32nd Parliament, 3rd Session






















The House met at 2 p.m.



Mr. Speaker: I would like to refer all honour- able members to the allegation made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Peterson) on Friday last. I am sure he is aware that it is out of order to accuse another member of deliberately misleading the House or of not telling the truth, and such an accusation cannot be made as a matter of privilege. I refer all members to standing order 19(d)(10).

Moreover, it is a basic rule of parliamentary practice that members must accept the word of other members. To quote Lewis's Parliamentary Procedure in Ontario at page 24, "The conduct of members in the House is based on an etiquette of mutual consideration." The Speaker must not be placed in the position of judging who or who is not telling the truth.

It follows that the allegation of the Leader of the Opposition was, as I stated at the time, not a matter of privilege and was, of course, out of order and unparliamentary, and I would ask the honourable member to withdraw his statement.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, in the interest of parliamentary niceties, while I am not anxious to develop a procedural debate here, I want to take you back to that conversation on Friday, if I may, for your own attention, because it was your handling of that situation that precipitated the crisis that developed in this House.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Peterson: If I may, just on a point of privilege, address that matter --

Mr. Speaker: No. There is no way that --

Mr. Peterson: Sir, I stood in this House on a point of privilege, a point of clarification or whatever you want to call it, to correct deliberate suggestions -- perhaps they were not deliberate but they were factually incorrect -- by the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman). Now I ask you, what is my remedy when the minister stands in his place and says things that are not correct?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Peterson: I am not interested in having an ethical debate here, but I am interested in getting at the truth.

Mr. Speaker: Thank you. I would refer you once again to what I said earlier. The Speaker must not and indeed cannot be placed in a position of judging who is or who is not telling the truth. That is a matter for members of the House to decide, and that may or may not be your only remedy. I am not sure.


Mr. Speaker: In the excitement and emotion of the moment, and to refresh my memory, I would ask the Leader of the Opposition if he in fact did withdraw the statement he made on Friday.


Mr. Speaker: Will you, then?

Mr. Peterson: I think I did, Mr. Speaker, but if you would like it in writing, I would be happy to send it over to you.


Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to draw to the attention of the House, and I am sure we all share the delight in seeing him, the return of the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea). We would want him to know that he has been missed. The House has not been the same without him. Indeed, we wish now that he is following and, we hope, will continue to follow the instructions of his doctor, that he will enjoy good health for many more years. Welcome back.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I would like to join personally with the words of the Deputy Premier and welcome our esteemed colleague back to the House. For all of his sins we very much miss him in a personal way, and for those who feel this place has been a little dull over the past two or three weeks or month or so, I am sure that situation will be rectified immediately today. Welcome back.

Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, in the light of this rare display of unanimity I thought I would at least express very welcome words to the Minister of Community and Social Services. We are delighted that he is here today and we are looking forward to having him around for a very long time.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, may I just respond to that totally unexpected welcome? No one has ever welcomed me to anything in my life. I do appreciate the sentiments of the House and I do also appreciate the many cards, letters, books and visits from members of the House. I will be responding to those in a more formal way.

I also want to say today that I do appreciate particularly the undertaking of a very onerous task by my friend and colleague the honourable Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mr. McCaffrey). I understand how onerous it is to take on the responsibilities of another minister while maintaining one's own portfolio. I have done it myself from time to time. It is a very difficult task.

2:10 p.m.

At my personal request, the minister accepted the responsibility and has been a great strength and a great resource to me since September 22. The people of the province have been very well served by him in assuming the administrative and some other responsibilities in a very large and very significant portfolio.

I regret that he is going to have to do it for a few more days, but I did want to draw the attention of the House to the excellent manner in which he has carried out those functions, and I express my gratitude and thanks to him for doing it in such an exemplary manner.



Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, here in Ontario we have a social assistance system that is truly second to none in Canada, and that is a fact that every resident of Ontario should be proud of. In spite of difficult economic times, Ontario has continued to fulfil its commitment to look after the people in this province who cannot fully provide for themselves: disabled people, elderly people, single parents and people without jobs for one reason or another.

I say with pride that while other jurisdictions are cutting back in social assistance, this province has not cut a single social benefit or program. Instead, as a result of the prudent management of the resources available to us, both human and financial, we have been able to enhance, expand and make improvements in our social assistance programs.

The members of this House will recall that last October I announced a basic five per cent increase across the board in social assistance as well as a number of enrichments to the family benefits and general welfare programs. This included an increase in the maximum shelter subsidy paid, and special increases to single employable people receiving general welfare and permanently unemployable people receiving family benefits. We intend to continue to make improvements in our social assistance program here in Ontario.

Today I am pleased to announce a package of new improvements that will become effective January 1, 1984. The total provincial cost of the improvements I am announcing today will amount to $61.2 million for the 1984-85 fiscal year and $15.5 million for the last quarter of this fiscal year. Let me point out that this will bring my ministry's estimated spending for social assistance in 1983-84 up to $1.2 billion. We estimate that our total spending for all social services this year will be about $2.4 billion. That includes our estimates, our forecast supplementary estimates and administration costs. As members know, these costs are shared with the federal government under the Canada assistance plan.

Let me run through the four main items in that improvement package, Mr. Speaker.

First, we will be introducing a five per cent across-the-board increase in basic allowances for the approximately one quarter of a million recipients of family benefits and general welfare allowances.

Second, we will be bringing in a special increase for single employable people on general welfare assistance. Instead of the five per cent across-the-board increase, people in this category will receive a 7.6 per cent increase. This initiative is aimed at helping those who are truly the new victims of the recession, people who can work and want to work but cannot find jobs because of the economy.

Third, we will be increasing the maximum shelter subsidy by $15 across the board for all family sizes. This is a program that provides additional assistance on top of the basic allowance to recipients who have high shelter costs. The increase I am announcing today means the maximum shelter subsidies will range from $90 to $140, depending on family size.

Finally, we will be introducing special enhancements and improvements for physically and mentally handicapped recipients. Let me outline those enhancements and improvements for handicapped people. I want to stress that these are improvements that handicapped people will receive in addition to the increases in basic allowance and shelter subsidy I have just outlined.

Under our income maintenance system here in Ontario, handicapped people receive an enriched level of income under the guaranteed annual income system for the disabled program, which is delivered by the province under the Family Benefits Act. Gains-D recipients with home heating fuel costs have always had these costs included as part of their special needs allowance. However, effective January 1, 1984, we will begin reimbursing clients for fuel in addition to the basic disabled allowance.

This change will have an immediate effect on about 5,100 recipients who are paying their own heating costs. We estimate these recipients will benefit by an average of about $30 a month; some could be lower and some could be much higher, depending on fuel costs.

Second, we will be introducing a new special payment of up to $350 for people who are leaving institutions and need help getting established in the community. Under this new initiative, the general welfare recipient will be provided with funds to cover such items as the deposit on monthly rent, buying utensils for setting up a kitchen and the like. Our aim, of course, is to ensure these people receive the help they need to begin their new independent living with as much ease as possible. Family benefits recipients at present receive a discharge benefit.

Third, we will raise the maximum monthly relocation benefits for disabled clients. This benefit is available in cases where a disabled client must move temporarily to another community to take a vocational training course and so has the extra cost of paying for accommodation in two communities.

Finally, the maximum monthly benefit under the handicapped children's benefits program will be increased by 11 per cent. Effective January 1, 1984, parents looking after their severely handicapped child at home will be able to receive a maximum of $250 a month under this program, up from $225 a month.

There will be a number of other adjustments to benefits as well, but I have covered the highlights today. I think it is important at this point that I put these improvements in the context of the overall benefits that recipients receive. I want to emphasize that one cannot get an accurate picture of our recipients' total income by simply adding together the basic allowance and shelter subsidy. Accordingly, let me outline today the total benefits a recipient will receive as of January 1, 1984. I will use as an example a mother of two on family benefits, one of our typical examples.

First of all, that family will receive a cheque for $716 per month for its basic allowance and shelter subsidy. In addition, the family will receive monthly family allowance cheques, the child tax credit, Ontario tax credit and a back-to-school allowance. If we prorate the tax credits and the back-to-school allowance over 12 months, those additional cash benefits will raise the monthly figure to $872 a month, or $10,457 a year.

Let me go further, though. The family receives more benefits as well. When we count in benefits most people must pay for, such as Ontario health insurance plan coverage, prescription drugs and basic dental care, eye glasses, hearing aids and the like, on an average, this family receives a total package with a dollar value of about $11,400.

Recipients are also allowed to earn certain amounts through part-time employment without affecting their basic allowance. In fact, a single mother whose children are in school, for example, could add up to an additional $190 per month to her income through part-time earnings.

I have included some examples in the sheets attached to the information package. If members study those sheets, they will see that the total income picture is considerably higher than most people realize and, in fact, provides for the basic needs of all Ontario recipients. They may pick out one specific area and say in this area that Ontario's rates are behind such-and-such other provinces. The fact is, in terms of total benefits, Ontario's social assistance system ranks among the best on this continent.

I believe that as a government we have a responsibility to provide as much help as possible to those in our society who, through no fault of their own, need our support. I am talking now not only about those who are blind or disabled or unable to work, but also about those who have worked for years and find that because of the economic climate they are now unemployed, in many cases for the first time in their adult lives.

In some cases, that may involve providing more than just financial help. One of our most recent initiatives which we are particularly proud of is our program to provide assistance to sole-support parents who want to get off social assistance and become self-sufficient.

The members of the House will recall we introduced a range of employment support initiatives in nine test communities in Ontario. To date, we have been overwhelmed by the amount of interest single parents have shown in this program. The extent of the response at all levels has exceeded all our expectations. Through this program, I believe we have established once and for all that the employment supports we have put in place are not only needed by our recipients, they are also wanted by our recipients.

2:20 p.m.

Certainly, there are some people who try to abuse our income maintenance system, those who attempt to obtain benefits for which they are not eligible; but they are relatively few, and we have safeguards in place to make sure those few are discovered and dealt with.

The fact that we have not cut a single social benefit or program, as so many other jurisdictions have done during this period of recession, is hard evidence, I believe, of our commitment to ensure help is available to all those in need. This year my ministry will be backing up that commitment with a budget that will approach $2.4 billion. That is a substantial expenditure in anybody's books.

Here in Ontario we have a tradition of helping those people who are physically, emotionally and socially disadvantaged and who are unable to provide for themselves. I am confident the improvements I have outlined today will serve to continue that tradition.



Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services with respect to his statement. Referring to page 4, I understand there will be a five per cent across-the-board increase in basic allowances for one quarter of a million recipients of family benefits and general welfare assistance, as well as a special category of 7.6 per cent for certain employable people who are not working at the present time.

The minister will be aware that the last increase of five per cent was a year or so ago. Inflation over the past two years has been 15.8 per cent. The combined effect of these two increases has been about 10 per cent. These recipients are still falling behind the rate of inflation. The minister will also be aware that it was his government that was persuaded a year ago that doctors deserved some catch-up because they had fallen behind inflation over a period of years. Why would that same logic not apply to family benefit recipients or welfare recipients who have also fallen behind inflation over the past two years?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I will dispute with the Leader of the Opposition that the inflation rate over the last two years has been 15 per cent.

Mr. Ruprecht: Give us the correct figure.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Drea: We have not been universal in our increases. I made it plain when I became minister that we would be selective. In many cases, we have far exceeded any type of inflation. I can talk about the women who are 60 to 64 years of age and about the people who are permanently unemployable who were raised up to the disabled level. These were very substantial increases, well over 30 and 35 per cent.

Last year, in addition to the basic increase, we went out to do something for the new class which is on social assistance, the people who simply could not find a job because of the recession. We also moved in our shelter areas to do something for those who had to purchase shelter, whether it was at a rooming house, boarding house or other type of dwelling in the private market rather than under subsidized housing. We recognized that need.

This year we have looked at the disabled, the handicapped and so forth. Last year we made it plain our particular thrust was for the employables and those bearing the brunt of the economic depression, particularly in terms of unemployment.

Overall, when one looks at last year, the cost last year at this time was about $52 million. This year we are bringing in a program of increases that costs more than $61 million. We have not cut a single program. We are dealing as fairly, as justly and as economically responsibly as any government on this continent with the victims of the depression as well as with long-term social assistance recipients.

Mr. Peterson: I certainly welcome the special programs the minister has brought in, targeted as they are, but the reality is that there is still the forgotten group in his program which is only going to go up by five per cent this year and which is consistently falling behind inflation. That is the reality.

The minister is part of a government that is discussing restraint. It is presumably going to introduce something in this House tomorrow. It is also the same government that allows Hydro increases of eight per cent. These same people have to pay Hydro increases. Certain groups in society have been exempted from these restraints, i.e., the doctors.

Does the minister not feel these people at the bottom end of the scale, the unemployables as opposed to the employables he wants to address, deserve a chance to catch up to inflation too? Surely he has missed a very important group in his program.

Hon. Mr. Drea: I do not follow the logic of the question. We concentrated on the employables last year. We are still concentrating on them. If the member will look at the statement in some depth. he will see that this year we also have a very significant thrust for the long-term handicapped or the unemployables. No government on this continent has worked harder than this one to keep the disadvantaged abreast of the recession and other economic factors in this country.

It is not a question of who got what kind of increase in terms of the private sector. In fact, the increases in social assistance of the last two years have exceeded the government restraint program. I do not think it is a question that certain people are being forgotten. If there is a category or person that is being forgotten or ignored in this province, I challenge the Leader of the Opposition to tell me about it.

We have looked far and wide. We have done all kinds of things for particular groups, especially the most disadvantaged, people who were forgotten for a quarter of a century. The member may not like the rates, and that is fair criticism, but I object strongly to the suggestion we have forgotten anybody.

Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, the minister said he challenged the figures with respect to the increase in the cost of living. I would like to ask the minister to consider the following facts, and if he disputes them, let him set out his own. There were increases announced in February 1981 and October 1982 and now these increases have been announced today. Since February 1981, the consumer price index has increased by more than 20 per cent.

Mr. Speaker: Question, please.

Mr. Rae: Does the minister not agree that the income of the neediest citizens of this province should at least keep pace with the increase in the overall consumer price index and the overall increase in the cost of living, such as hydro, heat, fuel, rent, food and so on? How can he deny the fact that, all things considered, the rate of support for the neediest citizens of this province has fallen behind the increases in the cost of living?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, that is factually incorrect. A great many of the so-called neediest in the province whom the leader of the third party is talking about are outside the scope of increases in the cost of heating, rent and so forth. They are in subsidized housing where those costs are met. That is why we have asked him to compare the total package rather than the basic needs.

The point the Leader of the Opposition made about 15 per cent was for the last two years. The leader of the third party has gone back three years to go up to 20 per cent. There is no one on this continent, whether he is working at the most affluent job or is on unemployment insurance, who has kept pace with inflation since 1980 or 1981. including everybody in this House. Nobody has been able to keep pace with it. To suggest that one of the things that should be done is to start indexing everybody again so they can keep pace with inflation is the fastest way to recycle inflation and have it going again. We would wind up in the same recession we are now trying to recover from.

2:30 p.m.

Instead, we are targeting certain groups in the disadvantaged area. We have targeted those who are facing the full vicissitudes of market rent. We are talking about the single unemployed and the long-term disabled. Over a period of two years we have been very selective in dealing with those who face particular problems because of economic circumstances. In addition to enhancing and increasing the individual benefits, I remind members that not a single program has been cut and no other jurisdiction can say that.

Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that doctors have managed to keep up very nicely with inflation.

Mr. Speaker: Question, please.

Mr. Wrye: Had the doctors been included in the restraint program, this government would have had $82 million of additional money to help these people with. In Toronto, for example, the minister will be aware of the following increases since 1980 in inflation: transportation, 44.7 per cent; health care, 33.2 per cent; shelter, 28.6 per cent; water, fuel and electricity, 50.4 per cent; and food, 26.1 per cent. Given these past increases, how can the minister stand in his place and justify a five per cent increase today?

Hon. Mr. Drea: With a lot more confidence than someone who would make silly statements like that.

Mr. Bradley: And now for the answer.


Hon. Mr. Drea: I did not hear that. What did the member say?

Mr. Bradley: And now for the answer.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Not you; him.

Mr. Wrye: Try to answer.

Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, please.


Hon. Mr. Drea: Do you have to have him do your thinking?

Mr. Foulds: Absence has not improved the minister.

Hon. Mr. Drea: I really fail to see what the salary or the professional fee adjustments of the doctors have to do with the particular enhancements and improvements I am announcing. I do not understand the thrust of the member's question except that he obviously wants more. As a representative of a party that wants to balance the budget, that fought the Treasurer last year on any of his increased expenditures and that preaches thrift, how much does the member suggest?


Hon. Mr. Drea: Does he want 10 per cent or 20 per cent?


Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Minister of Labour. This morning I met with the leadership of Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union in this province. The minister will be aware that there are now discussions under way and a recommendation from the Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority to adopt a recommendation that would jeopardize the jobs of some 230 drivers now employed by Gray Coach but who are working for GO Transit. I am sure the minister is aware of this situation.

What is the minister doing to protect the jobs of those 230 people who have worked through Gray Coach for GO for a long period of time, who have earned their seniority, whose average seniority is between 15 and 20 years, and who have demonstrated competence and loyalty to their work situation?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, the first comment I might make is that I am disappointed those people did not see fit to come in and talk to me or even request the opportunity to come in and talk to me. Instead, they have gone to the Leader of the Opposition so that he would be able to raise it here in this Legislature. Certainly, we are concerned about the circumstances and we are taking a good look at the situation.

Mr. Peterson: What kind of silly response is that, that these people cannot talk to members of the opposition of whatever party? Is he threatening them or what?

Mr. Speaker: Question, please.

Mr. Peterson: It is ridiculous for the Minister of Labour to make that kind of response. They have made arrangements to talk to his deputy. He should be on top of this. It was in the Toronto Star and a variety of other places that an agency of his government is doing it. The minister has no right to make that kind of response in the House.

Mr. Speaker: Question, please.

Mr. Peterson: Would the minister not agree that this is a very clear case where he has to apply his policies, if he has any, of preferential hiring? There are 230 people in jeopardy of losing their jobs to an agency of his colleague. What is the minister going to do? What is the current state of negotiations? Is he going to intervene to make sure these people have preference if that policy is adopted by GO Transit?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I would first give a word of clarification. I have no quarrel whatsoever with anybody speaking with the Leader of the Opposition or the leader of the third party. In fact, I think it is very productive that they do so in many cases and not just come to members of the government. Sometimes it brings the problems out there in the work place to the attention of the opposition parties as well as of the government. I think that is a very positive thing and I would never suggest at any time that anyone should not follow that practice.

What I attempted to say earlier is that these people had not seen fit to come in to see me. I would like them to come in and there is an invitation for them to do so. We will sit down and try to find a resolution to the problem. That is the point I was trying to make.

Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, quite apart from meetings, which are important, it has been reported that the cabinet is going to be discussing this matter on Wednesday. I would ask if the minister is aware of that and if he could confirm that for us?

Second, is the minister aware that part of the report that was apparently adopted by GO Transit on Friday is a chart showing savings from having a fresh start in business? This is where they come up with $4 million in savings, of which $620,000 comes from lower wage rates, $280,000 from lower vacation costs and nearly $200,000 from reduced out-of-pocket costs.

Would the minister be prepared to come back to the House tomorrow and report on any further information he has about the issues of job security, which is essential for these drivers? Could he also report anything further on the question of lower wages and lower living standards, which also appear to be part of the package being stuck to them by GO Transit?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: First, it has not been brought to my attention that there is to be any discussion of this at cabinet on Wednesday. There could well be, but at the moment I am not aware of it.

As to whether I would come back tomorrow with this information, I am not sure whether I can or not. I will certainly make a commitment to come back before the House adjourns on Wednesday of this week.

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised the Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority could recommend that these 230 drivers be let go without an opportunity for them to be rehired. I am surprised they would do this without consultation with the Minister of Labour or the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow). Do these authorities operate on their own without any government intervention? Who is looking after the welfare of workers when these operating authorities can make such drastic decisions without coming to this minister or the Minister of Transportation and Communications?

Will the minister follow up on the suggestion of the president of Local 113, that if nothing can be resolved politically on this very important and serious matter, then the minister should appoint an arbitrator to try to resolve it?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I am not going to make any commitments in this House until I have had a chance to talk to the principals involved. I just have not had that opportunity, but I want to do that at the earliest possible opportunity.


Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. We have raised in the House our concerns about what is happening to inflation. However, we are also concerned about the rate of support for people who are suffering from a long-term disability and who are receiving income assistance from the government under the guaranteed annual income system for the disabled.

Could the minister justify to the House why the rate of assistance paid by the government is so much lower for these people than for people who are over 65, who are also retired and who are out of the labour market? Why is there such a major discrepancy between the levels of support the government provides for those who are disabled and those who are over 65?

2:40 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, first of all, this government is not providing the bulk of the support for those over 65. The honourable member is shaking his head.


Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections.

Hon. Mr. Drea: First of all, the basic pension that comes to everybody over 65 is their old age pension; that is paid for out of income taxes and is a federal government responsibility. Second, the Canada pension plan, the guaranteed income supplement and so forth are federal. The disability pension in this province, particularly for those who are unemployable rather than totally physically disabled, as in the past, has been raised enormously in the past year and a half. So we have done that.

It is probably not at a level that is commensurate with other levels of pensions that are paid to those who become disabled after being in the work force, because much of that is based upon the contributions they have made while in the work force. Many of the disability pensions we have pay only a portion of a person's true costs. For instance, the pensions that go to developmentally handicapped people who are in the community do not, in any way, shape or form, begin to pay the real costs of their being in the community.

I think the member has to look at the context of not just a flat amount but the particular person who is receiving the pension or the allowance and what other programs are available to them. Unlike employables, where we have made it a responsibility to try to get them back into the work force -- in fact, we are working very actively with the municipalities to do so -- the re-entry into the community of the disabled or the unemployables is through various programs that are funded, in almost every case, entirely by the province.

Mr. Rae: The fact remains that with the five per cent increase announced today, plus the maximum shelter subsidy, a single, disabled person receives $477.87 from the government of Ontario. That is the guaranteed income a single disabled person has to live on in this province -- less than $500 a month.

What I am asking the Minister of Community and Social Services is, why is the government not moving to provide a guaranteed income for that person that is at least on a par with the guaranteed income now being provided for people over 65? Why does the government not move to a guaranteed income in this province that ensures nobody is living in a condition of poverty? I hope the minister will agree that less than $500 a month for a single, disabled person is living in poverty in Ontario.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Once again, and I hate to have to belabour this, it depends on where the person is living and which particular program the disabled person is in. One cannot make a blanket or universal statement that everybody who is a disabled person in this province and is receiving an allowance or pension from the Ontario government lives in poverty. I trust the leader of the third party will concede that.

This government has been making very steady progress over a number of years in addressing the problem of the congenitally disabled, if one wants to call them that, who have become disabled without ever having any access to being in the work force, or those who in middle age, because of health matters, become disabled. We have been moving towards a decent and fair basic series of allowances.

As I pointed out in the statement, there are also a number of programs that are paid for them. There are a number of other benefits that are available to them depending upon their situation. If we were to put out that amount of money and have no subsidized housing, then I would be the first to agree with the leader of the third party. But we have more subsidized housing than anywhere else in Canada, and a great deal of that subsidized housing goes to disabled people.

We have a great many vocational rehabilitation programs for disabled people to either get themselves back to full self-sufficiency or partial self-sufficiency. In this province, we are second to none in our total accomplishments in that field. If the member for York South (Mr. Rae) wants to carp and criticize, if he wants to whine and complain that it is not enough, then he can go ahead. He always does anyway.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, the constant recommendation that has come forward from every pension committee, every group and every royal commission on the pension area on the whole question of the guaranteed annual income system for the aged is that the single rate should be brought up to higher than 50 per cent of the married rate for our senior citizens, a vast number of whom are living in poverty. Why does the minister choose not to address this question, and when will he?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Frankly, Mr. Speaker, that is not my jurisdiction.

Mr. Rae: I just want to go back to this point to try to get the minister to address the unfairness that is built into the current system, where there are people who are unable to get a job because of a long-term physical disability and who, if they are reliant solely on the provincial government, are receiving much less than $500 a month.

I am trying to get the minister to address the unfairness of that system. Would he not agree it is time this province moved towards a system of guaranteed income, an income maintenance, to ensure that no one in this province who has to rely on the provincial government for support is living in poverty and that no one who is working is living in poverty?

Will he not address this problem? What is holding him back from looking at attacking a very real problem for literally thousands of people in this province who rely on the provincial government, and the provincial government alone, as their entire source of income support?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I have been addressing that question ever since I have been the Minister of Community and Social Services. As a matter of fact, prior to my time, there were two classes of disabled people. One of them was a class called permanently unemployable; they did not get the full rate of a disabled person. The New Democratic Party sat in here for 12 or 14 years demanding that be equalized. It took me 24 hours to equalize it. So the member should not tell me I have not been addressing the problem.

If he is going to criticize what I have done today, then I sincerely suggest that he will have to do better than to whip out the old saw about needing a guaranteed annual income in Ontario. If that is the best way he can criticize what I am doing, then obviously this government is to he commended for its progress, its foresight, its prudence and its ability to do things no other government in this country or on this continent has done or is able to do today.

That is a very proud accomplishment of this government. It is a great tribute to the former Treasurer and present Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. F. S. Miller). It is a great tribute to the present Treasurer (Mr. Grossman). Above all, it is a tremendous credit to the Premier (Mr. Davis).


Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my second question is to the Minister of Labour. It also concerns a contracting-out situation and a job loss situation. It deals with job losses in the health care system that have already been commented on by the minister's seatmate, the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Ashe).

As the minister may be aware, I am referring to the fact that the Ballycliffe Lodge Nursing Home, within the public sector, is laying off 32 health care aides, effective November 30, 1983. These 32 employees are being fired by this home, and the positions are being contracted out to Medox health services, which is a division of Drake International.

I want to ask the minister whether he is aware that these layoffs are taking place. Is he aware that the replacement employees, who will be hired by the subcontractor, will be receiving, according to the statements by Medox, somewhere around $4.25 to $4.50 an hour maximum, whereas nurses' aides are now earning $8.19 an hour at the nursing home? Is the minister aware of those facts, and what does he intend to do about them?

What does he intend to do about the fact that people making $8 an hour are being laid off and tend to be replaced by entirely new employees through a subcontractor, making as much as $3.50 or maybe even $4 an hour less than the employees who are working there today?

2:50 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the circumstances. This is not the first time this has occurred over the past number of months. Various establishments in the health care field and otherwise are struggling to maintain their operations in a period of recession and restraint. It is a very complex matter of successor rights, and there is no simple solution to the problem. It is something our ministry is wrestling with at present.

Mr. Rae: This is a nursing home that relies on public funds for its support. It is a private-profit home, but it relies extensively on public funds. The minister will be aware that in 1980, Ballycliffe Lodge added a new 70-bed retirement home, which is now 93 per cent full and which brings in a minimum of about $653,000 annually. The 100-bed nursing home is full, bringing in about $1.5 million. Has the minister or any of his officials seen the books of this company? If they have not, will they examine the books of this company?

Will the minister explain why a company that has met with a union, had a contract with a union and negotiated with a union and with its employees, and come up with an agreement, is now out to destroy the collective bargaining rights of the union at this nursing home as well as the rights of 32 employees whose seniority is being totally neglected and forgotten, who are being put on the street and who are going to be replaced by people making close to the minimum wage? Will he at least look at this situation and see what he can do?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: It must be borne in mind that there was a contracting-out clause in that collective agreement. Therefore, the nursing home is acting within its rights to exercise that clause. I am sorry. What was the honourable member's last point?

Mr. Rae: Is the minister going to look at the books? What is he going to do?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: No, I have not seen the books and I do not intend to look at them.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, the same kind of thing is happening at the Brantwood Manor in Burlington and at the Willson Nursing Home in St. Thomas. They are closing down and transferring the patients out to another licensee, Caressent. All those people will lose their jobs.

Is the minister not concerned that there are a lot of labour violations -- at least that is what one would assume they are, at first look -- with respect to the granting of those licences? Will he undertake to talk to his colleague who grants those licences to make sure the rights of employees are protected when there is a transfer of a nursing home licence?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I will be delighted to talk with my colleague as suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, but again, if I may repeat myself, this is a matter for collective bargaining. When these contracts are signed, they should be attempting to eliminate these contracting-out clauses. They are in certain of these collective agreements at present and therefore the nursing homes or other establishments, whether we like it or not, happen to be within their rights.

Mr. Rae: The Minister of Labour is part of a government that has destroyed the ability of this union to bargain for its employees. It took away the right to bargain a contract that would protect against contracting out. How can the minister have the blatant hypocrisy to stand up in this House and say they have the right to protect something when he brought in Bill 179 and took that right away from those workers?

Mr. Speaker: I have to remind the member for York South that the use of the word "hypocrisy" is unparliamentary and not acceptable in this chamber. I ask him to withdraw it, please.

Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I withdraw it and I ask the minister to answer the question. How can he have a double standard which tells workers to go out and bargain for collective agreements that protect them, and then take away those collective bargaining rights and spend four months emasculating the trade unions of the public sector? He can he possibly live with himself with that kind of double standard?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I am not sure whether there was a question there or just an address by the member. I do not have any problem living with myself.


Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. We have been saving them up while he has been away. I would like to welcome him back.

The minister will be aware that, in Metropolitan Toronto particularly, those who were eligible to receive subsidized day care far exceed the supply of spaces available. As a result, many municipalities, Metro in particular, are revising their day care priorities so that only those most desperately in need will receive priority. Metro is now forced to revise its list, and the minister includes such discriminatory factors as family size and child age.

Metro is proposing: "To utilize scarce resources more effectively and to provide the service to those most in need, the following order of service priority based on child age is suggested: (1) preschoolers, (2) infants, (3) school age children."

Is the minister satisfied with the fairness and justness of such criteria for receiving subsidized day care in this province, or will he endeavour to provide the funding necessary to municipalities such as Metro so that such measures as a child's age are not used as factors in assessing the need for subsidized day care?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, let us make it very clear what is going on in Metropolitan Toronto. I think everybody in this House will agree, and I am sure the honourable member knows this, that in Metropolitan Toronto the priority goes to those who are trying to get off social assistance and who are in the process of either getting a job, being retrained for a job or actually in a job.

Until now, one of the problems had been that the sole-support mother had to compete with the woman who already had a job and who had another wage earner at home. Granted, they were in a low-income category, but it was very difficult for sole-support mothers, when trying to get a job and when day care was an absolute necessity, to compete in that market. We have provided a large number of spaces for those people.

In terms of Metropolitan Toronto's day care, it has the right to set its criteria. We have been very flexible in what we have allowed it to do. I draw to the member's attention, although I do not have details with me, that by far the preponderance of subsidized day care spaces in Ontario are in Metropolitan Toronto. It is not a question of Metropolitan Toronto not being properly funded.

It is the view of the ministry at this time that there had to be a particular thrust on those who were trying to get off social assistance. That is where the new day care spaces are going. I hope the member is not suggesting I take that away from those women and turn it back to somebody else.

Mr. Wrye: Let me tell the minister a new problem he is potentially going to give Metro and a number of other municipalities. This year the ministry issued new guidelines and a new form called Determination of Available Income, form 0726, for defining a person in need who seeks subsidized day care facilities.

The minister may be aware of the concerns some municipalities have raised with respect to these guidelines and the new form. For example, under the government's guidelines, registered retirement savings plans are included as an asset for those persons who do not even have access to a company pension plan. Could the minister tell the House why, in his determination of a person in need, group pension plans are not considered an asset but individual RRSPs are? Will he assure the House that he will revise these guidelines so this discriminatory aspect is eliminated?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I believe a member with such close ties to his federal party, which he likes so much, might want to talk to the federal people, because they are the ones who pulled the plug. They are the ones who put in the new eligibility. They are the ones who stopped the subsidy in many of the communities, particularly in western Ontario. If we have any fault, it is that we have been far too lenient. The member had better go and ask them, because they did it.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the minister is aware that there are more than 1,000 people waiting for day care subsidies in the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. The municipality itself is coming to him, asking for additional spaces to try to meet the needs of those people on the waiting list. Has the minister met with the municipality and if so, is he prepared to increase the number of spaces in Metropolitan Toronto to meet this need?

3 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, obviously it does not take very much to know that I have not met with them. Second, I have seen some of the things they have said. I want to study in some depth what they are saying and when they say it.


Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Solicitor General pertaining to Mr. James Gayder, the newly-appointed but unsworn replacement for the Niagara Regional Police chief. Under the minister's order, an investigation into the dealings of gun dealer Mark DeMarco and the relationship between him and officers of the force, including James Gayder, is continuing. Recognizing this, is the minister going to prevent the swearing in of James Gayder as the new chief until the investigation is complete and until any charges flowing from that investigation and from the internal criminal one on the same issue have been dealt with? At this time, can I have a straight "yes" or "no" answer to that question?

Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, on many occasions I would be delighted to give a straight "yes" or "no" as an answer to many of the questions asked in this chamber. However, I am sure that would provide great difficulty to any of the government members who have to answer questions from time to time. I am going to disappoint the member for Welland-Thorold. I will not give a "yes" or a "no" to that question because it is not as simplistic as he likes to see it.

This is what will take place. As I have indicated to the member before in this matter -- and I have heard from this member during the amendments to the Police Act, amendments that are being debated currently and questions he has put to me before -- it is under investigation. I have heard his comments in here and I have not been pleased with those comments. In the atmosphere of this House, he is able to make certain statements while a matter is still under investigation. The member has ridiculed and debased some aspects of the honourable police force in the Niagara region and I would suggest that gentleman owes an apology to that force.

While there is an ongoing investigation, he has made certain statements about that police force to which I take exception. When he makes these allegations and statements in the comfort of the atmosphere in here, he does a dishonour to that fine police force in the Niagara region which, by the way, we are investigating.

We are investigating partly as a result of that member's open letter, which is another aspect of bringing attention to certain features. Here we have an ongoing investigation which has been set up as independently as possible to deal with these allegations which have been made by individuals. It is not unusual for allegations to be made against police officers who try to perform their duties under the most trying conditions.

While there is an investigation ongoing, one should conduct oneself accordingly and at least wait until that investigation is completed before making any further accusations.

Mr. Swart: It is simply preposterous that the Solicitor General is not concerned that this new chief may be sworn in before the investigations are completed.

Is it not true that Mr. Gayder, who is the senior person in charge of the registration of firearms in the Niagara region, himself has a very large collection of handguns? Would the minister ensure that the investigators examine the vendor permits connected to his acquisition of every one of those guns? Further, because Mr. Gayder is no longer just a private citizen but is slated to be the new chief of the Niagara regional force, would the minister table in this House copies of those vendor permits so it is public knowledge as to how and from whom he acquired those guns?

Hon. G. W. Taylor: There is a very thorough ongoing investigation at this time, for which an adequate number of investigating officers from the Ontario Police Commission have been provided. Where it concerns other forces, they have independent assistance from other forces to investigate a particular police force.

Two proceedings are ongoing at the present time, two prongs to the investigation. One is the procedural aspect of that police force, and the other is allegations of a criminal nature. Those are ongoing. I can only say that it is a very thorough investigation. Many people have come forward to the investigating officers and said they would like to give information. I think it is only fair that when that is completed, an assessment will be made at that time of the evidence and what will flow from that evidence and investigation. I think at this time it is premature to be putting forth certain pieces of information.

I tell the honourable member to visit the investigating officers if he has any information that is of any assistance to them and provide them with the information so that they can follow it up and complete the investigation, instead of making accusations in the comfort and protection of this House as to a person whom an independent police force has decided should be the chief after a very thorough analysis and investigation of that person's assets and benefit to that police force as being their police chief.

I think before he continues to make these comments the member should at least give those investigating officers and the investigation a chance to be completed and make the decision at that time.


Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Deputy Premier in the absence of the Premier (Mr. Davis). The Deputy Premier may be aware that the Assessment Review Board has recently decided to lower the assessment in the case of the Hawkesbury Canadian International Paper Co. mill by some $2.5 million, thereby reducing the taxes collected by the town of Hawkesbury by some $309,000. This is a grave economic situation in eastern Ontario, particularly in Hawkesbury.

The government has given $125,000 a year for two years to the town of Hawkesbury to make up for a potential loss before this judgement came down. In view of the fact that the loss of revenue is far greater than anyone in the town or even his government anticipated, would the minister indicate to us whether he would support obtaining additional grants for the town of Hawkesbury because of this very difficult situation?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I think the member will understand that we would want to have that matter investigated very carefully. I will draw his question and his concern to the attention of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett).

Mr. Boudria: Further to that, the taxes lost to Hawkesbury, as I mentioned, were $309,000, but the two school boards and the united counties of Prescott and Russell also lost a considerable portion of their assessment. The town of Hawkesbury, as I said, lost 20 per cent of its assessment in one day. The total loss is $826,000.

Would the minister take to cabinet the concerns of the united counties of Prescott and Russell and the school boards as well, because the repercussions extend far beyond the town of Hawkesbury and it is indeed a very grave situation.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Yes, Mr. Speaker.


Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. The minister is aware, no doubt, that there are serious concerns in Tiny township by a number of residents about pesticide spraying on the Hostess properties. Perhaps he could tell us why it is that in the summer of 1982 his ministry approved for use the spraying of Du-Ter. This is a fungicide that was at one point registered for use in this country but deregistered by Environment Canada in December 1981, and some six months later his ministry approved it for use yet again. Can he tell us why that happened?

Hon. Mr. Brandt: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to share with the member exactly what did happen. In October 1981, I believe it was, the federal government deregistered the use of Du-Ter, the particular chemical he is mentioning that was used, I believe, by the Hostess potato chip company in that area. For some reason that was not shared either with my colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell) or with me or my ministry. The federal government did not advise Ontario that it was deregistering that pesticide. It was not brought to our attention, so we found ourselves in the embarrassing position of having a pesticide on the market that we had understood was registered and was appropriate for use in the particular circumstances in Tiny township.

Subsequent to that, we are advised it was deregistered. To the best of my knowledge there is still a limited amount of Du-Ter on the market. However, no further production of that pesticide is allowed, nor it is coming into the market in any additional volumes. Apparently the use of the pesticide has been stopped.

3:10 p.m.

The only thing I can say is that I am as amazed as the honourable member that the federal government would not advise us of the removal of that pesticide. It came as a surprise to us that it would take them something like two years to bring to our attention that they were making that move.

Mr. Charlton: I appreciate the minister's comments, but there seems to be a serious communication problem here. As the minister says, it may be a fault that is occurring in Ottawa, but it is interesting to notice that in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food's 1983 vegetable production recommendations the ministry is still touting Du-Ter as one of the pesticides to use with potatoes. Perhaps the minister can look into the communications networks that exist among the various ministries involved with the use of these very dangerous chemicals so that we can get the situation straightened out.

Hon. Mr. Brandt: Again, the problem is certainly one of communications but not in terms of receiving information at our end. I want to assure the member that it is a problem of the registering authority, namely the federal government, not advising us that it had deregistered the pesticide in question.

Furthermore, the publicity on the part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food would in all probability have been printed, and I believe it was, long before the deregistering of this pesticide was brought to our attention. That is why one would find it in a publication. That might be a question that could be redirected to that minister.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, they did publish this material, and it was the responsibility of the Ontario government to understand that and pick up those conventional publications. They did not. That said, at this point it is not productive to cast blame on this government or the other.

The question now is, how tight a communications system does this ministry have so that this kind of situation will never happen again? The minister is aware of some of the testing irregularities in the United States and the potential ramifications. I would like to hear in the House now the minister's assurances that this kind of miscommunication can never happen again in Ontario.

Hon. Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, I cannot give the honourable member that assurance because the initiative has to be taken by the federal government to advise us of what it is going to do. They are the registering authority and they are responsible for deregistering a pesticide or herbicide.

The only thing I can tell the Leader of the Opposition is that I intend raising this question with my counterpart in Ottawa. I share the same concerns the member has. I would hope to improve on the line of communications. There have been some apologies registered from the Ottawa side of things to advise us that they intend to improve on communications as well. I too would hope it would never happen again. Certainly, I will be looking for it now that this situation has arisen.


Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Minister of Northern Affairs. He may be aware of the proposal of the Northeastern Ontario Chamber of Commerce working group on economic development which was --

Mr. Speaker: Order. It was drawn to my attention that I missed the member who stood up on this side, the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy).

Mr. Foulds: You cannot take the floor away from a member once you recognize him.

Mr. Speaker: Yes, I know, but I had --

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, you acknowledged the other member first and he is the gentleman who got the attention of the Speaker. Under the rules we work by it is the member who gets the attention of the Speaker who has the floor.

Mr. Speaker: That is --

Mr. Peterson: Correct; of course it is correct.

Mr. Speaker: Yes, it is. That is quite right. You recognize the first person who is standing --

Mr. Peterson: You just did that. That was the member for Victoria-Haliburton.

Mr. Speaker: -- and I just did that, but it was drawn to my attention that the member for Fort William --

Mr. Peterson: By whom?

Mr. Speaker: By the table.

Mr. Mancini: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: That is not historically how we have operated in question period.

Mr. Speaker: If it is the wish of the House, I will go back to the member for Victoria-Haliburton.

Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Northern Affairs. The minister will be aware of the proposal of the northeastern Ontario chambers of commerce working group on economic development which was recently released at a meeting at which I believe the minister was present. The proposal will also be contained in the final report.

It recommends forming an economic development council with an operational centre for all of northeastern Ontario to promote a regional approach to economic development. Many of the smaller and rural communities are not able to support their own economic development organizations. For that reason, a regional council would provide valuable assistance to those municipalities.

Would the minister tell this House if he has read the proposal? If he has, will he give favourable consideration and assist in the funding necessary to get this project off the ground?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, the honour- able member is correct. I did meet with the northeastern Ontario chambers of Commerce several weeks back and we discussed that proposal in detail.

I outlined to that group what we were doing with regard to economic development, referring to the statement I made here in the Legislature last June 12. I outlined that they and their municipalities could get involved in a broad, all-encompassing program for which funding was available.

I also indicated to them I was prepared to sit down with them and discuss the possibility of setting up something similar to what we have in the northwest, like Commerce Northwest, a Commerce Northeast which would look at import substitution into that vast region of northeastern Ontario. I think it is fair to say there is some general acceptance of my proposal and we are discussing this further with them.

I am going to take the liberty of sending the member a copy of my remarks to the group, in which I reviewed in detail all the various thrusts we in the Ministry of Northern Affairs are making on behalf of those single-industry communities in all areas of northern Ontario. I know he will find it of interest.

Mr. Eakins: Does the minister have any further comments today on some of the specific recommendations contained in the report such as establishing an economic development council centre which would collect information on regional, national and international economic opportunities suited to the area and act as a referral service for information and contacts in tourism, business and government? Could this centre and Commerce Northwest both be tied in to the efforts of InfoNorth to achieve these goals and more?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: As I pointed out earlier, the ministry and the northeastern Ontario chambers of commerce are continuing their discussions. I think it is fair to say that after some discussion with them they agreed the proposal presented to us was not really what they would like to achieve and they are looking for some other direction.


Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Labour, especially in view of the comments made today by his colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea).

Can the minister confirm reports that the increase in the minimum wage will be delayed until March 1984, which means 28 months without an increase, and that there will not be a second increase until October 1984?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, there will be a full statement by myself in this Legislature, I hope within the next week, which will answer all the questions the honourable member has asked. I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment before then. There has been a lot of speculation in the media. Speculation is exactly what it is, because final decisions have not been reached as yet.

Mr. Samis: Could the minister at least confirm that he has been heavily lobbied by the tourist industry to delay the timing and the extent of the increase? Would he not agree that the working poor have not had any increase compared to the unemployables and the disadvantaged who are receiving welfare and family benefits? Would the minister not acknowledge that discrepancy?

Hon. Mr. Ramsay: It is true I have been lobbied by the tourist industry and other industries. I have also been lobbied by various groups on the other side of the coin. I have been lobbied by members of my caucus who feel the suggestions I have made are not generous enough, and by others who feel they are too generous. We are trying to reach common ground.

I want to make one point abundantly clear. The delay in making the announcement is not a result of lobbying by any group. It is just a matter of indecision by members of the caucus.

3:20 p.m.


Mr. Hennessy: Mr. Speaker, I think I will have to stand on the desk to be recognized one of these days.

My question is to the Minister of Transportation and Communications. In October the minister said the awarding of a contract involving Can-Car of Thunder Bay that was being looked at by Ian Sinclair for the Toronto Transit Commission would be announced in November. It now being the month of November, has the minister anything further to say on this matter?

Hon. Mr. Snow: First, Mr. Speaker, I think I would like to recall what I did say. I do not believe I said there would be a contract awarded in the month of November; I will have to check Hansard to be sure. However, I did say the word I had from the TTC general manager was that he expected the report from staff, including Mr. Sinclair's report, would be put before the TTC in the first week of November.

I have been trying to find out whether that has taken place or not. I understand from the information I can get via the telephone that report has not yet been put before the TTC, but they hope it will be during the month of November.



Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition that has a covering letter from the Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario over the president's signature, Susan Hildreth. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which will have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

The petition is signed by teachers from Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Fonthill, Fort Erie, Thorold, Virgil, Hay, Welland, Stevensville, Port Colborne, Wainfleet, Whitby, Scarborough, Pelham, Queenston, Crystal Beach, Ridgeway and Sherkston; and further, from teachers representing Victoria Public School, F.J. Rutland Public School, Greendale Public School, Battlefield Public School, Prince Philip Public School, John Marshall Public School, Martha Cullimore Public School, Steele Street Public School, Oakwood Public School, Caroline M. Thompson Public School, A. K. Wigg Public School, Aldon Public School, Glynn A. Green Public School and Plymouth Public School.

Mr. Piché: Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions, one from G.H. Ferguson Public School and the other Commando Senior Public School, both of Cochrane:

"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which will have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

G. H. Ferguson Public School has 20 signatures and Commando Senior Public School has 11.

Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which will have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

This petition is signed by teachers from the great ridings of Windsor-Sandwich, Windsor-Riverside, Windsor-Walkerville and, I think, a few even from Essex North and Essex South, and we are pleased to have them as well.

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I have petitions similar to those introduced by my colleagues the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) and the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Wrye). These petitions also deal with the government's restraint program.

The petitions I wish to present to the House have been signed by teachers from the Queen Elizabeth Public School, Leamington; Anderdon Central Public School, Anderdon township; Colchester North Central Public School; a group of teachers from different constituencies in the Windsor and Essex county area; and also by teachers at Amherstburg Public School, Harrow District Senior Public School, Jack Miner Public School, Mill Street Centennial Senior Public School in Leamington and Kingsville Public School.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which will have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

This is signed by a number of elementary school teachers from the Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario who happen to reside in the ridings of Port Arthur and Fort William.

Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which reads as follows:

We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which will have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

This is signed by a number of teachers from Rousseau Public School in Hamilton.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which will have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

It is signed by teachers on the staff of William G. Miller Junior Public School.

Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I have a similar petition signed by 33 teachers from Gosfield North Central Unit Public School.

3:30 p.m.

Mr. Hennessy: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition, which reads as follows:

"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and

"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which will have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."

It is signed by the teachers of the following schools: Vance Chapman Elementary School; Fourway Elementary School; Cornwall Elementary School; Drew Street Elementary School and Crestview Elementary School.



Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I have some comments related to this concurrence. I would like the minister to respond to our critic's concern about the promise that was made to extend the Belleville-Peterborough TVOntario scope by some time in 1983 or 1984.

It seems there has been some backtracking in the estimates. I hope such is not the case and that the minister may give us some assurance that those areas will be covered. I appreciate that to give the service everywhere it is needed is somewhat difficult, but the government took it on itself to do this and made the promise. Once it started off on this particular area of TV coverage, I feel that for those areas that have been promised the promise should be kept.

That is one area of concern. Another area I would like to relate in these concurrences so that the minister may address it is the quite considerable increase in main office expenditures. We have been told that some of this increase will be used in various other offices or areas. I am concerned that the increase may be used for more government advertising rather than to extend the service of this ministry to where it is really badly needed.

This is a substantial increase. We are talking of 100 per cent increase in that area. I am sure the minister would want to reassure those of us on this side who have the responsibility for pointing out these particular areas where the government has made the promise and either changed its direction or altered the commitment to certain areas and certain people.

These are the two areas in particular that are of great concern to us. There are other areas that have been pursued quite diligently during the estimates. There are going to be some considerable cutbacks in galleries, community galleries in particular. I am not going to suggest that in some instances the ministry should not be watching the purse strings just a little more carefully, but I have to think, on the one hand, while this appears to be their reasoning for it, on the other hand, we have a tremendous increase in the main office, which is diametrically opposite to what they talk about when they are talking of the community galleries.

I hope the minister will address herself to the extension of TV coverage and to this substantial increase in the main office expenditure and its relationship to the cutbacks in the community galleries.

Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, I want to take only a few minutes here. Although I am the critic for the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture at this time, as the minister well knows, the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen) was the critic at the time of the estimates. Therefore, I am personally in the process of gathering the information that needs to be gathered in order to be an effective critic of the ministry. However, I would like to put two or three concerns I have to the minister that no doubt fall into the area of the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture.

I am not sure to what extent the first point is a personal concern of mine; however, I think it is probably more general in its aspect than just a personal, specific concern. It has to do with Wintario. I know Wintario does not come under the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, but that ministry makes use of some of the transfer moneys from Wintario in its granting system to community groups for capital construction, etc.

Basically, my concern is about the Half-Back program which falls squarely under the ministry. As a result of the proliferation of Half-Back programs for Canadian-authored books, for films, for stage productions and for magazine subscriptions, it seems to me I am finding that children in schools are being used as advertising agencies for Wintario.

I want to express this concern. I happened to be in my child's school the other day. The principal came on the public address system in the morning, saying to the children, "Boys and girls, don't forget to ask your parents if they have Wintario tickets" -- of course, they were not winners -- "and bring them to the school so the school can use them" for books, plays or whatever other use the school deems it necessary to make use of those tickets,

Not before this particular time was I struck by this. I am aware of the beginning of the Half-Back program, which easily goes back to about three or three and a half years ago. That was when the Half-Back program came into existence. For the first time I was struck by the fact that my six-year-old son might come home and ask, "Can I have your Wintario tickets?" I would have to say to my son, "I don't buy Wintario tickets."

I wonder to what extent every child in that school and every child in all the schools in Ontario goes home to remind parents whether they have their Wintario tickets and becomes, in essence, an advertisement for the Wintario lottery program. God knows how many times the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) mentioned making use of kids for particular purposes, and I happen to think at this time that this is making use of young kids as advertising agencies for the Wintario program, the Half-Back program or what have you.

3:40 p.m.

While I am not putting this particular point into any kind of deep contextual analysis, I am saying to the minister that I am becoming very concerned about this area, and perhaps she will have some response. Anyway, I just wanted to put that concern to the minister.

My second concern deals with the Royal Ontario Museum. It was not long ago, I remember, that the museum did its renovation, which obviously was needed. Wintario put in, through the Ministry of Culture and Recreation at that time, $10 million or $11 million. The price tag for the renovation was around $20 million or $25 million, if my memory serves me correctly; it was about three and a half years ago.

However, the point is not the renovation of the building. The point is that the reason we went about renovating the building was so that at the end of that process people in Ontario would have a better museum, a museum in which the artefacts could be better protected; a museum whose artefacts, I understood, were kept down in the basement by the ton because of a lack of space to exhibit them.

What I find, to my astonishment and amazement, is that at this point only 25 per cent of that museum is open. Why is that? After we spent so much money, $15 million or $20 million, why do we still have less of the museum open than we had three and a half years ago'? I hope the Minister of Citizenship and Culture (Ms. Fish) has an answer to that, because basically the longer the museum stays open at 25 per cent capacity the longer children, adults and everyone who would like to attend that museum will be limited in the kinds of things that are exhibited at the museum, and limited in their attendance.

What I understand from some people at the museum is that the reason only 25 per cent is open is the lack of funding to open the remainder of the museum. Is it possible that we spent $20 million to renovate the museum and that after the process the museum has less capacity or ability to be of service and of use to the people of Ontario? If that is the case, I think it is a great shame indeed, and I am looking for some answers.

The next point dealing with the museum has to do with the two exhibits they put on lately, In Search of Alexander and the Treasures of the Tower of London. I might say to the minister that I attended both of them and I thoroughly enjoyed them. However, my understanding, again from some people at the museum, is that those exhibits came in at a deficit. In other words, if the reason the museum was putting on these exhibits was to make some money so they could reopen more and more parts of the museum, it certainly did not achieve its goal.

As a matter of fact, and I could be wrong, I understand that since those exhibits came in at a deficit, the museum is a long way from being fully open -- unless, of course, this ministry begins to put sufficient money in the facilities that would allow it to open its doors at 100 per cent, if it is possible to open and use 100 per cent of the space in the museum. I am looking for answers there as well.

Third, and last, I am sure the Minister of Culture and Citizenship is aware of the six questions I put on the order paper November 2. If the minister is not, I want to inform her that three of those questions deal with multiculturalism as defined by the Premier (Mr. Davis), and by the Deputy Premier (Mr. Welch) when he was Minister of Culture and Recreation a few years back. Basically, it says that, regardless of ethnic origin, people should have access to job opportunity, housing, etc.

Through those questions I want to find out -- and I hope the Ministry of Culture and Citizenship will take a lead in this because, after all, it falls squarely in that ministry -- whether the theory of the policy of multiculturalism gets translated into reality.

Basically, what I am talking about in those questions on the order paper is whether the reality is employment. I want to find out how many people from ethnocultural backgrounds are employed by the different ministries of the government and how many of those people have positions that can be defined as positions of responsibility within the ministries in the government.

We can talk about multiculturalism all we want. We can stand in this House, as the Premier has done on occasion, and as he does every time he goes out to speak to ethnic communities, and talk about the tremendous, fantastic multicultural policy we have, but we and the ethnic communities want the proof of that policy. If it is not there, it is good that we know.

I certainly hope those particular questions will be answered with speed within the 14 days allowed for answering a question on the order paper. I hope the minister is going to be instrumental in making sure, because the minister should make sure that these questions are answered. As I said, it is part and parcel of the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture.

The other three questions deal with our visible minorities and basically ask the same questions. They change the words "ethnic minority" to "visible minority." These questions are not put on the order paper so I can get facts and information from the government in order that I store it away in a drawer in my office. They are put on the order paper because both the ethnic communities and the communities that have visible minorities are asking these basic, fundamental questions. They want to know.

It is not good enough for the Premier of this province to stand up and say discrimination is not tolerated in any way whatsoever by this government; the Premier has to show proof. With those questions on the order paper, the burden of proof is now on the government. I hope the answers will be quickly forthcoming.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity to put these three concerns on the record.

3:50 p.m.

Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I wish to say a few things about the concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture. Let me start by saying that this is the first formal opportunity I have had to congratulate the member for St. George (Ms. Fish) upon her recent elevation to the executive council. It came as no great surprise at all that the member for St. George was elevated. Like the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Shymko), she deserves our collective commendation, because she undoubtedly will add a verve and panache that God knows this government can use.

I wish her well in her new responsibilities. I know some of her staff assistants, one of whom is to be found seated to the Speaker's right, underneath the press gallery. I am very confident that with such assistants, Susan Avellar Fish, as Zena Cherry reported from Beijing, will do us proud as our culture czar in Ontario.

I was struck, as I am sure the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) was, that no more than a few days after her elevation, the new Minister of Citizenship and Culture was forced to board a jetliner and travel some 8,000 miles to represent us in the people's republic. In fact, she made a cameo appearance on the national news from that distant, but no less famous, capital.

Mr. Shymko: You blazed the trail for her, Sean.

Mr. Conway: I did indeed blaze the trail for the member, but unlike many over there I paid my own way, all of it. In that respect, unlike the Premier, unlike Clare Westcott and unlike just about anybody else I seem to know over there who has travelled either the Atlantic or the Pacific in recent months --

Mr. Shymko: It's because you are on the wrong side, Sean.

Mr. Conway: For the benefit of the member for High Park-Swansea, who I understand, if I can digress further, has a passing interest in the oak-panelled splendour of the executive council --

Mr. McClellan: But in Ottawa, not here.

Mr. Conway: There is a rumour, to which the member for Bellwoods alludes in his interjection, that not unlike the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), the member for High Park-Swansea is finding the attraction of Ottawa perhaps irresistible. I am sure the member for Bellwoods would agree with me that it would be an extremely inviting rematch out there in High Park-Swansea to see Art Eggleton and the member for High Park-Swansea do battle again.


The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr. Conway: One never knows about the future. I do not profess to have the clairvoyance of the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Kolyn). Let me say I do wish the --

Mr. Rotenberg: You do not even know who represents your party.

Mr. Conway: I am quite aware of Jesse Fliss's involvement with the party; but we talk about the future and I profess to have no great knowledge of what the future will bring. Since the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg) has entered the debate, parenthetically I might encourage him to follow the very skilful lead that was struck by the member for St. George in her path to the executive council. It is known to some of us that the member for Wilson Heights has an interest as well in the executive council, and he has been here for a considerably longer time. Hope springs eternal and I wish him well in that respect.

To conclude that part of my brief remarks, I have to say that for months I used to sit over here with the member for Bellwoods and watch how, almost hourly during House sittings, the member for St. George in her preministerial incarnation used to stand annexed to that second-to-last pillar over there, latched upon John Tory's every movement and upon his left and right ear as they became available. Like his shadow --

The Deputy Speaker: Is the member going to discuss the concurrences of the estimates?

Mr. Conway: -- the member for St. George stuck with it until that day in early July when the phone rang and the doors of opportunity opened before her.

There are two issues I would like to raise with the culture czar -- czarina; pardon me. If you had been careful, Mr. Speaker, you would have picked up on that sexist oversight. I have two interests for the culture czarina, one of which was touched upon by my good friend the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio). A very fine fellow he is, and I am confident he is keeping an eye on these issues.

As the minister will know, and as her predecessors the members for Ottawa West (Mr. Baetz) and Armourdale (Mr. McCaffrey) know from my ongoing discussions with them, we in small-town, rural eastern Ontario feel that a fine provincial educational service, TVOntario, is unhappily unavailable to too many of us.

Granted, I happen to live in that great eastern Ontario community known as Pembroke and, like people living in Petawawa and Renfrew, we have cable service which gives us TVOntario. But in places like Deep River and such areas as the townships of Wilberforce, Alice and Fraser, and Petawawa, to name but a few of several, where there are untold families and many younger people with a keen interest in TVOntario, it is very difficult for them to understand or for me to explain how it is that as contributors to the provincial consolidated revenue fund they cannot derive the great educational and cultural value we all know to be provided by TVOntario.

Quite frankly, I cannot get through a weekend without the offerings of Elwy Yost. It is just not proper to go to bed on Saturday night in this province any more without Elwy's --

Mr. Kolyn: You should be out with girls.

Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I would hope you would restrain that Vesuvius of energy over there, the member for Lakeshore. I do not know what makes him think I would go to the movies alone, but if he knows something about my Saturday night activities that I do not, I will be happy to have the information and the source of same.

The Deputy Speaker: The member would be best to ignore the interjections.

Mr. Conway: I have a great deal of regard for the assistant government whip, and I would not want to disregard his public or private utterances.

Mr. Boudria: The member for Northumberland (Mr. Sheppard) thinks we need more towers.

Mr. Conway: My friend the member for Prescott-Russell makes the point, and I want to reiterate it in the presence of the czarina of culture, that the good member for Northumberland has pointed out the lack of service in rural, small-town eastern Ontario.

I am not worried about the big cities of Ottawa, Kingston, Belleville and Cornwall, because they are by virtue of their size able to bring the service to their residents. But for those tens of thousands of rural, small-town Ontarians who do not have that service, it is a source of ongoing irritation for them and for their members of the assembly, whether they be Liberal or Conservative.

It is not lost on us that the New Democratic Party has yet to elect a rural representative from eastern Ontario, notwithstanding the member for Cornwall (Mr. Samis). Cornwall township is not exactly my idea of a full-service rural township, great place that it is, I must say.

Mr. Breaugh: What have you got against Sheffield township?

Mr. Conway: I do not have much knowledge of Sheffield township, to be sure, but I want to say on behalf of those thousands of people in the great heartland of the Ottawa Valley who want very much to have that service called TVOntario, to which they make contributions through their taxes, that we are not happy, as the member for Northumberland is not happy, about the delay and some of the pathetic excuses that are offered up to justify the delay.

We are confident that the minister, with her fast-track, direct line to people like John Tory and the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman), she of great insight and greater connections than any of her predecessors, will be able to right these wrongs in the cause of rural Ontario, and do it before the millennium.

4 p.m.

We in Renfrew North have waited through months and years of delay, and I tell them -- because I know the minister, with her friends from places like Mississauga South, would want me to tell them -- that the Ontario government, to its credit, provides through the Ontario Educational Communications Authority an excellent service. And in a bipartisan spirit I often draw that to their attention: I think it is one of the real successes of this government. Some of my colleagues who have been here a little longer might not necessarily agree with my view in its entirety, but in this respect I am a staunch supporter of TVOntario.

It does, I must say, have some idiosyncratic tendencies. For example, as I sit at home and watch TVOntario convey nightly the proceedings of the House of Commons question period I have always wondered, and I am sure my friends from Sheffield township and Oshawa wonder as well, "Isn't it strange that we get in these places" --

Mr. Breaugh: Fellow papists, we call them.

Mr. Conway: He says, "a fellow papist." We may he in our dying days in that connection, but --

Mr. Breaugh: The papist alliance was a temporary one at best.

Mr. Conway: It took nerve over there to invite the cardinal last Wednesday night, and I suppose we ought not to have been surprised. But that is a digression.

The Deputy Speaker: You are right. It was a digression.

Mr. Conway: The member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) would share with me, I am sure, a sense of surprise that we could find our Ontario Educational Communications Authority bringing us nightly the proceedings of the House of Commons question period and nothing about the Ontario Legislature other than the propaganda that sometimes might be associated with some of its advertising.

The member for Downsview (Mr. Di Santo), who is a far more expert observer on the multicultural scene than I, notes a want of multicultural programming at TVOntario. But I have always thought to myself that it would be extraordinary in rural, small-town eastern Ontario, where it is not always easy to get a good grip on what is happening and what are the burning issues here at the provincial Legislature because we are in the shadow of the national capital -- and understandably that is a great focus for our region
-- if we could have through our provincial educational television authority the daily question period of the Ontario Legislature.

I do not lie awake expecting that to happen, because it is well known that the Ontario Conservative Party is the king of one-party democracies. The other day they were highlighting the events in Albania. Senor Hoxha has been in office for 41 years and there are not very many around like him. But there is one in this great old Upper Canada of ours and we know, notwithstanding the democratic tendencies of the member for High Park-Swansea, that this is a Conservative Party in government -- there is not a great deal of difference, as we see every day in this place -- that does not want in any way any efforts expended to increase public awareness of what happens in this place.

Can you imagine, Mr. Speaker, if the people of Mississauga North could see the daily performance of the first minister on TVOntario? Might you begin to fantasize how they might change their impression of this, the elder statesman of all Ontario if they could, through TVOntario, nightly see his conduct in this question period or in this House? I dare say the good people of Mississauga South, notwithstanding their ancient allegiance to that party, might even begin to raise questions.

This is a government, an agency, that will do nothing to focus public interest or attention on this place. Yes, the cabinet office and its weekly emanations will be of great interest and we will allow the cameras to come in and do great justice to the Premier and the Attorney General, but my gosh, all the culture czarina gets is the top of her head. That is terrible discrimination. Those cameras are representing the culture czarina as some kind of oblong mystery when in fact the Treasurer looks perfectly natural in all his blue-suited splendour.

If nothing else, I would suggest that members watch the nightly news, the cop-beat news on one of the prominent stations here in Metropolitan Toronto. At about 1:15 a.m., after they have been through a litany of rape, murder, fire, traffic accidents and what is new at the stockyards, one will get the Queen's Park report.

At about 1:15 on that particular newscast, one might just see, as I did a couple of weeks ago, the member for Mississauga South (Mr. Kennedy) asking a perfectly good and important question of his colleague the Attorney General. I hate to say this to my good and dear friend the member for Mississauga South, but I had a difficult time listening to what he was saying, although I had heard it earlier in the day, because I was seized of this incredibly bald head. That is all one got. It was a terrible image, a shot of this balding head. I do not mean to insult the member, but that is the projection.

I thought how unfair it was for him to be projected in that way when the Attorney General looked so much better with the full blue suit and the complete body shot. The poor member for Mississauga South, who raised a very good question about the administration of justice, was represented in a way that did no credit to his very distinguished bearing. I think the member would agree with me it was unfortunate that his representation could not have been as complete and as fair as his friends down the way. That is just the nature of the way this place is organized.

The culture czarina has it within her administrative competence to begin an improvement of that situation. How are the people of St. George to know of her splendid new hairdo if they do not get a better shot than they might under the current arrangements? If TVOntario was able to provide a nightly telecast of the daily question period through the good offices of the culture czarina, the member for St. George, I think she would have advanced the cause of parliamentary democracy in this province in very short order and she would have left a legacy of which her friends in Manhattan could be very proud.

I remember all those Tories from the last campaign saying, "That Smith, you cannot have him running anything in Ontario. He is l'étranger. He is from Montreal. He is even worse." I would not repeat some of what was said. Basically, he is an outsider. He is not part of the main stream. You know, "Vote for me, I am from Main Street, Ontario." One does not necessarily spell "main" m-a-i-n, but I could get myself in trouble if I were to use the spelling that was intended by some of that campaign.

Our elegant member for St. George, the new Minister of Citizenship and Culture, a citizen of the world herself, brings to this new responsibility of hers a cosmopolitan flare that I know impressed the people in Beijing, that has convinced the people of St. George and will do much for this government from bus stops along the election trail to the great enterprises of tomorrow. I encourage her to take hold of the TVOntario issue.

Mr. McClellan: Say that again?

Mr. Conway: I remember those great bus stop ads in the last campaign. Remember the member for St. George and the Premier? The cardinal could not compete with that. He might try but not even he could compete with the élan of the member for St. George. Elected she was and electable she is, surely.

In her departmental responsibility, the minister has an opportunity to improve the fortunes of the Conservative Party in North Renfrew where, God knows, they are historic but not immediate, if one were to believe the polls.

4:10 p.m.

Even Tories come to me and say, 'Tell the new minister..." I remember this summer some very good people, whose politics I do not know about but who holiday up in the Black Bay area of Petawawa township, who really expressed a great surprise that within 100 miles of the national capital itself they could not draw in the signal of TVOntario.

All joking aside, I think it is important that those of us from the rural reaches of this great province, Tory and Liberal alike, give the support to the minister that she undoubtedly will require to convince her friend the Treasurer that the cultural life and times of rural eastern Ontario and the rest of rural Ontario can and will be enhanced if more moneys are allocated to the expansion of the transmittal services of TVOntario.

I understand there is a split jurisdiction and the potentate of all education has under her umbrella of authority certain funds and instruments that have to be taken into account. On behalf of thousands of people in my constituency who very much admire what the government has done in providing a first-rate educational television authority, we want it now or as soon as is possible under the technology available.

In our area there does not seem to be any doubt that the preferred course of action would be the construction of a transmitter somewhere in the centre of Renfrew county, which not only has a very great population living in the townships but also has a great seasonal population cottaging in the green pine groves and along the sandy shores of places like Round and Golden Lake where our summer population is very substantial indeed.

I will watch the minister carefully, as I always do. I am one of her five-days-a-week constituents living in that Ontario Housing unit at 44 Charles Street West. Just the other day I got a marvellous brochure from the member and I sent her a note today congratulating her. She puts out one of the best constituency mailings I have seen anywhere. I say publicly what I wrote to her privately a few minutes ago, she sets a high and good example.

Mr. Boudria: I am her constituent and I did not get one.

Mr. Conway: I am sorry. My clattering friends to my left here in my own caucus just have to build better bridges to the member for St. George.

I am thinking that perhaps I ought not to open the door to this subject, but it is a matter of ongoing interest for me. That is the McMichael Canadian Collection. I was very privileged in the latter part of May to join a couple of my friends in accepting the invitation of the chairman of that board, J. Allyn Taylor, a nonpartisan from London of some seniority and standing, and to have witnessed the official opening of the reconstructed gallery.

The member for Armourdale was just at his absolute best. I have not seen him better since his Frank Drea imitation. I thought it was really incomplete that the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) and Ward Cornell could not have been there to give a sense of history of the place. I will never ever be able to go to the gallery again without thinking of the then Minister of Culture and Recreation and his loyal deputy Ward Cornell, whom I can never imagine without Ed Fitkin and Bill Hewett; but anyway he traded Ed Fitkin and Bill Hewett for the minister and the two of them were my introduction to the politics of the McMichael Canadian Collection.

A lot has been done out there. It is apparently quite a splendid place. Michael Bell and his staff are to be congratulated for the way in which they handled us all on that Victoria Day, or the Queen's Birthday as we say in Renfrew.

I wonder if the minister would be able in this concurrence debate to give a report on the experience of the renovated gallery over the past three or four months. For example, can she report on attendance?

This might be available in my mail somewhere; I have not seen it all. I know the gallery sent some very interesting materials to us not that long ago, but I would be interested if the minister could report, either this afternoon or to me directly at an early opportunity, on visitorship over the period of the May 24 weekend through to Thanksgiving. For example, what kind of practical experience has been gained with the new fire doors, the new fire alarms, the new water systems?

I hear from some people that there have been some bugs to iron out. Some people have suggested there have been some unanticipated difficulties; I just do not know. I am reporting a little bit of gossip to the minister and I do not mean to do so in a way that would impair the reputation of the gallery, although I have been a critic of some of what they have done up there in terms of the financial management.

I would ask the minister to avail herself of an opportunity, either during this debate or perhaps at another time in the near future with me directly, to just simply give us a report on the summer experience of the gallery and what practical developments there have been with the new systems, particularly with respect to any problems in that connection.

Mr. Speaker, you have been most indulgent and I want to resume my seat. I see I have set the member for St. David (Mrs. Scrivener) ayawning. That is a signal for me or anyone else to resume one's seat. I do so now, saying what a pleasure it is to see the upwardly mobile member for St. George representing us all in matters of culture and citizenship.

Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, there are just a few matters I would like to raise with the Minister of Citizenship and Culture.

One aspect involves the Wintario program. A number of years ago it was possible, through Wintario, to obtain funds for the renovation of historical buildings. I am referring to churches. The particular case in which I am interested at this time is in the constituency of Prescott- Russell where, as in many other areas of the province, there is a large proportion of the population that is Roman Catholic.

In any case, in my own constituency the most historic buildings, and often the only historic buildings we have, are our churches. As we see, many municipalities in Prescott-Russell---

Mr. Conway: Is the McTeer household not in your riding?

Mr. Boudria: Yes, the McTeer household is in my riding. Perhaps it is considered historic for some but not for others.

Mr. Conway: I find this story exciting.

Mr. Boudria: Okay. If someone thinks it is, who am I to disagree?

Mr. Conway: I am sure Joe Clark thinks it is historic, if nothing else.

Mr. Boudria: Maybe it is a part of the history of Joe Clark.

If I can get back to this topic, the churches of my constituency are the very few historic buildings we have in many instances in the riding of Prescott-Russell. This is probably true in other areas as well.

We are approaching, in our area, the 100th anniversary of many communities in my riding and in eastern Ontario. For instance, next year is the anniversary of the town of Wendover. There will also be the anniversary of the town of Hawkesbury and the year after there are others. I can think of Casselman and so on.

One thing that most of those villages and towns have in common is the desire, the need and the want to improve the appearance of our churches in those areas. I wonder if the minister would consider making it possible to obtain Wintario grants for those purposes, because they are of course in many cases in eastern Ontario and other places the only heritage buildings and the only historic buildings that we have. We consider them very important to our culture, our religion and our ancestry. It is important for us to keep them in good shape and have them in as good a condition as possible.

4:20 p.m.

I would like to bring up another matter with the minister in the heritage area. In my constituency there is a building known as Macdonnell House. Macdonnell House is situated right on the border of Ontario and Québec at Pointe Fortune, but on the Ontario side.

Pointe Fortune is probably the only place in this province where the postal address is in Quebec but most of the village is in Ontario. I have a number of constituents who have their addresses as Quebec but they are in my riding. Macdonnell House is in this category. It is very confusing to some of us, especially the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) when what he thinks is a Quebecker tries to apply for licence plates for his car. He notices that he lives in Quebec and refuses to sell them to him; but the applicant is really a resident of Ontario.

In any case, that is another matter we could get into extensively at some time. One of those buildings that has an address in Quebec and is located in Ontario is Macdonnell House. It is an interesting structure. It was built at about the time of the Constitution Act of 1791, the year in which Ontario was founded, and for which we will be celebrating the bicentennial in 1984. It was the customs house as one entered Upper Canada from Lower Canada. It belonged to a gentleman by the name of Macdonnell. I believe we pronounced it as Macdonnell at that time, or so the local people tell me, but it is now known as Macdonnell, with the accent on the last syllable.

This structure is quite valuable. It is a large facility. About a year ago the Ontario Heritage Foundation invited me to visit the place. I took them up on the offer and found the place very interesting, but the renovations are not progressing. They have only stabilized the building and prevented the rain from entering the premises. That is about all that was done. The centre of the building is sagging towards the earth and it will be only a matter of a few years before the structure will be lost.

I know one of the difficulties the ministry is having is trying to figure out what to do with it. What does the government of Ontario do with a building that is located in Ontario but has to be entered from the Quebec side to have access to it. It is not exactly the most prominent spot in Ontario. That is probably one of the reasons the ministry has not chosen to do much with the building. It is not directly on the main highway from Ottawa to Montreal because Highway 417, the new highway, is approximately a mile from the Ottawa River at that point and, therefore, we cannot see the building from the highway.

I would venture to say it is a very important building in the history of our province. Our province starts at exactly that point, at the western end of la seigneurie de Vaudreuil, at which we planted those monuments in the late 1780s to later establish the province of Upper Canada in 1792.

If the minister could today, or some other day by letter, inform me as to any progress, any new ventures, ideas or plans she has for Macdonnell House I would be interested in knowing them. As I say, it could be a very nice building but it is not in good condition at the present time.

I wrote to the minister's predecessor last year and invited him to visit Macdonnell House with me this summer, but before he could get around to doing that he had changed cabinet positions. Therefore, I would like to extend the same invitation to the minister when she comes to Prescott-Russell. She may want to speak to the local Tory association there or what have you, but when she does come to Prescott-Russell I would like to invite her to come and see Macdonnell House. I think she will find the building positively interesting with its location on the edge of the Ottawa River only a few feet from where the province starts and where our province was formed.

It is a very interesting location. From now until the true bicentennial of 1791 occurs in this province -- if I can call that the second bicentennial; in any case, whenever the real bicentennial of 1791 occurs -- it would be nice if the building was fixed up before that time. Then when we do have our second celebration of our 200th anniversary, we could have some event in that structure which we would hope to put to some use.

This brings me to another subject. This is the minister who informs us about and is in charge of our culture, our citizenship and our heritage, all those fine things. I think I would be really remiss if I did not talk about the bicentennial at this point. Mr. Speaker, I am sure you would be really disappointed if I did not, and rightfully so, because it is such an important event and it is approaching rapidly.

I have spoken about this in the past to the Minister of Citizenship and Culture and I have expressed my disagreement with the choice of year which was made. I believe it was made for purely political motives and very little else. Of course, I recognize that if the centennial of the arrival of the Loyalists was celebrated to some extent in 1884, then the bicentennial of the arrival of the Loyalists perhaps should be celebrated in 1984.

I am not sure of that. If one looks back at the history, one will see very little in the way of concrete historic events which happened at that time, with the exception that a larger number of United Empire Loyalists moved into our area, or what was then the province of Canada, in that particular year than in other years. I would suggest there are many other years which have an important historical significance in the history of our province around that particular time.

I would remind the minister that the province we live in, or the province of Canada, really was formed by a couple of different acts and treaties, neither of which occurred in 1784. I can think of the Treaty of Paris in 1763 and the Quebec Act in 1774, which, to a certain extent, really formed this province the way we know it, recognizing the southern boundaries were different and things like that.

We all know, and I am sure the minister knows, that the Constitution Act of 1791 was signed -- you guessed it, in 1791. If this is the date our Constitution Act was passed, it would seem normal that we would perceive this as being the birth year of our province. Therefore, we should be celebrating the bicentennial in 1991.

I believe the minister's government and, I am sure, the minister, being responsible for the area of citizenship and culture, and her colleagues in the social policy area who have been involved with the issue of the bicentennial, have had a few things to deal with which they had not anticipated. First, I do not think they expected any dissenters as far as the bicentennial celebration is concerned. To the great surprise of the government, it found that quite a few people really questioned the validity of the year. They also questioned some of the ways the government went about its preparation for it.

I would like to read a few names of people who sit on the Bicentennial Advisory Commission of Ontario. I will only read a few names from eastern Ontario because I do not really know all the others. I see the name of Mr. Richard Clippingdale of Ottawa. I seem to recall this particular gentleman was a candidate for the federal Tory nomination in 1974, I believe, in the riding of Ottawa West.

I see the name of Mr. Bert Lawrence of Ottawa. I am sure we all remember Mr. Bert Lawrence, a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister of this province. I see the names of Mr. Richard Rohmer from Toronto and Mr. Gordon Smith from Orillia. I am just wondering if this is the same individual who was a Tory MPP at one time. Then I see Mr. Rolland Saumure of Bourget. This is a very interesting name. I will explain who Mr. Rolland Saumure is. because I know members are just dying to find out.

4:30 p.m.

In 1981 my predecessor, Mr. J. Albert Belanger, was challenged for the Tory nomination by of Bourget, and Mr. Rolland Saumure lost the Tory nomination, which is understandable given many things. Mr. Saumure is now the secretary-treasurer of the Prescott-Russell Progressive Conservation Association. Mr. Saumure is also a candidate for the Tory nomination for the next provincial election and he is, of course, sitting on the Bicentennial Advisory Commission.

We are told there are no politics in this; there could not possibly be politics in the way the government is going about doing this. It is just a coincidence that they chose all these Tories we see here, nominated candidates, former MPPs, a future federal nomination hopeful and so on and so forth, to sit on the Bicentennial Advisory Commission.

Mr. McClellan: That gives it a lot of credibility.

Mr. Boudria: That is exactly the point. As the member for Bellwoods says, that gives it a lot of credibility. That is really the problem with the whole thing. It has been messed up in so many different areas that I think it has lost much of the credibility it could have had, notwithstanding the fact that it is the wrong year.

Mr. Breaugh: They only missed by seven years.

Mr. Boudria: The Ottawa Citizen said in an editorial last year, "When we celebrate the bicentennial of 1984, give or take a decade, we will do such and such." I think that was quite accurate. The Honourable Margaret Birch, who was responsible for such matters, wrote me a letter, and a very nice letter it was, I think it was in June 1983, with which she sent me these little decals, I guess they are, of the bicentennial, recommending that I put them on my letterheads.

If I was to put one of these on my letterhead, I do not know which constituency I would send it in because my constituents would not take too kindly to having that on a letterhead I sent them. In any case, she recommended I put these logos on my letterheads. They say "Celebrating Together 1784-Ontario-1984."

After much of the controversy had started surrounding the date of 1984, the minister sends me another letter. On this one -- would you believe it? -- the logo has changed. It says, "Celebrating Together, Fêtons ça ensemble." Is that not cute? We now have a bilingual logo for the bicentennial. Is that not nice? This bilingual logo was only adopted after much controversy. The logo is bilingual but the title of the ministry on the same sheet of paper is unilingual English, which does not surprise me. It is just typical of some of the inept ways in which those matters are dealt with by this government.

Mr. Breaugh: We are celebrating a non-event in two languages. That is all.

Mr. Boudria: As the member for Oshawa says, we now have a non-event in two official languages.

I just want to discuss briefly the little pamphlet that was put together for this particular year. Some people, such as the président du Conseil des affaires franco-ontariennes, M. Roger Régimbal, said: "That is no problem for us francophones. All we do is look back to another year and say, 'We are not really celebrating the bicentennial; we are celebrating the 350th anniversary of the arrival of Jacques Cartier.' That legitimizes us taking the provincial dough and celebrating the bicentennial." There was a unilingual English logo at that time, mind you, but just the same, that would legitimize francophone groups from Prescott-Russell and elsewhere using those provincial dollars.

I must say the minister has done it well again. She and her government and everyone else now has this thing fully bilingual after we have reminded them of it on repeated occasions. They are giving the municipalities all this dough, and they are going to take the money because they are all underfunded and need the money badly. The government is going to make them celebrate the year whether it is their anniversary or not because they need the money.

I do not think that is a proper use of government funds. To speak against having a party is not a big vote getter. I do not deny that. To have a party is always something one just cannot be against. It is like being against motherhood, and maybe it is a good idea to have a party in 1984. After some of the bad news we have had in this province over the last few years, we need an excuse to celebrate something or other just to cheer us up.

Mr. Kerrio: When are they going to let us know what they are celebrating?

Mr. Boudria: In fact, I do not know what they are celebrating. If they are celebrating the anniversary of the Loyalists, I think it is the wrong year, but if they think that is their birthday, then fine, let us celebrate it. It is inaccurate to say 1984 is the birthday of Ontario. It may be that it is the Speaker's birthday. If it is, I will celebrate it with him in 1984. But it is factually inaccurate to say it is my birthday when it is his. In doing things that way, I do not think we are doing justice to any cause because it is improper.

Mr. Kolyn: Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the minister on her appointment to this ministry. I think she is very sensitive to cultural issues. I wish her well in her new portfolio and I am sure she will do a tremendous job.

I have visited the McMichael Canadian Collection since it was redone and have heard nothing but praise. I certainly enjoyed my visit there, to the grounds as well as to the building.

With regard to TVOntario, I have watched it grow and have been pleased with the type of programming they have instituted over the years. Much of the credit for this is due to the leadership of Dr. Parr. Bringing in such programs as Nova, Jacques Cousteau, The Body in Question and a lot of educational as well as public service programs has certainly enhanced its reputation in Canada.

Speaking of Canadian cultural activities, I think TVOntario has done a lot better job than the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. I think the CBC should be looking more to the type of programming that TVOntario has been doing. I want to congratulate the minister --

Mr. Boudria: At least the CBC televises the House of Commons sometimes.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Order.

Mr. Boudria: He is provoking me.

Mr. Kolyn: I did not know the member was president of the CBC, but if he is, congratulations.

I want to congratulate the minister on the fact that TVOntario is looking for donations from the private sector and the public sector. Last year 10,000 people gave to TVOntario to expand its worthwhile programs. I remind all members that at present TVOntario is looking for more donors. I hope members will take the time to look at some of the programs and possibly send cheques. I know they are all interested in our Canadian culture.

4:40 p.m.

Hon. Ms. Fish: Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of comments and questions I would like to respond to, but first I would like to give sincere thanks to those who joined me in this concurrence debate this afternoon since it is the first opportunity I have had of exchanging some views with members of the House in a general way surrounding my new responsibilities in the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture. I welcome the remarks and I give thanks to everyone who participated.

I would like to begin by going through, as best I can, the order of speakers as they rose and touch upon some of the points that were made. I begin with the concern initially voiced in this debate by the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) and subsequently by others on the matter of TVOntario transmitters in eastern Ontario and direct service in eastern Ontario generally.

Members will be aware that this was discussed in the estimates last May and has been discussed more recently in this House. In reviewing the need and demand on the part of TVOntario for capital dollars and the time estimate that had been given for transmitters to eastern Ontario, I was extremely concerned to realize that early in 1983, principally through the vehicle of correspondence, my predecessor had indicated a rough timetable of the summer of 1984 for construction to begin on transmitters in three principal sites, as yet unselected and unselected at that time, in eastern Ontario.

My concern was not at any program that would ensure additional transmitters in eastern Ontario -- one, two or the three being proposed -- nor was my concern in any way based on the consequent expansion of direct broadcast of TVOntario to residents of eastern Ontario. Those expansions are very dear to my heart and I am doing all in my power to make them happen. I am extremely proud of TVOntario, and I am aware of the educational and entertainment value that is brought through the programs of TVOntario. It is one of the few networks with which I am familiar that can make learning entertainment as well.

My concern rested simply on expectations attached to a timetable. It was with some considerable regret that I had to deal, as did my predecessor in the latter period of his position, with requests from TVOntario for capital dollars to be devoted to capital renewal. Members will be aware that TVOntario brought forward requirements for capital dollars to my predecessor, and subsequently to me, dealing with both the transmitters and what is called capital renewal.

I certainly do not feel competent, and I would be surprised if anyone in this House did, to judge the technical detail of what is required in capital renewal or in transmitter expansion. I and, I believe, my predecessor were operating with the best advice TVOntario and its experts could provide us with. They indicated very clearly that the priority for funding should go to capital renewal this year; in fact, it should go to the tune of $10 million spread over five years, as against $3.7 million equally spread over several years for the transmitters.

The wish, as I understand it, from TVO to have capital renewal funds and the priority that was placed on that flowed from a very real concern that TVO had, and I believe still has, that there were changes and upgradings that had to occur in the system of a capital nature to enable it to carry on to those it currently serves and to assist it in forming the strength of base it would require to expand its service.

As I said before, I am not in a position to be able to review the technical aspects or to discuss them in the House, but I share with the members the priority that TVOntario gave to my predecessor and me, and the reasons it outlined.

It is clear that TVOntario is equally concerned about the expansion of service in eastern Ontario. Indeed, the board cited clearly that its number two priority on capital dollars would be dollars to be devoted to the transmitters in eastern Ontario. As I said, however, the board made clear that for a variety of principally technical reasons, the first dollars to be provided, in its view, must be devoted to capital renewal.

I think the members can well realize that the schedule of expenditure TVO felt was necessary on capital renewal is considerably larger than the scale that had previously been discussed with my predecessor or with me to finance the transmitters. When in a general year of constraint it became necessary to give consideration to finding $10 million that had not previously been perused and identified for purposes of capital renewal, it was an extremely difficult chore indeed, a chore that was made virtually impossible if one had added to it the necessity of finding an additional $3.7 million in capital dollars for the transmitters.

It was with some considerable regret that in September of this year, having spent my first couple of months vigorously searching for alternative ways and means of being able to do both the capital renewal and financing an immediate start on the transmitters, I came to the conclusion that finding the additional dollars to make possible a start on the transmitters this summer was simply not a hope I felt I could stand behind and permit people to believe was firm.

What fell to me was the onerous chore of advising the good people of eastern Ontario who had in their mind a summer 1984 start. I wished in no way, nor do I today, to leave any impression whatsoever that I, my government or TVOntario have in any way backed off from or altered the priority we place on transmitters for eastern Ontario. I remain firmly committed to the provision of service throughout this province, and eastern Ontario is a key priority for me.

I did, however, feel it incumbent upon me to make clear that I was not sanguine about our ability to meet an earlier projected starting time of summer 1984. I have met with representatives of TVOntario and with residents throughout eastern Ontario. I have indicated to all of them, and I indicate again to this House, that my commitment to securing the transmitters is an ongoing one. I am in continuing discussions in an effort to assess our cash flow situation and to identify the dollars that would make the provision of transmitters in eastern Ontario a reality at the earliest possible opportunity.

In closing on that point, I might note that I am sensitive to the concerns raised by members who have indicated that while some 77 per cent of the 750,000 or so population in eastern Ontario can receive TVOntario signals through cable, one has to have a cable service in one's municipality for that cable service to pick up the TVOntario signal and in turn convey it through a cable system into homes.

While it is the case that nearly three quarters of the population can receive such a service through cable, it is clear that those in outlying areas or municipalities that do not have cable must rely on direct broadcast. I realize that with our existing technology one of the most obvious means of securing that signal in the homes of that 25 per cent of the people of eastern Ontario would be the construction of those transmitters.

I would caution, however, that we and TVOntario are reviewing other forms of technology as they are made available. We have had referred to us a report from our federal counterparts on direct broadcast satellites, for example, which are a form of new technology and which would perhaps obviate the traditional transmitters that have been used to date.

But I want to make very clear again and underline our commitment to doing everything possible to secure these transmitters or any substitute appropriate to reach the goal that I think we all agree upon, which is to ensure that TVOntario programming is available to all the residents of this province at the earliest possible opportunity.

4:50 p.m.

I will turn to the second point that was initially raised by the member for Niagara Falls, that being the concerns about increases in the budget for the main office for this fiscal year over the last fiscal year. This matter was discussed at quite some length, I think it is fair to say, during the estimates debate in May of this year. Of course, I was not a party to that debate, but I have availed myself of the official record.

I made it a point to explore a bit further those apparent increases and the shifts that occurred within the ministry, because I have been interested in a more general way in understanding where dollars are being spent and in assessing wherever possible increased efficiencies in the dollars that are expended. This touches on a point I will make in a few moments.

In regard to the main office budgets, I would point out that while there were increases, a number of factors contributed to those increases. One of the things that contributed, for example, was the fact that our Half-Back program was moved from an arts division into the main office. This program was supporting books and is now supporting performances in schools as well as school groups going to see performances by performing arts groups; magazine subscriptions, which was of particular concern to the magazine industry; and memberships in, for example, smaller community art galleries and museums, which are so much in need of support.

The dollars were enriched in the support being provided to be able to reach out beyond books into magazines, performing arts, galleries and museums, and the shift was only a shift principally because the skills that were involved were primarily administrative and marketing skills, working with those recipient groups to assist them in securing some marketing campaigns so we could let the public know what was happening in this program.

In certain respects in that area, at least, it was a move because we were looking at different skills on the part of the people who would administer the program and we were in the business of trying to enrich that program where the dollars are flowing out directly to the clients, if you will, of my ministry, the people who are actually in the arts and letters to whom we want to provide some support, and of course reaching out as well to young people of this province to have an opportunity to be exposed to the arts and letters that are around them.

As well, of course, we have the special committee reviewing the role of the arts in Ontario, more commonly referred to as the Macaulay committee. That committee was struck by my predecessor and is expected to report at the close of this year or the beginning of the next. That committee is a special one-time exercise. I think it is an appropriate review at this time of the relationship between government and the arts. It is appropriate because there have now been 20 very good, very positive, very successful years of direct support to the arts in this province through a fine agency of my ministry, the Ontario Arts Council. I am particularly proud of it.

Through those years of the arts council, during which its funding was supplemented directly by my ministry and its predecessors, we have seen an incredible explosion in cultural activities in the province. I refer to the activities of theatre groups, art galleries and museums. We also have seen it in Canadian publishing, almost all of which is housed in Ontario. In fact, the predominant amount of it was developed since the review of the future of publishing in the province approximately a decade ago.

We have seen successes in the number of people who are attending those performances, making use of the museums that are instructive of our history and viewing the shows that are housed in community art galleries or are on tour.

Library use is not specifically under review by the Macaulay committee, but I would note none the less that it has expanded considerably. This has an indirect effect on the publishing industry; on the letters aspect of the arts and letters in Canada. If it is possible for people of all ages to enjoy plays, novels or nonfiction on a completely free basis through the use of their local libraries, they may in turn be interested in supporting other cultural activities. It could result, for example, in book purchases or in attendance at some of the dramatic productions of those works.

In looking back on 20 years of some real success in this area, we cannot rest on our laurels. It is not sufficient simply to point to the high spots and say: "Look at the growth. Look at the increases. Have we not done a fine job?" I believe we have, but it is necessary to take a deep breath and say: "What does this mean for the future? Are the demographics of our province changing in a way that may mean a different demand for the arts in the future?" For example, I think we must consider how we are going to cope with the dramatic change in our economy that has occurred. How will we deal with the challenges of high technology?

Perhaps some members had occasion to visit the festivals dealing with video culture this past week or so at Harbourfront which were partially funded by the government. The challenges of high technology are leading some in our theatre groups and galleries to express concern about possible obsolescence of the various facilities we have built in the past 20 years or so. There are changing demands on the accessibility of the arts, when people have more leisure time and are prepared to make use of these facilities and enjoy them. So we must study how best to respond to that market.

If I could sum up that review in just a few short words, I think it would be to assist all of us in being able to assess the things we need to change or shift our direction and to underline the things we want very much to stay the same as we go ahead in the next couple of decades, but that review, so critical to all of us, is part and parcel of that budget.

5 p.m.

As well, as a result of several requests that had come over time from our agencies, we have been engaged specifically in working with our agencies across the province to provide them assistance on marketing and publicity. One example is the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton. We responded to those requests which were made by some of our agencies. I might add that this has now spread to a number of small institutions and facilities throughout the province.

The requests were made on the assumption that it would be, from the perspective of the agency, a better expenditure of dollars to seek the advice and assistance of the ministry in undertaking limited-time or one-time promotion efforts than it would be for that agency to purchase the service either on a normally more expensive fee-for-service basis or, as the alternative, to take someone on staff who would not be needed beyond the duration of the exercise of perhaps changing a program or mounting a public information exercise.

I would note that had some of our agencies gone that route of directly expanding rather than coming to the ministry with a request for help, it is quite likely we would have been asked as a ministry providing upgrading support to enrich our operating support so as to fund such activities, which in turn are designed for the dual purpose, first, of ensuring a larger audience and getting information out to the public about what the agencies are doing, encouraging them to come in and then, second, from that larger audience looking to increases in donations, memberships, admissions or whatever might be the appropriate vehicle for more specific localized revenue fund-raising.

If we then were faced with a situation of having to finance that kind of activity, through the operating grants for example, we would likely be in a situation where the actual dollars expended would be far higher than developing, as we have tried to do within the ministry, a smaller group of people who have this expertise and who are able to work in a specific way for a specific and limited period of time with many of our agencies, particularly smaller institutions and facilities located around the province.

I realize at first glance that might appear to be an increase and a shift. However, its focus was not a focus on the head office of the ministry. In fact, it was a focus of service to reach out into the community and to provide assistance based on, and I reiterate this, a pattern of requests that had come in over time from several of our agencies and from smaller facilities that felt that improved public information programs, publicity, brochures or whatever it might be, would enhance their ability to reach the people they wanted to reach to encourage them to come and make use of the facilities. We were pleased to be able to provide that assistance.

I should also note that we are making a concerted effort to ensure that information about the programs of the ministry and the work of the agencies of the ministry and those funded by the ministry are known not only through the mainstream media, but as well through small weeklies out and about throughout Ontario, and the non-English, non-French press and media. Providing information that is readily usable by those media is something that is more costly.

We are prepared to bear that cost and are doing so within our main office budget. We are committed to ensuring that the best information possible will be reached by people who, for instance, read only Italian; that our information on our ministry and its agencies will be understood by them and is reachable to them in Italian; likewise with Chinese, likewise with a variety of other languages too numerous to review.

Our goal is to extend our non-English and non-French information just as far as we can and to provide assistance to ensure that we are reaching out to that community which might otherwise be unaware, not only of the programs of the ministry but, more specifically -- and I do not say it is particular to my ministry but it is especially the case with my ministry -- unaware of the programs of the agencies.

A very large proportion of my budget -- I would estimate close to 90 per cent -- is in transfer payments: payments that are made to art galleries, museums, art service organizations, libraries, community groups, cultural centres and so forth. This money is not directly expended by the staff of my ministry but put out into the community by agencies that have their separate roots in the community, their separate boards of directors and so forth.

We are extremely concerned, interested and committed to ensuring that the very solid work done by those agencies and facilities out there in the community is known and understood by the community in which they sit and the larger community of Ontario as a whole, so that we can assist them as much as possible in enlarging their nets, if you will, of public awareness and thereby public utilization of those several facilities.

I think that reaching out into the non-English and non-French media is one terribly important aspect of doing that. I stand proud on the expenditures that we would want to make in that area and I would hope that all members of this House would support that effort.

Second, reaching out into those areas which may be served through weeklies, for example, rather than the daily papers found in the major centres is, I think, equally important.

Members would be amazed at the number of art galleries and community museums, in particular, that are located around this province. Many are in small communities of a couple of hundred people or more and many in communities where dailies are generally not available.

Those are some of the reasons for the increase in main office funding. I think they are extremely worthwhile activities. Obviously, at this point in the year I will be reviewing all of the questions of estimates and expenditures as I prepare for my estimates in the next fiscal year and I can pursue some of those discussions with the members at that time.

Let me turn to the remarks of the member for Oakwood (Mr. Grande).

Mr. Grande: That is a good idea.

Hon. Ms. Fish: That is right.

I will comment on just a couple of things. One concern the member flagged was on the use of the Half-Back program and the encouragement of school children to use Wintario tickets so as to make use of the Half-Back program. He expressed some concern about whether that was appropriate in the schools.

I guess my preliminary thoughts on that would be that clearly such activity should be, and I believe is, monitored as to community appropriateness by the local school boards, principals and teachers whose classes are participating in the activity, and I think this monitoring would be appropriate should there be an expressed view that there was some difficulty in the community.

5:10 p.m.

However, I must say that in the four months and one day I have been minister I have not heard people issuing complaints about the Half-Back program, particularly for school children. Perhaps it is because they have not yet been in touch with me. But I noted the member's remarks and will certainly keep my eyes open.

I would say, however, that the programs to date, if participation is anything to go by -- and I think it has to be one of the measures -- have been extremely successful. We have been very pleased indeed with the numbers of school children who have been exposed to the performing arts theatre groups, to concerts they had not been to previously; with the numbers of young people outside the schools individually who took advantage of the Half-Back book program last fall; and with the numbers of young people who are taking advantage of the Half-Back magazine subscription program. The 40-odd magazines that are in this program, I might note, include several that are educationally oriented magazines specifically targeted at children.

My interest would be in doing everything possible to assist our young people in broadening their horizons in the field of arts and letters, and if we have a program that can help do that I am very pleased that it does.

Let me turn briefly to the Royal Ontario Museum. The member expressed some concerns about some revenue losses on special exhibits and the areas of the gallery that are open. The member is quite correct. The gallery display area of the ROM that is now available to the public is 20 per cent. That will grow to approximately 33 per cent in December of this year.

I might add that there is a steady move in the opening of the galleries. We are looking in 1984 to having 44 per cent open, in 1985 to having 62 per cent and so forth. By the time the total renovation is finished, of course, the percentage will be 100 per cent, but that will equal 140 per cent of the old space that had been available before the closing and renovation.

We are proceeding steadily, but we and the museum board have been faced with a couple of things. There have been some very considerable increases beyond the initial estimates in the late 1970s of the cost of gallery development and renovation, and that in itself has necessitated some careful moving through each of the stages of renovation and openings so that we are not in a position of facing fairly serious costs that have not been reasonably planned for with respect to the availability of support dollars.

It is true that In Search of Alexander and the Tower of London were down in their anticipated revenue from the operating costs. This is something that, it would be fair to say, the board of the Royal Ontario Museum certainly did not anticipate, nor did we. In planning such things, one does everything possible to assess the market for such exhibits -- the market being the public -- and estimates accordingly the dollars that are needed.

The reasons for some of the attendance decline have been thought perhaps to be seasonal problems. Other concerns have been other aspects of the displays. I think the key point I would share with the member is that my ministry and I are very concerned indeed about the general question of attendance at all our agencies, both in general in the regular attendance and in particular in the special exhibits and special shows.

My officials have initiated a review and discussion not only with the Royal Ontario Museum but also with our other agencies to try to assess where the problems are, to try to point us in the proper direction for the future, to make whatever changes are necessary. I am not in a position to report on the results of the review at this time, but I am concerned and I think it behooves all of us to re-examine what has been happening in the patterns of use and to try to assess where we go in future.

I think all of us not only want to ensure that general and special exhibits are not running at a deficit, but also, if part of this reflects any attendance that might perhaps not be what we would like to see, I think we have to look at this. The point of having these facilities is to make them accessible to people and then, in turn, have people come in, enjoy them, view them and learn from them.

A similar point might be made in regard to the reference to the McMichael gallery. The attendance figures -- I do not have an exact figure, and I am sure the interested member may wish to pursue this matter with me outside the House as he indicated -- are about 200,000 or so attending McMichael in 1983, which was a short year because, as the member quite rightly noted, we had a very lovely and I think very successful reopening of that wonderful gallery on Victoria Day weekend in May of this year. The projected attendance target for 1984, in a full year of operation, is about 310,000. We estimate we are well on the way to achieving the attendance we had sought. But all our agencies, as I said before, will be part and parcel of the review of where we are.

Some questions were raised about the new systems at the McMichael gallery. I would simply say the new systems that are there are principally life-preserving and safety systems that are currently being monitored very carefully indeed. I do not think it is necessary to review for members of this House all the problems and the lack of fairly fundamental life-preserving and safety systems at the McMichael gallery. Suffice it to say the new systems are considerable. We and the gallery board take very seriously the mandate to provide the proper preservative environment for the beautiful works of art that are housed in the gallery and, of course, to ensure adequate safety for any visitor attending the gallery.

A rule of thumb that has been shared with me, and I share it with the House, is that normally when there are such extensive changes to systems it takes about six months to shake them down. They are monitored and tested on a regular basis. It would appear thus far that everything is working properly, but the monitoring does continue. I felt it appropriate to share this with the member.

5:20 p.m.

I will move to some of the comments of the member for Prescott-Russell (Mr. Boudria) and comment briefly on his suggestion that Wintario be made available for the restoration of churches. I have no doubt that the member is aware that churches are eligible for Wintario capital support when the facility to be restored or renovated can be demonstrated to be a cultural or community facility. This particular requirement is simply to try to bring some evenhandedness to the judgement of a variety of community activities that would draw upon Wintario funds and a variety of heritage activities as well. I should add, however, that the Ontario Heritage Foundation, an agency of my ministry, does provide support for some heritage renovation to churches if the churches in question meet the necessary criteria as appropriate.

Let me turn to Macdonell House. The member for Prescott-Russell discussed his concerns on that at some length. I am aware that my predecessor has written to him on a couple of occasions about this. Let me just share a couple of additional pieces of information on this with members of the House.

Macdonell House is indeed an Ontario Heritage Foundation property. It was acquired in 1978. It is a unique and extraordinary old home, some 8,100 square feet in size -- quite an extraordinary size -- and it was built in approximately 1810. Unfortunately, the house was under the control, if you will, of Hydro-Quebec for some considerable period of time.

When the house was acquired by the heritage foundation it had been left for nearly 30 years open to the weather, open to vandals who had ripped out fireplaces, stairwells and panelling, and was vacant and unheated. The damage to that structure was shocking and extensive. It has taken some $35,000 simply to stabilize the structure. I think we should know what that means; it means just boarding it and keeping it safe from the weather.

We estimate at the present time that restoration -- and we are not exactly sure of this because we are still engaged in extensive study of the house -- would cost close to $1 million. It is our view, and I believe the member is aware of this, that we are concerned about finding such a large amount of money for restoration unless an adequate use can be found for Macdonell House once it is restored. My predecessor invited the member to be in touch with suggestions about future use for the house, and I reiterate that invitation.

Finally, on the matter of the bicentennial, which was referred to, and on the matter of my "world citizenship" -- I think that was the phrase used by one of the honourable members -- let me simply say that I am extremely proud to be a Canadian by choice, to have been one of those who took advantage of the generosity, the tolerance, the open arms and the open hearts of the good people of this province who had the benefit of being born here or who, having chosen this great land, chose it some years before my coming.

I am proud to have put my roots down and to represent the great people of St. George in this Legislature. I am equally proud to celebrate, as I will next year, 200 years of open arms and open hearts in this province, permitting newcomers from all around the world to choose this, Ontario, as the place they will put down roots, the place they will live and work and raise their children.

I believe it is a place where its heritage, part of which I am responsible for, and where its culture and traditions are made richer through the intertwining of the cultures and traditions of others, like myself, who have had the privilege of being welcomed to this great land. I am very proud to be able to celebrate an extraordinary history of 200 years of openness, of tolerance and of building a better Ontario.

I would move concurrence in my estimates.

Resolution concurred in.


Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, when we last had this item before the Legislature I was attempting to indicate to the House that we had to bring some relevance to that entity known as the Office of the Assembly. My remarks were intended for the benefit of the chair and more particularly for the benefit of members of the Board of Internal Economy.

We are in a very strange situation inasmuch as the Office of the Assembly is responsible for the expenditure of approximately $30 million. The Office of the Ombudsman reports to the assembly through the Speaker, as does the Office of the Provincial Auditor, along with the chief election officer and the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses. Yet this assembly has nothing at all to do with the appointment of the Clerk of the House or the Ombudsman or the chief election officer or the chairman of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses.

Every year we go through this exercise of justifying the moneys required for the Office of the Assembly. This includes indemnities to members of the House, support staff, research facilities, the library and the administrative offices of the Office of the Assembly. Yet we have never felt it important enough to devise a mechanism whereby we could have a free exchange as to the kind of environment and the kind of facilities we should have to equip ourselves in the carrying out of our responsibilities to the population for Ontario.

5:30 p.m.

There is the very fact I am standing here now engaged in a motion for concurrence of the funds required to operate the Office of the Assembly and there is nobody here, including the Speaker, who has the authority to get up and respond, even though the Speaker is the chief presiding officer, the chairman of the Board of Internal Economy and the person through whom all the agencies associated with the Office of the Assembly report to us. There is nobody to respond to anything I might say, however relevant it might be. There is literally nobody to respond.

When I first began these remarks a week ago last Friday, I asked the question as to which minister was carrying these estimates through the House, that is, the motion for concurrence. There was some indication the government House leader might deign to respond if he were provoked enough, I suppose, but he is not even here. Obviously, he did not know this item was coming up. I do not know, even if he were here, whether it would have been appropriate for him to respond. As fair as that gentleman is and as objective as I think he is, he is really not the person who should respond to a debate of this nature.

We have several committee chairmen here who, I am sure, from time to time in the carrying out of their responsibilities and upon quiet reflection would tell the members there has to be a better way for us to manage the administrative affairs of the Office of the Assembly. I think everybody in this assembly would agree there has to be a better way for us to make the best use of our time in the Office of the Assembly.

Some might argue that sitting here listening to me is not the best use of time, but after having spent all day out at the research facilities of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) at Maple, I learned that if I were here at five o'clock I would be speaking to this very point. If I were not here, apparently the member for Mississauga South (Mr. Kennedy) was going to he resurrected. He reminded me here a few moments ago that he adjourned the budget debate last June and, as a filler, they were going to call on him if I were not here to do what I am doing right now.

I am sure even the committee chairmen who are here and who are responsible for the carrying on of the business of committees, which are an extension of this assembly, from time to time reflect and say, "There has to be a better way." There is never an opportunity, though, for us to get serious about changing the way in which we do things to make them better so that we make better use of our time, make better use of the resources available to us and perhaps bring this whole process under the control of the assembly through the Office of the Speaker. We know that is not the case now. The Speaker does not have control of this building. The Speaker should, as the Speaker does in a lot of other jurisdictions, control the Legislative Building. He does not do that because it has never been traditional that he should do it.

There is the way in which we appoint our table officers, especially the Clerk, the chief administrative officer, the chief librarian and the director of research services. They are all appointed by order in council. Is it because we do not have the wit or the will to do it ourselves, or is it because it has never been done that way?

I think that collectively we are competent to make those decisions. But even more important, I think we should be charged with the responsibility because parliamentary democracy is a lot more than a collection of 125 members coming here with set pieces on the throne debate, which has to be wound up in eight days before the budget can be brought in. Then there are a few budget speeches. Then the government brings in its legislative program and then, by some process of osmosis, the House leaders get their heads together and say: "We hope we will be doing this for the next week and that we can be flexible enough so that if something else happens we will be in a position to look after it."

I think it is a heck of a way to run a store. When the member for Mississauga South came over to me about 15 minutes ago, he said, "I understand you are going to speak in the budget debate this afternoon." I said: "No, not that I am aware of. But I was alerted to the fact that about five o'clock they might resurrect the motion for concurrence in the estimates of the Office of the Assembly."

Our whip is here and the House leader for the Liberal Party just moved in. I was wondering what would happen if I were to sit down right now at this moment, just sit down. I do not know whether any other member of the assembly wants to speak to this motion, but let us assume for a moment I sat down and no one else was interested. The Speaker would put the question and that would be the end of it. What would we do from now until six o'clock?

Mr. Nixon: Go for supper.

Mr. Stokes: What would we do?

Mr. Nixon: There is no rule that says we have to sit until six o'clock.

Mr. Stokes: We get paid.

Mr. Gillies: Sit down and see what happens.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Lake Nipigon has the floor.

Mr. Stokes: The point I am trying to make is that it is a heck of a way to run a store.

Mr. Nixon: Railroad.

Mr. Stokes: I know of some railroads that operate that way, but not the one I was associated with.

5:40 p.m.

I think the whole democratic process is serious enough that we should be devoting more time to it. Parliamentary democracy means a lot more to me personally than the attention we pay to it and the way we order our affairs. On the international scene, we saw what happened in Grenada recently. We know what happened in Ghana and in many jurisdictions in Central and South America. Those things did not happen by accident. They happened because of indifference, complacency and lack of interest in what parliamentary democracy is all about.

I am not saying we are on the verge of that kind of scenario in Ontario, but if one looks at all the jurisdictions in the world and counts them, which I have taken the trouble to do, there are about 16 countries on the face of the earth where, if I had to leave Canada for some strange reason and if I were looking for some place to take up roots, I might be reasonably satisfied I would be able to continue with the same sense of values we take for granted in this jurisdiction. That is not very many when one looks at the membership of the United Nations or of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

We have been particularly blessed because people who have gone before us have set up a model we have been able to build on. But if we continue with a laissez-faire attitude towards this place, whatever it means to us as elected members and whether we individually or collectively feel we are making the best use of our time and talents here in the best interests of the 8.5 million people who sent us here, we would come to the conclusion that we could be much more vigilant and we could make better use of our time.

Yet who talks about it? Who even thinks about it? We are all busy doing our individual thing. I am not saying we are wasting our time, but I will guarantee we are not making the best use of our time in terms of what we could be doing to restore the image of parliament, the democratic process and generally the image that people out there have of us.

I have heard of late, when people are asked the question, "Where would you rate politicians in the overall scheme of things, when it comes to doctors, lawyers or used car salesmen?" that we do not fare very well. It is not because we are evil, because we are not hardworking or because we came here to feather our own nests. We came here, I like to think, because we thought we could improve upon things. But that is not the image people out there have of us. I get a lot of people talking about that from time to time, and they always add the little codicil: "But we don't mean you. We are talking about the process and about politicians in general. They wouldn't even give us the time of day."

That bothers me, and I am sure upon reflection it bothers other members. What did we do by a sin of either omission or commission to get that kind of reputation? Was it a Watergate? Was it some minor indiscretion or a collection of minor indiscretions? Maybe a tax dodge or somebody who got a little bit overzealous in feathering his own nest as a result of some influence he was able to exert on some friends down here? I do not think it is any of those things. I think it is because they do not understand the process.

I get calls from people who have problems with a variety of departments at the federal level; I am sure all members do too. I get calls from people who are having problems with a municipality. I get calls from people who are having problems with an insurance company. I am sure members experience that every day. But if we ask the average person out there what the responsibility of their member of the Legislative Assembly is, in specific terms they would not be able to tell us. They say, "We elected him." It does not matter whether they have a problem with the dog catcher; if you are accessible and they know how to get in touch with you, they are going to call you.

That is not all bad, except when the head of the history department in a high school in my riding stops me when I am going into the post office and says, "Hi, Jack, how are things in Ottawa?" He is responsible for forming the minds and hearts of the young people in our education system and he does not even know that I am the MPP, the MLA, and that from time to time I come down here to do what I am doing now. He would not be expected to know that; he is only the head of the history department.

Let me give another example. I had a school group down, and these groups come down every year. I get between 20 and 25 groups down, and they have chaperones. After these chaperones have come for three or four years they do not want the usual tour. They are very interested and very gung-ho the first time or two, but after that they would rather go and have a cup of coffee some place. I know them personally; so I say, "Would you care to join the students and listen in on the tour, or would you like to have a cup of coffee and a place to rest?" "Oh yes, coffee by all means."

On one such occasion we were sitting down having a cup of coffee, and one of the teachers said, "I guess you are very busy now." I said, "I always find something to do, but no busier than usual." "But there is an election coming up." I said, "No election is coming up." "Oh yes, there is an election over in Ottawa. Don't you know that?" "Oh yes," I said, "but it is business as usual here."

"Aren't you running?" I said: "No, I am not running. I am your provincial member," "But there is an election coming up. Why wouldn't you be involved?" I said: "Because it is a federal election and I am your provincial member. We just had an election on such and such a date and we will most likely have one on such and such a date." "So you are not running?" "No, I am not running." "Does that mean you won't be our member any longer?"

One wonders how many different ways one has to explain the proper jurisdiction to a school teacher. It may be a fault of the educational system, but part of it might be our fault.

5:50 p.m.

I am sure if other members wanted to take the time, they could get up and relate stories like that. Perhaps they think it is a waste of time. I do not think it is a waste of time, because I care about this place, how we spend our time and whether we make the best use of the human, physical and financial resources we are responsible for managing within these estimates. I do not think we do a very good job of it.

What we are talking about here hits at the heart of parliamentary democracy. When I see the way in which we order our affairs with the administration of the Office of the Assembly -- this is not to take umbrage at any of the people who do the work or with anybody sitting at that table there, I think they do a marvellous job under trying circumstances. They have to be very flexible. They have to be ready for anything and they usually are. It is the way we run our system.

I am going to sit down in about two minutes and no one will get up to say: "Stokes, you are wrong. The whole meaning of this place completely escapes you. I don't know where you are coming from, but everything is fine and dandy." Everything is not fine and dandy. If we do not take this place seriously and what we do seriously, we do not deserve what we have, let alone improving and building on what we have. Parliamentary democracy is not perfect. It has a lot of warts and imperfections but, to coin a corny phrase, "It sure beats by a country mile whatever comes in second place."

If we do not appreciate the system we have here, if we do not continue to improve upon it and if we continue to take it for granted as we have for far too long, we are in danger of losing it. If we do not spend some time to think and talk about the things I have tried to bring to the attention of the assembly, I think we do so at our own peril.

Mr. Gillies: Mr. Speaker, I see we have very few minutes remaining until six o'clock. I was so provoked by some of the remarks of the honourable member that I thought I would take the floor for a few moments and consider some of the things he said. For one, I am not going to stand and say, "You are wrong, Stokes." I think a lot of what the honourable member has said has a lot of validity.

It troubles me, as I am sure it does many members of the assembly, particularly when we go to schools, or have school groups come here, and speak to them and their teachers about what we are doing, how we got here, who the major players are and so on. It does point to what has struck me as a lack of knowledge on the part of our citizens of their own political culture, which I think is a dangerous trend.

I was not born in this country. I spent the first number of years of my life in England. My perception from my visits back to the country of my birth, and it is just a perception, is that the average citizen of Britain has a better idea about what his government is doing, how it impacts on his life and the people who are involved than does the average citizen of our own country.

I am sure we have all experienced it. When I have groups of students visit the assembly, I make a practice of asking them some questions right off the bat. I usually ask them exactly what is a member of the Legislature and how do we get here. I get some very interesting replies to that query.

The responses to even the very basic questions, as the member alluded to, are disappointing. If you get a group of 30 or 35 students down on the steps here and ask them who is the Premier of Ontario, a couple of hands will go up and somebody will get it right that the Premier is the Honourable William Davis. Being a great believer in fairness and equal time on these occasions, I also ask them who is the Leader of the Opposition and who is the leader of the New Democratic Party.

As an elected official of this province, I find the responses very disappointing. There are a lot of young people who do not know the names of the leaders of their three provincial political parties. They will give responses varying from Pierre Elliott Trudeau to Ed Broadbent to Bill Bennett to Ed Schreyer, apparently depending on who has had a lot of media coverage at the time.

Mr. Bradley: That is because the government will not allow television in the Legislature.

Mr. Gillies: I can see the member for St. Catharines is raising a point of relevance to the previous concurrence. I will not venture to comment on it at this time.

I do think there are some problems. I am not convinced all these problems can be solved solely by actions on the part of the Legislative Assembly or the government. I think some of these problems arise out of the media perception of the Legislature and the Ontario government.

We have heard many times from people who follow this place and what we are about that the Metropolitan Toronto media, in particular, are far more interested in Ottawa. They pay much more attention to the activities of the federal government and the municipal governments than they do to the government that has its capital here in Toronto.

Mr. Conway: It is a lamentation.

Mr. Gillies: A lamentation, perhaps; but I think it is something we would well spend more time addressing, as the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) indicated. It might not fall strictly within the bounds of this concurrence, but I think we have to look very seriously at changing the way we do some things around here.

There was a review of the structures and activities of the federal Parliament, some of which have been adopted in the last year or so. I hear from people I know on Parliament Hill that some are working extremely well and some are not. None the less, I think it would be a worthwhile exercise.

We only have to look around now -- and I am pointing the finger at no particular party; the situation is that I am speaking to a handful of members primarily for the benefit of an electronic record. What we are engaged in here, to the average --

Mr. Nixon: The honourable member has to speak until six o'clock; that is why.

Mr. Gillies: To be precise, 5:59 p.m.

We are engaged in a lot of things, but one has to wonder what is the relevance of this exercise to the people back home, for instance, unless we act on it. We can talk as much as we like in this place but it has no relevance unless it is acted upon.

We can talk about night sessions: should we have them or not; are they productive or not? I certainly have my own views about the productivity of night sessions in this place.

We can talk about the committee structure and we can talk about the ludicrous exercise we go through when a division is called. All the business of the legislative committees grinds to a halt for a prolonged period while three people charged with that matter run around for hours trying to find the members for a vote. In the meantime, the work of two or three legislative committees can come to a halt for hours, resulting in inconvenience to witnesses who may have come here to make presentations and so on. Yet on we go. There are any number of other points.

I agree with the honourable member that we should be talking about it more. I have sat on panels, as I know the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) and other members have, and made presentations on this very subject to interested groups inside and outside the government.

While I am more than happy to agree in and concur to this particular vote so that the officers and the servants of this assembly can continue their vital work, I suggest the thoughts put forward by a couple of members in this brief debate are valid. We can talk about the assembly and what we would do to improve it, but all that talk is for naught unless we act on it, and it is certainly our duty as a Legislature to do so at some point.

Resolution concurred in.

The House adjourned at 6 p.m.