The House met at 2 p.m.
DEATH OF WILLIAM MURDOCH
Mr. Speaker: It is with a sense of sorrow that I announce the passing on the weekend of Mr. William Murdoch, a former member of this Legislature and a former Speaker. The late Mr. Murdoch is resting at the Gerald A. Smith Funeral Home, King Street West in Harrow.
He was first elected Speaker in 1960 and served for the 26th Parliament. A former member for Essex South, he was born in 1904.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the government I would like to express my regrets at the passing of William Murdoch. Some of us in this House served with him for some four years. He was a very good friend of all of us on both sides of the House during his tenure as Speaker. He was very well respected and very well liked.
On behalf of the government I would like to express my regrets to his wife Marie and to their three children and six grandchildren. Mr. Murdoch gave very excellent representation to his constituency and served with distinction as the Speaker of this House.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I rise to join you and the Premier (Mr. Davis) in offering condolences to Marie Murdoch and the Murdoch family.
Mr. Murdoch was first elected to the Ontario parliament in the general election of August 3, 1943, and re-elected in 1945, 1948, 1951, 1955 and 1959 -- by any standards, a long and tremendous career. After retiring from the Legislature, Mr. Murdoch continued to serve his community. He served on the Amherstburg town council for the years 1969, 1970, 1971, 1975 and 1976.
Before I entered partisan politics, I had the opportunity to sit on the Essex Regional Conservation Authority with Mr. Murdoch and I can recall the first meeting that we attended. He and I drove to Essex together and once we got there we both had a lot of questions to ask. At the next meeting, we found ourselves in separate committees. Mr. Murdoch and I often laughed about that.
All of us know and respect the difficulties in serving as Speaker of the House and I would like to say that Mr. Murdoch left the Speaker's chair with the dignity and with the respect of all the members of the House, and I wish to join with all others here again to extend our condolences.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, I would like to express our feelings of sympathy to Mrs. Marie Murdoch on the death of her husband. It is a sad time for the Murdoch family, but perhaps they will be strengthened by the warmth of the memory that Mr. Speaker Murdoch's name obviously has in the hearts and minds of many members of the assembly. We extend our sympathy to the Murdoch family at this time.
Mr. Speaker: I now adjourn the House during pleasure.
PRESENTATION OF SWORD
Mr. Hagerman: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Wilkinson Sword, it is my pleasure to present a court sword to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you very kindly. On behalf of all members of the Legislature, I would like to express our very deep and sincere thanks for the thoughtfulness of your company in providing this much honoured sword to us.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I have two regrets on this occasion: the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent) and the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) are not here to see this.
On behalf of the government, I would like to express our appreciation to Wilkinson Sword of Canada for the sword presentation in honour of our bicentennial and to thank Mr. Hagerman and Mr. Ward.
The current sword, which has been in use in this House since 1871, roughly from the year of the member for Wellington South (Mr. Worton) -- well, not quite that year -- will be placed on display within the building.
As members are aware, the sword represents such qualities as justice, authority, honour and tradition and its place within our parliamentary tradition is both long and distinguished. Equally long and distinguished is the history of the Wilkinson Sword company, long recognized as the leading supplier of swords and other cutting implements. Like parliamentary government, it too has changed with the times while remaining true to its heritage and the principles upon which it is founded.
it is particularly fitting that the presentation we honour today takes place during our bicentennial. It serves to remind all of us of both the great history of self-government that we enjoy in our province and the obligation resting on the members of this House to defend and preserve that tradition upon which so many of our other freedoms are based.
On behalf of the government I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Wilkinson Sword, Canada, and to Mr. Hagerman and Mr. Ward for being with us today.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the members of this assembly have more reason than most to know that the pen is more deadly than the sword. Nevertheless, the legendary power of the sword for good and for evil is surrounded with a mystique of its own, from the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table to the world of Star Wars and Luke Skywalker.
Today's presentation to our assembly of a sword forged by the renowned Wilkinson Sword company in London, England, is an occasion that will contribute yet another colourful chapter to the history and pageantry of our great province. The Wilkinson reputation for craftmanship is without parallel, and we are honoured to be among those to whom such swords have been presented.
While this is an occasion for our pleasure and pride, it is also an occasion for nostalgia, more so for some of us than for others. For example, my esteemed colleague the member for Grey-Bruce has been closely acquainted with the about-to-be-retired sword, much more closely acquainted than the majority of the members of this assembly. His encounters might even be considered to qualify him for the order of the companion of the sword. It is my fondest hope as his leader that the blood of my esteemed colleague will never stain this beautiful new sword.
Be that as it may, it is a very real pleasure and privilege for me on behalf of my caucus colleagues in the Liberal Party of Ontario to express our gratitude to the Wilkinson Sword company for this generous renowned gift of a beautifully crafted light court sword to carry on the proud tradition established in 1871.
While the sword of the Ontario Sergeant at Arms may not rank with Excalibur in the history and legends of the world, it will, I know, continue to symbolize, as did its predecessor, the integrity and honour of Ontario's provincial assembly.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of pleasure that I join in these informal proceedings in which we express our gratitude to the Wilkinson Sword company, the manufacturers of this sword, for having given the assembly this double-edged present. It confounds the rumour that in this age of technological change, the Sergeant at Arms was going to be armed with an electric razor.
Mr. Rae: Don't you start now.
I want to express our gratitude to the craftsmen who have honoured this assembly by this gift and simply point out that the sword itself reflects a very important aspect of our democracy, and that, of course, is the respect we all have for Mr. Speaker and for the rule of law even in this assembly.
In the words of the Liberal leader earlier today, perhaps we should say a special blessing for the sword and for all those who are expected to be run through by it. May the spirit bless those people who are affected by the decisions of Mr. Speaker, and may we also pay respects to the old sword as it goes the way of time.
I understand it is going to be put on show for those people who will come to visit the assembly, and that is only appropriate. We would hate to see it stashed away where nobody could see it.
We express gratitude to Mr. Hagerman and to the members of his company for having arranged this donation. We look forward to the Sergeant at Arms never having to actually use it on any of us at any time because we have never done anything to merit anything of that kind.
Congratulations, and we thank the gentlemen very much. I hope they are able to stay around for the rest of the proceedings to see how this is actually going to be used in the days ahead.
Mr. Speaker: I now call the House to order.
VARIETY CLUB BIKE-A-THON
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to try to get thrown out. I simply want to announce that I kept the promise, and I am waiting for others to keep theirs. I bicycled the 32 kilometres yesterday morning and I want to express my gratitude to all my sponsors on all sides of the House, thanks to whom we managed to raise nearly $530 for the Variety Club Bike-a-thon.
At the same time, I would like to keep my promise to Mr. Tenzing from CKO radio in the press gallery who, just to show how good he is, managed to ride 45 kilometres. I would like to congratulate Mike Tenzing and also express my gratitude to all the members of the House who sponsored me and say to those who chose not to that next year will be another chance for them to get on the bandwagon.
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker. on a point of order: Bicentennial fever is sweeping the city of St. Catharines seven years before its bicentennial. I was asked by the students at Parnall Elementary School in St. Catharines to provide the Premier (Mr. Davis) with a nice birthday card that says, "Happy 200th Birthday Ontario." They said the bicentennial had nothing to do with the upcoming election at all. It was a genuine historical event and they asked me to send this along to the Premier to keep in his archives.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, on this point of order or whatever it is, I am delighted to see the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) has at long last been caught up in the great spirit that is pervading this province. The member for Quinte (Mr. O'Neil) can tell the members about the other evening, when he was there in costume and really looked very appropriate, and just how excited the people were in that part of Ontario and what a delight --
Mr. O'Neil: A lot of Tories, though.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes, there were a lot of Tories. I have to say it took me five seconds to recognize the member for Quinte when I first saw him, but it was a wonderful evening. I thank the member for St. Catharines, but more important I thank the young people in the school for this presentation. This is a very clear indication of the quality of our educational system. Even I can read it. It is colourful and it is a clear indication that the member for St. Catharines has really now been caught up in what is this great event for all of the province.
REGULATION OF TRUST COMPANIES
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. He is hiding under the balcony there and I will give him time to come to his seat.
My question relates to the minister's regulatory responsibility for trust companies and credit unions and the ongoing affairs of one Robert Spencer. The minister will be aware of the buildings at 33A and 35 Henry Street. Those buildings were purchased between 1980 and 1982 for $151,000 in total. In December 1982, there was a mortgage to the Toronto Board of Education Staff Credit Union for $137,000, and on May 16 another mortgage for $77,000. That was clearly in violation, not only of the limits on that credit union but also by overmortgaging that property on the 75 per cent rule.
That was at a time when the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations was clearly in charge of the regulation of credit unions through auditing.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Peterson: How could the minister and his ministry allow that mess to develop?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, being the active businessman the Leader of the Opposition has been, he will know the directors of credit unions have their responsibilities on a regular basis, and if they are members of the Credit Union Central of Ontario or one of the other leagues, in the past they have had a role that is not the same role they have had since June 1983. The honourable member is quite right, annual audits are carried out and those audits are reviewed by ministry staff. That has been done. When errors are detected, they are dealt with by the ministry in the appropriate way.
Mr. Peterson: That is not a very good answer. The minister is responsible for all this. My question was, how could he let that mess and other messes develop? If the minister is not prepared to answer that question, let me refer him to 548 to 550 Bathurst Street. That is another property purchased by a company of Mr. Spencer through Mr. Brown, his lawyer, the company being 549366 Ontario Ltd. It was purchased for $250,000 on May 13 and May 16, 1983, when the minister had jurisdiction, it was mortgaged for $267,000, which was over the value of the purchase price.
A mess was developing in the credit unions before the minister turned that responsibility over to the Credit Union Central. My question is, why was the minister not monitoring; and if he was monitoring, why did those clear violations of the act go on?
Mr. Bradley: Again.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I know in St. Catharines, where the honourable member is so busy with the bicentennial, he does not worry about business matters.
Let us go over the process, because I know it is difficult for the Leader of the Opposition to understand it. The process clearly is that annual audits are carried out by independent auditors. The audit on the credit union he is referring to -- I presume it is the Toronto Board of Education Staff Credit Union -- was carried out at the end of its fiscal year in September 1983. Similarly, one was carried out the previous year. Those audits have been reviewed in detail, and no problems were reported by the auditors.
Mr. Peterson: It is a problem --
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Hang on. As the member also knows, the legislation, as it was changed in June, gives greater authority with respect to information not normally given to us by the auditor, and regulations to achieve that are in place. Above and beyond that, that credit union had a lending limit of $100,000. The member knows that. Therefore, those are matters that are being investigated at this time, not only by the central but by the police as well.
There is no way this ministry, as a regulator, had notice of any of those events, although the changes to regulations which we are now putting in place as a result of the act of June 1983 would have allowed us to have a greater information base than we had at that time.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I understand there is a police investigation currently under way. I assume the minister is not able to report fully to the House until that investigation is completed and there is a determination as to whether charges will be laid. Will the minister make a full and complete report to the House at the earliest possible moment with respect to all these matters on the nature of the transactions, which appear to involve Mr. Spencer, and details on all of them? I think it would be appropriate for the minister to do that.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I think that is most appropriate and I am prepared to do so. I might add there has been some speculation that the credit union's lending limits have been increased to $350,000. It had passed a resolution with respect to that. It was forwarded to us in March 1984, but we had never approved it. We were in the process of a review of them before giving consideration to that.
Mr. Peterson: I want to get the minister to establish the point that we can have trust in his regulatory ability, and he cannot do that. He has not given us those assurances by any stretch of the imagination.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Peterson: I refer the minister to another property that has been discussed in this House before, and that is 45 to 55 Colborne Street. That property was discussed in the context of Dominion Trust some time ago. We brought it up; the minister is aware of the facts.
However, is the minister aware that on March 14, 1984, this building was sold for some $3.7 million to another Spencer company, Peter Brown, lawyer, fronting for that numbered company? Is he aware that there now appear to be five mortgages on that property? The first is to Morguard Investments Ltd. for $1.25 million; the second to Colbornation Inc. for $835,000; the third for $240,000 to First City Development, a company of Mr. Axton's; the fourth for $605,000 to Continental Trust, bringing it in violation of the 75 per cent rule; and now a fifth, it appears, to the Toronto Board of Education Staff Credit Union for $780,000.
This happened in March 1984. How can we have any confidence in the minister's ability to regulate the trust companies, let alone in his past regulatory practices with the credit unions, when this kind of thing is going on right under his nose?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: First of all, I want to make it clear that I have no apology to make with respect to the regulation of the credit union industry in this province. It is a grass-roots industry, which the member knows is run and led by people who have a great interest and concern in their own movement and who are usually very diligent about managing their own affairs.
We have endeavoured to assist them, first through legislative changes in December 1981, and finally last year, in June 1983, recognizing in conjunction with them the troubles they have been having in line with all other financial institutions.
With respect to the particular mortgages the member has spoken about, certainly that is one of the properties he and I have talked about before. He knows that Continental Trust is a federally regulated company, and we have discussed that before. He knows that Mr. Axton and his various endeavours are currently under police investigation, so I am not prepared to discuss that.
The member also knows that the issues to which the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) referred are also under police investigation, so I have no intention of commenting on these either.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Treasurer. The Treasurer is busy with his budget, and I want to ask him a question about his budget and about some of his spending practices.
Will he now stand up in this House and admit that in the first nine quarters we have owned Suncor -- two and a quarter years -- we the taxpayers of this province have paid out $207 million in interest? Assuming a dividend of 20 cents for the first quarter, the same as in the past, there has been a return to the province of $23 million. Will he confirm that the net loss to the taxpayers of this province in two and a quarter years for carrying charges has been $183,896,448?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I do not have the precise figures at the tips of my fingers. However, I think the Leader of the Opposition would want to be fair -- I know he would -- by pointing out that, for example, the return on equity that Suncor is now showing in 1983 -- not the best year for many companies -- was up to 9.5 per cent.
So while the honourable member likes to pretend that this investment is not showing any return, even he would have to acknowledge that we are getting a 9.5 per cent return on the equity in that very good company.
Mr. Peterson: That is a very feeble defence. The minister is aware at the same time that the shares have gone in value from some $50, which he paid, to some $15, $16, $17 or $18 at best, if the minister wants to know the real return on his investment, on our investment, on the taxpayers' investment in this province.
Will the Treasurer confirm that we have lost $183 million out of pocket in two and a quarter years, and will he confirm that last year, as a result of increased Ontario health insurance plan premiums, he raised some $60 million less than was paid out for the interest on Suncor? When faced with choices of making budgetary approaches this year, will the Treasurer choose to increase OHIP premiums or will he choose to divest us of that ridiculous investment?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let us not be trite by suggesting that OHIP premiums are increased to cover the Suncor purchase. To be at all fair, the increase in Ontario government revenues could well handle all the expenditures of the government if it were not for the increase in health care costs.
In point of fact, the carrying cost of the Suncor investment, which continues to show an increasing return year after year, will not increase this coming year. To get it in some perspective, lest the Leader of the Opposition is inclined to go out to the media and suggest we are going to raise OHIP premiums to cover the cost of carrying Suncor, the cost of the Suncor investment will not increase this coming year.
Mr. Peterson: Of course it will. It is increased by the interest cost. Does the Treasurer not understand basic bookkeeping?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I ask the honourable member to listen carefully. The dividend increases as well, because the company is making more money. If the member will just think about it in a simple way, when you make more money, you get more dividends. When you have invested in the company, you get more dividends out, and that decreases the carrying costs because you have that to offset the cost of paying off the purchase.
Mr. Peterson: The Treasurer knows, and I know, the dividends will never approach the interest that is being paid out. The government has lost $180 million. Does the Treasurer understand that, or does he not? If he does not, he should not be Treasurer.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Peterson: The Treasurer is now going to be faced with allocating money to take up the option at the end of this year to buy another 13 per cent of Suncor. Is he going to budget any money to increase the government's participation in Suncor by another 13 per cent? Is he setting aside any moneys to do that?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I do not know where the member is getting any suggestion or hint that the government is increasing its investment. He knows what we bought in Suncor. We are not buying any more. We are responsibly meeting the payments, and we are earning dividends which are increasing every year.
Let us be clear, so I at least will know we offered the appropriate information and lest the member wants to suggest we are thinking of increasing any revenue sources to fund Suncor, the Suncor purchase will likely not have increased costs this coming year. Since our natural revenue growth this year will be at least 8.2 per cent, as pointed out in my fall statement, that indicates Suncor will not pose a burden on the Treasurer to increase taxes, because our natural revenue growth will be about 8.2 per cent at least and, further, the Suncor cost will not increase.
Therefore, if there are any tax increases in the budget, they will not be there to cover Suncor, which does not increase, but mainly to cover our largest increase in cost, which is of course health care, increasing at $800 million to $1 billion every year.
Before the member trots out the suggestion that there will be increases in OHIP premiums, in personal income tax or in any other taxes to pay for Suncor, let us at least understand that if he purports to make that connection, he will be totally and absolutely wrong.
Mr. Rae: We all know they are trying to increase the OHIP premiums to pay for extra billing. There should be no mystery.
LAYOFFS AT INCO LTD.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. It concerns the double standard that is at work in Ontario with respect to pensions for older workers.
In a report to the shareholders of Inco Ltd., which the Premier knows has just had a very major layoff in Port Colborne, the officers and directors of the company report, "In order to encourage key employees to remain in the company's service, each of Messrs. Baird, Phillips, Curlook, McDougall and Page and three other officers will be entitled, in the event of discharge or resignation under circumstances making his resignation not wholly voluntary, to continue to receive his total compensation, including participation in certain medical insurance and similar plans, for a limited period not exceeding 36 months."
That is a three-year sweetheart deal that has been arranged between the eight senior officers of Inco and the company at the same time as workers who have had 16, 17, 18 and 19 years' service are being put out on the street with practically no severance whatsoever other than that provided in the Employment Standards Act, which is minimal.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: How can the Premier justify three years for the president of Inco and virtually nothing for the average worker who has been laid off by that company?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am not in a position to justify or otherwise whatever arrangements are made by Inco.
Mr. Rae: It is clear the Premier is saying there are two Ontarios, an Ontario for the rich and the privileged and an Ontario for everybody else, and he is not prepared to do anything about it.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: The fact remains that if we go down the seniority list, and I will be glad to send a copy of it to the Premier, we find workers who have been working for this company for 17, 18 and 19 years. Some of them are well into their 50s and are not going to be able to qualify even for early retirement at a vastly reduced pension at age 55.
At the same time, it was announced in this document that Mr. Baird, the president of the company, will be receiving a pension of $126,500, to say nothing of his stock options or his other benefits, when he retires at age 65 after 19 years' service.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: How does the Premier justify that and how can he be presiding over a province in which that kind of double standard exists, under which the average worker is getting virtually nothing when forced out in his 50s while the president of the company is going to be getting more than $126,000 when he retires after 19 years' service?
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is really quite unfair of the honourable member to suggest that I would be knowledgeable about the internal workings of Inco as they relate to its senior executives. That is not part of my responsibility at all.
With respect to the early retirement pensions of the workers at Inco, some of his colleagues would be in a better position to answer this than I would. I assume that has been part and will continue to be part of any negotiations between the workers and the company.
I am not presiding over a province which, as the member says, has a double standard for people within it. I know he thinks a lot of people in Ontario are not very bright. He used a different terminology. I do not happen to share that point of view, either.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, is the Premier aware that in such situations as the Inco layoffs and in a number of other plant closures in Ontario, there is sort of a double whammy for the workers? The older workers, who are finding it difficult to get work -- and many of them are, there is ample evidence of that -- do not have an adequate pension. They do have some small amount of savings because they recognized, in particular in plants where there were not the best pension plans, they had to put some additional money aside for their retirement. Now, when they are affected by a plant closure, they cannot receive any welfare assistance from the community once their unemployment insurance benefits are used up until they have used up savings or the money they may have seen as part of their retirement income.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Mackenzie: They are not only affected by not having a job and not being likely to get another one, but they are also being condemned to a much lower level of income once they reach retirement age. Is the Premier not willing to take a look at some measures to assist older workers who have been laid off?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am very sympathetic to the problems of more mature -- I use that terminology -- workers who have been laid off. I do not know whether the situation the honourable member refers to and its solution would be helpful. I am not in a position to make that judgement, but I certainly have listened very carefully to what he has said.
I do point out that in all fairness, whatever arrangements a company has with respect to senior personnel are not within the scope of this government. We are assessing some aspects of pensions and pension reform, not what executives are getting; but whether questions of laidoff workers would be a part of it, I cannot honestly answer at this point.
I really feel badly that the leader of the New Democratic Party -- I do not make any judgement on the pension of or financial arrangements he has with the predecessor in his seat, for example, I do not comment on that.
Mr. Rae: I honestly thought the Premier had a little more understanding and class than that. I guess I was wrong.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health.
In October 1981 the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) announced a new program that was going to be called the new integrated homemaker services program and was to assist the frail aged and adult physically disabled persons with homemaker services.
This promise was repeated in 1982 in the throne speech and then it was repeated again by the then Minister of Health, the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman), who said on December 15, 1982, "We are not yet finished 1982-83 ," and that he hoped to have it in place by the end of the fiscal year. On June 20, 1983, the next fiscal year, the Minister of Health announced the program yet again in answer to a question from me. He said, "We expect to have it in place this fiscal year," but added that it would require legislation. Let me repeat what he said. He said, "We expect to have it in place this fiscal year."
The minister knows there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people who would qualify for a homemaking service which would allow them to stay in their own homes and who have been waiting for and expecting this service for nearly three and a half years now. I would like to ask the minister how he can justify this sad litany of broken promises with respect to homemaker services for the frail elderly? What does he intend to do to keep the promise first made in 1981?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member is aware that during the time frame he is referring to significant strides have been made on the part of this government in extending community-based services across this province. The commitment he refers to was made, and it was made in the context that there was a prior commitment to implement chronic home care on a province-wide basis. That commitment has now been met as of March of this year, the last being in Metropolitan Toronto. I expect that will be fully phased in by the target date of September of this year.
The commitment with respect to the program the member refers to will proceed. There have been some unanticipated delays, but it would certainly be my expectation that we will see pilot projects as part of a phasing-in before the end of this year.
Mr. Rae: The minister is repeating the promise in terms of a time next year that was made in 1981 by the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea), in 1982 in the throne speech and in 1982 and 1983 by the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick. Can the minister tell us why we should believe him now as opposed to the gentlemen who spoke to us in 1981, 1982 and 1983? Why should we believe the minister in 1984? Why the delay?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Because, obviously, I am eminently believable.
Mr. McClellan: Do you mean the others were not? That is not parliamentary.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Ruston: Get the sword.
Mr. Speaker: We do not want to baptize that gift so quickly.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, last week I had the opportunity of participating in a panel sponsored by the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry on caring for the elderly in their homes. At this panel were people from across Metropolitan Toronto, many of whom have been caring for their elderly relatives for 10, 15 and even 20 years with no help or assistance from the government and at no cost to the taxpayer.
The one plea that came out from those people, and one to which I think the minister could respond immediately, is for a simple respite, a possible break, a program that is not currently available to many families in Metropolitan Toronto, so they could take a vacation and have somebody come in and look after their relatives for a one-, two- or three-week period out of the whole year. These people have said that because they are looking out for their relatives at home they are being left out to dry by the government.
I wonder if the minister can respond in the House today by telling these people he will introduce respite care and it will form an integral part of the budget that is going to be introduced, to make sure those people who have willingly and lovingly taken on their family members to care for them are given the kind of support that will allow them to keep their family members at home for as long as possible.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member knows I am not in a position to indicate what may or may not be in the budget. Obviously, I cannot make any statements or commitments with respect to that. It is not part of my responsibility. However, I think the member should be aware, if she is not, that respite programs have been begun across the province over the last few years, usually associated with an existing residential facility, so that a family that is planning to go on vacation and needs some assistance or even a period of rest in a situation where the family is caring for an ill or elderly member, can make arrangements for the person to be cared for in that setting while they are away.
If the individuals the member is referring to, that she was speaking to on the occasion when she appeared on the panel, were not aware of that, or if the amount of space that is available is yet too little to meet all of the needs at any given period of time, then that may be a legitimate comment. We will certainly be continuing to try to develop more respite care, but to suggest there is not any is not correct. It may be a question of trying to make sure those persons who are in need of that sort of relief know where it is available.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, the minister must be aware, as we are from our travels across the province, that hundreds, if not thousands, of people are actually in rest homes or nursing homes who need not be in those institutions if this kind of care were in place. There are two advantages. It is cheaper for the taxpayer and it is better for the individuals to maintain their independence, which is the number one priority for senior citizen groups across this province.
Why the delay? Is the minister going to introduce the legislation before we adjourn for the summer or is he not?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member may be exaggerating a little bit in the situation he describes. He could have approached the same situation from another perspective and perhaps been a little more fair in pointing out that there are literally thousands of residents of this province who, if it were not for the acute and chronic home care that is currently in place in communities across Ontario, would be required to be institutionalized in order to receive the kind of care they might require.
The fact of the matter is that, even as things stand now, we probably have here in Ontario the most highly developed network of services available to the persons the member described of any jurisdiction he has ever visited and certainly that I have ever visited.
If the member wishes to comment on that, all I would ask is that he at least do so with some degree of fairness.
SUSPENSION OF JUDGE
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), I have a question for the Provincial Secretary for Justice. He will know, I am sure, that it was three years ago on Saturday that Lloyd Henriksen, a provincial court judge in the city of Windsor, was suspended from the bench, and it has been more than six months since the Attorney General placed the issue of his status in the hands of the Ontario Judicial Council.
In the three years since his suspension, the taxpayers have paid his salary to the tune of more than $180,000. Can the provincial secretary tell us today when he expects the judicial council to deal with this matter and why the case has dragged on for more than three years?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge, the judicial council has not indicated its intention when it will report, but I assume in due course it will report, at which point the matter will be sorted out.
Mr Ruston: Mr. Speaker, can the provincial secretary confirm that the reason for this inordinate delay is that the judicial council cannot even find Mr. Henriksen to call him before the council? Can he also confirm that while Mr. Henriksen cannot be found, his monthly salary continues to be deposited in a Windsor bank account without fail? When is the government going to get this thing settled?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I have no indication with respect to that.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, could the Provincial Secretary for Justice inquire and report to the House on the question that has been raised by the two members from the Essex area?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Yes.
ACTIVITIES OF POLICE
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Solicitor General. Has the minister a statement to make with respect to the case in Ottawa of a 14-year-old boy in which the evidence put forward in investigations with the police has been rejected by the judge on the grounds that there was what the judge called "coercion and inducement"?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I have no statement to make on that matter. As the honourable member knows, there has been some comment on the particular matter, but the matter is still before the courts. I think it would be a little premature to make any comment on it other than to say I have asked the Ontario Police Commission to send me a report on it. I emphasize it will be a report to familiarize the ministry with that information, but as it is still proceeding before the courts it would be improper for me to comment on it.
Mr. Cassidy: I appreciate that the matter of the trial is continuing, but the concern is with respect to the nature of the investigation by the police, just as it was in the Hamilton case that was raised in the House last week.
Could the Solicitor General say what directives he or the Ontario Police Commission has given to police forces in Ontario with respect to investigations involving young offenders, particularly with respect to ensuring that their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are respected.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: On the young offenders matter, we have been holding educational courses. The act has been developing and the information is being disseminated to the individual police forces through courses at the police college and informational seminars. It is a new piece of law and, like all laws in this area, it will be developed in the course of time as the judges comment on what has been taking place before them. It is not unusual to have a developing type of heritage in this law.
PURCHASE OF OPP BOATS
Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Solicitor General in regard to the purchase of two OPP boats. Mason Boats of Smiths Falls was the lowest tender on this, but it was given to the second-place tender. I am sure it was just a coincidence that the second-place tender came from the minister's riding. In checking with the Solicitor General's purchasing agents today, I find the two boats in question are coming in from south of the border. The boats in question, which could have been built in Smiths Falls, would have employed six to eight people in my riding for part of a year.
Could I ask the Solicitor General, because I know he believes in a fair tendering practice, to overturn this decision to purchase these two boats from Grew Boats and also take into consideration that these are six or eight jobs that are well needed in my community.
Mr. Breaugh: Hire Alan Gordon.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the honourable member has brought this to my attention because I am not aware of the largess of the Ministry of the Solicitor General to the particular boat company he has mentioned. I might suggest that the Ontario Provincial Police have purchased and have about 102 boats in their fleet, ranging from small skiffs to large motor launches. I do not know the details of what he is talking about in particular, except to say that as well as looking at the lowest tender in regard to price, they would look at other items such as the maintenance, delivery, past experience and warranty provisions. I am sure the last feature they would look to is the place where they would be constructed.
I do know the particular boat company he mentioned --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. That was a very good answer.
Mr. Wiseman: Three reasons were given to my boat builder. One was that Grew had given a two-year warranty and they only gave one in the contract, a copy of which they sent to me. I was talking to the minister's purchasing agents about it this morning. They had a five-year warranty in there, but when they phoned them they understood all that was necessary was a one-year warranty.
The part that was really disturbing to me, coming from eastern Ontario, was the second reason: that it was not as far for the Ontario Provincial Police to travel to inspect and to pick up the boats as to come to eastern Ontario. That is important. The third was that the warranty claim they had on the unit supplied under the previous contract took the boat out of service for a period of time. I will say this boat manufacturer replaced the boat free of charge because it had some hairline cracks along the side.
Will the minister not reverse this decision and give me and all the others an idea, as I am sure he will, that there is still fairness and equity in the tendering system?
Hon. Mr. G. W. Taylor: All the information the Ministry of the Solicitor General staff has given the honourable member speaks highly of the freedom of information laws that are in existence already. I will review the matter. However, I am not positive I can reverse what he has asked me to reverse if there is already an accepted contract. I will find out the information for the member and discuss it with him. I am sure the people in eastern Ontario will be satisfied.
When he mentioned distance, there is a feature about distance with regard to inspection, maintenance and delivery. That was one of the number of items he mentioned, including warranty, delivery, quality of workmanship, quality control and travelling costs. Those are many of the features we look at with regard to purchasing a boat.
Mr. O'Neil: Mr. Speaker, the member was talking about eastern Ontario and keeping the people there happy. When the Solicitor General is discussing this at cabinet, perhaps he might also discuss the dissension in his own caucus and how unhappy the members of it are with the things that are coming to eastern Ontario. Perhaps he would have a discussion about the meeting his colleague the member for Leeds (Mr. Runciman) has called with the municipal leaders to give us a little more assistance and look after us better.
Mr. Speaker: Order. That was not a supplementary.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters has said Ontario wetlands face a crisis of survival. While the minister's recent statement indicates an intent to save the wetlands, he may have placed them in greater jeopardy. He may have put into effect the law of adverse effects.
Does the minister recognize that wetland owners may rush to develop these lands for agricultural purposes before municipalities put the proper zoning regulations in place? The land owners' reason for doing so is to take advantage of the farm tax reduction program which results in a net tax on wetlands higher than on farm lands. Does the minister recognize that threat to wetlands?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, I am aware land owners make decisions to put lands into production, but I do not think they put lands into production to get tax rebates, if that is what the member is trying to propose as the rationale for bringing it into production.
Hon. Mr. Pope: We do recognize there can be a conflict between the expectations of anglers. hunters and sportsmen of this province and the need to preserve wetlands and to create them, as is being done in different parts of the province, not only through the work of the government through the Ministry of Natural Resources but also through the conservation authorities and through private individuals and groups such as Ducks Unlimited. We also recognize there is the inherent right of an individual land owner to put his land into agricultural production, if that is what he wishes to do with it.
The conflict between the two need not exist with a proper classification system, which we have in place now through federal-provincial co-operation and through other efforts that have been made on a volunteer basis by that individual land owner and by other groups in our society to work with him to explain the value of those wetlands and to make sure he receives some value from those wetlands. The classification system is designed to prevent that kind of conflict between the expectations of private property owners of agricultural use and community expectations of the right to enjoy the wetlands. We are working hard with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to make sure that happens.
Mr. McGuigan: Owners of any property add up all the pluses and minuses and decide upon the best use of their land, largely based on economics. The minister would not deny that owners of wetlands can add figures.
Would the minister act on this emergency and persuade the cabinet to bring in very quickly a program of tax rebates for wetlands or, failing that, adjust the percentage factor under the Ministry of Revenue, so wetlands have a net tax at least as low as agricultural land in the end?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Wetlands are not the only classification of land that is under some stress because of its categorization as residential for purposes of taxation. That is one of the issues I know the Ministry of Revenue is aware of and is trying to address.
I am not in a position to offer any tax rebate system for wetlands. Our priority has been, over the last 10 years, to acquire wetlands on a voluntary willing-buyer, willing-seller basis throughout the province, and we have been successful in that. Other groups, including the Ontario Heritage Foundation and Ducks Unlimited, have been making that same kind of effort. Over a period of years, that kind of activity offers the greatest long-term hope of preservation, protection and creation of wetlands and the benefits they bring to all communities.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister how he intends to proceed. It appears anglers, hunters and others have pointed out to him a bit of a loophole or a crack in the process, which means farmers and others will be punished because they happen to own wetland properties.
How does the minister intend to address himself to that problem? Unless he does, it seems to me he will not have much of a chance to make a voluntary acquisition program function. There will not be any wetlands out there, because if the owners are going to be punished through taxation measures they will simply drain them. How does the minister intend to preserve the wetlands, so he has an opportunity to make these other programs function?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, the clearest thing we can do is to explain that wetlands, even if they are taxed, have some value. They have an impact on water quality for the same farmers who are considering what to do with them; water quality from the water table down, and water quality for other purposes which private land owners may get benefits from.
To explain the benefits of wetlands to the farming community and to other individuals who own those properties, to make sure they are aware of the various programs in place, both through the government and through various volunteer organizations in this province and to assist them to get better quality wetlands and some financial return from their wetlands are things we are all committed to doing and what we are going to try to do.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, now that the Minister of Health has returned, he will be aware that, based on statistics he tabled in response to written questions, the number of bills submitted by opted-out physicians actually increased in 1983 over 1982. The statistics also show bills submitted by opted-out specialists as a percentage of the total are extremely high.
For example, nearly 37 per cent of bills submitted by ophthalmologists were submitted by ophthalmologists who are opted out; the figure for gynaecologists was 28 per cent, for urologists 25 per cent, for orthopaedic surgeons 20 per cent, and the statistics go on.
Does this not indicate that the problem of extra billing and opting out in Ontario is extremely serious and cannot be minimized by the six per cent figure the minister always throws out in justifying his position of allowing extra billing in this province? Are these statistics not compelling for the minister to outlaw extra billing in this province?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, it is amazing what the honourable member likes to do with the statistics we provide him. I suppose in the absence of this information he would have been using figures like 70 per cent of certain groups of specialists who are opted out; but in fact when he gets the actual data and he discovers that even though in some specialities there may be as many as 70 per cent opted out but only as little as perhaps 20 per cent of the actual billings for these specialties are extra billed, he tries to make it look like a staggering statistic.
The fact of the matter is that on average across the system at the present time, within the last couple of months -- and I am not sure how current the data were that the member received, whether he got them for the last couple of months or not; they were up to date as to what we had available at that time -- in fact, right now the number of services that are extra billed by physicians in the province is running below five per cent, somewhere between 4.5 per cent and 4.9 per cent, in that range, and it has been so consistently, I believe, for a couple of months.
The member talks about the numbers of services increasing. Of course the numbers of services are increasing because the number of physicians is increasing and the accessibility of the system to people in this province is constantly improving so we are bound to see the overall number of services provided increase. But the percentage of services for which there is extra billing continues to decline.
Mr. Cooke: No matter how the minister tries to justify it, the fact of the matter is that in Ontario 37 per cent of the people who had to go to an ophthalmologist were extra billed, 28 per cent of the people who had to see a gynaecologist were extra billed, 25 per cent who had to see a urologist were extra billed and the total comes to 4.1 million bills submitted by doctors who are extra billing in this province.
I would like to ask the minister once again, do these figures not justify the ending of extra billing in this province in order to eliminate the double standard that currently exists? If you are wealthy in this province, you can see any doctor; if you are middle or low income, you are restricted to the number of doctors you can go to because you are going to be extra billed by a large percentage of specialists in this province?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I cannot confirm precisely the figure of four million, although it has to be seen in the context of the number of services that are provided on an annual basis. That now exceeds 100 million services a year that are processed through the Ontario health insurance plan. If the member says four million, that is still precisely in the range I suggested: it is four per cent or a little more than four per cent, somewhere between four and five per cent.
The other thing I think the member has to bear in mind is that of the patients who may have reason to raise the matter of extra billing with us and whom we would then refer to the Ontario Medical Association under the system we have arranged with it for its negotiation, the indications are that 98 per cent of those matters are resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.
Mr. Cooke: Who told you that, the OMA?
Hon. Mr. Norton: No. If you would like to know, it came from the general manager of OHIP. The member will probably no longer have any confidence in him either, I suppose, because he does not happen to agree with the member's perception on this matter. The fact is the situation as it exists is not apparently a problem.
I know the member advertised in newspapers across this province last fall trying to get people to come forward and talk about their horrible experiences with OHIP. To date, I am not sure he got any. He certainly has not seen fit to bring them forward to us.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, since his predecessor introduced the regulations regarding information that opted-out physicians must inform their patients prior to any surgery being performed, can the minister confirm whether the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has proceeded against any physicians for violation of the information regulation?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, it was not a matter of opted-out physicians being required to notify the patient prior to surgery being performed or something. Obviously, I would hope they would notify the patient if they were going to perform surgery before they actually did it.
I think it was extra billing they were to notify them of, as opposed to surgery. To the best of my knowledge, I know of no particular cases that are proceeding. I do not know whether there have been cases reported to the college. I can check with them and get that information for the member.
Mr. McClellan: What does the minister know? When is he going to get a grip on his ministry?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I do not happen to run the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. That is an independent professional body.
Mr. Speaker: Never mind the interjections please.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is not part of my ministry.
INCOME TAX INEQUITIES
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Treasurer on this happy day at the end of the fiscal year on which we all must file our income tax returns.
Is he aware that the federal tax statistics for 1981 filings reveal some startling facts? In that year, 239 Canadians with annual incomes exceeding $250,000 each paid no federal and no provincial income tax. Something like 8,000 individuals with incomes over $50,000 paid no income tax.
Of these individuals, I estimate something like 3,200 of them probably resided in Ontario.
Mr. Rae: It is amazing. I thought the Income Tax Act was Liberal policy.
Mr. T. P. Reid: From the nattering that is going on, I take it the leader of the New Democratic Party is one of those.
Recognizing that some of the tax breaks are for charity and investment in Canadian industries, for example, will the Treasurer agree this is taking things too far? Will he commit himself to promoting an examination of this problem at the next meeting of federal and provincial finance ministers?
Mr. McClellan: Don't hit it out of the park.
Mr. Rae: Don't hit it too hard.
Hon. Mr. Ashe: That is an easy one. It is Liberal policy.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Lots of time. Never go at an easy one; wait for a tough one.
Mr. Speaker, the simple answer to that question is yes, I think something should be done. I would be pleased to raise this and will be raising it, as I already have, with the federal government. I would take this opportunity to encourage the member to do the very same with his friends, relatives, colleagues and federal candidates in the hope they will make the appropriate and proper changes to the income tax system so those people who should be paying federal tax and through that, provincial tax, do pay.
I would also share this with the member. I have discussed that problem during my budget presentation. It is one of the reasons that from time to time we are obliged to look at going the route of a separate income tax system. None the less, for very good reasons, we stay in the federal system.
However, I have urged the federal government to make the appropriate changes so both levels of government might get an appropriate level of tax from those persons.
Again, I urge the member to join hands with us in bringing this case forward to his people.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I would find it difficult to join hands with the Treasurer under any circumstances. However, I wonder if he can indicate what his federal leader's position is on this, since he has been quiet on this issue as on all others.
At the very least, is the Treasurer promoting a minimum rate of 20 per cent, no matter what the deductions are, as they do in the United States, so there will be that floor to catch those kinds of people who have been avoiding income tax at both levels?
Is the Treasurer aware they do this in the United States and that if we had done it in the taxation year of 1981, on which the statistics are based, the federal and Ontario treasuries would have netted approximately $52 million? Is he pushing a particular tax percentage such as a minimum 20 per cent?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No. We have not yet gone to the extent of suggesting a particular target because when one does that one must be very careful that removing the tax incentives that are part of the system is not removing stimulae from the economy which are worth much more.
Mr. Rae: What are you going to do?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I am not defending the system. I think there should be some sort of minimum tax level. My only point is that in arbitrarily selecting what seems to be an easy measure, that is 20 per cent, one has to be careful because one may be removing from some people a very powerful reinvestment tool which has been structured through the tax system.
None the less, I agree with the member. Something ought to be done so that those people pay taxes.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, this is a little hard to take from the Liberal Party, which is responsible for these golden loophole winners who have managed not to pay any taxes over the years.
Given the inequity of the federal Income Tax Act, passed by the Liberal Party of Canada, enacted by the Liberal Party of Canada, imposed by the Liberal Party of Canada, is the Treasurer prepared to look at ways of amending the provincial tax system and doing something within our own jurisdiction to guarantee that these artists who have taken advantage of the loopholes in the Income Tax Act are required to pay something to the Treasury of this province in order to ensure that there are not two Ontarios; one for the rich and one for everybody else?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the first part of that was indeed a very fine question. With regard to the second part, I would share with the member for York South (Mr. Rae) the fact that we have been reviewing mechanisms which might allow some sort of recapture of a minimum tax. However, the conclusion to date may not be the final conclusion and I would say this budget will not be able to deal with it.
The analysis indicates that without having access to the federal income tax system it is nigh on impossible to deal with this in a fair and equitable way.
TESTING OF WELLS
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health, in the absence of his colleague the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Brandt).
I am sure the Minister of Health is aware, since he was still the Minister of the Environment at the time, that a year ago last June the Ministry of the Environment set about to do priority pollutant testing on 25 wells around the Pauzé landfill site in Tiny township. The people owning the properties on which those wells were tested have not yet received the test results.
When we inquire of the Ministry of the Environment staff, they blame the Ministry of Health, and when we inquire of the Ministry of Health staff, they blame the Ministry of the Environment.
Can the minister find out for us where the holdup is in the release of these test results, ensure they get out as quickly as possible to the 24 families that have not yet received them and will he also table the test results in the House?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I have every confidence in my very capable colleague the Minister of the Environment. I will speak to him about it and I am sure that between us, the information can be made available shortly. I am not aware of where it is at the moment.
EQUAL PAY FOR WORK OF EQUAL VALUE
Mr. Piché: Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition on behalf of 14 persons from the town of Hearst in my riding of Cochrane North:
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Whereas women in Ontario still earn only 60 per cent of the wages of men; whereas women are still concentrated in a very small number of occupations; and whereas unamimous approval of the concept of equal pay for work of equal value was expressed in the Ontario Legislature in October 1983,
"We petition the Ontario Legislature to amend Bill 141 to include equal pay for work of equal value and to introduce mandatory affirmative action."
Mr. Treleaven: Mr. Speaker, I wish to present a petition from approximately 450 residents of Oxford, addressed as follows:
"To the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable John Black Aird, and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, being electors and residents of Oxford riding, ask for help in redressing an injustice. For too long, parents of independent schools, while contributing millions of dollars in education taxes, have had to bear the full cost of their own schools. This is unfair. In a democratic and multicultural society, choice in education should not carry a financial penalty. This principle is partially recognized in five provinces.
"We, the undersigned, hereby request the province of Ontario to ensure the choice of education is made available to citizens equally."
ORDERS OF THE DAY
REPORT, STANDING COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: WIFE BATTERING (CONCLUDED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the recommendations contained in the report of the standing committee on social development on family violence: wife battering.
Hon. Mr. Welch: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: My understanding is that when this report was tabled, the debate was adjourned by the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Shymko). I want some direction from the House -- in fact, agreement before the House. I would like to take part in this debate, and I do not want to preclude the opportunity for the member to take part in the debate, but could I have the unamimous consent of the House to --
Mr. Renwick: Why not just wait your turn?
Hon. Mr. Welch: If the honourable member will allow me, I will tell him why. I have a commitment in Dunnville, and I would like to get there, so I thought perhaps I could speak earlier.
Mr. Nixon: What are you doing in Dunnville?
Hon. Mr. Welch: It is a meeting of the Anglican brotherhood there.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent?
Mr. Speaker: Do we want to debate both these items at the same time? No? All right then.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, this debate on the family violence report of the standing committee on social development is very timely. The government of this province has been endeavouring in recent months to stimulate public discussion and awareness of this very abhorrent social problem.
I want to begin this afternoon by commending the members of the standing committee on social development for their sensitivity and insight in the development of this report, for the many days and weeks of concentrated effort that resulted in this intuitive document and for bringing this all-too-prevalent and too-long-hidden problem into the forefront of public discussion.
Family violence is a crime that has been too long hidden from public scrutiny. For too long, the public has turned a blind eye to this deplorable abuse. This government is determined to bring the crime into sharp focus and is endeavouring in every way possible to eliminate it.
Members will hear in a few moments from my colleague the Minister for Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea). He will report to the House on the efforts of his ministry to assist and to promote the development of transition houses and resource centres in the province, to ensure victims of family violence have the shelter and support they require.
The Provincial Secretary for Justice (Mr. Walker) has also been very involved in the discussion of and the response to this report. I am sure all the members are aware of the major consultation on wife battering which his secretariat sponsored on January 23 and January 24, 1984. This consultation brought together individuals and groups whose specific concerns and expertise were related to the justice aspects of wife battering, including local victims' service groups, community workers, law enforcement personnel, court officials and other representatives of government and the professions.
In response to reports developed at a series of workshops during the consultation, the Provincial Secretary for Justice (Mr. Walker) has commissioned a series of special studies aimed at improving justice services for battered women. These projects, and I list them here, are as follows:
1. A study of legal information and counselling services for battered women;
2. A research study on alternative responses to family violence incidents and their relationship to long-term prevention;
3. A special project aimed at improving services for battered rural women vis-a-vis the justice system;
4. An information study on requirements and resources to meet the needs of battered immigrant women;
S. A similar information study on the requirements and resources needed to meet the needs of native women, and
6. An assessment of programs for men who batter.
The design phase of these studies is now complete, and the projects themselves will be carried out during this fiscal year.
Other Justice-related initiatives were identified in the initial government response to the report we are debating this afternoon when it was introduced last fall.
In the summer of 1982, the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) reminded crown attorneys throughout Ontario of the long-standing policy of his ministry to prosecute vigorously all cases of wife battering.
In November 1982, the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) emphasized to all police forces in the province that police officers, rather than the victim, should lay charges in incidents of wife battering where reasonable and probable grounds for such charges existed.
In line with this policy, the Ontario Police College manual, used for training police officers, was extensively revised and upgraded. The manual makes quite clear the duty of officers to intervene in incidents of domestic violence and to lay charges where such action is warranted.
The Solicitor General also requested all police forces to provide him with a full report on this directive. As a result of the information received, work is currently under way to develop a method of gathering facts which will provide the necessary degree of uniformity throughout Ontario.
It is significant to note as well that the Attorney General is in the process of developing a proposal to place victim-witness assistance workers in the offices of crown attorneys.
I have touched on a few of the most recent provincial initiatives. Perhaps I could use the remaining time allocated to draw the attention of all members in the House to the co-ordination of the government's efforts in this very important area of concern.
On November 1, 1983, as part of the government's response to the report of the standing committee on social development, I announced that we were appointing a provincial co-ordinator of family violence initiatives and that this co-ordinator would be located in the Office of the Deputy Premier.
The provincial co-ordinator, Jill Logan, has now been in that office for just over five months, and since Jill Logan's appointment, a steering committee of 12 Ontario government ministries has been established and has met several times to examine in detail the series of initiatives under way in various government ministries to ensure overall co-ordination of efforts.
That committee is in the process of preparing a report on Ontario government programs and initiatives for the federal-provincial-territorial working group on wife battering. We will be discussing this on a federal-provincial basis in Niagara-on-the-Lake during the middle of next month.
Thanks to our co-ordination process, we have been able to present and to respond as one consistent voice in our discussions with the federal government on possible joint projects as well as on cost-sharing arrangements.
The provincial co-ordinator of family violence initiatives and I have been liaising wherever possible with community groups to determine their priorities as to government involvement and funding and to find out how the government can best assist the community to educate service providers, professionals, government officials and others about this whole area of family or domestic violence.
A common request from these individuals has been for the government to undertake a major public awareness and education campaign to focus public attention on the high incidence of wife battering and to make everyone aware that this behaviour is significant and unacceptable social behaviour.
We are encouraged by the request for the major public awareness and education campaign because, as the members may recall, the government indicated in November 1983 that its initiatives would be supported by such a public education program. A major public education campaign is now being developed. Its introduction will coincide with a series of regional meetings on family violence that will be held throughout the province.
The provincial co-ordinator is in the process of establishing planning committees in five regions of the province. Through this process, key community representatives will be brought together to effect improved community co-ordination and the utilization of available resources.
I am pleased to indicate to the House that the first regional meeting will take place in Kingston on June 12. I seek the support of all members of the House and urge them to bring forward names of individuals whom they believe should be involved in this consultative process as we move throughout the province to discuss this matter on a community basis with the people of the province.
These regional meetings and the public education campaign must be coupled with funding initiatives. My colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services will tell the members during this debate that his ministry has more than doubled the funding to transition houses and family resource centres. Substantial funds have been allocated for our public education campaign. The series of studies the Provincial Secretary for Justice has commissioned will undoubtedly identify areas for even further activity.
May I also take a moment to draw the members' attention to the recent throne speech, which emphasized the government's commitment to address vigorously the problem of family violence. I am sure the recommendations contained in the upcoming report on wife battering to the ministers responsible for the status of women will highlight priority areas in terms of future activities to alleviate any gaps there may be in the whole program delivery area.
I am confident that this educational approach to the problem of family violence and the necessary responses initiated so ably by the standing committee's report on wife battering will provide the impetus necessary to reduce and, it is hoped, eventually bring to an end this most insidious kind of behaviour.
In closing, I would like once again to applaud the work of the standing committee and assure all honourable members that government initiatives will continue; will be carried out in a coordinated and consistent fashion, both within this government and between governments; will respond to needs identified by knowledgeable community representatives, and will be carried out within a theme of overall public awareness and education.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, as you may be aware, the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Wrye), to accommodate my time restraints, has allowed me to speak before him, and I appreciate the gesture.
As the person who, with the support of my caucus, is responsible for first sending out the annual report last March, I want to say a few things first of all to compliment the committee, the two chairmen we have had -- now we are moving into our third chairman of the committee as we move into various aspects of family violence -- and the government for the action it has taken to this point.
I want to draw people's attention to some of the difficulties we had in just broaching this subject when we started off, because for all of us it has been quite an education.
When I first introduced the motion to have this referred out, it was not legally an appropriate thing to do; we were the last one to slip in this way, if you will. It was challenged in this House; we almost did not get this issue out to committee. It was very close, and I think in retrospect all members of the House would regret that we had to go through this kind of debate just to get it to committee.
Then when we had it in committee we thought, "Let us deal with family violence in as limited a time as we can." We were not looking at it in the kinds of terms in which we have learned to look at this issue since then in our committee. Certainly we were not looking at it as a committee in terms of the co-operation between all members and the lack of partisanship in the way the committee worked -- in other words, who would come before us, how we would discuss things with those people or the way we came to consensus on recommendations. It was an example to all committees of this House as to how we can operate, how we can come forward with some very practical solutions.
I then think back to the response of the government to this issue as we came forward with it, and I cannot help remembering comments by the Minister of Community and Social Services about batterers maybe spending some time on park benches, as would be appropriate for them -- a rather insensitive remark at that point, I might say. There have been changes in his attitude since, I note.
I cannot help referring to the great book A Conservative Canada, by the present Provincial Secretary for Justice, and comments he made at the time of this book's publication in 1983. It speaks of how we perhaps should be laying charges against both partners: "It takes at least two to make a fight, and perhaps the law should consider both partners the problem...." I think the provincial secretary also has changed his mind since then and has been going through the education process that a lot of members on the committee have been going through over the last number of months.
I would be much happier about the situation we find ourselves in with this report, which I think we can all be justly proud of, if I thought it had been acted upon with all the quickness and celerity it deserved. When you consider that we finalized our report -- and, God knows, because our process was so open, copies of where we were going with the report were available to ministers before this -- we brought in that report in November 1982, and we did not get a response from the government until September 1983.
I am not sure we saw it responded to with exactly the kind of quickness I believe, and I think all members of the committee felt, it deserved. It is somewhat ironic that here we are in 1984, just about a month or two after the second anniversary of the initiation of this project, actually debating the matter in the Legislature.
I would say, however, I am pleased that we did it and I am pleased that we set the examples we have. I hope we will see a change in this government's attitude towards the issue now from one we have just heard enunciated again today, namely, "Let us have more conferences, let us have more discussion and let us have more studies," about things I believe common sense will tell us how to provide.
After only two weeks of hearings, we were quickly able to put our finger on the fact that we do not need further studies. Let us get some action. Let us not have more studies on some of these matters, whether it is the witness assistance program -- which I am afraid is going to turn into a hand-holding process in the courts system, from the way I hear it is being developed, rather than having people there who are properly prepared to be advocates for those women in very threatening situations -- or whether it is the development of the family resource centres, which I see as the lowest-common-denominator approach to providing interval houses.
That is now being reinforced by the bail-out money for the existing homes that were in trouble, by bringing them down to what I would call the lowest common denominator in the standards we are expecting of staff in those places, the dependence on volunteers and the lack of other available services.
Looking at the bail-out funds, even though many of our homes in Metro were in trouble, they have not been the major recipients. Few of them have been recipients of any aid through that program. They are the ones that are providing some of the broadest range of services to the women who go to them.
Instead, we are talking about a minimalist approach to those houses and a minimalist approach to funding them. That defies the spirit of what we are bringing forward. That defies the concept we had about coming up with particular legislation to get this away from the General Welfare Assistance Act. I really regret seeing that.
Looking in practical terms at how it is today in Ontario for a battered woman in comparison to how it was before we dealt with the issue, I would say a few things have changed, but not nearly enough. We still do not get as much consultation with a prosecuting attorney as we would like. We still do not get the support from police officers around the province we would like. Even more important, we have structures in our provincial programs in government institutions at the moment that inflict heavy penalties on battered women and do not assist them.
I would like to raise a couple of issues with the minister and ask him not to study them but to do something about them. The first is about Ontario Housing Corp. regulations. A person gets no extra points at all to get into Ontario Housing if she is a battered women. I have been working with the Emily Stowe Shelter for Women in Scarborough to try to get women into Ontario Housing faster, and they will not consider it as an extra qualification when urged to get those women in.
Not only that, I have run into the ludicrous, tragic situation of women who were in Ontario Housing and were beaten while in Ontario Housing, then being forced out of Ontario Housing and into the shelter. The husband stayed in that OHC apartment, sitting there with impunity, and the woman was trying to get back on the bottom of the waiting list to get into Ontario Housing. It seems to me that is sending a very bad message.
Mr. Philip: She is not immune if he does not pay the rent.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Exactly. The member for Etobicoke makes the point that it depends on who is paying the rent as to whether it was her apartment. We have this business where the batterer gets to stay, while the woman has to go to the Emily Stowe Shelter and then gets on the bottom of the list to get back into housing for which she was qualified in the first place.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I believe I said something about that three years ago.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: We talked about people staying on park benches three years ago.
I hope we have a more civilized approach on how we would deal with batterers and the kind of mandated programs we would want. One of the things we were concerned about was the whole question of the welfare act being the basis for the operation of the hostels and a lot of other support services.
The minister may or may not be aware about women who go into hostels under the new, progressive element of the welfare act, the new regulation that allows people to receive discharge allowances. We thought it was primarily for ex-psychiatric patients and that sort of thing. Women in hostels are now eligible, too, except it is at the discretion of the local administrator, as are so many things under the General Welfare Assistance Act. We are running into situations where some women are getting the full amount of support to get back out and establish themselves in the community, while others are getting almost nothing.
For instance, a woman who goes back into Ontario Housing is being told that because she is eligible, as well, for what already exists, which is a bedding kind of assistance, she is not going to be getting anything further from this special discharge allowance. They are being penalized for that. I think we should change that immediately. It should become mandatory; it should be on top of those extra services that are available to people who are discharged. That was not how it was designed, but it is exactly what is happening to women at the moment.
Because it is up to local administrations under the General Welfare Assistance Act to decide whether or not they will pay first and last month's rent, we have many women around the province who are staying in hostels much longer than they need to. When I was in Kapuskasing and St. Catharines, I learned there are women who are going back to unsafe situations with batterers because they cannot afford to get housing in their community. As long as this is based on the General Welfare Assistance Act and is left up to the discretion of local administrators, women are going to be victimized.
What we need and what the committee asked for in our report was a special act to provide for the support and assistance of these kinds of women, which would provide these other kinds of support and would, I hope, move them towards second-stage housing, something we have not heard anything about from the government. Given the waiting lists to get into housing, given the lack of priority given to women who have been battered, I would suggest this just reinforces what we have been suggesting.
Because of the graciousness of the member to allow me to go first, I will not belabour the point and talk about many of the other things that were in our report, of which I am very proud and from which I see some action from this government but not as much as I would like. But I would ask members of the House who have not read our report to look at it in comparison with what one could come up with from a royal commissioner who sits for two years, gets paid $800 a day and says, "There is something wrong with the economy, but we aren't quite sure what yet."
Look at what can be done in two weeks by members of goodwill working together as a committee and the kinds of responses it can elicit from government. It should give every backbencher in this House hope and a good feeling to know the kinds of things we did there, the way we worked together, can have an impact on a government that was not doing very much in this field before.
Even if a lot of what the government is doing now is public relations and is, in my view, developing a network for the present minister and his staff more than it is dealing with things that can be decided upon today in this Legislature, at least we had a major impact on this Legislature, and for that and for all members who were on that committee I feel very proud.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, before I launch into what I expect will be very brief remarks, I wonder if I could get some help from the chair and from the Minister of Community and Social Services, who I understand is going to speak to both of these reports, in sorting out what we are going to do this afternoon. It would be my suggestion, with the concurrence of both other parties, that we might split the time evenly between both reports to allow us to talk about the child abuse report, if that is acceptable.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Robinson): Is it the unanimous consent of the House to divide the time evenly this afternoon between the two reports of the committee?
The Acting Speaker: I will ask the table to send me information on the time and I will alert you accordingly.
Mr. Wrye: I am going to be fairly brief because I think it is important that a number of us put our remarks on the table and make some remarks on both of these reports. I might start out by saying to my friend the Deputy Premier (Mr. Welch) and to the Minister of Community and Social Services that I am a little disappointed we have taken this long to get down to having a debate, but I am pleased, none the less, that we are having one eventually.
I am very rarely complimentary of this government, as members opposite know, and I will not be terribly complimentary today. But I would say this is an issue that members of all three parties have worked long on and, although I will have a few criticisms, this is one of the areas where the government has shown some responsiveness, perhaps because we have been able to work together. The responsiveness has not been good enough, in my judgement, particularly in a couple of the areas my friend the member for Scarborough West raised, and I will talk about the whole issue of block funding. But I think we have raised the level of consciousness, of awareness, and to that extent we are beginning to attack the problem.
I think some of the issues we will raise this afternoon deserve and demand in a very real way a little more -- in fact, a lot more activity from the government. It has been about 18 months since the standing committee on social development produced this report on wife battering. It is useful to read into the record the conclusion of the report. I would remind all honourable members who did not sit on the committee, and I was one of them, of the conclusion the committee drew. It is useful for us to think about it long and hard, not only the members of the Legislature, but the people of Ontario in general.
It reads as follows: "This committee has been deeply disturbed by what we have seen and heard. A fundamental value of our society -- the inviolability of the person -- is infringed and, yet, the criminal justice, medical, mental health and social service systems tend not to see that infringement. They are preoccupied with other values -- in particular, the privacy of the family unit and the desirability of preserving that unit.
"This committee respects the privacy of the family. We consider the family to play an important role in helping individuals to grow to their full potential. Nevertheless, society's obligation to protect each of its members from harm must be supreme. Above all else, including the maintenance of the family, a battered woman must be given protection. The message should be clear to the victim -- 'you do not have to put up with the violence.' As for the batterer, he must know that any assault is a crime. Society must no longer tolerate violence within the family."
That sums up very neatly the views of the committee members and probably the views of this House as a whole.
Over the last while I have had an opportunity to speak to a number of committee members from all three parties. I know just how shocked they were in finding the extent to which wife battering and domestic violence are a problem within Ontario society in the 1980s. I am pleased that as a Legislature we have begun to do something about it.
I want to deal very briefly with a number of the recommendations I believe need a firmer hand. The first is the recommendation on the Ontario Housing Corp. which my friend the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) alluded to.
Not only are the women who are victims often physically unable to push away violent husbands, they are often economically dependent upon the husband for the shelter of both themselves and the children. It is a problem that remains to this day, in spite of the fact that the report is some 18 months old.
One might ask rhetorically when this government is going to respond to recommendations 26 and 27 and direct the Ontario Housing Corp. to revise its point rating system for admission to its rental housing units in order to give preference to victims of wife assault? The OHC policy on transferring tenants to other rental housing should also be revised to include wife assault as grounds for transfer.
That is an issue that has been on the table long enough. I say to the Deputy Premier and to the co-ordinator in his office it is an issue that Ms. Logan must look at and this government must address.
Transition houses, as the members know, are also chronically underfunded. In its response to the recommendations of the standing committee, the government denied and continues to deny the need for separate legislation to fund transition houses for battered women and their children. Instead, it lauded the benefits of the current system of per diem funding under the General Welfare Assistance Act.
I believe there are few benefits and many drawbacks to the per diem funding. The funding is unreliable because it fluctuates with the occupancy rates of the houses, even though operating costs remain the same. Many houses have problems receiving per diem payments from municipalities and the payments vary from municipality to municipality. Because only women deemed eligible for welfare are covered by the funding, many houses end up paying for clients themselves, clients too rich for welfare but too poor to pay for themselves.
The real experts on transition houses are not in this Legislature today; they are the people who work for them. These people are united, as the government knows, in their desire for a new funding structure.
A survey we conducted late last fall, after the government's response, showed virtually 100 per cent support from the transition houses for block funding. These people want the per diem system changed. I hope the government will begin to listen to them and support them in their efforts.
The issue of ethnic women who suffer physical abuse and are further traumatized if they are unable to communicate their problem and are unable to know what services are available to them because of a language barrier is one we have not really addressed.
I am very pleased to hear that the Deputy Premier said the public education campaign, for which we are all waiting, is about to go forward. I think the recommendation contained in the report, asking for a series of multilingual television and radio messages, to be done in co-operation with the ethnic communities, to inform the public about the criminality of wife battering and the specialized services that are there to offer help to battered women, is of crucial importance.
I would say -- and the Deputy Premier can pass it along to the Premier (Mr. Davis) when he is next in his place -- that I will not criticize this government if this is the kind of advertising it wishes to do. It is certainly a whole lot better than "Preserve it, conserve it" and the other ads which I consider to be nothing more than self-congratulatory.
If we are going to put that kind of informational advertising to the ethnic women of Ontario, and indeed to all women of Ontario, and through them to the men of Ontario, to the batterers, then I say it is a reasonable expenditure of tax dollars. It is an expenditure of tax dollars that ultimately may save the taxpayer money and, more important, may save a lot of battered women the pain of being battered.
I would urge the government to get on with this job. It is amazing how we can advertise the self-congratulatory stuff very quickly, but it takes this long to get the message out when it truly is an informational message.
I just want to make a couple of additional points before I conclude. I believe we need specific legislation to deal with the issue of wife battering. Right now there is a proliferation of agencies responding to the problem, which leads to a duplication of effort and less effective allocation of funds.
Speaking of funding, the current level does not recognize the present level of demand for services. I think this has already been alluded to, and the members will hear more about it later this afternoon. In the allocation of resources, the government must recognize the problem of battered women as an urgent priority.
It is incredible to me that community organizations must apply to the federal government or to the private sector for startup funding. Why on earth is there no provincial program in place to provide startup funding for transition houses? It is also unbelievable that there is no provincial funding available for operating expenses for transition houses. It seems tome that overall, and I will leave it at this, we need a very coherent approach to the whole funding area.
In conclusion, I want to touch very briefly upon one of my pet peeves, pet projects as it were, out of this report. This is the proposal for victim advocacy clinics. My own community has one of the two victim advocacy clinics in Ontario, the Hiatus House complaint and support program. I want to congratulate the Provincial Secretary for Justice for having continued the funding of this program while he and the government do a comprehensive study not only of the federal report that has been prepared on the complaint and support program, but also on that program as it has evolved over the last period of time.
In my judgement, the program now in place in Windsor is typical of the kinds of programs which are hit with some startup pains. I think there were some earlier negative comments, particularly in the interim report from the federal authorities, simply because the complaint and support program was not yet well known out in the community and was having startup difficulties. Since that report, the volume of case work has increased and continues to increase to this day.
I want to refer to the activity report of the complaint and support program in the first 11 months of 1983. To give members some indication of the kind of volume being handled, the total number of referrals was almost 300, of which 232 were new referrals. The source of the referrals was from all over the board: 90 from the police, 63 from the legal community, 72 from individual victims, 49 from Hiatus House itself and 23 from miscellaneous parts of the community.
As a result of those 297 referrals, a total of 222 charges were laid, 161 in family court and another 61 in criminal court. The volume over that period continued to rise. I do not have the latest statistics with me, but the indication I have is the longer the program goes on, the heavier the usage in terms of volume.
I want to say to the Provincial Secretary for Justice, since I know he is doing the review, I hope the government does not have a preconceived conclusion drawn that it wants only the victim-witness programs the Deputy Premier alluded to being set up in the crown attorney's office. I hope it will look beyond that kind of program to the kind of program that has been set up through the complaint and support program.
In conclusion, it is fair to say a good amount has been done. Certainly the public education aspect of making people aware of this crime, of the fact that one out of every 10 families has this problem of domestic violence, is the biggest single accomplishment the social development committee may carry out in this term.
There has been some positive response from the government, but much more needs to be done to treat the victims of domestic violence, to educate the public and to begin on that long and probably very difficult road to rehabilitate the batterers. Much as we might want to throw them on to a park bench, ultimately it is not of much use to our society to ignore the problem of the batterers and not to attempt to deal with them.
Much more needs to be done, and I hope will be done in the months and years to come. I also hope the kind of work, the kind of report this committee put out, is going to continue to emanate from an all-party committee, because it sets a standard of which we can all be proud.
The Acting Speaker: Just before I recognize the next speaker, in keeping with the agreement of the House, the 14th order will be called at 4:45. Is it the wish of the House the remaining time be divided equally, or shall we just go in rotation until time runs out? Shall time be evenly apportioned?
Mr. Shymko: Mr. Speaker, in the more than three years I have been a member of this Legislature, being chairman of the standing committee on social development for that brief period of almost a year and a half when we studied and prepared this report was one of the most cherished times I experienced, because of the very nonpartisan nature of the deliberations, the compassion and determination of every member of the committee to focus on a horrifying and tragic side of human life, family life in particular -- a crime in society that is often called the silent crime, namely, violence within the confines of the family.
It was shocking to many of us, not only as we listened to witnesses but also when we had the opportunity to face and deliberate with some of the victims of this tragedy.
I would like, first of all, to congratulate the members of the standing committee on their work. I would like specifically to refer to the member for Scarborough West, who was a mover of many elements of deliberations during the committee. I think credit should be given to him for his deep sensitivity and the impact he had on many facets of the deliberations and eventual recommendations of this report. I would like to thank the many witnesses who appeared before the committee.
One of the fundamental results of this report is to dispel myths that have existed in society, not just for decades but for centuries. This area of violence was silenced and was not given the priority of concern that our judicial, law enforcement and social systems should have provided because of a myth that the family institution was not to be violated. This was happening within the confines of what one may term a private family matter.
We have pointed out that this is not a private matter, that the inviolability of the person supersedes the inviolability of any institution, be it the family institution or not. We have said this is a crime against society. As pointed out on the very cover of the report: "Wife battering is an intolerable act of criminal violence. Government and society must respond to this serious social problem by changing attitudes so that wife battering is no longer condoned."
Although there may be some criticism about the time frame, that the government response of November 1983 was a year forthcoming, I do not accept this. I believe we were the first provincial jurisdiction in the country to follow the federal task force report. I am proud of that and I am also proud of the government response. It has accepted the vast majority, practically most, of the recommendations of the committee.
I would like to stress that it was in the summer of 1982, while the committee was deliberating and meeting with witnesses, that the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) intervened with crown attorneys and said specifically: "You must pursue this problem forcefully and give it the priority it deserves. Go after this and throw the book at the batterer."
It was in November 1982, prior to the completion of the report, that the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) demanded of all the law enforcement forces in this province that the onus not be on the victim but on the police officer to lay charges, to demand that the manual at the Ontario Police College be adapted, and that priorities be given to this.
I certainly compliment that ministry on its response and I compliment the Ministry of Community and Social Services on its response. There are problems. I know the minister will outline some of the concerns on the funding formula he has with the federal government in terms of some of the testing aspects of victims and some of the capital funding aspects. I know the minister is concerned.
I would like to compliment the Provincial Secretary for Justice on the public consultations that were held this year and some of the studies that have to be made, because there was a great deal of research, a lot of questions and statistics we needed but lacked. There is nothing wrong with continuing to study in order to have that information. We have stressed the immediacy of the problem in our report. What the report may lack is a study of the causes of violence. It lacks preventive measures, and so we focused on the immediate response.
I know the Minister of Community and Social Services is eagerly waiting to point out some of the solutions to the problem from his jurisdiction. So I would like to conclude by saying this matter, the privacy of the family and the desirability of preserving the family unit, certainly was never questioned by the committee.
The message was that we do not have to put up with violence within the family. The batterer must know that any assault within the family context is a crime, and society will no longer tolerate violence within the family. That is the message, and we are certainly moving in the right direction to alleviate this tragedy.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, unlike my colleagues who have spoken to date with respect to the report, I am perhaps a bit more pessimistic, not only about the results of the report but also about the government's implementation of it to date. While I think the mutual back-patting on all sides is an indication of the kind of nonpartisan work that was done by the committee, if we analyse what has happened to this report, it becomes quite clear this government in its usual fashion has hidden behind smoke and mirrors rather than addressed the real problem.
I refer to the two major recommendations, neither of which we can evaluate at this time. The first recommendation is that in all cases of wife assault it should be the police and not the victim who is required to carry on with the charges. Anecdotally, we feel the public and the police are better informed. We feel this may be happening, but we have absolutely no way of knowing what kind of effect our recommendation to the Attorney General has had, because the Attorney General in his infinite wisdom continues to neglect to ask police forces across this province to keep records, individually and separately, detailing cases of wife assault.
On the one hand, we have a general feeling this report has achieved something, and public awareness has been heightened as a result of our work. On the other hand, we cannot make any kind of statement, even a year and a half after the tabling of the report, because we simply have no way of knowing what is happening from community to community.
Let us look at the record of our Attorney General in this House in his treatment of the victim. I refer specifically to the victim many of us remember some months ago in the city of Ottawa. She wanted to come forth and decided to come forth, but because of the absolute lack of co-operation she got from the crown and the Attorney General's office, she was forced through a contempt of court charge to spend time in jail while her alleged rapist went free.
What was the response of our Attorney General in this Legislature when that occurred? Was his response to defend the rights of the victim and to say the police forces and the crown have a responsibility to provide full support for all victims and, in particular, for those victims who have the courage to come forth? No. As a matter of fact, he issued a statement in this Legislature full of distortion and innuendo, which went as far as to say this victim had her phone tapped, as a result of which he was able to ascertain that she had turned down requests that she do nude dancing, something that was totally irrelevant to the question, but which very clearly spoke to the attitude of this Attorney General and this government re the treatment of victims across Ontario.
We should make no mistake about it. The changing times are calling upon our police forces and our judicial system to act in a more expeditious manner. But if victims find themselves in the situation we witnessed in the city of Ottawa, and if we see a public mockery made of the judicial process by statements such as that made by the Attorney General of this province when he made his statement in the House, we can clearly say that the recommendations endorsed by an all-party committee are nothing more than hollow promises. That is the disposition of the most important recommendation in this report.
What is the disposition of the second most important recommendation in the report? We heard over and over again, unanimously, from women across this province who themselves have come from the grass roots to start transition houses in their own communities about the issue of block funding, so that once and for all this government could say to women across Ontario:
"The future of transition houses is secure. We will not require that you live from hand to mouth, from day to day on a per-diem contribution, simply and solely if you get the Good Housekeeping seal of approval from your local municipality. We will say, as a ministry and as a government, that we endorse the right of every woman across this province to have a safe haven when she is being assaulted and beaten by her spouse, or in other cases of domestic violence."
The second most important recommendation was one of the few that was rejected without consideration by this government and by the Ministry of Community and Social Services which refused to recognize the basic principle of universality of access by women across this province. They continue to perpetuate the notion that if a local council does not enter into a cost-sharing agreement, provincial politicians will not be required to pass along the 80 per cent of the 80 per cent, 20 per cent split. That is simply unacceptable.
They also continue to refuse to recognize the notion of block funding. This government on May 15 will presumably be tabling a budget that will cover it from one fiscal year to the next, but the fiscal management that would provide security and guarantee right of access to women across this province has been denied by this government. It continues to cling to the outmoded notion that per-diem bed-and-board funding is the kind of funding we need to guarantee transition houses across the province.
That speaks to a fundamental misunderstanding of what transition houses are designed to assist. If one looks upon a transition house simply as a place to stay for a two-, three- or five-day respite, then bed and board is all that is necessary. But the minister and the government should look at the statistic that 70 per cent of women who make the ultimate decision to flee from their spouses, to leave their families and to seek a safe haven, do not return to that marriage.
One of the reasons is that as a society and as a government we have not provided the kind of support systems that would allow women to make a statement, to make a transition or to seek help before they reach the point of absolute desperation.
A clear and compelling example of that was illustrated in the city of London when we saw that over a two-year period the number of times a woman was beaten before she finally called the police was not one, not two, not three -- not two tangoing as the member for London South (Mr. Walker) would have it -- it was 35 times that woman was beaten in an escalating fashion before she finally fled the situation and called the police.
When we see those kinds of statistics, when we realize that seven women out of 10 who flee their homes and end up in transition houses will not return to their spouses, we realize the transition house is playing a role that is far greater than simply that of a bed-and-board situation.
The transition house is providing the woman with court alternatives and court support, such as the victim assistance program, which the member for Windsor-Sandwich referred to; the transition house is providing counselling, job relocation, training. The transition house in many respects is becoming for that period of time that woman's only hope, her only outlet into the outside world to provide her with assistance in building a new life for herself and very often for her children.
We cannot continue to saddle transition houses with an economic formula that says to them: "If you have 80 per cent occupancy, we will drop your per diem. If you have a measles epidemic, you could risk closure. If you are not able to garner enough financial support from the community, you can close your door. If you cannot get the Good Housekeeping seal of approval from local municipal councils, you can kiss goodbye the opportunity of having provincial funding."
It is clear that until this component of our report is addressed and until the Minister of Community and Social Services realizes the answer is not simply in setting up his self-appointed family resource centres in areas across the province that have not even indicated from the grass roots a desire to develop centres, the answer consists of listening to what the organizations have said, listening to what the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses has said, listening to what women across this province have said.
It is clear, if the minister took the time to analyse the report, that there is one issue all groups are unanimous about in their thinking, and that is that they need a guarantee of long-term block funding on an annual basis.
Frankly, I think it is great that we are having public education seminars in June, July and August to discuss the problems of wife assault. It is terrific that, at least nominally, this government has made a commitment to making sure that police forces lay the charges instead of putting women in the very difficult position of being victim and aggressor at the same time. I think there are a number of laudable efforts in this report.
However, the government continues to turn its back on the two major recommendations: that we need hard and fast statistics from our police forces across this province to get a handle on exactly what is happening with respect to charges of domestic violence; and that until the government makes a commitment to long-term block funding, we will continue to see a situation where women are living not only in fear and violence in their homes but also in the limbo that continues when they seek help in a transition house and do not know whether they can stay an extra day or an extra week, or when they do not have access to counselling because the minister in his wisdom has decided that counselling is not a component of transition houses.
It is clear that these two fundamental principles have been absent from the government's response to our report.
While I congratulate all members who served on the committee for developing a unanimous, all-party report -- something that is pretty unusual and in fact unique in a time of majority government -- it seems to me that if we hide behind the hollow words of our report and the promises that have been made for conventions, publicity and promotion, we will be missing the main point and the main kernel of what must be drawn from this report.
If we are to begin on the road towards taking wife assault out of the closet, we must make sure that women and men across this province have an equal opportunity not only to extract themselves from situations of domestic violence, not only to seek justice tempered with mercy, which is due to all of us, but also to make sure that women are not forced to remain in situations of abuse and assault simply because the government is not providing and guaranteeing long-term funding to ensure that they can have those supports.
We need second-stage housing. We need counselling as a component of transition houses; transition houses cannot be only a bed and board situation. It seems to me there is a challenge ahead for this government not only to double the number of transition houses across this province but also to make sure they have ample resources not only to survive from day to day but also to guarantee their survival until we reach a point, a point I am sure we are all seeking, where we have no need for any kind of transition house because the problem of domestic violence has been dealt with.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): The time allotted has been fully used.
Ms. Copps: M. le Président, j'aimerais juste faire un petit commentaire à propos de la francophonie, en disant que je pense qu'il y a certaines recommendations à propos de la francophonie --
The Acting Speaker: Is there an agreement that you are allowed to use additional time?
Ms. Copps: -- qui n'ont pas été considérées, et je veux les laisser à votre disposition.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, the report of the standing committee on social development on wife battering is one of the most important reports to have come out of this Legislature, mainly because it made us aware of a very serious problem.
It made us aware of the lack of services for victims of wife battering. It made us aware of the lack of services across the province in rural areas, in northern areas, in francophone areas and with respect to special services for immigrant women. It made us very aware of the unfair treatment of battered women in the criminal justice system. It made us aware of the lack of programs for batterers. It made us aware of the lack of police understanding of the problem.
It also made us very much aware of the work that dedicated women had done over the years to try to meet the problem of the victims of wife battering with a human and compassionate approach to provide services that were not being provided by the government.
We became very much aware also of the struggle that these groups of women operating interval houses of one kind or another had to put forward to cover capital and operating costs, to pay decent wages and to avoid burnout by their volunteers, because the funding was completely inadequate to meet the needs of the victims, and to do public education, to do advocacy and counselling work and to help those women who could not go back home to get relocated, rehoused and retrained.
The all-party committee came out with an excellent report containing 47 recommendations, but the government's response to that report has been extremely disappointing.
As earlier speakers have pointed out, the main recommendation of the report was for special legislation in the field to bring the problem of wife battering into the control of the Legislature as a whole to make the policies rather than to leave it as part of the welfare system.
The proposal for block funding was also an essential part of the program to relieve the interval houses of dependency on the municipal welfare system. We have not got that.
The government brought out a blue book in October that was supposed to indicate its response to the 47 recommendations, but if members read between the lines, there has been very little action.
For example, the stabilizing of the funding of emergency shelters to keep the existing 42 houses from going under has been met with a very small amount of bail-out funds, which went not to all interval houses but only to the ones that appeared to have a heavy deficit; those interval houses that were about to go under did not necessarily get any help, nor did those that were facing burnout of staff.
There was no specific commitment to get new shelters started in underserviced communities. All that was provided were the 12 family resource centres in the north, most of which are not yet open and many of which are being provided with funds in areas where there was no demand when other interval houses in the same area are having to close down because they cannot get funds. This is true of Kapuskasing where there is a much larger house that is not getting funds because one of the family resource centres is going in there.
My colleagues have pointed out the other shortcomings of the family resource centre approach in the north. They are certainly not a substitute for interval houses with full services for the victims and with public education functions.
Another response by the government is these expensive consultations and seminars, one put on by the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mr. Dean) and one put on by the Ministry of Community and Social Services. These conferences are very expensive, because they provide the delegates with two days of meetings, lunches and dinners. The people who come are there by invitation only; about 80 per cent are government officials or police officials, and only about 20 per cent are people from the interval houses and from the community, who are equally concerned with this very serious problem.
Out of the provincial secretary's consultation we got two initiatives. If one ever saw anything that was minuscule, that is what they were. The Attorney General suggested he was going to appoint what he called witness assistants, to set up one witness assistant in each judicial district as a part of the crown attorney' s office.
In the first place, apparently he is covering witnesses of all kinds, not just witnesses in wife battering cases. Second, he is dealing with the situation when it has reached the court stage, not any previous stages or any plea bargaining stages. That stage is not the place to start dealing with the situation and the assisting of witnesses. The witnesses would be answerable to the crown attorneys who are conducting the case and presumably whose witnesses they are. It is not a substitute for advocacy work with the victims and it is not going to provide anything like the amount of service to witnesses that is needed.
In the Attorney General's speech in January to this consultation, he simply said he was seeking funding for a program to place witness assistant workers in the office of the crown attorney in all 52 counties and districts. At that time, he had such a setup in only one of the 52 offices. I would be very interested to see whether his budget includes witness assistants in all 52 counties and more than one in large ones such as the York judicial district. That was a very minimal approach, but the Attorney General had to make a luncheon speech and produce something out of the hat that looked like action.
The second initiative from that consultation was by the Provincial Secretary for Justice. He said the government was going to spend $250,000 on research into such important subjects as the question of how to serve the rural areas. Presumably, that had already been studied before some of the family resource centres were set up. If the government is going to follow that pattern, it is not going to get very much service to those areas.
He was going to announce the other projects later, but he thought they might be into the root causes of wife battering, into the difficulties of immigrant and native women and into the long-term protection of victims, which presumably means relocation, rehabilitation and rehousing.
He did not, of course, make the selecting of these research projects open to any public participation; he did not ask the interval house people, who have been working in the field for more than 10 years, whether they might undertake a research project or whether they had any research projects to recommend. In fact, they are now being approached by various ministry people for advice and consultation on some of the so-called research that is being done.
I understand the Provincial Secretariat for Justice does pay them a consultation fee, but the Minister for Community and Social Services does not. So it seems to me the interval houses have a role to play in any research that is being done.
The third initiative that has come from the government is the appointment of two coordinators to deal with the problem of battered wives.
In the throne speech the government described the problem as an intolerable social problem. It has got to that stage, but it seems to me its tolerance of the kind of response that is needed to an intolerable program is rather broad in that it continues to tolerate the problem in a great many areas by lack of development of more interval houses, new programs in the criminal justice system and public education in the field. It is going to continue as an intolerable social problem as long as the government goes in for such weak initiatives.
Of these two co-ordinators, we have one appointed by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and one appointed by the Ontario women's directorate. If one reads the description of them by the ministers concerned, or some of the government releases on them, it sounds like the greatest case of duplication and overlapping that we have in the government; and it is hard to top some of the overlapping and duplication in this government. They are both concerned with prevention; they are both concerned with liaising with interval houses; they are both concerned with public education.
I understand the directorate co-ordinator has trouble getting information from the Community and Social Services co-ordinator; I do not know whether it is the other way around as well. So they come to the interval houses for information on what is going on.
This appointment of high-priced co-ordinators is a good window-dressing initiative, but if a lot of that money had been used to provide more grants for services to be provided by interval houses and for new interval houses, it would have been better spent.
The whole question of data collection was brought out by the committee, and yet I do not think I have seen any initiatives from either the Attorney General or the Minister of Community and Social Services that would give us up-to-date reports on the number of wife battering cases and their nature. Many police forces still do not separate wife battering from other statistics of people in crisis, particularly family crises of various kinds. We still do not really know the extent of the problem, and that seems to me to be one of the places where we should start.
The main approach seems to be a typical Tory approach: lots of speeches and public relations about how important the problem is, how serious it is and what we are going to do when we put some money where our mouth is. However, so far that has not happened very much. Doing it on the cheap seems to be the main approach, particularly as far as the family resource centres go.
The model budgets for it do not allow for any double shift at night, so there is a woman on the night shift by herself, without any backup, in a position where there is often a need for security measures.
The Acting Speaker: I thank the honourable member. Her time has expired.
Ms. Bryden: I would just like to add a final thing, that passing the buck to Ottawa is a large part of the government's response, particularly with respect to the operating costs.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, at the beginning, I would like to point out a couple of facts. The response of this ministry to the standing committee was made on March 2, 1983. It took the committee by surprise. Let us not say there was no response by the government or by this ministry for several months. It was on March 2, 1983, because I was invited to be there and to make such a response. As a matter of fact, the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) moved the motion in the committee.
The government of Ontario is committed to the elimination of family violence in this province. As the Minister of Community and Social Services, I am very proud of what the ministry has done, in particular since 1981, is doing now and is planning to do in the future in identifying and taking action against this type of domestic violence.
We have heard from many speakers today that it was not long ago that wife battering was hidden behind closed doors. Victims did not talk about it; society in general either did not know it was taking place or did not want to know about it, nor did professionals.
Fortunately, the situation is changing. I think the public now recognizes that wife battering is a crime, that an assault is still an assault, even if the victim and assailant are related or legally connected. This was amply outlined in a very eloquent way in the committee by the chairman at that time, the member for High Park-Swansea.
I will outline the activities of the ministry to counteract family violence in four very special areas, namely, expanding transition homes and setting up family resource centres in the north; improving the funding for transition homes; prevention and education; and professional training.
First, the transition house system for women and their children, the victims of violence, has come a long way since the mid-1970s when the first house with 18 beds opened on Spadina Road in Toronto. My ministry today supports more than 1,000 places for battered women and their children. We are at present operating 45 transition houses across the province and another 17 multipurpose hostels for women and their families.
Last year we allocated $1.7 million in capital grants to the establishment of 12 family resource centres in northern Ontario communities. Six of the 12 have already been announced and the remaining six will be under construction this summer. As a matter of fact, the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) and I will open one in Sturgeon Falls on May 11. I will convey to them the very derogatory remarks of the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps).
Ms. Copps: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if the minister, in his rather untoward way, could be a bit specific about any derogatory remarks. What the member for Hamilton Centre said was that family resource centres were not going to be the only solution to a multipronged problem. I wish the minister would invite me to join him in Sturgeon Falls, because I would be very happy to convey that expression to every person at the meeting.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate if you would add 30 seconds to my time.
The Acting Speaker: No, we will not. You have the time that is left. Those are the House rules. The minister has three minutes, 17 seconds.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Parallel to the expansion of the transition house system for women and children has been the evolution of a new funding system. The new funding formula currently in operation recognizes the unique nature of these shelters and ensures a basic level of staffing and service in all of them.
Last year $4 million in new money for services for battered women and their children was provided. Most of that new money is being spent on increased operating subsidies for transition houses and on the new family resource centres I mentioned a moment ago. An amount of $337,000 was spent in 1983-84 to assist transition houses with immediate financial problems.
As a government, we said none would fail. For the coming year, about $3.2 million has been allocated in the ministry's base budget for the long-term stabilization of transition houses.
I feel sure members will agree that action in these areas is essential, particularly in prevention, if we are to prevent family violence. My ministry and the women's directorate are working together to combat this appalling social problem.
The film library of this program currently lends to professionals and concerned non-professionals, free of charge, films on the subject of wife assault. The prevention program is creating two types of prevention kits, one for the general public and another for professional people. The kit for the general public will define the nature of the problem, suggest ways of dealing with the problem and describe the services available to help the victims. In the professional kit, the underlying causes of family violence will be discussed, various prevention measures explained and methods of counselling suggested.
Hand in hand with prevention goes education; my staff has also turned its attention to this aspect. Discussions with native organizations are being held. My ministry is being particularly sensitive to cultural and language differences. We have to be attentive to helping native women recognize and forestall family violence through information in their own language. At the same time, we will develop pamphlets and brochures in other languages for new Canadians and handbooks for various organizations of immigrants, and we will help immigrant women to avoid or to counteract family violence. This will be done in collaboration with the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture.
We will also be directing a program to young people in the high schools. Again, this will be a joint ministry effort involving the Ministry of Education, the women's directorate and the Social Development and Justice policy fields.
We will also be doing a great deal of work in training. Indeed, many of the seminars that have been held were not just occasions for people to exchange views; they laid a very solid foundation for the training programs that are going to be increasingly necessary, because as we begin to meet the problems we know of today, we are going to meet new challenges and we are going to have to deal with increasingly more difficult cases because of the manner in which this particularly intolerable blight on our society has tended to operate.
Motion agreed to.
REPORT, STANDING COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: CHILD ABUSE (CONCLUDED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the recommendations contained in the second report of the standing committee on social development on family violence: child abuse.
The Acting Speaker: Is there general agreement that the time will be shared on this and, if so, what amount of time for each speaker? How much time is there altogether?
Assistant Clerk: Approximately 31 minutes for each party.
The Acting Speaker: There is approximately 31 minutes for each party; so would we say 15 minutes to each --
Mr. Robinson: With respect, Mr. Speaker, it would be difficult to have 93 minutes in the remaining 72 minutes.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Seventy-two minutes would be 24 minutes each.
The Acting Speaker: Shall we go 10 minutes each'?
Mr. Robinson: If I may I speak to the point, Mr. Speaker, what we did on the last matter, while I was occupying the chair, was simply to divide the time available for the debate, which is now approximately 70 minutes, by three and let the three parties use whatever portion of it they wish.
The Acting Speaker: Bully. That sounds just fine. The honourable member may proceed, starting now.
Mr. Robinson: Are we adding up now? What are we adding up?
The Acting Speaker: We will split it three ways, and you will know how much total time there is for your party.
Mr. Robinson: Mr. Speaker, it is my very distinct pleasure to return to the debate, the adjournment of which I moved upon introducing this report from the standing committee on social development last December, dealing specifically with the area of family violence and the topic of child abuse.
When I introduced the report to the House at that time, I made some very brief comments, one or two of which I would like to reiterate today for the sake of debate and for the record. The first one is that the committee considered this report on the basis of a declaration of the rights of a child proposed and supported by the United Nations some time ago.
Part of that declaration says: "A child shall enjoy special protection and shall be given opportunities and facilities by law and by other means to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be paramount." With that rather high ideal in mind, the committee went on for a number of weeks and through many witnesses to develop the report that is before the House now.
The most shocking fact we came across in our deliberations, and one that flies completely in the face of the declaration I just shared with you, was that one girl in four and one boy in 10 will be sexually molested by an adult at some time during his or her childhood. It was against that very real, stark and unhappy backdrop we brought this report before the House and are debating it today.
Currently, the Child Welfare Act establishes the statutory framework for the protection of children in Ontario. Several witnesses drew to the committee's attention sections of that act they found to be inadequate or impractical from the perspective of preventing child abuse and also other sections those witnesses claimed were simply not being enforced. I will speak to those in greater detail in a moment.
Under the Child Welfare Act, children's aid societies must not only investigate allegations of abuse and protect children, but also prevent abuse by providing guidance and counselling to the families in question. The committee was told time and time again of the conflict that arises between the protective and the treatment aspects of the CASs' responsibilities. Accordingly, we have recommended that the mandate of children's aid societies under the Child Welfare Act be altered.
We want children's aid societies to retain and maintain their primary responsibility for the protection of children. However, we also recognize that major treatment and family support services should be provided by other agencies, but in a multi-agency model relating back to the children's aid societies as the prime movers.
The mandatory reporting provisions in the Child Welfare Act were the subject of extensive testimony and resulting extensive press coverage at the time. The Child Welfare Act requires everyone in Ontario to report to a CAS any information he has on the abuse of a child. In addition, professionals and officials must report cases of suspected child abuse. If they fail to do so, they may be prosecuted and, if convicted, fined up to $1,000.
The committee learned, notwithstanding those provisions, that each year -- the estimates vary because it is hard to nail down the number -- somewhere between 500 and 1,000 serious cases of abuse, by the most conservative of estimates, are not coming to the attention of children's aid societies. In March 1983, when we were holding public hearings, we were surprised to discover that no professional or official at that time had ever been prosecuted for nonreporting. Since that time a number of professionals have faced criminal charges in this matter.
The committee viewed the underreporting by professionals as seriously undermining the work of children's aid societies in their efforts to protect children. We place a special responsibility on professional faculties, governing bodies and associations to ensure their students and members are aware of their statutory reporting obligations. It is also essential that nonreporting by professionals be followed, as we said earlier, by a more vigorous laying of charges and a pursuit through the judicial process.
Once verified by a CAS, the case of abuse is supposed to be recorded in the central child abuse register. We found more difficulty and more conflicting evidence in this regard. The register is a creation of the Child Welfare Act, which will eventually become part of the proposed Child and Family Services Act, which the committee has also studied more recently.
Previously, before June 15, 1979, at least, there had not been a formal registry. It had been kept more as a matter of administrative policy. Following the establishment of the present formal registry, the number of reports by CASs actually declined. There was seemingly a greater reluctance by professionals to commit themselves to commit information to a formal registry. Evidence presented to the committee for the years 1981 and 1982 disclosed that CASs did not report for registration more than half their verified cases.
We feel strongly the register should continue, but be made more effective. In furtherance of that objective, we have proposed the criteria for registration be broadened to include not only verified cases of abuse, but also those cases where there are reasonable and probable grounds to suspect abuse. This becomes a thorny issue between those things that are actual and those that are suspicious.
The need for interprofessional co-operation is the theme that surfaces throughout our report. We feel such co-operation is crucial at all stages -- investigation, assessment, treatment and disposition of a case of child abuse. So does the Metropolitan Chairman's Special Committee on Child Abuse. It notes in its statements of principle that effective response requires the full co-operation and co-ordination of all systems. In our report we commend the Metro committee for its excellent work in preparing a child sexual abuse protocol.
CASs throughout the province should examine the protocol's co-ordinated approach and consider adapting it to local conditions. The committee's report emphasizes that professionals must receive more extensive training on the subject of child abuse. The committee is deeply concerned that in-service training of CAS workers often takes place on an ad hoc and not a co-ordinated basis. As a result, we have recommended that the Ministry of Community and Social Services introduce standards and guidelines for in-service training programs for child protection workers.
Another significant issue for the committee was the role of the criminal justice system. The issue also arose last year during our hearings on wife battering. In our first report on family violence, as the members have just heard, we stressed that police officers must be instructed to lay charges in wife assault cases. We have reached the same conclusion, perhaps even more stridently, on the heinous act of child abuse.
Theoretically, abusers may be prosecuted under the Criminal Code or the Child Welfare Act. In practice, few charges are laid, and then usually under the Criminal Code. It is our strong opinion as a committee that any assault, whether against a child or an adult, is a criminal offence. No matter what form the abuse may take, prosecution will demonstrate to the offender society's intolerance of the breach of its laws.
The committee recognizes that the criminal justice system has certain deficiencies when cases of child abuse are prosecuted. For instance, there is the potentially traumatic effect on a child victim who must testify in court about the abuse. In our report we have recommended special measures, such as the use of anatomically correct dolls, to help overcome the obstacles posed by the criminal process.
In consideration of those things, we also took great heed of the need for children to be interviewed as few times as possible, and then in a most comprehensive and organized way. We learned from evidence that often when a child is required to tell a story eight or nine times -- and I am sure my friend the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan) remembers this -- his natural creativity and his own boredom with the repetition of the telling of the tale would cause him to alter certain details, not in any malicious way but simply by being imaginative and exploring the situation as it develops.
Therefore, to make evidence more effective, we are recommending that the child or victim and other witnesses, child witnesses, be interviewed the fewest times, yet the most comprehensive number of times, necessary.
In the long term the real answer to child abuse lies in prevention. Preventive services should be locally developed to meet local issues and should include, among other things, parenting courses, parent-support groups for abusive parents, drop-in centres and hot lines. Those services also have a treatment component, but in the long term if preventive efforts are to succeed, a change in attitude is really necessary. In this regard, public education programs must be conducted in our schools and in the community. Students must be taught nonviolent problem-solving techniques, and they must be taught through a hands-on approach, actually dealing with children.
I move on in my remarks to say that when the committee travelled to Kenora and then to the Grassy Narrows reserve to hear further witnesses nearly a year ago now, the evidence presented in the north contributed to one of our major recommendations, the need for the movement towards native autonomy. It is a larger issue of overall autonomy, of our interests particularly, and the necessary autonomy in the provision of child welfare service. It must be accelerated in your committee's opinion, Mr. Speaker.
Among our other recommendations, very briefly -- and I do not want to take up all of the time allotted to the government -- in order to assist in the identification of high-risk families, families where incidents of child abuse may be more likely or may be more frequent, a uniform checklist should --
Mr. Stokes: You mean the Conservative Party, not the government. The time allocation is on a party basis.
Mr. Robinson: I thank the member for Lake Nipigon. I was simply indicating that I --
Hon. Mr. Drea: Ignore the interjections.
Mr. Robinson: The minister says I should ignore the interjections.
I do not want to take up all of the time available for us over here, however we may be, of whatever condition.
I wanted to make the point, and I know my friend the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) would want me to make it because it was certainly one of her priorities, that in order to assist in the identification of those high-risk families, a uniform checklist should be used by all hospital emergency rooms in Ontario when dealing with alleged accidental injuries to children.
There should also be multidisciplinary child abuse teams established at the case management level so there can be some intercession before the matter goes in one direction or another. As well, the obligation to report suspected cases of child abuse should not be contingent upon the abuse being caused or permitted by the person who has charge of the child; that is a recommendation of no small significance in Ontario either.
Wherever possible, at the sentencing stage, after the whole criminal justice process has occurred, there should be a specific plan of treatment for the abuser. It should be proposed in court and it should be followed up.
Children's aid societies must make every effort to identify the child's welfare needs with respect to the ethnocultural community and its own background.
The report goes on to make many other recommendations; eventually it takes us as far as 44 in total. I commend not only the report but also its recommendations to the House.
I would be remiss if in concluding my brief remarks I did not also commend all members of the standing committee on social development who served in the preparation of this report. As my colleague the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) noted earlier in the matter of wife abuse, there was even more outstanding co-operation in the area of child abuse. There is no one in this House and no one on that committee who would not likely recognize child abuse to be the most heinous of all crimes in our society.
I am pleased that in the intervening time -- it is somewhat interesting in a legislative way that so much time can go by -- the Ministry of Community and Social Services, in concert with the Provincial Secretariat for Social Development and the areas of Justice responsibility, has already taken such major steps to make so many of these recommendations reality; and equally that they, like all members of the provincial assembly, recognize the necessity of coming to grips with this problem in the most gripping of fashions.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, it has been a privilege for me to serve on this committee and I want to commend all members of the committee, especially the chairman, who handled some very sensitive and trying issues. For one so young -- I can say this at my age -- he exhibited a maturity and a sensitivity that was appreciated by all members.
Not having a background in this work, I certainly found it a revelation. One of the things I just wanted to express to all members is the realization that came to me of the tremendous responsibility and weight that we put on the shoulders of those people who work for children's aid societies. They have to balance their dual roles: being social workers and trying to bring guidance, counselling and assistance to troubled families, and at the same time having the authority, I believe the necessary authority, to have to say to those families:
"There is a bottom line. I am here to do all the work I can possibly do as an individual, with my limited budget and with my limited help and tremendous work load, but you have to do something too or under my authority I am going to bring in the final bottom line, which is the right of the courts to take the child away from you."
I do not know of very many people on whom we place such an onerous burden, unless it is a physician or someone in the health care field dealing with life-and-death circumstances where they decide to take some final last chance that might help the person or let nature take its course.
The children's aid society workers are almost in that same position because they are making what turns out in many cases to be life-and-death decisions. Unhappily, in the odd case, it has been death, but they are also dealing with the life of that family and the life of that child and in the larger sense I guess it is the life of the community. I can only say I have to take my hat off to people who decide on a career as social workers.
I do wonder if we give them the support they fully need in this job. As I understand it, they are largely people from middle-class families and maybe even upper-class families of the socioeconomic order. They attend high school, they attend university, and they come out with social worker's degrees. I really wonder if we have prepared them for the hard knocks they are going to receive or the difficult decisions they have to make. They follow the same course of education as for many other areas where the results of the novice decisions are not so far-reaching and where we can afford a few mistakes, but in this area we require these people to make decisions and we cannot allow them to make mistakes. I will just bring that to members' attention.
We ask for co-operation. It became evident in the terms of the committee that there are so many areas that require co-operation, and yet as we organize ourselves in society, we take courses in universities and we come out with a label, and every one of us who comes out feels he is an expert in that field. We tend to discount people who are in other areas of the social system.
It is very difficult to convince those people that they should yield to someone who has a different degree or perhaps even to someone who does not have a degree. I have seen many instances of this in my own field, which is an entirely different field. I can well understand that we do have problems of co-operation.
What hit all of us the hardest was not the physical abuse but the extent of sexual abuse. I guess we can understand that people have a physical nature to them. We tend to strike out at our enemies, we tend to act and think later, so it is somewhat understandable, although we certainly do not condone the action of hurting a child.
I think there were many of us on the committee who did not realize the harm that can come from striking a child, or who did not realize that by shaking a child under two years of age, an action I think many of us have seen within our own families -- it is not all that uncommon -- can actually cause brain damage in that child, as can heavy blows. There can be psychological damage as well.
The one that shocked us all, because we did not know the extent of it, was the matter of sexual abuse. We were shocked by the material that was shown to us, some of which would never pass the censor. About eight weeks ago, I attended weekend seminars in Toronto, one of which was put on by Citizens for Decency and the other by the Coalition against Violence in the Media. Both seminars were actually sickening in the effect they had upon the participants. I did not sleep well, feel well or function well for a couple of weeks afterwards, because some of the things I saw were so overwhelming.
I mentioned this to other people who attended. One who attended part-time was the member for Oriole (Mr. Williams). I do not know whether he stayed there all day and saw some of the worst of it, as I did, but those I have talked to who stayed there for the entire day indicated their whole being had been affected for some time.
They had a chap from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was the only person who dealt with material that was not available across the counter. All the other people were dealing with items available across the counter. He told us about a group of people who exist both in the United States and Canada who go by the name of paedophiles.
Those people are often accused of being homosexuals, when in fact they are a group of people who cannot relate to other adults, but can only relate in a sexual way to children. The things they are capable of doing defy the imagination. Each of those people claims a child as a victim for a period of only about two years. In the course of their sexually active lives, they can deal with 20 or more children.
The FBI man told us about a network these people have in the United States and Canada of letter-writing and bookkeeping situations whereby they pass the names of their victims on to one another. They even discovered a group of people who were doing this with the aid of computers. He showed us some of the computer printouts they had confiscated which listed the names and activities of the various children.
A very shocking thing they brought to us was about some of the innocent things that happen in every family, such as photographing a young child of two or three years of age in the bathtub, which is not uncommon. In the hands of paedophiles, these become materials they collect.
They even collect materials such as one would find on the front page of a fashion magazine. They showed one of the most popular fashion magazines with a 10-year-old girl depicting frontal nudity. I suppose in the eyes of Victorians that would be pretty shocking, but in this modern age we look at those things and say, "Is that not cute?" We are accustomed to it and do not think much of it. In the hands of a paedophile, that becomes very arousing material they use to carry on their nefarious work.
What I really wish to raise is the fact that in both the studies we have done we have uncovered a lot of items out there that bother us, but we really have not uncovered many of the causes. It seems to me that what is left unfinished and desperately cries out to be done is a study to find some of the causes. Surely, one of those causes has to be the present media and the things we accept as normal on television and in the area of videocassettes.
This brings up the whole question of how we stand as civil libertarians, bearing in mind that each us has been brought up with a background of toleration for other people and for the acts of other people, to try to allow as much freedom in our society as we possibly can. That has worked fairly well within the society up until very recently, because one could find most of the things we were talking about in literature, in plays or the Art Gallery of Ontario.
One could see some of the old masters which, in the view of some of the people who attended this conference, were actually the pornography of the day. We look upon them as great art. The people who analysed this point out it was the pornography of that age. It was seen by very few people, mostly educated people who could absorb it and take it in a context that was not harmful to society. Today, these items are available to all ages, to all children, and we are bringing them up with a background of that sort of material. We have to go back and examine some of our precepts and stands on the matter of censorship and civil libertarianism.
I tend to have some sympathy for the stand of my colleagues on the left who say we should not have censorship, that we should prosecute those people who step beyond what we accept as normal. Under our censorship system, we do the policing. We cut out the items we find objectionable; we cut out only a minimum, allowing a great deal of material to go through. We do their work for them.
On the other hand, we would put the onus upon these people if we were to allow them to show whatever they wanted to show, take the risk of being charged with obscenity and carrying on obscene acts, having their material completely removed, bringing charges against their theatres, and so on.
I am not sure which is the proper approach, but I have some sympathy for both of them.
Mr. Stokes: The member is saying the Criminal Code is ineffectual in its present form.
Mr. McGuigan: Absolutely. It is ineffective in its present form; however, that is being addressed and we hope when the Criminal Code is changed, we will --
Mr. Stokes: By your namesake?
Mr. McGuigan: Yes, by my namesake. We hope it will deal with those problems.
I have covered some of the things that impressed me as an individual. In closing, I would be wrong to say it was a pleasure because many of the things we went through were really not pleasurable; nevertheless, it was a great experience and I am glad to have taken part in this work.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on the second report on family violence: child abuse, of the standing committee on social development. I must confess to members of the House that I came in on this part of the report late in the game. I had three or four weeks on the child abuse section. I really did not understand all the legislation, or start to, until we got into the new Child Welfare Act a little later on, but I do have some impressions I want to pass on to the House.
I also want to say I found it a working committee and an interesting committee. I tip my hat to its chairman and staff in keeping it on topic and not as combative and controversial as some committees of this House I have sat on.
Certainly, Philip Kaye, Albert Nigro, Kathleen Finlay, Merike Madisso and Lynn Mellor all were helpful to me on that committee in getting the information together and understanding what was going on.
I have to say, and I want to come back to it, that if there is a shortcoming here and in the changes we might be taking a look at with respect to the Child Welfare Act, it is in whether or not we are going to have an adequate children's bill of rights in the legislation. That was a legitimate point a number of people raised.
Like other speakers, I too was appalled at the extent of the abuse problem. In our report we commented that the Ministry of Community and Social Services estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 children in Ontario are physically hurt, emotionally abused or sexually assaulted each year. Yet the more we heard from the witnesses before us, the more it became evident that was probably a very small figure. It is probably much larger than that in total. Certainly, if any of the indications of sexual abuse are accurate, there is a bigger problem in that itself.
I also want to make a brief comment on the help I got from the staff and the way the committee was handled by the chairman. Since this was a completely new field for me, it was made easier by the contribution of my colleague the member for Scarborough West. He made a major contribution to this committee. He knew what the act was all about. There may have been some arguments over the positions he took with other members on the committee, but it was a heck of a lot easier having somebody there who knew the issues and the problems. He tried all the way through to deal constructively with some of the problems he thought we should be taking a look at in society today.
I went quickly through the recommendations in the report, of which there are 44 and which the chairman of the committee referred to earlier, and noted the number to which my colleague made a specific contribution. Early in the game it became apparent that one of the problems we had was a lack of adequate information and research in Ontario. We did not have the native research that was necessary, the long-term studies of child abuse victims in Ontario and of the environmental factors.
We heard from a number of people. I was impressed even more recently, when we were discussing the proposed Child and Family Services Act, with the comments of Douglas Barr of the Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto on the growing feeling that one of the problems of child abuse and family violence is the economic problems we are facing in society today.
He talked of the desperate attempts of people to maintain their homes and an adequate diet, and said there was nothing left over when it comes to the children being able to come anywhere near the norms in the schools they may attend or having a little extra to take in some recreational activities, camp activities or whatever. Environmental factors and economic factors, diet included, caused some of the problems. I did not give much credit to one or two of the presentations on diet, but we had people before us who indicated the effect an improper diet could have in terms of family reaction to children and abuse of the children.
The very first recommendation in the report, that the Ministry of Community and Social Services must encourage and fund research into the whole problem, and long-term studies in particular, is a valid one. While there is some cost associated with that, it may give us a better direction, or a better handle, on what the best recommendations are that are made in the report itself in total and what might produce the most results.
The second recommendation, that the Child Welfare Act must be amended to encourage the development of an interagency, multidisciplinary model for the prevention of child abuse, with the children's aid societies retaining primary responsibility, was a good one. I know the interagency and multidisciplinary approach received a lot of discussion in the committee. It makes some sense to me that we should try to pull together the best minds to give some direction in the approach we are going to take to the problems we face. That was an area a number of members on the committee spent some time on, but it was of particular interest to my colleague the member for Scarborough West.
As a result of some of the problems with the children's aid societies, there was a call for an operational review process, with complete reviews of each children's aid society to be done as soon as possible to take a look at how they handle specific cases. I think it was a valid point that was made.
There was a call, under "Identification and Assessment," for the Ministry of Health, together with the Ministry of Community and Social Services, to convene a joint meeting of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, the Ontario Hospital Association and the Ontario Public Health Association "in order to develop a general procedure for consistent, province-wide information-taking at birth" and for this mechanism to be "integrated into regular hospital procedures to help in the detection of high-risk families," which got some discussion. It was aimed at trying to put us a little more on the preventive approach to the problems so we would know where to zero in and where we were most likely to have trouble in terms of child abuse.
In terms of treatment, the call for priority to be given to the funding of local child abuse treatment and prevention programs and the establishment of local, multidisciplinary child abuse teams made a lot of sense to me. It was an area on which we spent some time and I think it is a positive approach.
The mandatory reporting provisions are a positive approach. There are several recommendations under that section, including: "The Child Welfare Act must be amended to require all persons, including professionals and officials, to make a report to the CAS when they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child has suffered abuse or is otherwise in need of protection." It almost seems like motherhood.
"The Child Welfare Act must be amended to allow professionals, when reporting cases of suspected child abuse, to communicate any information which led to that suspicion without having committed a breach of confidentiality." That area got a considerable amount of discussion in the committee. The recommendation may seem a little bit contrary. I do not think so; I think it is a valid one.
These were all areas that were of concern to my colleague the member for Scarborough West in our deliberations in the committee. Under "Judicial System," recommendation 24 struck me as being important, and a part of it very important. I will just read it into the record:
"The Ministry of the Solicitor General through the Ontario Police Commission should instruct municipal and provincial police forces in Ontario to lay charges in child abuse cases when they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that abuse has occurred. If charges under the Criminal Code are not possible, consideration should be given to the laying of charges under subsection 47(2) of the Child Welfare Act.
"It is recognized that the criminal justice system has certain deficiencies when cases of child abuse are prosecuted; steps must be taken to overcome these deficiencies. These steps should include, among others: (1) the questioning of a victim by a multiprofessional team to reduce the number of interviews; and (2) the use of anatomically correct dolls to prepare the child for court and to assist the child when testifying."
We heard a number of times about the fact that one could go through two or three interviews in the same case and especially where child abuse and sexual abuse were involved. It became very difficult. It was possible to end up with different answers. If we are going to have an adequate approach, it has to be a team approach and probably done once, or only with follow-ups, as long as all the disciplines are there.
"The crown and defence counsel, in consultation with the CAS and specialized treatment facilities, should, whenever possible, propose to the court a specific plan of treatment for the abuser. The court should also have available a pre-sentence report which assesses the appropriateness of the treatment order." In other words, it was suggested that the authorities should be there to suggest a particular line of treatment or approach.
There was some discussion about the responsibility of the Ministry of Community and Social Services to introduce standards and guidelines for in-service training and preparing programs for child protection workers. Once again it almost sounds like motherhood, but it is a step that needs to be taken. We need some consistency in the training programs.
There was a call for sufficient funds for agencies and their budgets to permit agency workers to attend training courses at the Ontario Centre For The Prevention Of Child Abuse, which was a valid recommendation as well.
A number of the recommendations do involve funding, and that, I know, in these times is always difficult. On the other hand, I do not know of anything more important than dealing with this problem we are faced with in respect of child abuse, and there are probably few topics that will raise public concern and sympathy for positive actions or programs more quickly than when talking about child abuse.
Probably if there was an area of shortcoming, in our opinion, the prevention end of it was it. We are not dealing with the role that day care may play either with respect to child abuse or in the more recent section that we dealt with on the new Child Welfare Act changes, and this is to be lamented. I think it is important that we do take a serious look at what all of the preventive roles are, and there is no question in my mind that day care is one of the preventive roles.
Recommendation 36 says: "The Ministry of Community and Social Services should develop a public education program to inform the public about the problem of child abuse and the obligation to report cases of suspected child abuse. In developing this program the ministry should be sensitive to the multilingual nature of Ontario society." It would be difficult for any of us on the committee to argue with that recommendation, and I do not think any of us did.
Recommendation 39 says: "The Ministry of Education should develop guidelines for mandatory family studies courses. Such courses should teach nonviolent problem solving and include a 'hands-on' approach." I know of few other sections in the report that were stressed more positively and with more feeling and passion by my colleague the member for Scarborough West than this approach.
If there was another area in the recommendations and in our deliberations in the report that we stressed as strongly, it probably was with respect to the native people and the obvious necessity of setting up an awful lot more control by the native people themselves over the development and delivery of services and programs to deal with the problem within the native community.
I think they also have to develop, as recommendation 42 says, "a different formula for the funding of social services in the north." The funding arrangement has to "take into account the unique problems which hinder the delivery of social services to northern communities and fund them accordingly."
In the whole area of our native people, where so much of the problem seems to exist, I find it difficult to accept that we can impose our standards, if you like, our ideas of treatment, our ideas of the family unit on a culture and a people who just do not operate by the kinds of standards and guidelines we have. I think that is why we have been in so much trouble in looking after the whole question of child abuse in the native and northern communities. We have to look seriously at some rather major changes in our approach in that area.
Those areas are the ones that stood out in my mind, and I must confess that they were highlighted and made easier for me to understand by the arguments -- l think very good arguments -- that were made by the member for Scarborough West.
I would like to finish by saying simply that I think we have to take a look at a bill of rights for children, called for often during the hearings on child abuse, a number of times by a number of groups, and certainly something we have asked for in the changes in the Child Welfare Act.
While I understand the arguments some people make when they ask, "Hey, what does a code really tell you?" I think this issue is so important to us that points which were made in this House five years ago by my colleague our party whip -- or his whipship, as we call him here -- are valid recommendations.
There should be a basic code for every child in the province that covers the right to food, clothing and housing to ensure good health and personal development; the right to an environment free from physical abuse, exploitation and degrading treatment; the right to health care necessary to promote physical and mental health and to remedy illness; the right to reside with parents and siblings except where it is in the best interests of the child for the child to reside elsewhere; the right to parental and adult support guidance and continuity in the child's life; the right to an education that will ensure every child the opportunity to reach and exercise his or her full potential; the right to play and recreation.
It should cover the right to have his or her opinions heard and to be included to the greatest extent possible when any decisions are being made affecting his or her life; the right to independent adult counselling and legal assistance in relation to all decisions affecting guardianship, custody or a determination of status; the right to a competent interpreter where language or a disability is a barrier in relation to all decisions affecting guardianship, custody or a determination of status; the right to an explanation of all decisions affecting guardianship, custody or a determination of status; and the right to be informed of the rights of children and to have them applied and enforced.
Having that kind of set of rules or children's bill of rights set out in the recommendations would probably indicate, more clearly even than the recommendations we have here, our priority in establishing treatment, care and standards for children that will help us not only to mobilize public opinion to do away with the problems we have, the deficiencies that cause the problems, but also to remedy and make the changes in legislation that are needed to guarantee protection for children who are abused in society.
I thank the chairman for the opportunity, and I thank the committee for what was for me a valuable learning experience. I think the recommendations are excellent. I have to say only this: I have sat on many committees in my eight short years in this Legislature where we have made a number of very good recommendations, and I have seen very few recommendations, whether on pensions, plant closures, the Ontario health insurance plan or whatever, that have actually seen the light of legislation.
I have a growing cynicism -- and I do not like it -- as to whether good work such as I think was done by this committee and other good recommendations that are made are really going to see the light of day anywhere near in total as to the changes that are needed in legislation. I guess that is my biggest, single complaint about how we do things in this House.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that for many months the ministry has not only launched but also engaged in an all-out war against child abuse in this province. It is a war we are waging on many fronts, using a range of tactics. I can say without hesitation that I believe our efforts on behalf of abused children in this province are second to none on the continent.
In the forefront of our battle to overcome child abuse is the Ontario Centre For The Prevention Of Child Abuse. This provincial child abuse training and resource centre was announced in late summer of 1983 and opened in Toronto in November 1983. It is a joint project of my ministry, the Canadian Children's Foundation and professionals from a variety of disciplines in the community as a whole.
As one of the first such centres in North America, this centre represents a whole new direction in the struggle against child abuse. We are confident it will become the model for all of North America. The board of directors of the centre is made up of pre-eminent, concerned and experienced professionals.
The chairman of the board is Dr. Robert Bates, a well-known paediatrician at the Hospital For Sick Children and a man renowned for his work in the field of child abuse prevention. Other board members include a judge, a public health nurse, two child psychiatrists, a director of a children's aid society, a police officer and a dean of social work, just to name a few of the professionals involved.
I might bring the members up to date on some of the major activities of the centre because, first of all, the centre has brought together all three of the ministry's ongoing child abuse prevention activities. I refer to the children's aid society training courses -- the Garber training -- our ministry's child abuse prevention program and the child abuse register.
At the same time, the centre is providing multidisciplinary training courses for professionals throughout the province who work with children. What the centre is doing through these courses is providing an opportunity for professionals from a range of disciplines to meet, exchange information and learn about child abuse prevention together. In my view, that is one of the most exciting aspects of the centre.
Since late last year four such multidisciplinary training courses have been held. Professionals from interprofessional child abuse committees in 12 different communities have attended. These communities are, and I think they exemplify the wide impact of the centre, Renfrew, Sudbury-Manitoulin, Windsor-Essex, Niagara, Brampton, Frontenac, Algoma, Bruce, Halton, Nipissing, Simcoe and Durham.
The professionals attending the courses include police officers, paediatricians, lawyers, public health nurses, children's aid society workers and other professionals who work with children. The courses provide training in early identification of child abuse, skilled investigation, treatment of child abuse victims and effective prevention of child abuse, as well as information on working with the courts. The aim of the courses is to assist professionals to work effectively together to combat child abuse in their own communities.
During 1984 we plan to provide 17 training sessions for multidisciplinary professionals from up to 51 communities. I am confident the multidisciplinary training offered by these centres will serve to increase the understanding, co-operation and effective action among professionals who come up against child abuse in their work.
As I have said, the Ontario Centre For The Prevention Of Child Abuse is one of our major new fronts in the war against child abuse, but it is not the only front. My ministry is also seeking to clarify the law surrounding child abuse and child abuse reporting through the draft legislation for the proposed Child and Family Services Act.
Let me outline some of the proposals in that draft legislation that deal with child abuse. In the area of professional reporting on child abuse cases, one of the proposals in the draft act broadens the type of information that must be reported to include suspicion and all information upon which it is based. This means professionals will have greater latitude and legal protection in offering their professional opinions on suspected child abuse cases. We are confident that will enhance professional reporting of this serious problem.
At the same time, the professionals upon whom the duty to report abuse is being imposed are listed in the draft act. They include health care, educational, religious, law enforcement, legal and social service professionals.
The new draft act also provides for the establishment of interdisciplinary abuse review committees that will review and recommend actions to be taken to protect children believed to have been abused. The new act gives the committees access to information that might otherwise be confidential in order to facilitate their duties. I want to make it clear, however, that broadening of confidentiality is limited to the team members only.
Finally, the act gives the court power to order that an abuser be prohibited from access to or contact with the child in need of protection.
In general, I believe our new draft legislation will provide great assistance to the courts and to all professionals in carrying out their duties in regard to the protection of abused children in this province.
These are perhaps the most dramatic initiatives my ministry has undertaken in recent months in the area of child abuse prevention. At the same time, we have been continuing the ongoing child abuse prevention activities my ministry has been involved with for almost a decade. In 1976, the ministry established a child abuse prevention program under the direction of a full-time co-ordinator to fund and promote projects and activities across the province. That program continues under the auspices of the Ontario Centre For The Prevention Of Child Abuse.
Let me outline some of the accomplishments of the program. Through the child abuse prevention program, the ministry has given support and encouragement to the creation of local child abuse planning committees and multiprofessional diagnostic and treatment teams across the province. Today there are 41 local interagency child abuse planning and co-coordinating committees in operation in Ontario and another 38 multiprofessional child abuse treatment and case management teams.
Staff from our child abuse program have also provided assistance to hospitals and school boards in developing procedures for handling child abuse and in developing guidelines to improve co-operation between hospitals and public health support. They have also sent guidelines to and co-operated with every police department and children's aid society in the province.
At the same time, through the child abuse prevention program, the ministry has allocated grants in excess of $3.5 million since 1976 to agencies, committees, colleges and universities to develop and test methods of preventing and dealing with child abuse and neglect. The program is also involved in a range of public education and professional training activities and projects, including distributing training materials to colleges, universities, hospitals and social service agents and establishing a central free-loan library on child abuse for the training of professionals and education of the public. Local libraries on child abuse have also been established in more than 50 Ontario communities with funds from the program.
Seminars and training workshops for professionals such as doctors, nurses, teachers, police, social workers, judges and lawyers have been funded. More than 40,000 professionals have been involved in such seminars and training workshops. Special reports and publications have been distributed to professionals to assist them to keep informed about the latest findings and most up-to-date approaches in dealing with child abuse.
Pamphlets have been distributed to the public to make people aware of the problem of child abuse and give advice on how to be better parents. Through conferences, consultation and funding, the child abuse prevention program is helping and will continue to help foster cooperation among local agencies, professionals and the general public in the fight against child abuse.
Following the report of the Garber task force on child abuse in 1978, the ministry has been involved in the development and provision of training courses for children's aid societies. This includes children's protection officers, supervisors, foster care trainers and CAS directors.
More than 7,000 child welfare professionals have benefited from these courses which will continue to be provided through the Ontario centres. These centres are major fronts on which the ministry is waging its war against child abuse. Quite bluntly, the goal is to eliminate child abuse in Ontario. To achieve this goal will take the combined efforts of all the concerned men and women in our society and the support of every decent person in Ontario.
As the members know, Ontario has long been a world leader in programs to enhance the wellbeing of children. Notwithstanding many of the complex problems that face us, the challenges of a changing and very complex time, I believe we can win the war against that most horrifying of crimes, the abuse of our children.
The question of child abuse is obviously a difficult one for any committee to deal with. I believe the committee dealt with it as well as any body could have. I do appreciate many of its suggestions, notwithstanding the fact that some of the things we were doing overtook the committee. It is incumbent on us to work together; the very quality of life in the future of our society is dependent upon what we do for the most defenceless and the most vulnerable, the children.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in this debate on the second report on family violence from the standing committee on social development and to praise the members of the committee from all parties for the diligence with which they undertook their assignment.
I also want to single out the chairman of the committee, now our former chairman, for being, in my brief experience on the committee, an evenhanded, fair and very helpful chairman in moving the committee ahead to both these reports, which I think have been useful in focusing attention on the issues and perhaps prodding the government just slightly.
I want to say at the outset that if t agree with one thing the minister said in his comments during the last few minutes, it is that there is no opposition from any member or any side of this House to putting an end to this terrible crime against the most defenceless in our society. I think the work of the standing committee as it looked into child abuse has set some very important goals for us to reach.
I sat and listened to the minister talk about training courses and conferences, as if somehow that would end the problem. But I want to talk about another part of the attack on child abuse, and that is the overall funding of those organizations, which would allow us to prevent the problem before it occurs or to deal with the problem when it does, and what has happened with that funding.
It seems to me that the policy of the government of this province is fundamentally shortsighted. By the budgetary cutbacks in the social service field and to the social agencies, it has unfortunately forced them to suspend, ironically, the very preventive programs the minister spoke about. I cannot imagine anything quite as shortsighted as that.
In my view the government must realize, aside from the desirability of preventing the abuse of children before the violence occurs out of sheer principle and respect for human dignity -- and I hope this would be all we would need -- it is simply more cost-effective. Preventive programs for child abuse, as in general health matters, are ultimately far less costly for the taxpayers of Ontario than the expensive hospitalization, trauma counselling and treatment centres that are necessary for victims.
I must confess before I go on that I am very uncomfortable in arguing for needed social services on the basis of cost-effectiveness alone. I would rather base my arguments just on compassionate principles about helping the powerless in our society, particularly the children. But I have to keep in mind, I suppose, the obsession this government has about money and its reluctance to spend it on desirable services. Perhaps if I can persuade the government that preventive programs are ultimately cheaper, it will properly fund the social agencies.
Let me look very briefly at the Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto to highlight the government's underfunding and shortsightedness. This agency is receiving $1 million less than it needs to function properly -- and this is the important thing in the report, and the minister knows it; the report has helped highlight this -- despite a 20 per cent increase in the reported cases of child sexual abuse handled by that agency. This is a problem, as it were, coming to the public attention not just in Metro, as the minister knows, but in a number of other municipalities where other CASs are also reporting that the number of child abuse cases coming to their attention is up in a very dramatic way. I think the work of the committee is partly responsible for this, and possibly the public attention that the ministry has given, which the minister himself spoke about in the last few minutes.
The social worker simply cannot handle effectively such a case load increase in the face of the staff cutbacks that the Metro CAS has been forced to implement. To quote its outgoing executive director, Mr. Doug Barr: "The society has come to the end of its tether in terms of slowly reducing programs. We have been doing a slow bleed, but now we face major surgery." I for one would want, for example, excellent preventive programs such as the high-risk infant project continued, but projects such as these need adequate government support.
Shortsightedness and lack of compassion are affecting the Metro CAS in other negative ways. With the province closing down almost 100 beds for mentally retarded and emotionally disabled children since 1980, Metro CAS has been forced to assume those cases of people who have nowhere else to go. It seems to me the government must realize that these actions create a domino effect. Impossible case loads and staff cutbacks will lead to the moving of child victims of abuse to foster homes and treatment centres costing between $100 and $150 a day because CAS will not have the time it needs for prevention programs.
The government tries to justify its cutbacks to the Metro CAS by saying the money will be diverted to the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto and to the Jewish Family and Child Service of Metropolitan Toronto, both of which, and I will admit, need money. Quite frankly, all the CASs should be appropriately funded by a government that is seriously committed to helping child victims.
As I said earlier, crucial child abuse prevention programs are the first to go as social agencies face tight budgets. The government will respond by saying, as the minister did, that it has set up the Ontario Centre For The Prevention Of Child Abuse for professionals to get together.
That is well and good, but where is the commitment to fund the preventive programs these professionals will recommend in the months to come? The onus, it seems to me, is on the government to find a responsive funding mechanism to meet the need. If such a mechanism were in place, the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton, for another example, would not have had to reduce by 20 per cent the level of preventive services it is providing this year.
Not only are preventive services threatened by the underfunding, but so are programs that service children who have already been sexually abused. For example, in the face of cutbacks by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ottawa-Carleton CAS has had to terminate its $65,000 play therapy program to balance its budget. With this action, the government is just saying, in a sense, "too bad" to those child victims who have benefited from this program.
This problem of funding for the CAS goes back a number of years, specifically to the last two years when the government has frozen CAS budgets at five per cent increases for both 1983 and 1984. The consequence has been that all over the province CASs are reporting additional deficit finances.
I want to raise one example in the last minute available to me because I think it highlights the kind of problem, and that is the case of the Family and Children's Services of Waterloo Region. The society experienced an increase in the number of families it helped, and a number of these were child abuse cases, of 48 per cent in 1983. The expected expansion in 1984 is another 14 per cent. In 1982 the society had been underfunded by $300,000. Last year received only a five per cent increase, despite the Child Welfare Review Committee report recommending a 16 to 17 per cent increase. The administration of this agency expects a deficit of somewhere in the range of $500,000 to $1 million.
Other societies in the north have deficits as well. Thunder Bay had a deficit of almost $500,000 in 1983 and Sudbury had a deficit of $140,000.
In closing, may I simply suggest that if we are going to treat this problem with the seriousness we should be treating it with -- and I do not think there is any single member of this Legislature who does not believe we ought to be getting on with the job not only of treating those who have been abused, but also of prevention -- it seems to me the social services maintenance tax, which provides several hundreds of millions of dollars, is a perfect place to find the money. If we are going to call it social services maintenance, let us direct some of the money into treating the cases and preventing cases of child abuse which are far too common in our society.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I did not have the privilege of sitting on the committee that discussed child abuse, but I am looking at its report. They have produced some very valuable recommendations; there are 44 in all. They will make a great step towards dealing with this very serious problem if they are implemented. That is the crux of the question.
It is no good giving picayune little grants to local councils to study the problem and to work with various interdisciplinary and interagency groups if money is not provided for the implementation of their recommendations. In particular, the recommendations which need very definite funding are the ones for preventive services of all kinds and the ones for providing adequate funding for children's aid societies to carry out the functions they are expected to carry out in the community. Treating children and families with compassion in order to meet their objective of keeping families together is the main one, and also ensuring that the welfare of the children is maintained.
Funding is needed for the development of child welfare services for native peoples to allow those on reserves to provide their own services and to provide some form of native services for people off the reserve. The situation where children are placed in non-native foster homes is something that has to be stopped. The development of native autonomy for the provision of services is a very important part of this report.
Another very important part is to increase the awareness of teachers and, in particular, day care workers of a child abuse situation. They meet the children at their very earliest years and the children may be very confused with the sorts of things that may be happening or with the messages they are getting.
My colleagues, the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) and the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston), recommend that the Day Nurseries Act should be part of any child welfare act as far as dealing with child abuse is concerned. That is the way to go. It is a very important recommendation. I may say it was a dissenting recommendation in the earlier report on the new Children's Act.
Finally, we need funding for public education to increase the awareness of professionals, people in all kinds of agencies and the general public as to the need to spend money on this problem. I am afraid it may be like the wife-battering report. We will get a lot of fine recommendations and a lot of demands from the community about how the situation can be improved, but we will not get the money to put those recommendations into effect. Therefore, I hope the budget the minister brings down will contain definite funding.
I might also say the state of the economy is part of the increase in numbers of both children in poverty and children who are being abused. There is some evidence that there is a connection between the state of the economy and the degree of child abuse. Certainly, the fact that 363,000 children in Ontario under the age of 15 are living in poverty and that 40 per cent of the people on social assistance in this province are children indicates that the state of the economy has a great deal to do with that other kind of child abuse, the fact that they are living in poverty. I hope the ministry will look at that as well.
Motion agreed to.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS IN ORDERS AND NOTICES
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before the adjournment of the House, I would like to table the answers to questions 1, 275, 276, 286, 287, 289, 290, 311 to 314, and 317, and the interim answers to questions 277, 308 and 309 [see Hansard for Friday, May 4].
The House adjourned at 6:01 p.m.