L005 - Tue 11 jun 1985 / Mar 11 jun 1985
The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: I would ask all members of the Legislative Assembly to join me in recognizing a distinguished visitor in the Speaker's gallery, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, the Honourable Gerard Amerongen, QC. Please join me in welcoming the Speaker from Alberta.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I know you would be disappointed if I did not bring to your attention and, through you, to the attention of the other members of the House that this is the 26th anniversary of the election of the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. Newman), who is the dean, in terms of service, of the Liberal Party.
He is sort of the assistant dean of the House, but his service goes back to 1959. We in the Liberal Party wanted to bring this to your attention and we hope the other members will join us in expressing congratulations, best wishes and hopes for many years of continued service to this member.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I know the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) would want at the same time to recognize the member for Elgin (Mr. McNeil), who is one of the few people -- I guess the only person now -- who preceded the honourable member just referred to as a member of the assembly, in 1958 in a by-election.
I cannot resist noting as well that I am sure the member would have wanted to remind the assembly that last Sunday, June 9, was the 30th anniversary of the election to this assembly of Allan Grossman as the member of the Legislature for the St. Andrew riding. That would therefore complete, as of Sunday last, the first 30 years the Grossman family has represented St. Andrew.
DEATH OF LACHLAN MACTAVISH
Hon. Mr. Eves: On a more solemn note, I would like to take a moment to express the deep and great regret of the government on the passing of Lachlan (Duke) MacTavish, QC, senior legislative counsel from 1947 to 1970 and legislative counsel for many years before that.
Mr. MacTavish, fondly known as Duke, a nickname he acquired from a university essay he wrote on the Doukhobors, was one of the most outstanding of all Canadian parliamentary draftsmen. Members of all parties of this assembly admired and esteemed his loyal and nonpartisan advice and his legislative drafting skills. From 1978 on, he served as counsel to the standing committee on regulations and other statutory instruments, where I, as chairman and a member, personally benefited from his vast knowledge and experience.
However, the members of this House were not the only beneficiaries of Duke MacTavish's great talents. He devoted himself to the Uniform Law Conference of Canada for 40 years, as a member, as president from 1953 to 1955 and then as first permanent executive secretary from 1973 to 1981. He greatly strengthened that organization and furthered the cause of uniform legislation. He was also a member of the first Canadian delegation to the Hague Conference on Private International Law in 1968.
Throughout his busy retirement, he found the time to draft and prepare bills for the Ontario Law Reform Commission as part of that body's many reports.
In private life, Mr. MacTavish was an avid and successful curler. He was a member of the Governor General's Curling Club. He was also appointed to international and Canadian curling associations and as a trustee of the Ross Carleton Grand National Competition.
I would like to take this opportunity to express the condolences of this House to Mr. MacTavish's family, his wife Elizabeth, his daughter Mrs. James Malpass, and his son Dr. John MacTavish.
Mr. Van Horne: On behalf of our party, I would like to pass on our condolences to the MacTavish family.
Very briefly, it has been my pleasure to sit on the standing committee on regulations and other statutory instruments for the last four years and on many occasions we had the pleasure of his counsel. He was particularly experienced and qualified in the area of delegated legislation, especially in the area of notice and comment. The press gallery found it difficult to attend the exciting sessions we had, but the committee members benefited from his technique and wealth of experience.
On behalf of my Liberal colleagues, we pass on condolences to the MacTavish family.
Mr. Martel: If I might, those of us who serve on the Board of Internal Economy had the pleasure of finding out what that particular committee was doing and under whose guidance. Although my friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) used to object occasionally to what those in the legal profession earned, we always found it was without too much difficulty that we would get those honorariums paid to Duke MacTavish up front. There was no problem, because he served the committee and this province well. We in the New Democratic Party join in offering our condolences to members of his family in this sad time.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
ONTARIO MOTOR VEHICLE ARBITRATION PLAN
Hon. Mr. Runciman: Today, the automobile represents one of the largest financial investments made by most Ontario consumers, but it can occasionally develop into one of the largest consumer headaches when it does not work properly.
While auto manufacturers have in recent years shown a commendable willingness to stand behind the quality of their products by offering longer and more-comprehensive warranties, the lemon owner must sometimes feel like David in his efforts to get his car fixed at Goliath's garage, always worried that he is powerless to get satisfaction.
With this in mind, I feel the Ontario Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan, which I introduced at a media conference just this morning, will prove itself to be a significant entry in this province's ledger of consumer protection initiatives.
When the Ontario Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan, or OMVAP for short, becomes operational on January 1, 1986, it will establish an independent, high-quality and free province-wide mechanism to which consumers may resort when they are not satisfied with their vehicle in spite of their efforts to get it fixed.
OMVAP has the support of 20 automobile companies selling in Ontario and the plan will cover disputes arising from alleged manufacturing defects in new cars and light-duty trucks not used for commercial purposes. About 99 per cent of the total number of vehicles sold in the province will be covered by the arbitration plan.
Essentially, anything that relates to an alleged defect in original manufacture and that seriously affects the safety, roadworthiness or resale value of an automobile sold and registered in Ontario may be taken to arbitration by the vehicle's owner.
Arbitrators will have the power to order, as appropriate, vehicle repairs, replacement, buy-back and monetary awards. Punitive damages, insurance claims, personal and property damage claims or other consequential losses resulting from alleged defects in a vehicle will continue to be handled through litigation. Arbitration will be used to accomplish what it does best: resolve dispute s directly relating to the repair or replacement of a vehicle.
I want to emphasize that this is not a lemon-law program. We concluded that lemon laws, now offered in 35 states of the United States, give consumers little more than they already have: the right to take their grievances to the courts. Our attention, therefore, turned to arbitration, which is increasingly being used to settle disputes between consumers and the manufacturers and agents of a wide range of consumer goods.
The plan has the support of both the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers' Association and the Automobile Importers of Canada, both of which were instrumental in the design of the arbitration plan and whose members are providing one-time funding.
On behalf of Ontario consumers, I congratulate those two organizations and their individual members for their vital contribution to the arbitration plan. It represents a remarkable collective achievement on their part and sets an outstanding example for future government-industry co-operation that I am sure will be copied in many jurisdictions in Canada and the United States.
I also congratulate the community organizations that are joining the venture as members of OMVAP. This is a historic endeavour. As part of the OMVAP consortium, these organizations will play a valuable role in ensuring the program's effectiveness. We believe we will have in Ontario a sound, independent arbitration plan built on co-operation among government, industry and the community.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, before the next minister begins his statement I wonder if you would allow me --
Mr. Speaker: Is this a point of order?
Mr. Martel: Yes, a point of privilege. I have a point of something: information --
Mr. Van Horne: A point of view.
Mr. Martel: A point of view. I would ask all members to join with me in welcoming to our Legislature the new member for the Klondike, Art Webster, who was part of that great New Democratic victory in the Yukon and who is touted to be the next Speaker of the Yukon Legislature. As of May 2 in Ontario, the Tories in the Yukon also realized the realities of March 13.
Mr. Speaker: I just received a note and I would also like to welcome Mr. Webster personally.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The development and promotion of Ontario's tourism sector is of paramount importance to the economic well-being of the province. To that end, my ministry proposes to take some aggressive and forward-thinking steps.
My ministry is proposing to expand its marketing efforts in New York, New England and Quebec. New York City and the surrounding area provide great market potential. Marketing efforts will be directed to the region's large population with the express purpose of attracting its residents to Ontario.
In close proximity to, and with obvious spinoff effects from, the New York City area are the New England states. Preliminary tourism research, which indicates this area to be a potentially strong market for Ontario as a tourist destination, resulted in the establishment of a Boston tourism office in 1984 and the appointment of a representative. As well, funds from the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development were obtained for one year in 1984-85 to implement an advertising program.
I propose to extend the "Ontario, yours to discover!" program to the New York City area and to continue our New England campaign, initiated last year, for a three-year period. As well, we would increase the involvement with media in the New York City area and in New England through our successful Visit Ontario program, whereby travel media are brought by my ministry to Ontario to experience Ontario at first hand. Finally, I propose we continue the development of Ontario tour programs from the New York City area and New England states.
I am encouraged by the fact that there is a strong and growing interest among residents of Quebec in making Ontario their tourist destination. At the same time, this market is affected by the US-Canadian exchange rate in a way that is beneficial to us in Ontario. Residents of Quebec seek relatively low-cost alternatives to traditional northeastern and southern US vacations.
Ontario is positioned as an affordable, exciting destination among Quebec travellers.
An increase in person-trips to Ontario is anticipated along with an attendant increase in provincial revenues. We propose a three-year program to build on that market.
To capitalize on the growth potential in this market, my ministry will develop and execute an aggressive marketing campaign focusing on Ontario as an affordable, exciting destination for both francophones and anglophones alike.
We will increase our involvement with the Quebec media, once again through our Visit Ontario program, and by extending awareness through advertising and the publication of articles on Ontario vacation opportunities.
We will direct our efforts to tour operators, wholesalers and other travel media and will develop additional Ontario tour programs that will be designed to appeal greatly to the people of Quebec.
Promotion is important, but equally important is the product.
I would like at this point to draw the members' attention to an agreement that was signed by the governments of Canada and Ontario in 1979, the eastern Ontario subsidiary agreement. The intent of this program is to encourage economic development and employment growth in designated areas of eastern Ontario.
To date, almost $4 million has been allocated to tourism development. Among projects that have been assisted are:
Dow's Lake pavilion in Ottawa, where a $100,000 grant levered a $3-million investment in a year-round tourist complex. The project, which includes specialty restaurants and a marina, is creating more than 100 full-time jobs.
Highland Resort in Calabogie is being transformed into a first-class, all-season resort with the help of a $100,000 grant from EOSA.
Wilderness Tours, located in Beachburg, received $186,000 towards an approximately $1.2-million cost of transforming its successful whitewater rafting operation into a multiseason, multi-activity wilderness resort unique to Ontario.
Fairfield White House near Kingston received $90,000 to complete the restoration of this important part of our Loyalist heritage.
The Thousand Islands area was given a $40,000 grant to help advertise and promote its first annual Festival of the Islands.
EOSA grants were provided to help build an animal theme park, the Thousand Islands Wild Kingdom in Gananoque, to increase the inventory of tourist attractions in the region.
The $4 million has assisted more than 60 projects and in turn has served to encourage additional private investment of approximately $17 million. This has had a significant impact on the tourism economy of eastern Ontario. The agreement is currently scheduled to expire in September 1985.
My ministry believes additional opportunities exist for further tourism development in eastern Ontario, given its superb natural resources and unique historical importance.
Notwithstanding the recently signed Canada-Ontario subsidiary agreement for tourism development, which relates to the entire province but predominantly applies to large-scale projects, my ministry supports renewed negotiations with our federal colleagues with a view to extending the kind of assistance that has been available through the eastern Ontario subsidiary agreement.
To augment these and other existing initiatives, I propose that a tourism development board be established. This new board would address specific needs associated with tourism and would enable the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation and the industry it represents (1) to manage and direct the means by which this government financially assists tourism establishments; (2) to ensure that its board members are persons with primary interest in tourism development; (3) to establish a higher profile for the industry.
This board will review and make recommendations on financial assistance that relate to my ministry's programs and will serve to focus on the significant investment this province makes in tourism.
My ministry is committed to the improvement of the tourism sector in this province and will continue vigorously to promote both the development of the tourism plant and Ontario as a tourist destination.
Mr. Rae: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I think there have been gnomes at work already in the government because on page 3 of my copy of the minister's statement there is a large, black censor's pencil through a sentence. I wonder why the minister did not read it. It says, "Changes in the political climate in Quebec are evident." I thought it might be of interest to ask the minister why that sentence was taken out of the statement.
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps the honourable member could ask that in question period.
MINISTRY OF SKILLS DEVELOPMENT LEGISLATION
Hon. Mr. Gillies: Later today I will be introducing a bill to establish the new Ministry of Skills Development. I would like to bring to the attention of the House the intentions of the government in establishing this new ministry.
In the 1950s our university system was expanded significantly to meet the needs of the particular time. The 1960s saw the creation of our community college system, which provided a major, new alternative -- a second option -- for our young people coming out of secondary schools. Today we face new challenges and the need to stress skills training as a viable and credible option, linked to the job market, for Ontario's, young and old alike, who seek the opportunity to train or retrain on the job. The formation of this ministry represents the evolution of a new alternative, a third option in Ontario.
This option is a new approach, but it is an evolutionary change rather than a revolutionary one. It is the continuation of an ongoing process that will now become a permanent and important part of Ontario's educational and training framework. It really began with recognition by government of the importance of and need to adapt to changes in the areas of training and skills development -- changes that are occurring even more rapidly with new technological advances.
Workers in today's society are under intense pressure to master new technology, to make use of the new tools and techniques that radically alter the work place. It is essential for our people to develop the skills that will allow them to compete in a rapidly evolving high-tech world. The development of this third option through the Ministry of Skills Development will meet these kinds of changes and challenges.
Our government has demonstrated its commitment to training programs by increasing its financial support when needed. In the past three years alone we have seen an increase of more than 300 per cent -- from $12 million in 1981-82 to $50 million in 1984-85 -- for job-related training for workers of all ages.
In 1984 the former Treasurer helped to rationalize the government's approach to training programs. In his May budget, youth employment training programs and work-place-centred programs were consolidated into two broad envelopes -- Ontario Youth Opportunities and the Ontario skills fund. Ontario Youth Opportunities was allocated $150 million per year for three years and the Ontario skills fund was allocated $50 million a year for three years. The measures introduced in that budget further underlined the importance our government attaches to this essential aspect of public policy.
In addition to this commitment of $200 million per year, the recent speech from the throne announced the allocation of an additional $100 million for youth employment and training initiatives in 1985-86. The majority of this $100 million will support additional training and work experience initiatives that will expand on existing programs. By so doing, we will build on the successful programs we have established to date with an overall emphasis on training and upgrading.
Part of this $100 million will be allocated to a co-operative education initiative aimed at more closely aligning the education system and the needs of industry. Funds will be used for the hiring of placement officers in schools and to provide for allowances to be paid during co-op work placements. The placement officers will also encourage greater participation by industry.
A portion of the $100 million will be used to establish the training access fund, which will have two components. One will be the establishment of a training consultative service to industry. This service will work to demonstrate to managers, in small and medium-sized businesses in particular, that investment in training is as important to their competitive success as is investment in new technology and equipment.
It will also assist managers to develop and implement overall training strategies. In return, through the information the training consultative service will obtain from business and industry, we shall be able to ensure that our training programs are designed and implemented so as to best meet the needs of employers and employees.
The second component of the training access fund will be to provide direct financial assistance, based on individual need, to those who currently face barriers to participation in existing training programs. Frequently, participation in a training program results in additional expenses, such as those related to child care or transportation, which our existing social support services were not designed to accommodate. This component of the training access fund will be used to cover those additional expenses that can be clearly identified.
As stated in the throne speech, further details of these initiatives will be outlined in the budget. Discussions on these details are currently under way with officials from the Ministry of Treasury, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Labour.
The Ministry of Skills Development has been created in response to identified labour market needs and to consolidate all noninstitutional skills development, vocational training, and human resource planning and forecasting under one roof. The ministry will work to create a continuum of training, counselling, work experience and retraining, leading to long-term employment and job mobility. It will also contribute to Ontario's economic growth by helping employers achieve their skills development goals. It is through the Ministry of Skills Development that the initiatives I have just outlined can be implemented with maximum effectiveness and efficiency.
The throne speech announced the government's intention to introduce in the budget an enterprise technology fund. A fundamental condition applied to the assistance provided for modernizing industry under this fund will be an assurance that workers participate through appropriate training and retraining activity. The new ministry will play an important role in establishing, assessing and monitoring training plans as an advance requirement for any assistance in upgrading technologies and equipment.
In addition, employment and training services for special needs groups will be consolidated within the new Ministry of Skills Development by transferring the handicapped employment service unit from the Ministry of Labour to the new ministry; however, services for those special-needs clients within the institutional settings of the colleges and universities will remain the responsibility of the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.
The Ministry of Skills Development will obtain training services from existing secondary schools, colleges, universities and private institutes rather than through new institutions. Of course, this will benefit our college system since the colleges will be a primary delivery agent for the increased training activity my ministry will generate.
Ontario's 22 colleges are internationally recognized as leaders in the field of vocationally oriented education and training. Our colleges are the cornerstone of skills development, providing the administrative support and the institutional components of work-place-centred programs. It is our intention that the ministry work in close harmony with Ontario's college system to best serve everyone involved.
It is important that the programs keep pace with labour market needs and that they are clearly understandable by everyone. We will endeavour to refine and clarify programs and to develop an approach that will be responsive to the needs of the people who will use them. This will also mean streamlining the budgetary and delivery mechanisms for institutional and on-the-job training programs in order to increase training effectiveness and efficiency.
Let me assure members that this process of review and rationalization does not mean fewer jobs, fewer funds or cutbacks; quite the opposite. Given the needs of the unemployed, women, inexperienced youth and laid-off older workers, additional resources, as announced in the speech from the throne, will be allocated to ensure that all Ontario workers are able to get and hold jobs.
What the creation of the ministry signals is that a third and important training option has been clearly established. It will provide continuity and permanence to our programs and will mean co-ordinated delivery and stable funding mechanisms. In the years to come this option will become as commonplace as the traditional routes to the work place through our community colleges and universities.
I want to emphasize that the responsibility for training workers lies not just with the government and the colleges. Industry and unions must have very important roles to play in the training process that the ministry will actively encourage and facilitate. From the identification of training needs to participation in program review, to the provision of on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs, both unions and the private sector can be instrumental in helping make Ontario's approach to training among the most advanced in the world. It is time now for companies and unions to become active partners in providing funds, expertise, facilities and work experience to improve the training process dramatically.
We believe the training and skills development option is a new and exciting direction, and I know many members of the Legislature see it that way as well. It is time to ensure that everyone in this province and in Canadian society begins to see and appreciate the economic and social benefits of improved skills training and employment mobility.
We have to make access to training not just easier, we also have to reach a point in our society where people actually plan for training, upgrading of skills or retraining as a normal part of their working lives.
This government has demonstrated its commitment to the area of training and skills development. It was to meet the challenge of change, of preparing the people of Ontario with the necessary skills, that the Ministry of Skills Development has been established.
EQUALITY RIGHTS STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT LEGISLATION
Hon. Mr. Pope: I will introduce later today the Equality Rights Statute Law Amendment Act. This bill proposes amendments to 58 Ontario statutes to bring them into greater conformity with the Ontario Human Rights Code and the equality provisions found in section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This bill is the most extensive equality rights bill thus far unveiled in Canada. It demonstrates our continuing commitment to the principles of nondiscrimination and equality. It builds upon a rich Ontario tradition of respect for human rights, a tradition which has been expressed in a multitude of acts and amendments, including specific human rights legislation stretching back to the Racial Discrimination Act of 1944.
The tabling of this bill was preceded by our publication in January of this year of a 440-page analysis of section 15 of the charter. This document, which contains the results of several months of intense review and discussions by our lawyers, is now considered as the standard reference document in the field. Lawyers across the country have advised us that they consider it to be an exceptionally thorough and helpful document.
The number and difficulty of the issues dealt with in the discussion paper reveal the complexities found in section 15 of the charter. Although those complexities have not yet been addressed by the courts, we have decided to commence amending Ontario taws on the basis of a broad and generous interpretation of the charter. We want to legislate rather than litigate. This will minimize uncertainty respecting the validity of legislation and will avoid unnecessary legal expenditures for the public and the government.
One of the most important issues in section 15 involves the question of whether systemic or constructive discrimination is banned by the charter. I want to confirm the statement of my predecessor, the Honourable Robert Welch, QC, on April 10, 1985, that Ontario accepts that section 15 of the charter can be used to address constructive discrimination. This position will govern our approach to requests for further reviews of Ontario legislation and it will be the position taken by counsel for the Ontario government in all charter litigation.
This means that in Ontario no technical interpretative barriers will be placed in front of those who want to use the charter to address hidden or unintentional discrimination. For example, height and weight requirements, which do not on their face discriminate against women or minorities, often have a discriminatory impact. We accept that one of the purposes of the charter is to remove such hidden barriers to advancement in order that the principle of individual merit can reign supreme.
The bill I am introducing today is the result of a thorough analysis of more than 700 Ontario statutes. These have been reviewed in great detail with a view to finding all possible conflicts with the charter. Where conflicts have been found, we have been guided by cabinet's determination that Ontario's laws should reflect the spirit as well as the letter of the charter. We have not taken a narrow or technical approach.
None the less, there remain some difficult issues to be dealt with. The bill I am introducing today, extensive as it is, is only a first step. It does not reflect our final word on the impact of the charter on our legislation. We recognize that a number of groups have studied the charter intensively and will be bringing forward proposals for further amendments. I invite these groups to bring their concerns to our attention. Wherever possible, we would rather legislate to resolve the problem than to litigate against groups with which we share a common commitment to the charter.
The guiding principle behind our charter review process is the same as the principle which underlies our own very extensive Human Rights Code. Our objective is that every individual be judged on his or her own individual merit, rather than on the basis of stereotypical perceptions about the group to which he or she might belong.
The bill I am introducing today deals with possible conflicts with the charter on the basis of age, sex, religion, marital status, disability and citizenship. I will also be introducing today a separate bill on mobility rights under the charter. Later this week I will introduce a further bill removing all discrimination from the laws respecting names and changes of names.
In addition, we have undertaken substantial studies of the laws affecting pensions and mandatory retirement. Our work on the impact of the charter on pensions is reflected in part in the speech from the throne. I hope to be able to announce further initiatives in the very near future.
In so far as discrimination on the basis of age is concerned, the bill repeals most age distinctions which are not based on age 18, the age of majority, or on ages 16 and 12 which, although below the age of majority, are ages at which it is widely recognized that certain rights should be given. No change is being made to the drinking age of 19.
We feel it is appropriate to retain age 18 as the age of majority, that this is an age at which a person no longer can be considered incapable solely on the basis of age, and an age that represents a point at which the risk of harm to young persons because of their age is minimal. While no age classification can be shown to be universally accurate, we believe the use of age 18 as the age of majority will be upheld by the courts.
Additionally, we are not amending statutes that establish age 16 as the driving age, the school leaving age, the age at which the child protection provisions of the Child Welfare Act end and the age at which persons may, with parental and judicial consent, marry.
Finally, some distinctions at age 12 are being retained. This is the age of criminal responsibility under the Young Offenders Act and represents a realistic point at which certain rights and responsibilities can be given to children.
Although we are retaining age classifications at 12, 16 and 18, each particular instance in which one of these classifications is used has been reviewed. We are maintaining only those usages that are reasonable and demonstrably justifiable under the charter.
In relation to protection from religious discrimination, no amendments are being proposed at this time in relation to our laws concerning Sunday closing and the establishment of holidays, other than the repeal of the Lord's Day (Ontario) Act. That act has no continuing purpose given the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada striking down the federal Lord's Day Act as inconsistent with the charter.
Since the validity of provincial Sunday closing and holiday laws under the Retail Business Holidays Act is now before that court in another legal proceeding, we have decided to defer consideration of other amendments in this area until we have an interpretation of the charter in this specific context.
We are making a number of amendments to give further effect to the right to affirm instead of to swear an oath. Although this right has been recognized in Ontario for some time, a number of older statutory provisions establishing prescribed forms of oaths appear to contradict it. These are being amended.
We are amending a significant number of statutes that may discriminate on the basis of marital status. Marital status is not a form of discrimination explicitly recognized in section 15 of the charter. However, it is recognized as a basis of discrimination in our Human Rights Code in relation to the provision of services and it may come to be recognized by our courts as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the charter. We have chosen to act now rather than engage in expensive and prolonged litigation on the issue.
We are changing statutory provisions referring to husbands and wives so that they refer to spouses. In relation to new and existing statutory references to spouses, we are also, in most cases, defining the word "spouse" to include people in common-law relationships. With respect to most of these amendments, a person will be considered to be a spouse if he or she is either married or is living in a conjugal relationship. This will be the general rule.
In some statutes, however, where an entitlement or obligation must be determined by an official without the benefit of a hearing, we are defining the word "spouse" to restrict its meaning to people who have been cohabiting in a conjugal relationship for at least one year.
I want to emphasize that our reason for taking this approach is based solely on evidentiary and administrative concerns. People form conjugal relationships without any formal event to act as proof of the existence of such relationships. It is not always clear, therefore, whether two people should be considered to be spouses. The requirement of a specific period of cohabitation will permit officials to make decisions on this in individual cases in an administratively feasible way.
Where the existence of a conjugal relationship can be determined by a court or other tribunal, no specific period of cohabitation will be required. In a few cases statutes will require the proof of a conjugal relationship to be in the form of a declaration of spousal status, signed by persons claiming to be common-law spouses.
In so far as sex discrimination is concerned, most of this has already been removed from Ontario statutes. Such sex discrimination as still exists on the face of Ontario statutes can be traced largely to outmoded views expressed in statutes which simply have not been revised in recent times. Where such sex discrimination has been found, we are eliminating it.
A small number of amendments are being made in relation to the disabled. The number is small because there are very few statutory provisions that discriminate directly against the disabled. Most of the difficulties encountered by the disabled are raised not by specific statutory provisions but rather by a failure to reflect properly their special needs in various programs. We look forward to working with the disabled to identify and implement whatever legislative remedies are appropriate for problems they have encountered.
In so far as pending statute revisions in relation to the disabled are concerned, a complete review of the Mental Incompetency Act is under way. Ontario is also spearheading a project of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada to review the procedures for civil commitment to psychiatric institutions with a view to ensuring that civil rights are fully protected. In addition, we are continuing to work with the legal aid plan and other organizations to ensure that the government responds appropriately to the recommendations contained in Judge Abella's report, Access to Legal Services by the Disabled.
Today's bill includes amendments in relation to the right to vote of persons in psychiatric institutions during municipal elections and in the election of school trustees. The vote is also given to inmates who have not been sentenced and to judges. These changes parallel the changes made to the Elections Act last December. In another parallel to the Elections Act, the special voting rights of British subjects in municipal and school board elections will be repealed effective July 1, 1988.
In all these amendments we have demonstrated yet again our commitment to the great principle of equality that underlies the charter. It is worth remembering that it was the support of this province for the inclusion of a Charter of Rights in the Constitution that is responsible for the existence of the charter today. We are proud of that accomplishment and proud that the principles proclaimed by the charter -- equality, justice and fairness for all -- are the principles that reflect our vision of Ontario.
MOBILITY RIGHTS STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT LEGISLATION
Hon. Mr. Pope: I am pleased to introduce today a bill, the Mobility Rights Statute Law Amendment Act, 1985, which further demonstrates the government's strong commitment to bringing Ontario legislation into conformity with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The bill amends eight Ontario statutes that contain a provincial residency requirement as a condition of employment by repealing that requirement. This gives effect to the purpose behind the charter's protection of mobility rights within Canada.
Section 6 of the charter guarantees mobility rights to every citizen and permanent resident of Canada. This bill will ensure that all Canadians are free to work in Ontario.
I note that in repealing many of the provincial residency requirements we have either left in the statute or added to it a requirement of residency in Canada. This will provide continuing protection for those types of employment in which Canadian residency is essential.
Nous sommes fiers d'apporter ces modifications et nous tenons à souligner que de semblables modifications ont déjà été introduites dans les Assemblées législatives des provinces de l'Alberta, de la Colombie-Britannique et de la Saskatchewan. Nous espérons que d'autres juridictions suivront bientôt notre voie.
Mr. Riddell: Since so little mention was made of the primary industry in this province, agriculture, in the economic statement by the Treasurer (Miss Stephenson) yesterday, I feel the need to pose the following question to the Premier.
In mid-May, a federally sponsored study group including Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food representatives released its report supporting the need for a permanent farm financial review system. The report was a very comprehensive one, recommending ways of mediating the debt conflicts between farmers and their banks. The innovative recommendations it produced surely deserve consideration, given the financial problems of farmers across the province.
In view of the fact the farm financial picture is not improving and Ontario continues to lead the nation in farm bankruptcies, can the Premier explain why the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food has decided simply to dissociate itself from this report? Does he not feel it makes more sense to work quickly with the federal government to put the report's suggestions into place?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I was pleased to see that farm cash incomes in Ontario went up, I think 22 per cent last year.
Mr. Riddell: Tell it to the farmers.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Just a second; I did not try to say they are high enough. I was pleased to see they went up that amount. I was also pleased to see that in Ontario there was a reduction in farm bankruptcies. Apart from that, it seems to me that each time my Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Stevenson) is out, the honourable member directs a question to me. The details of that question --
Mr. Riddell: Bring him into the House.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Where is the member's leader? He has not been here for three days. He is out studying. On the other hand, his cohort, the leader of the NDP, is here.
Mr. Nixon: Our agricultural man is here; this is farm day.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I will ask the Minister of Agriculture and Food to answer the question.
Mr. Riddell: In bringing this matter to the attention of the Minister of Agriculture and Food, who unfortunately is not with us today, perhaps the Premier could also get a response to my supplementary.
In its announcement that it did not support the report, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food also proclaimed that it already had a variety of programs to meet farmers' problems. However, in the report of another recent study, sponsored by Bruce county and including Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food representation, similar recommendations calling for a strong financial review board were made in recognition that a rash of farm bankruptcies would have a destabilizing reaction beyond the farm community.
Recognizing that the Ontario Federation of Agriculture has also called upon the federal government to maintain its election promise of farm debt mediation --
Mr. Speaker: Is your question, "Do you agree?"
Mr. Riddell: It is coming right now, Mr. Speaker. You are a patient man.
I would like to ask the Premier what steps he has taken to remind his federal counterpart of the importance of that election promise and what assistance the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food will offer to any framework for farm debt mediation as a counterbalance to the banks' relative position of control.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Under the previous Minister of Agriculture and Food, or two back, we did quite a bit in the emergency years. We had the Ontario farm adjustment assistance program. A key ingredient of the Ontario farm adjustment assistance program remained advice to farmers, the creation of a business plan, a review of their assets, a review of their future, a review of their viability and general business advice.
Whether one is in the business of farming or whether one is in small business, we have learned through the Ontario Development Corp., through OFAAP and through other approaches that often for many people in business the most critical need is advice. Those programs were very successful because of the requirement to have a review of the existing farm operations. That was important.
On the other hand, we did bring out, announced in the throne speech and have in operation the farm operating credit assistance program in Ontario with some $40 million assigned to it to tackle the problems of farmers, giving them several options including interest at 9.75 per cent. We repeated our willingness to have, if necessary, bipartite red meat stabilization programs. The member knows that.
We approached the federal government and asked it to have low-interest bonds for farmers because we believed in them. We are working hard and will continue to work hard for what we consider to be the most vital sector in Ontario.
Mr. Ramsay: All the programs the Premier has mentioned are really just Band-Aids on this problem. What we are looking at is a long-term problem. It is not just a matter of profits; it is a moral responsibility that we protect the farmers of this province, because they represent a lifestyle and the value of the work ethic. That is what is important.
Mr. Speaker: Question, please.
Mr. Ramsay: When is the Ministry of Agriculture and Food going to establish low-interest, long-term debt servicing for farmers?
Hon. F. S. Miller: That was our approach with the bonds we talked about that are roughly a little more than half the going interest rate in the marketplace. I know the federal government has to change the federal tax act for those. That, we believe, is a very important ingredient.
Mr. Riddell: If advice is so important, what advice is the Premier giving to the bankrupt farmers? It has been reported that 50 per cent of the farmers in northern Ontario and a third of the farmers in counties such as Grey and Bruce are facing bankruptcy and, according to the Farm Credit Corp. survey done more than a year ago, which is now out of date, 18 per cent of the farmers in this province are in dire financial straits. What advice is he giving those people?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I am not going to try to challenge the member's figures, but they seem higher than any I have heard before.
We have been giving advice in a number of areas. The only long-term solution is a fair commodity price. The member opposite recognizes that the commodity prices for most of the products we sell in this province are subject to dampening effects because of the surplus foods in the world that are being sold in our own area. As well, many of the producers selling in our markets are selling out of highly subsidized home markets and are preventing the sale of Canadian products in their markets by many non-tariff barrier approaches. Those are the ways in which we have to work to have a long-term solution for the farm community.
I know that even when I say this at home I am sometimes criticized, but I think the member will accept it as factual that we in North America, and particularly in Ontario, profit very handsomely from the fact that we have a tremendously efficient farm community, which currently does not get fair prices for its products.
MINORITY GROUP APPOINTMENTS
Mr. Curling: I have a question for the Premier. During the past several days I have received numerous calls from distinguished individuals representing various minority groups indicating they had been approached by government representatives about the possibility of serving on public boards or commissions. Almost all those individuals are asking me, "What is this all about?"
I would like to ask the Premier that very question. Why, after years of neglect, is the Conservative government taking such an instant interest in minority representation'?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I certainly reject the editorial comment the honourable member added about years of neglect. It is just the opposite. If he had been following me around on the weekend -- indeed, to hear a number of my speeches lately and to events I have been attending -- he would have found that it is far from neglect. If he had been following --
Mr. McClellan: As far back as this weekend.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I have been Premier only since February 8. Please give me some time.
I want to emphasize that since I became leader, my colleagues on this side of the House have re-emphasized and reinforced our efforts to involve the many cultural communities of this city, and we intend to do so.
Mr. Curling: I am quite aware of the throne speech promises, and I certainly support the goal of increased minority representation on government bodies. However, I have to tell the Premier that my callers are asking another question: if they are to take the Premier seriously, where have all these people been for the past 40 years?
Given the fact that his new-found interest in minorities seems to be directly correlated to the instability of the government, does the Premier really expect anyone to believe this is anything but a last-gasp attempt to win political points?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I suggest to the member that the reception I get in many communities -- such as the south Asian community on Sunday night in Maple Leaf Gardens, the Portuguese community at Ontario Place on Sunday afternoon and the Croatian community in Norval on Sunday, where I personally visited and saw about 25,000 -- shows they take this government seriously.
They recognize that Ontario is indeed a land of opportunity. They recognize that Ontario has been a great place to elect to come to. They recognize the potential of this province. They recognize that we live in peace in this province in a way that can be said of few other places in the world with the kind of multicultural background they have.
We have achieved something in Ontario that few other jurisdictions in the world, if any, have ever achieved: a growth in the wealth of our multicultural communities in peace, in harmony and in equality.
Mr. Lupusella: Considering that ethnic people in Ontario have been used for political purposes by the Conservatives provincially and the Liberals in Ottawa, can the Premier delineate to this House the tangible programs which ethnic people across Ontario are supposed to receive in order that the principles enunciated in the speech from the throne are going to be true?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I thought of the line as the honourable member said, "the Liberals" -- but he qualified it by saying, "in Ottawa" -- "Only in Ottawa? Pity."
Mr. Sweeney: Does the Premier know the new definition of PC? It is patronage Canada.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: It is a kind of a double-edged line.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon, F. S. Miller: I pay special attention to the member for Dovercourt (Mr. Lupusella), because he knows that is where I was born. I grew up in that multicultural community, so I understand the problems. I can assure him we are paying attention.
Mr. Curling: As early as April, the Premier stated his government needed to show it was listening to those communities and he doubted whether he would be able to find people with the qualifications that politicians normally look for. That leaves only one explanation for this sudden flurry of activity.
Can the Premier now understand why there is a bit of doubt being bred among people to accept and respond to these calls?
Hon. F. S. Miller: First, I simply disagree with the comment the gentleman made in terms of finding people with qualifications. He just finished complaining about us appointing too many. We certainly can find many and we intend to find many.
Mr. Rae: My question also deals with appointments, and I would like to ask the Premier to respond in particular to a concern that has been expressed to us by many Ontarians dealing with the Workers' Compensation Board.
As the Premier will be aware, the previous Legislature passed a new structure for the Workers' Compensation Board providing for the appointment of a new corporate board, an appeals tribunal and a number of workers' and employers' advisers. To date, there has been one appointment announced by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) with respect to the name of the chairman of the appeals tribunal.
I would ask the Premier whether it is the government's intention to name other appointees to the Workers' Compensation Board, including, I might add, the chairman of the board, since the current term of the chairman expires on July 1, 1985. I gather it was extended for a month and the currant chairman is uncertain as to what his own status is going to be after July 1.
What are the Premier's intentions with regard to further appointments to the Workers' Compensation Board? Does he intend to make further appointments before June 18?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I think about one week ago the honourable member was asking questions on this issue. I referred to the Workers' Compensation Board, I suspect it was Thursday of last week, and I think I said at that time that we had extended the appointment of existing people on the board to a uniform date of December 31, 1985, because of the projected change in the status of the board.
Mr. Rae: I am not sure that entirely answers the question. Since an appointment has been made to the appeals tribunal and since those changes are taking effect, is the Premier today prepared to give this Legislature an ironclad guarantee that there will be no further patronage appointments to the Workers' Compensation Board before June 18, 1985?
Hon. F. S. Miller: No.
Mr. Mancini: In view of the fact that the Workers' Compensation Board has had a reputation, deserved or undeserved, for many significant problems, does the Premier not agree it would be highly improper for him to make these final appointments at this late stage, with his government dying and ready to be thrown out of office, when people are looking for major change and renewal at the Workers' Compensation Board and when only a new team can do that?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I do not know who the member is talking to. I hear a lot of people in this province telling me they are worried about the potential buddy-buddy system growing up over there. They are worried about the member's friends to his left wagging his tail. When the member goes home on weekends, he is going to find a lot of old Liberals in his riding who are not happy. They did not vote for those fellows to be the bosses of his party, so we will just carry on as though we may be the government.
Mr. Rae: If the Premier is not prepared to give a commitment with respect to the Workers' Compensation Board, does he not realize that 62 per cent of the people of this province expressed their will in an election on May 2, 1985, and that certain steps and positions have been taken by parties to try to put into effect as best they can a will for change? He is saying he will use the last days of Tory government to use a board and an act designed for the protection of working people as a vehicle for patronage and perpetuating the Tory party. That is exactly the implication of what he is saying.
Hon. F. S. Miller: The member has extended an answer into a lot of hyperbole. I would suggest 76 per cent of the people of this province thought they were electing some other form of government than one dominated by a minority party in the third position.
I want to tell the leader of the New Democratic Party one more thing --
Mr. Speaker: Order. No one wants to hear it.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
Mr. Rae: I have another question for the Premier. It deals with freedom of information.
Mr. Kerrio: What is that?
Mr. Rae: We are going to find out what it is.
he throne speech, on page 34, says, "Better access to information about government activities will be secured by introduction of freedom-of-information legislation, which will provide for independent review."
I would like to ask the Premier a very straightforward question. We know of the existence in the Ministry of the Environment of several reports which have been carried out over a period of years and which deal with such basic matters as the most recent identification of the lakes that are suffering from acidic precipitation, the identity of nine sewage treatment plants which are responsible for the pollution of our Great Lakes, the identity of the major polluters discharging into Lake Ontario and a report with respect to the pollution of Lake Superior.
Will the Premier now, in the last few, gasping days of his Tory regime, finally release these reports as an indication the Tory party understands the meaning of freedom of information?
Hon. F. S. Miller: We will be releasing reports as we see fit. I am always intrigued by the contradictory approach of the honourable member. One day I should not do anything, I should give up, and the next day I should speed up.
I did not really finish answering the last question and I just wanted to read something into the record --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I want to bring members attention to a quote in this little note that came to me: "A Liberal-New Democratic Party alliance would be like an ageing crone looking for the kiss of life from a young and handsome prospect. I think it is a terrible idea."
I had to do some research to see who said that. It was the man who just asked me the question, the member for York South (Mr. Rae).
Mr. Speaker: Order. There are a lot of members who still wish to ask questions during this question period and I would ask all members to govern themselves accordingly.
Mr. Rae: It is the attitude of the Premier, that he will release reports only when he sees fit, that makes so many people in this province delighted that the Conservative Party is going to be leaving office in a very short time.
If the Premier is seriously committed to freedom of information, as he says in the throne speech and is asking the people of the province to take seriously -- I assume he meant this as a sincere document; I assume he meant it as something that he wanted to be taken either as his last will and testament or however he meant it be taken, but he certainly meant it to be taken seriously. If he means it to be taken seriously, how does he equate that with his remark today that he will do these things when he sees fit?
Why does he not see fit to release the inventory of major source discharges in the Great Lakes? Why does he not see fit to release the acid sensitivity survey of lakes in Ontario? Why does he not see fit to release the sewage treatment plant study, the Niagara drinking water study, or a study of Lake Superior? Why does he not see fit to release those things today, before he leaves office?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I would gladly refer specific reports to the member. We have had a very good track record with respect to making information available. On the other side of the coin, members have to recognize that in any scientific group there will be those who will challenge the authenticity of a single report and that is very often the reason a given report is not made public. It is when it has passed the scrutiny of peers that it may become public.
Mr. O'Neil: Do we have the Premier's commitment that those reports now under the jurisdiction of the Minister of the Environment (Ms. Fish) will continue to be there and not be put through the shredders?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I would like the honourable member to disabuse himself of the idea there are shredders all around. First, those reports are not in the minister's offices, they are in the staff offices. If the member happens to be lucky enough, he will find the civil service of this province is loyal to the government, no matter who the government may be. They are very loyal people. They will serve anyone who is, by the good luck of an election or the decision of the Lieutenant Governor, given the responsibility for running it. Before the member starts digging holes impugning the motives of staff, he should just wait.
Mr. Rae: I am not for a moment questioning the motives of staff, I am questioning the motives of the Tory party of this province.
On Wednesday, April 10, 1985, a scientist with the International Joint Commission working out of Columbus, Ohio, said, according to the Globe and Mail: "`I am told that the ministry has been embarrassed by some of its reports, so it is filling some leaks up,' Dr. Edwards said in a telephone interview. `I heard it has a lot to do with the election, so it is hard to know whether it is permanent constipation or merely temporary.'"
As the election was held on May 2 -- and we all know the result of the election -- what is the Premier's problem now with releasing this information which is basic to the right to know of every single citizen of this province? Does he not think the people of this province have a right to know what is going on in our lakes, forests and air? I do.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I think the member may have missed, in the chatter of the place a moment ago, my suggestion that I would find out from the minister just where these reports are. Obviously, I cannot talk to specific reports. I simply suggest to him that peer review is a critical part of the process before reports are issued.
Mr. Speaker: I just received a note stating that Mr. Art Jolley, a former member for the riding of Niagara Falls, is sitting in the members' gallery. Please join me in welcoming him.
Mr. Martel: One for the road, Eddie.
Mr. Sargent: I think we could sell tickets to these shows.
Mr. Speaker: Does the honourable member have a question?
Mr. Sargent: I have a question of the Minister of Energy. George --
Mr. Wrye: Mike.
Mr. Breaugh: It is just a wedge shot.
Mr. Sargent: It is a wedge shot. I would like to talk to the minister about tritium, bombs and Ontario Hydro. There will be a few facts here.
Tritium boosts the yield of an atom bomb about 1,000 times, is essential to the manufacture of the powerful warheads and is one of the most deadly substances known to mankind. Now that Ontario Hydro has made extensive plans to be involved in the USA Star Wars program by supplying tritium which is essential in making nuclear bombs, and plutonium, will the minister please furnish the following information:
One of my constituents, Mr. Horace McInnes of Chesley, Ontario, was employed by Douglas Point nuclear plant and died a painful, lingering death of tritium poisoning. I could not get any acknowledgement from Hydro as to the acceptance of blame on its part. I now have another case this week.
In view of the recent disclosure that tritium will be processed in Pickering and Darlington to sell at $15 million a kilogram, will the minister please consider supplying contracts between Ontario Hydro and the US laser fusion branch of the United States Department of Energy to make the largest tritium production centre in the world, to be located at Darlington?
Mr. Speaker: I think you have already covered a couple of questions.
Mr. Sargent: Yes. It says that in the description here. What deliveries would be made? What are the delivery dates? Are these deliveries approved by the federal Department of External Affairs?
Hon. Mr. Harris: Where is George when I need him?
I think I have been asked about 15 or 16 questions. I would be glad to take them under advisement and seek out the answers for the honourable member.
Mr. Sargent: Is the minister aware that the tritium orders to the US will be eight to 20 times the quantity needed for the world's civilian use and 36 per cent of the quantity needed for US nuclear weapons use? I would ask him and the Premier (Mr. F. S. Miller) why a colossal decision such as this, already made by Hydro, should not come before this Legislature for approval,
Hon. Mr. Harris: Am I aware? I am not sure what I am supposed to be aware of. It sounded to me as if Hydro has now formed a company for manufacture for Star Wars. The member has asked so many things.
I indicated to the Legislature that no, I was not aware of all the questions the member asked. I will be glad to look into the matter for him and provide him with the answers.
Mr. Wildman: Can the minister assure this House that it is the position of his government and of the party of which he is a member that no tritium produced in this province will be used for warlike purposes by the American government and that it will not be used in such a way as to free up tritium produced in the United States for those kinds of uses?
Hon. Mr. Harris: I would be delighted to give the member the assurances. I might have to check with Mr. Reagan; I will do that tonight.
Mr. Foulds: Does he set the policy for your party?
Hon. Mr. Harris: The members opposite asked whether I could give them assurances. I said I would check into the questions and provide them with the details and with the answers.
INDIAN LAND AGREEMENT
Mr. Pouliot: I have a question for the young and handsome Minister of Natural Resources regarding the very real issue of the Assabaska Indian land claim, The claim is for a parcel of about 1,600 acres of land located in northwestern Ontario near Lake of the Woods.
Can the minister please advise the House that his ministry has settled its differences with the federal government? If so, will he give a firm commitment about when this claim will be settled?
Hon. Mr. Harris: Concerning the specific land claim that the member refers to, I understand we are in the process of negotiations with the federal government. I am advised that we are getting close and that settlement is imminent.
Mr. Pouliot: I need not remind the minister that this claim was first launched in 1977. The error was recognized in 1930, a few years before his government took office. The people of the band are getting very upset. The government's track record in dealing with this very important issue, in dealing with the life and future of our first citizens, reads like a litany of omissions.
Can the minister at least give our first Canadians the assurance that this claim will be addressed in a serious fashion before he leaves office some time next Tuesday?
Hon. Mr. Harris: Let me first assure the honourable member that this government has addressed and continues to address the problem in a serious fashion.
Let me also assure him that my ministry and this government have not been involved in holding up a settlement. I am advised that the new minister in Ottawa seems to have a much stronger interest in coming to a consensus and is bringing the problems forward in a more serious fashion than was the case in previous years. We are not holding up a settlement. As I indicated, with the new attitude of the federal government the settlement is imminent and we treat it seriously.
I believe the other part of the question was, can I assure the Legislature that I will have it settled by Tuesday? No, I cannot give the member that assurance, but my ministry and the government of Ontario are ready to have it settled by Tuesday.
Mr. Scott: I come from a forum where it is usual to ask questions and occasionally get answers. I wonder if I could try to get an answer from the minister to a supplementary question. It is a very simple question.
Is the minister aware that the item to which he is directing himself was on the agenda 40 years ago, before he was even born, when this government first took office? If he recognizes that, can he explain to this House why it has not yet been settled?
Hon. Mr. Harris: I am not sure whether it has been 40 years. If it was 40 years ago, the honourable member is very close to whether or not I was then born; I admit to that.
Let me tell him that had the great riding of Nipissing sent me here sooner, I might have solved it sooner. I have been here only four years and I have been in the ministry only three months. I think a settlement is imminent.
DISMISSAL OF EMPLOYEE
Mr. Barlow: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Recently, a decision was handed down by the Ontario Crown Employees Grievance Settlement Board to reinstate Wayne Tyler, who I think had on two prior occasions, for a total of three occasions, been released from the employ of the ministry for sexual actions with clients. I understand this individual has again been reinstated by decision of the board. I wonder whether the minister can tell me if he is taking any action to appeal the most recent decision.
Hon. Mr. Eves: With respect to the decision of the grievance board that was rendered on June 4, a week ago today, the honourable member is quite correct in that it did order a reinstatement, but a dissenting opinion was also involved. This decision is currently being looked at by legal staff, not only of my ministry but of the Attorney General's ministry as well. We will have a ministry decision with respect to the matter after the legal advice is received.
Mr. Barlow: Does the minister have any idea how long it might take before the decision is reached?
Hon. Mr. Eves: I expect it will be reached within a week.
Mr. McGuigan: My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Following the mercury contamination of Lake St. Clair, commercial fishermen have been banned from taking pickerel, although sports fishermen are allowed to do so. His ministry has decided to reserve the species for sports fishermen. It would appear that this decision is based entirely on the numbers of the two classes of fishermen. As a matter of fairness and simple justice, would his ministry give consideration to buying out the remaining active licensees?
Hon. Mr. Harris: It is my understanding that, as a result of the mercury contamination, back around 1979 or 1980 the commercial fishermen in the area received compensation; it was at that time or before. Around 1980 they asked whether they could go back and fish commercially. I may not have the exact dates, but there was a period when there was no commercial fishing in the Lake St. Clair area at all.
Negotiations were entertained at that time with the Ministry of Natural Resources about whether there was a viable commercial fishery in the nonpickerel species in Lake St. Clair; our ministry was involved in negotiations with the commercial fishermen. It is my understanding a recommendation was made that it would be viable for up to five commercial fishermen.
The commercial fishermen suggested that even though it might not be as viable, and they acknowledged the viability problem, they would prefer to have 10, and an agreement was made that there would be 10 commercial fishermen on the lake. There was also a commitment from my ministry to review the agreement at the end of five years, which comes up this summer.
I have indicated to those commercial fishermen that we are prepared to review the situation and we will undertake it this summer with recommendations to be made to the minister this fall. Until that review is done and an assessment of the fishery is made, I do not think there can be any commitment from this ministry as to what the solution may or may not be for those fishermen.
Mr. McGuigan: I remind the minister that years ago the compensation, if any, was minuscule. According to a press report, "Art Holder of Toronto, director of the ministry's fisheries branch, confirmed today that a review of the ban took place recently and a decision was made to continue to enforce it, despite pleas from commercial anglers on the lake."
Is the minister aware that commercial fishermen now number only 10, down from a peak of 100 in 1969? They are descendants of the people who built the roads around the shoreline and developed the area so that it is an anglers' paradise today.
Mr. Speaker: I believe the member has gone by the question mark. The question was asked.
Mr. McGuigan: Does the minister not think the ministry owes these people some recognition for their past and present services?
Hon. Mr. Harris: I thank the member for reminding me that there are 10. There was none for a period of time. I am aware there were 90 or 100 originally and then there was none. The fishermen accepted the settlement, which was made in good faith on behalf of the ministry. Now there are 10 at the insistence of the commercial fishermen when, as I understand it, the ministry recommended there be only five.
I personally have made a commitment, and I think Mr. Holder has made a commitment to those commercial fishermen, that we are prepared at the end of the five-year review, which takes place this year, to look at their situation, to look into the viability of the 10 and to see whether there is a solution through consolidation or through an investigation of the stocks.
Mr. Wildman: In view of the comments made by the minister's predecessor that when quotas were being imposed generally on the Great Lakes commercial fishery they would not be detrimental to the commercial fisherman, is the minister aware that the quotas have cut the income of commercial fishermen throughout the Great Lakes substantially to the point where they cannot make a viable living?
If he is prepared to review it for Lake St. Clair, to review the whole situation and to look at what compensation can be given to commercial fishermen, who just do not have a viable living now that the quotas are imposed?
Hon. Mr. Harris: I am not sure that is supplementary, but I do not mind answering what is really a question involving all commercial fishermen. Many commercial fishermen are doing quite well. The commercial fishing industry as a whole has supported the fact that stocks have to be protected. In fact, we should be operating our fisheries on a sound management basis. We cannot be allowing more fish to be taken for the sake of one or two years' return at the expense of the stock, so we have to proceed with sustained yield.
If the member is asking if we are we prepared to look at it, of course we are. We review it on an ongoing basis. He will recall there have been announcements from my ministry allowing the sale of partial quotas, something the commercial fishermen had asked for, another mechanism they felt would help them to rationalize themselves in those cases where some are experiencing hardship. The commercial fishermen have accepted quotas and have accepted the need for rationalization of the industry.
The member will be aware that I made an announcement not very many weeks ago about eastern Lake Ontario, where we are involved in a buyout program to assist them in the rationalization of the industry there. We are constantly reviewing the state of affairs in the commercial fishing industry, but I have to tell the member that it is within the context, and accepted by the commercial fishing industry, that quotas are necessary.
Mrs. Grier: My question is for the Premier and it concerns a questionnaire that was sent to all candidates in the recent election campaign by the Project for Environmental Priorities. Can the Premier reconcile the statements in the speech from the throne -- welcome, albeit somewhat overdue -- that indicate support for environmental protection with the fact that when the questionnaire was sent out only 24 members of the present Conservative caucus even returned it and, of those, 14 were unable to answer yes to a single one of the questions?
Hon. F. S. Miller: One of our ministers was talking about that questionnaire the other day because he was quoted as not having responded. He happens to be the current Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Brandt). I understand he has a letter of apology saying that, indeed, he never received the questionnaire even though he was being named as a nonrespondent. I think that happened to several of us on this side.
The fact remains that we have a very real concern for the environment -- the member knows that -- and we are showing it in the throne speech.
Mrs. Grier: Will the Premier then tell the House how much money has been allocated for the programs indicated in the speech from the throne? Would he not agree that the cuts in the budget of the Ministry of the Environment, which have totalled approximately $33 million during the last four years, have contributed to the environmental problems that now face us?
Hon. F. S. Miller: The other day I had the list of all the environmental programs announced so far. I will gladly get it. I cannot remember the figures. However, those that are not yet defined will come up either at budget time or in estimates. I will answer the question in more detail tomorrow.
Mr. McGuigan: As part of the Premier's conversion when he is about to give up office, and while he is making the patronage appointments he is making, does he not think it would be wise to send a signal out to the public about the environment that is contrary to the signals coming from the budgets in Washington, Ottawa and Toronto, which indicate that all three governments have lost their interest in the environment? Does he not think it would be a nice gesture to go out on a high note?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I would rather stay on the note I am on.
I challenge the honourable member to find any state or province in North America that has done a better job than this province has done. I say that in all sincerity.
I have the answer to the question that was asked a minute ago. The waste security fund was $100 million, the beach protection fund was $20 million and the Ministry of the Environment package -- I have only the first year's costs, which would be lower than the average -- was $3 million.
Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Labour has a reply to a previous question.
MEDICAL LABOUR DISPUTE
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Yesterday the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) asked a question about the Canadian Medical Laboratories in Hamilton and Simcoe with respect to the Inflation Restraint Board's ruling about a wage increase owing to employees there.
Reduced to essentials, the facts in the situation are that the Inflation Restraint Board did issue an order that the employer pay to its bargaining unit employees at the Hamilton and Simcoe laboratories a wage increase of nine per cent for the period from July 1, 1982, through June 30, 1983. The employer is contesting the board's order and has instituted judicial review proceedings. I am advised that the judicial review application has not yet been perfected by Canadian Medical Laboratories and that they have until October 1985 to do so.
The Ministry of the Attorney General is representing the Inflation Restraint Board in this judicial review. I have requested that my colleague the Attorney General (Mr. Pope) determine what, if anything, can be done to expedite the judicial review proceedings. I would note also that the trade union is a party to the court proceedings and has not sought an expedited resolution, which is its right.
I am advised that the trade union is seeking an alternative remedy through the arbitration procedures of its collective agreement. In the meantime, I can advise members that the Inflation Restraint Board has filed with the Supreme Court of Ontario a certified copy of its order against Canadian Medical Laboratories. The effect of the board's order being filed with the Supreme Court is that it can be enforced as a civil judgement against the employer in the event the court determines the board's ruling was proper.
Mr. Mackenzie: The information the minister has given is essentially correct. However, as the minister must surely understand, the concern is that these employees have now been waiting 36 months. It is seven months since the employer, in a deliberate stall and nothing else, filed for a judicial review of the board's order. Seven months later he has not even filed with the board his statement of evidence.
It is so obvious they are doing the workers in and that the employer is deliberately trying to deny that award. What avenue do these workers have? Sure, they are looking at other avenues. They are totally and absolutely frustrated by the flouting of the law of this province through the actions of the employer.
Mr. Speaker: Do you have a question?
Mr. Mackenzie: The Inflation Restraint Board itself is very frustrated. What is the government doing? We raised this a year or a year and a half ago; I have raised it a number of times.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I can understand the frustration the member and others, the employees in particular, may feel about this.
Mr. Mackenzie: Thirty-six months.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: It is a frustration many of us may share. But there are certain procedures that are open to the public, be they employers or employees, in this province under our judicial system, and one of them is the process of judicial review. In this case the employer has until October 1985 to perfect the documentation of that application. Failing that, what has been filed in the court immediately, as I said in my earlier remarks, leaves open the opportunity for a civil judgement.
As I said before, I asked the Attorney General if there were any ways the matter could be expedited. As the member well knows, the union has that option and it is currently looking through its collective bargaining agreement with respect to the arbitration options it might have. Let us not try to pretend we are on different sides of this issue, as the member so often tries to do in this House.
Mr. Mackenzie: I would not wait 36 months.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: We have certain judicial processes that are being followed. If the member is asking this government to set aside those judicial procedures and those rights and obligations we have in this society, I honestly do not know how that can be done and still retain the society as we know it.
Ms. E. J. Smith: My question is of the Minister of Health. Some several months ago 60 chronic care beds were assigned to Grace Villa, a private hospital in London. Since that time the owner, Mr. Buxbaum, has come into serious legal difficulties and these beds have been cancelled.
They now could be reassigned to other hospitals and could not be assigned to this hospital because it is not a public hospital. The Thames Valley District Health Council has approached the two other possible hospitals about assuming these licences and the Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Mary's Hospital have agreed they could accommodate them. Since that time there has been nothing but stalling on the reassignment of these beds. Since the need was already established and accepted by the government, why are we now faced with stalling and lame excuses?
Hon. Mr. Andrewes: I will have to take the question as notice and respond at a later date.
Ms. Gigantes: I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. In correspondence I initiated in January, to which he replied in May, he suggested the Ontario Housing Corp. would undertake an active review of the ruling that said psychiatrically disabled people were no longer eligible for assisted housing in Ontario. He said he would pay close personal attention to it. If he has paid close personal attention, how many people have been affected by being arbitrarily ruled ineligible?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I have recommended to the executive council that it be changed, and I will be notifying the housing authorities in the very near future.
Ms. Gigantes: How can I express my thanks?
Mr. Speaker: Was that a supplementary? I could not hear.
Ms. Gigantes: I said, "How can I express my thanks?"
Mr. Ruprecht: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Why is the Commission on the Regulatory Control of Mobile PCB Destruction Facilities postponing its recommendation on how to deal with the ministry's proposal to use three burning methods to destroy polychlorinated biphenyls within our cities?
Hon. Ms. Fish: The commission has 60 days to complete its report. The 60 days expire June 29. I wrote to the commission chairman requesting that the report be expedited so it could be dealt with even prior to the expiry of the allowable 60-day period.
Mr. Ruprecht: It happens that it has not been expedited.
In the light of the new developments in PCB destruction methods, of which the minister is aware, is her ministry proposing that the PCBs be destroyed anywhere, including urban centres, within 300 feet of homes or food processing plants? Has her ministry changed its mind on the destruction methods?
Hon. Ms. Fish: My ministry is awaiting the considered advice of the commission, which undertook very lengthy public review, submissions and hearings to deal with the questions of the two forms of mobile PCB destruction, their appropriate use, the location, the terms and conditions under which any such mobile equipment should be used. We are awaiting the final results of the commission's hearings and its deliberations. I repeat that by the terms of reference of that commission it has until June 29. I have asked that it be expedited. We are as anxious as possible to receive the report and to act in accordance with it.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: It is an awkward and difficult point of privilege that involves the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Harris). I would ask him if he does not think all our privileges as members are being abused by the activities of his ministry in the Nipissing area, where it is installing listening and watching devices on an Indian reserve to determine whether there are violations of the fishing laws. Would he confirm that?
Mr. Speaker: That sounds to me as if it is really not a point of privilege, it is a question. Probably the member could relay that at the appropriate time, maybe Thursday.
Mr. Wrye: I have a petition to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads as follows:
"I, the undersigned, urge that the government of Ontario take action to remove Zalev Brothers scrapyard from its present location to new facilities. I believe the present proximity to residential neighbourhoods renders this industry incompatible with the surrounding area.
"I urge the Ministry of the Environment, in collaboration with Zalev, to urgently seek a new location for this industry to ensure the jobs of Zalev employees are retained."
This petition is signed by 128 individuals and families in the riding of Windsor-Sandwich.
ROMAN CATHOLIC SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Mr. Ferraro: I have a petition that was presented to me on behalf of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation in my riding. It was presented to me by David Evale, the president, and an associate.
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Whereas any action to extend public funding to separate Roman Catholic secondary schools in Ontario would represent a fundamental change in public policy in our province; and
"Whereas it is uncertain whether extension would contravene the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and
"Whereas in democratic societies there is a recognized convention which respects the rule of law that before fundamental changes in public policy are implemented such matters are debated in the Legislative Assembly, with an opportunity for the public to appear and be heard before an appropriate committee of the Legislature;
"We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government:
"(1) to seek a constitutional referral prior to any implementation to determine whether extension would conflict with the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and
"(2) to debate fully the issue of extension prior to any implementation, such debate to include consideration of the issue by an appropriate committee of the House with an opportunity provided for the people to appear and be heard."
The petition is signed by 212 people from my constituency.
Mr. Martel: Since all my petitions are exactly like those read by the member who spoke just before me, I will simply submit them to the Clerk.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: I have several petitions to present. Three are on behalf of my cabinet colleagues the member for Lincoln (Mr. Andrewes), the member for Wentworth (Mr. Dean) and the member for Durham East (Mr. Cureatz). I also have five petitions from Wellington-Dufferin-Peel: Eramosa United Church, Moorefield United Church, Mount Forest District High School, Erin District High School and Centre Wellington District High School.
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Whereas any action to extend public funding to separate Roman Catholic secondary schools in Ontario would represent a fundamental change in public policy in our province; and
"Whereas it is uncertain whether extension would contravene the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and
"Whereas in democratic societies there is a recognized convention which respects the rule of law that before fundamental changes in public policy are implemented such matters are debated in the Legislative Assembly, with an opportunity for the public to appear and be heard before an appropriate committee of the Legislature;
"We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government:
"(1) to seek a constitutional referral prior to any implementation to determine whether extension would conflict with the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and
"(2) to debate fully the issue of extension prior to any implementation, such debate to include consideration of the issue by an appropriate committee of the House with an opportunity provided for the people to appear and be heard."
Mr. McLean: I too have some petitions. I have four from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, the county of Simcoe school boards. They are addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and they read the same as the previous petitions.
Mrs. Grier: I have a petition signed by more than 200 residents of the province. It is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly. It too concerns the question of separate school funding and concludes:
"We petition the Ontario Legislature to delay the implementation of the proposed separate secondary school funding until appropriate, constitutionally acceptable legislation is in place."
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
EQUALITY RIGHTS STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Pope moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Timbrell, first reading of Bill 7, An Act to amend the Equality Rights Statute Law Act.
Motion agreed to.
MOBILITY RIGHTS STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT
Hon, Mr. Pope moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Timbrell, first reading of Bill 8, An Act to amend the Mobility Rights Statute Law Act.
Motion agreed to.
MINISTRY OF SKILLS DEVELOPMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Gillies moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Leluk, first reading of Bill 9, An Act to establish the Ministry of Skills Development.
Motion agreed to.
LABOUR RELATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Haggerty moved, seconded by Mr. Newman, first reading of Bill 10, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Haggerty: The purpose of the bill is to provide a mechanism whereby the Lieutenant Governor in Council can order a 60-day suspension of a strike or lockout and order to return to work where the strike or lockout constitutes an immediate and serious danger to life, health and safety or seriously disrupts the economy of the province or any area of the province.
The bill provides that the Minister of Labour must appoint a conciliation officer where an order suspending a strike or lockout has been made and may subsequently appoint a conciliation board if the efforts of the conciliation officer to effect a collective agreement are unsuccessful. If the conciliation efforts are unsuccessful, the strike or lockout may be resumed without a further strike vote. An order made under the bill would be enforceable as an order of the Supreme Court.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
Mr. Mancini: I am pleased return to the debate that I adjourned yesterday afternoon. I forgot to mention and to congratulate the member for Carleton East (Mr. Morin) on his election as Deputy Chairman of the committee of the whole House. The Speaker may recall that I congratulated him on his election, and I congratulated the Deputy Speaker. I certainly would want the record to show that the member for Carleton East is going to have a large hand in overseeing the operations of the House. We know the many skills he has and are looking forward to co-operating with him and working under his leadership when he is in the chair.
You may recall, Mr. Speaker, that before the House adjourned yesterday I was speaking to the Conservative members and the Conservative government. I suggested to them that they possibly should leave office with some self-respect. However, whether or not they accept that suggestion is another matter. It appears to me and to my colleagues they will cling to every possibility, wish for every wish and ask for any miracle that may extend their 42-year reign.
The leader of the government is now seeking spiritual help to save his government. He was quoted in the Globe and Mail of Tuesday, June 11, as being willing to climb stairs "on my knees if you want me to." He was referring to the shrine of Brother André in Quebec, which is said to have provided miracles for people in need of them. This government is not in need of miracles; it is in need of spending an awfully long time on the opposition benches.
I want to refer to several parts of the constituency I represent, to some of the difficulties we unfortunately have had to deal with and to what we can do to make the conditions of the constituency and the constituents somewhat easier and somewhat less painful.
We have been made aware of the unfortunate situation around the Barrie area where that brute of a tornado tore through that part of Ontario, causing death and destruction wherever it touched the ground. I was pleased that almost immediately the Ontario government declared that part of the province to be a disaster area under the Ontario disaster relief program. Indeed, I am heartened that the government has extended the program, which originally called for a one-to-one dollar match, to ensure there will be a three-to-one match for every dollar given by the citizens and corporations of Ontario.
Mr. Martel: Give `em hell, Remo.
Mr. Mancini: I am always encouraged by the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel). Under this new alliance, I think our friendship will continue to grow.
Getting back to the tornado, I was very pleased the cabinet made the original decision and at how quickly it was able to change the regulations and the part of the program dealing with the amount of relief and aid for the citizens.
Some members of the House may not realize that all of Essex county has suffered from very high waters. We have suffered approximately $11 million worth of damage. After a few weeks of coaxing and convincing and some representations that were made to the proper ministries, we were happy to hear that the portions of Essex county that were severely hurt by the high waters were declared a disaster area. We are now in the process of submitting accounts of the destruction to the Essex Region Conservation Authority and to the independent committee chaired by the warden of Essex county so we can adequately look after the problems.
I want to have on record that I believe it is important for us to review in the very near future what we do in cases of disaster situations. For example, Barrie and Essex county have been classified disaster areas, but before any funds can reach the people who have been hurt we have to go through a long and very cumbersome procedure.
A committee has to be set up. I agree that can be done rather swiftly. However, regarding the money portion, no money is transferred from the government to the committee involved in distributing funds to the people who have been hurt until the community responds. If it takes a few weeks or several months to raise the appropriate amount of money to assist the people who have been affected the most, what are the individuals and families to do in the meantime?
They must go to the banks or other financial institutions. If they are able to, they will get assistance from friends and relatives, but in many cases that is not possible. I believe we should look at the disaster relief program so that once an area has been declared a disaster area some moneys can be made available immediately, up front and without any questions asked, to the committee that is ultimately responsible for dispensing the moneys that have been raised.
The example I wish to give in Essex county is quite appropriate in the circumstances I am describing. Where people have been forced from their homes because of high waters, with the main level of homes completely flooded and therefore not liveable, moneys are not available for repair or for people to move into new quarters. This causes tremendous financial hardship, worry and suffering. When people are in a situation where they really have nowhere to go and no one to turn to, that is as great as the damage caused by the natural disaster.
I would like to have the disaster review program looked at again, taking into consideration the things that happen to people and taking into consideration the difficulty we have in raising money and, most important, the time it takes to raise money. Unfortunately, in the last couple of weeks we were also subjected to a rather horrific hailstorm that centred around the Leamington, Mersea and Gosfield townships area where approximately 75 per cent of all the greenhouses in Canada are situated. The hail was bigger than golf balls. We all read in the newspapers and saw on TV what that did to the glass greenhouses, of which we have several hundred acres. We are told that approximately 100 acres of glass have been destroyed. Coupled with the crops that have been ruined, we have an estimate of damage of anywhere from $40 million to $50 million. That is truly a disaster by any standards.
This happened just before the tornado in Barrie. Unfortunately, the publicity that might have been helpful in bringing this information to the general public was not available because of the disaster in Barrie. I guess it was actually a very tough week for the people of Ontario to have all this damage inflicted on our citizens.
In speaking of the greenhouse industry, I should inform the members that it costs approximately $300,000 to build one acre of glass greenhouse. That is an awful lot of money. Most of the glass in these greenhouses has been shattered. I am told the repairs that are going to be needed for the replacement of the glass, as well as for labour, are going to cost anywhere from $90,000 to $120,000 per acre. Multiply that by 100 and add the crops that have been lost. Approximately 60 per cent of the crop in the greenhouse section that was damaged has been lost, so we have lost a large sum to our community.
Thank God the hailstorm struck between noon and 1 p.m.; the farmers and workers were not in the greenhouses. It is shocking to think what would have happened if someone had been in the greenhouses when the hailstorm hit and glass was flying in all directions. It is certainly shocking to think what would have happened if people had been caught in that very unfortunate situation.
Anyway, we thank God this was not the case. We are still able to regroup and rebuild the greenhouse industry. Yes, we are looking for assistance from the government of Ontario. I want to thank the senior officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food who have spent some time down in the Essex South riding. We have now met with most of the agricultural groups that have been affected.
Not only the greenhouse industry was affected; outside field crops were also hurt. We talked to the field growers. The fruit crops have been hurt. We have met with some representatives of the fruit sector in the area. We have had a lot of good input from them and we are working on a plan of assistance that I hope will adequately meet the need to get the industry going again and into the marketplace for next spring.
So as we continue to work to assist the people in Essex county in the areas I have described, I would once again suggest that a full review of how we treat disasters would be appropriate at this time.
The member for Brock (Mr. Partington) stated during his reply to the throne speech that the government of Ontario had introduced an energy-efficiency program for the greenhouse industry, that it was bending over backwards to help this industry and was doing I do not know how many different things.
The member should go back and read Hansard. He will find out who suggested to the government of Ontario the reasons for which we needed assistance to the greenhouse industry. He will quickly find out that the government did not do this out of goodwill; it did it because it was absolutely necessary and because of the representations it had received from Essex county and from the Greenhouse Vegetable Producers' Marketing Board. It was like moving an elephant to get it to respond to a very vital industry.
Mr. Van Horne: A jumbo, an ageing elephant.
Mr. Mancini: A jumbo elephant. Yes.
Some members, particularly the new members in the House, may not be familiar with the riding of Essex South. I know the present Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) is familiar with the riding because he pretty well knows the province like the back of his hand. But there may be some members who are not really familiar with it, so I would like to take four or five minutes -- I would like to take longer, but the whip says I cannot because so many members wish to speak -- to give the members a thumbnail sketch of the Essex South riding.
I live in Amherstburg, a very historic town. We have many buildings that have been officially designated as historic by the province and some are also acknowledged by the federal government. We have the museum in the Fort Malden National Historic Park which refers to Amherstburg at its inception. It was originally a fort used primarily during the War of 1812. We are very pleased the federal government has supported the fort, has allowed it to grow and has allowed this museum to grow. Actually, it has become quite a drawing card to the area.
I am told the new Conservative government of Canada does not have these types of cultural and historical buildings, surroundings and lands at the top of its agenda and we may receive some cuts in the operation of Fort Malden. That would be sad.
As we move westward, we pass the fine town of Harrow. There was a winery established in Harrow a few short years ago. I am told that at one of the Progressive Conservative dinners, one of the big dinners where they charge people $200 just to walk in the door, they served wine from this winery in Harrow. It is called Colio wine.
If any members in the House are going to visit the liquor store after six o'clock and want a good bottle of wine, they should look for Colio. However, I cannot plug Colio without telling members that we have built a new winery about eight miles west of Harrow. It is called the Pelee Island Winery. We tell all members who use this type of thing for medicinal purposes when they do not feel well and feel they have to buy a bottle of Colio or a bottle of the wine made by the people at the Pelee Island Winery, their money will be well spent and they will be that much more familiar with the Essex South riding.
Mr. Swart: You are getting off the topic now. There are a lot of sour grapes on the other side.
Mr. Mancini: We do not use sour grapes in our wine. I realize there are a lot of sour grapes over there, but none of those grapes can be used by Colio or by the Pelee Island Winery, we have already established that. We serve only the number one product.
As we move eastward, we pass through the town of Kingsville to the township of Mersea. Leamington would be the next largest centre, really the hub of the southeastern part of Essex county with approximately 12,000 people. Leamington is famous for many reasons. Leamington is the tomato capital of the world. Leamington has the Point Pelee National Park, famous for its wildlife. Are there any birdwatchers in the assembly?
Mr. Breaugh: Oh, yes.
Mr. Mancini: I am glad to see there are a few birdwatchers in the assembly because Leamington is absolutely famous for birds, there is no doubt about it. At a certain part of the season -- I think it is in the spring, but I do not remember exactly -- one cannot find a room in Leamington and nearby because birdwatchers from all over North America have come to participate in what they find to be a very joyful experience.
I am also proud that I represent a tiny portion of Kent county, the village of Wheatley, the citizenry of which I got to know very well over the past 10 years.
Last, but not least, is the township of Pelee Island which is just a few kilometres south of Leamington in Lake Erie. The people have to put up with a great deal of hardship because they are islanders. Anyone who lives on an island knows exactly what I am talking about. We are looking for many ways to help with the services they need.
Pelee Island is also important for another reason. Are there any members of the Legislature who like to hunt? We had some birdwatchers and now we have some hunters. Pelee Island is famous across North America for its pheasant hunt. Twice a year, the township of Pelee Island turns out, lets loose pheasants they have raised on the pheasant farm, and hundreds of hunters from all over buy licenses and passes to the island to participate in the hunt. This is one of the largest revenue sources the island has, so it is important to remind people of it.
Although I am not a hunter, I have tasted the pheasants from Pelee Island, and unless they are full of buckshot they probably will be good eating. The municipal council would want me to remind the members. I always receive a couple of passes to the hunt which I do not use, and if some members treat me nicely I will consider offering them one.
An hon. member: That is patronage.
Mr. Mancini: Since the Tory members object, I will not consider them for any of the passes.
I am very pleased to have returned to the Legislature, not only as a representative of the riding of Essex South with the full confidence of the people in my area, but I am very pleased to return to such a large, new group of members in the Liberal Party. We are anxious and looking forward to taking on the responsibilities of government, not for the same reasons the Tories have had for the last 42 years but for altogether different ones. We know the mentality of the Tory members and we know why they are clinging to power the way they are. They should be embarrassed and leave with some self-respect.
We are looking forward to serving the people of Ontario, not trying to be their masters the way the Progressive Conservative Party has been over the last 42 years. That system has gone. The masters have now left and the colonial mansion has been burned down. New people have been asked to give representation and leadership. I hope, with the co-operation of all members of the House, we will be able to do that in very good fashion.
Mr. Ramsay: It is a great honour and a pleasure to be speaking in this House today, representing the people of Timiskaming. This will be a similar speech to the one we just heard. I represent one of the most beautiful ridings in this province. I am not inviting anybody up for hunting or fishing trips this summer, I want to keep it all to myself; but we encourage tourists to come and share the delights of our area.
It is quite a unique part of northern Ontario. A lot of people may not be aware of our diverse topography. Some may think it all looks like one of the Group of Seven's paintings but --
An hon. member: Your mosquitoes are as big as their pheasants.
Mr. Ramsay: Yes, but I do not want that in the record. I will not talk about some of the insects that fly around. They are all quite benign at this time of the year. I wonder who paid this guy on our side to heckle me.
The variety of our topography ranges from the lake district of Temagami to the wonderful little clay belt where I farm. As I say to many of my colleagues -- and I know they are upset to hear this all the time -- if you find a stone on my farm, somebody put it there. We have beautiful top soils in our area that rival those of the Ukraine. We grow very similar cereal grains.
North of the clay belt we have the rugged mining country of the Kirkland Lake gold camps. Then we have Matachewan Lake and Larder Lake in the iron ore country. We are blessed with many of the resources of the north in our riding.
I would like to comment briefly on some of the deficiencies I have found in some of the supplies at my desk here. I have noticed, for instance, that there are no toothpicks in my desk. Having come down sometimes to the gallery and having observed our former member, I thought portable dental hygiene appliances were standard equipment with the supplies here; I see they are not. Now that I see that, I take my hat off to the former member for supporting the one industry of Timiskaming. That was probably his sole reason for doing that. I also find there are no books of off-colour jokes or ethnic slurs in my desk. I thought that was probably standard equipment.
Mr. Ramsay: They have probably gone home; and so they shall remain, I am very pleased at that.
I have alluded to some of the natural resources we have -- the mining, agriculture, forest industry and tourism -- but our greatest resource is our people. The people of Timiskaming are industrious and self-reliant. Northerners are survivors and, I might add, they are extremely intelligent. I think that explains why they voted for me on May 2.
Concerning the 49 per cent who did not vote for me, we are trying to locate them to set them straight and show them the error of their ways. I think we can do that. All kidding aside, the reason I was elected is the people of Timiskaming wanted change because they were tired of the 42 years of neglect the party that sits across the way has shown towards the north. We are tired of the colonial mentality this government has had towards the north.
In the campaign I heard the expression "misery and hate" used. I was disgusted to hear that. It makes me angry when I hear that sort of thing because I know that when it comes to the resources of the north, the party across the way has been the party of pillage and rape. That is going to have to stop.
I wish it was parliamentary behaviour to cross the floor, pick up some of the ministers who are responsible for the north by their lapels, sit them on the desk and talk to them eye to eye about the main problems in the north.
Mr. Philip: They are not here.
Mr. Ramsay: They are not here today. I guess that is because maybe they do not care.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: They are scared of you.
Mr. Ramsay: I am glad they are frightened. I would tell them about the truck after truck and the train after train that go down the tracks and the roads of the north with lumber and ore, and the truck after truck and train after train that come back empty. That is the story of the north. It always goes one way and what we have left is a hole. We have a hole in the bush where the lumber was extracted and a hole in the ground where the ore was extracted. Nothing has been put back. That is the tragedy of the north.
It is not just a place to be exploited. I am sick and tried of seeing the wealth of the north create the affluence of the south. That has to stop. That is why the guys across the chamber are going out next Tuesday.
During the campaign I spoke of some of the problems that prevent northerners from getting a fair share of the economic pie in this province. Part of the problem is that we are constantly shipping out those raw products. Not only do we ship out the raw resources, but when we do that we also export our jobs. That is part of the problem. I addressed those problems. Not only did I talk about the problems, I also proposed some solutions.
I talked about solutions we had in hand today because we possess the tools today to change some of those things. I would like to talk about a couple of those tools in a minute, Ontario Hydro and the Ontario Northland Railway. This is not something we have to take over, something we have to change. We own those tools. We can use them today and quickly change the way the north and the south coexist.
What we have had is a government that is lazy. It has relied on the wonderful social welfare programs and safety nets we have put into this province and country. It is using them to run an economy instead of being creative and creating real jobs in the north. We do not want to be a welfare state. That is what is going to have to change.
Using the tools of the ONR and Ontario Hydro, we can make those changes to allow us to grow, to be competitive and to allow secondary industry to develop in the north.
If a businessman could land a product into southern Ontario from Timiskaming as cheaply as he could from somewhere in the Golden Horseshoe, we would encourage secondary industry to come to the north and we would have real jobs. We would do better subsidizing the ONR than subsidizing the people of Timiskaming through welfare and unemployment insurance.
Historically, the disadvantage of geography has always penalized our progress and development. Even our primary industries are hurt by the freight rates our own railway charges. It is cheaper now to ship iron ore pellets from Labrador City to Sept-Iles and then to Hamilton to the Dofasco plant than it is to freight them down by rail from Temagami. That is going to have to stop. We are using our own tools against ourselves. We need to create the mechanisms to overcome this handicap of geography.
Ontario Hydro is another example. For instance, the Adams mine and the Sherman mine, the iron ore mines in my riding, run most of their equipment on hydroelectricity. However, we charge exorbitant costs for that power. When we raise Hydro rates by 9.6 per cent, as we did last year, that raises the combined Hydro bill of these two mines by $1 million. We are using our own tools to penalize ourselves. It is not right.
Why is this power so expensive? Twenty-five miles north of the Sherman mine in Temagami we have a dam in Latchford That could be harnessed and supply all the power for the mine and Latchford too. The town could benefit and make a profit. It is this lack of rationalization that adds to the cost of everything we do in the north and makes it a less desirable place to develop. That has to change.
For years upon years the treasure buried in our rocks has been removed and nothing has been put back. We have had millions and millions of dollars of gold, silver and iron ore taken away from the north. What do we have to show for it? As I said before, a big hole in the ground. What this does is give northerners a sense of emptiness. They have a sense there is nothing left. We must stop this exploitation because we have to stop the boom and bust cycles that wreak havoc with our towns in the north. It must stop.
We have an answer on this side of the House; we have the Ontario tomorrow fund. This is specifically designed for northern Ontario. We are going to put away a little money today for tomorrow when our resources run out so we can develop secondary industry in the north. We have to plan for tomorrow.
I do not think living in the north should be a penalty. I do not think we should be treated as second-class citizens because we live there and carry out the jobs of extracting the resources this province badly needs.
However, this is exactly the case when it comes to health care. For years New Democrats have been fighting for a bit of equality in the health care system. My colleague the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) proposed last year that the Ontario health insurance plan cover medically necessary travel to the southern parts of this province so that a resident of the north might have more equal access to health care resources. As my leader has always said, "If we can have one price for beer, why not for health care?" There is certainly inequity here, and we have to eliminate that.
Even when this House votes in favour of the principle, where is the plan? We do not have action. During the campaign we got a halfhearted promise to bring this in, but only with respect to supplying medically necessary travel to hospitals when we also need it to specialists. That is a big share of the medically necessary travel northerners require.
We have lost confidence in the government of this House and the people of the province have lost confidence in this government.
I enjoyed the election of 1985. It was truly a David versus Goliath fight, a small-time, nearly bankrupt farmer from Belle Vallée that I am versus the Tory incumbent and the visiting hit men from the other side here who came into my riding, and also the $9.2 million worth of promises with which certainly I could not have competed.
I must admit the best line of the campaign came from the Liberal candidate in our riding. About halfway through the campaign he added up all the promises so far, and at that time there were only $5 million or $6 million. He divided it up among the number of voters and it came to $500 a piece. He said, "I will take mine in cash."
I thought that was rather clever and I said, "Me, too." It would have been a nice way to fund the campaign.
Mr. Warner: Where are the cheques?
Mr. Ramsay: Yes, let us get the cheques.
I was quite flattered during the campaign that not one, not two, not three, not four, but five cabinet ministers came to pay a visit to my riding of Timiskaming. It made me glad inside. It tickled the cockles of my heart to see the cabinet ministers come. Even the Premier (Mr. F. S. Miller) paid a visit to my riding. One of those trips was fondly referred to as the "Pope's visit." On this one it was charged that yours truly, this poor farmer from Belle Vallée, would take over the resources of the north and squander everything. Shameful things were said.
Another honourable member came and visited the riding. I should not mention his name; he was a family relative. "Uncle Leo's trip" is how they referred to it. He actually threatened that if the people of Timiskaming put in an opposition member -- those words really echo now -- he would not work with that member. He would not co-operate with him. This was quite shocking to me and obviously to the electorate at large, for they decided to do that very thing. However, these days are over we are sure.
I do not hold any grudges against these people. We are all going to be making the same salary now. These fellows have probably forgotten how to drive their own cars. We will all be sitting at the back of a Toronto Transit Commission subway or streetcar -- huddled in the back, with our tuques on in the winter and talking as one hoser to another.
I noticed that my legislative assistant kept changing that word to "loser," thinking I was not spelling it right. I meant "hoser." She is not familiar yet with what a hoser is, not being from the Great White North as I am. "Loser" is probably also appropriate here. But we poor hosers could be in the back -- Leo, Alan, Mike and myself -- and we can talk about the problems of the north.
I can think of a new name. Mr. Speaker, I know you are aware of the rat pack in Ottawa. I would have a name for this club of travelling minstrels on the TTC in the wintertime. We could be called the "eh team." I do not mean as in capital A but as in "Good day, eh." "Good day eh," we could say on the TTC.
In closing -- I know the Speaker will be disappointed that I am closing, but a guy cannot keep on like this for ever; this is too good to go on for ever -- the throne speech we heard last week is a mockery. For 42 years the people of my riding have been hearing very similar promises. We have been seeing inaction. We have suffered neglect for too long, and we are tired of those empty promises. We are tired of shattered dreams and we want to change. We want action now. For the Tories it has all come too late, I am afraid. That is why next week we are going to put this government to rest.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: As the member for York East I am delighted to have this opportunity to address myself to a most imaginative and progressive speech from the throne. It has numerous elements that respond to the needs of all Ontarians, particularly the working people of this province. In my remarks I will focus on those items which most directly relate to my own portfolio, the Ministry of Labour.
First, let me reflect on my experiences as Minister of Labour --
Mr. Kerrio: How about the trust companies?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: No. We understand the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) will be the minister in charge of rent control. All of us are looking forward to that day and to the great new progressive policies he will initiate. Even the member for Timiskaming (Mr. Ramsay) is happy to be part of that joyful union that will see this member become minister in charge of rent control.
On May 17 it was my privilege to take the oath of office as Minister of Labour for the second time in seven years. Some expressed surprise when I said, as I have said on many occasions, that of all the portfolios in government, none for me at least is more challenging. There is no portfolio that provides greater opportunities for achievement than Labour does at this critical juncture in our province's history.
Why do I say this? This ministry has long been regarded by some as one of the junior portfolios of government. Why do I believe it has become one of the most vital cogs in the machinery of public administration in Ontario? Let us look first at this province in the national and the international context.
We have a population and a work force about the size of Sweden's. Our industrial and commercial base drives the national economy and it accounts for some 40 per cent of Canada's gross national product. The resources we command are truly awesome. Ontario has the country's largest enterprises, communication systems and markets. In geographic scope we are a vast land, rich in natural resources.
We have an educational system that can be matched by few other jurisdictions, and there is the product of that system, a talented, skilled and highly motivated work force. Yet we face enormous challenges, infinitely greater in my view than those of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
In those days prosperity was taken for granted and the prospects for growth appeared limitless. What has changed? Nothing less than the entire shape of the international marketplace and our domestic production processes in relationship to that marketplace.
A decade ago our competitors were the Americans, the Europeans and, increasingly, the Japanese. Against this competition we were protected by relatively high tariff barriers. Now the newly industrialized countries -- Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Brazil and, yes, soon India, China and others -- compete in an international marketplace which was previously assumed to be the natural and exclusive preserve of western industrialized nations. The competition now occurs in the context of lower and progressively falling tariff barriers.
Nor can we continue to cling to the myth that we have some superior claim to the new technologies. Technological growth knows no geographical or national boundaries. Moreover, the multinational corporations which develop and apply those new technologies are infinitely flexible when it comes to choosing where to locate their enterprises. Their choices are quite literally global. Without intelligent application of new technologies, from the microchip to the laser beam, we are in danger of falling tragically behind.
At the same time, the problems of implementation and adaptation are enormously complex. Jobs will change dramatically in work content and skill requirements, in occupational niches, in geographical distribution, in the growing and declining sectors alike. Few now can test the proposition that the new technological revolution will have an enormous impact on the labour market.
Some argue that the new technologies have so altered the face of our industry that there must be a fundamental shift and abandonment of our traditional resource industries and the manufacturing complex associated with them towards the new high-tech, flexible production enterprises. It is true that some of our older industries as now structured and resourced may have the appearance of obsolescence. However, it is surely wrong to say they should be abandoned and even mote wrong to say it is too late to reindustrialize.
Certainly, we must embrace the new growth industries, but we must also rebuild and build upon our traditional economic roots in agriculture, the resource sector and in manufacturing. We must concentrate on job retention in these sectors of the economy which are or can be made competitive in areas where traditionally we have done well. At the same time, we must continue to pursue job creation opportunities in the new and emerging industries.
In all of this we should be prepared to innovate in the rebuilding process through worker involvement, community participation and selective government assistance.
How does this all relate to my ministry's mandate? It means two fundamental things to me.
First, if we are to continue to compete and prosper, we must be prepared to be as smart, as tough, as lean and as hardworking as the best of our competitors and equally as vigorous and imaginative in the introduction of new technology.
Second, in our drive for excellence we must understand the interaction between social justice and fairness on the one hand and the need to remain economically competitive on the other. As a just society, we must realize it is neither fair nor feasible to pursue competitiveness to the neglect of all other goals.
We must accept that a competitive economy that is not humane is not worth having, that a humane working environment can indeed contribute to competitiveness, that safe and healthy work places are more efficient work places, that discrimination in employment is not only morally offensive but also just plain bad economies and that stability in industrial relations not only contributes to social harmony but also improves economic performance.
In so many ways the humane and the efficient are mutually reinforcing. We cannot ignore the hard fact that difficult choices and tradeoffs often need to be made between longer-term economic goals and shorter-term social objectives. In periods of transition some sacrifices may be required, but over the long term the competing economic and social objectives must be reconciled eventually so that the stable blend of equity and efficiency which Ontarians wish and deserve can be achieved.
This is a fundamental challenge and one which my ministry, I believe, is uniquely positioned to address. In fact, the ministry has been moving forward to fulfil that mandate for a number of years. As the external environment has changed, as the harsh new realities of the marketplace have forced both business and labour to seek alternatives to older confrontational methods of addressing labour-market problems, so the ministry has changed both in legislative and programmatic ways to facilitate change.
Let me take a moment to highlight some of the major achievements of the recent past, not only to review the record but also to describe the base upon which future progress can be built.
First, we have recognized that orderly progress within the labour market cannot be achieved without recognizing the legitimacy of the trade union movement as a vital and respected economic partner. As our European and Japanese competitors have long realized, it takes strong unions as well as strong, sensitive and imaginative employers to make the tough decisions needed to adjust to changing market conditions. Hence our own commitment to an orderly and fair legislative base for collective bargaining.
We have had a decade of initiatives, beginning in 1975 with the comprehensive overhaul of the Labour Relations Act. Since then we have continued to review and refine the statute in response to emerging problems and changing conditions. On many fronts Ontario has been the leader among Canadian jurisdictions in protecting and promoting collective bargaining rights.
I think it is worth taking a moment to reflect upon the major improvements that have been made to the Labour Relations Act in the past decade.
The 1975 amendments represented a major advance in the evolution of collective bargaining legislation in Ontario and in this country. They were designed to contribute to the reduction of industrial conflict, to safeguard the right to organize and to enhance a trade union's accountability to its members. New dispute resolution mechanisms were introduced, the certification procedure was streamlined and the remedial authority of the board was expanded. Refinements were also made with respect to the duty of fair representation imposed upon the trade union movement.
The next major amendment occurred in 1977 with the introduction of province-wide bargaining in the industrial, commercial and institutional sector of the construction industry. That provincial bargaining structure, as developed in close consultation with both labour and management, has contributed, I submit, to stability in the Ontario construction industry. This is particularly evident when one compares the experience of other jurisdictions in construction industry bargaining in recent years.
Grievance arbitration is a fundamental component of our collective bargaining system. In 1979, when I recognized that prolonged delays in the resolution of grievances could threaten the quality of relations in the work place and complicate the settlement of collective bargaining disputes, an expedited arbitration procedure with grievance mediation was introduced and in the ensuing years has gained increasing acceptance among both employers and trade unions.
In 1983 the government acted to enhance union security by entitling trade unions to require employers to deduct regular union dues from the wages of bargaining unit employees. This amendment removed a major obstacle to the resolution of many first-collective-agreement disputes. The amendment was based on the belief that it is fair and equitable to require all employees who stand to benefit from trade union representation to contribute to a union's financial support. Colloquially put, there should be no free riders. At the same time, the act was amended to recognize the right of all employees to participate in strike and ratification votes regardless of their membership status.
Finally, in the interest of breaking an impasse in bargaining, employers were offered the right to request a supervised vote on an offer made during the course of negotiations.
The activities of certain security firms during the course of lawful work stoppages prompted the government to introduce legislation in 1983 to control third-party interference in strikes and lockouts. The amendment prohibited professional strikebreaking and strike-related misconduct intended to interfere with the exercise of rights under the Labour Relations Act.
All these changes reflect our acceptance of the legitimate aspirations of a mature and responsible trade union movement at a time when in some jurisdictions -- and I say this sincerely -- sullen and often ugly confrontation rather than creative co-operation was and has been the order of the day.
That is not to say we were totally preoccupied with the organized sector. Important amendments to the Employment Standards Act, the first provincial legislation with respect to severance pay, the banning of polygraph tests in the work place, progressive improvements to the minimum wage and the addition of coverage with respect to domestics under the Employment Standards Act were all made during this time and reflect our determination to promote the interests and the quality of working life of all employees.
Second, in addressing the relationship between labour and management, we have not put all our eggs only in a legislative basket. Through a wide variety of bodies -- the Ontario Labour Management Study Group, the Ontario Manpower Commission, the Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Safety and a number of sectoral committees -- we have sought to bridge the communications gap in the firm belief that surely there is much more to labour-management relations than the barbed wire of the bargaining table.
Third, even in troubled economic times, we have acknowledged that it is impermissible to say, as a government or as a society, that claims to fairness, nondiscriminatory conduct and social justice ought to be denied or deferred pending economic recovery. Thus, in 1978 a comprehensive Occupational Health and Safety Act was enacted, bringing Ontario into the vanguard of progressive developments in this field. We built that system on the principle that a partnership involving labour, management and government is a prerequisite for progress. This notion of tripartite, interlocking rights and responsibilities should serve as a prototype for future legislative directions in other fields.
In 1981, as many members will remember, a wholesale redesign of our Ontario Human Rights Code was completed. Those far-reaching changes, which reached into the work place and into the place of residence, have provided, I suggest, effective opportunity for redress from discrimination wherever it may occur. The fears of some people, expressed quite vocally at the time, that this would lead to impermissible intrusion by the state into private affairs have just failed to materialize.
Most recently, in 1984, phase 1 of the overhaul of our workers' compensation system was completed. That reform process, which was begun when I was minister and which was carried forward with diligence and patience by my successor, the former member for Sault Ste. Marie, has culminated in a comprehensive reform of the structures and processes of the workers' compensation system, including very significant benefit improvements.
The record then is one of steady progress. We have been responsive to demonstrated need and sensitive to the requirement for balance and fairness, but resistant to the contention that laws encouraging fairness and simple justice in the work place might make Ontario an inhospitable environment for the investment needed to mobilize our resources and provide jobs for our people.
It will come as no surprise to learn there were those in the business community who criticized us for our aggressive approach, just as there were those in the labour community who criticized us for perhaps being too timid. But the record is there and, more important, the fruits of that record: a more tolerant and civilized milieu, a firm platform on which to build the new initiatives necessary to guide us through the next turbulent decade and beyond.
What are the new challenges that lie before us? In the coming hours, days, weeks, months and years we must design and implement a labour policy that will ensure the world of work here in Ontario is both more efficient and more humane.
The items in the throne speech regarding labour matters represent significant steps in meeting that challenge. There are eight major proposals in this area: (1) compensation equity, (2) first-contract arbitration, (3) unjust dismissal protection, (4) benefits for part-time workers, (5) notice and consultation on technological change, (6) right-to-know legislation for toxic substances, (7) part 2 of the workers' compensation reform process and (8) pension reform. If I may, let me elaborate on each of these initiatives in turn.
First, the goal of compensation equity for women is one that must be pursued prudently and realistically but insistently. The government has undertaken to test the principle of equal pay for work of equal value in the Ontario public service and will be seeking input from labour and business as to how the principle could be extended to the private sector. Thus far, the discussion of equal value has not always been characterized by the careful and professional analysis which it has received in the United States and elsewhere.
The proposed labour-management-government employment equity commission should have equal value as its first agenda item. At the same time, and let us be quite frank, we need to move more aggressively in the affirmative action front. In the long run, only success in this area will break down the barriers to equal access to all kinds of work for women and to reduce occupational segregation. This may be the single most effective way of promoting the equal pay concept; but to succeed, affirmative action programs need more teeth.
The purely voluntary approach adopted over the past decade has simply failed to generate sufficient private sector commitment. I believe an effective mechanism for creating greater employment opportunities for women as well as for visible minorities, native peoples and disabled people would be for the government to adopt a policy of preference for those contractors and recipients of public funds who have or who are committed to implement effective affirmative action programs.
Such a policy would create a powerful incentive for change and would allow individual businesses to design their own programs so they would be best suited to their particular circumstances.
Mr. McClellan: This does not sound like Miller's Ontario. What happened to Miller's Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I do not want to suggest that I do not want to listen to the honourable member, but I have tried that in the past and I have not always liked what he suggested or what he wanted to talk about; so he will not mind if I ignore him for a minute or two.
Mr. Breaugh: It is going to get even worse.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The member is a lovely young man, but I think I will just ignore him for a minute.
Mr. McClellan: It seems to me you should have a certain humility --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Second, the fundamental right to collective bargaining may be undermined if the achievement of a first agreement is frustrated by improper bargaining tactics. It seems to me vitally important to facilitate the settlement of first agreements to permit new bargaining relationships to mature and take hold. The government is therefore proposing in the throne speech a procedure to enable first-agreement arbitration to be sought when the normal processes of negotiation, conciliation and mediation have failed.
Third, workers who are not represented by a trade union must now rely on the costly and lengthy procedures of the courts to contest unjust dismissal. There is no rational basis for distinguishing between the rights of the organized and unorganized sectors in this area. The speech from the throne includes a provision for an expeditious and inexpensive process for employees to challenge wrongful termination of employment.
Fourth, economic change has spurred the growth of part-time work. Part-time workers frequently do not have access to benefit plans available for full-time workers in the same work place. It is surely a matter of simple fairness to extend the opportunity to participate in employment benefits on a pro rata basis to all employees whose period of service demonstrates substantial attachment to an enterprise. Appropriate amendments to the Employment Standards Act will achieve this goal.
Mr. McClellan: No kidding.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I do not want the member to think I am ignoring him. I am just trying to pretend he is not there.
Fifth, while technological change is essential to our competitive survival, its introduction often breeds anxiety and resistance among workers quite justifiably uncertain about their future. The inevitable and desirable introduction of new technologies would surely be promoted and enhanced by giving workers and their unions advance notice of technological change and by establishing procedures for the development of participative adjustment programs. Amendments to the Labour Relations Act and to the Employment Standards Act are therefore proposed to provide for notice of proposed technological changes, with measures for dealing with resulting employment adjustment problems.
Sixth, a high priority must be given to protecting the health and safety of the work force. Later this week I will be making a statement on a number of immediate initiatives. I believe there are further steps that can be taken to enhance protection against the hazards of toxic substances.
One important reform would be to require employers to identify toxic substances in use in the work place and to alert workers to their potential health effects. At present, this obligation extends only to suppliers and manufacturers of new substances. I believe the obligation should be extended to all industrial users, and it should be made clear that the disclosure should include the ingredients, the common generic names, the composition and the properties of the agents as well as their known or suspected health effects, if any.
I also think there is great merit in focusing our enforcement efforts through the establishment of a designated substances enforcement unit as recommended by the royal commission on asbestos, an initiative that is already well advanced within the ministry.
Mr. McClellan: What year was that?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Even the member was approaching maturity at that time. It will occur one day; it may take him a little longer than the rest of us, but he will get there one day.
While these and other health and safety enhancement measures are important, it is necessary for all to recognize the limitations on the role of government. In a vast and complex industrial environment, with hundreds of thousands of work places, no amount of government monitoring and enforcement, however stringent or draconian, can substitute for the vigilance of an informed work force operating in concert with responsible and committed employers.
Seventh, the momentum of our reform of the Workers' Compensation Act will be accelerated with the early completion of the review of the remaining features of the compensation system, an equitable formula for compensating permanent disabilities, a fair and rational means for periodically adjusting pensions, the introduction of an effective experience rating system and the establishment of reinstatement rights for injured workers.
Eighth, it is important that we move forward to provide greater retirement security for all workers. Pension plans constitute the single most important element in most benefit packages, so ensuring fairness and equity in access to these plans is an important element of any reform program.
Ontario, through its Treasurer and its former Premier, has played a leading role in promoting federal-provincial consensus on pension reform, addressing such issues as vesting, portability, minimum employer contributions and the extension of coverage to part-time workers.
In addition, the issue of sex differentiation in pension benefits needs to be dealt with both in its own right and with respect to its general implications for the insurance industry as a whole. The pension field is an enormously complicated one with colossal pools of capital at stake, but we cannot let the magnitude of the problem daunt us. In this as in other areas, we propose substantive reforms to meet real needs.
This eight-point program, this agenda for progress, is a formidable one. It addresses in an ambitious, but, I submit, a realistic way, the major challenges that lie before us.
In the coming session, I intend to press for action on all these items on an urgent basis. They are not proposals born out of a frantic rush to acquire or hold on to power; they are the result of a careful and deliberate review of the challenges facing us and of the options for meeting those challenges.
I am enough of a pragmatist to know that honourable compromise is part of the political process and, in the right circumstances, probably one of its most salutary aspects. But above all, the public deserves rational analysis of realistic options followed by expeditious implementation.
Mr. McClellan: Expeditious.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: No; it is the rational analysis that should trouble the member more than that.
I believe the program outlined in the speech from the throne fulfils that test. Above all, we must be true to our convictions. The party to which I belong believes in reform, but not in the repudiation of the proven traditions of the past. We believe in change, but not in abrupt, disorienting dislocation, which destroys the continuity of progress. Finally, we believe in coherence, not in a patchwork quilt of disconnected programs. What we need to do now is to enhance, not disrupt, a fundamentally sound labour market system, a dynamic and changing system that now requires, as it always will, intelligent and compassionate adaptation to meet new needs and new realities.
Mr. Van Horne: I must observe that the member for York East (Mr. Elgie) was Minister of Labour at a time when I was the Labour critic for our party, and by and large we got along not too badly. I rather enjoyed his comments, although I was struggling with some of them towards the end, as were my colleagues on the left.
I wish to begin these few remarks by offering my condolences to those Ontarians who lost family and property in the tornadoes of May 31 of this year. I attended the aftermath of a similar happening in Lambton county with my colleagues the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp), the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan) and the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson), our leader, a couple of years ago and, as the saying goes, "You have to see it to believe it."
As the communities and families try to rebuild their lives, we must all pitch in. I am proud that the people in London are sending their money and assistance to the tornado victims. Radio station CFPL was part of a province-wide fund-raising effort yesterday and I offer CFPL a special thanks for more than $11,000 raised in just a few short hours through the efforts of my fellow Londoners.
I want to thank my fellow Londoners, particularly London North residents, for allowing me to represent them once again in this 33rd Parliament of Ontario. As I say that, I am mindful of the need we all have as honourable members to carry on the work of this House and the traditions of those who have worked so hard in earlier parliaments to represent the needs of the people of Ontario.
I enjoyed the comments of the member for Timiskaming, who seems to be a bright and witty chap, quite willing to speak his mind on his own behalf and that of his constituents. I would add, as I look behind at my new Liberal colleagues, many of whom are here at this moment, and note the excellent qualifications that have brought them here, I can say with all assurance we will provide excellent service to our constituents and the province.
While I am in such a benevolent mood, I think on occasion we in the Legislature forget we have a small debt of gratitude to those servants in and outside the chamber. I am referring to the clerks, to the Hansard staff and the sundry others who help make our day-to-day work more bearable. It is appropriate to say thank you to them as we begin this session and to note, too, that some of these servants unfortunately move on.
Earlier in the day, we paid respects to the late Duke MacTavish who worked so faithfully as legal counsel for the standing committee on regulations and other statutory instruments. I say in all sincerity, I enjoyed my association with Mr. MacTavish. A group of us had the opportunity to visit the United States last February to investigate further the whole process of notice and comment and delegated legislation. Of the various expeditions and trips I have taken as a member for more than eight years, that was the most informative and well-organized venture in which I have partaken. He was responsible for its success.
For a moment I would like to refer to May 2, which we all found to be a very interesting day. Aside from changing the direction of politics in Ontario, the election results have created a tremendous interest in what is going on here at Queen's Park. Many people who were heretofore complacent are now asking questions. This is very obvious from what we see on TV and in the papers and hear on the radio, and in the questions put to us by our constituents when we return to our ridings. So the interest is there.
We must now ask, as we reflect on May 2, why did that happen? I would submit one of the reasons for those results was that the people of Ontario felt a growing sense of remoteness with the old Conservative government. They felt left out. I think they wanted a change that would involve them, so they said, "Do not take us for granted." My leader put it in a slightly different way in his eloquent no-confidence motion speech last Friday. He reminded us we are here to serve the people of Ontario. Let us keep that in mind.
I would like to dwell for a brief moment on the expanded role of back-benchers and ordinary members, as it were, which has been bandied about in the previous two or three weeks, weeks during which our party and the New Democrats were discussing the roles we would have to play.
Those of us who have been sitting in opposition applaud this move, and I can assure the leader of the third party, who made very clear and specific reference to this in his speech on Friday, that we will be mindful and respectful of the rights and obligations of all members.
I am delighted to hear that the role -- for members, at least -- is to be expanded and that they will be given much more attention in the various areas in which they work. Of course, we are thinking of committee involvement and of the things we have to do back in our constituency offices. I think, too, of such things as the private members' hours that have been traditionally held on Thursday afternoons.
If I could spend just a moment on the private members' hour -- the new people in this House are not very familiar with that -- I would point out that if one does choose to take part in that Thursday afternoon situation, one's chances of success are a lot more reasonable if one presents a resolution than if one presents a bill. It would seem --
Mr. Martel: The member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman) stood every time he was told to stand, like a trained seal.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Van Horne: I am trying to ignore the interjections so I can get on and provide time for the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie), who follows me and is most anxious to speak before six o'clock. Perhaps the member for Sudbury East can be mindful of that too.
The point I am trying to make is that we note with some chagrin that private members' bills from the opposition side are generally either defeated or blocked. It is of great concern to me that when a member puts his mind to a theme he or she has thought about, which has perhaps led him or her to make the decision to run, to try to be elected and to come here, he or she comes in with all honesty and sincerity, gets the chance to present the bill and then finds out that, in spite of all the good intentions and all the thought behind it, the dam thing gets shot down simply because it does not fit the mindset of the government of the time.
Let me give members a couple of examples. Both the member for London Centre, now our leader, and I presented bills back in the mid-1970s on the theme of disclosing information regarding the financial costs and economic impact of government programs. Specifically, I introduced Bill 69 with almost that same title. It was defeated.
Another was the Fiscal Plan Act, introduced in 1979. The purpose of that bill was to require that a five-year fiscal plan be submitted by the Treasurer of Ontario to the Legislative Assembly when the budget is presented each year. The bill provided for the establishment of a committee of the assembly, to be known as the standing committee on government finances and economy, to study and make recommendations concerning a fiscal plan.
I could go on with other bills that were presented and that I felt very strongly about. For example, Bill 103, which I introduced in 1982, was presented specifically to urge or direct the government -- and it does not like taking direction -- to take action to avoid such situations as we had at Nakina. We are all familiar with the disaster that happened at Nakina. This private bill was called An Act to Ensure the Safety of Prescribed Burns in Ontario. What has happened to that, of course, is absolutely nothing. It and the others were blocked or defeated.
Another bill I presented was the Human Tissue Gift Amendment Act. This bill was debated, and what happened to it? It was defeated. I have reintroduced the bill with minor amendments to make it legitimate to reintroduce it in this chamber.
However, I would like to quote from a little article that appears in today's Sun, page 24. The heading of the article is, "Heart Boy in Good Spirits." It says, "Canada's youngest surviving heart transplant recipient is `awake, aware and in good spirits' at London's University Hospital."
This young lad's name is Enrico Del Piccolo. He is 14 years old and he is from Italy. I had the pleasure of meeting him and his mother in February. He arrived in Canada in late January and has been awaiting an organ. He suffered from a very severe congenital problem and his heart needed replacement. The transplant was made yesterday and, fortunately, he has survived the initial surgery. The organ he received came from a young boy from Michigan.
The point I would make is that there are many deaths in Ontario and in Canada wherein people, young or old, may very well have wanted to leave an organ or organs to someone in need. Yet the mechanics for that are rather limited at this time in Ontario. The whole purpose of this private legislation is to enlarge the availability of organs -- to enlarge the bank, if you will -- so that they might be available to people in need. We have the technical skill, we have the trained people, and we have medications now that we did not have 10 years ago. It is high time we moved in this area.
There is another point for my dwelling on this. I refer back to my comment on the enlarged role of private members. There are many people in this chamber -- there have been in the past and I know there are a number around me right now -- who have good ideas they would like to see implemented. At least they might be brought in for more discussion than we get in private members' hour on Thursday afternoons. I hope sincerely that all sides will agree, as we get on with this 33rd Parliament, that we can listen more closely to the thoughts and ideas of private members and their bills or resolutions.
I do not want to spend any more time on that. I could spend the whole afternoon on this theme and point out other pieces of private members' legislation that have been equally deserving of comment.
At any rate, I am pleased to have raised that point. I would like now to move on to one or two other thoughts before I yield the floor. There is another area we all have to be mindful of, aside from the opportunity to present one's thoughts in here. That is our obligation to speak out on behalf of the ridings we represent. I submit that members in opposition over the years have had a difficult time getting their messages through to the government. I personally have had a difficult time on more than one occasion in this regard.
I would like to stress the need for more sensitivity in government and its obligation to listen to members as they come in with the problems of their ridings. I could point to one or two areas where we have had a difficult time, but will refer particularly to London North.
Pottersburg Creek runs through my riding. It touches London South for not more than half a mile, but mainly the creek runs through London North. For more than a year I have been trying to convince the various ministries, particularly the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Health, that we have a problem there and that it requires attention. Only when the election fever caught up with us in late February and March was there any indication that people in the ministries or on the government side might get rolling and might give the matter fuller investigation.
Of course, once we got into the election, there were all kinds of visits between the Conservative candidates and the government offices. Unfortunately, the issue of cleaning up the polychlorinated biphenyls in Pottersburg Creek became a political issue. That is a sad comment. Surely, when members have problems in their ridings and bring them to government's attention, they should get fair and equal treatment. I submit that is another reason some of the folks in Ontario did not choose to vote in the old traditional Conservative way they had done for 42 years. They were saying that sense of remoteness was bothering them. They were saying, "Do not take me for granted."
Let me give another example of what could be construed as a rather unfair or uneven hand reflected by government. I am referring now to a letter addressed to me in the last week of May by the city of London's mayor. In part, the letter reads, "I am enclosing comparative statistics with respect to residential and educational taxes as well as provincial grants."
I am skipping through and picking out the highlights. "It is of interest to note that the city's overall residential taxes, both in total and separately, are lower than any other municipality with a population in excess of 120,000. This achievement is particularly noteworthy in that London continues to offer a high level of service to the residents."
It goes on to say, "It is disturbing to note those municipalities with the highest per household property taxes generally enjoy the highest increases in provincial grants."
Later it says: "It appears that effective and efficient government works to the disadvantage of London when it comes to sharing in provincial transfer payments. The numbers show that the more you spend, the more you get."
We watch ourselves in our community and we get less. That seems to be grossly unfair, and yet when we bring that to the attention of the government, we find a deaf ear.
As members we have an obligation to speak out on behalf of our communities when we hear the throne speech, to be concerned how the intent reflected in the speech might reflect on our community. As I listened to the throne speech, I was concerned about another area, the two magnificent post-secondary institutions. I did not find what I thought was an adequate commitment to the problem of the underfunding of colleges and universities. The institutions I am referring to are the University of Western Ontario, one of the finest universities in Canada, and Fanshawe College, a fine community college located not only in London but in my riding.
If we find things lacking in the throne speech that reflect on our community, we are obliged to take note of it and to speak out. When one is an opposition member, if one has been assigned a critic's job, one has the duty and obligation to note things that are of concern in the area one is responsible for. It is no secret that I have been the critic for the Ministry of Northern Affairs for the past couple of years, primarily to accommodate the situation whereby we had one member from the north whose responsibility and experience was in the fiscal area. So I have had the pleasure of being critic for Northern Affairs.
When I listened to the throne speech, I tried to make sure I was picking out the references to the north, to make sure the government's blueprint for action properly addressed itself to the needs of the north. I submit that I and my new colleague the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine) are very concerned about what it did not say about the needs of the north. The member for Cochrane North can speak much more eloquently than I about the needs of unemployed youth in northern Ontario.
The percentages of unemployment among young people in many parts of northern Ontario far exceed anything we see in southern Ontario. There are all kinds of things the throne speech did not say about the north. I could go on and talk about the need for improved transportation or native peoples' needs, and women's issues particularly, that have not been addressed in this throne speech. However, I am sure all these items will be more properly addressed in due course by my colleague the member for Cochrane North.
Again, I point out that when I do not hear things like that in the throne speech, I feel obliged to rise and draw that to everyone's attention.
I would like to make one or two other comments about what I think are the reasons for people voting as they did on May 2 and for having some concern with this throne speech. When I say "people" I am talking now in general terms. I do not mean just the members of this Legislative Assembly, the 125 people in here, but people who are now a little more attuned to what is going on and who are starting to ask these questions.
I am finding more people saying to me, "It is small wonder there was a change. Why did the government ever get into Suncor? What is happening at Hydro? What is this I am hearing about boards, agencies and commissions?" We have not talked a lot about that in the House. Most of the questions in here address themselves to the issues of the day, the big sex appeal things that light up the press gallery and make the headlines. We do not generally find headlines about boards, agencies and commissions here in Ontario, even though we had an interesting question asked about appointments today.
When one takes a look at this list -- and this is a 1982 list; I am sure it has grown because these things invariably do, they never shrink -- of boards, agencies and commissions, more than 15 pages listing almost 700 of them in Ontario, one has to wonder who is running the show and just how much this is costing us.
When I got hold of this list a couple of years ago, one of my assistants -- that sounds as if I have a whole lot of them; I have one here and one in London -- took some time and did a little digging and started adding up the costs of these various boards, agencies and commissions. I cannot tell members how many millions of dollars we are talking about simply because it fluctuates and grows. However, I am telling the ladies and gentlemen of this chamber that we have a tiger by the tail when we start to take a long, hard look at it.
I would submit to members there is a growing awareness of this in the public mind and some members' minds. Again, we do not see the government addressing itself to any kind of restricting or cutting back in that area and so we ask questions.
I could go on and talk about the cost of advertising. I had a figure from a press clipping of April 1984. I am sure Ontario's ad tab of $27.2 million would be changed upwardly if we looked at more recent figures.
As a former teacher and administrator, I am concerned, as I conclude these remarks, that whereas the government found it necessary to allude to province-wide testing and scare the souls out of all the administrators and teachers across this province a year ago, it has fallen strangely silent on that theme now. It is small wonder because it is my view that the Ministry of Education has lost its direction. The rudder has fallen off the good ship Lollipop and I do not think they really know where they are going.
I had a conversation two weeks ago with a couple of old friends of mine who work out in regional offices, which used to be where the inspectors resided and from which the direction came to the school boards. Now there is sort of a nether land. They do not know where they are going or what they are doing. They are supposed to be consultants and advisers, but half the time they are not sure what they are consulting on or what they are advising -- what they are doing, in other words.
I am concerned about the direction in which education is going. I could use more specific examples about Ontario Schools, Intermediate and Senior Divisions curriculum guidelines, P-1, J-1 and so on, but let me simply say I think education needs a very long, hard look. We do not find any reference to that in this throne speech.
I was going to have a little fun with the bicentennial bash, which was really the leadup to the election that never happened, but I will leave that for one of my colleagues. If they want to have a few chuckles, let them get the members opposite going about the bicentennial bash.
Mr. Kerrio: We are going to have another one this year.
Mr. Van Horne: Are we? My colleague the member for Niagara Falls liked it so much he wants another one.
The throne speech is supposed to be a blueprint for governing. I think the throne speech we were subjected to a week ago was not really a true philosophy of the Progressive Conservative Party or an honest indication of where it might lead us. Rather, it was a speech of convenience. Many of the statements there could have been found in our policy statements. It could be described as a restatement of Liberal philosophy and platform.
Let me conclude by saying our leader has said the important thing now for Ontario is to chart the future. I sincerely believe only the Liberal Party can do this. Therefore, I am pleased to support my leader's no-confidence motion.
Mr. Mackenzie: I am pleased to participate in this rather historic occasion. After all, how often does one get to speak in the Legislature of Ontario on the occasion of the end of 42 years of Tory rule? It is a time of real potential and renewal, and I am grateful the voters in my riding saw fit to send me back for another term.
First, let me wish you well, Mr. Speaker. I would also like to welcome all new members of the House on this occasion. Very soon, I suspect, they will understand that this place is a little bit of a loony bin on occasion, but it can have some gratifying moments as well. Also, I would like to wish a pleasant and happy readjustment to those who were not sent back to this Legislature.
Let me say as kindly as I possibly can under the circumstances that the election results in Ontario show there is still some justice in the democratic process. When a party lets arrogance -- that is the only word I can effectively use -- guide it, when it bases its actions on arrogance rather than the consensus and the needs of the people of Ontario, it is going to run into trouble. I must confess I was almost beginning to despair of that.
I have heard comments from many of my predecessors and even a few of the members still in the House who were here before 1975 about the pre-1975 era; indeed, I talked to my own predecessor, who held the riding of Hamilton East or Wentworth East for some 20 years before I came in. I have heard how tough it was when they were few in number to deal with majority Conservative governments, how little success they had in scheduling any legislation, getting any resources or access to them, or literally having any say in the real governing and law-making processes. In effect, they had to be pretty good constituency workers to get any attention at all.
I came here in 1975. We certainly charted a lot of new ground, but not having been subjected to it myself prior to 1975, I guess I did not really know what the members had been up against. I certainly do know that from 1975 to 1981 this government was not able to walk all over the members in this House. They had to listen to us. While we could not initiate or succeed in legislation of our own, we certainly had some input into the legislation which came before the House.
I can recall some of the debates on safety and health legislation and a few of the things that were referred to by the member for York East just a few minutes ago. When I reflect back now on the years 1975 to 1981, and probably the partisan nature of this House prevents anything else from being the case, we probably lost some things which we might have gained because there was a constant battle to upstage one another. Nobody could deny that was going an.
I can tell members that 1981 was a revelation to me. What happened in this chamber was as different as night and day from what went before in my experience in the House. The realities of 1981 made me clearly understand the comments which were made by some of my predecessors and certainly outlined a difference in the operation of this House.
What became obvious -- and I know the government members do not like it or maybe cannot even accept it as yet -- is that what we had for that minority period was really a six-year hold on the kind of arrogance we saw after 1981. Nothing more clearly highlighted that contempt for the opposition than two incidents.
I can recall the past Premier of the House -- I am talking about the Honourable William Davis responding to me in either late April or the first week of May 1981 over cake oven emission controls for the workers at Stelco. At that point we had been trying for five years to establish coke oven emission controls in Ontario. They had been in place for almost five years in the United States and we still did not have them. We did not get them until 1983, and then we got a watered-down version that allows for averaging. They are still not as good as those that they have in the US.
I can recall being sent a letter from Hamilton from the safety and health committee of Local 1005. In that letter they pointed out to me that two years earlier the Premier of the province had responded to the requests which were being made yearly asking when they could expect coke oven emission controls. In May 1979 they had already been in place in the US for three years. When the chairman of the safety and health committee, John Lennie, in Local 1005 said: "Hey, I found this old letter in the file. Can you use it?" I said, "I sure as blazes can." They sent it aver here.
On that day my colleagues put me at the top of the question list. I got up and I simply asked the Premier when we were going to have -- I did not go to the then Minister of Labour, which was the usual course -- coke oven emission controls in Ontario like those that had been in place for five years already in the US.
I will never forget his answer until the day I leave this House. He got up and did what we jokingly called his "Johnny Carson routine." He said to us: "It takes time. We have got to clear it with the company, we have got to clear it with the union, we have got to clear it with the safety and health people at McMaster and we have got to make sure our legal beagles tell us that we can enforce the legislation if we pass it." Then he sat down.
We purposely did not heckle on that particular day. I got up on a supplementary and I said, "Mr. Premier, two years ago you told the safety and health committee of Local 1005 that you hoped legislation would be in place by the end of the year." I would have to go back to Hansard, but I think my comment was, "What is your word worth?" I was being provocative, and deliberately so, because we had been through this for a number of years.
I will never forget that when the Premier got up shaking his finger at me like this, as he did a year or two later at the leader of my party, he was very angry. Gone was the Mr. Nice Guy and Johnny Carson routine when the Premier of the province said, "I want the member for Hamilton East to understand he is not speaking for those coke oven workers, we are because the voters just elected a majority of us" -- I think he said, "70 of us and only 22 of you" -- and he sat down.
Almost an identical answer with respect to a plant closure was given to my leader when he was told, "You are not speaking for those workers" it was a United Auto Workers' plant, as I recall it -- "we are because more of them are voting for us than are voting for you."
What that clearly said to me was that we had the ultimate in arrogance in this House. The issue did not count; it was the kind of a majority that sat on the other side of the House. If I ever needed anything to drive it home to me -- and that was just months after the 1981 election -- that was the incident in this House that did.
I will not forget either the joke this government made of the attempts to achieve a modest measure of pension reform. I heard the Minister of Labour refer to it again today. I found it interesting to go back and read some of the debate and the actual resolution I moved in this House in November 1979. I do not think my resolution did it, but there was a buildup of concern about pension reform at that time in Ontario.
I recall moving a resolution in this House that, when I look back at it now, was so terribly meek and mild. What I asked for in that resolution in private members' hour in this House was reform of the private pension plans, which cover fewer than half the workers in Ontario, by simply allowing for five-year vesting -- my God, how could I have been so conservative at the time? -- protection in the case of bankruptcies and plant closures; an insurance type of scheme; portability, so that workers who in many cases are going to be moving five and six times in the course of a lifetime in changing jobs can carry their pensions with them and end up with some private plan; and a central investment agency.
That resolution produced a good debate in this House -- I think it was November 14 or November 15, 1979 -- and almost everybody in the House in all three parties agreed with what was in it. It was not long afterwards that we established a select committee on pensions to look at reform of pensions in Ontario. I served on it, as did some other members who are still in this House.
It might be some indication of the thinking that was around when one stops to think that at those public hearings even the representatives of the private insurance industry -- I can recall them very well, and we had them in from a number of organizations -- said to us: "There are things wrong; reforms are needed in the private pensions in Ontario, and surely they must come about. But do not let the government do anything. We intend to do it. We recognize it. If anything, you have helped us by setting up the select committee and pointing out just how inadequate the private plans are. You do not need to act, because we are going to do it."
Those hearings were in 1980, I guess. The fact that the two New Democratic Party members, my colleague the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) and I, had to issue a minority report to the report we finally got out of that committee gives members some idea of how the other members -- and I can say it of both parties in that committee -- were listening to the representatives of the vested interests. I can tell members who was influenced by them. We had to file a minority report.
Shortly after we finished our hearings, or almost at the same time, we had the reality of 1981. What happened? The report was filed. We have not seen any of those very minor reforms in private pension plans in Ontario, even those reforms on which there was agreement. We have not seen any action. That report is gathering dust somewhere. Where is the action on something about which we seemed to have had almost unanimous agreement in this House? And one wonders why there is cynicism on this side of the House. The voters finally understood what some of us understood in here, that it was numbers that counted, not the issues.
Let me give one or two more examples; there are dozens I could use. Time and again we raised the issue of newly organized workers -- I heard all the fine words from the Minister of Labour here today -- and their attempt to achieve a first contract. Our arguments were rejected out of hand. I can recall being told, even by the member for York East that it would not work, it was not feasible. Now all of a sudden, great, it is their next program up. This is something we have argued about for years, not just for a few months.
I recall the mockery that was made of the preamble to the Labour Relations Act. I think it is important. I have done this a number of times before, but I feel it should be put on the record once again. What is the preamble to the Labour Relations Act that this Conservative government was responsible for establishing? The preamble says, "it is in the public interest of the province of Ontario to further harmonious relations between employers and employees by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining between employers and trade unions as the freely designated representatives of employees."
Some of the stuff I was hearing a little bit earlier here was not far removed from barnyard carping. If there ever was an issue that we highlighted over the past few years, that was the issue, the deliberate denial of workers' rights in cases such as Fleck Manufacturing -- I am going back a bit, but I will bring the members up to date -- Mini-Skool, Irwin Toy, Eaton's -- that is a recent one -- Radio Shack, Artistic Woodwork, Fotomat. It continues today with the office workers at Timken in St. Thomas.
There is a particularly nasty case -- I wish the minister were in the House -- a strike that started just three days ago in North York. It is about as nasty a case as I have ever seen of total and absolute denial of the right of workers to negotiate a free collective agreement. There are about 100 workers involved. It is a firm called Polytarp Products Ltd. -- Compass Plastics Ltd. in North York.
One hundred workers were faced with going out on strike on Monday of this week to try to achieve a first agreement. It was a bitter fight for a first agreement. It is still going on.
Current legislation allows employers to produce as their final offer a collective agreement that workers cannot possibly accept, thereby forcing or producing a strike over something as fundamental as union recognition.
I am not going to read all of the letter I received; it was delivered by hand to my office today by the union involved. However, I am going to give the members a couple of examples of why these workers feel they had to go out on strike. In spite of extensive efforts, they have not been able to get close to it because the company has clearly decided, as in so many of the cases I have mentioned, that the workers are not going to have that right to free collective bargaining.
The owner of this firm, Mr. Chitel, insists the decision on each worker's wages and benefits is to be at the sole and unquestioned discretion of the company. Medical benefits are to be provided on the same basis.
Let me read the actual language they want to put in place that the workers could either settle with or be gone. One of the things he wants to do is set up a five- or six-tier wage schedule for the workers in the plant. This is what he is insisting on being in that first contract:
"Nothing in this agreement prevents the company from increasing the coverage of the aforesaid benefits, or introducing or increasing the coverage of other health and welfare benefits at the sole and unquestioned discretion of the company. This discretion may, from time to time, be exercised in favour of one or more employees."
If one wanted to undermine any effort or any organization that workers have -- I could read a few more sections of that -- what more could one want? I am simply saying that kind of coverage is farcical. We could see it in the Eaton's situation where the workers not only faced absolute rejection of any real bargaining of the issue but also were forced to settle for what even the union will admit was a totally substandard contract on the basis that they were all up against a time frame whereby the company could have used the new employees it had hired -- scabs is the popular word -- to replace the striking employees and vote out the certification and vote down the union.
What kind of protection did they ever have in that case? The situation is absolutely intolerable. We have been through more nasty fights, the kind of nasty fights I think the minister was referring to, over this issue than over almost any other issue. I hope we will have redress through first-contract legislation, a move incidentally that obviously even the Conservatives have finally agreed could assist in bringing about an end to a great injustice in workers' rights in Ontario.
I want to make it clear, not only to the government but to my Liberal colleagues as well, that other essential reforms are necessary in fairness to workers if they are to have the right that is clearly set out in the Employment Standards Act preamble and in the Labour Relations Act in Ontario. There are arguments that we simply have to make, and that we have made but which have been unsuccessful until this time.
One reform is that if workers in Ontario are to have the right to organize, to be certified and to form a union, then the date of application has to be the terminal date. Anybody can see what is happening now, particularly where we have had some of these nasty cases; we should understand that they post the notice and give the employers 13 or 14 days. That is the period when all of a sudden the companies get busy and the petitions go out and the campaign is launched against the union. They should not be there for anything other than to verify that application, and the size and composition of the unit, when the workers have signed that card and paid their money. If the terminal date were the date of application, that move alone would eliminate an awful lot of the problems we have in Ontario.
The other thing -- and we heard all the nice things about speeding up arbitration -- is that while we made some gains in that field, we did not set the fee schedule for arbitrators. The federation, the unions and those who are organizing tell me the government is literally eliminating smaller and weaker unions from any possibility of having the justice that is supposed to be provided by the arbitration procedure simply because they can no longer afford it. Once again we have had the price of arbitrators go through the bloody roof and it is just an impossibility for workers to get justice with respect to organizing.
The regulation of arbitrators and the application date being the terminal date are simply measures that must be brought up in conjunction with first-contract legislation if we are going to see any basic fairness for workers in Ontario.
Another example of the contempt for workers, and I see it as that, that I have been trying to outline is the case that some of us got a little bit exercised about on the floor of this House this afternoon. I refer to the 56 employees of the Hamilton and Simcoe unit of the Canadian Medical Laboratories. This particular doctor owns a number of labs around Ontario. They tried to organize one lab in Cambridge and lost by one vote. The workers there consider the vote lost because of fear of what would happen to them, as was happening to the workers who had the guts or were able to organize with respect to Simcoe and Hamilton.
Because they got caught in the time frames of this government's six and five legislation, the workers in these labs were behind the salary rates of workers. Incidentally, $6.50 is the common rate today, and they are trained professionals. The Inflation Restraint Board -- and this is something that does not happen very often -- said, "Yes, you have an exceptional case and you are entitled to a nine per cent increase for the period from the end of June 1982 to July 1983," and it ordered that.
Going back to the debate over the restraint legislation, I recall one of the things we said -- and we were opposing the legislation; I will make that very clear -- was that if you are going to set up an Inflation Restraint Board it has to have some authority. However, this government would not give it any. What authority does it have? It has to have the courts enforce the action because it cannot do it itself.
When we go over the case I am recalling once again, it really is frustrating and we wonder why. The workers have waited three years for justice and know they might be waiting another year. It is just ludicrous. The original order of the board came -- and there was a lot of fighting leading up to it, trying to get a settlement -- on March 15, 1984, and then a reaffirmation in effect on August 7, 1984.
I hope I am not talking out of turn when I say the chairman at the time, who was appointed by this government -- I do not think he is there any longer -- told me he had never had a more frustrating case that was obviously a deliberate attempt to sabotage the union than the one that was going on at Canadian Medical Laboratories.
What does this board order say? I will not go into the first two parts. It mentions the previous order, and the company obviously has been totally disregarding the law. It says:
"The board hereby orders the administrator to implement a nine per cent increase in compensation rates for the subject employees, effective July 1, 1982, in accordance with the board's decision of July 18, 1984. The administrator is further reminded that the other relevant provisions of section 12 of the act are to apply. The board directs the administrator to file with the board by November 5, 1984, an acknowledgement of compliance with this order."
In other words, even the government's board had arrived at the point where it was saying: "Hey, you are fooling around with this thing. We will give you a date to tell us you have complied." At that time the owner of the lab came up with another neat little dodge. He filed an order in court, saying in effect the board did not have the right to make this kind of judgement. As it turns out now, we have just found out, he does not even have to file his statement of evidence for a year. I went to some of the lawyers and I talked to some of the board people, and I learned that one can wait a year or a year and a half to get this heard in court.
In any event, the point I was making today was that seven months after the company pulled this dodge -- and the workers have already been waiting for years now, I remind members -- the owner of the labs to this day, unless he did it this afternoon, has not filed his statement of evidence. The lawyers tell me there are no grounds, that it will be thrown out as soon as it dealt with. We may wait a year or even longer before he files it and before a decision is given.
How can one justify arguing against the anger and cynicism of those employees over the utter and almost abject rejection of fairness in the system after they have gone through this kind of process? This government has known about it for more than a year because we have been raising it and hammering away at those very points. I know there are processes to go through, but in answer to the challenge thrown out at the time by the Minister of Labour, I damned well would not have let it wait this long if I had been in his position. What has happened to these workers was totally uncalled for.
Another tragedy is the whole issue of plant closures; it is one that has hurt workers of the province tremendously. I do not care how or from where one views this issue. I understand some of the arguments that were being made by the minister regarding the new technology we are facing and the necessity of dealing with it. But the one constant in plant closures, usually as a result of a company's rationalization of production or closing down of a unit, is that the workers lose.
The companies always argue they are taking the action so they will be meaner and leaner and better able to compete in today's world. They usually do end up in a meaner and leaner and more competitive position. But the workers lose and end up spending their savings. If they are older workers such as Connie Bath, or Consolidated Bathurst, as I have said in this House before, half of them still are without jobs. Workers facing that prospect are those at Inglis in my community, the Allen industry people, I could go on; not just in Hamilton but across the province, they are the losers.
We have attempted to get some kind of justification procedure or some kind of community fund to allow something like Canadian Porcelain, which is at least a possibility, or some project where the employees could get involved in a viable unit. All our calls to the government have fallen on deaf ears. One hell of a lot of workers in Ontario have been hurt. They just do not seem to have the input they should have.
I have only a couple of minutes left and I will not be able to finish all the remarks I wanted to make, but I want to end on a more parochial note. There are concerns in my riding that have not seen very fast action on the part of this government. I agree with the comment by the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) that we have to beef up services for the elderly. My riding has an older population and if there is something they want it is to be able to stay in and maintain their homes and not be moved into the institutionalized sector.
We do not have affordable housing. This government has been sadly remiss in that area. We have a vacancy rate of one per cent or less in Hamilton now; that has not only social implications but employment implications as well. I called today to find the latest figures in Hamilton housing. That agency is not the only one with a waiting list. It reported 577 families, 100 seniors and 120 disabled. "But wait," they said. "We have new figures. We will be sending them to you tomorrow, updating the total to 844." Somewhere they are adding another 50 or 60 people to the waiting list. My constituency office worker tells me we have had 30 to 40 cases of housing problems in my constituency office since the election.
We have not had action fast enough, whether it be on the solid waste reduction unit, the cleaning up of the Windermere basin or the cleaning up of the dump sites in Hamilton. The east end medical facility is still a bit of a joke, although we think we are finally getting close to it. That was promised by this government in response to a speech by Ian Deans away back in 1975. We are still arguing it through the processes in the city of Hamilton.
One should understand clearly why the frustration has finally boiled over. It was not just by the members in this House; I think the public finally got the message as well that something was not going right. I do not know a better word to use than the one I started out with, and that is the "arrogance" of this government.
I hope they have learned a lesson. I hope we also have learned that we cannot allow that kind of thing to happen again. I hope my Liberal colleagues have learned that one of the things that will be absolutely necessary if we are to have any measure of co-operation in this House is that there must be some kind of understanding of the rights and privileges of members and an ability to feed into the system so they can have some effect on problems concerning their constituents.
I hope that message gets through. The present government is paying for those last years. It might not have paid so much if we had not had at least the minimal example of the minority years from 1975 to 1981. The problem is, the government obviously did not learn a damned thing during that time.
I thank members for the opportunity to speak in this debate.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.