The House resumed at 8:01 p.m.
INTERIM SUPPLY (CONCLUDED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for interim supply for the period November 1, 1983, to December 31, 1983.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, the members will recall when the debate was adjourned on Monday night I was speaking on interim supply and suggesting that it gave us an opportunity to look at the directions of government spending before we voted supply to them for the next two or three months. It also gave us an opportunity to suggest new spending directions which the government should be taking.
My theme was that the government has spent far too much on advertising, foreign travel by cabinet ministers and expensive entertainment such as the $219,000 spent to entertain the world bankers last year. Instead of this kind of extravagance, the government should be spending more on services to people.
Mr. Nixon: The member is right.
Ms. Bryden: In particular, there should be more spent on organizations which serve our communities and whose budgets are being severely restricted by inflation, by increases in case loads and by the fact that government grants are not keeping up with the pace of inflation. Some of them are being forced to consider closing their doors.
Some organizations have been attempting to feed people who have run out of funds because their unemployment insurance has run out and they have not been able to make ends meet, but funds to these organizations have dried up as well. However, I do not think we should go back to soup kitchens. I think we should be providing jobs for those people who can work and adequate public assistance for those who cannot. A society is judged by how well it looks after the poor and the disadvantaged, and not just by how well it looks after its cabinet ministers or civil servants who can travel, or its offices abroad.
Specifically, I think we should be spending more money in the next two months on interval houses. The report which was brought down in December 1982 by the standing committee on social development on battered wives indicated that interval houses were badly in need of additional funding if they were to carry out the role they have taken on to assist the victims of battering.
There are not nearly enough interval houses in the province. Those which are operating are having to spend half their time fund-raising to try to cover their operating costs over and above what they get from a per diem grant. Additional funding was one of the strongest recommendations in that report. There has been no increase in funding for interval houses generally across this province, nor has there been funding to produce interval houses specifically directed to immigrant women or to certain language groups that need service in their own language.
There has also been no funding for the setting up of response services for battered wives who call the police and need help. Additional training is needed for police officers. In addition, we probably need to develop response services such as they have in London where a team of social workers and police personnel responds to calls from battered wives.
All of this takes money; I realize that. However, I think it is money we must spend if we are not going to abandon women who are the victims of battering to having a police officer simply come, stay for a few minutes, go away and the battering goes on.
We also need advocacy services for women who go through the court process to try to get some change in their circumstances and to get it recognized that battering is a criminal offence and that people who engage in it should not be allowed to get off with suspended sentences or no sentence at all. Hiatus House in Windsor is one that was carrying on advocacy services and is now in grave danger of having to cease its activities if its grant is not increased.
That is one of the areas where we should be spending more money in the next few months. Another is winter job creation. There are many proposals before the government for accelerated municipal works from many municipalities. There are proposals for housing from co-operatives and from nonprofit housing groups. They have plans ready to go. If we could put some funds into those projects, more jobs would be created this winter.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has put a cap on the amount of grants it is providing for housing. Since we are in such great need of affordable housing in this province and in such great need of jobs, it seems to me that the province should get into the act at this stage and move ahead with these programs. It is much better to have people working than to have them on welfare, causing problems with their families as well as providing incentives to crime and things of that sort.
I also mentioned one way of stimulating the economy would be to bring in legislation providing equal pay for work of equal value. As the members will recall, this House unanimously endorsed the principle of equal value legislation last week. To bring in legislation in favour of implementing this concept would be to provide a great deal of additional purchasing power to the many women who are in undervalued jobs and are not getting their fair share of wages. It seems to me that would be a good way of increasing the purchasing power available. At the same time, we would be finding out whether the government really believes in implementing that principle, after all the government members in the House stood up and voted in favour of it.
Another area I was discussing was the need for catching up in high technology. Canada is lagging behind other countries. If we do not invest some of our money in developing more high-tech industry in this country, we will not only fall behind, but we will be in danger of having more foreign control in this country. We will be in danger of losing control of our information and our data bases. We will be in danger of losing control over our ability to plan the destiny of this province. That was another area where I thought we needed a redirection of government spending.
I talked about the microtechnology revolution and its serious consequences for people in clerical and service jobs particularly and in manufacturing jobs that can be robotized, and I spoke of the need for government to put some money into meeting this revolution. There is a very good report prepared by the United Nations called Equality, Development and Peace. It was issued in July 1980 to the World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women. It has one or two very important things about how women are affected by the microtechnology revolution. I would like to read one or two of them into the record.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Is what the member is talking about related to the motion before the House?
Ms. Bryden: Yes, Mr. Speaker. What I am suggesting is that we have to put some money into meeting the microtechnology revolution and the effects it is going to have on our work force, particularly on women.
The Acting Speaker: Thank you.
Ms. Bryden: The United Nations in its report said, "It is stressed that necessary structural change must take place in socially acceptable forms and with a significant social and trade union influence on how the structural change is realized."
I think they make a very important point there, that if we are going to meet the effects of the microtechnology revolution, we have to involve the workers and, particularly, we have to involve women in discussing how it will affect them. We have to involve guidance teachers in orienting the women and the girls in the schools to look at the change that is happening in the job world and to orient them towards math and science and computers. We have to meet this challenge by planning for it jointly.
I have one more quote from the United Nations statement: "The application of the new technology is likely to bring about a more polarized vision of labour, with women at the bottom of the new hierarchy. Computerization tends to produce a strictly segmented work force -- a large group of basically unskilled operators with little mobility and a small elite, highly paid group of tertiary educated professionals."
That is why they suggest we do need to get women involved in the planning and the retraining techniques if they are not to be dropped to the bottom of the heap. This is a final quote from that report: "It is important that women take part in the ongoing public debate, in the many studies currently being prepared and in the decision-making bodies concerned with technological change. In this report we have provided some examples which may serve to illustrate where women might channel their attention and influence."
I would like to suggest that one place women might channel their influence is through the Ontario Status of Women Council. Part of its mandate is to study questions that are referred to it by the government. It seems to me the whole question of the effect of the microtechnology revolution on women is a subject that should be referred to the council immediately, but they will not be able to do the work unless the government increases their allotment. On a budget of about $170,000 a year they cannot carry on this kind of research. That is one area where we hope to see a redirection of funding in the next few months.
It is possible that a conference might be called by the Ontario Status of Women Council on the kinds of measures that are needed for dealing with microtechnology. It should be a conference that would involve trade unions, management, women's organizations, community organizations, academics and educationalists. I think it would be very worth while if the government considered funding that kind of conference before we are facing the actual fallout from the revolution.
In the field of its own employees, the government should also be spending more money to help close the wage gap in the Ontario public service. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) boasted in the fiscal year ending 1981-82 -- that is the last report we have -- that wages of women went up from 72 per cent of men's wages to 73.6 per cent. So there is a gain of 1.6 percentage points in the wages of women as compared to the wages of men, but it is still only 73.6 per cent. This is something that has to be changed in the public service if women are to be given equal opportunity and are to be represented in all of the different categories and in the higher jobs.
In 1982 the public accounts committee did a study of the women crown employees' office and came up with the idea that perhaps the government's goal, which it had set some time earlier, of achieving 30 per cent representation of women by the year 2000 was a bit too ambitious. They thought that perhaps the government should restudy that goal.
It seems to me that if we are going to wait 17 more years until the year 2000 until we get just 30 per cent representation in all categories in the public service, it is a long wait for the women who are not getting the same opportunity to move up the ladder and into the higher-paid jobs. In fact, the 1981-82 report of the women crown employees' office that I mentioned showed that there were still 10 ministries below the average representation of women, which was 41.2 per cent across the board.
Those ministries include the Solicitor General's with only 15.4 per cent women and the Ministry of the Environment with 20.9 per cent women. It seems to me those are ministries where not all the jobs are ones that only men are trained for or that only men can do. Those are areas where the government should be looking at retraining programs and affirmative action programs to raise those percentages. That is another area where we need some change in the direction of our government spending.
We are told there is going to be a bicentennial celebration in 1984 in Ontario. Presumably we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Loyalists. But I think most people regard the bicentennial as the 200th anniversary of the founding of the province -- and the province of Upper Canada was founded in 1791.
If we are going to have a bicentennial, I suggest it should be in 1991. In other words, we are seven years ahead of our bicentennial. It looks to me as though this proposal is an attempt to provide some bread and circuses in the pre-election year and get people spending money on celebrations rather than on some of the areas I have been mentioning.
We are cutting back or not keeping up with the cost of living in many areas, such as hospital care, where we have bed shortages and waiting lists, and the area of housing, where we have tremendous waiting lists. Instead of looking after those bread and butter issues, we are going to spend a proposed $5 million to $10 million on a bicentennial. When we are voting supply, that is an area where we should really say, "Forget it," and get on with some of the basic needs of this province.
Another area where I would like to see a change in government spending is in government advertising. It has been steadily going up. In 1979-80 it was $23.9 million, which made the government one of the larger advertisers of this country. In 1980-81 it went up to $35.4 million, and it has stayed close to that level ever since.
This advertising is not all informational advertising. A great deal of it is promoting the image of the Progressive Conservative Party and of the government, but is not benefiting the people with information on government programs or telling them where to get their car licences. Instead, it is really promoting the government.
Advertising of that sort should not be allowed as a government expense. It can be an expense of the Progressive Conservative Party, if it wants -- although in that case it should also be subject to limits under election expenses law, whenever it occurs. That is an area in which we would like to see more restraint, if we are going to talk about restraint.
This last week, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) presented us with a statement entitled Ontario's International Relations: A Perspective, 1982-1983. What this tells us is that Ontario is really trying to become a sort of little Canada in its external affairs operations.
In the past we always have said the federal government looks after external affairs and the provincial government looks after things in the province. But at the present moment we have the following international offices for which we, the taxpayers of Ontario, are paying.
We have offices in five American cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas. We have four offices in European cities: London, Paris, Brussels and Frankfurt. We have offices in two Asian cities, Tokyo and Hong Kong, and we are opening some satellite offices in Boston, Baltimore and San Francisco. We really have our own external affairs department.
These offices are not cheap. They usually involve very large expenditures of money on either leasing or building offices, a great deal of money on entertaining and some pretty high-priced jobs for some supporters of the Conservative government in many cases.
I question whether we should be developing this kind of external affairs ministry when there are so many other needs in the province and when the federal government is maintaining offices in all these places and we can use its services and work with it. That is an area we seldom debate; perhaps we will when the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs estimates are dealt with.
Another area people always draw attention to, and I think we should draw attention to it, is Minaki Lodge. We spent $45 million on that and it looks as if in the coming years we are going to have to spend additional money to keep it operating. When the government starts into something like that, it should look ahead and see what the actual needs are and what the costs are likely to be and whether it is going to be a viable operation.
Incidentally, there was a little item in the Toronto Star that made me wonder what kind of an operation it was running. When a reporter who had a photographer with her tried to take him to dinner in Minaki Lodge when she was up in that area, he was rejected because he was wearing jeans. So it would appear it is not open to all the residents of Ontario. This is another area where we appear to have built a very expensive and elitist facility at government expense, and I am not sure how much it has benefited the local area in terms of jobs and its economy.
One change in the direction of government spending I would like to see is towards more preventive work. People from the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario were around lobbying members last week about changing the direction of our health spending to more preventive work.
One of the things they told me, which I did not know, was that we only spend 3.3 per cent of our health budget on preventive work; and health is the largest or second largest item in the budget. They were talking about more lifestyle work to keep people in good health, to have them look at their lifestyle and adjust it if it is not a healthy lifestyle. They were talking about nutrition and diet education. They were talking about recreational and exercise counselling.
In their opinion, all those things would contribute greatly to an improvement in health because they would result in a fundamental change in lifestyle in many instances. But there is very little promotion being done in this field. As a result, our health bills keep going up for acute cases in hospitals and for long-term diseases, lung cancer and things of that sort.
Another kind of preventive work is to help senior citizens stay in their own homes. In my area, there is an organization known as the East Toronto Seniors Centre, which provides recreational services to bring seniors who are living alone out of their homes for socializing, education and recreation generally.
The centre is funded under what they call the Elderly Persons Centres Act, which was passed in 1966 and which provides grants for the development of such facilities at the rate of $15,000 a year maximum. The organization has to match that fund; so its total budget could be $30,000 a year with the government grant. It could go over that if it could raise more than 50 per cent, but it is difficult enough for an organization of senior citizens which is not primarily in the fund-raising business to raise even the $15,000. However, that ceiling has not been changed since 1966 and the consumer price index in that period has gone up by 236 per cent. For those organizations that are able to match additional dollars, there should be a 236 per cent increase in the ceiling.
A report has been presented to the government by the Association of Elderly Persons Centres suggesting not only that there should be an increase in the ceiling but that these ceilings should be indexed and that the grants should be increased to allow an extension of these services. They are basically services that keep our seniors healthy and keep them out of hospitals and nursing homes. But this is another agency that is being allowed to struggle along at half-pace. There is something like 20 centres of this sort on the waiting list for funding. They have not even got the first $15,000 or any part thereof. So this is another area to which priority should be directed.
Helping seniors to stay in their own homes through services such as homemakers and assistance with household tasks that are beyond their abilities is another area that is underfunded very seriously. The organizations that provide these kinds of services still have to spend a great deal of their time in fund-raising and are not able to extend their services. There is one in my area that serves about 2,000 seniors, and its estimate is that there are about 8,000 seniors needing its services. It shows how the government is not living up to its so-called commitment to help seniors stay in their own homes.
Those are some of the areas in which I would like to see a redirection of spending. I hope we will be looking at those kinds of redirections, particularly when the new budget comes down. There is no reason why some of these areas could not be dealt with this fall, particularly the urgent ones such as the grants for interval houses and the grants for the senior citizen centres.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I wish to join my colleagues in the debate on the motion for interim supply. Basically, I believe at all times that we should never give the government supply, because I am pretty well satisfied that the government is doing an awful job and that it should not be allowed to waste any more of the taxpayers' dollars. But I have to weigh that against the fact that the civil servants who are working, the municipalities that are waiting for their grants, etc., would also be harmed if the government were denied supply.
Of course, the government will again receive supply and there probably will not be any sustained interference from the opposition as to its receiving supply. But basically I believe the government does not deserve supply. They have done a lousy job, and since the 1981 election they have been particularly poor in the way they have operated.
I will not go into a great many separate subjects as my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) has done. I would like to put on the record that the Ontario Liberal Party's policy paper on youth employment -- I know the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman) is very interested in this --
Mr. Nixon: He needs someone to explain it to him.
Mr. Mancini: Yes. He has already tried to spread misinformation on the policy, and I assume the government will continue to do that. It always amazes me how the government reacts to an opposition party's policy papers. It does the same thing over and over. It is like watching the same movie over and over. First, it decries the policy itself, saying it is worthless. Then it starts nitpicking, as the Treasurer tried to do; it tries to punch holes in a basically sound policy. The third thing is that when it finally realizes it is a solid policy and the people of Ontario are demanding that it be implemented, it changes the covers of the policy documents from red to blue and, lo and behold, it announces a wonderful new policy that is going to help the economy of Ontario. It tries to make its own party look as politically good as it can.
I understand that is politics. I just wonder why we have to go through the first two phases of that. During question period today, the Treasurer gave us a very good example of how the government reacts. The first opportunity he had to say something about the Liberal policy for employment for youth, he tried to nitpick. He probably had not had enough time to read all the documents and to go over all the information provided in his usual methodical way.
For the assistance of the Treasurer and for the members of the House, I would like to place some of this valuable information on the record. In September 1983, 159,000 young people were unemployed -- a crisis by anybody's definition. Yet we sit here daily waiting for the government to act, to use the supply it has received to help these 159,000 unemployed youths.
We also found that one in six of all youths is unemployed. The incidence of long-term unemployment among young people is particularly alarming. Approximately 28,000 persons between 18 and 24 years of age in Ontario have been unemployed for 20 weeks or more, meaning they face long-term unemployment. If one is unable to find a job in eight, 10, 12 or 14 weeks, the likelihood of finding a job after 20 weeks is not very good. Some 28,000 of Ontario's young people have been unemployed for more than 20 weeks.
Having waited for the government of Ontario to take action and having seen no action forthcoming, the Ontario Liberals decided to put forward a program the government could easily adopt. It would not be throwing money at a problem just for the sake of throwing money away. It was a program that would be practical, effective and efficient, and one that would work. It would get to the hard-core unemployed youth who cannot find jobs after 20 weeks of unemployment, who have poor job skills and who have not received any higher education.
If we do not try to improve the status of that group, we will suffer grave consequences in the years ahead. If we do not act to help them, we are literally throwing their future away. That group needs to be attended to immediately and in such a way that will improve their status and give them a chance when they are 30 and 35 years of age.
No part of Ontario has been left untouched by the problem of unemployed youth. We commissioned Statistics Canada at our own expense to give us the regional breakdown of unemployed youth in Ontario. I would like to place on the record the statistics for the summer of 1983, the most recent statistics.
In southeastern Ontario, the Kingston-Ottawa area, 14.5 per cent unemployment among our youth; Peterborough area, 19.1 per cent; in central Ontario, meaning Toronto, 15.7 per cent; southwestern Ontario, Hamilton, 20.9 per cent; London, 16.8 per cent; Windsor, 20 per cent; south central Ontario, Kitchener, 12.6 per cent; north central Ontario, Georgian Bay, 13 per cent; northwestern Ontario, 12.1 per cent; and finally northeastern Ontario, 25.1 per cent. No region of Ontario has been left untouched by this crisis.
I wonder what the northern members of the Ontario Conservative caucus have been recommending to their cabinet ministers when they realize that 25 per cent of the youth who live in northeastern Ontario are unemployed. Do they want those young people to stay and live in the north, or do they want them to join the migration to central Ontario, to Toronto? Is this going to be the only place in Ontario where there might be a job opportunity?
I urge the northern members of the Ontario Conservative caucus to speak up for their youth, to offer them a job in northern Ontario.
In order to prove to the Conservative government that there is room for a practical job creation plan, a case study was done in the Peterborough area. We have proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that if the appropriate policy were enacted and put in place immediately, there are innumerable places where the unemployed youth could work.
They could upgrade their skills, be useful to society -- and feel they are being useful to society -- instead of going from one place of business to another in search of a job, or reading the papers and finding that week after week there is nothing for them because of their lack of skills and lack of opportunity. They have not been able to stay in the work place long enough to obtain skills they can transfer from one work place to another.
We have done a case study in Peterborough and I recommend that every single member of the Legislature read the report. For example, we take a look at hospitals. The Peterborough Civic Hospital could provide jobs for five to eight people for at least 16 to 20 weeks, working on the following projects: microfilming, setting up and refiling systems, transferring information and materials, painting, fire safety patching and grounds keepers, as they have 50 acres of land.
St. Joseph's General Hospital currently has eight people working under the Canada-Ontario employment development program. This program will expire in April 1984. The hospital could use five additional people for up to one year for assistance in the general maintenance areas. These people would be employed in the nonunionized area so as not to interfere with the current part-time workers.
Let us look at the Springdale Nursing Home. This facility could use program placements for the following activities: two people, one during the day and one in the evening to assist the activity director in such patient activities as walks and cigarette breaks on a year-round basis; one person for general housekeeping duties, washing windows, wiping walls, making beds, etc., on a year-round basis. Springdale has told us it could use four people on a year-round basis.
Centres for the physically or mentally handicapped have also informed us they could employ the unemployed youth in many areas and use their energy and enthusiasm in many important and good areas.
Volunteer organizations: the Canadian Red Cross, Peterborough branch. The organization is run almost entirely by volunteers. They currently perform all paperwork duties and maintenance. Their facility was just fully redecorated in February 1983. They could use one person on a year-round basis for maintenance, grounds keeping and snow shovelling.
Environmental groups: The Ontario Public Interest Research Group, Peterborough. This organization expressed a need for one person on a year-round basis. I could go on and on and list the 14 or more pages that we have been able to compile of job opportunities that could be made available if the supply that was being given to the government was used not for government advertising but for the unemployed youth.
That is where the supply should be going, not continually to advertise Miss Penelope on TV, not to wish everybody a happy hospital day and things of that nature, not to try to promote the Conservative party through clever government advertising. The supply should go to where it is needed and right now the unemployed youth need this supply.
I would like to take a moment to outline the objective of our program. It is simply to provide to long-term unemployed youth a substantive program offering up to one year's work experience at basic minimum wage, education upgrading and career employment counselling. Any youth could participate in this program if he or she has been unemployed for 20 weeks or more.
The program would allow a maximum participation of up to one year. This program would have a mandatory educational upgrading as part of the job that would be required from the unemployed youth. This mandatory educational upgrading would require that they, on their own time, spend six hours per week upgrading their educational faculties.
Further, during the regular 40-hour work week, four hours would be spent -- and this would be mandatory -- on career employment counselling and identifying skills and training opportunities.
In brief, the program would allow participants to qualify if they were between the ages of 18 and 24, out of work for 20 weeks or more, and willing to work hard and commit themselves to educational upgrading and life skills counselling.
The qualifications for the employers would be any public sector organization, no displacement of current or likely future employees, willingness to provide participant evaluations, provision of productive work, preferably with some training aspect, and ensuring the employment would last at least three weeks.
The wages would be the minimum wage plus benefits. It would consist of 36 hours per week on the job, four hours of employment counselling and, as I mentioned earlier, six hours of their own time trying to upgrade their educational skills.
As I have already mentioned from the Peter- borough example, typical employers could be provincial parks, conservation areas, hospitals and clinics, libraries, schools, day care centres, community-based organizations including home care services, volunteer organizations, public interest groups, legal clinics and scores of others.
The types of employment, and I have already mentioned some as I quoted the Peterborough example, could include home care services, assistance to teachers and nurses, outreach assistance to the elderly and handicapped, grounds keeping, general maintenance, rehabilitation of historical buildings, etc.
The locations for applying for such a program would be the Canada Employment Centre, youth counselling services, labour councils, school guidance offices, or directly by mail or phone to the program office. The program would be administered by the Ontario youth secretariat. No new bureaucracy would be set up. The money would go directly to the people who need it the most. We are not interested in creating more bureaucracy. We are interested in using the bureaucracy we have as efficiently as possible.
We have estimated that at least 14,000 unemployed young people could have used this program last year, could have had an opportunity to work for one year, to do productive work, to upgrade their educational skills and to receive counselling so that when they finished this program they would be better equipped to challenge the marketplace. They would be better equipped to conduct interviews, to fill out resumés and to know what a work place is like, what an employer expects and what one's colleagues in a work place expect of one. These things all have to be learned and if a person is not given an opportunity they are never going to be learned.
One of the reasons we are going to vote supply to this government is because we hope it will use the money it will be voted to help the unemployed youth of this province. As I said earlier, 159,000 young people are waiting for the government to act; 159,000 young people are waiting for an opportunity; 159,000 young people are asking for a chance to be part of the economic system of Ontario; 159,000 people want to earn their way.
Mr. Allen: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a few remarks to the subject of interim supply, partly because we have a new Treasurer among us and there are a number of sectors of expenditure which are of great concern to many members of this House that perhaps do not get as much emphasis as they might in the debates they face in the Legislature. I want in particular to call his attention to the importance for the quality of life in Ontario of expenditures in the general realm of the artistic and cultural organizations of this province.
It has become, in recent months and years, perhaps somewhat more commonplace than it once was to observe that the artistic endeavours in our country and in our province are much more significant, economically speaking, than we once imagined. I suppose in the past we seldom took time to measure how many people went to cultural events or took part in artistic activities, seldom took time to measure the spinoff economic activities, the dollars and cents that went to purchase a ticket to the theatre or a ticket to the orchestra, and to note where that money then went, evening by evening, performance by performance, and to gauge its overall impact in our economy.
It is interesting that in recent years various cities, as well as provinces and even the nation as a whole, have undertaken to try to gauge that kind of expenditure and its impact on their own regional economies. The city of Vancouver, for example, has published a very interesting brochure with a rather catchy frontispiece. It shows a rather well-furnished office and it asks at the top of the picture, "Take the arts out of this picture and what is left?"
Then it shows the picture on the inside, and there sure is not much left. In fact, they even leave something in, which is a matter of artistic design; namely, the man's desk itself and the telephone. But if one looks at the furnishings and at the range of the arts that contributes simply to the furnishing of one simple office, one ranges through such things as sculpture, paintings, etchings, the production of various artefacts, the telephone itself, a very fancy chess game, the art calendar, the designs on the book covers, the planter in which the plant is sitting, the carpetry, the textured weaving in the drapes, and the desk and so on. It becomes quite obvious, when stopping to think, that although these are all very commonplace elements of our lives, the obvious expenditure in the arts is something that provides a great deal of stimulus in an economy.
When the city of Vancouver undertook to work out the more obvious impact of arts expenditures, it concluded that the direct spending by the nonprofit cultural industry in the city itself totalled about $17.4 million. When the largest city of this continent turned to the impact of cultural and related activities in New York City, they discovered that the impact in the city's economy ran to the order of $3 billion.
It is observed in Ontario -- and I hope the Treasurer bears this in mind as he looks over the various submissions for expenditure that come from the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture in particular, but also from some other ministries too that have some bearing on the arts -- that the cultural industry in the province amounts to somewhat more than the steel industry or the pulp and paper industry, two of our largest industries, both in terms of dollars earned or in terms of men and women employed. What we are talking about, obviously, in terms of the most immediate economic impact of the arts sector, is something that is a very large-scale industry.
Second, I think it is often not recognized that the total attendance at artistic events well outnumbers the attendance at sporting events in the province. We often have that measure reversed in our minds and tend to accord the sporting industry as being a much more significant player in the economy.
When one begins to look at the amounts some of the festivals and orchestras, etc., expend across the province in local economies, it is obvious that for the immediate cities involved there is a very important economic impact. The Shaw Festival, for example, which generates in spinoff revenue in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the immediate vicinity something in the order of $15 million to $20 million annually, is an organization which derives only four per cent of its operating budget through the Ontario Arts Council. The overall contribution to the local economy far outweighs the amount of stimulus that the direct Ontario Arts Council grant provides.
If one looks at the Hamilton Philharmonic Society, just totalling up the 181 T4 and T4A forms the orchestra issues year by year, a total payroll of about $1.1 million, virtually all of that money is spent in the area on rent, mortgages, cars, clothes, furniture, food and what have you.
When one takes into account the smaller community orchestras in Ontario in 1981-82, the low-budget orchestras as they are sometimes called, to which the Ontario Arts Council grants funds totalling in the order of $145,000, their direct expenditures in their local communities run to $1.5 million. One has to observe that government grants to these agencies immediately provide a catalyst not only for the attraction of other moneys to those organizations, but also for further expenditures through the vehicle of the arts.
When government asks what comes back quite beyond the question of local impact, nobody has quite a full answer, but if one looks at a single organization like the Canadian Opera Company, which secures something like $540,000 in grants from the Ontario Arts Council, government moneys funnelled though the arts council to that organization, fully $625,000 in taxes comes back to government as a result of those expenditures.
As one looks at facet after facet of the economic impact of the arts, it is obvious one is talking about a significant component of the economy. I wanted to participate in this debate primarily to call that fact to the attention of the new Treasurer and to hope he would, therefore, look generously on those members of his own cabinet who will be trying to persuade him to shift his priorities somewhat in their favour, those ministers who have aspects of the arts in their budgets and, in particular, the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture.
In spite of this remarkable contribution to the economy, I would not myself want to dwell totally upon that aspect and I am sure the Treasurer himself would not, as the primary justification for substantial contributions to the cultural community in our province. I just want to note that its economic impact is of great value, particularly for those among us who like a good hard dollars-and-cents argument and who want some kind of pragmatic justification, some tangible evidence that the money is not just filtering away, disappearing and being spent frivolously.
I think one always must make the corollary point, to which I think the Treasurer himself will be sympathetic, which is significantly to reward those organizations and those individuals in our society who are able to present to us images of our world which enlighten and expand our horizons, which transform our world because they change the way in which we look at it, or which augment our sensory experience, whether it is by sight or by sound, and thereby change our world and make it a richer place and one in which one can feel a genuine sense of belonging as an imaginative human being. The aesthetic dimension of the arts must always remain uppermost in our calculations, and the funding that goes in their direction must be bent in that direction primarily for those reasons, notwithstanding the importance of the economic impact.
In that respect, I want to call the Treasurer's attention to the fact that so many people in the artistic community feel themselves to be very much on the margin of our society. They find it difficult to understand why, when they engage in such creative endeavours, when they spend so much energy at their easel, at their instruments, at their sculpting, they so often are rewarded so poorly as professionals. If he has not seen the cultural statistics of Statistics Canada, I would remind him that it would be very enlightening for him to look at them because they portray a cultural community which is very much locked into part-time work to support itself, a community which on the average, as Statistics Canada tells us, has a level of income just barely above the level of income of pensioners in our society.
Their sense of being on the margin, their sense of being marginal for what is important in our society is reinforced by the kind of compensation with which we reward them. It is true there are some professionals, some stars, who far exceed the incomes that hover around the median point or the average point for the artistic community in general. But it is amazing how many competent artists one can talk to and whose work one can view and see how impressive it really is and yet have them reply that if they really felt they wanted to put their pride in their back pocket, they could go downtown and apply for welfare and quite easily qualify. That is a shocking state of affairs, and I think it is one the Treasurer will want to think about for some time.
It is not the individual artist alone who is in that condition. There is quite a network, of which the Treasurer is probably aware, of art agencies that network for the artists and attempt to provide them with a window on the community and on the province and offer them avenues of expression and perhaps, in some respects, avenues for the sale of their work, which themselves are at this point very much cornered, not just by the economy being in the state it is, but almost as a matter of course. For example, one I am thinking of has two employees who do a mammoth job of interrelating one major sector of the arts in this province. Yet that organization at present is looking at the potential dismissal of one of the two of them.
Artists are gathering together in rather interesting co-operative ventures to attempt to solve this problem as best they can. They do not make a plea for immense amounts of funding. What they do need is some very clearly improved basic amounts of seed money to keep them moving, to keep that catalytic function going so that they can, in turn, use that money to earn new money for themselves.
They are not particularly impressed by the last budget of the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture in which, for example, the budget for information services and regional services went up by 232 per cent. They are quite concerned that the ministry is attempting to develop a budget for a bureaucracy that will do for them what that bureaucracy thinks best and not what they think best. They would much prefer to have the amount of money that is represented by that increase distributed among their own agencies so that they can function as their own public relations persons and engage in their own campaigns.
Those campaigns are often not very promising, particularly on the scale and of the kind the ministry has tended to suggest to them in recent years. The ministry has attempted to move them more to a dependence on private sector funding. I must relate to the Treasurer the experience of one organization which secured a fairly prominent writer to undertake a campaign among something like 185 middle-ranking corporations in Canada. After several months of beating the bushes, the end result was one new contribution.
The astonishing answer that came from many of the organizations was, "We are sorry, TVOntario has been here before you" or "The Royal Ontario Museum has been here before you" or "The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has been here before you." In other words, the competition after a certain point becomes almost absurd for arts organizations below a certain level of power and impact to engage in.
For that reason, it is quite false for spokesmen in the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture to speak as if the world of the arts was a world of Darwinian struggle in which small artistic groups competing with one another somehow or other produce the large-scale winners as the ones that ought best to be supported and deserve support the most. Obviously, that is simply not a model that fits the world of the arts. One can hardly see in the history of the emergence of the Shaw Festival or the Stratford Festival or the Toronto Symphony Orchestra any history of competition among a host of smaller orchestras or dramatic festivals that somehow or other produce the winner in Stratford, Toronto or Niagara-on-the-Lake. That simply is not a model that stands up to examination.
When one suggests that one should reward the winners, one is simply indulging in a kind of terminology which does not fit the facts of the case. One is, moreover, avoiding the responsibility that falls upon government to maintain that public commitment to the arts, not just as far as the big organizations are concerned, but the host of smaller cultural institutions that scatter through every one of our constituencies, every one of which functions as an enriching agency, uplifting the human spirit and making life worth while in the towns and cities in each of our constituencies.
For the moment let me simply conclude with the observation that at no time in history has the artistic world, the cultural community, managed to survive without some kind of substantial public patronage, whether it is the Medici in Florence or the government in Ontario in the latter years of the 20th century. For us, the major component of stimulating, maintaining and expanding the work of the arts must still remain with the world of government. Without it, much that has happened in the last 20 years in Ontario in that domain would simply not be there.
I think it would be unfortunate for us to leave the impression that we have a runaway growth in the arts which we somehow or other need to stem. It would be unfortunate for us to indulge in the notion that we spend too much on our cultural industries. It would be unfortunate for the government to convey the impression that it spends something in the order of $85 million on the arts, when almost two thirds of that amount comes from Wintario moneys which are not funnelled through the budget, when it uses those moneys somehow to exaggerate the amount the province spends and then uses that as a measure, in turn, of a kind of runaway growth.
Whenever I have talked with people in the various sectors of the arts in recent months, they have been rather amused by the statement made by the immediate past Minister of Citizenship and Culture when he gave the impression that, somehow or other, we had too much culture going on in this province, that we had too many arts organizations and that it was all getting very much out of hand. There seemed to be a note of desperation in the attitude conveyed to me with respect to the activities of the ministry.
When the province spends close to 0.2 per cent, I guess one would gauge it, of the budget on all artistic activities in the province, that is not a very great contribution. It is a contribution to the human spirit, but it is certainly not an immense nor an overwhelming one for us to shoulder, given the importance of that expenditure.
With that I wish to conclude my remarks. I notice the Treasurer has taken his eyes off his reading and has taken his little walk. I hope it was one in which he was pondering very deeply the remarks I was making and that they have registered themselves very firmly there and here, the head and the heart.
Mr. Elston: Mr. Speaker, I have some brief comments for the Treasurer. First of all, I will bring the good news to the Treasurer in his current position. He is well up in the polls, at least in the riding I come from. His most recent rival, in his role as Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell), has slipped far behind. What I am asking tonight is whether he will, in his capacity as Treasurer and part-time assistant to the acting Minister of Health, also become part-time assistant to the acting Minister of Agriculture and Food.
Mr. Mancini: He needs all the help he can get.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: He does not need any help at the moment.
Mr. Elston: That is my concern. Basically he has not received too much help, and he has not been able to come up with a very large budget to help the agricultural folks in my riding. I want to bring to the attention of the Treasurer the importance of the agricultural industry. It is, far and away, the most stable of all the industries in my riding, or at least it was until 1981 and 1982, when we came across a terrible rise in the cost of production and a terrible downswing in the return on that production.
So far, in the riding of Huron-Bruce, there has been no assistance brought forward to us to any great extent. Two or three small Band-Aid assistance programs have come through. Some of those programs, which have been worked through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, have turned out to be quite short in meeting the need and certainly have cut off those people who ought otherwise to have been qualified. I am speaking about the payments made to the beef producers at the end of 1981, the beginning farmer assistance program and the Ontario farm adjustment assistance program, which do not do anything to address the problems that are affecting the farmers in my area.
In particular, the red meat people are hard-hit. The beef producers of Bruce county, that once-proud county of producers with the largest beef herds in the whole province, are suffering terribly in terms of financial difficulties and the psychological stress that has been placed upon them by the downturn in their industry as well as the stress that has come about because they have been waiting for some two and a half years or, more particularly, somewhat more than a year since the appointment of this new Minister of Agriculture and Food who, in some way or another, appeared to be coming forward to become the saviour of the farmer in Ontario. That just has not happened.
I bring the Treasurer information that the beef people in my riding are keenly aware of the fact that this fall and winter will provide the test of whether this Minister of Agriculture and Food is ever going to do anything. The beef producers in my area are quite sure they can produce and compete in any of the lands. They are an efficient lot. They have the infrastructure to support a very good, stable and viable industry. But one thing they have found they are unable to do is to compete with the producers from other parts of this great land of ours who are shored up by various government programs in other provinces. I speak particularly of the beef assistance programs in Manitoba, Quebec and Saskatchewan. In addition to those programs, in some of those provinces there is government assistance for interest rates. With those programs in place in other parts of the country, there is not a whole lot of hope that our industry can be stabilized at all.
In that sense, I want to bring to the Treasurer's attention that the program which the Minister of Agriculture and Food stands in this House so often and speaks about, the stabilization agreement between the four provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, which will take in approximately 90 per cent of beef production, as the Minister of Agriculture and Food says, will do very little to stabilize our industry in Ontario when there may not be very much left to stabilize. It is a concern of the people that the money which will be put into that program will be far too late to help out our guys. They feel they have to get assistance so they can at least get on an equal footing with those people from other provinces.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food indicates he will not introduce a program of any kind that would provide assistance to our farmers, because he feels it would jeopardize the negotiations. For him to say it would compromise his position around the bargaining table is evidence that he does not understand what he is bargaining for. I understand that we will end up having a program whereby these other provinces will be able to wind down their assistance programs while Ontario stands pat. What the Minister of Agriculture and Food has obviously agreed to do is to let more of our people go out of the market altogether and stabilize at a very low level of production.
I remind honourable members that the milk industry was treated in a rather similar fashion and we lost a good portion of our production. There are two members who represent that great dairy-producing area of Oxford county, but there would be far more dairy producers and far more dairy production had Ontario stood up at the critical times and supported our dairy industry in a manner similar to that done in Quebec. We lost a marvellous portion of our productive capacity because we let the dairy industry be drained away from us. We are in danger of doing the same thing with the red meat industry.
I want to the bring to the attention of the Treasurer my concern that we are letting the negotiations actually take that portion of the industry right away from us as well. I do not know that it is understood well enough just how serious the problem is. We go to meetings all the time, and people come to us and say: "Can't you move the minister? Can't you move the deputy minister?" I have people saying they have spoken with the Minister of Agriculture and Food and with the deputy minister and neither of those people understands the torment or the feeling of the farm populace.
I bring these words to the Treasurer at this time because we are dealing with a particular appropriation of funds. I think the seriousness of the problem in the agricultural sector bears bringing to the government's attention at every opportunity. Unlike the speaker on another occasion, I do believe there is an emergency in the red meat industry. In particular, I believe there is an emergency with respect to the beef-producing people of this province. We are in a position to lose them all or to help them, and I urge the Treasurer to provide us with assistance.
I know that at some future time, a time unbeknownst to us now, the Treasurer will have to come up with somewhere in the neighbourhood of $2 billion in terms of feeding the stabilization program for a certain length of time. Those figures may or may not be agreed upon by various people. That is what I have been informed the cost will be, and the Minister of Agriculture and Food tells me in an answer to my question in the House that those will be taxpayers' dollars from the Ontario government. That is fair, if we have anything left at that time to stabilize. It would be a shame if we had to reconsider our position or our reason, or even the need, for putting that stabilization program together some months down the line.
This is the last winter for a good number of long-time beef-producing families in my area if something does not happen for them very soon.
I have three or four shorter matters I would like to bring to the attention of the House. Understandably, they all relate to financial matters in the community. In particular, I am concerned that the home owners of this province are being placed in an unfair situation when they come to renegotiate or renew their mortgages.
Almost on a daily basis, I see examples of people who had to renew mortgages at very high interest rates -- mortgages in the year gone by reached 19 per cent and more -- because they could not afford to pay off the mortgages. They had to renew the mortgages. They were sometimes induced to sign those renewal agreements when the local offices said, "Yes, on payment of three months' interest we will renegotiate these things if the interest rates go down." Interest rates have now come down, and I have had examples of home owners being asked to pay $6,000, $7,000 and $8,000 to renegotiate their mortgages, which were renewed at 19 per cent and so on.
We have to take a long look at the system which allowed, in the case with which this Legislative Assembly can deal, a trust company -- because trust companies are doing this as much as anyone else -- to write in or to add to its standard forms a particular clause which actually amounts to the contracting out of any legislative protections which those people may have. Not only that, they contract out of any legislative protection which they may have by virtue of activities of this forum.
I think we have to make a decision to provide some protection for those people who cannot protect themselves. You or I could have been in this position, Mr. Speaker. Maybe you were; I do not know your situation. Maybe you had to renew a mortgage last year. I know all kinds of people who had to. There are all kinds of people who had no other choice but to stay with the institution. They had no other choice but to sign that renewal agreement, no matter what that agreement said. In most cases, they did it without having independent legal advice and, if they had had independent legal advice, they would have had to sign that agreement anyway to protect their homes. There would have been a foreclosure had they not renewed.
It is particularly devious that the people who presented those forms for signature did not also include on those forms their oral undertakings that there could be a renegotiation on three months' notice. It seems to me that some activity has to be directed towards that part of our economy as well and, through you, Mr. Speaker, I bring it to the attention of the Treasurer.
The Treasurer heard my colleague the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) deliver to the House this evening some details of our youth retraining and employment opportunities program. Now that post-secondary facilities are back in session, I am reminded of those students who were not able to work through the summer or who are still unable to win the student lottery, if we can call it that, and obtain assistance from the Ontario student assistance and Canada student loan programs.
It is all well and good to listen to the Treasurer indicate the number of jobs that have been created through his various patchwork programs, but it certainly has not helped those people who had to try to find work for the summer and then had to try to make ends meet so that they could start their schooling in September.
I am reminded of one particular person who comes from my riding. He had worked at a particular facility under the auspices of the Ministry of the Environment for some time; he had developed an expertise in that field and actually carried on the work of the facility almost on his own. He had been working his way up the scale of employment remuneration when he decided he would go back to school. He did that last year.
He was told that when he came back to the facility this past summer, the summer of 1983, he would be hired back at the facility at the rate at which he had stopped work the previous year, and he could expect that there would be an incremental increase based on whatever was given to other employees, in this case probably a five per cent increase.
When he came back, he was told two things. First, he would be working, not for the $5 he had worked his way up to, but for the minimum wage. Second, he would not be working from the first part of May through to the end of August, but only for nine weeks, because that was all they would be able to pay him. That student did not have much of an opportunity to take advantage of much of the remuneration he had expected to receive when he made the decision to go back to school.
I bring to the Treasurer's attention my concern about the problems with those students being able to go back to school.
In addition, I bring a third concern. It deals with students who are still at educational facilities and with some who have left post-secondary training. Those are the people who are being reassessed now for the 1981-82 school year and who are finding out that they owe the Ontario government any number of dollars. They are being pressed on an almost daily basis to pay it back right away when they do not have employment with which to earn the money. What the government collection agency is asking is that those people go to banks or whatever to pay that money back to the government. The government is not really concerned that the banks do not lend money to people who are not earning a return.
In one case, an elderly grandmother has had to put up her money to save a granddaughter from the harassment that has gone on over the past several weeks. Perhaps that is one way the current government has decided it will reduce its deficit or feed its coffers, to take it from the people who are least able to pay the money.
My fourth concern, and this will be the last one I will bring to the attention of the assembly, is with respect to the municipalities. This is a financial matter and it reflects upon some of the past experiences of the municipalities of this province and some of the experiences we are now going through.
Most of the problems in the municipalities now, like the problems with governments all over, are related to the fact that they do not have the funds to deal with their programs. They may be caught short in terms of finding the funds for capital expenditures; there is no help through the provincial government. They may be caught short in terms of providing some services in their own communities; there is no help through the government of Ontario.
I bring to this assembly's attention the current crisis in day care which has hit the town of Wingham in my riding and which is affecting several other places, including, I understand through the Ministry of Community and Social Services, all the fair towns of Smiths Falls, Hearst, St. Marys and Vanastra, around the province.
Basically, what happened was that these day care facilities were set up with the push of the government of the day. It told -- I am sorry; perhaps it is more important to tell the assembly of the things the government of Ontario did not tell the municipalities. It did not tell the municipalities that part of the funds which came to support those day care facilities were being provided by the federal government. It did not tell those fair people that there was an agreement between the federal government and Ontario wherein the federal share of those payments came to Ontario under the auspices of an agreement. That agreement called for the funding of day care facilities for children who qualify for subsidized day care.
No one told the municipality of the town of Wingham that the program was basically for subsidized children. No one told the town of Wingham that if there were not sufficient children of a subsidized nature in those day care facilities, the town would have to find some way of providing the federal share of the money to support that day care system. Nobody told the town of Wingham anything, but it was encouraged at almost every turn in 1971 or 1970 to set up a day care system.
Now in 1983 we are told that as of January 1, 1986, the total per diem cost of those services will have to be borne either by the person receiving the service or by some contribution from the municipality. The people in the town of Wingham will not be able to meet a $23- or $24-per-day cost per child to be in that day care system. Right now, out of 30 places in that day care facility in the town of Wingham, five people qualify for the subsidy which is provided through the auspices of the federal government and the provincial government.
A survey taken indicates that probably fewer than 10 of the current people would be able to afford that sort of funding intrusion and that certainly the day care facility in the town of Wingham would fall. No one told the town of Wingham it would have to find that money and no one told the town there was any involvement whatsoever by the federal government. Everybody in that town thought the provincial government was providing the money for the day care centre and that it was a policy of this government to provide that care.
On Monday, October 24, we held a meeting in Wingham and we were told by representatives of the Ministry of Community and Social Services that there is not, it appears, a commitment to provide day care services to the people of Ontario and certainly there is not funding available to provide it. We were told as well that for some reason a deception was worked not only on the people of the town of Wingham, who thought they were receiving only provincial funds, but probably also on the federal government, which did not know that the children it was paying to sustain in the day care facilities were not subsidized or would not qualify for subsidized considerations.
That is a provincially motivated program and now the province is saying it is the federal government that is pulling out and forcing us to bear the costs of that. The problem is that the town never knew at all that was going to fall on it. We do not have the funds to do it and that service is going to elude the people of Wingham, a place where we have a good number of people who work, where we have two parents in a family working outside the home during the day, where we have a hospital that has nursing people working part-time shifts who require the service of day care, and where we have people who go to factories and work for small, by comparison with larger centres, remuneration. They cannot afford to spend $100 a week to have their child in that centre.
There is a frustration with respect to this service. Frustrations are being built up in the municipalities of this province as well, because the municipalities are sick of having programs that have been developed and sent to them and sold to them by a province that has not provided them with all the information they need. Only when the province decides to pull out of the funding portion of these programs does all the information become available.
I think when we deal with interim supply and with questions concerning the finances of this province, we should bring to the attention of the budgetary and policy people of this government that their programs are going to be successful at the local level only if they provide all the material for people to make the proper decisions. Then the people will not feel so cheated when they come up with situations like our problem with day care in Wingham.
We have to have the funding for that program and it has to come to Wingham, to Vanastra, probably to Smiths Falls, probably to the people in Hearst, probably to the people in St. Marys, before the January 1, 1986, deadline for removal of the current billing requirements.
I could go on at some length about other difficulties we are facing. They all surround financial matters and they all reflect seriously upon either government inactivity or upon problems generated by a government that has not been fully candid with the people who have been accepting their programs. In future, when there are other policies that come to be discussed, I am sure we will speak to those matters at greater length.
I bring these to your attention, Mr. Speaker, because I know you will convey this to the members of the government side. They have to be sure that in spending our taxpayer dollars they explain where all those dollars are going and where they are coming from. The people must be fully apprised of all the ramifications of decisions the government comes to, at least those that affect the municipal level.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I would like to participate a bit in the debate on interim supply estimates. I would like to direct the attention of the Treasurer and the government to issues which go beyond the need for money between here and the end of December. Instead, I would have them look at conditions that help to create the kind of economic problems we have right now.
I want to begin by congratulating the Treasurer on his appointment. I know that despite his political label he is an able politician and I suppose one lives in hope that somehow something better might come from that side. Personally, I have respect for the Treasurer.
The remarks I am about to address relate to things I think could be very useful in the way this province operates. They relate to things that could be done by the Legislature and possibly by the government in trying to give some direction to where we are going. They are aimed at giving some sense of value, some sense of making choices about the kind of future we have in the province. We should not simply be wafted along or pushed around by the currents, ebbs, flows and eddies of international financial pressures, by what is happening nationally or in the United States or around the world.
There is no question we have a lot of short-term problems. In my riding, there are people living in school rooms because they cannot get accommodation and are in emergency shelter. We have tremendous problems with jobs. Somebody in my riding came to see me yesterday who had applied, along with 140 other people, for 10 jobs with the school board. Only 20 people were considered for the job, all qualified teachers, and the pay was about $12,000 or $13,000 a year. We are also having cutbacks in day care and social services and so on. I do not want to talk at length about those, however.
I will welcome the innovation of the Treasurer in introducing budget papers and carrying out the process of open consultation with interested parties in the community and the province over the months before his spring budget. However, I think there is a need for the Legislature to be involved in that process as well. The Legislature should be involved through the formation of a committee on economic affairs, or it could be involved by having referred to members of all three parties a lot of the material the Treasurer plans to go through or to publish or to have consultations on. The legislators too should look at some of those emerging issues.
The Treasurer plans to go through or to publish the consultations he will have in a way that the legislators, members of all three parties, would in fact look at some of those emerging issues as well. I do not think it is good enough to leave a situation where the Legislature is purely reactive or where, let us face it, we get fairly political when we talk on the budget debate or when we are going to talk about the specific measures which the Treasurer plans to introduce.
We have not got the mechanism around this place for focusing on longer-term issues about where we are going, about what kind of goals we have to have. I often think the government itself too seldom thinks about those kinds of questions.
If we are not going to see a situation, whether it is in St. Andrew-St. Patrick or Ottawa Centre or Hamilton West or other ridings across the province, where we will have more cutbacks, more problems with jobs, more youth unemployed, more people forced to go into inadequate housing or having no housing at all, if we want to avoid that, if we want to avoid the situation of rising structural unemployment, of the hopelessness and despair that people are feeling because they cannot get themselves out of unemployment and for which there seems to be no escape, then we've got to do things that are more fundamental in this province than just bringing in a program to provide some thousands of jobs for young people. I welcomed the Liberal initiatives the other day, but we have to do more than that.
We have to do more than stepping up the winter works program that the Treasurer has for this year. We have a fiscal problem in this province. It is faced by other jurisdictions as well. It is possible that we have tried to bite off more than we could chew, but there are certainly problems and disparities in terms of the inequalities with which sacrifices are being imposed on different people in this society and certainly there is tremendous conflict in this society as people try to look after their own interests and sometimes, or too often, they look after their own interests at the expense of other members in the community.
Too often as well there are certain groups in the society -- I suppose the Treasurer knows this but he might not like to acknowledge it -- who have got too much of the resources, be they political or economic resources, that we have in our society at the expense of other people who, quite frankly, have got too little.
I want to make a specific proposal to the Treasurer. I think he would be wrong, in trying to set himself aside from his predecessors, if he were to consult like crazy with the public in general, but then, quite deliberately, seek to leave the Legislature out of it. That has been done in the past and it was wrong in the past. If the minister is taking an innovative position now in terms of trying to open the budgetary process, then for goodness sake he should be opening the budgetary process within this Legislature as well.
I cannot guarantee that from the very beginning the response of all of the parties, if there was to be such consideration of long-term as well as short-term problems by a legislative committee for example, with some research support and those kinds of things that are needed, I cannot guarantee that it would be entirely apolitical or unpolitical, nor would it be wise if it were purely apolitical.
What I do believe could happen, though, particularly if this was followed over time, is that expertise in this Legislature would develop in terms of economic management, in terms of the economic process, in terms of the implications those choices have on the lives of different people, of different occupations, of different classes and different regions of the province. The choices we have to make over the coming years are, in fact, much more difficult than the choices that were having to be made by Ontario over the 1960s or the early 1970s when I first came into the Legislature.
I am not even sure if I really intended to speak tonight, but I was provoked to doing so because of the fact that I have been trying to give my mind to some of the longer term questions that are important to our province and our country. I have spoken at times in the Legislature about such things as the impact of technological changes and what we should try to do to respond to them, and have found increasingly, as I looked at a specific issue like that, that the answers that have come out are not specific.
It is not a matter of a five-point program to respond to a particular phenomenon. It is much more a matter of the process by which government works, the process by which our economic system works, the ways in which the economic and the political systems interact, the problems of reconciling a society based on political equality, a democratic society, with a society which is rife with very substantial economic inequalities and where all of the democracy in the world has not done a heck of a lot in terms of reducing that level of inequality between the richest and poorest members of our society, or between our society as a whole and the poor societies of the Third World over the course of the past 30 or 40 years.
I was provoked as well to intervene because I have had the opportunity to look through the terms of reference and the discussion guide which has been prepared by the Royal Commission on Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada, the Macdonald commission. It has been on my desk for several months. I was encouraged to read this because I knew of the political missteps which were involved in the creation of that commission. The manner in which it was formed effectively put paid to Donald Macdonald's chances of ever becoming the Prime Minister of Canada. He is now seen as the $800-a-day man; all of that kind of stuff.
I read what is here and there are an awful lot of questions which are being raised by that royal commission which are as important for the next generation in Canada as the work of the Gordon commission on Canada's economic prospects back in the 1950s. The questions being raised here are questions which we should be dealing with in this Legislature, in addition to leaving them to be looked at by a royal commission.
The royal commission is seeking answers to ways in which we can respond to a very difficult future environment for Canada and for the world, an environment which is more uncertain and turbulent than any we have known, and asking the question about how to make Canada, not just our economy but also our society, more flexible and adaptable to the kinds of changing conditions we face in the future.
They ask a whole lot of questions about what kind of change is occurring, how to respond to it. whether governments alone should have to respond or whether the response should be coming in the private sector as well, the way in which decisions are made both in the private sector and in government, how to cope with the problem of large units of organization, whether they be crown corporations --
Mr. Cassidy: It is interesting that the Liberals seek to trivialize every debate around this place. It is particularly interesting because I happen to be speaking favourably about something that was created by their federal colleagues, something we rarely do in this House.
Mr. Foulds: They do not want to be associated with them.
Mr. Cassidy: That is right.
The question is about how our economic and political systems interact. Whatever some of the right-wingers and the Tory back-benchers may dream of, whatever gets them off when they go to their beds at night, the fact is the government is going to continue to have a substantial role in the economy and yet at the same time the government may be overloaded in some of the decisions it has to make.
There may be a call to find better ways for government to intervene or finding ways by which government can restructure the process by which decisions are made in the private sector to curb concentrations of economic power, concentrations of economic inequality and to ensure that things are done better in the nongovernment sector without perhaps the necessity for government to constantly be involved and constantly intervene.
These are very serious questions. They are questions which are as challenging to us within the New Democratic Party as they are to the government. I suggest they are probably beyond the reach and capacity of the present caucus of the Liberal Party of Ontario.
The question is, are we facing fundamental change and, if so, how do we respond to it? The question is, what are we going to do about developing human resources if we decide, as I think we must, that our human resources are the greatest source of comparative advantage for Canada in the world economy and the world society 15, 25 or 35 years from now? The question is, how then do we change our schemes for training and education? Certainly not in the way the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) seems to have in mind for the high school and college students of this country.
There is the question of how we cope with the many more people who will be retired at the turn of the century than there are now. When do we begin to put into place the elements of a pension system that will enable people to provide more adequately for their own needs, rather than having to rely on the limited resources of government in 15 or 20 years' time? All of these questions, I say to the former leader of the Liberal Party, are questions we duck or hit at glancingly as politicians.
The royal commission's pamphlet begins with a quote from Ralf Dahrendorf, a former director of the London School of Economics and a savant greatly respected in Europe and North America. He says, "Someone has to look beyond the rim of the saucer in which most politicians are huddled together and tell them what happens beyond their local or even national constituency, their term of elected office, their necessarily and at times unnecessarily restricted horizon."
It is true we have to worry about the stop light I cannot get on Highway 16 in my riding because of the government, and other issues like that which are well within the rim of the saucer. We also need to concern ourselves about and provide leadership in this Legislature on some of the longer-term issues that will be of importance for my kids and our children's children and which will determine whether we will be able to respond to the need for day care in Wingham, housing in Ottawa Centre, and care for people with Alzheimer's disease among our elderly in all parts of the province 10 or 15 years from now.
If we do not look at those fundamental questions, if we do not start talking about what our values and goals are going to be and how we are going to set about meeting them, then we are going to continue to be a place that is increasingly trivial, irrelevant, inconsequential, if not totally ignored by the people, the media and everybody else in the province.
I do not want to go on here. I am personally concerned about the way in which economic decision-making is done. We can make some constructive changes to that. What the royal commission is talking about is the way we plan for the future of our country, and that would presumably apply to Ontario as well.
Planning is not a dirty word when one talks to Inco, General Motors, Alcan or any of the other major corporations of our country. They may not always do it well. They sometimes make tremendous mistakes that have terrible impacts on communities or people's lives, but they certainly do not ignore the need to plan. They plan financially in terms of human resources, their future activity and their survival as entities, as organizations.
Strategic planning takes place now in most of the departments of the government of Ontario. But when it comes to talking about what kind of society, economy or province we will have, then the myth we are filled with by Progressive Conservatives and too often by Liberals has been that this kind of planning is wrong. It is some kind of desperate socialism. It is something one will find in the Soviet Union but certainly not in a decent democratic society.
The Treasurer (Mr. Grossman) has travelled as Minister of Industry and Tourism on trade missions. He is an intelligent man and he knows perfectly well that this country and this province has, next to the Americans, a lower level of planning for the future of our society in setting goals and working out strategies and means of reaching those goals than any other democratic country I can think of. When one talks about western Europe there is a much more highly developed sense of trying to plan for the future and, once having set goals and objectives, of trying to put institutions and strategies in place to try to reach those goals and objectives.
We blind ourselves if it is said -- and it is argued by people on the government side -- that somehow what we need to have is less government and the private sector will then take the place of government and will meet the people's needs. We have had seven or eight years of that since the monetarists began to reign in Washington and Ottawa. The impact of giving that free sway to the private sector is very evident in crushingly high levels of unemployment, in unacceptably and intolerably high levels of unemployment among our young people with the prospect that it is going to go higher rather than lower, and in the unplanned and devastating consequences of the rapid spread of technological change through many industries, service industries as well as manufacturing.
All these things have occurred because of, or as a partial consequence of, the abdication by government, in this province and nationally, to the private sector of the power to plan. That has to come to an end. We cannot tolerate the social distress it is going to create. If I can speak in terms that may be of more meaning to some of the Treasurer's colleagues, I do not think we can tolerate the social disorder which eventually will result as a consequence of that kind of thing.
I think back to 1971 and the 1960s which for many of us seemed awfully stable despite the conflagration that occurred at that time in Vietnam. That was seen as being somewhat isolated. With hindsight, and as some of us thought at that time, it was wrong for the Americans to be in Vietnam, but none the less through much of the world there was a sort of pax Americana, a neocolonialist regime that governed the world. Many parts of the world were relatively stable and secure.
In 1971 the Americans went off the gold standard, let the dollar float and began to create the present time of currency, interest rate and economic instability. That has been followed by social, political and international instability. When we look around us now at Central America, Grenada, Nicaragua and Lebanon, at the continuing and devastating war between Iran and Iraq, at all those kinds of things, it does not take any great intelligence to recognize that we did not have conflagrations and conflicts of that order a few years ago.
If one did a graph of the seriousness of what is occurring, it would indicate the pace of increase in disorder, social tension and misery is on the increase around the world and has been doing so steadily for the last 10 or 15 years. Perhaps it will start to cool out; I do not know. We have to plan for the things that could possibly occur. That is why we have to find ways in which we can be flexible and adaptable. That is why we, as Canadians, have to find ways we can help the rest of the world, but also so that we can respond, if need be, to situations of desperate chaos when it is going to be each country for itself. I hope that does not occur, but we have to have some idea of how we might survive and respond to that as well.
A lot of situations are facing us which involve a great deal more capacity jointly to determine goals, to find ways of getting there, to build consensus in reaching them, to help to create trust in society rather than conflict, to help to overcome some of the divisions in society at a time when I am afraid the walls tend to be rising rather than falling and the divisions, tensions and so on tend to be on the increase rather than diminishing.
I think that if we were to start to do that, it might enable us to question more lucidly and effectively the wisdom of some of the courses of action being taken by the government, and possibly in a constructive way to help the government as long as it is in power to steer this province on to a more placid and perhaps more productive path.
In its formal terms of reference, the commission is asked specifically to look at the appropriate arrangements "to promote the liberty and wellbeing of individual Canadians and the maintenance of a strong and competitive economy, including consideration of the following: means for improving relations between government, business, labour and other groups in Canadian society."
I remember the classic cry at English town hall meetings, "What about the workers?" The fact is the workers have been victims of actions by both the federal and provincial governments over the course of the last couple of years, actions which certainly are not directed towards the creation of the kind of harmony, co-operation and joint working together which I believe is going to be needed.
If, as a society, we are going to have to stress productivity, competitiveness, control of our costs in a tough, competitive, international world, if we are going to have to stress the development of our human resources, we are going to have to use every human resource we have. We will not do that if there is constant conflict between labour and management and constant agreement with the doctrine that management rights mean that management with limited capacity is to decide and workers are simply to be told how they are going to be directed. That exists in its extreme state in countries such as the Soviet Union; it should not exist here. We have a well-educated labour force, people who are capable of making a great contribution to our society and not just by manning machines or bashing at typewriters for eight hours a day.
Technological change empowers; it gives opportunity for workers to have more input, to make more of a contribution and perhaps to take up more benefits either in the form of income or leisure. We should be looking for those kinds of productive tradeoffs where perhaps management shares some of its responsibilities and gives up some of its rights and, in return for joining in a co-operative way, labour takes on some of the responsibilities and some of the cares and concerns that are now taken on purely by governments and by management.
I want to conclude by reiterating what I had said at the beginning. This kind of debate that I have engaged in for 25 minutes tonight is the kind of discussion --
Mr. Piché: He is not saying anything.
Mr. Nixon: Piché has had a big day.
Mr. Piché: A very big day, very important to the Legislature of Ontario.
Mr. Nixon: Too bad you couldn't find your way in here.
Mr. Piché: You be nice and I'll be nice.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Mitchell): Order.
Mr. Cassidy: I am sorry that the backbenchers -- the new Tories -- are not particularly interested in this because it is the future of the province that they hope to direct which is at stake.
This is the kind of discussion and debate which I believe should be taking place on a regular basis in this chamber or in committees of the Legislature or in other ways in which we can be involved, all of us, and I speak to all of the honourable members in this House, even the Liberals.
Mr. Boudria: Oh, come on now.
Mr. Cassidy: I take that back. I speak to all members of the House. I am really quite serious about this.
Probably the most productive thing the minister could do is, first, to acknowledge that the concerns are serious. We can no longer govern the province by having a budget a year which talks about one year ahead. The Treasurer must be thinking five or 10 years ahead and the ministries must be thinking that. The private sector organizations and corporations in this province are certainly thinking that --
Mr. Foulds: But not as Treasurer.
Mr. Cassidy: In his role as Treasurer, I mean.
I suggest to the Treasurer that it is about time that some leadership in that area was offered and was taken up by all members in this Legislature. I suggest that one of the ways of doing that is to create a legislative economic committee or provide a reference of the things that he intends to open up in his budgetary process and make that a process in which all of us are involved and in which we begin a process for providing leadership.
It will not work ideally in the first year, but if the Treasurer keeps it up he might help to raise this place from the irrelevance to which it too often descends.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Boudria: Talk to us about leadership.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Two out of 125 isn't bad.
Mr. Foulds: It's more than he usually gets.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That is true.
Mr. Nixon: Let it be noted that it was Phil Gillies who applauded.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It has been noted. Trust me.
I want to thank the honourable members for their contribution to this debate. Of course, I especially note those few who were kind enough to take the opportunity to welcome me to this new portfolio and my new responsibilities and to wish me well in those endeavours.
Indeed, I should also say to the continuing Treasury critic in the Liberal party, the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid), and the new NDP Treasury critic, the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds), that I too wish them well in their endeavours.
Those who have worked with me before in this assembly will know I do try to listen carefully to the comments from across the floor. I have not hesitated to consider carefully any good ideas raised therein and not only to adopt any ideas that were worth while adopting, but to give appropriate credit therefor over the last several years. I hope to continue that in this portfolio.
As I sat and listened to economic debates in this House for the eight years I have been here, I have heard very many good ideas in the economic area. I would associate myself with some of the remarks, although not all, of the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) when he talked about the need to introduce some degree of participation into the economic planning and budget-making process, not only from the public at large but from this assembly as well.
In this my first year of budget-making, I should like to assure the members of the House that I see that budget not only as a financial and fiscal document, but also as a document which will have as its main thrust an economic focus. I believe a budget should be an economic and social document to some extent. The budget process, which will be opened with our fall economics statement in a few weeks, should be treated as a statement which invites economic and social commentary and ideas in those areas.
As we get into the first year of that exercise and learn together how best to work the system, it obviously will not be as fully developed as it will be in later years. I would appreciate comments from the members of this assembly on how we might better develop that process as we go through it for the first time.
I have thought of several options which we might look at in terms of giving members of this assembly an opportunity to participate in that process in a direct way. Nothing, of course, inhibits the members of this assembly from offering any comments or advice they might have based upon the economic statement or any subsequent documents or anything at any time. I would hope they would do that. None the less, I think there is something to be said for looking, at least in the first year, at some sort of system whereby we might invite some of that input in a more formal and organized fashion.
I accept the fact that invariably it would be partisan to some extent. I would hope, at least in this particularly difficult economic era, we could keep that to a minimum and see what we could do to help the hundreds of thousands of people -- indeed, 400,000 people -- who sadly are still unemployed in this province.
In view of the remarks of the member for Ottawa Centre, I would like to put on the record the fact that since I have taken this responsibility my colleagues on all sides of the House, most especially the members on my side of the House, members in the first, second and third rows on this side of the House have spoken to me at some length about the problems of the unemployed, the people in their own ridings and the people they see in their constituency offices on a regular basis.
We have talked at great length about some of the things we might propose, and some of the ideas I have already received from my colleagues on this side of the House are being considered in Treasury right now. The member for Oxford (Mr. Treleaven) spoke to me several months ago with regard to opening up the budget process. It was something he felt deeply about. Partly as a result of those excellent suggestions, we have developed this new format.
Might I say that I have listened fairly extensively to the hours of debate we have had on interim supply. I have made extensive notes and hope to respond to them, not just with remarks this evening or other evenings, but with policy initiatives which are appropriate to those remarks which I think are particularly relevant.
It is quite clear that all members share the same basic concerns. We all have far too many unemployed constituents. We all agree that one of the major jobs of government through this period of time is to work to solve those unemployment problems, to spend the resources necessary to solve those problems while, at the same time, not crippling ourselves in terms of our ability to sustain those who still will be unemployed during that period of time.
It is not an easy task for us. It has proven to be an almost impossible task for most governments in Canada and for many governments in the United States. The American government is struggling under a deficit, structural and cyclical, which is far worse than ours. That deficit is presenting one of the major problems in terms of an economic recovery in both the United States and Canada. None the less, we have to struggle with that problem.
I do not intend to use external forces as a total crutch or as a total excuse. Unquestionably, it is a limiting factor. It will make it more difficult, rather than easier, for us to recover. None the less, we have to do what we can, within the bounds of our powers and jurisdictions, to solve these problems.
In doing that, I would like to reflect on some of the comments I have heard. The member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) in particular talked about sunrise and sunset industries and about his dislike and distaste for those who would categorize firms in that way. I must say on this side of the House, we have never been inclined to write off entire industries as lost industries or to suggest that other industries are the only ones we should put our policy thrusts behind. Quite the reverse.
I think any analysis of the history of industry, North American at the very least, would indicate that in what have come to be known as winning industries, we have lots of losing firms. In lots of losing industries, we will also have winning firms. The trick is to have policies that are flexible enough to meet both of those needs and not to pigeon-hole one's programs so one is looking at a particularly strong firm in a particularly weak industry and say there is no tax policy, no direct support available, no loan or grant programs available, and no export policies available to assist a company in that sort of circumstance.
Mr. Foulds: There is just a touch of Bill Davis about that statement.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Would the member disagree with what I just said, though? No, he would not.
Mr. Foulds: I don't know what you've just said; that's why.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member should read Hansard. He will find it.
As I listen to the remarks and try to synthesize the common thread that went through all the remarks, there does seem to be a serious dedication to the concept that the moneys we spend during this period of time and in better periods of time should be pointed towards those employment programs that speak to the longer term. Members of all three parties have spoken to that this evening and at other times. We really could not agree more.
There is of course a particular motivation for us, faced with the extreme unemployment and tragedy we see out there, to devote our resources to put some people back to work tomorrow morning, notwithstanding the fact that most of the programs one might mount for tomorrow morning would end six months from today for a variety of reasons. However, what we really have to do is deal with those most in need in this period and begin to get everyone we can retrained and re-equipped so they not only can be part of an economic recovery but also cause part of that economic recovery.
This does require long-term investments. It requires investments that will not turn up in terms of added revenues for the government or lower unemployment figures 30 days from today; they certainly will not. However, what we hope to do is to be able to make those kinds of investments now so that those unemployment figures will continue to decline, as they have for the past several months, through the next few years.
Our goal has to be not sensational but erratic growth, but long, slow, sure and steady growth. That would be the safer course for us. However, it will require some political will, because the inclination is always going to be to respond with the quick fix, as everyone in this assembly who faces those unemployment cases on a daily basis would agree. The quick fix is too cosmetic and often it is only cosmetic. However, there is an inclination to do that; there always is, for all the right reasons. However, that will not be the right answer.
As we look towards next year's budget, I have a couple of comments. I hope that budget will sow the seeds of long-term planning, long-term strategy. I hope it will set a stage for recovery that will be long-lasting. I hope that expectations with regard to quick fixes will have dissipated by that time.
I also hope that we can move towards a scenario where a single day every year for adjusting or readjusting government fiscal and economic policies is not the order of the day. I think our economy these days is too unpredictable, subject to too many variables out there, to be able to sit back and say, "There is only one day a year upon which we think we ought to have another look at it and readjust where we are going."
I think that, if appropriate, we in government have to be prepared and willing to make adjustments -- not moving away from the main thrusts, not moving away from the main things -- to make adjustments in the fine-tuning area as the need requires it. That may mean modest adjustments several times a year. It may mean not introducing everything one might think is going to be needed in the next 12 months in the budget statement but, rather, holding some of them back as one gets a better look and a better feel for what the economic circumstances are going to be on down the year. That will give us some more flexibility and introduce some more sensitivity into the government programs and the hundreds of millions of dollars that we do devote every year to job creation in this province.
As I close this budget debate, let me say that I was in Sudbury last evening and I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours at the Ontario Centre for Resource Machinery. It is one of those projects that we invested in because it was a long-term investment; one can never be sure one in this area, but we thought it might produce new, secure long-term jobs in northern Ontario in the resource machinery sector. I spent some time with the people in the centre. When we set it up in the BILD program a year and a half or two years ago, it was not at all certain -- and it never is in these kinds of endeavours -- that it would work. Yet I must say I was extremely encouraged to see what was happening there.
There are jobs going to be created this coming year, jobs that simply would never have been there without the entrepreneurial skill and investment of the government, the entrepreneurial skill of the people working in the resource machinery centre and the entrepreneurial skill of the people in northern Ontario who were willing to work with the centre to try some new products and finally to try to get us on the map in terms of resource machinery.
One does not know what the future will hold for that centre. I must say that at this stage I am quite encouraged by it. That, to me, is the kind of long-term investment we have to look at more and more and involve more sectors of our economy, bringing together -- as is the case there -- public and private sectors to do what we can to introduce a new device out there, a new program out there, a new synergy out there, which results in more jobs and more investment. And those jobs are long-term, secure jobs.
There will be lots of projects mounted by that centre. Not all of them will work, because the very nature of the exercise is going to be high-risk, but they will bring high returns when they win. I am convinced, having met with the people and looked at their case load and the people who are coming to the centre, that we will have some winners out of that exercise.
I have listened carefully to the debate this evening and on the previous days. I hear the common threads running throughout those remarks. I commit myself and pledge ourselves to deal in all the areas discussed, employment first and foremost. We have heard too of the need for reconfirming and sticking with our commitment to areas such as culture, which the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen) spoke of earlier.
Of course, I listened carefully to the comments made by both the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) and the member for Huron-Bruce (Mr. Elston) as they spoke in terms of the great needs of the agricultural sector. Having spent many hours in many meetings already with my colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Food, I can assure members that we are struggling with these difficult problems right now. Indeed, I will be spending all day tomorrow in the farm community trying to deal firsthand with some of the real problems. On the advice of my colleague, we will be firming up some of these programs and finding ways to meet the very real needs of the farm community over the next period of months.
Motion agreed to.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Pursuant to standing order 28, the motion that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made.
NIAGARA REGIONAL POLICE
The Acting Speaker: The member for Welland Thorold (Mr. Swart) has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) concerning an investigation into the Niagara Regional Police. This matter will now be debated.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, the Solicitor General informed me this afternoon that he would not be here. He gave no reason, such as that he did not have time or anything of that nature. I can come to no other conclusion than that he does not think the issue is important enough to warrant his time, or that he has no answers or does not want to answer.
I asked for this special debate because I was dissatisfied with the Solicitor General's reply to my question about broadening the investigation of Niagara Regional Police into an inquiry of the force whereby anyone who has complaints against the force at every level would have the opportunity to give evidence.
Let there be no doubt that the investigation announced by the Solicitor General is very confined. In his first paragraph, he said: "A joint investigation and review by the Ontario Police Commission and the Ontario Provincial Police that was set up earlier to look into the allegations by Mark DeMarco against the Niagara Regional Police will also review allegations made last week by Welland lawyer Peter Kormos, who said a number of his clients were beaten by police."
There is no room in that statement or anything further in that statement that can be enlarged. His investigation would exclude, for instance, even hearing evidence from Laurianne Robert, whose case I mentioned in this House on Monday, a woman who has tried for more than two years to get a hearing about being roughed up by the police.
It would also exclude looking into the issue I raised today about the circumstances surrounding the appointment of the new chief: why there was no advertising and why he was appointed while he was under investigation for breaking the Criminal Code. There will be no looking into the alleged harassment of youths and there will be no looking into the lengthy list of allegations made by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and the St. Catharines Standard.
Anyone who has been following the news reports in the Niagara region for the past several years knows there is great reason for lack of confidence in the police force, especially at the top. Issues include the relationship of numerous members of the force, including the new chief, with Mr. Mark DeMarco; the guns and the uniforms and shirts that were found in his possession, and his charges that they had been sold to him by the police; the Laurianne Robert affair, and the purchase of the luxurious automobile by the chief and his reaction to criticism, which I also mentioned.
There is the city of Thorold's resolution, which I would like to read into the record. It was made after the chief had stormed out of a meeting to which they had invited him and the commission to discuss the issue of complaints against the police. He stormed out of the meeting, spun the wheels on his car away down the road and members of the council sat there in absolute disbelief. Ultimately, they passed this resolution:
"That this council no longer relay its complaints re policing to the local chief of police, but send a letter to the office of the Attorney General of the province stating our complete lack of confidence in the local police force and the protection we are receiving; and that consideration be given to establishing our own police department."
That is the kind of feeling that exists towards the police force and particularly towards the chief in our area.
We know about the numerous incidents of bargaining on charges, where police will drop charges if the victim will drop charges against the police. Numerous cases have been brought to me of complaints about conduct and arrogance right at the top; the recent alleged brutality charges. All this adds up to any reasonable person wanting an investigation that will clear the air completely, not one that looks at only one or two of the areas of complaints.
If there are problems at the top, they tend to filter down. To request this investigation, as I have done, is not police-bashing. I have made no allegations of brutality. I have simply said that there is sufficient evidence and sufficient allegations have been made by individuals and organizations as responsible as the St. Catharines Standard and the CBC to warrant an investigation.
Any limited investigation that does not look at all the allegations, particularly those against the top administration, will leave a cloud that will affect the future effectiveness of the force and leave a cloud over the able, dedicated police officers who make up the majority of that force.
The House adjourned at 10:36 p.m.