 3, 17(2) and 18 of the Nursing Homes Act with respect to homes that are operating as nursing homes but which do not choose to call themselves by that. Why has the nursing homes services branch refused to investigate complaints about care now being provided in the rest homes of this province? The minister will know there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, operating completely unregulated at the present time.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, if the member has a particular home he thinks it is our obligation to investigate and inspect, we will certainly do it. Why does he not send over the information? If we report back to him that under the terms of our legislation we ought not to be looking at that circumstance, then he can raise the issue with regard to how wide our legislation is and whether we ought to have increased power. He should feel free to raise it; let him send it over, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Rae: Since this is question period, I will send it over verbally to the minister. I would simply like to point out to him that the case of the Idylwild Rest Home in London was brought to the attention of the then nursing homes inspection branch over a year ago, and at that time the branch advised them to go to the local municipality. The local municipality had already told them to go to the Ministry of Health.
This is a home that calls itself a home for residential and nursing care. It provides care for 33 people at the present time. Much of it is heavy care. Extensive information has been provided to the Ministry of Labour such that the negotiations that are currently going on between the Service Employees International Union and the employer, which have been going on for over two years for a first contract, are now being heard under the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: So everybody seems to be convinced of the fact that there is a problem, except for the Ministry of Health.
Why has the nursing homes services branch taken the view that it will not, as a matter of course, investigate homes operating in this way? Why is it insisting that people go to the municipality when the minister knows full well it is the obligation of his ministry under the Nursing Homes Act to make these investigations and respond to these kinds of complaints?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member wants to play his little game with the cameras on, which is to suggest that the Ministry of Health says everything is okay in that particular facility. I have not said that; I just said that if the member wants to send this information over, we will be pleased to look into it.
Of course, he does not want to send it over before question period, because then he will not be able to make his speech for the cameras, suggesting that something else is wrong in another facility in this province. Since the member does not want to use these nice yellow envelopes whereby he can send it over in the morning and we can have an informed discussion about any one of the now 500 homes he wants to bring up here without prior notice, then he will have to make do for this afternoon with this answer:
(a) The member should be accurate in what he says; (b) he should not suggest that the Ministry of Health says anything is okay in that facility; and (c) he should remember that this ministry acted to close a couple of nursing homes and a home for special care long before the member's Health critic suggested he pick up this issue after he had fumbled a dozen others.
Just let the member be accurate, Mr. Speaker. Send over the information, Robert, and if, after all that, the union, which obviously has given you information that you are acting on without checking with us, proves to be correct, then we will take all the appropriate action, as we have done in the past. Admittedly, that will spoil your game here, though.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, surely the minister is aware that at least one of his predecessors recognized there was no adequate rest home legislation. As a matter of fact, his ministry at that time promised rest home legislation in Ontario. The present condition is that rest homes are under the same kind of jurisdiction as boarding houses in Ontario.
Is the minister aware that at least some rest home owners and some medical officers of health want this kind of legislation? It is a well-known fact that there is a certain level of expectation from the general public when their parents, their loved ones, go to these rest homes. Is the minister not going to act on the concern expressed by his own ministry up to five years ago about the need for rest home legislation in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, may I suggest to the honourable member that some operators, I understand, would have welcomed this sort of change. I should say to him, though, and I know he will want to relate this to his leader, that my ministry and the Ministry of Community and Social Services have both been reviewing what steps we might take to rationalize inspection services, the allocation of programs and the distribution of patients throughout the system. The sort of thing the member is discussing has been looked at by both ministries and is still under review.
What I want the member to relate to his leader is the fact that all this work has been done by my colleague and me and our ministries under the guidance and direction of the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch), who has shown a great deal of concern and leadership in this particular area. When the time comes, and it will, for a sorting-out of various facilities and ministry responsibilities in this area, all to benefit seniors, the credit will be due to the guidance and leadership shown by the Provincial Secretary for Social Development.
Mr. Rae: The fact of the matter is that in this instance a complaint was registered with his ministry more than a year ago with respect to the operation of an illegal nursing home in this province, and his ministry did nothing. He has done nothing, and he turns a blind eye to the operation of bootleg nursing homes in this province.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: I would specifically like to ask the minister: when his ministry received a complaint in May 1982 with respect to the operation of the Idylwild Rest Home, and when evidence with respect to the level of care, the degree of medication received by each patient and the conditions under which the workers are operating was presented to the government and has been available to the government for more than a year, can he explain why he has done absolutely nothing with respect to the operation of this and who knows how many other homes?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Because the union is in a contract dispute there, as he has informed us, I know the member wants to help out the situation in some way. Really, Bob, it does not matter how many times you ask the question. The ministry is primarily responsible for inspecting the nursing homes in this province. The rest homes and the day-to-day inspection of rest homes is not a day-to-day responsibility of this ministry.
I want to make it clear that I know he had to stand up, under orders from whomever, and use the words that have been written for him before he came in here, "bootleg nursing homes." But any responsible leader who wants to stand up day after day, and I know he wants to, to raise allegations about various operations and operators in the system has to show some degree of responsibility.
There are more than 200 nursing homes. Now he is introducing all the rest homes in the system into the equation. If you want to play that game, Bob, I will tell you what -- sorry; if the leader of the third party wants to play that game, I can suggest to him that I will sit here every day and he can raise each individual home with his particular allegations brought to him by a union that currently is in a first-contract dispute. I am not doubting the legitimacy of it. I am just suggesting that any responsible member of this House who has a question to raise about any of the facilities first ought properly to bring that circumstance to the knowledge of the hold him down -- particular minister and then we can have an informed discussion.
His colleague the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) has learned from firsthand experience that when he raises a concern about a particular facility, and when that concern is documented and he has the least bit of concern about it, this ministry looks into it and, if that concern is legitimate and proven, we will take firm and direct action against that facility. But that is as a result of carefully considered information, not a bunch of wild claims without notice that he wants to bring here every day. Follow his example and you will do better.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my next question is to Larry as well. I would like to ask --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Breaugh: Be fair.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: He corrected his.
Hon. Mr. Davis: You were not listening; he corrected himself.
Hon. Mr. Welch: He corrected himself.
Mr. Speaker: I am sure that was a slip of the tongue, as it was with others. This practice is not allowed. Members must refer to the riding and not to personal names.
Mr. Martel: You didn't hear the minister, did you?
Mr. Stokes: You didn't hear him imputing motives.
Mr. Speaker: I can tell the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) I have heard him many a time.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I think there is perhaps a little concern and I think it is useful to have you look at the record. I wondered whether anybody would pick it up, but I thought I heard the Minister of Health, the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick, suggest in his just-completed answer that a member of this assembly, most particularly the member for York South (Mr. Rae), had put his question because he had been ordered to raise the issue by someone.
I would like you to look at the record, sir, because it sounded to me very much like the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick might have been imputing motive, which by my reading of the standing orders of this place I understand may not be allowable.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I want to make it very clear that if the word "Larry" is deemed by you to be an insult, I will withdraw it.
Mr. Speaker: You obviously did not hear what I said.
Mr. Rae: I did.
Mr. Renwick: We heard what you said when the Minister of Health called my leader "Bob."
Hon. Mr. Davis: Your hearing aid wasn't in.
Hon. Mr. Ashe: You tuned out too soon.
Mr. Speaker: The member for York South; a new question.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my question has to do with the failure of the ministry and of the government to implement a promise made some time ago with respect to homemaker programs under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health. This promise was made in 1981 and renewed in the speech from the throne in 1982. It was renewed again by the Minister of Health in answer to a question from me on December 15, 1982, when he said: "We are not yet finished 1982-83. I hope to have at least some of those six programs in place by that time."
Given that this is Senior Citizens' Week and that the seniors of this province are looking for some action from this government with respect to its promises on homemaker programs, when is the minister going to make good on his promise with respect to the implementation of homemaker programs in 1982-83? It is gone for 1982-83. Can he please tell us what is going to happen for the rest of this year and next year?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, we expect to have it in place this fiscal year.
Mr. Rae: Many officials in his ministry, in response to questions from us, first said in March that this program would be introduced in May or June; now they are saying that they can give us no firm date and that they believe it may require legislation before it can be introduced. Can the minister confirm whether or not it is the view of the ministry that it is going to require legislation, and can he tell us why he has not introduced that legislation up until now if it does require legislation?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Yes, it does require legislation. Second, we have two concerns we are working through; they are a precise feel for the financial implications and how the program will work. Since we announced it some time ago, we have had a lot of ideas brought to our ministry and to the Ministry of Community and Social Services, which is co-operating with us in this. Many suggestions have been brought to us which we found very useful. Therefore, the legislation has had to be rewritten to accommodate this.
Mr. McClellan: Maybe another five years?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let me repeat what I said. We expect to have it in this fiscal year.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, will the minister be bringing in a complete service across Ontario or will it be more in the way of pilot projects as we have seen in the paramedic promises?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, it is not certain yet. Depending on how certain we are with regard to how the program should take shape, we may introduce it in four, five or six areas where we can identify the greatest need and can get a good idea of how it will work in various other parts of the province, i.e., a cross-section of four, five or six different types. We may phase it in on that basis, but that has not been ascertained yet.
Mr. Rae: The minister will know that as the summer approaches there are a great many people caring for either their parents or their grandparents who desperately need a break, who desperately need some kind of respite care. Since he is going to be looking at homemaker legislation, will the minister please consider at exactly the same time bringing in programs that will provide for respite care?
He will know that respite care has been recommended by many groups that have been meeting on this question, and it is something that again would provide a tangible benefit for a great many people who do need help for themselves, who want to care for their relatives, who do not want to see them go into rest homes or nursing homes but who need some assistance, some kind of break, some kind of respite. Can he bring in legislation to deal with that as well?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I am really pleased the honourable member raised that, because we have been able to provide a substantial number of respite beds throughout the province without having legislation in place and without providing direct funding for it. One of the ways we have been able to do that is by working with some private nursing home operators and some hospitals to accomplish that.
The best example I can cite is the one the member complained about last Friday, the Northwestern General Hospital-Bestview Holdings project, which he suggested somehow ought not to have gone ahead and that we should not have done business with Bestview directly. I have to tell the member that as a result of that project, Bestview is providing 240 beds, 120 of which are funded by the government through the nursing home system. Some of the other 120 will be available as respite beds for people who would otherwise end up being institutionalized in that institution or others. Families who live in the immediate or surrounding area now will be able to use those private sector beds as respite beds for their people.
If the member puts today's question together with last Friday's question, he will find that because of the ingenuity of the private sector operators and our ministry, we have been able to answer the concerns raised today with the very same project he was so outraged about last Friday.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Last year there were six million cords of wood burned in Canadian homes. Statistics Canada says more than 20 per cent of all single-family homes in Canada now are using wood as a source of heat. According to the Canadian Wood Energy Institute, which met here in Toronto last week, fire insurance companies now are charging a surtax of 25 per cent to those people who report using wood.
Can the minister tell us whether this is really justified by the statistics and the results of claims in insurance?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, no, I cannot, but I will inquire and report to the honourable member.
Mr. McGuigan: I understand the ministry currently is publishing a booklet promoting wood safety. Would the minister include a chapter in that book on the felling of trees? A great many amateurs are felling these trees and a young resident in my riding was injured and now is a paraplegic because of just such an accident.
I wonder whether the minister would take a look at that and try to advise people of the dangers and the proper methods of going about felling a tree.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I will certainly take that under advisement.
SECURICOR INVESTIGATION AND SECURITY LTD.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Solicitor General. On April 20, in a letter to my colleague the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) dealing with investigators and security agents, the Solicitor General indicated he would be bringing forth legislation in the spring session and the bill would completely overhaul the legislation that is both needed and overdue."
In his response to my leader on June 7, the minister indicated it would be only a short while before he was able to decide whether to proceed with hearings or lay charges in terms of the Securicor shenanigans at Automotive Hardware.
Can the Solicitor General tell us whether the investigation is complete and whether he is ready to inform this House as to what he intends to do?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, no, I cannot.
Mr. Mackenzie: Inasmuch as we have been at this for better than a year, and given the fair and impartial hearings which the Solicitor General said were necessary before the Ontario Labour Relations Board on the Automotive Hardware-Securicor situation and the continuing saga of intimidation and infiltration, Bedford Bedding and Central Precision Casting being just two examples, does the Solicitor General not think it is time we had this cancer removed from the labour relations situation in the province?
Is it not important that the minister should conclude this case at the earliest possible opportunity?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Yes, it is important.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. It arises out of a supplementary that was asked last Thursday regarding wasteful cutting practices.
The minister has had the report from the Forest Utilization Practices Review Committee on his desk since last June. This issue has been under review since 1975 and, in fact, the penalties that are imposed for wasteful cutting practices have not changed since 1952. The minister has also gone on record as saying the supply of forest products to the end of the century is tight but manageable and will depend on the elimination of wasteful cutting practices.
Can the minister tell us, and I repeat the question, why he has not tabled that report and when he is going to table that report?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to share that information with the member for Halton-Burlington when we have completed creation of the new regulations with respect to wasteful practices and harvesting techniques.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Is the minister telling us he is not prepared to share the problem with the people of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Pope: The member knows and has reviewed the forest management agreement provisions. He is aware of the application of these provisions and the impact they will have on wasteful practices, on harvesting techniques and on regeneration techniques.
He is also aware of the financial structure that is required and of the commitment this government has made through the forest management agreement system. He knows full well the net impact of the agreements, 17 of which have been signed, covering approximately 50 per cent of the licensed land in Ontario by the end of this year. He knows full well the impact of that agreements system is to improve our harvesting techniques and utilization practices, and that is happening all across Ontario.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister when is he going to update the forest resource inventory so that we can get an exact account of what is available in which species and age class. When is he going to do a review of the reforested areas to determine the success of the one for one, or two for one planning, after a three- to five-year period, to see what kind of survival rates we have and what kind of silvicultural practices he has to entertain to meet those requirements by the year 2000?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, the inventory work is ongoing, as the member for Lake Nipigon is aware. Through our forest management agreements, we have had some notable successes in utilization and cutting practices which will aid natural regeneration. We have been looking at ways of increasing our reforestation efforts.
We are not satisfied yet, there is no doubt about that, but we have made significant increases, both in the acreages planted and as far as access into these areas are concerned, again through our forest management agreements and financial commitments through the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development. We are satisfied, as we enter into the forest management agreement process throughout all the licensed forest lands in Ontario, that the net impact of all our programs is going to be more natural regeneration of higher quality, more artificial regeneration restocking programs of higher quality and, we think, a better effort in terms of our entire reforestation program.
There is no doubt that as a result of the forest management agreements and some of the new initiatives we have undertaken in the past five years, our success rate in reforestation, particularly artificial regeneration, is greater. The location of nursery facilities in smaller communities throughout northern Ontario has aided the survival rate of the stock as it is being planted. The tending operations and site preparation operations, both under the forest management agreements and under our regular contract, have had a significant impact as well.
I think the picture is one of improvement. We have a way to go yet, but with our commitment to the forest management agreements system and the dependence upon our professional foresters, we are confident that improvement will be seen shortly.
DAY CARE CENTRES
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Labour, who met this morning with representatives from Action Day Care Centre, as I understand it. The minister is aware that their project under the Canada-Ontario employment development program to create 25 jobs in the day care sector seems to have got messed up because the project was lost somewhere between his ministry and the Ministry of Community and Social Services for a month and a half or more. Now that the COED money has gone, what kind of assurances can he give them that there will be money available to get this project off the ground in terms of finding money from other projects that have not worked or extensions of money from the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I can give the honourable member the same assurances I gave the ladies at our meeting this morning. Actually, if one wants to look at it in the fullest perspective, if that application had not been lost, if it had gone through on time, it probably would not have been accepted, because we were out of funds at that time for nonprofit projects.
As the member may recall, of the original $200 million, $100 million was put aside for municipal projects, $50 million for nonprofit projects and $50 million for private sector projects. At the time it normally would have gone through, we were at $60.4 million for nonprofit; so it probably would have gone on a B list and would been deferred to wait and see whether we received any additional money.
I want to make this very clear: of the thousands of applications we have received, this is the only one that was misplaced or delayed because of a bureaucratic error, and I think that is a record we can be somewhat proud of. However, just because of the fact that it was delayed we are trying to work something out, and I gave the ladies the reassurance that I would get back to them some time this week, I hope, with encouraging news.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: If one of the minister's suggestions of where the money might come from was two options, one being more federal money coming in, he hopes, and the other being that some projects might not be going through and there might be money available for it, can he tell us how many approved projects are holding fire, unable to hire people because they cannot find qualified COED people to fit the kinds of projects they have been funded for? How many of these projects are totally inappropriate to the kinds of people who are actually unemployed and have gone through their unemployment insurance at this point?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: To the very best of my knowledge, there are very few who fall into that category right now.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, while the minister is looking specifically at the difficult funding problems facing the nonprofit day care centres, I wonder whether he might also consult with his colleague the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Ashe) regarding the situation of exemptions from property taxes for those nonprofit day care centres that are located in municipal buildings and specifically in buildings owned by boards of education. The minister will no doubt be aware that the policy in that regard has changed in the past couple of years, and it has changed to the detriment of nonprofit day care centres across Ontario. I wonder if he might comment on that.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I have no comment to make on that, but the Minister of Revenue has listened intently, I am sure, and will take the honourable member's points under consideration.
HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULE
Mr. Gillies: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation and Communications. I would like to ask the minister about some concern that has arisen in Brant county over his recent letter to the Brantford Chamber of Commerce regarding the completion date for Highway 403 between Brantford and Woodstock.
The minister has indicated in the past that we anticipated a completion date of that stretch by 1985. In his most recent correspondence he indicates it may be a year later. Can the minister reassure my constituents that this highway is progressing as quickly as possible, as it is indeed a very vital and needed link for the movement of both people and goods in and out of my city?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat confused, because I too received two telegrams, one from the Brantford Chamber of Commerce and one from the mayor of Brantford late last week, following a letter I had sent to the chamber of commerce in reply to a request from them for an update on the project. To my knowledge and recollection, the project is proceeding as was originally stated and promised to the residents of that area.
As the members from the area will know, last year we awarded a major contract for the grading of one section of the highway from Rest Acres Road westerly. This was followed, this past winter, by a clearing contract. This has since been followed by the tendering on June 1 of the next major grading contract, which goes as far as Highway 53; that contract will be awarded in mid-July.
It is our intention to award the paving contract for the section to county road 25 in the spring of 1984. The paving contract for the section between the county road and Highway 53, for which we are just calling the grading tenders, will be awarded as soon as that grading contract is completed. I cannot say when that will be. It depends upon the weather this fall and the progress of the contractor who gets the job.
Our plans are that the section of highway will be both graded and paved as far as Highway 53 and cars will be running on it before the end of 1985. To my knowledge, the section at the far end -- the connection with Highway 401 -- was always going to be done after the part to Highway 53. Once one gets to Highway 53, one is almost there. That will take another year. It is a very major job. Under the present schedule, we hope it will be completed by the end of 1986.
I cannot see where there has been any slippage in our progress. It has not been because of budget restraints. Although we have had to delay a number of contracts this year. we have not changed the schedule that was set up for Highway 403 in any way.
Mr. Gillies: I thank the minister for his answer. I am sure he is aware that part of the concern is the stated intention of the ministry not to proceed with the easterly portion from Brantford to Ancaster until the link to Woodstock is complete. Will we be able to accelerate the starting date for the easterly portion, perhaps with some funding from the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I am sorry I cannot be overly optimistic on that section. My commitment is that it will be commenced following completion of the section between Brantford and Woodstock. That is still our intention. Unless the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) gets very generous, I do not expect we will be able to accelerate it. We have Highway 404, Highway 410, Highway 406 and a number of other major projects scheduled, not to mention Highway 115 to Peterborough and the start on Highway 407. These are also very high priorities and must be funded.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, is the minister not aware that the slow start for Highway 403 has meant that during this period of construction the section of Highway 2 just west of Paris must carry all the traffic in that area? It is probably the most heavily travelled two-lane highway in the whole province, if not in Canada, and therefore one of the most dangerous.
Will the minister be able to get the ear of the Treasurer from time to time, as does the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) at this moment, and point out to him how serious a matter this is? Can he not point out the importance of getting Highway 403 opened up west of Brantford because of the tremendous danger on Highway 2?
At the same time, will the minister point out that the province has not been outstanding in its support of the Brantford community during these many months when its level of unemployment has been as great as almost any other centre across Canada? If it were not for the federal industry and labour adjustment program, which is just now coming to an end, the situation would have been even more serious.
A case can be made -- and I am counting on the minister and the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) to make it -- that this is the time when something especially useful should be brought to bear in the Brantford-Brant county situation. Speeding up Highway 403 is the best thing that could possibly be done.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I would not agree with the assumption that very little has been done for Brantford or the Brantford area; I want to make that very clear.
It is not feasible to speed up the construction of Highway 403 beyond the dates I have given to the honourable members today. Last year a major contract was awarded for grading; it will be finished before the end of this year. The one we are calling this month that will be awarded in July is about an $8-million or $9-million contract. That much dirt cannot be moved overnight, and it will take the contractor some time.
I cannot give a scheduled date for calling the tenders for the paving of that section. However, I will say that the tenders for the paving of that section will be scheduled to coincide with the completion of the grading at some time in 1984. Whether it will be June, July, August or September I do not know. That will depend on the progress of the grading.
It is not a case of money or of the Treasurer becoming more generous. If he could become more generous certainly we could work on other projects that are ready to go, but that one is not being delayed because of money.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister can tell me when he intends to install a GO Transit station at Queen Street East and De Grassi Street?
Mr. Speaker: I am not sure if that is a supplementary.
SCRUTINY OF SECURITIES INDUSTRY
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Has the minister been made aware of the re-emergence in Ontario of the broker/dealer firms with their accompanying high-pressure sales techniques, most notably in communities outside of the major investment centres of Metropolitan Toronto?
Since many of the losses are suffered by pensioners and other investors who are really totally unsuited to the risky nature of this kind of investment, is the minister considering any form of additional scrutiny over this sector of the securities industry, particularly since the Ontario Securities Act was amended in 1978 to permit once again such high-pressure sales to be conducted over the telephone?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I have heard some complaints with respect to the broker dealers portion of that legislation, but in conversations with the Ontario Securities Commission I have not had it substantiated that real problems exist.
I understand the previous amendments to this act were as a result of other changes that had taken place in the legislation in keeping with other practices throughout the province in other industries. Certainly if the legislation as it now exists does not deal adequately with certain problems, I am always prepared to look at it.
Mr. Breithaupt: Some unsuspecting people have lost substantial amounts of money as a result of these tactics by broker dealer salesmen who then undertake to repurchase but do not do so. In the Kitchener-Waterloo area in particular there are a number of reported examples.
Will the minister encourage the Ontario Securities Commission to investigate the complaints that have been publicized with a view to restricting, if not suspending, the conditions of operation allowed under section 36 of the act? Then the public would be protected and the reputation of the investment community as a whole, including investment dealers and brokerage firms whose salesmen formally adhere to an established code of ethics, would be secure in dealing with the public.
Certainly if the minister wishes I will send along those examples, and I hope he will look into them from that regulatory point of view if he would.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Again, I think the member for Kitchener put this quite fairly and is not singling out an entire industry. There may be one or two firms he is particularly focusing on.
As I mentioned, I have had discussions with the securities commission about it in the past; I certainly will be pleased to have those discussions again. If any further steps are indicated I will be pleased to take them.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Provincial Secretary for Social Development. As the minister knows, according to the Experience '83 booklet, the Ontario summer Experience program administered by the Ontario youth secretariat ostensibly offers summer job opportunities to young people between the ages of 15 and 24. Is the minister aware that the jobs provided through the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority at Pioneer Village are being restricted to young people under age 18? This discriminates against applicants aged 18 and over and appears to be a way of saving money on wages, since the minimum wage is $2.65 for those under age 18 and $3.50 for those over that age.
Has the provincial secretariat or the Ministry of Natural Resources issued instructions, or do they condone this restriction of the Experience '83 job opportunities by the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: No, Mr. Speaker. I am not aware of that practice. I will look into it and respond to the honourable member.
Ms. Bryden: Does the minister also know that some of the jobs at Pioneer Village that were formerly handled by summer students are being handled by persons employed under the new employment expansion and development program for unemployment insurance exhaustees despite assurances this program would not supplant workers currently employed?
Will the provincial secretary assure us that if NEED employees are filling jobs formerly filled by summer students, alternative summer jobs will be made available so that the target of 680 summer jobs through the conservation authorities will be met for students who desperately need this money to meet their post-secondary education expenditures particularly?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I will give the member the assurance that I will indeed inquire into the situation and respond to her as quickly as possible.
REPORT ON WIFE BATTERING
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The minister has no doubt had a chance to read the report on wife battering, which was tabled by the standing committee on social development last year in this House, and I wonder if he can advise us whether he has adopted the recommendations relating to the Ontario Housing Corp. contained in the report?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I will have to apprise myself more fully of the section the member speaks of. I will do so and respond later.
Ms. Copps: I understand from his reply that perhaps the minister is not aware of the recommendation. If he is not aware of the recommendation, may I turn his attention to the standing committee report, which was tabled in the House last December.
Can the minister advise why, in spite of the recommendation to the Ontario Housing Corp. in that report, the Association for Spanish-Speaking People in Toronto was recently informed by the ministry that it has a new policy that forces a battered wife who is here as a sponsored immigrant to break this sponsorship before she will be considered for Ontario Housing? This policy flies in the face of the spirit and the letter of our standing committee report.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Before I get into answering that remark I would like to review who was making that statement. The member often comes into this House and says that certain people in the ministry make certain remarks or answer correspondence. I think all of us are aware of the fact that remarks can be taken out of context. I am not saying this is so at this particular time, but I want to do a review of the situation.
If the member has that correspondence and wishes to send it to me with the background material, I will review it. If it is not in accordance with the policy of this ministry and this government, I will have no fear in making that very publicly known; but I am not going to stand in this House this afternoon and attempt to answer a question on a subject I am not familiar with at this point. Knowledge is one thing to have; knowledge to express to this House is the best thing.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, it has been about seven months since that report was introduced, and other ministers have chosen to read it and respond. Will the minister give us a response today or very soon as to whether or not he accepts our recommendation that some form of second-stage housing should be developed in Ontario for women who leave hostels and emergency care but need some other kind of assisted housing before they can go back into mainstream private housing?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It is interesting for the member to stand up and say the report came in seven months ago. There are many reports that come in to this government, and I do not pretend to have each and every report at my fingertips in this House.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I would suggest very strongly that I have the opportunity to go back. Mr. Rae can sit there and smile, because it is fine to have his lack of --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The honourable member should refer to people by their ridings, please, rather than by names.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I beg your pardon.
Mr. Rae: Call me Bob.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The member for York South, Mr. Speaker, rather than Bob; I will agree to that, sir. Indeed, I will say to the member for Scarborough West --
Mr. Wildman: Don't be so sensitive.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Sensible is one thing; that is what I happen to be.
An hon. member: He said "sensitive."
Mr. Speaker: Back to the question, please.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I suggest to the member for Scarborough West that the ministry and the Ontario Housing Corp. are and have been reviewing policies on the availability of housing in this province for a number of different types of people who might qualify. I have to suggest very strongly to this House that not only is this ministry doing the reviews but the discussions also take place between ourselves and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
I trust that most members of this House realize we are in a position of having a partner in the development of socially sponsored and assisted housing. It is costing the people of this province roughly $1 million a day to provide the housing we have on the books at present. If we are going to expand that portfolio and that opportunity, we are going to be looking for the senior level of government to be a very substantial contributor.
I suggest strongly to this House that we will continue to review it. I hope that in the next period of time, though I am not going to commit myself to tomorrow or the next day, we will have some changes in policies relating to the provision of socially assisted housing in Ontario.
TRANSPORTATION IN NORTHERN ONTARIO
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Is the minister in a position to say when the report of the Task Force Study of Transportation and Living Costs in the Far North, which was inquiring into the high cost of transportation and consumer goods, will be ready and tabled in the Legislature? Is the minister aware that it went before the standing committee on resources development several weeks ago and still has not seen the light of day?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member knows he should ask that question of the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier), who is responsible for that report.
Mr. Stokes: Is the minister aware that during a trip all the way up to Fort Severn this past week with the Lieutenant Governor we were made aware that there was a study by his ministry looking into the possibility of reinstating the barge system between Moosonee, Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, Winisk and Fort Severn? Did his ministry not make that commitment along with the Minister of Northern Affairs to look into alternative means of transporting goods along the coast?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I know my officials have been working with the Ministry of Northern Affairs on this study, but the study is a document of that ministry. We have been giving them technical assistance. I believe there has been some consideration of reinstating barge service on Hudson Bay. I cannot quote right offhand what the status of it is at this time, but the tabling or bringing forward of the report will be done by the Minister of Northern Affairs.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I hope this is relevant. I want to point out to the minister that it is difficult for us who are not from the north to get accurate information on problems such as this. Both the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché) and the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier) indicated a year ago they would like to see the members of the Legislature have the opportunity to travel in the north in one of the off times and see these problems firsthand.
I wonder if the minister would take this question up with the Minister of Northern Affairs and also with the member for Cochrane North, who has a considerable knowledge of the north, and report back to us on the feasibility of seeing that the members from the south of this province get to see firsthand the problems of the north.
Hon. Mr. Snow: All I can really say to the honourable member is that I do not know if this has anything to do with the original question, but I will bring it to the attention of the Minister of Northern Affairs.
EXAMINERS IN PSYCHOLOGY APPOINTMENT
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health with respect to the Ontario Board of Examiners in Psychology. It is my understanding that no Minister of Health in the 20-year history of the board has made an appointment to that board without the support of the board itself and/or the Ontario Psychological Association. It is further my understanding that this year for the first time this Minister of Health has made such an appointment.
Why has he broken that tradition this year; and why has he not accepted the nominations, or at least listed the nominations, of either the board itself or the Ontario Psychological Association?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, it is very simply because I believe that the board, like all the others in the area of health disciplines, ought to have a lay representative of the public. Such a member brings not only the reality of impartiality, which has always been the case with the board, but also the appearance of impartiality. This is in the full spirit of the McRuer report and all the subsequent steps taken by this government with regard to all other boards. I felt it appropriate to do nothing less with regard to this board.
I would emphasize that this is not casting aspersions, and it should not be taken as such, on the board, its competence or the names it brought to our attention.
Mr. Sweeney: It is my understanding that the minister's appointment to the board this year is Mr. Robert Potvin. Can the minister indicate what special qualifications this man will bring to the board in line with the answer he has just given us? Can he explain why, in response to a letter addressed to the Premier (Mr. Davis) by the chairman of the board, the minister's executive assistant had indicated that the minister was prepared to withdraw his choice but that at the same time he would also withdraw all intended appointments of psychologists to councils and boards over which he has had jurisdiction? That does seem like a form of intimidation.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That is an unfortunate connotation to put on it. The point we are making to the board is that psychologists have really received a great deal of time and attention from the ministry. We have given them a number of appointments and brought them into our policy-making process. They have asked for this for many years. They have been very pleased that the ministry has been courageous enough to bring them into areas where previously there was resistance. The ministry previously had not invited the psychologists in because of that resistance.
The point we were making in that letter was that there were occasions on which we had stood up to pressure on their behalf in order to get them involved in the process. We were pointing out that it took equal courage for us to act in this circumstance, where they were not entirely happy with what we did. But if they expect us to do the right thing -- and this is sometimes the difficult thing when it is to their benefit, I think it is equally appropriate for them to be willing to accept those circumstances where we do something they do not entirely agree with but that is equally right. This is the only point we were making.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to ask you two things. When the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) referred to my leader as Bob on two occasions, why did you not rise on either occasion? Second, referring to section 19(a) of the standing orders, when the minister was busily casting all kinds of aspersions and imputing motives, why would you not ask him to withdraw the imputations? I would ask you to look into and respond to both those issues.
Hon. Mr. Ashe: What the minister said is true.
Mr. Martel: Yes? Well, if you are saying it is true, I suggest you ought to withdraw as well; withdraw that.
Mr. Rae: Are you saying that?
Mr. Martel: Because if things such as the minister's statement are true, Mr. Speaker, you take your job seriously.
Mr. Speaker: You are totally out of order.
Mr. Martel: No, I am not.
Mr. Speaker: Yes, you are.
Mr. Martel: Tell me why I am out of order.
Mr. Speaker: Just resume your seat, please.
Mr. Martel: I would like to know why I am out of order. I am rising on a point of order on section 19(a).
Mr. Speaker: For the last time I shall tell you that you cannot enter into debate with people across the House or on this side of the House. You know that.
Mr. Martel: I am directing my point of order directly to you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: I was not disputing your point of order; I was disputing your conduct after you made your point of order. I am not going to argue with you. Please resume your seat and we can get on with the business of the House.
TOXIC WASTE DISPOSAL
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor on behalf of the mayor, all the council members of the city of Niagara Falls and 3,161 residents of the city. The petition reads as follows:
"The Ontario Waste Management Corp. has narrowed down areas of selection for hazardous industrial waste disposal, incineration and treatment to 19 sites. Niagara Falls is one of the all-components disposal sites.
"We cannot have this. We must protect the environmental health of our region. This is the last place in the world a hazardous waste facility should be located. We are already threatened by dioxin and other toxic wastes in the Niagara River from the Love Canal and other chemical dumps on the US side. Chemicals that might leak from the Ontario water site through ground water into the Niagara River pose an additional danger.
"We have the threat of a chemical spill on the US-owned railway delivering chemicals from Niagara Falls to New York to Detroit and, while only four per cent of the waste to be dumped is generated in Niagara, huge amounts will be trucked in from other areas, creating a hazard on our local highways and roads.
"The proposed site for the facility in Niagara Falls is composed of prime farm land. The facility could take as much as 600 acres. We cannot afford to lose this amount. Farm land is an important economic resource to the Niagara region and will become more so as food-producing land in North America continues to disappear.
"We would join in asking the Ontario ministry to remove Niagara Falls as a site for locating any hazardous waste facility."
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition on behalf of 754 tenants of Denison Mines housing in Elliot Lake:
"To the Lieutenant Governor of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, do wish to protest the rent increase in Elliot Lake of 24 to 50 per cent. You have committed us to a wage restraint program, so how can your government justify this rent increase by our landlords?"
These homes were mostly built after January 1976, and the tenants are requesting amendments to bring such accommodation under the rent review legislation.
GREENSHIELDS NURSERY SCHOOL
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition from members of the Green- shields community, who hereby request continuation of the Greenshields Nursery School, run by the members of the community as a charitable co-operative. They are firmly opposed to an outside group operating a noncharitable nursery school in their community. According to the petitioners, "This is our community, and we want to maintain control of it."
The petition that is being presented has been circulated in the community in support of the continuance of the Greenshields Nursery School Co-operative Inc. This continuance will be jeopardized without the room at Greenshields Public School. The program that has been established over the past seven months to satisfy a perceived community need has been very successful and well received, as evidenced by the waiting list.
The petitioners are concerned about the establishment of a profit-making nursery school in the area; its costs, quality and the disruptive effect it will have on the children. In contrast, their school, licensed by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, is concerned only with the wellbeing and welfare of the children. These concerns, unfortunately, are not shared by some in power.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
RETAIL SALES TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon Mr. Ashe moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Eaton, first reading of Bill 73, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, this bill will extend to November 7, 1983, the delivery date for major household appliances qualifying for exemption from sales tax if purchased before August 9, 1983.
INSURED HEALTH SERVICES ACT
Mr. Martel moved, seconded by Mr. Renwick, first reading of Bill 74, An Act respecting Insured Services under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to declare that surgical procedures for breast reconstruction are insured services under the Ontario health insurance plan.
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Martel moved, seconded by Mr. Renwick, first reading of Bill 75, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I am taking my marching orders, as the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) would say, from the trade union movement. The purpose of the bill is to prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to work more than five consecutive days without a day of rest.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Swart moved, seconded by Mr. Lupusella, first reading of Bill 76, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, this bill has two purposes. The first is to provide that the Legislature sit part of every month during the year instead of the current policy whereby it may sit continuously for a four-month period in the spring and two months in the fall and be recessed or adjourned for the rest of the year.
The other section of this bill declares that the designations member of the Legislative Assembly and MLA are the official designations of the persons who are elected to the Legislative Assembly.
Mr. Speaker: Just before the orders of the day it gives me pleasure to recognize Shirley McLoughlin, the British Columbia Liberal leader, who is seated in the west members' gallery.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS IN ORDERS AND NOTICES AND RESPONSE TO PETITION
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day I would like to table the answers to questions 191, 228, 232, 296, 297, 298, 299, 300, 301, 302, 305 and 306, all of these standing on the notice paper; and also the response to a petition presented to the House, sessional paper 60 [see Hansard for final sitting day of session].
I would like to remind the House it has been agreed that we will stack all votes that are required today until 10:15 this evening.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
HEALTH FACILITIES SPECIAL ORDERS ACT
Hon. Mr. Grossman moved second reading of Bill 64, An Act respecting certain Health Facilities.
Mr. Martel: This is your big chance, Larry, to prove we are all wrong. You have all kinds of time here. Give us the stuff, Larry. Tell us we were wrong. Come on, tiger.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, in moving second reading of this important bill, I would say to my friend across the way, I am reminded of the adage, success has many fathers and failure is an orphan. For that reason, I think it would be useful to recall a bit of the paternity of this bill before the members opposite begin to fight and fall over each other in taking credit for this government legislation.
Mr. Martel: Come on, tiger, give it to us. Show us we were wrong all this last six months.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Perhaps the best way to dispel that myth without getting the member for Sudbury East ejected -- he is voluntarily ejecting himself -- is to document in a very objective way the course we have been following to ensure the standards under which our excellent health care is delivered to all our citizens.
To begin, I want to borrow briefly from a widely publicized speech which my esteemed predecessor, now the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell), made on the subject three years ago. At that time he recalled there were 483 nursing homes with a total of 22,290 beds when the Nursing Homes Act was passed in 1972. Today there are only 339 homes but there are 29,090 beds. We have 144 fewer homes today than we had 10 years ago, although we have almost 7,000 more beds.
How did this happen? "Since the act was passed," the former Minister of Health recalled at that time, "Quite a few small, inefficient and in some cases badly managed homes closed, while a great majority of homes became much more efficient and added trained staff, higher quality volunteer units and highly trained managers." He went on to say, "In the past five years, 63 nursing homes in the province have closed and 60 have been sold."
That means that on average at least one nursing home has closed each month. In virtually every case, the homes have closed because they could not meet the standards set by the ministry. To continue the quote: "In many cases in which nursing homes have been sold, as you know it has been because the former owner could not come up to our standards while the new owner could. We would not let a sale go through unless we were reasonably certain the new owner was prepared to provide us with a timetable and guarantees to bring the home into line."
Mr. McClellan: What was the date of that speech?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I will get it for the member. I could continue at some length to quote from that fine speech, but I think it is sufficient to say the ministry has pursued over these past 10 years a deliberate policy to upgrade and expand the nursing home capacity of this province by encouraging new and remodelled homes and by squeezing out the inadequate ones. Over the last year alone we have stepped up enforcement, getting more action more quickly and, of course, increasing the number of inspections dramatically.
We have heard a great deal recently about a number of homes which are still not meeting our standards, but happily this is not a large number because most of the nursing homes operating in Ontario today are now purpose-built facilities, well managed and compassionately run for the benefit of the residents. These few exceptions have become the focus of the ministry's attention and the motivation for this legislation.
While nursing homes have attracted the most public attention, this ministry has also been moving against private hospitals which do not meet our standards. These hospitals provide medicine and provide a wide range of services which are paid for through ministry grants or the Ontario health insurance plan. The number of these hospitals continues to decline. Beverley Private Hospital voluntarily closed this past year rather than comply with our demands for major reconstruction to provide a higher level of patient care.
The mix of services which contributes to the variety of health care delivery in Ontario is particularly evident in both ambulance and laboratory services. We have ambulance services operated by local government, as is the case in Metro Toronto; by the ministry, for example in Ottawa and Windsor; by hospital boards, for example as in St. Catharines; and by private businesses, as in Hamilton and Halton-Mississauga, to name some.
Ironically, we can intervene immediately where problems arise in hospitals or in other publicly operated services, but until now we have been severely restricted in dealing with shortcomings of privately operated services.
When I introduced this bill I said my ministry has no desire to interfere unnecessarily with the operation of our dynamic health system, but we do fully recognize the public expectation that lies at the heart of medicare, for just as the government has the mandate to ensure universality and accessibility to health care, we are ultimately held accountable by the public for the quality of that care. In such a large and complex system it is a fact of life that occasional deficiencies are bound to arise, situations where, because of negligence or incompetence, a breakdown or threatened breakdown in health care service occurs. When these rare circumstances develop, the Ministry of Health has a responsibility to protect patient health and ensure public safety.
While we are equipped with the legal tools to discharge effectively this responsibility in the public hospital sector, this has not been the case in the regulation of private sector health care providers. I am referring not only to nursing homes but to private hospitals, ambulance services, laboratories and specimen collection centres. In all these areas, we have found that real gaps exist in the ministry's authority to deal with certain conditions which might endanger patients or the public.
Currently, if an operator contravenes the regulated standards for patient care, safety or operational procedures, the ministry's chief recourse is to propose to revoke or to refuse to renew the licence. However, the ministry's proposal may be appealed to a review board, and the board's decision then may be appealed in turn to the courts.
This, of course, in terms of the legal protection necessary for those involved in the process, is as it should be. However, throughout this entire appeal process the licence remains in full force and effect. The prolonged delays which inevitably result are, I submit, unacceptable in those circumstances where health or safety might be at risk. Let me cite a few examples of the problems caused by the current procedures.
In the ambulance field we have been unable to revoke the licences of operators who have been convicted of defrauding the Ontario health insurance plan by claiming they had ambulances and staff on duty when they did not. Therefore, communities have continued to rely on operators who have displayed a wanton disregard for the safety and security of the public.
In the area of private laboratories, we have encountered similar abuses, such as where labs have billed for tests not performed or not ordered. Even though we have launched prosecutions, these operators have retained their licences to conduct tests and interpret findings which are indispensable to the diagnosis and treatment of illness.
In the area of private hospitals, we have been prevented from implementing the recommendations of coroners' juries for immediate action against certain facilities.
Finally, in the nursing home industry, I need not remind the members of the continuing problems we have encountered with a few poorly run establishments. Since the beginning of this year my ministry has commenced legal actions, either prosecutions or proposed licence revocations, against 32 operators who failed to correct regulatory violations within a reasonable time; but these homes are still in business.
The Health Facilities Special Orders Act will empower the ministry to take more direct action in such cases as the Ark Eden Nursing Home case, where we ought to be able to go in and look after the welfare of the residents or the public. This legislation will broaden the grounds for licence revocation based on the operator's fitness to hold a licence. We will be able to act if the operator's conduct demonstrates a lack of competence, honesty or concern for the welfare of those he is charged to serve.
The bill will authorize the ministry to move in to arrange an interim supervisor and interim care and take whatever steps are required to forestall a threat to the health or safety of the people depending on the facilities.
Through a provision which is relevant to laboratories and specimen collection centres, we will have authority to order the suspension or cessation of a specific activity. This power could be invoked, for example, if service levels or competence in certain testing areas were found to be inadequate and possibly hazardous to patients. Similarly, the ministry will be empowered to suspend a licence temporarily, pending the correction of specific problems in the health facility.
A ministry order for any of these purposes will take effect immediately upon delivery of the notice to the operator; that is, before the long hearing process starts instead of when it concludes. This step is an essential precaution to protect the welfare of nursing home residents, private hospital patients and the communities which count on private ambulance and lab services.
The bill contains appropriate safeguards for the interests of operators, including time limits for the ministry's involvement and compensation for the ministry's use of the facility. Operators will retain their rights to appeal to the review boards and to the courts. The key change is that the ministry will be authorized to move swiftly, decisively and effectively to remedy dangerous situations. No longer will a few unscrupulous operators be able to frustrate the regulations by bringing their performance in line prior to the hearing, then relapsing once it is over. No longer will the appeal process be used as a device to circumvent health care responsibilities. This measure is especially urgent in the nursing home industry, where my ministry is now intensifying the enforcement effort very substantially.
To place the bill in context, it is one of a group of measures we are planning to take to preserve and enhance the quality of care in our 340 nursing homes serving over 29,000 residents. Specifically, these further activities are as follows.
Full reports on each nursing home based on the annual relicensing inspection will be available to the public after July 1 this year, to provide information that will be useful in selecting a home and in making judgements about its quality of care and level of service.
To broaden residents' participation in decisions affecting their quality of life, we intend to make residents' councils mandatory for all homes through an amendment to the nursing homes regulation.
We plan to create an external appeal process, providing residents' councils with access to an independent authority to investigate problems and make recommendations to the home and the ministry.
Finally, we will expand the protection for residents to maintain their nursing home accommodation while in hospital. Currently extended care coverage terminates 72 hours after a resident is transferred to a hospital. A new regulation will extend this period appropriately.
The bill before the House will strengthen my ministry's position in confronting the few negligent homes that have flouted health and safety standards. Those operators will know the ministry stands a fair chance of success in proceedings to close them down if they persist in regulatory violations. They will realize that to stay in business they have no choice but to deliver the quality of care for which the taxpayers are paying and which their residents have every right to expect.
In summary, the Health Facilities Special Orders Act is a measure intended to safeguard the lives and health of Ontarians who rely on these facilities for essential health care services. As such, I suggest this legislation deserves the full support of every member of this House.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I will preface my comments by saying I think it is incumbent upon every member of the House, certainly in view of the proceedings over the last six months -- whether the minister is the godfather or the member of the third party is the godfather or otherwise of this legislation -- to recognize and support the legislation.
However, there are certain basic misunderstandings at the public level about the role of the ministry in this whole scenario. I have to point out, while I commend the minister for accepting and recognizing that these changes must be brought about, that the legislation as it is presented is not going to be the panacea for changes in the health care delivery system in Ontario.
I look specifically at and refer the minister back to the situation at the Ark Eden Nursing Home. His own colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea), under the triministry project, made the Ministry of Health inspection service aware of certain difficulties at Ark Eden for a number of days, weeks, if not months, before the ministry decided to act in this situation. I think there is one glaring omission from the legislation.
The minister is saying, and rightly so, that in certain circumstances this year he has acted against 32 nursing homes where they have not responded adequately to ministry intervention. I would have to say, however, preceding that lack of response is another lack of response that is even more glaring, critical and crucial, that the minister, even through his inspection service or through his own field service programs, has been unable to respond when patients, relatives and friends bring to his attention serious problems surrounding nursing homes, homes for special care and other institutions across this province.
I know the minister, for example, is well aware that in the case of the home for special care at Jacksons Point, his ministry was aware two years before the death of Jimmy Black that there were very serious and unresolved problems in that home. Yet his ministry officials not only did not demand changes in the home, they were part and parcel of an attempt to preclude that information from coming to the fore at a coroner's inquest.
When I refer the minister to the changes in this legislation, I ask him whether he feels his ministry has a certain responsibility for what has been going on here for a number of months and years. It has not been a legislative impediment that has prevented him from acting in a number of these situations, it has been the refusal on the part of his ministry to come clean with the public about the problem and act as quickly and fortuitously as they should have done in the past.
The fact they are bringing in legislation now to allow a takeover of a number of institutions including ambulance services, medical laboratories. private nursing homes and private hospitals is not going to put an end to the abuses we have seen in the system, abuses to which ministry officials have turned a blind eye.
For example, there is the question of ambulance services. The minister may be aware that there are a number of ambulance services across this province that have been under very severe scrutiny and inspection by his ministry. Again, the results of those reports have not been made public. We in the opposition do not have access to the report that was done by the ministry about the ambulance services of Thames Valley in London.
We know that in many instances the Metropolitan Toronto area is extremely under-covered when it comes to ambulance services at night and on weekends. We know there is a very serious manpower shortage. We know the ministry has access to this information and is aware that in many instances the ambulance service across the province is in a terrible state of disarray. The information is not lacking to the ministry but to the people of the province. From it, we could make valid judgements about ambulance and other services.
The takeover legislation suggested here will do nothing to prevent that kind of thing from happening. The takeover service suggested in this legislation will do nothing to counterbalance an issue I have raised with the minister on a number of occasions and about which I understand there is still no corresponding legislation. That issue concerns two ambulance employees with Metropolitan Toronto who voluntarily resigned last year after admitting to having sexual intercourse with a patient who had called on the emergency line while suffering a drug-induced reaction. Subsequently, those two employees were able to get jobs in other ambulance services, one in this province and one in another.
What was the minister's response? The ministry did not have legislation to deal with that. In fact, the ministry called up the local ambulance service in Tillsonburg, Ontario, and told the employer that if he did not fire the employee he would have his licence revoked. However, there was no issue to deal with the certification of that employee. He voluntarily breached a code of ethics that is far greater than any government regulation. By his own admission, he breached that inviolable trust given to ambulance drivers and others working in the health field, yet he is free to practice his craft anywhere in Ontario. That has not been altered.
If the minister is interested in pursuing this, he will find that when the good people of Tillsonburg called Metropolitan Toronto to get references for this employee who had voluntarily resigned, they received very good references about him. It was not until my office contacted the office of emergency services some weeks later that the rumbles began and the Tillsonburg people were told if they did not let this person go they would have their licence revoked.
The ministry has information of this nature at its fingertips in any number of cases. This legislation does not deal with the basic difficulty when a ministry official refuses to act.
We talk about the issue of laboratories, laboratory error and incorrect billing, and yet consistently the Canadian Society of Laboratory Technologists has attempted to develop self-regulating capacity over the last 10 years. It goes back to the time 10 years ago when one of the minister's predecessors promised the society that it would have an opportunity to become self-regulating, to make sure that people who are working as medical technologists in private, publicly financed medical laboratories were trained, able and capable of doing that.
That society has again been put on hold and has been told the minister is going to be bringing in some omnibus legislation over the next couple of years to deal with all of the self-regulating professions. Again, even though they were promised 10 years ago there would be legislation to make sure people working as medical technologists were trained in the field, that has not been forthcoming.
This legislation will not deal with that issue or the difficulties caused by errors on the part of untrained medical technologists in private laboratories across this province. There have been known cases of injury and death to patients as a result of untrained people being in a position to carry out these activities. It seems this legislation will again move in on a company that is fraudulently carrying out the activity, but it will do nothing to ensure quality of care being maintained at the private laboratory level.
For example, when I think of the case of nursing homes across this province, again I must caution the minister that we need legislation -- and he has promised the legislation as of July -- which will allow the public to have access to the inspection services across this province. For too long the public has been kept in a cloud and has not had access to information which ministry officials have had for a number of years. We have no way of being able to make a qualitative judgement as to whether the measures he proposes are going to change the system.
It seems that here we have an omnibus series of regulations covering a number of areas which will give the ministry power of takeover and control over periods up to six months, but at the same time there is no built-in corresponding accountability by the minister and the ministry to the Legislature and the public. Until we have that corresponding accountability on the part of the minister, the corresponding access to information on the part of the public, it will certainly not put the public in a very good position to judge the efficacy of this kind of legislation and whether it is working.
For example, when the minister moves in on a nursing home and that information is not made public, if there is supposedly a decision by the ministry to withdraw action because it has seen that certain difficulties have been met, we have no way of judging. Unless that information is made public right from the beginning, we have no way of judging whether a proper result has been achieved between the ministry inspection services and the private nursing homes.
That is why I hope the minister will be in a position to support one of our amendments which is going to call for the posting of notices, both in nursing homes themselves as well as the local assessment and placement offices, to let the public know the ministry is taking action to move against these nursing homes and establishments.
It seems to me that unless such information is made public, if everything continues to be carried on behind closed doors, then we will find ourselves as ill-informed after this legislation as the public has been prior to the legislation.
No one knew that the Ministry of Health had information about Jacksons Point for two years without acting upon it, that the violent tendencies had been exhibited in the past and no one knew the fact that the residents had gone to the local ARC establishment with bruises on their bodies or that a Ministry of Health worker was aware of that fact until it came out, against the wishes of the Ministry of Health, at a coroner's inquest. How can we judge the efficacy of the work they are doing unless we have full public disclosure, and that is not included under this legislation.
I think the second and more crucial issue in the long term is the complete absence of any new regulations or any new initiatives regarding programming. Again, I know the minister has commented in the House on a number of occasions that he will be bringing in appropriate legislation in the future. I might add, for example, he mentioned that 72 hours outside a nursing home is not long enough and they are examining that to find out whether it is appropriate. I believe that promise was also made some time ago and we are still waiting.
On the issue of programming and whether nursing home residents have access to occupational therapy, physiotherapy and to at least the minimum quality of life which is indeed guaranteed in our homes for the aged, at least this legislation should have taken into consideration that kind of programming as well.
In its absence, while I can commend the minister for his good intentions and for his avowed commitment to bringing in that kind of legislation in the future, it would seem to me that the impact of bringing in that legislation would be far greater to nursing home patients all over Ontario than would he the impact of this legislation which allows for ministry takeover in those limited circumstances where he perceives there to be crucial problems.
If I am looking at the number of nursing homes on which he has acted over the last year, he is talking in his terms about approximately 10 per cent or less of those nursing homes across Ontario. What about those patients in the remaining 90 per cent of nursing homes who do not have access to guaranteed programming, who do not have access to even the minimal kind of services that they would be receiving in the homes for the aged?
Again, on the point that was raised by the member for York South (Mr. Rae) this afternoon on the issue of rest homes, the minister will no doubt know that the Ontario Council on Social Development last year called upon the cabinet to recognize at least as a bare minimum a second-level lodging requirement, as had been established in the city of Hamilton to deal with the whole concern of rest homes across this province. The minister will no doubt be aware that his predecessor promised some kind of legislation to deal with those patients who, in essence, are patients out of the health care system who are in the rest homes because they are not able to cope out on their own independently.
It would seem to me that certainly the minister has got to reach out to those people, and yet the legislation which he is bringing in of major takeover powers will really only be a piece of legislation that I presume his officials will be using in a last resort situation. We will not be privy to the leadup to that situation where the ministry inspectors are out on the site, are not happy with what they see and would like to see changes.
I believe that information has to be made public. I believe we need some very specific programming legislation to ensure that we are not simply guaranteeing the provision of a bed and board; which is basically the situation at the moment, bed and board and, in the case of extended care patients, a minimum level of nursing care service. The minister has to guarantee, for example, that when people go into a nursing home they are not going to suffer atrophy of the limbs because they do not get out bed and that they are going to be able, at least according to their ability, to live a quality of life somewhat comparable to what they would be getting either in a home situation or in other situations. Frankly, this legislation does not deal with that.
I have another concern, on which we will he introducing an amendment. It is a concern about the time limits that have been placed on the takeover proposition. Unless I am reading the legislation incorrectly -- and the minister may want to respond to this -- it seems to me that when a takeover notice is posted the period for appeal as outlined in the legislation, the period for action on the part of the ministry, is only limited to a one-year period.
If I understand the legislation correctly, what the minister is saying is that if he moves in to either warn or to take over a facility he can have a six-month takeover period which can be renewed every six months, depending upon certain circumstances. However, the response time by the nursing home operator, the ambulance operator, etc., the appeal process must be initiated within 15 days. There is no corresponding demand upon the ministry to either convene a hearing or to hear the procedure within a very limited time period. I believe the period in question is one year. If the minister looks at the Ontario Human Rights Code as an example, he will see that when a person is brought before the tribunal of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, there is a certain time-limited period in which action must be initiated, which is far shorter than what he has included in this legislation.
If the minister is seriously going to provide a forum for concerned rebuttal and for at least a response on the part of those people whose businesses have essentially been taken over, it would seem to me there should be a shorter prescribed period of time during which the ministry must respond with either an appeal or some kind of forum so people can have a chance to air their various points of view.
It would seem to me that the promise to commence action within one year, if I read the legislation correctly, is not a promise to conclude action. Also, it would seem to me to be highly unfair if the ministry were to move in on a takeover proposition and then not convene a hearing for one year. Action would be commenced within one year. By the time one actually sees the resolution, one could be talking two or three years, which seems a long time when the minister is being granted wide-ranging takeover powers, which I think in essence are supported by all members.
I must say that in philosophical terms, the minister's power of takeover is certainly justified in the sense that the licence to operate in the first place is granted and conferred upon individuals in this province at the behest of this government, presumably representing the people. I believe too that the minister and the government, under unusual and extenuating circumstances, should have the power to move in immediately. I do not have any problem with that power.
I do believe that, in an effort to allow a fair hearing in a court in these situations, the minister should look at a shorter period in which the appeal process is actually completed and a decision is determined one way or the other. To say only that an action may commence within one year gives no termination date and could put someone's personal position in jeopardy for a period of a number of years without seeing a resolution. I believe the minister would not see that situation to be fair; nor would we.
I might say in passing that although we are supporting the legislation, we will be introducing a number of amendments. One will deal with the issue of programming. As I said before, I know the minister has promised to bring in programming legislation some time in the future and that is being worked on.
At the same time, he did promise in the last session to bring in some legislation on nursing homes, which he has come through with and for which I commend him. I might add that some of his colleagues in cabinet have made other promises in the past that they have not come through with. I respect the fact that he has tabled this legislation in this session, as he promised he would do in the last Legislature.
However, it seems to me that what he is doing is conferring ever-increasing powers upon the ministry without the corresponding public and legislative accountability. That public and legislative accountability must be determined through full disclosure of all actions taken by the ministry inspection service vis-à-vis any and all nursing homes across Ontario, vis-à-vis any and all ambulance services across Ontario and vis-à-vis any and all private laboratories.
It should not simply be a question of the ministry inspectors and the private nursing home operators cosily working out an arrangement where they deal with perceived shortcomings. I think that information must be carried out in a public forum so that we in opposition and the members of the public have a chance to see just what is going on, on an ongoing and individual basis, in facilities that are largely supported by public tax dollars in Ontario.
Along with that legislation, it is critical that we have parameters of programming for nursing homes and other health facilities across this province. Unfortunately, those parameters are sadly lacking in this legislation. I hope that by the time the next session is convened, the minister will have had a chance to include a complete programming package for nursing homes across Ontario.
As an interim step to that, we will be proposing an amendment in this legislation which will include the notion of programming under one of the areas where the minister can make a determination that lack of programming is causing a possible impairment of the health or safety of any person in a facility. We are recommending this amendment in recognition of the universal need for programming in Ontario. I believe that if the minister were to be true to his commitment in the Legislature to bring in programming legislation, he should rise to support us on that amendment as well.
I might add that it is a very large and wide-ranging bill, which I think might have been better discussed at a committee hearing over the course of the summer. I had an opportunity to discuss that possibility with the minister, and although he said he would be very happy to call a committee if we saw fit, I think he was looking to have this legislation passed as soon as possible. We are prepared to support him in that. We do feel, however, that there are some major deficiencies in the bill, some of which we will be addressing in our amendment and some of which I hope the minister will be addressing in the deliberations I know he will be carrying out this summer.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, during the course of his introductory remarks, the minister said that failure is an orphan. Maybe we can try to find one, if not both, of the parents of this particular failure.
Before we came into question period I told my legislative assistant we were doing the nursing homes bill this afternoon. She asked me why on earth we need an act to enforce the act. That is a pretty good question, is it not? Why on earth, in 1983, are we asked by the government to pass a piece of legislation that gives, for the first time, powers to the Ministry of Health to enforce the Nursing Homes Act and regulations?
I do not know when the first Nursing Homes Act in Ontario was passed -- probably in the 1930s or 1940s. Does the minister know. sotto voce? Was it 40 years ago? Was it before or after the Conservatives took power in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Afterwards.
Mr. McClellan: This is not an academic question. We are supporting the legislation, but please do not ask us to applaud the government for putting teeth, for the first time in 30 or 40 years or whatever the hell it is, into its Nursing Homes Act. It is an absolute disgrace that in 1983 we are standing here putting enforcement provisions into the Nursing Homes Act and regulations.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I do not think that aside was parliamentary.
The Deputy Speaker: I am being very --
Mr. McClellan: Is the Speaker calling me to order?
The Deputy Speaker: Well, yes.
Mr. McClellan: I will try to be more nicey-nice for the sake of the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson), whose delicate ears I have somehow offended. How can a member of the cabinet be upset about language when for 10 years she has been sitting there, presiding in cabinet and in government over a regime that has failed to enforce, because it lacks enforcement provisions, the Nursing Homes Act and regulations?
In effect, we have a situation in this province where a licence does not mean a thing. A licence from the government of Ontario to run a nursing home in Ontario is no guarantee to the friends or relatives of the residents of the nursing home that they will be protected against violations of the fire safety regulations, against violations of the nursing care regulations, against violations of the nutritional care provisions of the act or against violations of the environmental provisions of the Nursing Homes Act and regulations. A licence means nothing.
While we are pleased with the speed with which this minister has responded since we started to raise the concerns in a concerted way again in 1983, I have to remind him that we have been raising all these concerns since both he and I were elected in 1975, and I am sure these concerns were raised by many members of this assembly prior to 1975. The minister, for reasons known only to himself, has chosen to respond to the concerns we have raised -- concerns that my leader raised in his speech on April 25 and that I raised in January, February and successive months during 1983 by accusing us of making, in essence, false allegations about the standard of care in specific nursing homes.
It was necessary for us to do our own investigation of nursing homes because of the consistent refusal of the Ministry of Health for as long as I can remember -- which is back to 1975 -- to provide information from the nursing home inspection reports.
We took the advice of one of the minister's colleagues, the Minister for Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker), who on May 8, 1981, was asked by the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Cooke) why the nursing home inspection reports should not be made public. The minister said:
"Mr. Speaker, why does the honourable member think he needs to have a report to go in and take a look at the place? If he has two eyes, if he can see lightning and hear thunder, it seems to me one can go and look at a nursing home and see whether the floors are clean, whether the level of care is valid and whether the conduct and care is proper."
That is precisely what we did.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Please send that to me.
Mr. McClellan: I will be happy to.
We did what he invited us to do. We sent our most experienced research staff members to a number of nursing homes. They visited the residents and kept their eyes and ears open. What we have been relaying to the minister since the speech of the member for York South (Mr. Rae) on April 25 and my own speeches in February, March, May and June is the evidence of eyewitnesses. It comes from people I regard as professionally responsible, thorough and competent. The evidence dealt with blatant violations of the Nursing Home Act and its regulations and clear and obvious deficiencies in the quality of care in these nursing homes
The minister may choose to say these are wild accusations which are unsupported by the observations of his own nursing home inspection branch staff. But if I were the minister, I would be rather nervous that his nursing home inspection staff cannot see what my staff did see. I would be concerned. I would be alarmed.
I do not want to dwell on the allegations lest the minister think I am concerned about the nature of his response to our raising specific allegations based on eyewitness observation. I received two letters this month; they were both dated June 1 but I received both on June 3. They deal with one of the nursing homes that was mentioned by the member for York South in his speech on April 25. I refer to the Lincoln Place Nursing Home.
The minister chose to single out our observations about the Lincoln Place Nursing Home as typically exaggerated and untrue; I do not think he used those words, but that was the inference. Let me just cite part of the letter from the director of resident care, M. Bailey, from the Lincoln Place Nursing Home.
"Dear Mr. McClellan:
"This letter is in response to the allegations made in the House on Monday, May 30, which allowed the media to have a heyday with the half-truths, statements taken out of context and untruths made by yourself in regard to the care given residents at Lincoln Place Nursing Home."
She goes on in a similar vein to tell me what she thinks of me, along the lines of the minister's own contributions to the discussion here in the Legislature.
The second letter, dated June 1, is from a lady whose anonymity I will protect. She writes:
"Dear Mr. McClellan:
"My heartfelt thanks to you in bringing before the people of Toronto the truth about the conditions at the Lincoln Place Nursing Home. It was my unfortunate experience to be exposed to the deplorable experience as my mother spent, thankfully, only 10 days there and then was sent to Mount Sinai Hospital."
She goes on to detail in the letter that her mother became ill at the nursing home and that she approached officials of the nursing home -- let me just read this:
"On three occasions my mother complained to the nurse on the second floor that she was having difficulty in breathing only to be told: 'Go back to your room. You look fine to me.' Also the 'I-don't-give-a-damn' attitude of the administrator when I went to visit her office at 10 o'clock yesterday morning to speak to her about my mother. She was totally unaware that mother had been taken by ambulance to Mount Sinai Hospital. I removed all mother's belongings and left."
The minister has a choice as to whose word he wants to hear and whose concerns he wants to pay most attention to. I just offer him a friendly piece of advice not to be so quick off the mark with allegations of exaggerated half-truths or untruths with respect to the eyewitness observations that we have laid before him in this assembly, because he is on the thinnest of thin ice. If the minister needs proof of the pudding, it is in the fact that we have the legislation in front of us this afternoon.
It is all very well to say on the one hand that there are a number of people who deserve credit for the fact that we have enforcement legislation in front of us today and on the other hand that failure is an orphan and nobody is really responsible. That just will not wash. Political accountability is the keystone of our political system. It is supposed to be the keystone of the parliamentary system. There is supposed to be such a thing as ministerial responsibility, which obviously in Ontario is honoured in the breach; nevertheless it remains, at least theoretically -- a notion perhaps confined to the musings of political scientists in this province.
The minister answered a question I put on the order paper with respect to one of the nursing homes I had expressed concern about as early as February -- February 16 or 17, I do not have the exact date. It was about the Barton Place Nursing Home, which is at the corner of Bathurst Street and Barton Avenue in Toronto. It is in the minister's riding and is adjacent to my riding; probably we both pass it frequently travelling between home and work.
Barton Place is on the list of nursing homes against which a notice of intent to revoke the nursing home licence has been sent. Today, the minister tabled in the House the answer to written questions 299 and 300 which asked for information about the number of times this home had been inspected and what violations had been discovered in the years 1982 and 1983.
Barton Place, this wonderful, caring institution -- I wonder whether the minister is going to its strawberry social on Sunday -- on January 12, 1982, was in violation of the nursing care regulations. There were further violations on January 14 for nutritional care; on February 25 for fire safety: on May 3. 1982, for environmental health; on May 20, 1982, for nutritional care; on July 13, 1982, for environmental health; on July 16, 1982, for fire safety; on September 7, 1982, for nutritional care; on September 7, 8 and 9, 1982, for nursing care violations; on September 9, 1982, for fire safety violations; on October 1, 1982, for environmental health violations; and on November 19, 1982, for fire safety violations.
I guess there was an interval for Christmas when the ministry inspectors did not go in there; then on January 19, 1983, there were fire safety violations. On February 3 and 4, 1983, there were nursing violations; on March 1, 1983, environmental health violations; and there were additional violations on March 15 and 30, April 5 and 15.
We turn the page back to 1982 and see that no penalties were imposed on the Barton Place Nursing Home. Perhaps the minister gave them a little gold star. After all, there were only 12 violations that year. Perhaps they got a gold seal of approval for 1982. In January 1983 they received a revocation. They show up on the minister's list: "Barton Place, Toronto -- date letter sent: February 17." However, it was withdrawn. The dates do not match. I have a question about that. I cannot explain why the minister says that. Perhaps I am being unfair.
At any rate, according to the list of 32, a revocation order was sent on February 17. Subsequently it was withdrawn because the violations had been corrected. Of course, all the violations in 1982 had been corrected too. I did not put a question on the order paper about 1981 or 1980. I can just guess what the answer would be. Then in the Legislature the minister said that a second revocation order was sent on May 9 against Barton Place. The minister said that in response to a question from me on June 2, 1983, at page 1306 of Hansard: "Regarding Barton Place, the revocation letter was sent May 9."
We have two revocation orders sent to Barton Place Nursing Home in 1983. The first one was withdrawn, obviously because Barton Place Nursing Home had such a good record of compliance during 1982 when each of the 12 violations was corrected lickety-split. The violations from 1983 could not have been that inconsequential, because we know just how compliant the owner of Barton Place Nursing Home really is.
Last week I was sent a copy of a document entitled "Report to the Spadina-Bloor Interchurch Council." Guess what it is. It is a report done by an interchurch group in the Spadina-Bloor area on complaints about nursing homes in general and Barton Place in particular. The date of the report is October 1973, 10 years ago this fall. Perhaps we can have a 10th anniversary celebration later this fall.
A questionnaire was provided to a group of volunteers who visited Barton Place Nursing Home, inspected the facility, interviewed the residents, came up with a list of violations and deficiencies that are by now a familiar litany: inadequate staffing patterns; inadequate care; a diminishing activities program; unsatisfactory medical care; physical defects; lack of supplies; lack of bedpans; the washrooms were not equipped to handle wheelchairs; no outdoor areas; the elevators do not work. We discovered in the spring of 1983 that the elevators still do not work.
I will send a copy of this to the minister but, of course, a copy of this document was sent to the Ministry of Health at the time it was completed with a request from the Spadina-Bloor Interchurch Council that remedial action be taken. Of course, it was not taken, and it is entirely unclear to me whether the Ministry of Health intends to take action with respect to Barton Place Nursing Home as we stand here on June 20, 1983.
It has had a couple of revocation letters this year. I am not clear whether they have both been revoked. I know one of them has been revoked. With respect to the minister, on face value this is simply one more in a perpetual series of ineffective wrist-slapping gestures which have done nothing to clean up the flagrant and deliberate violation of the Nursing Homes Act by such operators as the owner of the Barton Place Nursing Home, who has thumbed his nose with defiance and contempt at the Ministry of Health for the last 10 years. I would be mightily surprised if he were not continuing to thumb his nose with the same spirit of defiance and contempt on June 20, 1983.
I am prepared to give this government the benefit of the doubt and to support this legislation, but let me say we will be watching carefully to see what happens at places like the Barton Place Nursing Home. Some of us have had close friends in that facility who were treated badly. I must say in a very personal way that we deeply resent this.
I am talking about Professor George Grube, a man who was very close to many of us in the New Democratic Party in a personal way. He was one of the men who founded the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. He ended his days in that home. His wife wrote us a most heartfelt letter about the poor quality of the care he was receiving at the Barton Place Nursing Home. If the minister wants to understand why we are so angry about this, it is because we have friends and family members who are subjected to unacceptable treatment in nursing homes which are licensed by the government of Ontario, and that government has failed miserably to protect those residents from what has often been abusive behaviour.
The evidence about Ark Eden Nursing Home has been gone through exhaustively. That nursing home was in violation of the regulations from the time it was purchased by its present owner in February 1980 until today. As far as I know, it is still in violation of the Nursing Homes Act with respect to inadequate size beds for the residents. Am I wrong? I will be pleased to be shown to be wrong. On the first day of the hearing before the Nursing Homes Review Board a few weeks or perhaps a month ago, the evidence of the nursing home inspection service was that as of that date, which I believe was in May 1983, the owner had still not installed adult-size cribs for adult-size residents. I am pleased the minister indicates, as he has, that violation has been eliminated; but at what cost?
It has to be said that, despite the minister's wish that failure has no parents, the Ark Eden Nursing Home was in systematic violation of the act and the regulations. Officials from the nursing home inspection service visited that nursing home time and time again and documented the violations during a period in which the then Minister of Health, now the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell), was conducting a thorough review of the nursing home regulations and the nursing home inspectorate.
I find it difficult to understand how it could possibly happen, in the middle of a review of the nursing home regulations and of the adequacy of the inspectorate, that a facility as grossly in violation of the act as the Ark Eden Nursing Home was never brought to the attention of the minister. That strains credulity beyond the breaking point.
The minister has said his predecessor increased the number of inspectors. If he did, it is one of the great disappearing acts of all time. On June 12, 1979 -- the virtues of having a long memory occasionally are rewarded -- the then Minister of Health replied to a written question from my colleague the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie), written question 201, asking about the number of inspectors in the nursing home inspection service for each of the years 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979. I have the document here; I will be pleased to send a copy to the Minister of Health if he has not seen it, before he says again that his predecessor increased the inspectorate.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I did not say that.
Mr. McClellan: He did not say that?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I said the intensity of inspections and the frequency was increased. In February 1982 they brought in some private forces --
Mr. McClellan: Let us just have the record clear with respect to the number of inspectors. On January 1, 1976, there were 19 inspectors; January 1977, 17 inspectors; January 1978, 17 inspectors; June 1, 1978, 16 inspectors; and January 1, 1979, 15 inspectors. I understand today there are 14 inspectors. Am I wrong?
Mr. Rae: How many are there, Larry? Fifteen again? Are we back up to a complement of 15?
Mr. McClellan: Are we back up to 15?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, just so we have the record absolutely straight, I will get them for the member by the time he is finished and we will read them into the record.
Mr. McClellan: And get me the dates on which they were appointed, which was probably about 4:30 p.m. on June 20, 1983.
The fact remains that there are not enough staff in the nursing home inspection service to do a proper job. The minister has some leisure time; he might reread the estimates debates for 1978 and 1979 in the standing committee on social development where this was pointed out to the then Minister of Health time and time again by members of the two opposition parties.
The minister insisted that he had the matter well in hand, that he was going to review the regulations and bring in an A-1 set of regulations and that he was going to a new team approach of inspectors. How familiar the language is; how familiar the ideas. That was in 1978. By the way, that was the same year he promised to provide information from the nursing home inspection reports, which again this minister has promised us for July 1, 1983.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: On the front lawn.
Mr. McClellan: On the front lawn. I will be there to get my complete set. I suppose we will get all 342.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No.
Mr. McClellan: No, I do not think so.
There is a certain sense of déjà vu, because we have heard the promises before. We have had the promises about an adequate inspectorate before. We have had the hoopla about the team approach to inspections before. We have had the promises about the release of information that up to this point has been unreleasable. We still do not have adequate information.
I do not regard the information given us today as complete, comprehensive or even very illuminating with respect to Barton Place. What does it mean that they are in violation of fire safety regulations, nutritional care regulations, environmental health regulations or nursing care regulations?
If I had a relative in the Barton Place nursing home I would be livid with rage that the Ministry of Health is still refusing to provide specific details about defects in the level of care at that nursing home, and I would have every right to be angry with the ministry for refusing to provide that essential information about violations. The staff has discovered them over and over again without ever taking consequential action against that nursing home.
I do not want to go on forever or go over ground that has already been covered. We will support the legislation but, as the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) has indicated, we have absolutely no illusions that it is any kind of panacea. It simply gives the ministry enforcement powers it should have had from day one -- 40 years ago or whenever it was.
The remaining problems in the private sector are not addressed by this legislation nor can they be. Listening to the Minister of Health day after day in question period I frankly despair they will ever be addressed properly by this government.
The minister does not seem to understand there is a fundamental contradiction between the provision of human care services and the private profit principle. There is only one way a businessman can make a buck and any businessman knows that. They have to keep costs and overhead down and they have to squeeze their profits out of ruthless attention to cost control. If one is running a nursing home there is only one place that can come from -- the quality of care, service, food, the number of staff on shift and the number of activity and therapy programs; all these eat into profit. The structural pressure in a private enterprise nursing system is to squeeze profit out of the level of care.
That is exactly what has been happening. It is exactly why this government has been unable to come to grips with the problem. Serious enforcement of the act and the regulations would shut down a great many nursing homes across this province that ought to be shut down. This government has not been prepared to replace those beds. It is as simple as that.
This is the quandary the government is in. This is the dilemma. They have been committed to a private profit principle as a matter of sacred ideology, yet they accuse us of being the ideologues. They are the ones who are perpetuating a system that violates the rights and dignity of patients in places like the Ark Eden Nursing Home. They are the ones who have failed to enforce their own act and regulations for the sake of their friends in the nursing home industry.
It is a great little industry. It is one of the most profitable growth industries in the economy today. It has not been touched by depression or recession. At a time when the manufacturing sector is on its knees, Extendicare, the biggest nursing home corporation, is able to enter into the bidding action for Crown Trust. Extendicare is able to buy and sell insurance companies.
They have that greatest of commodities, a pipeline into the Treasury of Ontario and a guaranteed cash flow for each and every nursing home bed that sits under one of its roofs. With that kind of collateral, Extendicare can enter into any market it chooses, and it does. It has a wonderful cash advantage; of course it does, and of course it profits and prospers.
What other issues does the minister have to face up to? Aside from the issue of quality of care and the free enterprise principle, another issue is that he is paying over $200 million a year for a set of services with no requirement of any financial accountability or financial justification. He is very fond of replying that if one pushes this principle to its logical conclusion, one would be prying into the bankbook of each and every nursing home worker and each and every orderly on the second floor of the nursing home.
The minister knows full well that, once again, he is on the thinnest of thin ice. Nursing homes such as the Heritage Nursing Home are making themselves millionaires at the expense of the residents and the taxpayers of this province. The Heritage Nursing Home, which has had a profit of $350,000 plus in one single year alone, spent at the same time the magnificent sum of $400 that same year on recreational services to its residents.
The Minister of Health has absolutely no requirement that the money that goes from the Treasury into the Heritage Nursing Home or any other nursing home should be justified in terms of minimum levels of service, maximum levels of profit or anything. The minister simply sticks his head in the sand and says, "This is private business; these are private property rights we are talking about and they cannot be violated;" no matter who violates the rights of the residents in the nursing homes.
I predict that within six months to a year this government will have legislation in front of us or changes to the regulations that deal with the issues of financial accountability and financial justification. This is assuming the minister maintains his glorious commitment --
Mr. Rae: Vigilance.
Mr. McClellan: Not just vigilance, but his glorious commitment to free enterprise health care, and particularly to commercial, profit-based nursing home care.
To sum up, I do not believe he is ever going to be able to establish a network of quality, long-term residential care for elderly people until he abandons the profit principle. I just do not believe it. I do not think it can happen. He will never get sufficient staff and programs. He will not get the commitment to engage volunteers or things we take for granted in the nonprofit homes for the aged: the adjuvant program such as the rehabilitation therapist, the volunteer directors who mobilize squads of people from the community to come in and provide companionship and caring support.
The social, cultural and recreational programs are taken for granted in the nonprofit sector. They do not exist in the profit sector. The minister is blind if he pretends they do. They do not and they will not, because the provision of these extras, and they are extras in terms of the existing regulations, eats into profits.
The evidence is clear that the nursing home industry has proven to be too rapacious, greedy and insensitive to be permitted to provide this essential service. They have had their day in the sun. There has been a freeze on the expansion in the nonprofit sector until very recently, from 1975 until this year. From December 1975, I remember it clearly, until a matter of months ago there has been a freeze in the expansion of nonprofit, long-term care beds.
All the gravy has gone to the government's friends in the nursing home industry. The evidence is in front of it today and day after day since the beginning of January. It has been in front of the government off and on since I was elected in 1975. It has been brought to government attention time and time again by organizations such as Concerned Friends of Ontario Citizens in Care Facilities and the Spadina-Bloor Interchurch Council, and in hundreds of letters of complaint from the relatives and friends of people in nursing homes who are subjected to substandard care.
Perhaps when the minister sums up he can tell us, finally, how many defective nursing homes he is prepared to tolerate in the system. There are something in the order of 32 out of 342 that we know about. Ten per cent of the system is in such a state of violation of the act that those homes warrant receiving in 1983 notices of intent to revoke their licences; 10 per cent of the system is in such disarray that the minister sends a revocation order during the spring of 1983.
What does that say about the quality of nursing home care in this province? It tells me that we need to be ashamed that this situation was allowed to develop and that we need to take more than cosmetic measures to clean it up. I believe very deeply that the only way to do that ultimately is to replace the present private profit system with a network of nonprofit facilities, not run by the provincial government, God help us, but by municipal governments, fraternal organizations, churches and ethnocultural organizations. I believe the government of Ontario should be encouraging the community in the broadest sense -- not free enterprise, not the bureaucracy, but the community -- to assume its responsibilities for the provision of long-term care to elderly people.
I see no reason why many hundreds of church groups, many hundreds of parishes and churches could not be encouraged to sponsor the construction and management of nonprofit residential facilities, perhaps with a mix of independent apartment living accommodations extending into traditional nursing care. I see no reason why many hundreds of ethnocultural organizations could not be encouraged by this government to provide residential care facilities for their elderly members. I see no reason why trade unions could not be encouraged to exercise this responsibility on the part of their members. It seems to me that is what a caring society is all about and what government leadership is all about, to encourage the appropriate sectors of the community to assume the responsibility for the provision of care to those who need assistance.
It cannot and will not be done on a business basis. The only thing that happens on a business basis is that a business is created and profits are made. Is that the kind of society the minister is trying to promote? I do not really believe it is and I think there is still time to draw back from the path that this government has embarked on in the last 10 years. There is still time to draw back and to go a different route, one which will engage the entire community in a genuine effort of responsibility towards the provision of housing and care to the elderly.
It will not be done by the Harold Livergants of this world or by characters such as the good doctor who owns Barton Place and Lincoln Place. They will not bring about a society of responsibility and compassion. They will simply bring about one more ripoff industry, taking advantage of dependency to enrich their own personal situations.
In conclusion, I hope the minister understands that the passage of this legislation is simply the beginning of this discussion. This will remain a critical issue in this province over the course of the next 10 years. As the population ages and as the aging population increases from the present seven to eight per cent and totals upwards to 14 or 15 per cent within a relatively short period of time, one of the critical issues facing this province is going to be how we respond to the housing and care needs of elderly people.
The record of this government is a disgrace; that this legislation is before us today is a disgrace; the fact that this government is still relying on a discredited and obsolete system, the free enterprise system, for the provision of basic housing and care for the elderly is a disgrace. It is simply a matter of time before these policies are repudiated, if not by this government then, I have no doubt, by the people of this province.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak briefly to this bill, first of all to say I certainly support it. It is an issue, as both the previous speakers -- the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) and the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) -- have drawn to your attention, that has been raised in this Legislature on numerous occasions, perhaps as many times by those two as by anyone else. Therefore, there is no doubt about the necessity for legislation of this type, and there is no doubt about my support for it.
I want to do this for two reasons. First, we are aware of the violations that have taken place and we have a piece of legislation before us now that is going to respond to those, or at least has the potential for responding to them. As has already been noted, we will not know how effective it is until it has actually been in place for a while. While we can bemoan the fact that it has not been brought before us earlier than this, at least it is here now. Let us see what we can do with it.
The second reason I want to speak to it is that we are dealing in this issue with two groups of people who in many cases are unable to help themselves. I have always felt that one of our prime responsibilities as members of this Legislature is to speak for those who are unable in many circumstances to speak for themselves. The two groups are those who are aged and those who are handicapped.
I have a number of nursing homes in my area and I have a chance to visit them once in a while. I am well aware of the nature of the residents of those homes. I am well aware of the fact that they frequently feel and express to me their sense of helplessness.
I might say as an aside that by far the majority of nursing homes in my area are well run; they do provide good service to their residents. The people who work in them are, in fact, caring people and certainly do everything they can to help the people they have in their charge.
I want to stress and to compliment the minister for the precision with which he or his drafters have put down the way in which action will take place. They have made it very clear that as soon as they have come to a decision that an infraction or a violation has occurred, action will be taken immediately. The wording is to the effect that as soon as the notice is delivered, the effect takes place immediately.
The second part that certainly caught my attention, which I think is notable and which I hope is establishing a principle, is that when a violation is sufficiently clear that the minister feels he must act, he makes very clear in his legislation that the licensee will be advised during the process of the hearing and during the process of the appeal -- if in fact there is one -- that he has the right to a hearing and the right to an appeal. I applaud that as well as part of the democratic process, because I have been advised that in other circumstances, under different ministries, people who feel they have been aggrieved have not been told clearly enough what rights they do have. So I am pleased that the minister has put this in his legislation.
He also makes a very clear principle; and when he spoke at the beginning of this debate he reiterated that principle, and I listened particularly because I was waiting to see if he would. He said he would not tolerate anyone continuing to operate a licensed institution like this, whether it be a nursing home, a private hospital, a laboratory or an ambulance service -- and I would have to guess, by implication, that he would not tolerate continuing violation which is the issue at stake -- while the hearing is going on and while the appeal is going on.
I was pleased to hear the minister say this, because it happens in other areas that the nature of our hearing and review system, of our court system, does allow something like this to be dragged on for a long period of time and, during the process of its being dragged on the violation continues. I am most pleased to see that the minister has drafted this legislation so this will not be possible. He makes it clear in the legislation that under some circumstances if it is in the best interests of the residents, the ministry itself would take over and continue to operate. He made it clear in another section that this might not be the case, and the ministry might simply close the operation down.
I do have one question, and I hope the minister will address it when he responds. I am not sure who has the prior authority. I am addressing myself to subsections 9(5), (6) and (7) of the bill. If I can refer him to subsection 9(7), it says: "For the purposes of subsections (5) and (6), the board may substitute its opinion for that of the minister." Subsections (5) and (6), to which we have just referred, are further referred back to subsections (2) and (3). Therefore, we are covering practically the entire section 9 by that implication in subsection (7). I would appreciate if he would tell me exactly what that means. If I look at subsections (5) and (6) and then read (7), I get the impression -- and I am not sure whether I am right -- that the board has the final say in these things and the board can tell the minister what he may or may not do.
I am not sufficiently acquainted with how this board operates to know whether we want that to happen. I would certainly appreciate hearing from the minister that if my interpretation is correct, there is sufficient safeguard that we would not have the intention of the legislation wiped out or inhibited because a particular board decided it was not going to go along with the way the minister was thinking at any time.
Finally, I would like to speak briefly to the point of accountability that my colleague the member for Bellwoods has already raised. We have frequently been told in this Legislature that there are institutions and organizations that the government cannot interfere with. I remember very clearly a number of occasions when I challenged the former Minister of Education and Colleges and Universities on certain actions in those institutions. I was told that they are independent boards of governors and that they decide what they are going to do and what they are not going to do. He was the minister and, to the best of his knowledge, his government was not going to interfere with them.
Yet I can recall quite clearly one particular case when it was drawn to the attention of the former Minister of Colleges and Universities that a community college in the Metropolitan Toronto area was taking funds that had been transferred to it by the Treasury of the government of Ontario for the educational needs of its students and putting that money into a trust fund. If I recall correctly, the trust fund had stocks and bonds; the community college was earning interest from this, and the trust fund was getting bigger and bigger all the time.
At that point I was the critic for that ministry and I had been contacted by the students and faculty of that community college. It was drawn to my attention that a number of the educational needs of the students and faculty were not being met.
To make a long story short, this was brought to the then minister's attention. He looked into the matter, came back to this Legislature about a week later and made a very clear statement that he had instructed the board of governors of this community college that they would no longer be permitted to use for their own purposes money transferred to them for the education of students and for the educational needs and services of the faculty.
The only reason I draw this parallel is that I think the same thing could happen here with private hospitals or with nursing homes, to which we are particularly addressing ourselves. There does have to be a level of accountability.
The minister has got to be able to have a report back whenever he feels it is necessary to have it in order to be sure the funds transferred from the Treasury of Ontario are being used to meet the needs of the residents: to meet their nutritional needs, to meet their health needs, to meet their recreational needs and simply to meet their needs for a quality of life that I believe all of us in this Legislature would want to see met for people who in many cases are incapable of meeting their own needs, otherwise they would not be in this type of setting, and who, in many cases, once in it are incapable by themselves of seeing to it that their rights are met.
I support the legislation and I support the general direction of it. I would ask that the further step be taken that some time soon, either as an amendment to this legislation or in another piece of legislation, the whole question of accountability for public funds be made much clearer than it is at the present time.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, it is perhaps appropriate that we wind down this session with a discussion on the nursing homes question since it was on April 25, in response to the speech from the throne, that I was able to give a speech outlining the concerns that I and members of our party had with respect to the operation of the private-profit system in the very heartland of our medical care in this province.
This legislation, as my colleague the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) has pointed out, is legislation we are going to support. It is legislation worthy of the first half of the 19th century, and I think it is certainly the sort of thing to which one can hardly object. What is astonishing about this legislation is that we are debating it in 1983, given the evidence that has been overwhelming for so long about the very real contradiction, the conflict at the heart of the nursing homes services provided in Ontario, and given the incredible length of time it has taken this government and this ministry to understand their need for legal powers to enforce the standards that exist.
I do not want to spend a great deal of time on the legislation itself. I simply want to point out that much of the quality of this legislation will depend on the willingness of the government to enforce the standards that are there and on their willingness to use the powers we are granting them. I would simply point out, as I did in the question I raised this afternoon, that there are three separate sections of the existing Nursing Homes Act that give clear authority to the ministry, the inspectorate and the servants of the crown in this province to enforce the act with respect to operators who are operating a quasi-nursing home without having a licence from the Ministry of Health.
Evidence went to the ministry many months ago from an official in the ministry saying they get complaints about rest homes all the time, and clear evidence that a policy decision has been taken by the nursing homes inspectors that they simply cannot spend their time going around to rest homes trying to figure out whether or not they are offering nursing home services, and that this is a field that has to be left up to the municipalities.
I would say to the minister that when there is legislation that is as clear-cut as the Nursing Homes Act and when there is a statement being made by people who are in the ministry that they are not in a position to enforce the act -- and that is in effect what they are saying -- one really wonders about the usefulness of our passing yet more legislation for this government to do nothing about.
This is the frustration that we on this side of the House have. It is a very real frustration, and in a sense it is a very personal kind of anger, as my colleague the member for Bellwoods has pointed out, because on any number of occasions, whether it be in letters, whether it be in estimates, whether it be in drawing attention to problems that have been faced by individual constituents of ours, we have raised this question of the way in which the nursing home business operates in Ontario -- and I hate to say it is a business: it should not be a business; it should be a service, but it has been turned into a business by this government and we have had zero response from the government and zero response from the Minister of Health.
What have we had from the Minister of Health since these questions were raised even in this session alone? We have had, in a word or two, cheesy bravado. That is the long, short and end of it. There has not been a response to the substance of what we have raised. There has never been a sense from the minister that he appreciates the good faith of members who are bringing forward examples where there have been clear violations of the act.
All I can say to the minister is that whenever I hear him make the kinds of statements he is making with respect to the speech I made on April 25 -- and he usually makes these statements either when I am not in the House or when I am not on my feet, and I am used to that from the minister -- I do not take it as an attack on me; I take it as an attack on those individuals who have written us, on those individuals who have complained and on those members of our research staff who, as the member for Bellwoods pointed out, simply were giving an account of what they saw with their very own eyes.
That is why I do not think the minister has any particular credibility. I do not think the ministry has any particular credibility and I do not think the record of the government has any particular credibility when it comes to this entire issue and this entire problem.
What is the problem? I would suggest that the problem is the failure of the government to recognize and deal with a need for care that is genuine, that is real and that is simply not being met. I want to point out two or three areas where the government has completely, totally and utterly failed to respond in any meaningful way to concerns that have been expressed by people about the need for care.
I have suggested on several occasions in this House, and again in a particular question to the Minister of Health, that there is a very real problem with respect to people suffering from a disease called Alzheimer's disease. There is no monopoly in the impact of this particular disease. There are other long-term disabilities that affect, in particular, people over the age of 50, let us say, where a very different kind of care is needed from the pure and simple acute care model.
I want to suggest that what is happening out there speaks far more loudly, far more eloquently and far more dramatically to the need for change than anything any of us can say. What is the situation with respect to people who have Alzheimer's disease? It is a degenerative condition. For many years it went undiagnosed. For many years people talked about hardening of the arteries, they talked about some sort of other premature senility or some other code word or they ascribed it simply to ageing. But we now know that Alzheimer's is a particular condition that can affect people at any age past 30, that it is not simply associated with ageing, that it is a disease. Getting old is not a disease; Alzheimer's is a disease.
The response of this government to people who have a need for longer-term care has been totally and utterly inadequate. I would suggest to the minister that the documentation is absolutely overwhelming with respect to people who are staying at home and providing 24-hour care to their loved ones with absolutely zero assistance from this government, zero assistance from virtually anybody except for words from the government: programs announced five years ago and never put into effect; words from the government about services that are going to be provided; conferences that are held once every year that point to exactly the same problem and exactly the same need for care and get exactly the same zero response from the government; statements in the speech from the throne that have no foundation at all in real programming abilities.
Statements were made in the speech from the throne over a year ago that they were going to be introducing a service, and the minister gets up in the House today and says, "Well, now that we have studied the matter we think we might have to have legislation because it has certain financial implications." What an absolutely farcical way for a government to behave when faced with a serious human need.
The government is taking advantage of the fact that people's energies are so taken up with their own concern, with their own need to provide care for their loved ones that they are not able to get political about this problem. If they were able to get political about this problem, it would be a very healthy thing, because the government would have to come to terms with what it is failing to do.
There is a large private-profit industry involved in the provision of private nursing care for those people. It is an industry that remains almost totally unregulated, where there is no degree of accountability; and that is again a source of massive and super profits for those able to get into the business. We have some private operators who are charging as much as $12, $13 or $14 an hour for private nursing care and who are paying nurses in the same homes $6 and $7 for providing that care. This is the level of exploitation that is going on; exploitation of the nurses and nurses' aides themselves, and exploitation of the families who are being taken advantage of.
What are people taking advantage of? They are taking advantage of a very human need, which is real, which is there and which, in the view of the members of our party, should not be subject to a private-profit criterion and should not be subject to private exploitation or to commercial exploitation. If you have a health care need, that health care need should be provided as a matter of right to every single citizen in the province as a symbol of the fact that we care about each other and we are not simply going to leave people to the mercy of the marketplace or to the mercy of private-profit operators. That is exactly what the Minister of Health is doing in this instance.
There is another area that the minister raised this afternoon when I asked about the Idylwild Rest Home. The minister said: "What are you going to do? Bring up the example of every rest home operating in the province? What do you expect us to do? Respond to each and every situation?" The answer to that is yes, we do, because it is this government that has presided over this commercial exploitation of need and has let this jungle grow up out there completely and utterly unregulated.
I must say I was astonished to get the response of the Minister of Health this afternoon and to hear him simply say, "Well, give us the examples and we will respond." The fact of the matter is that example has been sitting in the government's lap for more than a year. But there are many others; there is not a member in this Legislature who does not know of a rest home operating in his or her constituency and providing a level of care that should be looked at by the Ministry of Health with respect to the kind of care that is being offered, why it is not covered by the Nursing Homes Act itself and why it is not being covered by regulation, enforcement and inspection so we can see the kinds of standards that are being applied.
There are no criteria with respect to the cost of these services. There are no regulations with respect to accountability in terms of the level of care being provided in these rest homes. In almost every instance there is utterly no compensation for families forced to spend $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 a month for private nursing care in these homes.
There is no public health law operating across the whole of the province. We have some municipal bylaws and we have some other legislation that is operating, but we have no general requirements in terms of the level and kind of care being provided in these rest homes, and it is a growing industry.
It is not a diminishing problem; it is a growing problem. It is a problem this government has not even been prepared to admit exists: the homemaker problem does not exist, the private- profit nursing home problem does not really exist, although there are a very few bad apples. When we bring up another five examples, the minister will say, "That is not typical." When we bring up another five, he will say, "That is atypical." When we bring up a further 20, he will say, "That is atypical." The government is not prepared to admit there is a problem with respect to the operation of private rest homes outside the ambit of law in Ontario.
We have a whole range of care now being provided for which people are being charged literally an arm and a leg, which is covered by no legislation in Ontario and which is covered by no requirements with respect to the kind and quality of service and care. The only way people can be covered is if they get their relatives into a nursing home -- and we know the kinds of waiting lists and shortages that exist: 100 per cent occupancy rates right across the province and waiting lists of three or six months and in some instances up to a year. People are forced to pay their way outside of that system either by buying a bed in a rest home or by being in nursing care on a private basis, that is the situation facing not just a few but literally thousands of families in Ontario.
It is appropriate that this legislation is coming down on the first day of Senior Citizens' Week. The kind and quality of care we provide for our senior citizens is an issue that preoccupies and is going to continue to preoccupy our party. We are not going to be put off by what I called earlier the "cheesy bravado" of the minister, by all the nonanswers, by all the rhetoric and by all the promises that are not delivered. It is something that strikes at the very conscience of the people of Ontario. The quality of care in all the institutions and all the ways in which we provide care for seniors symbolize our degree of concern for one another.
I want to say to the government that as far as we are concerned, the issue is joined. The issue is joined because the government has one model of care that has proven to be totally inadequate; it is totally outdated and completely archaic. We are putting forward an alternative which we believe is humane, civilized, fair and absolutely affordable. This issue, in our view, is going to be facing this province for many years to come if we go down the private-profit road.
There was a show on the radio the other day, Sunday Morning; among other things, it had an interview with one of the directors of the Ontario Nursing Homes Association. This spokesman was asked questions about profits, and he said: "There really is not a problem about profits and service, because what the NDP has been saying is really outdated." I am paraphrasing what he said. "The evidence is that in the past five years services have improved and profits have declined; therefore, there is no problem today."
That sentence, unbeknownst to the gentleman who uttered it, absolutely proves our point. If services have improved in the past five years -- and I do not accept that for a moment as a general proposition -- and if profits have declined -- and we have no way of knowing that, because all that information is secret at the moment in Ontario -- that proves the point we have been making all this time, that the quest for profit, the quest to extract as much surplus as can be extracted from the residents of a home, the constant attack on the provision of services and the constant preoccupation with cutting back on services constitute a contradiction that lies at the very heart of the system.
In the statement that Mr. Nightingale made to the Sunday Morning program, he in effect admitted as much himself when he said, "Services have improved and profits have declined." Precisely; and if we eliminated profits altogether, one could say that perhaps services would be improved even that much more.
Nothing that has happened in the past three or four months has persuaded me more of the seriousness of this problem and the need for a major reform in the system than the kinds of responses that I, along with my colleague the member for Bellwoods, have received from a number of people in that time.
I have had letters and phone calls from a number of individuals indicating that what we are talking about is just scratching the service with respect to the problem that is out there. This is true whether we talk to the people from the Alzheimers Society, whether we talk to concerned friends, whether we talk to individuals, whether we talk to individual nurses and nurses' aides or whether some people phone up, as one did, anonymously.
Let me give an anonymous example, and it happens to be anonymous because the individual insisted that she remain anonymous. It was a call from a nurse who said she worked in a nursing home from 1979 to 1980. I will not say which one, because she insisted that she did not want to be traced or known in any way. At any rate, it is a large nursing home, part of a large commercial chain operation --
Mr. Breithaupt: Come on, tell us.
Mr. Rae: I am saving it. The member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) wants me to say it; but I am saving it. I just want to give this story because it came to me in a phone call. She phoned the office and said she is now working in a large general hospital. She said you would not believe the contrast between the kinds of care provided in the general hospital and the kind of care that was provided in this institution. It is a large institution, not a tiny one. It has not been on any list and it is not mentioned anywhere yet, but it is worth just recounting her conversation of why she quit.
She is a professional nurse and she said: "I had enough as a professional. I couldn't stand to see the level of care we were providing and the kinds of things we were doing. Every time there was an inspection, everybody knew about it." That is the statement we have made on countless occasions; but the minister gets up and gives his ritual denial. She said: "They inspected all the wrong things. Never once did they question the staff ratios. Never once did they question the whys and wherefores on restraints. Never once did they look at the number of bedsores and ask themselves questions about why so many patients have bedsores."
She said: "I quit in a rage. There was a patient with a pinned hip that was oozing pus and there were no rubber gloves or gauze pads anywhere in order for me to provide care for that woman who had pus coming out of her hip." I am sorry to be so blunt about it. The director of nursing threw a package of Kotex at the nurse and said: "Use it. There are no supplies." She said they took the cotton fluff out of vitamin bottles and used it to rub people's arms before giving them a shot of their insulin.
That exemplifies the problem for me. It simply will not go away. No amount of rhetoric or bravado on the part of the minister is going to make that problem and that issue go away. When we have an open, fully accountable system where people can come from the street and go inside, where it is totally accessible, when patients and residents have genuine rights, when they have access to their own doctors, when there is a genuine system of openness and accountability, when we have services provided in the community and when we have a system that does not see people charged, exploited and commercialized to death, only then will we have made real progress in Ontario to celebrate during Senior Citizens' Week.
This legislation might have been appropriate for Senior Citizens' Week in 1853; but when the government launches this year's Senior Citizens' Week in this province with legislation saying, "Now we can close down a nursing home when it is threatening the lives, health and safety of patients; aren't we doing a terrific job?" I fail to doff my hat to the minister when he brings in that kind of legislation.
Yes, we will vote for it; it is utterly essential. It gives the ministry power it should have had years ago. God would only wish that the ministry would use the powers it has had but has refused to use because it sees its mandate as so constricted and constrained.
However, this battle is not yet over; this battle is just beginning. When we look at the questions of standards, programs, accountability, the operation of rest homes, the exploitation of people by private-profit operators in the private nursing field, the malaise and epidemic of loneliness striking so many of our senior citizens, we have an issue that will simply not go away, it will not disappear. No amount of shifting of ground and statements by the minister from day to day can change that a jot or a tittle.
The minister has not seen anything yet from the New Democratic Party with respect to provision of decent care for the senior citizens of Ontario.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I wish to say a brief word in support of Bill 64, which stands in the name of the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman).
Perhaps the key reason for my support of this legislation derives from an experience I had about four years ago. During the winter of 1979, I was confronted with a particularly difficult situation, as was my colleague the member for Renfrew South (Mr. Yakabuski), when we discovered that the Groves Park Lodge nursing home in the town of Renfrew was going to close down. It was a marvellous, almost-new facility at that time; in structural terms it was probably the most attractive nursing home facility then available anywhere in the Ottawa Valley.
The owner of that facility had an extremely anti-labour attitude. In response to efforts by one of the labour unions at the time to organize this facility, he was determined to shut the facility down and discharge into the winter snow the 75 residents, many of whom are my constituents and some of whom are relatively close family members.
At that time, I was amazed to find there was little or nothing in the Nursing Homes Act or regulations to allow the government to protect the public interest in a way that would allow for the continued operation of that facility. While there was a strong case for the owner-operator to maintain that nursing home in full operation, for the longest time he was determined to play out to the final chapter an ideological proclivity; namely, he would have neither part nor parcel of any nursing home that was unionized. He was going to shut the place down and turf the people out into the street.
All of us were confronted with a situation which to me was extraordinary, given the tens of thousands of provincial dollars that were going into that facility for operation. Here was the spectacle of the then Minister of Health, the now Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell), admitting publicly that his hands were tied. There was nothing in the act or in the regulations to allow him to continue the operation of a particular facility until such time as new ownership could be arranged.
As I understand it, Bill 64 intends to give the government of Ontario that kind of opportunity. I have absolutely no difficulty supporting that intent of this legislation. When I think back to that situation it seems unbelievable we could not do anything with him. It was also unbelievable the owner was behaving as he was. In my view, his behaviour was irrational because he had tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to lose if he carried his threat to the final degree.
I will always remember going in to that home and talking to everyone from my dear great aunt to many of my constituents resident there. I remember the incredible, very justifiable concern they all had about their day-to-day fate which was quite up in the air. That experience more than any other encourages me to support the Minister of Health in this initiative.
The member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) has indicated the view of the party generally with respect to what she sees and what we see as the strength of this legislation, some of its weaknesses and her intention to amend it on our behalf.
Over the past few months I have listened to the growing debate about the care of the elderly and particularly the institutional framework of this province. In the five years when I was opposition Health critic, nothing gave me more trouble than the way in which we were dealing with the ageing of our population and the increased pressure to expand services in that area.
There is probably not a member of this assembly who will not agree with me, privately if not publicly, that the area of institutional care for the elderly is one of the most immediate and serious of current challenges. I have very great difficulty with a lot of what I see in my own area, to start with that parochial point of view. There is seldom a week now that someone does not come into my riding office -- in fact a very fine lady was in to see me on Saturday to share her views about quality of life in institutional care in Ontario.
I know, as we all do, that the province and the government of Canada are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to provide an institutional framework that is as attractive as possible. I certainly do not share the views of the member for York South (Mr. Rae). He thinks that somehow if we simply give a complete and absolute licence to the public sector to run each and every institution the world will change fundamentally and the quality of service will be inherently better.
On the other hand, some of what I hear about the operations of private nursing homes upsets me very greatly. I think about the conditions in some of those homes and imagine how hard-pressed I would have to be to send some of my family to the care of one of them. I know of private nursing homes that I think provide outstanding care to the people in their charge. But I do think the Legislature of Ontario is going to have to take seriously, as I rather suspect the minister does, our collective responsibility to look carefully at the way in which some of these institutions are discharging their extremely important obligations.
I hope that in the coming weeks we will see not only the passage of Bill 64, but perhaps the enactment of other legislation to deal with some of the valid grievances that have been introduced to this chamber by, among others, the member for York South, the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) and my colleague the member for Hamilton Centre. Quite frankly, I cannot believe the public of Ontario is easily going to tolerate the kinds of tales that are being circulated.
Like the member for York South, I heard the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Sunday Morning special of about two weeks ago where there was a number of eyewitness accounts of problems in nursing homes in this jurisdiction of ours. I do not for a moment suggest every one of those eyewitness accounts perhaps represents the chapter and verse of reality as it is to be found in our province in the summer of 1983, but there are real problems. I suspect there are going to be more problems in the coming months and years as that ticking time bomb of our ageing population becomes just that much more evident.
I encourage the Minister of Health to move firmly against those operators when he feels there is evidence of maladministration, malfeasance or just incompetence. I certainly want to encourage the Minister of Health to instruct his staff to be as vigorous as it can reasonably be in the discharge of its inspecting responsibility. I have always wondered why there has been such reluctance to release as much of the data as is to be found in the inspection reports. I can imagine there are some situations where it might be delicate to do that but, as a rule of thumb, I was never convinced there had to be a blanket prohibition against the release of that information.
As I resume my seat I want to say it is certainly my view, as one member of this assembly who spends a fair bit of time dealing with a high population of elderly in my riding, that these problems to which the minister has turned his and our attention in Bill 64 are serious and need redress. I support him enthusiastically on Bill 64, particularly because of the Renfrew experience of four years ago, and I encourage him to take seriously, as I believe he does, the many cases that have been brought before this chamber in the past number of months.
As I said earlier, it is my belief the community at large expects the government of Ontario to err on the side of caution, and to take that extra step to ensure the public interest and the public good are fully protected as we try to provide as best we can for the elderly in institutional care in Ontario.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I want to add a few comments concerning Bill 64, An Act respecting certain Health Facilities, and to support the bill in principle. I think there are some major changes which indicate that in a number of cases in the past there has not been good supervision by the ministry staff, particularly in the inspection of some of those nursing homes.
One of the difficulties I have found with the ministry, particularly in the inspection of nursing homes in relation to fire inspection, is I could never understand the position the ministry has taken on that. For example, when an inspector goes in to inspect a nursing home for fire prevention and fire safety regulations to see it is adhering to the regulations, not once to my knowledge has there ever been a copy of that report filed with the municipality's fire inspection or prevention officer. I look at this as being a rather serious matter because one of these times there might be a serious fire. I hope it does not happen, but if it does happen there will be some difficulty in the Ministry of Health, or in the municipal fire inspection officer, to say who is responsible for fire inspection.
I cite one case in Fort Erie. The nursing home is now closed down, it is no longer in existence, and I will get into the matter of the licensing practices after I make some comments about fire inspection. The fire inspection officer in Fort Erie was never notified that the minister's staff had gone in and made some suggestions and recommendations; that either the building would have to be brought up to fire safety standards or it would have to be closed. The operator said at that time the expenditure to upgrade an older building would be too expensive. Fortunately, she had the opportunity to unload, or sell, the licence.
What bothers me most is that the fire inspection officer of that municipality was not aware the minister's staff had gone in there until I sent him a copy and asked for his comments. When I got his comments and viewpoints on it, there were differences of opinion on meeting municipal bylaws for fire inspection, fire prevention and fire safety in buildings, and differences in opinion among the ministry staff as to what regulations should apply.
I will tell the minister this much: if there was ever a fire there and a loss of life, there would be some hard answers to come forward, either from the ministry staff or from the local fire prevention officer, or even from the local fire chief who represents the fire marshal. It leaves the door open for criticism in this area. Whose responsibility lies there? It is a dual responsibility in a sense. I advise the minister to notify local fire officials representing the fire marshal's office that his officials have gone in and made an inspection, as well as outlining the recommendations that should be followed up.
In a number of cases it may be three or four months before the minister's staff gets around there again. They will perhaps send another notice to say, "If you do not comply, we are going to take some drastic action and close it down."
The other point I want to raise is the matter, for example, of this nursing home that eventually phased out its operation and we lost 21 beds in the town of Fort Erie. There was already a shortfall in this home care program -- nursing homes and homes for the aged -- yet we lost them.
Somebody else who wanted, I guess, to create an empire in nursing homes, to have more facilities or more rooms or accommodations in another municipality bought the licence. This is what bothers me the most: when the licence was first issued to them, there was no fee charged for the licence; it was a privilege to operate under the criteria the ministry has to operate a nursing home. The licence was sold for $12,000 per bed and I understand, upon further inquiries, on some of these licences a single bed would cost as much as $25,000 or perhaps $30,000 -- that is to buy authorization to operate extra beds in a nursing home.
The minister can see that an empire is building here with the price of those beds. That cost has to be passed on to somebody, and I suppose that is the recipient of the care. Eventually these licences are going to be selling for maybe $35,000 to $40,000 per bed. I advise the minister to watch, in this particular area, that this does not get out of hand. When we compare the service they are giving with that in the homes for the aged under the Ministry of Community and Social Services -- it is almost a similar program, it is nursing care, looking after the aged -- the homes for the aged can provide the care for far less cost than they can in a nursing home.
I am coming to the point, and I suppose my colleague the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) can bear this out for me, which is the shortfall in nursing home accommodation in the Niagara region, the shortfall in the homes for the aged down there. There is a backlog of applicants, whose numbers I do not know, but I could say there should be 500 or 600 vacancies or positions made available now to recipients under the two programs.
There is just no place for them. For example, I received an inquiry here about a month ago from an elderly couple in Ridgeway who are looking after an elderly sister of one of them. Their ages are 72 and 75, and the 76-year-old sister requires nursing home care. She was in the Port Colborne hospital receiving care for a time, but then, for some unknown reason, she did not qualify for any more time in the chronic wing of the hospital, so she was put out on extended care.
Here we have two elderly persons, one is 72 and the other 75, who are trying to look after a 76-year-old relative. They have their hands full. Somebody has to be with her all the time. There is no place where she can be put in a chronic wing in a hospital and no place for her in a home for the aged because of the backlog of persons waiting to become residents of these homes or of a chronic wing of a hospital.
I suggest that with the price of licensing these beds I would call it bootlegging in the market, if I can use that terminology; the beds are eventually going to be worth $30,000 to $40,000. This means that a certain segment in our society, those with sufficient income, will be the only ones who will be able to get into a private nursing home. I do not think this should be the case, because there is a shortfall of residential care for the ageing in the Niagara region.
I support the bill in principle. There are some good things in it, which suggest that further inspections are needed in order to make sure that the persons receiving care in these homes are receiving nothing but the best and that no shortcuts are being taken in providing nutritious food for the residents in the homes. I have heard some people mention the quality of food served in these places. I can say that in my area, where there is only one nursing home, the Crescent Park Lodge Nursing Home in Fort Erie, it is doing an excellent job in that area. But there is a backlog of elderly persons waiting to get into that institution too.
The minister had better get off his good intentions, along with his colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea), and provide the necessary beds in the homes for the aged and facilities for the chronic patients in the Niagara Peninsula. He knows there is a shortfall of residential care in both areas. The government must start moving in this direction to build additional facilities in that area.
I know the minister is going to say they just built one in the city of Welland about two or three years ago, but even that is filled to capacity. Many of the wings in the hospitals in my area are filled to capacity and are trying to serve the chronic care needs required in the municipalities. This is an area that should be given some consideration. He should be providing the necessary care in these areas in the Niagara Peninsula.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, very briefly I should like to put on the record some answers in regard to some information that was solicited.
First, in the case of the Ark Eden beds, additional reviews by the physicians in early June have indicated that some changes in bed size should be made. So the record is correct: arrangements have been made for the larger beds to be delivered. I could not be sure they are in place today. I want to be precise --
Mr. McClellan: Let us guess.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I do not want to guess, but they are either in place or on the way.
Mr. McClellan: Will the minister let me know?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I will.
Second, the current complement of inspectors is not 15 but 24, representing a 50 per cent increase over the last couple of years.
The member for Hamilton Centre raised some comments, each one of which we can touch on in committee. Suffice it to say that in the case of the ambulance situation she cited we did take steps, as she has acknowledged, to resolve the matter of the ambulance drivers who were getting employment in other places.
The posting of information is something I do not entirely disagree with, and we will find a way to see if we can accommodate it.
Might I say, with regard to the ongoing remarks between the New Democratic Party and me on the issue of nursing homes, that I do not mind and have never minded their determination that there should be no further private nursing homes in the province; this is a position they are welcome to take. I do not happen to share it; neither does the Liberal Party of Ontario and neither, I would suggest, do many people whose friends and relatives are being well looked after in nursing homes.
The only thing I do take issue with is not the fact they draw matters to our attention that I do not mind having drawn to our attention, because we want to catch as many bad operators as possible, but, more important, the accuracy of that information. It does scare friends and relatives; it does cause an inaccurate perception to be brought to the public view of the extent of the problems. All I seek is accuracy and care when some of the problems are brought to light. Bringing problems to light is not a problem for me, as the member for Bellwoods has seen. When they have been brought to light and they are accurate, we take action. We have succeeded in St. Raphael's and in other cases in taking the appropriate action, even given the limitations of this legislation.
That is all I would add at this time.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
HEALTH FACILITIES SPECIAL ORDERS ACT
Consideration of Bill 64, An Act respecting certain Health Facilities.
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Rotenberg): The chair has received no amendments to this point. Shall sections 1 and 2 carry?
Sections 1 and 2, agreed to.
On section 3:
Ms. Copps: Mr. Chairman, I have two amendments.
The Deputy Chairman: Ms. Copps moves that clause 3(1)(a) be struck out and the following be substituted therefor:
"That the physical state of a health facility or the manner of operation, including the degree or level of programming, is causing or is likely to cause harm to or an adverse effect on the health of any person or impairment of the safety of that person."
Ms. Copps: I am moving this amendment in an attempt to incorporate in the bill one fundamental issue that is not present, and that is in the issue of programming. This amendment would allow the minister to move on a nursing home that was not providing an appropriate level of programming. It seems to me that the lack of levels of programming has caused concern to be expressed by all parties. This is an attempt at least to begin to address that issue.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In those circumstances I share the honourable member's concern about programming. I think that at this time, until we have some more certainty with regard to the review we are doing on programming, they would be most appropriately dealt with by regulation.
I do not disagree with the thrust. I feel that at this time, as we develop these things, we need to know the implications of this amendment. I cannot answer that until we have some sense of where we are going to end up in the programming issue.
Mr. McClellan: Very briefly, I think this is a helpful amendment. I do not understand the manana attitude of the Minister of Health. We have been waiting an awfully long time for some concrete indication that programming is going to be addressed. We are always told that changes in the regulations are imminent. There is nothing, as I understand it, that runs counter to the intent of the minister through this amendment. I fail to see why he would not simply accept it. We intend to support it.
Ms. Copps: As my second amendment to section 3 I move that section 3 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsections --
The Deputy Chairman: No, we are dealing with this amendment. I have to take the vote.
Ms. Copps: Oh, sorry. I thought --
The Deputy Chairman: No, we will vote one at a time.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to show for the record that I am anticipating clear and expeditious passage of the bill in view of the fact that it is the wedding anniversary of the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick tonight and I am really thinking about him rather than myself; hence my mistake.
The Deputy Chairman: It was probably his anniversary all day too.
All those in favour of Ms. Copps's amendment will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the nays have it.
That amendment is defeated.
Is there anything else on section 3?
Ms. Copps moves that section 3 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
"(3) All orders under subsection 1 shall be posted within clear view at the facility and shall be available at all placement co-ordination offices."
Ms. Copps: Mr. Chairman, very briefly, again following in line with the issue of public disclosure, we intend by this amendment to make sure that when the minister sees fit to move in on a facility, information be made public both at the facility itself and through placement co-ordination offices across the province where they exist. The Chairman will be aware that placement co-ordination offices are the vehicle by which the patients are placed in nursing home facilities, and we feel it is important that they be apprised of the situation also.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Chairman, if the minister is serious about sharing information, it seems to me that he would want to accept and welcome this amendment, as I see from his duck-like bobbing of the head that he intends to.
Motion agreed to.
The Deputy Chairman: Shall section 3, as amended, carry?
Section 4 agreed to.
The Deputy Chairman: Hon. Mr. Grossman moves that the bill be amended by adding thereto the following section:
"4a-(1) The minister shall not: (a) make a notice suspending the licence for a health facility, (b) make an order requiring the suspension of activity carried on in the course of operating a health facility, (c) propose to revoke the licence for a health facility or (d) propose to make an order requiring a licensee to cease carrying on an activity carried on in the course of the operation by a health facility unless the minister gives the licensee written notice of the minister's intention together with written reasons therefore.
"(2) A notice by the minister under subsection 1 shall inform the licensee that the minister will consider any written explanations or representations in the matter submitted to the minister by the licensee within 15 days after the notice under subsection 1 is given to the licensee.
"(3) The minister shall consider the written explanations or representations, if any, submitted by the licensee in accordance with subsection 2 before deciding whether to proceed to make an order or proposal mentioned in subsection 1.
"(4) Subsections 1 to 3 do not apply where the minister is of the opinion that it is in the best interests of the person served by the health facility that the minister proceed forthwith to make the order or proposal and the minister gives notice of his opinion to the licensee."
Mr. McClellan: We support the minister's amendment for procedural purposes.
Motion agreed to.
Section 4a agreed to.
Section 5 agreed to.
On section 6:
The Deputy Chairman: Hon. Mr. Grossman moves that subsection 6(4) of the bill be amended by striking out "and shall not be stayed, varied or set aside by a court" in the second and third lines.
Motion agreed to.
Section 6, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 7 and 8 agreed to.
On section 9:
The Deputy Chairman: Ms. Copps moves that subsection 9(4) of the bill be amended by inserting the words "within 60 days of the receipt of the notice in writing by the board" in the third line after the word "hearing."
Motion agreed to.
Section 9, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 10 to 12, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 13:
The Deputy Chairman: Hon. Mr. Grossman moves that section 13 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
"(2) Delivery of an order, notice or document mentioned in subsection (1) shall not be carried out by mail until all reasonable efforts have been made to give or deliver the order, notice or document personally."
Motion agreed to.
Section 13, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 14 to 19, inclusive, agreed to.
The Deputy Chairman: Shall the bill as amended be reported?
It being six of the clock --
Hon. Mr. Wells: There is a stacked vote on this bill, is there not?
Mr. Martel: Mr. Chairman, on a point of clarification: I believe the bill is now completed except for the vote, so we do not have to keep the staff or the minister around, although he wants to come back for the vote later on.
The Deputy Chairman: I want to make it very clear to all members that this bill has been completed in committee. There is no stacked vote on this bill at all.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, there is; one.
Ms. Copps: Yes, there is. There is a stacked vote on an amendment to section 3.
The Deputy Chairman: The chair did not recognize -- there were not five people standing.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order: There certainly were, and we made a bit of a fuss about it. There is no doubt about it. The main reason was that there are going to be votes on other matters at 10:15 p.m., and our critic particularly felt we ought to divide on this one. There is simply no doubt about that.
The Deputy Chairman: If it is the pleasure of the committee. If the committee wants to --
Mr. McClellan: The House leader of the Liberal Party is absolutely correct. The required number of people for a division did stand.
The Deputy Chairman: The Deputy Chairman of the committee of the whole House is pleased to go with the will of the House, but may I suggest to all honourable members that five members did not stand up quickly when I said, "Carried"? When they finally did stand up, it was pretty well accepted that I had said "carried," and it does not matter.
However, if the members want to add this to the stacking, the Deputy Chairman will be pleased to see the stacked vote at 10:15 p.m., if that is the agreement.
The House recessed at 6:05 p.m.