The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: At the request of the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel), I have reviewed the proceeding in the committee of the whole House last night. I find that when a standing vote was required on the first amendment to Bill 86, the Deputy Chairman asked for and received the unanimous consent of the committee to defer all divisions of the bill before it until 10:15 p.m. At that point he was required to cause the division bells to be rung to call in the members to vote on all the deferred divisions.
Although standing order 95(h) does not state the time at which the members are to be called in for all the deferred divisions, a committee of the whole House may define on its own initiative the time at which the Chairman shall call in the members. When the time has been reached at which the committee has instructed the Chairman to call in the members, the Chairman must abide by the instruction of the committee unless the committee orders otherwise.
Mr. Martel: Right, especially when you are in on it, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: There was nothing out of order.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I beg to differ.
Mr. Speaker: You may do --
Mr. Martel: When the Chairman in his place determines that he will not ask a member if he can find a convenient place to terminate his remarks -- Mr. Speaker does that all the time himself --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Martel: It is the manner in which that man conducted himself when he was supposed to be organizing the business of the House.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The honourable member will resume his seat, please.
Mr. Martel: It will be a long time before there is a stacked vote as far as we are concerned --
Mr. Speaker: That is a matter of little or no interest to me. Quite obviously, there was unanimous consent and that will carry on.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
FAMILY VIOLENCE INITIATIVES CO-ORDINATOR
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, last Tuesday I joined my colleagues, the Provincial Secretary for Justice (Mr. Walker) and the Provincial Secretary for Social Development and acting Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. McCaffrey) in announcing a number of initiatives to help victims of family violence. At that time, I was pleased to inform the House that one of the key initiatives in the government's integrated approach to the problems of family violence would be the appointment of a provincial co-ordinator of family violence initiatives within the office of the Deputy Premier.
I believe the establishment of the provincial co-ordinator's position is of the utmost importance to the overall concerted approach announced by the government. The issue of family violence is enormously complex and requires an integrated and comprehensive effort by the various ministries of the government, community agencies and individual citizens. The new position of provincial co-ordinator of family violence initiatives, located in the Ontario women's directorate, office of the Deputy Premier, will ensure that Ontario's response to the needs of victims of family violence will be co-ordinated and strong.
Further, the immediate appointment of the provincial co-ordinator is essential so that discussions can begin at once with other levels of government, particularly the federal government, to launch a concentrated effort to resolve the issue of adequate, stable funding for shelters for battered women. That is why I informed the House on November 1 that further details on the appointment would be forthcoming in a week's time.
I am pleased to be able to announce to the House this afternoon that Jill Logan has agreed to become the provincial co-ordinator of family violence initiatives. Jill Logan has worked within the Ontario civil service for more than 10 years and has carried out a variety of responsibilities in intergovernmental finance policy within the Ministry of Treasury and Economics. Most recently, in addition to holding the position of senior policy adviser for federal-provincial programs, Jill acted as assistant deputy secretary to the cabinet committee on federal-provincial relations.
During the course of her work on federal-provincial financial arrangements, Jill participated in a number of committees reviewing such matters as residential services, services to Indians, services to young offenders and manpower training programs. She was also very much involved in developing the provincial response to federal funding proposals for health, post-secondary education and social services.
I am convinced that Jill's experience in federal-provincial financial and program negotiations, as well as her personal interest in the social issues surrounding this problem, make her a very good choice for this very important position.
In her new role, Jill Logan will co-ordinate the Ontario government's efforts to address the problem of family violence and will help us to assess and prioritize projects to respond to specific problems facing victims.
As a first step, she will move immediately to convene a steering committee of involved ministries within this government. Second, she will be liaising with community groups providing shelter and other services to victims of family violence, to obtain their views and co-operation in developing a comprehensive approach to funding and public education.
Third, the provincial co-ordinator will be participating along with other provincial ministry representatives in discussions with the federal government to provide appropriate and balanced funding over the long term.
Fourth, the provincial co-ordinator will launch a widespread public education and information program to illustrate the dimensions of family violence, assist victims in locating necessary information sources and enlist the understanding and co-operation of all our people.
With Jill Logan in the position of provincial co-ordinator of family violence initiatives, the issue of family violence will receive the leadership and focus that is required to address this very urgent public concern.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions. The leader of the Opposition (Mr. Peterson).
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, in committee this morning, the Minister of Energy (Mr. Andrewes) promised us a statement answering several questions I have asked in the House. I am wondering whether he wants to make that statement now.
Mr. Speaker: The time for statements by the ministry has gone, and we are into oral questions now.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, you can certainly understand the dilemma. I know he has a very long response. He said it was a detailed, complicated response to several questions we had asked. He said he would have it in the House this afternoon. To assist him, I thought we would give him an opportunity to make that statement now.
Mr. Speaker: If the minister wants to revert to statements, he may make a motion.
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: Mr. Speaker, I have no statement. I propose to table the questions if that is agreeable.
Mr. Speaker: Agreed?
An hon. member: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: I will have to locate the various copies of those questions from the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Peterson: He said he was going to read them.
Mr. Speaker: No. He said he was going to table them.
Mr. Speaker: I have been advised by the Minister of Energy (Mr. Andrewes) that he either has or will table the answers to three questions in great length and detail.
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: Mr. Speaker, I undertook to provide information in response to questions asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Peterson) and by the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent) with respect to significant event reports, garter springs in Ontario Hydro reactors and radiation exposure to workers during reactor retubing. I would so table those answers.
MUNICIPAL TRANSFER PAYMENTS
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Treasurer. I would like to get a clarification from him with respect to his statement yesterday. Regarding transfer payments, he said:
"We will assure the continuation of restraint by placing clear limits on funding for all public sector wage increases during the coming year. Our grants and transfers to municipalities, school boards, universities and other publicly funded institutions, as well as allocations for our own civil servants, will provide for average compensation increases of up to five per cent for a group."
There is some confusion, or at least I do not understand it. Is the Treasurer now saying that his transfers to these various sectors, i.e. the municipalities, will be at five per cent? Or is he saying he will calculate his transfers assuming a five per cent increase in wages but making allowance for other increases and expenditures? Which is it?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The latter, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Peterson: Is the Treasurer now saying that municipal transfers- -- and I use that only as one example -- will go up by more than five per cent? Is he committing himself that he will not put the burden of higher arbitration awards, which are not going to be regulated, on the municipalities? Is he going to allow them extra if they get an arbitration award higher than five per cent?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No. Let me clarify this, as I did late yesterday. It was among the last questions asked yesterday.
In the case of almost all municipalities, the ultimate transfers will be at a rate different from five per cent when all the other factors are taken into account. They will be predicated upon the total compensation package -- not just wages but all compensation costs -- increasing by five per cent.
In the case of school boards, municipalities, hospitals and others, each of them has different factors built into its increasing costs for all the other activities it undertakes. We will try to arrive at a fair figure for all those other activities. This will produce an ultimate, final, overall transfer for each one of them. We are attempting to have that for them within four weeks.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, can the Treasurer explain a little bit more clearly than he did yesterday his authority for the five per cent figure? Is it just the fact that he controls the purse-strings? I did not find it in the legislation. And can the Treasurer further explain why there is no termination date on the legislation?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member will see in the legislation, the ability to pay and other matters are to be determined in the light of existing provincial fiscal policy.
Mr. McClellan: So this could change on a whim?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, it will not.
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, please.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The criteria will be set out for the board by way of an indication from the Treasurer on behalf of the government to the Inflation Restraint Board. That will be published in the Ontario Gazette, and it will be very simple: it will be five per cent for the duration of this year.
Mr. Peterson: Now that I understand municipal transfers -- to use them as an example ---will go through on the basis that there will be an increase of five per cent in the compensation component of their transfers, which is fair enough, I have a question for the Treasurer.
The Treasurer is proposing amendments to the considerations that an arbitrator has to take into account. He will be aware that Harry Arthurs, an authority on these matters, said this morning that the new rules would require an arbitrator to consider only such factors as the employer's ability to pay. It is quite conceivable that certain of these agencies will have wage settlements higher than five per cent. How is the minister going to assist those municipalities that are in that situation, or is he going to transfer this burden on to the property taxpayers?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Quite the reverse. The municipalities, schools boards, certain universities and other public sector employers were among those who suggested they would be greatly aided, at least in terms of understanding that the arbitration procedure was fair, if an ability-to-pay provision were put in the legislation. We have decided to follow that route. Quite frankly, we are not sure what impact that will have, because I presume many arbitrators are already taking ability to pay into account. If they have not been, they should have been.
With respect, I do not think the scenario the Leader of the Opposition is painting is one that is likely as a result of the amendments we have put into the section. They were put in there precisely to protect the property taxayers against an arbitration that does not take into account their ability to carry the costs.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Energy, following some discussions we had this morning in committee and anticipating perhaps a response he may have to my questions today.
One of the very serious questions involved in the retubing of Pickering, should that be necessary, is the exposure the workers will have to radiation. He will be aware, no doubt, of the various studies on that subject. Indeed, the latest one we have, in April 1982, the application of shuttle remote manipulator systems technology to the replacement of fuel channels in the Pickering Candu reactor -- that is, the Spar Aerospace study -- operates on the premise that it would take one year to retube one generator and would expose work crews to a minimum of 4,000 man-rems for tube disassembly and replacement.
Given the fact that the federal standards limit one's exposure to five rems per year and that there could be 1,000 workers per reactor, so that for four reactors it could be 4,000 workers or man-years of work over a long period of time, what is the safety factor the minister is calculating? How much radiation is he prepared to expose those workers to, and what are the standards at this time?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is correct. The standard is five rems.
Mr. Peterson: Is the minister aware that Ontario Hydro's standard, in spite of the federal standard, has been about one rem per year? Indeed, at Pickering the average exposure has been 0.8 rems and across Hydro it has been 0.6 rems. Is he prepared to expose Hydro workers to five times more radiation on average than they have received up until this time if a retubing is necessary?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: I am confident that Hydro will take every precaution to live within the limits. The safety precautions are in place at Pickering, as the Leader of the Opposition is well aware. On one occasion he managed to find himself caught in that difficulty and had to go through a process of decontamination. I am confident that Hydro will live within the guidelines of the Atomic Energy Control Board.
The whole question of retubing, as was suggested this morning, is still up in the air. The whole question of technology is being developed that will reduce the exposure of workers. The question of decontamination of reactors prior to any kind of work, such as retubing, is still being developed and new technology may be going to be available that will reduce that kind of exposure.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, did the minister not find it disturbing this morning that in the estimation of costs for retubing, Hydro admitted before the committee that the costs of the new tools in order to avoid the contamination of workers had not yet been developed, that they were at only a preliminary design stage?
Further, has the minister had an opportunity to talk with his House leader about the minister's commitment that there would be a meeting of a committee of this Legislature with Hydro officials before Pickering unit 2 is brought back on stream?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the latter question is no, I have not had an opportunity to discuss that with the House leader. I think the undertaking was that members would be allowed some forum in which they could come and pose questions to representatives of Hydro and, if they like, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. before the startup of the Pickering unit 2 reactor.
The question of the preliminary design on the Spar Aerospace technology is at the present time being addressed quite seriously in terms of capital investment by the Hydro board. It is being advanced as quickly as possible. It was not advanced as it was proposed earlier because of the thought that those tubes would outlive their anticipated lifespan and that retubing would not have to be undertaken in those reactors before the latter part of the 1980s.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, again, how many workers will it take to retube those reactors? How many will it take for one reactor? How many for all four reactors? Is the minister now prepared to expose those workers to five times the radiation on average that they have received working for Hydro up until this time?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has posed the question of how long it would take. It would take 15 months. What rate of radiation dose is anticipated? The radiation dose is somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 rems to the worker population, and I am confident that Ontario Hydro will live within the five-rem guideline. Provided that the technology and the techniques of decontamination develop, as it appears they might, that five-rem guideline could be reduced further.
INFLATION RESTRAINT LEGISLATION
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Treasurer. Yesterday the Treasurer said in response to a question from the leader of the New Democratic Party:
"As I indicated in the statement, there are anomalies and problems that crop up in these things, and one of the reasons we have opted for this very, very flexible program is that all of those, I believe, can be accommodated in this current year."
Can the minister tell me what specific measures he plans to take so that the injustices and the inequalities that he admits occur in the rollback and the payback cases, such as the Sensenbrenner, Van Daele Manor and Pinewood Court nursing home cases, can be remedied this year under this legislation?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the legislation, of course, is to allow the flexibility out there for the parties to sort these things out themselves. That flexibility is clearly out there, and that would make it inappropriate for us to determine or lay out a plan that must be followed in order to deal with those problems.
I should also specify that all I have indicated is that in the Sensenbrenner situation it seemed to us to be fairly clear that the result of the enforcement of the legislation, which the Inflation Restraint Board seemed to have no discretion in enforcing and could not enforce under the legislation, was not the intended impact of the legislation. Therefore, without passing judgement on the decision of the Inflation Restraint Board, all I can say is that it was a necessary consequence of that piece of legislation.
The proper word for all of these things is "anomalies." Everyone wants to place a value judgement on these things as to whether an injustice has been done in one case as against another. All we can say is that with any firm restraint program, such as the one that was required last year, there are going to be unanticipated pressures and inequities that crop up the longer they go on, and now I think they have the option to redress some of those things.
Mr. Foulds: I have difficulty in following the Treasurer's logic. Under Bill 179, the old legislation, there was this specific clause, "The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations ... terminating in whole or in part the application of this part in respect of a compensation plan or compensation plans to which this part applies." In other words, there were regulations or powers to the cabinet to exempt agreements, compensation plans and rollbacks. Why that was not used?
Can he tell me why the Premier (Mr. Davis), in a letter to the nurses at the Thunder Bay Home for the Aged -- not the Pinewood Court home but the Thunder Bay Home for the Aged -- said: "Under the provisions of the act the board's decisions are final and binding and cannot be appealed to cabinet"?
Who is right? Is it the Premier in his letter, the legislation as I understand it, or the Treasurer, who has said to us when we raised these questions, "Bring them to me on a one-to-one basis and I will find some flexibility for you"?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let me be clear, as always. The Premier is right among those three choices. He is right because he has interpreted the legislation properly, not surprisingly.
Might I also say what I indicated was that in those circumstances, without passing judgement as to whether there was an inequity or an injustice done, there is now flexibility for certain of the parties to redress some of them. If the parties cannot figure out how they might accomplish that, then obviously the Inflation Restraint Board would be happy to discuss the operation of the new legislation with them and assist them in finding mechanisms within the scope of the five per cent transfers for them to adjust those perceived inequities.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, if the Premier is correct in his interpretation of Bill 179 then there is nothing the Treasurer can do. He does not have the flexibility under that legislation to change his mind, except to bring new legislation into this House to exempt the Sensenbrenner Hospital workers in that situation.
Is it the Treasurer's intention to bring legislation into this House to exempt that situation, or is he going to support the private member's bill that we have presented in this House to rectify that injustice immediately?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, Mr. Speaker, I am sorry. The point I was making was that under the new legislation --
Mr. Peterson: I am talking about new legislation.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- let me finish -- there are certain steps we believe can be taken within the flexibility of the new legislation that will address and remedy some of the injustices that occurred last year, so that an amendment to Bill 179 is no longer necessary.
Mr. Foulds: If this act, if I recall correctly, comes into effect as of the first of the month and therefore it has no retroactivity with regard to Bill 179, which lapses, can the Treasurer tell me why he is taking no steps so that the injustices that we have enumerated, and that the government has agreed to, have no remedy except to war among themselves?
He has allowed no ability for catch-up, he has allowed no ability for arbitrators to make their usual judgements in their usual framework, which is comparability in other sectors.
Can he tell me how he expects arbitrators to take into account government fiscal policy when he has failed to enumerate that government fiscal policy?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let me be clear. There is nothing in what has been done, nothing in the two terms we have added to arbitration, that would stop the arbitrator from addressing those kinds of questions. How that arbitrator might choose to deal with them, of course, remains in the hands of the arbitrator. If we had chosen to stop that we would have gone to another piece of legislation more akin to Bill 179.
The whole point I am making is that all of these matters can be addressed by the arbitrator or by the parties in their normal collective negotiations. Let me also make clear that there is nothing in here whereby we have agreed that those are injustices. In fact, what we are saying is something else. We are saying that for those parties --
Mr. Foulds: You sure are. You are saying one thing in here and one thing in the legislation.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That is not so. Those parties who feel aggrieved, those parties who feel that anomalies have cropped up that they wish to address, now have the freedom and flexibility, both between employees and between employee and employer, to remedy those injustices.
Mr. Foulds: You are going to do nothing for them.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It would become an exercise that would only duplicate what can be sorted out by the parties if we were to come back in here with a piece of legislation amending a bill that is about to expire in terms of its effectiveness on the coming year.
We have provided this fairness and flexibility in the new legislation so it can be sorted out by the parties. What more could they ask?
SINGLE PERSONS HOUSING
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing based on the final report of the Metropolitan Toronto Task Force on Housing for Low-Income Single People, which I have.
The report states there is "no clear mandate for ensuring the affordability of housing for low-income single people" and goes on to point out that there is a range of programs for people like low-income families, senior citizens and disabled individuals. They point out that low-income single people have been excluded from assisted housing to date and consequently must rely on the private sector rental market. This has been government policy for a number of years.
Given that the report states in its conclusions that the new construction of affordable units suitable for single people is not going to happen in existing market conditions and that the only solution to providing affordable housing for low-income single people will be government assistance, specifically provincial government assistance, may I ask the minister when he intends to change the current provincial policy, which excludes low-income single people from access to assisted housing programs?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, we have rather clearly indicated that it is not a mandate of the ministry. The report is exactly right.
I want to advise this House that I have not suggested to cabinet, to the Treasurer of Ontario (Mr. Grossman) or to the Premier (Mr. Davis) that we should expand the mandate of this ministry. Indeed, in our discussions just a week or so ago with the federal minister and my colleagues from across Canada, this very point came into the discussion and I did not see any desire to move in that direction.
We believe that through some of the programs we have established under the rent supplement program, through the convert-to-rent program, they very well could find there are people in the private sector who are prepared to try to develop units for low-income single people.
Indeed, I look back on some of the things that have happened in this very community. Some corrections in zoning could have been made to allow a certain number of units to stay in existence, but they were put out of use and, frankly, it was in an area where they were desperately needed. That was a municipal responsibility.
Mr. McClellan: I think the minister is attempting to create some confusion. The report deals specifically with the new convert-to-rent programs and the add-a-unit program that was announced last August, I believe, and it points out: "The units created will not be regulated by rent control legislation. Rents will only be scrutinized by the province in the first year." The existing policy of excluding low-income single people from these programs continues to apply.
Does the minister not understand the extent of the housing crisis in this province, which not only affects family units but is absolutely critical for the many thousands of low-income single people who have been hardest hit by the current depression? Surely it makes sense for the government, in the light of the extent of the crisis, to accept the recommendations of this report and specifically, for example, adapt the convert-to-rent program and the add-a-unit program, change the policy so that these programs are available for low-income single people on an affordable housing basis.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I want to emphasize again that it is not my intention to recommend to the government that the policy be changed in this area. I put it in a very clear form to the members of this Legislature and to the public of this province. We have taken unto the government a requirement of providing social housing, some 115,000 units at a cost to the taxpayers of this province of $350 million in the current year, and we continue --
Mr. McClellan: Federal money.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It is not the federal budget. I hope the member might want to spend some time in the estimates that are coming up for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. He will see clearly there is a substantial amount of money paid by the people of this province in maintaining the public housing portfolio of Ontario. It is not my intention to recommend a change in policy to the government.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I draw your attention to the minister's statement in Ottawa yesterday when he said, "Emergency shelter is not an issue with my ministry." My question to the minister, the member for Ottawa South, is, are the people who need emergency shelter because the vacancy rates in Ottawa are two tenths of one per cent not an issue with him as a member or with his ministry?
There are people who need emergency shelter because they cannot pay more than $400 a month, which is the cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Ottawa now. Is that not an issue with him as the member for Ottawa South or with his ministry? Are 500 homeless people in Ottawa not an issue with him as the member for Ottawa South or as the minister of housing? Is that not an issue?
There is a newspaper article on Joe Vice, a disabled paraplegic who was at the top of the Ottawa housing list but has had to be in emergency shelter for eight months in the Ottawa Young Men's Christian Association. Is that not an issue with the minister, the member for Ottawa South? If it is not, why does he not move over and let a minister of housing come in who has compassion for people in need in Ontario?
Mr. Speaker: Order. I must advise all honourable members that when they are placing questions to the ministries they must refer to matters pertaining to the ministry and not to the constituency or the riding of the member involved.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the member for Ottawa Centre should say he is quoting. He is looking at a story in the Ottawa Citizen of today. If he reads the article, and I doubt he has read the whole thing -- indeed, he was not present when I made the remarks --
Hon. Mr. Bennett: If the seals over there would stop for a moment and listen, I said clearly at the time when asked about the emergency shelter that the member for Ottawa Centre has been yelling about that, as he should know, emergency shelter is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I made it clear that the municipality has the right to request of the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) the appropriation of funding for emergency shelters.
That is exactly what I said. At no time did I use the expression, "I am not concerned" or "not interested." I was trying to define the fact that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is not the one that will be supplying that type of accommodation. I am concerned; I am concerned for what we are doing in the field of housing for those less fortunate in this province.
Back on August 26, I clearly enunciated to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario the fact that this government with its policy was going to expand the potential of the number of rent-support units in Ontario. I said that clearly and distinctly to the city of Ottawa, to the city of Toronto, to Metropolitan Toronto and to the other jurisdictions in this province.
I said what we were looking forward to was to increase the number of rent units on a supplement basis, from 25 per cent of the ratio to 35 per cent with an additional five per cent -- and I trust the member did read the newspaper -- for those who are mentally or physically handicapped. That was a bonus position. We were going to provide that and we made only one request of the municipalities, the housing authorities and the nonprofits. That was clearly to get to one common waiting list in this province for each jurisdiction, based on need rather than a first come, first served basis.
That offer is out to the various housing authorities and municipalities across this province. I have no doubt they are going to accept it. I want to say once again that while we have been able to do that in the provision of additional housing, at the same time we have gone through the Ontario rental construction loan program, the renter-buy program, which freed more and more rental units and, indeed, through the provision of the agreement with the government and the lending program, a percentage of the available units will have come to the housing authority.
We also offered the same opportunity to the private nonprofits and the co-ops under the Ontario community housing assistance program. I might say they have been much appreciated.
MALVERN SOIL CONTAMINATION
Mr. Elston: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs in his capacity of being in charge of the Malvern soil removal situation. I acknowledge the withdrawal of Bill 174 yesterday and the initiatives announced at the meeting on November 7 by the minister and others.
There are, however, a number of questions that remain unanswered about the Malvern soil matter. Among those are whether the minister is going to have the soil removed from under the basements of those houses, whether he is going to monitor the health effects on the residents of the area, whether independent tests will be taken of the radioactive levels there and whether there will be a firm date fixed for the removal of that soil. My question to the minister is, when does he intend to provide us with answers to those questions?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I think those questions my friend is reading are from a document that was handed to us at the meeting indicating a number of questions the residents wanted answers to. Those answers are all being prepared by the technical staff of the office of low-level radiation management and are going to be delivered to each of the homes in the Malvern area.
In addition to that, the information officer for the office of low-level radiation management has been visiting each home, yesterday and today, talking with the residents, explaining to them what is going to happen and telling them exactly how the whole move is going to occur. Every possible assurance is being given to them that it will be done properly, all health standards will be maintained, proper monitoring will be carried out and so forth.
I have full confidence in Dr. Cameron and the federal agency that is going to carry out this project that they can do it in a very exemplary manner.
Mr. Elston: I wonder if the minister has any thoughts on the question of those people who have developed a fear of living in the Malvern area as a result of their contact with the low-level radiation and a concern about their loss of investment in the houses in which they live now. Will the minister indicate to us whether he is considering a compensation package for those people who wish to move from the area?
Hon. Mr. Wells: It is my understanding that is the subject of a court action. Some of those people are suing the provincial government and others at present, so it would be inappropriate to comment in any way on that.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. Is the minister aware of a letter his deputy minister has written this week to the Toronto Star threatening legal action because of an article that was printed in the weekend Star called "The Rape of Our Forests"?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of any letter signed and sent by the deputy minister to the Toronto Star.
Mr. Laughren: Can the minister tell us if he would in principle approve of his deputy threatening to take legal action against the Star for printing information about, among other things, the lack of successful regeneration of our forests in Ontario?
How does he fit that with his refusal and his deputy's -- primarily his deputy's, I suspect -- to provide the New Democratic Party task force with information on regeneration of our forests, despite the fact that it was promised, despite the fact that information on the regeneration of public forests on public land was what we were seeking and the minister and his deputy have refused to give it to us?
How does the minister expect to have an informed debate on forestry in Ontario when, first, he refuses to give information that should be public and, second, when the deputy wrote back to us, he told us the information they have been using was "misleading to say the least"?
What kind of news management is the minister engaging in when he first refuses to give information to the task force and then allows his deputy to accuse the media of misrepresenting the facts on forestry in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Over the past number of years we have provided much information to that particular caucus with respect to forestry matters, both on reforestation efforts and some of the tables we have produced on an annual basis. We have provided, as we are obliged to, a detail of regeneration activities under forest management agreements.
With all of those facts, it has not stopped that particular party from making the kind of factually incorrect statements it makes throughout northern Ontario. It would not matter if they had the facts or not, they would not use them, and that is the reality of it.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, if the minister and or the deputy find the article in the Star misleading, would the minister be prepared to make a statement in the House putting his side of the story and setting out for the members exactly where he disagrees with the facts and figures that were contained in that article? Everybody in northern Ontario hates the clear- cuts.
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows, and so does the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren), about the background of some of the information from the Star article. He knows, for instance, the area that was flown over by the particular reporter is on a regeneration program right now, that it had been scarified and prepared for regeneration, that seedlings were actually growing in the area flown over. It was an area of normal rotational harvest and regeneration activity that was going on in northwestern Ontario and has been for some time. The honourable members know that, and I suspect that is why they did not raise it in the House.
Sure, the article presented one point of view, and it is up to the writer to determine what point of view the writer wants to present. We happen to believe that some of the information contained is some of the same statements that have been made before. Some tourist operators feel we do not take enough account of their businesses and their needs in terms of access road routes. We had this discussion over many access road routes that were specifically decided upon by this government over the past years. We have had many meetings with tourist operators and outfitters in different parts of northern Ontario to try to accommodate their needs. In most cases we have been successful. Unfortunately, the successful cases are not necessarily always reported, but I cannot help that.
All I can tell members is that the information that has been requested by the New Democratic Party with respect to survival rates has been provided. That did not stop the member from claiming we were talking about a 25 to 30 per cent survival rate, when information we provided to him shows an 85 to 90 per cent survival rate. That does not prevent him from making those kinds of statements out there.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: The Minister of Natural Resources is factually incorrect. He refused to provide us with the information we last asked for.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour regarding another failure of the Employment Standards Act to protect workers in this province.
The issue concerns a worker at a certain southern Ontario hospital who became pregnant and learned she was expecting twins. I think the minister is aware of this situation. She planned to work up until two months before her due date but was unable to because of complications which threatened the lives of her unborn children. She had expected to receive sick benefits because her company sick benefit plan states that all employees are entitled to at least 75 days of sick coverage when legitimately off work. The company's policy manual stated that this plan was specifically designed to prevent loss of income at a time of unexpected illness.
Unfortunately for her, her employer cited section 35 of the Employment Standards Act as a legitimate reason for putting her on unpaid maternity leave and not paying her sick benefits. The woman was told by ministry staff that there was nothing they could do about the situation because of the wording of section 35.
Does the minister plan to introduce changes to the Employment Standards Act to ensure this kind of discrimination against women is not allowed to happen again?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of the particular circumstance the honourable member has described, but if he will be good enough to consult with me after question period, I will get all the details from him and be happy to follow up on it.
If the section requires clarification or requires a study for a possible change, by all means we will be pleased to look at it.
Mr. Wrye: I hope the minister will look into this because there is really a problem within his ministry. I want to read to him a section from the women's bureau pamphlet of May of this year entitled Ontario Labour Legislation of Interest to Working Women. I want to quote from it briefly. It says:
"Pregnant women are entitled to all benefits covering sickness and disability that occur outside their pregnancy leave of absence. No distinction may be made between complications resulting from pregnancy and other illness for the purpose of sick leave coverage outside the period of pregnancy leave."
The woman involved in this case was told the same thing by her local employment standards branch. Then when the branch checked with legal counsel in the branch in Toronto, it had to rescind that statement. How can the minister let two branches of his ministry be saying different things? Will he promise to act to end this kind of discrimination?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I will repeat what I said earlier. I certainly will give a commitment to look into the matter and discuss it with my colleague across the way to see what the circumstances may be.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, at the same time would the minister consider reviewing the maternity sections in the Employment Standards Act? I think he should look at them with a view to bringing them into line with more advanced legislation in other jurisdictions and in some collective bargaining agreements that have been worked out in this area. I do not think our maternity standards have been changed for a number of years. Would he consider reviewing those and possibly improving them?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise that those are being reviewed at this very time.
INSPECTION OF NURSING HOMES
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the acting Minister of Health. He will be aware that the nursing home services branch appointed two special inspectors with regard to Ark Eden. One of those special inspectors was Debbie Morrow, the director of nursing at Coleman Health Care Centre in Barrie. I wonder if he also is aware that when the yearly inspection by the ministry's nursing home services branch came about it found 11 violations at the nursing home in which she was supposed to be in charge of nursing.
The violations included inappropriate feeding practices -- the food was being given too quickly to the residents. Narcotic drugs were not being stored in narcotic cabinets and therapeutic diets were not being provided as ordered by the physician. There also was very limited evidence of a restorative care program there.
Is the minister aware of that? Why did the ministry appoint someone who apparently was not even following the Nursing Homes Act in the home where she was supposed to be the director of nursing?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I was concerned when I read these reports. I am doing a little checking into this. As far as I can ascertain, this person was competent to do the inspections at Ark Eden. The violations at the Coleman nursing home occurred after Ark Eden. I believe the person involved was away on holidays at the time these violations were supposed to have occurred. I cannot tell the member anything more beyond that. I am looking into it in a little more detail to find out. But I do not believe the credibility of the person doing the inspection and nursing evaluation job at Ark Eden needs to be questioned.
Mr. Cooke: I hope the minister will give a more thorough report when he gets the answers. I would ask the minister if he agrees it is not just the credibility of this appointment that is at stake, it is the credibility of the nursing home services branch. In this case, the nursing home knew its annual inspection was coming up, yet there were at least 11 serious nursing violations of the Nursing Homes Act. What does it say about the nursing home services process in this province when nursing homes deliberately flout the law and still have their licences renewed?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I do not believe there was an deliberate flouting of the law. The whole process of nursing home inspection is to identify violations of the accepted practices that should be followed and then seek compliance from the nursing home. If they comply at the nursing home, their licence will be continued. That process is continuing today.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the acting minister will remember that on October 11 he promised this House he would look at the coroner's inquest report dealing with the death of Mrs. Catherine Jackson. He said, "If it highlights deficiencies in the inspection service ... we will welcome those because we can then take action to remedy those complaints and deficiencies."
If the minister has had a chance to carry out this review in the last month, I wonder if he could explain to this House why the Concerned Friends of Ontario Citizens in Care Facilities group has reported that it has received complaints from 26 of Toronto's 37 nursing homes between August 1 and October 31 of this year, and homes such as Barton Place and Lincoln Place have been the subject of more than 10 complaints each?
If there have been that many complaints rampant in Toronto since the minister allegedly beefed up the inspection service, I wonder if he could answer to this House why there still appears to be such a great preponderance of complaints, particularly in the areas I have mentioned?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I do not have the report on the particular case I promised the honourable member I would get. I do not have it in front of me here today. I will bring it in and give her the answer in a day or two.
In so far as ongoing matters are concerned, we have always said there is room for improvement in nursing home standards and nursing home care. The aim of this ministry is to try to improve the level of care and the quality of service provided by nursing homes. We are working towards that. It will not be accomplished overnight. I am sure my friend would agree with this. All of us who have constituency offices know that as long as there is a group out there looking for complaints in nursing homes, we will be hearing about complaints in nursing homes.
Mr. Wildman: Why is the ministry not looking for them?
Hon. Mr. Wells: We are looking for them too. We identify those problems every time the inspection is done. If the member wants the inspection report on a nursing home, it will be made public. He can have it after the inspection is done.
Mr. Cooke: That is only the annual report.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The annual inspection report is important. We can see what the deficiencies are and if they have been corrected. That is the aim of the service in this ministry connected with nursing homes.
I would point out that it does not matter how many people we have or how long we do that; I suggest we will still have complaints from nursing homes. There will always be some kind of complaint because it is that kind of service. We will never be able to please everybody.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Minister of Natural Resources. I am sure he is aware of the great concern that exists in northern Ontario with respect to the provincial government's handling of the moose hunting system in this province. After the disastrous moose lottery that occurred this year, we are now told by the minister's staff that Ontario has no way of assessing the impact of its new moose harvest system, which is aimed at reducing the moose kill and increasing the size of the herds.
According to a biologist within his ministry: "The truth is, we do not know what is happening to our moose. Our funds have dried up. We do not have a single genuine check station in our region. We do not even have mail surveys this year. Also, we do not have the results from last year's mail surveys. Yet head office has already asked us to submit a moose quota for next year."
Would the minister tell us when this situation regarding moose hunting might be resolved? When will he bring it under better control? Can he give us some assurance that proper funds will be made available so the proper number of check stations and the necessity for aerial surveys can be met? Can he tell us what is happening to our moose herds, which I am sure he would agree are a valuable wildlife resource in this province?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, the new selective harvest system is a system that both tourist organizations and sportsmen's organizations in Ontario have been asking this government to implement for five years. We acceded to their requests, as well as to the request of the moose committee of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, and implemented a selective harvest system.
From his reading on the issue, the honourable member will know we believe this offers a true control mechanism on the total harvest of our moose population in Ontario. We are aware of a decline in the moose herd, which was projected on the basis of information that was gathered by the field, by individuals such as that one over the period of time, and indicated that in a five-year period there was a decline from 120,000 moose to approximately 80,000, based on the aerial surveys, which have continued and always will continue in Ontario.
Faced with an 80,000 predicted moose population in the province, and on the basis of the fact that 89,000 residents of Ontario alone were applying for the right to hunt moose, along with approximately 30,000 nonresidents, we knew we had to take measures to put into place a selective harvest system.
Members are aware of the reaction of hunters to any system run by the Ministry of Natural Resources. We therefore contracted out to a private company the devising of a formula for the computer random draw and the actual operation of that draw. Like me, members are aware of the problems with the inversion of the fraction that took place, which led to the date of birth being part of the formula that was used by that company to draw names on a random draw basis. The error of that company in making the draw meant we had to have a second draw.
Members are aware that we increased the number of our tags from 38,000 by an additional 12,000, bringing it up to 50,000. They are also aware that the tourist industry wanted a self- allocation system.
Mr. Speaker: Order. That was a very complete answer. Thank you very much.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, the minister's response was so complete that I am not sure I understood what he said. Let me pursue the topic with the observation that it would appear the hunt is declining, but apparently it is not known whether it is declining because of the voluntary system of reporting, whether there are fewer hunters reporting kills or just what the situation is. My colleague the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) has made observations on this on more than one occasion.
I do, however, want to pursue the theme of the way the situation exists now, and I am going to ask the minister what he has to observe on the necessity for shooting proficiency tests, which are required in some provinces and which are not required in ours. Is he considering bringing in any kind of requirement for shooting proficiency?
We are also concerned about the amount of illegal moose hunting in this province of ours, again made quite easy, apparently, for such reasons as the lack of a mandatory system for the reporting of kills. Is he considering doing either of these two things -- that is, bringing in some shooting proficiency system or mandatory reporting -- so that we will have a better handle on this problem of kill?
Hon. Mr. Pope: If that is the Liberal Party position on how hunters will have to deal with their government, then I know the hunters will continue to support our government in the future.
Mr. Bradley: Answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Pope: I am getting there. I have six minutes.
The honourable member already knows we have compulsory reporting by the tourist industry for the first time this year through the self-allocation process. He knows we have a compulsory reporting system. He knows we are continuing the voluntary reporting system and going into the compulsory reporting system next year. He knows we are continuing with the aerial surveying. He knows we are continuing with the road checks. In short, he knows the moose hunts in this province are being properly administered.
EMPLOYEE HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour related to the October 25 death of an 18-year-old Kingsville man, Carmen Carl Smith, who was crushed to death by a 1,400-pound bail of compressed paper at Essex County Recycling on Walker Road in Windsor.
Can the minister confirm that this plant was never inspected by his ministry although it has been in operation for more than a year and that the ministry did not even know of its existence? If that is incorrect, will the minister inform the House of the dates of the inspections and table the inspection reports'? Can he explain why his inspectors allowed bales of paper to be piled five high at this plant, thus endangering the safety of the workers there?
Further, will the minister table the ministry's investigation report of the fatal accident?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, the information I have is similar to that just related by the honourable member; that is, the ministry staff was not aware of the existence of this company. Regrettably, that is correct. As far as tabling the inspection report is concerned, we will be pleased to do so.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely incredible that the Ministry of Labour would not have known about this plant.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Martel: If you were following the act, you would have to know.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Cooke: Will the minister now consider one of the proposals that came out of the New Democratic Party task force, that there should always be a mandatory coroner's inquest in an industrial death? Will he ask the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) to try to change the mind of the coroner in Essex county and see that an inquest into this death is held?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to do that. I will speak to the Solicitor General in that respect.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, am I to understand that the minister is prepared to call a coroner's inquest in the case of every industrial accident? Will the minister commit this House to that, and if not, why not?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, that question should be more properly directed to the Solicitor General. It is not the responsibility of the Minister of Labour.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Energy. He will be aware that an organization called the Central Ontario Coalition, which operates with the blessing of the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. McCague), has applied to the Divisional Court for a hearing. It is hoped that hearing will result in the quashing of the ruling of the consolidated hearings board on the electrical transmission lines in southwestern Ontario.
It is hoped the arguments will prevail that inadequate notice and certain other shortcomings have denied natural justice to the many citizens of the area who feel the decision of the joint board is an incorrect one.
Has the minister decided what stance he and his colleagues in the ministry, in particular the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), may make before the Divisional Court? Is he considering supporting the application by the Central Ontario Coalition?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: Mr. Speaker, it would not be appropriate for me to comment if the matter is before the courts at this time.
Mr. Nixon: The minister will be aware that a matter before the courts which involves the government usually stimulates the appropriate ministry to appear before the judges to offer the government's argument in this connection.
I would hope the minister might get additional advice from the Attorney General or from someone in his own ministry, or perhaps even from Ontario Hydro, particularly in view of the fact that Ontario Hydro itself did not consider them to be well served by the judgement.
Members of cabinet, if they have their wits about them, will respond to a letter written to Hydro and signed by the Chairman of Management Board, copies of which are public and which he has provided, which states briefly as follows:
"I am convinced that local residents should be given a full opportunity to persuade the joint board that plan M3 has significant disadvantages in comparison to the other plans previously rejected by the board.
"Based on these concerns, and in order to ensure the integrity of the planning and approval process,s I suggest that it would be in Ontario Hydro's best interests to initiate a rehearing on the choice of plan."
I personally support the minister wholeheartedly in his view.
Since the Chairman of Management Board has conveyed this view to Ontario Hydro, will the Minister of Energy consider advising his colleagues in the cabinet that the government of Ontario should appear before the court and support a move for a new hearing?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: I am prepared to seek the advice of the Attorney General on that matter, but I think it is important to clarify that Hydro has been very forthright in trying to seek that clarification from the consolidated hearings board and has made that direct attempt on one or two occasions.
The board, in arriving at its decision and in writing its decision, has said those matters can be addressed at the route stage hearings. It has advised the complainant groups accordingly.
INFLATION RESTRAINT LEGISLATION
Mr. Gillies: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions. I might add that I am glad to see most of the concerns contained in them have been addressed by the Treasurer Mr. Grossman).
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 petitions are signed by eight teachers from Brier Park school in Brantford and seven teachers from Grand Woodlands school in Brantford.
Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, I have one similar petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
Mr. Wildman: 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."
This petition is signed by 11 teachers at Hornepayne Public School.
Mr. Shymko: Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding the fact that in a major way collective bargaining rights have been restored in the Treasurer's statement, I would like to read the following 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."
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, in addition to the hundreds of signatures which I tabled earlier in a similar petition, I now table with the House another 16 signatures from Wedgewood Jr. school in Etobicoke and from Pauline Avenue Junior Public School.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX SALES REPRESENTATION ACT
Hon. Mr. Elgie moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Wells, first reading of Bill 113, An Act to regulate Conveyances of Dwelling Units in Residential Complexes.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, in recent years some rental apartment building owners have introduced complicated conveyancing schemes that were apparently intended to skirt condominium conversion controls. The Residential Complex Sales Representation Act I am introducing today should protect people from misrepresentation relating to these apartment ownership schemes. This legislation should help people to realize they are investing in a residential building and not necessarily buying a future home to which they will have immediate and well-defined rights with respect to personal occupancy.
These new conveyancing schemes fall into two general categories. In the first, building ownership is transferred to a corporation. Shares in the corporation are sold to individuals who, by shareholders' agreement, grant each other the right to occupy specific units in the building. In the second, the building is sold to a group of individuals who acquire ownership as tenants-in-common. These co-owners then enter into an agreement granting each other the right to occupy specific units in the building.
The end result is basically the same. People buy an interest in a residential complex, thinking they can automatically occupy a specific unit. This is where the problems begin. First, existing tenants are threatened with eviction by the new building owners who want to exercise what they believe to be their right to occupancy.
Up until last March, the Landlord and Tenant Act, which is administered by the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), had been widely interpreted as prohibiting a purchaser in this type of arrangement from taking possession of the unit by evicting the existing tenant. However, a ruling by the Divisional Court reversed that interpretation. To remedy the problem, Bill 32 was introduced by the Attorney General and became law last May. It amended the Landlord and Tenant Act to restore the tenants' right to retain possession in such circumstances.
The Residential Complex Sales Representation Act deals with problems encountered by such purchasers. The legislation will prohibit the sale or advertising for sale of an interest in a residential complex to a purchaser who is led to believe the interest carries with it a right to occupy a dwelling unit. The bill applies, as did the Landlord and Tenanct Act revision, to all residential buildings with more than six units.
I want to make it absolutely clear that we are not attempting to restrict in any way the common law right to convey property by means of tenancy-in-common, nor are we attempting to restrict the right to corporate ownership of apartments. This bill simply stops representations now being made by some vendors, representations that could grossly mislead potential investors.
Many people who buy interests in these new ownership schemes do not understand the difference between their purchase and the purchase of a condominium unit. This act will help to remove the confusion by forcing vendors to tell potential buyers they are not buying an apartment but only an interest in a building.
Mr. Cassidy: You are legitimizing a loophole; that is all.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Can the member ever be quiet, or must he always yap? Goodness gracious, he is incredible. I am getting like the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel). I am just going to over-react to things like that.
Mr. Speaker: Now on with your statement, please.
Mr. Martel: When the Speaker justifies what your chairman did last night --
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I know. You were justified last night; I am not justified today.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, when the Speaker legitimizes --
Mr. Speaker: Order. I did not legitimize what anybody did. In fact, if you were to take the time to read Hansard, you would know you had been warned previously.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: In doing so, however, the act will permit the vendor to provide the purchaser with a clear and accurate written statement of law on the right to occupancy. To the extent that a legal statement to that effect does not misrepresent the facts, it is not prohibited by this bill.
It is important to note that exemptions are written into this act, including the sale of units covered by the Condominium Act and securities issued by corporations under the Co-operative Corporations Act. Also exempted are sales of interests by vendors who now occupy units.
Under this bill, buyers who are led to believe they can occupy specific units can cancel an agreement or offer to purchase up until the closing of the deal. Even after closing, they can claim damages through the courts for expenses arising from the misrepresentation, such as living expenses.
In closing, I would emphasize again that this is protective and not restrictive legislation. It will make apartment vendors very careful of what they say to potential buyers. I hope members ensure speedy passage of this bill to prevent people from investing in proposals they may not fully understand.
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Wrye moved, seconded by Mr. Ruston, first reading of Bill 114, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, this bill is intended to prevent employers from requiring employees who suffer from complications of pregnancy to take early maternity leave rather than sick leave. Clause 8(c) of regulation 282 of the revised regulations of Ontario 1980 provides that disability benefit plans may exclude employees who are on maternity leave from benefits.
NONUNIONIZED WORKERS PROTECTION ACT
Mr. Haggerty moved, seconded by Mr. Sweeney, first reading of Bill 115, An Act respecting the Rights of Nonunionized Workers.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to provide a low-cost mechanism whereby a nonunionized worker may obtain a review by the Ontario Labour Relations Board where the worker is discharged or otherwise disciplined for cause and the contract of employment is silent on matters of discipline. At present, a nonunionized worker who is dismissed or otherwise disciplined for cause may have no right of action against his employer notwithstanding the fact that the discipline is unduly harsh, having regard to all of the circumstances.
The bill provides a two-stage process for reviewing complaints involving harsh discipline. Initially a labour relations officer would be appointed to effect a settlement which would be reduced to writing and which would have to be complied with according to its terms. Then if no settlement is reached or where settlement is not likely the Ontario Labour Relations Board would inquire into the matter. The board, if satisfied that the complaint is justified, will have the power to make an order substituting such penalty as is just and reasonable in the circumstances.
The timely introduction of this bill, which presupposes amendments to the Ontario Labour Relations Act, is to provide compatibility to the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF HAMILTON-WENTWORTH AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Cunningham moved, seconded by Ms. Copps, first reading of Bill 116, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, you may recall that the regional council in Hamilton-Wentworth voted unanimously that qualified electors in the region be entitled to vote at large for the election of a regional chairman, and indeed there are a number of petitions that would support this as well. The purpose of this bill is to permit qualified electors in the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth to elect at large their own chairman of the region.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 51, An Act to amend the Ontario Water Resources Act;
Bill 52, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
Mr. Gordon moved, seconded by Mr. Shymko, resolution 26:
That, the demographic trend being towards an ageing society, and the future economic and social wellbeing of our province depending on a vigorous, productive and healthy elderly population, this House supports an all-party committee to seek ways of developing, in co-operation with the seniors secretariat and other agencies, a long-term strategy aimed at minimizing the dependency and maximizing the productivity of our future senior citizens.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to remind the member that he has up to 20 minutes and may reserve any portion of that time for a windup.
Mr. Gordon: Mr. Speaker, I would like to reserve about two minutes at the end of the speech.
As most members are aware, our society is undergoing a demographic shift towards an ageing population. The changes accompanying this shift will be felt into the middle of the next century, disrupting, reshaping and rebuilding our social and economic institutions in the process.
Unfortunately, we have not yet comprehended the full implications of these transformations. In the words of the leading management expert, Peter Drucker:
"None of the headline makers with which we are so constantly bombarded, neither OPEC nor all the promised shortages of food, metal or minerals that are now so widely predicted, nor any other crisis at the moment, are nearly as important, let alone as real, as the changes taking place in population structure and population dynamics. Yet few businesses and fewer governments have even perceived them."
More than 50 per cent of our present population was born between 1946 and 1966. This "big generation" has already brought great changes to our society. Think of the effect the baby boom has already had on our society. In the 20 years following the Second World War, the school system was turned upside down as the number of children enrolling in public schools rose rapidly. Our schools have just begun to recover from this onslaught.
Then, from 1960 to 1980, the baby-boomers converged on the job market. The result has been too many people looking for too few jobs. This "big generation" will continue to have a significant social impact in the decades ahead. Twenty years hence there will be a great many elderly persons with fewer young people following behind.
By the first quarter of the 21st century the growth in the number of the elderly worldwide is expected to be so great that there may be twice as many grandparents as babies. Let me put it this way, in 2025 it is likely that one billion persons will be over 60 years of age; one in three voters in the industrialized countries will be senior citizens.
Such predictions raise the practical question of whether our society will be able to bear the economic and social consequences of an increasingly large and socially dependent segment of the population. They also raise the philosophical question concerning the values assigned to work and productivity and how these values will affect and be affected by large numbers of elderly in our future society.
Generally we take as given our current patterns of living and thinking. We accept, for example, the concept of productivity as one important measure of an individual's worth in the community. Those who are not productive we view with a diminished status. We accept the notion that the young are productive and the elderly have exhausted their productive capacities.
In other epochs, attitudes were the reverse from those of today. The elderly were venerated and held in high social esteem. For example, Aristotle, the most careful observer of the classical world, preferred age and wisdom to youth and physical stamina. He wrote that the body reaches its prime at 35 years of age but the soul reaches its perfection only at the age of 50. I am sure there are many in this House who have reached that state of perfection.
Nevertheless, at present we tend to take for granted the social dependence of the elderly and we should ask ourselves just how this situation, this perception, came about; this change in perception from the time of Aristotle.
All we have to do is read Eric Fromm, who said that old age is a problem created by modern, industrial society. In his view the aged are a problem because they are seen as idle consumers of resources in a society that values productive work. In this sort of system, those who are nonproductive are perceived as social liabilities.
Unfortunately, these attitudes still persist to some extent. Many of our current practices are based on out-of-date policies and anachronistic social attitudes. Nevertheless, I am optimistic enough to believe that attitudes are changing. I believe the message of demographics in the 1980s is that the infatuation with youth is over.
As we approach the 21st century, it is becoming clear that we are entering into a new era of age relations, an era in which the elderly will once again become an important and productive social force in our society.
We stand at one of the great divides of our history. However, I must stress that the shape of the upcoming decade depends on how well the members of the "big generation" understand what we are approaching and what is going to happen to us. Studies investigating the economic and social importance of population ageing have been undertaken only relatively recently.
As late as 1934, the first edition of the Encylopaedia of the Social Sciences included no articles on ageing. Since then, there has been a growing awareness of the need for research and for policies relating to ageing and the elderly. Past decades have witnessed the implementation of a diversity of government programs focusing on issues of concern to the elderly. There have also been many research studies and service organization reports undertaken which have recommended the establishment of needed programs and pointed out new directions for action.
In Ontario, one recent study was a project initiated by the committee on ageing of the Ontario Social Development Council. The project was primarily carried out by senior citizens themselves and consisted of six day-long workshops held across the province. The project involved almost 600 seniors. What is really interesting is that the aim of the project was to provide the elderly with the chance to identify issues of concern and to explore ways of providing possible solutions.
The most significant theme emerging from this project was that elderly persons are anxious to be seen as more than a target group for government services and programs. Nor are they willing to accept the implication that their usefulness and ability to contribute to society are reduced by the fact of their increasing years. To my mind, the above statements encapsulate perfectly the problems of our present-day attitude and treatment of the elderly.
Modern life has improved the older person's living standards and health and increased his lifespan; simultaneously, however, it has taken away from the elderly their productive roles and functions. Programs and policies for our elderly population have been undertaken only in a narrow context in response to specific social or institutional concerns.
Consider, for example, the ongoing federal deliberations on pension reform in Canada. The purpose of this investigation is to find new and better ways to support the elderly. Such an undertaking should surely invoke the areas of health, housing, communications, technology and transportation, to name the most obvious. Should not such an examination also include an analysis of the potentially productive role the elderly could play in our society?
I believe that what has eluded us, as policy makers, is, first, an overall perspective of the place for the aged in our society and, second, a clear understanding of what that place will be in the future.
It is essential for the wellbeing of our province and our country that future policies concerning the aged be multidimensional and, as much as possible, intergenerational. It is only through a co-ordinated and all-inclusive approach that future social and economic plans can be developed in which the elderly can play a part in contributing to our society's social and economic resources. As policy makers, all of us must join together in examining these issues and planning for the future.
It is for this reason I have introduced my resolution in the House today. I believe all of us in this Legislature must work together in considering the broad implications of the demographic changes occurring in our society. We must sit down together and with the help of seniors, experts and existing bodies such as the seniors secretariat discuss the means through which the elderly can play the most productive and most meaningful role in our future society. We must reassess our present perceptions of ageing and lay the groundwork for new directions in the future. It is in the hope of generating a frank, constructive and noncombative discussion that I introduce my resolution this afternoon.
The one thing I would like to stress to my colleagues is that we must begin planning today for a fast approaching tomorrow. Look at it this way: all the pensioners, senior business leaders or mature workers Canada will have at the turn of the century are already born. Couple this with the fact that our population will age as much over the next 20 years as it did in the past 50 years and the urgency of addressing the issue becomes clear. As the expression goes, "The future is now."
When we are planning ahead we are actually dealing with the present because we are looking at changes in an already existing population. Changes in policy and program planning take time. Examining the programs and the lead times today will allow us to set priorities which give us planning direction and implementation time in the future. Planning must commence for the ageing explosion of the 1990s and the next century.
I want to emphasize that I hope with this resolution we will help to create bridges, that it will assist to make connections which will work towards strengthening the common concerns of all members of this Legislature and those organizations and individuals involved with the present and future concerns of the elderly.
I recall quite well that at the fall policy conference in the social policy session I listened to a very dynamic lady who was most outspoken in her concern for the elderly. The participant in question was Pearl Langer. She spoke eloquently about seniors' concerns emcompassing the area of pensions, housing, women's issues, health care, recreational activities, the needs of friendship and self-respect; in short, the quality of life.
I think anybody who listened to her recognized that the next 20 or 25 years are crucial when we talk of this group. We must remember that our senior citizens are increasingly more educated, more affluent, healthier and more politically powerful than in the past. Simultaneously, better medical care and higher living standards have led to a new group of very old persons with their own special needs.
Susan Sontag has written that getting older is a crisis that never exhausts itself because the anxiety is never used up. Ageing, being a crisis of the imagination, has a habit of repeating itself again and again. It is true that most of us do not look forward to ageing, but we must address this issue. It is sad our modern lifestyles and perceptions have not eased our anxiety about ageing. Modern youth-oriented views have probably increased our anxieties. Old age is a crisis of the imagination, as Ms. Sontag says, but it is also a crisis of public attitudes, a crisis of social policy and social organization. It is a crisis we must address together as fellow citizens.
In concluding, I recall that famous scene in Alice in Wonderful when Alice comes to that junction in the road that leads in different directions. A Cheshire cat is sitting there and Alice asks him where she ought to go. The cat says. "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to." "I don't care much where," says Alice. The cat replies, "Then it doesn't matter which way you go."
We have this advantage over Alice. We do care and we do know where we want to get to. Therefore, it does matter which way we go. This resolution is a call for all of us in this House to take another step in the right direction.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my two colleagues here for their enthusiastic applause.
I want to speak to this resolution. Ballot items introduced by members of the govsernment are generally motherhood resolutions that everyone votes for. They are not usually very specific, and certainly this one is no more specific than the rest. I hoped the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon) would introduce a very positive private member's bill in this House; for instance, a bill abolishing the mandatory retirement age, or bills to increase the services offered to our aged population; very positive and progressive legislation of that kind.
I see we have with us this afternoon the former Provincial Secretary for Social Development, the member for Scarborough East (Mrs. Birch), who is listening attentively to the debate. She and I have participated in the estimate process of her former ministry on many occasions and discussed many of the items referred to in the resolution of the member for Sudbury.
It is interesting to note that the government of this province, the party of the honourable member proposing this resolution, has a very poor track record, in my view, of providing services for our elderly and providing constructive opportunities for them to have more fulfilling lifestyles. Our country probably has one of the highest number of institutionalized people as a percentage of our population. Some may say this is because we are providing a lot for our people. Others may argue, and certainly I would, that it merely means when people reach a certain age we put them away somewhere.
That is the view I have of many of our institutions, especially the nursing homes in this province. Granted we need nursing homes and that, by and large, the people who run them do a relatively good job, I do not think as a society we should have a policy that the proper thing to do with older people is to park them away somewhere. Many times I feel this is the policy of the government of this province.
If we were to think of positive initiatives that would be necessary to fulfil some of the things this resolution suggests, first of all, in my own view, we should abolish the mandatory retirement age of 65. If we are going to make people feel useful in our society, we should remove whatever legislation we have that makes them feel useless. That would be an absolute first step to indicate to our elderly citizens that they have just as important a part to play in our society as others.
I fail to see why, after somebody has been living for a certain number of years, 65 in this province, we identify that person as having become useless and no longer able to hold proper and productive employment. At the same time as we have our retirement laws in this province, we find ourselves in the situation where many of our skilled trades people in Ontario are rapidly approaching that age and we have nobody to replace them. That brings up another topic, namely, why we have not properly trained our young people in many areas of productive employment and skilled trades. We could spend a lot of time on that, but that is not what we are discussing here this afternoon.
We are discussing the very productive people who will be forced over the next few years to cease employment when they could be providing very useful service to the people of this province. As I said previously, I think mandatory retirement should be abolished.
My colleague the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent) has introduced a very good piece of legislation in this House on a number of occasions in regard to providing a very useful service to the people who are financially disadvantaged in this province, and most of the time those are senior citizens. I am referring to the member's legislation on the lifeline rate structure of Ontario Hydro to assist the people who are at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale by providing them with a basic Hydro rate structure where the first kilowatt hours would be provided at a lesser rate in order to assist the people who need it most.
That is an example of a very positive piece of legislation which could be useful for our senior citizens. While there is nothing wrong with the resolution we see today, it is not very meaningful, in the sense that everybody just votes for it and it dies there because there is no concrete action in this kind of resolution.
We must also find new opportunities to employ our senior citizens. One only has to go and spend a few hours in some of our senior citizens' homes to find out just how bored the residents of those homes are with very little to do. Certainly we must find new opportunities for them.
I am thinking of having some kind of structure where our senior citizens could, if they wished, be gainfully employed in day care, for instance, for our younger and future citizens. A day care crisis looms in this province and we have difficulty finding proper day care for our children. On the other hand, we have a whole segment of our society that is not doing anything, which probably would be very interested in assisting the younger generation and, at the same time, would find something very useful and productive to do.
I see very little effort being demonstrated in that particular area. I know that not all senior citizens want to be baby-sitters and I am not pretending they do, but there are a number of them who would find very interesting and productive hours of work in assisting in the day care process.
Another issue we should be addressing specifically to assist our senior citizens is housing for senior citizens and for the other group that is right near them, whom I will refer to as the near-old for the purpose of this discussion. The group between 50 and 65 are in a terrible housing crisis in this province, especially those who are single.
I have discussed this with the member for Scarborough East on occasion. I have a very difficult situation in my own constitutency when a woman, say, 57 or 58 years old comes to my constituency office and says: "What can I do? I am trying to make ends meet on welfare and it is an absolutely impossible situation." What do you do with a 57- or 58-year-old person who has not worked outside of her home for the last 30 or 40 years, if ever, who has lost her husband last year and who is a unilingual francophone in a community that has 25 per cent unemployment? What am I supposed to tell that constituent?
The difficulty with people of that particular age is that even if economic conditions are good, their opportunities are severely restrained because of the conditions I described earlier. When there is a situation such as we have in Prescott-Russell and in many other parts of this province, though in Prescott-Russell it is particularly severe, where unemployment is that high, such as in the town of Hawkesbury or in communities around that area, what does a person on welfare do to get out of the social assistance treadmill?
In many cases they are not well enough to be working. If they are not well enough to be working, they should be on family benefits allowance. If they cannot get on FBA, it is an absolutely impossible situation of appeal after appeal in front of the Social Assistance Review Board trying to get them on something they should be on. Even in cases where they do manage to get on such programs, we know that they are so severely deficient it is impossible for a person on his or her own to make ends meet even if one is a recipient of family benefits allowance.
In most cases in my constituency it is women who are in that predicament. There are various reasons for that. We men do not like to hear this, but the life expectancy of men is somewhat shorter than that of women. It is not that we want the women to live a shorter life, but we would like to live a little bit longer. The situation in our province is that many of our senior citizens are women living alone who are in a great deal of difficulty.
I notice my time has expired, so I will end my remarks here, although I would have liked to say quite a bit more.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in support of this resolution. It is very difficult to speak in 10 minutes on a topic I have spent hours writing about in various newspapers and journals and on which I have taught courses.
At the risk of oversimplifying the issue, I would say we are dealing with two types of needs: physical and psychological needs or anthropological and social needs. However, we already know there are many services needed at this time and we do not need any committee set up to deal with them. While the idea of a committee would be useful, not only to educate the public but also to educate members of this House, unfortunately, the government has failed abysmally in dealing with the very issues it already knows the solutions to.
My colleague the member for Downsview (Mr. Di Santo) introduced resolution 17, which members will want to look at. It deals specifically with things that can be done here and now to make the life of seniors more creative and more self-actualized. It would remove many of the frustrations, both physical and psychological, that now exist in their lives. I would refer members to resolution 17 as one area where the government could get off its butt and move immediately without any committee sitting and dealing extensively with the problem.
The Ministry of Health study on evaluation of chronic care in 1977, which was based on the pilot home care programs in Hamilton, Kingston and Thunder Bay, stated clearly that chronic home care is a cheaper service than any type of hospitalization. While it found no conclusive measure, it had a hunch the program is preventing further deteroriation and thus diminishing the need for transfer to higher level care institutions. It pointed out there was a need for comprehensive assessment in identifying the types of patients who benefit most from chronic home care.
In Etobicoke we have had the Rexdale Home Support Services for a couple of years now. It is interesting that the federal government and the municipal governments found funds for it. It is only more recently the provincial government came screaming and biting when they realized that federal funds were closing up. It was only when they realized a whole bunch of people would end up in nursing homes unless they moved that they finally came up with some money to support this very worthwhile service.
The Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens in its 1982-83 report made a number of recommendations to an all-party committee, which this motion calls for. Such a committee might use that as a basis for looking at the challenge. I would like to comment on only a couple of these in the short time I have.
One of the matters it deals with in recommendation 3 is that the province should promote the benefits of and improve the access to pre-retirement education in Ontario. When Greg Merrill, the executive director of the American Association for Retired Persons, and myself, in the early 1970s, started to look at this problem, we were astonished at the poor quality of pre-retirement education in this province, across this country and across the United States as well.
We found there were, by and large, lecture courses at which people who were one month or two months from retirement were talked at, in which they were not told how to cope with living together as husband and wife when they suddenly find themselves together 24 hours a day, but such things as how to find a cheap trip to the Middle East.
Anybody can live with someone on a trip to the Middle East. There is exciting stimulation and so forth. The problem we found was living with one's spouse when that spouse was going to the fridge 10 times a day and was under one's feet, and one had never had to come to grips with that person in a real 24-hour-a-day situation.
We found the real problem that seniors wanted to talk about was the attitudes about themselves, the attitudes of society towards seniors. We developed the first process-centred pre-retirement program in co-operation with the Young Men's Christian Association and the Young Women's Christian Association in Metro Toronto. From that came a model that has been repeated over and over again in the United States and has been improved on. Groups such as the Ontario Association for Continuing Education, the American Association of Retired Persons, the National Retired Teachers Association and so forth have furthered that and done experimental work with it.
Many of the problems faced by the elderly are not just economic. Equally important is the attitudinal challenge. In recent years work done in the fields of androgyny, gerontology, psychology and social anthropology have shown us that there are models and techniques available not only to help people come to grips with their attitudes about themselves and the fact that as seniors they can be creative, dynamic and a part of society, but also to help society come to grips with the prejudices and stereotypes they have about the elderly.
So little has been done in this province. We spend $40 million on advertising "Preserve it, conserve it," yet we have not once dealt with the problem of the attitudes, the discrimination against the elderly, in any of that advertising.
Work done by Osborne in 1955 showed that seniors were not inflexible, but that through proper training techniques that have been developed they could be as flexible and as creative as younger people. My colleagues and good friends, Syd Parnes, Ange Bionde and others like them in the US, with whom I have had the pleasure, honour and experience of working over the years, have shown that these models and techniques are available if we would only put the bucks behind them and start using them.
An interesting article by Duncan Robertson and his colleagues in the Canadian Medical Association Journal points out the following in the issue of May 1, 1982, volume 126: "A thorough assessment at, or preferably before, the point at which their health breaks down enables older people to return to and remain in the comrnunity and helps to prevent them from being admitted to an institution while they are still available to function at reasonable independence."
It also goes on to point out: "As the number of old, and in particular very old, people increases in Canada, both in total and as a proportion of the entire population, their impact on the health care system is becoming apparent ... It has been estimated that if the elderly continue to require hospital services to the same degree that they did in 1975, in the second decade of the 21st century all of our present hospital resources will be required just to care for older people."
What I am saying is that we have developed, or are in the process of developing, the technology by which we can prevent that from happening. Interestingly enough, and I see that my time is running out, I would say that one of the things that must be done that is not contained in this resolution, but must be looked at in committee, is the whole need for the development of more culture-free assessment tools of the elderly. I refer members to a recent book by Rosalie A. Kane and Robert L. Kane called Assessing the Elderly: A Practical Guide to Measurement. In the final thoughts in the book they say this:
"We have come full circle now, back to our beginning. Geriatrics and gerontology are evolving as applied disciplines. Their development as branches of clinical care will depend in substantial part on an ability to demonstrate an effective grasp of the problems of the elderly and their solutions.
"It has been said that the cornerstone of a new specialty is the availability of a technology. Measurement may serve that purpose for geriatrics. Even a casual glance at the demographic forecasts suggests that any effort to improve the science of geriatrics will benefit both students and practitioners."
Therefore, there is the whole field of measurement as well which must be looked at by that committee. I would welcome an opportunity to serve on that committee. I think some of the interesting work I have done over the years in this field might be of help to that committee. I would certainly vote in favour of such a committee being set up as soon as possible.
Mr. Robinson: Mr. Speaker, do I have the benefit of 10 minutes?
The Deputy Speaker: Roughly 10 minutes.
Mr. Robinson: It is with a great deal of pleasure that I rise in the House today to engage in this important and informative discussion on the trends towards our ageing society.
Let me begin by offering my congratulations to my colleague the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon) for bringing this resolution before us today so that we have an opportunity to look at it in a frank and open way.
I was interested in the comments from my friends the members for Prescott-Russell (Mr. Boudria) and Etobicoke (Mr. Philip), who stressed that the whole issue of ageing is one this government continues to address, as do governments all over the democratic world as we know it. I am certain all members of this House join in sharing the opinion that the senior citizens of this province deserve the very best services we can offer and provide for them.
My colleague the member for Sudbury stressed in his remarks that the time for action is now. Let me say that I believe the honourable member is absolutely correct in that assessment, an assessment that is echoed on both sides of the House.
I am sorry my colleague the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan) is not here this afternoon, because he is the master of the agricultural homily. However, I offer one I am sure I have heard him say before in pointing out that it is easier to stop a horse that is trotting across a field than it is to stop a horse that is galloping at full tilt. Similarly, in terms of the problems of the aged --
Mr. T. P. Reid: Which end of the horse is speaking now?
Mr. Robinson: If my friend the member for Rainy River is going to be provocative, I am going to ignore it and carry on none the less.
The point I was going to make was that, as we recognize the difficulties and problems of our ageing population, it is much easier, like the galloping horse, to stop it now than when the system and the situation are of crisis proportions.
Perhaps I should more clearly illustrate with some statistics the gravity of the problem that surrounds us. In 1976, well over one third of all Canadians over 65 years of age lived in Ontario. The total of hospital patient-days for those 65 and over was 23.2 million. This figure will nearly double to 45.9 million by the turn of the century and will hit a staggering 70 million by the year 2026, according to a recent study by the Ontario Economic Council.
In terms of percentages, the problem becomes even more evident. A recent Statistics Canada report forecasts that if current hospital capacity and utilization rates remain unchanged, Canadians over 65 will require 71 per cent of all hospital beds by the turn of the century and every hospital bed in the country by the year 2021. This says, in effect, that there will simply be no other hospital bed space available for anyone under 65 years of age if we remain at the current level of development.
Clearly, alternatives to hospitalization must be developed to prevent the inappropriate hospitalization of the elderly. My friend the member for Prescott-Russell said that, in his opinion, when people reach 65 the trend seems to be to institutionalize them and forget them. We say that is equally inappropriate.
I am certain there are individuals who would remedy the situation simply by building more institutions. We do not agree with this and neither, it seems, does the rest of the House. For example, according to the figures currently available to us, if there were to be a demand for twice the number of beds by the end of the century as opposed to those available at present, then perhaps one should simply double the number of facilities to handle the increased load.
There can be no question that, before the need becomes greater, services must be expanded to meet demand. With this in mind, I am happy to note the increased number of nursing home beds and chronic care beds as well as the addition of 13 home care programs implemented by the Ministry of Health in its 1982-83 program.
However, those who look upon that aspect of the health program as a solution will find that they are badly mistaken. While expanding facilities might be a simple and straightforward method of addressing the problem, I contend that it is woefully impractical in view of the overall situation. It is impractical because it fails to address three major obstacles, all of which have a profound effect on decisions to be made in this area.
This scenario fails first because it fails to take into account possible technological innovations in the medical profession. With all the advances in technology, can we really predict today what diseases, illnesses and infirmities are going to affect people in the 21st century?
I might remind all honourable members that years ago certain statisticians felt that unless we tripled the number of hospital beds by the year 2000, we would not be able to care for and accommodate all the patients we have today, in 1983. However, they had not taken into account the fact that those thousands of institutional beds would have stood empty after drugs were discovered that can cure and control tuberculosis and, more particularly, vaccines that were available for polio. By providing a therapeutic solution, there simply was no longer the ongoing and constant demand for hospital beds for those two particularly debilitating diseases.
Injuries such as a fractured hip, an injury particularly prevalent among our senior citizens. would often require two to three weeks of active hospital bed treatment. Now they are dispatched through that type of active treatment in a matter of a few days. We must never underestimate man's innovative ability. We must endeavour to make certain that buildings for our senior citizens of the future are easily adaptable to their changing needs.
The second failure is the basic one of cost. The Ontario government allocated some $2.7 billion in 1982-83 to provide medical care, community care, subsidized accommodation and care in the home. These costs are rising -- as we all know, and we debate it in here with great regularity -- at steadily increasing rates. A professor from the University of Toronto, on the other hand, would have us believe that we would need 72 more 300-bed hospitals by the year 2026. In all programs there is a breaking point. To follow that type of logic, the breaking point for our ability to provide health care would be upon us very quickly.
Third, we have to bear in mind again something that was prevalent in the comments of both the member for Sudbury and my colleagues opposite; that is, we have to take into account not only the physical wellbeing but also the happiness of our senior citizens. We simply cannot institutionalize them, put them away and let it be left at that. We have procedures and regulations that infringe upon the quality of those lives, and we must not allow that to happen either.
We need to offer people options, a continuum of care that allows a range of services that meet the different needs of the individual. I believe we should be giving more encouragement and financial support to those who are trying to stay in their own community. This is a project that was advanced by the then Minister of Health, now the Minister of Treasury and Economics (Mr. Grossman). The stopgap measure might be to build more nursing homes, more institutions of that type. But there has to be a better solution, a more human solution, a human approach to solving the very real problem that is ahead of us.
I am sure I am joined by members on all sides when I say that I oppose any attempt to segregate our senior citizens from the normal life of the community. In fact, it was suggested at that time that perhaps we should engage with great vigour and enthusiasm in a program that would give tax grants back to people who altered or renovated their homes to take in senior citizens who, as my friend the member for Prescott-Russell indicated in his example, might well find themselves on their own without the benefit of experience in the work place at a time in their lives when it would be most difficult for them to take on something new.
I feel that as representatives of the people of Ontario we have a duty to ensure that this province's senior citizens are able to enjoy what are referred to rather casually sometimes as their golden years. With this in mind, we must work towards a system that grants them the opportunity to live in dignity and happiness. This will not result if we follow a course that would bankrupt the system. Rather, I believe it is essential to strive for more community involvement while at the same time ensuring that those who need the facilities have easy access to them.
I feel that sheer numbers will insist that society cannot write off one person in every five as simply useless because he or she has passed the age of 65 years. The sheer economics will dictate that individuals must prepare more extensively for old age. I believe sheer common sense argues that care for the elderly is a matter of concern to all ages.
A British medical biologist said recently that Canada is a model to the world in its treatment of the elderly. That is a statement we can be proud of, no doubt, but it also sets a high level of excellence that we should strive to maintain. That is why we must begin today to set a course that will enable us to continue being the envy of the world.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, that speech might have been the envy of the world, but this resolution certainly is not. Of course, I would have to join with all members of the House in saying that we agree with the nature of the motion. We agree that committees of this Legislature should be looking at these crucial issues on an ongoing basis. We agree. and certainly the member who just spoke, as chairman of that committee, should know, that the standing committee on social development is very well equipped to deal with the kinds of issues that have been raised in private member's resolution 26.
Nevertheless, I would like to take this opportunity to bring the debate down to the level of reality, the reality that exists for people across Ontario because of the absolute bankruptcy of innovative and original ideas by this government. I would like to take a moment to read into the record a headline from the paper in Niagara Falls. It reads, "While She Still Has Breath to Do It, Mother, 87, Appeals to Council for Help in Finding Home for Handicapped Son." The accompanying story starts out in this way: "An 87-year-old mother with a severely handicapped son has asked city council for help in finding a place for him."
It seems to me that when this individual is forced to solicit help from Niagara city council and when the senior citizens department of that municipality is forced to write a letter to the Deputy Minister of Health because it cannot get a proper and appropriate placement for a 67-year-old adult who has been looked after by his mother all his life, then we do have a problem.
That problem goes far beyond striking an all-party committee to find innovative solutions. That problem means providing support for the Thelma Hurds of this world. Heaven only knows, if Thelma Hurd had institutionalized her son those many years ago, she would not have been placed in the predicament she is in today.
The reason this province is among the most institutionalized in the world is that it has not had innovative or creative solutions to keeping relatives and friends at home. In fact, we have had a propensity to institutionalize. When we see a situation where an 87-year-old mother cannot get support for her 67-year-old disabled son, then we recognize we have a problem.
Our party will support this resolution, but I would have been far happier to rise and speak in support of it had the member for Sudbury suggested that there be a stipend, a per diem or a tax credit to help those citizens who are struggling to keep their relatives and loved ones at home.
It is fair to say that every Ontarian, if possible, would rather have the support system. But when we have a promise such as the chronic home care promise that was made by this government many years ago and was not kept -- we were supposed to have chronic care across this province by last year; we may have it by the end of this year, but even that is debatable -- it is obvious that while this government espouses platitudes and discusses a private member's resolution about what it is going to do about support services for seniors, its record belies a commitment that is totally different.
M. le Président, j'aimerais faire un petit commentaire parce que c'est evident que notre Parti va supporter la résolution telle que présentée par le député de Sudbury. Mais je serais beaucoup plus contente si sa résoution parlait des vrais problèmes des individus, aussi bien dans le nord de l'Ontario que dans le sud. Et par exemple, je peux parler du comité du rapport des services francophones en Ontario, les services qui traitaient aussi des vieillards, qui a siégé sur le docteur Jacques Dubois.
Cela fait déjà depuis 1975 que l'on a présenté un rapport qui délinéait la situation abominable pour la livraison des services pour les vieillards, les services de la santé au nord de l'Ontario. Et jusqu'à date, on a même été obligé d'aller à genoux pour plaidoyer la situation de l'accueil médical francophone en Ontario. Je trouve qu'il est inacceptable que l'on continue à faire des resolutions, à demander d'avoir un regard unanime ou un comité tripartite pour discuter des problèmes déjà très connus.
In respect of the resolution, I believe the key issue to be addressed is, what has this government being doing in those areas over the past number of years? The issue of housing has already been addressed.
In the area of psychogeriatric services, I need only point out the abominable situation in northern Ontario vis-à-vis the availability of psychiatrists. When we have an individual physician like Dr. Duckworth in the community of Timmins, who was literally forced to work to rule before he could attract psychiatrists, allegedly with promises that were made by the Ministry of Health, we realize that those people are facing a lot more than a mere resolution. They are facing a reality of underservicing on a daily and a weekly basis.
The policy of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in this province has reached the point where it is not only asking senior citizens who have applied and are lucky enough to be eligible for senior citizens housing to provide a list of their bank accounts, jewels, contents of their safety deposit box and any other personal item they might have within their disposal, but this year it is also asking them to sign over their right of privilege so that the local bank manager can write a letter ascertaining their level of income.
This government does not believe the word of a senior citizen or the signature on an Ontario Housing Corp. form. In fact, they have to get verification from the bank manager. This seems to me to say that while on the one hand this government is calling for greater services and more accountability and more integration of the senior citizens of this province, it is not even prepared to take them at their word when it comes to a declaration of income.
Would it not be far better if they at least asked the senior citizens for access to their T4 slips, which has been done in other cases and which appears to be the practice in other ministries? No, they ask the senior citizens not only to photograph their guaranteed income supplement and old age cheques but also to provide a letter allowing a bank manager to account for every penny they have in their bank accounts.
It seems to me that on the one hand we are saying that our seniors are equal, fair and contributing members of society, yet on the other hand we will not take them at their word and at their signature, even though in many areas, including the collection of income tax and in the establishment of eligibility for guaranteed income supplement and guaranteed annual income system payments, we are prepared to do so.
A double standard seems to be applied. In terms of the work that could be done by a committee, which I would suggest should be the social development committee, and when the good offices of the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mr. McCaffrey) are combined with the work of such a committee, if one is forthcoming as a result of this private member's resolution, I would suggest that the government would give greater credence to a report than it has given to the unanimous committee report on the issue of wife assault.
As a member of that committee, having seen all three parties work unanimously to try to find a solution to a very real problem, it is extremely frustrating to me to see that solution thrown aside. After 11 months of discussion, dallying, and delay, that main criterion of the social development committee on wife battering was merely thrown aside.
If members are to take part in this committee as suggested by the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon), we should have some guarantee in advance that the committee will have power not only to report but that there be power of implementation.
There are many serious problems to be faced across this province, not the least of which is the changing demographics of Ontario. But if this government is to be counted on its record, I am not terribly optimistic about the results of the committee as suggested by the member of Sudbury. Nevertheless, I certainly join my colleagues in supporting the resolution. I would have wished it had been more substantive in the short and the long term, but I see it addresses one of the single most important problems we will face over the next decade in Ontario.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to join with members of the Legislature on this resolution.
Mr. Cooke: I might not have 10 minutes, so keep banging. I will certainly be supporting the resolution.
My only disappointment is that there is nothing specific in it. We all recognize the problem. We all recognize the potential. Usually where there is a problem there is also a potential to capitalize on that problem. But the resolution simply says, "Let us set up a committee and study the problem." It points out the reality that the government has not done much planning over the last number of years.
My involvement with seniors in my home city of Windsor started more than 10 years ago when I was a staff person with United Way, staffed the planning committee for Senior Citizens' Week and worked at one of the homes for the aged as well. My biggest concern has not been hard services as much as the attitudes people have about the elderly in our community. Much of the lack of services and many of the services themselves indicate that philosophy and the lack of understanding of the ability of senior citizens. It is the attitude we must work on to achieve real change in our society.
There are many examples of what senior citizens have done for our communities. My colleague the member for Etobicoke gave a couple. It seems to me the overall attitude of people is that, once a person hits a certain age, he retires. He is not able to contribute to society. We may or may not give him an adequate pension. It depends where he worked, how long he worked and what the circumstances are.
There is no guarantee one will not be living in poverty in Ontario if one is a senior citizen. Basically we say that if one is old, one is expected to lose one's memory, one is expected to begin to fail physically and, in the end, the alternative is institutional care.
Some of the statistics are very interesting and indicate the kind of attitude we take. For example, a few years ago I met Dr. Goldberg from, I believe, the Hurley Institute in Flint, Michigan. He used to be on Canada AM quite often. I met him in Toronto. He gave me a statistic that shocked me. It was that of all the people in our nursing homes and homes for the aged who are labelled as having senile dementia -- in other words, losing their memories and going senile -- 40 per cent of those individuals have some other physical problem and could be cured.
In many cases it is drug overdose, depression or disorientation because of rapid moves into new situations like nursing homes. In some cases there are actual physical problems. Yet because in our society our attitude is that when one gets older one cannot contribute to society -- even if one is physically able, all sorts of roadblocks are put in front of one -- there is little, if any, effort made to properly diagnose senior citizens and provide treatment.
I saw this time and time again when I visited nursing homes in Windsor, when my grandmother was in a nursing home and when I worked at Huron Lodge Home for the Aged. One of the examples, which was changed only five years ago, was right in the homes for the aged. Most of the homes for the aged have a special care ward where disoriented residents are placed. Many of these wards are secure wards.
Until five years ago, there was no process for admission, no process for review and no way to guarantee those individuals' rights. It was only when the situation was brought out in the social development committee with the member for Kingston and the Islands (Mr. Norton), the then Minister of Community and Social Services, that eventually this was changed and now regulations are in place.
That kind of situation demonstrates very clearly our attitude towards senior citizens. That would never happen with younger people. We simply would not allow that to occur. Individual rights are respected and written in law, but for senior citizens those rights are not so important. That is a very sad commentary on both this government and society in general.
We really do need and can develop the alternatives that are necessary in our society in order to maintain independence and provide the care needed for senior citizens. We have talked about home care and heard commitment after commitment from minister after minister in the Health portfolio about the expansion of home care. Yet we still know it is not a universal service that is available all across this province.
Many proposals have been made about day hospitals to assist people so that we do not have to keep them in overnight on a regular basis. Day hospitals can provide the kind of care necessary for some people while still building in the independence for our citizens. There are also homemaker services.
All of these services, if put in place, would maintain independence for seniors but I believe they would also save considerable dollars for the taxpayers of this province. Bed study after bed study in community after community has indicated we have people in active treatment beds who should be in chronic care beds, we have people in chronic care beds who should be in nursing home beds, we have people in nursing home beds who should be in rest home beds. Also, we have people who would not even have to be in rest homes if we had proper homemaker and home care services.
If these alternatives were put in place, there would not be waiting lists to get into active treatment beds. There would not necessarily be waiting lists to get into chronic care beds in our public hospitals. If these less costly alternatives were put in place I believe they would save the taxpayers money and would provide much-needed services so that many of the people in our community could remain at home and maintain independence and dignity.
I have no idea what excuse the government has for not putting them in place. I do not know whether this committee could come to grips with that problem. I do not believe it is a case of not understanding the problem. The bottom line is that this government is not willing to move and take the necessary action.
One of the really sad commentaries on what this government has done is the lack of regulation of rest homes in Ontario. Rest homes in this province are by and large considered to be "retirement homes" where some services and care are provided, yet this government consistently refuses to regulate them. There are only four or five municipalities across the province that have local bylaws for any kind of regulation of rest homes.
A case was brought to my office a couple of years ago in which an elderly couple was residing in a rest home in Glencoe near Chatham. The rest home went into receivership and closed down. The owner of that rest home put these two elderly people in his car, brought them to Windsor and dumped them off at University Rest Home about 12 miles away.
When I brought this to the atiention of the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) his response was: "It is out of my jurisdiction. There is nothing I can do about it." The facts are confirmed by the local welfare office, yet no one is willing to go to bat for these senior citizens, two people who have been taken advantage of by the private operator of a rest home.
Another example of how we treat our elderly right now is the nursing home situation that existed in Ridgetown. The owner of the nursing home there did not sell it, because the nursing home itself was not to be relicensed; the building did not meet the regulations. He sold the licence, which meant he sold the residents. The new nursing home was provided, not in Ridgetown but in Chatham. These people who had grown old in their own community and wanted to remain in Ridgetown where their relatives were, no longer had nursing home services provided to them; in fact, they had to be moved to Chatham.
That type of situation, where we basically sell residents because of the private ownership of nursing homes and the way that the nursing home licence process goes, is another indication of the lack of action and the attitude this government has taken on matters that are very important to senior citizens in this province.
I am not suggesting that all senior citizens need to be in nursing homes and rest homes, but the lack of proper regulation and care that is given is of great concern to both seniors and relatives of seniors. I believe the quality of life in these institutions will improve only when the profit motive is taken out of nursing homes and when we turn over nursing homes to nonprofit charitable organizations within this province.
Mv time has elapsed, and I appreciate having the opportunity to participate in this debate.
The Deputy Speaker: Member for Sudbury, you have six minutes remaining. Do you wish to use all of that?
Mr. Gordon: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I was quite pleased to hear the very thoughtful presentations that were made on the other side of the House. It was certainly interesting to note that those who did speak focused on a few details but then went on to talk about the broader outlook when it comes to the problems of the ageing in the next 10 to 20 years.
There is no doubt about it, as was stressed by all members, that there is a real attitudinal problem when it comes to seniors. Unfortunately, it seems that too many people, once they see a person has reached a certain age, regard that person as sort of a shadow and they do not recognize him or her with the same degree of respect and understanding that they would have for a younger person.
That in itself tells us something. It tells us there is a great deal of work to be done in regard to focusing on those who have not yet reached that age and getting the public to realize that they have been trapped by stereotypes and ideas that are stereotypes.
I also welcome the points that were raised about widows and ageing women, because we know there are more elderly women living alone today than men and we know women are more likely to be poor than men. There are many issues concerning women and ageing that need to be addressed and looked at in the long term.
My mother related an incident to me about a month and a half or so ago. She was talking about how she had been involved in a car accident in Sudbury. The police officer who came immediately paid attention to the men who had been involved in the accident and it was almost as if she did not really exist. It just so happens that in this accident she was not at fault and it was shown that she was not at fault; but because she was a widow, because there was not a man around and because she was well over 75 years of age, she just did not count. It was not just with the police officer that she did not count; she did not count with the other men standing around who happened to be there at that time and who were being talked to about being witnesses and so forth.
We can see that there is a real problem. If we can look at the future of seniors and if we can see the forest rather than just the trees, then we are going to be able to help senior citizens to be much more independent and to break this cycle of dependence that has been visited upon them. We must do even more and come up with even more vigorous policies over the next years.
All of us here recognize that there are some seniors who will always need support to maintain their independence. I think an all-party committee will be able to assess the issues, particularly when they are related to health, housing, education, communications and so forth. We hear a lot about technology today; we hear that we are moving into rapid changes in technology. No one in this House, including myself, can perceive the kinds of problems we who are ageing and those who are older than us are going to have to experience because of technology.
Many of us would agree that certain technological advances will be good for seniors, but if we do not take a good, hard look at the question, in a nonpartisan fashion, and move on it now, we will lose an opportunity that may not come again.
In summation, I would like to quote Gary Stamm, the president of G. M. Stamm Economic Research Associates, who pointed out two years ago to a meeting of the North American Society for Corporate Planning:
"The baby boom has created fundamental shifts in economic activity that has had as much impact as the Great Depression of the 1930s. Those who understand the implications of the shift in the present population structure will be able to anticipate the other accompanying changes in our society."
That is a very relevant quote. It is incumbent on us to recognize that it is necessary to talk about our ageing society in advance of its full arrival, if only because the impending changes have already cast a shadow on our time.
I would say to my honourable colleagues that changes in policy and program planning take time. Examining the problems and the lead times today will allow us to set priorities which give us planning direction and implementation time in the future.
I think we must also recognize that while we have spent a great deal of time over the past few years talking about pensions, it is not the only subject of concern when we talk about ageing.
I would very much like to see this committee established. I think, with the support of an all-party committee, we can definitely seek ways of developing, in co-operation with the seniors secretariat and other agencies, a long-term strategy aimed at minimizing the dependency and maximizing the productivity of our future senior citizens.
The Deputy Speaker: I thank the member for his remarks. This concludes the discussion on this matter.
The Deputy Speaker: I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in his chambers.
Clerk of the House: The following are the titles of the bills to which His Honour has assented:
Bill 51, An Act to amend the Ontario Water Resources Act;
Bill 52, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act;
Bill 61, An Act to regulate Off-Road Vehicles;
Bill 85, An Act to amend the Crop Insurance Act (Ontario);
Bill Pr2, An Act respecting Frontier College;
Bill Pr9, An Act to revive Roitman Investments Limited:
Bill Pr17, An Act respecting the Canadian National Exhibition Association;
Bill Pr19, An Act respecting Family Day Care Services;
Bill Pr21, An Act respecting the Institute for Christian Studies;
Bill Pr32, An Act respecting the Brockville Young Men's Christian Association-Young Women's Christian Association;
Bill Pr36, An Act respecting the City of Toronto;
Bill Pr38, An Act respecting New Horizons Day Centre Incorporated;
Bill Pr39, An Act to continue the Corporation of the Union of Townships of Eilber and Devitt under the name of the Corporation of the Township of Mattice-Val Côté.
NORTHERN ONTARIO TRANSPORTATION
Mr. Piché moved, seconded by Mr. Robinson, resolution 27:
That, in view of the importance of efficient systems and networks for travel and goods transportation for the quality of life and economic development of northern Ontario, especially the far north, this House urges the government of Ontario to establish and maintain an office of the commissioner for northern transportation. The commissioner would be directly responsible to cabinet and would (a) co-ordinate and facilitate the development of policies for improved travel and goods transportation in northern Ontario; (b) make recommendations to cabinet, the Minister of Transportation and Communications and the Minister of Northern Affairs for the improvement of facilities for travel and goods transportation in northern Ontario; and (c) assist and advise individuals, corporations, Indian bands and municipalities that experience difficulties with or seek improvements in travel and goods transportation in northern Ontario.
The Deputy Speaker: The member has up to 20 minutes.
Mr. Piché: Mr. Speaker, transportation, a vital government responsibility, is perhaps the most important factor in providing for the development of the north and the wellbeing of its citizens. In seeking the support of the House for this resolution, I hope that at the very least this debate will serve to remind us of the vital role that transportation plays in the economic and social life of northern Ontario.
Since I represent a northern riding, the construction and maintenance of efficient transportation systems in the north is naturally a matter of considerable interest to me. However, I suggest this is a matter that should be of real concern to all members. The entire province will benefit from continued development in the north. Further, the economic and social integration of the northern and southern parts of our province will help build a greater sense of community and understanding between our regions.
Before I had the honour of joining this assembly as the representative of the people of Cochrane North, I had the privilege of serving as the mayor of Kapuskasing. While in that capacity, I worked as a member and as chairman for eight years of the northeastern Ontario municipalities' action group. The group was formed in 1972, and its membership was made up of the mayors of the municipalities of the northeast, which included approximately 32 commtinities from Hearst to North Bay.
The action group's primary objective was to improve the transportation of people and goods in the region and in the north generally. The group also attempted to address the problem of high transportation costs and the detrimental effect these costs add to the economic development of the region. This action group had one guiding principle or motto. That principle was that transportation is the key to northern development.
In addition to my work on the action group, I had the privilege of serving for seven years as a commissioner of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. In both of those capacities I had the opportunity to acquire not only a certain knowledge of the transportation needs of northern Ontario, but also an appreciation of the fact that there are no magical or easy ways of meeting those needs.
Looking back on the period of the early 1970s from the vantage point of 1983 and from the experience I acquired during my work with the action group and on the ONTC, I would make three observations.
First, largely because of the efforts of this government, the situation with respect to transportation and economic development in the north is much improved. In my view, the single most important event that led to this improvement was the creation of the Ministry of Northern Affairs. Since its creation in 1977, the Ministry of Northern Affairs has assisted in the design, implementation and funding of comprehensive, co-ordinated programs and policies to improve transportation and assist economic development and diversification in the north.
Second, now as in 1972, transportation is the key to northern development. I am sure that northern representatives of all parties would agree that transportation and economic growth are synonymous in northern Ontario.
Third, there still remain problems with the development of transportation systems in the north to which we have not yet found effective, affordable solutions. As one would expect, these problems are directly related to geography, climate, economic base and pattern of settlement in the north.
Northern Ontario is a vast region which covers some 309,000 square miles of rugged and varied terrain. Approximately 780,000 people live and work within this huge region. In other words, a region that represents 90 per cent of the total area of the province contains less than 10 per cent of our total population.
Within this region there is another area, the far north or the remote north, which has its own unique identity and unique set of transportation and economic problems. This region has been defined by the Task Force Study on Transportation and Living Costs in the Far North as that part of the province without reliable all-weather ground access. This area contains less than one half of one per cent of our total population.
As all members know, resource industries, especially mining and forestry, are the economic mainstays of northern Ontario. Of late, tourism has also become a very significant industry in the north to the point where it now rivals the more traditional resource industries in terms of importance. The historic reliance of the north on resources has largely determined the pattern of settlement and construction of transportation systems in the region. Urban settlement and the growth of transportation infrastructure have been generally influenced by resource availability.
In the north the obstacles to efficient transportation posed by great distances, rugged terrain and a small dispersed population are compounded by the effects of a harsh climate. Harsh weather conditions make it more difficult and expensive to construct and maintain transportation networks.
How we overcome those obstacles will determine the way we deal with the unique transportation needs of the north. As I mentioned, there are a number of these needs we must continue to address. For example, we will have to respond to the negative effects of the continuing withdrawal of rail passenger and freight services by the national railroads in the north and to demands for a restructuring of air services. We will also have to be prepared to deal with increased use of our highways in the north and with the need to expand our system of roads for both resource development and access purposes.
One matter which is of particular interest to me, given the nature of my riding, is the high cost of living in remote communities. I find it unacceptable that a resident of Winisk on James Bay should have to pay $3.60 for a pound of butter, $2.25 for a loaf of bread or $6.50 for a gallon of gas.
As I said earlier, efficient transportation is the key to northern development. Northern producers are located a considerable distance from the major markets in southern Canada and an even greater distance from our major export markets. The small size of northern communities and of northern markets not only serve to increase the costs of imports to the north, but inhibit and discourage the creation of secondary industries in the north.
These are the economic facts of life in northern Ontario. To overcome them, to encourage economic diversification and to ensure that our resource industries remain competitive require that we have in place a transportation system that can mitigate the negative effect of these factors. As I suggested earlier, this matter should be of interest to all members and to all the citizens of our province. The economic condition of northern Ontario in many ways reflects the health of our resource industries which make a major contribution to our gross provincial product.
Take mining, for example. In 1982 the estimated total value of mineral production in Ontario was nearly $4.3 billion. Given that 90 per cent of minerals mined in Ontario are exported, this industry makes a substantial contribution to the wealth of the province and to our export trade. One thing that became apparent during the recession was that export markets for minerals have become extremely competitive. New producers entered the field who, for a number of reasons, were quite willing to undercut prices. Many of these producers enjoy advantages not available to our producers in the north. Some of these producers are located much closer to major markets and have very low labour costs.
In other cases, producers are controlled by governments which use the industries to support domestic employment levels and gain much-needed foreign currency. In these cases, the primary objective is to sell the product at any cost, and the price often bears little relation to the cost of production.
If our northern producers are to continue to compete effectively in this environment, it is imperative they be able to ship their products at a cost that does not price them out of the market. Likewise, it is vital for future development that transportation costs and the quality of the transportation system do not deter new projects.
As I mentioned, tourism is becoming an ever more important industry in the north. It is, I believe, the largest regional employer of the young, of women and of our native population. While not recession-proof, the tourism industry appears more resistant to negative economic pressures and does not follow the boom or bust pattern typical of other resource industries.
The tourism industry offers an excellent vehicle for increasing employment opportunities and for broadening the economic base in northern Ontario. However, the future development of this industry will depend on transportation.
International competition for the tourist dollar is fierce. If we are to get our fair share of that dollar, we must not only convince the tourist that northern Ontario offers a unique travel experience, but we must assure him there are safe, reliable and affordable ways of getting there.
I believe these few examples illustrate the importance of transportation for the economic development of the north.
Similarly, transportation has been and will continue to be a key factor in the social development of the north. For isolated northern communities, reliable transportation means access to services such as health services which may not be available in the community. It also means contact with the outside world. Good transportation systems quite simply mean a better way of life.
Governments in Ontario have long recognized a responsibility to assist and undertake efforts to improve the transportation of people and goods in the north. Major government efforts in this field date back to the year 1902 when the government of the day advanced $40,000 to assist in the construction of the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway.
The T and NO Railway opened the northeast section of our province. It led to the rich silver discoveries at Cobalt and the gold bonanzas in Timmins and Kirkland Lake. That one railway laid the foundations for the forest, mining and agricultural industries, which continue to provide an economic base for the region today.
Since the founding of the T and NO I would venture to say no government in this province has taken the problems of transportation and development in northern Ontario so seriously as has the current administration, nor has any government so successfully met its responsibilities in this area.
What began as the T and NO Railway has grown into the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. Through the commission, the Ministry of Northern Affairs supports and operates a whole range of public transportation and telecommunications systems. Currently, through the commission, this government is involved in the provision of air, rail, marine, bus and shipping transport services to the citizens of northern Ontario.
It would not be possible here to detail either the substantial investment the government has made in all of these services, nor adequately to describe the positive impact they have had on life in the north. However, I think a special word must be said about norOntair. In my opinion, and it is I believe an opinion which will be shared by all northern members, norOntair has proved to be a great success.
When ONTC assumed responsibility for norOntair in 1973, the airline served four cornrnunities. Today 21 communities are served by norOntair and the airline has provided the people of the north with over a decade of accident-free, dependable and efficient transportation.
Moreover, norOntair is a unique commuter airline which brought reliable air transport services to many communities in the north that for years were labelled as too small to make scheduled air service practical. It is encouraging to note that norOntair will continue to grow with the addition next year of the new Dash-8 airliner which, I should point out, is built here in Ontario by de Havilland.
This government's investment in transportation services for northern Ontario has been complemented by policies and programs to assist the economic development of the north. Programs such as the remote airport program, the resource access roads program and a whole series of programs to assist remote, unorganized and single-industry communities are indicative of this government's intention to foster economic growth and diversification in imaginative and effective ways.
The record speaks for itself. This government is committed to overcoming the obstacles of great distances and a dispersed population to provide comparable services and access to the people of the north. All these programs and services have in one way or another helped the north to grow and to attract industry. However, though tremendous progress has been made, there is more that can be done. The resolution before us today gives us the opportunity to renew our commitment to meeting those challenges.
I want to make it clear I have every confidence that existing agencies are more than capable of developing solutions to the problems of northern transportation. I have suggested that an office of the commissioner for northern transportation be created simply because, in my view, such an office would focus and co-ordinate our attack on these problems and thereby facilitate and expedite solutions. As see it, the office of the commissioner would concentrate exclusively on the problem of transporting people and goods throughout northern Ontario.
The office of the commissioner would be able to provide the government with a perspective on all transportation issues in northern Ontario, both provincial and federal. This same office could co-ordinate the efforts of the provincial ministries concerned, their agencies and concerned volunteer groups, resulting in a fresh perspective on the problems and, I hope, new solutions. This group should review all reports available on transportation in the north, including the forthcoming Ontario rail access report.
The commissioner would naturally have to work closely with the Ministry of Northern Affairs and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The commissioner could assist these ministries in the identification of problem areas and with the development of affordable solutions. The commissioner could also function as a single, highly visible and accessible point of contact for northern industries and municipalities on transportation matters.
Most important, the commissioner for northern transportation would help to solve the people problems of the north. One of the big problems I would like to see the commissioner address is the problem of the high cost of living in communities in the remote north.
I do not know if this resolution will meet with the favour of the House. As I said, I have brought this resolution forward as a suggestion on how we might improve on an already good record of dealing with northern transportation problems. In the long run what will matter is not whether this resolution is adopted, but whether the problems of northern transportation are addressed. It will be of little interest to the people of northern Ontario if the job is done by a commissioner or by some other agency as long as the job is done.
In any event, I felt it was important to take this time to remind the House of what a vital role transportation will play in the development of the north. I felt it was important because sometimes here in Toronto, surrounded and served by miles of expressways and freeways, by collector lanes and express lanes, by subways and streetcars, by a lake and an international airport, by short takeoff and landing flights and by trains, we tend to forget there are areas in this province where good transportation is not taken for granted.
As a representative of a northern riding, it is my responsibility to ensure that this House does not forget those problems and does not lose sight of the need to resolve them.
In concluding, I would like to repeat my opening remarks, which were: Transportation, a vital government responsibility, is perhaps the most important factor in providing for deselopment of the north and the wellbeing of its citizens.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I am rather surprised the honourable member did not save five minutes for a rebuttal. It is rather unusual. However, I have a suspicion he feels there will be no need for rebuttal because his resolution is so good it certainly could not be talked down.
In order to put him at ease --I can see he is shaking over there just like jelly on a plate -- I have to tell him at the outset that I am speaking in favour of this resolution.
Mr. Kerrio: That's the good news.
Mr. Van Horne: The bad news is that I have to wonder at a government that has been sitting in power for 40 years, having had the entire province as its responsibility, not being able to come up with some kind of game plan to accommodate the needs of northern Ontario.
Certainly, when we listen to the words of the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché), we have to understand there are problems up there, very severe problems. These problems were highlighted in a report commissioned by the Ministry of Northern Affairs a couple of years ago. That report, I understand, was tabled last fall and became public, or we learned a little bit about it, in the spring of this year. I refer to the task force report on transportation and living costs in remote northern Ontario communities, which I believe was released in April.
I do not want to get too far into that report, because it is something slightly separate from what we are talking about here, but press reports about the task force report indicated that the transportation sector fared well, with several glowing references to the province's program to build airstrips in remote centres, etc.
The report pointed out that since 1968 the number of fields had more than doubled and urged continuation of the work where applicable. It did suggest more work could be done to extend all-weather roads and winter roads to cut air costs, but it said some communities did not want roads. All villages studied were isolated, accessible by air or water. Some residents feared an all-weather road would bring unwanted commodities and people. Most of the settlements are Indian ones, and government officials said Indians are wary of outside influence on their lifestyle.
Some reports went on to say there were many discrepencies that existed in pricing of foods and commodities. Of course, one can tie that in with what the member has already talked about, the distance and the fuel costs and their effect on the cost of goods in the north.
They went on to quote one specific example in the report of lumber for a new dwelling to be built on the shore of Hudson Bay. The lumber cost for this new building was $9,000, and the transportation cost to get the lumber to the community was $8,000. So there is no question that transportation costs have a very serious and direct effect on the cost of commodities in the north.
There is no reference I can see about the additional cost brought about by government taxation policies. One could talk about the gasoline ad valorem taxes that apply in northern Ontario. I am sure the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) would be able to quote chapter and verse on gasoline prices. I cannot give them nearly as well as he could, but there are any number of examples of gasoline costing $1.20, $1.30 and $1.40 a litre. In southern Ontario we scream when it gets up to 45, 48 and 50 cents. Imagine the drain on a person's financial resources in northern Ontario with costs such as that.
Although I support the resolution, and I can see the need for it, I have to wonder why it has been left so long and why the government has not addressed itself to this specific need long before now.
Let me add another note of criticism. Last year, the Northern Affairs critics for our party and for the third party, along with the Ministry of Northern Affairs, were asked to contribute to a little publication called Noract. Whether that is the proper name, I do not know. I have the magazine in front of me. I recall sitting down with our research people to make a submission on passenger rail service in northern Ontario. I would like to quote from part of that because it is germane.
"In our response to the request for observations on passenger rail service, we pointed out the obvious in the beginning, that is, that one of the most important features of northern Ontario is the geographic distribution of a high percentage of its population in relatively small centres. The type and quality of transportation of the north's vast area is strongly influenced by this factor because these centres, in addition to being far away from the population and market areas of southern Ontario, are also separated from each other by distances and terrain which prohibit convenient and elficient travel."
If that is only so many words, let me relate a personal experience as briefly as I can. The six children in my family choose at times to do different and wonderful things. My number two daughter, who was completing high school a couple of years ago, thought she might be cut out for some form of missionary work or work in the far-flung regions of this wonderful country of ours. She took it upon herself to volunteer with the Oblate Fathers, who operate out of Ottawa, for a camp in the Moosonee area known us Oskiniko.
That camp is accessible by air and water. I suppose if one had some kind of boat, one could get to it by river, but if one does not have a train, plane or boat to ply that river, one surely is not going to get to Oskiniko. It is remote. I did take the Polar Bear Express to that spot and was kindly dropped off by a considerate crew. I spent some time in that rather remote area. As that train pulls off down the track and one sees the last of it, there is a distinct feeling of being all by oneself. When that is translated into a permanent lifestyle for people in northern Ontario, it is something we have to admire them for.
Yet we have to be very disconcerted about Via Rail shortening or cutting out service. I do not have time to go into chapter and verse on that. There are any number of examples that the members who reside in the north can quote for us of service being cut back and the disastrous effects it has on the people in these small comm unities.
In the submission I made to this little publication, I tried to point out that "a rationalization of rail service should not merely consist of a cutting exercise. If cuts must be made, then there must be a relocation of funds to be used in the development of other modes of transportation." Again, time does not permit a long development of that theme.
Let me conclude in the one minute I have left by submitting that I hope the member's resolution will address itself to that sort of rationalizing. If one has to cut, then one has to relocate. One cannot simply cut and walk away from these communities.
The government must also look at alternatives for dealing with the area's very high cost of living, which has a direct bearing on the tourist industry. We are not going to continue to attract tourists if we price ourselves right out of the business.
I wonder why it has taken so long. I wonder why the government does not have a game plan. I hope that if some action is taken on this resolution, it will have a game plan.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised that my friend the member for Cochrane North moved this sort of resolution. I well recall listening to him many years ago and thinking, here is someone with some vision. Then I found out he was a Tory and I knew it was window dressing.
I say that because this government has been in power for 40 years. I remind my friend of that. I also remind him that his party and the federal Liberals have failed to deliver any type of co-ordinated transportation system in northern Ontario in any way, shape or form.
Mr. Piché: You weren't listening.
Mr. Martel: I have been listening. I am going to discuss some points. The member should just listen for a few minutes.
In 1971, the Premier (Mr. Davis) stood on a stage in Parry Sound and said to the people "We are going to have a link between Parry Sound and North Bay to get to the water. That is a promise." Lorne Maeck nearly fell off the stage when the Premier made that promise, a promise on which he still has not delivered.
Let me name just a few other items. We had a freight rate reduction for northern Ontario through the Ontario Northland Railway. That railway was developed, as the member said, to open up the north. Consumers did not derive any benefits from that reduction; the shippers got the reduction. What did the consumers in northern Ontario get from the reduction brought in by the government? It was not passed on to the consumers and therefore their costs are every bit as high today as they were then. The shippers got the benefit.
The government gloats about the air service. I recall when that came in. I was in this Legislature. I remember the government, after getting it established, wanted to sell it. There was a great hullabaloo to try to get the government not to sell that off. My friend the member for Lake Nipigon will remember they wanted to turn it over to free enterprise. I remember that well. They wanted to give it away. The member for Cochrane North shakes his head. I suggest he look at the record. It will speak for itself,
Mr. Piché: I was on that commission for seven years. I should know.
Mr. Martel: I say to my friend, look at the record. The government was going to sell it.
I have argued about freight rates in this House for years, as I have in committee. I have not seen much intervention in Ottawa by this government on behalf of reducing freight rates in northern Ontario, which is the highest freight rate zone in Canada. Where has the government been in leading the fight to reduce freight rates, particularly when one looks at the cost of finished commodities going north as opposed to the cheap method of shipping raw materials out of the north?
As long as that system of shipping raw materials south prevails, with all the added weight because it is not thoroughly processed, northern Ontario will not develop. It is cheaper to take it out of the north, bring it south and process and manufacture it here.
Where has the government been all these years? My friend is on the right track. But how can the government claim to guarantee the proper development of northern Ontario when it allows raw materials to come out of the north so cheaply? It prevents any secondary development in northern Ontario at all.
Things went from bad to worse when the government decided to take the responsibility away from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and give it to the Ministry of Northern Affairs. I suspect what the member is trying to do with this motion is remove responsibility from the Ministry of Northern Affairs and give it to a body with the expertise to do some planning, to look at it in its broad perspective and say, "Yes, we need some roads here and some air transport here" and so on.
I do not care how good the people are at Northern Affairs; they do not have the capacity to make those decisions. The minister makes a political decision and it is handed back to the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) to work out the details. When we need planning and co-ordination, we have somebody running around the north with his chequebook. That has nothing to do with proper planning.
I have talked to person after person from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications who say the Ministry of Northern Affairs interferes constantly and the staff does not know what it is doing. If that is what the member for Cochrane North did it for, I give him credit, because it has to go back to the people who specialize in transportation and communications and not to somebody with a small staff who is more interested in seeing how many cheques he can deliver at what place at any given time. One cannot have proper development with that sort of system.
Also, the problem of the trucking industry hauling north with a load of food and finished goods and hauling south empty, was argued on this side of the House. My friend has said it over and over again, as I have and as my colleagues from the north have: we cannot have anything that relates to the cost of goods in southern Ontario if we are going to have half of that trip completed empty.
What have we done for them? Nothing. I suggest to my friend, if he is really serious, tonight he will go over to Sears, Eaton's or Canadian Tire and get a catalogue, go up north and get the same catalogue put out by the same company in northern Ontario. He will find it is $8.50 more for a wheelbarrow, $5 more for whatever item one wants. Let him take a look at the discrepancy.
A number of years ago, when we first arrived here, my colleague and I went down to one of the oil companies, because those of us from the north know what the cost of gas and oil is and we used to be told it was the shipping rates. Don Jackson, my friend and I went to Imperial Oil, he will recall.
The difference is not that great. it has very little to do with shipping and yet one pays eight and 10 cents a litre more. Remember just a couple of years ago when we used to pay eight or 10 cents a gallon more? Why are we paying eight and 10 cents a litre more? Has the cost of delivering increased by that much?
The problem is the government does not have the courage to assist the consumer by making some of these birds justify what the costs are. He is going to try to do it through some commission that is going to provide some input to the cabinet. The cabinet has known of the problems all these years.
Many of the cabinet ministers have come from northern Ontario, from the riding adjacent to that of the member for Cochrane North. The riding he now represents had a cabinet minister 10, 12 or 14 years ago. What did he do? Why did not somebody advise him? Or did he not see the problems as the member perceives them, coming from Moonbeam as he does, very close to his bailiwick.
I am surprised he has had to move this sort of resolution. We will support it. It is a motherhood resolution, but we are hopeful it will do something. The government has been sitting in the vanguard and should have been able to develop the appropriate transportation network so we could move goods, services and people quickly and as cheaply as possible, but it has failed completely.
In the one minute remaining to me, I want to talk about passenger service. I have been riding a fair amount. I travelled by train a couple of times recently between Capreol, Foleyet and Hornepayne. It is the most miserable service in the world. There is a consumers' group that has now described it as the worst service in Canada. There is drinking, cursing and swearing, and the women and the kids sit in the same car as the drunks. Do members know what the food is on that train? Canned beans, canned spaghetti and canned stew. It operates three times a week and it wipes out the tourist industry along that rail network.
We have talked to the minister about appealing, going to Ottawa, making tough representations. Nothing. The company simply says, "Your government has failed miserably." We will support the resolution. We hope it will lead to some good, because what your government is doing now and has done has been useless.
Mrs. Scrivener: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to say a few words in this debate on the resolution introduced by my esteemed colleague the member for Cochrane North.
I applaud the member for his leadership in drawing this matter to the attention of the Legislature. He has done this House, his constituents and the citizens of northern Ontario a great service by proposing this resolution for discussion, and I am pleased to know it has so much support from all members.
Some members may recall that in 1980-81 I had the privilege of serving as chairman of the Ontario Task Force on Provincial Rail Policy. During that time, I became well acquainted with the essential role railways play in Ontario's transportation system, and my visits to the north both before and during my tenure as chairman have clearly emphasized how dependent northern Ontario is upon rail service. In the final report of the task force, we wrote of this dependency in this vein:
"Many of the communities along Canadian National's northern line between Capreol and Winnipeg and the Canadian Pacific line between Cartier and White River are rail-dependent. Only about half of them are also located on hard-surface roads; others are accessed by long, circuitous road routes, some of which become impassable at certain times of the year. Others have no road access. Some with roads have no bus services.
"Rail-dependent communities have extremely fragile social and economic environments in which even minor changes to the rail system carry significant economic and social consequences.
"The communities which would be most seriously affected by changes in the rail system are those trading centres and settlements with limited alternative means of transportation. Some of these communities have no local government and, therefore, no ready means of adequately voicing their concerns. The people who would be most seriously affected by any changes to rail services include the elderly, low-income groups, native people and others who depend upon rail for medical services. household goods, social and business purposes, schools and employment."
Meeting these challenges and providing good rail service throughout the north requires the co-operation of all levels of government, both provincial and federal. Yet in the scant two years since publication of that section of the task force report, the rail system in northern Ontario has not improved. Indeed, it has deteriorated. Many northern communities were established solely because of the railway and now they are being systematically abandoned by the federal government and the railways.
Unhappily, the federal government has not lived up to its responsibilities in northern Ontario over the past several years and, as a consequence, is now becoming part of the problem, not part of the solution to the transportation needs of that region. The economic and social consequences are far-reaching indeed. It is somewhat ironic that the federal government began to reduce its role in northern transportation in our province during that period when this government was making every effort to upgrade the quality of transportation services it provided in the north.
By the mid-1970s, the government of Ontario had added a whole range of new first-class passenger service equipment to the transportation systems of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. While these new initiatives and improvements were being undertaken by the province, the Canadian Transportation Commission was recommending cutbacks in crucial rail passenger services in northern Ontario, and the federal government's Via Rail plan, which was supposed to improve rail service, actually curtailed rail service in the north.
Of course, the communities hardest hit by this federal policy were those communities described in the task force report as the rail-dependent communities, communities with limited or no road access. The most significant service reductions were announced on July 27, 1981. At that time, the federal Minister of Transport revealed that Via Rail services would be cut by 20 per cent. Among the services affected in northern Ontario were the Capreol-Hornepayne and Winnipeg-Armstrong runs, which were elirninated. Five other major routes had services reduced by 50 per cent or more.
The deterioration of rail service in northern Ontario has by no means been limited to passenger service. Freight service has also been affected. For many years both CN and CP have been gradually reducing the level of freight service they provide to northern residents. One only has to look at the number of station closings and agent removals that have occurred in the north to gauge the dwindling level of commitment the national railways have to the servicing of this region.
A good example of the deterioration of freight service in the area is CN's recent application to abandon a section of the Pagwa subdivision, which is part of CN's northern mainline track. If this application is granted, other sections will surely follow. In this instance, and it is well noted by the representatives of the lumber industry, it appears that CN has deliberately taken itself out of the market.
Spokesmen for the lumber industry pointed out at the CTC hearing that although they preferred to ship by rail, CN's actions were forcing them to use trucks. This is not a new complaint nor is it an isolated incident. During the task force hearings I heard similar concerns expressed by resource industry representatives across northern Ontario. For the northern communities, cutbacks in rail service, their economic lifeline, mean increased isolation, increased access problems for tourists and increased problems related to the import and export of goods and services.
The provincial government has consistently opposed these reductions in rail service. For example, it was the provincial government, through the Ministry of Northern Affairs and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, that conducted an impact study on the effect the 1981 cuts would have in the north.
Even after the serious negative consequences of this policy had been identified, it took over one year to convince the federal government to even look at existing Via Rail services in northern Ontario. Currently, a joint federal-provincial review is under way. However, the service abandonment applications and hearings in northern Ontario continue.
Through all these hearings, the position of the province has been that the federal governmenl was not living up to its responsibilities in northern Ontario. The responsibility for the provision and funding of Via Rail services rests with the federal government and financial constraints are no reason to deny residents of remote communities the continuation of basic and essential transportation services.
In Ontario, we have always followed a philosophy which holds that transportation systems and services should be assessed in human terms rather than in purely economic terms. We regard operations such as norOntair and the Ontario Northland Railway as social and not simply economic ventures. The operation of the Ontario Northland Railway reflects that philosophy. Although it has long since achieved its original development role, the ONR continues to provide exceptional service for residents and industry in northeastern Ontario.
As I noted in the final report of the rail task force: "Unlike the major national railways, the ONR does not exist solely to make a profit. Service to its communities as the 'people's railway' has been a basic tenet as it fulfilled its mandate to meet the transportation requirements of the region." Good rail service is essential to northern Ontario's wellbeing. From their actions, it is apparent that the federal government and the national railways do not recognize this essential need.
The member for Cochrane North has given us the opportunity to demonstrate that we do recognize the need for good transportation systems in the north and are willing to act to meet that need. As he has pointed out, the government of Ontario has always taken its responsibilities for northern transportation very seriously and has discharged them successfully.
Mr. Speaker, I support the resolution and I thank you.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, I am anxious to support this resolution, notwithstanding the fact that I think my friend the member for Cochrane North did not support my resolution last week. I will not hold that against him.
I will support this resolution, as superficial as I believe it to be. I hope, particularly if it is favoured unanimously by the members of the assembly, that the Premier will show some leadership and take action on the problem the member has taken great length to describe to us. But how can we expect a government that cannot run a moose lottery to run sornething as complex as an intricate transportation policy in Ontario?
We are in the course of estimates right now and I have not heard the member favour us with his views on deregulation and on the establishment of this commission. However, we have not yet completed them and I hope that before these estimates pass into history he may take the time to favour us with his views on the establishment of this commission which he feels would be a solution to a problem that has not developed overnight but is certainly not as old as 40 years. His government has had every occasion to implement meaningful changes that would help make life a little easier for northern Ontario and for his constituents. Indeed, they have done just the opposite.
My major fear about the establishment of this commission is that it will be yet one more commission in Ontario, which will give us 743, 744 or whatever, and one more place for a defeated Progressive Conservative candidate. I should say that, notwithstanding the affection I have for my colleague opposite, if he chooses to either stand down in the next election or by some remote possibility is defeated, I would gladly support his nomination.
I would hope that members of the assembly would make it unanimous so that we might be graced with his presence here in Toronto occasionally, as commissioners do come to Toronto. Sometimes they spend more time in Toronto than anywhere else. However, I would personally support his nomination to be that commissioner, given the insight he has had into these issues for so long.
I recall a meeting, perhaps seven years ago, when his group came down and met with our caucus. We heard all these horror stories about how the highways were inadequate, how the Ontario Highway Transport Board was not responsive to his problems, etc. The sad thing is that with these seven years of continued Progressive Conservative government I guess they have not improved for him.
What is the problem? Is the problem the minister, who unfortunately is not in his seat today, who has been in my view a hard-working minister for the last eight years? Is the problem the minister? Is the problem the system which has developed over the last 40 years, or disintegrated over the last 40 years, under the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario?
One of the most substantial improvements that was made in the system came as a result of a Liberal initiative, an initiative taken by the former and late member for Nipissing, Dick Smith, who, with other members, particularly other members of the opposition, urged that the North Bay restriction, restricting the issuance of licences beyond North Bay, be removed.
It was Mr. Smith's work on the select committee on the highway transportation of goods, on which I was pleased to serve, which saw that restrictive proposal removed so that someone could seek to obtain a licence from the Ontario Highway Transport Board to move goods north of North Bay. The more I think of it, it is absolutely incomprehensible that this government would have allowed that restriction of trade to be perpetrated to the extent it had been.
We will be having our vote on the Ontario Highway Transport Board in the next session of our estimates, which will be on Tuesday evening. I would suggest the honourable member bring forward his resolution and his concerns on that occasion and indicate in the presence of the minister and the current chairman of the Ontario Highway Transport Board what specific improvements we could make in the context of a regulated transportation system or, if he still clings to the illusion that complete deregulation is the answer, he can favour us with that as well.
The harsh fact of reality is that one of the major problems is a number of those highways up north are a disgrace. We have heard at length, and ad nauseam, from the member for St. David, who would have us believe the whole problem relates to the federal government. I do not know who she will kick around when Mr. Mulroney is successful, if indeed he is successful. She would have us believe the whole problem relates to rail.
It certainly is a problem and the party in power deserves its fair share of criticism for that continuing difficulty. However, I do not believe we have seen any kind of aggressive presentation from this government to the federal government to lessen the freight rates. We certainly have not seen any forceful representation in southern Ontario with regard to the use of rail systems for commuters.
But our highways, simply put, are a disgrace. They are inadequate and there are a number of improvements that could be made; there are some things that should be done in the context of truck safety that we are not doing. In my view, we are jeopardizing passenger vehicles on the highway and we are not discharging our responsibilities for motoring safety.
We should have rest areas up and down those major areas so that if the operator of a passenger vehicle is tired, he can pull over and there is a place for him to rest. The same thing would apply for people operating trucks. We do not have any meaningful system; we should have a system, based in the major municipalities of northern Ontario and in Toronto, for freight pooling and freight co-ordination, because one cannot change the pattern of movements up there if one does not co-ordinate the movement of goods.
If we were to have massive deregulation, as the member used to suggest back in the glory days when he was the mayor of Kapuskasing, then indeed I think one would have chaos there for a long time and a great deal of economic dislocation when some of those companies failed.
The biggest problem that I see for the people of northern Ontario is a problem that is common to everywhere else, and that is the continuing broadening of the base of the sales tax which people up there have to pay, and they pay through the nose; and the imposition of the ad valorem gas tax, which I believe the member voted for -- certainly his party did -- which has a pernicious and mean-minded effect, if the minister wants my honest opinion, on the elderly and the poor -- those very people the member for St. David spoke about.
They pay those costs and then it is all exacerbated through increased transportation costs to northern Ontario. We support this initiative. I sense it will be favoured with the unanimous consent of the House in the generous spirit that we have in this assembly and I would expect there should be no delay by the Premier in announcing that he has set up a commission and named the commissioner. If he would like to delay for the course of the year so that we can hold the spot open in the event that the member for Cochrane North would like to make an application, then certainly I can justify that to my constituents.
There should be no excuse then. If we obtain unanimous consent here, there should be no excuse whatsoever for the failure of the government to establish a commission and address these problems that I think have been described very adequately by all members of the assembly.
With the Ministry of Northern Affairs, with Governor Leo travelling with reckless abandon with the government chequehook through northern Ontario, and what I think is a reasonably capable individual as Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow), it is incomprehensible that we should even need this commission. If the member feels we do, and that his constituents are continually being subjected to injustices like the ad valorem gas tax and increased sales tax, then I say let us establish this commission, let us see what the results will be before the next election, so that the people of northern Ontario may judge the minister by his conduct.
It is no accident that for the first time in some time his party is in very difficult shape in terms of the polls, from what I can read. Indeed, I believe that unless some meaningful action has taken place, the member in whose name this resolution stands may in fact, as a defeated Tory candidate, qualify to be the chairman of that commission.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, one wonders at the timing of this resolution. The member who sponsored it will know that I spent a goodly length of time trying to convince him and his colleagues that we needed some initiative on behalf of the government over there to address the high cost of transportation of goods and people in northern Ontario. It took the better part of a year to convince the Premier that he should set up a task force to study that very issue.
The task force was two years in completing its deliberations and bringing in a report which, as my friend the member for London North reminds us, became a public document in April this year. The document did nothing more than confirm what we already knew. I am sure the member for St. David in her deliberations heard almost everything that was contained in the study I refer to.
We now have another exercise going on, the rail access report, which is the responsibility of top civil servants in those ministries having some responsibility for transportation needs. I believe it is being co-ordinated with the federal government with some participation from Manitoba and Quebec.
One wonders about the timing of a resolution like this when, as the member for St. David pointed out, we have had a continual but very deliberate policy to eliminate rail passenger service, first of all, by the two common carriers, Canadian National Railways and Canadian Pacific, by downgrading the services to such an extent that they were no longer attractive to the travelling public and then making application to the Railway Transport Committee to discontinue the service on the basis that they did not get sufficient patronage to justify that service.
It is quite a scam, quite a con game, but Canadian National and Canadian Pacific were successful in that, thus the setting up of a new arm's-length emanation of the federal government called Via Rail. I do not know how many members of this assembly have travelled on it and made use of its facilities. It is not too bad on the Canadian Pacific, which is the only daily transcontinental service now in existence.
As the member for St. David points out, that area of the province served by Canadian National, the main line of one of our common carriers, all the way from Capreol through to Winnipeg, to put it charitably, it is a joke. Talk to people who come from small communities like Hillsport, Ferland, Auden, Collins and Allan Water. Most of them rely exclusively and totally on rail service for the access to services that the member who sponsored this resolution speaks of.
The member for St. David said we should not look at the provision of transportation services, particularly in the north, as an economic venture. I was glad to hear her say that. She said, and I totally agree, that it should be a social venture because, whether one is operating a railway, a bus, a ship, an airplane or a transit system in Metropolitan Toronto, one knows that those are, in a very real sense, social ventures.
Other than the odd bus line, I defy anybody in this House to show me a viable transportation undertaking. If we had to rely on the fare box for the operation of all the transportation systems in Metropolitan Toronto, we could not attract anybody on the basis of the user-fee principle at even a break-even level.
We have of necessity had to treat that as an essential service and, whatever it costs to operate it, we collectively in Canada, and in Ontario for the purposes of this debate, must contribute our fair share to the movement of people in urban centres like Metropolitan Toronto.
We who come from the north do not deny that. We know there has to be an efficient and workable transportation network in Metropolitan Toronto to move people. There has to be a good network of roads, rail and water shipment for the efficient movement of goods. But we have never given the kind of attention we should have given to the particular problem of the movement of goods and people in northern Ontario.
The Minister of Transportation and Communications is not here today. The Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) is not here today.
I just got this cold travelling up to Nakina last weekend to look into the Nakina runthrough situation. That is the story of transportation, of transportation policy right throughout Canada. It is symptomatic in the intended closing of the Pagwa subdivision. With the runthrough at Nakina, the elimination of passenger service between Thunder Bay and Sioux Lookout and a curtailment of services to the Rainy River area, the setting up of a commissioner to study transportation costs is in a very real sense a move to try to draw attention after the fact to all the sins of omission and commission by those responsible for developing a transportation network in the north.
After they have eliminated all the services, we want a transportation commissioner. Most of the vital services we in the north have depended on for years have long since gone. I do not know whether this resolution will pass. I do not know whether, even if does pass, it will have any effect on or mean any appreciable change in the way we treat people generally in the north with regard to the movement of goods and people at a rate people can afford. I do not know whether it will do any good, but I think it is well we have had this discussion and I intend to support it.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr. Gordon has moved resolution 26.
Motion agreed to.
NORTHERN ONTARIO TRANSPORTATION
The Deputy Speaker: Mr. Piché has moved resolution 27.
Motion agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate the business for the House for next week. After adjourning tonight the House will not reconvene until two o'clock on Monday afternoon, at which time we will consider the estimates of the Ministry of Northern Affairs.
On Tuesday, November 15, in the afternoon and evening, we will consider legislation in the following order: finishing second reading and committee of the whole on Bill 90, as required; completing committee of the whole on Bills 86 and 8; second reading and committee of the whole, as required, on Bill 97; and, if time permits, second reading and committee of the whole, as required, on Bill 92.
On Wednesday, November 16, the usual three committees will have permission to sit in the morning.
On Thursday, November 17, in the afternoon, we will have private members' public business, resolutions or bills in the name of Mr. Conway and Mr. Rae. In the evening of November 17, we will begin second reading of Bill 111 in the name of the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman).
On Friday, November 18, we will have the estimates of the Ministry of Northern Affairs.
The House adjourned at 5:52 p.m.