The House met at 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.
Mr. Peterson: To whom do we direct questions, Mr. Speaker? Maybe you will want to adjourn the House for 10 minutes until the ministers show up. How can we possibly function like this?
Mr. Speaker: The acting Minister of Health has the answer to a previously asked question.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) asked a question the other day about a situation.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, just before the minister proceeds: I think you are aware it is the custom of a representative of the ministry to inform the two opposition parties of the ministers who will not he able to attend question period. We appreciate that information. This morning the list is, "Davis, Brandt, Drea, Miller, Norton, Pope, Sterling" -- about standard.
However, it seems to me if there is going to be such a large degree of absenteeism that we cannot carry on with our business, the government House leader (Mr. Wells) and his colleagues are going to have to improve their act. I can see a few empty seats on all sides, but why can we not come to grips with the thing? If the ministers are not going to be here, why do they not tell us and we can make other arrangements?
An hon. member: We could sit on Wednesdays.
Mr. Nixon: Sure, we could sit on Wednesdays instead of Fridays, if that would be more convenient for the cabinet.
Mr. Speaker: That is an interesting point, but it is really beyond my jurisdiction, as you are aware.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, my friend is quite right. The members of the executive council who will not be here are as we have given him. The others will be here momentarily.
Mr. Nixon: Are they just having coffee?
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, they are not having coffee. They are on their way here and they will be here. There are eight or 10 here already. Those who are here will he happy to answer any questions.
I am sure we would all unanimously agree to stand down the leader's questions for now and let the members have a chance.
An hon. member: There are 14 ministers here.
Hon. Mr. Wells: There are 14 here. I am told.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, perhaps we could start again with 60 minutes and the government House leader could begin by responding with his answer.
Mr. Speaker: The time for convening the House is quite clearly indicated in the standing orders and I have no authority to alter that.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, if you like, I will go ahead with my answer. The member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) asked me a question about the situation at the Peterborough Civic Hospital and whether I had received any letters about it. We have received many letters about the issue in the situation that is going on there. We have heard from people who have been directly involved and from people in the community.
It should be indicated that the community of Peterborough is represented on the hospital's board of governors, and it is the board, with the advice of the medical advisory committee, that sets policy and procedures for medical care within the hospital. The ministry's role is technically an advisory one in these instances.
It also should be said, since the dispute centres on approaches in the obstetrical unit, that the Ministry of Health supports the family-centred approach to childbirth. This includes a period of time when mother and newborn infant can remain together to encourage what is known as bonding. Many hospitals in this province provide for this today in their recovery rooms.
This is a guideline from the ministry, however, and each hospital board of governors sets its own policy. It has the obligation to be sensitive to the legitimate needs of the local community represented on the board. It also has to take into account the physical facilities available in the institution and the advice from its medical advisory board as to safe medical practices in the hospital.
I would like to tell the honourable members that earlier this week I met with the member for Peterborough (Mr. Turner), the government appointee on the hospital board and senior officials in the ministry to discuss what is happening in that city and that hospital. Officials of the ministry are following up now on the information we gathered at that meeting, and it is my intention to meet with the chairman of the hospital board to talk further about this situation, probably next week. If there is anything new to report, I will be happy to report it to the House.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, since the minister started by talking about the local autonomy of hospital boards, I would like to ask him whether the ministry is prepared to intervene to guarantee that the mother has the opportunity to do the choosing of what is best for her and her child, rather than a hospital board that does not seem to be following the patient's rights and demands? Is he prepared to intervene to make sure that those needs and rights of the mother are protected and not just the desires of the hospital hoard, which is not a particularly representative hoard in this case?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared to agree that it is not necessarily a representative board. Hospital boards are supposed to represent the community in which they are located and are to bring to bear on the administration of the hospital and the rules that govern the hospital those things the local community wants.
We set guidelines and I emphasize, as I have already said in my answer, that we believe in the bonding program, which has been in some dispute there. There may be some other things the medical advisory committee and the hospital had to take into account that did not allow the full operation of that program in that hospital. I want to have a talk with the chairman of the board before I answer with certainty one way or another the question put by the honourable member.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Treasurer concerns the funding for the Ontario career action program. The Treasurer will recall that we had a discussion of this issue in the House on October 27, 1983. I brought to his attention that a number of colleges had already exhausted their OCAP allocations for this year.
I suggested to the Treasurer at that time that an additional $7 million to $10 million would be necessary to the end of the fiscal year to make up some of the commitments and indeed the potential to employ our young people. He assured us then, and I will remind him of what he said: "None of these programs will suffer in terms of lack of money. If more funding is required for youth employment programs, it will he made available under our current program."
Since then we have found out that 18 of the 22 community colleges in this province have exhausted their OCAP funds. None of them, other than four, has sufficient funds remaining to see it through to the end of the year. There are many examples. Northern College, near Timmins, can accommodate only 10 placements and they will be used up by next week. At Centennial College, 20 to 24 placements will be gone by the end of this month.
The minister received a request from the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Miss Stephenson) to inject immediately another $7.5 million into that program so it can carry on. Will the minister come forward with those allocations, not next year but immediately, to meet the burgeoning demand so we can employ our young people?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, we have been discussing this continually with the youth secretariat and with my colleague the Minister of Colleges and Universities. The Leader of the Opposition's suggestion that we are in receipt of an urgent request to inject $7 million into it is not accurate. What has occurred is that we are all trying to analyse the success of our very good new program, the young Ontario career program, which is funded with $30 million, not $7 million, and is expected to provide 55,000 jobs which would appear to be in the same category as many of the OCAP jobs.
This program just started up in September, and the uptake seems to be as good as we thought it might be. Therefore, we are watching carefully to see whether potential OCAP enrollees are being picked up under this new program. In the event that they are not and there seems to he a need to continue the funding for OCAP, that will be done in sufficient time so that no one loses his spot.
Mr. Peterson: I want to remind the Treasurer that we have a crisis. As he knows, Mohawk College in Hamilton requested funds for a supplementary 200 placements, but the longer the minister delays, the longer it delays. Employers lose interest and it will have to readvertise and create new interest. Now it can place only 50. where it could have placed 200 a month or two ago.
What we are finding is that because of the lack of commitment, the various colleges are put under a great deal of pressure. We have 4,000 fewer young people working in this province now than we had a month or two ago and the hard-core problem is still with us.
The minister speaks about his multipronged attack on youth unemployment in this program. The infrastructure is in place. The colleges can absorb it. They are screaming for money -- 18 out of 22 need the money -- and can find jobs for young people. Surely the first line of offence against this serious problem in our society is to put some supplementary funds into that program now, not in January and not in February, so we can move immediately. Why would the minister not at least consider that immediately rather than waiting until March, April, May or June when the problem will be worse?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I did not say we were going to wait until March, April, May or June. All I said was that not only are many of these young people enrolling in our new program but also it would seem to me to be a more appropriate program for many of these young people. For example, under OCAP I think they get 80 training days. Under the young Ontario career program we provide 26 weeks of employment, a significantly longer period of time and an important period of time. That is why we shifted the kind of funding we have, $30 million, into this new program to try to deal with the longer-term employment needs and to build up some experience for these people so they can go on to permanent jobs.
Many of the people who otherwise would be going into OCAP will find they are better served by this new program. To the extent that this may not be the case, we will enrich OCAP or any of the other programs we have had, which this year have provided 100,000 jobs for our young people, to make sure that as many programs as are needed are in place.
All I am saying is that it could be we will discover the new program, which is funded with $30 million and provides 26 weeks of employment, may be the more appropriate place for these people and therefore we are funding that program. If it is not, and there are still some more that have to go into OCAP and properly should be in OCAP, then the funds will be allocated to OCAP. That will be done at an early enough stage so we are not caught in a bind for the first three months of next year.
Mr. Peterson: The evidence is everywhere that in spite of these programs, which we support, we still have a crisis on our hands in terms of youth unemployment. Even the programs we are talking about attack only one sector of the market. One of the very disturbing things is that a study shows that less than 37 per cent of the educationally disadvantaged and 24 per cent of the language disadvantaged are being taken up in these kinds of programs. In fact, we still have that hard core of youth unemployment: less than 10 per cent are actually participating in programs such as OCAP.
Is the minister prepared now to address his mind and the abilities of his ministry to the problems of the hard-core, chronically unemployed young people who are a very high percentage of the people who are going to be with us for a long time on the unemployment rolls unless those problems are addressed? Is he now looking at new programs that will attack the serious problem at a different level?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Yes.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I will ask a question of the Solicitor General. The Solicitor General is no doubt aware, as everyone else in this province is, of the recent new interest in the question of organized crime as a result of the well-reported death of Mr. Volpe and the funeral yesterday. It has given rise to a number of concerns in our province about the extent and nature of organized crime here and exactly what the Solicitor General and his ministry and the police forces are doing about it.
Would the minister be so good as to bring this House up to date on his investigations, tell us what he is doing and answer the question as to whether there is an increase in organized crime in this province at this time?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to bring the House up to date on the state of the investigations, as the Leader of the Opposition has asked. However, I have some reluctance to offer that information in that one would have to come completely to the conclusion that if I were to offer up the information as to the state of the investigations, those whom we might be investigating would then be informed of the status of what we are doing. I would think that would not be a very good position to take in trying to discharge the duties of investigating criminal activities, organized or unorganized.
Mr. Peterson: Does the Solicitor General have a joint task force with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the municipal police forces attacking this problem? Are the allegations correct that this was a gangland murder perpetrated by people from outside our province? What is he doing to investigate that and what is he doing to make sure that we are counterbalancing this perceived increase in organized, gangland-style murders in this province?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Whether it is perceived or not, there appears as a result of a recent death to be some general interest by the news media in the particular subject, and rightly so. But I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that police forces of this province do co-operate in their investigations, from the local municipal police forces to the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP, and that from time to time they conduct joint investigations on different activities, be they of an organized nature by those known people who are participating in it or otherwise.
I can assure the member and this House that I have no intention of divulging, nor would it serve any purpose of this House for me to divulge, the nature and exact content and work of each and every investigation at this time.
I can assure the House that the police are combating crime in this province and are looking into any situation where there is organized crime taking place. They are doing a highly sophisticated job at what they are doing.
From time to time, as the member surely knows, charges are laid as a result of investigations and often there are convictions as a result of those charges. So there is a definite combating and fighting, if one wants to use those words, of organized crime in this province. I can assure members that the police are not ignoring criminal activities wherever they are being conducted.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, can the Solicitor General at least tell us whether he has reached any conclusions as to whether Mr. Volpe's murder in particular was as a result of organized crime? Can he indicate whether he has reached that preliminary conclusion in the course of his investigations?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, the difficulty in answering that question is that there has been certain speculation in the media. It is being investigated as a murder, as any other murder is being investigated. As to the conclusion about the individuals responsible for that death, I cannot indicate that to the honourable member. There are certain people who are always suspect when police do an investigation. There are certain individuals they direct themselves towards, investigate and have speculation about.
But I cannot inform the member as to the direction of those investigations other than what he has seen as speculation in the news media, primarily because when one divulges more than that which is in the news media it then becomes very difficult for the police to conduct and complete their investigations in the way they want. Sometimes even the speculation that takes place produces some difficulty for them.
It is not a matter of not wanting to inform this House; I think the member would understand that when one makes too much information available it makes the investigation that much more difficult.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, a number of people in Ontario think organized crime is the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, but we will not go into that.
A few years ago I asked the then Attorney General whether the police forces were keeping track of the conviction record of people who were identified as being involved in organized crime as opposed to being, shall we say, individual entrepreneurs. Presumably, since those days seven or eight years ago, police forces have become more sophisticated. Have they kept track of those people who are convicted of being involved in crimes related to organized crime?
Second, can the Solicitor General indicate to the House whether there has been an expansion in the province of the activities of people related to organized crime?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I can inform the honourable member there is a very highly sophisticated group of individuals who are taken from all the police forces in Ontario, the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It is a joint force operation, if one wants to use such a label, and its members are usually taken from the criminal investigation branch of each of the individual police forces, being the Ontario Provincial Police, the large metropolitan police forces and the other police forces throughout Ontario.
They meet to exchange and catalogue information; so there is a highly sophisticated organization within the police forces that is surveilling and investigating organized crime. They are carrying out this function using the most modern of electronic equipment, being computers, etc., for cataloguing.
I do not think that is unknown to the member. Indeed, as I recall, I think the member reviewed some of that when we were in the standing committee on public accounts and learned first hand about the amount of information available and how the investigations were conducted.
CLOSURE OF HOMES FOR DEVELOPMENTALLY HANDICAPPED
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the acting Minister of Community and Social Services and regards the closing of the St. Lawrence Regional Centre for the mentally retarded.
The minister and his ministry have gone to great lengths to assure us that the process has been handled well, by saying in a letter sent to me, "The programs and services of the remaining facilities are carefully reviewed to ensure the needs of the residents are met."
Is the minister aware -- I presume he is -- of a report done by the National Institute on Mental Retardation by Alan Mcwhorter, which attacks the whole process of the deinstitutionalization of that institution and says, among other things:
"There does not appear to have been any kind of plan for the development of replacement services to SLRC. In fact, the pattern of events seems to imply that most of the preparation time had gone by before it was determined which branch of the ministry would have administrative control…
"Decisions about where people would live after leaving SLRC appear to be made on an ad hoc basis. Repatriation to one's community of origin was assumed to be a major consideration by community service providers, but was often disregarded by ministry personnel in their decisions. It was common throughout the process for more than one provider to be planning for a given individual and not uncommon for such individuals to eventually be served by a provider who had not planned for him/her."
How does the minister explain this contradiction between the smooth talk he has given us and this analysis which says that the preparation was inappropriate and that those people have not been served well by this deinstitutionalization?
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, I do not think this is smooth talk. On the surface there may appear to be a contradiction, because the ministry has made two commitments. The ministry's commitment to deinstitutionalization has been repeated any number of times and dealt with in detail by the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea). Dates have been set for the closure of the six, one of which the member speaks about now.
The ultimate plans and the fact that there do not appear to be sufficient places to accommodate people in those institutions appear to raise the contradiction. But what members must try to remember is that throughout the piece the ministry has been saying that no institution will close until each of the residents and each of the parents of those residents is satisfied with the decision.
So there are those two commitments. Clearly then, if there has to be any give from the point of the ministry's commitments, the dates set have to be seen to be flexible to honour the other commitment which has been made, repeated and will be explored. If the member can provide me at any time with details, not a lot of details but just names of people whom we can undertake to follow up, nobody will be moved unless they and the family are satisfied with that choice.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: The minister well knows that this report essentially says he rushed things too fast and there was not proper consultation.
Let me give him two quotations. One is from the Dundas county association for the mentally retarded. It says:
"The key is to plan for the individual, but Mr. Drea ships them like cattle. 'You'd better jump on the bandwagon.' is what we were told. Our original intention was repatriation. It was only after we had submitted proposals that we were allowed to see 15 profiles from which we selected 12. Later we got the other three."
The Leeds-Grenville District Working Group basically says: "Square answers from MCSS are difficult to get. Different people are… telling us different kinds of things. In any case, the outcome was that the community felt no sense of ownership of the process."
Is it not true that the minister rushed this too fast, that the communities were not prepared to handle the people where he has placed them and their suggestions were ignored by his ministry, as this report shows?
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: We have to understand, taking the last point of the honourable member's observation, if there are people who would think we have moved too quickly because they, families or residents, are not satisfied with the accommodation, clearly there would be no rigidity from the point of view of the ministry.
With regard to the first part of the question, the use of the word "cattle" is clearly calculated. It is an inflammatory word. It does a monstrous disservice to the Minister of Community and Social Services.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: You have done a disservice and this report says it.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Whoever used the word "cattle" did it purposely and it does a great disservice to every one of the ministers of this government, who have been solely preoccupied with honouring a commitment to get people into the community as quickly but as adequately as possible.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, like a football player, the minister is being a little deceptive in his end run. He is not talking about world citizens. What is happening to these developmentally handicapped people who have no advocates and no families? Of all the developmentally handicapped people from the centres he is closing down, how many are going into other, in many cases larger, institutions?
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: I do not have in front of me the sheet from which I quoted and from which the Minister of Community and Social Services has quoted extensively. The member has raised a question which is a recurring and important theme. Again, we see two ministry commitments: to move people from institutions into the community and, at the same time, that no other institution would increase in size as a result of the planned closures. There are some instances where people are moving from one of the six to an existing institution --
Ms. Copps: Larger institutions: it was your commitment that they would not move into larger institutions.
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: No, no. This is not a shell game. It has everything to do with the number of inhabitants in that institution. The institution to which they may be moved is in the process of moving its residents into the community as well. It would be, at the very least, a temporary alternative accommodation for them.
With regard to the first part of the member's question, I very much respect the member and what he says about the lack of advocates, but that member is an aggressive and articulate advocate for that group, as are other members, as is the Minister of Community and Social Services and, with respect, so am I. We will look into any matter on behalf of any individual that anybody can provide us with.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I can only believe that the minister has not read this report. Is he aware that the report attacks the deinstitutionalization process? It says that people have been sent back to Rideau from the group homes for unnecessary reasons. Why is a for-profit home being used here although we were guaranteed there would be only nonprofit homes? We need a direct answer on that.
Why are people receiving care which is keeping them in their houses almost all the time, according to this report, rather than having access to community facilities? That is bad planning. That is not taking the interests of those people into account. That is moving people like cattle, sir, no matter how one wants to look at it.
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: It remains an inflammatory and unconstructive expression to deal with a sensitive issue, as the government and the member are. It is being dealt with carefully and reasonably slowly. The commitment which has been made and supported by virtually every member of this Legislature is to move people out of institutions. That commitment is intact. The fact that dates had to be set to move people out makes eminent good sense. That communities have to move more quickly to handle that move of residents, again makes good sense.
I do not want to get into an ideological discussion about whether people can be better looked after in a profit-oriented or nonprofit-oriented facility. The member knows my views on that and I know his. We will comment on the other aspect of the report later.
SUBSIDIZED RENTAL HOUSING
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I had a series of questions for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) about Ontario's refusal to establish separate provincial housing supply programs for low-income people. However, since he has not bothered to come, I will ask the Treasurer, if I may. It is a policy question about Ontario's refusal to participate in a separate housing supply program for low-income people.
My first question has to do with the latest annual report of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I wonder if the Treasurer would know the answer to my confusion and if he could clear it up.
On page 6 of the annual report it says that under the provincial assisted rental housing program, which is Ontario's only remaining separate program for low-income people, Ontario developed 14 units for low-income families in 1982-83. Then on page 12 of the report, under the statistics for the Ontario Housing Corp., it says three tender calls were issued for 14 family housing units.
My confusion is this, are we talking about the same 14 housing units or was the grand total actually 28?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, as the member well knows, to be fair, each and every year the ministry provides a great deal more subsidized assistance for those in need of housing at the low end of the income range. I know the member wants to confine it to either 14 or 28. Whether those figures are totally representative of all the assistance that has been provided through this government to that particular group of people or not, the member knows it is not either 14 or 28 but substantially in excess of that.
As I recall, in each and every year the number of people living in Ontario government subsidized housing one way or another is well in excess of 100,000. If we took all the total subsidies, through direct ownership by OHC and the government or subsidized in other accommodation, we would find the number of people being assisted in one way or another is something like 300,000.
Mr. McClellan: The minister knows as well as I do that Ontario went out of the housing supply business in 1978 and has been piggybacked on the federal programs ever since.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. McClellan: I want to ask the minister very specifically, since Ontario is piggybacked on to the federal nonprofit housing programs under subsection 56(1) of the National Housing Act and does not have its own separate programs any more, is he aware of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. study that was referenced in the 20th annual review of the Economic Council of Canada, which I believe came out last month?
It shows that in Ontario, under the subsection 56(1) federal nonprofit housing program, only 20.6 per cent of the tenants in those buildings on which we have relied exclusively since 1978 are low-income households, whereas in Quebec the percentage is 56 per cent of tenants in subsection 56(1) housing.
Does the minister not understand that we are not building social housing in this province any more? Will he not agree at the very least to raise the current ceiling on the availability of geared-to-income units for subsection 56(1) housing to 50 per cent of the available units? It is 50 per cent for seniors. Why is it not 50 per cent for families too?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: With regard to the specific uses of the funding provided by the government to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, I want to make it clear that the ultimate distribution of those funds is very largely within the purview of his policy prerogatives.
In saying that, I think it is only fair to note this. The member wants to make some sort of issue out of the fact that a lot of the programs we have undertaken in the past few years are jointly with the federal government. I am quite comfortable with that. When we sit around in this assembly and talk about things such as the massive decline of support by the federal government for areas such as health and post-secondary education, at the same time it is only appropriate that we participate with the federal government in those all too rare areas where they have agreed to co-operate with us and provide some housing.
That does not mean when we joint-venture with the federal government, or piggyback, to use the member's word, on their programs in terms of accomplishing the goals, that we have withdrawn. Far from it. Nor does it mean when we joint-fund with the federal government that there remains an obligation for us to run a whole host of independent programs that we otherwise would have run in the absence of that funding. We joint-venture with them where appropriate. That is the only sensible way to operate these mechanisms. Otherwise, all we have is additive programs and we do not have any co-ordination or co-operation at all.
On balance, when the member tries to picture the provincial contribution and the provincial analysis, he should be fair and acknowledge that the fact that it is being done in conjunction with the federal government does not mean it is not being done by us. It certainly does not mean we have wavered in our commitment. Any analysis of the total number of subsidized units over the period of years the member set out would indicate that our support has increased, and increased fairly significantly.
Mr. McClellan: With respect, the Treasurer has not answered my basic question. Perhaps I asked too many subsidiary questions. Is the minister not aware that, as of the end of September 1983, there were 19,302 families on the OHC waiting list for accommodation? If he takes that fact together with the fact that only 20 per cent of the tenants in the federal nonprofit housing programs are low-income people, it makes a picture of a housing program which, quite frankly, does not make any sense.
I repeat my question. It is a matter of policy, not simply a matter of the discretionary power of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It has to do with the priorities of this government. Why is it that nonprofit housing for senior citizens provides 50 per cent of the units on a rent-geared-to-income basis, but nonprofit housing for families in Ontario does not? Why is it not 50 per cent for families as well?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That is precisely the kind of policy question the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing must respond to, and appropriately. As the member will acknowledge -- or rather he will not acknowledge -- it is quite clear we have provided the funding. What the member is objecting to is a particular breakdown within the units that have been provided. I can tell him some of the history behind some of those decisions. Obviously, the desire to have a mixture of accommodation in many of those premises is part of it. There was a desire not simply to build buildings and provide accommodation only for people of subsidized or low-income areas.
Mr. McClellan: I agree that 20 per cent does not make any sense.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I do not know whether the member did, but I certainly know his party joined us many years ago in speaking to the need to integrate more of this housing and not to build ghettos. Whether he feels the particular breakdown is appropriate or not, that is quite a fair question.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has just dealt with some of those issues with the municipalities in terms of integrating some of their lists and establishing priorities for those who have real need and also ensuring that some of the ratios are raised from, I think it was 40 per cent, up higher than that.
Mr. McClellan: The minister is wrong. It was from 25 per cent to 35 per cent.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, I am not wrong. The minister is moving his policies in that direction. How far he ought to go, of course, is a very delicate decision for him to make without going back to the old policy.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. I think the minister has answered the question.
CLOSURE OF HOMES FOR DEVELOPMENTALLY HANDICAPPED
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the acting Minister of Community and Social Services. Today the death knell was to have sounded over the Bluewater Centre for the developmentally handicapped located in the Goderich area, the door closed forever on this ideal home and training centre for the developmentally handicapped and on the love and attention of a caring staff. The minister is no doubt aware, however, that the closing date of the Bluewater Centre for the developmentally handicapped has now been postponed until November 30 and, if necessary, it will stay open until December 16.
Having talked to the administration just yesterday, I understand the delay is due to mechanical difficulties. Does the minister really expect this House to believe that the late arrival of furniture for group homes caused this delay? Would it not be more correct to say that serious placement problems exist, resulting in 72 residents out of 150 being placed in other institutions, 58 of whom are going to Palmerston Midwestern Regional Centre, a larger institution than Bluewater Centre, which is rapidly increasing its numbers beyond the recommended maximum of 200 residents?
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, I think in a sense we were alluding to this general problem without the specifics earlier in the exchange. As I think was generally outlined earlier, my understanding is the postponement was to honour that other apparently contradictory commitment to make sure everybody was adequately placed. I am not aware of it, but I will check about any mechanical difficulties. Therefore, it would not surprise me if it had to do more with the accommodation of existing residents than with any mechanical difficulties. I will check into that.
With regard to the numbers, 72 out of 150 and 58 to Palmerston, these are changing regularly. I can check on the accuracy of that. It is correct that some of those residents have been moved to other existing institutions. However, this does not mean Palmerston is in the process of becoming a larger institution of a permanent nature. The trend, which has been government policy for a decade, persists to move people out into the community.
Mr. Riddell: Now who is playing the shell game? Will the minister tell the House how many of the residents being placed, not only in Palmerston but in other larger centres across the province, are world citizens, those developmentally handicapped people who have no advocates, who have no parents, who have no family? Is moving the developmentally handicapped people into larger institutions not contrary to the government's stated policy of deinstitutionalization? Who are ministry people kidding anyway?
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: It would be a reneging of government policy towards deinstitutionalization if residents were being moved to an existing institution for ever; that is right. However, that is not at all my understanding of what the commitment of the ministry or the government is. I think the residents have a number of advocates in this assembly, and the member is one of the more articulate and aggressive ones. With regard to how many are in Palmerston now. I will check on that.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister why, when we come in the House today with a series of questions on the processes which have been undergone at St. Lawrence Regional Centre, which are now being inflicted on Bluewater, the minister is not prepared with answers on the specific allegations.
Is there a problem of communication between this minister, and the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) and his office someplace or other while he is not coming into this House? Why are we not getting straight answers on the problems of this process and some honesty about the fact that his own ministry people know he has had trouble doing this? The process really needs to be reviewed. We are not getting deinstitutionalization. We are getting a shuttle service between institutions.
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, there is never any difficulty in communication with the Minister of Community and Social Services and his ministry or between him and me. With regard to the questions which have come up, the member says, "Why do you not have specific answers?" I think I was pretty candid when I said I did not know exactly how many were in Palmerston, but I would check. We have gone through this exercise before and the numbers do change.
The general thrust of the government's initiatives in this area have been consistent. As to the commitment not to move ahead with today's date -- in Bluewater, for example -- if people have not been adequately looked after, the date has been changed. This does not surprise me. It would surprise me if we were not flexible in that regard.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the acting Minister of Health. The minister has said several times in the Legislature that everyone is guaranteed equal accessibility to our health care system and that extra billing and opting out is not a problem.
I would like to bring another case to the minister's attention, that of Mr. and Mrs. Sikkes who live in Guelph. They are both retired, 69 years of age, live on their income of Canada pension plan and old age pension. Yet, when Mr. Sikkes had to go to see an urologist in Guelph and have surgery, the total extra bills were $439.33 between the urologist and the anaesthetist.
I would like to ask the minister how he can stand up in this Legislature and say that people who are on low incomes or fixed incomes are guaranteed services at OHIP rates and that everyone in this province has equal accessibility to the health care system when this is happening all across the province.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I will answer in the same way I have answered several times on this particular matter. I will look into the case, find out all the facts concerning it and see if there is any cause for complaint. I just emphasize that we have taken a number of steps to ensure that accessibility will be available and that the attending physician will make known to the patient before the services are provided that he is going to charge above the scheme. I do not condone his doing it on the operating table or as the patient is being pushed into the operating room. I suspect the number of times that happens is infinitesimally small.
We have put into place the mechanisms to allow this to happen. In many of the cases that are brought to our attention, the person's inability to handle an extra charge or his desire to have an opted-in doctor has not been made known to that doctor at the time the patient approached him for treatment.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Do they have to say, "I can't pay"?
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, but they have to say, "I would like a doctor who is opted into the plan."
Mr. T. P. Reid: The minister has it backwards.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I have not got it backwards; the member has it backwards. There are all kinds of mechanisms to provide for patients being able to find a doctor to offer that service, including the help of that doctor.
Mr. Cooke: I would be interested in hearing about all of these mechanisms. The minister is saying that people who are on low incomes have to go to their doctor and spill their financial woes on the doctor and let him decide whether he is going to give them charity medicine. That is something this party rejects.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It is not charity.
Mr. Cooke: That is exactly what the minister is saying. I would like to ask him how these people in Guelph could possibly get the service at opted-in rates when the two urologists who are in Guelph are opted out and all the anesthetists are opted out. How does one get equal accessibility? How does one get opted-in rates when this is the case in Wellington county? Is the minister saying that people should go and beg for charity medicine in order to get it at opted-in rates?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am not suggesting they should beg, but I am suggesting there is nothing wrong in their saying, "I would like a doctor who is opted into OHIP." I would suggest that if all the urologists in Guelph have opted out, they would probably say, "I will handle your particular situation and we will bill you at the OHIP rates."
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I cannot believe the minister is saying that.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Oh, come on now. The member says he cannot believe that, but that is what is happening all across this province. There are many many doctors who, as a matter of principle -- and they have principles just as he has -- do not want to operate within the plan. They certainly are not adverse to providing the services at OHIP fee rates to a number of people.
Mr. Cooke: They have to get down on their knees and beg.
Hon. Mr. Wells: They do not have to get down on their knees and beg. All they have to do is say, "I want an opted-in doctor."
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, the minister has to realize that in many communities, and particularly in more remote northern communities, the question of accessibility to an opted-in physician is not the question. The question is whether they have access to any kind of specialist or physician at all.
The acting minister will no doubt be aware that the former Minister of Health earlier this year brought in with great fanfare some regulations governing how doctors must inform patients about whether they are opted in or opted out. I wonder if the acting minister can make a report to this House on how many doctors have breached the regulations and whether there has been a single case of a report to the college on this particular issue which was brought in with such fanfare by the previous minister.
Hon. Mr. Wells: My information is that most of them are complying. I would suspect there is an infinitesimal number who are not complying.
Ms. Copps: Like none.
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, not none. The member has heard of a couple of cases. A couple of the cases that have been brought to our attention occurred before that regulation was brought in.
There are all kinds of concerns. The problem in this House is that everything has to be black and white. There are concerns of accessibility and universality which have always been accepted by this government and which are in effect in this province. There is also a real concern to keep this province in the forefront of medical research and medical treatment and to have doctors here in this province who will keep us in that world position. That is the kind of balance we have to deal with, but the members opposite do not worry about that.
Mr. Speaker: The acting Minister of Health has the answer to a previously asked question.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, it may be a little lengthy response, but as I recall, my friend the leader of the third party expanded on it in his question. I would like to answer some questions about the Extendicare Ltd. contract with Queensway General Hospital because I have reviewed it. I find the proposals were called by the hospital for a construction and management project on a 120-bed unit. They were to put this 120-bed unit on property adjacent to the hospital. They received a number of proposals and selected Extendicare.
The ministry's consultants were involved at this stage but strictly in an advisory capacity, and I want to emphasize that. The choice was made by Queensway. The hospital then entered into negotiations with Extendicare on a contract. The ministry was not involved in the negotiations, but it did review the contract to make sure that in its final form it met the terms of the agreement as originally approved as to operating costs and ensuring control over quality of patient care.
We were satisfied the contract met these conditions, and the ministry informed the hospital on April 15 that the contract had been approved. The initial capital costs of the project were to be met one third by the hospital and two thirds by Extendicare. The ministry will pay Queensway, which will, in turn, pay Extendicare, operating costs at a standard ward per diem rate of $109.75 in 1983-84 dollar terms, increasing each year to cover increasing costs at the same rate of increase granted other chronic care facilities.
In addition to that, the hospital will get from the ministry and pass on to Extendicare a $16 per bed per diem payment for amortization of capital costs for 19½ years. What this does is bring the total ministry liability for this facility to $125.75 in 1983-84 dollar terms per bed per day. That is for operating costs and amortization of capital costs.
The Queensway rate of $125.75 compares very favourably with other Metro chronic facilities. In many cases these cover only the daily operating costs, but it is important to remember that $125.75 covers both operating costs and the amortization of the capital. As I looked over some of the other costs in Metropolitan Toronto, they range from $134 to $179 per day.
What I am saying is that in terms of what would have been needed if this had been built in the normal way, we would have had to provide $8 million to $10 million of capital money. It would not have been possible for that facility to proceed, and if it had proceeded --
Mr. McClellan: That is the way you built every hospital in the province until now.
Mr. Speaker: That is a very complete answer.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted the minister has confirmed the facts as we put them to him with respect to the cost and that the reason the costs were being borne was that the province, the Ministry of Health, had refused to provide the capital costs which the hospital needed in order to provide for a chronic care facility.
I would like to point out to the minister that $16 per day per bed for the amortization comes to $685,000 a year for amortization, or more than $13 million over the 19½-year period. I would like to ask the minister whether he can confirm the other fact I put to him, which is if that cost had been borne and the money borrowed by the province, it would have been at a substantially lower rate, at $535,000, for the same period. If he cannot confirm it, can he tell us what is the equivalent interest rate that makes up the $16 per day for amortization? What rate of interest is being paid to Extendicare to borrow money from it to allow the hospital to belong to the people of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think the point my friend misses, and I did not get to make the point at the end of my first answer, is that to preserve the credit rating of this province and to keep --
Mr. McClellan: You borrowed money from Extendicare.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Cut off Ontario Hydro.
Mr. Rae: You have to borrow.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I know the honourable member does not care about the credit rating or the financial status of this province, but the fact is that to preserve the credit rating of this province and to ensure we have an interest rate that reflects the triple-A rating of this province, certain financial measures must be undertaken.
Those financial measures and constraints concern the amount of capital money available. Therefore, there must be a prioritization and an allotment of capital money. In that allotment, Queensway would not have been able to get the capital money at the time it did. An arrangement was made to allow Queensway to build a good facility, to have it amortized --
Mr. Rae: You paid for it through the nose. They took you to the cleaners.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Nobody has been taken to the cleaners. What my friend has not answered and cannot answer is that the per diem, including amortization, is $125.75 at Queensway and $179 at another facility in Metropolitan Toronto without any capital costs included. I think it is a good deal for the people of this province.
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, the minister had an extremely lengthy answer during which he was called to order and did not sit down. I have a supplementary on this important question, with the unanimous consent of the House.
Mr. Speaker: Do we have the unanimous consent of the House to place a supplementary?
I do not hear unanimous consent. Petitions.
Mr. McClellan: I gather the rule is that it is only allowed for Tories.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I will place the question again. Do we have unanimous consent?
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that in his lengthy answer to that question the acting minister did not have a chance to comment on the situation at Doctors' Hospital, which was also put in the same question.
However, I think the acting minister inadvertently misled the House when he led us to believe his ministry had an arm's-length relationship with Queensway General Hospital during the negotiations.
I will recall for the minister the issue I have raised on several occasions, that in contact with the administrator at Queensway General Hospital my staff was told: "I have been working on this deal for eight months. I am not about to blow it now. If you want to know anything, call Larry Grossman."
I am asking whether the minister inadvertently misled the House about who was making the deal on Queensway, because the deal that was being made on Queensway was being made by the minister and by his ministry through their own admission.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The question was, who is making the deal on Queensway?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I am sure in his effort to be very helpful, when he used the term "Larry Grossman" he really meant, "Call the minister and the ministry," and the ministry and the minister had been working with them. The honourable member casts it in the light of some sinister deal being made. What was really being made was an arrangement for the good of the people of this area and the province.
Ms. Copps: You just said that Queensway was initiating --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Boudria supports the Hawkesbury deal. He thinks it is terrific. Ask him.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
INFLATION RESTRAINT LEGISLATION
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, perhaps you should get mirrors so you can see members on both sides who are sitting close to the chair. Members often stand up in the House and are neglected, perhaps unintentionally.
I have a petition, signed by 10 petitioners from the general staff of the Port Colborne General Hospital, which reads:
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned nurses, 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."
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
WAGES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Grossman, first reading of Bill 124, An Act to amend the Wages Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, the Wages Amendment Act, 1983, flows from my ministry's review of the enforcement of judgements as a result of the Ontario Law Reform Commission's report on the matter.
With the proposed creation of continuing garnishment in the new rules of civil procedure governing litigation in the Supreme Court and district courts, it is anticipated that garnishment will be a very attractive method for judgement creditors to enforce their judgements against debtors.
Accordingly, it was necessary to ensure that fair exemptions from garnishment be established which would carefully balance the conflicting interests of the debtor and the creditor.
The act increases the portion of an employee's wages that is exempt from garnishment from 70 per cent to 80 per cent and establishes the wage exemption for employees who are maintenance debtors at 50 per cent. Both of these percentages can be varied by the court in appropriate circumstances.
The act also clarifies that the wage exemptions apply to net wages.
PUBLIC ADVOCATE ACT
Mr. Swart moved, seconded by Mr. Philip, first reading of Bill 125, An Act to provide for a Public Advocate in Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to provide for a public advocate in Ontario, whose function is to represent the public interest in Ontario at rate hearings before tribunals and commissions.
The public advocate is also provided with the authority to intervene in hearings in which environmental matters are considered where, in the opinion of the public advocate, a broad general interest may be effected as the result of the hearing.
The bill provides for the public advocate to be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the address of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and the public advocate is required to report annually on the affairs of his office to the Speaker.
The bill also provides authority for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to fix a levy, to be paid by corporations that make applications for a rate increase, for the purpose of paying the expenses incurred by the public advocate in carrying out his functions and his duties.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF NORTHERN AFFAIRS (CONTINUED)
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order: I would like to clarify a statement I made on Monday of this week in these estimates. I indicated, as reported at page 3010 of Hansard, there was some kind of contest to designate the white pine as the province's official tree. When I checked back through the press releases, I found that the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) was the person who indicated in July 1983 that there would be some special legislation in 1984 to designate the white pine as Ontario's official tree. This will be done in concert with the Ontario bicentennial celebration.
The press release went on to say that there was a three-year consideration of 30 species by a special council. The question I should have put to the minister was, how much did it cost Ontario? How much did it cost the taxpayers for this special council to spend three years to find an official tree for the province?
Mr. Chairman: The minister will take note of that.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Chairman, when we last discussed these estimates, on Monday afternoon, I was attempting to indicate to the minister and his staff under the gallery ways in which I felt this ministry could be more relevant in carrying out its mandate on behalf of the people in northern Ontario.
I am glad to see so many members in the House who are interested in the breadbasket of the north -- of Ontario, really -- in terms of our ability to provide resources to keep this industrial complex in southern Ontario going. I am happy to see so many people in the press gallery from what calls itself Canada's national newspaper, the newspaper that creates all the interest and covers all the events of interest to all the people in Ontario. I am happy to see so many people from the electronic media here who should be interested in what goes on in northern Ontario, five sixths of the province geographically.
It seems to me that whenever we discuss these estimates, we are for all practical purposes talking to ourselves. We are talking to the committed, to people such as the minister, the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane) and the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), who on occasion thinks it would be a good idea for all members of the assembly to visit the north so they could get a much more accurate fix on what northern Ontario is all about.
We have not had a tour of the north by members of this assembly in an organized way since 1972, when we visited northeastern Ontario. The previous visit by an organized group from this assembly to northwestern Ontario was in 1968. I have tried to prevail upon the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) and the Minister of Natural Resources to undertake the organization of such a trip, but because of austerity or a reluctance of those two ministers to expose the north to these unwashed hordes from the south, for whatever reason, it has not happened.
In the time allotted to me, I will attempt to put on the record what I think the state of the art is in northern Ontario concerning the social. economic and cultural wellbeing of people living north of the French River, in the hope that by some process of osmosis the word will get out as to the real significance and importance of northern Ontario to the social and economic wellbeing of everybody in Ontario and Canada.
When we last met, on Monday, I was talking about the problems with air ambulance services and the wrongheadedness of the Ministry of Health in the way in which it established its priorities in the operation of air ambulance services. That is on the record. The minister is well aware of what I am talking about, and at the appropriate time he will be responding.
While I am discussing the field of health, I want to compliment the minister and the ministry for the part they have played in their recognition of the need for extended care facilities in so many communities in northern Ontario. Four or five of those facilities have been approved, certainly in principle. There are about 29 applications from communities in the north for an extension of that extended care, which is so badly needed.
However, as is the case with most programs, for reasons of constraint, for priorities that are set by this ministry in conjunction with other ministries, there are a good many areas that have to stand in line and wait their turn.
The member for Algoma-Manitoulin will know what I am speaking of. I want to refer to a press release that was issued on September 16, 1983, by the committee for health and residential care for senior citizens for Wawa and area, from which I quote:
"The committee for health and residential care for senior citizens, Wawa and area, is alarmed that their area's chances for a long-term care facility may be in jeopardy.
"At their September meeting, committee members were informed that funding under the Ministry of Northern Affairs extended care capital assistance program for 10 to 13 extended care beds has not been approved at this time.
"The Honourable Leo Bernier, Minister of Northern Affairs, announced at Minaki Lodge on May 20, 1983, that Atikokan, Geraldton and Dryden, with Sioux Lookout to follow, would join Smooth Rock Falls in receiving approval in principle to proceed.
"In answer to the committee's inquiry about the status of Wawa's application, Mr. Bernier's response of July 25, 1983, stated he recognized Wawa's need fully and would respond to its application just as soon as the opportunity presents itself. 'At present, however, I am unable to give the go-ahead, chiefly because of the set amounts of funds allocated to the program per year.'
"Mr. Bernier went on to say that he tried to deal immediately with the most urgent situations and that he was unable to say when other applications would be dealt with but that he hoped it would be no later than next spring.
"The Ministry of Northern Affairs extended care capital assistance program provides five sixths of the funding for small and remote northern Ontario communities to establish up to 20 extended care beds, according to proven need, associated with a hospital. Applications for approval are evaluated by both the Ministry of Northern Affairs and the Ministry of Health.
"The citizens' committee for health and residential care for senior citizens, which includes members from White River, Dubreuilville and Hawk Junction, has been working for several years towards the establishment of a long-term care facility for the aged and disabled population of the area served by Wawa.
"Committee members believe that older persons should not have to move far from their home community when they can no longer live independently.
"The committee has written to Mr. Bernier to express its disappointment at the geographic distribution of those communities whose applications were approved, and it is shocked that all of Algoma's applications, which were from Wawa, Blind River and Hornepayne, were excluded.
"We understand that nine to 11 applications for northern Ontario were submitted. Three very well documented applications from Algoma, endorsed by the district health council, were among these.
"Chairperson Gail Smith stated that the reason for the committee's concern was, 'The indefinite status of further funding for the program makes us alarmed that our community and indeed all of Algoma has failed to receive approval at this time.'
"Former reeve Joe Lynett, a committee member, said, 'It is very frustrating dealing with a government that continues to ignore our needs.
Wawa is and was prepared not only with the available land but with a fund started by council in 1980 and added to each year since so that it now represents a commitment of $100,000. We certainly meet all the requirements of cost-sharing as well as proven need as endorsed by our local council, the Lady Dunn General Hospital and the Algoma District Health Council.'"
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Shall we give them Geraldton?
Mr. Stokes: Why do we not give them Dryden or Sioux Lookout?
Gail Smith wrote to me, as she did to the minister and maybe even the member for Algoma-Manitoulin. She also wrote to the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman). I promised her I would raise her concerns and the concerns of the people in the Wawa area and bring them to the minister's attention. The minister has already made a commitment that he hoped to be able to respond positively early in the next fiscal year. To use his words, he said "the spring."
I committed myself to raising it during the estimates. I have already done that. Perhaps the minister, when he is responding to my comments, can indicate for the benefit of those people in the Wawa area that he has taken their application seriously, he does recognize the need and they will be very high on his priority list for fiscal year 1983-84.
I would like to turn now to a resolution which was presented to the full cabinet by the joint chambers of commerce for northwestern Ontario on Wednesday of this week in the Ontario Room of the Macdonald Block. It was directed to the Ministry of Northern Affairs, concerning the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment. It stated:
"Whereas large sums of money have been expended on the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment, and whereas the commission's report is now several months overdue, and whereas extension after extension has been granted to the commission, therefore be it resolved that the Ministry of Northern Affairs instruct the royal commission to produce a final report by December 31, 1983, and that all further funding be provided only towards the production of the final report."
I was at that presentation but I had another commitment and could not stay long enough to hear how the minister responded to that resolution, so I sent a note over to him yesterday afternoon, asking him how he responded to the chamber of commerce resolution calling for determination and reporting of the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment by December 31, 1983. The minister told me, "The Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) advises me December 31, 1983, is the expected date of the report and that field offices are being closed."
I got a call this morning from someone who is doing a thesis on the activities of the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment since its inception under the direction of Justice Patrick Hartt in 1977. He retired after a year and it has been under the direction of Mr. Fahlgren since that time. I was advised just before I came into the House at 10 o'clock that in a direct question to staff on the royal commission as to whether or not they would be able to meet the deadline, they said, "No." They had requested another extension to some time in March 1984.
I see the minister shaking his head in utter disbelief and consternation. Those are my sentiments. I could not have said or done it better myself.
When is this ongoing and never-ending saga of the expenditure of dollars and consultation upon consultation going to end? It is by far the most expensive royal commission ever undertaken by any government in this province. They have expended well in excess of $10 million to date and counting.
The only bit of information we have been able to get from them was an environmental impact study of the development at Detour Lake almost two years after this government had decided on what it had to do and what it was going to do to foster the kind of development that was entailed in developing that gold deposit in the community.
I can recall last year, when we discussed this thing in these very estimates, we still did not have the report of the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment for Detour Lake. I said to the minister, "What are you going to do about all of the decisions which have been taken with regard to Detour Lake if the commission's environmental impact study suggests you are in error and you are wrong-headed in the way in which you set your priorities?" I can recall as though it were yesterday that the minister said, "If they come up with that kind of recommendation, we will just clearly have to tell them that they are wrong."
The minister's colleague the Minister of Natural Resources in June of this year, after 10 years of deliberation, came up with strategic land use guidelines for Ontario and a good many of the district land use plans for Ontario. They have since been renamed guidelines rather than plans, with flexibility in their application being the order of the day.
All of this is happening, including the signing of forest management agreements, so we can get on with the business of treating our forestry resources as an agricultural crop rather than as a depleting natural resource which is treated in much the same way as a finite mineral deposit. All of these decisions have been taken in spite of the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment.
One wonders what kind of a report could possibly come as the result of an expenditure of $10 million plus, when most of the things which were included within their terms of reference have already been acted upon to a large degree. They may be able to come along and cross some of the t's and dot some of the i's, and offer a few variations here or a few variations there.
However, the minister and anybody else who cares about the activities of the Royal Commission will recall that in the last interim report, the only thing I can recall of any significance in it was that the commission was having great difficulty in putting some focus and zeroing in on what it considered to be its terms of reference. They were having great difficulty with this.
I can recall reading it -- although I do not have it in front of me and maybe the minister can correct me when he responds -- and I can recall him saying that one of the reasons they were having difficulty putting a focus on what they saw as their overall responsibility was the fact they did not know the government's plan for economic development in the north. Therefore, they were not able to react to that sort of thing.
As I recall, when it was set up it was given the mandate to advise the government. Way back in 1977, six years ago, they were given a specific mandate to bring in recommendations as to how the government should be proceeding after having consultations ad nauseam with all of the people in northern Ontario who might have had something to say about the direction and the planning of social, economic and cultural activities in northern Ontario.
The minister has something now from the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Northwestern Ontario. He has something from the city of Thunder Bay, a resolution saying that the whole process has become irrelevant. He also has it from Grand Council Treaty 9, although the commission did receive some individual briefs from communities like Fort Hope and Summer Beaver. But for all practical purposes that whole exercise has ceased to have any relevance. The dollars keep pouring out and people become more disillusioned.
It is my understanding that the minister was more responsible than any other for the appointment of Mr. Fahlgren when Justice Patrick Hartt resigned. What is the minister going to say to his cabinet colleagues, to all of the people living in the north? How is he going to justify the expenditure of that amount of money, first under the aegis of the Ministry of the Environment, now under the aegis of the Attorney General?
Events over the past six years have bypassed the royal commission. I would like the minister to confirm whether or not there will be an extension to March 31 so that commission can prepare its report? I will say no more on that subject.
The minister will know, more than most, the problems that are experienced by some communities in northern Ontario, that are continually knocking on his door and knocking on my door, concerning community access in northern Ontario and the problem of orphan roads. This morning I had placed on my desk a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree at Wilfred Laurier University, dated this year, prepared by a David A. Frentress. The minister or people in his staff will know of this young gentleman, who took on the responsibility of identifying the problems of access for communities like Biscotasing, Hillsport, Auden, Oba, and Pagwa River.
I commend the reading of that thesis to the Minister of Northern Affairs, to his colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) and to the Minister of Natural Resources. The community of Auden on the north line of the Canadian National seems to be all right for the time being because the Ministry of Natural Resources, according to this report, agrees to maintain the road from Highway 11 up to Auden past camp 40 of Abitibi, which is now closed. I can only assume that road will be maintained this winter by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The minister will know that one of his regional directors having responsibility for roads, along with counterparts in the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ministry of Natural Resources, has come up with an interim solution to the maintenance of the road leading off the industrial road between Caramat and Manitouwadge, which is now the responsibility of James River-Marathon Ltd. and its partner Pic River Forest Products. An accommodation has been made, an agreement has been signed for this winter for a contribution by CN, which has 12 employees in that community.
There are four other breadwinners who are working, or hope shortly to be working, with Pic River Forest Products. CN has made a financial contribution because it has to have road access to bring in supplies such as propane and fuel oil. Ontario Hydro needs access to bring in fuel oil to its diesel generators. Bell Canada has to have them and also CNCP Telecommunications. There has also been a commitment for a financial contribution by the residents.
I discussed this earlier this week with our colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications. I pay tribute to him and his staff, as I do now to this minister and his staff for recognizing that there is a problem. I do it not only to say thank you on behalf of the people in Hillsport, but to remind him that this is going to be a continuing problem. I mentioned that this study investigated in great detail the problem of what he characterizes as orphan roads. It is quite a detailed investigation of the problems not only for Auden and Hillsport, but also for Biscotasing and Oba. It also mentions in passing Pagwa River.
I do it for a much more important reason, although I do not want to minimize the need for access for those communities mentioned in the survey. The minister will recall that on Wednesday there was another resolution submitted to cabinet by the chamber of commerce representatives from Manitouwadge. It stated they wanted the government, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ministry of Northern Affairs, to look at taking over that industrial road between Manitouwadge and Caramat, bringing it up to a secondary highway standard, in order not only to provide access for the people who are living along that corridor now but as a "road to resources" kind of facility.
We have the northern Ontario resources transportation committee, the access roads committee; we have what we all look at as the responsibility of this ministry to establish priorities for road construction and maintenance; and we also have this ministry's regional priorities budget for addressing specific problems, whether they be related to the serving of people or accessing new resources such as the government has done at Detour Lake with the Marchington Lake road, the Ogoki road and the Bending Lake road.
I am wondering, and I ask this very specifically of this minister, whether his ministry, in conjunction with others, has ever sat down and taken a realistic look at the way in which we plan the road construction not only to serve people but to access resources and open up potential economic development, whether it be forestry related, mining related or tourism related.
The minister will know that tens of millions of dollars are spent every year by government, by industry and by municipalities, and there is never any overall co-ordination to ensure the taxpayers at a variety of levels that we are getting a good bang for our buck.
Let me give an example, and I have discussed this with some of the civil servants in the north. The Minister of Northern Affairs will know of the Kopka River crossing and the great hue and cry we had from tourist operators in the Armstrong area when they were not happy with the way in which merchantable timber was harvested and the manner in which those timber resources were accessed.
There were three crossings that would have met with the approval of the tourist operators in the area, but the Ministry of Natural Resources, in its wisdom, chose the one that would provoke the tourist operators to the greatest extent.
I flew over the area this summer to find out what the tourist operators were beefing about. It just so happens that in the area that is most sensitive they had proceeded to such an extent that when an appeal was made to the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Brandt), he said: "I agree fully with the position taken by the tourist operators that they have not been well served in this whole process because in the way in which they built the roads they accessed wilderness lakes, if not by directly building the road along side the wilderness lake then by crossing the creek that, in turn, accessed these lakes that had tourist lodges or outpost camps." That does not have to happen if there is the proper co-ordination and consultation.
In a communication he sent to the Minister of Natural Resources several months ago in connection with strategic land use planning, which we now refer to as guidelines, this minister said flexibility should be the order of the day and we can make the multiple-use concept work if we play our cards right.
That sounds fine, I could subscribe to that, but it does not happen. The minister himself knows many instances where shoreline allowances have been violated and road allowances have been violated in the cutting practices of the prime licence holders. I am sure the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) could spend from now until one o'clock giving the minister instances of the multiple-use concept. It sounds fine in principle. In theory, it sounds excellent, but for some strange reason it can never be translated in the way in which we co-ordinate land use for a variety of users in northern Ontario. I am sure the same thing could be said for people generally in the province.
I want to get back to what I was saying about the request by the chamber of commerce on Wednesday afternoon for that extension and the upgrading of that road to provide for access to resources, to provide yet another circle route for tourists. If it was a decent road, we would say: "We have a new experience here for you." We could say the same thing if we started a road from Nakina west generally parallelling the north line of the Canadian National, over Highway 599, the Marchington Lake road the minister busied himself about building -- much to the consternation of the people of Savant Lake, I can say; the minister knows whereof I speak.
But that is progress. At that time, the minister, who represents Sioux Lookout, wanted a direct route from Sioux Lookout to Highway 599 because we have in the great riding of Lake Nipigon 1.5 billion tons of high grade iron ore that is under licence by way of mining claims and mining leases to Steep Rock Iron Mines, Algoma Steel and Canadian Pacific Enterprises. At the appropriate time -- I do not know when that is going to be -- when there is a further need for iron ore that will justify production at the level of four to five million tons a year, that deposit will be developed. It will be big in volume. In terms of expenditure, it will probably be the biggest mining undertaking ever in Ontario. There are 1.5 billion tons of iron ore.
I can readily understand why the Minister of Northern Affairs, who is the member for Kenora, Sioux Lookout and Hudson, would want to access that economic development in my riding to Sioux Lookout. I do not object to that particularly -- I see Neil Stuart there chuckling under the gallery -- but I think the minister should be looking at the way in which he authorizes dollars for access-road construction and maintenance, insisting that the millions of dollars spent by the private sector conform to some overall plan.
Look at a map of the Kopka area, of which I spoke, where we had all this controversy, and the areas licensed for wood harvesting. I invite Mr. Hobbs, Mr. Stuart and all those experts under the gallery to look at the dollars that have been spent by Great Lakes Forest Products in accessing its merchantable timber and to do the same thing for Domtar while they are at it. That area, where we have the greatest controversy, the lines where the licences come together, is where we spent, federally and provincially, more than $2 million in a DREE subagrement. Those dollars did not come out of Domtar's pocket. A portion of them did, but the majority of them came out of the taxpayers' pockets.
There are three roads going to the same general area where, with the proper advance planning, I believe we could save dollars for the taxpayers and for those companies. They would be in a better position to compete in world markets if they had the good sense to talk to the government in advance of a commitment of dollars for the expenditure that is required on these roads to access these resources. They would be much more competitive.
I have listened to spokesmen for these prime licence holders and they are anguished and wring their hands. They are saying, "Because of the high cost of harvesting wood in the north we are finding it more difficult every day to compete." They are all spending their dollars to gain access to the same general area. A former forester told me one day that about 15 per cent of all the productive forest areas in northern Ontario is taken up with roads which are not provincial highways.
This minister, who establishes the priorities for road construction in the north, should insist that before they commit a large expenditure of their own dollars or come crying to both the provincial and federal governments for assistance for road construction, they should have some rational planning. That one area I spoke of is a perfect example of where everybody is rushing into the same area, with the result that we have three roads rather than one.
Once they have harvested they let the road go into disuse. They go back for a little silviculture treatment or they may use it for fire prevention access from time to time, but there is no overall planning in the way in which we spend our road dollars. The minister and people from the north know how important it is to have multiple-use roads, whether they be for wood harvesting, silviculture treatment, fire prevention, mining exploration or to enhance the tourist industry. Everybody has a vested interest in the way in which we spend money for road access in the north. But at present there is no rhyme or reason to it. If this ministry assumed that kind of responsibility for overall planning, we would get a bigger bang for our tax dollars and the multiple-use concept could work much better than it is working at present.
The minister will know that Ken Greaves, who is the president of the Ontario Forest Industries Association, is not talking any more about the multiple-use concept. He seems to be talking now about sequential use. He says: "We have some merchantable timber, mature and overmature stands; so let us in, let us do our thing. After we are finished, we will not need it until the next rotation, which is anywhere from 80 to 100 years. So we will give it over to the tourist industry, the anglers, the hunters or anybody else who wants it." He seems to be talking about sequential use now, not multiple use.
The minister hears that and I know his reaction is just the same as mine. But unless somebody shows some leadership and takes some initiative, we are going to continue with this unplanned, laissez-faire attitude that private enterprise, in its own way, will be able to do it so much better. They are all doing it in their own sloppy, ineffective, inefficient manner. It is unwise use of our land base, unwise use of our dollars and does not even remotely resemble proper land use planning or the multiple-use concept. The minister has been there. He has been Minister of Natural Resources. He knows what I am talking about.
I think there is only one ministry that can bring some semblance of order to the way in which we plan road access. I am not going to give the minister specifics. I am not saying tomorrow morning he should start upgrading that road from Manitouwadge to Caramat or that as a job creation thing they should start with what has been called the Stokes Road between Nakina and Highway 599.
However, we should look at the dollars we have spent in one way or another on this hotchpotch of roads. If we took a map of northern Ontario that contained the King's highways, the secondary highways and all the resource roads, we would think we were looking at a plate of spaghetti. Yet we are not able to serve the legitimate needs of people who live in Hillsport, Auden, Oba or Biscotasing.
I heard a conversation between the member for Algoma-Manitoulin, the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) and the Minister of Transportation and Communications. There is no overall co-ordination or planning. We are spending a lot of money, but we still do not have proper access. I am not talking about those areas in the remote north where a road structure is probably unrealistic. But it seems to me this ministry should call in the major roadbuilders in the north and say, "We are going to sit down and have a rational plan," rather than just saying, "If you need dollars for roads, just come and see us; we'll give you money for the Marchington Lake Road, the Bending Lake Road, the Ogoki Road."
There is no overall planning at all. Everybody has his own road that accesses the same general area. There is one in the minister's riding; I am sure he is aware of it. It runs off Highway 599 in a westerly direction. It was originally built by Canadian National Railways to access Valora. The Ministry of Natural Resources tried to enter into an agreement with CN about the use of that road or the upgrading of the road or changing the configuration of the road. They could not reach an accommodation so the Ministry of Natural Resources built its own road alongside it. We have two roads going into Valora, one built and maintained by Canadian National Railways, the other built and maintained by the Ministry of Natural Resources. I get asked, "Why do we have two roads going into Valora?"
Mr. T. P. Reid: Tell them how big Valora is.
Mr. Stokes: I do not know how big Valora is. Perhaps the member can tell me; it is in his riding.
Mr. T. P. Reid: It is not very big. There are two Tories there but they do not like each other so they each had to have a road.
Mr. Stokes: I just used that as an example. I think I have gone on long enough on that theme.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Oh, indeed.
Mr. Stokes: The people opposite do not like to hear about the problems of the north. The Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) and the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Ashe) say they do not want to hear any more about the north.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: That is not true.
Mr. Stokes: What did the minister say?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: All I said was we agree with you.
Mr. Stokes: The minister agreed that I had gone on long enough?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Yes, that is all.
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Robinson): Order.
Mr. Stokes: Here we have the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy), parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Northern Affairs, saying I have gone on too long; he does not want to hear any more about the problems in the north.
The Acting Chairman: Order.
Mr. Stokes: I think this is the purpose of estimates. We get an opportunity not only to understand ourselves what has gone on before, what we are doing now and whether we are making the best use of the dollars we are spending under the mandate of this ministry, but also, to use the minister's own words, to "offer some constructive suggestion for improving the way we do business in the north as it affects this ministry."
Notwithstanding the interjections of the Minister of Education, the Minister of Government Services and the parliamentary assistant, I am going to persevere and continue. I will not be dissuaded and I am not going to sit down. For those who want to know, I am going to talk until one o'clock, not only because I think I have something relevant to say but also because I am doing it as a personal favour to a very good friend.
Mr. Van Horne: Thank you, Jack.
The Acting Chairman: Order. Having said all that and having gone through the mechanics of it, perhaps we can proceed with the estimates.
Mr. Stokes: I want to get very briefly to the minister's favourite topic: Minaki Lodge.
Hon. Mr. Ashe: A great asset to the north.
Mr. Stokes: I am not going to go on at great length, because we had a very full airing of the merits, the demerits, the advantages and the disadvantages, the worthwhileness of Minaki Lodge in the estimates of the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation, but I know members would have been disappointed if I did not at least raise it. I am sure the minister likes publicity, whether it is good or bad. He just likes people to talk about Minaki Lodge; so I am going to talk about it very briefly.
Mr. Stokes: If the Minister of Education has not seen it she should not knock it.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: What? Minaki?
The Acting Chairman: Order.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Oh, I'd love to --
Mr. Stokes: She would love to knock it?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I have never been invited.
Mr. Stokes: I was invited and that is why I am raising it.
When we were discussing this item in the estimates with the appropriate minister he said they had about a 40 per cent occupancy when I was there. Mr. Fred Boyer, who is president of Minaki Lodge Resort Ltd., gave us the statistics and the occupancy rates were up slightly more than 60 per cent.
I want to say to anybody here who has not seen it that it is a beautiful place, it really is. However, if somebody had given me $45 million and said, "Stokes, here's $45 million; go out and do something for the north," I probably would have done something a lot different.
The minister says we did it to create jobs for the indigenous people in the area. I want to report to this assembly that there are 140 seasonal people there and only 16 permanent employees. At least 75 per cent of all the people who worked there during the summer did not even know where Minaki Lodge was until they went there for employment.
I made it my business to talk to people who were working there. A good many of them came from Manitoba; most of them came from Winnipeg. There were people from all over southern Ontario. All the people in management positions, who are employed by Radisson Hotels, which gets a fee for operating that facility, come from elsewhere.
It has not worked as a provider of employment for indigenous people. There are a variety of reasons for this. Mr. Boyer and the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) assure me they are going to continue to try to prevail upon local people to upgrade skills so that ultimately they will be in a position to take over most of the jobs that are entailed in the operation of the lodge. I invite people to go up to see it.
Even though they tried for two years prior to the opening of the lodge they have not been able to train people in the skills that would be required to operate it. They have not been successful. All they could do was assure me they were going to continue to try.
I said they should lower the rates, because on the back of the door in the room I stayed in there was a sign that said: "This room is being rented at the maximum rate of $105 a day single and $145 a day double."
Mr. Stokes: Just a minute. I am getting to that. I am known to be fair; perhaps the member will just be patient.
Most people who go into an establishment, whether it be the Royal York Hotel, the Chelsea Inn or the Holiday Inn, look at the rates that are posted; and they are usually maximum rates. Then they make a comparison when they get the bill. This is what I did. It was $105 single and $145 double.
Now, I was in the unique position that I was not paying for the room. I do not know whether this ministry paid for it or whether it was the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation. All I know is I did not pay for the room.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Freebies.
Mr. Hennessy: Now the truth comes out.
Mr. Stokes: He does not pay for his either when he is invited by a minister. The member for Fort William can get off that kick, he with his holier than thou attitude. I know what freebies he gets. I know what I get and I am not ashamed of it.
Fred Boyer said he would have the general manager elaborate, so I am going to read it into the record.
"Dear Mr. Stokes:
"I am pleased to respond to your question following your stay with us on July 15 to celebrate our official opening. Our records indicate that you occupied room 224, which is a typical twin-bedded room. The rate on the back of the door was indeed $105 for single occupancy. This rate includes $75 room rate and $30 for breakfast and dinner. The price of the same room for double occupancy would be $150, or $85 room rate plus $60 for breakfast and dinner for two. I trust this information clarifies your question. However, I would be delighted to respond to any further inquiries in the future.
"Sincerely, Richard Boustead, General Manager."
I no longer have the receipt, but I went in for breakfast on the two mornings I was there. It was a beautiful breakfast. It was almost obscene. There was everything anybody could ever have wanted. There were mounds of croutons of every shape, size, flavour and description. There was fruit. One would think one was in Hawaii because of the kinds of fruit. I went in and I had a small glass of orange juice, a crouton and three cups of coffee for $8.35. I could have had everything.
Mr. T. P. Reid: You mean a croissant.
Mr. Stokes: A croissant; if I said "crouton" I was mistaken.
I went in for dinner, not knowing that all I had to do was sign. I ordered dinner. The basic entree was $23. I had a drink and a little wine and I ended up paying $37 for my dinner.
All I am saying is that if one lowers the price and there is 90 per cent occupancy, the average Joe on the street could afford to go. Lower the price a bit. There is no sense operating it at 50 to 60 per cent occupancy. I admit it is a beautiful place. One can play horseshoes and go swimming, surfing, sailing or fishing. One can play golf, tennis, cards, tiddly-winks, almost anything one wants to think about. But we are not going to get the average Joe off the street.
The thing that bothers me about it, Mr. Chairman, and you were in the chair at that committee, is that he said, "It is not geared for the ordinary Joe." Fred Boyer says: "This is a world-class resort, the gem of the north, and we are not catering to the ordinary Joe out on the street. We want a high-class clientele."
There are a good many people in my riding, from Pickle Lake, Manitouwadge, even from the city of Thunder Bay, who would really enjoy a weekend, a week or two weeks there if the price was brought down to what they could get in an ordinary run-of-the-mill place. They would get a world-class resort, a world-class holiday, at a price the ordinary Joe could afford. Philosophically, I disagree with my friend Fred Boyer. I found it especially offensive when he said: "No, we are not trying to attract the ordinary Joe. We have a world-class joint here and we want the upper crust to come." That rubs against the grain. Enough said about Minaki Lodge.
While the Minister of Education is still here, I want to get into something that has to do with -- no, I will not give the punch line yet. I want to read a letter I wrote to the Minister of Northern Affairs on September 8, and he has still not responded. I mentioned another one in my opening comments. Perhaps his communications network has broken down a little bit.
I wrote to him on September 8 saying: "I understand the Ontario Trappers' Association is offering a multimedia kit, entitled The Beaver in Ontario, free of charge to schools that can prove the validity of its use. I am advised that your ministry will underwrite the expense involved in this program and, therefore, you have the final authority in its use.
"Mr. Mark Olacke, principal of the Armstrong District Public School, has made a request for the above multimedia kit and I am writing to support his efforts. This school has a modified intermediate service program. Some of the students in this school, ranging from age 13 to 18, are involved in MISP, the Modified Intermediate Services Program, which includes learning to run a trap line.
"This academic program in life skills has proven to be very successful for those students who participate, most of whom are native Canadians. Last year these students set traps on a regular basis. They were successful in trapping beaver, muskrat, marten, squirrel, and even trapped a wolf. The students learned to skin the animals and dry the pelts. As well, they learned how to cook the meat and serve it to their fellow students.
"This type of MISP course could serve a very useful purpose in many northern and isolated schools in our province. I think you will agree this course is excellent and serves the needs of the youth in the community of Armstrong. Under the leadership of Mr. Olacke, this type of training has had impressive results. You will never have a better opportunity to give your approval to a more worthwhile endeavour. Your help and positive consideration is greatly appreciated."
I sent that to the minister on September 8 with a copy to Mr. Roger Betts, who is the co-ordinator of the Ontario Trappers' Association. I still have not had a reply. That is well over two months ago and I am now advised --
Hon. Mr. Ashe: You must have sent it Canada
Post. That is the problem.
Mr. Stokes: I do not know. I made some inquiries as to whether the people in Armstrong had heard from the minister and they told me he was holding off making a decision, notwithstanding the results of this program and how important it was to the Ontario Trappers' Association. I am told the minister is thinking of making a bicentennial project out of it. Is that right?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Life skills is still in transition at the secondary level.
The Acting Chairman: Whose estimates are we on?
Mr. Stokes: I see where there is some consultation going on under the gallery. I think I have made the point. It is an excellent program. A program like this is much more relevant to native students. It gives them a feeling of doing something worth while based on indigenous resources. It has a lot more relevance than a lot of the things that are taught to our first citizens in the school setting. When the minister sees something working well, as it has at Armstrong, why does he not support it? Why does he not promote it to make a learning experience much more relevant to the children of our first citizens? I will leave that.
I want to get into another problem dealing with Armstrong. The minister will recall, and he will know, that we do not have a doctor permanently residing in the hamlet of Armstrong. We rely on McMaster University, I believe, and Dr. Bain of one of the hospitals here in Toronto. There is some co-ordination for a family physician to visit Armstrong for a brief period and to be relieved after two or three weeks' stay. It works very well.
The fact is, though, that we need a clinical setting that will enable the doctors to be much more effective and provide the kind of accommodation that both doctors and patients need for the provision of that kind of service.
Joy Neill, who was a part of the delegation that the minister hosted and met earlier this week, advises that after two years of negotiations between Dr. Copeman and others in the Ministry of Health they are still no closer to establishing a good clinic. They have a trailer there now -- I do not want to create the impression there is nothing there -- they have a trailer, but it is not adequate. The Ministry of Health agrees, the people agree and Dr. Copeman agrees. The whole process breaks down because Dr. Copeman says, "We need a facility on land we can call our own," or at least the local services board in Armstrong can call its own.
The one piece of land that seems most appropriate for that kind of use is owned by the district school board. If it were to give up that land the kids would not have a place to play, so it is reluctant.
The Ministry of Natural Resources does not have crown land in a place that would accommodate the clinic to the satisfaction of most people. There is crown land there, but not in the appropriate place. There is land that is owned by Canadian National Railways that would be appropriate. The local people have made a deal or got a commitment from CN for a 20-year lease. The local people said: "Gee, that is fine. Thank you very much CN for being a good corporate citizen."
But that is not good enough for the Ministry of Health. That is not an appropriate tenure for this kind of thing. There are only going to be trailers, double-wides or that kind of portable thing that has already been assembled and could be moved in. But for some strange reason Dr. Copeman and his colleagues seem to be saying, "No, we cannot get to first base with it because that is not the appropriate kind of tenure."
One would hope and think that when one gets a situation like that one accommodates his planning to the situation he finds himself in. If one has a 20-year lease, what is wrong with proceeding on that basis? It is again a case of somebody setting up a program down here and establishing the guidelines that might be appropriate and might have some practical application in most situations one would find. But in northern Ontario things are different. What happens if, 20 years down the road, CN says, "We are sorry, but we want to dedicate this property to another use"? So what? What is wrong with that?
Most of these programs have a lifespan of much less than 20 years. If there is anything that drives people such as those involved in providing services in a place like Armstrong to distraction and makes them frustrated it is this kind of bureaucratic red tape. It need not happen. I am sure the minister will treat it with the attention it deserves.
I want to talk briefly about something the minister and I have been involved in and concerned with for a good many years. It is the Nakina runthrough.
The Minister of Northern Affairs, the Premier (Mr. Davis), the Minister of Transportation and Communications and I have had a lot of correspondence about the proposal by Canadian National Railways to discontinue Nakina as a terminal for the trading off of its running trades personnel in that area.
I am not going to bore the committee with all the correspondence we have had. I want to tell the minister of a meeting I attended, accompanied by his Northern Affairs officer from Geraldton, Mr. Morelli, where the people in Nakina were looking to this government to act as a spokesman on their behalf in intervening with the federal government. They want to stop the proposed runthrough because of its social and the economic impact. The impact will not be so much on the employees as on the community. Of necessity, the employees will have to move, but there is a collective agreement and there will have to be some way of negotiating the terms under which they will be forced to move. However, the minister knows very well what happens to a community when its main reason for being there in the first place is removed.
The only reason Nakina is there is that it was established as a terminal by Canadian National over 60 years ago. It is true that woodlands employees of Kimberly-Clark are now stationed in Nakina, but no one denies that the elimination of Nakina as a terminal will have a very profound effect on that community and on the ability of that community to generate sufficient tax dollars to provide for all the infrastructure dollars that have been spent there on water, sewage and all the recreational facilities.
I want to report to the minister they were a little bit disappointed in him and in the Minister of Transportation and Communications, and indeed in the Premier, because they would like to be able to see such people as a vehicle and as friends to try to stop the runthrough. The minister seems to be saying, "We will try to assist you after the runthrough is effected." That is not what those people want.
I mentioned the task force which is looking into rail transportation and rail facilities in northern Ontario. The people in Nakina did not know anything about that.
Whatever the government is doing with regard to making an assessment of whether the existing rail facilities are good, bad or indifferent, I know the reason it has gone into it. It is because the government considers the two common carriers, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National, have completely abdicated their responsibility for providing service for the movement of passengers. Even Via Rail has not done much better. It just has a token service three days a week between Capreol and Winnipeg. The people of Nakina, Longlac and Geraldton who are supporting it would like to see this ministry and this government really take on the feds.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Who is the federal member?
Mr. Stokes: The minister knows who the federal member is. I am not an apologist for any federal member.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: He is abdicating his responsibilities in his own riding and letting the provincial member do it all.
Mr. Stokes: I have heard these things when I was in Nakina. All I am saying is he knows where the federal member is. It is not up to me to stand here and be critical of others. I try to be constructive.
Mr. Hennessy: No way, that would not be you.
Mr. Stokes: I am glad he agrees.
The Acting Chairman: I should caution the member for Fort William that not only is he probably not in order, he is also not in his seat.
Mr. Nixon: There are quite a few to choose from.
The Acting Chairman: That may be so, but I shall not look to my left.
The Acting Chairman: Order.
Mr. Stokes: To highlight what I am talking about, I asked the Canadian Transport Commission to hold public hearings several months ago to give everybody who had a vested interest, who had something to say about the proposed runthrough, an opportunity to be heard in a public forum.
I did not hear anything until about two weeks ago. I had my staff call the commission in Ottawa only to find they had requested a public hearing and Canadian National had said, "We would ask you to hold off the public hearing process until such time as we have finalized our collective agreement with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the United Transportation Union as to the kind of conditions that would prevail as it affects their members."
Does the minister know what that means? After they have done all the negotiating and everything is signed, sealed, delivered, cut and dried, then they will go through this meaningless public hearing process, after all the decisions are taken. That is a lot of nonsense. That is why the minister, along with his colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications, should be demanding a deferral of any decision at least until they have had an opportunity for a public hearing.
I do not know when the task force on passengers is going to report. I do not think we should even consider the cessation of the service between Fort William and Sioux Lookout, or the one in Rainy River, or the discontinuance of the Pagwa subdivision or the implementation of the runthrough from Hornepayne to Armstrong, completely ignoring the people of Nakina.
The minister will know that when this thing raised its ugly head in the meetings in Ottawa and Montreal a few months back the spokesman for Canadian National -- I do not know whether it was Mr. Lawless or Mr. Vanderwater -- said something that led one of the committee members to ask, "What place is next? Could it be Sioux Lookout next?" He did not say yes or no. It goes to show that if we as elected provincial members do not show some leadership and if we do not express our objections to this, it will be commonplace.
I do not know whether Hornepayne will be next or Capreol or Sioux Lookout. There has to be a process. I see the two ministers saying, "No, not Hornepayne." Collectively, we have a big investment in places like Hornepayne and Nakina. Millions of dollars have been spent in the last seven or eight years on educational and recreational facilities and water and sewage. Collectively, we have made an investment in the future of those communities.
When we get an indifferent and uncaring corporate citizen, a crown corporation like Canadian National making these unilateral decisions without any regard for the social and economic consequences, I believe we have a responsibility, and not just to write letters. It is very easy to sit down and say, "We will react to whatever we hear from our constituents." We give them that kind of pap.
The minister is being accused of saying, "If they do close, maybe we will get them to send in an industrial development officer." It would be too late by then.
When I asked Mr. Vanderwater to justify the figures he was using of a saving of $1.2 million a year that would be effected if they were allowed the runthrough, he promptly said to me, "You cannot have that kind of information. We are in a competitive position and it might be prejudicial to our interests if we were to give you the details of where we think we can save $1.2 million annually." I could read chapter and verse on the gobbledegook Mr. Vanderwater gave me.
I wrote to a federal counterpart and said, "Why do you not have Mr. Vanderwater in before your transport committee? Tell him to be there with papers and things, as we have the right to do here whenever we want to shed light on a particular issue." We have done it. When we get recalcitrant witnesses we have even gone to the extreme of having them come in with information by way of a Speaker's warrant so that we can make an educated decision as to the validity of what they are doing. I am sure they have the same opportunity in Ottawa. I have asked federal members why they do not use that vehicle. There are a number of things we could be doing to motivate people in advance of these decisions to make them justify them.
I would like the minister to support my application to the Canadian Transport Commission, specifically the railway transport committee, to undertake public hearings so that his ministry could make a submission in a public forum to assure the people in Nakina that this ministry and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications have their best interests at heart.
We may not win. If we listened to Jean-Luc Pepin when he was the minister, it was a total cop-out. We are now in the process of trying to convince Mr. Axworthy that he has a very vital role to play. I do not know what his response is going to be, but we will never know unless we get our act together.
The minister, along with his colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications, should be writing to the transport committee demanding those public hearings and demanding that there be a deferral of any decision at least until the committee has something to say.
None of these things is being done. The people in Nakina and Geraldton get the feeling the minister is standing in the wings waiting to pick up the pieces after the fact. As the minister well knows, it is awfully difficult to do something like that after the fact. We still have some time now, so I suggest we get our act together with or without the federal members. It looks as though it may be without them, but let us do it so that six months down the road we can say, "Because we got our act together, we were successful;" or alternatively, "We gave it our best shot." We will never know that unless we pull out all the stops now before the fact and not after the fact.
I have just time for one final piece of business. This is a letter I got from a constituent of mine who is a businessman. He says: "The enclosed letter tries to sum up my political concerns for the past year. Ten years of life in an Indian community have had a profound influence on my view of government help. The Indian people have been the recipients of a great deal of government help over a long period of time, but as I observe the reality of their lives, I am deeply grateful I have never received this help and I pray I never shall.
"At the same time this government help is being offered, I believe the government is failing in what I would see as its more traditional role of regulation. One of the most glaring problems for Indian people is a lack of experience and expertise in economic affairs. It is my view that this is a direct result of Hudson Bay's careful exclusion of the Indian people from any role in the economy other than as porters and common labourers.
"A law a hundred years ago requiring equal opportunity for Indian people would have provided more real help in Webster's meaning of the word than all of the programs intended to provide help. Of course, had I been alive then, I probably would have opposed such a law.
"At the present moment there is a good deal of activity supposedly designed to help Indian people with increasing the production of wild rice. The end result of this help has, of course, been a reduction in the production of wild rice, Osnaburg being the one exception I know of. No one shows the least bit of interest in examining this exception.
"In my view, there are at least two very traditional government actions that could be taken to significantly affect the wild rice industry: one, a law requiring the correct labelling of wild rice, a simple truth in labelling act that would prevent farm grown paddy rice from being marketed and sold as wild rice; and two, harvesting regulations that would provide controls on the time and method of harvest. It is my opinion that such simple legislation would increase production by at least 100 per cent as the product is already here.
"I believe the message of Osnaburg's increase is a very simple one. Given better organization and harvesting controls, the existing yield can easily be doubled. Indeed, it is my opinion that with better controls over harvesting our production could be increased by another 50 per cent with no expenditure of government funds in terms of production, meaning a threefold increase over yields here five or six years ago. Meanwhile, government help is effectively dismantling the community efforts that have produced the dramatic increase in production here."
I still have another three quarters of a page and I cannot complete it in time. May I continue with this briefly on Monday?
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Barlow): Perhaps you could adjourn the debate.
Mr. Stokes: It is not necessary.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of supply reported progress.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, just before the House adjourns, so that my friend will know, we have decided not to proceed with the estimates of the Ministry of Northern Affairs on Monday. They will be proceeding next Friday.
Mr. Stokes: Not on Monday? Why?
Hon. Mr. Wells: On Monday we are going to deal with second reading of Bill 111. This is an amendment to my statement yesterday. We will proceed with Bill 111 on Monday afternoon. On Tuesday afternoon and evening we will do other legislation, some third readings, likely health Bill 92, municipal Bills 106 and 107, and possibly Bills 102 and 103. On Monday we will have a definite announcement on the legislation to be considered on Tuesday evening.
On Thursday we will deal with private members' public business in the afternoon and Bill 111 in the evening. We will come back to the estimates of the Ministry of Northern Affairs next Friday.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Robinson): Before the adjournment of the House, I would draw to the attention of all members that the Niagara Children's Chorus is preparing to perform on the great staircase below us. I would ask the members, as they are returning to their offices or going on their various ways, not only to take a moment to hear their performance but to be aware they are there and not find themselves singing bass in the back row.
The House adjourned at 1:03 p.m.