The House resumed at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.
Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I think we are about four minutes faster than copies can be made available of these two statements, or at least of this one statement. I am prepared to give mine now but I apologize that the leaders of the parties opposite will not have the benefit of these pearls of wisdom for another four or five minutes.
Mr. Peterson: We will wait.
Mr. Walker: I will read slowly, if that is helpful.
Mr. Speaker: Would you like to wait and then we can revert to statements when they are ready?
Mr. Ruston: I don't think so.
Mr. Nixon: Maybe we had better just adjourn for a few minutes until we get things going.
Mr. Ruston: Call a quorum.
Mr. Speaker: The minister can give his statement now. I think the statements are going to be distributed.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Members will have copies in a moment.
Mr. Speaker, with the deference of the House I will proceed on the statement.
Mr. Nixon: Wait. We are not proceeding without copies.
Hon. Mr. Walker: I have a copy. Would the member like to come over and help me read it?
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, you could give us Christmas greetings.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, with the deference of the House I will proceed.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, we do not have copies of the statement yet.
Mr. Speaker: I think if we just wait for a few seconds.
Mr. Peterson: I would move adjournment for 10 minutes.
Mr. Speaker: I do not think we can do that.
Mr. Stokes: There is nothing that says we cannot just take up a few moments.
Mr. Speaker: Exactly. That is just what I was going to suggest, that we all stay calm, sit still, be patient and listen for that fine old gentleman who is going to come down one of these chimneys before too much longer.
Taking the advice of the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent) and his leader, I would like to take this opportunity to extend warmest Christmas wishes to everyone. Of course, I will do that again but this is a dry run, just for practice.
LEAKING OF REPORTS: CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Mr. Breaugh: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I wanted to draw a couple of matters to your attention.
I know it was raised earlier this morning at 10 o'clock when I was in estimates but I did want to draw to your attention that once again today I have to read the Globe and Mail to find out what committee reports are being reported on these days. Since this is becoming such a regular occurrence now, I do think that somewhere in the process something is amiss. Mr. Speaker ought to take a look at that whole procedure of the tabling of reports and the leaking of reports since there seems to be a need for some kind of tile drainage to cover that one up. That is one matter I wanted to raise with you.
Since I have the floor, Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise the second matter of this morning. During the debates on the teachers' superannuation bill I rose to declare a conflict of interest. I must say that in attempting to do so I found some difficulty, because nowhere in our standing orders does it use those words nor, I am told, is it contained in the Legislative Assembly Act. To my knowledge, at least two other provinces, Quebec and Alberta, have gone to rather great lengths to do what we did last year for municipalities; that is, to review and set out guidelines for conflict of interest for members.
I would like to pursue that in the procedural affairs committee. I think it would be wise for you to make some comments and perhaps a reference to that committee on the whole matter of conflict of interest.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you very much for the opportunity. I was waiting for an appropriate time.
The matter to which you referred in the first place, the premature reporting of reports, has been called to my attention as you already know. I did indicate that I would hope the standing committee on procedural affairs would indeed take that under consideration. I would hope when it is taking that under consideration and other changes which it may be thinking of, it would at some point consult with the Speaker and give him an opportunity to make some suggestions. I would like to be involved in the process before any final recommendations are drafted.
Your second point comes under the same general heading. Again, I would hope very seriously that the procedural affairs committee would take that under advisement. At the present time it is very difficult for any of us on many occasions discussing legislation not to have some kind of conflict. So it is an appropriate matter and I thank you very much.
I do not know whether we have spent enough time. Has the minister distributed his copies yet? No, not yet.
I think the Leader of the Opposition feels compelled to say something.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I am just trying to assist you in your onerous task of trying to waste some time until the government gets its act in order, and in that regard I rise on a point of privilege in defence of the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. F. S. Miller), who I know would want to clear the record and come clean with this House.
He is quoted in the Kingston Whig-Standard of Thursday, December 1, 1983, as follows: "He also said that there had only been three deficit budgets in 12 years" in Ontario. That is so factually and glaringly inexact, and if he views what he did as providing surpluses in this province, either he is very ill informed or else a grievous error has been made.
I believe you should give him the opportunity to clean up the record and, in fact, come before this House and fess up.
Mr. Speaker: I would be pleased to give the Minister of Industry and Trade that opportunity.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I have not as yet seen the article, but I think I recall the location and the comment. My comment was that if one took only the direct costs of running the government and not the capital investments in Ontario, there were only three of the last 12 years in which we had a negative cash requirement.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I believe I should also rally to the defence of the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman) on this occasion, since he has been severely criticized by the minister. The Minister of Industry and Trade is quoted as follows: "He paid tribute to small-town Ontario where the people 'know how hard it is to make a dollar.' It is perhaps the single reason why the majority of Ontario Treasurers have come from small communities, he said."
This is a severe criticism of Toronto, about which we care so very much in this province, and of his colleague. I think the Treasurer would want to take this opportunity, while we are wasting time on your behalf, to clear the record again.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I of course have no bias in rising to this occasion. I would simply say that in spite of the qualities of people who represent urban ridings, those of us who represent rural Ontario still know how to make a buck better than the member opposite does.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I would like to put on the record an observation that, in the preparation of the submission of the New Democratic Party to the Court of Appeal with respect to the reference on French-language instruction, we have found it impossible to gain access to public documents at the Languages of Instruction Commission of Ontario on the grounds that were given in response to my counsel. When she asked why access to these documents was not permitted, she was told it was because the matters in question were sub judice.
I would have thought that at a time when so many public groups are trying to make an appeal to the court, after a reference has been agreed to by the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), it would then be government policy that all public documents that are at issue in this case would be equally accessible to all those who are seeking standing in the Court of Appeal.
I know you will want these observations to come to the attention of the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) before Friday because, as she knows, that is when these documents have to be submitted.
Mr. Speaker: I am sure the minister has taken note.
Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of whatever you feel is appropriate. Members will recall that last week two points were raised by members opposite about an elevator in the building. They were not raised in any negative or derogatory way, and that is not my point in bringing it to the attention of our colleagues today. The elevator was stuck between floors and some constituents were stuck for 20 or 25 minutes.
I did want to report to alleviate any fears there might he. The elevator itself was not defective and, in fact, worked the way it was supposed to, and I think that proved it. The posted capacity of the elevator was 15 and the occupancy of the elevator at the time was 22. That is what happened and it was dealt with in a very responsible and rapid fashion.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I am glad finally to get on.
A few weeks ago I tabled in the Legislature, in conjunction with my colleagues the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mr. McCaffrey) and the Minister responsible for Women's issues (Mr. Welch), a document outlining the Ontario government's current and planned initiatives to address the problem of wife battering.
Today, I am pleased to inform the Legislature of some specific actions the Justice secretariat is taking in this area.
A provincial consultation on wife battering will be held in Toronto on January 23 and 24, 1984. The purpose of this consultation will be to provide an opportunity for front-line personnel, community workers and policy makers to share their ideas on the best ways to address and combat this tragic sickness in our society.
The consultation will be designed to identify not only the day-to-day changes that can be made to improve the ability of the criminal justice system to aid victims of batterings, but also to address whatever long-term changes may be necessary. Participation is being invited from all relevant groups in Ontario as well as from the relevant federal government ministries.
Second, I am pleased to announce the undertaking of a study to improve and better co-ordinate the provision of counselling services and legal information to victims of battering. The Justice secretariat will conduct a thorough examination of the many different programs and services offered by community agencies across the province, assessing the various alternative methods open to these dedicated groups, and will make specific recommendations on what future directions they, as well as the government, should take.
Finally, in response to the many concerns raised by members of the Legislature and the community at large, I am happy to announce that the complainant support program of Hiatus House in Windsor will receive an immediate grant of $15,000. This grant will cover a three-month period and will enable the program to continue operating until the province has had the opportunity to secure the federal evaluation of the program. In this period, the province will also make its own determination on whether Hiatus House effectively meets the objectives of the criminal justice system.
It is time to open the door wide on what has been for far too long a closet issue, and in making these announcements today I am confident that the government is continuing on its steady course to address this most serious challenge, the welfare of our society.
RETAIL SALES TAX
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a $64 question for the Treasurer.
Mr. Conway: The Toronto Treasurer.
Mr. Peterson: The Treasurer from Toronto who does not know how to make a buck, presumably.
The Treasurer will be aware that the former Treasurer, now the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. F. S. Miller), was quoted in the Kingston Whig-Standard of Thursday, December 1, 1983, as saying, "Ontario's sales tax may be increased to eight per cent ... a real possibility that the province will soon announce a one per cent hike."
In view of the fact that any increase in consumption taxes could abort any recovery in our economy, in view of the massive increases in taxes that have been brought forward by his government in the last three years and in view of the fact that this one per cent increase in retail sales tax would take an additional $64 out of the pockets of every man, woman and child in this province if implemented, will the Treasurer now stand in his place and completely dissociate himself from the remarks of the former Treasurer?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, let me say that I never dissociate myself from the remarks made by any of my colleagues, particularly the former Treasurer. I am always happy to stand with him and his remarks, particularly when they are totally and accurately reported. However, in this circumstance he reports to me that he does not remember using those precise words.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: And in that I support him entirely as well.
Might I say that tomorrow afternoon I will be introducing the fall prebudget statement. The purpose of that statement is to analyse many of the options before us and to begin the consultation and discussion with regard to all options that face us. I have not to date addressed the issue because we do have five or six months before making those decisions. Tomorrow is the start of that process. Obviously, therefore, to date no contemplation has been given to any tax increases or decreases.
Mr. Peterson: I am sure the Treasurer will be aware that the former Treasurer is quoted as saying he prefers an increase in sales tax rather than an increase in either income or property tax because it is more fair to Ontario residents.
Will the Treasurer refer him, as well as himself, to page 149 of the basic primer on economics by Samuelson where, in talking about sales and customs tax, it says, "In order of regressiveness, these would probably come first." These are the most unfair kinds of ways to raise taxes out of the public hide.
Would the Treasurer now take this opportunity to stand in this House and say he will not introduce any increase in regressive consumption taxes which hit the poor far harder than they hit the rich?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No budget in this province or in any jurisdiction has ever been made on a day-to-day basis by the Treasurer rising and excluding any particular tax change under any heading. Just so the member does not have the opportunity, which I am sure he will take anyway, of going out as soon as these questions are finished and before his other members ask questions, to announce to the media that the Treasurer refused to exclude the possibility of a retail sales tax increase, let us just make it quite clear that the Treasurer and the government have not contemplated any tax increases of any sort whatsoever.
Therefore, if the member wants to put an implication on that, draw any conclusions from that, it would, with respect, be misleading the public and offering an inaccurate fear to the public, which he should not be doing.
Let me be clear. There is a big difference. The member is asking these questions so he can say, "The Treasurer refused to do the following." I am telling him the Treasurer has not considered anything so when he goes outside he can say, "The Treasurer refused"--
Mr. Conway: That is not what the Treasurer said three weeks ago.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I say to the member for Renfrew North we will read the Kitchener-Waterloo Record and see who said what, if he wants to get into who said what a couple of weeks ago.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let's do it. It would be fun.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, we start from the assumption that both the Kingston Whig-Standard and the Kitchener-Waterloo Record are equally accurate in what they have to say with regard to public statements.
The Treasurer will be aware of a growing consensus from a large number of observers that the economy is in need of continued stimulus through the winter. I was distressed by the answer he gave to the leader of the Liberal Party when he said there were no plans for any tax decreases in his statement tomorrow, since we in our party think some tax decreases are called for and necessary right away.
Is the Treasurer also saying he is not planning any new initiatives with respect to employment this winter and with respect to pension relief and other kinds of layoff relief for younger and older workers who are simply being cast aside by many employers and ignored by the government?
Is he also saying his statement tomorrow will contain nothing with respect to new action and new initiatives for those people who are looking to this government, increasingly forlornly but still looking nevertheless, for some help and assistance in leadership in terms of the economy?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, there is nothing the member has not heard before in that I said on October 11 and again last week that tomorrow's statement does not contain announcements of new programs and new initiatives. It is the beginning of a process at the end of which we will have a budget which I hope will reflect a lot of the goals we all seek.
As the member knows, I have even asked the House leaders to arrange an opportunity for opposition members and government members to review the statement in committee, which I understand will take place in the first week in January. That will be a good opportunity, structured completely to receive input from members of this assembly on budget plans.
With regard to winter projects, it is quite clear that many of the projects begun by this government are now coming into full swing, be they capital works projects, youth employment projects or the young Ontario career program. They are now at the maximum point at which they are creating the jobs they were supposed to create.
Therefore, when the member presumes or wants to say we are not doing anything for winter employment, he must remember the programs that were announced in last spring's budget, the programs that began to be allocated moneys in September, are now creating jobs for the next three or four months. Those programs are now coming on stream and jobs are being filled in those programs every day by young people. We are assessing those programs. We are looking at the Ontario career action program and at the young Ontario career program. We will make sure there is an adequate number of programs to get over the winter period.
I want to finish by making quite clear what our position is. To take one program, in the young Ontario career program which the member has been reading about daily, as we advertise the program, there are vacancies of 5,000 or 10,000 positions our young people will be filling over the next few months so that--
Mr. Foulds: Ten thousand jobs in the Canada-Ontario employment development program terminate at the end of December.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: He may say it is not enough, but he cannot say we do not have programs with vacancies for young people this winter because we do.
Mr. Peterson: Would the minister not agree with me now that an increase in the retail sales tax at this time or the time of his next budget would be offensive in the extreme, calling for a 14 per cent increase in taxation at the same time that he is preaching restraint and holding a number of people to five per cent?
Given the fact that it would raise probably $560 million to $600 million less than he paid for Suncor, money which was wasted, while at the same time his government is rife with waste and mismanagement throughout, would the minister not agree with me that all the examples of waste, mismanagement, abuse, patronage and the money which goes to his friends would destroy any credibility he had in raising taxes at this time?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let me first say that tomorrow's statement will outline some of the negatives with regard to every tax increase because there is no tax increase one can bring in that does not have some sort of negative effect.
This is why on this side of the House we wanted to bring in a restraint program, and we did. Therefore, I was disappointed to see the members of his party voting against introducing an ability-to-pay concept in the arbitration process. If the member is that concerned about such things as the cost of government, then surely his party should have voted with our party in introducing the ability-to-pay concept into arbitration, which he supported when the bill was introduced.
Might I also say to the member that I have sat here and listened over the past little while, looking across his front row to his Agriculture and Food critic saying we have to spend a lot more on agriculture. I have listened to his Health critic saying hospitals are 10 to 20 per cent underfunded. I have listened to his Education critic talk about the critical need to add a lot more money to the university sector. I can go right across his bench.
Therefore, I say to him he will have the opportunity early in January to tell us all about all the ways he would increase all those costs dramatically by hundreds of millions of dollars and at the same time decrease the deficit, which I know he talks about every time he meets the business community. As well, he can stand up and pontificate how he would not raise taxes. It will be a terrific act.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Peterson: The minister should listen to my colleagues when they talk about advertising, Suncor, powder rooms for his colleagues and all the other accoutrements of power.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: How much was the Leader of the Opposition's new office?
Mr. Peterson: Come down and check it. It would not have cost as much as a coffee table in the Treasurer's office. Who the heck is he trying to kid? Stand up and tell me what it is. Don't give me that guff.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, let me ask my friend the Treasurer a question about unemployment and opportunities for young people in this province. As he knows, as we all know, the Ontario career action program has been screaming for money. He knows that between $5 million and $7 million could be used immediately, roughly what he has dumped into Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry in the last month to try to buy that by-election. That is a side issue, but it is roughly what he has dumped in there. He can find the money if he thinks it will serve his political purpose.
Mr. Bradley: That is right. Let us launch the bicentennial again.
Mr. Peterson: The Treasurer knows he has the infrastructure in place to use that money to employ immediately some 5,000 young people who are screaming for employment. His response in this House has been that the young Ontario career program will take up some of those people. Does he not realize that OCAP is aimed primarily at those young people who do not have a post-secondary education?
Indeed, the majority of the applicants are in that area, and it is that area where we desperately need jobs at present. He has the infrastructure and the program. Could he find $5 million or $7 million immediately, before Christmas, to employ young people and get them back to work in this province?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, it must be getting near the end of the session because the same question has been asked twice this week. I am glad we are finishing on Friday.
No matter how many times the Leader of the Opposition asks the question, the answer, not surprisingly, is going to be the same. The young Ontario career program has as many as 10,000 openings. Many of the young people who are waiting for OCAP will be looked after in the young Ontario career program. Nothing is going to be added to the environment out there if we simply top up OCAP, keep young people in a more restrictive program by getting them in OCAP and find out we have not had the young Ontario career program fully subscribed.
I have also made it clear that if we cannot get the young people into the program that more appropriately suits them, which is the new program, then we will put additional money in OCAP. It will be looked after; it is as simple as that.
Mr. Peterson: I want to persuade the Treasurer that time is very much of the essence. He is aware that the young Ontario career program, according to him at the very least and others as well, is aimed primarily at post-secondary graduates who have not found suitable employment. That is his own quote.
He is aware that OCAP appeals essentially to a different market and employs more people younger than 19, while the young Ontario career program caters to 20 and older. I am suggesting to the Treasurer there is a desperate need now and there will not be a transference from one program to the other program for a vast number of young people who are unemployed.
Given the urgency, given that jobs are disappearing now and employers are running away because there has been no action, why could the Treasurer not find it in his heart to respond before Christmas to a very real need? The urgency is severe. We know the phone lines between him and the OCAP offices are humming. Surely he can stand up before the end of this session and announce an extension of that program.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let me tell the member I have decided it would be appropriate, given all these circumstances, to encourage the sort-out in a more aggressive way because I am distressed that the positions are not being taken up quickly enough in the young Ontario career program.
Therefore, with the resounding applause and support of the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley), I have indicated that the criteria should be altered for the young Ontario career program, so as to begin the qualification age at 15. That will look after all those young people.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, with 12,000 jobs under the Canada-Ontario employment development program terminating by the end of this December and 20,000 further such jobs terminating by the end of May, and with approximate projections of 15,000 to 17,000 people exhausting their unemployment insurance benefits, can the Treasurer confirm that he is committed to doing absolutely nothing about job creation through new programs this winter?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm the rather foolish statement the honourable member just made.
Mr. Peterson: Let me understand the Treasurer. Under opposition persuasion, he has now changed the rules of the young Ontario career program so that one can apply down to the age of 15. I congratulate the minister on that. However, he knows there is one other impediment because of the requirement that some post-secondary education is preferable in the circumstances. He also knows about the vast number of young people--at least 55 per cent of those applying for OCAP--who do not have that post-secondary training.
If he is not going to increase the OCAP funding, will the minister consider at least altering the qualifications for the young Ontario career program so that all those eligible for the one program would be eligible for the other? Will the minister consider that? He has moved a little way, and we congratulate him for that, but will he move the rest of the way and make it fair for all our young people, particularly the unemployed, unskilled and untrained young people who are having such a terrible time in our province today?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: If the Leader of the Opposition looks at the two programs, with the change we have just indicated, he will see that if we had any concern, it was that the programs are now becoming quite similar. I am convinced this will alleviate most of the problem with regard to access to OCAP.
Might I also say for the record that if the Leader of the Opposition looks back, he will see that from the first day we discussed this, I indicated we were reviewing this circumstance--
Mr. Bradley: No. We forced you into it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member for St. Catharines can go back to his riding and say that. On this side of the House, we do not care if he does that; we just care that those young people are working.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Yes, the Deputy Premier (Mr. Welch) cares, but his staff have already announced it in St. Catharines. Sorry about that.
In any case, let me be clear that we are assessing the criteria for both programs. This is the first reflection of our study of all that to make sure the spaces are there and people do not lose out because they do not happen to fall in the right bailiwick. There may be further changes. It could be that if we are not right in saying this will accommodate the problem, there still may be some topping up and some increase to the OCAP budget. They are all going to be looked at.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Premier (Mr. Davis), who, I had been told, was going to be here today but who is not here today, I have a question for the Attorney General arising out of the question I asked him yesterday with respect to the Child Welfare Act and, in particular, the conduct of the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea).
The Attorney General will be aware that on the public record of this Legislature, in addition to a number of press reports there are clear and incontrovertible indications that the Minister of Community and Social Services referred specifically to certain information pertaining to the register, which is known as the child abuse register. He was quoted by the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) as saying outside the House: "It is not something you did by remote control. In this particular case in Hamilton, come on, she watched." I am quoting from page 1420-2 of Instant Hansard for yesterday.
Upon being pressed by the member for Hamilton Centre and after the woman was named by the member for Hamilton Centre, the Minister of Community and Social Services, after initially saying he was not going to comment on the case, went on to say: "I am going to tell the members a little bit about this case, and I really do not want to." I am again quoting from the record. "There are an abundant number of reasons why that woman is on the child abuse registry, one of which is she was in proximity while the sexual abuse took place by her boyfriend. There are other charges and other allegations against this mother. I hope the honourable member is not going to make me read what she did to the child."
Mr. Speaker: Now for the question, please.
Mr. Rae: Those things have to be on the record, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the Attorney General, given the clear wording of subsection 52(4) of the Child Welfare Act, which clearly states that information contained on the child abuse registry is not to be disclosed or transmitted subject to very specific exception, what does the Attorney General intend to do about the conduct of his colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services?
Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I indicated to the leader of the New Democratic Party yesterday I was going to look into the matter. When we have reviewed the matter in its entirety, we will report to the Legislature. I do not intend to deal with this matter on a piecemeal basis.
Mr. Rae: We are not asking it be done on a piecemeal basis; we are asking that the government of this province come clean with respect to an action by one of its ministers that is absolutely deplorable.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: Given that minister's obligation to maintain under the statute all the provisions of that statute, how can the Attorney General not have made inquiries with respect to what has happened? The Minister of Community and Social Services is reported in today's Globe and Mail as being asked what his source of information was. He would only reply, "I have access to records. I'm on solid ground, and that's all I'm going to say."
Does the Attorney General condone the fact that the Minister of Community and Social Services had access to those records? Does he condone the fact that he disclosed in this House and outside this place information which was on those records? Does he condone those two things?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I can only repeat what I said before. When I have a complete report on the matter, I will be reporting back to the Legislature. I do not have a complete report on the matter as of this time. I have not had an opportunity to review all the matters that obviously are relevant and of concern to the member.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the leader of the third party has had a chance to read correctly section 52 under discussion because the allegations made yesterday vis-à-vis my involvement and the involvement of the constituent are clearly subject.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I think it is part and parcel of the question. The Child Welfare Act specifically states that a person cannot reveal information gleaned from the child abuse register. Since neither the constituent involved nor I has ever seen the child abuse register, obviously we are not subject. I am glad the leader of the third party has finally got his legal information correct today.
Ms. Copps: The question I would ask the Attorney General relates to the issue I raised with his colleague yesterday, that his information and the information he directed to me in his letter of last August was in direct contradiction to the information placed on the record outside this House by his colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services.
Would the minister clarify his letter to me? Is the information he gave in his letter to me correct or is the statement made by the Minister of Community and Social Services correct? Obviously, they are contradictory. Which is correct?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I do not accept that description given by the member for Hamilton Centre. I wrote to her in response to an inquiry in relation to a sentence, as she well knows, in respect to a plea of guilty. I indicated to her in that letter, and my information has not changed, that there was no admissible evidence in relation to any witness to what had occurred in this very unhappy event.
As the member knows, there is only a statement attributed to the accused, the admissibility of which was highly questionable. The information, as I had it, was that there was no evidence admissible in these criminal proceedings in so far as there being a witness to this purported assault was concerned. I have not received any information since my letter to her to suggest otherwise.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, the minister may be aware that in August there was a report to the Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services with respect to the conduct of an alderman in the city of Sarnia.
The alderman, among other things, was found to have discussed confidential matters in public. He was also found to have violated the policy on confidentiality by mentioning on the air the name of a ward of the children's aid society.
Upon release of this report, the Minister of Community and Social Services stated that because of these and other problems, he ordered the Sarnia city council to dismiss the Sarnia alderman from the society's board of directors or, "Mr. Drea said" -- I am quoting from the Toronto Star -- "she would be removed by the provincial government."
Can the minister tell us why what is justice for this alderman in Sarnia should not also be justice for the Minister of Community and Social Services'?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I have nothing to add to my previous answer.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Energy. It concerns the mounting speculation and reports that there is increased interest at the federal level, in particular from Atomic Energy Control Ltd., to create a Canadian electricity trading company which would be based principally in Ontario and whose business would be to construct nuclear plants exclusively for export to the American market. Is the minister aware of any discussions between either his ministry or Ontario Hydro with AECL and other federal officials about this proposal? Can he tell us the position of the government with respect to this proposal?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of any discussions within my own ministry. I understand AECL has made some preliminary overtures to Ontario Hydro on this subject, but I am not aware that Ontario Hydro has advanced the discussions beyond the very preliminary stage.
Mr. Rae: If that is true, I want to ask the minister how is it possible that in August 1982 a report from the federal Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, entitled Nuclear Industry Review, Problems and Prospects 1981-2000, stated:
"Another possibility which could lead to some early commitment for new nuclear capacity in Ontario is construction of plants for the export of electricity. The provincial government has shown some support for this idea if suitable markets can be developed."
If there have been no discussions and Ontario Hydro is not involved, how is it possible that the government of Canada has received the distinct impression that the provincial government has shown some support for the idea of building more nuclear stations exclusively for export to the American market?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: Not having had the benefit of a full review of that report, it is difficult for me to comment on its content. Ontario Hydro continues to look for opportunities to export electrical energy to the United States, if such opportunities are available to them, to reduce the rates that Ontario consumers would be paying.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, is the minister made privy to discussions such as this on an ongoing basis? If any contracts were struck between such an agency in Canada and such a receiver in the United States, would the minister insist on seeing the contracts and knowing their contents, or would he be placed in exactly the same position he was in over the Petrosar oil contract, which the minister has not seen or even been allowed to look at by Ontario Hydro?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure of the relevancy of the honourable member's question to the question posed by the leader of the third party. If such contracts were undertaken, I would be delighted to bring the House up to date on them if those discussions ever reached that stage.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Belaire, who is the director of corporate planning for AECL. is quoted as saying that he has been meeting with Ontario Hydro about this idea. We understand there have been some meetings with Ontario Hydro.
Given the fact that one of the developments in terms of the proposed construction of the new Hydro lines, both in southwest and eastern Ontario, and the construction of Darlington itself, has to do with improving Ontario Hydro's export capacity, does the minister not see a contradiction in Ontario Hydro and the government of Ontario supporting a station exclusively for export when that is going to be running in direct competition with other Ontario Hydro facilities?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: I can only repeat that where there are export opportunities for Ontario Hydro's capacity to generate electricity, Ontario Hydro will pursue those opportunities because they are in the best interests of this province.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, before I pose a question to the Deputy Premier in the absence of the Premier (Mr. Davis), I know all members will join with me in welcoming the hard-working mayor of Hamilton, who is seated in the east gallery. I assume he is here today to collect the $1.5 million outstanding on the arena and trade centre in Hamilton.
My question relates to the Progressive Conservative Ontario bicentennial employment program. More specifically, I am referring to the Premier's appointment of one Fred Ross, otherwise affectionately known as Mr. Sally Barnes, to the position of director general of the Ontario bicentennial. Was this position advertised? How many applicants did we interview before we found our way to Mr. Ross?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that information will be available. I should point out to the honourable member that a number of people connected with the bicentennial have been seconded from various ministries. A number of the staff involved in the promotion and the detailed work have been seconded from other ministries. Once their assignments are completed, they are returned to those ministries.
As I understand it, Mr. Ross has been with the Ministry of Government Services. No doubt his talents have been recognized. He will now have the broader responsibility of capturing something of the excitement and optimism of the people of Ontario as they prepare to celebrate 1984. In discharging his responsibilities, Mr. Ross will underline those traditions and values that have gone into the building of Ontario, the contribution that has been made by people from many lands to and the building of the human resources of this part of Canada. He will capture something of the energy that will electrify this whole province. I think he is a very good choice, and I am sure my colleagues will agree.
Mr. Cunningham: I am mindful of the message left by the member for Ottawa South (Mr. Bennett) and the member for Muskoka (Mr. F. S. Miller) on the subject of this nonpartisan, political, illegitimate, partisan, pre-election Tory birthday bash. What are we paying Mr. Ross to be the director general of this program? What is the cost of Mr. Ross's services to us?
Hon. Mr. Welch: I assume Mr. Ross's salary will be the same as he is making now as a member of the classified service of the Ministry of Government Services. That information is readily available, and we will share it with the member.
However, I think the preamble does require a bit of attention. There are thousands of people in this province who are proud of their roots and proud of the opportunity to join in programs for the bicentennial. More than 700 municipalities have now applied for their grants. A great history is being written by the Ministry of Education.
One realizes there will be opportunities all over this province, not the least of which will be in that great town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, the very first capital of Upper Canada, where it all began and where, two years ago, they had an opportunity to enjoy it. It is about time we went on the record to say that people like the member seem to be ashamed of our heritage. We are not.
Mr. Martel: Are you in the Shaw Festival? If not, you should be.
Mr. Speaker: I am glad you said that rather than I.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Foulds: I have a question for the Minister of Education.
Mr. Speaker: Yes, I had heard that part.
Mr. Foulds: I wonder whether the Minister of Education has had an opportunity to review the public institutions inspection panel report on the Fourway Public School, which is five miles west of Sistonen's Corners, in the district of the Lakehead Board of Education, which I assume the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) has received and passed on to her. The report says, among other things:
"The panel advises that something must be done immediately about this school and its portables. We found it to be a health hazard and not conducive to learning. The circular portable class has many problems. The circulation of air is terrible. The heating is not sufficient. There is a problem with the floor. If a fire started in the main hallway, it would be impossible to get out. Mice seem to be a big problem. There are only two washrooms at the main entrance" and so on.
Has the minister had a chance to review that report? Will she make a commitment that there will be a joint team of local Ministry of Education officials along with the Lakehead Board of Education to give full funding to the extent necessary to provide the community school that the people of Kaministiquia and area have been fighting for 11 or 12 years to get?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge, that report has not as yet reached the Ministry of Education. However, I remind the honourable member that the responsibility for providing school facilities within a board jurisdiction is solely that of the board of education. The board of education must determine its priorities, and on the basis of that listing of priorities, the Ministry of Education is pleased to be of whatever assistance it can in providing school facilities. If it is the first priority of the Lakehead board, undoubtedly it will be considered seriously.
Mr. Foulds: Can the minister then explain why in the past her ministry refused to fund the consolidated MacDonald Fourway school proposal, which was on the top of the Lakehead Board of Education's priorities for several years, and why it had apparently approved this priority in principle but had not approved the funding? When the need is so great and so immediate and these people are obviously trying to make do in substandard conditions, will she make a commitment not only to put it at the top of her area priority list but also to fund it fully so they can start to rebuild the school this coming fall?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: The philosophy of educational responsibility in this province designates very specifically that it is the local board, which is composed of local citizens who have a day-to-day understanding of the needs within their jurisdiction, that will make that determination.
Mr. Foulds: They had it at the top of their list and you bumped it down.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I have said very clearly that if it is the first priority of that board, it will be seriously considered. I remind the member, as I have reminded him in the past, that for the past several years, 91 per cent of all of our capital dollars have gone to build schools for students who had no place to go to school --
Mr. Foulds: These kids might as well have no place. The condition it is in is disgraceful.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: -- and the remainder has been devoted to the improvement of school buildings where there is a fire or health hazard. If these are concerns of that board, they will be seriously considered.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources in regard to the boundary dispute between Ontario, Minnesota, the Canadian federal government and the federal government of the United States.
The minister is no doubt aware that this summer there have been problems on Lac La Croix, on both sides of the international boundary, in regard to officials of Minnesota stopping power boats on that waterway, charging and seizing equipment. I gather that in one case a gun was pulled and waved around.
I would like to ask the minister what Ontario's position is with regard to the banning of motorboats on the American side of the boundary water. What is Ontario's response to the Canadian federal government on the position Ontario has taken or is going to take in this matter, given the fact that Canada apparently feels that both sides, Ontario and Minnesota, are incorrect in their reading of the Webster-Ashburton boundary treaty?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, the position we are taking at present is that the federal government is entitled to its opinion and we will try to work on a solution directly with the state of Minnesota. We hope this will resolve the difficulties that have been experienced over the past summer.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Can the minister explain why the Department of External Affairs has decided both sides are in error in this matter and why Fasken and Calvin, a reputable law firm in Toronto, has suggested the same thing? Now that the senior levels of government in Canada and the United States are involved in this, is the minister saying he expects he is going to resolve this matter by negotiations with the state of Minnesota only? If so, can he tell us where, when and how?
Hon. Mr. Pope: I have no quarrel with the abilities of Fasken and Calvin, having articled there, but I do understand the position of the Department of External Affairs and its attempt, for many other reasons, to negotiate directly with the federal government of the United States with respect to the Webster-Ashburton Treaty.
In the meantime, while those negotiations are going on, whatever may be the conclusions, we have a difficulty and the difficulty has to be resolved at least on an interim basis in discussions between the state of Minnesota and Ontario. I have given instructions to our employees to try to negotiate a settlement to this particular issue, along with a few others that are on the burner between Minnesota and Ontario, on a direct basis, keeping the federal government and the Department of External Affairs notified of what we are doing.
APPOINTMENTS AT NIAGARA COLLEGE
Mr. Allen: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Colleges and Universities with respect to an unhappy state of affairs which exists at the Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology, where 82 per cent of the faculty have supported a want of confidence motion in the administration of that institution in a well-conducted referendum in which 71 per cent responded.
I wonder whether the minister is aware that the nub of the issue appears to centre upon appointments made in August 1979 and afterwards without advertisement of the positions, thus contravening the college board document on terms of employment, section 1, number 7, and, in particular, upon the appointment of a close associate of the president done in the same manner, who has since been promoted through the creation again of unadvertised positions to the position of executive director of education and student services and who has become, it would appear from some evidence, a virtual surrogate for the president.
In the wake of that state of affairs, is the minister aware of the state of morale which has overtaken that institution and a pattern, apparently, of intimidating administration, arbitrary cancellation of programs and inordinate expansion of administrative components as against teaching components?
The faculty has appealed to the minister and, in deference to the board, she has not responded. An impasse has developed there between the faculty and the board itself.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Allen: Is it not time the minister responded to the deteriorating pattern of relationships in that institution and halt what appears to be, in any case, a pattern of creeping nepotism or favouritism in appointments there?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, unless the honourable member subscribes to the university definition that once is an occasion and twice is a tradition, I suggest that creeping nepotism is scarcely the description of this activity.
Mr. T. P. Reid: The minister got that from the member for Brock (Mr. Welch).
Hon. Miss Stephenson: No, I did not; he got it from me.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: None the less, it is scarcely the description of this activity. I have received at least three communications that I am aware of from the faculty association at Niagara. I have explained, I think patiently and clearly to them on each occasion, that this is a matter to be dealt with by the board of governors of that institution and it is my understanding that is precisely what is happening.
I think at this point it would be entirely inappropriate for any intervention from outside beyond that which has already been carried out by the chairman of the Council of Regents in counselling the board of governors of that institution.
Mr. Allen: The minister may suggest that is happening, but that is precisely what is not happening.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Allen: There is no resolution to that situation developing and in fact the board itself is party to it. The chairman himself said the college --
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Allen: -- made an error in judgement in expediting the hiring by not advertising. Where a board does that I wonder where the minister's judgement is? The chairman of the Council of Regents dismisses the issues and says Niagara is a well-run college, but 82 per cent of the faculty voted against the administration. Does the minister agree that is evidence of a well-run college, when 82 per cent of a faculty are without confidence in the administration?
Is she correct when she suggests, as she has to the faculty, that she has no jurisdiction, when the act specifically states in subsection 5(1), "Subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council the minister may establish, name, maintain, conduct and govern colleges of applied arts and technology that offer programs of instruction"? The act goes on to have all sorts of phrases about "subject to the approval of; the minister may; the minister shall." She has plenty of authority.
Will the minister not now move expeditiously to establish an independent inquiry into the affairs of Niagara College to get to the root of the present problem and to assure herself, the regents and this House that the institution is being well run and can deliver the important educational mandate with which it is charged?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: On the basis of the careful examination of the administration of Niagara College which has been carried out by the Council of Regents, as it does with all of the colleges on a regular basis, it is my understanding that the council believes the college is being extremely well run. On the basis of one circumstance which is of irritating note to members of faculty, I do not believe I should at this point move to take that college under trusteeship, which is indeed what the honourable member is suggesting.
It is my understanding directly from the chairman of the board of governors of Niagara College this week that, indeed, the matter is being dealt with.
Mr. Allen: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege: I did not use the word "trusteeship" myself, I suggested a discreet, independent inquiry, which is quite a different matter. The minister knows there is a great deal of difference between those two terms.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
ACTIVITIES OF POLICE
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, at the outset of this question I would like to establish the fact that individually every member of the government is a decent guy. What I am talking about in this question is a system that has come upon us that is of great concern to a lot of people.
The Human Rights Code we passed has many provisions and most of them start with the words "all citizens" and say "everyone shall have equal treatment." Does anyone here for one moment believe the Gestapo-like tactics of the Ontario Provincial Police would break down the door of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) or the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) to gain entrance, especially to collect money for the Bank of Montreal or the Royal Bank of Canada?
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Sargent: We are sick and tired of being sick and tired of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the OPP collecting money for the banks. Yesterday, five squads of five OPP men each, set out early in the morning to ransack the homes of three members of the Canadian Farmers' Survival Association and the homes of the parents of one and a sister of another. They arrived at the Bothwell home at 8 a.m. and broke the glass and broke in the door to gain entrance--
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Sargent: -- when Mrs. Bothwell was trying to dress her three children. The police were not in uniform. They totally ransacked the McKinnon home and emptied every drawer in the house except the one with the underwear of the wife.
Mr. Speaker: Will the member please place his question?
Mr. Sargent: Will the Solicitor General tell this House and the farmers of Ontario that he will put a stop to the OPP collecting money for the banks? Will he tell this House how there can be breaking and entering, and search and seizure, when it has not been proved in the civil courts that anything is owed? Can he tell us that?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I have heard the words used by the member. I take offence at the words and the description he has used. The force, the Ontario Provincial Police, has provided service and next year will be its 75th year of service to Ontario. It has carried out its function in this matter in accordance with the laws of this province and this country.
The member's description of how it has been carried out may be his interpretation. I do not have that interpretation. I believe when he uses the word "Gestapo" he is definitely insulting the carrying out of the duties of the Ontario Provincial Police.
They are investigating a situation. They were conducting the investigation using the search warrants provided by the judicial procedures of this province. In some situations, and I do not want to go into all the details or the facts, his position will be different from the definition I have received as to the facts. I believe the Ontario Provincial Police has conducted itself in this matter in a judicial and proper manner.
Mr. Sargent: My advice to the minister is that search warrants are issued only on the order of a judge and only on criminal matters. Can the minister tell the House about the machinery that puts the OPP into the collection business? Can he tell us he will immediately get out of bed with the banks, write a letter of apology to these fine people and pay for the damage he has done? I want those answers right now.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: This is not a civil matter. The Ontario Provincial Police are not acting on behalf of any bank or the banks as the member has indicated. They are carrying out their duties in a criminal investigation. They are carrying out their duties under the judicial search warrant that has been provided to them in the usual process.
If there has been any damage carried out to the properties, they will clean up after, as they usually do in all these matters. I am sure the member would like to retract any of the statements he has made about the provincial police in this matter.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, in view of the suspicion of some harassment of the farm survival group, and in view of the fact there appears to have been some special consideration given to the banks, could the Solicitor General make a full report to the House on this matter?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I can indicate to the honourable members as much as is possible in regard to what has taken place. There is an ongoing investigation. If I have the information by the next sitting of this Legislature, I can give them that information.
I would challenge the member opposite that we are not harassing. The Ontario Provincial Police is not harassing anybody. They are carrying out an investigation on the facts they have at this time.
Mr. Sargent: A judge is the only one who can issue a search warrant, and a justice of the peace signed these warrants.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Grey-Bruce will please resume his seat.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Is he aware that because of the insensitive and bureaucratic procedures outlined in the Ontario Housing Corp. field manual on administrative procedures, single-parent families who do not have final custody of their children cannot be granted geared-to-income housing in this province?
Is he aware that one halfway house alone, one city interval house, has six examples of women and children who cannot be accommodated because his government does not want to give the women accommodation since they do not have final custody of their children?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I must admit I am not aware of the six cases referred to, but I shall examine it.
Mr. Philip: When the minister is examining it, would he find out how many families are affected by this? Would he also take into consideration that it can take as long as two to five years to get final custody if it is contested, and that families like this should not be put out on the street out of sheer bureaucratic considerations by Ontario Housing Corp. as outlined in its field manual?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: As I said, I shall review the situation and try to find out through some source of information the number that might fall within this category. As to the portion of the question that relates to the period of time one takes to get custody, obviously that does not fall within the responsibility of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Deputy Premier. I have just received notice this moment of a Canadian Press wire story saying, "The Progressive Conservatives will support the new medicare legislation introduced this week by Health Minister Monique Bégin, says Tory Health critic Jake Epp."
In view of the fact that the minister and the Ontario Tory party are becoming increasingly isolated in their support of extra billing, and in view of the fact that his federal colleagues now support the federal financial penalties which will presumably be exacted against this province unless he and his government amend the legislation with respect to opting out, will he now as the Deputy Premier and the second most important politician in this province use his good offices to try to persuade his colleagues and the ministers involved that opting out and user fees must end in this province?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, as a careful listener in this House, it seems to me from the questions directed to my colleagues on this question -- I refer to questions directed to the Minister of Health (Mr. Norton), the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman) and others -- that the position of this government at the moment is that we want an opportunity to study the legislation and to reflect upon the implications. The first minister of this jurisdiction has already dispatched a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada indicating a desire on his part to enter into and emphasize consultation.
I think the position of this government will be made known in due course following an opportunity carefully and thoroughly to review the implications of this legislation. I do not think Ontario has ever been hesitant to take a position once it had all the facts. As the Treasurer and the Minister of Health have said on more than one occasion, Ontario would want to continue to maintain the first-class medicare system it has. It will want to maintain that position. The whole point is wanting to make sure we know all the implications of that legislation.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition.
"We, the undersigned, recognizing that the government of Ontario has been a strong supporter of and participant in mandatory metric, urge this same government to follow the commonsense lead of Nova Scotia and return Ontario's highways to Canadian imperial measures."
It is signed by 100 Ontario citizens.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
Mr. Reid from the standing committee on public accounts presented the committee's annual report and moved its adoption.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, this is the annual report on the deliberations of the public accounts committee. As the members understand, all three parties are represented on the committee and the report reflects that kind of bias. There is a dissenting report contained within the public accounts committee this year. While we have not made extensive recommendations, we believe that the material contained within the report speaks for itself.
On motion by Mr. T. P. Reid, the debate was adjourned.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
LAND REGISTRATION REFORM ACT
Hon. Mr. Elgie moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Baetz, first reading of Bill 156, An Act respecting Conveyancing Documents and Procedures and the Recording of Title to Real Property.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce for first reading the Land Registration Reform Act, 1983. My ministry has been concerned with updating one of Ontario's oldest institutions, the land registration system.
This province has regulated the registration and protection of land interests since 1795. In 1971, the Ontario Law Reform Commission produced a report which outlined a far-reaching program of improvements. To implement these recommendations, the province of Ontario land registration and information system, otherwise called Polaris, was established in 1980. The Land Registration Reform Act, 1983, which I am introducing today for first reading, would authorize those proposals.
The act would authorize both the computerization of record keeping and property mapping and would introduce the use of shorter standardized documents for land transactions.
It would also amend existing land registration statutes and other acts which would affect real property dealings to accommodate the proposed changes.
To test these changes, a prototype office has been established in Oxford county in the city of Woodstock. When the system has been proven, through monitoring and modification if necessary, it would be systematically introduced in all registration offices in Ontario.
Changes already made to the registration system by Polaris have been well received by users. The Land Registration Reform Act, 1983, which I am introducing today for first reading, would further simplify the operation of the system and would reduce the work load for both staff and clients.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, we have agreed to split the time three ways on this. Could the table keep track of the time?
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I naturally appreciate the opportunity to move a motion of no confidence in the government.
Mr. Rae moved motion 36 under standing order 63(a):
That this House condemns the government for its failure to manage, invest and spend effectively the money entrusted to it and for its inaction in the face of the dramatic contrast between the waste and extravagance found at the highest levels of government and unemployment and hardship facing hundreds of thousands of people in Ontario;
And that this House condemns in particular the government's refusal to account fully and publicly for its spending, and its failure to spend public money prudently, in such instances as the following:
The obvious neglect by the cabinet of its responsibility to ensure financial prudence as witnessed by the refusal of the Chairman of Management Board or any other minister to take responsibility for ensuring that the government's own Manual of Administration is being followed;
The government's support for the privatization of hospital services, hospital management and other health services to 'for-profit' corporations and merchants of care, a practice which drains scarce public funds into private profits and curtails public accountability for the expenditure of public funds involved;
The commitment of the government to the private-profit model for nursing home care, its refusal to take clear steps towards a nonprofit model for long-term care, and its refusal to require a full public accounting of their expenditures by all nursing home operators;
The uncontrolled growth of taxpayer-paid government advertising which has made the government of Ontario the sixth largest advertiser in the country, spending over $23 million on major media advertising alone;
The government's repeated refusal to agree to an ongoing thorough legislative review of all aspects of Ontario Hydro's performance in the absence of any public forum in which Hydro's capital expenditure plans can be scrutinized;
The government's commitment to the completion of the Darlington nuclear generating station in the face of growing evidence that it is not needed and widespread concerns about the vulnerability of a 70 per cent nuclear system;
The government's blatant refusal to release information concerning the management of Ontario's forests at a time when the future of this resource is of such public importance;
And that for these reasons the government now lacks the confidence of this House.
Mr. Speaker: Would the honourable member please name his seconder?
Mr. McClellan: He did.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Foulds.
Mr. Speaker: I am sorry. I missed that.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I should say that the theme of my remarks comes from two very different sources. The first is Lord Acton. As the members well know --
Mr. Nixon: What an erudite beginning to the debate. Just like Westminster.
Mr. Rae: I expect he was quoted even last night, as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk heard at the banquet. Lord Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
My second source of inspiration is fairly different from Lord Acton. It is Ma Murray, who said, if I may transcribe what she said into the language of the Legislature, something to this effect, "Governments are like socks. If you don't change them, they start to smell after a while."
I think this is what has begun to happen to the Tory government in this province. The habit of power has become the abuse of power. The habit of governing has developed into the abuse of governing. The habit of unaccountability and the habit of wasteful and extravagant expenditure at the same time that hundreds of thousands of Ontarians are expected to do without jobs, without income security and without decent incomes has become an abuse of the political process itself.
This motion covers a number of areas, but they are all covered by the general subject of trusteeship. As I understand it, trusteeship and stewardship are what government is all about. Government has a sacred trust with the people in a democracy to manage public funds wisely, carefully and frugally. It also has an obligation to invest and spend effectively the money entrusted to it.
I was brought up on the assumption that if there is one thing the Tory government in this province knew how to do, it was to manage the province effectively. If there is any notion that has been shattered in the last number of years by the passage of time and by the number of events that have occurred, it is the idea that the Tories are good managers. In fact, a very uncharitable observer said to me the other day there were almost as many zeros in Ontario Hydro's deficit as there were in the Tory cabinet. Who was I to disagree with that pungent assessment of exactly what has gone wrong in terms of the management of the affairs of this province?
I would like to point out that the motion before us has several points that are, I believe, very closely and carefully related. The first point has to do with the consistent refusal of the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. McCague), the minister who is supposed to be responsible for the expenditure of public funds, to answer in this House when breaches of the Manual of Administration have taken place.
It has to do with the fact that we do not have a system of financial accountability in this Legislature, any more than exists in the House of Commons in Ottawa, with respect to the expenditure of literally billions of dollars in public funds, a system of accountability that would allow members of the Legislature, the public and the press to have full and complete access to information on government spending and to have a sense that there is someone in charge, someone who will take responsibility for mistakes when they have happened, someone who is prepared to answer in this Legislature when something has gone wrong.
I noticed the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Peterson) reading from an economics textbook this morning. I suppose it is a classic of political science textbooks. I would suggest that a political science textbook would tell us that one of the bases of parliamentary democracy is the notion of ministerial responsibility.
The events over the last two months have made a mockery of the notion of ministerial responsibility. We have had a minister, the Provincial Secretary for Justice (Mr. Walker), about whom, when he was Minister of Industry and Trade, there were serious allegations and disclosures with respect to contracts he offered without putting them up for public tender, both in the speechwriting field and in the field of wider industrial consulting with respect to the management of these tech centres across the province, who has not once taken responsibility for that mistake, if mistake it be.
He has chosen not to appear before the public accounts committee; he has made no statement in this House with respect to his activities; and there has been no opportunity for members of this Legislature to get at this minister and find out the substance and truth of what took place. That is being left to some other body; it is being left to some other world.
We had the farce of my colleague the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) putting a question with respect to the Manual of Administration very directly to the Chairman of Management Board the day after these contracts were disclosed, the minister saying he was going to look into it and then the matter being buried for a time. While that was happening, the whole question was referred to the public accounts committee because there were motions by the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham), by my colleague the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) and by the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) with respect to the activities of this minister and the Manual of Administration.
I am delighted to see the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Kolyn) in the House this afternoon because, when he was in the public accounts committee, he delivered himself of a textual analysis, if you will, of this problem. It was a well-honed text. I do not know whether he wrote it himself or not, but it was certainly a well-developed series of arguments. Paragraph flowed after paragraph. What was the thrust of his remarks? The public accounts committee could not deal with that question because it was being looked into by the Chairman of Management Board.
Then we have the question coming back to this Legislature just a few short days later. What does the Chairman of Management Board say in this House? He says: "It is not a matter I can deal with. It is a matter for the public accounts committee; it is a matter for the auditor to deal with. It is not a matter for me to deal with."
We have been given the runaround here something fierce. I think it is time this House expressed itself in no uncertain terms as to how it feels. I call on members of the Tory party who are not ministers to express themselves fully and freely as to how they feel about the fact that ministers are not responding to questions from representatives of taxpayers about the misallocation and the misspending that have gone on, spending that has not been subject to public tender, spending that has not been subject to the kind of scrutiny and review that is supposed to be protected by the Manual of Administration.
When the Provincial Auditor of this province, just as the Auditor General in Ottawa did a few short days ago with respect to the Liberal government there, expresses basic concern about the ability of this Legislature to gain control over public spending and to control the spending plans and patterns of crown corporations, those views should be heeded by every member of this Legislature. Instead we have seen, from the government, evasion, excuses and suggestions to send it to committee.
They give us the double shuffle in the committee and in the House. Ministers refuse to answer questions. They say they are not going to deal with them. The Chairman of Management Board says it is not his responsibility to enforce the Manual of Administration. If it is not the responsibility of the Chairman of Management Board to enforce the Manual of Administration, whose responsibility is it? If the Chairman of Management Board, who is in charge of the public purse and the expenditure of government money, is not responsible for that, then who is?
The only minister who has been hung out to dry by the Tory party with respect to the misallocation of funds is the one minister who had the courage to speak up about goings-on within his own ministry. The one individual who has been hung out to dry and made a symbol by the Tory party of this province is the former Minister of Government Services, the member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman). Why? Because he dared to defy the network of deputy ministers and that tight little network of friendship within the Premier's own office when he started raising questions about the way in which contracts were being allocated without tender.
That is the symbol the government has chosen to leave out. It was not those ministers who have let contracts to their friends, buddies and pals in the patronage-ridden system that has kept this government alive for 40 years. It was not any one of those individuals who have seen their friends grow fat, sleek, complacent and corpulent as a result of being at the public trough for 40 years. No. The one man who had the courage to speak out and say something was going wrong, that he as minister could not approve of, and that he as minister was not even aware of, is the one minister who has been left out to dry by the government of the Premier. That is a symbol the government is eventually going to regret.
Mr. Nixon: Tomorrow.
Mr. Rae: I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow and neither does the former Leader of the Opposition, now the House leader.
An hon. member: The real leader.
Mr. Rae: The real leader. Nixon now, Nixon then, Nixon when, Nixon how.
That is the first point in the indictment that has to be made. This is a government that likes to pretend it is tight, lean and close to the people. However, when we get one minister who is lean and wants to be close to the people in terms of the allocation of contracts, out the window he goes. That is Tory restraint. Shoot the messenger.
The problem is not simply one of the allocation of contracts or of patronage, although those are phenomena that those of us who have been observers of the Liberal scene in Ottawa and the Tory scene in Queen's Park know full well. The twins of patronage and the public trough are the Liberals and Tories who have been in government for so long in Ottawa and Toronto. When the people of this province decide they are going to throw out the Tories here, they will not let the Liberals in this province do to them what the Liberals in government in Ottawa have been doing. I can assure the House of that fact.
The problem goes deeper than that. What has happened in terms of the lack of control and the misallocation of public funds in the health care field? The government of Ontario has now embarked on a path where it is simply subsidizing corporations for profit. It is in the business of creating a monstrosity in the health care field, that is, an extensively publicly subsidized, publicly pampered, publicly supported private profit system.
If one was going to devise the most inefficient, most expensive, most secretive, most unaccountable health care system, one would have the kind of system which has been growing up over time in Ontario -- private profit laboratories, nursing homes and health care facilities of various kinds, increasing private profit in the hospital field -- subsidized at public expense without any degree of public accountability. It is probably the most expensive system that can be developed in any society. That is the system the Tories in this province are building in health care.
Whenever we have raised examples of the misallocation of funds as the result of this approach by the ministry and the government, we have received assurances by various ministers and the acting Minister of Health (Mr. Wells), who received so many questions throughout the entire session to which we have yet to have answers. Even pinch-hitters occasionally take their hats off their shoulders, but that is one thing the acting Minister of Health managed not to do throughout the entire period he was acting for the minister who is now back.
Mr. Foulds: He was a designated strike-out hitter.
Mr. Rae: I want to put just one case on the record so that it will be there clearly. If the minister wants to disagree with it, let him come into the House and say we are wrong.
This has to do with the Queensway Hospital example, which members will recall we have raised on a number of occasions. When faced with a proposal for a chronic care facility at the Queensway Hospital, the government of Ontario said, "We will not provide you with the capital funds. You will have to go and get the capital funds from somebody else. We will provide you with the per diems." The hospital went out, worked out a deal with Extendicare, came back to the government and said, "We have worked out a deal with Extendicare, but we need you to sweeten the pot."
Apparently, the government looked at it and agreed it would sweeten the pot. What has it done? It has provided the worst of both worlds from the taxpayers' point of view. As taxpayers we are going to be paying a per diem of $125.75 per day, which compares with the normal per diem rate of $109.75, because an additional $16 a day is built into the expenditure.
What is that expenditure all about? It is so that at the end of 19½ years the government and the people of Ontario will own the Extendicare facility. In other words, the people of Ontario are buying back that facility at a rate of $16 a day and the government of Ontario is borrowing money from Extendicare. That is what the whole financing operation is all about.
When the government of Ontario is borrowing money from Extendicare, the first question any astute person who is responsible for the management of public money would ask is, "What kind of a rate are we getting?" The answer is that the $16 a day works out to well over 15 per cent per annum as an interest rate. For a long-term loan of that kind, the government of Ontario--at the very time it was borrowing from Extendicare at 15 per cent-- could have borrowed on its own account at 11 per cent.
For the life of me, I cannot understand how this government can claim to be a frugal, efficient and responsible administration when it is going out and giving a windfall gain to its friends, the Extendicare family. It is very close to the Tory party and the Ministry of Health. We all know that. I think it is important for the people of Ontario to know that these are the kinds of financial deals being worked out in the health care field and being sanctioned by the Ministry of Health and the Tory party.
These are the kinds of deals our party finds offensive because health care should not be for sale in Ontario. It should not be seen as a commodity in this province or an area in which private-profit merchants can make money off the backs of sick and elderly people. These deals are wasteful and inefficient.
Studies that have been commissioned in the United States and published in the New England Journal of Medicine this year show very clearly that nonprofit hospitals in the United States, working side by side with for-profit hospitals, provide better care at less cost than for-profit operations. Yet this government is sitting back and encouraging for-profit operators to come into Ontario because they say they can do it more efficiently. They cannot do it more efficiently. They can do it more expensively, but they can also do it for their enrichment. That is what the Tory party likes: it likes to see its friends making money at public expense.
When I raised this question with the acting minister, he said, "Well, if we compare it with other Metro care facilities, we are getting a good deal." We went and we researched it because we did not believe him. In fact, the minister did an interesting thing. He compared the chronic care wing at Queensway General Hospital with other free-standing Metro chronic care facilities, such as Runnymede Hospital; West Park Hospital, which happens to be in the good riding of York South; Queen Elizabeth Hospital; Salvation Army Toronto Grace General Hospital; and Baycrest Hospital. He came up with a figure which shows that yes, in comparison with those exclusively self-contained chronic care facilities, Queensway is less expensive.
However, Queensway is not one of those animals, if I may say so. It is not one of those totally self-contained, free-standing chronic care facilities. It is a chronic care facility that is in direct relationship with a general hospital. When you look at this across the province, you get a very different figure. The following are calculations we have made after checking this information very carefully with the Ministry of Health:
Queensway hospital has 309 acute beds and 120 chronic beds; the 1981-82 chronic per diem, adjusted downward to take into account the comparable year, is $98; Guelph St. Joseph's Hospital, $60; Windsor Metropolitan General Hospital, $62; Cambridge Memorial Hospital, $63; Toronto St. Joseph's Health Centre, $65.70; Belleville General Hospital, $66; Scarborough General Hospital, $71.90; Mississauga Hospital, $73; Welland County General Hospital, $75; St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, $78.40; and Oshawa General Hospital, $88.
On that basis, which is comparing like with like, the Queensway operation is going to be more expensive. The subsidy that is going to Extendicare is one that is well above any comparable rate for a comparable hospital in Ontario; that is the model the Tory party is determined to shove down the throats of the taxpayers of this province.
Over the past year, and it has been almost a year since I first gave a speech in this House with respect to the nursing home question, we have raised questions about the quality of care, which I think are now well established. Even after the duration of the then Minister of Health, I found it amusing that the very first thing his successor did on coming back from the hospital was to appoint 10 new nursing home inspectors.
The government knows there is a quality of care problem; it is fully aware of the problem and is simply skirting around the fringes of the problem. They are afraid to really get into it because they know that, when they finally do, they are going to find a situation that is completely and utterly unacceptable.
In addition to the quality of care question, I want to deal this afternoon with the question of financial accountability, because the taxpayers of this province are spending $237 million through the extended care budget of the Ministry of Health to subsidize private-profit operators in the nursing home sector. I do not think the public is fully aware of that fact when one talks about private-profit operations in nursing homes.
I was stopped by somebody the other day who said: "What's wrong with that? They charge their patients what they can. They don't get any money from the government; so why should they not be private-profit operations?" I said: "Wait a minute. Don't you understand that each and every one of those beds is paid for by public subsidy, that to a large extent it is a public subsidy that does this and that is the decision this Legislature took in 1972?"
That is a fact that has to be driven home. What we are looking at is not a private or free enterprise system; it is neither free nor enterprise. It is a system based on the public subsidization of a licence that is granted by the government of this province and that has become in this province a licence not to provide care but to print money.
That licence to print money is being granted not only without adequate programming, without adequate accountability in terms of care and without adequate inspection -- we have documented all those things in the past year -- but it is also without adequate financial accountability.
It is absolutely shocking to me that the financial information of every single nursing home in this province is not today a matter of public record. If you want to look at the American experience, Mr. Speaker, look at those states that have had to deal with the same kinds of nursing home problems we have had to deal with in this province -- only they have had to deal with them far more publicly than this government has ever been prepared to deal with them.
The one bottom line that each reform has led to in the United States is financial accountability. The Connecticut example is the most recent. After a series of investigations by the then governor of that state, Mrs. Grasso, as well as by the Legislature of that state, the one response that had to be made was that nursing homes had to be fully financially accountable. They had to present their expenditures as a matter of record, how much they were spending on food, on service and on staff and how much they were taking out of the home for their own gain.
The only piece of financial information with respect to the management of an individual home that has become a matter of public record here in the past year is the information I presented with respect to the operation of the Heritage Nursing Home. That information came to us by means of brown envelope, and it showed that in a year when the home was receiving $2.2 million in revenue from residents and from the taxpayers of this province, that home was taking out more than $400,000 in management fees, payments into family trust funds and various transfers of one kind and another. That is a fair chunk of money for the operator of a home with slightly more than 200 beds to be taking out when in the same year that operator is spending $1.90 per resident per day on food. That is nothing short of a scandal.
This government claims to be running a tight ship. They are giving money to that industry, as they call it, hand over fist, without any degree of financial accountability whatsoever. They have never done any comparison they are prepared to publish of the costs of running a nonprofit sector versus a private sector home. They have never published any information with respect to that.
I want to point out something, not only for reasons of historical interest and curiosity but also for another basic reason. In April 1972, our health critic at that time, Dr. Dukszta, spoke during the debate on the first Nursing Homes Act. That is the first time the decision was taken to extend the extended care program into the nursing home field. I want to quote from one thing Dr. Dukszta said. There are two points I want to make, one dealing with this question of financial accountability.
Dr. Dukszta said at page 1005 of Hansard for April 10, 1972:
"An interesting side comment, I think, on the whole system can be gleaned from the remark of G. S. Chatfield -- who is a program co-ordinator for extended health care -- which he made on February 23, 1972. He said:
"'As the nursing home segment of this program is almost totally private ownership, a great challenge is thus presented for private enterprise and for government to work together to develop a mutually satisfactory program in this important health care segment of our social structure.'"
I find it interesting that the Gary Chatfield who was being quoted as a spokesman for the Ministry of Health in 1972, saying a close relationship had to be worked out between the Ministry of Health and the private-profit nursing home industry, is the same Gary Chatfield who is now the vice-president of Extendicare Ltd. That is the close relationship that has developed. That is the closeness that has developed. That is the relationship that has developed. It is a relationship in which the private industry is literally peopled with the former staff of the Ministry of Health.
When the former Minister of Health, who is now the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman), was first appointed he conducted a cleaning-up operation. My colleague the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) will remember this. At the time of the Ark Eden Nursing Home investigation. and at the time when my colleague the member for Bellwoods was revealing the information with respect to Ark Eden in the estimates, the man who was the director of nursing home investigations and nursing home services was a Mr. Paul Klamer.
One of the very first things the former Minister of Health said was, "You know, we have had some change of personnel so things are going to be better."
For example, we know Mr. Klamer was the one who wrote the letter to the director of Ark Eden, saying, "You do not have to clean up the place because we are going to wait for a while before we make you do it." This has been one of the problems in the whole problem between Mr. Roy Bennett of Ark Eden and the government of Ontario.
Do the members want to know what Mr. Klamer is doing now? He is the vice-president of Leisure World Nursing Homes, yet another one of the chains that is being extensively subsidized by the Tory party and the Tory government in this province.
I suggest there is something very wrong with the nature of this system. There is something inherently ineffective, inherently inefficient and inherently wrong with this kind of system. I can only quote the words of Dr. Dukszta many years ago when he was going through the act and commenting on the problems that would exist as a result of the subsidization of private profit, which was built into the system and the remote kind of inspection that took place.
It is a good speech to read, because it pointed out so clearly the kind of centralized inspection that would be there, coming in once a year, doing nothing to provide programming, doing nothing to make sure things were really being cleaned up and doing nothing to provide the kind of community control and community involvement that was absolutely essential. It is important to remember what he said at that time, at page 1008 of Hansard for April 10, 1972:
"It bothers me that such a large segment ... is so strongly in private hands and so strongly profit-orientated. There are many other ways of looking at it; under no circumstances am I suggesting that the minister should go ahead and nationalize the nursing homes. I am suggesting to the minister that we should be looking for other ways of both financing and managing the nursing homes so that they can be nonprofit corporations under the Charitable Institutions Act, and do not have to be entirely reliant on the private sector."
That is the position of the New Democratic Party today. We strongly believe the operation of nursing home care should be conducted on a nonprofit basis. I want to suggest to the government that not only is that going to provide a better quality of care but it is also going to provide a higher degree of financial accountability, financial responsibility and value for money, both taxpayers' money and residents' money.
I want to tell the government that if it thinks in this past year it has seen some questioning with respect to the nursing home sector, the health care sector, the private profitization and the growth of the merchants of care in providing care in the health care field, it has not seen anything yet.
We have just begun to do the documentation and research that we think is going to show clearly, as it has in the past, that there is a real conflict between the merchants of private gain and private enrichment, who are so close and dear to the hearts of the Tory party and the provision of quality care in this province, whether it be care for those who are just born or care for those who are elderly, who are vulnerable and who are in need of the love, assistance and charity of their neighbours and their friends.
The Treasurer took some offence when I released information with respect to the size of contributions by the nursing homes to the Tory party and with respect to the size of the contribution to his own riding. I only want to say -- and I am sorry he is not in the House -- that I am a little surprised he was so embarrassed about his friendships. We in this party are not ashamed of our friends. I am not ashamed of anyone who has contributed to my campaign. I am surprised the Treasurer would be embarrassed when information was released with respect to who his friends have been over the past years and who his friends no doubt will prove to be in the future.
Mr. Nixon: Claire Hoy didn't like it either.
Mr. Rae: I am used to that, that is all I can say. Clairhoyance, I think it is called.
I want to raise three other basic questions that touch this question of financial accountability and the smell that pervades the government of this province as a result of its longevity without having changed at all. The first has to do with the question of advertising, the second has to do with the question of Ontario Hydro and the third has to do with the question of forestry, its management, and information with respect to its management.
On advertising, I must say I am amazed that this government continues to abuse its own taxpayers and its own people by flooding the airwaves with jingles and jangles and propaganda that are not basically designed to convey any information but are simply designed to elicit a warm, wet feeling in the mind or soul of the viewer or listener as he hears the music or watches the visions of Ontario that are presented by the government.
Those of us who saw the clipper ships and the geese flying in "L" formation at the time of the Constitution Act were perhaps getting used to the idea that taxpayers can be bought and controlled in terms of their minds, and perhaps their subconscious political reflexes, by governments and parties which they themselves have elected. I think it is an abuse; I think most Ontarians feel it is an abuse. I think most Ontarians think it is offensive to the notion of stewardship, to the notion of trusteeship and to the notion of responsible government.
Parties that are in power today not only have immense sums of money at their command but also have, and they are subject to their control, media which can have direct access to the minds of literally millions of Ontarians. This kind of control is unparalleled in the history of man. It is unparalleled in the history of democratic government. I want to suggest in all seriousness that we have not even come close to approaching this subject with the kind of objectivity it deserves.
I happen to believe very strongly that governments have an obligation to convey information. I agree thoroughly that information has to be conveyed, and even conveyed in interesting ways, with respect to the senior citizen tax break, with respect to the Workers' Compensation Board list of benefits and with respect to any programs available for young people or older people or whatever they might happen to be. I think those programs have to be advertised in many different languages, and I have no objection to governments doing that.
I have objections to the minister's picture appearing on ads, and I have objections to the minister's name and the Premier's name appearing on every advertisement; I object to that. I do not think that is necessary, but still that is something which we are used to and which is par for the course. What I think is offensive to the nature of democracy itself and to the notion which in my view is at the heart of democracy, which is a respect for the mind, a respect for the integrity and a respect for the intelligence of the average citizen in a democracy, is the kind of propagandistic nonsense, the kind of fluff and flimsy stuff which is passed around. It is not information, it is pure and simple propaganda; a pure and simple attempt to create a feeling on the part of citizens, a subconscious reflex towards the party in power. That kind of advertising is an abuse.
It is an abuse of power, it is an abuse of the democratic process; and governments which participate in it should be ashamed of themselves. This government has participated in it more than any other government with the possible exception of the Liberal government in Ottawa.
I mentioned Ontario Hydro: again the key is accountability. The statement from the Provincial Auditor is very clear. The Legislature does not have adequate control over crown corporations. He stated that very specifically. We do not have adequate control over the capital expansion plans of Ontario Hydro. It is subject to less scrutiny than perhaps any other major utility in terms of what the basic scrutiny is, the public process. I want to suggest it is intolerable and absolutely unacceptable that this situation should be allowed to continue at a time when Hydro is expanding its construction program to the tune of tens of billions of dollars without adequate public scrutiny and without serious review.
The evidence is overwhelming that hydro rates are going to increase faster than the rate of inflation. They are going to have to increase faster than Hydro thought last year, because of the problems faced at Pickering and because of the problems being caused by technological difficulties at Bruce.
All we are asking for is accountability. We can have our arguments in this House as to what the best mode of growth for Hydro is and what the best route in terms of Ontario's energy future is. All we are asking, and we have asked for it several times and will ask for it again, is that there be a forum created, a select committee of this Legislature to give us the opportunity as legislators to listen, ask questions and subject the largest public utility in Canada to the kind of public scrutiny and control it needs and deserves, and the people of this province need and deserve to have.
It is entirely unacceptable to us from the point of view of financial effficiency alone that a utility of that size should be able to make those kinds of public expenditures with no ability on our part to get at the underlying assumptions which led to those expenditures.
It should be unacceptable to every Tory backbencher in this province as well. It should be unacceptable to every member of the Conservative Party as well, because its constituents are going to be paying just as much as our constituents for that lack of scrutiny and that lack of control.
If one looks at what other utilities have had to do, to give one leading example the Tennessee Valley Authority in the United States has had to cut back on its nuclear expansion program. It has had to deal much more toughly with the question of conservation. It has had to face up to the reality of an overbuilt system that is not in keeping with the new energy realities of the 1980s and 1990s.
We have a utility that is carrying on blissfully unaware of the fact that the energy future today is not the energy future predicted in 1976 or 1978. It is absolutely incredible that this government should still refuse to set up a select committee on Hydro, that the Premier would stand up and say the Ontario Energy Board is the place where these questions can be discussed. He must know, because he has been told, that the OEB has no jurisdiction to deal with questions involving capital expenditure and has specifically said, "We do not have a mandate to deal with capital plans."
The counsel to the Ontario Energy Board said Hydro is overbuilt, that there are problems of waste and he is sorry the Ontario Energy Board does not have the mandate to deal with those problems. Yet the Premier of this province gets up and says, "There is no problem here because the public accounts committee can deal with it and the Ontario Energy Board can deal with it." The Premier is just not levelling with himself. He is not levelling with cabinet. He is not levelling with this Legislature.
The fact of the matter is that we do not have access to Hydro's plans in a way that they can be effectively scrutinized and questioned. That is the reality the government has to deal with and cannot ignore any longer.
I want to close by paying tribute to my colleagues, including the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) and the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes), for the work they and others in our party have done in terms of the management of a basic and fundamental resource, our forests. It is absolutely incredible to me, and I think to most people in this province, that the Ministry of Natural Resources has taken a kind of bunker approach to the management of a resource that is so basic and so fundamental to the future of this province.
Because I was able to travel across the north with a task force for nearly three weeks in September, I saw at first hand the conditions on the ground. We went into the woodlands operations and saw that there were some areas where there were some things happening, but there were lots of areas where there was nothing happening. There were lots of areas that had been clear-cut where there were no trees growing because there had been no trees planted. There were also lots of areas where trees had been planted but they had been overgrown by various hardwood species as well as shrubs, raspberry bushes and all kinds of other things.
We saw a situation where every time we held a meeting we were dogged by officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources. It was almost as if we were living in 18th century France and Louis XVI was sending his various superintendents around to make sure of what of what was going on at these public meetings. One had the feeling the minister was terrified of the kind of information that was coming out. He was terrified that his domain in northern Ontario might be attacked by public information and public scrutiny.
The minister chose not to answer or refute the information but to make profound statements such as, "Bob Rae doesn't know what he is talking about,'' or "Floyd Laughren is full of it." He just made personal remarks that had nothing to do with the foundation of the case that was being made. We all know that people make ad hominem remarks and ad hominen arguments only when they cannot deal with the substance of the information that is being presented.
The task force was confronted time and again with secrecy, lack of accountability and a refusal to fully account for the expenditure of public funds. Whether the government has a forest management agreement or some other form of arrangement in terms of managing the northern resource -- and we happen to think there are a lot better ways of doing it than the way the government is doing it today--surely to goodness the public of Ontario is entitled to know what the results of spending public money are, what the results of public investment have been and what they will be in the future.
Surely we as a province are entitled to have an accounting, to have a heritage accounting if you will, for the kind of expenditures that are being made today in the forests. Instead, what do we get? We get ritual abuse from the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) and from the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier), which we take as a supreme compliment. But we also get something else. We get absolutely no constructive information that tells the public of this province exactly what we are getting for the money we are spending. That, I suggest, is the bottom line of the attitude of this government. It is a government that has lost its sense of stewardship, its sense of trusteeship and its sense of responsibility in terms of public expenditure.
I laugh when I hear the Tories describe themselves as a party of small government, as a party of responsible government or as a party that is close to the people in terms of the way in which it spends money. In that regard they are close to the Liberal government in Ottawa, as they are on so many different issues. This government takes exactly the same approach as the Liberal government in Ottawa. It has exactly the same attitude to the taxpayers and exactly the same view: "What the heck. It is public money, but we can spend it. We are not responsible. We will get away with it. There will be a few questions in the Legislature. Maybe there will be a few press articles, but it does not really matter." The same view is taken.
That same view infects and corrupts the attitude of everyone at the upper echelon of that government. That is why I say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That is why I say governments are like socks. If one does not change them, they start to smell after a while. This government has remained unchanged for too long. The odour of complacency, the mouldy stench of arrogance has carried on for too long. Whether it is in the hospital field, whether it is in terms of basic management of contracts or advertising, financial accountability in the nursing home field, or in terms of our largest utility and largest crown corporation. Ontario Hydro, or the management of a basic resource like forestry, this is a government which does not deserve and should not have the confidence of this House.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: My leader has just introduced a no-confidence motion and has spoken on it. This is considered one of the most important events in the parliamentary process. Not a single member of the government was here during that whole speech--
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): No. That is not a point of order.
Mr. Swart: That not only shows lack of respect for the leader and the parliamentary tradition, it shows contempt for this House.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I find the absence of the members of the government somewhat offensive myself, but while we have a rule that everyone may speak, I do not know of a rule that says anybody has to listen.
I was quite impressed with the speech made by the leader of the New Democratic Party, and it will certainly not hurt my feelings if the socialist hordes vacate for their own little business now that some effective descriptions of government programs are forthcoming. I would predict that the NDP will be down to its usual one and a half members within two or three minutes.
The only reason I am feeling so good this afternoon is that I am still in a state of euphoria, having attended the greatest political occasion in the history of Canada last night. I know there were a good many Tories there, all coughing up $250 each. I even noticed a few NDP lawyers in the audience who would like to be on the list for judicial appointments as so many of them have been in the past.
Unlike the socialist leader, who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, I am perhaps a little more of a realist in these matters than he is. But I do follow his example in that I have a text for my brief comments this afternoon. It is taken from a well-known politician whose name and party I have momentarily forgotten. He said: "What's a million?" Then he said, "Who's to stop us?" The two attitudes that often go with a government, like the Ma Murray analogy, need to be changed for obvious reasons.
Fortunately, the people are as sensitive to these odoriferous comments as opposition politicians, and within a few months after those two famous statements that government was changed. Fortunately, the interregnum was a brief one, and it was a very interesting one.
However, since this particular no-confidence motion deals with the profligacy of government, I wanted to list some of things that have come to my mind over the years that fall into that category. It is not just bad judgement; it is really overt wastage of money, where somebody in the government has been able to persuade his colleagues to go along with an absolutely cockamamy scheme which was anything but advantageous to the taxpayers.
I think of the acquisition of land in South Cayuga. There was an attempt over the years to justify that as land banking supposedly, but the government has never found any possible use for it except for farming, from which it was taken when the government paid a high price for the property. The government tried to establish some sort of solid and liquid waste disposal site on that land, but this was not permitted when a review of the facilities indicated that would be detrimental to the community in many respects.
Nearby, a city site now known as Townsend was purchased at inflated prices, something like four times the going rate of the land at the time. We have been pouring money into that facility from that day to this. We now have approximately $65 million invested in a beautiful community housing about 100 households.
Edwardsburgh township is a similar example. When the present Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) was a back-bencher he heard a rumour that the government was going to buy a huge tract of land there for industrial development. He indicated, and I am paraphrasing him, that any politician who would buy that land for industrial development had to be nuts. The only word I remember for sure is the very last one, but the spirit of the thought was as I have described it.
Nevertheless, before the minister was a part of it the government went ahead and bought the land. They have changed their minds considerably and are now trying to grow poplar trees on the property which was farm land and forestry land of some usefulness before.
We think of that fine building on Bloor Street, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, built by a friend of the Premier (Mr. Davis) without any tender. We are still paying $1 million a year in rent on that. The $1 million we were paying a decade ago was real money; nowadays the C. D. Howe maxim "What is a million?" may have more application. That is what happened.
The same man built the Ontario Hydro headquarters just outside the front door of this building without tenders. It is certainly a fine building, but surely the time had long since passed in the premiership of William Davis when work on any of these structures or concepts should have been entered into without a full tendering process.
The list goes on. Those members who visit the Workers' Compensation Board offices on a regular basis on behalf of their constituents know they go into one of the finest buildings on Bloor Street. Once again, there was no tendering. The contract was awarded to the Fidinam company, which came over from Switzerland with a very small bank account, just enough to pay $50,000 into the coffers of the Progressive Conservative Party before this contract was let.
The list goes on. We have heard about Minaki. We have heard about the famous jet. I know the Premier was shamed into selling it. We have never had an accounting of how much money it was taking to keep that jet parked on the runway in Houston, Texas, while they were waiting to tear out the cabin fittings and replace them with what I suppose would be called cabinet fittings in deep blue plush. God knows what has happened to that plane, but I do know it cost us a good deal of money.
The attitude was there: what is $1 million? Who is to stop us? In this particular instance it was the opposition, mostly the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) who singlehandedy changed government policy and brought it briefly to its senses.
The leader of the New Democratic Party has been talking about Ontario Hydro. In a speech like this one must make at least some reference to the policies of Hydro which have been so wasteful and consuming of our resources.
Not long ago for me, although it seems a long time in the history of events, when there was a select committee on Hydro affairs, we went up to the Bruce area specifically to examine why there were such serious cost overruns and delays in the building of our heavy water plants, which form an important ancillary facility to one of the largest atomic installations in the world. The cost overruns and time delays there were completely unconscionable. When one realizes that this $1-billion installation is barely ticking over these days and many of the heavy water towers have been mothballed and have never been put into use, that is a clear indication of just one example of the profligate waste of Ontario Hydro, which has suffered from bad planning for the last decade.
The New Democratic Party voted with the Conservatives some years ago to make Ontario Hydro into a crown corporation. We in the Liberal Party felt it should be kept as a commission with a representative in the cabinet responsible on a day-to-day basis to this House. We believe we were correct then and we are correct now. Many of the problems with Hydro would not have been so serious and so all-encompassing if the NDP had not supported the Conservatives in that particularly bad decision.
Advertising was referred to by the Premier during his estimates last week. He tries to justify it on the basis that public advertising is essential if we are going to inform the taxpayers and the citizens of their rights under changing laws and regulation. No objection has ever been made to informing senior citizens and farmers, for example, of their rights to tax rebates and so on. When the Premier clearly asks, "What advertising would you have us chop?"; my response is it is really ridiculous the way the public purse pays for Miss Penelope and her boyfriend, the ancient Mr. Hall, and all that little cast of characters who dance around the television screen about every 15 minutes during a hockey game or ball game one might be watching. It is absurd.
Of course, that is not the kind of advertising we worry about. It is that lovely stuff about "Ontario is yours; preserve it, conserve it," and all the subliminal claptrap the Tories have used going right back to the election of 1963. I think it was Bob Macaulay who got the bright idea that some more modern advertising geniuses might get a few more votes for the Tories. They have done it very well ever since. Those people who criticize the Liberals in Ottawa for doing the same thing are completely correct.
That leads me also to a real concern about the usage of public moneys in developing polls that direct the political direction of government. My colleague who was just beating on his desk so violently, our Treasury critic, has led the House and the whole community of Ontario in criticism of this matter. As members know, other politicians at the federal level and in other parties here in this House have since chimed in with rather weak and ineffectual criticism.
Our Treasury critic has led us in this matter for the last five years and has practically brought the government to its knees, so much so that in a conversation with a very senior member of government recently there was some indication that surely no money that was available to any caucuses would ever be used for any kind of poll. At least he is sensitized to it, if not leaders of governments elsewhere.
One thing that concerns me, and I am sure this is a fact, is that this debate is coming on for a number of reasons, but ostensibly the best one is that the Provincial Auditor's report was tabled in the House a few days ago. It was really a scorcher. It was the strongest criticism of the government I have read from a public official in the 22 years I have been in the House. Either the government is getting worse or the auditor is getting better.
When I read his report a year ago I certainly was not impressed with the assiduity of his deliberations. I felt perhaps he was a little uncertain as to his responsibility as a servant of this Legislature. My fears were certainly put to rest when I read the very carefully constructed criticism, based in each particular on facts his officials had gathered from the various ministries and crown corporations.
I trust every member of the Legislature has read it as carefully as I have and that the public accounts committee -- the chairman is present at this time -- will be able to take this report and call the various officials before that committee and find out the truth in detail. There have been criticisms in the past that when the auditor's report is tabled it is a one-day wonder. The Globe and Mail has something about "Ain't it awful, Mabel?" or whatever, and nothing is done about it.
Certainly that is not the case in Ontario because the auditor, with very good leadership in the standing committee on public accounts, has effectively brought pressure to bear on the government so that just a week ago one of the senior deputy ministers was dismissed from his responsibilities on the basis of criticisms brought forward in that committee.
The Premier was quick to say he may be reassigned to other duties. As we have so often observed in this government, when the Premier cuts off a head it often rolls uphill.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Who said that?
Mr. Nixon: That was first put forward in this House by another brilliant member of the House who shall remain nameless at this time.
Mr. T. P. Reid: The member for Rainy River.
Mr. Nixon: I was quite interested, actually, to read the Globe and Mail today. The Globe and Mail is very careful to protect the taxpayers. One need only ask the members of the Board of Internal Economy if the members really want to know about that. I was reading in that paper today a little item entitled, "Norton Office Cost $290,000 During Tories' Restraint Effort." That is just the headline, for God's sake.
I will read the first part in the remaining moments of my remarks. It says: "This year at the Ontario Environment Ministry a $290,000 office complete with bar and washroom was created for former minister Keith Norton while $32 million was being cut from the ministry's budget as part of a restraint program.
"The new office, on the 15th floor at 135 St. Clair Ave. W., has a bar, a small boardroom and a washroom equipped with a shower."
That is the sort of thing C. D. Howe had in mind when he said, "Who is to stop us?" I do not like to criticize the member for Kingston and the Islands (Mr. Norton). He is not here. As a matter of fact no other cabinet minister is here either, so we can be fairly free with these remarks. I like him very much. I have a feeling he said to one of his minions: "Listen, I like to go jogging in the morning or in the evening, and when I come in I think it would be nice before I went over to the House if I had a little shower. Could you fix something up?" His minions, of course, would take that as a direction to spend $290,000 or whatever it is to do this.
That is the trouble cabinet ministers can get into if they are not careful. We see the former Minister of Government Services (Mr. Wiseman) here. When the story is finally told and we get the honourable minister really to open up about some of these things it is going to be interesting.
We have been on this side for 40 years, but we have learned that when the government is careless of the dollars of the public, when there is too much luxury, when there are too many cars, when there is too much travel and too many consultants, it is time for a change in government. That is what we are here to bring about.
Mr. Kolyn: Mr. Speaker, this motion epitomizes all I have come to expect from members of the third party. It is really a catalogue of their pet peeves. In this motion we again find expressed their hostility to private enterprise and their conviction that private property is incompatible with the public good.
In this motion, the third party brands this government as insensitive to the plight of the unemployed. At the same time, they condemn the government for supporting the Darlington project, a project which will not only provide this province with secure cheap energy but is also currently providing thousands of jobs across Ontario.
In this motion, the third party maintains this government has failed effectively to manage and invest the public funds. Not only is this claim false, but in the same motion the third party damns the government for experimenting with different methods of ensuring the cost-effective, efficient delivery of health care services to our citizens.
In this motion, the third party castigates the government for not being accountable to the people for the way in which it spends public funds. In the same breath it criticizes the government for its advertising programs, which inform citizens about programs and services which are supported by public funds.
Being inconsistent to the point of incoherence may be a luxury available to the third party. It is not, however, a luxury available to this government.
I am pleased to be able to say a few words in response to the motion introduced by the member for York South (Mr. Rae). I must reject his claim that this government has mismanaged public funds. This government's record of sound, effective financial management is unmatched by any other administration in Canada. That claim, one I am proud to be able to make, is supported by the facts and is resistant to opposition fantasies to the contrary. For the benefit of the members of the third party, who conveniently forget those facts or refuse to acknowledge their significance, permit me to take a couple of minutes to repeat a few of them here.
In Ontario, thanks to the exercise of public sector restraint, a policy this government has pursued for years before it became politically fashionable, we have been able to keep our deficit under control. Our per capita deficit in Ontario stands at about $293 and is among the lowest of any Canadian province. I know the members of the third party do not believe that controlled deficits are in the public interest; that, however, is not a view shared by this government.
This government has also, through prudent management, been able to control the size of the public sector in Ontario without compromising the level and quality of services provided to our citizens. The fact we have been able to control the size of the public service while maintaining service quality is, I believe, a tribute not only to the prudent management of this government but also to the skill and dedication of the men and women in the public service. In Ontario this year there are nine public servants for every 1,000 people. This is the lowest ratio in Canada.
Again, I appreciate that this fact will leave the members of the third party unimpressed. If they had their way there would be nothing but a public sector. When I want an objective assessment of the financial management record of this government, I do not look to the opposition parties in this House to provide it; that is not their job. I look to the professional money managers and bond rating experts to provide that assessment. Their judgment, as reflected in this province's triple-A rating, is that Ontario is a very well managed province.
I appreciate that members opposite do not like to hear about this. I know members of the third party argue that the welfare of the people, not a bond rating, should be the primary goal of policy. They are either not aware or refuse to acknowledge that the two are intimately connected. This government is aware of that connection and acts accordingly.
This government does not have to listen to any lectures on prudent financial manangement given by a party whose budget proposals over the last two years would have at least doubled the provincial deficit, nor does it need any sermons from the third party on the plight of the unemployed.
We have introduced programs to deal with the problem of youth and general unemployment. The employment picture is improving. There were 196,000 more jobs in Ontario last month than there were in November 1982. Long-term job creation depends not on government job creation programs but on a dynamic private sector. The private sector, not the public sector, creates the vast majority of new permanent jobs in this province's economy. One does not encourage private sector investment, expansion and job creation by increasing the burden of the public debt and public borrowing on the economy. Job creation potential in the private sector would be negated by a return to high interest and inflation rates. The needs of the unemployed will be best served by policies that emphasize public sector restraint and deficit control, policies this government is following.
I would like to devote some of my remaining time to the issue of accountability. Accountability is mentioned in a number of contexts in the motion in relation to the government, and implicitly in relation to Ontario Hydro.
The accountability of government to the House and to the public, the internal accountability of public service managers to their line superiors and the external accountability of managers to the government, the House and the public are issues of interest to us all. I am convinced that in Ontario we have in place the management system and practices that guarantee accountability.
I have the privilege of serving on the public accounts committee of this House. That committee, along with the Provincial Auditor, monitors and reports regularly the quality of stewardship of the public purse. I have also had the pleasure of participating in a number of meetings held with members of other provincial public accounts committees. As a result of discussions with our counterparts from our sister provinces, I can say without reservation that we in Ontario have by far the best and most effective public accounts system of any Canadian province.
During this session there have been in committee and in the House some criticisms of the management systems in the government of Ontario. It has been argued that the system in place is inadequate because it is in some ways an honour system. I am not sure this government should apologize because it has a high degree of trust and confidence in the public servants of Ontario.
There is a theory that holds that management systems based on what is called in the literature independent accountability founded on an honour system maximize productivity, efficiency and management morale. On the other hand, dependent accountability systems, which rely on a proliferation of rules and enforcement agencies, impede productivity and erode management morale. Our management system in Ontario is designed to ensure accountability, decentralize decision-making and achieve results in the most efficient and effective manner possible. It is a system that, on balance, has worked very well.
This motion chides the government for not setting up yet another committee to study and investigate Ontario Hydro. Certainly, no NDP motion of this length would be complete without some mention of Hydro. The last thing this House needs, the last thing Hydro needs and the last thing the public needs, is another investigation of Ontario Hydro.
Were it possible to quantify such things, we would discover more energy has gone into studying Hydro than the utility has ever produced. In spite of the most ardent hopes of the opposition, Ontario Hydro is not out of control. As is clearly set out in the Power Corporation Act and the memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Energy and Ontario Hydro, the utility is responsible and accountable to the minister and the government, and through the minister to this House.
Ontario Hydro can do nothing of substance--it cannot build, buy, sell or borrow -- without the approval of cabinet. By my reckoning, Ontario Hydro has in the past 13 years been the subject of nine special inquiries, task forces and select committees. The public accounts committee is currently in the process of conducting a review of Ontario Hydro finances. Since 1974, I am told, Ontario Hydro has, as of June this year spent 638,000 hours and an estimated $18.5 million in preparing for and attending public hearings. This means in the last nine years Ontario Hydro has spent the equivalent of 2.8 years in preparation for and attendance at public hearings. In the face of this record, I find it difficult to lend much credibility to the complaint of the NDP that this government does not permit sufficient public scrutiny of Ontario Hydro.
I have just a few observations to make about the motion's allusion to government advertising. This is an issue that has been the subject of considerable debate in this House. I believe it was the subject of a private member's bill. It was most recently the topic of an exchange between the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Peterson) on December 2.
The motion maintains the government of Ontario spends over $23 million on major media advertising. This, I take it, is given as an example of the waste and extravagance referred to in the motion. According to a survey by Media Measurement Services Inc., the government of Ontario spent $23.2 million on advertising in 1982. Although I am not certain, I suspect this survey may be the source of the NDP figure. The question is whether such an expenditure is a waste and an extravagance.
If we accept the $23.2 million figure as accurate, it means that last year the government of Ontario spent, for every person in the province, about $2.64 on advertising. To put it differently, for every person in the province the government spent about seven tenths of a cent a day or about five cents a week on advertising. This does not strike me as being extravagant, nor, I suggest, was the investment a waste. Through that investment the government is able to inform the citizens about a variety of services and programs. We are able to motivate the citizens to take certain actions that are in their own self-interest and in the public interest as well.
Surely if three major cigarette companies can invest $25.3 million in 1982 on advertising to convince people to smoke and two of our major breweries can invest $45.3 million to convince people to drink beer, then government can legitimately inform people of the dangers of smoking, of drinking and driving and of alcohol abuse, all practices that have a very high social cost.
Likewise, I am sure all members would agree that the investment of public funds in advertising campaigns to promote Ontario as a tourist destination, to promote Ontario farm products or to encourage better health practices or energy conservation are legitimate investments consistent with the goals of public policy in the province.
As for the opposition complaint that advertising by this government has crossed the line that separates information from advocacy, I regard that as a product of a rather paranoid imagination given to finding subliminal manipulation everywhere.
Government advertising has always been of special interest to the opposition. A few weeks ago, members may recall they were sharpening their critical knives in anticipation of carving up the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) on advertising in his ministry. Unfortunately, the minister ruined their day by burdening them with facts.
In spite of all the criticisms levelled at government advertising by members of the opposition, I have yet to hear them give a satisfactory response to the question put by the Premier to the Leader of the Opposition on December 2 in this House.
The question is: "What advertising campaigns do you suggest we eliminate?" Should we do away with the "Ontario -- yours to discover" campaign, which has proven to be of such benefit to our $11-billion-a-year tourism industry? Or perhaps the New Democratic Party would do away with the Foodland Ontario advertising, which has helped increase awareness and consumption of Ontario farm products?
The government has not invested an extravagant amount of money in advertising, and it quite simply does not invest public funds in any form of political propaganda. Furthermore, if the success of our tourism and Foodland Ontario campaigns are any indication, the Ontario public has realized a very handsome return on every dollar of public funds invested in advertising.
Not one of the reasons which this motion advances as being cause for loss of confidence in this government passes inspection. Each collapses for lack of substance. The charges brought against the government on this motion are as substantial, as accurate and as credible as the leader of the third party's earlier celebrated charge that this government was paying $200 each for some art calendars.
It is my sincere belief that in introducing this motion the member for York South has confused the loss of confidence which the people of the province have in his party with the loss of confidence in this party. I hope to correct that misconception by voting against the motion.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to speak to such a large audience. As a matter of fact, it reminds me of the minister from Scotland who was conducting a service one stormy winter morning. During his sermon he was giving credit to those who had braved the storm to come out. "But," he said, glancing at the collection plate, "I note that those who are out are not out much."
I carefully read the motion submitted by the leader of the New Democratic Party and I thought there was something missing --
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I do not observe a quorum, and I think the member for Huron-Middlesex deserves a quorum.
The Clerk of the House: Mr. Speaker, a quorum is not present.
The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells to be rung.
Clerk of the House: Mr. Speaker, a quorum is present.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Riverdale for rising on a point of order to suggest there was not a quorum in the House. I would like to think he is one member who feels that whenever I speak I have something of substance to say, and I am sure he did not want the other members of this House to miss it.
As I was saying, I carefully read the motion submitted by the NDP leader and I thought there was something sadly missing. I read it very carefully a second time and, sure enough -- I could not believe my eyes -- there is absolutely no mention made in the motion of this government's lack of commitment to the agricultural industry of Ontario, an industry that is probably hurting more than any other industry we have in the province. For this reason, I believe the NDP stands to be condemned for putting on blindfolds to the problems facing our farmers.
The provincial government has failed Ontario farmers. Confidence within the farm community concerning the government's agricultural policies is depressingly low. The present emergency-level economic difficulties facing the agricultural industry have increased over the past two years, and this situation is directly related to the lack of commitment this government has to our farmers.
This is not a figment of my imagination; rather, it was the Ontario Federation of Agriculture in its annual presentation to the government this past September which said, 'We have been annually meeting with you for several years, and in all that time solutions to the basic questions of income and financing have never been realized."
While farm bankruptcies do not accurately represent the true financial failure in the agricultural industry, they do provide an indication of the financial health of the agricultural industry; that indication should be of major concern to this government.
Ontario continues to lead the country in the number of farm bankruptcies. They have increased dramatically from 64 in 1979 to 122 in 1980, to 140 in 1981 and to 176 in 1982. For the first 11 months of this year they stood at 157. Our farmers are going broke at the rate of one every two days.
The sad truth of the matter is that the policies of the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell) and his deputy have endangered the farming future of this province.
What is the reaction of this government to the ills facing the agricultural industry? The Minister of Agriculture and Food has chosen to ignore the situation. In a recent speech given in Owen Sound, the Minister of Agriculture and Food stated: "Our farmers are on the way out of recession, financial bind and low returns." This is nothing more than wishful thinking, for it has nothing to do with reality. Our farmers, particularly the red meat producers, have never been in worse shape than they are now, owing in large measure to this government's inaction and procrastination.
The minister's former deputy minister again voiced government policy when he stated, "There really wasn't ever a recession in agriculture" and "One half of the Ontario beef producers have to go out of business in order to ensure a healthy industry."
What do farmers think of the views expressed by the minister and his deputy, who obviously arrived at them from their offices on Bay Street? This past month the Ontario Federation of Agriculture released its verdict of the minister's and the deputy minister's analysis of the situation when it told them at its annual convention: "We can no longer accept that. There are too many farmers who increasingly are seeing their financial returns deteriorating. There is too much suffering, humiliation and desperation among our producers.
"Government has a responsibility to be a safety net in our society. We had expected to at least hear some solid statement of intent, and even possibly some answers over the past few days. They have not been forthcoming. We are disappointed and angry. We need and want answers now. The time for complacency is past."
Part of the responsibility for the government's inertia to respond to the needs of the agricultural industry rests with the Premier. In my view, it was highly irresponsible of the Premier to appoint a Minister of Agriculture and Food and a Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food, neither one of whom has had any agricultural experience whatsoever. I do not think a Minister of Agriculture and Food should be appointed to that capacity unless he or she has actually experienced the farming business and has some knowledge of the complexities of the farming industry.
The present government lacks a clear vision of the issues and potential for agriculture. This government follows rather than leads. It relies on ad hoc solutions rather than long-term strategy. Each election is filled with promises to cover up another crop of failures.
The Ontario government has failed the red meat industry and particularly the beef sector. This process has already begun. The situation is beyond emergency for many beef producers.
The Ontario government failed our producers when it blocked the Liberal opposition's attempts for an emergency debate on the red meat sector on the grounds that it was an ongoing situation rather than an emergency. The government clearly did not want such a debate because it was sure to cause the minister and his bureaucrats considerable embarrassment.
The government has failed the hog producers of this province with the minister's recent announcement that there will be no payout this year under the sow-weaner stabilization program, even though market prices have averaged 82 cents a pound while costs of production are $1.39 a pound.
This announcement came as a shock, I am sure, to cabinet ministers, and particularly to the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman), who had written within that same week to a pork producer indicating, "Based on the current prices, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food advises that the pork payments will exceed the $5-per-weaner payment you suggest." That led producers to believe they would be eligible for a $56 payout per sow under the stabilization program.
The farmers' view on the adequacy of this government's program can best be summarized by the fact that farmer enrolment in the provincial stabilization program has decreased from 4,425 when the program was first introduced to 3,000 today.
The Ontario government has failed the beginning farmers of this province by introducing a program that excludes farmers who rent their land, thus excluding enterprising sons and daughters of farmers who have gained farming experience by renting land. The program also excludes farmers who entered farming within the past three years, but it is they who are in most financial difficulty since they started to farm when the interest rates skyrocketed.
The government has failed farmers because of the minister's preoccupation with a tripartite stabilization program to the exclusion of any other forms of financial assistance. While the minister has frittered away the past two years, the industry is no closer to a solution of this policy dilemma, and the minister has now admitted this proposed program is not a solution to agricultural problems.
The government has failed to protect the grain producers of the Niagara region who stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars through the receivership of the Niagara Grain and Feed Ltd. elevator company because of the failure of the government's regulatory function. The government has yet to proclaim its amended Grain Elevator Storage Act, which would have provided added protection to producers, even though this legislation was given royal assent on June 21, 1983.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food's horse and buggy inspection service, with one chief inspector and one part-time assistant to cover 280 elevators in Ontario, is clearly at fault and must be held accountable for any losses producers may have to bear. The inadequacies of the government's legislation were pointed out to them by the Liberal Party during the debate on the amended Grain Elevator Storage Act.
The Ontario government has failed to provide necessary production information to our producers because of the reorganization of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and because of cutbacks in ministry agricultural representatives' responsibility. These cutbacks have been allowed in a ministry whose budget is already only one per cent of total budgetary expenditures.
If time permitted, I could go on with example after example of how this government has lost touch with the agricultural producers of this province. This government's hollow statements and mismanagement of this industry have been a disgrace. Farmers have no confidence in the leadership of this government, and so it stands to be condemned and, better still, defeated at the next election.
Mr. Gillies: Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether I am getting caught up in the spirit of the holiday season that is fast approaching. I simply cannot find it in myself this afternoon to make a highly partisan, critical or mean-spirited speech. In that vein, I want to open my brief contribution to this debate by complimenting the leader of the third party on his very articulate presentation of his motion and on the obvious sincerity he invested in the thoughts he presented. Having said that, I disagree with just about everything he said and will not be supporting the motion.
I should also note that we are delighted the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) has seen the light and crossed over to our side of the floor to lend his elfin presence to our benches for many a year.
As I see it, the crux of the motion put by the leader of the third party is his contention that our government is failing to spend public money prudently. I think all members would agree this is a very serious charge and deserves some in-depth examination.
I am aware, as I am sure other members are, that our government is by any objective standard one of the most efficient and leanest governments in this country. I would like to elaborate on that theme for a few moments. The per capita spending of the government of Ontario is lower now in real dollars than it was in 1975. We have the lowest per capita deficit of any government in Canada at the current time. We are also running an efficient government in the management of our own manpower.
We are all aware of the anguish and dislocation of society that is taking place in British Columbia as the government of that province goes about with a rather blunt axe approach to trimming its public service. If Premier Bennett were successful in trimming 25 per cent of his public servants from the rolls -- and it is apparent now that he will not be -- he would have approximately the same number of public servants per capita as we have in Ontario now. That is because over the last seven or eight years, through prudent management of public funds and government expenditures, we have been able to accomplish that without social dislocation or the upheaval that has occurred in that province.
I was talking earlier to my friend the member for Durham-York (Mr. Stevenson). We have examined in some depth the auditor's report that came before the House the other week. While the watchdog of the public purse has drawn to our attention a number of specific problems -- that is his job and he has done it prudently -- we have to look at the broad picture in terms of government expenditures and fiscal management.
The government of Ontario, with a budget of over $20 billion, makes and approves over 10 million specific expenditures. In this province, 10 million different kinds of payments are made in the course of a year. If we add up all the problem areas, all the areas of concern on which the auditor has commented, we will find they account for far less than one per cent of those expenditures.
If any of us as individuals, as heads of families for those of us who are, or as heads of businesses for those of us who have run businesses, could run our businesses with a level of efficiency so that we had a concern about less than one per cent of our approved expenditures we would be in very good shape indeed. If a business, a farm or any other endeavour in our province could run itself as efficiently and effectively as this government does, there would be fewer business failures than there are.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Are you counting Hydro in on this?
Mr. Gillies: I am going to talk a bit about Hydro and about the question of forest management that was raised in the motion put by the leader of the New Democratic Party. He has talked about the refusal, as he calls it, of the government to release information concerning the management of our forests. I think that is somewhat misleading. I understand any information requested by the parties is being provided if it is available.
Mr. Rae: Absolutely not.
Mr. Gillies: If it is available; the Ministry of Natural Resources compiles and tabulates only the statistics that have proven to be necessary and vital to the management of our forests.
Mr. Rae: Specifically not; they have refused. They specifically refused. You were misinformed.
Mr. Gillies: If the requested information does not fall into the long-established categories, then it is not readily available. The point my honourable friend opposite should take to heart is that just because information requested has not been compiled does not mean there is a refusal to offer it.
I suggest some of the information requested over the brief years I have been here would be extremely difficult to compile, that much of it would be redundant and unnecessary and that the very compiling of this information in some cases would be an abuse of public expenditures of the very kind we are supposedly debating in this motion.
Mr. Rae: If ignorance is bliss, you are going to have a very happy Christmas.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Gillies: The leader of the third party raises the question of ignorance. I know he has travelled in the north; I have done so a number of times in the last two years. I have talked to people involved in forest management, people with the companies, people who work in those forests, and the picture is simply not as bleak as he would paint it. I think an honest and objective examination of our husbandry of our forest resources, an industry that is linked directly to 75 per cent of the economic activity in northern Ontario, is needed.
I myself have seen many of the efforts being made in forest regeneration. I have visited some of the pilot and research projects under way. I visited Lakehead University last summer to see some of the work that is being done with the development of seedling strains and, although this is slightly off the topic of forest management, to see the work that is being done about the project under way to improve our wild rice crop and to adjust the strains of wild rice to different conditions, different depths of water, different soil conditions and so on. Again, this will be of great benefit especially to the native people of northwestern Ontario.
During this fiscal year more than 122 million seedlings will be produced for planting next year in Ontario. The Ministry of Natural Resources already has 20 private growers under contract, and additional contracts are currently under negotiation. We have, of course, the Woodlands Improvement Act program, which is assisting more than 10,000 private land owners to develop woodlots on their own property, and the ministry's forestry workers are planting millions of trees in lands every year. Members are aware of the work that has been done by our current minister in the development of forest management agreements. These FMAs are a broad framework through which this work can be continued well into the 1990s and will stand us in very good stead.
I want to turn to Ontario Hydro, because two clauses of the motion under debate deal with it. Again, I do not want to cover the territory that was addressed by my friend the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Kolyn), but I think it is fair to say that no truthful contention can be made that Ontario Hydro has not been examined, re-examined and scrutinized by every type of forum, public and internal, that is available to the members of this House.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Wrong.
Mr. Gillies: Mountains of research have been done into the operations of this utility and it is, again by any objective measure, a good utility. It has a task to produce power for the consumption of our citizens and it is doing it.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Halton-Burlington's time will come.
Mr. Gillies: I suggest to the member for Halton-Burlington that I listened with some interest to the contribution made by his members. I see that he strolled in late, presumably just to heckle the other speakers, and I would be the last person to criticize him for doing that.
We comment also in the leader of the third party's motion on nuclear power, a very sensitive issue indeed and a debate that has been going on for some years. Ten years ago, in 1973, Pickering A's last unit had just gone into service, Bruce A was under construction and Hydro was still looking into plans for up to nine more nuclear power stations in order to meet what was then expected to be a doubling and redoubling of the load requirements in the 1980s and 1990s.
Inflation at that time, members will recall, was about 7.5 per cent, which was considered extremely high. Interest rates of about 6.5 per cent were certainly not in the range of the double-digit rates that we came to experience in the early 1980s, and crude oil at that time was the cheapest energy source at about $4 a barrel. The Canadian dollar was about par with the American dollar at the time. In fact, as I recall, in about 1972 our dollar was worth 18 cents or so more than the American dollar and few of us not directly involved in the area had even heard of acid rain.
All of those scenarios have changed considerably in the last 10 years. Acid rain is one of the greatest problems, it is one of the biggest issues in public policy, not only in our country, but as we see increasingly demonstrated among the ordinary people of the United States.
There was a very interesting article in this morning's paper, which I am sure Mr. Speaker saw, about surveys that showed the people of the United States have far more concern about acid rain than is being demonstrated by the government of the United States. I would like to think the activities of our governments in Canada in bringing that message home to the people of the United States have had some effect.
In terms of the cost of energy, we cannot, as a province, continue to rely on fossil fuels for our power to the extent that we have in the past. We have to accept that nuclear power is now part of our power mix and will continue to be so of necessity. That is not to suggest for a moment that we must not press ahead in our development of wind-harness power, the development of biomass and other types of alternative liquid fuels and so on.
Mr. J. A. Reed: That is a lot of nonsense.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Gillies: It all must proceed. None the less, we are going to have to continue with our commitment to nuclear power. I would remind members again that the development of the Candu reactor is one of our prime technological achievements as a country.
I have a document here--and I am sure my friend opposite will hoot--it is a publication of Ontario Hydro, but it is, none the less, objective. It objectively states the facts in terms of lifetime performance of reactors.
Mr. J. A. Reed: That is all the information the member will be allowed to read.
Mr. Gillies: I will tell my friend opposite, I can and will read anything that I want into the records of this House. He knows that is something he does and it is something we enjoy as members of this House.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Read the Petrosar contracts into the record of this House.
Mr. Gillies: Mr. Speaker, I am reminded by a farmer uncle of mine that an empty milk can makes a lot more noise than a full one.
However, this is a list of about 155 reactors on stream in the world, some of them Canadian, some of them West German, American, Swiss, French and Spanish. There are all kinds of reactors around the world, actually 153 of them.
The lifetime performance of all these reactors of over 500 milliwatts ranges from 86.8 per cent gross capacity factor all the way down to an efficiency of one rather unfortunate American reactor of 5.3 per cent performance. I think we can look with some pride at the fact the numbers one, two, four, five, six and seven reactors in the world, in terms of their efficiency and in terms of their performance, are Canadian Candu reactors. Number one is Bruce 3. Number two is Bruce 4. There is a West German reactor in third place and then we get into Pickering 2, Pickering 4, Bruce 1 and Pickering.
These reactors, by any objective yardstick, are doing their job. That is not to say that individual members of the House will not be able to do a bit of research and pick up on individual problems that any piece of technology will experience. But the figures speak for themselves; they are doing the job.
Mr. Stokes: I thought the government said the feds were not doing anything right.
Mr. Gillies: We would never say that. Most of what they do is wrong. I am tempted to read into the record, picking up on a theme of my friend the member for Brant-Oxford Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), Zena Cherry's column of last night's proceedings so all of those people --
The Deputy Speaker: It would not be in order, so the member can skip that.
Mr. Gillies: I will skip that -- all of those people who will be looking for appointments when Brian Mulroney forms a government can be drawn to his attention, but I will not do that.
The Deputy Speaker: Back to the resolution.
Mr. Gillies: Back to the resolution, indeed, Mr. Speaker.
Recent calculations have shown that despite the higher first cost, the first, initial construction costs and the bringing-on-line cost of nuclear power plants, are indeed much higher than of a fossil-fuel plant. But within three years, those costs can be considered comparable because of the lower operating expenditures.
The nuclear power plant becomes a better and better bargain the longer it is on stream. The clincher is that the total cost of nuclear-generated electricity is 40 per cent cheaper than coal-generated power and will continue to be so.
In addition, we must not ignore other economic benefits that will result from the completion of Darlington. We have heard them all before: 27,000 man-hours of work, 600 jobs once the project is completed, an injection into our economy of $15 billion. These are all factors we cannot ignore. They are very important to the people working in that industry and they are important to the people of Durham region who will be benefiting from the economic stimulus provided by this work. I see my friend the member for Durham East (Mr. Cureatz) is very cognizant of that.
Mr. Cureatz: Will the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) not take the benefit Durham region will get from this?
The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Brantford will continue; he has the floor.
Mr. Gillies: My friend the member for Durham East quite rightly pointed out to the members of the third party the great benefit that Pickering will be to his riding and to his people. I simply could not interrupt him in bringing that very important point forward.
In conclusion, I want to say I think the resolution before us is faulty in a number of regards. It cites an inefficiency of expenditure and management which I think by any objective yardstick is not warranted. It finds lacking our programs in forest manangement, power development and in any number of areas of endeavour in which our government is active. That is not warranted.
I will say that the leader of the third party made his case very well, very articulately, but not, I would say, compellingly. I believe I speak for all the members of our caucus in saying I cannot accept or support the resolution.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the House for those outbursts during the previous speaker's comments but it becomes very difficult to contain oneself with the misinformation that is being delivered to the floor of this Legislature.
I just want to suggest to the member for Brantford that if he boasts to this Legislature he can deliver whatever information he chooses to the Legislature, I challenge him at this point to deliver the Petrosar contract to the floor of this Legislature. He cannot do it and he knows he cannot do it. He knows the Minister of Energy (Mr. Andrewes) has never seen it, nor did the minister's predecessor ever see it. The reason they have not is because Ontario Hydro will not let them see it. It has cost the taxpayers of Ontario over $40 million for oil not taken to this point.
I suggest to the member for Brantford that if he wishes to become something of a proponent of all the virtues of Ontario Hydro and his government, he should get his facts straight before he starts talking this drivel on the floor of the Legislature.
The member for Lakeshore talked about the accountability of Ontario Hydro to the people of Ontario and he suggested that nobody wanted another committee, nobody wanted any more scrutiny of Ontario Hydro.
I would like to inform the member for Lakeshore, who obviously read whatever the speakers' service gave to him today, that the chairman of Ontario Hydro himself, who also happens to be the president of Ontario Hydro at present, wants a select committee of this Legislature to study Ontario Hydro. When the member suggests nobody who is responsible wants a committee to study Hydro in an ongoing way, I would suggest to him he should get his facts together and not rely on somebody else's writing. He should put the words together himself and do some of his own research. Then he would better understand what he is talking about. I do not say that with any disrespect to the member but I would suggest that there are elements of truth that really should be put on the floor here.
Some comment has been made about the fact that nuclear power will in time become cheaper than coal-fired power, that it is more expensive to bring on line early. However, the member conveniently forgot about the 7,000 or 8,000 megawatts of hydraulic power, much of which is competitive now and will be competitive in the future, which has the same kind of high capital cost as nuclear power but requires virtually no manpower to operate and has a life expectancy at least triple that of any nuclear plant.
When one is looking at the economics, it is fine to boast about the competent technology in nuclear power; nobody is arguing about that. However, when one wants to argue about reliability and economics, if the hydraulic component in the electric power system is not brought in, the backbone of Ontario Hydro is missed.
It is the backbone that continues to this day with all the nuclear power, with all the thermal power that has been built and with the stuff that has been mothballed. In terms of mothballing now, I see 6,916 megawatts of generating potential lying mothballed or unfinished in Ontario. The cost of mothballing alone has been $1.167 billion.
I would suggest to any members that if they want to start debating Hydro, if they want to start to talk about nuclear power and the great electric power system of this province -- and nobody denies it is a great electric power system -- they should look at it in the context of the reality and what is here.
If they choose to look at it objectively, they will soon get a picture that it has to become, for the first time, accountable to the people of Ontario. The Power Corporation Act clearly puts the fiduciary responsibility of the directors in the hands of the directors and nowhere else. Any other corporation, any other corporate structure puts that responsibility out to the shareholders. That is where it has to go, crown corporation or not.
That is the reason we have brought private member's bill after private member's bill before this Legislature, trying to improve the Power Corporation Act, trying to improve the Energy Act which created the Ministry of Energy, to make this utility accountable to the people of Ontario. Surely when the budget of the province and the budget of Ontario Hydro are so inexorably linked, there has to be some avenue of accountability.
The minister knows as well as I do that if Ontario Hydro had to stand on its own and did not have the backing of Ontario, and had to show all by itself a debt ratio of 0.84, which it has at the present time, its credit rating would not be anywhere near triple A.
The concepts that have been put into application and the reasoning that has gone into the excessive spending of this corporation have to be brought to account. We cannot continue the way we are spending on capital investment, on the one hand, and mothballing, on the other hand, and increasing our surplus by leaps and bounds. We are really making what is a great utility and what should be a great utility into an albatross.
We are creating a huge nuclear bubble, an economic bubble, if one likes. When these projects are completed and brought to account, where will the nuclear industry go? We built it all up too fast. We boast about the jobs it will create and so on. What happens when Darlington is completed, if it is? Hydro itself has said it has no plans for any further building of generating capacity in this century.
What happens to the Candu technology and the nuclear industry those people are so found of touting as being so wonderful? It will become dispersed. The brains and the technical expertise will become dispersed through the rest of industry. What could be a useful technology, although extremely costly in this province, will be lost because of the force-feeding of it by Ontario Hydro, with the approval of the Premier of this province, who uses these projects at election time to trot out what he considers to be all things bright and beautiful.
It really is increasingly disgusting over a period of years. Everyone knows; the public knows. Here is a quote from an editorial in the Toronto Star: "Everyone knows that Hydro has to brought to account, even the chairman of Hydro." Yet the government is not willing to face that music. If there were no other statements in this motion of no confidence, that statement alone would be enough to bring an absence of confidence in this government. Surely to goodness we cannot go on and on facing what will be incredibly increased electric power costs as a result of this wasteful kind of practice.
Before I sit down, if I am allowed the time, I want to mention one other subject that is of concern to me as Natural Resources critic, and that is the area of forest regeneration. We can talk if we like about two trees being grown for one at present, although we do not have any figures on the liveability or on what actually gets in the ground.
Let us just understand that even now, with forest management agreements, with the supposedly increased thrusts in what is happening, 150,000 acres a year are still going unregenerated. That is the shortfall that is being added to the shortfall every year. That brings up one more area. We know through a federal government study that one third of that nonregenerated area is not regenerated because of the waste, the biomass residue that is left on the surface. It used to be looked after by the process called a controlled burn, and we know how wasteful that can be.
There is an opportunity that lies there which should go on the record. It is an opportunity my party has talked about for at least seven years. That is the potential for the conversion of biomass to a fuel option for Ontario. With the phasing down of leaded gasoline, we know we have an economic opportunity.
Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I am being mugged in the corridors of power by my own caucus.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Carleton (Mr. Mitchell).
Mr. Samis: What happened to the government? Oh, there is one of them.
Mr. Wildman: He is not a member of the government. He is a member of the party that supports the government.
Mr. Mitchell: It depends on your terminology.
Mr. Wildman: There has not been one member of the government, has there?
Mr. Mitchell: I will try to ignore the interjections, Mr. Speaker.
I am pleased to be able to be here to speak against today's motion of no confidence. I had to spend some time representing the minister during the Health estimates. I apologize I was not here for the previous speakers. However, I do welcome the chance to speak on today's motion. I think the negative, absolutist and destructive approach of the third party must be challenged. A good, hard look has to be taken at the opposition stance and tactics. The present government's actions and principles of governing must once again be spelled out in this House.
In my view, the most upsetting part of today's motion is the attack by the third party on the management by the government of the province's health care system and on the provision of care for the elderly. It upsets me that, to make its point, the opposition has been using tactics aimed at achieving an immediate emotional effect.
Health and ageing are both aspects of our lives that make all of us, young and old, feel very vulnerable. The third party is exploiting this human vulnerability. They are holding our concerns about health and ageing hostage to achieve their own political ends. Such underhanded actions go far beyond playing the accepted opposition role of critic. Despite the fact the government record in health care needs no defending, let me review the facts briefly in order to remind the members of this House just what the government has done.
I do not need to tell the members, all of whom are users of the health care services, that we have one of the finest health care services in the world. In fact, we in Ontario have come to take for granted our efficient system of health care delivery which is available to all at very reasonable cost. No one in this --
Mr. Sargent: Lots of federal money, though.
Mr. Mitchell: Did I hear somebody from the back row over there? If the member for Grey-Bruce does not tell any lies about us, I will not tell the truth about him.
No one in this province has to sell his house or other assets to cover costs when serious illness strikes, as happens quite occasionally in an area not too many miles south of us. This excellent situation has evolved as a result of the prudent efforts of a series of provincial Progressive Conservative governments. Nor has the present government neglected its responsibility towards the health sector. Despite the recent recession, the Ministry of Health budget has increased by 58 per cent during the past three years, surpassing inflation by 22 per cent. Manpower in the medical profession has expanded by 10 per cent during a period when the population grew by only two per cent.
The third party announced this summer that it planned to focus attention this year on senior citizens and particularly on the health care of the aged. The leader of the party in a speech at the University of Windsor in the spring of last year commented: "We are a province that has institutionalized people far more than need be. We must put in place a rational delivery system of services for the elderly that requires co-ordination and a continuum of community-based services." The leader of the third party is rather slow on the uptake. My government has been involved in the planning of a continuum of community-based services for the past several years.
We should also remember that Ontario has a great number of institutions because, as a prosperous province during the 1960s and 1970s, it responded to societal demands for more institutions. During the 1960s the government utilized a direct-response approach to social spending. When a problem was identified, the government acted. Old programs were refinanced and new ones were established.
Since those days societal and government attitudes have changed towards institutionalization. Deinstitutionalization is the new byword in social services. For example, expanding home care services for seniors is a major priority of the Ontario government. Last year a wholesale review of health care services for the elderly was launched. Responsibility for the elderly is being encouraged among community groups, health care professionals and families. Emphasis has heen placed for some time on improving the availability of community rescurces to help people requiring assistance to remain in their own homes.
Regarding nursing homes, we have witnessed a concerted effort on the part of the government to enforce standards and ensure proper conditions for nursing home residents. As the members may recall, the Minister of Health (Mr. Norton) introduced amendments to nursing home regulations last June that significantly broadened government powers to act when the health, safety and welfare of residents might be in jeopardy.
Since July nursing home reports are available for public scrutiny. Residents' councils and nursing homes are also encouraged to prepare publicly available profiles of the nursing home. Further amendments to nursing home regulations are under way at present, including the protection of a resident's place in the home while he or she is in hospital. If my memory is correct, this will come into effect on January 1 and will extend what is currently 72 hours to 14 days.
New actions regarding inspection procedures and enforcement of nursing home regulations and standards are all being brought into play. The Ministry of Health is increasing the number of nursing home inspectors from 24 to 34 and appointing a full-time lawyer to work on prosecutions and review shortcomings in the nursing home industry.
The government is also providing funds to upgrade the training of inspectors. Public health inspectors who wish to complete the fourth year of their bachelor of applied arts degree at the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute will have two thirds of their salary paid for by the government. The province will also assist persons in the Ontario public health units to take MA programs in management and administration.
The 1983-84 Ministry of Health estimates reaffirm the government's commitment to develop better home care programs for our seniors. For example, a new $19-million program will provide nursing care to 10,000 elderly residents of Metro. This program will begin in March and provide services to chronically ill patients now in acute care beds in Toronto hospitals. Services will include nursing care, homemaking, speech and occupational therapy, all provided on a home visiting basis.
The government is also developing a better system of communications for seniors having to deal with a number of different government ministries, agencies and community service groups. We already have 12 placement co-ordination services operating in the province. Their mandate is to link those in need of long-term care with institutional facilities or with agencies providing community support services.
All of us have the same objectives, to ensure that appropriate, efficient, responsive and humane care is available to every senior in the province.
Surely it is no exaggeration to say that all of us -- politicians, citizens, doctors, owners and personnel in nursing homes -- want to see poor quality service eradicated and gougers of the system, to use the leader of the third party's words, eliminated.
Despite the efforts of the New Democratic Party to try to claim compassion and humaneness as its own private domain, the record of the government in the health field makes it unnecessary to affirm our concern and our commitment to Ontario's infirm, disabled and elderly. As I said before, Ontario's health system is one of the best in the world. Our goal is to keep it as such.
We must remember that policymakers today, and even more so in the future, will have to make decisions in a world and society composed of a great many competing, strange and conflicting interests. We are becoming aware of the tremendous impact demographic changes will have on our social economic systems.
Mr. Sargent: Who wrote that speech?
Mr. Mitchell: Does the member want to look at my corrections? We are already witnessing the trend in which hospitals are becoming congested with the elderly and the chronically ill. It is clear to us that we must increase home and community care for the aged. It is also clear that we must start to come to grips with the practical questions of how our society will bear the economic and social consequences of an increasingly large and socially dependent segment of the population.
What is difficult is reaching specific decisions about specific changes that must be made, changes that will affect the way we operate institutions and provide services. It is important that the various groups involved in the health care sector, including opposition parties, continue to talk frankly about the reservations they may have.
In the end, there probably is not any single model for health care. I suspect that in these changing times a pluralistic approach is needed. However, no one, not one of us, not the Ministry of Health, the Ontario Medical Association, hospitals, nurses or nursing home associations, not health economists nor other care providers involved in health services can ever pretend to be the sole repository of wisdom or understanding with respect to the system and changes that should be made.
Because this is true, consensus-building is critically important. We need to have all groups co-operating in efforts to deal with these issues. We as the government have attempted to develop a pattern of broader consultation and participation. The Progressive Conservative government in Ontario has always tried to act constructively. We have always tried to bring together and build on the positive elements necessary to ensure a secure and prosperous future for our province and for an efficient and effective health care sector.
Unfortunately, this kind of constructive participation is not demonstrated by all members of the House. Members opposite criticize the government for not playing an active enough role in the social service maintenance of our province. We hear calls for more legislation to regulate this sector or more funds to create such an institution. Simultaneously, the government is accused of adopting a statist approach; for example, by investing public money unwisely in the public domain or by interfering with private property rights.
As far as I can see, the ideas of the opposition are no more than a set of expressionistic and self-destructive political gestures based either on a vague dislike for our present system or on equally vague notions about a better state of affairs.
When it comes to health care, the alarmist tactics on the part of the members opposite disturb me. They upset people; they make people feel that our health care is in jeopardy. It is not, and surely no one believes it. What I hear the Premier and the Minister of Health (Mr. Norton) saying is: "Come on, people. In the boom period of the past two or three decades we built up an accessible and advanced health care system, but now we have to face reality. We can do it if all of us work together."
To preserve the high standard of health care in our province. we must find innovative ways to fund it and develop effective techniques to manage it. If that means getting some private money into it, so much the better. Society cannot pay for everything through the taxpayer. This does not mean, as the New Democratic Party would have us believe, that our public health sector is being eroded. We have in place a public health care system, and it will remain that way.
The government believes private enterprise has a place in the provision of health care services, but this place depends on performance. That is why what is happening today at Hawkesbury and District General Hospital is a subject of great interest for the government of Ontario as well as for health ministers across the country.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Mitchell: I can shout louder than the members opposite.
I do not think I need to go over the facts leading up to the current management of the Hawkesbury hospital. The third party has spent much time and energy informing this House on the issue. What this House should know, and what the opposition downplays, is that a year ago the Hawkeshury hospital was $350,000 in debt. Its buildings were ill equipped, lineups in the emergency department were long, morale was low and many patients preferred to drive to Ottawa.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member's time has expired.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support my colleagues in voting in favour of the resolution. which condemns this government for its absolute lack of action. I was listening to the last speaker, the member for Carleton, who, now that he sits for a couple of hours in the Minister of Health's chair in estimates, thinks he is a member of the government.
He repeated again that this is a government of concern. We have heard enough of their concern. We do not want a government of concern any longer. We want a government that is prepared to act and to act in a whole host of fields. Quite frankly, this government has abdicated its responsibilities virtually everywhere one looks and indeed has abdicated its responsibilities most of all in controlling the public purse.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Wrye: It is interesting, we have a by-election tomorrow in the eastern reaches of the province; today, all through the Cornwall newspaper the government has discovered advertisements. It has discovered ads for the bicentennial. It has discovered ads for agriculture. All of a sudden, it is time to play up the great things the province is doing for the grateful taxpayers. I say to the government opposite --
Hon. Mr. Leluk: That is not in keeping with the spirit of the holiday season.
Mr. Wrye: We would like to get in the holiday spirit tomorrow night, I say to the Minister of Correctional Services.
This government prides itself on saying it is a government of restraint. The auditor's report proves once and for all that this is not a government of restraint except when it comes to the poor, the underprivileged and the powerless. It is a government that takes care of its privileged friends. That is the long and short of it.
We have seen this government at its worst this session in terms of the issues that are crucial to more than half the population of this province, the women of this province. Last October, this government and those members stood in their places along with members of this party and members of the third party and supported a resolution to enshrine in legislation equal pay for work of equal value. The government said it was concerned. Holier than thou, it stood up and said, "Of course, we favour that."
The Minister responsible for Women's Issues (Mr. Welch), the minister who carries that title but obviously carries no clout at the cabinet table, stood in his place and voted for it. Barely a month later, the legislative action came forward, and what a legislative action it was. It was no more and no less than a betrayal of the women of this province.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: What absolute, sheer idiocy.
An hon. member: Throw her out.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Your hyperbole is just beyond belief.
Mr. Wrye: The Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson), who ought to know better, suggests this phoney improvement, this sideways progress, is going to help the women of this province. The minister knows otherwise. She knows job ghettos exist. She knows they will continue to exist under this so-called phoney composite test, which will do absolutely nothing. The government stands condemned, not for its concern, but in this case by its own actions.
The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) had the opportunity to take a major step forward for the women of this province. He failed to do that. His cabinet colleagues failed to give him support if he wished it. As a result, the women of the province will continue to be among the undervalued and underprivileged of our society.
I know the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) would want me to go on and on. There is so much waste; there is so much to talk about. This government stands condemned by the Provincial Auditor's report and the figures therein. The government stands condemned by its own actions and its own stonewalling.
The House divided on Mr. Rae's motion, which was negatived on the following vote:
Allen, Bradley, Breaugh, Breithaupt, Bryden, Cassidy, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, Copps, Cunningham, Di Santo, Edighoffer, Elston, Epp, Foulds, Grande, Haggerty, Johnston, R. F., Laughren, Lupusella;
Mackenzie, Mancini, Martel, McClellan, McGuigan, Miller, G. I., Newman, Nixon, O'Neil, Peterson, Philip, Rae, Reed, J. A., Reid, T. P., Renwick, Riddell, Ruprecht, Ruston, Samis, Sargent, Spensieri, Stokes, Swart, Van Horne, Wildman, Wrye.
Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Bennett, Bernier, Birch, Brandt, Cousens, Cureatz, Davis, Dean, Drea, Eaton, Elgie, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Grossman, Harris, Havrot, Hennessy, Hodgson, Johnson, J. M., Jones, Kells, Kennedy, Kerr, Kolyn, Lane, Leluk, MacQuarrie, McCague, McLean, McMurtry, McNeil, Mitchell;
Norton, Piché, Pollock, Pope, Ramsay, Robinson, Rotenberg, Runciman, Scrivener, Sheppard, Shymko, Snow, Stephenson, B. M., Sterling, Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, G. W., Taylor, J. A., Timbrell, Treleaven, Walker, Watson, Welch, Wells, Williams, Yakabuski.
Ayes 47; nays 64.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before moving the adjournment of the House, I would like to indicate the business of the House.
Starting tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock we will deal with Bill 140, Bill 149, Bill 150, Bill 151 and Bill 152; the House in committee of supply for supplementary estimates, Ministry of the Attorney General; followed by concurrences for the Attorney General, Provincial Secretary for Justice, Solicitor General and Correctional Services.
In the afternoon, the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman) in ministerial statements will be making an economic statement. Following the routine proceedings. we will deal with third readings on the order paper, followed by the adjourned debate on Bill 142, the Barrie-Vespra Annexation Act. Then, if any time remains, the business will be announced in the afternoon for tomorrow evening.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.