The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Peterson: This government has completely fallen apart, Mr. Speaker. Who is left? Only the group that is not running for the leadership? Who is here today?
Mr. Peterson: It is obvious that no one who is ambitious is here today.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, let me address my first question to the Minister of Health. I read with some interest in today's press that he may be changing his policy on extra billing. At least, it appears he is going to his federal colleagues to plead for some kind of relief from the Canada Health Act, and he may phase out extra billing. One does not know for sure what he is saying.
We do know the minister has withheld to this time some $17 million from the federal transfers. We are further continuing to lose some $4.4 million a month. My question is a simple one. Will he give us a clear statement of his government's policy on extra billing? Why will he not end it immediately?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the Leader of the Opposition and our colleagues on the other side of the House that I would at no time entertain making any significant announcement of new policy on the part of this government outside this Legislature. I would not do that under any circumstances.
The honourable member does accuse me at times of being slow in answering questions, but there are also times when it appears that the members of the press gallery are a little slow in responding to the answers they get when they nail me in the hall. For example, last Tuesday I explained what I meant when I used the expression "flexibility in the interpretation of the legislation" as the possibility of looking at options involving a phasing-in of a new approach to extra billing in this province. I was not advancing a specific, preferred solution. It is clearly one of a range of options that has been under consideration for some time.
Following some consultation with the federal government to determine more precisely its interpretation of what is meant by "appropriate compliance with the legislation" and some further consultation with the medical community, I will be in a position to make recommendations to my colleagues. I trust that will be before the end of the fall.
Mr. Peterson: While the minister is dithering, having discussions or pleading with his federal colleagues, and while he is trying to have some flexibility in the interpretation of the Canada Health Act and how he can wiggle out of it, if he is trying to do that, will he refund to the patients of Ontario who are being extra billed now that money they are spending by way of extra billing?
He presumably will argue that we will get a refund from the federal government when extra billing is banned. Will he give that same refund to the patients who are being extra billed now, tomorrow and yesterday?
Hon. Mr. Norton: The Leader of the Opposition ought to make some distinction between seeking an equitable solution and dithering about. If I have been dithering, then it has been while he has been scampering about this province making mealy-mouthed allegations that it is getting to the point where, to get into an Ontario hospital, one has to be a Tory. That is a totally irresponsible allegation for him to make and he knows it. Even the Liberals are offended by that kind of nonsense.
I have no plan under consideration to remit or reimburse anybody for extra billing. I do not think it would be a workable scheme at all. If he thinks about it, he would understand it would not be.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, apparently what was once a safety valve is now something else for the Liberal Party. I thought that party's position on extra billing was that it is a safety valve. I am somewhat bewildered.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: I would like to ask the Minister of Health this question.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Rae: I have obviously touched a sensitive nerve of some kind.
While the taxpayers of Ontario are losing more than $1 million a week, and the minister knows the revenue fund is short $1 million a week, the patients of this province are paying that $1 million a week to those members of the medical profession who have decided to have their cake and eat it at the same time.
In the light of that fact, how can the minister possibly justify the more than $50 million a year being transferred from ordinary sick people to a very small minority of the medical profession that has decided to opt out of the medicare scheme? Will he not take steps to remedy the situation right away? It is not just the taxpayers, it is people who are ill who are paying this very unfair penalty put on them by the medical profession and subsidized, called for and tolerated by a Tory government in Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I am not here to make a case for extra billing as a virtue. I have never taken that position, but I do hope there will always be at least some people in this Legislature who are prepared to look at a situation and say we must try to find an equitable and fair solution.
It seems at the moment we have a unanimous view on the opposite side of the House that we should forget the concept of fairness and the rules of the past 17 years in the medicare system in this country. We should ignore all that, even though this same provision was allowed for in Saskatchewan under the original Co-operative Commonwealth Federation scheme. Doctors have practised under those circumstances in this country for 17 years. I am not saying it is virtuous. I am saying, however, that in finding a solution one cannot ignore that there has been something of a social contract over that period of time.
Even Mr. Justice Emmett Hall has not said that we are in a state of crisis. He has said that if it is not dealt with, it could become a crisis in the future. I recognize the validity of that perception, and we are going to deal with it, but we will deal with it equitably and in the best interests of the consumer, while also seeking to be fair to the physicians of this province.
Mr. Peterson: With respect to his theory of equity and fairness, can the minister tell me where the equity and fairness are for Cecilia Murphy, aged 82, who has been extra billed for cataract operations and related visits for the past three years? For example, in August 1983 she had surgery at a cost of $403.20; the Ontario health insurance plan covered $288.50. She has not visited a doctor recently for a possible further operation because she believes she will be extra billed and cannot afford it.
That is a real case of someone who is not seeking proper medical care because she cannot afford it. Where is the equity and fairness for Cecilia Murphy?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I do not recall that the Leader of the Opposition has referred that specific case to me. If he has not, I suggest he has been remiss because we have a program in place with the Ontario Medical Association to redress those kinds of inequities that may arise from time to time.
If there is a situation such as he describes, and if he is willing to provide me with that information, we will deal with it. We have met with at least 98 per cent successful resolution of all the cases that have been raised as inequitable when they have been brought to the attention of the Ontario Medical Association.
However, if people see this only as a political opportunity, and if they are going to sit on cases where there may be some suffering so as to raise them in this House rather than bring them to my attention so they can be addressed, then that will result in some perception on the part of the public as to what they might really be up to.
Mr. Speaker: New question.
Mr. Peterson: The minister obviously sees his job as solving problems on an ad hoc, case-by-case basis rather than setting a policy. That is his whole problem right there. No wonder he has not accomplished anything. He is spending all his time fixing up individual abuses. What a ridiculous proposition for a minister.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: How did the Leader of the Opposition know?
Mr. Peterson: The Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) will get her turn. I have a question for her. She is getting rather excited today.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the minister with regard to the impending strike at the community colleges. As the minister is aware, it will presumably take place on Wednesday, October 17; at least that is the target date at the moment. She will also be aware of the issues at stake in those negotiations.
Will the minister not agree with me now that the potential strike is a direct result of her policies of slow strangulation of the post-secondary education system in this province over the past number of years, whereby she has refused to keep pace with increased enrolments and with inflation, which together have brought on the situation?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, that is the most ludicrous suggestion I have heard in this House in the past two years. If the honourable member has looked at the record, I am sure he will have determined that the allocation to the colleges has been at the level of, or significantly above, the inflation rate for the past five years. Indeed, the college system has been funded generously in comparison to some other parts of government responsibility for at least that period of time. It has nothing to do with money at this stage of the game.
Mr. Peterson: It is quite clear that classroom sizes have increased by some 15 per cent in the last little while. One of the major issues on the table today is the hours spent in the classroom by the teachers, which reflects directly on the quality of education.
The issue on the bargaining table now is the quality of education. Does the minister feel the quality of education in this province, the future of our young people, should be hammered out in an adversarial process over the bargaining table, or should it be set by the minister responsible for education policy in this province? Who is making education policy in this province?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: The member should recognize that policy is established as a result of conjoint action among all those who are charged with the responsibility of delivering the educational program in any of the institutions.
What is at stake at the moment is a disagreement between the direct employers of faculty members and the faculty members themselves. It has nothing to do with the hours in the classroom. It has to do with the request of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union regarding the additional hours beyond the 19 to 20 the teachers spend in the classroom.
I have to tell the member that at this point it is my understanding that fewer than about 10 per cent of all the teachers in the college system are spending 19 hours per week in the classroom. On average, most of them are spending 15 to 17 hours per week in the classroom.
The matter is not related to the hours in the classroom, but to the demand of OPSEU that additional hours, which are needed for preparation of classes and marking of examinations, be included in whatever formula is established to provide the funding level for members of faculty. That matter bears very serious consideration.
Mr. Allen: Mr. Speaker, I am not exactly sure where the minister gets her information that fewer than 10 per cent spend any proportion of time even approaching the hours she referred to in preparing for classes outside the classroom. I would like to suggest that --
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Allen: May I ask the minister where that information comes from? Has she discussed the matter with OPSEU directly? Has she raised that question with the teachers in question? Is she able to give us some hard data on that question? Does she not think that any proportion of the teachers having to spend even nearly the amounts of time referred to in her answer would be excessive and that the concerns of the OPSEU teachers are therefore very legitimate in these circumstances?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I will say again for the member for Hamilton West that the hours I was referring to, the 19 to 20 hours per week, are direct student contact in classrooms. That is what I was talking about, and not all the additional hours the honourable member was mentioning, which he thought I had included in their contractual arrangements. I was talking about that whichâÂ"
Hon. Miss Stephenson: No, I did not. If I did not say "direct student contact in the classroom," that is what I meant. It is classroom contact that has been negotiated in the past. That is the only thing that has been negotiated in the past, and on average within contracts it is between 19 and 20 hours.
What I said was that, as a result of information gleaned by those responsible for the colleges individually, it is my understanding that fewer than 10 per cent of the teachers in the college system spend that number of hours in direct student contact in the classroom. They spend between 15 and 17 hours per week on average in the classroom in direct student contact.
I also said OPSEU was demanding that there be an inclusion in the formula of the hours the teachers spend either preparing for classes, which is not direct student contact in the classroom, or marking examinations. I hope that clarifies it for the member. I was not suggesting anything other than that.
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, my colleague the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) refers to the minister as the czarina of all education, the top person in education.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I am not. I am simply the minister.
Mr. Bradley: That is the top person in education in the province.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Bradley: Specifically what action has the minister taken in, let us say, at least the last few hours as we get near the Wednesday deadline to ensure that every possible avenue of action is being exhausted in the collective negotiating process to ensure that an amicable and acceptable settlement is reached? What intervention has the minister taken to ensure that the education process continues at community colleges and that a settlement is reached which is acceptable to all?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I have had many discussions, and I think that is what needs to be said in this area. Within the last couple of hours I have also arranged that there be a meeting of the representatives of the students who are outside with members of my staff in order that the students should be given complete and accurate information about the situation. That is precisely what has happened, because I do not want the students to be labouring under any misapprehensions about what is happening at the moment.
As the member knows, there are talks going on. It is my understanding that the position of the Council of Regents was presented to the union at about 10:45 this morning, and it was also my understanding that the mediator is awaiting the response from the union at this point.
EDUCATION FOR DEVELOPMENTALLY HANDICAPPED
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education. After doing battle with this government over its unmerciful attack on centres for the developmentally handicapped, do we now have to go back into the trenches to defend the Robarts School in London, a school established in the name of the former Premier of this province for the education of the deaf?
Why is the director of the provincial schools branch, Bryan Robertson, so determined to dismantle the Robarts School by threatening to terminate the secondary school program with the eventuality, knowing this government's record, of phasing out all educational programs at the Robarts School and compelling the deaf children to move away from their families and friends in order to get an education?
What has gone wrong with a government that treats its handicapped people in such a disdainful manner?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the only thing that is wrong is the absolute inability of the honourable member to read. It is not, in fact, the intention of this government to remove that educational program.
Why does the member not ask his leader? He has at least three copies of a letter that has been sent to parents. There has been a discussion about whether it would be possible to maintain the appropriate secondary school program for deaf children at the Robarts School; that is the concern.
The projection is that within the next two years we will have fewer than 30 teen-aged children eligible for the secondary school program at the Robarts School in London. That is of major concern because it becomes very difficult to provide the appropriate educational program for those students under the appropriate circumstances with that very small number of students. Therefore, discussions are going on involving the teachers at Robarts, those who are interested and knowledgeable about the teaching of the children at Robarts School, and the parents of children at the Robarts School, about what the eventual program should be for secondary school pupils.
The letters that have been sent indicate, and the intention of the ministry and the government is, that the elementary program will remain always at the Robarts School. Whether the secondary school program will or not I cannot tell the member at this point, because my primary concern is the quality of the educational program for those pupils.
Mr. Riddell: We will be in to see the minister, and I hope she will entertain the thought of --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for London North.
Mr. Riddell: They do not believe her. I spent all Saturday morning talking to the parents.
Mr. Speaker: I will caution the member for Huron-Middlesex, and this will be the last time.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, the point my colleague was trying to make was a point related to trust. We know the minister is referring to the secondary panel at this investigation that is currently going on, but we do not know why the rush. This committee, which is top-heavy with ministry people and has fewer parents than anyone else, is to report within two to three months. Any other normal school closing routine would take about a year and a half to two years, so there is a considerable lack of trust in the whole process.
If the minister has her mind made up to do something with the secondary panel, will she direct the people on that committee to approach the London Board of Education to take over that program?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, the London Board of Education is already involved in discussions regarding the administration of certain educational programs in specific institutions in London, and we think this is an appropriate kind of activity for local boards. The very grave concern we have had is that if the student body shrinks to a very small number, it will not be possible for anyone to provide the appropriate range of program offerings. That is the primary concern.
Why is the member shaking his head? He was a school administrator. He knows that is so.
Mr. Van Horne: Yes, and I am right.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: In addition to that, there is no unholy rush about this, except in so far as there is concern about the quality of the educational program being provided to the students now and in the future. That is the only matter of grave concern to me. That is the basis upon which the committee has been established. I do not think it is top-heavy with anyone right at the moment, but if it is and there are not enough parental participants, then we will do something to correct that.
I believe it is in the best interests of those students to look critically at what is likely to happen to their educational program in the future and to try to do the best we can for them.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Hamilton West with a nonprovocative question.
Mr. Allen: Mr. Speaker, I am always non-provocative. Perhaps your admonition should rest in another direction.
I would like to pose a question to the Minister of Education. Does the minister know that today, in the community of Barr Haven on the outskirts of Ottawa, the parents in that community have withheld 400 children from school in order to demonstrate their great frustration over the extreme overcrowding their children have been subjected to in their school for several years, and over the lack of any successful results in their earlier approaches to the government? Would the minister tell us what she knows of this situation and any involvement of her ministry in it?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, of course there is some involvement of the ministry in this matter because the member for Carleton (Mr. Mitchell) -- I do not think he is here today -- has kept us very fully informed about developments. In addition to that, in communications with the Carleton Board of Education, we have developed what appears to be an appropriate means of attempting to resolve the issue with which the board and the parents are faced.
At present we have proposed the transfer of $750,000, which was allocated to that board for the purchase of a site, to the building of a school on a site the board already owns. We have suggested that the board, with the reserves already in its possession, proceed with the establishment of relocatables that could be used for the sections of a core school on that site now. If the Carleton board will make that its first priority in the allocation process for the year 1985-86, we will most certainly look at it, because it is the first priority we can deal with.
That seemed to be a very reasonable kind of activity in terms of the requirements of the Carleton board, and I hoped we might have a positive response from the board. At this point, I have not had a response of any kind to that proposal.
Mr. Allen: As the minister knows, the board has been most accepting of any proposal and also has been very responsive in offering a site that was intended for a secondary school. However, as I understand it, has not the minister to date been unsuccessful in securing adequate bridge funding from Management Board to provide for the funding of a suitable second elementary school in that community?
Does it not appear rather strange to the minister that at this time we should have a community of 16,000 people that buses two thirds of its students out of its own community for appropriate schooling? Does the minister really believe the relocatables are a satisfactory solution? Will she not commit herself here and now to a complete and new facility for elementary education in that community?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: If the honourable member was really listening to what I said, he would understand that the relocatables being suggested would be part and parcel of an entirely new school within the Barr Haven community for elementary students. That is precisely the program we have presented to the board on the basis of the way in which funds can be allocated for school buildings.
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, why does it always take the Ministry of Education and the minister so long to respond to the genuine needs that exist not only in this area but also in other parts of the province where people have to bus so many children to schools around the province? Why does it take demonstrations of this kind, letters to those of us in the opposition and an uproar before the minister will respond in a favourable and appropriate fashion to the need for funds for capital programs?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, in actual fact we have very few so-called uproars within Ontario related to the provision of educational buildings. The responsibility for that determination is the responsibility of the locally elected board of education and there are routes to ensure that what is actually needed within that board's jurisdiction can be met. When the board decides to make it its first priority, on the basis of determination of projected enrolment, then it is relatively easy in most circumstances -- not in all -- to meet the requirements of the board.
But when the boards submit annually lists of capital activity which they feel are absolutely necessary in the amounts of $350 million, it is a little difficult to meet that with $100 million, which is approximately what the allocation is for the building of school buildings. With the very significant decline in enrolment that has been going on for the past 14 years, we do attempt to work with the boards to solve their problems. As a result, there are almost no uproars in the province. From time to time we do have one, and it is only because they are so unusual that the members find them to be so attractive for their support.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Windsor --
Mr. Wrye: Windsor-Sandwich, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: No, I was --
Mr. Rae: I think it is their turn, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Yes, it is their turn, but I was wondering if you want to revert to leader's questions and we can carry on and then come back. The member for York South.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Would the minister cast his mind back to June 9, 1983, when he announced in this House that he was establishing a special Commission of Inquiry into Wage Protection? Why has it taken from June 9, 1983, until who knows when for us to be officially advised of anything with respect to this report?
Is the minister aware that since he commissioned this report, 2,818 businesses in this province have been declared bankrupt and literally thousands of workers in this province have been forced on to the unemployment rolls without any protection with respect to wages that are owing to them, termination pay, severance pay, etc?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, the honour-able member is referring to the task force headed up by Mr. Brown. It was announced on June 9, 1983. That is correct. The task force slowed down in the fall of last year because --
Mr. Rae: No kidding.
Mr. Martel: Slowed down? It went backwards.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: With just cause. The federal government had reintroduced a bill and much of what we were doing here in the province would be duplication of what was being done by the federal government. Mr. Brown waited to see what would happen with the federal government. When it became apparent that not too much was going to happen there, Mr. Brown recommenced his investigation.
Mr. Rae: I have in my hand a copy of an interim report dated December 15, 1983. Without intending any disrespect to Mr. Brown, that report simply provides us with information that was well known to everyone with respect to the lack of protection of the working people in this province when a company is forced into bankruptcy or receivership. We did not need the six months or so for Mr. Brown to come up with that, and since that time absolutely nothing has been done, nothing at all has happened.
How can the minister justify that kind of delay when literally thousands of working people in Ontario have been laid off? The minister has seen them in his office as I have seen them in mine and as every member has seen them. They have not received severance pay or termination pay. In many instances they have not received back wages and have absolutely no legal rights in Ontario.
The minister has sat there and done nothing. On receipt of this report, nothing was said and nothing was done. How can he justify that kind of lethargy at a time of hardship for working people in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: As I tried to explain, the member has a copy of an interim report. Mr. Brown recommenced his study when it was apparent that nothing was happening at the federal level. He has been working on it since then. I am confident we will have his final report in the very near future.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, can the minister give us an assurance today that his government will not wait for a lead from Ottawa in this matter? Can he assure us that when the final report from Mr. Brown arrives on his desk we will have some speedy action, knowing as he does that literally thousands of workers in companies that have gone into bankruptcy or into receivership have had absolutely not one whit of protection? Is this government going to start protecting the working people of Ontario, or is it going to look down the road to Ottawa, as it usually does, for the protection it should have brought in a long time ago?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, if we look down the road to Ottawa we would be in rather dire straits because Ottawa has been wrestling with that problem for many years now. On three different occasions, the Liberal Party in Ottawa brought in bills and on three different occasions that party withdrew them or let them die. That party in Ottawa was not able to find a solution to the very complex problem over the decade. Now the member is asking the Ontario government to come up with one overnight. We are hoping to have something concrete in the not too distant future.
Mr. Rae: The problem the minister has described is simply an excuse. It is that federal-provincial shell game and the government cannot get away with it any longer. The minister knew there was a problem when he set up the commission of inquiry. There was no news in that.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: When is the minister going to start to recognize the legitimate claims of wage earners when faced with a bankruptcy? Does he not see those claims as being just as important as those of a bank, a trust company or some other kind of secured creditor? When is he going to give the wage earners the kind of priority and the kind of assurance they deserve?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Let me make one point abundantly clear. I do consider the wages of the employee more important than the claims of the bank or other secured creditors. I place a high priority on that and would hope to have Mr. Brown's report in the very near future.
Mr. Rae: It was announced today in the newspaper that as a result of another bankruptcy, a bankruptcy of ideas, the first president of the Innovation Development for Employment Advancement Corp. is apparently leaving the government's employment with a year's salary of $115,000 for severance pay.
What kind of a message is it sending to the ordinary workers of this province when they see that kind of settlement to an individual? I know nothing personally of Mr. St. John one way or the other, but we know that he was working for a very few years for the government. According to the column today in the Toronto Star, he is receiving that kind of severance pay.
What kind of message is the government sending to the ordinary workers of this province when they see that kind of deal for somebody working at a management level in government, but sweet Fanny Adams for themselves as a result of the kind of delay the minister has been putting up with?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I have not had the opportunity to read the morning papers yet. Further, that is the first indication I have had of the severance pay of the gentleman in question. I think that question should more appropriately be directed to either the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman) or the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. F. S. Miller).
Mr. Rae: We are talking about fairness. I would like to give the minister one example, the Woods company, in the riding of my colleague the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick). What kind of termination pay, notice pay or severance pay did the workers at that company get?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I am unaware of the circumstances surrounding the resignation of this gentleman. I think it would be highly inappropriate for me to comment on it when I do not know the background of his severance.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, he is a minister of the crown and he is obliged to defend government policy in this regard. He is aware of the details that have surrounded the IDEA Corp. It stumbled about for a couple of years and now the president has resigned. As my colleague pointed out, the reported severance pay was more than $100,000. Reputedly, $250,000 was spent for executive search to find this individual or others and reputedly they have chairs that cost $2,000 a piece. They have lost at least $1 million on one operation and the rest of them are highly questionable.
The question still stands, what kind of signal does it send out when the government treats its own in such a privileged way, sitting on these expensive chairs following expensive searches and given expensive severances, accomplishing nothing of any real benefit to the people of this province? How does that speak to government policy when there are thousands in this province without jobs?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to defend the actions of this government at any time, but only when I have all of the background information.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, to say that the minister is going to defend the actions of this government would imply that the government was actually doing something, and we all know that is something the government is physically, psychologically and in every way unable to do at the present time.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Rae: I would like to ask the minister the simple --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Martel: Did the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg) finally wake up? He has been comatose for a week.
Mr. Rae: I think somebody turned the buzz-saw on down in the front row, Mr. Speaker.
Despite the sweet noises of angels coming from the other side, I would like to ask the minister a very simple, direct question. There is a very terrible signal that is being sent out by this government. It is being sent out every day with respect to the double standard at work. This is a very real double standard.
Will the minister bring in legislation to protect ordinary workers with respect to severance pay and termination pay at a time of bankruptcy or receivership or for any other reason? Will he finally bring in legislation before Christmas? Can we have that absolute guarantee from the minister today?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, as I said back in June and as I have said on other occasions, I am very hopeful of bringing in legislation. Whether it will be by Christmas or not, I cannot say at this time.
ACCESS TO MEDICAL TREATMENT
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minster of Health, regarding the overcrowding crisis in Windsor hospitals, a crisis that is beginning to affect patient care in a very real way. Is the minister aware of the dangerous overcrowding at Hotel Dieu of St. Joseph Hospital where last Friday every outpatient bed was taken by an inpatient admission, all six observation beds were filled and beds in the emergency section were taken, in what one senior administrator called "an awful situation"?
Is the minister aware that at the Metropolitan General Hospital on the same day outpatient beds and hallway beds were in use and that the overcrowding was so bad that some patients, including one stroke victim, were hospitalized in the paediatric unit of that hospital?
Is the minister aware there was one day last week when for three to four hours ambulances arriving at Salvation Army Grace Hospital in Windsor were turned away and sent to other hospitals because of the desperate overcrowding situation?
Has the minister been made aware of this situation in Windsor and what is he going to do about it immediately to alleviate this crisis?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I cannot say I am familiar in detail with the situation the honourable member describes.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I beg your pardon?
Mr. Speaker: Order. Never mind the interjections, please. Respond to the question.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I do not know how I can solve these problems when the member hides them from me until he can raise them in the House.
I will be quite happy to review the situation he describes. I do know that from time to time situations do arise where, by virtue of circumstances in a given community, there is an unpredictable crowding of the hospitals. But, in fairness, we must look at such situations with some care because very often it is the case that we will find the apparent overcrowding is not necessarily general, but rather restricted to particular services. I am not saying that is the case in this situation.
Mr. Wrye: Don't be silly.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I am not being silly, I am being reasonable about this and I would ask the honourable member to be so as well. Situations often develop in which, by virtue of the traditional practice of protecting certain beds for certain purposes, individuals will be told there are no beds available. One will find that in other parts of the hospital there are beds available. I can demonstrate this by using the situation in Toronto where, on an average day, between 1,000 and 1,600 beds are vacant.
These are acute care beds. A similar kind of percentage -- approximately 10 per cent -- is likely to be the case in most hospitals. It may not be the case on every given day in a place such as Windsor. I am willing to review the situation.
The member knows we have had and are having ongoing discussions with the hospitals in Windsor and the district health council, a matter touched upon last week in this House in a question. We have a firm commitment with respect to additional beds in Windsor. Last week we received the revised report recommending what appears now to be a solution accepted by the hospitals in Windsor.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Mr. Wrye: Is the minister aware that as of midnight last night the census count at Met hospital was 99 per cent? Is the minister aware that the lODE hospital, the Windsor Western Hospital Centre, has taken to admitting patients as late as 10 o'clock and 11 o'clock at night? That is how desperate the bed shortage is.
May I suggest that the minister review a news release dated May 19, 1983, in which his predecessor, the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman), announced an additional allocation of 49 beds, bringing the chronic care bed total in Windsor to 475. We still do not have them.
May I also suggest that the minister review a proposal on his desk for an amalgamation of the paediatric unit, which would immediately free up for acute care some 20 to 30 beds over at Met hospital. Nothing has happened for 17 months. The only thing that has happened in Windsor is that the crisis has grown worse. When is the minister going to stop issuing press releases and start living up to the promises that he, his predecessor and his government made so many months ago?
Hon. Mr. Norton: The honourable member already knows the commitment made for 49 additional chronic care beds is a firm commitment. A great deal of effort has gone into dealing with that situation at the local level, with significant involvement from the ministry on an ongoing basis.
Mr. Wrye: One meeting.
Hon. Mr. Norton: No, that is not true.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Norton: If the member knows of only one meeting, then somebody is not giving him all the information.
Mr. Wrye: The minister has had only one meeting.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I do not know who supposedly told the member that. It is not true.
Mr. Speaker: Now back to the question, please.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Last week I received the report to which I referred. It gives what I expect to be the final recommendation, having been arrived at with a great deal of effort on the part of the ministry and the district health council. It arrives at an agreement among the hospitals as to the distribution of the 475 chronic beds in the community.
Since we have received the report from his community as recently as last week, the member cannot expect us to have had an opportunity already to implement it. It will be handled with expediency. What more can he expect me to say at this point? Obviously, we will respond.
With respect to the other situation, I will investigate and find out the specific details of the overcrowding situation that occurred and which the member described to the House. I will get back to him on that.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, since the chronic care hospital for Windsor was first demanded and needed in Windsor 14 years ago when the member for Brampton (Mr. Davis) was first elected Premier of this province, can he assure us that perhaps we will have approval from this government before his tenure as Premier is over?
Secondly, does the minister not understand that the crisis in Windsor, as in every other community in this province, goes to the basic fact that there is not enough community support programs? We have people in hospitals who need not be in hospitals and nursing homes and we have people who need to be in hospitals but cannot get there because of inappropriate placements.
When is the minister going to develop a strategy for his ministry, a strategy for health care, instead of the ad hoc approach he took in his response to the district health councils just a couple of weeks ago? He gave literally nothing in terms of a response to this planning that was supposed to be taking place over the last two years and that his predecessor, now the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman), started. He seems to have dropped it totally along with everything else.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, once again, the member ought to have been at that meeting with the district health councils. I wish he had been. Their impression of what we are doing in response to the planning process is quite different from his. It may be that certain individuals did not agree with the overwhelming majority of those who were present, but generally what I proposed that evening was very well received and has had very positive follow-up since, except from the member and the press. It certainly is a major step forward in advancing the process and not being occupied or preoccupied only with process, but getting into matters of substance.
With respect to the earlier part of the member's question, I would dearly love to be in a position to improve his hospital prior to the retirement of the Premier. I will have to consult with my colleagues. They are all in seclusion today, so I do not know.
PROTECTION OF NIAGARA ESCARPMENT
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, in view of the absence of the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Sterling) and the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope), I will put a question on the Niagara Escarpment to the Deputy Premier.
I am sure he will know that permission has been given by the government to Regan Graham Ltd. of Brampton to open a wayside pit in the Caledon area from which they have been given permission to extract something over a million tons of aggregate, even though the Niagara Escarpment Commission strenuously opposed that wayside permit. Is he aware that the Niagara Escarpment Commission recommended that a limit of 20,000 tons of aggregate be permitted for extraction in the protected area of the escarpment?
The Provincial Secretary for Resources Development removed that limit when he recommended to cabinet the removal of that 20,000-ton limit. Now that the Niagara Escarpment plan is before cabinet for its approval and there is this example I have given the minister of a million tons, would he not agree that the 20,000-ton limit should be reinstated in that Niagara Escarpment plan or our escarpment is going to be pitted worse than the battlegrounds of Europe were in the last war?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, in replying to the question of my friend the member for Welland-Thorold, I might draw the attention of members to the fact that his very charming wife is in the gallery today with visitors. I want to welcome the wife of the member for Welland-Thorold who really is the power behind the member. I want members to realize that. I am going to be very interested in her report card today with respect to any assessments that are being made.
It is my understanding that the quota or quantity, reference to which the member made, is currently under review. It was the Ministry of Transportation and Communications that granted this particular permit for a specific contract. As far as any other information is concerned, I feel quite satisfied, now that the question has been put completely on the record, that the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development could provide information. In summary, MTC did issue a permit for a specific contract, and I think the point that is raised by the member with respect to quantity is currently under active review.
Mr. Swart: May I express my appreciation to the minister for recognizing my wife in the gallery, but say that is no excuse for not giving his commitment to preserve the escarpment.
Does the minister not realize that the legislation for wayside pits bypasses all the safeguards and the rights of the public to which licensed pits are subject? Is he not also aware that there were two licensed pits operating within almost a stone's throw of this proposed wayside pit and they were bypassed?
Does he not think the public can rightly assume that the government, and he is part of that overall government, including the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, is deliberately bypassing the escarpment preservation legislation and even the Pits and Quarries Control Act to give the aggregate producers access to cheap gravel, regardless of the damage it does to the escarpment?
Hon. Mr. Welch: I know the honourable member's ongoing concern and commitment to this whole question of preservation and I certainly do not feel he would want to leave the impression this government has not been committed to that particular program. He was in Burlington when my colleague, the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development, unveiled the government's intentions with respect to the plan.
I think, generally speaking, it has been well received and certainly does embody a very tangible commitment to the preservation of a very important land mass as far as this province is concerned. The specific matters to which he has made reference, as I have already indicated, are currently under review, and I feel quite satisfied my colleague will provide that additional information once that review is complete.
USE OF LANDFILL SITE
Mr. Elston: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment, who, I understand, attempted to answer a question of my colleague the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) last Friday. He was thinking about being in Tiger Stadium or something and did a very unsatisfactory job.
I want to continue the questioning on the Victoria Park crossing waste site, with particular reference to an answer which the minister gave last Friday to my colleague, wherein he stated that it was not up to himself or his ministry to get involved in any public meetings.
The minister well knows he has issued two certificates of approval for building on top of that waste site, the last one in June of this year, concerning the question of the monitoring of emissions of methane gas. He will probably know that under sections of the Environmental Protection Act the minister can and probably should have looked at the requests of the citizens who petitioned his office well in advance of his decision to hold those meetings.
Why did the Ministry of the Environment decide not to hold those meetings? Why is the minister not upholding the requirements of the Environmental Protection Act in this particular situation?
Hon. Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased the honourable member made a brief reference to some activities that took place over the course of this past weekend. There are members of this House who did look with some interest at the World Series that was occurring and, of course, the best team did win that particular event.
I trust as well that I can explain to the member what happened in connection with the issue that was raised by his colleague last Friday. My ministry did, in fact, work with the municipality in this particular connection to determine that the site was totally and completely safe in every respect. The developer was most co-operative in building barriers to make absolutely certain there was no escapage of methane gases from the site.
In our view, there was no necessity for holding a hearing.
There were requests that were made of both the municipality and my ministry, but neither in the case of the municipality nor in the case of the Ministry of the Environment did we deem it to be necessary for a full public hearing to be held.
Mr. Elston: I wonder if the minister might tell the House why he and his ministry found it so necessary, if they were absolutely convinced that there was no danger in building on this site, to require the inclusion in the agreement, paragraph 3, between Runnymede Development Corp., the proponent, and Her Majesty the Queen, of a provision wherein they require Runnymede to prevent any sort of liability falling upon the shoulders of the crown arising out of negligence or otherwise whether involving property or otherwise going along with the escape of gas or the gas venting system.
Can the minister tell us why, if he was so sure he was absolutely right, he required this agreement of indemnification for his ministry? Why is he trying to get out of living up to his obligations to the public of this province?
Hon. Mr. Brandt: It should be self-evident in this instance that we are not trying to get out of any obligations on the part of the government. We are trying to hold the builder to his ongoing obligations. In fact, if title to that property is ever transferred to another owner, that particular responsibility will be carried with it ad infinitum.
We have a responsibility in perpetuity, on the part of the developer, which not only saves the taxpayers of this province some money, but also puts the responsibility where I am sure one would like it to be, on the shoulders of the developer who is, at least ostensibly, going to earn the profits from that particular development. I think we have handled this in a completely forward and responsible way.
MINORITY LANGUAGE SERVICES
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Health.
The minister will recall that last April in Toronto's Northwestern General Hospital, because of a language barrier, a very serious tragedy occurred. An Italian-speaking psychiatric patient committed suicide because, according to the chief nurse, there was no Italian-speaking psychiatrist in the hospital and there was no way the patient could communicate with the doctors. According to the Ontario Medical Association, there are only two Italian-speaking psychiatrists in Toronto.
Has the minister addressed that question and if he has, what action has he decided to take to remedy that type of situation?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I cannot say that I am familiar with the particular tragedy to which the honourable member refers. Of course, not being familiar with it, I would not be in a position to know whether the language barrier was a factor in the tragedy.
However, I do recognize that, as with many linguistic groups in Canada, there are some problems with respect to the provision of a full range of services, and that it is particularly serious in some areas such as psychiatry where oral communication is an essential part of therapy.
I have been looking at a proposal, not in this particular community but from another community in Ontario, to fund a multilingual service that would assist people whose first language is not English or French. I have not yet reached a final decision upon whether that is the most appropriate way to go.
Ultimately, I suppose, the solution will be found only when we have enough young men and women who are fluent in various languages -- in this instance, Italian -- who are prepared to pursue medical studies in a range of specialties including psychiatry.
I do not know whether the member has any other short-term solutions. If he has, I will be glad to hear them.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
CITY OF BELLEVILLE ACT
Mr. McNeil moved, seconded by Mr. Haggerty, first reading of Bill Pr30, An Act respecting the City of Belleville.
Motion agreed to.
ACCESS TO MEDICAL RECORDS ACT
Mr. Grande moved, seconded by Mr. Philip, first reading of Bill 126, An Act to provide for a Right of Access by Patients to their own Medical Records.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, the bill provides that patients are entitled to see their own medical records on request unless the attending physician states in writing that this will harm the patient or another person. I may add that it gives the government a perfect opportunity to act on the Krever royal commission report of 1980.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before calling the orders for today, I might indicate to the House that the order of business for tomorrow evening will be consideration of government motion 11, an interim supply motion standing in the name of the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman).
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF NORTHERN AFFAIRS (CONTINUED)
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Chairman, at the outset I would like to thank the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) and the member for London North (Mr. Van Horne) for their kind remarks at the opening of their leadoff statements.
It has been my pleasure to serve in this House for the past 17 years in a variety of roles that have made my experience as a member much more challenging, much more diverse and, I think, much more satisfying than anything else I might have undertaken during that period of years. I have tried to express the views of people in the riding of Lake Nipigon, which was formerly the riding of Thunder Bay.
As the critic for our party for the activities of the Ministry of Northern Affairs, I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with the minister and, for at least the last couple of years, with the member for London North. We have taken a couple of side trips together to deal with issues of mutual interest and concern, and it has been a pleasure working with both of them. It is at least two years of my experience down here as a member that I will long remember, and once again I want to thank both of them for their kind remarks.
Incidentally, one of the trips I took with the minister and the member for London North was to investigate the potential for better ways of delivering electrical services to remote northern communities, where we had an opportunity to investigate the potential for the gasification of peat as an alternative to the burning of fuel oil for the generation of electricity at northern reserves, and at northern communities generally, that were not plugged into the provincial grid; that is, the distribution lines of Ontario Hydro.
Perhaps the member for London North is not familiar with the specific, unique and ongoing problems of northern communities and their need for an alternative source of generating electric energy in communities where one can pay as much as $4 for a gallon of fuel oil to generate electricity on the reserves.
The minister has travelled far and wide with some of his colleagues in the Ministry of Northern Affairs, and I think particularly of Andy Morpurgo, who has just retired from the service of this ministry and from government service generally. I can recall a trip the minister took to Italy to look at new technology for the generation of electricity.
The minister will know, and many members of the House will know, that I have discussed this very issue, dealing with immersible generators, the gasification of peat as a means of generating electricity and the use of wind-diesel hybrid systems to bring down the cost of electricity, which can run as high as 30 cents per kilowatt-hour in many of those northern communities.
While the minister has travelled far and wide investigating these new technologies, the Minister of Energy (Mr. Andrewes) and at least five of his predecessors in that portfolio will know that there has been an ongoing investigation of that new technology for at least four years. They started out by building a demonstration model on Toronto Islands to investigate that new technology. After doing that for a year and a half, one would have thought that if they were going to spend any money on further investigation, they would have done it in an area where that new technology had some practical application.
I am referring specifically to a study done by the Ministry of Energy at least five or six years ago when it undertook to decide where the highest constant wind velocities occurred in Ontario. Other than right here in this chamber, it was found that those locations were on the shores of Hudson Bay. I want to refer specifically to the study that was done which indicated the highest constant wind velocities of any place in Ontario were at Fort Severn on the shore of Hudson Bay.
Through the Ministry of Energy, through private enterprise and through some technical assistance by the Ontario Research Foundation and the National Research Council, it was decided the technology was worthy of further investigation and application. However, what did they do? Did they put it in a northern community where it would have had some practical application? No. They put it in Coniston, in the Sudbury basin.
They have spent well in excess of $1 million on that new technology. They have been monitoring it, I am told, through the efforts of the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa and people who are down here in the Ministry of Energy and private enterprise, and we are no closer to the day when we can apply that technology in an area where it is so badly needed.
I hark back to the trip that the minister, the member for London North and I took more than two years ago where there was a genuine interest shown by the minister, who is the minister of everything in terms of northern Ontario, given his responsibility to co-ordinate, facilitate and implement policies, particularly in those areas where the so-called traditional lead ministers are, for any number of reasons, dragging their feet.
If there is anything at all in the mandate given to this minister and this ministry, given the physical characteristics and demographics of his own riding, it would seem that he, better than most, would know how badly we need that new technology to make life a little better in those northern communities, to improve the human condition so that the people can take advantage at reasonable cost of a service so basic to life anywhere in Ontario as electric energy.
I have not heard anything emanating from this ministry along those lines. Given that there was a commitment by the three members in this House who are more interested, more knowledgeable and more concerned about northern services, one would have thought we would have seen some initiative taken by this minister and this ministry in something that is of such vital importance to life in northern Ontario.
In his opening comments the minister mentioned that an interministerial committee had been formed to look into the implementation of a strategic plan to assist those communities that are going to be so vitally affected by that new-found wealth at Hemlo by virtue of the fact that they have identified an ore body there that is valued at about $10 billion. I happen to know that one of the minister's personnel, namely Mr. Ernie Lane of the Thunder Bay office, was charged with the responsibility of chairing that interministerial committee.
Prior to that, the minister had something called a co-ordinating committee. I am wondering what the difference is, what the new emphasis will be. The minister will know that I directed a letter to him several months ago, addressed to the Premier (Mr. Davis), the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett), the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Gregory), the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) and himself, highlighting the specific and unique problems that face municipalities in a particular way, namely Manitouwadge and Marathon, that will be the dormitory communities for a permanent work force in excess of 1,000 people for the life of that ore body, which is estimated to be at least 20 years.
The minister will know an application by the Lake Superior Board of Education has been in the hands of the Minister of Education and her ministry for about a year now, asking for the right to annex those areas that will be generating that new wealth, so it could add that to its tax rolls to pay the exorbitantly high cost of providing education for students in four communities spread over a distance of 120 miles. We are still waiting for the Ministry of Education to react to that application for the annexation to broaden the tax base.
The minister will also know we had a meeting at the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay a few short weeks ago with representatives from the four ministries I just mentioned, asking for some initiative, individually and collectively by those four ministries, to help the communities of Manitouwadge and Marathon. They are called upon to be the dormitory communities for the new work force which is generating that new wealth. That will, in turn, generate taxes for the benefit of the two senior levels of government, without a compensating formula that will help those communities charged with the responsibility of providing additional services. Pressure has been put on those communities as a result of that new-found wealth.
The minister may know that at present, within the Lake Superior Board of Education, a sizeable amount of the taxes that are contributed for educational costs in that jurisdiction come from the two major employers resident in one of the four municipalities, namely Kimberly-Clark of Canada Ltd. of Terrace Bay, which pays $1,988,786 in municipal and educational taxes -- I just got these figures before coming into the House from Scott Chalmers of Kimberly-Clark. That is their municipal tax bill which goes for municipal and educational costs; and their counterpart in Marathon, James River-Marathon Ltd., pays $1.6 million.
For your benefit, Mr. Chairman, and for the benefit of any member in this House who cares to listen, particularly the people under the gallery who are, I hope, going to be charged with the responsibility of coming up with a formula, a different cost-sharing mechanism, to help those dormitory communities over the rough spots, I might say that whenever I have mentioned it in the past, the minister or his colleague the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) have always said, "There you go again" -- an old Reagan clichÃÂ© -- "you are always trying to tax the industries."
I am not saying that. I am not saying mining companies in Ontario should be levied an additional tax. The minister, along with his colleagues the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman), the Minister of Revenue and whoever else sits down to make those determinations, should take a look at the contribution that will be made by way of existing taxes at the federal and provincial levels by companies such as Noranda Mines, Lac Minerals Ltd. and Teck-Corona, which are going to benefit in a very significant way by the exploitation of those gold ore resources at Hemlo. If he in his judgement feels they are already paying enough by way of corporate tax, mining tax and royalties as a result of the sales tax -- all the taxes they pay in a variety of ways -- that is fine. Most reasonable people would be prepared to accept that.
What I am saying, as convincingly as I am capable of doing, is that the minister and his cabinet colleagues have a responsibility to share the taxes they are collecting in a variety of ways from those three mining corporations, which are located in unorganized territory where neither the school board nor the municipality as a corporate entity has the ability to benefit in a direct way from the tax that is paid by those three mining corporations.
Let me quote from a newspaper item that appeared in a Thunder Bay paper last week as a result of a news conference that was called by James River Corp. in Thunder Bay. That is the major taxpayer in Marathon, and the company had somebody from its head office in Richmond, Virginia, around for support.
"James River-Marathon is adamant it is not going to give Marathon council the land it needs to build an industrial mall that would generate up to $25,000 a year in tax revenue for the municipality.
"James River Corp., based in Richmond, Virginia, owns 80 per cent of the Marathon pulp mill, its sole Canadian facility. The mill employs 500 people in a town of 2,500.
"Last year James River-Marathon paid 71 per cent of the municipal taxes collected in the town. In 1984 the tax bite deepened to close to $1.6 million, about $100,000 more than in 1983. 'That's too much money,' Gerry Byrne, president of the firm's operations in this country and manager of the mill, said at a press conference in Thunder Bay on Wednesday of last week.
"So the company which owns all of the undeveloped land in Marathon told the municipality two weeks ago it was not going to transfer the 40 acres the town wanted for the industrial park until something is done about its tax bill.
"That jeopardizes a $200,000 grant the Ontario government has agreed to give to the municipality if it can sell at least one lot in the proposed industrial mall by next March. Marathon reeve Springer said, 'Construction of three buildings which would be subdivided into smaller industrial units would cost up to $2 million.'"
I suspect that half the $200,000 referred to would come through this ministry and half would come from the federal government. Let me continue.
"At the heart of the problem is the growth caused by the development of the gold mines in the Hemlo gold fields. Springer estimates by the end of next year, Marathon's population will have mushroomed from 2,500 to 5,000 people, and by 1989 to 7,000 people."
That might be a little ambitious, but one can bet there is going to be a dramatic explosion in population in Marathon as a result of the Hemlo development.
Quoting again: "But the mines lie outside municipal boundaries and council cannot tax them. None the less, construction workers and employees rely on Marathon for essential services. The pulp mill is the only industry within the municipality and it is bearing an unfair portion of the cost of improving those services, said Byrne. 'I think it is unreasonable to expect us to subsidize the emerging industries.'" By the way, Kimberly-Clark feels the same way.
"The company" -- that is, James River-Marathon -- "is in the midst of a five-year, $95-million project to modernize the mill and the competitive advantage it is gaining is being eroded by the tax bite. The $1.6 million tax bill in 1984 translates into an overhead expense of $10 for every ton of pulp the mill produces.
"'Our efforts are directed at refurbishing the mill and making it more competitive in the long term. If we are to see our taxes double over time, I think it would place our operation in jeopardy. I think the bottom line is there. It has to be an equitable distribution of tax.' Last February, Byrne told council to begin surveying the land it needed for the industrial park and agreed to meet again to discuss the land transfer."
There we have a municipality with people knocking on its doors trying to set up little secondary-industry enterprises. They obviously need serviced land on which to do it. The land is controlled by James River Corp. We have a municipality that has the major corporate taxpayer on its back because it knows corporations are benefiting handsomely 30 miles down the road. They are getting a free ride.
It has gone to the extent that we must get an additional formula, something that will provide additional revenue. I am not talking about the resource equalization grant the minister points his finger at every time we come up with a scenario of this nature, because the resource equalization grant was started several years ago specifically to help one-industry resource towns that were asked to be the bedroom or dormitory communities for an industrial work force located elsewhere.
It was based on a resource venture, whether forestry or mining. That replaced the old mining revenue payments formula whereby the provincial government used to share on a per capita basis the revenues from these enterprises to help them over the rough spots that communities such as Manitouwadge and Marathon are encountering at present.
I quoted figures in my letter to the minister, as I did with his colleagues, to indicate how the original premise upon which the resource equalization grants were founded has become so distorted over the years that I am told there are communities in southern Ontario which, for a variety of reasons, are now getting resource equalization payments.
Our colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) says that at the present time they must have another look at it, because the purpose for which that subsidy or transfer payment was intended has become so distorted over the years that they have to look for a new formula.
We have had the advice of Assistant Deputy Minister of Revenue Mr. W. J. Lettner, who has taken a look at the assessment and what the effect is of applying section 63 on all classes of taxpayers, namely residential taxpayers, class I and class 2 commercial taxpayers and industrial taxpayers. If we apply section 63 across the board using the same base year, we would have companies such as Kimberly-Clark paying an additional $155,000 on top of what it already pays, close to $2 million. We would have a similar adverse effect on James River-Marathon Ltd. There are the three companies that are currently located at Hemlo getting a free ride.
I have talked to them and they do not consider they are getting a free ride. They say, "We are going to be paying our taxes like everybody else." Try to tell that to James River-Marathon. Try to tell it to Kimberly-Clark in Terrace Bay. They are already paying a healthy tax bite and they can see a dramatic increase as a result of the expansion caused by the Hemlo development. Try to tell it to the people.
What do I say to a Walter Groman, who is president of Kimberly-Clark in Canada? What do I tell a G. A. Byrne who is president of James River-Marathon Ltd.? Do I say, "That is fine and that is how the system works," notwithstanding the fact that we have three major mining companies on our doorstep putting on additional pressure for municipal services, whether it is water, sewers, streets, lighting, garbage collection, police protection, hospitals or education?
We know there is going to be a dramatic increase in enrolment in the schools when we get 1,000 family units coming into that area. There is going to be additional pressure for services. There are going to be additional costs. We are asking the existing taxpayers, whether they be industrial, commercial or residential to foot the bill, and the provincial and federal governments will keep their tax base.
It is estimated that over the normal life of those ore bodies, conservatively estimated to be a minimum of 20 years, the federal and provincial governments -- this is just a guess but I think it is fairly close -- will collect $3 billion to $4 billion in taxes as a result of that gold field alone; and not one penny, not one red cent will go directly into the coffers of the municipalities or that school board that is charged with the responsibility of providing not only the capital costs but also the ongoing operational costs.
When one gets free enterprisers, entrepreneurs like the president of Kimberly-Clark of Canada Ltd., and more particularly, like the president of James River-Marathon Ltd., who is withholding the transfer of land from his company to the municipality just to provide these services, and when one gets threats by a municipality saying, "If you are going to be that intransigent, we might have to go the expropriation route;" that is not the way to go. That is not how one fosters good relations between municipalities and their taxpayers. It is not good for anybody. It is not good for this government. It does not make for good relations.
I have just received a breakdown of the amount Kimberly-Clark will be paying this year. In education costs for the Lake Superior Board of Education, it paid $795,926.21 for education purposes, and for general municipal services, it paid $1,195,860.52. They are not complaining. They appreciate that if --
Hon. Mr. Bernier: What is the issue?
Mr. Stokes: I will tell you what the solution is. Is the minister saying there is no issue here?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am waiting for the issue.
Mr. Stokes: The issue is that the minister's level of government is the beneficiary directly, along with its cousins in Ottawa, of a brand new tax base that is going to swell the coffers here, along with the federal coffers in Ottawa, and not one penny of that new wealth is going to find its way directly into the coffers of the one level of government that is charged with the responsibility of providing the taxes.
I know the minister is going to say he has some figures. I had a sneak preview of them during the meeting in Thunder Bay. The minister says: "We are looking at cost-sharing assistance for water and sewage. We may help you with a few little things like that." There should be a realistic formula, so that those people who, in many ways, have the same responsibility for making decisions, for setting budgets and all the things that everybody has to know to make a decision to plan for capital projects and ongoing operating costs, may know in advance what that tax base is going to be and can plan in a realistic way.
The minister should know, if he does not, there are at least two municipalities in northern Ontario that are under supervision right now. They cannot blow their noses and they cannot spend any additional funds unless they get approval from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I am not going to look into all the details that caused the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to go to those municipalities and say, "We think you should put yourselves under voluntary supervision." That means that before they can spend any funds they must seek approval from a ministry of this government.
First of all, the minister said, "What is the solution?" Then he said --
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I did not say, "What is the solution?" I said, "What is the issue?"
Mr. Stokes: The issue is that there is not a sufficient tax base for those municipalities that are asked to provide the services.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is not correct.
Mr. Stokes: That is what?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is not correct because there are extra funds going to these municipalities.
Mr. Stokes: I do not know that. I read the minister's opening statement very carefully. Did he think the member for London North and I were not going to raise this as a priority item on these estimates? I just cannot bring myself to believe the minister was not aware this was going to be a major topic of discussion.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: As their need arises, their need will be answered.
Mr. Stokes: All the minister is saying is that we do not need an additional formula. The status quo is just fine. "If you can find any condition where there is a need, just come to Uncle Leo and we will find the money for you." That is what the minister is saying.
He said that last year. I just notice the economic development portion of the funds that are being appropriated during these estimates for the operation of his ministry are down by $13 million. The minister should read his own figures. He is going to come up with it; he will find it. He will go and get cabinet approval for a few hundred thousand dollars here and a few hundred thousand dollars there.
He should tell the president of James River-Marathon Ltd. that its tax bill is not going to go up by $100,000 for education costs alone. For Kimberly-Clark of Canada Ltd., it is something in the order of $155,000. Why does the minister think James River-Marathon Ltd. has frozen the land in the municipality of Marathon and has effectively stopped all development? It is because it says it wants a fair tax deal.
Do not take my word for it. He should get one of his minions underneath the gallery to call Gerry Byrne. If he cannot find the number, call my office and they will give it to him. Tell Gerry Byrne that he is being unreasonable and that whatever it takes to make it right, Uncle Leo will do it.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Have you talked to the reeve of Marathon today?
Mr. Stokes: Not today, I have not. I do not have to talk to him today. I know the situation there almost as well as he does. If the minister talks to him today, perhaps he will share it with us. If the minister is saying everything is fine and dandy, perhaps we can convince James River-Marathon Ltd. and the Kimberly-Clarks of this world and Lac Minerals Ltd., Noranda Mines Ltd. and Teck-Corona Operating Corp., notwithstanding the fact that they are getting a free ride with respect to their direct contribution to those municipalities where they are requiring these additional services.
If the minister does not think there is a problem, fellows like Neil Stuart and at least two other fellows from his ministry sat in on that meeting at the Valhalla a couple of weeks ago, along with representatives from the ministries of Education, Revenue and Municipal Affairs and Housing. They listened well, they all agreed there was a problem and they thought reasonable people could come up with a solution.
The minister is sitting over there saying: "There is no issue. There is really no problem." I hope when the minister responds to my comments and I would hope when he responds to what he was told, the briefing he got from his ministry personnel at that meeting, he will at least begin to realize and admit there is a problem, because I can tell him what Gerry Byrne said.
Let me repeat what Gerry Byrne said. He said, "I do feel it would be irresponsible for us to continue the way we have been, turning over land without getting some indication of a more equitable distribution of tax. I do not call that holding the municipality up as a pawn. I call that a business decision that relates directly to the viability of a mill and 500 jobs."
The government could tax them. This is a story it uses every time we over here say, "We do not think we are getting fair economic rent as a result of the exploitation of a specific resource." The government says, "Come on, you socialists, you are trying to tax them out of business." That is what the government is doing. Maybe it is getting enough economic rent from those three companies, but if it is, it should share it with the two levels of government, the municipality and the school board, that are charged with the responsibility of providing the services. There is the minister's issue and there is his responsibility.
Let me talk about another issue, which is a real northern issue, that has now become the responsibility of the minister's friends in Ottawa. He does not have Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Lloyd Axworthy and all that gang to kick around any more. He has Brian Mulroney and all his colleagues who are responsible for co-ordinating programs that have an effect on the lives of people generally.
The minister will know the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., through the Department of Supply and Services at the federal level, is the one agency of government that is charged with the responsibility of guaranteeing or ensuring mortgages for people across the country. If one cannot get money directly from one of the conventional lending institutions, or even if one can get money from them, they look for a guarantee from an agency such as the CMHC. Under normal circumstances, they will guarantee a mortgage of up to 90 per cent, but if one happens to live in a community such as Manitouwadge or Marathon, basically a one-industry resource town, one cannot get that guarantee. One can only get a 75 per cent guarantee.
That is the way it was up until six or eight weeks ago when I drew it to the attention of the then minister responsible, the Hon. Charles Lapointe. He has been relieved of his duties and we now have a new minister. He is a minister from Quebec, but his name escapes me. I can tell the minister that not only has the CMHC said to those people who are asking for a loan guarantee, "We will up it a little bit and extend it over 25 years as opposed to 20," but it has said to employees of James River-Marathon Ltd., "We are going to treat you in the same way when you come to us for the guarantee of a loan as we would somebody whose livelihood is dependent upon a nonrenewable or a finite resource, such as our minerals and our precious metal wealth."
That is one of things that has upset Mr. Byrne so profoundly. He asks, "Why should we be treated as second-class citizens just because we choose to make our living in a community such as Marathon?" I understand the new administration in Ottawa is looking at it and saying: "We agree. There is an inequitable situation here. We cannot treat people in Marathon or Manitouwadge differently from those living in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto or Montreal."
But the present policy does that. It discriminates against the people we are trying to attract to those communities, as I said earlier, to develop the new wealth that is of such tremendous benefit for employment to the area and in a tax way -- let me get back to it again -- to the provincial coffers, the consolidated revenue fund here and the Treasury in Ottawa. Why are they being discriminated against?
I know that Ernie Lane from the ministry --
Hon. Mr. Bernier: They have a copy of our letter.
Mr. Stokes: Yes, that is right. But now that the minister has his friends with whom he thinks he can co-operate much more closely, he does have a responsibility to follow up now, not with the Charles Lapointes of this world but with his friends in Ottawa. We think it is a reasonable request. The minister is nodding in assent; he must think it is a reasonable request.
Let us get on with the job of protecting the interests of people who live in one-industry towns in northern Ontario so they get the same consideration as anybody else living in an urban setting. I will say no more about that. If the minister's remarks are not what I would like them to be, we can pursue it during the vote.
I want to deal specifically with one other item. I wrote a letter to the minister on September 17, almost a month ago, based on a letter I received from a Mr. Morley Wiseman, co-ordinator of the Northern Light Lake road petition. It was signed by more than 600 users. I sent a copy of that and I released a copy of my letter to the minister to the press. Eight days after I mailed it the minister was buttonholed, and he said: "I have not received the letter yet. When I receive it I will respond to it." Unless our own interoffice mailing services are just preposterous, I cannot believe somebody in the ministry would not have received a copy of the letter eight days after I sent it.
I still do not have a response from the minister, but I can say that the people who use that road are less than happy, because it is primarily the responsibility of the Ministry of Natural Resources to maintain the road, but that ministry says that the dollars with which to do it come from the Ministry of Northern Affairs. This is what these people learned from the Ministry of Natural Resources:
"About $47,000 was earmarked in 1984 to maintain the Northern Light Lake road, the same as in 1983. The supervisor of the Ministry of Natural Resources engineering service department said he does not expect more in 1985.
'"No. As a matter of fact, the trend is that we are in a period of restraint and have been for a number of years.' So says Gerry Frenette," who is obviously from the Ministry of Natural Resources. "In fact, Natural Resources has taken money allocated for the care of other roads, such as the Wolf River and March Lake roads, to bolster the amount used to maintain the Northern Light Lake road."
The petition of which I provided a copy to the minister tells very graphically what is faced by the people who have to use that road on a regular basis. It is rough, it is washboardy, it is dangerous and it is not worthy of any government to lay claim to the responsibility for the management of that road. The conditions explained in the petition are so inadequate that the minister cannot say the ministry does not have the money. The ministry has to come up with the money.
I do not know what the minister replied in the letter he signed today, but if he took the time to read the petitions or if his ministry officials in Thunder Bay took the time to go out and look at the road or at least to contact the people who caused me to bring it to the minister's attention in the first place, he could come to only one conclusion as the Minister of Northern Affairs responsible for the road system.
He does not have to be physically carrying out the work, but by setting the priorities, whether for new capital projects or by way of extraordinary maintenance as is required here, he could come to only one conclusion. If he cannot find that conclusion within the amount he is asking for in these estimates, then he should go to Management Board of Cabinet for the additional funds. If he needs a letter, he has my support and that of anybody else who uses that road. Those people will be willing to provide him with the necessary documentation and convincing material so that he will only come to one conclusion, but he must come up with the necessary funds to do that.
What is the minister going to do to meet his commitment to something this important to the people of Thunder Bay and all the people in northwestern Ontario who use Thunder Bay as a service centre?
About two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a reception when Domtar Packaging in Red Rock was making a sizeable contribution, so much a year over the next five years, to the Lakehead auditorium. Funds were made available through Wintario. There was a sizeable amount committed and paid by the former government in Ottawa, and Dr. Charlie Johnston and his committee are very actively involved in a fund-raising campaign.
I see the Minister of Citizenship and Culture (Ms. Fish) is looking through her desk. She visited the site a few weeks ago. I hope she is writing a letter in response to the minister and knows, endorses and applauds the efforts of the people in Thunder Bay to get a 1,500-seat auditorium that would serve the people of Thunder Bay and the people in the area well. There are communities such as Red Rock committing so much on a per capita basis. There are industries such as Domtar doing likewise.
Even if they realize by way of local fund-raising all that they think can be realistically expected, I am told by Charlie Johnston, who is a good friend of the minister, that there will still be a shortfall. He asked me to ask the minister directly, specifically and as convincingly as I know how when he is going to take a direct interest in what they are doing and what the colour of his money is going to be. I cannot make it any blunter than that.
The minister knows how convincing little Charlie Johnston can be. I promised him I would bring it to the minister's attention, and I fully intended to do that when I got down here on Tuesday morning, only to find that our estimates were front and centre. I thought there was no better opportunity, when everybody was listening to me in the House, to pass on that message from Charlie to the minister: "Let us see the colour of his money."
I want to know where the minister stands on the resolution that was sponsored by my colleague the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds). I should probably know this; if my colleague the member for Port Arthur were in the House now, I would ask him directly how the Minister of Northern Affairs voted on his resolution which asked in effect that the legitimate cost of travel for essential medical services be a legitimate charge against the Ontario health insurance plan. As I recall, the minister was not in the House.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: What? I was.
Mr. Stokes: Did the minister vote in favour?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I surely did.
Mr. Stokes: Congratulations; I commend the minister.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Was the member for Lake Nipigon here?
Mr. Stokes: Yes, I was.
Mr. Laughren: However, in order that he not be hypocritical, why does he not bring it in now?
The Deputy Chairman: The honourable member will defer to other honourable members at the appropriate time in the appropriate way.
Mr. Laughren: You must admit I was using the right words.
The Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Stokes: The minister will know that members of this caucus from northern Ontario have circulated a letter based on that resolution that was passed quite convincingly by a majority of the members of this House in a free vote. When my colleague the member for Port Arthur pursued it with the Minister of Health (Mr. Norton), he said: "Have you any idea what that would cost? I dare say it would cost anywhere from $50 million to $70 million." That being the case, he said: "I would not place it high on my list of priorities. There are a dozen and one things I would do if I had the money." He always pleads poverty, although he is spending well in excess of $6 billion a year.
Hearing the way we raise in the House these matters that have convinced us, the minister knows we simply must come up with some kind of relief for families who spend literally thousands of dollars a year to transport their families to centres where there is the necessary treatment for essential medical services. When he reads his constituency problems, I am sure the minister comes up with incidents and cases where he knows there is a definite need.
Over the past 18 months, the minister has said that he personally and his ministry were going to withdraw from the economic and infrastructure issues and devote more of their time, energy and resources to the social issues. But other than the matter of extended care beds, I do not think there is an issue of more concern than the cost of necessary travel to essential medical services that are located elsewhere.
Mr. Laughren: The minister misled people; he did that with that telex.
The Deputy Chairman: Order. There is one honourable member here who is making certain statements that are off the record and should not even be said, and now he is making statements I wish I had not heard. Perhaps he will allow the member for Lake Nipigon to speak rather than make these interjections.
Mr. Stokes: The minister is the most important minister and his is the most important ministry in terms of the delivery of programs and services to northern Ontarians. I want to know where they stand on the cost of travel for medical services being a legitimate charge against the Ontario health insurance plan.
Mr. Wildman: He is supposed to co-ordinate services, is he not?
Mr. Stokes: That is what he tells us. I want an update on the extended care bed program, which was announced in the budget of 1982, almost two and a half years ago. I know we are going to get approval for Geraldton, Atikokan, Sioux Lookout, Dryden and maybe Smooth Rock Falls. But, even though the program was announced almost two and a half years ago, we cannot point specifically to one extended care bed in any of those five locations.
My colleague the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) perhaps is more up on this -- on his behalf, I raised a particular situation dealing with the need in Wawa -- but I am told there are 42 other locations now on the list, or is it 28 or 29?
I want to find out what is holding up delivery of these extended care beds, which were critical in 1982. The minister should go into those communities now; the problem has reached crisis proportions. Where does the minister stand with regard to facilitating the provision of extended care beds? Where does he stand with regard to the cost of travel for essential medical services?
Where does the minister stand with regard to Hydro rates, seasonal rates and time-of-use rates? There has been a considerable dichotomy between Ontario Hydro and the Ontario Municipal Electric Association. Most of the utilities in the north are not convinced that any change from the existing rate structure, such as a seasonal, time-of-use or time-of-day rate, would be completely acceptable to all municipalities and all municipal electrical utilities in the north.
If my memory serves me correctly, the minister said something about that when this problem raised its ugly head some two years ago. It was put on hold. Now one has the sense that it is back on the front burner again, and if we northerners sit passively by, we will wake up one morning to find the formula has been changed to the detriment of hydro consumers in northern Ontario.
The member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon) carried the can on that on one occasion and became very irate that Ontario Hydro would even think of doing that to northerners. What did he call it, "Fascist economics"? He used some very uncomplimentary epithet. I know the minister felt very strongly about that issue here a year or so ago, but I have not heard anything from him on that very important topic.
The minister has been very active in concert with his colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) in the old "highways in the sky" program. I think that phrase was coined by Irwin Haskett when he was the Minister of Transport. That program has worked very well as far as it has gone. It has not had as much effect as I thought it would have, or I hoped it would have, in bringing down the cost of travel for passengers in the far north or the cost of delivering goods and materials and equipment to the far north.
I am not an economist, nor am I an expert on rate structure, but I would have thought that as a result of the expenditure of funds for the northern airstrips, there would have been a reduction in the cost of transportation because we could get bigger payloads and because we could have literally all-weather transportation in the north, as opposed to what was the case when we did not have any airstrips; which is still the case in areas where we do not have airstrips where there are problems with freeze-up and breakup. One has to operate on skis in the winter and floats in the summer.
For a lot of communities in the north that is no longer the case. One can get in with Hercules aircraft, with DC-3s, 748s and all of the smaller types of aircraft and one is almost assured, depending on extreme weather conditions, of year-round flying.
Because we now have those new airstrips, one could argue that the increases in the cost of transportation have not been as dramatic as they would have been without them. That is a legitimate thing to say, but one wonders who is benefiting from this well-intentioned and well-meaning program, one I have advocated for years and one the minister himself has advocated for years, and we cannot knock it. One wonders who the beneficiaries are.
One wonders if perhaps the Hudson's Bay Co. may have been the greatest beneficiary. I cannot prove they were, but when the minister did his analysis of the high costs of goods and transportation in the north, I do not remember whether it said who were the major beneficiaries. I think they said: "The situation is less than ideal. We have to look for better ways of doing things, but it is better than it was." We all admit that. Any fair-minded person would admit it is better than it was.
The thing that bothers me more than anything else is the fact that the minister used to try to allocate funds in such a way that he would begin the construction of an airstrip at two locations each building year. That was great. A lot of people said it was not fast enough, but to be realistic, there is only so much that can be done in one year. That was working well. I know I have had several applications in recent weeks and months for strips to areas that are still not served. I know the minister gets them too.
I am told the ministry is now going to build only one every two years. Instead of two starts every year, there is going to be one start every two years.
I sent the minister a very convincing letter from Kingfisher Lake. Did you approve it?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes.
Mr. Stokes: You have not gone public with it. You have not shared it with me.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: You should get a copy of the letter.
Mr. Stokes: If you did, I am pleased.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I made a personal visit to Kingfisher.
Mr. Stokes: Were you impressed?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Certainly, I was.
Mr. Stokes: I went out of my way to make the minister aware of what was going on up there, along with his colleagues, the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) and the Minister of Education.
Quite often people such as myself come down here and are purveyors of doom and gloom and all the things we are accused of, but I am probably the most optimistic person in this Legislature. Whenever I see something useful, productive and worthwhile happening, I like to tell people about it. That is what I attempted to do in this case. If there was ever a community that we could use as a model for economic and social development anywhere in Canada or anywhere in the world, the community of Kingfisher Lake is it.
I cannot get a copy of it, but I am told there was a study done by the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. They did a case study of Kingfisher Lake and the federal government is now sharing that -- I am not sure whether it is through Canadian University Service Overseas or whether it is the Canadian International Development Agency -- but it is using the experience in Kingfisher Lake to assist communities and countries in the Third World that are interested in helping themselves.
This was a case of a community that bought out the Hudson Bay store that was accumulating all of the funds that were generated in that community. Prior to that, 82 per cent of the funds went out of the community. None of the money that went into that community ever stayed there. As a result of their ability to retain that money by taking over the Hudson Bay store, they have been able to purchase their own diesel generators, to build their own distribution system and wire their own houses.
They are doing it for half of the cost of what Ontario Hydro would have to charge in order to meet the existing formula. They have also been able to build their own laundromat and make it a profitable venture. They have their own communal garden, even though the frost-free days up there are much shorter than anything that would be acceptable down here. They have their own coffee shop. They have generated their own funds to get their own satellite for getting television signals. They are in the process of building their own church from their own resources, using their own local labour. They have the best library I have ever seen in any community north of the 51st parallel.
I am sure the minister must have been impressed if he went around and saw that. I would hope the minister would take advantage of the first opportunity to tell his colleagues down here, as I try to do at every opportunity available to me, that there are some good things happening in the north. When good things are happening in the north, we think people in the south should hear about them.
It is fine to go up there and see them. I am glad the minister has availed himself of the opportunity to do that. I do not mind him going into my riding because there are some good things happening in my riding.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: All I do is good things for you -- develop, promote.
Mr. Stokes: Come on now. The minister cannot take credit for anything that happened in Kingfisher.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I will take credit for the Kingfisher airport.
Mr. Stokes: When the minister builds it.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I made the decision and I am putting up the money.
Mr. Stokes: Who urged the minister to do so?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, I want to make a point about the Kingfisher airport --
The Deputy Chairman: A point of what?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Just to interrupt for one minute.
The Deputy Chairman: Is this a point of order?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, it is. It is a point of order just to straighten the record.
The Deputy Chairman: Point of information.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Kingfisher was on the list to have an airstrip three, four or five years ago.
Mr. Foulds: What took you so long?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Does the member want to know why? I will tell him why. Because they wrote me and said they did not want an airstrip because they were concerned about the impact it would have on their community. They said, "We will not have an airport at this time, but we will be back to you." They came back to us and, with the support of the local member, the decision was made to get on with it.
Mr. Foulds: He did it. The member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) did it at the appropriate time.
The Deputy Chairman: I am not having much effect on the honourable member's efforts to control himself. Please try.
Mr. Stokes: The facts are essentially as I have enumerated them. The point I am trying to make is that if the minister has already told them they are going to get it, Noah Winter is going to be very pleased and Chief Sakakeep is going to be very pleased.
I am glad the minister took the trouble to go there and see for himself. There are some good things going on. Let us tell people down here that when one sees something working well, to use the phrase of the minister's colleague a little earlier, "Let us emulate that." That is what the Minister of Education said a little earlier. Let us have more of that. That is what I am saying.
More important, I see an opportunity for the minister to co-ordinate in a much more meaningful and productive way some of the things he knows will work well, much more so than will the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling). Why do I mention the member for Carleton-Grenville? The minister winced and said, "What has that got to do with the north?"
Does the minister know what the member for Carleton-Grenville is supposed to do? As the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development, he is the one person in this assembly who is more responsible than any other for co-ordinating programs that might have some relevance to our first citizens. The minister did not even know that or it never occurred to him.
I am not going to suggest we should wipe out provincial secretariats for Social Development, Resources Development and Justice; the government has to find something for the provincial secretaries to do. I think his responsibility for co-ordinating between the federal and provincial government the programs that have an effect on the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of our first citizens should be with the Ministry of Northern Affairs.
The minister might have to draw some lines. Let me give the minister a specific example. He sets the priorities and requests the funds for transportation in all areas north of the French River. Once he has done that, he calls in the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to do the work, cause the work to be done and make sure it is done so that we get the biggest bang for our buck.
We have a situation at Fort Hope which is the case in many areas of the north. There is a scarcity of good gravel, good aggregate, to maintain the airstrips and road structures on reserves. If that were the case down here, they would say, "We will haul it from five, 10, or 20 miles away," but there are no roads. Once a supply of gravel to maintain those airstrips and a minimal kind of road structure to allow people to get from one place to another on a reserve is exhausted, they scratch like chickens to get sufficient gravel to maintain airstrips at Big Trout Lake and Fort Hope.
Fort Hope asked the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to help identify a source of good gravel and to access it. The Minister of Transportation and Communications says, "We have only X number of dollars and we do not have funds in our ministry to access a good supply of gravel on an esker that is about 10 miles away from the existing airstrip, but if you can come up with some dollars to build a Bailey bridge or something such as that, we will assist you in accessing the gravel to maintain the airstrip."
We have never been able to convince the federal authorities that they perhaps have some responsibility for co-ordinating that kind of program, because the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Department of National Health and Welfare have a need for gravel in those communities. I have paraded these problems to a series of ministers in Ottawa who were responsible for Indian and northern affairs.
We now have a guy by the name of David Crombie. He is a likeable, jovial, responsive little guy who has a social conscience. If he knew the situation and wanted to call me and come for a trip, that would be fine and dandy. I would be prepared to give him whatever time it took to show him around and explain the facts of life as they pertain to his new responsibilities.
However, the minister could do that. That is why I would like to see the minister personally, for as long as he has those responsibilities, be given the opportunity to co-ordinate those programs, particularly now that he has kissing cousins in the right places.
It is something that has not happened in a good, long while. There is a new day dawning, for whatever length of time the minister has that mandate and for whatever length of time they have that mandate. It may only be a honeymoon, but he should take advantage of it. The people in the north will thank him for it. It is a wonderful opportunity. If Tories, generally, are of a mind to do things when they have a real opportunity to do them, the opportunities were never more obvious than they are now.
I think there is another way in which the minister can co-ordinate. I could name a number of specific instances, but I am going to use only one for the purpose of making my point. The minister will know there is an arrangement among the Ontario government, Ontario Hydro and the Niagara Parks Commission whereby the funds that accrue to the Ontario government as a result of the water rentals that Ontario Hydro pays on a horsepower basis do not go into the consolidated revenue fund of the province but go directly into the coffers of the Niagara Parks Commission in order to provide it with funding over and above what it is able to generate locally as a result of its operations, concessions and everything else.
I think anybody who goes to Niagara Falls is very proud of what we have there. It attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, and where would the economy of Niagara Falls and the surrounding area be without it? Everybody applauds that and everybody thinks it is a legitimate use of public funds to do that, even though it is almost a direct transfer from Ontario Hydro through the water rentals to the Niagara Parks Commission for that very worthwhile purpose.
But when we in the north come up with a similar situation -- I am talking about setting up a Nipigon parkway commission -- Ontario Hydro pays directly into the consolidated revenue fund of this province and the government about $1 million a year. What if one were to set up a commission that would be charged with the responsibility of taking advantage of the natural attributes that this area has to offer by way of its fishing, its boating, its aesthetic beauty and its development of trails -- all the things people like to do when they go on a vacation?
The minister mentioned Minaki Lodge here the other day and what a wonderful boon it is to the economy of the Kenora-Minaki area. The minister says that what has been done in Minaki has acted as a catalyst to provide a different experience for people who would like to travel to that part of Ontario, a good place to spend their money, a good place to relax, a good place for recreation. I am not going to argue with that.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Always very supportive of Minaki.
Mr. Stokes: Does the minister want to talk about that?
Mr. Haggerty: Was he there to cut the ribbon?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: He was the only member who was.
Mr. Stokes: I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Minaki. I was invited to the official opening of Minaki and I journeyed by norOntair from Thunder Bay to Atikokan, Fort Frances and Dryden. We finally landed at Kenora and then we were ferried by another aircraft that took us into the airstrip at Minaki. That was great. We said, "That is fine, but how will we get back?" They said: "No problem, pas de problÃÂªme. We will have an aircraft when all the festivities are over and we will fly you directly from the airstrip at Minaki back to Thunder Bay." I said, "Great, they have thought of everything and they have done it up brown." We wanted for nothing.
We got on the aircraft and there were Tories on that aircraft until even hell would not have them. Even Bill Clarke, who is head of field aviation, was there and Brian O'Brien. I thought, "Gee, this is great." About two months after I got home, I got a bill for $57 and change.
Mr. Haggerty: He was not a Tory.
Mr. Stokes: I paid for it.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It was a Tory minister who made it right.
Mr. Stokes: The minister did not make it right.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The chairman, Mr. Boyer, was supposed to call the member. He assured me he would call and straighten that matter out.
Mr. Stokes: He did not.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I will follow that up.
Mr. Stokes: He said: "I have heard through the grapevine about four members who have responsibilities for the north, namely, Rainy River, Kenora, Lake Nipigon and Cochrane North. You will be reimbursed, so what are you beefing about?"
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Nobody told me.
Mr. Stokes: That is the way it happened.
There are folks in the north and then there are people in the north, and sometimes the folks are not as good as the people.
I resented that because there was a friend of both of us who was on that aircraft. I thought it was very strange and I phoned him up -- I will not embarrass him by mentioning his name. I will tell the minister who it was privately if he wants. I asked him, "Did you get a bill for that flight from Minaki?" He said in surprise, "No, did you?" I said, "Yes, I did." He said, "I want to assure you I did not get one. When I am invited, I expect to be taken to the place and brought back home." It did not happen that way. All I am saying to the minister is sometimes they carry it just a little bit too far.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It was just an oversight.
Mr. Stokes: This minister does not operate in that way and I am the first one to say so. In this case, it was Fred Boyer.
Mr. Foulds: Is he a member of the Legislature?
Mr. Stokes: No. He is with the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation.
We were talking about the benefits that accrue as a result of a Minaki. The minister knows what the situation is with a dormitory community such as Nipigon. If we ever lost Domtar in Red Rock, what would happen to Red Rock? What would happen to Nipigon? What would happen to Dorion and Hurkett? We have an opportunity to broaden the economic base and we have a perfect vehicle for doing it.
The minister knows the Nipigon area. If he does not know it, he should call Ethel Douglas and she will tell him about it. The minister knows the tremendous tourism potential in the Lake Nipigon watershed. What are we doing about it? We cannot even get a fingerboard on Highway 11 that points to Lake Nipigon.
They tell me there is a waste disposal site just east of Beardmore where people say, "If you go a little bit farther, you will find a road that leads to Lake Nipigon." They tell me we have the best-travelled waste disposal dump anywhere in North America for people looking for access to Lake Nipigon.
Yesterday afternoon when I was in Beardmore, I was told they have tried everything to get the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to allow them to put up a little fingerboard with a little arrow on the end of it pointing towards Lake Nipigon. I am told they cannot get one. I cannot believe this and am going to pursue it with Bill Neilipovitz and all the people I normally call for these things.
There must be some truth in it, however. Why have we not got a sign saying, "Follow this road and you will get to Lake Nipigon"? All one has to do is look at a map to know how significant Lake Nipigon is. It is the economic wellbeing of the people in the area. Why can we not use the concept of a Lake Nipigon parkway to develop cruiser service, all the resorts in the area and the wonderful fishing?
The world's largest speckled trout was caught right there by Dr. Cooke. They are still getting beautiful fish out of that lake. If we play our cards right, it will be a fishery that everybody will be able to enjoy from now until kingdom come, but we need some kind of a catalyst to do that.
Does the minister know we have a provincial park on the east side of Lake Nipigon? It used to be called Black Sands Provincial Park. They did not think that was a very juicy name, so they called it Lake Nipigon Provincial Park. Does the minister know what his colleague the Minister of Natural Resources is doing now? He has it up for lease or privatization. He is putting it out to the public sector and washing his hands of it. That is how interested the government is in fostering tourism and economic development in the Nipigon area.
I wrote to the minister, to his colleague the former Minister of Natural Resources and the present Minister of Tourism and Recreation and to two or three other ministers. The Minister of Northern Affairs said, "Yes, my people will look into it and in due course we will get back to you." Nothing happened.
What do I say to people? The Minister of Northern Affairs is the one minister who caught on to the idea of spending $40 million to develop Minaki Lodge and provide access to Minaki --
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Let the record show that is $20 million.
Mr. Stokes: -- with golf courses, an airstrip and everything else. All I am asking is why the minister is not looking at what I think is a really good concept to do essentially the same thing, when it is that much more rugged, there is that much more water and the opportunities are that much greater. If the minister thought there were opportunities at Minaki, he should come with me and I will take him on a trip on Lake Nipigon. I will show him what it is all about.
We have a new economic development committee in Nipigon.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Supported by the Ministry of Northern Affairs.
Mr. Stokes: That is right. The government gave it $20,000 to set the ball rolling. All I am saying is that I think the minister or somebody he delegated could act as a catalyst and persuade his counterparts that it is worth while to redirect those water rentals from Ontario Hydro for this express purpose. There is a direct link. As a result of the impounding of water, the manipulation of water levels, there is an effect on the ecology and the environment around.
Some people would say it has a deleterious effect on the spawning beds for pickerel and trout. I have not been able to prove or disprove that. But the fact is Hydro is there -- and the minister knows what happened on Lac Seul many years ago, the flooding out of miles and miles of a good timber and tree area. He knows what happened with the flooding out of graveyards --
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is all looked after.
Mr. Stokes: Yes, I know it is. Any time you have human intervention such as that of Ontario Hydro, it does have an impact. So it would be poetic justice if we said: "We benefit from the payment of water rentals as a result of the use of this water to generate this electricity. Let us put something back." I think it is an excellent opportunity for the minister to do just that.
There is only one other thing I want to bring to the minister's attention. He will know that he has been pressured by railroaders and other concerned people about the notion of these cabooseless trains. I think he has said he does not buy that; he supports retaining the caboose. I know the Conservative candidate in the last federal election took that position, and I cannot see those people being at odds with one another on this. I know everybody feels it is of sufficient import that we make these trains as safe as is humanly possible.
I want to put on the record the position of the former federal Minister of Transport. I want to quote a letter that was sent to a former member of the House of Commons. He is not in that position any more. I will not embarrass him by using his name; he is having enough problems right now. This is a letter that was sent to him and is signed by Lloyd Axworthy, the former Minister of Transport:
"Thank you for your letter of May 28, 1984, concerning railway applications to operate trains without cabooses. I appreciate receiving your comments on this letter.
"CN and CP have made joint application to the railway transport committee of the Canadian Transport Commission for approval to operate cabooseless trains. This action follows extensive testing of the end-of-train units by both railways.
"While I understand your concerns with regard to safety, tests have proven that the use of end-of-train devices, together with detection equipment such as hot-box detectors and dragging equipment detectors, are far more reliable and efficient means of ensuring safe railway operations than tail-end crew surveillance from cabooses. Also, the removal of cabooses would completely eliminate the numerous slack-action injuries to crews in cabooses that occur each year.
"I would point out that I support the efforts of the railways to improve their efficiency and productivity through the introduction of new technology.
"With regard to CN rail, the railway unions have long recognized CN's right to introduce technological, operational and organizational changes that improve efficiency and enhance productivity, thus permitting the company to remain competitive.
"CN is in competition with CP Ltd. and other railways, the trucking industry and, to some extent, water carriers for a share of the freight transportation market. To maintain its competitive position and provide better service at competitive prices, CN must continue to seek ways to improve its operation.
"The company is, therefore, pursuing several programs in an effort to improve productivity and efficiency and reduce costs. These changes are of a technological, organizational and operational nature involving the introduction of technological advances and managerial innovations.
"Provisions have been negotiated between CN and the unions to protect employees adversely affected by these changes. These are included in the collective agreement. Additional items arising from the repositioning of employees from the caboose to the locomotive would be the subject of further negotiations with the union should the CTC grant approval for cabooseless train operations.
"I assure you that I am deeply concerned about the hardships that staff adjustments may cause the affected employees. I have written to the chief executive officers of the crown corporations that report to Parliament through me, asking that they consult with municipal authorities concerning their employment possibilities, such as alternative employment opportunities."
In other words, he is throwing the responsibility on to the municipalities.
"I hope that these efforts may help alleviate the problems while allowing CN to continue to operate as a commercially viable enterprise. You may be assured that all the relevant factors regarding the operation of cabooseless trains will be taken into consideration before a decision is made.
"Sincerely yours, Lloyd Axworthy."
I know what the minister's position is on it. I know what the position of any knowledgeable person is on it. I know how our colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications feels about it. Before the operation of cabooseless trains becomes a reality, I hope we individually and collectively take every opportunity made available to us to say how strongly we feel about this issue. I hope we can, notwithstanding the position taken by the former minister, Lloyd Axworthy.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: A good private member's bill.
Mr. Stokes: A good private member's bill might do the trick. Who is high on the list? I know I am about 58th on the list.
This is of great importance to people in Sioux Lookout, Nakina, Hornepayne, Capreol -- any place where we have railway terminals. It is equally important along the north shore and the CP railway line.
We can beat this thing, but we have to stick together on it. I hope we can enlist the support of the Liberal caucus both here and in Ottawa. That is the only way we are going to beat it. I thought it was important in terms of the feedback I and the minister have been getting from the north. I thought I should put it on the record.
We have a battle on our hands. We can beat it, but we have to do it collectively. That is all I have to say at the moment.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, perhaps I can respond to my critics, who up to a point have made a contribution and an examination of my ministry. I have made some notes that I will refer to as I go through the various items.
I can start with the remarks made by my colleague the member for London North. First, I must express my appreciation. His presentation was documented; it was written out, albeit I think by some research person in southern Ontario. I believe this was copied from some of the local press in southern Ontario. Nevertheless, I think it is a good effort; it covered a broad range.
I only wish I had the opportunity to take the member for London North home with me on the weekend to see northern Ontario and to get a real feel for what the north is all about. This weekend would have been beautiful, with the colour and the aroma. The fall colours are in full bloom. It was a fantastic --
Mr. Foulds: That is cruel and unusual punishment. Take him back to Sioux Lookout or Hudson Bay. The country is wonderful, but having to put up with the minister --
Hon. Mr. Bernier: They will; they have for a few years and they are going to for a few more years. I continue to live there, unlike the new federal member for Kenora-Rainy River, who traipsed up and down the riding during three successive elections and said he would live in the riding just like the member for Kenora does.
Mr. Foulds: No, he did not. He never said that.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, he did. He said: "I will live in the riding. I will not do like the Liberal-Labour member, John Reid, did and move to Ottawa." Does my friend know what happened two days after the federal election? His house went up for sale. However, he cannot live in Ottawa because the housing is too expensive. He has to move to Hull, Quebec.
Anyway, I intend to live in northern Ontario; I have lived there up until now and I will continue to. I want to bring more of these fellows up with me so they will not have to write documents like this. They could speak from the heart. They would get the real feel of what the north is all about. I know he is at a disadvantage. I have to say that.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Chairman, I want to interject and say that if one follows that line of reasoning, one would have to assume that the only person who could be a Health critic would be a doctor and that a critic of the Attorney General would have to be a lawyer. That is really stretching a point.
I do not think the minister does Ontarians or the north any good by making reference to me every time as someone from southern Ontario. He persists in doing what isolationists do; that is, he drives a wedge between the north and the south. We are all Ontarians, let me remind him of that.
Mr. Chairman: I do not know whether that is a point of order. It is a point of debate.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: In a very subtle way I was complimenting the member for his efforts. He is working with a handicap because his party does not have a member in northern Ontario. He is working from a handicapped position, and I admire his efforts. I merely wanted to say that. He touched on all the very sensitive issues.
Mr. Wildman: Is that why the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell) is from Don Mills? The Tories do not have anybody from the rural areas?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: There might be some interesting times ahead.
Mr. Chairman: Let us return to the minister's response --
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I was interested in listening to the member's comments about the status quo or the situation in northern Ontario. He referred many times to the 41 years that this government has looked after the affairs of this province from Kenora right to Windsor and Ottawa. I think we have done it exceptionally well. The people of this province have returned us on every occasion in those 41 years. We have enjoyed three or four different Premiers who have excelled in a very responsive, sensitive and compassionate way that has kept us in office.
When one thinks that today we have something like 10 of the 15 members in northern Ontario, it seems to me we must be doing the right things on behalf of northern Ontario. We must be doing the right things to get the constant return of a person such as the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane). He is constantly returned because he is doing the right thing and answering the needs of northern Ontario.
Mr. PichÃÂ©: They will return the member for Cochrane North a million times --
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We have another gentleman over here who will be constantly returned because we are sensitive and responsible. We have a compassionate feeling for the areas we represent.
I cannot accept the total condemnation by the member that we are not doing a job in northern Ontario. I cannot accept it because I think the proof is in the pudding. The proof is in the number of excellent members we have here from northern Ontario. In fact, any one of those members could be the next Premier or the next leader of this party.
Mr. Foulds: Except the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope).
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am very proud to be part of this government and I am very proud of the results and the track record of this government in northern Ontario. There is no question about it; we have excelled.
As I go on an annual basis and meet my confreres from other provinces, the other ministers responsible for development in northern parts of provinces, I am more proud of our efforts than I have been in the past, just to compare notes, to see what we are doing in northern Ontario compared to northern Manitoba, northern Saskatchewan and northern Alberta.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order: Since this is so important, I think we should have a quorum present.
Mr. Chairman ordered the bells to be rung.
Assistant Clerk: Mr. Chairman, a quorum is present.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, I will continue now that we have some more interested members present. It is always encouraging. There were two members of the opposition in the gallery.
The member for London North made some comment with respect to the economy of northern Ontario. I want to point out to him that because we in northern Ontario are so resource-oriented, the policies of the federal government have a direct bearing on the long-range economic problems of northern Ontario. It was obvious to us on this side of the House that the policies and programs of the Trudeau era added to the aggravation we have in northern Ontario.
I also want to point out the thrust taken by the Ontario government with respect to a very major segment of the economic base in northern Ontario, the pulp and paper industry. I regret the member did not make reference to the program that was announced by the former Treasurer, the member for Muskoka (Mr. F. S. Miller), whereby the employment development fund would pump in excess of $160 million into the pulp and paper industry in northern Ontario.
A month or so ago, I was very interested to hear the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. do a documentary on the situation of the pulp and paper industry in northern Ontario and to hear that corporation and its reporters compliment the Ontario government. They said emphatically that this program has provided security and a world-competitive position for the pulp and paper industry in northern Ontario for the next 25 years. For the CBC to say that --
Mr. Foulds: I want the minister to table the transcript. I do not doubt the minister's words, but the CBC said that?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: They said it. I wanted it on the record.
Mr. Foulds: Is the minister sure?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes. I heard it. If the CBC can give it that kind of recognition, then I am sure the members across the way should be recognizing that too. I am sure every member in northern Ontario has felt the effects of that program, which has provided job security for many of our people working in the wood industry. That is just one small example of what a major program can do in our area.
Mr. Haggerty: What happened to the private sector?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The private sector? In the town of Dryden alone, we put in $30 million and Great Lakes Forest Products Ltd. put in $350 million; that is about 10 per cent.
Mr. Haggerty: But how much of it went out when Reed went out?
The Deputy Chairman: Order.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The member for London North also made a comment about the Hydro rates --
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Chairman, I do not like to interrupt the minister, but I am not clear. He began his response by indicating a relationship between the federal and provincial governments. He indicated that things were not right with the economy in northern Ontario and that it might have been as a result of federal programs.
If that is what the minister is suggesting, I wonder whether he would care to elaborate on the statement he made on page 13. Of his 34 pages of comments, I can find only a page or so related to the forest industry. I do not find any reference to that $160-million project, which he is now speaking of in glowing terms.
I am glad my comments at least prodded him to say something. However, I am wondering whether he is totally condemning the federal government or whether his comments on page 13 are intended to be a supplementary compliment to it.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, the point I was trying to make was that the federal policies with respect to the economy of our country as a whole have had an effect on northern Ontario because we are a resource-based area of this country. The very poor policies, the poor programs the federal government has had in effect over the last 16 years during the Trudeau era have had their effect on northern Ontario.
But now we are into a whole new era. We have a new government in Ottawa, an enlightened government, so the future looks much brighter for us in northern Ontario.
Mr. Van Horne: May I ask the minister if his words on page 13 are words that refer to the past? He said, "Through the Canada-Ontario forest management program we have also funded the expansion of nurseries in the north, the expansion of shipping and storage," etc. That program began when the federal Liberal government was there. Is the minister saying it was a bad program?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am not, but I wish we had more of them. That program expired on March 31, 1984. We went back to the cousins of the member opposite last January, February and March to try to get an extension to those federal-provincial programs, be it the northern Ontario rural development agreement or be it these other programs with respect to mining and forestry.
Does the member know what we were told? Does he know what Ed Lumley told me? He said, "Leo, can we sign something for three months?" I said: "Three months? Come on, Ed. Let's go for a minimum of at least three years." He said, "I will make it six months," because he wanted to get by the election. The government was embarrassed.
Mr. Van Horne: When did it start?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We do not have a program in place right now because of the attitude of the former federal administration. I hope that changes. It has to be for the better.
Mr. Van Horne: When it started it was a good program.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, it was, and we wanted to extend it
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We got one concession. Okay.
The honourable member made reference to Hydro costs being lower in Quebec and Manitoba than in Ontario. I want to point out that in the last three decades Ontario Hydro, as we all know, has had to turn to fossil fuels and, of course, to nuclear energy, which is much more expensive. The major hydraulic developments in this province have been developed. There are a number of small ones --
Mr. Foulds: Two thousand megawatts of hydraulic power is still untapped. The minister knows that.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Port Arthur will control himself.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: There are a number of small ones that could be developed in northern Ontario at high cost. There is no question that all those economic ones have been developed, so I cannot accept as an argument that we should be comparable to Alberta and Manitoba with respect to hydro rates.
Concerning the issue of the Hemlo area, I think maybe I can answer the questions of the member for Lake Nipigon and the member for London North together, because otherwise it would just be a duplication.
Before I do that, I will answer the question about the Chi-Cheemaun. The member asked a question with respect to this; I think he wanted to know about the problems we were having with downtime on the Chi-Cheemaun.
The Chi-Cheemaun had 976 crossings this year, and out of the 976 we missed 16. That is less than two per cent. I will give the member the dates and the reasons. On June 8 we missed two crossings because of bad weather; on August 1 we missed six crossings because of engine failure; on September 4 we missed four crossings because of bad weather; on September 8 we missed two crossings because of bad weather; and on October 3 we missed two crossings again because of bad weather.
I think the members will recall that some time ago we had some serious problems with the Chi-Cheemaun as it was docking in South Baymouth. If there is a high wind, then it is very difficult to control the ship under low power, so they are very cautious.
I think that is an excellent record: 16 crossings missed out of 976. I believe that was the information the member was looking for.
I will now get to the Hemlo area. Perhaps I should put on the record just what the province has done or is doing with respect to a dollar involvement in Marathon and Manitouwadge. Let me point out that Hemlo activity has attracted attention right across this country and North America, because it will raise the production of gold in this province by well over one third. I am told the total value of the Hemlo area, the whole ore body over the life of the three mines in that area, is something like $70 billion.
Mr. Stokes: It is 70 million tons.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is $70 billion.
Mr. Stokes: It is 70 million tons of ore valued in excess of $10 billion.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I have heard $70 billion. It was very exciting when I heard it. Time will tell, if we live long enough to see it fully developed.
I should put on the record what we are doing in Marathon. There is the municipal airport, phase 1 construction. The total cost is $694,000, with something like $556,500 coming from the province. We will be putting about $700,000 into the second phase of the municipal airport and $1 million will come from the federal government. The member is aware of that.
I am sure the member is aware that we are subsidizing the development office in the Marathon area. The cost is $100,000 and the Ministry of Northern Affairs is putting up about $70,000. The member is also aware of the new $5-million high school that has been planned and is moving ahead in the town of Marathon.
We will be making a decision soon with respect to the sewage plant expansion, new wells, a reservoir and pumphouse, and external front sewers. We hope to have that decision within the next couple of weeks, which will certainly take off the pressure for the extension of services as they develop in the areas that they are developing.
Of course, the member has already mentioned the funds that have been earmarked for the industrial park; that is, $100,000 from Northern Affairs' northern Ontario rural development agreement program and $100,000 from the federal government. That totals about $10,550,000 for Marathon.
For Manitouwadge, the municipal airport phase 1 is $2,125,000. The federal government is assisting with the paving of the airport at Manitouwadge at a cost of $740,000. We have advanced and will be committing $15,000 for economic development issues in Manitouwadge.
The downtown core study, of which I am sure the member is aware, is costing $45,000, of which $33,400 comes from the Ministry of Northern Affairs. We are doing a sewage treatment study at 100 per cent of the cost of $20,000. The total cost of the industrial park expansion study is $20,000 and we are putting up $15,000. The total cost of the new waste disposal site study is $40,000 and $30,000 is being put up by the province.
That is another $2.2 million being funded by Ontario for those two communities. There is a substantial amount of direct funding going into those areas.
I think it is fair to say that the development and the pressure on Manitouwadge and Marathon will allow them to go out for short-term money, but I want to point out that the serviced lots will be sold, commercial lots will be sold and light industrial lots will be sold so that there will be a long-term benefit.
Reeve Springer has repeatedly said that in the long term he sees no direct burden on the local taxpayers in Marathon, which is the way it really should be -- there is no question about that -- as development occurs. With financial assistance from the province to put in that major infrastructure work and the commercial and residential lots being sold, as in any other boom community, I do not look at the downside of a boom like Marathon and Manitouwadge; I look at the upside. I think this government and this province have a good track record with respect to boom communities. I look at the town of Dryden with a $350-million expansion on about a two-year basis. The province responded very quickly and responsibly in that area. I have a few more listed here too.
Mr. Stokes: Can I have a clarification? Is the minister saying he agrees with the application made by the Lake Superior Board of Education for an annexation of those areas that are putting pressure on the education services, so that it increases their tax base? Is this what he is saying?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I have a track record in northern Ontario of which I am very proud. The member represents the town of Ignace. He went through that exercise where they applied --
Mr. Wildman: The minister is ignoring that question.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am sorry. It was the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid), but there was a similar situation. The town of Ignace and the school board in that area wanted to annex Mattabi Mines. I supported it at that time, and I strongly support this application. There is no question about it. Not only do I support it, but my ministry also supports it and we have made that known to the Ministry of Education.
As late as an hour ago, I did have a chance to speak to the Minister of Education. She is aware of it and she assures me the approval should be through within four to six weeks. I think this is what the people up there want to hear and I am pleased she is going along with it. There may be some delay and some further study with respect to the rate structure, but the actual boundaries are something she can handle herself, and I understand she will be doing that.
Since the member for Lake Nipigon did bring it up, I think I might say the ministry does support the establishment of a fair and equitable system of taxation for the area communities. I think that is a given. That is what our position is. The staff has been working in that direction. We support the need for capital works in existing individual ministry programs that will endeavour to minimize the financial impact on the existing and new residents in the area.
We also support other ministries in things that may have to do with other programs within their respective ministries. I think we are on side on that issue. I do not think there are any exceptions or any changes from our point of view. Our interministerial committee, which has been chaired by a member of our staff, Ernie Lane from Thunder Bay, is doing an exceptionally fine job in keeping the thing moving and in answering the many questions.
I should also point out that the government did take a decision not to allow the establishment of another major municipal centre. I think the member failed to bring that out. We directed all that new commercial development to go into Marathon and Manitouwadge, and maybe even some into White River, so those established municipalities would gain the maximum benefit from anything that would occur in their areas, be it through commercial or residential development.
Mr. Stokes: That is a given. The decision was made 10 years ago not to allow new communities to spring up.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, that is true. It is a policy decision of this government. It has worked exceptionally well across northern Ontario. We did it in the Ear Falls area, the Ignace area and now in the Hemlo area, and it certainly works very well.
I was pointing out the track record of the government over the past several years. I know there is some concern in the Manitouwadge and Marathon areas with respect to this boom situation. As I said a moment ago, I am particularly pleased and proud of our track record when one looks at what happened at Ear Falls with the Griffith Mine situation and at Elliot Lake when Denison Mines and Rio Algom had tremendous expansion going on. We moved in, with some federal assistance, I will admit that, in the Great Lakes sewer and water program they had established.
The member for Algoma-Manitoulin is aware of what happened in the Blind River area prior to Eldorado being established there. The province was there with a new sewage treatment plant. In Timmins we have seen how the province moved in with massive amounts of money for infrastructure support. In Pickle Lake the member is aware of the co-operation we had with the Umex Corp.
Mr. Stokes: Surely the minister appreciates the difference between --
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I know, but the point I am trying to make is that this government and this administration is sensitive to those boom situations. I want to assure the people of Manitouwadge and Marathon that we will be there as we have been today. I want to put the fears of the member aside and assure him we will be there when the need is there and the burden will not be on the local taxpayers in that community. There will be fair and equitable distribution of the tax.
Mr. Stokes: Including corporate tax?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, of the corporate tax base also.
I think both my colleagues raised the issue of the development of the industrial park. As recently as this morning, I heard the reeve of Marathon admit on CBC he had not sat down with the company face to face to try to work out and resolve this situation. He was very enthusiastic that in the meeting coming up later this week it would be resolved in the interest of the community. He suggested the situation could be resolved because the two positions were not that far apart.
I can understand the position of the James River-Marathon Corp. in wanting a further clarification with respect to its long-term tax load. There is no question about it and we are prepared to work very closely with the firm.
The member for Lake Nipigon also raised the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. question with respect to the Hemlo issue. We have already sent a letter to the CMHC officials expressing our point of view. I think we will receive some consideration. Following up on that letter, in a telephone conversation with the officials there was an indication there is going to be realignment or readjustment and some consideration being given to it. I think it is most unfair, there is no question about that.
The member for Lake Nipigon raised the issue of the Northern Light Lake road, a forest access road. The acknowledgement of that letter to me of some time ago is in my briefcase. It will be going out to him. I would point out to the member that this is a forest access road, of which he is aware. It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Natural Resources for maintenance, but we do not fund that ministry for maintenance. We fund the Ministry of Natural Resources for the development of new forest access roads, not the maintenance aspect, which falls within the responsibility of that ministry itself.
The member suggested to me I should take a closer and more careful look at the situation and send some of my staff out to examine the road and get an update. I would tell the member that Neil Stuart from the Thunder Bay office was over the road just last week. He did a personal inspection and he reports that he averaged 40 miles per hour to 50 miles per hour on that road. It was not too bad. I just wanted to assure the member that his windshield is still intact. He is sitting right over here in the gallery. He is nodding and saying it was not that bad. I am encouraged by that kind of a positive response, not only by my staff, but by the good condition he found the road in. I express my thanks to Neil for being so upfront.
Mr. Stokes: Does he want me to report to those 600 people who signed the petition, and all the truck drivers, that they do not know what they are talking about?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I do not think I would go that far, but maybe it is not as bad as some had said. I know in this day and age how a gravel road can become overnight. The washboard sets in and if it is not graded on a regular basis -- I have a few gravel roads in my own area and I sympathize with him -- I know how bad they can get in a very short time.
With respect to health costs and travel costs, both members raised this issue.
I have to say I supported the honourable member's private member's bill. I make no apologies for that. I think there is some merit in examining that proposal. I do not know if it was accepted the way it was presented, but there is a concern and we are trying to answer that concern now as the member for Lake Nipigon knows because he used the air ambulance service. It works exceptionally well to move a patient from a hospital to a hospital.
My own wife, who had a back problem just a couple of months ago, was flown from the Sioux Lookout General Hospital to Thunder Bay to the General Hospital of Port Arthur. She was admitted from hospital to hospital and then she had to be returned to the Sioux Lookout General Hospital after 10 or 12 days in the General Hospital of Port Arthur. She was moved on the air ambulance system. I think the cost to us was $25 or something. It was minimal.
Mr. Stokes: It is no problem from hospital to hospital.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is right, I know, but then we are getting into costs. There is no question that the Minister of Health, who is a very sensitive and responsible person, is looking into that very carefully. He has said in this House on many occasions that there is a cost factor here that has to be sorted out and has to be examined very carefully because he does have a problem with respect to costs.
On the health issue, both members raised the issue of EldCap, a program I am very proud of. That is one of the most exciting programs we have in northern Ontario. It is moving ahead. I know the members from the third party sent me an open letter. They had some concern about some delay.
I should read one page of part of a statement I made last week. I think it will clarify some of our problems.
"I want to stress to the members that the EldCap program is unique in Ontario. It was designed and presented first right here in northern Ontario by northerners for northerners. Because it is a unique program, we have not been able to just duplicate plans as if we were constructing McDonald's restaurants. Each project presents its own special features. In most cases, extensive redesign and reconstruction of the entire hospital is made necessary to allow for the repositioning of service stations, traffic patterns and so on.
"In some cases, the size and the scope of the hospital is being doubled under the EldCap program.
"All of this takes time and our hospital board and the Ministry of Health staff work to high standards. At this stage, all five projects are well advanced with most planning to begin construction next spring."
These include, as the member for Lake Nipigon pointed out, Atikokan, Geraldton, Dryden, and now Sioux Lookout and Smooth Rock Falls. Applications are under review, awaiting funding approval because that is our biggest problem, from Blind River, Hornepayne, Nipigon, Rainy River and Wawa. I am scheduled to meet also with the Chapleau people on November 1 of this year. We also have letters of intent from Marathon and Red Lake. That is the extent of that particular program.
As I mentioned in my remarks on a number of occasions, this is a five- to six-year program. We have budgeted $25 million to $30 million and tried to stage them in so they will come on stream. I think I have to point out that while we had in our design looked at a 20-bed facility costing something like $1 million to $1.5 million, maybe $1.7 million, because of the new heating requirements, a new electrical system that is required because of these extra beds and major changes to the hospital itself -- being promoted and aggravated by the 20 beds -- we are now finding that a 20-bed addition on the Sioux Lookout Hospital will cost in excess of $5 million.
The local people have to raise one sixth of that cost, which is about $900,000. They have something like $360,000 raised now, but that is placing a burden on them. Their hospital board has come forward with its plans. The original plans were for something like $8 million, which we had difficulty with.
We sent it to the health council. They reviewed it and took out portions of the plan that really did not fall into the EldCap responsibility and reduced it to about $5 million.
That is happening in a lot of the hospitals. I think Geraldton has a special situation and is a special example too. That is causing the delay. There is no delay with respect to the funding on our part because we are advancing the cost of the engineering and design work. All those funds are flowing now to those five hospitals.
I am particularly pleased with the way it is moving. I look forward to sharing the limelight with my colleagues when we turn the sod on what is a new and exciting program. As I said in my opening remarks, Alberta is sending down some authorities to look at the EldCap program because the government there thinks it will fit the northern Alberta situation.
Mr. Stokes: It will be nice if you are going to be able to show them a bed.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes. As I said in Sioux Lookout the other day, maybe some day I will be a recipient of our good work here in the Legislature today since I intend to live up there. I invite members to join me in one of those facilities. It will be exceptionally comfortable. I know we will be very proud of what we have accomplished.
We are moving ahead on that. I do not think we can move really much faster than we are going. I think once we get these five behind us, we will have a wealth of knowledge and experience that we can lean on for the remaining eight or 10 we will have coming forward.
The honourable members also mentioned in their opening remarks the question of seasonally adjusted hydro rates. As has already been mentioned, the northern Progressive Conservative caucus was very vocal in leading a review by Ontario Hydro in this area. To my knowledge, this position has not changed. The attitude is still the same within the northern caucus. I do not feel there will be any change as long as this group is together. At this point I cannot see it being otherwise. Do you agree with that?
Mr. Van Horne: I am not sure whether the minister has any other references to the health theme in his reply notes there, but I did ask the question about foreign doctors and whether or not any liaison had happened between the Ontario and federal governments to consider these people as possible placement people in northern communities. Does the minister have a response to that?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes. I took it upon myself to contact the federal authorities several months ago with respect to allowing foreign doctors into Ontario on the condition they would operate in northern Ontario for a specific period.
The reaction I got was a negative one. There is no question about that. They thought they might give some consideration with respect to Canadian-born or Ontario-born people who had gone out of the country to become educated. I spoke to the officials in a very strong and positive way, hoping they would reconsider. I will have to reactivate that contact with the new authorities now in Ottawa. Certainly, I intend to do that because I think that is one way that we can move forward.
We have already given out something like 351 bursaries under our program of assisting dentists and doctors over the last five or six years. That is having an effect, but again they stay for only a couple of years. We have a number of them up in northern Ontario who come and go. We have 18 or 19 medical clinics we have assisted with. We are moving in all those directions.
Also, under our medical recruitment program, which is on next week, municipalities are assisted financially to send down a representative to the medical campuses in southern Ontario in the company of Northern Affairs and Ministry of Health staff. We put on a reception in those major communities. The members are invited. The one here in Toronto is on Friday, October 26, at the Hilton Harbour Castle. If they are around, they should drop in for 15 or 20 minutes and see the competition among the communities. It is utterly fantastic. They set up their booths --
Mr. Stokes: I cannot; your estimates are on.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We can go after the House rises. It is a real education to see those communities outselling themselves to the medical students, and it is working.
I was pleased to hear that Alberta and Saskatchewan were coming to see how we operate on that medical recruitment team, because we have had some successes with it. I think there is some movement.
Mr. Van Horne: I wonder whether the minister could indicate to us before these estimates are finished how many communities could be classified as underserviced.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I do not have that information with me, but I can have it for the member at the next session. I will have a list for him on Friday.
If I may move to the cost-of-living problem mentioned by both members, it is one that is shared by my colleagues in other jurisdictions. While we have developed an airstrip development program, and I think it has gone exceptionally well, to really see the benefits of that airstrip development program and to see the effect it has had on the cost of living, I think one must visit places such as Kingfisher Lake, McDowell Lake or Muskrat Dam Lake, which do not have an airstrip, and compare the prices at those communities with other communities that have an airstrip. That is when one really sees the difference. There is no question about it.
What is difficult to sell to the local people is that it is affecting the cost of living. I think it is. If the airstrip was not there, the cost of living would be far in excess of what it is today. There is no question about that. With the airstrip program come all the amenities of 12-months-a-year service, the isolation aspect is removed, mail service is more available and health service is on their doorstep on a 24-hour-a-day basis. There is much to gain from the airstrip development program.
The reason we have gone to one per every two years is that we are winding down the program. We have practically filled all our requirements under phase 1. We are at phase 2 now where we are going to the very small communities, such as McDowell Lake and North Spirit Lake that have perhaps 150 people, not even 200 people.
I might say that on my trip to Kingfisher Lake we dropped in to Ogoki and looked at their situation. Again, I was impressed, as I was at Kingfisher, with the enthusiasm and the drive of the individual chief and the members of his council to improve their way of life and the quality of life. We are going to extend --
Mr. Stokes: Are you going to get him a truck?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: At the insistence of the member for Cochrane North (Mr. PichÃÂ©), we are going to give him a truck and we are going to give him some equipment. We are not only going to lengthen the runway at Ogoki, but we are going to fix up the town streets. The member for Cochrane North was ecstatic when we advised him of our decision.
Mr. Van Horne: To be presented before the day the writ is issued.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: They have already been notified.
Mr. Stokes: He wrote to me about it and it is not even in my riding.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I want to get back to Kingfisher and echo what the member for Lake Nipigon said about that community. It has everything going for it because they have done it themselves, even to providing their own electrical power, which to me was a major step forward. They have their own co-operative store that is well stocked and well run. The council is run in a businesslike way.
I remember coming out of the council chamber and seeing a great big article in the Globe and Mail with great pictures of the member for Lake Nipigon visiting Kingfisher. It was a good story. It was well done and they were very proud of his visit to that area. The whole community lends itself to progress. They were not looking for any great handouts. They just wanted a helping hand to move forward. It was a nice, positive, sincere attitude, and we were pleased to respond to their request for an airstrip, which will go ahead as quickly as possible
Finally, I want to touch on the member for Lake Nipigon's suggestion with respect to a Lake Nipigon parkway commission. I am most pleased, and I say this sincerely, that the honourable member has, in perhaps his last time in these estimates, recognized the need to diversify our economic base in northern Ontario through tourism.
He is on to mining. He is very active in the mining field now with Hemlo in his riding. He knows what the pulp and paper industry can do for his riding. This new thrust towards tourism, the suggestion of a Lake Nipigon parkway commission, is something that should really be looked at very carefully. It has merit.
As the member has pointed out, we have seen what Minaki can do -- that size of an investment -- to spur the private sector. It has had great economic benefits for our area. I am sure that something along those lines is something on which we should be starting initial discussions. If the industrial commission from Lake Nipigon would start the ball rolling, we might be able to provide them with some initial dollars to start a very preliminary study. Who knows? Perhaps some day it might be called the Jack Stokes Parkway.
It is an excellent idea, a very imaginative idea, and we should have more of those kinds of things in northern Ontario. We have the Lake of the Woods Parkway Commission, as the member knows, in my area, and it relates itself to the Mississippi River parkway. Maybe there should be something around Lake Nipigon and perhaps some other areas of northern Ontario. When we see what has happened with the Niagara Parks Commission, the St. Clair Parkway Commission and the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, they have all added an economic benefit to the areas they are operating in. That is something we should look at very seriously. I commend the member for his very imaginative ideas and creative thinking.
I think that just about winds up my remarks. If there is anything I have forgotten and have not touched on for the members --
Mr. Stokes: I would like the minister to touch on the electrification program. That was one of the first things I mentioned.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes.
Mr. Stokes: I believe the minister visited Scandinavia and Italy. We went to Quebec. We were going to go to Cap de la Madeleine, but they were not ready for us. The minister has done quite a bit of work on this. When can we see the results? Where is the beef?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is fair to say the peat issue is something that captured our imagination when the economics were right. Now that the energy crisis is behind us, the costs have not accelerated as much as --
Mr. Stokes: Not for people in the north, it has not.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I know but at this point the development of peat for energy just does not seem feasible and economical. Our report from the Fiat people, who did the Armstrong issue with respect to the Totem generator, was not encouraging at all. We have stepped back and tried to encourage the private sector. Leon LaPrairie is one of the real spark plugs in the province in trying to get something going.
Mr. Stokes: What about wind, diesel or immersible generators?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I do not know where we stand with those particular issues. Perhaps I can get some information from my staff and have a report for the member at our next sitting. Just to bring him up to date as to where we stand on the Sudbury one, I know the Sultan issue is going exceptionally well after some tough performances in the first year of operation. A gearbox broke and some dam caved in, but now it has been operating for about a year. It is only 1,500 kilowatts. It is not very large, but it is working. It was very costly. I can give the member a full report on that.
Mr. Chairman: I might draw the minister's attention to the fact that it is six o'clock.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Bernier, the committee of supply reported progress.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.