The House met at 2 p.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, today I would like to tell the House about my ministry's latest fisheries rehabilitation and stocking programs, particularly our expanded pickerel culture efforts and increased lake trout and splake stocking in eastern Ontario.
My ministry is dedicated to conserving and preserving our valuable fisheries resources throughout Ontario. The projects I am announcing today are consistent with that goal and will further expand our capabilities to maintain a high-quality sports fishing experience in this province.
First of all, we are proceeding with development of hatchery facilities in North Bay, Harwood near Rice Lake, Blue Jay Creek on Manitoulin Island and the Lake Simcoe area. In the Lake Simcoe area, we will continue to review any proposed development that might have a negative impact on the fisheries.
As members know, the yellow pickerel is probably the most valued sports fish species in Ontario and is particularly important to the tourist trade. As a result, it has also faced heavy fishing pressure in many areas of the province, particularly in eastern Ontario. To alleviate that pressure, we are developing government pickerel facilities in eastern and northwestern Ontario and in the Lake Nipissing area.
With these expanded pickerel facilities, my ministry will be directly involved in three major stocking projects in 1984-85. We will stock 100,000 fingerlings over five years in nine lakes in the Carleton Place, Tweed and Napanee districts in eastern Ontario. We will increase stocking in the Moon River in Parry Sound district from 50,000 fingerlings a year to 200,000 fingerlings a year over five years, using stock from the Skeleton Lake and White Lake fish culture stations. We will stock up to 500,000 fingerlings in northwestern Ontario, and again we will carry out stocking and assessment over five years.
I am confident that we will be able to rear larger, better quality pickerel and to pass our knowledge on to other fish culture stations throughout the province. These fish would provide excellent stock for future ministry stocking programs as well as several community fisheries involvement projects.
I anticipate an increased public interest and awareness in our fisheries management programs and have therefore doubled the amount of funding available to the community fisheries involvement program. I am sure honourable members can appreciate how important this volunteer help is to my ministry in the current atmosphere of constraint. Every dollar we contribute is more than matched by the volunteer labour and donations from sports clubs. The increased funding will allow us to extend our support to co-operating tourist operators, conservation and angling clubs, all those most interested and involved in our sports fishery.
For example, we have a project under way that involves pickerel stocking. It is taking place in the Parry Sound district, where the Loring-Restoule Vacationland group of tourist camp operations are developing and managing three to four ponds. They expect to raise 100,000 fingerlings for stocking in the Pickerel River.
Next year we are expecting at least an additional six pickerel culture projects under the community fisheries involvement program.
We want our sports clubs to get involved in our pickerel rehabilitation efforts through the community fisheries involvement program.
These types of projects now qualify for limited capital funding assistance and technical support, but the project proposals must be combined with habitat restoration programs and a reduction in total harvest in areas which have been subject to heavy fishing pressure.
Also, I would like to briefly review our eastern Ontario fish stocking initiatives and outline a few of the programs we will develop next year.
Last spring, we were unable to meet our lake trout and splake stocking targets for eastern Ontario because of a restricted supply of these species and limited hatchery rearing space. This year, I am pleased to report that we will be able to meet virtually all inland lake trout and splake stocking requirements in our eastern and Algonquin regions. The new hatcheries facilities we are developing will aid us in these efforts. I believe this is an important initiative.
Tourism is an important industry in eastern Ontario, one that relies largely on top-quality fishing. Yet fish stocks are declining because of fishing pressure and habitat deterioration. Because of this, we are rapidly accelerating our stocking efforts in eastern Ontario inland waters involving pickerel as well as a variety of other species. Next year, we will double the amount of stocking in these important inland waters. As a result, tourist operators in eastern Ontario will be able to offer clients a better fishing experience.
We will make comparable lake trout stocking increases in the Algonquin region.
We have selected nine candidate lakes in eastern Ontario for pickerel stocking, and we have identified seven rivers or lakes for pickerel stocking in the Algonquin region.
As well, we are encouraging fisheries involvement projects to provide other opportunities for pickerel rearing and stocking in eastern Ontario, and I know several clubs are already interested and involved.
In all, we are talking about a major expansion of our management programs designed to meet the needs of all Ontario's sports fishermen.
I am particularly proud of these co-operative ventures with sportsmen throughout the province, and I look forward to more joint projects since they underscore the guiding principle of my ministry: conservation and preservation of our natural resources within an atmosphere of co-operative partnership.
I think that what I have announced today illustrates two important points: that my ministry is committed to maintaining and improving Ontario's fisheries, and that we are listening to those who use the resource.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to inform the members of the House that we have been advised today by the Governor General of Canada that Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh have graciously accepted the Ontario government's invitation to visit Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Wells: My friends had better listen to the reason she is coming. She is coming to participate in our provincial bicentennial celebrations in 1984.
Mr. Kerrio: Which date are you giving her?
Mr. Breithaupt: Will she canvass in Scarborough?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Wells: My friends had better listen; this is the important part. The royal visit is scheduled for the second half of July. In addition to Ontario, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will be visiting Manitoba and New Brunswick. The Queen last visited Manitoba in 1970, Ontario in 1973 and briefly in April 1982 for the ceremonies marking the patriation of the Constitution in Ottawa, and New Brunswick in 1976.
The itinerary of the royal visit is being planned in consultation with the federal government and Buckingham Palace officials. Details will be announced in due course. I am sure the 1984 royal visit will be a memorable experience for all of us here in Ontario as we celebrate our bicentennial.
TRAVEL COMPANIES' FAILURE
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I offer my congratulations to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs for the very happy news he has brought to the House today.
I have a question for the Minister for Consumer and Commercial Relations with respect to the collapse of Chieftain and Shamrock travel firms. The minister will be aware that since April of this year Worldways and Chieftain-Shamrock have been directed by the same people and that these companies operated out of the same address.
When Mr. Caven, the registrar, was asked at a press conference last week about the recent change of control respecting Chieftain-Shamrock, an aide of his whispered to him that it was to Woridways. The registrar himself has called the president of Chieftain-Shamrock a front. Can the minister confirm in this House that Worldways controls Chieftain-Shamrock? Can he explain why a recent owner, if that is the case, would put his own company into receivership? Is the minister satisfied this is not a scam?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, the registrar does confirm to me that Mr. Roy Moore, as I recall the name, through two companies was indeed the person who acquired Chieftain and Shamrock in April or May 1982; I cannot recall the exact date. I have had no suggestion from him nor have I had any suggestion from anyone that there is any reason to believe there is a scam involved in that situation. I think an analysis of the whole process we went through on that would indicate that everyone acted with a fair degree of responsibility.
Mr. Peterson: My guess is that an analysis will prove exactly the contrary.
I am asking the minister about the ownership of those companies. Is it his opinion that Worldways and Chieftain-Shamrock are owned by the same people and that what we are witnessing here is a case where one arm of a company put another arm into receivership in order to be a preferred creditor and get its hands on any assets in that company, obviously to the detriment of the travel industry compensation fund and the taxpayers of this province? Is that what we are witnessing here in these circumstances?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I do not have the exact breakdown of the corporate ownership of the companies. What I have indicated very clearly is that to the best of my knowledge, from information given to me, Mr. Roy Moore, who I understand is the president and major shareholder of Worldways, through one or two subsidiary companies, was indeed behind the takeover of Chieftain-Shamrock. But I have no reason to believe that there has been any scam, as the Leader of the Opposition puts it, and I mean that quite sincerely.
As the honourable member knows, as a precautionary measure, the registrar put a freeze on all the assets of that company on Tuesday afternoon and the receiver is now in place dealing with them. I hope the member understands that no consumer will suffer any financial loss as a result of that. I do not know what his suggestion of a scam is, because I know of no such suggestion.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, it may be that the consumers are protected by the travel industry compensation fund, but the minister knows full well that the travel agents operating on a retail basis do take a loss.
I want to follow directly from his answer to the last question from the Leader of the Opposition and to questions that have been raised by my colleague the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip). The minister will know perfectly well that the assets were frozen on Tuesday afternoon. Yet travel agents who phoned in on Wednesday, because there were rumours on the Street with respect to operations of this company, were advised by the officials in the registrar's office to continue to pay money a day after the assets had been frozen.
How could that possibly be, given the fact that it was well known to the registrar there was a problem? As soon as the talks with Sunquest fell apart it was well known there was a problem. Why were consumers and small business people in the travel business, the retail agents themselves, not informed? Some of them have taken a loss as a result of what has happened. The minister knows full well they are not fully protected by the travel industry compensation fund.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, so there is no misunderstanding, I never suggested nor would I endeavour to suggest that business people involved in their dealings with travel agents are covered by the travel industry compensation fund. It was that industry, the retailers and wholesalers, that established the travel fund to ensure that customers did not suffer. There has never been any misunderstanding on my part of the role of the fund, and I suspect there is not any on the part of the honourable member either.
With respect to the details the member has asked about, let us understand very clearly that in early October Sunquest indicated through a press announcement that it intended to acquire Chieftain-Shamrock. The member will agree, if he talks to people in the industry, that Sunquest had a good financial reputation as a travel agent. The registrar naturally therefore would feel a degree of relief with respect to that issue since he had been awaiting an audited statement from them by the end of October.
Now to get to the details. On Tuesday, when it became apparent that Sunquest had withdrawn its offer, the registrar at that time still had no definite evidence upon which he could base any actions. As a precautionary measure, he introduced a freeze on those assets while discussions were still going on with Sunquest about whether the arrangements could be reconstituted. On Wednesday that was still the case. Even when the receiver was put in place, there were still discussions going on with Sunquest. Let us understand that.
I am advised by the registrar in very clear words that on Wednesday morning callers were being told they had to judge for themselves whether or not to deal with the company. The member can nod his head -- I am not sure whether that means yes or no -- but those are the facts as recorded.
Mr. Rae: That is not what he told me.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: If someone receives misinformation through some error I cannot account for that, but the registrar's instructions were that callers were to be told that.
Mr. Peterson: The minister is using the same logic he used in the trust companies affair, that depositors are not going to lose any money even though the various compensation funds have lost hundreds of millions in that affair and probably will lose a substantial amount here. The logic he is using is identical and does not justify the regulatory failure.
Is the minister aware that on October 18, 1983, Worldways took a $5-million debenture from Chieftain-Shamrock? We have established that is another arm of the same company. At that time the amount owing was $2.59 million. It was under this power of debenture that Woridways put Chieftain-Shamrock into receivership.
The minister is also aware that his ministry has had concerns for some considerable length of time about Chieftain-Shamrock. He requested, but never received, interim financial statements. He knew of the corporate interrelationships. Yet he did not bother to do anything about it. What has he done to investigate this regulatory failure in his own ministry? How much is it going to cost the travel agents, and ultimately the consumers of this province, through the travel industry compensation fund?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I totally reject the conjecture made by the Leader of the Opposition that there has been a regulatory failure. There has not been, and he knows in his heart there has not been, any such failure. I reject it and I trust that common sense, when it shows its way through that thick skull that boxed a little at university, will eventually lead him to the same conclusion.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I was never involved in that wonderful sport.
He may have his own interpretation of what Worldways was doing with that process on October 18. There may be others who suggest it was endeavouring to secure some financial problems the company was having. There may be a variety of interpretations on that.
Let us also understand there is a receiver in place who has an obligation to review the workings and accountings of that company and is responsible to the courts for his duty. If the member is worried about whether he will do that, he should say so. He should stand up and say he does not think they are acting responsibly. However, if he does accept that the court has placed a receiver in there and that there will be a reporting to the court, I suspect we should both wait and listen for that reporting.
Mr. Peterson: I do not think the ministry is acting responsibly, as usual.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Peterson: That is just a response to his question, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The minister will be aware of the release of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. figures with respect to vacancy rates in the province, which are getting continually worse.
He will be aware that Barrie has a zero vacancy rate, Guelph has a 0.4 per cent vacancy rate, Kingston, 0.1 per cent. Hamilton, 0.8 per cent, Metro Toronto, one per cent, Ottawa, 0.3 per cent, Thunder Bay, 0.4 per cent, and Sudbury, 0.5 per cent. Indeed, it is deteriorating in almost every centre of this province. We are below the national average in terms of vacancy rates in this province.
Is the minister prepared to admit now that his announced yet never fulfilled programs with respect to encouraging and stimulating the building of housing in this province have been a complete failure?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, absolutely not; indeed, our programs under the Ontario renter-buy program and the Ontario rental construction loan program were in both cases extremely successful.
I am aware that some of the statistics put out by CMHC indicate that vacancy rates have altered somewhat over the last quarter, in some cases up and in some cases down. One of the things they do not indicate is the number of units at present under construction in various communities across Ontario.
For example, in the city of Ottawa at this time -- there are some in the surrounding communities as well but primarily in Ottawa -- there are 2,500 rental units at present under construction. That indicates to us, not only from my ministry's projections but from CMHC projections, that there will be a marked improvement over the next 12 to 18 months in the vacancy rate opportunities in Ottawa. That is also applicable to most communities in this province as well.
Mr. Peterson: Is the minister prepared to admit that it is absolutely no thanks to him? In May 1982, he announced $48 million for 6,000 units in the InnoRent program. That was a solemn promise he made at the time, yet not a penny was allocated to the problem. The minister also announced a series of demonstration projects, including Ottawa which he has been talking about today. Nothing happened with that program.
All these wonderful announcements the minister has made have come to naught. He has done nothing to encourage building in this province. Indeed, we have a far more critical situation today than we did when he announced these wonderful programs.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Peterson: Is the minister prepared to stand in his place now and admit that?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The Liberal leader likes to think he has great knowledge.
We have tried in this province, through various programs, to achieve a degree of success in ownership of housing, which I think is paramount. Under the Ontario renter-buy program, we brought between 15,000 and 16,000 units into the marketplace. One of the interesting statistics of that particular operation is that over 9,000 of the people who took advantage of the renter-buy program came from rental accommodation. That is what we were trying to do. That is the area in which we were trying to succeed, getting people to move from rental accommodation to ownership. We succeeded and we did have that program in place.
Under the Ontario rental construction loan program, in the range of 15,000 to 16,000 rental units were brought on stream. We had a part to play in setting the initial rent. We also had the opportunity of taking a percentage of those units for rent-geared-to-income use. Very frankly, I think this government has gone a long way in trying to resolve the problems.
I want to emphasize once again to the Legislature and to the people of this province that the success we will have in providing rental accommodation will not be a success for the provincial government alone. It is a co-operative program. We started out in 1978 on a federal-provincial program. The way we are going to succeed in resolving some of the problems is by a joint agreement, federally and provincially, not only in Ontario but in other jurisdictions as well.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, surely the minister realizes there is a profound housing crisis in Ottawa, Metropolitan Toronto and Sudbury, to name just three communities.
May I ask the minister whether he is aware of the very strong rumours that are now appearing in the press to the effect that the federal government, in whose basket the government has since 1978 put all its eggs for the supply of housing for low-income households, is in the process of reviewing its entire nonprofit housing program under subsection 56(1) and there are strong rumours that it intends to discontinue it?
Can the minister tell us whether he has been involved in any discussions with the federal government with respect to the future of nonprofit housing under subsection 56(1)? Just who is supposed to build and supply nonprofit or affordable housing for low-income households if the federal government bails out and leaves the government hanging in the wind?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I have explained to this House over the last period of time, and in estimates and other places. that we did as a government get involved with CMHC back in 1978 for the provision of nonprofit housing, public, private and through the co-ops. There was an agreement we signed. We had a very interesting agreement as to what part --
Mr. McClellan: They are going to pull the rug out from under your feet.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Let me finish. It clearly indicates what our responsibility as a province would be in relationship to making that program work.
The member knows very well the first thing is that the federal government allocates to me, as the minister reporting for housing in Ontario, XYZ units that we then allocate back to municipal nonprofits for construction. Since 1978, that program has tried to put in place a rather substantial number of units through private nonprofit, through co-ops and through municipal nonprofit, to do two things: one, to try to provide moderate rent for those of average income, and two, to provide a percentage of the units under agreement on a rent supplement basis.
We have a program with the municipal nonprofits which very clearly spells out the number of units that can be made available to us. Back in August of this year I indicated we were prepared to increase that percentage under certain conditions. As far as the private nonprofits and co-ops are concerned, we negotiate with them individually on the number of units they wish to make available for the rent support program.
I have heard there are reports being done for CMHC on the value of the nonprofit program across Canada, not exclusively to Ontario but across Canada. I do not know what the findings happen to be in the report, although I believe it has been filed with the minister. I did meet with the minister, along with my colleagues from across Canada, about four weeks ago right here in this city and we reviewed the program. At that time Mr. LeBlanc did not indicate to me or to my colleagues from the other provinces that there was any desire by the government of Canada to withdraw from the program. He did say very clearly an assessment and an evaluation of it was being done.
I can suggest to this House I have not heard this, other than through the newspapers, and where they get their information from am not sure -- my people within the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing have been in communication with CMHC on a rather constant basis and there has been no indication either from the bureaucrats in Ottawa or the political forces in Ottawa that they are about to bail out.
Mr. Peterson: We have established the failure of the minister's programs in 1982 that were announced but not fulfilled. This year the minister will recall that he announced his great convert-to-rent program, the $40-million stimulative package to which at this time only $16 million has been allocated.
Is the minister aware of the failure of his own program, in that of the 24 cities eligible to participate as of October 20 he has had only 15 applications from two centres across this province? If granted, they would provide for 134 units in total across the province. Because of bureaucratic strangulation or the failure of his ministry, whatever, he has approved up to this time 22 units.
The minister has spent more in advertising his program than he has on building units. He has spent $224,000 on convert-to-rent advertising and $154,000 on building units.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Peterson: Is it any wonder to the minister that there is a vacancy rate crisis in this province with that kind of silliness?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It amazes me that the member has been around this House for years and knows the system as well as anyone, but he sits there smiling because he knows he has only been able to carve off a quarter of the situation. Their leader did not even want to face it head on, did he?
Frankly, he knows very well that the ads on the convert-to-rent and the add-on units, as I said very clearly, were to inform the people that the program was available. I would suggest to this House that there have been thousands of inquiries made of the ministry. It was very clearly spelled out and it is not a failure of the program.
I said at the start it was going to take a little while to start up because we had to have the municipality on side. The zoning has to be in agreement and if the zoning does not provide for the convert-to-rent, if the zoning does not provide for the add-on units, then it will be the responsibility of the applicant to get that approval before we are going to sanction or grant any funding for it.
We are not trying to supersede the municipality in its bylaw. That is its jurisdiction. We have tried to inform the municipality, as well as possible, of the importance of the program. As the leader knows, from London and all the other communities, they surely would not want the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to disregard the zoning. I call the leader's attention to the fact that if they are to succeed it will be because they get the zoning changed.
I will have full details on the number of applications and inquiries. It is a matter of participation by the municipalities to give the applicant the opportunity to do what he or she wants.
INFLATION RESTRAINT LEGISLATION
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Treasurer. It concerns the situation in Kapuskasing, at the Sensenbrenner Hospital. I would like to ask the Treasurer to clear up what appears to be a major discrepancy in what we have been told by different people. The Premier (Mr. Davis) said yesterday in the House, and I am quoting from his statement yesterday from the Instant Hansard: "The Treasurer has said, and it is factual, that there are discussions between the ministry, the Inflation Restraint Board and the hospital. These discussions are in process."
At 1:45 p.m. this afternoon a member of my staff was speaking to the administrator of the hospital. We have also been in constant contact with both the local union and the international union in this regard. I quote from a conversation a member of my staff had with the administrator of the hospital:
"I have not been contacted by local politicians. I have not been contacted by the Treasurer. I have not been contacted by the Inflation Restraint Board. I have no information whatsoever." The situation is unfortunate and I sympathize fully with the workers involved.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: My question to the Treasurer is, what is going on here? Is he doing something about the Sensenbrenner workers or is he not?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, let me be quite clear. The Inflation Restraint Board has been trying to set up a meeting with the hospital and with the union for later this week.
Mr. McClellan: Don't they have a telephone?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Is he opposed to that? What is it that is troubling the member? Is it that they are having a meeting? What is it that is troubling him?
I think it goes without saying that obviously the Inflation Restraint Board has been in contact with the hospital. I am here to say to the member that there have been conversations between the Inflation Restraint Board and the hospital.
It may not have been a direct conversation between the board and the administrator, I cannot tell the member that, but I can tell him quite clearly and explicitly that there have been conversations between the Inflation Restraint Board, Treasury and Economics, the Inflation Restraint Board and the hospital, and other representatives of the government and the hospital. I believe the hospital has been trying to sit down with the union representatives at a meeting later this week.
Mr. McClellan: Exactly who? Who talked to who, Larry?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I can give you all the information.
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjection.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: If the member really wants the information all he had to do was to call before two o'clock and ask us to bring the list of people, which we would be happy to do for him.
Mr. Rae: What a disgraceful performance. The Treasurer came into this House and we asked him questions on November 4. He went out and told the press -- he did not have the decency to tell the House -- this problem was being solved. At that point that is what was reported in the press, that the problem was being solved.
At this time, on November 22, neither the union nor the hospital has been informed, contrary to what the minister has said today and contrary to what the Premier said yesterday. I would like to ask the Treasurer if he is making a commitment today that the workers at Sensenbrenner Hospital will not have to pay back the money the IRB has ordered they will have to pay back. Is it yes or no? It is a simple and direct question.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I want to make it clear, perhaps even to the member, that the appropriate thing to do in this circumstance, which is a circumstance not anticipated by nor intended by the legislation, the proper --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Why does the member not be quiet for a second and listen? I have made it quite clear the appropriate thing which should occur here is for the parties to get together, review the situation and do that in the context --
Mr. Martel: You said it was all worked out.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: May I say to the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) that at no stage --
Mr. Rae: You totally misinformed the House.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member just wants to interject. He does not want an answer. Does he want the answer or not?
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, if I understand what the minister is saying now, he has had three different positions on this issue. On the first request, he stood in this House and bled. Then he walked outside and said he was going to clear it up. There was a subsequent question to that and he said the new legislation would take account of this situation, that they could bargain this year to make up for what they lost last year. Now he is presumably saying the parties have to get together to sort it out.
Why would the minister not use his influence and his power to bring a bill into this House immediately to clear up this situation? Surely this is not too much to ask of him.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I have a questioner who really wants the answer instead of a speech. Therefore, I will give it.
Might I say to the Leader of the Opposition that what we have suggested, and what I suggested at the start, was that since this was typical of the problem that might inadvertently be created by Bill 179, we were going to a different form this year. It is our belief there is an opportunity under Bill 111 to remedy this circumstance if the parties will sit down and try to work it out.
This whole circumstance is quite complex, involving the arbitrator and certain decisions he made last summer. Might I say to the birds in the corner, because of the complexity of this we have made it clear that a great deal of analysis has to go in to figuring out how to deal with the problem so that, to be very clear, the workers do not have to pay back the money.
We want to retain the framework of restraint which some people do not want to retain, and that is the New Democratic Party, but still make sure the workers do not have to pay the money. To do that, we have asked that the parties meet to see what they can work out. We have also had the Inflation Restraint Board and my ministry working on various alternatives for all parties to consider.
I hope we will be able to find a scheme which will avoid that problem. However, at the moment we are still working on some alternatives and I think the parties may well be able to work this out between them. Let me make it clear: I consider the parties to be the Inflation Restraint Board, the hospital and the union. At a meeting which I hope will occur this week, we will see if any of the alternatives we have worked out might be acceptable to all the parties.
To make the point absolutely clear, not only for the Leader of the Opposition, who I know was interested in the answer, but also for the New Democratic Party, it is our intention to develop with the parties a mechanism whereby the workers will not have to pay back the money.
Mr. Rae: I want the record clearly established. The Premier said in this chamber yesterday that there are discussions between the ministry, the Inflation Restraint Board and the hospital. The Treasurer is now telling us these discussions were not taking place at the time the Premier said they were taking place. I think it is important for the public of Ontario to know that fact.
I would like to ask a supplementary question. The Treasurer said that what happened at Sensenbrenner was not supposed to happen, that it was never the intention it should happen. I would like to ask him if it is also the case that it was not supposed to happen at the Pine Grove Nursing Home in Woodbridge or at the Pinewood Court Home for the Aged in Thunder Bay or at the Van Daele Manor Nursing Home in Sault Ste. Marie?
If it was not supposed to happen, why did Mr. Biddell, at his penurious wage of $300 a day, say the chickens were coming home to roost when the announcement was made with respect to Sensenbrenner? Why would he have made that statement if it was not the intention of the legislation in the first place?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let us be clear. There were three issues raised in that question, and I intend to answer all three of them. I want to state that before the chirping starts and the member suggests the answer has been given. I am going to answer all three, and it will take more than a minute and a half.
First, Mr. Biddell has asked me to avail myself of any opportunity I get to clarify that, when he said that about chickens coming home to roost, he did not say it in the context of the union having taken certain steps and we are now paying the price for it. All of the times that has been written they have taken Mr. Biddell out of context. If the member is concerned about what he meant, he knows where to call him, and I think in fairness he should call and find out before he goes around quoting him like that.
Second, with regard to Pine Grove, which the member wants to say is in the same context, he will be interested to know that his researchers perhaps have not offered him entirely accurate information in that the Inflation Restraint Board has not ordered a wage rollback in the Pine Grove Nursing Home circumstance.
Third, since he asked his original question and wanted to let the world know -- to use his words -- that the Premier and I have been offering information that is not entirely correct, because the member wants to take the word of someone else he spoke to as opposed to our word, I have checked out that the Inflation Restraint Board indeed spoke to the hospital administrator yesterday. The board spoke to the administrator again today.
Perhaps after question period the member will call back the administrator and ask him specifically if the Inflation Restraint Board has had a conversation with that administrator both yesterday and today. One of the questions he raised concerned setting up a meeting with the board, the hospital and the union. If he finds that the advice given to him yesterday and today by the Premier and myself was accurate, I shall be here on Thursday afternoon and will await his rising on a point of privilege to correct his allegations, which will have turned out to be incorrect.
Mr. Hodgson: Mr. Speaker, my question has been partly answered in the response given to the question of the leader of the third party on Pine Grove Nursing Home. I grant that the restraint board did not issue a rollback order. The owner of the nursing home took advantage of previous legislation and rolled back those wages. They are the lowest-paid workers of any place in the province at $9,000 to $13,000 a year. I am asking the minister, through a letter --
Mr. Breaugh: The minister deserves this.
Mr. Speaker: Proceed, please.
Mr. Hodgson: This is very serious as far as those workers are concerned.
Mr. Hodgson: They come down to see me in my office and they are hurting and hurting really bad when they get a few hundred dollars taken off a $9,000 wage. I am asking the minister to take a special look at it and I hope to have some kind of a report for those workers beginning next week.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The honourable member raised this with me in a responsible and balanced way some time ago.
Mr. Martel: You should not make fun of him.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Having done that, I had an opportunity to look at this long before it was raised by the leader of the New Democratic Party yesterday. The members might be interested in the facts. My colleague has the facts already, which is why we have been able to work on this.
Mr. Martel: Why did he ask the question then?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Martel: The answer was lousy, wasn't it?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It hurts when one cannot get a foothold on anything these days. I understand.
For those who believe this is a serious matter that warrants a response, might I say what has happened here is that the parties at the time of the arrangement made --
Mr. McClellan: We know there is a good explanation here.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Listen to it. It is interesting. The parties discussed the impact of the act on the increase. Interestingly, the parties themselves agreed they would make the payments in accordance with the contract and, if necessary, would pay back the money later because of the operation of the legislation. The Inflation Restraint Board has not made a ruling in this matter and has not yet had to.
As my colleague knows, because he studied this before raising the question, the matter was raised a couple of months ago by the auditor who was auditing their contract against the Inflation Restraint Act. When that audit turned up the overpayment, the parties themselves agreed to honour their earlier agreement that the overpayment, if it had to be repaid, would be repaid. Both parties, that is, the union and the management, agreed on a recovery plan that would have had the appropriate payroll deductions made from November 1983 through to April 1984. That was all in accordance with the agreement they had at the time they entered into the contract.
In simple terms, they agreed they would proceed, notwithstanding the act, and if a repayment was appropriate, that would be undertaken. When the auditor turned up the overpayment, the parties sat down and immediately agreed they had an obligation to undertake that repayment, and that schedule was agreed upon.
What appears to have happened is that the people who had agreed to do what is appropriate, that is, abide by the legislation which was in place, have now had some second thoughts and are declining to participate in the repayment to which they had agreed, perhaps because of the publicity given to the Sensenbrenner circumstances.
Because of this, the Inflation Restraint Board will be looking at this matter to see what the appropriate activities are, given the understanding and agreements of all parties involved, which is a very responsible course.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Would you ask the Treasurer if he would please respond at some date to the questions that have been raised in this context about the people at the Van Daele Manor who have had to pay back up to $450? He said it was academic. When is he going to --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I would just say to the minister that the information we have received from the Christian Labour Association of Canada is that in mid-October, when the IRB ordered the employer's accountant to demonstrate compliance with the act, the employer did impose a payback order. I am quoting from a press release from the Christian Labour Association of Canada which represents the employees.
CLOSURE OF HOMES FOR DEVELOPMENTALLY HANDICAPPED
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my second question is to the acting Minister of Community and Social Services, and it is nice to see him here.
Last Friday the bargaining agent for the employees at the Metropolitan Toronto Association for the Mentally Retarded received a letter from the Metro association stating that "the purpose of this letter is to notify you in accordance with clause 1202 of the collective agreement that the association intends to lay off members of the bargaining unit." That letter was received by them on Friday, last week.
Is the minister aware that this letter is in existence? Also, is he aware of the statement by the president of the MTAMR? She says: "Our association is in a financial crisis. Our deficit is still not resolved and, to compound the problem, we have many families with urgent needs on our waiting list. Without additional funds, we cannot possibly hope to serve this group effectively in the foreseeable future."
I would like to ask the minister how it is possible for the deinstitutionalization program to work, when it has already been criticized so heavily by the National Institute on Mental Retardation with respect to what happened in Brockville. How is it possible for it to work with this financial squeeze and crisis being experienced in the Metropolitan Toronto area, when this is the group that is going to have to act as a resource centre for people from Pine Ridge and other areas? Just what is going on?
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: It is nice to be here. Mr. Speaker, I have a small problem and it precludes me from helping the member as much as I would like too. While the Minister of Community and Social Services, the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea), is not in the House today --
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Where is he?
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: He is in northern Ontario seeing some of his constituents and fulfilling some obligations. He will be back tonight.
I am not aware of the letter. There are two things we can undertake to do. I can get on it right after question period, or we can wait until later this evening. The minister may be in the assembly tonight and, most assuredly, he will be back tomorrow.
Mr. Rae: We do not sit tomorrow. We do have a question period and we have a minister who is able to travel all across the province, make all kinds of speeches and give away all kinds of money, but when it comes to question period, somehow he cannot manage to be here.
Mr. Speaker: Supplementary, please.
Mr. Rae: I would like to ask the acting minister, since I understand he is still designated to act as a spokesman and is still a spokesman for the ministry with respect to matters affecting the mentally retarded and many other people in the Legislature, in the continuing absence of the minister, who was only here for one day to make --
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: Is the minister aware that the present waiting list of the Metropolitan Toronto Association for the Mentally Retarded contains 437 people? The high priority waiting list now numbers 60. The minister may also like to know that workshops run by the MTAMR are now running at 110 per cent capacity, according to Mrs. Shedden.
This is a fundamental question. The government plans to shut down Pine Ridge in a relatively short space of time. How is that possibly going to happen and possibly going to work with the overload being experienced by MTAMR and the financial crisis it is experiencing? Just what is he going to do about it?
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Let us just get a couple of things clear here first. The question could quite properly be put to me in my role either of acting Minister of Community and Social Services or, so there is no mystery, of Provincial Secretary for Social Development. I accept the legitimacy of the question and I want the member to understand that, while I do not now have knowledge of that letter, I did say to him I would undertake immediately after question period to look into that and into the second important matter he raised.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, in the continuing absence of the minister -- maybe the acting minister can find out from his colleague, since his colleague does not seem to intend to drop into this place from time to time -- given the funding problems that are now coming out with the associations for the mentally retarded, given the problems of placement we are now seeing in terms of Bluewater and given the really savage attack on what the government did in closing the St. Lawrence Regional Centre, will the minister sit down seriously and consider putting a moratorium on these closings until the ministry can get its act together?
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, at 7:45 this morning I was having one of a number of conversations with my colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services. He was in a motel somewhere outside Matheson, Ontario. His ability to serve the people of Ontario cannot solely be measured by whether he is in this Legislature at two o'clock in the afternoon. Let us be very clear about that. Everybody in this assembly knows him well enough to know that to be the case.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, the minister is aware that last year he sought and received endorsement from groups like the Oshawa and District Association for the Mentally Retarded for a program of deinstitutionalization, even though that meant closing centres like the Durham Centre.
For the last 18 months he has had repeated proposals submitted to the ministry for new community-based programs. Is he aware the ministry has not yet approved one of those 18 proposals, and although the Oshawa and district association now runs programs for 225 adults and has a waiting list of 61 more adults for care, not one red cent has arrived for new community-based programs for that association? What is his response to them, when last year he promised a program of deinstitutionalization and yet for 18 months he has consistently turned down their proposals? A year after they bought his bill of goods, he has not delivered one red cent for new programs.
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, with respect, it was not last year that the commitment was made to deinstitutionalization. As the member knows, it has a long history and the government continues to be committed to that. There is no question that we have seen in this particular period a need to accelerate the receptive capacity at the community level. After question period I will look at the details of the Durham question the member asked.
FERGUS TRAFFIC INCIDENT
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Solicitor General that deals with a bizarre roadside incident which occurred outside Fergus in the early morning hours of June 6. It will take a moment to explain it.
After observing a vehicle being driven in an unsafe manner, Police Constable Ed O'Connor gave chase in a manner violating proper chase procedures, for which he has since been disciplined. Once the vehicle was apprehended, none of the three Fergus youths would admit to having driven it. As a result, the officer is alleged to have pulled one of the lads from the car, dragged him to the side of the road, drawn his gun, pointed it at the youth's head and threatened to blow his head off if he did not admit to having driven the vehicle. There are three sworn statements testifying to the officer's conduct. The three youths were subsequently charged with various offences.
The minister is likely aware of this incident. He is, therefore, also likely aware that when the police chief in Fergus first released details of the incident, no mention at all was made of a gun having been drawn, let alone placed at the youth's head. The chief's internal investigation has concluded that no criminal or Police Act charges are warranted against Officer O'Connor.
The report of the police commission on September 20 was a general inspection report of the Fergus Police Force which only parenthetically deals with the incident under the heading of general comments. It states, "No criticism can be leveled at the investigation conducted," but makes no reference whatsoever to the drawing and dangerous pointing of a gun. It makes no reference whatsoever to the fact the officer in question was convicted under the Police Act only months prior for assaulting a fellow police officer, and no mention that the town council was not notified of the event until three months after. The author of the commission report has since retired.
My question to the minister is, does the minister accept this report as the final result of the rather frightening incident, or will he consider appointing a special inquiry into all the circumstances of the June 6 incident and its subsequent handling?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I will ask for a report from my staff on the matter. When and after I have received that initial material, I will decide what is the best possible route to resolve the matter put forward in those questions by the honourable member.
Mr. Breithaupt: Since all charges against two of the accused were withdrawn for the promise that no civil or criminal proceedings would be launched against either the officer in question or the police chief, and the third lad pleaded guilty to impaired driving and disobeying an officer, will the Solicitor General also inquire as to the terms of the deal that were struck between the defence attorney and the chief? Is it proper for a chief of police to exact this sort of promise whereby persons must forfeit their civil rights in the face of clearly dangerous, abusive and unlawful behaviour? Would he investigate that theme as well and report back to us?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: In the course of my review, I will try to obtain that information if possible. As some portions of it are under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General, I will enlist his co-operation to provide me with that information so I can fully explain to the member after I have received the report.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, the minister will be aware that in the Niagara region there are numerous allegations that there has been this kind of bargaining whereby the police will drop their charges if the citizens drop their charges against the police.
The minister must be aware that in the last week there has been a conviction against three police officers, with an award of $8,000 to a citizen for the violence that was perpetrated against him. Does he agree that this kind of bargaining should not take place and, if he does, will he notify the police forces throughout this province?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, that is an extension of the supplementary, but I will comment on the matter. I do not believe that bargaining takes place as the honourable member is suggesting it takes place, but from time to time the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), through the crown attorneys and the police officers looking at the merits of each individual case, sometimes does discuss the disposition and how it can best be disposed of before the courts. I do not think the situation gets down to what the member has said, which is that there is a quid pro quo for the actual negotiations that are discussed in every case before the courts.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Labour, who will be aware that less than nine per cent of employees affected by permanent closure qualify for severance pay, and that is based only on plants of more than 50 employees.
At the Gardner-Denver plant in Woodstock, the severance pay section of the Employment Standards Act is clearly being used to evade the requirements of the act. The 54 employees are being classed as only 48 employees for the purpose of the coming layoff at the plant; so that a 25-year worker is going to collect only $4,000 instead of $12,000.
Can the minister tell us whether he will take immediate action to amend the severance pay section of the act so that all workers in a firm that discontinues will be guaranteed severance pay?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I have no intention at this time of amending the act. However, we are investigating the circumstances surrounding the firm the honourable member has brought to our attention.
Mr. Mackenzie: One could drive a truck through the loopholes in this legislation, which is something like the restraint legislation.
Given that the minister regularly expresses his distress at plant closures resulting from corporate rationalization, will he investigate and report to this House as to the profitability and viability of the Gardner-Denver plant in Woodstock? In particular, will he inform the House as to the numbers of plants closed and workers laid off this year as a result of corporate rationalization?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Yes, I will be happy to provide that information to the member.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, the minister will recall that on Wednesday last, during consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Labour, I raised this same matter concerning layoffs, severance pay and the legislation we are working under now. He may recall I asked him at that time whether he would care to review it and possibly report to the committee.
The case that has been brought forward now is just a further example in addition to many that are already available to show the minister that some people, if not actually breaking the law, are certainly abusing the spirit of the law.
Can the minister at least make a commitment that he will have this matter thoroughly looked into and report to the committee that is discussing the Labour estimates at present so we can debate this matter thoroughly, ask questions and have answers?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect, that has been ongoing within my ministry. It is nothing I have to make a commitment to do, because we are already doing it.
Again, with respect, I must remind the members opposite that Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America that has severance pay legislation. I admit that it does not cover the entire work force, but it certainly is a major factor.
PAUZÉ LANDFILL SITE
Mr. Elston: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the messenger from the Ministry of the Environment, as he styles himself. The minister is aware that this morning a legal action was launched against the ministry as a result of the question of the Pauzé landfill site at Perkinsfield.
Would the minister not agree that the ministry has failed to carry out its responsibilities in relation to regulating the Pauzé landfill site in view of the following matters? The ministry knew the landfill sat on porous soil and would allow chemicals to migrate from the site. It knew as early as September 1973 that there were acceptances of liquid waste on the site, yet the dumping was allowed to continue. And in 1976, when the ministry learned Pauzé was accepting even more waste, it failed to stop the practice immediately.
Hon. Mr. Brandt: No, Mr. Speaker, I would not agree that the ministry has in any way acted inappropriately. With respect to the court action suggested by some of the residents in the immediate vicinity of the Pauzé site, that is their prerogative. They can take that action and we will have an appropriate and proper response at the right time.
I would like to say to the member, and I believe he is aware of this, that the study my ministry has conducted with respect to the Pauzé site is near completion. I believe that study will point out in very clear detail some of the actions that have been taken by my ministry with respect to that site and how appropriate they are. I think the member will find the findings quite interesting when the report is finally printed and released. I have committed myself to sharing that with him at the earliest opportunity.
With respect to Pauzé, there have been a series of situations that have caused me concern. As the member knows, I visited that site. I take very seriously the circumstances of what has been happening there. I think we have taken the appropriate action up to this time.
Mr. Elston: Jean Therrien, one of the local residents about whom the minister speaks, has been diagnosed as having an arthritic type of disease similar to the deadly lupus. It is not lupus, as the minister probably knows, but the symptoms are similar to low-level toxic chemical exposure. She and her family were allowed to drink contaminated water for almost 10 years. We also know that real estate values around the area have fallen as a result of the problems at the dump site.
Does the minister not think it is the responsibility of the Minister of the Environment to find a way to compensate Mrs. Therrien and her family for their personal difficulties and, in addition, to compensate those land owners who are forced to live in the vicinity of that dump when there is no market available for their large investments over the past few years?
Hon. Mr. Brandt: Again I would like to suggest that some of the findings as a result of the very detailed study that has been undertaken on the Pauzé site will allay some of the fears expressed by the member. The study may also correct some of the apprehensions of some of the residents in that area with respect to the leachate from the Pauzé site.
If the member will be a little patient for a matter of days, I can tell him we are coming to a conclusion with respect to the specific findings on that site. The study that has been undertaken --
Mr. Bradley: Time.
Mr. Martel: Just Xerox the answer.
Hon. Mr. Brandt: If I might, Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. I Just want to have an opportunity --
Mr. Speaker: We have just come to that conclusion.
UNILINGUAL COURT NOTICES
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Attorney General. Why are notices of hearings and other important proceedings before the family court available in English only, even in areas of the province such as Algoma where there are significant numbers of unilingual francophones? Does the Attorney General agree with the Algoma children's aid society that the lack of French family court notices is a denial of the basic rights of francophone citizens in the province?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I thought notices in French were available in any areas of the province where there were a significant number of French-speaking citizens. I will look into the matter and report back to the honourable member.
Mr. Wildman: In investigating this, I hope the Attorney General will check to find out why in September, when the Algoma children's aid society ordered the following documents through the Ministry of Community and Social Services, it was informed they were available only in English: protection status review order forms for crown orders, notices of hearings, protection applications. pages 1 and 2, status review applications. All six were ordered in French, and the society was informed by the ministry that they were available only in English.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I will make that part of my inquiries.
Ms. Copps: Looking at the issue of notice, Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether the Attorney General might take special notice of the concerns that were expressed to the standing committee on social development, particularly with respect to notice being given to native family members who are involved in family court cases, because there was a very serious question raised about notice not being provided and I think that community deserves special attention.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the Solicitor General.
The minister is aware of the present serious situation concerning the safety standards now in use regarding firefighters' apparel or personal gear, the continued use of which may well endanger their lives while on duty. Can the minister inform the Legislature as to the present status of the research being carried out by the Ontario Research Foundation on improving firefighters' personal gear and when we can expect new safety standards?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I am watching the clock run down, and I would not want to extend it too far into the other part of the afternoon.
Very briefly, a firefighter's helmet has been approved by a group of people established under occupational health and safety legislation comprised of firefighters, fire chiefs, Ministry of Labour, and Ministry of the Solicitor General officials. That group has approved a helmet for use by all fire departments, and there is a period of time for its introduction.
Other garments are also being studied, and they are getting very close to the approval stage. All the participants in this are providing their best information. Indeed, we have been called upon by other jurisdictions, and I think we are leaders in this field, much to our pride and that of the groups that are putting together this equipment. They are looking basically at coats, gloves and footwear at this time. In the next short while they will be approving some of those garments for use and the regulations will be changed to meet the needs of the firefighters.
INFLATION RESTRAINT LEGISLATION
Mr. Rae: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: It is not exactly to correct the record, but to expand on the record. I want to make very clear what happened.
With respect to the question I raised with the Treasurer, I asked my researcher who spoke to the general administrator of the Sensenbrenner Hospital to go back and speak to the administrator again.
Mr. T.P. Reid: Was it the same researcher who did the calendar?
Mr. Rae: It is nice to know the member for Rainy River cares about what is happening to the workers at Sensenbrenner Hospital in Kapuskasing.
My researcher quoted the Premier's response in the House to Mr. Carriere: "The Treasurer has said" --
Mr. Speaker: With all respect, that is hardly a point of privilege.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, with respect, I am correcting the record. The Treasurer asked --
Mr. Speaker: No, you are not, with all respect.
Mr. Rae: The Treasurer challenged me with respect to information that --
Mr. Speaker: I have to call you to order. You will have to place your question at the next appropriate time.
Mr. Rae: Are you saying that after being challenged by the Treasurer with respect to something that was said in this House, I am not allowed to establish something for the record?
Mr. Speaker: There is no provision for that.
Mr. Rae: There is no opportunity to make it clear --
Mr. Speaker: You may correct the record on anything you have said.
Mr. Rae: That is what I am attempting to do, with great respect.
Mr. Speaker: Any member may correct his own record, not based on what anybody else has said.
Mr. Rae: I am attempting to correct the record in terms of what I said and what was said.
Mr. Carriere was quoted the Premier's response in the House, which I will quote: "The Treasurer has said, and it is factual, that there are discussions between the ministry, the Inflation Restraint Board and the hospital. These discussions are in process."
Just before two o'clock my researcher asked Mr. Carriere what the nature of these discussions was and he responded with the quotation I released to the House. It was to the effect that he had received no information from either the Treasurer, the IRB or any local politician. Mr. Carriere stated there were no indications that the workers would not have to pay the money back. He heard that information from his staff this morning because they said it was on the radio.
After the exchange that I had with the Treasurer, my researcher called Mr. Carriere back --
Ms. Copps: Is this a ministerial statement?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Rae: I do want to correct the record: that is why I am saying this.
Mr. Speaker: Okay. Please do.
Mr. Rae: He stated that he did speak to the IRB yesterday when they responded to his telegram of Friday. They suggested to him -- and this is of interest that he meet with the union to discuss alternative ways to pay back the money.
He then spoke to them again yesterday after the news was on the radio that the workers would not have to pay back the money, and he was told by the IRB that they had no knowledge of that and that they were unaware as to what was said in the House yesterday.
If anything I said in the question period is contrary to that, then of course I withdraw it.
However, I would also say to the Treasurer that there were some things he said on November 8 and some things he said on November 4 that he might want to look at as well and withdraw.
TELEVISION IN LEGISLATURE
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: My colleague the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) brought up a very valid matter of concern to the people of this province. Over the years, I have been totally concerned about the way you or someone is allowing stupidity in the way they film the proceedings of this House.
In other words, in Ottawa they do a full film of what is going on, but here a bunch of photographers can make decisions about what they are going to film and what they will not film. I think it is up to you, Mr. Speaker, to make some positive decision as to how you are going to handle this thing, because the way you are doing it now is not fair to the people of Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you very much. As you may know, it is not solely my responsibility. It is based on a decision by the Board of Internal Economy.
Mr. Martel: No, no.
Mr. Speaker: Yes, it was. I am not going to argue that. That was the decision that was reached and we are living with that decision.
Mr. Martel: No, no. We said we would review it.
Mr. Speaker: Just a moment, if we may relax. As I sit here calm, cool and collected in my normal way, I spy a visitor in the gallery in the presence of a former member, Mr. Grossman, and I am very pleased to see him.
BALLOON AT LEGISLATURE
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I would like to try you with a point of privilege also. Did you notice that the Labatt's Blue balloon was parked in your front yard this morning? Did you give your permission? Did you collect a parking fee? Or is this part of the Attorney General's anti-impaired driving program, which he remembers every Christmastime?
Mr. Speaker: I was very much aware of it because as I came down the stairs, there it was. I made the inquiry.
Mr. Nixon: Where would they get the hot air to inflate it around here?
Mr. Speaker: That was not a problem. Apparently they saved it over from yesterday. I was told, without mentioning any names, that it did not belong to nor was it the property of the company you have mentioned. Other than that, I do not have any jurisdiction. The Minister of Government Services (Mr. Ashe) looks after that.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, since it is blue and large and full of hot air, it seems to me it is resident over there all the time.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, is it not true that any assemblage in the front of the building has to be granted permission by you or one of your nominees? If that is the case, what steps will you take to protect the integrity of this institution from being exploited by a commercial enterprise such as may very well have happened this morning without your knowledge or permission?
Mr. Speaker: I must point out that it was well beyond the front area. I thought myself, if I may make an observation, that it might be one of those commercials based on when the boys get together, you know.
Mr. Nixon: That's it.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, as a matter of seriousness, do you think it is appropriate that this institution should be used as a backdrop for a commercial for when the boys get together for a Blue? I certainly do not.
Mr. Speaker: To the best of my knowledge and in all seriousness, when I inquired about that, I was told that it was not being used for the making of a commercial.
Mr. Foulds: What was it being used for?
Mr. Speaker: I have no idea.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I think the original point raised by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk was to ascertain whether you had any knowledge of how the big blue balloon happened to be there, and if not, would you please find out and report back to the House.
There has been concern expressed on all sides of the House that, at the same the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) is carrying on high and holy about his drunk-driving program across Ontario, this Legislature is being used as a backdrop for the big blue balloon.
Mr. Speaker: No, I did not have any prior knowledge, nor would I have had, because it is beyond the area of my authority and jurisdiction. However, I have made the inquiry and I will be happy to share the answer with the House if, as and when it is made available.
INFLATION RESTRAINT LEGISLATION
Mr. Kolyn: Mr. Speaker, I would like to present the following petition on behalf of a number of Conservative caucus members.
"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."
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by 175 nurses in my community from the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Health Unit, as well as St. Joseph's Hospital, which reads:
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned nurses, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Whereas we oppose the extension of the Inflation Restraint Act because it is inequitable in its application to the citizens of Ontario and restricts our basic free collective bargaining rights; and
'Whereas we believe that an extension of the act or measures which will have a similar effect would violate the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
"We petition the Ontario Legislature to restore our free collective bargaining rights forthwith."
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Mr. Kolyn from the standing committee on administration of justice presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:
Bill 68, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I thought we were doing third readings tonight. It is a report, not a bill. You said a bill. That is why I ask.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, to my friend, the report from the committee was on the amendments to the Employment Standards Act which came back to the House from consideration by committee. Mr. Speaker asked if it should then proceed to third reading.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It is not being called for third reading.
Mr. Martel: The only thing is the minister has indicated he wanted to do third readings this evening. This is why I was unprepared for that one, because we had agreed that third readings would come tonight.
Mr. Speaker: It has just been called for third reading.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It is not my intention that it be called for third reading. Mr. Speaker, I just want to be sure you are not thinking it was going to go to committee of the whole House when it came back here.
Mr. Martel: Heaven forbid.
Hon. Mr. Wells: We have enough business. I think the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) wishes to proceed in the budget debate.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that Mr. Grande and Mr. Laughren exchange places in the order of precedence for private members' public business.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, if we have any more of these, we will have to dispense with the lottery.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the requirements for notice provided in standing order 64(h) be waived with respect to ballot item 3 standing in the name of Mr. Swart.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
CITY OF SAULT STE. MARIE ACT
Mr. Gillies moved, seconded by Mr. Stevenson, first reading of Bill Pr48, An Act respecting the city of Sault Ste. Marie.
Motion agreed to.
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Martel moved, seconded by Mr. Mackenzie, first reading of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to work more than five consecutive days without a day of rest.
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. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the bill. I would like to make a few introductory remarks on the bill and then get into a matter that has not yet been covered to any extent in the debate on this bill so far.
Although this bill does not intervene in the dramatic manner of Bill 179, it does interfere in the normal labour relations process of this province. I believe it is a principle of good management that one does not tinker with a process that is working or even, in the case of labour relations in this province, somehow bumbling along unless one has substantial evidence the changes one is making are going to have a positive effect on the process.
This bill is basically unfair. It does nothing. On the contrary, it works against the orderly labour relations of this province and the free collective bargaining system. It is a bill that is based on a history of unfairness over the last few years. While the bill may be characterized as a loosening of restraint, it can also be seen as a continuation of the tinkering with and regulation of the bargaining system by this government.
Perhaps the government feels the longer this kind of authoritarian approach is taken and the longer it is perpetuated, the more likely the interventionist approach will be accepted, the less outcry there will be and the easier other forms of more dramatic interventionism will be accepted in the future, as it introduces still tougher legislation against workers in the province in later sessions of the Legislature.
One of the things which struck me most about this bill is it has no termination date. What the bill does is to say to the public and to the Legislature that the government is willing to use its majority to continue a policy that is anti-civil libertarian. In this case it does not even need a majority because the Liberals are working with it. The truth is that one group, namely workers, suffer the brunt of its so-called restraint program.
Only a couple of weeks ago, a resolution by the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) was passed unanimously by this House. Only last week a bill by my leader the member for York South (Mr. Rae) was defeated by seven votes; as many of the Liberals along with the Minister responsible for Women's Issues (Mr. Welch) mysteriously disappeared. It is fine for this House to give lip service to equal opportunities for women, but when it comes to dealing with the challenge in a concrete way the Liberals and Conservatives either take a walk or vote against women.
This bill is essentially unfair to all workers, but it is even more unfair to women. Wage controls or restraints have a particularly damaging effect on women. The federal Public Service Commission of Canada has concluded that the restraint program of the federal government has increased the wage gap between male and female public servants. There is no reason to believe the provincial restraint program has in any way had a different effect.
Edgar Gallant, the chairman of the public service commission, released figures in May 1983 that showed the gap in the median pay between male and female public servants increased by about 12 per cent to $7,300 in 1982 under wage controls. Male public servants had a median pay of $27,719 in 1982 compared to $20,450 for females, a difference of about $7,300. A year earlier men were getting $24,341 and women $17,831, a gap of $6,500.
Mr. Gallant was speaking very directly to the effect of wage restraints on women as follows: "The result is that women public servants who hold a disproportionate share of low-paid clerical and service jobs got lower pay increases than male public servants who still hold most of the high-paid professional and administrative posts."
My colleague the member for York South (Mr. Rae) pointed out that the present so-called staged program of the government in terms of making women more equal in the work place would, if projected, result in equal pay for women within 1,821 years. This bill merely procrastinates the process. It is one more blow against women in the work place that this government is perpetuating.
When one looks at the gap between men and women in the work place, one can see why this kind of bill is simply one more nail against women, one more hardship against the kind of equality this government and those members voted for or gave lipservice to on the resolution a few weeks ago. Seventy-two per cent of women in Ontario are counted among the official labour force, according to the Financial Post in an article of March 19, 1983. Women in this province are paid 63 cents for every dollar men earn, an average of $8,623 a year less than men.
Women work for the same reasons men do, and yet in 1981 the average income of a female-headed family in Ontario was $14,000 less than a male-headed family. Over two thirds of working women are trapped in clerical, sales and service sector job ghettos where opportunities for advancement and promotion are often scarce or just nonexistent. In fact, federal studies have shown that is the very reason why women are most discriminated against in any kind of wage control program.
The Conservatives or the government members love to portray and provide arguments against equal value out of affirmative action. We are now familiar with their arguments. It is interesting, however, that they never use those same arguments when it comes to dealing with the problem and instead they introduce this kind of interventionist legislation.
They talk about government tinkering with relative wage rates and say that to address the real problem, if sex-linked disparities in the work place were to be eliminated, women would have to compete with men in nontraditional job areas. According to this logic, women would have to get these positions in the same way men do, on the basis of merit. Affirmative action is therefore rejected out of hand as being tinkering.
If ever there is legislation that is tinkering, it is the kind of wage restraint program that this government has tinkered with in the marketplace and that has so discriminated against women over the last two or three years. Research studies have shown constantly that even with the same educational background, women are still paid less than men. In managerial and administrative jobs, women with doctorates earn about one third less than men, according to another Globe and Mail article of November 11, 1982.
Last year, over 67 per cent of public elementary school teachers who are going to be directly affected by this bill were women. Yet they managed to hold only 13 per cent of all positions of added responsibility; that is, principals, vice-principals, chairmen, department heads and assistant department heads.
If the minister would like to check out the source, those facts are taken from the Ministry of Education statistics of April 1983, tables 20 and 20.01.
Statistics, again from the Ministry of Education, have suggested that while women teachers have made some gains since 1979, the picture has not changed significantly. Yet we freeze their wages in the same way we will be freezing those of their higher-paid male counterparts.
In 1980, a study undertaken by two professors from the University of Windsor indicated that even after practising law for five years, women lawyers in this province earn $2,000 a year less than their male counterparts. It would be interesting to see the figures as to the salary differences between women lawyers who work for the government, whose wages will be affected by this legislation, and men lawyers working in the same types of positions.
Of those graduating from Ontario universities in 1979, 17.5 per cent of male students held degrees in engineering and applied sciences while only 1.6 per cent of female students held degrees in the same area.
The largest sex-linked gap in all fields of the study -- and again this is an Ontario government study I am quoting from; namely, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities study entitled, Employment survey of 1979 graduates of Ontario universities. What I am saying is that this bill perpetuates a system, a gap between the wages of men and women and, indeed, increases in real dollars that very gap. By failing to attack the wage gap, this government is increasing the widespread incidence of poverty among women.
My colleague the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) has already talked about the effect of transfer payments and so forth to the various agencies in municipal governments. Of all female-led families in this country, 41.5 per cent live below the poverty line. Nearly two thirds of the women who live alone in this country are living on incomes below the poverty line. Many Canadian women live lives that consist of a complete cycle of poverty. The National Council of Welfare estimates that one in seven Canadians who live below the poverty line are minimum earners or welfare recipients in the single elderly category, and the majority of them are women.
Women who are not permitted to earn a proper wage, which is what this bill essentially perpetuates, will have as wage earners nothing to fall back on but a welfare system that again is inept and inadequate as a result of this government's wage and other restraint programs.
Women who are not permitted to earn a proper wage while they are wage earners will again be disadvantaged when they are out of the labour market and into a retirement or other assisted market.
I am trying to point out that essentially this bill is not only unfair to workers in general, but in particular it is unfair to women. This is the conclusion of the federal studies that have been done on the federal restraint program. There is no indication that the provincial restraint program, which this bill is merely a part of, does anything other than that.
If the members on the government side and. indeed, the members of the Liberal Party really believe in the resolution that they voted in favour of in relation to women's rights and their equality in the work place, then they will certainly have to vote against this bill, which discriminates against all groups, but discriminates more harshly and more severely against women in this society.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in opposition to this piece of legislation. My colleagues have outlined better than I could the problems that it is going to lead us into vis-à-vis labour relations in Ontario.
I do not know how the government can ever again expect to have any decent kind of labour relations where people will trust it, when so obviously and so blatantly it can expropriate people's wages in the way it has. They would never do that with property, but they do it very readily with people's wages. I want to tell members the instructions which have been given to the arbitrators are positively bizarre.
This morning my leader was speaking at the Ontario Federation of Labour and he made the point that if the government was to buy a piece of property, such as Inco Ltd., it would have to say to that company: "This is what we are going to pay you for your assets. We would pay you more because we know the market value is more, but our ability to pay is so restricted that this is all we are going to offer you."
That is the kind of logic in this bill, which states that the arbitrators must consider the ability to pay of the person who is doing the paying. Would they carry that philosophy over into other areas of expropriation? No, I doubt that they would because then they would be treading --
Mr. Rotenberg: We are not expropriating anything, and the member knows it.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Laughren: Let me draw another parallel, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Rotenberg: Try another one. Maybe this one will fly.
Mr. Laughren: I rest my case on that one and I will move on to another one.
When a new highway is going to go through in Ontario, there can be a hearing of necessity and it can then go to some form of arbitration. I am not sure of the appropriate language to describe it, but an arbitration process takes place that decides upon the price of that land. Are we now going to say to the people who own the land that is going to be taken over for a new highway -- perhaps the Pope expressway around Timmins or some other such necessary highway -- "We know what the market value is, but our ability to pay is such that we cannot give you a fair price"? That is the instruction they are giving the arbitrators here.
What bothers me most about the legislation is the way it fits in with a lot of other legislation that is coming forth from this government and from other governments in the country. Basically, it is legislation to stop any potential increase in the distribution of income to the lower percentiles in our society. That is basically what this legislation is about. It is blatant class legislation to make sure that no redistribution takes place in terms of income. That is exactly what it is.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Even the member does not believe that.
Mr. Laughren: I do believe that. Let the minister tell me who else is being asked to make the sacrifice. Let him tell me what other people are being told, not being asked but being dictated to, that they are going to make this sacrifice. Who else but the working class in this province? I do not know any other people who are being told by legislation that they are going to have to share in the burden of fighting inflation. I do not hear the minister telling anybody else that.
I look at the question of the minimum wage. What could have been more mean-spirited and begrudging than the announcement of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) about the increase in the minimum wage? It is simply outrageous. That, too, is designed to make sure there is no redistribution of income in this society.
Mr. Rotenberg: It is 14 per cent.
Mr. Laughren: It does not matter what the percentage is when people are being paid $3.85 an hour, my friend.
Mr. Mackenzie: And that is not for another five months.
Mr. Laughren: Exactly.
It is like the whole question raised by my colleague the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip), who made such an excellent speech on the distribution of income vis-à-vis women in our society. I thought his remarks were most appropriate.
I find it passing strange that we have a government that will endorse the right of women to box one another in a ring but will not give them legislated affirmative action and will not give them equal pay for work of equal value. Is it not strange what it decides is appropriate for women to have in our society? Not equal pay for work of equal value, not mandatory affirmative action, but yes, they can go into a boxing ring. I heard the minister say that. The government has selected its priorities. The women of Ontario will understand and they will not forget that it was decided women could have, in 1983 and the years to come, the right to get into a boxing ring and hit each other, but not the right to have equal pay for work of equal value or to have mandatory affirmative action in the province.
I look at the attitude of the government regarding injured workers, and I am forever appalled at the attitude of the government towards them. There is to be no redistribution to look after people who are so unfortunate as to be injured on the job. If the government acts on the report that is going to come into this chamber, it will be doing a great deal of harm to a great number of injured workers in the province.
The Deputy Speaker: With all due respect to the member, we are talking about Bill 111.
Mr. Laughren: This restraint bill is not going to do very much for those injured workers. I know what I am going to do, Mr. Speaker, not to you, because I know the burdens of office are sufficient that it would be unfair, but to all those other members when this new legislation comes in, if it does. When people come to me with a compensation problem, I am going to make sure they also go to the closest government member who voted for this legislation. It is of their doing; it is not of our doing.
I look at the question of housing. What is this restraint bill going to do for anybody who has a housing problem? I listened to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) get up and answer questions on the housing crisis in Ontario, and it was very difficult for me to keep my lunch down. It is so outrageous.
In my 12 years as an elected member, the only time I have engaged in any form of civil disobedience was in the last two months over a housing issue in Sudbury when I helped a family move into an empty house that belonged to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. This government and this minister have refused to act on the problem. I would do it again and I would encourage other people to do it. If one has an equation that consists of homeless families here and empty houses there, there is an obligation that we put them together.
Mr. Martel: But one cannot even talk to the minister. He just rants like a mad dog.
Mr. Laughren: One cannot even talk to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
This bill is going to affect the boards of education because it directs the boards of education on how much they will be compensated for by the government in any kind of wage settlement. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association has issued a release recently in which it warns the Treasurer and others that this bill is going to exacerbate the problems of the boards that are assessment poor.
I suppose if one lives in the riding of St. Andrew-St. Patrick, one does not worry too much about assessment-poor boards. But there are some parts of this province where the boards are assessment poor, where there already is a substantial difference in the amount spent per student from the amount spent by other boards. This decision is going to make it worse.
The member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) has done a lot for the people in our society who should have more. He has done a great deal. They understand what he is doing to them, not for them.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, this is the cornerstone of the government's legislation and there are not 20 members here. I think you should call for a quorum.
The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells to be rung.
The Deputy Speaker: I see a quorum. Before the member proceeds, I might just suggest that it might aid the debate if the members participating in the debate could stick to the principles of Bill 111. Perhaps they might address their remarks to the chair so as to minimize the interjections and so we will not have these outbursts that have characterized the last few comments.
Mr. Laughren: I do not think I can live with that set of guidelines.
Mr. Speaker, I understand why the whip encourages the Tory members to leave. He is afraid I am going to convert them all. I know it has nothing to do with the quality of my speech.
I was talking about the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association and their warnings to the Treasurer about what was going to happen with this bill. While he may be quite happy to let that kind of thing happen, the Treasurer does not understand how serious it is to an assessment-poor board. Not to open old wounds, it is like the workers at the Sensenbrenner Hospital in Kapuskasing where he knew that was going to happen when that bill came in. I do not know how he would not know that could happen. His answer is, "Sit down and work it out with your employer." What a lot of nonsense that is.
I know the reason we have this bill is that the government argues that if it can restrain the public sector, that will allow more for the private sector. That will then provide more investment dollars, which will create jobs. Then we will all be better off and we will have a lower rate of inflation. That is the philosophy over on the other side. They really believe that. They believe two kinds of trickle down happen. One is that if one pays people all sorts of money and allows all sorts of profits at the top, the benefits will trickle down to people in the lower income levels.
Second, they believe that by allowing that extra money to go to the private sector in the form of profits and dividends, that will trickle down to create more jobs for the unemployed. That is the philosophy behind it. I think the Speaker understands that very well, having heard Ronald Reagan speak in such a manner from time to time. I know the Speaker knows that is a philosophy to which he adheres --
The Deputy Speaker: What does this have to do with Bill 111?
Mr. Laughren: It has to do with public restraint and what happens when one restrains expenditures, according to the Tory philosophy.
The only trouble with that philosophy is that the increased money that is available to the private sector because of restraint does not end up providing the extra jobs. At least there does not seem to be any evidence of that. I would ask the Speaker how he thinks that this restraint bill could alter any investment decision by any company in Ontario.
Mr. Kerr: Less taxes, less bureaucracy.
Mr. Laughren: I see. The Tories are saying now that there will be less taxes. Since I must direct my remarks to you, Mr. Speaker, and not to the member, let me ask you, do you really believe that if this restraint bill had been in place 20 or 30 years ago, International Nickel, for example, would have put its money in further processing in Ontario rather than buying a battery company in the United States or developing in the Third World?
Is that what your colleague thinks, Mr. Speaker? Do you really believe that nonsense? Do you really believe that even though there has been a form of wage controls and restraint in this country now since 1975, I guess, that Abitibi-Price in Sault Ste. Marie would not have gone together with the Thomson newspaper chain and spent more than $200 million on a paper mill in the southern United States? Do you really believe that restraint in the public sector is going to motivate the private sector to make those investments here because supposedly they pay less taxes? I find it hard to believe.
One thing that offends me so much about the legislation is that it is out there all by itself. If the Treasurer had said, "We have a package of economic stimulation that we want to present to the people of Ontario; one of them is a public restraint bill, and another is an economic development package to create jobs," then he might be able to get up and make a convincing argument. But he does not do that. He says, "This restraint is the answer to our economic malaise in Ontario."
He does not say, "Along with this economic restraint package in the public sector there is going to be a massive program to replace imports, to further process our resources." He jut assumes it is going to happen, without a shred of evidence that it works.
Mr. Laughren: It is very interesting to hear that the public restraint bill is going to help fund the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development, which will do things such as providing direct grants to the pulp and paper industry -- to all sectors out there -- to create jobs. If that is true, if his colleague believes that, then he is really saying this group of workers in the public sector are the ones who are going to provide the stimulation.
We are not sharing it equally in society; we are selecting who is going to do that. There is nothing fair about that, it is incredibly discriminatory, and yet he seems to get away with it. I do not think he should, but he really does seem to get away with it.
They must wonder at times among themselves why it is that they have selected this particular group of working people in Ontario to carry that burden. What is so special about the public sector? Is it the security of tenure, such as the public service in British Columbia thought it had? Is that what it is? We know that if he will expropriate their wages with a piece of legislation, which he certainly did last year, he would not hesitate to expropriate their jobs as well.
The arguments his colleagues use are downright silly at times. We know that in Ontario we do need to get people back to work. There are entire communities where the unemployment rate is outrageous.
If Sault Ste. Marie were represented by an opposition member, that member would be raising hell in this chamber day after day because of an unemployment level that is pushing 30 per cent. But Sault Ste. Marie is represented by a member of the government party who simply cannot do that. He cannot get on his feet and embarrass his own government.
If Sault Ste. Marie were represented by an opposition member, we would see the fur flying in this chamber. I do not know of any member who could sit back and tolerate an unemployment rate that exceeds a quarter of the work force. None of us would accept that, but because it is represented by a government minister somehow it is not talked about. It is not talked about here anyway.
When we had massive unemployment in the Sudbury area, at least the issues were raised. But when was the last time we heard the member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Ramsay) raising the issue?
I guess this bill has pulled the members of the government party together in a display of solidarity against their own civil service. But it has also pulled the civil service together, it has pulled us together and it has pulled the trade union movement together in opposition to it. We all know that what they do to one group of workers today they can do to another group of workers tomorrow. Everyone understands that. That is why in British Columbia, for example, there was the massive Solidarity effort put forth by all organized labour and by others outside organized labour as well. In Ontario, they may be doing it much more sneakily, but the message is still getting out that workers out there are fair game for the restraint package.
I would like to know from some member on the government side, and perhaps the Treasurer will tell us when he is winding up, who else is sharing this burden. I noticed this morning in the news that the inflation rate now has dropped to less than five per cent, yet the minister feels compelled to continue wage restraint against a particular group of workers.
The minister can pretend that these are wage controls but not wage controls, but everyone knows what the effect of this is. Everyone knows that the most regressive tax is the property tax and that there will be enormous hesitation to pass through any kind of just increases to people at the local level. That was a very sneaky kind of way to continue the restraint legislation.
There are lots of better ways to do it where the minister could have been out front defending his legislation directly. This way all he has to do is say: "Don't talk to me, talk to the school board. Don't talk to me, talk to the university. Don't talk to me, talk to your municipality." That is what the Treasurer can say. Those bodies are then faced with an incredible dilemma. Any inequities that exist there already will be continued and, as a matter of fact, reinforced.
For those reasons, we stand in opposition to this iniquitous bill.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I join the debate on this bill to offer a few comments about the concern of those of us on this side. I would like to suggest to the minister that with what we consider to be a tremendous influence on the marketplace, on private life, on everything else that is being done municipally, provincially or federally, governments have decided to play a larger and larger role as to how they influence the way in which people conduct their lives and their businesses.
In this instance, it made uncommonly good sense to have some form of restraint or some form of control by those people who realized we had an economy that did go beyond reasonable limits and that on a much broader scale we were getting less and less able to compete in world markets and were living somewhat beyond our means. I cannot believe there would be those who would be opposed to such a consideration by various governments.
This party has always taken the position and has come to the conclusion that it should be done in a fair and equitable way. The last time we discussed and debated such a bill before this assembly, we moved amendments that we thought would make the bill reasonable and acceptable.
Our main thrust, which did make that kind of sense, was that we wanted to talk about those people who were on fixed incomes and who should have assurances from this government that there would be some control of prices, of energy and, most particularly, of the things governments had a real interest in, typically Ontario Hydro. We felt that if they were going to constrain the income of individuals, then this government would play a major role in helping those people out there on fixed incomes who had to face the reality of prices and commodities and all those other things that are going up much more than they are able to cope with.
Mr. Laughren: Tell us about price controls, Vince.
Mr. Kerrio: The third party people just do not want to face the realities of what must he done in a system to get us back into a position of competition with other jurisdictions. There are those who would like to live in a dream world, and we see what is happening to them worldwide. People are beginning to realize that one day you wake up and you must pay for all the things you would like to enjoy. The socialists are slipping on the federal scene and on the provincial scene, and it is obvious they do not have a handle on what is a must to make this great country of ours competitive and to put it on a basis of competing on the world markets again.
Mr. Samis: How about the Liberals?
Mr. McClellan: I think you have overtaken us, Vince. You passed us on the way down.
Mr. Kerrio: Having said that, I have some comments to make relating to the bill in a specific way. I do not think it is fair of the government to decide it will change the thrust of the bill so that it will put the onus and the pressure on municipal governments. It has done this on many occasions, and it is not fair.
When we consider that our governments, provincially and federally, because of the huge explosion of bureaucrats and people who are supposed to be sophisticated and knowledgeable about running the affairs of government, have proliferated and they have much of the expertise, it seems unconscionable that they would transfer much of the responsibility of everyday living to the municipalities.
It has not happened only in this particular instance. Witness market value assessment when the government of Ontario did not have the integrity or the fortitude to put it right across the province. We now have municipalities that are voting for it holus-bolus. We can have two adjoining municipalities where one has this assessment and a neighbouring one is without it, putting municipalities in a very awkward situation.
The same is happening with this bill. The government decides there will be some restraint on its part and advocates that position and then it decides the municipalities will be left to wrestle with the increases but the transfer will be kept to what the government considers a reasonable inflationary percentage. Instead of doing that, the government might well have addressed itself to looking at the prices people have to pay for commodities and for energy, and in that way do something meaningful in restraint. I hope this government might reconsider that position.
Mr. Laughren: Talk about a dream world.
Mr. Kerrio: Most of the people out there that the socialists decided were strictly on their side were in fact not on their side when it came to restraint. We found the teachers of this province taking a very responsible position, most being willing to participate in a restraint program. I think they are very disappointed it did not go far enough in the sense that they could do something in a more responsible way. Many people out there, having achieved those kind of wages, would be willing to share with those people --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Kerrio: Many people out there in the work force are most willing to share with those people in society who are not so well off. The only people who object to that are the union boss proponents over there. They do not represent the average worker. They represent the union bosses, who are getting hundreds of thousands of dollars more than they are worth. Then they come here to government and decide that only government and parties in power do those things. I discount anything they say, because the people they are supposed to represent do not support their position.
Those teachers out there, those good workers, those people who make good money in the work force at a time of need when other people on the low-income scale are crying for support, are most willing to do it, but not the supporters of the union bosses. They are not willing to participate as the people they are supposed to represent are most willing to do. In our experience over the past year of a federal-provincial restraint situation, those people, honourable good people that they are, are most willing to participate.
My criticism of the government has nothing to do with the willingness of those people to support that, but really has to do with being concerned that the government is not willing to transfer to these various municipalities the responsibility of fund-raising together with the responsibility now to pay extra money.
Down the road, I hope the minister will consider some new legislation that will address itself to those municipalities at the low end of the scale that are going to be faced with this situation, some of which could border on other municipalities. One of them could have the means to raise extra money to pay for considerable increases while the neighbouring one could not. I hope the minister will readdress himself to his government in particular and assume the responsibility on a much broader base, realizing that although some form of restraint is a must, it should not be on the backs of any particular group. I think this is our particular play in life.
This party represents all workers, whether they are unionized or not. We represent the little people out there. We do not go to bat for just those people who have that strong representation that really does not need that party. In fact, that party needs them. They have those roles reversed. They are hanging on by the skin of their teeth but are slipping away to the point where the Pilkey gang might decide to form another party and throw these people right out to some fourth or fifth standing in the various involvements of governments across this great nation of ours.
In conclusion, I must say the minister is going to get sensible support. Our only plea is that the minister consider some of the concerns we have expressed in reasonable amendments, which have the support of all those good people out there: the teachers, the public workers and those other people who are most willing to participate as long as it is on a fair and equitable basis.
In closing, I must say that rump group over there certainly does not command the respect of the citizens of this great nation of ours who will participate, help their fellow workers and help those people in need of help. I hope the minister will address himself to these few remarks and adjust his bill to take into account some of those considerations.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, a year ago, Bill 179 was brought in as the government's answer to inflation. It was supposed to apply both to public sector wages and to prices administered or set by the government and its agencies. It also provided for the monitoring of changes in prices and wages in the private sector.
According to the Premier (Mr. Davis), when he made his statement at the introduction of the bill, it was supposed to provide for the continuation of collective bargaining, which would be allowed on what he called a range of nonmonetary issues, increasing productivity and maintaining public sector employment. The then Treasurer, now the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. F. S. Miller), touted it as a means of reducing inflation and putting the province on the road to economic recovery.
Never was such a false bill of goods sold to the Legislature. Free collective bargaining was virtually wiped out, since there are very few nonmonetary issues. Public sector employment was curtailed as layoffs and contracting out continued, and institutions were closed.
There was little or no monitoring of changes in prices in the private sector. The board which the Premier promised would do this was never set up. Instead, the job was left to the Inflation Restraint Board, which was too busy rolling back the wages of the underpaid hospital workers in Kapuskasing to do anything about prices. Yet, how can workers be expected to maintain their standard of living if there is no restraint on prices?
There was little or no restraint on prices set by the government ministries or its agencies. For example, this year new licence stickers for four-cylinder cars went up by 60 per cent. Ontario Hydro rates went up 8.4 per cent. GO Transit fares went up from seven to 13 per cent. Admission prices to the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum went up by 75 per cent and 66 per cent respectively.
The only part of the bill that stuck was the hard cap on public sector wage increases. The contribution to economic recovery proved to be a negative one. Unemployment continued to rise and layoffs to snowball. The purchasing power of 600,000 public sector employees was reduced and the purchasing power of many people in the private sector was reduced when employers used the restraint bill as an excuse for limiting or denying adequate wage increases to unorganized employees.
It is now clear that public sector employees were made scapegoats in the government's sham battle against inflation under Bill 179 last year. Of course the promise was held out last year that the restraint would be in effect for only one year. That is another part of the picture that was given last year.
Now we have a new form of restraint for this year for public sector employees only. Bill 111 differs from Bill 179 in several important ways. First, in theory it restores full collective bargaining rights to public sector workers, but the Treasurer has indicated that civil servants' compensation increases will be limited to an average of five per cent across the relevant bargaining unit. Does that allow full collective bargaining?
Second, Bill 111 puts no cap on wage increases but does put a cap on provincial transfer payments to municipalities, school boards, hospitals and other local bodies like the Toronto Transit Commission.
Third, it transfers the Inflation Restraint Board from an adjudicating body with rollback powers to a review body with powers limited to making recommendations to the provincial Treasurer on both wages and administered prices. What the provincial Treasurer can do is left unsaid.
Fourth, in making awards arbitrators are required under the new bill to take into account the employer's ability to pay and provincial fiscal policy. This is something entirely new in Bill 111 as compared to Bill 179 and is a very dangerous interference with our labour relations policies and procedures.
Fifth, in Bill 111 any pretence at monitoring private sector wages and prices has been dropped.
It is not surprising that the government has backed off from last year's virtual ban on collective bargaining. Recently the Ontario Supreme Court found Bill 179 interfered unconstitutionally with key freedoms guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I think both the labour movement and the New Democratic Party can take credit for the restoration of collective bargaining. Their stiff and united opposition to the government's denial of collective bargaining rights under Bill 179 convinced the Tories this was not the way to go.
Bill 179 was euphemistically called the inflation restraint bill, but as I have shown that was a window-dressing title.
The short title for the new bill gives away what the government is up to this year. It is called the Public Sector Prices and Compensation Review Act, 1983. Members will note that prices are mentioned first, even though the prices section is tagged on at the end of the bill. Price restraint under the 1982 act was virtually a dead letter and a study of Bill 111 indicates that review under the new act will not be any better.
But it is a different story for wages. The second half of the title for the new bill, "compensation review," is just a fancy name for a new form of wage control. It is not a legislated ceiling on wage increases like last year, but the government will continue to control wages of public sector workers by another route under the new bill.
For example, under the new bill any compensation package which exceeds in total the criteria set out by the Treasurer faces several roadblocks. Let me list them.
First, all negotiated public sector compensation packages are subject to review by the Inflation Restraint Board, which then reports to the Treasurer if they do not conform to the criteria which the Treasurer will be announcing. Compensation is defined broadly to include every form of monetary benefit. In his introductory statement on the bill, the Treasurer indicated that compensation increases averaging above five per cent would not conform to his criteria.
The second roadblock faced by bargainers is that the Treasurer made it clear in his statement that provincial transfer payments and grants to local bodies would only provide for average compensation increases of up to five per cent across bargaining units.
The third roadblock in the new bill is that if arbitration comes into play during any part of the process arbitrators will be required to take into account when making their awards "the employer's ability to pay in the light of existing provincial fiscal policy."
Moreover, both employers and arbitrators must submit to the Inflation Restraint Board an estimate of the cost attributable to the new collective agreement or award. This is designed to let the board publicize how much the increases will cost in total.
Furthermore, if the IRB reports that the overall pattern of agreements is not in conformity with the Treasurer's criteria, the board may recommend to the Treasurer "that further appropriate measures be taken." That is subsection 4(1).
This appears to be a clear threat of intensified controls in the future. It is certainly a section of the bill that must be clarified as to what it really means. The Treasurer must tell us what kind of appropriate measures he is contemplating under this section and let us judge whether they are appropriate or not.
What the new bill succeeds in doing is transferring wage control to local authorities. If total negotiated increases are greater than the Treasurer's announced limit of five per cent on transfers and grants, local governments will have to decide whether to raise taxes or cut other services to meet the costs.
The bill also makes it virtually impossible to achieve catch-up settlements where employees have fallen behind others doing similar work. The only catch-up possible is on a piecemeal basis through negotiating larger increases for one category of employees at the expense of smaller increases for other categories in the same bargaining unit. Breakthroughs by arbitrators who used to look mainly at principles of fairness and comparable work will be unlikely, if not impossible.
Women employees seeking equal pay for work of equal value or other forms of catch-up to ensure economic equality will find the bargaining straitjacket very tight. It is also unclear where the costs of reclassifications or additional employees fit into the total compensation package on which a ceiling has been placed by the Treasurer's guidelines.
It is unclear how merit increases will be treated. Public sector employees who had to forgo merit increases under Bill 179 were expecting to be paid their merit increases in the coming year, but if it becomes part of the overall package of compensation increases it will mean that much less increase available for other kinds of compensation increase.
As my colleagues have pointed out, the bill does not offer any real solution to the Kapuskasing hospital employees situation where hospital orderlies making $18,000 a year have been required to pay back $1,000 each. Presumably any renegotiation of this rollback will be added to the compensation increase for next year and be subject to the five per cent guidelines.
Another alarming part about the bill is that the Treasurer unilaterally sets the criteria for acceptable compensation increases. There is no provision for debate or review by the Legislature. There is no figure in the bill. It is entirely what the Treasurer has said he will suggest. The percentage of five per cent he will impose on the public sector is not in the bill. There is no provision for public input on the figure that is set for each category of public sector employees. There is no right of appeal. This is giving draconian powers to a single cabinet minister and it is not what one expects under democratic government.
I would also like to point out what appears to be a serious omission in the bill. In Bill 179, section 8 exempted from the ceilings in the bill increases granted under section 33 of the Employment Standards Act, which is the equal pay section, and it exempted orders of the Ontario Human Rights Commission which provided wage adjustments in overcoming discrimination.
There is no such clause in Bill 111. Accordingly, we have to ask, will any adjustments of these sorts under the Human Rights Code or under the equal pay provisions in the Employment Standards Act be considered part of the overall compensation package? Will they have to be included in the overall limits, which means less opportunity for increases for other reasons?
I would like to ask the Treasurer, how does he expect to overcome the wage gap between the average earnings of women and men in the Ontario public service? In 1982, the latest figures we have, it amounted to 26 percentage points. If there is no room for catch-up in his five per cent guideline for the public service, how does he expect to overcome this wage gap? According to the latest report from the women crown employees office, 17 out of 23 ministries have wage gaps above the average I have quoted.
I would also like to ask the Treasurer and the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) how they expect to bring us any closer to the principle of equal pay for work of equal value they voted for on October 20. How do they expect to enshrine that principle in the Employment Standards Act? If there is no room for catch-up in this legislation, how will they enshrine that principle in the Employment Standards Act?
I would even suspect it may make it impossible to implement the kind of changes in the equal pay law the government has been hinting we will get, which are completely inadequate but which will be an improvement on the present equal pay law.
If there is no opportunity for any equal pay catch-up or equal pay awards being considered outside the total compensation packages, they will not even be able to implement their very inadequate proposals for tinkering with the present equal pay legislation. They will be denying their vote for the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. The names of both the Treasurer and the Minister of Labour are recorded in Hansard as having voted in favour of that motion on October 20.
The New Democratic Party opposed this bill on first reading because of the unjust and discriminatory aspects of the bill and because public sector workers continue to be singled out to bear the burden of the government's restraint policy. The Liberal Party voted with the Progressive Conservative government at that time. The NDP will continue to oppose this bill because it is unfair and discriminatory legislation.
It is sexist legislation because it prevents women from catching up and overcoming that wage gap.
The legislation will thwart economic recovery because it will be reducing purchasing power. What we need right now is an increase in purchasing power and a job creation program that would turn the economy around and get Ontario working again. We do not need more controls on the wages of workers in the public sector. We do not need a continuation of making public servants the scapegoats for the lack of government policy and action in overcoming the present economic situation. We do not need a continuation of unequal pay for women in Ontario.
Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak briefly and outline some of the concerns I have with regard to Bill 111. In my thoughts, I see it simply as a method of wage control. I do not believe public sector workers such as teachers, nurses and municipal workers should be made scapegoats.
It seems to be the Treasurer's priority to get rid of the problem by putting it in the laps of municipal councils and school boards. I would like to ask the Treasurer why he controls workers' wages but does nothing about the costs of the various services they have to pay for. I see no method in his program to control hydro rates, for instance, which in the town of Lindsay, because of the increases they must pass on, are no 10 per cent higher.
Reference has been made to the increase of 13 per cent for GO Transit, 75 per cent for the Art Gallery of Ontario and 66 per cent for the Royal Ontario Museum. I would like the Treasurer to tell me why last summer the health unit in Haliburton-Victoria in the Pine Ridge district was allowed to increase its charge for inspections of septic and holding tanks in that area by 33 per cent.
When a worker in the county of Haliburton must be subjected to an increase of somewhere in the vicinity of five per cent, why should he be forced to pay 33 per cent to have the health unit inspect his holding tank?
I think that is very unfair and I would ask the Treasurer to express his view on that. If he is going to force people to accept in the neighbourhood of a five per cent increase, then why does he not use the good services of his office to make sure those agencies under his control also limit themselves to the same increase? It seems very unfair that a 33 per cent increase should be allowed. I think the Treasurer should answer that.
We also receive letters from many of our constituents. I would like to refer to a letter that I will indicate is from a clerk-treasurer in one of our municipalities in Ontario. Part of his letter reads as follows: "I am employed as the clerk-treasurer in a township and I feel that the public employees have unjustly been made the scapegoats for our present economic times when, as one example, a bank reports 40 per cent profit increase in 1983 over the same quarter in 1982."
He goes on to say, "I also note that my unemployment insurance deductions increased by over 40 per cent when government restrains the wages at five to six per cent increases." He also states, "My 4.2 per cent wage increase dwindled to a 3.3 per cent take-home increase. I could go on and on with similar examples, but I am quite sure you are well aware of these same examples."
He says, "Contrary to popular belief, not all public employees have pension plans, extended health plans, dental plans, life insurance plans, etc., at their place of employment." The employees of his township have none of these benefits listed and under present legislation cannot have these benefits added without being limited even further in the meagre wage increases allowed.
He goes on to say, "I am enclosing a copy of a survey completed showing the variances in benefit packages across this county. As you can see, there is a wide variation which the wage control program only ensures will continue."
The minister is in receipt of a letter from the clerk of the county of Victoria in which he says on behalf of county councillors: "Provision in the act was made that council must ensure that the proposed changes to a compensation plan meet the requirements of the legislation. In order to meet these requirements, council must file a report from its municipal auditor attesting to the administrator's compliance with the act.
"In order to obtain a report from the municipal auditor, it requires an additional audit at an additional expense to the municipality to confirm that the municipality did conform with the Inflation Restraint Act. Council feels that this requirement created an unnecessary additional expense to the municipality."
The county of Victoria requests the Treasurer and Minister of Economics to reimburse all municipalities that have incurred this expense upon presentation of the municipal auditor's statement for his work. I wonder if the Treasurer would respond to that.
My main concern in addressing Bill 111 at this time is that I feel this bill is very unfair to many of our public servants in that their wages are restrained but the Treasurer appears to be doing nothing to curb the prices.
Before this bill is completed, I think the Treasurer should address that. What action is he going to take to make sure that increases by the various government ministries, boards, commissions or agencies he has power over are no more than the workers' increases?
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, I would like to enter into the debate on Bill 111. I think this bill is important not only because of its content, but also because of the rationalization behind it and the consequences it will have for the public service, the boards of education, municipalities and for all Ontarians in days to come.
This bill is the result of the economic policies of this government and of the federal government. For the last few years they have been concentrating their efforts on fighting inflation. It has been the priority of this government and of the federal government.
We remember we had the restraint program. Last year the federal six-and-five program was implemented. We have an economic crisis that is imposing an incredible burden on the more vulnerable and defenceless people in our society. I am talking of the unemployed, the young people, women, natives, senior citizens and small businessmen and businesswomen.
The policies of this government are in tune with the philosophy that is defined as neoconservative. It is a philosophy that is very much the result of the intellectual elaboration of right-wing thinkers, economists and philosophers. It was shaped up initially in the United States by Reagan and his gang and in England by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It is a philosophy and a political practice of immense cost to many people.
Ontario has joined the crowd. Because of the incredible brainwashing and the effort made by the media -- the newspapers. television and radio -- I think the resistance of the public opinion to this type of attack is diminishing. I am pretty sure the government of Ontario and the Treasurer, who, being a smart person, does smart things, must have the polls to tell them that public opinion is in favour of a restraint program, in favour for reasons which are perhaps not totally rational, but nevertheless in favour of this program because civil servants have job security. Therefore, in their view, why should other workers suffer and be unemployed while civil servants not only have job security but also want hefty salary increases? These are well-known tactics which the Romans knew very well.
This may be convenient for the government. It may result in more public support of its policies. However, in the long run, I think it will he deleterious, not only for the government but for Ontario. This choice and these policies which the government is following are determining a situation in the province where our economic apparatus is deteriorating.
Unemployment has receded slightly in the last few months. However, if we make a comparison between the year before the recession -- that is in 1981 -- and the month of September, we know very well and the Treasurer knows very well that because of the recession in Ontario, we have lost 103,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector alone. The Treasurer knows very well those jobs will not come back by themselves. In many cases, those jobs are lost forever.
We know that because of the policy of the government, we do not have a strong recovery in Ontario which, above all, will bring back employment. Despite the proclamation of the previous Treasurer when he introduced the budget last spring that this government would create permanent jobs, especially for young people, we know very well those jobs have not been created. We know we still have very high unemployment. Of course, if we compare our percentage of unemployed with that in other provinces, it may look lower. However, we still have very high unemployment.
Today we know there is a very determined effort to try to convince us that full employment is a magic figure which can vary according to the circumstances. A federal minister, Mr. Johnston, actually said that full employment is a situation where one can have eight or 10 per cent unemployed because that is what the situation is going to be in the years to come. However, this is an admission of defeat.
Instead of making comparisons with provinces, such as Newfoundland, which are less fortunate than Ontario, I would suggest the Treasurer go a little bit beyond the border, not necessarily to the south, because I know the Premier likes to make comparisons with Alabama or North Carolina, but a little bit east, and look at Austria and other nations. He may perhaps see that there are situations where they have not only low inflation but also low unemployment.
In a situation like the present situation, where there is a protracted recession, there is only one way to create jobs and that is by an intervention of the government. This would sound blasphemous today because everything conspires against the intervention of the government.
The speakers the Conservative members invite from the United States to enlighten them from time to time tell them it is time to give support to the free enterprise system, to the private sector, and to stop the intervention of big government in the lives of citizens.
We see the results every day. We see there is an attack on medicare on the part of this government and the privatization of the health care system in Ontario. We know what is happening in nursing homes every day because profit is the magic word that prevails in any circumstance, whether we are talking of social services or the health of the citizens.
Intervention by the government is a blasphemous word that is unacceptable to the Conservatives and the neo-conservatives who at this moment are prevailing in our society.
Even though that is the trend of the moment, we know very well -- and the minister knows very well -- that those policies are extremely harmful because they are leaving thousands of people unemployed, especially young people. We have 140,000 young people unemployed in Ontario. These are the official figures. There are many young people who have never had a job and, therefore, do not show in the statistics as unemployed. There are people who have never entered the labour market and it is extremely difficult today for those people to get a job.
Instead of facing that situation, the government tells us, "We have to impose restraints on the civil servants because inflation is the number one danger."
Mr. Samis: Two minutes.
Mr. Di Santo: While the Treasurer absents himself with our permission, I would like to direct my remarks to the Speaker and tell him that for tactical reasons the Conservatives are also willing to say different things in different places.
The Conservative member in Ottawa, finance critic Donald Blenkarn, a well-known right-winger, said on September 6 --
Mr. McClellan: Is he the finance critic for Mulroney?
Mr. Di Santo: Yes. He said the federal government should drop the six-and-five program and concentrate on lowering unemployment because that is the major problem at this time. The business community -- I do not know what that is specifically, except that most of them are contributors to the Conservative Party of quite a sizeable amount of money every year -- does not like that music.
Why do they not like that music? Because, being members of an anachronistic group that does not understand the realities of 1983, they still think they must live in a preserve where they can treat labour as a cheap commodity and make profits using the government as a tool for their enterprises. That is exactly what happens in Canada and in Ontario.
While the government imposes restrictions on the public servants' wages, we know that when it brings down the budget it gives all kinds of exemptions to corporations. It gives tax deferrals and grants because, in the words of the previous Treasurer, the private sector creates jobs.
We have to oppose that philosophy, even though it is very difficult to do right now with the prevailing right-wing wind that is the reality in Ontario and Canada today. This government does not realize the consequences of that policy. Perhaps a time will come when people will be affected directly and will ask the government why they are doing this to them.
For example, the North York Board of Education will receive a five per cent increase in funding next year, yet it is cutting the programs for special education and heritage languages. Whenever there is a request for programs that would assist students who have disadvantages, they come up with the usual music that there are no funds available, the government does not give them enough money.
Just recently there was a blatant example of this by the board of education, which is dominated by friends of the Tories here in the province. There is a school called Maple Leaf Public School, which is quite a distance away for some students -- just a few yards short of one mile. In the winter, it is difficult for young children to walk that distance, so the board was asked to provide them with a bus.
The North York Board of Education's policy is to provide a bus when the distance to the school from the place where the children must be picked up is more than a mile. The board refused because of a few yards. We had delegations going there, and the Conservative majority on the board said: "We don't have money. We have to impose restraints on ourselves; therefore, we cannot give you a bus." That is one sad situation. I know many young students who do not attend the school because they cannot walk that distance. This is one situation of which I am aware.
On the other hand, we have situations where the government -- and we know the government does it all the time -- remunerates its friends without parsimony. For instance, I have been asking the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) to let us know the salary of Dr. Hillsdon-Smith, the chief forensic pathologist. We know the other employees who worked with him last year received a five per cent increase in their salaries. We would like to know how much the chief pathologist receives.
The Solicitor General started by saying we could find that figure in public accounts. We went to public accounts, and for the year 1981-82 Dr. Hillsdon-Smith received $78,983. But we would like to know how much he receives in 1983. If the other public servants in that ministry received a five per cent increase in their salaries, we would expect that he would have received the same increase, but the Solicitor General does not want to reveal the salary that Dr. Hillsdon-Smith receives.
I put another question on the order paper, and the Solicitor General said on November 8 that he had nothing to add to previous responses in that regard. The previous response was that I should go to public accounts and look for the salary. Of course, the Solicitor General knows the public accounts for 1983 have not been published yet and therefore I could not find that figure in the public accounts. That shows the double standard of this government.
One of the reasons we are opposing this bill, apart from the major and broader implication of the general approach of this government to the economic development of this province, is that there are very serious inequities in this bill. It does not say anything about prices. It talks about administered prices, but we know very well how the government deals with prices.
We saw just recently what happened with the increases in the rates of Ontario Hydro. As happens every year, we had hearings before the Ontario Energy Board. The Ontario Energy Board went through a long and thorough investigation and came up with a recommendation that the rates should be increased by 6.3 per cent as opposed to nine per cent requested by Ontario Hydro. Then Ontario Hydro disregarded completely the recommendation of the Ontario Energy Board and came down with its own rate increase of almost eight per cent across the board. That shows the seriousness of this government.
We know very well the Minister of Energy can roll back that rate increase. The leader of the New Democratic Party asked that the government roll back the increase of 7.8 per cent that Ontario Hydro had decided upon, but the government did nothing. They come to us and tell us every day that we have to fight inflation, but when it comes to the organizations that depend directly on the government they do nothing.
I wonder how the government can justify to the public, to the nurses and to the hospital workers the decision that they cannot get more than five per cent, which is necessary to fight inflation, but when it comes to Ontario Hydro they accept their dicta without saying anything.
We know very well that if Ontario Hydro requires more revenue every year, it is because of the political directions it receives from the government. The government decided to make a choice in our electrical industry and chose the nuclear route. We know what is happening today. We know that Ontario Hydro is saddled now with an overcapacity for which the consumers have to pay every year, an overcapacity that is inflationary by itself because of the costs of energy.
We know that in 1977, without any apparent reason -- except blatantly political reasons, because at that time already we knew what the energy requirements were in the province -- the government gave the go-ahead to the Darlington nuclear plant. That plant is becoming a white elephant because we know now, as the select committee told us, that the energy produced by Darlington will not be needed until the end of this century. In the meantime, we are spending billions of dollars, and the final bill will amount to $15 billion. Who pays for that? The consumers of Ontario, and that is inflationary per se.
The government thinks it can escape its responsibilities while choosing the more popular route of attacking the public sector because it can count on the widespread support of the public. For the reasons I mentioned before, the government thinks that the public sector is an easy scapegoat in the economic crisis we are going through and that it will come out not only untainted but also reinforced because it is doing the right things.
It is difficult to convince this government to change its approach. It is difficult to convince this government that this is not the right strategy for the province. Of course, it sounds almost obsolete, if not strange, to talk about an industrial strategy for this province. The reality is that in Ontario we have negligible economic growth at this time. There are no new industries coming on stream. We are not taking advantage of the new technologies. We are not developing new factories. We are not creating new jobs. This is because of the approach taken by the government; and that is very wrong, we will pay dearly for it in the future.
In the meantime, the government can count on the support of the very people who are hit by these policies, because the consequences are not known to the full extent and some people are not yet suffering the consequences. We think it is necessary to change that approach and to develop a more meaningful strategy. We think unemployment, rather than inflation, should be recognized as the number one problem to be tackled in the present economic crisis. We repeat that an industrial strategy should be developed to create permanent and meaningful jobs for the people in local communities.
We also believe that within this bill there is inequity and if inflation should be fought, there should also be some equity in the process put into place so that, for instance, those who are earning higher wages should give up more than those who are earning lower wages. That is not part of Bill 111.
We also think prices should be part of the program. The minister cannot convince anyone that one can restrain wages to the point where wage earners must lower their standard of living but at the same time not be entitled to some compensation by controlling prices.
In the present situation more emphasis should be given to the goal of social responsibility. That means an effort should be made to curtail cutbacks in social services and to give adequate health care. Social security benefits should be maintained and, above all, the government should protect the unemployed, welfare recipients, the working poor and those communities where there is only one industry and where shutdowns create very serious problems and personal tragedies.
I would like to say something that sounds erratic in the context of the Conservative way of thinking. The government must realize that unions are a very important factor in our society. The government should not forget that without consultation and co-operation with the unions it is heading towards an unnecessary confrontation that will create very serious problems in our society.
These are the reasons we are opposed to this bill. I am glad to vote against the bill with my colleagues.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and take part in this debate to speak to the dozens and dozens of members here to listen to these pearls of wisdom.
The minister's cleverness in this matter has been a little too clever. The pattern has been flawless. The flaw in the pattern may be the fact that it fits the map so completely. It is evident even to a simple fellow like myself how the minister has bounced on to the federal six and five program, which in itself was a self-fulfilling program. He realized it was going to work and he jumped on it. Then the deflationary program became self-fulfilling.
Now that he has reaped the political benefit of it and squeezed every ounce out of it that he can, he is throwing the dead body of it on to the municipalities. He is throwing it on to those people who are least able to carry the demands for catch-up that inevitably and always follow a period of decontrol.
We supported this program in the beginning because we realized inflation was killing people, killing our economy and killing our government, and change had to be made.
I would like to cite the example of a person I talked to in the hall following his presentation here in the Legislature to the committee. This chap had on a $400 suit. I think anyone would recognize it as a $400 suit, especially the member in front of me. I would say he had on Gucci shoes and probably had a $20 haircut.
When I talked to him in the hail, I pointed out that if his family income was above average -- the average family income in Ontario is something in the area of $28,000 -- and inflation at the time was about 12 per cent, and following an income demand there was an acceptance of 12 per cent, that person benefits by inflation. He benefits at the expense of those people who are below average and have to carry the weight of his benefit.
When I pointed this out he said, "Yes, that is true, but I counted on that when I bought my cottage." The man fully admitted that he expected those lower-paid workers to pay for his cottage. I thought that was a horrible admission. It certainly justified in my mind my stand and our party's stand in supporting this bill.
There are other people who were savaged by inflation besides the people who are below the average income, small businessmen, home owners and farm people. Whether they were going to buy a truck, a small business, a gas station or a farm, they simply looked at the last four or five years of inflationary increases in prices and said: "Today the price is too high, but going by the evidence of the last four or five years it will be even higher tomorrow so I will buy it. I guess I will join all those other people who expect it to continue. The flow of inflation will pay for this."
I think every member in this assembly has had people come to him explaining their financial situation. It would bring tears to the eyes of even a stone. I realize they were caught in that inflationary system. They were being destroyed. Not only their financial state was being destroyed, but their moral and spiritual state was being destroyed in the whole system. I supported the bill because of the terrible things that were being brought about by inflation.
On behalf of the farm community, I want to point out to the Treasurer, who has spoken in somewhat general terms that he is a supporter of agriculture, that he is going to be put to the test. The reason we in agriculture are surviving at the moment is because we are taking whatever excess cash flow we have and we are using that cash flow to pay down our debts. We are not using that cash to buy new equipment.
In the next two, three or four years -- I cannot predict the exact time -- a tremendous need will develop for the purchase of capital equipment to keep our farm community viable and competitive with agriculturists in other parts of the world.
If the Treasurer is in that position when that time comes, and I know he hopes to be in an even better position, he will be faced with a horrendous demand for capital to keep the farms of Ontario competitive. Just as an example, in this past year farm machinery purchases dropped 10 per cent. That is, in 1982 they dropped 10 per cent from their low level of 1981. Even for 1983, when we have hopes that conditions will improve on the farm in the future -- and they have improved a bit with grain prices this fall -- even then the increase in farm machinery purchases is going to be in the neighbourhood of about only 15 per cent.
I am concerned with the unfairness of the bill as it leaves prices largely untouched. I am not going to go over the list of all of those because other members have done so very adequately.
I want to mention one because of the serious situation with hydro in one of the towns that I represent. Hydro has raised its rates something on the average of eight per cent, which is well above the rate of inflation. One would not be so upset about this if we saw Hydro using that money for some immediate purposes such as stimulating employment, business and industry at the present time, instead of investing it in unneeded megaprojects that probably are not going to be needed by the end of this century.
With the problems they are having with the technology of it, it may not ever be used at all. One can only forecast, but certainly there are very serious signs that would make that very much an adequate question for today.
In the town of Tilbury we have industry humming along at a very acceptable level. The automotive industry has recovered. There is an industry in that town producing fuel-efficient stoves that extract 95, 96 and even 97 per cent of the energy from the gas consumed. They are finding a huge market for these stoves in the United States, as well as a smaller market in Canada.
There is another industry that is producing fuel-efficient windows. When I visited them several months ago, even in the depths of the recession they could not meet the demand for the windows. It was rather interesting that one of the problems they were having was that due to the recession and the fact that so many other manufacturers had let their stock of hardware run down, when they ordered hardware for these windows they found the shelves were empty and they had to go on back order. They were having a hard time getting the materials to keep up with their production.
Another two new industries have come to town. One is engaged in the making of plastic components for seats that go into automobiles. Another is a company that makes lawn trimmer,. the type that operates with a little gasoline or electric motor and spins a nylon cord that trims around trees, gardens and obstacles in the lawn. They are the largest manufacturer in the world of this piece of equipment.
The largest industry in town is Rockwell International of Canada Ltd., which is one of the largest corporations in North America. In Tilbury they make truck axles. I was quite surprised, in visiting that factory about five or six weeks ago, that they are working now with three shifts, whereas about a year ago when I visited it was down to more or less a skeleton crew.
I guess if we look at the traffic now on Highway 3 and see the resurgence of truck traffic, which is an indicator of recovery, we can see the demand is there for trucks.
Because of the good relations that exist in the town of Tilbury between this industry and the labour sector, they are expanding their Tilbury factory at the expense of an American factory. I suppose there are people who would object to that, but as far as Ontario is concerned and as far as my riding is concerned we certainly see that as a positive move.
In bringing that second line to the Tilbury factory -- this line is made of very modern robotic equipment that runs itself -- one of the robots is an automatic welding machine that picks up the components of the brake assembly for a truck and in one crash of electricity welds all those various pieces together. That crash of electricity takes a very heavy amperage off the line, so much so they cannot operate the second machine they have. The second machine is the one they are relying on to take care of the extra production they are bringing from the United States.
They have approached Ontario Hydro to put in extra capacity and Hydro said, "We cannot do it." That seems so strange, as we have a surplus of hydro in Ontario. We have Hydro actively seeking markets in the United States to sell that electricity and we have them seeking trunk lines to move through various parts of Ontario to provide outlets for that electricity to the United States.
We see them borrowing heavily to finance that. But when it comes to extending a line by about a mile to a factory that is going to employ an extra 65 workers, Hydro says: "It is up to you to take care of all that extra investment in the building, in the plant and all of the new equipment. It is also up to you to pay for the line to bring it in."
I cannot for the life of me understand how we could have such a strange combination of circumstances. Business is booming in this community of Tilbury.
The Deputy Speaker: Is the member going to tie this together with Bill 111? I am finding this extremely interesting, but I wonder how we are getting back to the principle of the bill.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Treasurer in his wisdom sees the connection. After all, he is the man who allocates the money and says how it can be spent. At least the Treasurer would indicate he is in control of Hydro. We often question on this side of the House whether anybody is in control of Hydro. I think the minister would at least lead us to believe he is in control of Hydro. I ask him to take a look at that.
There is another aspect of this bill that bothers me and that is the fact the Treasurer will try to indicate to the people of Ontario that, in his great fairness and even-handedness, he is bringing restraint on even the doctors. In his powerful position, he was going to bring them back from a seven per cent increase to a five per cent increase. How great that sounded outside of this hall that we have a minister here who is really tackling the strong bastion of free enterprise, the free enterprise that takes about $250,000 to educate each doctor and provide him with a theatre to work in.
It was really an affront to me and to most members of the House, at least on this side of the House, to realize that on the very next day after the end of the program the doctors pick up a nice, healthy three per cent increase.
When I look at the town of Blenheim, which is my nearest town -- I live in a little hamlet just outside of that called Cedar Springs; four miles down the road is the town of Blenheim, a town of some 4,500 people, one of the nicest places to live, one of the most progressive towns today -- I look at what it might have been back about 1880.
Just behind the town hall, just off the main street, I see a beautiful old Victorian house, a house that I estimate was probably built about 1880, if I am any judge of architecture, which I do not pretend to be. However, it was built some time in that era. I think it would be described even today as a mansion, as far as the size of the house is concerned. Including the basement, it would have three full floors, and probably the attic is big enough to hold a town dance in. It sits on property which, in my mind's eye, is at least one acre of land and might even be two acres.
Going back to the era of 1880, it would have been a feudal mansion in a town of about 1,800 people. There is nothing else in town that comes anywhere close to it, that would be owned by a lawyer or other professional or by a merchant, a lumberman or a grain man.
Mr. Kerrio: Or a Tory cabinet minister.
Mr. McGuigan: Or a Tory cabinet minister. There is nothing in town that comes anywhere near it. The point I want to make is that there is a small number of doctors -- and I do not condemn the whole fraternity -- who would like to see us return to that system where the biggest mansion in town is owned by the doctor. He can outstrip the lawyers, outstrip the cabinet ministers, outstrip the inventors, the entrepreneurs. No one in town would be able to touch him.
I will give an example. There was a doctor who represented a nearby riding in the federal Parliament who lost his seat in 1980. I understand he is a very fine doctor, a very talented doctor. He took up an offer to go to Texas. The offer was a quarter of a million dollars, plus office, plus a car, all guaranteed.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: What was the address?
Mr. McGuigan: The member does not have that particular skill. I recognize he has a lot of skills, but he does not have that particular one.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: How about former Ministers of Health?
Mr. Nixon: They are a dime a dozen.
Mr. McGuigan: If that is the kind of medicine the Tory government is willing to support --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. Let us all help the member get back to the principle of the bill.
Mr. McGuigan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am glad to get back to the principle of the bill.
I just want to say that if that is the kind of medicine this government supports it is a type of medicine that I as a consumer am willing to forgo. I am willing to take my chances with the humble guy who is willing to get by and live frugally on $100,000 or $120,000 a year. I may be depriving myself of some exotic treatment that might prolong my life an extra day or two, or maybe a week. However, I am willing to forgo that kind of treatment and I will take my chances with these $100,000 people.
Mr. Nixon: They are at the low end of the stick.
Mr. McGuigan: As a matter of fact, I went to a chap with a problem and he charged $35 a visit. He went to Texas and he was replaced by a man who has opted in. I get better service from the opted-in doctor than I got from the previous $35 man.
The Deputy Speaker: I am sure that is a different debate, though.
Mr. McGuigan: It is all tied into this restraint act, and I just want to make that point.
I want to make another point on the doctor question with the Treasurer. People on his side stand up and technically are quite correct in saying, "You can probably go someplace else and find an opted-in doctor." The point is that a person who is sick or in pain or who requires major surgery does not at that point relish the idea of going and finding a stranger. They have a certain faith in their doctor; they have the knowledge that doctor knows the history of the case. The low point when they are facing a dangerous situation is not a time when they can calmly, rationally and unemotionally choose another doctor. It does not really leave one with a great feeling of confidence when one is going with an entirely new crew.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. I do have to interrupt the member's comments just for a moment. He has a lot of latitude in the debate. However, I would ask the member if he would make a really supreme effort to stick to the principle of Bill 111.
Mr. McGuigan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I always follow the directions of the Speaker.
One other point I would like to make concerns the minister and his approach to the whole problem of restraint and taxation. He has not restrained himself in taxing. He has taken the simple route of going to the place where the gate is the narrowest, where the people are all bunched up trying to get through the narrow gate, so he can stand at that gate and selectively and unopposedly pick up increased taxes. One of those areas is fuel supply, because people have to have a car to drive to work under our transportation system, to do their business. So he stands at that narrow gate and pulls in those taxes.
He stands at the toll gate for the people who use tobacco -- and I mention this because there are many tobacco growers in my riding of Kent-Elgin. All three types of tobacco are grown there -- the black tobacco, burley tobacco and flue-cured or Virginia tobacco. He stands at that gate.
He stands at the gate of the people who enjoy using spiritous liquors, and he is standing in the way of an industry that is a fledging industry in Ontario -- just making a comeback -- and that is the wine industry. This industry is making a comeback in southwestern Ontario. I would like to point out to all members that the wine industry of Ontario began in southwestern Ontario, not in the Niagara Peninsula. It was economically driven out when tobacco was introduced in Ontario about the time of the First World War. Tobacco took over in the southwest; the wine industry moved to Niagara. Now industry and housing are taking up the land, and so it is coming back to the southwest -- not as an experiment but because it was proven as far as the growing conditions are concerned 100 years or more ago.
Statistics tell a story of where this government has failed to support that industry. I will give the House some statistics. Ontario grape sales for our wineries declined from almost 46,000 tons in 1973 to less than 38,000 tons in 1982 in spite of the resurgence of our industry. Foreign wine imports increased from 3.3 million gallons in 1973 to 7.3 million in 1982, almost two and a half times. Sales of Ontario wines to other provinces decreased from 4.3 million gallons in 1973 to 1.8 million gallons. This came at a time when Ontario producers were greatly improving the quality of our wines.
We have a new winery in my riding, the Charal winery, which started some 10 years ago. Charal's gold-medal-winning varietal wines resulted from gambling on planting varietal grapes in strict state-of-the-art vintners' discipline. These people have won some North American gold medals for their wine.
These cottage wineries such as Charal, which is named after Charlotte and Allan Eastman, have made us competitors in the international award-winning winery --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. I mentioned to the member a few moments ago that I find his comments of the day fascinating, and many of them no doubt would fit a budget debate. But I really must ask the member if he really could not bring us back to Bill 111. With all due respect, my only responsibility is to keep us on the principle of the bill at this stage, so I ask the member if he would make a concerted effort in that direction.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the position you are in and I will accede to your wishes because I do not want to be in defiance of the evenhanded rules which come from the Speaker's dais. I would hate to see you put yourself in the position of in any way supporting the unevenness which comes from that side of the House. I know you want to avoid that in any possible way. You would not think of it, I know, but I would not want to see you inadvertently put yourself in that position.
To sum up, it has simply not been seen by the public as being fair. I would like to point out to the Treasurer that Canadians -- in fact, people of any nationality -- are willing to endure great hardships. They have proved this in wartime and in times of recession. They are willing to endure those hardships if they see them being applied evenly, if they see them being applied to the fellow next door with the same even hand as it is being applied to them. This government has not done that.
In spite of the success of this program, the government has alienated a lot of people and not just in an electoral way. A lot of people now are disillusioned with the whole democratic system. They are disillusioned with the free enterprise system.
Mr. Martel: That sacred cow? Who got us in trouble?
Mr. McGuigan: That is right. The members of the New Democratic Party did not help out.
The member reminds me of a point that shows the cleverness of the minister. I did not complete my program on that. One of the clever things he did was resist the call for public hearings. Then he made it appear that the real thing was to have public hearings. Just at the right moment he gave in and we had public hearings. Those people came in, such as the man I was speaking about who had the Gucci shoes and the $400 --
Mr. Nixon: He sounds like a socialist to me.
Mr. Breaugh: Was it this Liberal member sitting here in our section?
Mr. McGuigan: No, it was not the member for Quinte (Mr. O'Neil). It was a better-looking fellow than he. This guy was really outstanding looking. He could have been a model.
That cleverness on the part of the Treasurer brought those people in and they completely discredited themselves. They did the Treasurer's party a disfavour and they did themselves a then he brings in bills like this that interfere with
Mr. Martel: But it was still the free enterprise system that got us into trouble.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Would the member for Sudbury East --
Mr. McGuigan: I am not going to engage in a debate with that member. The minister here would pull me back.
I want to close by saying it is too bad that there have been so many people disaffected by this program. I have to say I am going to vote for it because I detest and hate the effects of inflation. This bill has had some positive effects upon inflation, although most of it has been piggybacked on the federal programs. Because of that, I will probably support it when we come around to a vote.
There are many parts of this bill I find offensive and I just wanted the government to know that.
Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, this will be a mercifully brief speech for the Treasurer and I am sure he will be pleased at that.
Mr. Elston: Those are usually the opening remarks.
Mr. Samis: Don't heckle me. It will not be mercifully brief if you do that.
I will be voting against this bill, fully cognizant of the realities that the polls are on the Treasurer's side, public opinion is on his side and the member for Quinte is leaving with his $400 suit.
The basic question I would ask the Treasurer with a bill like this is, why now? When the statistics came out today, the inflation rate was down to 4.9 per cent. Why now? Last year when we were talking about 12 per cent inflation, the Treasurer could have made a reasonably legitimate argument, but it is now down to 4.9 per cent. Why now?
He knows the economists in the United States are all predicting inflation rates of four to seven per cent for 1984, 1985 and 1986. They see long-term stability in the inflation rate. Yet the Treasurer is coming in with a wage control bill for which there is no economic justification. The only real justification for this bill, like last year, is political. He has the polls that show him the people want it. They think it is a quick fix and it will do something to strengthen his popularity. I suspect Orland French was closer to the mark than most of us when he said the real title of this bill should be, "To take the heat off thtration process by way of the old smokescreen approach. man Premier some day."
I think that would be a fairer statement of the true intentions of the bill than any of the claptrap we have heard from that side, but we will never get that. I sometimes find it ironic that these most repressive, most comprehensive, most interventionist bills come from over on that side, from the Conservatives.
When the Treasurer goes down to the fund- raisers, I know he will talk about the value of free enterprise and of the free market economy and of growth in the private sector and of government stimulating it, not interfering. But then he brings in bills like this that interfere with the free market, with market forces. The Reaganites will tell him that when there is a recession with two million unemployed and an inflation rate of 4.9 per cent, one does not need controls. Why is he doing this as a Conservative? He is not a Conservative when he is doing things like this. He is not true to his tradition.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Do not say that.
Mr. Samis: He is not. He knows he is not. He knows he can have restraint in any society, in any level of government, without any form of legislation. Look at the history of the federal government and of other provinces in the last 30 years. He can have restraint, if he thinks that is what he wants to have, without any form of legislated controls. But the government will not try that. They want to be in tune with the polls and get something that is a quick fix and politically popular.
What did they do this time? They tried to soften it up. They made the local governments the fall guys. They sort of put the whole burden on them. But behind all that smokescreen, behind all the mirrors, we know the constraints are there. They do not just apply to the civil servants right around this building as many people think. They apply to police, firemen, teachers, nurses, health-unit workers, garbage workers, street workers and crown corporation employees, for a grand total of 680,000 employees who are affected by this bill and 6,000 collective agreements.
What they do is pass the buck to the city councils, the town councils, hospital boards, school boards and college boards, and these become the fall guys. We all know the minister's five per cent restriction on transfer payments includes controls in a very disguised form.
Thank God at least for the Charter of Rights and the Supreme Court of Ontario because the minister probably would have had a four per cent wage constraint if he had had his way. He probably would have had even tougher controls than this bill. At least the Premier (Mr. Davis), the polls and the courts moderated that aspect of what the minister was out to do.
Various other spokesmen have pointed out the inequity in this bill. There are controls on wages, disguised and indirect; there are no controls on prices. I am not going to go through the whole litany of Hydro, GO, Royal Ontario Museum, licence stickers, gas, tobacco, alcohol taxes and government advertising. The simple fact is that the record shows there were no real effective controls, no equity, no balance and no teeth. There is interference in the arbitration process by way of the old smokescreen approach. We all know there will be back-door controls in terms of arbitration.
It bugs me when I see controls on wages, especially when this government froze the wages of the poorest people in this province, the people who work for minimum wage, for 25 months. The fact that the minister will take the extension into next year amounts to a 29-month freeze on minimum-wage workers in this province. It is really obscene when one considers what minimum wage earners receive; they are at the bottom of the list in Canada. One of the minister's members gets up and says the increase in the minimum wage was 14 per cent. It is really obscene. Nobody else has been under controls like that. These people have had no increase whatsoever in 29 months, and yet the government can waste money galore on Suncor, on advertising, on Minaki and things of that sort.
What we need in this province quite clearly is not wage controls, not this sort of flim-flam, not this pandering to the polls. If one goes out and asks people today what we want in Ontario, what we need in Ontario, they will say jobs, job creation, programs to get young people back to work, programs to retrain people, programs to get our manufacturers producing again, programs to help small businesses hire new people. That is what we need in this province, not this sort of flim-flam.
In summary, I see no need for these controls. The Treasurer has given no conclusive proof of their need and no proof whatsoever of their effectiveness.
I will just close with a quote from Tom Maxwell, chief economist of the Conference Board of Canada. He says, "The effects of six and five can best be described as neutral." At best. The Treasurer has not made any case for legislative mandatory wage control. That is why I would vote against this bill.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton). I might just point out the clock to the member.
On motion by Mr. Charlton, the debate was adjourned.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.