The House met at 2 p.m.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, today I have accepted the report of the Amateur Boxing Review Committee, which I appointed in October 1982 to investigate the state of amateur boxing in Ontario.
Before commenting on the report's recommendations, let me state that my ministry's philosophy is to allow the 72 sports governing bodies recognized and supported by this province to operate independently and in an armslength fashion. It is only when there is sufficient reason to believe the conduct of certain sports creates an unacceptably high degree of risk to the safety and wellbeing of individual participants that my ministry will take the necessary steps to examine and, if necessary, re-evaluate the performance of a sports governing body.
By late 1982, my ministry had become sufficiently concerned about the governance of amateur boxing that I appointed an independent committee, chaired by Professor Bruce Kidd -- and may I stress the word "independent" -- to study the rules, regulations, procedures and method of administration of amateur boxing in Ontario. In my view, the committee has provided us with a most perceptive report of the general state of amateur boxing in Ontario, with particular attention to the medical and ethical aspects.
I agree with the committee's findings that boxing is a tactical, skilful sport requiring great athletic co-ordination and reflexes. Properly regulated, boxing is a legitimate and exciting international Olympic sport. It is also a safe sport, provided -- and this is the decisive proviso -- adequate regulations are strictly administered.
I therefore concur with the committee's recommendation that amateur boxing should not be abolished in Ontario. In reaching this decision, I realize there is a substantial sector within Ontario society that feels all boxing, including amateur boxing, should be abolished. However, I believe in a democratic society we must weigh the minimal risk of injury to those engaging in boxing against the basic principle of freedom of choice by those who wish to engage in this recreational pursuit. To deny the latter group this choice is an unacceptable degree of censorship.
I have met with the Boxing Ontario executive committee and have explained to it that, in the light of the review committee's findings, Boxing Ontario's administration and supervision of amateur boxing in Ontario need improvement. I have made it clear that withdrawal of financial support is a possibility unless Boxing Ontario meets the key priorities coming out of this report. I believe the following recommendations must be implemented without qualification if Boxing Ontario is to continue to enjoy the support of my ministry.
1. Amateur boxers without an official, up-to-date identification Canadian Amateur Boxing Association passport will not be sanctioned to compete. This will prevent mismatches and other inappropriate bouts.
2. No one under the age of 11 shall be allowed to compete in any contest or exhibition bout sanctioned or organized by Boxing Ontario and its member clubs.
3. Boxers will be required to undergo mandatory weigh-ins on the day of each bout.
4. Coaches and cornermen will be required to meet new standards of certification by January 1, 1986.
5. An effective system of conflict resolution consistent with full respect for members' rights shall be implemented as soon as possible in order that appeals and complaints by athletes, officials and other members can be given fair consideration.
6. Boxers will be obliged to sign informed consent forms along with the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association application for membership.
These are among the many recommendations, including many addressing boxers' safety, in the report that I expect Boxing Ontario to implement.
Regarding women's participation in boxing, I understand my colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie) has already taken steps to repeal legislation prohibiting women from boxing. There is no medical evidence to preclude their participation. I have instructed Boxing Ontario to ensure opportunities for those women who wish to box at the amateur level.
I have confidence that the administration of Boxing Ontario will ensure a reasonable environment of safety by following the recommendations set forth by the Amateur Boxing Review Committee.
I would like again to thank the committee -- its chairman, Professor Bruce Kidd; Frank Corner, QC, and Dr. Bruce Stewart, neurologist -- for a job extremely well done. The world of amateur boxing and my ministry are very appreciative of their work.
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet arising from the report of the Provincial Auditor and the happenings in the public accounts committee last Thursday.
In view of the fact that the Ministry of Government Services/Alan Gordon contracts to Allan W. Foster and Associates Ltd. appear to be, according to the auditor, an evasion of Management Board and an evasion of the Ontario Manual of Administration, and in view of the fact that the MGS telephone directory and Telepac appear not to have had any Management Board prior approval, having before him the report of the Provincial Auditor, knowing the discussions that took place in the committee because the Premier (Mr. Davis) had two of his staff there, knowing these facts, what action is the minister now prepared to take to ensure this does not happen again?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I presume the member for St. Catharines has been absent most days recently when I answered this question, both in estimates and in the House. As the member knows, we have a Manual of Administration which says the ministry, the deputy minister and the minister are responsible for following that manual. If they do not, the member will note they come before the public accounts committee and get a citation from the auditor.
Mr. Bradley: In other words, the minister is prepared to do nothing about it. He is prepared simply to say it goes before the public accounts committee and no action is taken against the minister. He is prepared to tolerate it.
It seems this problem is persisting even with the new Minister of Government Services (Mr. Ashe) because the new minister seems to be embroiled with his deputy minister over a food services contract that has slipped through the Ontario Manual of Administration requirements. Does the minister not see in this case yet another example of the Management Board of Cabinet and of the Ontario Manual of Administration being evaded? What action is he prepared to take in that specific instance?
Hon. Mr. McCague: The ministry should be given the opportunity to answer that question. There was not a submission made to us in regard to the matter the member mentioned.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, can the minister explain why he feels he has no overall political responsibility with respect to this question of the allocation of contracts in breach of the Manual of Administration? If that is not the minister's function in his ministry, if that is not his political responsibility -- the auditor has a very separate function which is not, with great respect, a distinctly political function; it is an auditing function -- who takes the political responsibility once the auditor has made a report and a decision with respect to the conduct of that ministry with respect to the awarding of those contracts? If t is not the minister's responsibility, whose is it?
Hon. Mr. McCague: As I have said on several occasions, it is the ministry, the deputy minister and the minister.
Mr. Bradley: In view of the fact that the minister is perceived to be the person who is supposed to keep a tight rein on the pursestrings, along with the Treasurer (Mr. Grossmani), how did it happen that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing had a $2-million increase in leasehold improvements for the College Park complex approved? How could Management Board authorize $500,000 for the computer facility and for the minister's suite?
The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) would be interested in restraint as well. I ask the Chairman of Management Board, as a minister of restraint, along with the Treasurer, how could this ever get through? I think out of that $500,000, $100,000 was for the increased expenditure on the minister's office. How did this ever get through?
Hon. Mr. McCague: The honourable member is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He is talking about one case where it did not come before Management Board and another case where it did. The extra expenditure was approved because it was justified.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier on this subject. Perhaps he would be good enough to give us his understanding of who is responsible for the series of violations of Management Board orders.
I have asked him in the House; he said it was not his responsibility and the minister would come back and report. The minister is now saying it is the Provincial Auditor's responsibility and/or that of the public accounts committee and tolerating these violations wholesale. Would the Premier be good enough to bring this House up to date on his understanding of who is responsible for enforcing Management Board guidelines with respect to tendering?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to see the opposition is so well prepared for this question period. If the honourable member will recall, we were dealing with a particular situation when I indicated to the House that the Chairman of Management Board would be taking a look at certain matters that were raised. After that time, my recollection is that the Provincial Auditor indicated he would be looking at this matter, which I think is appropriate and which I sensed members of the public accounts committee supported. That was one set of circumstances.
I assume the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Peterson) is now referring to the Provincial Auditor's report to the public accounts committee. As I recall it, four situations were raised by the committee upon which the Provincial Auditor reported. I think it is fair to state that the Minister of Government Services is more than prepared to deal with all four of those situations.
My recollection is that in two of the four situations, the Provincial Auditor concurred that they had been properly dealt with. I am only paraphrasing and going partially by memory. I think the reality is that Management Board is in charge of the Manual of Administration and certain aspects of it. But it is also fair to state that in any government there is a degree of ministerial responsibility and ministerial discretion and accountability. That is the way it functions. I assume that is the way the member's own caucus funds function in terms of the fact that they too are public funds, although I do not imagine there is a Manual of Administration that applies to that operation nor am I suggesting there should be.
I think the Chairman of Management Board has indicated quite clearly -- and I just want to add this, in that I am knowledgeable in general terms of the volume of activity Management Board handles. I can only say the Chairman of Management Board and the Secretary of Management Board are among the most effective public servants one will find anywhere. While I do not say it cannot be improved, I do say the track record of the management function of this government relative to any other government I know is extremely good.
Mr. Peterson: I suggest to the Premier the present record is very bad. We have a series of violations from the former Minister of Industry and Trade, the member for London South (Mr. Walker), with respect to the tendering of certain contracts in his ministry. We brought that to the Premier's attention and he said he would look into it. He gave the responsibility to the minister in charge of Management Board and he has come back with nothing to this House. It moves from ministry to ministry. We now have a series of violations within the Ministry of Government Services.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Peterson: Would the Premier not agree with that? Then when we have evidence that a minister brought that to the attention of the higher authorities, he was sacked and those people who go on violating Management Board orders are still in place. Now we have a general eschewing of responsibility, saying that no one over there knows who is responsible for enforcing those guidelines that were part of the administration of his government and, indeed, that speak to the proper stewardship of public funds.
Does the Premier not feel it is his responsibility as the first minister to have a very clear definition of responsibility for who is responsible for these wholesale violations that have been going on in the various ministries for some time?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I understand it is the tradition of the Leader of the Opposition since assuming office to exaggerate situations rather extravagantly. No, I do not agree with his assessment. I do not think he expected I would, because it is totally without validity.
I went through the history, and if he wishes me to repeat it I will, because he repeated it in the preamble to his question. If the chairman of the standing committee on public accounts disagrees with me, perhaps when he comes into the House he can say so. As to the items raised by the Leader of the Opposition, or whoever, with respect to the present Provincial Secretary for Justice (Mr. Walker), my recollection is very clear. I did say I would ask the Chairman of Management Board in the interim. I think it is quite clear the Provincial Auditor has said he will take a look at it, which I think in the interests of this House is the proper route to go.
If he or his colleagues on the public accounts committee do not wish the Provincial Auditor to do this, then I suggest he have a word of prayer with its chairman. Once again, and I am going partially by memory: my recollection is that the public accounts committee had four items, or there were four items the Provincial Auditor looked into with respect to the Ministry of Government Services. My recollection is the Provincial Auditor said that in two situations, and I do not recall the particulars, proper procedures had been followed.
I suggest, in fairness, if the Leader of the Opposition is at all inclined to be fair, which is perhaps at this stage open to question, he might await the opportunity of hearing the deputy minister of that ministry in his appearance before public accounts. I am sure part of my responsibility in this House is to explain what deputy ministers may or may not be doing. I always feel badly when members opposite are personally critical, as one or two in the Liberal Party have been, about a public servant when that public servant is obviously not in a position to reply in this assembly and prior --
Mr. Nixon: Is the Premier criticizing the member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman)?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would say to the --
Mr. Nixon: Does the Premier think we dreamt this up out of whole cloth? We got it from his minister.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member should read the auditor's report. He will find two out of four, I would say with respect --
Mr. Nixon: Did the Premier listen to what his minister said before he fired him? The member for Lanark's views are good enough for me.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Why does the member not wait until the deputy minister has his Opportunity? It is easy for the members opposite, in this House or publicly, to criticize an able, dedicated, public servant who is not in a position to defend himself. He will have that opportunity in public accounts.
Mr. Nixon: He was criticized by his boss and the Premier fired his boss.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That is utter nonsense.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Rae: I find it somewhat ironic that the Premier would he hiding behind a deputy minister when the questions we are asking focus entirely on the conduct of ministers themselves. I suggest to the Premier that he not hang out his deputy ministers to dry and that he look at the responsibility of ministers, which is what we are talking about on this side of the House.
The Premier talked about the importance of ministerial accountability. He talked about the ultimate end being political accountability. I would like to ask the Premier, with respect to the contracts that are now being examined by the Provincial Auditor, which were alleged to have been awarded by the now parliamentary secretary for Justice, if the awarding of those contracts has been in contravention of the Manual of Administration. I would also like to ask the Premier whether he is prepared to ask for the resignation of the parliamentary secretary for Justice.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, he is not the parliamentary assistant for the secretary of Justice. He is the secretary. I know the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) has been waiting for two or three days to ask the question. He made the mistake of saying to one of my colleagues he was going to ask it. I am not surprised the member for Renfrew North would ask such a question. I am very disappointed the leader of the New Democratic Party would feel fit to ask such a question.
I can only answer that I do not make prejudgements. I am making no prejudgements with respect to this situation. The Provincial Auditor is going to look at the process, and it would be ill-befitting to make any judgement prior to that being done. The leader of the New Democratic Party likes to prejudge individuals, personalities and issues, and that is why he is doing so well. His party is worse off today than when he became leader.
Mr. Peterson: The issue clearly is the stewardship of public moneys. We are seeing a succession of violations of Management Board orders. When we ask for accountability, everyone, including the Premier, denies responsibility. Now he is suggesting we are attacking some deputy minister who cannot defend himself, which is absolute nonsense. We are asking for ministerial responsibility, and he is denying it.
My question to the Premier, as the one in charge, is this: Will he assure this House he will bring in a system that will enforce the Management Board guidelines so we will not see any more of these violations that continue to go on year after year under his administration?
Hon. Mr. Davis: The Leader of the Opposition, I guess inadvertently, as is his custom, pointed out one of the problems confronting any administration of government. In one part of his question, he says, "Will I see there is some mechanism to enforce Management Board orders." Ten seconds later he talks about Management Board guidelines. There is a distinction between a Management Board directive and guidelines, policies and what have you where there is some degree of discretion.
I think the member will find there has not been a minister who has evaded or avoided a Management Board directive. The issue is whether or not ministers or ministries have conformed to the Manual of Administration and, if not, were there circumstances that would have permitted that to happen. The member should start drawing a distinction between guidelines and particular orders.
PRIVATE NURSING HOMES
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the acting Minister of Health with regard to the operation of private profit nursing homes in this province. As the minister may he aware, there are now 46 charges outstanding against the Muskoka Nursing Home in Gravenhurst which are going to be coming to trial this Friday.
I wonder if the minister can explain how the same principals, Mr. Stephen Bordo and Mr. Michael Ayers, who are the principals of the Carewell Corp. as well as five related companies which operate nursing homes, have since the time these charges were laid in Muskoka been allowed to purchase the 105-bed Casselman Nursing Home in Casselman in eastern Ontario by 542211 Ontario Ltd., of which Stephen Bordo is the sole officer and director; and that another of Mr. Bordo's numbered companies, 542212 Ontario Ltd., has been allowed to purchase the 78-bed Quinte Beach Nursing Home in Deseronto, Ontario.
The Elm Tree Nursing Home, which is another Bordo-Ayers operation, at the time of the renewal of its licence was noted to have 32 violations, including live ants in clothes closets in two rooms, urine odours in washrooms and residents observed to be inappropriately groomed and attired, i.e., unshaven, with soiled clothing and without footwear. How was that nursing home allowed to purchase the licence of the Acme Nursing Home? The residents in the Acme Nursing Home are going to be transferred to a new addition at Elm Tree. Can the minister explain how these three transactions have been possible, given the record of these operators?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to look into that for my friend. I cannot explain it to him right now, but I would he glad to look into it. He should not forget he began his question by saying certain charges were still to be heard in court. I would not comment on those charges. In this country everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
Mr. Rae: Given the fact that we are not only dealing with charges that have been laid under the Nursing Homes Act, but we are also dealing with inspections that have shown violations at the Elm Tree Nursing Home in Downsview and the Streamway Villa Nursing Home in Cobourg, where the inspection report showed 23 violations, while at the Kentwood Nursing Home in Picton the Ministry of Health found 13 violations, including such basic things as a shortage of linen, one resident being restrained without a physician's current order and one resident receiving intimate care without the use of a privacy screening device, does the minister not think it would be appropriate to take the record of companies into account as a matter of basic policy, given the fact that the ministry's own inspection service saw things serious enough to warrant the laying of charges, which they do not do in literally hundreds of cases? Does he not think it would at least be appropriate to suspend the allowance of any additional purchase of beds until such time as charges under the Nursing Homes Act have been disposed of?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I will comment on that when I have a chance to review all the details surrounding that particular situation.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, surely the minister is growing more concerned by the moment, as are all members of the House? As the summaries of annual inspections are now becoming public, we are seeing, even on inspections that are well noted beforehand, there are major and numerous violations.
Given that circumstance, does the minister not think it is time to begin a process of reform in which we would have immediate annual inspections of all homes rather than waiting for their licenses to come up, have further surprise inspections in any homes where there is more than a minimal number of areas of noncompliance and have spot check inspections throughout the year? Very clearly the number of violations is very serious and these inspections occur with warnings that are well given. Does the minister not think it is time for these reforms?
Hon. Mr. Wells: The process of reform has begun. The first step in that process of reform was making the inspection reports public.
Mr. Wrye: They are the summaries.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The fact that the summaries -- the reports -- are public means the member was able to have a press conference this morning and give out the lists of all the various violations. I suggest that will have a good effect on these nursing homes in future because they now know that not only are they going to be inspected, but they are also subject to public scrutiny as to the number of complaints or suggestions of noncompliance that are made against them.
We have certain ground rules or bottom lines I think we have to look at. The inspection process of nursing homes is carried out in order to point out areas of noncompliance. It is not to put the nursing homes out of business but to get them to comply with those areas. My friend is quite right. It is only in very severe situations that we actually take them to court and charge them. The main thrust is to get them to comply. The publication of the report is to help in that process.
That is our bottom line. We have never said we are doing it perfectly. We are going to do all those things that will make that process work better. It should also be understood that the bottom line of my friends in the New Democratic Party is to force the private operators out of business. I gather that is what they told the press conference this morning. They did not think there should be any profit operators or anyone in the nursing home business that was a company or who was in it for profit. That is the basic philosophical difference between their party and ours. We do not accept that premise as a bottom line over here.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that we are now on our third Minister of Health. The member for Don Mills (Mr. Timbrell) said he was going to crack down on nursing homes. Then the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) said he was going to crack down on nursing homes.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Cooke: Now the member for Kingston and the Islands (Mr. Norton) says he is going to crack down on the nursing homes, yet the nursing homes continue to thumb their noses at the government and not follow the Nursing Homes Act.
When are we going to get proper reform in the inspection process that would include a decentralized inspection team, which would be inspecting on an ongoing daily basis along with the centralized teams; the funding of advocacy groups, which would also have a proper and positive effect on the inspection teams; and financial accountability of these nursing homes that are making huge profits at the expense of the elderly in their care in this province?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, the crackdown process has begun as indicated by the ministers twice and three times removed and the present minister.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Wells: This process is now in motion.
I just want to correct the record. A minute ago I indicated that the nursing home reports were made public. My friend yelled, "Summaries only." I am told the actual reports are attached. They are not just summaries. The full inspection report is made public.
INFLATION RESTRAINT LEGISLATION
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier and has to do with the growing number of public sector employees who are being required by the Inflation Restraint Board to pay back amounts as high as $2,000 to the government of Ontario.
I am sure the Premier will be aware of the situation at the Pine Grove Nursing Home in Woodbridge where nursing home workers, making between $9,000 and $13,000 a year, have been ordered to pay back amounts ranging from $150 to $380 per employee. We have raised the cases of the Sensenbrenner Hospital, Pinewood Court and Van Daele Manor, which is in Sault Ste. Marie. Thus far we have had no action from the government of Ontario.
What hope is the Premier prepared to offer today in terms of concrete action to workers who are at the very low end of the scale and who are providing nursing care for our neediest citizens? What kind of hope is he prepared to offer to these people in terms of disallowing the actions of the Inflation Restraint Board?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to look into this matter. I have a few notes here in anticipation of the member raising the question.
My information is, and this is subject to correction, that the board has not ruled that excess payments have been made, nor has it ordered a rollback, but I will look into this further. Actually, apparently this question --
Mr. Wildman: By accident.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Would the member let me finish or does he want to make a speech?
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am just trying to be helpful. I am not being provocative. I am trying to give the revered leader of the third party as much information as I can.
My impression is that this matter is something that is being discussed. I guess it arose because of an audit being done internally and not necessarily as it related to the restraint legislation. That is the brief information I have. I will be discussing it with the provincial Treasurer (Mr. Grossman) and will have further information for the honourable member either tomorrow or on Thursday.
Mr. Rae: We are looking here at a basic matter of policy. If it was one case and one instance one could say this was an exception.
In particular, I want to refer the Premier to what happened with respect to the Sensenbrenner Hospital employees in Kapuskasing. On November 4 the Treasurer rose in this House and said that he had a sense of grief at what had happened here. He then went outside the House and told the press, and I quote from the Toronto Sun, "The bottom line is we are going to find a way to solve the problem. I think, ultimately, they will not have to come up with the money." Now, on November 21, the workers in Kapuskasing have not heard a word from the government of Ontario or from the Inflation Restraint Board with respect to any proposed action to force a rollback of the IRB decision.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: The question I am directing to the Premier is a very direct and basic one. Is the government prepared to take action so that the lowest paid employees of this province do not have to pay back to the government of Ontario as much as $2,000 that they managed to get out of their employer? Is he prepared to make that commitment with respect to the lowest paid workers in this province?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I sense the enthusiasm over there. The money is in many cases not paid back to Ontario at all. The member knows better than that. I would say to him the Treasurer dealt with the particular situation in Kapuskasing.
Mr. Foulds: He didn't.
Mr. Rae: He merely talked about it.
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Before the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) interjected. I was going on to say the Treasurer of Ontario had indicated in this House this matter would be addressed. If he had let me finish, he might not have felt so compelled to offer a contribution.
I suggest to the leader of the New Democratic Party that in programs of this nature there are always situations that I think merit particular attention. Regarding the one in Woodbridge, which is somewhat familiar to me, my information is it did not necessarily arise out of the restraint legislation per se but because of some internal audit or whatever it was. The Treasurer will be looking into it and communicating back to the House.
He has said what he will do with respect to dealing with Kapuskasing. He perhaps does not know the particulars of it and how it is to be addressed, but I say with the greatest of respect he made it quite clear both in the House and outside the House he would seek ways and means to see those workers did not have to repay that money.
Mr. Rae: The Premier will be aware the Treasurer at the time, now the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. F. S. Miller), on May 4, 1983, wrote a letter to one of the employees at the Pine Grove Nursing Home. I say with great respect to the Premier this matter does have to do with the Inflation Restraint Act and the Inflation Restraint Board. In writing that letter the Treasurer at that time said, "In introducing the Inflation Restraint Act, the government did not intend to imply that the wage structure within the public service was perfectly fair." He went on to say, "No program of this nature can be completely equitable."
The government cannot talk out of both sides of its mouth at the same time, try as it might. What is the Premier prepared to say to the employees at Sensenbrenner Hospital at Pinewood Court in Thunder Bay, at Van Daele Manor and other employees who have been caught in this web which has caused such an unfairness for them and their families? I would like to address this question to the Premier quite directly: Is he prepared to see, whether by means of special legislation or anything else, that these employees are not forced to pay back wages they were awarded, wages which in some cases they bargained for and which are theirs as a matter of right.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I do not think the leader of the New Democratic Party really expects the government to answer such a general question in a simplistic fashion. The reality is that with respect to Kapuskasing --
Mr. Foulds: In a direct fashion.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Pardon. I did not hear you.
Mr. Speaker: Back to the question, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I wonder if the leader of the New Democratic Party wishes his colleague to raise a question. I could not hear the interjection.
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjection, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I see. Can I start again because I was interrupted by the member's colleague?
I suggest one has to look at these in individual situations. They are not necessarily similar. I think the factual background could be very different in each case. The question of the Kapuskasing hospital workers has been raised here in the House. It was also raised by the member from Kapuskasing, the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché) -- that may come as a great shock -- in advance of it being raised here. The Treasurer has said, and it is factual, that there are discussions among the ministry, the Inflation Restraint Board and the hospital. These discussions are in process.
GOVERNMENT TELEPHONE DIRECTORY
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Government Services concerning the government telephone directory project.
Last Thursday in the standing committee on public accounts the Provincial Auditor told us that the cost of the directory and the related Telepac data base was $101,000 and $617,000 respectively, and that the latter was developed without the approved implementation plan specified by cabinet and without a feasibility study as required by Management Board.
Would the minister tell the House why, in reply to written question 325 on the order paper standing in my name, he stated the total cost of the project was $101,300 and neglected to tell the House of the $617,000 expenditure on the Telepac directory, which really makes the total cost $718,300.
Why is there such a contradiction between the minister's answer and that of the auditor?
Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, I do not have the written question in front of me but, as I recall, the question on the order paper asked the comparable costs for the 1982 directory and the 1983 directory. The answer, as given, was correct.
It is unfortunate that some people do not realize the difference between an electronic data base and a printed telephone book.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker. I have a copy of the spring 1982 book and the new Telepac directory of 1983. The only significant advantage to the public which I can see is that the minister's picture is on the back, although he is not wearing that snappy suit.
Is the minister aware that the unit costs associated with this project have pushed the cost of this book from a little more than $2 in 1982 to $14 in 1983? Is this his idea of restraint?
Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, if we could draw pictures in here for some people, maybe they would understand. Maybe some kindergarten courses might be in order.
Mr. Kolyn: Show and tell.
Hon. Mr. Ashe: Show and tell probably would be appropriate. I think we do that down at the lower grade school level with great results. Possibly that is what is in order here.
Once again I have to emphasize that we are talking about two different projects.
Mr. Boudria: The auditor says it is the same thing.
Hon. Mr. Ashe: The auditor does not say it is the same thing. The honourable member cannot even read properly.
Mr. Speaker: Order. This is developing into a debate.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, the one thing we are clear on is that the minister's senior officials were in violation of the Manual of Administration and, indeed, of the procedures of cabinet. What kind of answer does the minister have for this House on that obvious condemnation by the Provincial Auditor?
Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the deputy minister will be appearing before the standing committee on public accounts in a very short time, this Thursday or the following Thursday. I think it is due process of law, at least common courtesy in this land, that a person is not completely guilty until one hears the other side of the story. I think it would he very important and very prudent on the part of the members to wait until that occurs.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. He will be aware that the case of the adoptive mother in Welland who was refused leave of absence by Canada Trust to care for her adopted child was resolved. However, it was only resolved by the company's backing down and providing the 17 weeks' leave of absence simply because of the bad publicity that company received.
Recognizing this situation can rise again and recognizing what appeared to be his genuine concern in this matter, is the minister now prepared to commit himself to amending the Employment Standards Act this session so that adoptive mothers are entitled to the same leave of absence as natural mothers?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I will be making a statement in the House before the end of this session which I believe will address, at least partly, the concern the honourable member has expressed.
Mr. Swart: I am certainly concerned that the minister is only going partly to address the problem. I will send to him now the names and addresses of another case of adoptive parents, who incidentally live in the riding of Lincoln. The mother, who worked at General Motors, was refused leave of absence on two occasions when the parents adopted children. In both cases, she took the time off in spite of the refusal by the company to give it to her. It was only by good luck in the one instance that she got her job back and in the second instance through a union grievance because they had unionized after that.
Would this not further encourage the minister to bring in the necessary amending legislation to ensure fair and equal, but not partial, treatment for adoptive mothers?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I ask the member to be patient for a few days. When he hears what I have in mind, I am sure he will feel that it adequately addresses the problem he is bringing to our attention.
USE OF DEREGISTERED PESTICIDE
Mr. Speaker: The Minister of the Environment has the answer to a previously asked question.
Hon. Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, I want to respond to a question raised by the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton) with regard to the lack of notice concerning regulatory action taken by the federal Department of Agriculture in changing the registration status of the fungicide Du-Ter.
During the week of October 10, 1983, my staff received rumours to the effect that Du-Ter's registration had lapsed on December 31, 1981, although existing stocks of Du-Ter were permitted to be used. Despite repeated requests to the appropriate staff of the Department of Agriculture in an attempt to confirm the rumours, it was not until October 20, 1983, that such confirmation was forthcoming.
My staff was advised on April 30, 1981 by the federal Department of Agriculture that the registration of Du-Ter had lapsed in December 1980. Subsequently, my staff was informed by the Department of Agriculture in the Reports of New and Modified Uses for Pesticides Registered Under the Pest Control Products Act, January-December 1981, that the registration of Du-Ter was extended. Further, my staff checked and found Du-Ter listed in the federal government's official 1982 and 1983 compendia of registered products published by the Department of Agriculture. These compendia list the pesticides which can be sold and used in Canada and are the recognized official listing for these products. My staff is not aware of any further correspondence on the status of the registration of Du-Ter until October 20, 1983.
My staff has also conferred with senior pesticides officials in the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food on this matter, and they are not aware of any additional correspondence from the Department of Agriculture on this product.
The staff of both Ontario ministries have informed me that the Department of Agriculture and the pesticide firm are represented at the Ontario crop protection committee meetings. These representatives did not raise the issue of Du-Ter during the 1981, 1982 and 1983 meetings when the provincial pesticide recommendation calendars were discussed. The second part of the member's question related to the normal procedure used by the federal government to inform the provinces of any changes in the registration status of pesticide products.
The provinces are notified in several ways. For a recall type of action, the province is advised by the Department of Agriculture immediately by telephone and then by telex of the recall, the reasons for it and the details of the manufacturer's recall procedure. Pesticide products such as Cobex, Tok and Disulfoton were taken off the market in this way. All actions in these situations were well co-ordinated by the Department of Agriculture and the provinces.
For discontinued products, the provinces are notified through the federal government's Reports of New and Modified Uses, its official compendium of registered products, and through the Canadian Association of Pesticides Control Officials newsletters.
In the situation --
Mr. Speaker: I think the minister has answered the question very well.
Hon. Mr. Brandt: May I sum up, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps you could send a copy over to the honourable member.
Hon. Mr. Brandt: May I sum up, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: No. Thank you.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. He attended the Fredericton conference on acid rain and knows about the Americans' attitude to our apparent insincerity on controlling acid rain from our Ontario Hydro plants.
Can he tell us why he is unable to persuade Hydro to put scrubbers on its coal plants? I hope that in his answer he does not tell us it is because he is relying on the nuclear power plants, because at the rate they are breaking down we are soon going to be heavily using coal plant electricity.
Hon. Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member is well aware, the use of coal-fired plants in Ontario currently is at a level of about 35 per cent of their capacity. In effect, we use those plants to back up the other power plants in the system, and they are not required more than about one third of the time.
The order Ontario Hydro is under at present does not specifically outline the technology required for them to reduce the total emissions of sulphur dioxide from the existing plants, but I want to tell the member that over the next seven to 10 years there will he a reduction of some 43 per cent, from approximately 500,000 tons of sulphur dioxide emissions as of today to about 300,000 tons as of 1990.
The member raises the question about why scrubbers are not installed in the existing plants. Quite frankly, there is no need for scrubbers if there is going to be a shift in power from coal-fired plants, which are emitters of sulphur dioxide, to another form or type of technology where it is not required to install scrubbers.
It makes a great deal of sense that Hydro use the least-cost option, in other words, the most inexpensive way of delivering power to the citizens of Ontario. I would think the member would agree that we should be looking at options that reduce costs in the total system.
Mr. McGuigan: The minister may be quite correct as far as Hydro's production and costs are concerned, but it seems to me we are really engaged in a political battle with the United States to try to persuade it to reduce its emissions. I would like to point out that our bunker mentality here in Ontario is not producing results. I suggest that we need to go to methods that will prove to the Americans we are willing to make some sacrifice in view of the fact we are the people who are suffering most. Would the minister at least put scrubbers on those plants that are now subbing for the atomic plants?
Hon. Mr. Brandt: I take strong exception to the use of the words "bunker mentality." The member is completely ignoring the fact that Ontario has reduced sulphur dioxide emissions from four million tons to two million tons. That is a cut of exactly one half. That should be taken into consideration. I do not know of another jurisdiction in North America whose record can compare with ours.
At no time during the conversations I had at the conference in Indianapolis was the question of any inactivity or inaction on the part of Ontario even brought up by anyone in attendance. Quite frankly, they look with envy at the record of achievement we have been able to realize to this point, because if the power plants in the United States had cut back by even a fraction of the results we have shown in Ontario we would not have an acid rain problem in Muskoka, the southern part of Quebec or in other jurisdictions that are suffering from sulphur dioxide fallout.
The record of our government is one I can defend. I can stand in front of any audience anywhere in North America and stand behind that record with pride.
AIR BRIDGE CORP.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations concerning the demise of yet another travel wholesaler, Air Bridge Corp., the company that owns Chieftain-Shamrock Tours.
The minister will be aware that last Monday, in his absence, I asked a question of the Deputy Premier (Mr. Welch) concerning the astonishing behaviour by the staff of the registrar in telling travel agents the day after the assets of the company were frozen to send the payments to Chieftain for trips the registrar knew would never take place.
Is the minister aware that those agents who had the foresight to stop payment on cheques are now receiving a letter from Clarkson Co. Ltd., the receiver, harassing them to make good on those cheques they sent for nonexistent trips, trips that will never take place?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, just to clear up the record, let us understand that up until Monday, November 7, it was clearly the announced intention of Sunquest Vacations to acquire Air Bridge and thereby to acquire Chieftain-Shamrock. The ministry at that time had no reason to be concerned about the ongoing capacities of that travel agency with that takeover in the offing. It was not until late Monday or early Tuesday, when it was learned that the deal had fallen through, that the ministry felt certain steps should be taken and a precautionary freeze was put on the trust assets. By Wednesday morning, those calling in were told that if they were sending in cheques, they would be doing so at their own risk. By Wednesday afternoon, auditors were in place and an application was before the court for a receiver.
Even while that was going on, there were still discussions taking place with Sunquest about the possibility of it rejuvenating or restoring that offer and perhaps saving the whole situation. I do not know the particular circumstances the honourable member is talking about. If he will give me the information, I will be glad to look into it. I want to tell him that every precaution that could be taken was taken.
Mr. Philip: Maybe the minister is not aware that the words "at your own risk" were never given to the travel agents. I can supply the names of travel agents who will confirm that.
Can the minister explain how the registrar could have renewed the registration on October 22 and less than a month later we face this company going into receivership? What kind of inquiry system does the registrar have? What kind of incompetence does he have that we can face him looking into the re-registration on October 7 of the wholesale licence of this company, and on October 22 of the retail licence, and less than a month later we face a receivership in this company?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: First of all, I think we all need to understand that a travel agency, as I am sure the member is aware and would admit, has rather unique cash flow and capital problems that can vary greatly with the economy, with the weather, with a number of circumstances. It would not be unusual for a number of companies to have transient problems with respect to their cash flow.
With respect to this company, it changed ownership some time in May 1983 and the ministry was quite confident that the new owners would be able to correct any deficiencies they might find in that company. By August, the new company indicated it was still having trouble getting its accounts and other matters into proper perspective and it was therefore given until October 23 to file an appropriate audited report of the financial status of the company.
In the meantime, the registration came up on October 7. Surely the member is not saying that the registration should have been cancelled at that time, leaving all those customers without any protection whatsoever. Surely he is saying the government acted responsibly in allowing the customers who had purchased trips and were away from this country to have protection and the coverage of the travel industry compensation fund. The industry recognized the need for that fund: it was co-operative and saw the need for the fund.
In taking the actions it did at that time, this government was acting very responsibly, knowing that if at any time anything was found that warranted removal of the licence, it could do so.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, did they ever consider issuing an interim licence to the company if they could foresee only 17 days before that there might be problems? If that was not considered, would the minister indicate to the House why?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I think I just indicated very clearly that if circumstances had intervened that required an alteration in terms of the licence at any time, it could have been done; but clearly between October7 and October 23 Sunquest announced its intended takeover, therefore the concerns that anyone might have had with respect to that company were obviously diminished.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Premier. The Premier will recall that last year I tabled a resolution regarding the enshrinement of private property rights in the Constitution. The Premier has endorsed the enshrinement in principle and promised to introduce a resolution in Ontario.
Is he intending to introduce a resolution this fall? If so, will it be identical to the one that I introduced, which was adopted unanimously by the BC Legislature, or does he intend to introduce one different from the one that is on the Orders and Notices right now?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Kerrio: Just the author's name.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Pardon?
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Who is the author?
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Epp.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think the government has indicated its point of view on this issue. I think it is also fair to state that not all of the other provinces have supported this, so the possibility of this actually taking place at this moment is still open to question.
I am not sure whether the government will introduce a resolution. Obviously, if a resolution is introduced it should be rather consistent with the BC one. If it ever is to take effect and have support of the other provinces, the wording of the resolution has to be the same. I think we have indicated our support for this in terms of principle. It is a question of whether from a practical standpoint at this time other provinces will see fit to introduce similar resolutions so there would be an amendment. I will update myself for the honourable member. I do not recall other provinces indicating they were contemplating doing this but I will check that out.
Mr. Epp: Since some of the provincial governments have expressed reluctance for various reasons to endorse a resolution similar to the one that was adopted by BC and the one introduced here, what measures is the government taking to obtain the support of other provinces for this very important enshrinement of that resolution?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think it is fair to state there are some provinces looking to get our support for not introducing such a resolution. It is a matter that has to be determined by individual legislatures.
INDIAN BAND AGREEMENT
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Natural Resources if he was quoted accurately about three weeks or a month ago when it was reported that he said that for all practical purposes the Indian fishing agreement was dead. Is that a reflection of the lack of solidarity or lack of commitment on behalf of his colleagues over there, or has it something to do with the intransigence of the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, the agreement was signed on December 17 and at the time of the signing the federal government indicated it was unconstitutional, beyond delegated authority. We asked then, and have reiterated since then, for details on what was unconstitutional about it or how it was beyond delegated authority, or in any event how two parties to a delegation could not agree to amend the ground rules. That was never forthcoming, never given in writing, and Mr. De Bané, a week ago today, indicated that the Justice department's problems with the agreement were of a minor technical nature.
Mr. Munro's office, through an aide, indicated to the press that last Monday it would tabling a new agreement or some document to indicate the federal position. No document was ever tabled whatsoever, no subsequent agreement was tabled at that meeting and nothing in writing was put forward to explain the objections to the December 17 agreement. There has been no progress in almost a year since that agreement was signed. We have not heard from the federal representatives in over six months and I have to conclude they are not interested in signing the agreement.
Mr. Stokes: Is there no initiative that the minister can take on behalf of the wise use of our fish and wildlife resources, and is there no effort he can make on behalf of our first citizens, who for the first time have indicated they want to become involved in resource management and resource conservation? Is there nothing the minister can do to convince his federal counter-parts that this is the first step in the kind of sharing that everybody would hope for in implementing what we broadly refer to as treaty and aboriginal rights?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, over a period of almost one year I have attended meetings on a monthly basis with the federal negotiators, of whom there were five as well as a parliamentary secretary, Mr. Chénier. I attended every one of the monthly meetings. On two occasions during that time I met with Mr. Munro and Mr. De Bané, and before him with Mr. LeBlanc, on this issue. I worked with the federal representatives.
They came to Sault Ste. Marie in August 1982 and negotiated the detailed regulation which would have given the government of Ontario regulatory authority over Indian harvest fishing matters. That was also signed by the Indian negotiator.
All through this, including the September 1982 meeting when Mr. Munro agreed to the principles of the agreement, I have worked on a regular, ongoing basis with the federal officials. We have discussed and negotiated the details of that agreement over a full year. Since December 17, there has been no attempt on their part to come to grips with the issues or the problems that a lack of an agreement is creating in the management of Ontario's fishery resource.
In the absence of any political will on their part, all I can do is continue to communicate with them and make public the problems that are being created because of their lack of a position on this issue.
INFLATION RESTRAINT LEGISLATION
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have been asked by hundreds, if not thousands, of members of the Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario in Toronto, North York and other boroughs in the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto to present these petitions:
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned teachers, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and
"Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which will have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith under Bill 100, the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act."
It is my privilege to present these petitions to you. Mr. Speaker.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
UTILITY DEPOSITS INTEREST ACT
Mr. Mackenzie moved, seconded by Mr. Foulds, first reading of Bill 126, An Act to require the payment of Interest on consumers' Utility Deposits.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, the bill would require the suppliers of gas, electric power and telephone services to pay interest at the Bank of Canada prime rate on consumers' deposits. An increasing number of consumers have been required to pay deposits in advance. It is a practice with some of the hydro utilities and phone companies. A number of years ago, when guidelines for deposits were set down, the late Mr. Auld made a suggestion that possibly interest should be paid on consumers' deposits, and that is the purpose of this bill.
RESPONSE TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I placed an inquiry to the Ministry of the Solicitor General on February 1, 1983, asking for specific information about the salary of the chief forensic pathologist for the year 1983, The Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) replied on February 22 telling me that the information was in the public accounts.
The fact is that information is related to 1982. So I placed a new question on Orders and Notices on October 19 and the ministry replied, "The ministry had nothing to add to previous responses in this regard."
I think this is a violation of the standing orders. Mr. Speaker. I would like you to look into this matter and see if the minister can so blatantly refuse to answer questions.
Mr. Speaker: That is hardly a point of order. It is beyond my authority or jurisdiction to make such an inquiry, but I am sure the minister will take notice of your question when he reads Hansard. In his absence, I am sure the government House leader will take it upon himself to advise the minister.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I believe I have a point of order with regard to standing order 81(d). I placed two questions on the order paper for the Ministry of Natural Resources on October 28. My reading of the standing order is that I should have received at least an interim reply within 14 days of the questions being placed on the order paper. To this point there has not been any response from the executive council.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I will have a number of replies to table before six o'clock today.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PUBLIC SECTOR PRICES AND COMPENSATION REVIEW ACT (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 111, An Act to provide for the Review of Prices and Compensation in the Public Sector and for an orderly Transition to the Resumption of full Collective Bargaining.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak briefly on second reading of Bill 111. My colleagues and I are going to be supporting the bill even though it is relatively innocuous and does not respond to some of the real problems we have.
I notice the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman) is just starting his afternoon kaffeeklatsch. I do not know whether I can penetrate that inner circle or not, so while you are waiting for your relief, Mr. Speaker, I will speak directly to you.
The bill itself is fairly lengthy and substantially wordy to accomplish little or nothing but transfer away from the government its responsibilities, which it assumed last year to have some control over the economy at least to the extent of limiting inflation.
Frankly, I feel the guidelines themselves, having been established by the government of Canada a year ago for five per cent inflation controls this year, are eminently supportable. It is amazing that the government of Canada, with the contributions of some of the senior senators, was able to predict this year that the five per cent level of inflation would be established in this province and across the country. Therefore, the Treasurer is reflecting that good judgement when he establishes a five per cent growth rate in general expenditures for the government itself.
My substantial regret is that for all its careful politics, for all the care with which the Treasurer has drawn the bill so no one can point a trembling finger at him, he has not done very much to correct the shortcomings of last year's bill nor to do what I think should be done to assist certain levels of our economy with their continuing problems.
For example, inflation has had a tremendous effect on the farming community. The Treasurer himself, in an outpouring of interest in things agricultural, donned his rubber boots, ploughed into a feed lot a few weeks ago and dispossessed the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell) as the principal spokesman for the economy of farming.
I think it is almost cruel he should do that. The minister of agriculture has tried for so many months with such great difficulty to make an impact on the farm community. Here we have this chap from the depths of downtown Toronto, not even as far removed as Don Mills, who goes out and captures the love and affection of so many farmers with just a mere nod of his head.
The fact he was effective in this is because I believe the Treasurer is seen to be one of the few cabinet ministers whose opinions and argumentative prowess have an impact on his colleagues. For a long time we have felt the cabinet, which normally occupies these many empty seats -- I guess 29 actual, real, live cabinet ministers could be here. We are actually paying all those cabinet ministers $64,000 plus enough plastic to see them in good meals, plus a car and driver. Most of those people are probably now out sitting in the back seats of their cars listening to some CBC music program to fill in the hours when they could have been here participating in this debate and even supporting the Treasurer.
When the Treasurer did go out and talk to the farmers, I thought somehow, even through his few little comments, he said the right thing; an indication we were not going to permit, for example, the beef section of our agriculture industry to be lost simply because the pressures from Alberta and Quebec are so powerful that many of our beef farmers feel they can no longer participate. This is not the approach of the minister's colleague the minister of agriculture and certainly not of the deputy minister of agriculture who has said publicly that a large proportion of the beef farmers are going to have to get into some other kind of farming or get out of agriculture completely.
My point is this, while the Treasurer is imposing a five per cent limit on the public service, and we are getting a certain number of complaints back that this is cruel, unusual, unfair and all of the usual balderdash about makeup requirements, a large segment of our agricultural economy would be delighted even to have prices as good as they were last year, let alone have a five per cent increase.
It seems to me the Treasurer might give some serious consideration, while he is mopping up the last few farm votes in the forthcoming Conservative leadership battle, to putting some flesh on his comments made a few weeks ago by bringing in some sort of an effective program that would be designed to give the sort of assistance the beef and pork farmers require so seriously at this turn of farming events as far as the economy is concerned -- the pork farmers particularly; I know the minister has a particular interest in their welfare.
It really is a tragic circumstance that these farmers who were led to improve their commitment in capital funds now find their prices sagging well below last year's prices. Once again, many of them are facing the grim reality of closing out in favour of the creditors or the bank.
I want to suggest that Ontario does not compare well with Quebec and, to some extent, Manitoba and Alberta in this regard. There is a clear government policy there which is designed to favour the agricultural component, in competition particularly with Ontario, although usually it is just in competition with "other jurisdictions."
It seems to me that this bill, if it were going to have had some sort of useful effect on the community, might have had a positive segment as well as the two negative sections, wherein we would bolster the economy to the extent of a five per cent improvement at least in some selected areas of the economy where otherwise disaster certainly threatens in the next few months.
As a matter of fact, I well recall the minister's responses some months ago when in this House he introduced, or at least directed that the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Gregory) introduce, a bill increasing the tax on tobacco. Here is a farm product which has had the tax increased by something like 54 per cent in the last fairly recent period. There were few people in the Legislature who got up to protest that increase. I was one of them and I believe my colleague the member for Haldimand-Norfolk (Mr. G. I. Miller) was another, and the member for Elgin --
Mr. McGuigan: Kent-Elgin.
Mr. Nixon: Kent-Elgin, yes. We did not hear too much from the member for Elgin (Mr. McNeil) because there was a feeling, particularly on the Conservative side, that such a large increase, well beyond any kind of a five per cent limit, would be properly justified.
When the Globe and Mail jumped on the 11.8 per cent increase in members' living allowance a few weeks ago, I was interested that it did not see that there were a number of other implications in the government's policy where increases far beyond five per cent had been imposed by the Legislature, and I felt personally with a substantial degree of inequity.
Since the imposition of this specially large new tobacco tax, the sales of tobacco have dropped off between seven and 10 per cent, depending on which emphasis on the statistics one cares to take. This is a serious matter, whether or not one believes the future of the tobacco industry lies in its expansion or its contraction down to zero because of a health hazard. We are not here to argue that at this time. It is a legal industry and it is an extremely lucrative one as far as this government is concerned.
It is interesting to note that the tobacco tax alone returns to the Treasury of Ontario almost twice the amount it spends on all its agricultural programs. In this year of so-called restraint, when the minister in last year's bill and the continuation this year has his eye set first on six per cent and then on five per cent in government expenditures, it seems to be particularly unfair that in the instance of tobacco taxes he should have been so profligate in searching out additional government revenues. "Profligate" is not the word I am trying to think of, but it will do until the other one occurs.
The other thing that concerns me is the increase in hydro rates. Whenever it is raised in the House, I notice the defenders of Ontario Hydro -- and quite often the Premier (Mr. Davis) himself who has to ride herd on a number of his ministers in this connection -- are quick to point out that Hydro does not count and that in this instance there are built-in costs over which there are no ways a five per cent limit could possibly apply.
I believe the same might be true of the famous 11.8 per cent increase in the cost of members' lodgings. As we know, the increase was based almost entirely on rent review decisions that are based on the legislation of the government of Ontario. This meant that some of our poor members who have difficulty finding a place to lay their head other than in an apartment at Sutton Place or the ManuLife building or perhaps Queen's Park Estates, or whatever it is called down the street, have found that their costs for accommodation were going to be exceeded. Since the policy has always been to provide reasonable accommodation with a reasonable limit, it went up by 12 per cent to accommodate them.
Many of us do not use that amount of money at all. In my own instance, I drive back and forth to my home in the constituency, but I certainly put in my bills for gasoline. With the minister's ad valorem gas tax going up in the past year at least by leaps and bounds, I simply put in my bills to the government and I know they have gone up considerably more than six per cent. They were paid without a murmur from the Treasurer, or even from the editorial board of the Globe and Mail, which makes his hair, if not turn white, turn curly.
The whole thing is such a confusion when we as members of the Legislature are looking for justice, equity and consistency and we feel we have not achieved any reasonable or rational level of such consistency. I point out again the inconsistencies in the taxes imposed by the Minister of Revenue and my equal objection to the inability, even under part II of this bill, of the government to assume any special responsibility for the cost of Ontario Hydro.
There is no doubt these huge increases in cost can be attributed to bad judgement. We might call it unlucky judgement, but it is bad judgement all the same and, I suppose, bad luck in that so many of our atomic facilities have had to be reduced in their output to be replaced by the far more expensive coal-fired facilities. There is so much to be said about that because it is a major issue in the province.
As a matter of fact, just last week Ontario Hydro made its final pronouncements as to the location of the new electric power lines that are going to be built to serve southwestern Ontario. A terrible mistake will be made there if the government of Ontario does not take proper steps to avert it. If the government allows it to go forward, then once gain the Treasurer will have to rise in his place and say: "Well, of course the rates for Ontario Hydro have to go up by more than any kind of rational limit that we might impose in this House and Ontario Hydro will be excluded from any sort of control."
The Treasurer is aware that Ontario Hydro is even now planning and making its final decisions on extremely expensive high-voltage lines to bring the power out of the Bruce atomic facility -- I guess the stations are called Bruce C and D now, or Bruce B in general -- into London and southwestern Ontario. However, I presume the Treasurer and his colleagues here in Toronto have never brought their attention to bear on what is being proposed.
The power is not going to go from Bruce to London. Oh, no, that would be much too simple and much too cheap. We cannot do it that way. We have to take it east to Barrie and then bring it down Highway 400 to Milton where we split it into two lines. One of these lines goes along Highway 401 and another comes south of Brantford to London. In that way we fulfil the requirement of Ontario Hydro to bring power from the Bruce Peninsula to London.
Mr. Stokes: That is section 2 of the bill.
Mr. Nixon: Of course it is. I am glad the former Speaker, the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes), who is very quick on these matters, has perhaps in his own subtle way brought to my attention that perhaps I am straying a little bit from the principle of the bill.
However, Mr. Speaker, I will tell you Ontario Hydro should be included in the restraint. If those in the cabinet would even take a couple of minutes to look at the ridiculous decisions that have been made by Hydro or on Hydro's behalf, they would take the steps that only the cabinet can take to correct these ridiculous decisions and get Hydro on the path of common sense in the provision of electricity at cost.
Mr. McKessock: Open up the hearings again.
Mr. Nixon: Right, right, right.
I just want to mention once again, as far as these general controls are concerned, we do have political problems as well as straightforward, business-type problems. I was interested today see, I guess for the 25th consecutive day in this Legislature, a member -- in this instance it happened to be the leader of the New Democratic Party -- get up and read the fairly lengthy petition from the teachers of Ontario.
I suppose, to its credit, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation has a bit of a top-heavy organization when it comes to approaching the members of the Legislature. Frankly, I am sick to death of hearing the petition from the teachers calling for removal of the restraint provisions from their salaries.
They are a very effective lobby in Ontario. As a matter of fact, the president of OSSTF locally has asked the other members of the area and me to a meeting which was called before Bill 111 was brought down. The meeting has not been cancelled, so presumably the teachers are still substantially dissatisfied with its provisions.
We spend a lot of time in here listening to petitions from teachers which are repetitive and just a bit ridiculous when we see the terms of the bill itself. They are probably not too concerned about the utilization of our time. However, I do believe that in the recent past and even in the distant past the teachers have always commanded the respectful attention of members of this House as individual members. I regret this recourse to some sort of mass persuasion which I think just has a negative effect on the members of this House. Certainly it does not persuade me as to their case.
One of the areas of some concern in this bill is the area having to do with arbitration. A good many young Tory lawyers in this province have made their fortunes as arbitrators. Most of them have been successful in this by being particularly generous to the salaried part of the arbitration.
Be that as it may, I for one have supported the government in its no-strike provisions for certain segments of our public employees, particularly those associated with police and fire protection, although I am not sure firefighters are included in that provision -- the Treasurer nods that they are. I have often felt it is not acceptable that people giving that sort of service and protection in the community should have the right to withdraw their services over some problems with wages. Therefore, arbitration is the only solution.
As members of this House, we must bear in mind that if we are going to impose arbitration it has to be the kind that is seen by both sides to be free of outside interference. I know there have been many, particularly those with municipal responsibilities, who have felt the arbitrations have been so generous for police, firemen and certain others that they would much sooner face the threat of a strike and be able to bulldoze their way through, as they do in some other jurisdictions, and not be forced to pay the large increases in salaries and wages that have been called for by arbitration.
In the words of a famous politician, "We can't have it both ways." If we are going to have arbitration, we cannot tamper with the freedom of the arbitrator to make an award. I notice this bill requires -- I am not sure what the Treasurer hopes to accomplish with this -- that the arbitrator must make a statement as to the actual cost of the implementation of his arbitration during the ensuing 12-month period.
Presumably, if an arbitrator is looking at the provisions of the information provided to him by the employer and those employed, it is quite clear that if they are demanding a dollar an hour or two men to a police car or whatever it happens to be, these costs are going to be part of the provision of information to the arbitrator and would be public knowledge anyway.
Section 10, made up of two or three subsections, seems to be a little elaborate for something that is in most instances a foregone conclusion. The other part of it, which requires the arbitrator to take into consideration the assets available to the employer, is quite interesting. It is difficult to determine just what he would have to take into consideration.
Let us say arbitration is being applied to the police force in the city of Brantford. Presumably, he would know that only five per cent is going to be granted to Brantford as additional assistance in meeting the possibility of increased wages; but we must presume there is no limit, or at least no limit that can be readily calculated, to the amount of money the municipality can raise from its tax base to pay for the provision of municipal services.
Is the arbitrator supposed to take into consideration that the city has to pay a certain per cent on its roads and that the city councillors may want to increase their per diem by a certain amount or whatever? I really feel that provision has little meaning, like so much of this bill.
At first glance it seems to have a blush of reasonableness. Then when one reads it more carefully, the thing falls away into some sort of political tract. I must say a subtle and probably effective political tract, but a political tract none the less. In its basic provisions we are really saying we are getting out of the wage control business and that those people can do anything they want. We do not let policemen, firemen or hospital workers strike; aside from that, all sorts of negotiations under the labour laws of Ontario can go forward. We are not moving gradually back into that; we are simply saying they can negotiate, really, without any trammel from this House.
Of course, we are providing only five per cent, but in quite a number of instances, particularly municipal councils and school boards, they have access to their tax base, to whatever amount of money they feel in the long run they have to pay. The fact that anything over five per cent is reported back to some official who works for the government -- probably at a pretty good figure -- is meaningless.
There can be some small delays while that official, the chairman of the Inflation Restraint Board, can delay an implementation until he is satisfied he has been provided with all the figures. The only thing he can do that is tough at all is report to the Treasurer that something is taking place that may be above and beyond five per cent.
There is a veiled reference to some mysterious criteria the Treasurer may see fit to announce to the House at some time in the future. My own feeling is that he may never get around to that at all. It is just there in case he may in the future want to look better politically if he toughens things up a little bit. It seems to me that if the so-called criteria were going to be of any significance they would have been in our hands as we were debating the bill. Otherwise, we have to see that the Treasurer is, without further action of this House, really completely powerless to have anything to do with wage constraint or even the resumption of fair and complete negotiations as we know them in this province.
A moment ago I was commenting about arbitration. I can assure the members that many of the heads of municipalities and people involved with municipal expenditure have said repeatedly to me that arbitration is killing them and that from their point of view the awards of arbitration have been so generous they wish there was some control. However, arbitration cannot be arbitration if somehow it is simply going to be arbitration made by the Treasurer of Ontario as to what he thinks is fair and proper. If we are going to remove the right to strike and replace it with arbitration, there cannot be something included that is going to interfere with the arbitrator's freedom of action.
I do not see anything in this bill, other than a bit of window dressing, that is going to interfere with it. My point is that even though he has to take into consideration the funds available to the municipality, the school board or the hospital board, in many cases those funds cannot be determined. The funds associated with the Treasurer's grant may be determinable, but most of these boards have access to tax funds which they then can pass on to a richer pay package if it is their decision that such should be the case.
The case of hospital boards is a different thing. Unfortunately, over the last few years most of the communities have been inveigled into handing over completely their responsibility for the funding of hospital services to the government of Ontario. To be fair, the Minister of Health himself should be the one negotiating with the hospital employees since he is the only one who will find any money for their proper pay and services.
Mr. Haggerty: He found it for the doctors.
Mr. Nixon: The point is certainly well made by the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) that the doctors are a special case in this connection. Once again they are part of the political package that the Treasurer has put together, which forms this more and more elaborate and gilded vehicle in or on which he is trundling down the road of political progress.
It really is amazing the way the community has sat back and watched the Treasurer play the doctors like political fish and get credit for each stroke of the wand, each stroke of the fishing pole. It concerns me a little bit that our medical practitioners take for granted that an average income of $100,000 is their right, and the Treasurer supports them in this.
I have no doubt that by now the figures and facts are somewhat more generous than that, although when this minister was Minister of Health, he indicated quite clearly he felt the number of doctors who were attracted to medical practice in this jurisdiction was getting much too high. Undoubtedly, this is because they have been treated very generously.
I talk to some of my acquaintances and good friends who are medical practitioners and from time to time they cast their eyes to Texas. That seems to be the real Valhalla, if not the nirvana, of medical practice. Yet it seems to me that for every five who go down there, two come back and are very glad to resume practice, with the Treasurer sending out regular cheques to them without question, and to get back to the good old, solid, guaranteed $100,000 per year.
I think the Treasurer was playing us a little fast and loose in his announcement that the doctors would be included this year and that they would have to starve away on just a five per cent increase. We understand that five per cent of $100,000 is not a bad increase, compared with the five per cent that may or may not he available to the bedpan ladies in the local nursing home. That is a bit extreme in its comparison, it is true, but there is going to have to be a reckoning some day, political or otherwise, in this connection. We all know the doctors are not going to be satisfied with just five per cent, because the Treasurer has found an additional three per cent for them just at the turn of the year, which he does not like to count since it is quite near January 1.
I was also interested to note that the doctors were making some murmurs. Just like a kind of minor earthquake, about a two on the Richter scale, one could barely hear the vibrations of the doctors trying to work themselves up to a really substantial, strong reaction. It was sort of like the New Democratic Party trying to work itself up into a lather about the provisions of Bill 111. They are deeply disappointed that it was as innocuous as it is, and so far there have been no earthquakes from them at all. However, I am told the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) is getting his Richter scale hooked up and we may hear something later in the debate as they try to spin it out into Thursday.
The doctors are getting to be sort of like socialists. They assume that people are going to do something bad to them. They assume people do not like them. In some instances, I suppose, they have reasons for that assumption as a group, not as individuals. There are those who are unfair enough to think that at an average of $100,000 per year, which is of course with all their expenses paid, maybe they do not have too much to complain about.
I mentioned a view like that once in connection with lawyers, God forbid. At that point the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) got up and made sort of an apology for what I had said, since he knew he would be sending out the Hansard where I said lawyers were getting too much money and he felt he might as well put in a few comments of his own. He indicated that a person like me, having nothing but a rural background, does not understand how professional people merit these huge amounts of money. It was the worst kind of put-down I had in this House for quite a while. It was sort of based on, "Well, you farmers with funny stuff on your boots, you do not understand that $100,000 is where it all starts, just like life at 40."
I have no particular objection to this bill. I wanted specifically to express my views about arbitration. The fact is that as I go on and see the difficulties with arbitration, the problems with strikes in the public service tend to recede in their importance to me. I am just changing a little bit in that connection. There was a time when I would have thought strikes in that area of the public service were unthinkable, and I said so and came down strongly on the side of arbitration. As I have got to know the arbitrators better in my older years and have seen the kind of work they do and the way they arrange for themselves to be retained by the same group in the year after, I sometimes think a strike even in the essential aspects of public service is not as unthinkable as I did, and we might as well have the blood on the streets rather than the cash in the pockets of the arbitrators.
Probably as we go further in the evolution of this process my views will change as well and I may even reach the point where I cannot support the Treasurer in any of his incarnations if he continues in that particular road.
The bill itself, however, I find extremely interesting. I find it is what I should have expected from the Treasurer, and here it is. We are going to vote for it. I do not think it is an important piece of legislation in its effect and influence on the economy of Ontario, but it is a clear indication of what the future has in store for us here.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I would like to join briefly in this debate on Bill 111, because there are three or four aspects of it which cause me considerable concern. The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) referred to it as innocuous. I do not share that view of the bill. I believe the Treasurer has beat a very substantial retreat, and only a new Treasurer could have beaten the retreat from the intransigent position the former Treasurer took on this whole question of riding roughshod over people's rights and over traditions of negotiation within the public service to achieve an unattainable goal based on the very false premise that in some way the fiscal and budgetary policies of this government determine to any large extent the actual way the economy functions in Canada, in this province and elsewhere in the world.
There is a kind of an arrogance about that attitude towards the role of the provincial government, but it always allows the provincial government to avoid dealing with the areas that are within its particular purview and responsibility, such as the welfare of people in the province, such as the question of unemployment within the province and the question of the availability of social services in the province. Those are legitimate concerns of the provincial government, but when it goes out into outer space and starts to deal in macroeconomics, then we find it is at the expense of those very legitimate and appropriate concerns of the provincial government.
On October 11, when the Treasurer stood in his place and gave us his agenda, I thought that by the time this bill came before us we would have some indication of the policy and process of the government with respect to budgetary and fiscal matters to support the very limited framework of the statement made by the Treasurer on November 8, when he introduced Bill 111 into the assembly. After all, the introduction of Bill 111 is hardly the area one would expect the Treasurer to be making a major statement of position about budgetary matters.
I waited with some interest for the Treasurer to follow through on the agenda he stated to this House on October 11: "First, an economic and fiscal statement will be tabled in the third week of November. This document will include projections which set the stage for major policy decisions to be taken in the spring budget. Second, over the course of the next four or five months, we plan to table a number of prebudget papers. Each will deal with a specific issue of budgetary policy."
He then referred to the previous Treasurer's methods of dealing with these matters and went on to state: "By tabling these papers and changing their orientation, we will be sharing with members of this assembly information and analyses that have until now been kept under the hooded purview of the Treasury. The papers will provide a greatly improved basis for public discussion of budget issues as they are being developed, not after the fact."
In case of that, all we have at present when we are relating to Bill 111 is the obviously self-serving statement made by the Treasurer to indicate that Bill 179 has produced whatever significant changes have occurred in the economic life of the province to ameliorate to some degree the economic disaster we were facing a year and a year and a half ago following the 1981 election.
Of course, he had to claim credit. He had to let the previous Treasurer off the hook, as he moved on to what I hoped would be a new and more open and understanding role for the fiscal and budgetary policy of the province. We have not had anything as yet. Some may say I have jumped the gun. This is November 21 and, therefore, it is not the third week. On whatever calendar I happen to use, I would indicate that either the paper should have been tabled in the assembly last week or today if the very firm statement he was making in October were to have any meaning.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: December.
Mr. Renwick: They keep receding.
We are being asked to accept the thesis of the policy of this government as represented by the minister's statement and the bills he has in front of us without a single supporting document of any kind. Some people can say that is a kind of debating point. It is not a debating point. They are talking about their view of what Bill 179 accomplished in the province, and they have not provided us with any of the information to support any of the statements they made when they introduced this bill. Let me move on.
The other interesting question is the one of prices. There will be other colleagues of mine who can perhaps deal with it, but I find it passing strange that in the instance of the criteria to be applied to the public sector as the balancing factor for the purposes of Bill 111 we have a provision that, "The board shall assess changes in compensation in the public sector to determine their conformity with such criteria as the Treasurer determines and report on its findings to the Treasurer" and so on. This is in section 4, which is the operative section of the bill. We also find those criteria are to be published in the Ontario Gazette so they will be publicly available.
When we move to the question of administered prices, in that part of the bill which is in total secrecy -- no information is available to the public -- we find a perpetuation of the provisions of the preceding bill in which the minister, in this case the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie), who I did not believe was the economic expert of the province, will review prices to determine their compliance with the economic criteria established by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations under this part. Those criteria will never be published in the Ontario Gazette, nor will there be any public statement in connection with them.
The government makes fools of the members of the opposition when those prices that are available for the public to find out whether they have been controlled in their administration are all ones that have been granted significant and substantial increases. When the point is made, we are immediately told: "It is not those six that caused all the trouble where the increases have occurred. Look at what we have controlled. We have controlled 1,994." I think the figure that was pulled out was 2,000. So far as I know, there is no information either about the process or the degree to which there was any scrutiny of those administered prices for which the government now takes credit for the review of administered prices being a success.
I come from Riverdale, not Missouri, but I am equally sceptical when one crosses the Don River about the government in the field of administered prices. They are kidding us. They attempted to make fools of those who brought to the attention of the public the very serious increases that had taken place in the five or six items that impinged directly on members of the public.
But I give up on the government ever coming to the point where it will accept the need in the administered price field for a public review and scrutiny of prices by a prices review board. For as long as I can recall, we have talked in this assembly about the need to have a publicly acceptable method by which prices are reviewed. I emphasize the word "reviewed." That has always been the concept of the New Democratic Party. The upfront determination of prices and the factors that determine them are important matters for the public to be aware of when they are the ones who suffer the roller coaster of economic life in Ontario under this government.
I would like to refer very briefly to the court decision that declared unconstitutional a significant part of the bill along the lines of the arguments we placed in this assembly on Bill 179. It was interesting to note that no member of the government gave a single, solitary intimation of any kind that what they were doing was constitutionally illegal, even in the face of what I believe were concerted and strong arguments pointing out the areas of concern under the Constitution.
The judges apparently searched the record to find something the government might have said that would support those parts of the bill they agreed could stand with respect to the determination of a limit on wage increases in the public sector. They went to some limit to find supporting words. I do not know to what extent the judges may have read the debates of the assembly or the arguments that were put by the opposition. There is certainly nothing in the judgement that indicates they gave much consideration to those contra arguments.
One of these days the courts will have to give a very substantive meaning to the limitation in section 1 of the charter, "subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society." One of these days the courts are going to say that the place where that demonstrable justification has to be made is on the floor of the democratic institution where the law is passed.
If the government fails to do that, then its bills will be subject to challenge.
It is not a balancing act for the judges to substitute their judgement for the argument and debate in the assembly, nor is it significant that a partisan government majority would he able to justify limitations as demonstrably necessary in this society if they were in any sense spurious, specious or self-serving with respect to that government, I look forward to that time.
I am not often given to prognostication, but I anticipate that the judges of the Court of Appeal, having granted leave to appeal in this exceptional case when there were three judges, each writing his own version of the decision and coming to a unanimous conclusion -- leave was given in any event, and I suppose some day we may know why leave was given -- but I do not think we need to have very great concern that in January or early in February the decision of the Divisional Court will be upheld.
I would guess the record of the Attorney General on constitutional matters at the level of the Court of Appeal of Ontario would be identical with his record at the Supreme Court of Canada. Usually, there is a significant adverse setback for those in the ministry who are responsible for the constitutionality of legislation that goes to the court and goes to the heart of the questions related to economic policy. They just do not understand it.
I read the Treasurer's statement on November 8 when he introduced this bill, because quite obviously there is an attempt to justify this bill in terms which, if it were subject to a challenge in the courts, would be used by the judges to indicate they were satisfied these were reasonable limitations, demonstrably necessary in a free and democratic society. This document carefully spells out the kind of position the government lawyers would be putting before such a court.
I assume the Treasurer has taken the trouble to read the lengthy judgements of each of the three members of the Divisional Court. I am not interested so much in the fact they have held part of Bill 79 in significant part to be unconstitutional. I am very interested and will continue to be interested in the way in which the courts give body, life and substance to the freedom protected in section 2 of the Charter of Rights, the freedom of association. What that court said on a number of the factors related to the role of association of free peoples in trade unions for the furtherance of their economic wellbeing will stand for a long time.
They are matters which have obviously agitated the government for fear that at some time the crown employees or the hospital workers will have some usual and respected right of association which will not be curtailed by inequitable legislation of this assembly. That is what has agitated them. I could possibly be wrong in 1984, but my guess will be the Court of Appeal of Ontario will decline to speculate to any great extent about what might develop in the future with respect to adding further life, substance and meaning to the right of freedom of association under the Charter of Rights.
I hope the Treasurer will table whatever documents he is going to table, particularly that so-called statement he is going to put forward as we move into the closing days of this session, because it is customary that the budget debate will wind up the session. Surely there is some responsibility on the government to provide, having said it would, the very document which will give us some indication of the government's thinking about budgetary and fiscal matters in time for that to be understood and to be a subject of debate before the assembly rises in December.
I was concerned when the Treasurer, if I heard him correctly, said his document which was to be tabled in the third week of November is now going to be tabled some time in December. Of course, the third week in December will find this House in recess. That will be in keeping with the government's wish to deny to the opposition any opportunity to debate its budgetary policy in any meaningful way.
The question of arbitration is up front and centre. What is the effect of what the Treasurer proposes when he imposes an additional term of consideration on the arbitrator and an additional responsibility in connection with arbitrations, particularly when we are dealing with those areas of the public service where there is no right to strike, where arbitration is a substitute for international obligations assumed by Canada, where arbitration is a substitute for the full force of the right to strike as a component of the freedom of association and must be a meaningful process?
I do not have any expertise in the field of arbitration. I have never conducted an arbitration hearing, nor have I ever been retained as counsel to deal in arbitration matters. Thus, I can only understand that process and the way in which it must be conducted in relation to decisions that have been made. I think it is worth while and indeed important to take a minute or two to try to indicate to the House -- I am sure it has been done before -- why the question of the imposition of an additional criterion on an arbitrator is of importance to all those in the public sector who will be affected by it.
Section 10 of the bill provides, "Every act or regulation that requires or permits an issue that arises in collective bargaining by or on behalf of employees to whom this Part applies to be submitted to or determined by arbitration shall be deemed to include a provision that the arbitrator shall consider the employers ability to pay in the light of existing provincial fiscal policy."
"The employer's ability to pay in the light of existing provincial fiscal policy" is a phrase to conjure with in the first place. If the existing provincial fiscal policy is simply the publication of the figure five per cent with some suitable wording in the Ontario Gazette, then of course it has gone a long way to raise the consciousness of the actual fears people have of what is going to happen to the process.
I must say that I certainly give the government credit if I read subsection 8(2) correctly. It is my understanding that this provision will expire with the passage of the one-year period.
I had a very serious apprehension because of the way in which the Premier had spoken on this issue in Halifax back in 1982. The Premier felt that this was an important factor inhibiting government policy.
Because of the statements made subsequent to that time as we debated Bill 179, I was afraid we were going to get indirectly a perpetuation of this idea. But because of the time limit on this bill, after which I hope the bill will die and be gone, I think the Treasurer should seriously consider whether it is at all necessary for him to insert this kind of provision.
In order to try to understand this, I have read with great interest the board of arbitration decision of Kevin M. Burkett, who was the sole arbitrator in the arbitration between the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto Faculty Association. Those hearings were held a year ago last May and the decision was given in June 1982.
Going back over a long period of time, I think he identifies very succinctly what the problem has been with respect to ability to pay in the tradition of arbitration. When he comes to deal with the paragraphs setting forth the issues as he understand them, he states: "The primary issue between the parties" -- I may interpolate that there is a lot of very in-house technical information about university salaries which I have not attempted either to understand nor do I intend to read into the debates of the assembly. I simply want to try to express my understanding of the principles involved in this vexed question of what this provision of section 10 will be doing to the arbitration process.
I quote again from Arbitrator Burkett's statement of the issues: "The primary issue between the parties which gives rise to a number of difficult subissues relates to the association's claim for substantial 'catch-up' in addition to an amount to protect against salary erosion caused by inflation in the period since July 1, 1983. I must decide if the claim for catch-up, as put by the association, is a valid claim within the parameters set by the agreed criteria. If a claim for catch-up is a proper claim within the meaning of the criteria, I must decide if some or all of this additional amount is justified on the data which have been put before me."
Then he goes on: "If the concept of 'catch-up' is not within the scope of the agreed criteria, or, if it is, but is not warranted on a proper application of the data, then in the face of an offer which approximates the projected annual rise in the rate of inflation, ability to pay is not an issue and I do not have to concern myself with it. However, if the concept of 'catch-up' is within the scope of the criteria and if it is shown that there has been an erosion of faculty salaries, then, given an offer which comes close to the percentage increase in the operating budget for 1982-83, the meaning of the sixth criterion becomes extremely important."
In this particular arbitration, the sixth criterion was a criterion which required the arbitrator to take into account "the need for the university to operate in a responsible manner." So he sets out the one hand, and on the other hand the issues as he saw them with respect to catch-up and where the question of ability to pay is relevant and significant in the determination of that part of the arbitration.
The minister, of course, in his previous role as Minister of Health, in his negotiations with the doctors is fully conversant with the meaning of catch-up because that was the justification for the significant increases granted to the doctors a year ago. Indeed, Professor Weiler was one of the persons who came up with the justification for the government to use the criterion of catch-up as the justification for what, to us, were unreasonable increases in the doctors' incomes.
That is the paradox, was the paradox, which we have seen. On the one hand, the now Treasurer, then Minister of Health, justified on the record, on the basis of catch-up, the salary increases to the doctors, as well as an inflationary component which is not in argument here and has nothing to do with the question of ability to pay. Of course, Dr. Weiler's report was used by the ministry for that purpose.
Here, we have the minister saying to those members of the public service who cannot strike because of acts of this Legislature that the government is going to significantly erode the concept of catch-up. This is where we part company on the bill, subject always to an ongoing debate to explain to me that my understanding of it is incorrect.
We are saying that when the doctors began a work-to-rule campaign and even the dread word "strike" was heard, the government, in its own way, although pretending to be hard-nosed, caved in. The doctors even refused, on two occasions, the importunities of the Premier of the province to back off, to participate and say, "We take our share of this burden if there is to be sharing."
No, they went ahead and they have had a gentle tap on the wrist by this Treasurer, obviously at the insistence of the Premier, in order that in some way or other, as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk has said, they will retain the political support of the great majority of the doctors while irritating them a little bit. Some people call that politics, but the doctors have nowhere else to go but to vote for the Conservative Party in this province or to vote for the New Democratic Party. I guess they have accomplished that particular role.
I hope I have made the point that the "catch-up" which was the justification for the government's position with respect to the doctors had nothing to do with any balancing whatsoever as will be required in this case of the employer's, that is the government of Ontario's, ability to pay in the light of existing provincial fiscal policy; that was the decision which benefited the doctors.
It will be that turnabout by the government on this issue, by requiring this criteria, which will work to the detriment of hospital workers and to the detriment of those organizations which are much stronger than the hospital workers, namely the police and the firefighters in the province. I think there will be serious trouble with the Police Association of Ontario.
I have listened over the years to the Police Association of Ontario. They have advanced the legitimate economic interest, but I have never heard that note of concern and anxiety which is now being expressed, both by the Metropolitan Toronto Police Association and the Police Association of Ontario. I do not know where they are going to go on the issue, so far as the courts are concerned, but I think it is a matter which should be of serious concern to the Treasurer and to his colleague the Solicitor General, and from the remote vantage point where the Attorney General views the world it should be a concern to him as well.
Having set the issues as he understood them, the arbitration chairman Kevin Burkett then dealt with the meaning of catch-up and what its effect would be. I quote from his decision, "The concept of a 'catch-up' increase to make up for past erosion of salary or wage levels relative to movement in other salary levels or to movement in the Consumer Price Index is not new to salary determination generally nor to arbitration or fact-finding reports in particular." He refers to a number of basic documents in that field.
He goes on: "The effect of not recognizing the legitimacy of 'catch-up' is to prevent a group that has fallen behind relative to others from restoring historical relationships. Because historical benchmark comparisons are used generally in salary determination, a failure to recognize the concept of 'catch-up' in the field of interest arbitration would render the process more artificial than it already is and would lead to unhealthy frustration for those employees bound by its results.
"It is not surprising, therefore, that as a general proposition, third-party neutrals will permit employees to attempt to make a case for catch-up and if a case is made, we will take this factor into account in reaching a decision."
Without elaborating at great length on the implications of arbitrator Burkett's definition of catch-up, he goes on further to say when he comes to his findings: "I am compelled to conclude on the data which has been presented to me that the economic increases made to the salaries of U of T faculty and librarians have not kept pace in recent years with the economic increases received by other salaried groups in society and, in particular, with the economic increases received by certain other groups whose salaries are in large measure funded from the public purse."
He goes on further to say: "The conclusion that faculty salaries have suffered substantial erosion relative to movement in the Consumer Price Index and to wages and salaries generally is irrefutable." He goes on to make his decision as to what the award would be, subject to the criterion of fiscal responsibility. I believe the Treasurer would understand that those who benefit by the penalty which people suffer by the erosion of their salaries, if one precludes catch-up considerations by an arbitrator, are governments, when they are applied in the public sector by the introduction of this particular criterion.
Fortunately, in the case of the universities, it had criteria which referred to the question of the need for the university to operate in a responsible manner. There is a dissertation in here in which becomes to this conclusion: "The unqualified and unrestricted use of the 'adjective responsible'" -- as it appeared in those particular criteria -- "when read in the context of a criterion governing salary determinations for a group of employees whose salaries comprise about 50 per cent of the total operating budget of an institution with finite operating funds, encompasses fiscal responsibility, and I so find."
He then goes on to stress, as best he can, and to point out the back-up problem which develops in a society which continues to impose a limitation on catch-up, inhibited as this will be by the introduction of these criteria. In this particular instance, the criteria were part of the criteria agreed between the parties to the arbitration. Where it is a fiat of government, one can be certain it is going to be much more difficult for arbitrators to relieve the inflexibility the minister is introducing into the system, so there will be a compression on the system which will not be relieved by a reasonable catch-up provision as is usually done in arbitration situations.
The Treasurer knows there is not an arbitration he can point to where the arbitrator has not taken into account that in many instances one cannot grant the catch-up all at once. Arbitrators do not operate in a vacuum. Arbitrators do not operate with an inflexible system. Arbitrators operate within a system of flexibility and concern to achieve a result through what they often refer to as this artificial process, in contradistinction to the true collective bargaining process, in a way which will bring equity into the system.
Here we have a Treasurer who should understand these things speaking to this assembly in the name of some macroeconomic theory of this government which is totally wrong and which has produced and still produces in Ontario large numbers of unemployed persons. I understand there has been a decrease in overall unemployment -- and thank God there has but we are talking about in excess of 500,000 people in this province being unemployed at every moment of the day and night for the next five, six and seven years. That is what his projections, had he tabled them, would show.
He is trying to tell us he needs to introduce in this bill a provision that indicates that those people who are employed, who have suffered because of economic recession and other reasons a deterioration and erosion of their salaries in relation to other people on any historical tradition of it, are now going to suffer that erosion for a longer period of time. I do not believe in this society we can tolerate that kind of nonsense being called in aid of something called an economic policy of the government, because the social consequences will be very high.
We already had an exchange again today about the hospital workers who under the previous bill were subject to a penalty the government would never have been able to support. The Treasurer had enough wit to walk outside. He did not have to be other than the astute politician he and many others in the assembly consider him to be to know he had to say they never will be required to pay back that money.
But there is nothing to indicate that the Treasurer's heart on that occasion is going to embrace those members of the hospitals who are subject to the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act that will permit those employees some reasonable degree of catch-up over a period of time that will place them in a proper context in the society. They are the poorest paid of the general rank of the civil service of the province.
I have mentioned what will happen within the firefighting force and the police forces. The Treasurer knows as well as I do that over the years, despite vexations and troubles, the public service represented by the police in all its branches and the firefighting services represented by the firefighters in all the branches of that service throughout the province, have been among the most loyal and dedicated civil servants. In times of great difficulty and great stress, they have provided a public service. I think everybody, by and large, would be in agreement that their forfeiture of the right to strike must be maintained, but the countervailing institution in its place to ensure equity must also be in place.
I do not know whether I am correct. As I said, I am not knowledgeable about arbitration matters, but I did want to try to express where I think the hurt comes. It comes not on increases in line with inflation or keeping pace with the consumer price index. It comes entirely on the question of catch-up, where people who have already suffered the penalty of significant erosion in relation to their fellow citizens are now going to have some kind of a pressure cap put on the only available route that was open to them to go to arbitration in the hope that in some way or other they would be able to achieve fairness and equity.
I do not intend to go on at any greater length. I do want to mention what tends to be forgotten in the course of the relationship between policy of the provincial government and that of the federal government. We already heard the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk refer to the foresight and the prescience of how they could ever have thought that five per cent would be the right figure for this year as the cap on the public service salaries.
There is another part of the statement about which nothing has been done to my knowledge. A year ago, on October 27, Marc Lalonde said:
"The Liberal government intends to continue its efforts to develop effective mechanisms for consultation so that the broadest range of organizations and institutions, as well as provincial governments, may participate in the continuing revision and improvement of our economic policies." I leave it there.
Everyone in this chamber or within the sound of my voice, or those who will be reading my remarks by their bedside later on tonight in the Instant Hansard, or in the weeks or months or years to come when my friend the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) writes his biography of these days in this assembly, will realize that nothing has been done by any level of government anywhere in Canada to bring about that kind of consultation.
My last word of warning is simply this. Don't try to ape any part of or play along with any low level of consensus or agreement with what that government of the Social Credit Party, which is really a Conservative party, in British Columbia attempted to do in that society, because it will not work in this society. The government will destroy the possibility of the kind of consensus that has existed in this province for a long time, but which is very shaky and very fragile. In the last half dozen years, the only reason that consensus has held at all has been the weight of economic depression, which has driven people into a degree of self-interest that most people do not like to have to give regard to in relation to their fellow men.
It is for those reasons we feel constrained to oppose the bill. I do not know where the bill will ultimately end up, but the government would be wise to scrap this bill and simply rely upon the traditional collective bargaining processes and the kind of economic recovery that is taking place, having nothing to do with the fiscal or budgetary policies of this province, and get on with the question of correcting the fundamental problem in this society, the lack of jobs and the lack of an educational and apprenticeship and retraining system that will permit people to find gainful employment in Ontario. That is the goal. Let us keep our eye on that goal. Let us not waste the time of the House with this kind of nonsense bill which is couched in such gobbledegook no one can understand it.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Treleaven): The member for Huron-Bruce.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Would you determine whether there is a quorum present?
Mr. Speaker ordered the bells to be rung.
The Deputy Speaker: A quorum is now present.
Mr. Elston: Mr. Speaker, I have a few brief remarks to make respecting the bill. I find this bill to be a masterful piece of concoction by the government. It does a couple of things the government has been trying to do for a long time, one of which is get to itself off the hook for any problems created in this province.
They usually do a fine job in pinpointing some other agency, board or government body to which to pass the responsibility for any problems. In this case, they have decided to pass on those responsibilities for any difficulties which may arise from the program to the municipalities, school boards, hospital trustees and to any one of a number of other agencies which will now do the type of work that should have been done by the provincial government if they had the will and intestinal fortitude to do it.
It does a couple of things. It gets them off the hook with those voters who expressed the loudest and longest disagreement with the Bill 179 program because they can now truthfully say they have reinstituted at least partial collective bargaining with respect to their program.
They can also indicate they do not have to pay the extra cost of any bargaining, which is ultimately the result of this new piece of legislation. In that event, I find this bill a fine creation by a government more in tune with squirming and wriggling out of difficulties than dealing with them head on. In that sense, it probably shows a lack of will to govern the province and it certainly shows how futile they feel their thought processes are in meeting the new demands of a new age of government.
Mr. Wildman: A minute ago you said it was masterful. Now you say they have poor thought processes.
Mr. Elston: They certainly do. They do not know how to govern, so they are passing it on to other people. This fine gentleman, the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman), may be just a touch late in putting those two thoughts together.
In any event, I am here to make a few comments on why I think this bill is a shameful way of dealing with the problem. It is designed to pass on the difficulties created by this government to another level of government or to boards or agencies that are responsible to the provincial government. It lets the provincial government off the hook and at the same time accomplishes a couple of other things.
One of those things is the subjugating of those municipalities, school boards and hospitals which, to this time, have been very good with the financial dealings they have had to work out on their own. To a large extent they have been responsible for creating, as best they can, with the limited resources they have, a way of meeting the demands of their taxpayers and not going too far or too fast in collecting extra dollars.
This piece of legislation will ensure that municipalities will have to increase the tax burden on their respective taxpayers in one way or another to meet the new demands for funding for schools and services and for the payment of the people who work for municipalities. The provincial government can sit back and say to the rest of the people in Ontario, "We will hold everything to five per cent," when in fact it has taken the lid off the potential increases in property taxes. The burden now falls to local politicians to shoulder any of the blame, if it can be so termed. That is an unfortunate occurrence and will be a result of this bill.
In addition, this government has established a means of bringing on a second phase in its program for governing Ontario; that is, the subjugation of a number of municipalities in this province to such an extent that they will be strapped for finances. In that way, they will be forced to go into those larger political organizations that many of us have heretofore referred to as regional organizations. Because of the weight and burden of the programs they will have to negotiate with workers and others in their areas, they will be forced to go into the sharing programs that were spoken about earlier by the Treasurer in his previous incarnation as the Minister of Health.
It is unfair to try to destroy our local organizations by passing on all these financial burdens and the political furore that is apt to come out of the legislation we are looking at right now. It seems to be regional government via the back door. The forcing of these programs on local governments will cause an awful lot of extra political turmoil at the local level.
Basically, one reason I am indicating there will be an increased financial burden on these municipalities and others at the local level is the stance of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. They have determined, and the Treasurer has indicated, that there will be no more than a five per cent increase in their grant system. However, if we look at what is being planned by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, we see that it will mean, as we were told by representatives of the municipality of Kirkland Lake when we attended some hearings there, the loss of a substantial number of dollars under the new funding program.
At the same time that the Treasurer speaks of maintaining a five per cent funding increase level on his allocations, he will be extracting a good number of dollars from some of those municipalities which are least able to afford a decrease in funding at the provincial level and putting them into larger centres. In the end, I fear, this government will then probably demand that a number of local municipalities amalgamate to provide some sort of "efficiencies of scale." That is one of the main concerns I have with respect to this bill, in addition to other concerns that were voiced by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk in a more eloquent manner than I can speak.
I want to alert the people of Ontario to the way this government works, how it shirks its responsibilities and how it determines that it will not govern the province but forces it on to other people while trying to cloud that issue in the name of local autonomy and other great causes which it says it stands for. In the end, these people are ducking out of their responsibility and refusing to govern this province as they were mandated to do.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join my colleagues in opposing Bill 111, which is probably no surprise to anybody.
I really have some difficulty understanding the workings of the Tory party. They bring in Bill 179, and we do everything we can to fight it in this House. We are accused of conducting nothing but a major filibuster for the 60 to 90 days the fight went on a year ago. At that time we raised such issues as the unfairness, and we are reaping some of that now in some of the hospital and nursing home decisions, but the bill has not been challenged.
The fact that the bill made a scapegoat out of one group of our citizens has not been challenged. It just underlined the unfairness of the job it was intended to do, the hypocritical job of having the same effect on the private sector was there. We probably saw raises of less than what was allowed in the public sector in many of the more recent private sector contracts.
We did not see the emphasis on prices to give balance or fairness to the legislation. If we were looking for a consumer-led recovery in this province of ours, we sure as blazes were not assisting it by taking wages and money out of the lower-income workers' pockets. That is what we did to the vast majority of them.
We also face a situation in this province where we have a major gap between male and female workers, where everybody tries to be onside and says, "We all agree we should do away with this difference." We cannot get agreement in terms of equal pay for work of equal value. That becomes very clear and did become very clear with the bill my leader moved in this House just a couple of days ago.
We get put down, laughed at or argued against when we raise mandatory affirmative action programs to achieve the result of bridging or reducing the gap between men's and women's wages in Ontario. Yet the government is quick to tell us that it believes in voluntary affirmative action programs. Despite all the plans they are making -- plans, incidentally, which have been the same for the seven years I have handled the Labour estimates; they are the same in almost every set of estimates -- the gap does not change. As a matter of fact, it has probably grown in the past year or two.
This particular legislation that we had not only showed its unfairness to workers in terms of prices that people have to pay but also showed very clearly what hypocrites the Tories were in terms of reducing the gap between male and female workers in this province because this bill, as much as anything else, had the direct result of affecting tens of thousands of low-income workers, the majority of whom were women, particularly in the health, hospital and nursing home field, and they are the ones who got hit hardest by the bill. What we did with Bill 179 was to increase the gap between men's and women's wages. On almost every score we want to take a look at, the bill hurts ordinary working people in Ontario.
Probably even more interesting are the arguments that were made. I can recall the arguments made by my colleague the member for Riverdale. I tried to place a few of them, but I could not begin to match the arguments he made in terms of the rights of this legislation and what was going to happen to it when it got into the courts. I can recall some of the members across the way almost laughing at the arguments that were made and saying: "We'll see. Of course, our dear, beloved Attorney General will be able to handle any problems that exist in terms of the legality of the legislation, in terms of whether it contravenes the Charter of Rights."
It did not take very long for the challenges to start coming into the courts. I think it should be a matter of concern to all the members in this House that this government played so free and easy with considerations of the legality of the legislation. I sometimes wonder whether the driving force in maintaining power in that Tory party over there is not to find ways and means in which its members can use or misuse the laws of Ontario. That is clearly what they did with Bill 179.
Some of the comments made by the judges were rather interesting. I thought in particular that if I were either the Attorney General or the Minister of Labour in this province, I would have been devastated by the very direct criticism from the three judges themselves of those members of this government. In terms of the Minister of Labour, and they were probably being kind to him, nothing could have been rougher than the comments made by Mr. Justice O'Leary.
He stated that it was not sufficient for a member of the government -- in this case the Minister of Labour -- to simply state that the government's choice of action was the most sensible choice. "If the government could justify the infringement of a guaranteed freedom in that fashion, section 1 of the Charter of Rights would be meaningless." I do not know whether this is a little joke for Conservative members, but I think it is a devastating indictment of the comments of a minister and clearly underlines the kind of arguments I heard my colleague the member for Riverdale make in this House.
On the key section of clause 13(b) of the bill, there was unanimous judgement by all three justices. I understand the Attorney General is going to appeal or may have it in the process already. Like my colleague the member for Riverdale, while admitting I have no legal background whatever, I have to wonder on what basis the minister is going to challenge or has any hope of success against the ruling of the three judges. They did not strike down the entire bill but certainly did strike down the key operative part of that bill and made very telling comments about it in the judgement that was issued. I would like to know how in blazes the Attorney General is going to get to first base with that. I do not think he is.
I sense, even from personal comments that have been made to me by some of the Tory members, something that is even more disquieting to me as a member of this House. I have asked lawyer members of the Conservative Party across the way: "How do you now react to the devastating comments of the justices about what you did in Bill 179 and the very specific comments about the Minister of Labour and the Attorney General? How do you justify it? How do you respond? What can you now say about this? We are now into a crazy appeal that does not have much chance of success."
One of the answers I got, which I think is at the core of my concern was, "Ah yes, but you must understand the public supported it." My God, how in blazes is this government governing Ontario? Is it strictly by what it thinks the public is going to support, no matter how wrong, how unfair or how illegal it is?
There are days when I really wonder whether this whole place is not some kind of game. I often think it is a bit of a loony-bin, but I sometimes wonder whether it is not a bit of a game in terms of any real meaning or input from people who have been elected as members of this House and in terms of the role of the opposition as against the role of the government.
Let me point out that my constituency is a labour one, and I guess it is my bias. They would have an awful lot of influence with me, there is no question about that, in terms of looking at what we are doing in this House. They do not think or speak with one voice, and that has been to the Tories' advantage for an awful lot of years. However, they probably represent working people, who are 80 to 90 per cent of the people in this province. Therefore, it may give them a little more weight to begin with than some of the pressure groups in this province of ours.
However, I also want the House to know that I have had many battles royal with some of the people in my own constituency. If what they want is not only unfair but illegal as well, I am not going to support them on an issue. I have done that as recently as today in queries to my office on some specific labour matters.
That does not seem to count across the way. If they think it is what the public wants, then they bully ahead, whether it is legal or illegal, fair or not. I think we in this House should be concerned, and I do not sense a concern. I sense another bill that is a little different.
I guess my second real concern and frustration with the bill the Treasurer has brought in, Bill 111, is why he has done it and what he has done. As a labour person, I cannot do anything but tell the House exactly what most of the labour organizations that do not like the bill would say: "It is a heck of a lot better than what we had last time. There are certain things you do not do." But not one of them has any respect for it in terms of what the minister is really trying to do and why he has done it.
I know why the minister has done it this way; it is clear to everybody in this House. First, whether or not he wants to admit it, the statements of the justices had to have some effect. The minister shakes his head. I really feel sorry for him and his government. When there is that kind of decision in the courts, it must have bothered them.
I suspect one or two other little things bothered them almost as much, if not more so. I know all of a sudden we had Paul Walters and his associates up there with a petition with some 4,000 or 5,000 names on it, a majority of the Metropolitan Toronto Police force. They were also at a press conference, something that does not normally happen, saying: "This is not right. We are not going to take it any longer."
I recall one of the quotes at that press conference: "If some of our people do not support Mr. Grossman in the next election, so be it." Once again, the Treasurer can shake his head if he wants to. Let me tell him that when one gets almost 5,000 names on a petition from members of the Metro police force, and when that same association makes it clear that he is likely to have the same kind of petition from the Ontario Provincial Police and the firemen, there are three major constituencies that could have some influence in the community which are not normally constituencies that are seen as supporters of ours. They are constituencies with which the government has always been happy and secure, feeling it has them, if not totally on side, neutralized in terms of any political activity.
We have some devastating comments by the courts and, all of a sudden, apart from the organized opposition that was there and the strong feelings of a number of the union groups, we have three major organizations coming in and saying: "You are not going to kick us in the teeth any more. You are not going to shove any more dirt down our throats. It has become too much the Tory way, recently, in terms of this kind of legislation."
What happened was that the government said: "Maybe we do want to go to the people within the next year. We had better find ways and means of cooling down any anger that might be out there in the group we are not really afraid of, most of the public sector workers or some of the other unions, because we feel we can divide them or get our usual percentage. But we sure do not want to add to any increased anger that some of these other organizations might have. Let us see if there is not some way we can get out from under."
On this point I agree totally with my colleague from the Liberal Party in his remarks of a few minutes ago. The minister looked for a way out, he looked for a way of still doing the dirty work but not being held so responsible. What he came up with was a bit of a beaut. He decided we are going to limit transfer payments in terms of wages to five per cent, and that effectively transfers the responsibility on to municipalities, school boards, hospital boards and so on. They are going to have to be the bad guys and not the government this time around. It is much better that they are the had guys than the government, with an election maybe less than a year down the pipe.
The minister also says he is going to give some instruction to arbitrators. I see that point as being possibly one of the most dangerous parts of Bill 111 that the minister has presented.
I was expecting it, as was my colleague the member for Riverdale. I was not sure what the minister was going to come up with, but I too remember the remarks of the Premier in his speech in Halifax. I remember his anger at the arbitration board decisions on the university support staff and on the Peel Board of Education.
I remember very much the trial balloon that the member for Leeds (Mr. Runciman) floated in this House about instructions to and controls on arbitrators. While these controls are not as severe as I thought they might be, the minister has tried to set the ground rules in the guidelines. The minister has to know.
I am trying to make the argument that probably the Tories have not accepted arbitration board awards since day one. Yet they have got to know that arbitration board awards and decisions have been one of the few ways that we have broken new ground in terms of benefits and gains for working people right across Ontario. Some of the decisions have set us on the road to a slightly more fair and equitable way of life for workers in Ontario.
Arbitration boards are a tool about which we have grave reservations -- I do personally -- especially in the area of compulsory arbitration. Their use is also one of the avenues that I know we may have to explore if we are ever going to seriously consider getting industrial relations in a better and less adversarial position. Let me make it very clear that we are not going to do that with any mechanism until there is a little more fairness seen in the system. But that, or some variation of it, is one possibility that may have to be looked at.
The government has kicked a lot of workers in the teeth for the past two years and then to get out from under has passed the responsibility over to the municipalities and school boards. As well, it has decided it is going to start setting the ground rules for the arbitration people in Ontario. Boy, is that ever playing dirty pool.
Not only is the government putting in place -- and I notice no sunset provision or ending date in this legislation, which bothers me --
Mr. Grossman: Yes there is.
Mr. Mackenzie: I am hoping that is the case.
Without such a provision, the government is setting us up for the tong-term use of controls and arbitration. I get more worried every day about the private member's bill we had from the member for Leeds when I see what the minister is doing with this legislation.
I seriously wonder how we are going to get back to any effective and meaningful collective bargaining with real trust on all sides. I know full well the role that has to be played by the leadership in the trade union movement. The leaders come in because they have to have some means by which to talk to people in authority. I also know that they walk a pretty fine tightrope with many of their members over this kind of a role and that they hope to get something out of these meetings.
The minister has sat in on a number of these meetings with trade union leaders. He will perhaps recognize, as I recognize -- although he may not agree with me -- an increasing scepticism and, on their side, more than scepticism. What they really know is they have to do it. We may still be able to stop the worst from happening to us, but more and more it is a game. It is the very point I was trying to make. I sometimes wonder what is going on in terms of the responsibility of members in this House.
That concern and fear is there. When one runs into cases such as we have had about the hospital in Kapuskasing, the nursing home area, the cutbacks, the contracting out going on now -- and it is going to become one of the most serious problems that this government faces in the next few months -- it gets more and more difficult to get into any serious dialogue with working people over what might be done to achieve less confrontation in this province. The government is not giving anything in the legislation it has brought in to base any respect on.
I wonder what the government is trying to achieve. It cannot really claim credit and I have not seen many other authorities given credit for the reduction we have had in inflation. Most people will credit the lowering of the interest rates -- and they are not nearly low enough yet -- with having more to do with that than anything else. Most people will also say the fear of the loss of jobs is the other thing which is a very big factor. There just is no work and the government is not providing it and not coming up with programs that will provide it for people in this province.
Some of the people are worried about housing and the people who cannot get into housing and the lack of activity in providing housing at an income level people can afford. There is also the lack of activity even in dealing with something as small as how to protect people from losing their wages when a company goes out of business or gets stuck. Nothing is happening on this.
We have had two different Ministers of Labour recently. I am not sure if the member for York East, the previous Minister of Labour, was still Minister of Labour when he finally told us in one of his answers -- it was not a full commitment, I will say that -- that he was working all of the time on the feds to do something about bankruptcies and receiverships. One of them eventually said they would take a look at something the province might be able to do. We have not seen that yet. The fear is very great.
Let me give one example. We have a small plant in Hamilton that the whistle should probably have been blown on a long time ago. It is Grimsby Diesel, where 17 workers were not paid for the month of August and continued working because they were really given a con job by the owner about refinancing that was going to come on and how he was going to a variety of people for refinancing and that they had a potentially good, viable operation.
They were not paid for September and even the company's lawyer got in on it because by this time the owner of the company was in some trouble over another firm he had been involved with. He eventually ended up with fraud charges against him and was convicted in court just within the last matter of weeks. They worked up until October 7 and they did not get a pay cheque for August, September or seven days into October. It finally became too much even for them.
Yet when they came to me they wanted to hold back on raising a public stink about it. They wanted to hold back on any charges through the Employment Standards Act -- they are involved in it now, and just involved in it -- in the desperate hope that somehow or other the financing might be worked out and their firm might continue in operation. That is just one of the more drastic examples.
There are any number of people who are getting hurt in terms of plant closures, shutdowns, receiverships and bankruptcy, but we are doing nothing in this province to help these workers. These are the same workers, where they are organized, who are faced with the results of the kind of legislation this government is bringing in.
We have a situation such as Allen Industries where there are more than 200 workers in Hamilton hoping that something could be done to save their jobs. They saw half their plant go when the fibre division closed last April in Stoney Creek. At that time, the other half of the company was supposed to be in reasonably good shape. The fibre division went down to some plant in Virginia. What happens? We find now that the company is preparing to take the equipment out. The 200-plus workers in this plant have been given the date when they will be finished.
The company has refused to answer the specific questions they have asked. We did get a meeting between the Minister of Labour and the union and then I think he met with the company officials. We got nowhere. We did not even get answers to the specific questions those workers asked, and this is since the example of Consolidated-Bathurst that I have used a number of times in this House.
What do we find now? The workers in that plant tell me that they are actually going through configurations of the machinery as to how it might be used more efficiently when it is moved down to Mexico. I think the town is Chihuahua in Mexico. The orders that still remain -- Volkswagen, General Motors and Ford -- will be supplied from the Mexican plant. That in itself is part of the rationalization system that is going on in this province. I think it is sick but we have it going on almost every day.
What bothers me is that the workers in that plant cannot get answers to the specific questions they are asking. Then we wonder also why we do not have the trust and why it is so awful when the government brings in the kind of legislation we have before us now in Bill 111. which is a slightly watered-down version of Bill 179, it just transfers the responsibility.
We run into other plants. The member for Oxford (Mr. Treleaven) will be well aware of one that we probably would have asked a question on, that we may well yet ask a question on in the House in the next day or two and that we certainly will raise again in the estimates on Wednesday. During the estimates last Wednesday, I went at some length into some of the shortcomings in the severance pay legislation which, in fact, is a joke. But it was one of the things that was supposedly put there as part of the safety network, or whatever one wants to call it, for the workers who are the ones who are having to pay the price of the rationalization that is going on in Ontario today.
What is happening in this latest case, the Gardner-Denver Canada Inc. plant in Woodstock, where the employees have been told they will be finished in January? Incidentally, they may be finished long before January as a result of demonstrations outside that plant within the last two or three days. Very late on Friday night, according to what I was told by many of the employees, three trucks took loads of machinery out of the plant.
This Gardner-Denver plant was taken over by Cooper. There are 54 people in the plant, including the manager. The company is now saying it is going to take a couple of people with it and two of them are actually only part-time workers. They have an excuse for two others so that the actual layoff figure is going to be only 48. Therefore, of course, they do not have to pay the proper severance pay because the figure will be under 50.
If this was the only example, fine; but it is not. We are getting varieties of this almost every day of the week. That is bothering me.
I guess it is incidental that the production of the silent compressors that they make at this plant will end on December 22, if it does not end sooner, and will be moved to the United States, to Roanoke, Virginia. They have a nonsilent compressor, but they have a substantial backlog of orders and probably no production will take place for some long time. However, they have told the workers they might do the production on these in Sudbury and that would probably be a benefit. It might be the only fine thing I could see out of the whole picture of this plant. But God knows when we will see any production of these, if we do at all, in Sudbury.
Here we have a situation where once again this takeover by Cooper, as I understand it, had to be approved by the Foreign Investment Review Agency. It really makes me wonder at the paranoia of some of the members over there in terms of the damage or danger of FIRA. I have not heard yet that they have prevented the loss of Canadian jobs or have done very much to stop the takeover by an American or international corporation that in all too many cases ends up within a matter of two or three years. I might point out they just took over in 1979 a firm that had been in business for a fair amount of time. What did they take it over for? To shut it down? It does seriously raise the question.
I am sure people will find all kinds of arguments that say that is not so, but it really has to make one wonder, especially when one is getting such cases monthly and weekly in this province. We also have them playing around with the final severance pay of the workers, so they are less than 50 and so they can get away without paying them -- this is what they have offered; let me put it on the record.
The Deputy Speaker: As the member proceeds to do that, can I remind him I have been giving fair latitude to debate away from the bill, but I wonder if we could home back --
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, what I am doing, or trying to do and maybe not that well, is point out we are being hit with Bill 111. We have just come out of Bill 179. We have the government asking for some understanding and fairness and we have workers saying the same thing with a heck of a lot more reason. These are some of the reasons for it.
The safety network that is there which is supposed to stop workers from being hurt is not serving the purpose. In this case, the company is offering the hourly workers $175 for each year of service. If they qualified under the severance pay legislation, section 40a of the Employment Standards Act, each of the workers would get $475 for each year of service. I raise that to point out $175 as against $475. There is a substantial profit even there in terms of the company being able to deliberately undermine the severance pay legislation in Ontario.
The Deputy Speaker: The point I was making for the member, while he is taking a pause, is that the bill deals with the public sector. We did appreciate comments that might help. But I think we do have to come back to the bill.
Mr. Mackenzie: I am sure the Speaker is well aware that while the bill is directly aimed at the public sector there have been adequate comments from ministers and from the government side of the House as to their hope this bill will have the effect -- the real purpose of this bill is to affect all workers in Ontario and the private sector as well. Certainly, it is having exactly that effect on private sector workers as well as on public sector workers in Ontario.
I suppose there is some question in some people's minds as to whether they are public or private sector in terms of the nursing homes, but we have the same thing happening there. Not only are they mostly effectively controlled by the legislation, but nobody has got hurt more than that group of people at the lowest wage level in our communities. There are firms like Medox. Is it a division of Drake in the US, with computers and advertising -- a huge conglomerate? It is running Medox and offering to supply workers at $6.75 an hour. That is what its offer was in at least two of the nursing homes. That is the agency that was to be used. That they will then get from $4.25 to $4.75 an hour says to me that somebody is making one hell of a $2-an-hour ripoff in a private firm that contributes absolutely nothing.
There is that kind of ripoff there, but at the same time there is the nursing home that may, through the workers' struggles -- and organizing nursing homes is one of the toughest fights in the trade union field -- have finally organized, achieved one, two or three contracts and got their wages up to $8.75 an hour plus benefits. They may be in roughly the $10 range, still in most cases slightly less than hospital workers and in many cases with a tougher job than hospital workers.
These people have been zipped by the legislation and will be zipped by the new bill. These people clearly point out the unfairness and inequity in what is going on in our society today. They also raise clear questions in my mind, as they should in everybody's mind, as to the kind of profiteering and ripoff that is allowed in certain sectors.
Nothing is done about that. I do not know how one would set a $2-per-hour income for the supplier of these workers, this big American outfit. I do not know how one would set a limit on their earnings, but they are sure as blazes getting away with murder by pocketing $2 an hour for providing workers because people are desperate and willing to work for that kind of wage. In the process, we are deliberately undermining fair wages and fair working conditions for people in this province.
I want to point out that they are able to get away with undermining wages and working conditions like this because of legislation like Bill 179 and Bill 111. They have declared open season on public sector workers, and the concern that is there has spread into the private sector as well.
I do not know what the final result of it all is going to be, but to me at least, what this government is doing is despicable and not justified. I will admit to being a little emotional at times, but if anything has made me really discouraged and cynical about the government of the province, it has been the legislation we have gone through in the last couple of years.
I happen to love this province. It is mine and it is the place where I would like to bring up my kids. I am not proud of a government that fools around with groups of workers' rights as this government has done. I am not proud of a government that fools around without taking specific action to protect workers when they get hurt, and a lot of them are getting hurt these days.
What are we asking for? We get down to the kind of effect we are having on wages and on people who are forced into part-time jobs. We see that in a number of areas, and it bothers me. I have had a few arguments with another minister over some of the problems of our part-time and temporary help in the Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores. I know because I have had some of them bring in what they are earning in wages. Then I understand that the policies of this government are creating, apart from record unemployment and fear of the future among workers, another phenomenon.
I had trouble with one of them, but I finally got the figures from two of the agencies trying to help people in my community, in terms of the kind of people coming into them for help or for a meal. There is a soup kitchen operation in both of these places. But people are also coming in for bags of groceries because they are desperate. They gave me the total daily figures for October, usually only the cases where they helped.
I will give the figures for just two or three days. This is what is happening to them, and they were concerned. On October 5, 1981, 52 people came to one agency for help; on October 5, 1982, 63 people came and on the same day in 1983, 118 came. When I talked to the people dealing with them, they were concerned. On October 6 the figures were 58, 62 and 130 respectively: on October 7 they were 61, 65, and 135, going back over the last three years.
Taking the other agency, I will use total figures. I will go back a year ago to August 1982: single parent, two-parent family, couple young, couple middle, couple senior, youth single, single middle, single senior, with a breakdown in classifications. This was for groceries, housing, counselling and advocacy -- those are very small numbers. The vast majority was for groceries and other assistance. What are the total figures of people who come to see them? In August 1982 there were 749; in August 1983, 2,788; in September 1983, in that same north- end service agency in the city of Hamilton, 3,009.
I do not know if I have the other figures here, but I also used them in the Labour estimates so I will not delay by going into them now. What is happening in terms of the lengths of time people are out of work? What is happening in terms of the kind of people who are out of work? What they are seeing in the agencies and on welfare now is people who worked previously, who have now run out of benefits and are forced to resort to welfare assistance, and they are staying on it for an inordinately long time. Those are all things that are happening as a result of the lack of the action I think is needed in Ontario.
What do we get? We get wage restraint lowering the purchasing power even more. Because times are so tough, we know it will be felt by all workers, but the government says: "Let's direct it at the public sector. Let's make them the scapegoats," exactly as it did with Bill 179. They have not got the guts to do it themselves this time. They are going to let the municipalities take the flak if anybody does go above the five per cent.
Mr. Martel: They are not going to be as popular at the polls this year.
Mr. Mackenzie: As I said at the outset, apart from the various groups that have been pressuring them, there is no question in my mind they want to be out from under before they go to the people in an election in terms of the direct responsibility for what they are doing.
We get into an admittedly higher income group, but also a group that has become very concerned, I thought the newsletter from the Ontario separate school teachers was a good one. It might be worth reading some of it into the record here, dealing with this bill:
"Ontario's separate school teachers predicted today that government restraint legislation would unfairly penalize poorer school boards and could lead to provincial control of local bargaining." That is part of the point I am trying to make. It is also part of the danger with the arbitrator's control.
Kevin Kennedy, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association said: "The five per cent guideline would damage the province's policy of providing equal educational opportunity. School boards with access to a large commercial tax base could raise additional funds to enable them to increase spending by more than the restraint program's five per cent guideline. These boards would have greater ability to pay, a mandatory factor for arbitrators in the restraint program, and would have an unfair advantage over assessment-poor boards,"
I do not think anybody here can disagree with that argument. It is a valid one. I would be surprised if the minister or anybody else said it did not make sense.
Kennedy also said: "The spread in funds available is now as great as $1,000 per pupil in some school boards. Poorer boards were also hurt by being forced to cut back on programs, including the special education programs which are now being phased in under the legislation to take full effect in 1985. Resources should be shared equally."
"The consensus of media commentators and those affected directly by the government's restraint package indicates a belief that the government has cleverly shifted the responsibility from itself to the municipalities and the school boards." That is exactly the point I was making. It is pretty obvious to a heck of a number of people as I talk to them.
"By the same token, they have aimed to accomplish several other objectives, retaining control over salaries and expenditures by limiting transfer payments and limiting the actions of arbitrators." I cannot emphasize it enough. I am really concerned with the control on arbitrators. It is insidious as a means for dealing with working people and getting them under long-term control, as I see it.
"This type of indirect control applied provincially goes some way to setting up a provincial wage pattern or, in a sense, provincial control of negotiations. For those who are concerned about autonomy and local control, there is very little local control left other than to subdivide a very small piece of pie."
With the grid and with some of the benefits of increased training, I heard Margaret Wilson clearly outline to us a matter of days ago that the $1,000 is really an illusion in terms of being able to do anything to take care of even some of the inconsistencies that now exist in terms of teachers.
To go on with this release, it says: "Clearly, the government has presented a carefully prepared package, carefully prepared to avoid having to shoulder any direct responsibility for the actions that will follow as provincial and municipal employees and teachers negotiate future agreements. The long-term difference from what Bill Bennett tried to achieve in British Columbia is not so clear. The direction clearly is to retrench and to standardize across the province."
They did not come down with the hammer, the stupidity of a Bennett in BC, but in the long term they are sure aiming for exactly the same thing. I guess that is something they feel is to their credit. They were smart enough to understand that the public did accept this, but also to say, "We better do it in a way that does not make it obvious we are kicking these people right in the teeth."
The news release continues: "For school systems, the more immediate problem for boards with limited local taxing ability is how to save programs and treat their teaching staffs with some degree of fairness. Right now in Ontario there can be as much as a $1,000-a-student difference in the per pupil moneys of the assessment-poor boards, both public and separate, as compared to the assessment-rich boards. The latter have not necessarily been limited to very basic programs. The former, given their limited resources, have been cutting back on programs, including the special education program."
The inference we should all make there is that we can further the inequities and the kinds of programs that are offered to kids between the richer- and the poorer-funded boards with this particular legislation.
"The real issue is the manner in which education is funded. Originally, the tax foundation plan was designed to provide equal educational opportunity through equal educational funding. It does not do so for boards which are assessment-poor, which do not have access to any large amount of commercial or industrial assessment and which cannot levy above ceilings because the residential taxpayers would be heavily penalized. Consequently, these boards do not have the ability to pay.
"By making ability to pay a mandatory consideration for arbitrators, the provincial government is evading its responsibility to handle the problems of assessment-poor boards. These boards cannot treat their teachers fairly, nor can they keep up with the programs the Ministry of Education says must be implemented, particularly in the area of special education. Ontario's methods of handling educational funding are complicated and increasingly unfair to many boards. Resources should be shared equally. The need to provide equal educational opportunities requires that we act on this matter."
Without doing a job on how specifically they are being unfairly treated, and I think they are, they have also very fairly and very effectively outlined the dangers and difficulties of this legislation and, once again, the unfairness in terms of dealing with the teaching segment of our population. I will never be convinced that the way this government has done this was anything but a shameful, dishonest and cowardly way out of the mess it got itself into as a result of legislation that was unfair and has clearly been ruled to be illegal. More than the illegality of it, it is legislation that has not been fair to a segment of the working people in the province.
The government might even have got some credit for what it is doing in the collective bargaining scene here if there had been adequate compensating factors in terms of prices or in how it dealt with the much more well-to-do in our society, or even if there had been a little bit more fairness in the assessments or increases a group like the doctors got. None of that was there in anything this government did.
As a result, I do not think the government has earned the respect or the right to expect labour to sit down with it and take a look at alternative methods of dealing with some of the serious problems we face. I think labour has more sense of responsibility, and it probably will anyhow because it knows things have to happen in our society today to change some of the rules we operate under. But I would not feel comfortable and I do not think they will in doing it, in terms of feeling they either have respect or can expect equality, justice or fairness from this government.
I think what the government is doing is wrong. I hope the members of the House will think about it and another time around will read some of the comments of the justices. I hope Liberal Party members will come to their senses and realize they are going nowhere by supporting the government on this bill, I hope members of the House will take another serious look at the legislation and vote to see we do not further stain Ontario's name for fairness.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment very briefly on the bill and on some of the ways it impacts upon my own constituency of Prescott-Russell. The minister is probably aware I have raised in this House on a number of occasions one of the great difficulties that is occurring in my constituency, the loss of assessment revenue our municipalities and our counties are experiencing.
The united counties of Prescott-Russell, together with the two school boards of our area and the town of Hawkesbury, have lost some $826,000 worth of revenue this year alone. This decrease of revenue is very serious. In the case of the town of Hawkesbury, it represents 20 per cent of the assessment it had. It is my hope that the minister, although he has temporarily left the chamber, will read Hansard extensively and inform himself on this issue. I hope the government House leader will inform him when he gets back about these sad situations we have in that area and the loss of revenue our municipalities are experiencing.
The reason it is important to bring this up at this time is to emphasize that we do not want the municipalities in Prescott-Russell to suffer from any loss of grants through the provisions of Bill 111. Also, of course, we want an increase in funds to be allocated to those municipalities, school boards and counties to compensate much more than five per cent. We are losing 20 per cent of our assessments.
Mr. Laughren: How is the member hoping to get more than five per cent? He is out of sync.
Mr. Boudria: I notice the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) is paying close attention to this.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. You are doing just fine. You can continue.
Mr. Boudria: I am just indicating we need more funds either through increases as per the provisions of this bill or through increases in unconditional grants. The net effect is that we must find a mechanism in Prescott-Russell to counteract the difficulty we have had in a tremendous loss of assessment at the same time as we have increasing unemployment and increasing welfare rolls.
Mr. Iaughren: Just Prescott-Russell, is that right? The member is not parochial, of course. How about the others?
Mr. Boudria: I see some of the members to my left are very jittery.
The Deputy Speaker: If the member for Nickel Belt would just listen, he might get the answer to his question.
Mr. Wrye: They are just upset when they only get eight per cent of the vote.
Mr. Boudria: I do not know how the people to my left can talk mathematics in this House when there are 22 of them and they get 30 per cent of the research funds. They are out of sync with their math over there. They work with modern math the same as the government does when it celebrates the bicentennial of 1791 in 1984. It is part of the same kind of mathematical illogic we see in this House.
The Deputy Speaker: Back to the principle of the bill.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Can the member tell us how he supports this bill?
The Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, it is not a very good point either.
The Deputy Speaker: His comments have been out of order.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Prescott-Russell will continue.
Mr. Boudria: I was discussing the tremendous loss of revenue our municipalities are experiencing and the increase in welfare rolls and unemployment in our area. This is a serious concern not only for Hawkesbury but for adjoining municipalities in that area as well.
What we see lacking in the bill is the same thing as last year, namely, a lack of commitment from the government in ensuring that Hydro rates -- Hydro being one of the worst moneywasters of this province -- are not included in so far as the governed prices are concerned. Health insurance rates and the Ontario Housing Corp. are others. Ontario Housing is a very important issue there because the people of Prescott-Russell have the same concern when their revenues are decreasing and they do not see any break --
Mr. Laughren: I do not see how the member can support this bill.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, the member for Nickel Belt. The member for Prescott-Russell.
Mr. Boudria: They are restless, Mr. Speaker. We do not see any break at all in the Ontario Housing rental rates the people of our area are paying. We also have another situation at Ontario Housing which relates to what is referred to as the low end of market units. Of course, those units do not apply to those people who qualify for rent-geared-to-income housing, but they are the so-called market variety.
The market rate is not established by anything that relates to real costs. It relates rather to the shortage of available housing we have right now, especially in eastern Ontario, in the Ottawa area and in my constituency. This shortage produces a situation whereby the pressure on the market creates an increase in prices and the provincial government and Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing use that inflated price to arrive at their own, whether or not it has any relation to the increased cost of providing that housing. This is extremely unfair to the people with low incomes in my constituency. I would hope the government would address those issues as well.
As well, I have a particular concern in education. While there is a provision for a five per cent increase, we have a large group of teachers pooled together at present because of last year's bill. They did not get merit pay, especially those who were over the $35,000 limit which was imposed last year.
Mr. Wrye: That was because the New Democratic Party wouldn't let it come to a vote.
Mr. Boudria: Last year we proposed an amendment to change this, along with many other things. The House will recall our amendment on Ontario Hydro, the Ontario health insurance plan rates, Ontario Housing and so forth. However, one particular political party in this Legislature refused to allow the Liberals to introduce their very worthwhile amendments, which I am sure you, Mr. Speaker, as a member of the government party, would have supported. They were very good amendments, and I am sure many of the back-benchers over there would have loved --
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege --
Mr. Rotenberg: He hasn't mentioned you by name yet.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I am talking about the privileges of members of the government party and not about my own privileges; they have not been abused. I think it is unfair to imply that members of the government party would have voted for the Liberal amendment when they had already indicated they would not do so.
The Deputy Speaker: I do not think that is really a point of privilege.
Mr. Boudria: It was not a point of privilege because it was not his own privilege, as you will recognize, Mr. Speaker. I would add further that it was not even a good point. Nevertheless, we know that members of this House, being objective, would have seen that the amendments we proposed were very worth while.
Of course, members of the party to our left indicated they would not allow our amendments to come to a vote. Then, being the sanctimonious people they are, they stood up afterwards and said they were the defenders of everything that was right in this Legislature. How unusual for people who refused to allow amendments that would have ensured OHIP premiums and Hydro rates would not increase beyond five per cent.
Today, in this Legislature, they are heckling. I do not blame them. They just do not know what to do with themselves.
Mr. Martel: We know what we are doing.
Mr. Boudria: They say they know what they are doing, but those people who knew what they are doing said they would not vote in favour of any amendment, yet they allowed two of them to go forward last year and voted for them. By filibustering, they would not allow any of the others to come to a vote.
Mr. Wrye: They didn't vote for them. They couldn't have. They said the bill was unamendable.
Mr. Boudria: That is true. They said it was unamendable, but they voted for them anyway, in spite of the fact that the bill was unamendable. I do not know if "unamendable" is a word, but I guess we have modernized our language in this Legislature. I want to say, and I am sure this is another example --
The Deputy Speaker: Back to Bill 111.
Mr. Boudria: That is exactly what I am discussing: the amendments which we proposed last year, which we think should be included this year, which the government has not addressed and which the New Democratic Party purposely filibustered to prevent us from having them passed; and we are sure they would have, of course.
I think the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations was with us on those amendments. However, he never got the opportunity to vote for them. That is very unfortunate.
Mr. Laughren: We must have another one in there: housing, municipal, education --
Mr. Martel: And then we can write in the special grants for his area.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, if I can just go back to the issue of restraint --
Mr. Boudria: It is very difficult with the group of people to my left being so jittery. In the standing committee on social development not long ago, we learned that the behaviour of people is sometimes affected by their diet and they recommended the Feingold diet. This diet, which excludes sugar and a few other things, keeps people in a better kind of mood and temper. Perhaps the members to my left did not have the benefit of a Feingold diet today or yesterday or ate too much candy over the weekend, or whatever it is they did, but they are rather hyper at this point, Mr. Speaker, and I would hope you will do your best to control them.
We could not let this occasion go by without talking of restraint in the purest sense of the word. When we talk about restraint, I think it is important for us to refer to the report of the Provincial Auditor submitted last week. The report of the auditor addressed the issue of restraint. It addressed the restraint of the government and how this government implements restraint on everybody except itself -- and its friends, of course, because it can never forget its friends.
Mr. Wrye: What are friends for?
Mr. Boudria: After all, as the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Wrye) says, "We must never forget our friends." Believe me, this government does not forget its friends. Sometimes a few people get trampled, especially people of eastern Ontario, such as the member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman).
The member for Lanark was in favour of restraint, but it seems that others were not. He had a dispute over restraint with his deputy minister. I gather that after the dispute was terminated, the minister lost out. Having lost the initial conversation with his deputy, the minister went to see the Premier to see how this issue would be resolved.
The minister was not in favour of spending $600,000 to have a telephone book on computer, especially when there had not even been any kind of study done to see whether it was viable. The minister was not in favour of spending money on all kinds of other projects the deputy minister wanted money spent on.
What did the minister do in all of this after disagreeing with his deputy? I think he decided that he was the boss. After all, when one is the minister, one assumes one is the boss. What are ministers for?
Unfortunately, deputy ministers are not appointed by ministers; they are appointed by the chief official of the government, the Premier. As you would, Mr. Speaker, the minister brought his disagreement with his assistant to the head honcho of the government, namely, the Premier.
To everyone's surprise, the minister was fired because he was in favour of restraint and the deputy, who was not, is still there. That is really a difficulty when one tries to put all of this scenario into the context of restraint and this government's attempts to try to save money in any sector, public, private or otherwise.
If the government were really serious about restraint, it would start cutting out some of the things it has wasted money on. The member for Ottawa South (Mr. Bennett) comes into my riding occasionally; as a matter of fact, he was there a couple of weeks ago. I would like to invite him on several occasions in the future, because he probably increases my majority by a couple hundred votes every time he comes to speak to my constituents.
Nevertheless, the member for Ottawa South, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, also preaches restraint. He came into my constituency and made a passionate speech to the local Conservative organization --
Mr. Foulds: Passionate? Claude Bennett? He can't make a passionate speech. Loud maybe, but not passionate.
Mr. Boudria: He made a speech anyway; perhaps it was just a loud speech. He said his party had most of the ridings in eastern Ontario; only seven were not represented by Tories, but he would see to it that all of them were Tory next time. That expresses the minister's view of democracy, which means 125 Conservative members as far as he is concerned.
After he made those eloquent remarks, he talked about social services and how we must hold the line on them. I am sure the members will pay close attention to this: "M. Bennett, d'autre part, a laissé entendre que son ministère poursuivrait une ligne plus dure en ce qui concerne l'aide sociale, et je cite: 'Nous ne répondrons pas aux caprices de tout le monde.' Fin de la citation."
The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing says: "We will not let people's every whim influence us in providing social services. We are going to be tough on social services." He says, "une ligne plus dure." We are going to have a tougher policy on social services at the same time as he is spending a fortune renovating his own office only a few doors from here.
This is the view of restraint from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. He has expressed it in my constituency, which probably has a higher percentage of welfare cases than any other constituency in southern Ontario. It is interesting that he chose to mention that in my own riding.
If those are the kinds of speeches he is going to give to the people of Prescott-Russell, I will gladly put them in my next constituency mailing, and I want him to know that. I am sure the welfare recipients of my riding would be more than happy to know what a kind heart and a gentle and compassionate person the member for Ottawa South is towards the welfare recipients of Prescott-Russell.
Mr. Wrye: Can we get a picture of his renovated office?
Mr. Boudria: Perhaps we should take a picture of his renovated office and put it beside a picture of his house --
Mr. Nixon: That's right. How much did they spend on that office?
The Deputy Speaker: I think we should stick to the principle of Bill 111 --
Mr. Boudria: I am speaking to the principle of the bill. We are talking about restraint. The member for Ottawa South commented in my own constituency that the welfare recipients should do with less. Only two days later we heard a report about the vast amount of money being spent on renovating his own office so he could work in comfort and luxury while the people of my own riding are having to do with the crumbs given to them by this government.
The minister has a nerve to come into my riding and say they are going to be tougher on welfare cases. I think it is a disgrace for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to act that way.
In conclusion, coming back to the original thought mentioned earlier this afternoon, I want to impress again upon the Treasurer that the people of Prescott-Russell need increased funds to manage with the present budgetary requirements. I am talking of the united counties, the separate school board, the public school board and the town of Hawkesbury.
The Speaker will recall that I raised this issue in the House on November 7, when I stated that $309,000 had been lost in the town of Hawkesbury this year alone and that this would continue. At that time, the Deputy Premier (Mr. Welch) replied to my concern about obtaining additional funds for Hawkesbury in the following way. I quote from page 2832 of Hansard:
"Mr. Speaker, I think the member will understand that we would want to have that matter investigated very carefully. I will draw his question and his concern to the attention of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing."
Mr. Wrye: That's the end of that.
Mr. Boudria: That is the end of that. It is two weeks since I raised this here. It is a couple of months since this issue happened in Prescott- Russell. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has not been back to this House to indicate what kind of emergency support will be forthcoming to those municipalities that are so hard-pressed in the constituency of Prescott-Russell.
I must reiterate just how important this is for the people of my riding. To see their tax base decrease at the same time as the welfare rolls increase, to see them losing their assessment and being threatened with not having much in the way of increases in grant money and then to see at the same time a minister coming to our area and telling them they will have to make do with less is just a little hard to swallow.
I ask the Treasurer again to shake up his colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and indicate to him just how serious and how urgent the needs are for eastern Ontario.
It is interesting that the member for Ottawa South comes from eastern Ontario originally. Of course, he does not live there any more. He represents an eastern Ontario riding. He probably knows where it is or, if he does not remember where his riding is, I am sure he has plenty of advisers who could refresh his memory as to exactly where Ottawa South is and where eastern Ontario is and that one does not fall off the end of the map at Bowmanville; there are a few other towns east of there.
Mr. Breaugh: You don't even know where Sheffield township is. Will you stop this eastern Ontario business?
Mr. Boudria: I must admit I am not familiar with Sheffield township, but some members do not know where le canton de Longueuil is -- I do not hold that against them -- or where L'Orignal is, or the township of Caledonia or St. Bernardin -- Interjections.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. If this was some kind of geography debate --
Mr. Boudria: It is not a geography lesson; I am only illustrating that the government has not taken the concerns of eastern Ontario very seriously in the past. This legislation and other of our laws do not have provisions to ensure that the people of eastern Ontario, who are deprived of many things, whether one is talking about the chicken farmers of Prescott-Russell, who have become notorious to a certain extent over the past year --
Mr. Mackenzie: Why are you supporting it then?
Mr. Boudria: Why am I supporting the chicken farmers? I always support my constituents, whether they be the chicken farmers of Prescott-Russell or the welfare recipients. If they need my assistance, I am willing to give it to them. I want the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) to know that if there are chicken farmers in his riding, I will help them too if they need my assistance. I will be glad to help them.
I have always provided the workers of my riding with as much help as I could. I am sure the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) would know that the biggest problem with work in my riding is not having any. That is a big problem that we have in Prescott-Russell. We have very high unemployment and other difficulties.
The Deputy Speaker: In view of the hour, I wonder whether this might be an appropriate time --
Mr. Boudria: I know we are getting near the time for adjournment, Mr. Speaker. I will conclude my remarks by asking the government to provide increased grants for my community.
On motion by Mr. Philip, the debate was adjourned.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS IN ORDERS AND NOTICES AND RESPONSE TO PETITION
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, just before the House adjourns, I would like to table the answers to questions 207 to 219, 221 to 224, 229, 233 to 263, 265 to 277, 279 to 291, 309, 330, 331.
334, 335, 341. 342, 343, 346, 347, 355, and the interim response to a petition presented to the Legislature, sessional paper 205 [see Hansard for Friday, November 25].
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I might also indicate, as I indicated on Friday just before we adjourned, that we will continue tomorrow afternoon with the debate on second reading of Bill 111. Tomorrow evening at eight o'clock, we will begin with third readings on the order paper; private bills; then committee of the whole on Bill 92; second reading and committee of the whole, if required, on Bills 106 and 107; followed by second reading and committee of the whole, if required, on Bills 102 and 103. Then, if time permits, we will resume the budget debate.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.