L068 - Mon 24 Nov 1986 / Lun 24 nov 1986
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
Mrs. Marland: The persistence of the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) in proceeding, against the advice of the Bovey commission, with an amendment to the Retail Sales Act that he quite mistakenly believes will affect only international performers and commercial ventures represents nothing more than this Liberal government's continued determination to destroy the foundation, profitability and financial integrity of our arts organizations. It is an effort to ensure that our important theatre industry is more dependent on the whim of this Liberal government, the most offensive kind of patronage imaginable.
Bill 26 has serious and long-ranging consequences for every sector of our arts community. Currently, because of their charitable organization tax status, community-based and nonprofit theatres can support local volunteer concert organizations, can aid the careers of Canadian performers and can provide first-class entertainment on a regional basis across Ontario. Their contribution to the quality of life in this province is recognized by the sizeable contribution to their operating budgets provided by every municipal taxpayer in this province annually.
Now, because the Treasurer misunderstands the operation of theatres such as the O'Keefe Centre, Roy Thomson Hall, the arts centre in Ottawa, the Centre in the Square in Kitchener and the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, the profitability and financial integrity of these important institutions are jeopardized.
TARIFFS ON SOFTWOOD LUMBER
Mr. Wildman: I rise to bring to the House's attention another deadline I hope this government will not miss, as it did the November 3 deadline, for filing an intervention with regard to the softwood lumber countervail tariff. This government missed the deadline on November 3 and, as a result, cannot make an intervention in the appeal process; at least it cannot speak before the commission. However, there is another deadline, this Friday, that will make it possible for this government to file at least a written intervention.
There are large numbers of layoffs occurring throughout northern Ontario as a result of the imposition of the 15 per cent countervail tariff. It is imperative, particularly now that the Premier (Mr. Peterson) has failed in his attempt to win over the other Premiers and the Prime Minister of this country to the position that we should be fighting the countervail, for this province to make a presentation on behalf of the producers and the workers of this province separately from whatever action the federal government takes on behalf of this country.
If we do not make a presentation indicating that we are not prepared to have our stumpage fees decided in Washington, DC, then we are opening the way for this country to move to a situation where the Americans will decide all our ways of dealing with private industry in this province. It is imperative that this government make the deadline.
READING MACHINES FOR THE BLIND
Mr. Newman: I had the opportunity earlier this year of attending the convention of the National Council of State Legislatures in New Orleans, where I noticed the use of reading machines to assist blind and visually impaired individuals. In 1985, the Texas legislature enacted legislation to place 70 reading machines in public and college libraries serving blind and visually-impaired patrons. In 1979 and 1981, New York and New Jersey did similar things.
The advantages of placing reading machines in libraries are many. It provides the cornerstone for a resource room serving the blind. It allows instant access to books, periodicals and reference materials. It enables blind patrons to convert print to Braille and encourages blind schoolchildren, employed adults and retirees to use public libraries independently. It enhances career training and independent research among the blind. It provides access to information for the learning-disabled. It enables adults in literacy programs to keep up with printed information.
I suggest that Ontario look very closely at the possibility of introducing reading machines in public libraries and college and university libraries for the service of the visually impaired.
TARIFFS ON SOFTWOOD LUMBER
Mr. Pierce: I want to address the House again today concerning the mismanagement of the softwood lumber tariff by the Liberal government. The Premier and his government failed to take action months ago before the tariff issue blew up and left northern Ontario in the fallout. It was not until the Progressive Conservative Party began raising the issue in the Legislature and called an emergency debate that the Liberal government started to notice there was a problem.
This government should have been in Washington months ago pointing out the differences in Ontario's lumber industry compared to the major provincial lumber producers. Ontario's uniqueness should have been made known. The responsibility for making the Americans aware of Ontario's uniqueness does not fall on the shoulders of the federal government. The responsibility of providing the Americans with information on Ontario's lumber industry is totally the responsibility of the provincial government.
It has become more and more apparent that this part-time Minister of Northern Development and Mines (Mr. Peterson) is not addressing the needs of the northern industries and, in particular, those that relate to the softwood lumber industry.
The Premier's words in Vancouver this past weekend will not bring back the 900 jobs already lost in northern Ontario, nor will they save the jobs that were lost and will be lost in the future. The first ministers were not prepared to accept Ontario's proposal to go the full legal route in protecting our lumber industry. What is the Premier now going to do to protect the lumber industry in Ontario?
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I rise to inform the House today that the social assistance review committee that has been going around the province is this week holding its important meetings here in Toronto. It will be receiving here, as it has elsewhere, poignant testimony from recipients of our social assistance system and a lot of solid analysis of what is wrong, reconfirming the alarming poverty in which many people live, the glaring inequities between classes of recipients, the social stigmatization that our present system has placed on them and the future of hopelessness for those children of the poor that we have left them, as well as an appeal system which is totally inadequate for the purposes.
We held workshops in my riding on October 18, and a number of participants will be making presentations to the commission at the end of this week. I hope other members will assist the poor in their areas to get their views before the committee as well.
Although Mr. Thomson has been called visionary in a recent article, I am a little concerned that many members of the committee are now talking about having to be very practical and consider the realities that a government's expectations may place on them. I hope this government will follow our lead and say it is a time for vision, a time for a total overhaul of the system, and that soon the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) will make some announcements in this House to change some of the inequities in this system, giving a sign to Mr. Thomson's committee that all is possible in Ontario for change. They do not have to be restrictive at all.
GRANTS TO WELLINGTON SOUTH
Mr. Ferraro: I rise to thank two ministers on behalf of my constituency, specifically the Minister of Citizenship and Culture (Ms. Munro) for recently announcing $96,000 for a library in the township of Puslinch and the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. Eakins) for the Wintario grant of $100,000 that will assist in the building of a community gymnastic facility.
I was inundated by comments from my constituents. In many cases, we have not had anything like these two announcements in Wellington South in well over 30 years, possibly 42 years. Therefore, I am grateful to both ministers.
Mr. Andrewes: Melissa Mendoza died at the age of 17 months suffering from biliary atresia, a condition that causes bile to build up in the blood, a condition that could have been treated if a satisfactory human liver could have been located for transplantation.
Melissa had been on a waiting list for more than four months. Her doctor suggested that too often physicians fail to ask for organ donations or are too busy in the hustle and bustle of providing excellent treatment to pose these questions. However, grieving relatives are often unaware that organ donations are needed and that the tragedy of the moment might be lessened in some positive way.
As community leaders, we should seize on the example that Melissa's death has provided to develop through our education system and other forums a social conscience in support of organ donations. As there is dignity and purpose in life, so too is there in death, where life can be offered to another human, thus creating an opportunity for that person to complete his own commitment.
Mr. Grossman: Mr Speaker, perhaps with your indulgence and that of the government House leader, I might ask that we be given an opportunity to comment upon the passing of the former Attorney General, Arthur Wishart. Would this be an appropriate time?
Mr. Speaker: It certainly would be the appropriate time.
DEATH OF A FORMER MEMBER
Mr. Grossman: The province learned with some sadness this morning of the passing of someone who was, I believe, among the too few people who really leave behind a large reputation and a mark on this assembly, in this case the Honourable Arthur Wishart, former Attorney General, former Minister of Financial and Commercial Affairs and former government House leader.
Mr Wishart was suddenly and unexpectedly taken from the back benches and put on the front benches, as the government House leader will remember, and was suddenly appointed Attorney General when many people were expecting someone else to get that appointment. He surprised most members of the assembly, and the public perhaps, with some major achievements and by bringing an important degree of humility, common sense and real decency to the job.
He was one of those people who have enormous numbers of friends throughout the assembly from all three parties. He could note among his achievements the passing of the first Legal Aid Act, the Law Enforcement Compensation Act. He served later as chairman of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and was the first chairman of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses.
After leaving political life, he served as a trustee of Algoma University College and remained throughout all that time someone who was looked to by many members of the House as a great symbol of a bit of the transition that this Legislature went through from the early 1960s into the 1970s, as he retained very strong roots in his community and a very appropriate view on life in Ontario, while also proving to be quite a progressive and reform-minded Attorney General.
In closing, I thought it would be interesting to reflect back on the fact that, among the responsibilities that fell to him, he found occasion to release Morton Shulman from the post of chief Metro coroner. At that time, Dr. Shulman said, "If you want to dislike Arthur Wishart, you have to keep away from him." That says a great deal about the former Attorney General.
On this day, I would ask all members of the House to join with us in expressing our condolences to Mr Wishart's family and to all of the people of Sault Ste. Marie, who had a very special attachment to someone they considered far more than their member and their MPP; someone they considered a genuine friend and a real believer in what their own community was all about; someone who served above and beyond their own community in a very special way; in my view, in many ways unmatched in terms of his breadth of understanding, decency, common sense, sense of humour and likeability, an unusual and unique combination of assets that served the people of Sault Ste. Marie and Ontario and the people of this Legislature extremely well.
We extend our condolences to his family.
Hon. Mr. Scott: It falls to me on behalf of the government to signify that our party joins with the Leader of the Opposition in the remarks he has made today about the death of Arthur Wishart. He was a member of this House for almost 10 years, where he served with distinction, representing his friends and neighbours in Sault Ste. Marie.
Beyond that, he was a minister of the crown and a particularly distinguished Attorney General of the province. Taking office at a time of some difficulty, he ensured the office maintained the lustre it had before him. He left it a more important place than it was when he entered it. Even today, there are senior members of the staff of the Ministry of the Attorney General who are shocked and saddened by the knowledge of his death, but who are warmed by the recollection of his presence and the very real contribution he made to the administration of justice in the province.
As the Leader of the Opposition has said, to those who knew him Arthur Wishart was above all a decent and thoroughly honourable man. He could be an active and aggressive politician in the best tradition of this assembly, but at base, his honour, his integrity and his respect to his colleagues inside and outside the House were profound and important to him.
If I may add a personal note, when I was called to the bar in 1959 I went to practise law with Andrew Brewin, QC, a distinguished member of the New Democratic Party. One of my first assignments was to take cases that Arthur Wishart sent down from Sault Ste. Marie. I never quite figured out why he sent them to Andrew Brewin, but I think he did because he saw in Andrew Brewin those qualities he sought for himself, qualities of honour and decency, and which he so markedly achieved.
He was a taskmaster of very modest proportions. All the mistakes I made in the first few years of practice, which perhaps his office or clients were required to pay for, were always noted but very quickly forgiven. For my own part and my party, we regret the death of a distinguished and honourable Ontario citizen, but are cheered and strengthened by the example of his life.
Mr. Martel: I want to join with my colleagues who have already spoken. I guess I am the last in this caucus to have served directly with Arthur Wishart. He was a man before his time. I realized a few years ago that Arthur was one of a rare breed of cabinet ministers who would accept an amendment even in a majority government. I think it floored most of his colleagues in his own cabinet that he would accept an amendment from an opposition member of this Legislature. Those of us who witnessed that got beyond knowing Wishart as an individual sitting across the way but as a human being.
We had an opportunity to speak with him on many occasions. He enjoyed what he was doing. One could go over to see him in his office. He always had a sense of humour. He was always willing to help. He never lost his love of the north. I remember Arthur Wishart chairing the committee that helped us save our suds in the north. Arthur was the individual who studied that and made recommendations which the government adhered to; otherwise, our suds industry in the north would have been wiped out.
He had a uniqueness about him of being able to get quickly to a problem with a very sensible and sensitive recommendation. I do not think I can ever recall Arthur Wishart trying to belittle or put anyone down. He did it in a political way. That is fair game in here, but he never resorted to anything of a personal nature. That is why so many of us were so fond of him.
My colleague the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) tells me Mr. Wishart had suffered an accident a couple of years ago and had never recovered from the seriousness of that accident. I want to say that those of us who were indeed fortunate enough to know him will miss him. On behalf of our party, I would like to extend condolences to the Wishart family.
Mr. Morin-Strom: I would appreciate saying a few remarks as well on behalf of the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie.
It is a sad day for our community, but it is a day on which we can remember the many years of dedicated service that Mr. Wishart provided to this province and to the city of Sault Ste. Marie. We are much richer for those memories and for the actions he took on behalf of our community, as a member of the government of Ontario and as a member of the cabinet in the 1960s and into the early 1970s. His years of dedicated service as a lawyer in the community preceding that were of great significance to Sault Ste. Marie.
Although he was not a Sault native, he spent the vast majority of his years in the Sault. He was born in New Brunswick but came to the Sault relatively early in his legal career. After having been the mayor of Blind River for a short period during the Depression and after about 25 years of legal service, he was elected as the representative for Sault Ste. Marie and served a term of nearly 10 years. Particularly noteworthy is the work he did on behalf of Algoma University College in Sault Ste. Marie. It was pleasing that he was remembered very recently with a tribute to him in the renaming of the library of that college as the Arthur Wishart Library.
One story that comes to mind regarding Mr. Wishart goes back to his years as the mayor of Blind River during the Depression. He was asked about a contract for highway construction in the community of Blind River. He was concerned because they were going to use machines for the building of the road instead of using more intensive manpower. The contractor from southern Ontario said: "What do you expect? Do you think we should use shovels instead of machines?" Mr. Wishart's reply was: "No. I would hope you would use spoons."
Mr. Wishart provided a tremendous service to our community. On behalf of the residents of Sault Ste. Marie, I want to express our appreciation for those years of service. We very much appreciate the fine comments made on his behalf today in the Legislature.
Mr. Speaker: I will make certain a copy of today's Hansard is received by the Wishart family so they are fully aware of the words of sympathy spoken here today.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: You will recall that on Thursday afternoon you had reason to dismiss the member for Ottawa Centre (Ms. Gigantes) from the House for calling another member a liar. The honourable member who was the recipient of the insult was not present at the time. I want to point out that the member for Ottawa Centre has taken her seat without making any attempt to withdraw the comment.
We have had this discussion before. It is quite easy for people to say it is a matter of little or no importance and the fact she was suspended from the House for the rest of that sitting was sufficient. However, I bring to your attention, sir, that the fact there has been no withdrawal means she is continuing to do the business of the House as a member in the presence of another member whom she said is a liar.
It is strange; that is a particularly unacceptable insult in this House. In my view, it is impossible for a member who has been designated as a liar by another member to continue in any sensible and reasonable way to go forward with the business.
I am not speaking for either of the members, obviously. I am simply speaking as a member of this House, and I say to you again, sir, and to all members that there is good reason for the requirement that this epithet not be used; that is, it is impossible to continue the business of the House following its use with the expectation that the statement is going to be acceptable and that it is going to form a part of the record of this Legislature.
There is not much I can do about it singlehandedly, other than to continue to raise it when it happens. That the honourable member was dismissed from the House for a few hours following her use of the epithet has little or nothing to do with the case. My own view is that an honourable member, on reviewing the whole situation, should simply come into the House and withdraw the statement; then we could go on with the business. If it is not withdrawn, the implication is that the person believes another member to be a liar, and that is unacceptable in this chamber.
Mr. McClellan: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) is well known for the views he holds on this matter, and he has raised the point he raises this afternoon a number of times in the past, certainly since I was elected to this House. Regardless of the general interest with which we all hold his views, they have little to do with the standing orders or the practices and traditions of this House.
I understand the member was found to be in violation of standing order 19(10). The provisions of the standing orders as set out in standing order 21(b) are very clear:
"When a member is named by the Speaker, if the offence is a minor one, the Speaker may order the member to withdraw for the balance of the day's sittings; but if the matter appears to the Speaker to be of a more serious nature, he shall put the question on motion being made, no amendment, adjournment or debate being allowed, `that such member be suspended from the service of the House,' such suspension being for any time stated in the motion not exceeding two weeks."
Obviously, Mr. Speaker, you ruled at our last sitting that the offence was a minor one and that the member was suspended for the balance of the day's sitting. That is exactly what happened. In the past, when the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk has raised this point, he has not been upheld; he should not be upheld this afternoon.
Mr. Speaker: I have listened very carefully to the two members who have spoken. As in the past, this matter has been brought to the attention of the House very firmly. I believe it has previously gone to the standing committee on procedural affairs. To my knowledge, there has been no recommendation for any particular change in the standing orders. If it is the wish of the House that this matter be reviewed by the standing committee on the legislative assembly, that certainly is in order. However, according to the present standing orders, I have no choice other than to name a member for the balance of the sitting on that particular day.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY AND RESPONSES
PAY EQUITY LEGISLATION
Hon. Mr. Scott: It is an honour for me to introduce in the assembly today pay equity legislation for the private and broader public sectors.
As every honourable member will recognize, one of the most significant social developments of our time, almost a revolution, has been the changing role of women and in particular their contribution in the work place.
In just 20 years, the full-time work force in Ontario has almost doubled, to 44 per cent of the total work force. Within a decade, more than half the full-time work force in Ontario will be women. These women are not now and perhaps never were secondary wage earners. In fact, almost half of them are the sole support of themselves and their families. Almost 90 per cent of single-parent families in Ontario are headed by women who need and want to work.
However, in spite of their rapidly increasing numbers over the past two decades, women are still clustered in a small number of occupations. In spite of their achievements, they still take home only 64 cents for every dollar earned by men. When you think about women's achievements, when you see their sheer numbers in the work force, you would expect to see corresponding progress in the way in which they have been compensated. Sadly, this has not been the case.
Whether it is because of so-called market forces or whether it is because of conscious or unconscious discrimination, the fact remains that the kind of work women do has been undervalued compared with jobs traditionally performed by men. We know that time alone cannot remedy, because it has not remedied that situation, and that good intentions are not enough. For example, in 17 years the wage gap has decreased by only four per cent.
This government recognizes that the solution to the problem cannot be simplistic. A number of different responses are required. Education will play a part, as will training and employment equity and child care, but pay equity is and will remain a very important, indeed a central part, of the solution. It alone can address the issue of gender-based pay discrimination in the private and broader public sectors and the impact of this discrimination on pay practices.
Since we tabled the green paper on pay equity in this House last November, we have consulted with many groups and individuals. We have talked to women, to labour and to business. We held a series of public consultations. We formed two advisory groups, one labour and one business. Through these discussions, we gained a deal of insight about how pay equity legislation could be implemented and what its effects would be. Those consultations will continue as the bill moves through the legislative process.
What we learned from our consultations reaffirmed our belief that so-called women's work was being undervalued. While various presenters may have argued about the way in which the wage gap should be corrected, there was nevertheless a consensus that it should be corrected.
In addition, we learned that the public and the interest groups shared a view that the legislation should be implemented in a fiscally responsible, fair and judicious manner, responding both to the needs of the women who have been subsidizing our economy for too long and to the needs of modern business to be competitive at home and abroad.
In this regard, we have developed a self-managed implementation approach that will make sure the bill is enforced effectively while minimizing the bureaucracy.
I would like to take the members to the highlights of the legislation.
First, the bill will cover all employees in the broader public sector, which includes municipalities, school boards, universities and hospitals. It also covers all employers in private sector firms with 10 or more workers. It will apply to both full-time and permanent part-time staff.
Second, job comparisons: Jobs being performed primarily by women will be compared to jobs held primarily by men. To be eligible for comparison, a job category in general must be 60 per cent female-dominated or 70 per cent male-dominated. Comparisons will be made in an employer's own establishment; in other words, comparisons will not be made between wages paid by one employer and those paid by another.
Third, method of implementation: The legislation places the onus on both employers and employees to ensure that pay equity is achieved. Employers, and bargaining agents if applicable, will first be required to review workers' salaries and identify any pay inequities for female-dominated job categories. Pay equity wage adjustments must then be made to compensate those underpaid employees.
The development of a pay equity plan prior to wage adjustment is mandatory for all employers in the broader public sector and for employers with more than 100 employees in the private sector. These plans must be posted in the work place. A plan is not mandatory, but optional, for private sector firms with 10 to 99 employees. Nevertheless, these employers will be expected to make wage adjustments too if pay inequities exist.
Fourth, the timetable: Since the mandate we believe the public has given us is to balance women's economic needs with the realities of the business environment, this legislation will be implemented in a staged process based on the size of the organization. It will be implemented first in the broader public sector. Second, in the private sector it will be phased in in deliberate steps in order that we may learn from our experience as the legislation is implemented.
It is interesting to note that when wage adjustments are started in the broader public sector and among those private employers with more than 500 employees, in three years from proclamation 60 per cent of the female work force will be covered.
Fifth, the Pay Equity Commission: A Pay Equity Commission will be established to administer and monitor the implementation of the legislation. It will provide specialized educational materials and consultative services to those affected by it. For example, it will give guidance to small business people who may be unfamiliar with even the simplest job comparison techniques. It will also conduct an educational campaign to inform employers and employees of the rights and responsibilities under the legislation.
If there are complaints from employees, review officers from the commission will investigate them. Complaints that cannot be resolved at this level will be referred to the commissioners for a hearing. The commission may order compliance and impose fines.
Sixth, pay equity adjustments: Employers will not be required to adjust wages annually above one per cent of the previous year's total payroll, but these adjustments to wages of male and female workers in female-dominated job categories will continue to be made until the goals of the pay equity plan have been met. No employee's wages can be reduced to achieve pay equity.
One of the important requirements of this legislation is to ensure that the lowest-paid women receive compensation adjustments as quickly as possible. Section 12 of the bill addresses this problem by creating fast-track payouts for such job classes.
Seventh, allowable wage differences: Certain differences in pay for jobs of comparable value will be allowed, but employers must be prepared to justify them and to prove they are not a function of gender bias. Allowable differences would be those resulting from seniority, temporary training assignments, merit pay, red-circling and skills shortages.
Eighth, job value: Employers will rely on the job comparison method of their choice to compare their employees' jobs. Methods must be free of gender discrimination, however, and the criteria for job comparisons must include, at least, skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions.
Finally, unionized work places: In unionized work places where a pay equity plan is mandatory, the plan will be negotiated by the employer and the union as part of the collective bargaining process. If agreement cannot be reached, the Pay Equity Commission is available to resolve the issue. Within the parameters defined in the legislation, there will be issues that employers and their unions will negotiate. These may include methods of comparing jobs, whether a job is male-dominated or female-dominated and the rates at which wage adjustments can be paid out.
We realize some Ontario workers may find themselves without a comparison group because they are in a work place that is totally female. Let us take child care workers as an example. Child care workers in municipalities will have male comparison groups, but those in small nonprofit child care centres may be working in an all-female establishment. The bill, which was drafted as gender-based antidiscrimination legislation, will not assist the latter group, whose work has been undervalued and underpaid for too long.
This is a serious problem which must be addressed, and I am therefore proposing that this issue be examined on an urgent basis as soon as the Pay Equity Commission is established. I will require that the Pay Equity Commission act quickly so that any undervalued workers without job comparison groups can receive wage adjustments on the same timetable as other workers in establishments of the same size.
In conclusion, this is truly an important day for the women and men of Ontario. We believe fundamentally that the work women do in offices, stores, hospitals and schools across our province is valuable, not only to those businesses but also to society as a whole. We believe the time has come to assure that gender discrimination, conscious or unconscious, has no place in our society or in our work places.
The pay equity plan for which I seek the honourable members' approval is a serious commitment to reform. It specifies clearly the exact change to be achieved, namely, the removal of gender discrimination in pay practices in our province. We believe the bill is clear in intention, flexible, nonarbitrary in execution and effective in result.
There will be objections, but I believe there is none that cannot be answered by logic or accumulating experience. In assessing those objections, we will have to distinguish between appealing rhetoric and solid progress based on careful planning. The purpose of this plan is not to do the impossible but to ensure the possible.
I am honoured to have the opportunity to introduce this legislation today. I do so in the firm belief that it is another major step on the road to economic equality for women, a goal that will benefit us all.
Mr. Gillies: With regard to the statement made by the minister responsible for women's issues on his announced legislation, we would like to point out a couple of things. While time does not allow for a detailed critique of the legislation now, a number of questions remain to be answered and we see a number of flaws and inadequacies in the bill.
The first question is in regard to the time, the 25 hours plus spent by the justice committee, which was 100 per cent of the justice committee's time in the past month, on amending and improving Bill 105. The government has to decide what it intends to do with Bill 105. At least in the estimation of our party, that bill, as amended in terms of the broad public sector, does a better, more comprehensive and more effective job of bringing pay equity to the broad public sector than does the bill he has introduced today.
If the government decides not to proceed with Bill 105, we will, of course, be disappointed. We will be especially disappointed, to be charitable, about some of the procedural tactics exercised by that party during those hours of debate. However, if it chooses not to proceed with that legislation, we hope it will at least proceed in very short order to proclaim pay equity in the narrow public service for its own employees by regulation, which we believe it can do.
The legislation brought forward by the minister today is flawed in a number of respects. He himself has touched on one of the larger problems, that this bill will do nothing for women employed in private sector work places that are almost entirely female, the 65 per cent of female employees in the private sector who work as child care workers, as librarians, in nursing homes, in rape crisis centres and in transition homes, and in all those other types of work places where there will be no opportunity to compare their wages against any comparable group of males.
That is a problem not for later resolution by the commissioner but resolution now by effective legislation.
The gender predominance feature of this bill, the 60 per cent and 70 per cent features that we struck out of Bill 105, remain in this legislation. We believe it is a flawed concept that allows for employers who so wish to manipulate their work forces to avoid the legislation. We say the 60 per cent and 70 per cent should go. That will be a particular problem in small work place establishments.
We believe the phase-in period is inadequate. The amount of time the government is proposing to take is another problem. Under Bill 105, as amended by the opposition parties, we believe equal pay for work of equal value would have been achieved in five years. One can make one per cent increments for many years under this legislation and still not achieve equal pay for work of equal value. The bill is flawed and is in need of very considerable amendment.
Mr. Rae: In regard to the statement made about pay equity, I want to say to the government and to the minister we look forward to the introduction of this bill for second reading, we look forward to its going to committee and we look forward more than anything else to a different attitude from this government on the rights of the majority of this Legislature to amend legislation it is bringing down. The attitude that says, "It is our way or the doorway," has to change. This government has to understand that this legislation is not perfect -- no legislation is -- but it sets out a framework that we believe has to have some changes made to it.
I want to discuss those changes with you, Mr. Speaker, and I want to say to the Attorney General, now that he is sitting down again, the government's attitude that it is not prepared to discuss changes of any significance is an attitude that has to change. The Attorney General is shaking his head. That is precisely the attitude he took with Bill 105 and precisely the attitude that has been taken --
Hon. Mr. Scott: I never said any such thing.
Mr. Rae: The Attorney General can dish it out but he cannot take it. He can just sit down and wait his turn. He will get a chance to reply. He has had his press conference and his chance to speak to the press. He should now give us an opportunity to respond, which is what we are doing.
There is a question here. Half the women in the province will not be covered by 1990. By that year, 50 per cent of the women in this province will still not have equal pay, and there are literally tens of thousands of women who will never be protected by equal pay legislation, because the Liberal Party is determined to exclude them.
Those are two issues this House has a right and an obligation to deal with and to face up to. If this Legislature decides to make changes, the government can no longer say, "Then you are not going to get any bill at all." We are determined that this Legislature is going to produce equal pay legislation that will put money into women's pockets now, not in 1990, not in 1995, but today. We can afford to do it.
Ms. Gigantes: I have a few more words on the subject of the proposed legislation affecting equal pay for women in Ontario. I want to raise the additional point, which has become a very touchy point in this Legislature, about who is to pay for equal pay in Ontario.
The fact is that the proposal before us would call upon the working men and working women of this province to pay for equal pay adjustments for the women of this province, and there is nothing in the legislation that would ensure that equal pay adjustments being given to the women of this province would not be coming out of their own general annual wage increases. That is something we have to look to in this legislation.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Hon. Mr. Riddell: I am delighted that two previous members of the Legislature, Bill Hodgson and Michael Cassidy, whom I spotted in the gallery a few minutes ago, have come to hear the glad tidings this government continues to bring to the agriculture and food sector of this province.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, the needs of the agricultural community are constantly changing; so our programs must change as well.
One of our first acts as a government was to institute our short-term family farm interest rate reduction program, co mmonly known as OFFIRR. It has meant $45.6 million to 9,500 farm families across the province.
Earlier this year, we introduced a follow-up program. Our new offer is one of more assistance to more people for a longer period. In total, we committed nearly $150 million to reduce family farm interest rates over the next three years. Today I am pleased to announce some further enhancements for the Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program, a package of improvements we are calling OFFIRR Plus.
There are some very important pluses in this package. We recognize that the combination of poor commodity prices and record-breaking adverse weather conditions dealt a crippling blow to many producers in the province. Even established producers need some support to bridge this unusually difficult period. Therefore, we have broadened the eligibility for OFFIRR to deal with the economic hardship Ontario farmers are facing right now. We are also including a one-year provision for those affected by the adverse weather we experienced this year.
Taken together with the amendments I announced earlier this year, OFFIRR Plus is expected to pay out an additional $96 million, to bring the total to $246 million over the next three years. OFFIRR Plus raises the limit on the amount of farm debt eligible for interest rate reduction by $100,000, from $260,000 to $360,000. We are also opening up the program to more farmers. We are increasing the net worth level at which benefits begin to reduce from $500,000 to $750,000. We expect 18,000 farmers to apply for OFFIRR Plus.
There is another plus to OFFIRR Plus for those taking part in Ontario's beginning farmer assistance program. The requirements have been changed to provide increased benefits to beginning farmers. The maximum eligible debt under OFFIRR will no longer be reduced by one dollar for every dollar that is covered under the beginning farmer assistance program.
Most farmers in Ontario are being hurt by low prices, but for some, 1986 dealt them a double blow. Earlier this summer, I toured areas throughout the province that had been devastated by rain and hail. I promised I would study all possible ways I might help the farm people beaten up by Mother Nature.
Therefore, we are including a one-year provision for those affected by the adverse weather we experienced this year. For eligible producers who suffered a crop loss in excess of 30 per cent, OFFIRR Plus provides adverse weather assistance. This can reduce interest by an additional eight percentage points on debts equal to the value of crop losses over 30 per cent to a maximum of $250,000. In most cases, this would mean interest costs cut back to zero.
This adverse weather provision means an eligible producer can receive $20,000 in benefits in addition to the OFFIRR rebate if more than 30 per cent of the crop has been lost. We expect to help out 3,000 to 4,000 producers with about $10 million in compensation for bad weather. The weather provision benefits do not affect crop insurance coverage, and participation in crop insurance programs is not a factor in deciding who is eligible or in establishing the amount of assistance.
Mr. Stevenson: In response to the statement by the Minister of Agriculture and Food on OFFIRR Plus, it is conceivable that this program may be a plus, but it is very clear that the minister's understanding of the financial needs of farmers in Ontario is a minus. As a result, basically what we have ended up with here is a big zero.
The government does not yet seem to understand that between its first and second budgets a whole new ball game in North American agricultural funding started. They have responded to that with the lowest increase in agricultural funding in any of the past three budgets. At the same time as Saskatchewan increased its budget by 100 per cent in one year and Alberta by 75 per cent in this current year, here in Ontario we have a 13 per cent increase at a time when, as I say, funding to agriculture has entered a whole new era.
We are still tinkering with existing programs at a time when Canada and Ontario need a bold new approach to handling the agricultural issue in this country. Even more imperative is the fact that the Americans get half of the money they get up front, while most of our farmers applying for this program will not have the money in their pockets before the next crop goes into the ground.
Mr. Hayes: I would like to make a comment dealing with the OFFIRR Plus program. As my colleague along here somewhere said, this is an offer that some cannot refuse.
It is a step in the right direction to meet the immediate and short-term needs of farmers today, but the one thing that still bothers me is that today's announcement does not take care of those people who are working at off-farm jobs. These people have been excluded in the past from taking advantage of the OFFIRR program to meet some of their needs and to reduce their capital costs. I am hoping the minister will take that into consideration. When these people who have to work at off-farm jobs have applied for the OFFIRR program, they have been considered not to be full-time farmers. That is hardly fair, when one sees the sacrifices they make to go to these other jobs to help finance the farm operation.
I hope the Minister of Agriculture and Food will take another look at that part of this program.
Mr. Grossman: I have a question for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. Can he tell us the profit margin of the Goodyear plant in Etobicoke?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: We have reviewed those figures briefly but are waiting for further details. We did meet this morning with the president and chief executive officer of Goodyear Canada and we will be meeting tomorrow with some of Goodyear's top officials, who will be coming in from Akron, Ohio.
Mr. Grossman: When the minister met with the president this morning, I am sure the president indicated the Goodyear plant was profitable or that it was not profitable. Can the minister share with the House what he was told about the profitability of the operation?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: The president of the Canadian corporation mentioned Goodyear had been part of a takeover bid by a foreign concern and that because of the high equity debt it would have, it would have to look again at some of its operations throughout the world. Again, we will be looking for clarification on that tomorrow from the people from the United States.
Mr. Grossman: There are 1,500 workers who believe what they are told when they hear the operation has been a profitable one. The minister is facing 1,500 job losses in the west end of this municipality. Can he tell us today, three days after the announcement, whether that operation is a profitable one or whether it is not? That is the simple question. By this afternoon he should know whether that is a profit-making enterprise. Is it or is it not?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: If the member were to look at the figures, he would see that the operation appears to be a profitable one. We will be asking for further details and confirmation of those facts tomorrow when we meet with those officials.
Mr. Rae: That is the kind of lousy answer the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) used to give.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Grossman: My second question is also for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. If it is a profitable operation, would the minister explain why members of his government have the slightest reservation in standing up today and saying right away that they will spend whatever moneys are necessary to keep a profitable operation in place in the west end of this municipality? In what circumstances would the minister do that?
Mr. Breaugh: This is a deeply religious moment.
Mr. Gillies: What do you think we did with Massey-Ferguson? We did it. Why can't they?
Mr. Martel: Another socialist conversion.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Once again, I will just wait.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I am sorry. I did not hear the last part of that question.
Mr. Grossman: I want to restate the question for the minister. If this is a profitable operation, can the minister explain to us why, having spent $45 million in loans and $10 million in grants to Suzuki and $35 million in loans and $15 million in grants to Toyota, he would have any reservation whatsoever about giving a great deal of money to keep this profitable operation open?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: First of all, we regret very much the decision of that company to close that plant or to talk about closing it. We are very concerned about the job losses that are going to happen there. In our discussions this morning with the president and the chief financial officers, we touched on the subject of some type of money help, either to keep that plant going or for a new plant location. Those discussions will go on tomorrow.
Mr. Grossman: What the 1,500 workers want to know is something very simple. The minister has spent $55 million for Suzuki and he has laid out $50 million for Toyota. The 1,500 laid-off workers simply want to know whether he is prepared to give a commitment to spend money to keep open a profitable plant. The answer is simple. Either the minister is prepared to do it or he is not. Which is it?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: We are prepared to look at all alternatives.
Mr. Grossman: I wonder whether the minister is prepared to share with the House this afternoon the reasons his leader stated on April 11, 1985, in a visit to the Burns Meats Ltd. plant, which had also been closed, that, as I am sure the minister will recall, a government formed by him would: (1) require mandatory corporate consultation; (2) amend the Employment Standards Act to provide mandatory severance pay for all employees who were employed more than one year; (3) remove the 26 weeks' severance pay ceiling; and (4) provide interim funding until private financing or worker equity can be raised to save profitable operations.
Can the minister explain why, 18 months after that visit to this closed plant, his government has refused to move on any one of those four things, all four of which would have helped the 1,500 laid-off workers at Goodyear?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: The Leader of the Opposition seems to think he is the only one who has concern about any workers laid off in this province. Our Premier (Mr. Peterson) and this government are also very worried about any layoffs, and we intend to do what we can to keep them working.
Mr. Rae: I have a question to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. The reality is that the casino economy of which his party and the other party to my right are such able apologists has victimized 1,500 workers at the same time as $93 million in profit is going to Sir James Goldsmith, who simply purchased shares and then had them bought out. If that is not an example of an economy that has lost its sense of moral integrity, I do not know what is.
Why has the government not introduced any kind of legislation with respect to plant closure in terms of justification, information, some kind of leverage over these companies that trade in chips -- blue chips and other chips -- and people's lives? When is the minister going to introduce legislation which will finally mean that when he meets with the president of a corporation he will not be cap in hand but able to do something about it?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I do not believe we went cap in hand to them at all. I was very upset, as were the other members of this government, when we found out through the news releases on Friday afternoon that they planned to have this closure. We called the president and told him we wanted to speak to him this morning. We have also told the people from the United States that we wanted to talk to them not later this week or next week, but tomorrow.
I also do not appreciate people being laid off because of corporate takeovers. We will examine this matter very closely and deal with it as we see it.
Mr. Rae: Let us see what the minister is prepared to do about this casino economy. This is a casino economy in which $2.6 billion has been expended in an utterly worthless economic activity, trying to take over a company and then fighting the takeover. The victims, the people who are paying the price for that worthless economy, for which those people over there have been such effective apologists for so many years, are the workers.
My question again, specifically to the minister, is why does he not have any kind of legislation with respect to plant closures requiring justification, requiring any kind of protection for the workers, so that when he talks to these companies he is not simply down on his knees but is able to do something for the workers other than simply going there and asking, "What is going on?" He does not know what is going on because he does not have the legislation. Why does he not have the legislation?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: These are some of the matters that do concern us. As the member knows, the company has given six months' notification, but when it comes to severance and justification, those matters have not been clarified, or the reasons have not been given to us. Those are some of the questions we will be asking their officials tomorrow.
Mr. Rae: They do not even have to answer. They do not even have to tell you the time of day if they do not want to.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mrs. Grier: I do not think it is good enough for the minister merely to tell us the questions he is going to ask. What this House and the people of Lakeshore would like to hear from the minister is a commitment that he will demand from that company a public justification of the actions it has taken and that he will also be prepared to implement some kinds of adjustments that will cushion the wider community, as well as the workers, from the effects of this closure. I would like the minister to tell us now and give us a commitment that this is what he is going to do.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I will certainly make known to our officials and to the company officials the comments that members have made today and the questions they have raised.
Mr. Rae: Boy, if anybody has declared moral bankruptcy in this province today, it is the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. Utter powerlessness in the face of corporate greed; that is what we are looking at.
PAY EQUITY LEGISLATION
Mr. Rae: I have a question of the Attorney General, the minister responsible for women's issues, about the legislation he introduced today. Can he confirm that, as a result of the legislation the government has introduced, half the women of Ontario will not be covered by pay equity legislation by the year 1990?
Hon. Mr. Scott: I do not think that is correct. What we can say is that more than 60 per cent of the women in the work force will be covered within three years after proclamation; that is, wage adjustments will begin for them within that period.
Mr. Rae: If the minister wants a chance to change his answer, I will give him a chance, but I can tell him his answer is incorrect. His arithmetic is wrong, to put it politely, and he is leaving far more women out in the cold for a longer period of time than he has been prepared to admit in the House today.
My second supplementary to the Attorney General has to do with the fact that there is a requirement that employers set aside one per cent of payroll for equal pay when it is eventually introduced, into the 1990s. Is there anything in this legislation that would prevent an employer from systematically reducing other pay increases to meet that one per cent of payroll?
Hon. Mr. Scott: First, on the figures, and I will check to correct them, my understanding is that 60 per cent of those who are covered by the pay equity legislation --
Mr. Rae: That is not what you said.
Hon. Mr. Scott: It is precisely the same; but all right, 60 per cent of the female work force will commence adjustments by the third year of the plan. If that is incorrect, I will undertake to let the member know.
The answer to his second question is no.
Ms. Gigantes: Can we ask the Attorney General to take a look at his own green paper again to refresh his memory about how many women are going to be covered and when under this legislation? My reading of the green paper indicates that those women working in the labour force who will covered after six years of this planning process represent 49 per cent of the women in the private sector only. What the Attorney General is offering us is a piece of legislation for women in the private sector, half of whom will not see anything for six years.
Hon. Mr. Scott: Of the working women in this province, eighty five per cent are going to be covered by this bill. It is true the bill is a staged approach to the problem in the sense that wage adjustments are paid out starting at different dates and over a time. There is no other responsible approach to the problem.
In two areas where the New Democratic Party had governments, British Columbia and Manitoba, legislation for pay equity in the private sector was never introduced. When the honourable member, as she does today, says outside the House that I and this government are spineless, she will want to remember that when the NDP formed governments, did it introduce pay equity in the private sector? No, because they were gutless, and they had majorities.
Mr. Grossman: The Attorney General should have stuck to his first strategy of trying to get the member for Ottawa Centre excluded from the House so he would not have to face her questions today, rather than lose his temper, as he so often does.
Mr. Grossman: I have a question for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. The minister will know his leader has been talking a great deal on his concern about the auto pact being renegotiated at the same time as the Goodyear plant and others are shedding employment in the auto sector, thus effectively undermining that most important sector, notwithstanding the rhetoric.
The minister will also know there has been a large announcement from his own government about what was billed as a $1-billion high-technology fund, chaired by the Premier (Mr. Peterson). As we are almost three quarters of the way through the fiscal year, with only four months left, can the minister tell us how many times the Premier's technology fund council has met and how much of the $100 million set aside for this year has been distributed so far?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I believe the council has met on three occasions, although there have been many meetings of staff of some of the council members. At this point, only a small amount of money has flowed, basically because we want to be able to set the proper criteria before any funds do flow. We have received more than 250 applications from people who are looking for funding, but we want to make sure the criteria are properly set before the funds flow.
Mr. Grossman: The minister has inadvertently forgotten the one commitment made so far by the high-technology fund, which is $17.5 million to the Premier's associate Abe Schwartz, for Exploracom, in the heart of downtown Toronto. I remind the minister that $17.5 million is probably two or three times the value of the Goodyear plant, which is closing right under his nose in another part of this city.
Can the minister confirm the figures put out in answer to our question 397 in Orders and Notices, that out of a $100-million high-technology fund, with jobs disappearing at an incredible rate in the auto sector in particular, he has so far disbursed $114,000, in this case all of it to the university research incentive fund, and that the administrative costs are almost as large, $99,700?
Can the minister explain why, with jobs being shed all over the province, he is in a position after seven or eight months with the Premier's technology fund where he has spent $200,000, half of it in administration and not one cent to keep a job in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: As I stated, I believe those are the correct figures and that is all that has flowed from this fund. But this government plans to be a little more careful on how it disburses money than the previous government did with Suncor and the IDEA Corp.
Mr. Gillies: What a careful government. Graham Software, Wyda and Exploracom -- how careful can you get? You are careful with everybody but your buddies. They are who you should be careful with.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke) would like to ask a question if he can get the House's attention. The member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) might control himself, and the member for Windsor-Riverside will ask his question.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I have a question for the Minister of Health. I wonder whether the Minister of Health knows that 18 charges laid against the Beacon Hill nursing home in Windsor in 1984 were quashed last week by a justice of the peace, Ron Griffiths, who said, "The delay has been unreasonable and the only remedy available to the court is to quash both informations," because the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Attorney General had not dealt with this case in two years in the courts.
Hon. Mr. Elston: I am aware that the matter was quashed by the justice of the peace, but I can tell the honourable gentleman it was not for a lack of preparation or for not being ready. The question was delayed for some time because of the delay through the Supreme Court of decisions which the member knew were being taken on the Elm Tree matter. Those things caused considerable delay. We are in the process now of reviewing the opportunities to appeal that decision.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: The fact of the matter is that there were charges still left after the decision on Elm Tree. Some charges were withdrawn and some remained, yet still the ministry did not proceed on this court case. Does the minister not think such charges as not reporting injury, lack of adequate staffing, failure to reassess residents or failure to provide restorative care, to mention a few of the charges, are serious enough? Does the minister not understand that the owners of the nursing homes in this province are laughing at him because of his lack of action on amendments to the Nursing Homes Act? When is he going to bring in amendments and take this matter seriously?
Hon. Mr. Elston: We have taken this matter very seriously indeed. We have conducted very wide-ranging consultations with respect to the amendments to the Nursing Homes Act.
The hearing itself was scheduled to take place very soon after the Elm Tree decision came down. We are looking to appeal the dismissal of those cases because, like the member, I believe those charges are very serious infractions and ought to be dealt with. We are looking at the opportunities we have to appeal that case.
The amendments to the Nursing Homes Act, which the member had a draft of several weeks ago, are coming through the system and will be in front of this House before Christmas.
ALCOHOL ON OPP BOAT
Mr. Harris: I have a question of the Solicitor General. Last week, information came to light that the Solicitor General had broken the law and as chief law officer of the crown had ordered members of the Ontario Provincial Police to break the law. This breach took place a few days before the minister made a major statement announcing a province-wide crackdown on drinking boaters.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the minister was away and his staff refused to acknowledge where he was and refused to give us any information on the many questions we have. I presume he was reflecting on tendering his resignation. Perhaps he was off boating for four or five days. Who knows? In the light of this and in the light of the four or five days he has had to reflect, I would like to know whether he has offered his resignation while this investigation is under way.
Hon. Mr. Keyes: I am very proud to stand here and repeat what I said to the media before. I did not offer my resignation, nor do I have any intention of tendering my resignation over this issue.
If the member wants to check on where I was on Wednesday and Thursday, business must go on despite what some may raise to try to put one in a frame of mind that would not let one be productive. I do have another ministry, namely, the Ministry of Correctional Services, and I was working on some issues for that on Wednesday. On Thursday I was at St. Lawrence College speaking to the Ontario Gerontology Association, which has concerns about health care for seniors. In order to be there on time with the snowy weather we had, I was absent from this House.
Mr. Harris: Questions were raised in the Legislature on Wednesday and Thursday while the minister was away, and we have had no statement today. The Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) indicated that nobody else had been appointed to act on matters concerning this investigation and that we should go to the Solicitor General himself.
If the Solicitor General feels qualified and comfortable to answer, I want to ask him questions with regard to this investigation. Some questions that have been asked and have not been answered are: On how many occasions has the boat in question been used by the minister and other members of the cabinet? Is the minister prepared to throw out the 60 charges against the 60 people in the Kingston area charged with the same offence that the minister has admitted to? Is the minister comfortable answering those questions? Should we be dealing with him on this matter?
Hon. Mr. Keyes: My information is that the questions were answered very adequately by both the Treasurer and the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) on the two days in question. As the member knows, a report has been ordered by the Attorney General into the entire issue. When the issues that have been raised by questions are dealt with in that report, they will be made available to all members of this House.
Mr. Allen: I have a question of the Minister of Education with respect to an imminent crisis in adult education that will come with the transfer of taxes from the public boards to the separate boards on January 1, 1987. The minister will know that countless numbers of both adult separate ratepayers and adult public ratepayers take their adult education from the public boards in this province.
All through the Bill 30 debate, that question was before us, and his ministry assured us that existing regulations and legislation would cover the matter. What is the minister's response now that the Metropolitan Toronto School Board has a legal decision which tells that public board, and presumably the rest of us, that public boards may not legally use public ratepayers' money to provide adult education to separate ratepayers?
Hon. Mr. Conway: I thank the honourable member for his question. He correctly recalls the circumstances of the debate in the standing committee on social development vis-à-vis Bill 30 and adult education. I have done what I said I would do, which was consult widely.
I obtained Jane Dobell, a very distinguished representative of the public school community, and asked Mrs. Dobell to prepare recommendations on the basis of her expertise and her own consultation, and she has done that. Within a very few days, certainly this week, I expect to be making a statement on this very important matter of adult education in this assembly.
Mr. Allen: We all have to recognize that this issue is a very critical one for countless numbers of adults who are taking courses in English as a second language, French as a second language, adult education programs for credit in general and basic education in particular.
It is critical how the minister is going to respond. Can he assure the House that he will not respond with a mechanism that, in effect, caps the absolute amount of grants for adult education and fosters duplication among the boards in the field of adult education; but with a mechanism that will provide reasonable compensation across the boards and not result in any adult being denied access to the programs of adult education on any board, regardless of the assessment?
Hon. Mr. Conway: In this matter, as in so many others related to school policy, I am very anxious that there not be needless duplication. I must say parenthetically to my friend the member for Hamilton West that it was with no little disappointment that I noted in the papers last week certain individuals in the school community in Metropolitan Toronto were raising this as a concern, but on the other hand, from what I could see or hear, doing very little to provide the right kind of climate for consultation and dialogue.
Mr. Davis: The minister must have 50 letters on it. He does not bother to respond to his correspondence, and he knows it.
Hon. Mr. Conway: The member for Scarborough Centre intervenes. He has not been leading the parade by way of providing advice.
My colleague the member for Hamilton West and I will well remember what the party opposite did when it was in government to continuing and adult education. It eviscerated the program. We have no interest in that kind of policy.
My colleague will be anxious to be in the House later this week to hear a statement that I hope will address all his concerns. I want to share with him the view that adult education is a very important part of public education, and we want to see it proceed in an orderly and cost-effective fashion.
ALCOHOL ON OPP BOAT
Mr. Harris: I would like to ask the Solicitor General what advice he is giving the Ontario Provincial Police about policing charges for offences similar to the one he has admitted committing this summer.
Hon. Mr. Keyes: I do not give any specific instructions to the police in regard to the matter. As the member knows, the rules are written down and they enforce them at their own discretion as they see fit.
Mr. Harris: The members of this House and the members of the public find it impossible to believe the police officers in the Ontario Provincial Police, who are charged with enforcing the laws, do not have some question about what they should be doing during this period of covered-up investigation, about which we do not know the length, who is doing it or what is going on.
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. Harris: Given my comments on his previous answer, is the Attorney General aware of what is happening with those similar charges that have been laid against other people around the province, specifically those 60 people who have been charged with the same offence in the same riding in which he resides?
Hon. Mr. Keyes: In deference, the reference made by the member in his question was to the Attorney General. Perhaps his mind was thinking ahead of his mouth. Since it is a matter of the courts, it should have been directed to the Attorney General. If that is what he intends, I bow to the Attorney General. If he wishes to direct it to me, I will answer it.
Mr. Wildman: I have a question of the Minister of Financial Institutions regarding insurance. Is the minister aware that in my riding, in the community of Blind River, Mr. Venturi, owner of the Lincoln Hotel, who has had only three minor claims in the past and who renovated his hotel at a cost of approximately $185,000, installing new burglar alarms, fire alarms and fireproofing, had his insurance jump from $5,643 last year to $17,595, an increase of 211 per cent, when his former insurer dropped his policy and he had to go to Pafco Insurance Co.? If the minister is aware of that kind of increase, can he indicate what on earth is being done to insure that tavern and hotel owners in this province are able to obtain affordable liability insurance so that they and members of the public are protected?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I am not aware of that specific incident, but I am certainly aware of many things like that, which have happened to tavern owners. I have heard from them. I can say that the Ontario liability insurers have been attempting to provide insurance for those who cannot get it or who felt they could not get it. Basically, we have been able to resolve it. As far as the cost is concerned, unfortunately that is something I cannot do anything about. The marketplace is working. There are people canvassing other markets and coming up with premiums they can deal with.
Mr. Wildman: The minister should be aware that in this case Mr. Venturi went to the Ontario liability insurers and they referred him to Pafco, which is apparently the only company in this country that is providing this kind of insurance. As long as Pafco provides insurance, even if it is at ridiculously high rates, he cannot get any assistance from the Ontario liability insurers.
Is the minister aware that Mr. Venturi and many other tavern owners like him will not be able to increase the premiums they are paying, cannot afford insurance and will operate next year, if they are not already operating, without any liability insurance? If he is aware of this, will he please tell us how many tavern owners in this province have no liability insurance? What is he going to do to ensure that not only can they obtain insurance, but also that it is affordable?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I disagree with the member when he says they will operate without any liability insurance. I am not aware of any tavern owner in Ontario who is operating without liability insurance. We have set up the Ontario liability insurers to cover people who cannot get insurance. If insurance is available in the marketplace -- the member says Pafco is providing it -- then the competitive forces are in action and there are companies that can meet it. That is how the system is working.
Mr. Andrewes: My question is for the Minister of Energy. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. O'Neil) indicated today that the government has some concerns about corporate takeovers. We will assume those concerns can be translated into Bill 142. Since the minister withdrew Bill 142 from Orders and Notices last Thursday, we can only assume he wants some time to consider the amendment we said we would put forward. Does the minister agree that determination of Ontario Hydro's wholesale electrical rates should be made by a tribunal following a public hearing?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: According to the member's question relating to the bill that was to be put forward, the bill was to protect consumers in Ontario. There were great difficulties in designing a bill if we were going to reach up through corporate structures to do that. The bill was designed to put a picket fence around the distributors and make absolutely certain that the distributors were protected. That is the question as it relates to the bill. If the member has another question, I will be pleased to answer it.
Mr. Andrewes: If the minister does not like the amendment we put forward, which would protect consumers from Ontario Hydro putting in place electricity rates above those that are necessary, can we be assured that he will be introducing his own amendment to require wholesale electricity rates to be set by the Ontario Energy Board?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: It is obvious the former minister does not quite understand the system. There is great concern by this new minister that it would impact on our borrowing from other jurisdictions if we were to step in and do that. That has to be taken into account. It is a very important issue and we are examining it now. This government does not put forward a bill until it understands the complete ramifications of the bill and how it will impact on the people of Ontario.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr. Hayes: My question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. As the minister knows, the Ontario Institute of Agrologists has released an important report on the future of the agricultural sector. The report shows that on a dollar-to-dollar basis the American and European Community governments provide far greater assistance to farmers than Canada does. As an example, in 1986 it is estimated that Canadian assistance to barley producers is 33 cents a bushel, whereas in the US it is $1.06 and in the European Community it is $3.11 a bushel. Given those conditions, does the minister agree that our farmers cannot compete, no matter how efficient they are?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: Our farmers have done a very good job of competing up to this point. I agree that we are caught in the cross-fire of a trade war between the United States and the European Community. It is true that about 50 per cent of the farmers' income in the United States comes by way of government subsidy. On account of this last Food Security Act, about 70 per cent of the farmers' income from the European Community comes by way of subsidy. That makes it very difficult to compete, but we are competing. We will continue to provide programs at both federal and provincial levels to see that our farmers can remain in a competitive situation. For very obvious reasons, we do not have the treasury in this province or in this country that the United States and the European Community have.
Mr. Hayes: The minister knows price supports and financial assistance are only part of the answer. He knows people in the food production industry have had a belly full of discussion, consultation and review of these questions by government. What they need is help in the short term and a greater certainty in the long term.
Can the minister tell us today when his government will spell out to the more than 500,000 people who work in the food production sector exactly what its policy is for the long term so that they can know what to expect in the years to come and plan their futures accordingly?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: The honourable member is well aware of the fact that the national agricultural strategy was tabled at the first ministers' conference in Vancouver last week. Once again, agriculture is taking the lead because it is the first time in the history of this country that provincial and federal ministers have been able to get together to devise a national agricultural strategy so we can take our place in the global market as a country and not be competing against the treasuries of other provinces. That is a step forward.
We have a framework upon which we will build. We will build and we will come out with programs that will run over longer periods. In the meantime, we have to address the difficulties farmers are facing with what one might call short-term programs. Today I have announced a very enhanced Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program which, contrary to what the official opposition critic says, is a better program than those offered in either Alberta, Saskatchewan or Michigan. We are very proud of this program and so are the farmers.
Mr. Stevenson: I also have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. In spite of the minister's rhetoric, the property tax rebate program here in Ontario is still the biggest assistance program to Ontario farmers in total dollars. Why are the forms to the farmers about three months late going out this year?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: Perhaps that question should be addressed to a ministry other than this ministry. It could be because of the postal situation we have in this country. I understand that four cents of the 34 cents is actually spent on delivering the mail and the other 30 cents is for storage. Maybe the honourable member should talk to his counterparts in Ottawa.
Mr. Stevenson: From the minister's answer it is very clear he did not have the foggiest idea that the rebate forms were late this year. As I recall, last year, the assistance to the farmers was in place in time for the last payment of taxes. Can the minister tell me how many millions of dollars his delay has saved his government to put into other agricultural programs?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: A very short answer would be none.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Martel: I have a question for the Minister of Labour regarding Robert Hunt, a company that has been able to violate the Occupational Health and Safety Act with impunity for the past six years, including such things as 39 workers sent to hospital on one day and 13 on another in March 1986 for a toxic substance on the floor, and excessive hours of overtime.
Is the minister aware that the union finally gave up trying to get help from the Ministry of Labour and took Robert Hunt to arbitration for threats against staff by the supervisor? They won that arbitration under section 24 of the act. Can the minister tell me whether he now is prepared to lay charges against Robert Hunt for its action against the employees?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I have heard something of a recent arbitration regarding a reprisal allegation. I have not had a chance to look at it personally. I will look at the results of the arbitrator's findings and let the honourable gentleman know. The member, and indeed the company, will see in due course what actions we will take, if any.
Mr. Martel: Since his ministry has a policy of not prosecuting if there is a successful arbitration, and since this excludes two thirds of the workers who cannot go to arbitration because they do not have the right in this province, is the minister prepared to change the policy of his ministry and prosecute where intimidation has been proved? When the minister is reporting to us, whenever it is, will he tell us how many times the ministry has prosecuted under section 24 of the act?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: On the latter point, my friend would find that it would take some time to gather statistics. To be fair to the member, I would guess that the statistical number would not be high.
I will indicate to the member and to my colleagues in the House that as we look at amendments to the act that will come forward later this session, in a general sense the issue of workers' right of refusal and actions to protect workers in the event of reprisals ranks very high on the list. I do not believe we can move forward in terms of the rights of workers to refuse unless we are very tough on what happens when reprisals take place. If there are reprisals, provable reprisals, the ministry and the government, through our act, will be very tough in terms of those reprisals.
Mr. Stevenson: I have another question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. I noticed the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Revenue run and whisper in his ear about property tax relief. We will see what he whispers about this one.
The minister is requiring beef producers to pay $6.60 per head as they register their cattle, yet the ministry sent the tapes to Ottawa only about two weeks ago for the $13.20 payment on the tripartite stabilization for the second quarter. How many millions of dollars is this delay in payment saving the government and costing the beef producers of this province?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: It is obvious the member knows not of what he is talking. This is about the third time I have responded to the same question. I have tried to impress on the honourable member that we have sent all the information to Ottawa, where this is compiled. My suggestion is that the member contact his counterpart in Ottawa to see why Ottawa is delaying getting the information and payments back to the farmers. It is not our fault that the delay is taking place. We get the information to Ottawa as expeditiously as possible.
Mr. Stevenson: I would like to believe that, but I can assure the minister that many others in the province have phoned and questioned his ministry staff, and they do not believe the answer the minister just gave. I quote Henry Ediger of his ministry, who said, "The subsidy for beef cattle would have been $46 a head, not $13.20, had the aid program been in full effect since the beginning of the year."
We know the minister signed the stabilization agreement two months before any other government signed. We also know his position on the payments got to Ottawa at least six weeks, and maybe two months, later than the position of Alberta. How much did the minister's indecision and delay cost the beef producers of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: The fact that I signed two months before any other minister of agriculture signed shows the leadership we display in this province.
If we go back in history a wee bit, we find the previous government tried to get a tripartite stabilization program in place for four years, and when I became the minister it was only a matter of months before we had a tripartite program in place.
We have moved; we have a program in place. The honourable member is well aware that a committee composed of livestock producers and provincial and federal government people is responsible for this program. It is not this Minister of Agriculture and Food who makes the rules and regulations; it is a committee of beef producers.
Mr. Grande: My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The minister will remember that on July 10 I presented a petition in this Legislature with more than 3,200 signatures from residents of the city of York telling his government that, on the one hand, they are paying the highest rates of property tax in Metropolitan Toronto and, on the other hand, they have probably the worst level of municipal services in Metropolitan Toronto. These residents are demanding that special direct grants from his government be established to meet this crisis.
The answer to the petition, which he provided in October, was at best very confusing. Let me ask him a very direct question: Will he provide direct grants so the people of the city of York will not have to pay the highest property taxes and have the fewest municipal services in Metropolitan Toronto?
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: I agree with the honourable member that York may be paying the highest municipal taxes because of its low commercial and industrial base. However, at the same time, once a year the Ministry of Municipal Affairs compensates municipalities with a lower commercial and industrial tax base. Only recently I turned over $3.5 million in resource equalization grants to the city of York. The $3.5 million will compensate for some of the low growth that is happening in York, but I cannot resolve all the low growth of York.
Mr. Grande: The minister will know the $3.5 million he is talking about was given to the city of York in 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986. Therefore, it is nothing new; the city has had this grant for a while.
Does the minister not remember -- and he should flip over the page I have provided for him -- that in May 1984, the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson), the leader of the Liberal Party of that time, the then official opposition in this Legislature, asked the people of the city of York to convene a special meeting at the municipal offices in regard to high property taxes? Is the minister now saying that in 1984 the Liberals acknowledged that property taxes were high when they could not do anything about it, but now that they can do something about it, they are saying they can do nothing about it?
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: I just agreed with the member that York is paying the highest municipal taxes. I am not disagreeing with him; I am agreeing with him. At the same time, I am providing York, not only the city but also the region, with resource equalization grants. That is what we are doing.
This year we looked at all low-growth areas, and northern Ontario and eastern Ontario showed that their growth was lower still than York. That is why eastern Ontario and northern Ontario were better compensated, but the member's day will come. I cannot help the low growth of York because of its low commercial and industrial tax base.
ASSISTANCE TO REFUGEES
Ms. Hart: My question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Culture. A number of groups in York East are very concerned about the settlement of refugees in Ontario. Some of these groups are already making inquiries about how they can assist the refugees in their settlement. What are the policies of her ministry with respect to the settlement of refugees in Ontario?
Hon. Ms. Munro: As my honourable colleague knows, Ontario assumes total responsibility for all the settlement services of refugees. That information is given out widely through the ministry. One of the avenues through which it is given out is our Welcome Houses, which are represented both in Toronto and in Hamilton. We are also endeavouring to establish closer relations with the federal Ministry of Immigration and to deal with other ministers.
I can assure the member that in working with communities we do indeed have the infrastructure, and the communities are very much linked with establishments such as Welcome Houses. If the people of Ontario want to help to contribute, as they have in dealing with and finding homes for our refugees, Ontario welcomes them and will welcome their involvement.
Ms. Hart: My supplementary to the minister has to do with the co-ordinating effort with the federal government. Can she tell me in a little more detail what efforts have been made to date?
Hon. Ms. Munro: We have had a number of representations at the ministry level with a working committee as such, dealing with the federal Minister of State for Immigration, Mr. Weiner, which has attempted to co-ordinate in as humanitarian a way as possible the links that are necessary. Links have also been made in dealing with various church groups and community groups.
I am confident that any peoples who do arrive in Ontario by choice will receive the safe harbour they so desire. Anyone wishing to know the co-ordinating links may contact our ministry, any of the Welcome Houses or immigration or refugee offices located across this country.
DRUG BENEFIT FORMULARY
Mr. Jackson: I have a question for the Minister of Health. It has been more than a year since he first announced there would be some new drug pricing legislation. Pharmacists and consumers have been waiting two years for a new formulary, which will enable consumers to benefit from price reductions on some drugs and which will add to the list lower-cost generics which have come on to the market since then.
The minister has announced a December 1 formulary, and pricing adjustments normally occur one month later on January 1. What will he do to ensure that this formulary will reflect current changes and will be in sequence with the market?
Hon. Mr. Elston: We have put together the best information available which will reflect, in our current circumstances, the prices we have been able to arrive at on the basis of what is known as the best available price. That was the amendment suggested in the legislative committee by the opposition parties, speaking on behalf of some of the associations, notably the Ontario Pharmacists' Association. That material has been assembled to the best of our ability from information gathered under our existing system.
We are looking forward to the December 1 date, when the Drug Benefit Formulary will be put into effect with some new prices that will indicate some savings. There will be additions of some of the new drugs, as the honourable member has indicated, and we hope to be able to deal effectively with the federal excise tax, which has been an abiding concern and problem for pharmacists and consumers right across this province. Everything will come to us and will be put in place by December 1, and that will be the date when we will start adjusting according to the new formulary.
Mr. Jackson: After two years, I hope the minister's staff will be assembling more pricing information than what was available prior to the beginning of November. Will the minister be asking for prices effective January 1, or is it his intention to keep the formulary out of date so that consumers will be unable to gain immediate advantages of price reductions and will be forced to wait months for less expensive new generic drugs that will be added to the list?
Hon. Mr. Elston: There are several parts to that question which I think need answering, although I will be brief in my response. First, I thank the member for pushing so avidly for generics in the light of the fact that his federal counterparts wish to eliminate the generic advantages our system has had for the past several years. I can tell that the member is not particularly up to date on what all of us, as a party, have put forward as our position.
As the minister in charge of carriage of this situation, I met -- although not nearly often enough -- with the federal colleagues who would see me in May and June of last year. We will continue to adjust and reflect the need for changes in the formulary as the information comes to us. We are thankful for the member's help in suggesting that the prices be lowered, because we would all like to strive for competitiveness in the marketplace and save the consumers some money. I am willing to work along with the member to help save the consumers some money in Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to inform all members that we have a guest in the Speaker's gallery today, Lucien Lamoureux, a former Speaker of the House of Commons in Ottawa. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Lamoureux.
TABLING OF INFORMATION
Mr. Wildman: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: You will note that under standing order 31(i), the government has two weeks to respond to a petition, provided it is properly worded and accepted by the House. I introduced a properly worded petition on October 22. By the most liberal interpretation of standing order 31(i), I should have had a response by November 20. I have not heard anything from the Liberal government, and I ask you, Mr. Speaker, in your capacity as the chairman of this Legislature and this assembly, to ensure that the government lives by the rules of the House.
Mr. Speaker: The member has brought that to the attention of the House, and I am certain the government House leader has taken note of that.
USE OF GOVERNMENT OFFICES
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have a point of privilege and I seek your assistance with it.
Last week, I approached the member for Northumberland (Mr. Sheppard) privately and pointed out to him that it had been brought to my attention that someone was operating a business out of his legislative office. I did not think that was appropriate, but I thought the easiest and fastest way to deal with it was to consult the member.
Today, in my office, I once again received correspondence from a Jeannette Larabie, who is now offering a travel business from a legislative office in the Whitney Block. I also discovered there is a complete Amway distributorship operating out of that office.
I am not sure our standing orders cover this. I am not sure the office in the Whitney Block is under your jurisdiction, but I am sure something is wrong here. It is clear to me that another business should not be run out of a legislative office. In fact, I find that two businesses are being operated out of this office.
My staff, and I have only two people who work here at Queen's Park, does not have time to run a business on the side out of my legislative office, and I would not want them to do it in any event. It offends me somewhat that two private businesses are in operation out of a member's office. That may not be contrary to the standing orders, but I believe it is wrong and I would like you to investigate it.
Mr. Speaker: I thank the member for bringing that matter to my attention. I thought all members were fully employed with the work of the assembly, etc. I am not certain whether I have any authority, but I will certainly review the comments made and discuss them further with you privately.
Mr. Bernier: I would like to table in the House today a petition signed by 78 constituents of the Kenora riding. They are petitioning the Liberal government to stop the withdrawal of indirect subsidies to day care centres until a viable funding alternative is in place.
This petition is signed by Anne West of the Norah Love Children's Centre parents' committee, Box 177, Sioux Lookout, Ontario.
EQUALITY RIGHTS LEGISLATION
Mr. D. R. Cooke: I have a petition signed by approximately 440 constituents. It is addressed to the Legislature, myself and the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney). It is in opposition to Bill 7. I would like to quote it in part, because part of the argument is unique. It reads:
"We are supportive of the Ontario Human Rights Code...and agree that the legislation was both appropriate and necessary and wish to point out that a vital tenet of both the human rights code and the Christian faith is the principle of the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.
"Our opposition to the proposed amendment is based on our desire to preserve the Judaeo-Christian values which have been the basis of the moral code of this province and this country.
"In accordance with the position adopted by the Catholic bishops of Ontario, we feel amendments in the present form fail to distinguish between sexual orientation as a condition of man and sexual orientation that may be seen to describe a form of sexual behaviour, such as homosexuality and/or any form of sexual promiscuity which represents a lifestyle that is contrary to Christian morality and will cause great harm to our society. In failing to distinguish between a condition and a form of behaviour or lifestyle, this legislation may be viewed and used to condone and promote a form of behaviour that is detrimental to society and inconsistent with Christian principles."
WITHDRAWAL OF BILL 68
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the order for second reading of Bill 68, An Act to amend the Securities Act, be discharged and the bill be withdrawn.
Motion agreed to.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) and the member for St. George (Ms. Fish) exchange places in the order of precedence for private members' public business and that notwithstanding standing order 71(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to the ballot item standing in the name of the member for St. George.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
PAY EQUITY ACT / LOI PORTANT ÉTABLISSEMENT DE L'ÉQUITÉ SALARIALE
Hon. Mr. Scott moved first reading of Bill 154, An Act to provide for Pay Equity in the Broader Public Sector and in the Private Sector.
L'hon. M. Scott propose la première lecture du projet de loi 154, Loi portant établissement de l'équité salariale dans le secteur parapublic et dans le secteur public.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
SIMCOE DAY ACT
Mr. McLean moved first reading of Bill 155, An Act respecting Simcoe Day.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. McLean: The purpose of the bill is to change the name of the public holiday celebrated in many municipalities on the first Monday in August from Civic Holiday to Simcoe Day, in honour of John Graves Simcoe, who was appointed the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada on September 12, 1791, convened the first Legislative Assembly and also established the capital of the province at York, now Toronto.
SECURITIES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Kwinter moved first reading of Bill 156, An Act to amend the Securities Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I am introducing today for first reading the Securities Amendment Act, which amends the Securities Act principally in the area of takeover bids and issuer bids. The legislation is a result of a review by the Ontario Securities Commission, in consultation with the securities industry and other provincial securities administrators, which was begun in 1982.
It is substantially what was contained in Bill 68, which was given first reading on December 3, 1985, and reintroduced on April 22, 1986. Bill 68 has been withdrawn.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS IN ORDERS AND NOTICES AND RESPONSES TO PETITIONS
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answers to questions 402, 413, 414 and 448, the interim answer to question 454, the response to petition, sessional paper 210, and the interim response to petition, sessional paper 221, standing in Orders and Notices [see Hansard for Monday, December 1].
MOTION TO SET ASIDE ORDINARY BUSINESS
Mr. Brandt moved that pursuant to standing order 37(a), the ordinary business of the House be set aside to debate a matter of urgent public importance, that being the announced closure by Goodyear Canada Inc. of its manufacturing plant in Metropolitan Toronto with the attendant loss of more than 1,550 jobs in that community, the fact that the government has totally failed to respond to protect the jobs of the workers and the community economic base they represent, the fact that there is no process of public accountability in such instances that would ensure every possible alternative is explored to prevent the closure of the plant, and the government's failure to implement a comprehensive industrial adjustment program.
Mr. Speaker: The notice of motion was received in time by my office, at 11 a.m. this morning, which complies with standing order 37(a).
I will listen to the honourable member for up to five minutes, as well as representatives from the other parties.
Mr. Brandt: I fully appreciate, as do the other members of this House, that we have other urgent business that was to come before us today, but I feel that at this point the matter pertaining to the proposed Goodyear closure is perhaps the most critical issue we have to deal with today.
Up until this time, the only reason we have heard that makes any sense whatever with respect to the closure is that it is somehow bound up in the financial dealings of Sir James Goldsmith, the financier who apparently was interested in a takeover of the Goodyear plant. As a direct result of that gentleman's involvement in Goodyear affairs, it now appears that about 1,550 jobs are in jeopardy. I suggest as well that the matter will not end with the 1,550 jobs. My own community is involved in the production of rubber, as many members are aware, and there could well be some negative spinoff effects as a result of the plant closure now being proposed.
Many additional jobs are at risk here: those of suppliers, truckers and small business people; but the part that bothers me most about this whole question is that Goodyear is, in fact, a profitable Canadian operation. According to the best information I have been able to receive -- and I listened carefully to what the minister had to say on this matter during question period -- it would appear that in a nine-month period, Goodyear has had a net profit in Canada in excess of $11 million. That $11 million would indicate to me that the plant should remain open.
If it were a plant that was not operating on a profitable basis, if it were showing significant losses, I would be somewhat more sympathetic to the kind of problem the Goodyear people are apparently trying to face, but this is an entirely different problem. We are talking here about a profitable operation and about a manufacturing plant in the heart of Metro Toronto that has no reason to close down. There is a market there; there is a product that is viable, and every single indicator is that the plant should be saved.
That plant has been operating in Etobicoke for some 69 years now. In fact, the community grew up around that plant, as many members are aware. What concerns me as well, and one of the reasons I have put forward the proposal for an emergency debate on this issue, is that from January to August of this year, the government sitting across the aisle from us has sat by idly while some 15,000 announced or actual layoffs have taken place in the short course of some seven months. I suggest that those numbers are becoming extremely critical, and the 1,550 that were announced by Goodyear simply add fuel to the fire.
I ask where the minister has been during the course of this entire discussion. According to the minister's response to a question in question period, he heard about this for the first time on Friday. I suggest that there is an anticipatory role for the ministry to play. The minister should acknowledge that you can foresee this kind of thing happening when you see some of the tell-tale signs that are before you.
Let me cite some of them. (1) We had a takeover threat in this particular plant, which was announced in many of the newspapers. (2) We have a plant that is somewhat antiquated; it is an old plant. Again, the minister should have seen that there might be some problems related to that. (3) We have very intense foreign competition in this industry at present, and the industry generally is facing some problems.
With all of the those signs, I would think the minister would anticipate a problem and would attempt to sit down in advance to work out some kind of solution, one by which the jobs could be saved. I might add that the former government, at a time when there were some difficulties with respect to Massey-Ferguson in Brantford, did bring forward the necessary dollars to save that plant and that operation.
There are 1,550 direct jobs at stake here. I suggest that throughout the course of this emergency debate there will be some ideas, some thoughts and some suggestions to give the minister some leadership as to how he should proceed at this time to try to save those jobs. I do not believe it is too late if he takes the necessary action. Out of this debate, l hope there will come some ideas that he can put to use in saving the jobs in Etobicoke.
Mrs. Grier: I rise to indicate the support of our party for an emergency debate this afternoon on what is a very crucial issue not only to my riding and community of Lakeshore but also to the province as a whole. As has been said, this is certainly a profitable firm and a profitable plant. There has been a history of co-operation between the members of Local 232 of the United Rubber Workers union in that plant and management in coping with the reality of its being an old plant and the reality that is required in a modern economy.
We must have a debate today and that debate must lead to legislation, so that we in this Legislature are not for ever closing the barn door after all the horses have bolted. This is not a new issue. It has been before the House on many occasions with many closures. There have been many debates and many questions.
We in this party had anticipated the need for legislative action. That is why, in the accord that was signed between the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party, there is a very specific commitment to the reform of job security legislation, including notice, justification of layoffs and plant shutdowns and improved severance legislation. The debate we have today has to result in just that legislation. It also has to result in some commitment that we will save the specific jobs at Goodyear in New Toronto.
I welcome the conversion of my neighbour to the right, the member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt), on this issue. I point out to the House that had the select committee on plant shutdowns and employee adjustments, which was convened in 1981 by the former government, been reconvened after the 1981 election, we might have had legislation that would have prevented this province from being in the situation in which it now finds itself.
We cannot afford to delay any longer. Not only must we have legislation that protects the workers and the community, we must also have the requirement that there be public justification so that we can all know the financial background and the rationale. It is not good enough that jobs in Ontario will be sacrificed for corporate stock market manipulations in Akron, Ohio, and that the production that is now needed in this province and is taking place at that plant should merely be shifted to some other province or, in this case, to some other country.
This closure will have enormous effects on my community, on the employees who are already there and on the pensioners of that firm, many of whom live in southern Etobicoke. I hope this debate will be a productive one and will lead to action on the part of the government.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: We have no objection whatsoever to the designation of this matter as an emergency. The fact that some perambulatory British peer, in trying to maximize an already unconscionably large fortune, should be meddling in the corporate intricacies of Goodyear Tire and Rubber surely is not an adequate reason that the employees in Ontario should be facing a layoff. I agree with those who have already spoken and with the views expressed in question period that this sort of thing is totally appalling. I have no objection to its being designated as an emergency matter.
As has already been pointed out, the government was made aware of this on Friday afternoon. In response to questions earlier today, the minister said that while he had already been talking to the Canadian president, he and his officials were insisting that the international senior executives come to Toronto so that the matter might be reviewed tomorrow.
I suggest that the House might consider having this debate tomorrow rather than today. As usual, the Progressive Conservatives have quite readily shown their pre-eminence over the New Democratic Party in matters having to do with labour negotiations. They got their motion in in good time and there it is; so everybody knows, on an objective review, who the real friends of labour are. That is not in question. They had it in in good time.
However, this afternoon by agreement of the House leaders we were to debate some very important amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code. A number of people have made special arrangements to be present for the debate and the vote. Those include a number of my cabinet colleagues, who were persuaded -- as a matter of fact, they were extremely eager to do so -- to rearrange their intricate schedules set far in advance so they could be present in the House and express their personal views on this sensitive and important matter. I am sure they can continue to set aside their schedules for as long as required.
I suggest this emergency matter will still be an emergency tomorrow. The minister has already indicated he will be able to report to the House from the senior executives not only of the Canadian subsidiary but of Goodyear Tire and Rubber as well. I wish I could promise that we would have Sir James himself here so we could say and do to him some of the things that spring to mind.
Aside from that, I simply indicate that the debate of this important matter might very well take place tomorrow, not that I and my colleagues have the disposition of the matter, but we would undertake to support without any equivocation that the debate would go on then. It would be reasonable and appreciated if the business as already established were allowed to continue today.
Mr. Speaker: I have listened very carefully to the three spokespersons, as I am sure all members have. According to standing order 37(b), it is my job to place the motion. Shall the debate proceed?
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Brandt: In the brief opportunity I had prior to this debate being allowed to proceed, I mentioned to the minister that there should be some anticipatory response from the ministry in the case of a plant closing or a proposed plant closing of this type. I indicated there were a number of red flags out there relative to the Goodyear situation that should have raised some level of concern within the ministry.
It bothers me that the situation as it relates to a proposed plant closing in my own area is somewhat similar to the Goodyear situation. The minister may recall the letters I have written to him and the Premier (Mr. Peterson) indicating there is a very serious problem relative to the Ethyl Canada plant located immediately to the south of my riding, in the great riding of Lambton, which is currently the responsibility of the member for Lambton (Mr. D. W. Smith). On a number of occasions, I have pointed out that the government should respond to those situations; it should take some action relative to a proposed plant closing that would save the jobs.
What can one do in this case? In the first instance, I suggest the reasons given for the plant closing in the case of Goodyear are totally inadequate. To suggest that the necessity of closing this profitably operating plant is a result of a takeover bid by Sir James Goldsmith, because of a modest cash flow problem the corporation has, makes absolutely no sense whatever to me.
I do not know what responses and answers to questions the minister has received from Goodyear up to this point, but I would like to point out that back in April 1985, a working document was circulated at that time by the Liberal Party of Ontario. On page 7 of the working document, it says, "A Liberal government will ensure that where justification for a plant closure is inadequate, the full cost of all concessions granted to the firm be recovered."
That was one of the policy positions the Liberal Party was putting forward. It also indicated that in addition to creating new jobs, existing employment must be protected. I could not agree more. It pointed out the terrible statistics of that time, that during the previous three years there were some 25,600 jobs that had been lost. I point out that in only seven months, 15,000 jobs have been lost or are about to be lost as a result of the inaction of this government with respect to this type of problem.
It also goes on to say in its working document that not every plant closing is unjustified or that facilities should be forced to remain open when economically unviable. I agree, but here we have a set of circumstances where the plant and the corporation in Canada are profitable. As a result of activities that are well beyond the operations of this plant, there has been some suggestion that a closure is imminent. As far as I am concerned, that is totally and completely out of the question in terms of being fair to the workers at that plant.
It is interesting that today we had the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), as minister responsible for women's issues, introduce legislation for the expansion of pay equity in this province. Yet there will be no equity for the Goodyear workers after they are laid off; there is no way they will be able to get a balanced paycheque or to continue to fund their responsibilities, because their jobs will no longer be there.
What can the minister do? I am not going to stand here in my place and simply criticize, but I suggest he might take the suggestions of my leader, who today indicated some of the investments that have already been made by the government to create new jobs, particularly in the automotive industry. The minister can sit down with the Goodyear officials and try to find out exactly what the cost is of modernizing, upgrading and making the current plant more acceptable, what the cost might be for that kind of action on the part of the minister and the government.
If the government can invest millions of dollars in creating new jobs, there is just as much rationale and just as much logic in investing money to save existing jobs. Manufacturing industry jobs are vital to our province; they are high-tech types of employment that are very difficult to replace. Once lost, they usually end up going to some other country or some far-flung area of the world, never to return to our province or country again.
We cannot afford to lose these jobs, and my party will support any responsible action on the part of the minister that will invest in the retention of these jobs in this province. We feel that is an appropriate response and one that may well be welcomed by the Goodyear people.
I am not talking about a giveaway or about corporate handouts; I am talking about looking at the most serious problem that has to be solved in this instance, the saving of the 1,500 jobs, plus the downstream spinoff, which is very considerable as well. It may even go back to my own community, which in part supplies plants such as Goodyear with the butyl rubber used in the production of tires.
The Premier talked about mandatory corporate consultation when a situation such as this develops, but I have heard nothing other than a surprise announcement on Friday followed by a litany of very weak reasons that have come forward from the corporation as to why the plant is going to be closed. There has been no consultation to any great extent other than the very limited discussions the minister has had with the corporate officials, which I believe he indicated took place this morning.
Where was that consultation? In my view, it should have been held some months ago, when this problem could be seen starting to come down the road. The earlier action is taken on a matter of this kind, the more likely there is to be a successful result. If you wait until the horse is gone, it is far too late to close the barn door. That is what has happened in this case. The minister is now scrambling; he said he was shocked and concerned. I share the concern he has about the loss of these jobs. I am sure he did not welcome this announcement or sit around over the weekend saying he hoped this would happen.
To be shocked and concerned, however, is not adequate in terms of what had to be done in this case. I cannot agree with all the proposals that will be brought forward by the third party relative to a legislative package that would control all elements of plant closings, but there are elements in what they are talking about and there may be some good ideas they can bring forward that should be looked upon as being positive suggestions in the light of the situation we are facing. I would put those in position alongside our suggestion that some government funding should be used to keep this plant operating in Ontario.
I point out to the minister that very little of the money in his high-technology fund has been spent to this point. I do not want to get into a political debate about some of the commitments made for Exploracom and some of those other questionable investments, but I do want to say that the 1,500 or more jobs in Etobicoke are equally important as any high-technology jobs that may be involved in a computer company in downtown Toronto. The minister should look very carefully at the amount of money he has available to him, committed through the budget of the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon), and perhaps use at least a small percentage of that to try to save these jobs and jobs in other communities. I again bring up the concern I have shared with the minister on a number of occasions about the problem of Ethyl Canada in the Sarnia-Lambton area.
There are a number of things the minister can do. A number of my colleagues wish to speak and share some ideas with him on ways this plant can remain open. I suggest he take action as quickly as he possibly can to sit down and tell the corporate officials of Goodyear that he is totally dissatisfied with the responses and the justifications they have given to date for this plant closing. I also suggest he demand that the plant continue to operate while he searches for answers and solutions as to how it can continue to remain open on a continuing basis into the distant future.
Mr. Rae: I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this debate. I take this opportunity to try to broaden the discussion, because I think what has happened at Goodyear -- the announcement and the events leading up to the announcement -- is reflective of some very dramatic developments in the world economy to which Canadians and all democratic people simply have to respond.
I dare say we are on the edge of as major a change in corporate behaviour and corporate responsibility as we were on the eve of the Great Depression. We see the same stock market frenzy, the merger mania, the incredible gains -- some legal, some illegal -- made by those involved in various forms of acquisition and sale, some involving insider trading and some not. That mania is reminiscent of precisely the same kind of disease that infected the stock market before the great crash. I am not suggesting we are on the edge of a great crash; I am suggesting we are on the edge of a great change.
One of the most troublesome aspects of this case is not only that the ministry is unprepared but that our whole legal structure is unprepared as well. The workers were taken down to Akron, Ohio, and enlisted in the battle again Sir James Goldsmith. They were lectured by Robert Mercer, chief executive officer of Goodyear Tire and Rubber, earlier this month, just a couple of weeks ago.
He outlined what had taken place so far with the takeover bid by Sir James Goldsmith. I am reading from the New Advocate, which is the official publication of the local trade union. Mr. Mercer called Sir James Goldsmith "a foreign invader and a corporate terrorist," similar rhetoric to what has been used by the Treasurer today, so he is in good corporate company. Mr. Mercer also said the company would fight Sir James every step of the way to try to stop him from taking over the company.
When the workers from Canada went down there, they were not told that if the company was successful in fighting off this corporate terrorist, they would be the first victims of the great victory.
What troubles me is that a company does not make a decision to close on November 21 unless it has made that decision and that decision has been in the works for a very long time; the minister knows that. A company does not turn around and close a plant that employs 1,500 people, that is one of the base plants in the Goodyear chain in North America, unless it has been in the works for one heck of a long time; the minister knows that.
While all of us are outraged at the activity of Sir James Goldsmith and at the fact that shares can be bought and sold and jobs can he bought and sold at the same time, the issue goes beyond and is deeper than the mere corporate cannibalism, which everyone is quite rightly outraged about.
Back in 1981, the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman), who was the Minister of Industry and Tourism at the time, announced the approval of a $500,000 employment development fund grant for the modernization and revitalization of the Goodyear Canada tire plant in Etobicoke. That money was given away at the time when the Etobicoke plant was making the transition from what are called bias-ply tires to radial tires, and we, as taxpayers, paid for part of that modernization.
We have the Conservative Party indicating today that it is its view -- this is apparently the new Tory doctrine -- that as long as a company is making money, it makes a whole lot of sense for the government to shell out money at the same time to protect jobs. All I can say is that if taxpayers' dollars are going to continue to be paid out to corporations to protect jobs, then the workers have to be protected as well, and we have to change the nature of the democratic relationship among taxpayers, governments, corporations and workers.
What this issue is about is the fundamental question of economic democracy itself. What is at stake here is not simply the question of one plant closure or one example of corporate merger mania in the United States. What is at stake here is the nature of the modern corporation and its obligations to the state, to government, to the community and to working families.
What has happened to the corporate sector, and it has become even clearer in the past number of months and weeks, is that more and more corporations are not in the business of making tires, of making cars or of making steel; they are in the business of making money. This is not a very dramatic revelation, but it is one that clearly moves the whole process of production away from the question of financing and capital markets. The farther apart those values get, the deeper the crisis becomes in our economic system.
When the minister cross-examines the corporate executives tomorrow, I hope he will discuss with them very bluntly when and where this decision was made. I hope he will have in front of him all the information that the company has apparently shared with various congressional committees. It is my understanding from reading the New York Times yesterday that both Sir James Goldsmith and Mr. Mercer have been in front of a congressional committee within the past two weeks. He should have that information before him when he speaks to the president tomorrow. Obviously, he has to discuss with them the fact that the company has been making money, as has been stated, that the company has been profitable and that it has received not only direct grants but also tax grants.
If the minister does not know it, and I am sure he does, it is my information that in 1985, when it showed poor results because of a lengthy strike in Valleyfield, the company received a $4.6-million tax credit. It is my understanding that in 1984 it earned an income of nearly $20 million, or $7.53 a share, and that the only year in which it has lost money was the year of the great recession, in 1982, when it lost 98 cents a share. However, it is interesting to note that when it lost money that year, $2.4 million, it received a tax credit of $5.4 million.
We are looking here at a company that has done rather well as far as the Canadian taxpayers are concerned. We are looking at a company that has done very well in terms of its history of profitability during the past nearly 70 years in Canada. We are looking at a question, not simply of what happens to the workers but also of what it says about our society, that the workers are always the last to know, the last to be protected and the last to be considered.
The reason there are 24 members here who call themselves democratic socialists is what happened to the Goodyear plant this weekend. The reason we have a fundamental difference of opinion with the government with respect to what is going on in our economy is that the capitalist economy that exists today has no sense of moral obligation to the people who work in it and that the governments that are elected in this country have no ability to deal with the lack of moral integrity in the capitalist system.
There is no other way to describe what has gone on. Workers have no democratic rights with respect to stopping a closure. They have no way of protecting themselves. They have no right to information, participation and involvement. They have no right with respect to their ability to control what goes on in the company.
If ever I needed a justification to convince me it is time to be a democratic socialist, this would be such a day. I cannot imagine an issue that more clearly strikes at the heart of what is wrong with our economy today. The question is, are we prepared to do our part? Not everything because we cannot do everything. We are simply a provincial Legislature. We do not control all the capital markets and we do not control the world. The question is whether we are going to bring in legislation that will finally bring these companies to heel and inject some degree of democracy into our economic system.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I thank the previous members for their comments concerning this subject. I appreciate the opportunity to update the House on the situation concerning the closure of the Goodyear Canada plant in Etobicoke. As I mentioned previously during question period, I regret very much the decision of the corporation to close this facility or to talk about closing it. The loss of more than 1,500 jobs is particularly disturbing, not only to myself but to all members of this Legislature.
The Ontario and federal governments were notified of the Goodyear decision on Friday afternoon, shortly before the general announcement was made. The short notice has increased the difficulty in working with the firm in developing investment or other alternatives. Over the course of the weekend, I and my officials have been working to assess this situation. We have been in close consultation with the company and with my colleagues in the cabinet.
The president and chief executive officer, Scott Buzby, met with me in my office earlier today for an extensive discussion of the circumstances surrounding the closure and what options might be available to all the concerned parties. Mr. Buzby also met with the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) to discuss efforts to minimize the social and economic disruption to Goodyear's employees and their families.
During the course of my discussions with the Goodyear people, I indicated that the government of Ontario is fully prepared to discuss the possibility of assistance for the modernization of the plant. However, Mr. Buzby has indicated the decision to close the Etobicoke facility is final, or at least that was his comment at the time. Their view is that the closing of the Toronto plant cannot be averted in the light of its competitive position. Those were his comments.
In particular, he mentioned that the physical restrictions of the current four-storey, 69-year-old plant greatly impede the ability of the firm to modernize to world competitive standards. Those were his comments. He also said that Goodyear's announcement on Friday was part of a global effort at restructuring and that the parent company has also announced the closure of the Kelly-Springfield tire plant in Cumberland, Maryland. Employment losses of this uncompetitive United States facility are even greater than those in Toronto.
However, the government of Ontario must and will continue all possible avenues to secure the employment future of more than 1,500 people in Ontario. I have also had a lengthy conversation with senior executives in Akron, Ohio. This focused on both the Etobicoke facility and the possibility of new future corporate investment plans for Ontario.
To follow up on this, my ministry will be meeting with senior executives from the parent company to discuss the basis for the corporate decision. We will continue to seek clarification of the rationale for the Goodyear decision. We will also continue to explore other avenues for investment in the Ontario economy.
Some excellent points have already been raised by some of the members here. We will monitor the discussions this afternoon on some of the other questions members will have and will make sure these questions are put to the executives tomorrow afternoon.
Mr. Gillies: I am glad this emergency debate is proceeding, although I sometimes join these debates, as I am sure other members do, with a certain sense of frustration that we deem a situation to be an emergency, talk about it all afternoon and at the end of the debate there is not even so much as a resolution of what the House's wishes are with regard to the situation.
None the less, this affords us an opportunity to get some of the issues on the table and to impress upon the minister a course of action we believe should be taken. As my leader said during the question period this afternoon, the situation is extremely serious and, we believe, one that may require the minister to put some money on the table.
There was some hooting at that point, as if this had never been the case and as if our party had not been willing to respond in the past. I guess I am a little sensitive to this, because I took over as the member for my constituency of Brantford in 1981, when the government of Bill Davis was in the latter stages of negotiation with the federal Liberal government at that time and with Massey-Ferguson Ltd. Then we saw the government of Ontario commit something in the neighbourhood of $176 million to ensure the continued existence and, we hope, the health of the Massey-Ferguson company, both in my riding of Brantford and in Toronto.
I might add that at that time the work had been well under way and the negotiations were bearing some fruit before I became the member. It is not something that was undertaken by the Davis government with political considerations in mind, but rather working co-operatively with the New Democratic Party member who held my seat previously, with the best interests of the workers in mind. I reject utterly any suggestion that governments of this province in the past have not reacted strenuously when thousands of Ontario jobs were threatened.
At the time of the 1985 election, my riding was again threatened by the prospect of considerable unemployment arising out of financial difficulties of White Farm Equipment Ltd. Again, the minister of the day, the member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt), and I met with company and union officials and moved quickly to offer tangible financial assistance from the government of Ontario to help that company remain in business. The problems of the White Farm Equipment company are well known to some members. They were serious and even crippling. The company, unlike the one we are debating today, was not at that time profitable. None the less, our government of the day went forward and said, "We are willing to make a further financial stake, on top of some millions of dollars already committed to White Farm, to try to ensure its continued existence."
The change of government took place, the negotiations fell down and White Farm Equipment closed in my riding, with a loss of some 600 jobs. Now we find ourselves in yet another one of these situations with the Goodyear plant. I say to the minister, not meaning to be overly partisan but in terms of a very closely held belief of my own, there is no area of endeavour in which the new government of Ontario has fallen down so dramatically and has proven itself so inadequate to respond as in the question of layoffs and plant closures. We have not seen any kind of cohesive response of the kind that was promised by the Premier when he was running in the last election to become the Premier of this province.
My colleague the member for Sarnia pointed out that between January and August of this year we have had actual and announced layoffs in this province totalling something in the neighbourhood of 15,465 lost jobs. Since then we have had the problems with softwood lumber, which I am led to understand could lead to a further loss of 1,000 jobs. If we take the other layoffs and this one we are debating today at Goodyear, we could be looking at 20,000 lost jobs in this province through layoffs and plant closures since the beginning of the fiscal year.
That is not a record of which this government should be proud or with which it should be satisfied. We have a situation at Goodyear in Etobicoke of a plant that is profitable; it has been operating at a profit. This morning we contacted a spokesman for the company, Peter Rose, who stated the plant had to be closed because it could not be modernized to meet the standards and qualities that will be needed in the industry in the years to come. The only option would be to tear down the building and start from scratch.
Even if we take that statement at face value and discount the machinations and the corporate takeover attempt by Sir James Goldsmith and everything else that is going on, if we take at face value that the plant is not now profitable because of antiquated equipment, the government of Ontario should be right there to see what assistance it can offer and how much money is required for the modernization that may be necessary to make this a functional plant that can remain competitive in years to come.
It is not in any way unusual for an Ontario government to intervene in that respect. I hope the minister will remember that as he continues his discussions with the company. It may take millions of dollars, but just think of the impact on our economy of the loss of 1,500 jobs in one plant. That would be one of the larger single shutdowns we have experienced in this province for some years.
Let us also remember, when we talk about 1,500 jobs in an industrial work place in Ontario today, that we are looking at a post-recession situation. Through the years 1981, 1982 and 1983, many of our industries did not hire new, younger employees. In the Goodyear plant and others like it, we are talking about many senior employees, long-standing employees, some of them in their late 50s and early 60s, who would find it very difficult to leave Goodyear and go into another work situation or be successful in finding other industrial work.
It is extremely difficult for older laid-off and fired workers to do that. I speak with some experience because of my own father's unemployment when Westinghouse closed in Brantford many years ago. My father was out on the street at the age of 59 trying to find other work. That is very difficult; it was then and it is just as difficult now.
In the several minutes remaining, it would be worth the time of the House to remind the minister of the kind of commitments and promises his leader made not so many months ago during the election campaign. During that election the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson), now Premier, promised that a Liberal government would not allow plants to close without justification.
He said that the Liberal government would require mandatory consultation; that the Liberal government would bring in amendments to the Employment Standards Act so that companies would be forced to take into account the real cost of closure; that a government led by him would provide government assistance for feasibility studies and would provide interim funding until private financing or worker equity could be raised.
Those were the promises, but we have not seen this kind of rhetoric and these kinds of promises followed up by action. I would like to quote briefly from a communiqué put out by the Ontario Liberal leader, smack in the middle of the 1985 election. The member for London Centre was campaigning in Kitchener-Waterloo and he said in the communiqué, speaking of the Burns meat plant at the time:
"The Burns closure is an example of the type of problems which we must overcome. More than 630 people were laid off at Burns as a result of a corporate decision to shut down in the face of union demands. The public will never know which party was at fault, since there is no legislation in Ontario requiring justification for plant closures. Burns is only one of 172 major plants which have closed in the last three years."
He said that in a communiqué and he also said it at that time to the people of Kitchener in news articles in their local media. He said these kinds of shutdowns and job losses would not happen in Peterson's Ontario and that measures would be put into place to ensure they did not happen in Peterson's Ontario. It has been Peterson's Ontario for a year and a half now, and these problems are continuing unabated.
The minister will have the support of this party and the goodwill and support of every member of this Legislature if he can follow through on the kind of promises the Liberal Party made to take office and if he can follow through with the kinds of measures needed to ensure that workers can continue their work in a profitable plant such as the Goodyear plant.
Mrs. Grier: I welcome the opportunity to participate in this debate and to share with the members of the House something of the impact this closure will have on my community of Lakeshore. That plant has been an integral part of our community since Goodyear moved there in 1917. In fact, it was the arrival of Goodyear that led to the development of the town of New Toronto and the development of the houses which spread out from there to become the whole community of southern Etobicoke. Its property tax billed by the municipality of Etobicoke in 1985 was $1,373,000, not an inconsiderable amount to have withdrawn as a result of the intention of the company not only to close down but also to demolish the buildings and sell the land.
The people of the Lakeshore community have not only worked in that plant but have also participated in recreational programs. It has been the source of summer jobs for many people -- in fact, in my own family. It has certainly been a part of our community, and the psychological impact of its closure transcends not just those who are employed there, whose jobs will be lost.
The reasons we have been given for that closure are entirely unacceptable. It is worth noting that one of the reasons the takeover bid did not succeed was that the legislature in Ohio was moving to bring in legislation which would have prevented just the kind of takeover contemplated. In my opinion, the threat of a takeover has been used more as an excuse by the chief executives of Goodyear than as an actual reason.
We have all heard over many years in Lakeshore that the plant was old, that it needed to be modernized and that it was going to close, but the rumours have always been there and the actions have never occurred. What has also not occurred has been any meaningful action on the part of the company to modernize and to make an 80-year-old plant of four storeys as productive as it could possibly be.
The employees have certainly co-operated to the greatest extent possible in working with management to try to do some reorganization and to render the plant productive. The members of the opposition have referred to the grant given in 1981. It is interesting to look back to the press release from the then minister, now the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Grossman), and the grandiose promises made as a result of that $500,000 grant from the province under the employment development fund.
The press release reads: "The grant is to help finance the $16.75-million first phase of the conversion, and the total program over five years is expected to cost $24 million. The modernization will allow the company to convert part of its plant from bias-ply production to radial tires. The project will generate 339 new jobs, and the plant's new lease on life has been made possible by co-operation among management, labour and government."
I submit that labour and government have done their part. Management's protestations of long-term stability in that community ring somewhat hollow today, when we are faced with the loss of 1,550 jobs.
It is important to look back on the select committee, which was aborted by the previous government in 1981, and some of the recommendations my colleagues in the New Democratic Party put forward as a result of the discussions of that committee, which never did report to the House. Our recommendations were relevant. If they had been implemented, we might not find ourselves in this position today.
My colleagues recommended that when closures were contemplated, a public justification system would be established. It would entail holding public hearings to examine proposed major layoffs and plant shutdowns, assess the social and economic impact of such layoffs and plant closings and recommend specific action to maintain productive enterprises or to mitigate the harmful effect of unavoidable layoffs and plant closings. In the minister's discussions with the company, I hope he will take that recommendation into account.
It is indeed an old plant, but there are 25 acres there. It would certainly be possible to re-establish a modern plant on that site. I hope the minister will demand from the company all the figures that will justify its claim that its competitive position demands the closure of this plant.
If Goodyear insists on closing and demolishing the building, I hope the minister's colleagues in cabinet will be very careful before they allow a redevelopment of the property. I want to put the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) on notice that I do not think the mayor of Etobicoke's claim that he can build condos on the land is a very valid one. I suspect every inch of soil on that 25 acres has been impregnated with unacceptable substances. Perhaps it is worth warning Goodyear Canada that it will not be easy to redevelop that land and sell it off to its developer friends. Even if that is done, the value of the land is merely a drop in the bucket compared with the money Goodyear claims it will have to spend to buy back the shares.
In addition to public justification, we must have some community assistance for the loss of revenue and business to the Lakeshore community. We must have some meaningful retraining programs if the shutdown proceeds, programs that will be designed to retrain those workers for jobs that currently exist, not just short-term retraining that will not lead to any meaningful employment. That company must be made to realize the very harmful psychological effect these layoffs will have on its workers, their families and the community at large. It has to be prepared to put in place the type of counselling, support and information those workers will need to enable them to adjust to the impact of the closure.
Our community of Metropolitan Toronto is experiencing what small towns all across this province have experienced so very many times before. It is not good enough to say that just because we are part of a larger metropolitan area, we do not suffer the same impact as a smaller community.
I hope the minister in his discussions with Goodyear Canada will express the thoughts that are being expressed in this debate today. I look forward to some productive conclusions to those discussions. I thank the members for giving us an opportunity to have this debate today.
Mr. Henderson: I rise with pleasure and yet sadness to participate in this debate at a time of great consternation and trouble in the economic history of Etobicoke and my riding of Humber.
Fortunately, I was able to meet on short notice with Mayor Bruce Sinclair of Etobicoke earlier this afternoon. We were able to put our heads together to see what ideas we could generate that might improve this most regrettable situation. I know the mayor will want me to convey his profound regret, his very great consternation and his fervent hope for some satisfactory solution to this very serious development. As the mayor said, the flags of Etobicoke are at half mast this afternoon.
Although the Goodyear plant is not located in Humber, the 1,500 or so employees who were laid off include among them many residents of Humber. I have a special feeling for them and for the adversity that has been inflicted upon them by virtue of this untoward development.
It seems most upsetting and most lamentable that a development such as this affecting the wellbeing and livelihood of 1,500 people and their families could be brought about by the mischievous financial dealings of one or a small number of individuals, in this instance Sir James Goldsmith of Franco-British connections. The fact that he should be able, indirectly, to wreak such havoc at the expense of the workers of Etobicoke is very sad indeed. Goodyear has been a good corporate citizen. The retooling and restructuring that were occasioned by the failed takeover bid has forced the company to institute a large number of measures of restructuring its financial situation and reducing debt.
Of the 1,500 employees of this 69-year-old plant, two thirds live in the borough of Etobicoke. The tax revenues generated by Goodyear at the municipal level only were in excess of $1.5 million. Of that, perhaps $300,000 goes to the city of Etobicoke, $700,000 or $800,000 goes to the school boards involved and perhaps $400,000 or so goes to Metropolitan Toronto, not to mention the fiscal losses occasioned at the provincial and federal levels by a plant closure of this magnitude.
Before I became involved in public life, I was head of an outpatient and community services unit at the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. The patients I served were in many instances employees or relatives of employees of Goodyear. The community of New Toronto, as the member for Lakeshore (Mrs. Grier) says, was built around the Goodyear plant. The spinoffs of the fiscal wellbeing of Goodyear, and now of the closure of this plant, will be enormous for the area retailers, the shops, the stores, the banks, the credit unions, the restaurants and the other amenities of the Lakeshore area and elsewhere in Etobicoke. Therefore, this is a crisis that affects not only the workers of Lakeshore but also many other financial and other service organizations of Lakeshore and elsewhere in Etobicoke. The Lakeshore area, New Toronto, had the highest credit rating of any area in Metropolitan Toronto, thanks in part to the economic viability underscored by this fine corporate citizen.
One can have two kinds of reactions to a development such as this. One can lament the closing of the plant. Indeed, it has been slated for closure before, in 1981, when Goodyear undertook, with the assistance of the provincial government, a revitalization program of some $24 million, including a $500,000 grant from the Ontario government. This agreement towards converting the plant to radial tire production, installing new equipment and adjusting piece-work rates did underscore the continued viability and effectiveness of the plant. It expired, however, on June 30, 1986.
We can think of that aspect of it, but we think also of the fate of the workers who have depended on Goodyear for so many years, workers who have suffered in many instances during the almost 70-year history of this company such things as back ailments; hearing problems; fingers and, I suspect, arms and other body parts lost in the machinery of Goodyear; the rubber, the dust and the other contaminants that have affected the health and wellbeing of the Goodyear workers. This price in very human terms that has been paid by Goodyear workers for the continued viability of Goodyear may seem to some perhaps to be for naught and in vain.
It is one thing to deplore the failure of a corporation such as Goodyear and another to suggest what steps might be taken to remedy the situation and to try to make some contribution to the fiscal security of the Lakeshore area. I notice that the president and chief executive officer, Scott Buzby, was quoted in the media over the weekend as having said the company is open to discussing possible ways of averting this catastrophe. It may well be that a modest, sensible and well-placed infusion of fiscal assistance could be helpful. Although the company has not been competitive in the global marketplace, it is hard to imagine that people are going to stop needing tires. I do not see why we in Etobicoke and Ontario ought not to be able to do that as efficiently and as cost effectively as might be done by workers in other parts of the world.
I hope the ongoing discussion, and perhaps negotiations, between the ministry and the officials of Goodyear will be productive and that we will find some way to mount whatever kind of prudent generosity may be appropriate under the circumstances towards retooling, revitalizing and perhaps a rebirth of manufacturing capability of the sort that Goodyear has been able to offer in Etobicoke.
As a government, we have endorsed the principle and concept that better notice and justification of layoffs and plant closings ought to be required, that improved severance arrangements for workers who are victimized by these closings ought to be ensured and that better notice ought to be a fact of life in the event a plant does not seem to be able to continue its viability.
We want to continue to examine carefully the whole notion of corporate takeovers and ensure that corporate takeovers of the sort Sir James Goldsmith became involved with have in some way the prospect of benefit to the public interest as well as to the coffers of a multimillionaire. If it turns out that Goodyear cannot be rescued, we will want to examine alternatives to ensure that the Lakeshore area will continue to be viable and profitable and that workers displaced by the closing of Goodyear will find alternative employment without the necessity for large-scale family relocation.
These are a few measures in general terms. I am sure other members have other measures to put forward, but I wanted primarily to speak to this tragic development in Etobicoke and Lakeshore and say how much I and my colleagues feel for the workers who are inconvenienced and in some instances, I am sure, placed in a most disadvantageous financial situation by this development. We want to help them in every way we can. I am sure the ongoing efforts of the ministry and negotiation with the corporation will prove helpful and ultimately successful.
Mr. Davis: It is a sad day when I find myself joining in a debate concerning a company I once worked for. Because the Liberal government has failed to initiate any of the policies the Premier indicated he would initiate when he became a leader of this province, the company now faces a position where 1,557 jobs will be lost. I look back with fondness on the three or four years I was employed at the Goodyear rubber and tire company. Although I was not in the production end, I certainly was in the business office and the IBM section.
Mr. Haggerty: What did you do in 1977 when about 5,000 men lost their jobs?
Mr. Davis: That is very interesting. Perhaps the member would like to talk about Massey-Ferguson and White Farm and the amount of money the previous government put into keeping them open.
It is sad that this government, which indicated it had a concern for the people of Ontario, does not seem to have a concern for the workers of Ontario. In my brief period here in the House, I have watched the inaction of this government result in a laying off of 800 to 1,000 workers in the lumber industry in northern Ontario, because it refused to be involved in the issue of the stumpage fee and the tariff being implemented by the United States. I find that we now face another situation, where 1,557 men and women will lose their jobs.
The Premier has indicated some of the steps he would take, one of which is mandatory consultation. However, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. O'Neil) has failed to live up to them. He indicated in the House today he learned about that decision in the paper. Where is their consultative process? Where is their initiative into the business community, asking what is happening?
Mr. Haggerty: Why did the member not ask that question two months ago?
Mr. Davis: Why did the minister not ask that question two months ago? Mr. Speaker, excuse me for a moment, I would like to respond to my learned and honoured colleague across the House.
Mr. Speaker: Interjections are out of order.
Mr. Davis: I thought they were too, but I am quite prepared to respond. When he inquired where were we two months ago, the question is not where were we, the question is, where was his minister two months ago? His minister was nowhere to be found. His minister stands up in the House today and indicates he learned about it on Friday and he was going to meet with them maybe.
Let us look at the effect it is going to have. We have read in the local news reports today that the area --
Mr. Ferraro: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The member is factually incorrect in his dissertation. He said the minister said he was going to meet with them maybe. It is quite evident from the minister's indication this morning that he did meet --
Mr. Speaker: Order. That is not a point of order. The member will continue.
Mr. Davis: It would be all right if something happened at the meeting. It probably would have been interesting.
We look at New Toronto and we look at the small businesses in New Toronto that will be severely affected by the closure of this plant. In this morning's paper, there was an article about a lady who owns a little store across the way. She said 60 per cent of her business comes from the workers of Goodyear and that she will continue to hang on as long as she can. However, the prognosis is that she will lose her business and the investment she made just 18 months ago.
What about the workers? It is imperative and important that we take a look at the impact it is going to have upon those families. I can imagine those families gathered Friday, Saturday, Sunday and this evening around the dinner table talking about what plans they have for tomorrow. I know what that means. Many times my father was unemployed in his profession. Many times I have sat like the youngsters of those families and the wives of the husbands when they come home and say: "I no longer have a job. I have been laid off today." In this position, they have six months to prepare for that eventuality and the tremendous impact. Christmas, a time of joyous festivities, now has a dampening, shadowy spirit placed over the top of it. Some of the wishes of those youngsters will not be able to be realized as the parent begins to figure out what his options will be six months down the road.
What about those young families that, believing they had some kind of equity and stability, began the process of purchasing new homes or have perhaps purchased them? They face the bleakness of maybe losing their homes.
What about the older worker? I ask this government, which says it has compassion for the people of Ontario, what about that older worker and the mid-age worker, who will find it very difficult to get a job? What is this government going to do about that? Is it going to introduce some type of retraining program it will pay for?
A speaker had the audacity to stand up and talk about relocating people out of neighbourhoods. One does not take people and lift them from their roots, transport them somewhere else and tear apart the heritage they developed in that community. One at least attempts to deal with realities.
When this new government moved across the floor, it had a freshness about it. It exuded ideas and enthusiasm. The Premier stood up and said to us, in a great oratorical speech in which he had all the press held in his hand, he was going to invest $100 million in new technology. He was going to turn Ontario around and make it an industrial giant and competitive in the world markets. Here we find, according to the press, one of the reasons for the closure of Goodyear is that it cannot afford to modernize its equipment and be competitive.
That same Premier, in consultation with the cabinet, we assume, agreed to give away $17.5 to a museum of computers so that some day in the future, people can walk through that museum, located somewhere down in Harbourfront, to look at those computers and say, "Are they not nice?"
Here we have a company in desperate need. It is not the only company. I have a company in Scarborough that is on the verge of producing and marketing a world-class product, but it needs money. It has come to this government and it was told, "No, you cannot have it."
It seems to me that if this government is true to its commitment, if this government believes in the ideology it professed prior to the last election and in this House, it has no option but to bring forth from its coffers, that hidden $400 million, funds to renovate, modernize and retool the plant in New Toronto and give those 1,557 men and women new hope and new vision for tomorrow.
It is interesting that this government can find $45 million in loans and $10 million for infrastructures to give to General Motors-Suzuki. It found $35 million for Toyota. Certainly the minister should have stood up in the House today, having done his homework, and said, "We are prepared now to give whatever millions of dollars are required," at least up to the $35 million or $45 million that we have already expended on these new companies to create jobs. He should have stood up today and said, "I am prepared to make that commitment today to save jobs."
That is not what he said. He stood up and said: "I am going to meet with them again and we are going to talk about it. I have deep concern and compassion for the workers who are going to be out of jobs." But he could have done something.
There was a great debate several months ago, when there was an election and a then member of the opposition looked at the then Prime Minister of the country and said: "Sir, you did have a choice." I suggest to the minister today that he had a choice. He could have stood up in this House today and offered those workers in New Toronto some funds to give them hope and a vision, but he said no. So much for the Liberals' proclamation of concern for the people of Ontario. They do not have any concern for the people of Ontario unless, of course, they happen to be wearing red ties.
It is a sad day. All I can do is to urge the Liberal government to find the funds to keep the Goodyear plant operating, remembering that in the entrepreneurial spirit, Canadians and Ontarians certainly can be competitive in world markets and they will be competitive in world markets only when governments are prepared to support and encourage them, to give them hope and to give them a vision for tomorrow. This government across the way today has not done that, but maybe tomorrow it will.
Mr. Mackenzie: Like my leader, I want to use three paragraphs out of a recent book by Diane Francis, Controlling Interest, to set this in perspective before I make my specific remarks about the Goodyear shutdown. The opening paragraph says simply:
"Even businesspeople are beginning to be alarmed about the degree of concentration in Canada. `In a number of years there will be six groups running this country,' warns Bernie Ghert, president of Cadillac Fairview Corp., the country's second-largest development company. `We must grapple with the problems of concentration of substantial economic power in Canada in the hands of a new aristocracy consisting of 20 or 30 powerful families and the Canadian banks,' says Henry Knowles, a Toronto lawyer and formerly Canada's top securities watchdog."
The next paragraph, which I think ties in with this, is on page 3, early in the book, where it simply says:
"By far the most heated competition in Canada has been to buy the fiefdoms themselves, as conglomerates and families spent most of the 1970s borrowing millions against what they already owned to acquire more. At the last count by federal officials, some 4,685 takeovers had been made between 1974 and 1984, compared with 3,464 significantly smaller takeovers in the 10 previous years. The concentration continues, hurtling us towards an even more closely held economic oligarchy than already exists. Tragically, the issues do not have top political priority, even though controlling interest in the entire country is at stake, and so are political freedoms."
There is one sentence to add to that, and I am tempted to put it in simply because of remarks I heard thrown out by the member from Guelph in the earlier debate. Bankers such as Richard Thomson, chairman of the Toronto-Dominion Bank, are also concerned from a different viewpoint: "I worry about the political backlash if it is not dealt with. This could lead to socialism."
It is important that we understand this is not new. I have real difficulty with the hypocrisy of some of the members to my right in this House. Let me make it clear that their turn is going to come. They are going to have to put up or shut up, and it is going to be interesting in the next few days.
I sat on that select committee and have often referred to it in other committees. I have had the privilege of sitting on a number of important committees, and it was probably one of the more intensive ones, with more hearings and more time spent than in a lot of committees of this House. That committee destructed in 1981 when we had an election and the Conservatives got a majority. One of the results was Job Security: The Unwritten Report of the Select Committee on Plant Shutdowns and Employment Adjustment, which we were forced to come out with to give us any say or input or any catalogue of the things that had been said before that plant shutdown committee.
What did we find out and what did we hear before that committee? We heard about the workers at SKF, which was also making money here in Toronto, and how SKF systematically changed the production runs to lower the profits, until production finally was down to nothing but the large bearing assemblies. The company still made a profit, but not nearly the profit it had made when it was responsible for the total ball-bearing operations. SKF then used that -- with more advance notice than we got here, I might say -- to shut down the plant and move half the operation to West Germany and half to France.
More recently, we have heard about Allen Industries. We heard about Bendix Corp. in Windsor, which made a profit for 40 of the 41 years it was in business. Still it closed down, and 500 workers still lost out.
Probably even more important than the fact that this was going on and that we set up a committee to deal with it back in the late 1970s -- and that the committee could never bring in a report because the Tory government did not want a report on what we found -- was how we were able to catalogue what happened to workers.
I have seen this at first hand and have been very much involved. The best example, because I followed it closely, is one I have cited in this House a number of times, the Consolidated-Bathurst operation in my own town. In that plant, 168 older workers -- with the lowest seniority being 17 years -- lost their jobs. To date, three and a half years later, about one third of them are still not working.
We know of five suicides among the ex-workers in that plant, an effect of the plant shutdown. We know the cost of a plant shutdown is not just the loss of a job. I have tried to underline that because it is important for members of this House to understand that when a plant such as this is shut down, there may be those who have enough service and who end up with their pensions, but there are an awful lot of workers who do not have the combination.
They lose not only their immediate wages and the immediate job but also their future in terms of a decent pension and what they might have had, had they served out their full time. They have lost their wages and they have lost a good chunk of what they might have had as a pension to enjoy in their retirement years. They suffer inordinately from social and health problems. That has been well documented in studies of a number of plant shutdowns in Toronto. These are among the hardest workers in our communities to place. Most of them are older workers with a lot of seniority. It is not easy to find a job in these situations.
We have them paying the price in terms of their future, in terms of the immediacy, in terms of their health and in terms of their families, and we do not seem to count, for some unknown reason, that they are also costing their communities. We have a tremendous cost to the communities in welfare payments that we have to pick up and to the government in unemployment insurance and other benefits that are used up. All these costs are there. In many communities where there are major layoffs or major plant shutdowns, the tax base is no longer there to carry properly the facilities and the services, whether for schools or hospitals, that have been put into place.
We could not get a report out of that previous majority government and it did not even seem to be overly sympathetic. I recall sitting in the office of the minister of the time, Russell Ramsay, with a number of members and with the manager of the container division of Consolidated-Bathurst.
We asked the company officials why they would not consider a buyout bid by the workers because most of the production at the Consolidated-Bathurst plant in Hamilton was sold locally. What was the answer we got back? I think Stangeland was the guy's name. The answer was: "Imperial Oil would not sell a good choice corner lot to Texaco. Why should we put up with competition?" We found out only at the meeting that they were selling the plant operations and buildings to a neighbouring firm. We asked, "What about at least speaking to the company you are selling the operation to and try and get it to take some of these workers?" There were Tories and Liberals at that meeting. His answer was: "We would not want anybody telling us whom to hire. We do not intend to tell anybody else whom to hire."
When in frustration and fury I threw that at Gordon Walker, one of the cabinet ministers who sat in at the meeting in the House that same day, his answer was, "I guess they are not very good corporate citizens."
This is one of the issues we raised most often, most consistently and hardest with the previous government. We made some recommendations. They have been alluded to today, but I do not have the time to go into them. One of them was a public justification procedure. That is absolutely vital in cases such as this. Incidentally, it exists in sometimes stronger words in some of the European countries, so it is not new. We asked for a community adjustment fund financed out of taxes and payroll that could respond in a hurry when we ran into these situations. We asked for much more advance notice. It is an insult to this government, this minister and to this House to have been told only the day of the announcement for an operation as major as that.
The point I want to make is that we got nothing, we got nowhere and we got the Tories almost ignoring the situation from for I do not know how many years. The hypocrisy gets to me when I hear them arguing for the things they laughed at us about over that period of years.
Now I am talking to this government. Through about six major closures, I have sat down with the company people when they were pulled together by the government. They had all kinds of excuses and reasons and corporate rationalization, which is the favourite word. Now this government is on the spot. The question is going to be whether it has the guts to say to a company that is making a profit that this cannot happen, that it is going to have to pay a price that will cover what it is going to cost the community and the workers; that this is the only way it will get out of the operation and that otherwise the government will put in whatever effort is needed to bring it about. By that, I do not mean throwing in money. The leader of the official opposition said: "They are making money. Give them all the money they need to stay in business." I never heard a more ludicrous remark than that remark in the House today.
This government is on the spot. It is going to have to put up or shut up, which the previous Tory government would not do. This is a pattern that cannot be continued in Ontario if workers are going to have any say, any justification, any justice and any security in this province.
Mr. Ferraro: It is an unwanted pleasure to be able to participate in this debate this afternoon. Let me say at the outset that this government, my colleagues and myself personally --
Mr. Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Mr. Breaugh: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: This is supposedly an emergency debate, called by the member for Sarnia, but there are only two Conservative members in the House.
Mr. Ferraro: Let me say to the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) that I totally concur with him.
The member for Sarnia stands up to say how concerned his party is about the plight of these 1,500. What happens? We have two Conservatives in the House talking about this crisis, and he is not even here. Talk about hypocrisy and sincerity. It is an absolute disgrace. How they think they can con the taxpayers in this province, I do not know.
I started off by offering my condolences and I meant that sincerely to the people involved with this unfortunate crisis in Etobicoke. My empathy goes to the members who have to deal with these families directly.
When there is a crisis, one of the unfortunate things about politics is that politicians stand up to say how terrible the government is, what it is doing, what it is not doing and what it should be doing. I heard the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) say the government should not be proud of the fact that more than 1,500 people have lost their jobs. I can reply quite openly that we are not proud of that fact.
The member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Davis) stood up and talked at great length about the inaction of this government and of my leader. The member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) indicated his dismay and the fact that this government was on trial, so to speak. Quite frankly, he made more sense than the Tories did.
It is only proper that I point out -- and perhaps this offers some solace, if there is any, for the 1,500 people who are possibly losing their jobs -- what this government has really done. There have been 156,000 new jobs created in the past year. The unemployment rate, whether they like to admit it, is 6.7 per cent, which is the lowest in this country. The national average is something like 9.6 per cent.
Youth unemployment is the lowest it has been in more than 11 years. There are 16,000 more youths employed now than there were a year ago. For Ontario business projects, there has been a 16 per cent increase in investment spending and an estimated 23 per cent increase in manufacturing investment in 1986.
What do they do? They stand up and try to paint everything black, when in reality it has never been better. What is fair is fair. These are facts that can be substantiated.
Let me get to the real issue and, if I can, take it out of the type of partisan politics that the Tories hypocritically like to play. I reiterate, they are so concerned that they had two members in this House.
There are 1,500 people out of work. It is a disaster for the people and their families. What really does that mean? Statistics say that if there are 1,500 people directly out of work, it probably affects roughly 4,000 people in general, when one considers their families.
It is bad for anybody to lose his job at any time, but it is even worse that it should happen around Christmastime. What can one say to someone who has worked years and years and lost his future, so to speak? Everything seems dark and gloomy. Quite frankly, unless one experiences it himself, there is not really anything that anyone can say. What can one do? I can assure members that this government and this minister will do everything they possibly can.
The member for Scarborough Centre asked how we could have possibly allowed this to happen. He felt there should have been some consultative process whereby we should have been able to resolve this thing. I do not know what he is suggesting. Maybe we should have an individual employed by the government at every plant and every business in Ontario to find out exactly what their plans are. It simply does not work that way.
This happened and was sprung on this government and on this province Friday morning. This minister has already met with the president, and ongoing meetings are scheduled. We are going to do everything we possibly can. It is unfortunate that we had Sunday to contend with. We could have called the House back and possibly had this type of verbiage sooner, but what we want is results.
What can be done? Everything we can possibly do will be done. We can try to assist them with money. We can try to assist them with loans or grants, as the case may be. There could be some possibility that we could facilitate some new company coming into that plant. When the shipyards closed down in Collingwood, for example, this government was fortunate enough to be able to facilitate a new plant there. Obviously, things can be done, and I can assure members this government will attempt to turn over every stone in that regard.
The member for Hamilton East calls me the right-winger and I call him the left-winger. Fair enough. I accept the fact that he is a strong socialist and I hope he accepts the fact that I am a strong free enterpriser. In this instance, it is very difficult to justify the actions of the company. I admit that. It is very difficult, precisely for the reason previously mentioned, that it is showing a good profit.
The problem with something like this is that while it is difficult, it happens. That is a reality of democracy, of the capitalist system. I might interject as well that there are a lot of good corporate citizens out there and one can get carried away with tarring everybody who is in private enterprise or every corporation with the same brush. That is not the truth.
Mr. Ferraro: People will yell out and say I am a strong free enterpriser, and I am. If you are a strong socialist, you are going to say the government can control everything, the government will look after you and the government is the answer. I do not believe that. I do not think the people in Ontario or Canada believe that. The government simply cannot provide everything, all the resources --
Mrs. Marland: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: What is the point of order?
Mrs. Marland: I do not think it is in order for the member for Brampton (Mr. Callahan) to make interjections in any case, but certainly not when he is not in his own seat.
Mr. Speaker: You are certainly correct. I do not know whether I heard anything.
Mr. Ferraro: I am not sure to whom the member was referring. Nevertheless, I will proceed.
The point I am trying to make is that I do not necessarily believe in the type of socialism in which the member for Hamilton East believes. I believe in free enterprise and I believe the free enterprise system is working. It is obvious we are successful in Ontario now. Why? Because the free enterprise system is working and because this government is coming out with programs to help people to get jobs and to start their own businesses, particularly in the small business sector, and we will do that.
The bottom line of the whole thing as far as the member for Hamilton East and I are concerned, when it comes to socialism versus capitalism or free enterprise, I ask him, "Where do you draw the line?" He queries companies borrowing money against equity in order to grow and create more jobs -- in some cases, admittedly, to consolidate when jobs are lost -- but is that any different from the average citizen borrowing money to start his own business? Is it different from the average citizen borrowing money against his house to buy some other real estate? That is the strength of this province, in my view. The socialist says, "No, the government is the answer to everything," but that is not the case.
I want to conclude by reiterating that the conviction of this minister, of this Premier and of this government is that everything will be done to assist those 1,500 people who are in the process of losing their jobs. I assure members that no stone will be left unturned.
Mrs. Marland: I am sure I join all the members of this House when I speak of the shock I felt when I learned of the announced closure of the Goodyear plant in Mimico. Many of the 1,557 employees happen to live in my riding of Mississauga South and in Mississauga as a whole. When it was constructed, Goodyear was the only building in the area. The entire town of New Toronto owes its existence to this facility. We have been informed that the very age of this plant and its inefficiency are major reasons why the plant has been chosen to be closed down. I will speak more about that later.
First, I want to talk about the economic impact the closing of the plant will have on the workers, many of whom have known no other job, and on the infrastructure of the area, which includes my riding of Mississauga South, which depends on the Goodyear facility for its survival. It is not just the 1,557 workers of Goodyear who will lose from this, as damaging as the loss of their jobs is. It will undoubtedly lead to the closing of numerous small businesses in the area. It will also undoubtedly lead to a major loss of revenue for the city of Etobicoke. The member for Lakeshore has already said the loss will be in excess of $1 million in property taxes. This will also affect the surrounding municipalities.
As the elected representatives of the people of Ontario, we must act, if not to prevent this tragedy, then at least to minimize its impact. We must act where the government has failed to act, where it has failed to represent the workers at Goodyear, where it has failed to represent the interests of the residents of New Toronto and where it has failed to understand adequately the needs and concerns of both the workers and the company itself.
One of the most shocking aspects of this entire matter is that the government is only now, after Goodyear has announced its intentions, beginning to attempt to deal with this crucial matter. Why was the government not informed beforehand, as used to be the case in previous administrations? Why did the Minister for Industry, Trade and Technology scramble to set up a meeting for today when he should have been meeting with Goodyear last week, last month, last year, to find a solution to this problem? Has the minister set up a meeting with the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) yet? Those needs will have to be included in any deliberations.
This government has gone out of its way to alienate itself from the business community in Ontario, earning in the process the revealing title of the most antibusiness government in Canada, a title given to it by John Bulloch of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Business in this province has no respect and no time for a government that seems to have no respect or time for it. Instead of being informed of the situation beforehand and instead of the government working with Goodyear to find a solution before we reached this juncture, we have a government that through its confrontational methods has reduced substantially the chances of our saving the jobs at the Goodyear plant.
The government has blown one opportunity; it cannot afford to blow another. The livelihoods of too many people depend on it. Therefore, I suggest it is time the Treasurer reaches into his pocket and pulls out some of the money he has been saving for election goodies. If the government can afford to give General Motors-Suzuki $50 million in loans and grants to create 2,000 jobs by 1991, surely it can afford the same to save 1,557 jobs in 1987. If the government can afford to give Toyota $35 million in loans and agree to finance skills training for a new facility to the amount of $15 million, it can afford to give $15 million to the Goodyear employees as well.
If the government, through our erstwhile Treasurer, insists it does not have the money, I suggest two alternatives. First, I suggest that the Premier's friend, the one-man show behind Exploracom, not get the $17.5 million promised to him by the Premier. That will pay for the retraining of the Goodyear workers in a new high-tech facility. Second, to build that new high-tech facility, I suggest the government use the $100 million it has earmarked for this year from the technology fund.
In a statement to the standing committee on general government, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology stated that the Premier's Council on high technology had met only three times. It has allocated a grand total of $114,645 to date and has promised a total of $2 million more. That leaves more than $97,800,000 still unallocated. I propose a proportion of that money, as much as is needed, should be used to update the Goodyear facility in New Toronto.
If the problem is that it is outdated and unable to compete, then let us use this tragic situation and take this opportunity to build the best and most modern plant we can. The money from the Premier's fund is just sitting there. The workers at Goodyear cannot wait until the Premier finds some other friends with a few ideas scribbled on paper to give it to. Let us use it now in the most constructive way possible, that is, to save jobs in Ontario.
The arrogance of this government, its disdain and willingness to act in a confrontational manner are costing the people of this province dearly. It is up to us, the members of the Legislature --
Mr. D. R. Cooke: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Contrary to the rules, the member has been reading for the past six minutes and 43 seconds.
The Deputy Speaker: I remind the member it is not in order to read at length from any document.
Mrs. Marland: This is not any document; this is my very well-prepared speech.
The arrogance of this government, its disdain and willingness to act in a confrontational manner --
Mr. Ward: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Who wrote the speech?
The Deputy Speaker: That is not an appropriate point of order.
Mrs. Marland: It is up to us, the members of the Legislature, to ensure that government inaction does not cost the workers at Goodyear or, for that matter, workers at any facility anywhere else that needs updating, their jobs, their dignity and their future.
Mr. Philip: In rising to participate in this debate, I do so not only with a certain amount of sadness but also with a certain amount of déjà vu. I feel sadness in the sense that I have constituents who are directly affected, who work in the particular plant, and déjà vu in the sense that we have been through this over and over again with the previous government in exactly the same manner.
Today the minister admitted that Goodyear's Etobicoke plant is a viable, profitable operation. In spite of this, we have the obscene and immoral activity of 1,557 jobs being lost.
I was in this House in 1981 when the then Minister of Industry and Tourism, the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick, who is now the leader of the Conservative Party, announced a grant of $500,000 to Goodyear Canada Inc. At that time, he promised the project would create 339 jobs in "that new section that will more than offset, the jobs anticipated to be lost because of the reduction of bias-ply tire business." He said, "The result will be an overall increase of 51 jobs over the next five years." That was in 1981. Instead of creating jobs in five years, what we have is this Christmas gift from Goodyear to the people of Etobicoke.
At no time did the former Conservative government obtain any job guarantees or promises in writing that would guarantee that the money the taxpayers were putting into the plant would result in a payback to the taxpayers on the investment and a payback to the workers and the people in the plant. As a matter of fact, if one looks at what happened in 1980-81, the members of Local 232 granted several concessions in the interests of the modernization of the plant. Thus, what we have today is a situation where the taxpayers and the workers in the plant have made several great sacrifices to Goodyear and, in turn, Goodyear repays the taxpayers and its employees by closing down the plant.
It is time the present Liberal government came into the 20th century and stopped the multinational corporations from playing with the lives of ordinary people in the way in which they are doing. The reason this plant is closing has nothing to do with the viability of the plant; we know it is viable. It has more to do with those people who wheel and deal on Bay Street and are making money by bleeding ordinary people, who have contributed years of their lives to this company.
Mergers rarely create jobs; they usually mean a loss of jobs. Mergers do not create new wealth in a society; they use the resources of a society that could be used for creating wealth, to create an increasing gross national product and siphon it off in ways that are absolutely unproductive. The response of this Liberal government, in the words of the minister, which I quote from the Toronto Sun, was, "`We will be in touch with company officials first thing Monday morning and try to talk them into reversing their plans,' O'Neil said."
This is not a poor company that the minister is going to try to convince. In the first nine months of 1986, it showed a net income of $11,230,000. In its 1985 annual report, Goodyear executives noted that in their six-month report their sales were up by five per cent. Their comment was, "Significant sales increases at the retail dealer and original equipment levels, and a general increase in market share, which are expected to continue."
The minister has just informed the House that he knew of the closing only on Friday afternoon. If this were to happen in a European country, all hell would break loose. There would be judicial inquiries, corporate executives would be called before the courts and there would be massive political ramifications to a government that dared to allow a company to follow that process.
When I talk to my colleagues who are legislators in European countries, or when I talk to people who come from these countries, they ask: "Why does this government not come into the 20th century? Why are there no laws to protect the workers from this type of situation, the way there are in Europe? Why is there not an ability of governments to work together in a democratic way with corporations to ensure that workers' rights, the corporations' rights and the taxpayers' rights are protected?"
In the case of this government, we have seen absolutely nothing to indicate that either the taxpayers or the workers are being protected. Certainly, the corporation is being protected; so we have a one-third type of philosophy to government. One third means everything to the corporation and nothing to the taxpayers, other than to bleed them as much as they can in a most fiscally irresponsible way. Judging from the speeches of the Tories, they want more of that, more corporate giveaways without any guarantees. That is what their government was all about. They gave the large grant to Goodyear in 1981 without any guarantees.
In the accord the Liberals signed we see the following promise, signed by the Premier: "Reform of job security legislation, including notice and justification of layoffs and plant shutdowns and improved severance legislation." If we look at what is happening at Goodyear, we see none of that. The minister gets one day's notice, Friday afternoon. Then he stands up in the House today and admits the company has said it is a fait accompli and that it is not prepared to change its mind, but he will go, cap in hand, to ask some kind of corporate mercy or charity for the 1,500 workers.
I say to the minister in no uncertain words that this is not enough. What is needed in this province is legislation in which there will be public justification, a system established that would hold public hearings to examine proposed major layoffs and plant shutdowns, that would assess the social and economic losses and impact of such layoffs and plant closings, that would recommend specific action to maintain productive enterprises such as the ones that we are talking about and that would mitigate against the harmful effects of unavoidable layoffs caused by those plants that are uneconomic.
Second, we have to have a minimum of six months' notice -- Europeans take this for granted -- to be given to employees and the provincial government before a plant closes down and massive layoffs occur; not the one-day notice the minister has received but six months.
We also need a severance pay of one week's wage for every year of employment. We have recommended this to the government. It is not pie in the sky. It is nothing new and innovative. It was new and innovative in Europe many years ago when progressive governments there decided it would make some sense. Their economies are viable and modern, their economies are competing; so the government should not give me the nonsense of the Tories that somehow we have to pour dollar after dollar -- taxpayers' money -- into private enterprise without any kind of guarantees. It does not happen in Europe, where they have viable, competitive economies, and it does not have to happen here.
Mr. Speaker, the more you look at what has happened in this instance, the more you see things change the more they seem to remain the same. This government has shown it is no different from the previous government. The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations stands up in the House day after day and acts as an apologist for the multinational insurance companies as they rip off small businessmen who find their liability insurance increasing 300 and 400 per cent and as automobile drivers are being ripped off by these companies. The Minister of Housing (Mr. Curling) breaks his election promise to tenants. The acting Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet (Mr. Nixon) breaks the promise of an open, accountable government. This minister breaks the promise in the accord of proper legislation that would protect workers in cases such as this.
This government is no different from the last. It is operating in exactly the same manner.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. Your time has expired.
Mr. Cordiano: I rise with a great sense of remorse for the fact that more than 1,500 workers have probably lost their jobs. It seems apparent that will be the case, at least in the short term, and that is something I want to refer to later.
As I sat and listened to the debate, and it has been a philosophical debate back and forth from one party to another, I thought it is really not a debate based on the Tories' view of the world or the view of the world of my colleagues from the New Democratic Party or our view of the world as we try to select a position that best exemplifies what we intend to do in terms of a number of policies that each of us would like to put forward. We can sit here and argue and debate - I do not think I am saying anything new -- but obviously, it goes back to the people who are affected. It goes back to the community that is affected, and I do not think one can make this debate an ideological one.
Practical solutions are needed, from the point of view that workers can be re-employed effectively in meaningful work. We need policies to allow workers to adjust to situations such as this. A lot of that has to come from the federal government and its ability to look across the nation at what is happening in the economy today.
One might ask why this situation arises, why it occurs. It happens in economies throughout the world. More important, we are looking at the situation facing this country, and we have looked at it over the past number of years. It is no small accident that we have probably seen a number of plant closures in this country as a result of what I no longer like to call, but I think one could still continue to state it in these terms, our branch-plant economy. We have looked at that situation in the select committee on economic affairs looking into the free trade question.
Quite frankly, there are no easy answers. Although my friends across the way purport to have the solutions at hand, I do not believe they are that easy to come by.
Mr. Wildman: We just have the right questions; the Liberals do not have even that.
Mr. Cordiano: We are willing to listen to some of the things the honourable member is saying. Some of the things he is saying are quite meaningful. Members from the Conservative party have put forward some views that could help the situation as well. On the other hand, I do not believe there are easy, quick-fix solutions to these problems.
Getting to the specific case of Goodyear, it seems to be apparent that what took place and what transpired were machinations of the marketplace, of the stock exchange, of one company chasing another. This is of a great deal of concern. It is also something that we are looking at.
Mr. Warner: Bay Street leeches.
Mr. Cordiano: It is happening in the United States. It is probably beyond boundaries that we can call our country. It is an international phenomenon. It is taking place throughout the world.
It should concern us particularly in reference to our country because concentration has a greater impact as a result of the small economy we have in this country. The market that is available in this country is spread throughout the country, across this great, vast land. This has caused a great deal of concentration over the years. Others have looked at this over the past number of years. To be tactually correct, a number of federal and provincial committees have looked at this question for a number of jurisdictions. There are no easy answers.
Mr. Warner: There are some.
Mr. Cordiano: There are some indeed. We have been looking at this question recently in one of the committees I am a member of, the standing committee on finance and economic affairs. It has been made reference to by a number of enlightened persons over the years. They have made a number of recommendations, but there are no quick fixes to this.
As well, looking at the situation vis-à-vis the trade question, with regard to free trade and the entire debate that has transpired over the years, this in large measure deals directly with the kind of situation we are facing today with the plant closing at Goodyear. To suggest that the government of Ontario should and could take over the plant would not be correct. I am not saying anybody has suggested it. I am not saying anyone here has suggested it. However, there is that extreme point of view and there is another point of view whereby we might meet with company officials. The minister will be meeting tomorrow with senior company officials from the US. What we are doing is giving inducement and incentive to the company to maintain its operation in this province.
I am all for that if it saves jobs that could possibly be lost. On the other hand, with specific reference to Goodyear, this is a move initiated by the corporate headquarters as a result of extraneous factors that go beyond the boundaries of this country.
Mr. Warner: Paper shuffling.
Mr. Cordiano: Of course it is paper shuffling. If the member is suggesting that we should have a law to prevent this from occurring, he should tell me how to prevent this from occurring overseas. Can we dictate to firms overseas? Can we dictate to these multinationals?
Mr. Warner: They do in Germany and Sweden.
Mr. Cordiano: That is fine. On the other hand, we are faced here with the possible lifting or removal of jobs throughout our provincial economy that are very important. I think the minister will make every effort. I know that for a fact.
I want to comment on some of the remarks made by members of the opposition that this government has not been progressive in its view and outlook and has not been progressive in its legislation.
Mr. Warner: It has done zero.
Mr. Cordiano: That is patently untrue. The member knows that. We have moved forward on a number of important pieces of legislation. In fact, the Attorney General has just introduced pay equity, which is a very progressive piece of legislation. The member knows and I know that this will move this province forward in a very progressive and reform-minded way. Any objective bystander will say that.
There are a number of issues that need to be resolved in the future, a number of important initiatives that I guarantee this government will take. On the other hand, we have taken a number of important initiatives, as I have stated, and we will continue to do so because we are a progressive-minded party. Situations that come up in the future will be dealt with through a progressive type of reform legislation that we have already initiated.
Mr. Warner: When?
Mr. Cordiano: We are doing our best. As the member was saying, the pressure the third party is bringing to bear to move forward is certainly not warranted, because we have been moving forward as quickly as possible. This House and this government have dealt with a number of important issues.
Mr. Barlow: Does the member really believe all that?
Mr. Cordiano: Certainly, I believe it because I know it to be true.
Mr. Cureatz: I am pleased to have this opportunity to participate in this debate and I want to give a different perspective in terms of what has taken place so far. In my particular riding, which runs roughly from the city of Oshawa towards Port Hope and further north, we have a Goodyear Canada plant located in the former town of Bowmanville, all of which is now under the regional government referred to as the town of Newcastle.
I can tell the members of the anxiety, the frustrations and the concerns those workers, now more than 1,500 people have lost their jobs, are going through. In the Bowmanville community, Goodyear has been a very responsible and good corporate citizen. It has been there for a number of years. It has had a good rapport in terms of its interest in the community, beyond the manufacturing of its particular products. It has been involved.
By the same token, however, a number of years ago, we did have a move of a division of the Goodyear plant to another community in southern Ontario, and that had an impact on our area. It is not as drastic as what is taking place now with 1,500 people, but it had an impact in terms of men and women losing their jobs and on the community. There was frustration because Goodyear is a major employer in our area.
In the past number of years in this assembly, I have learned something about these shutdowns. It is an old saying, "Here we go again." I am a little sympathetic with the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) in terms of the frustration he described. I would like to bring to the attention of the member for Downsview (Mr. Cordiano), who has not had the privilege of sitting in this chamber for the length of time I have, that we have been through this already and, embarrassingly enough, we went through it when we were the government.
We had the select committee on plant shutdowns and employee adjustment, and I had the opportunity of sitting on that committee with a number of colleagues who are still in the assembly. I can think of the member for Hamilton East and the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. Taylor). We sat on that committee investigating, among other things, the SKF plant -- a ball-bearing manufacturing company from Sweden -- in Scarborough in the riding represented by the member for Scarborough East (Mr. Fulton); and two plants that make wiring to be put into new automobiles, one in the St. Catharines area and one in Windsor. We had their executives come before that committee to explain their situation in terms of the shutdown. It was a great Donnybrook with respect to the rapport among politicians, those corporate executives and the employees who had lost their jobs.
A report was submitted, and I hasten to add I believe on some particular shelf there is a bit of dust gathering on that report. I want to say to the minister, whom I respect very much, that we in this assembly should learn from the kind of incident that has already taken place that we can no longer afford to lurch from shutdown to shutdown in this province. It affects too many things. It affects directly the people who are employed. There are the anxieties of the families about paying mortgages and taxes and feeding the dependants who rely on the individuals who work at the plant. It affects the community in terms of the social programs and activities a corporation is responsible for. It affects the municipal government and the tax structure and it affects the provincial and federal governments in instances where there have been government grants.
What is the solution? I wish I could look into a crystal ball and come up with a magic formula. I cannot but I suggest that maybe we are going to have to take another run at this. Why not have a select committee, not necessarily to look specifically at the Goodyear shutdown? I know we cannot wave a magic wand, but we should take a look, as the third party has indicated, at other jurisdictions, possibly at western Europe, in terms of the kind of rapport between corporations and all levels of government and the specific people who are affected -- if the third party is listening, the unions that are affected.
I want to tell the members of this House that for too long I have witnessed, time and time again, a knee-jerk response in regard to plant shutdowns. We have a debate in this chamber and for one whole afternoon it is the focus of television cameras. We have people watching at home. There is the press gallery. We will be driving home this evening listening to the radio. Tomorrow morning we will read in the newspapers about the debate that has taken place in the chamber. However, let us face facts. Nothing further is going to result from it.
I give credit to the minister who will be approaching the executives of Goodyear in Canada and the United States, but the writing is on the wall. He is not going to have much influence. Because of his stature representing the government of Ontario, he may be able to squeeze from them a package that will be monetarially beneficial to the employees in terms of retirement and severance pay and in terms of a continuation of trying to place employees who have lost their jobs with other corporations.
I tell the minister and this government that the Conservative party has been there before. I like to think that I am taking a responsible position with regard to my remarks. I want to refresh the memories of the members on the Liberal side, more particularly the members of the government, and remind them that we can no longer bounce from shutdown to shutdown. There has to be a package. There has to be a formula, a step-by-step process so that in the event there is a possibility of a major plant shutdown these formulas can be worked out.
Goodness knows, the Attorney General announced a formula today in terms of pay equity legislation that plants employing fewer than 10 people would not be subject to the legislation. There has to be a formula, a step-by-step process so that in the event a corporation of a particular size is considering immediately axing its plant, it will have to contact the various people who have to be taken into consideration.
It might go against the grain of the great corporate structure and the free enterprise system, but we now are all based in a community that is tied together, be it socially or economically or in community spirit. We can no longer afford these actions by the great corporate citizens. They affect the livelihood of too many people and of all our communities together.
I remind the minister that we have to follow a step-by-step process. We will give him time to devise the formula. We should let all members of the assembly structure a committee so that we can look at the kind of formula. I am not necessarily saying the government has to take credit for it. As individuals who are concerned about these major shutdowns where so many people are affected, let us take on the responsibility of coming up with a formula to ensure that if the plant has to shut down, we can determine the least impact in terms of people who have to be retrained, of the benefit packages and of the possibility of government stimulation with grants, provincially and federally and possibly municipally, to keep the plant going.
I remind all members of this assembly that we have seen it all before. Although the member for Downsview has left the chamber, I am sure he will be reading my remarks later this evening in Instant Hansard or replaying the television video scan so he can listen to my remarks. I want him to know that, as sure as I am here -- until the next election, possibly -- if we do not devise a plan now, within six months to a year there will be another major plant shutdown and we will be going through the same kind of emergency debate. It will be highly focused for a maximum of two days, and then we will all forget about it, because we have other pressing issues in our ridings or the issue of the day.
That is not good enough. This is the opportunity for all the government members to take some leadership, with the help of all members of the chamber, to devise a formula whereby we can become more adjusted to the kinds of drastic impacts that have taken place in our province.
Mr. Morin-Strom: I am pleased to make a few final comments for our party on this important debate. I am surprised the debate is being proposed by the party to my right, the Progressive Conservative Party -- at least in name.
I was amazed to hear some of the comments from the last few speakers. The member for Durham East (Mr. Cureatz) wants to resurrect the plant shutdown committee so that we can look into the actions of these corporate conglomerates and how they might be hurting employees of the province. The member for Hamilton East laid out quite clearly earlier in the debate what happened the last time we had a plant shutdown committee, which was during the last minority government under Conservative rule in the early 1980s. When the Conservatives achieved a majority government in 1981, the committee was quickly shut down and all the recommendations that came out of it went into the dust pile. That was the end of any action from that party on an issue such as this.
At the same time, we have the Liberal Party running the government and moving into the former Conservative position of talking nicely but doing absolutely nothing about a situation. The last Liberal speaker, the member for Downsview, made the comment that we do not want to make this debate ideological. To me, that is just an interpretation. They do not really want to make a distinction between themselves and the Conservatives. They are interchangeable, and we do not want to have to look to what possible ideology there is between the position the former government had and the position the new government has. As Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum switch positions once they are in power, there is no action whatsoever.
The situation facing Goodyear tire rubber and its employees in Metropolitan Toronto is a severe one. The threatened layoff of more than 1,500 is something to which I can relate well. Last April, Algoma Steel made an announcement of major layoffs and down-sizing of its operations. Its plans as well accounted for 1,500 jobs being lost by mid-year next year. Our community is still trying to react to that situation and do something to ensure that as many of those jobs as possible are protected.
In this situation, everyone is involved. The complete plant is being shut down. The incredible situation here is certainly different from that of Algoma Steel, a company that has been losing money and having difficult times. Goodyear has been a profitable company and continues to be operating a profitable plant in Etobicoke.
The company's action is solely the result of a takeover bid by a British financier, Sir James Goldsmith. That is quite a situation. We have a company trying to protect itself from a takeover bid, spending hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, to fight off the takeover bid, and who is going to finance it? It is going to be the workers. In this situation, it means all the workers at this major plant in southern Ontario, a situation in which the company likes to highlight the fact that the plant is 69 years old without discussing the fact that the plant was modernized, with government subsidization, back in 1980 to make it the modern and profitable plant it is today. That modernization program was financed by the Conservative party to our right, which was in government at that time, and it involved extracting union concessions as well as part of the package to reactivate and revitalize that plant.
The result is that now the plant is going to be shut down, with no recourse, apparently, for the workers in the community who are involved. There has been no discussion or consultation. The workers are being taken advantage of to finance an activity that is not even taking place in our country.
There is certainly a serious question here about why all our auto plants are owned outside Canada and why we cannot have a Canadian-owned auto company. One of the things this government has to look at seriously is the possibility that we look for a Canadian operation in the future to move in and take over this plant, because if it is a profitable one, why should we be buying tires from foreign manufacturers who are jerking us around in this fashion when we could be buying our tires right here in Canada from a plant that is producing them under Canadian ownership?
It is time that we put some controls on major industrial enterprises to guarantee that they take responsibility for their actions, responsibility not only to the shareholders or to fighting off major shareholders, as in this case, but also responsibility to the workers, the community and the consumers whom they are trying to serve.
I would like to bring up the fact that there is the possibility of action in this case. If the Liberals had acted on the agreement that was signed by the Premier nearly a year and a half ago, we might well have solved this problem and be in a situation where we would have some protection for those workers.
The accord signed with the Liberals included a provision that there be "Reform of job security legislation, including notice and justification of layoffs and plant shutdowns and improved severance legislation." We have not seen a single piece of action on any of that, an item that is of vital importance to the workers of this province, the types of protections that have already been tried and proved in western Europe. We are not looking for a quick fix that is unrealistic. We have examples of countries that have had protections in place for years, and it is time this government went back to the promise that has been broken to this point and brought forward some legislation that will protect the workers of this province.
The House adjourned at 5:59 p.m.