L084 - Mon 12 Jan 1987 / Lun 12 jan 1987
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: Before we commence routine proceedings, I would like to ask all members to join me in welcoming the next group of legislative pages, which will be serving in this winter sitting of the second session of the 33rd Parliament. They are:
Michelle Basciano, Welland-Thorold; Nicola Di Croce, Downsview; Anne Donohoe, Wilson Heights; Sarah Epp, Waterloo North; D'Arcy Finley, London Centre; Adam Haugh, Rainy River; Erica Heasman, Sarnia; Helen Hopkins, Parry Sound; Sarah Jones, London South; Nicholas Lyne, Scarborough Centre; Allison Meldrum, Ottawa East; Hope Moore, St. Andrew-St. Patrick; Kim Murray, London North; Olson Or, Essex North; Renee Parsons, Parkdale; Rodel Ramos, Etobicoke; Michael Robb, Middlesex; Dawn Marie Schlegel, Perth; Robert Todd, Brant-Oxford-Norfolk; Harley Young, Fort William; Roxane Villeneuve, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry; Robbie Walters, Niagara Falls, and Michael Waterston, Wellington South.
Please welcome this group of pages.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: I would like to bring to the attention of this House a problem faced by the Ontario Retail Farm Equipment Dealers' Association, which represents 425 farm equipment sales and service organizations in Ontario. The corporation capital tax as it applies to farm equipment dealers appears to be unjust and discriminatory. The member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe) presented this as a question to the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Nixon) on October 23, 1986. The member for Durham-York (Mr. Stevenson) also questioned the minister on November 4, 1986.
It is my understanding that dealers are forced to pay tax on inventory which they legally do not own but which is in their possession for more than 120 days. Because of the seriously depressed economic environment in the farming community, this corporation capital tax is just another burden faced by the business people in rural Ontario.
I respectfully request the Treasurer and Minister of Revenue to give serious consideration to modifying this unfair tax burden levied against the farm equipment dealers.
Mr. Reville: The United Nations has designated 1987 as International Year of Shelter for the Homeless. The tragedy of homelessness is cruelly close to home. The housing crisis claimed its first acknowledged victim of 1987 yesterday, not 10 minutes' walk from the Legislature.
Brother Rudy Mumm, who works at the Good Shepherd Refuge, said on New Year's Day, "The situation continues to get worse and we are fearful that there will be more people dying in the streets this winter." I know how devastated Brother Mumm is today to find his words have so soon proved prophetic.
Brother Mumm and a growing number of housing activists and front-line workers have recognized the problem of homelessness for years and have raised the problem with ever-increasing sharpness.
Today we will be doing estimates of the Ministry of Housing, and I am afraid that within the Housing estimates there is no comfort for the homeless. As a percentage of gross expenditure, Ontario is shockingly ahead of only the maritime provinces in terms of its housing effort. Surely in this International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, the government must do better.
Mr. Offer: Today I would like to take the opportunity to recognize two very important days for those people who follow the Julian calendar. For them, January 7 was Christmas Day and tomorrow, January 13, is New Year's Day. These two special days are celebrated by many of the ethnic communities which have chosen to make their homes in Ontario. They include people of Ukrainian, Russian, Serbian, Macedonian and Bulgarian origin and those who are members of Christian Orthodox churches.
These are holidays that are marked by reflection. This is a time for being with family members and close friends. No matter how far away family members may be in miles, in their hearts they feel closer together on these days. I would like to invite my colleagues in the Legislature to join me in congratulating all those communities that will be celebrating this festive occasion.
Mr. Partington: I wish to express my disappointment with the recent decision made by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The ministry has denied a request from the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake for a safe crossing system on Highway 55 at Field Road in Virgil. This crosswalk was originally requested by the residents of Pleasant Manor Retirement Village in Virgil to assist them in crossing the highway for access to shopping and to their grocery store, post office and bank.
The administrator of Pleasant Manor, Ed Schellenberg, has witnessed numerous near misses as residents of the retirement manor have struggled to move quickly and judge the traffic flow to cross the highway safely. During the summer and fall months, Highway 55 is particularly busy with tourist traffic to Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Shaw Festival.
I take issue with the minister's suggestion that the mere presence of sidewalks and reduced speed limits in this area will put drivers on notice of pedestrian activity and that, as a result, motorists can be expected to temper their driving habits. I urge the minister to re-examine his decision and allow a pedestrian-activated traffic signal at Field Road to protect the safety of the residents of Pleasant Manor and everyone who wishes to do business in Virgil.
CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE
Mr. Morin-Strom: The Liberal proposal for new research centres leaves the north out in the cold. The excellence centres proposed by the government are going to areas that already have strong research bases. The north, with the greatest need and the greatest opportunity to create new jobs in Ontario, does not qualify.
On the last day of the fall session at Queen's Park, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. O'Neil) announced the criteria for up to six centres of excellence that would be the major thrust of the technology fund. The minister's proposal has some serious flaws.
The call for the proposals indicates that the research centres must be sponsored by a consortium of universities and the private sector. The centres will be selected on the basis of strength of the sponsor's current research programs, programs which must be internationally recognized. The provincial government has never built a major research university in northern Ontario, and the private sector has never developed a research base in the north. Unless there are adjustments to the eligibility criteria, this proposal will leave northern Ontario out in the cold.
These centres should be selected based on regional economic needs and on potential benefit from technological development. I am especially concerned about the discrimination against the north in this billion-dollar program. The north desperately needs research centres that can change our future from being hewers of wood and drawers of water for the industrial south. The north does have special needs and abilities.
If the Liberals wanted to help northern Ontario, they would establish research facilities there to help the resource-based industries and encourage secondary manufacturing.
M. Poirier: Pour plus d'un million d'Ontariennes et d'Ontariens adultes, l'analphabétisme constitue un obstacle important.
A l'été 1980, j'ai initié, à titre d'agent de développement pour l'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario de Prescott-Russell, une première étude sur l'analphabétisme et ses conséquences. En réponse aux tristes conclusions faisant état d'un taux élevé d'analphabétisme au sein de notre communauté, M. Richard Hudon mit sur pied un efficace programme d'alphabétisation connu sous le nom d'Alpha-Action.
C'est avec beaucoup de fierté et de confiance en ses compétences que je tiens à souligner l'accession de M. Hudon au poste de coordonnateur provincial pour le secteur francophone du programme d'alphabétisation communautaire en Ontario.
J'entrevois avec beaucoup d'optimisme l'engagement de M. Hudon et celui de mon gouvernement dans la lutte contre l'analphabétisme par l'entremise d'un programme d'alphabétisation de beaucoup amplifié.
Je tiens à assurer M. Hudon de mon appui personnel des plus solidaires, ainsi que de celui de tous mes collègues, tant francophones qu'anglophones. Je suis fier de voir mon gouvernement s'engager dans la lutte contre l'analphabétisme d'une façon si convaincante. Voilà une autre preuve de notre détermination à répondre à des besoins pressants dans notre communauté.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY
Mr. Shymko: Today I will be presenting for first reading a bill entitled the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Act, 1987, to highlight officially and declare the third Monday in January of each year as Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Ontario.
The purpose of this bill is to highlight the major contribution to the civil rights and human rights movement in the United States made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was of great benefit not only to our citizens south of the border but also to people of all races, not only in the US but also throughout the world, including Canada.
I want to remind members that various communities in Ontario and other provinces will be celebrating this very special day on January 19, 1987, by marking it with special prayers and services in churches, community organizations and community halls.
I would appreciate if, through the arrangement of the government House leader and the agreement of the House leaders of the two opposition parties, we could have unanimous consent to speedy passage of this private bill and mark the initiative of Ontario and Canada on this special occasion.
Mr. Rae: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if I might have the unanimous consent of the House to make a brief statement about the passing of someone whom I know all of us want to recognize. I refer to the tragic death last week of Margaret Laurence.
Mr. Rae: I know other members will want to have an opportunity to say something about the tragic passing of Margaret Laurence last week. On behalf of members of my party, I want to say a few brief words about this quite outstanding and remarkable Canadian writer, humanist and spokesperson for human courage and for the human condition.
Margaret Laurence served this country far better than she knew, by the quality of her writing, by the courage of her prose and by the outstanding work she did on behalf of Canadian literature and Canadian consciousness in her life's work. She is known as a novelist to all of us and as someone whose work has spoken of human courage and of so-called average Canadians, showing them not to be average at all but to be the outstanding people we know them to be. She was a woman of enormous personal courage, particularly in the battle she fought against her last illness. She was a consistent fighter for peace. She spoke courageously against those who would attempt to prevent her work from being widely distributed and read and she spoke courageously against censorship and on behalf of human freedom.
I take special pride in the life and work of Margaret Laurence. Perhaps I can say this because she was a very dedicated social democrat. She was never afraid to speak her mind and to give support to our party at a time when not so many others were prepared to do so, but it is not in any partisan spirit that we celebrate her life and recognize her passing.
I would like to quote for honourable members from her last novel, The Diviners, in which one of the characters, whom we all know by the name of Pique, had a song. I would like to read this song into the record:
There's a valley holds my name, now I know.
In the tales they used to tell it seemed so low.
There's a valley way down there.
I used to dream it like a prayer.
And my fathers, they lived there long ago.
There's a mountain holds my name, close to the sky.
And those stories made that mountain seem so high.
There's a mountain way up there.
I used to dream I'd breathe its air
And hear the voices that in me would never die.
I came to taste the dust out on a prairie road.
My childhood thoughts were heavy on me like a load
But I left behind my fear
When I found those ghosts were near
Leadin' me back to that home I never knowed.
Ah, my valley and my mountain, they're the same
My living places, and they will never be tame.
When I think how I was born
I can't help but being torn
But the valley and the mountain hold my name.
The valley and the mountain hold my name.
We in Ontario hold the name of Margaret Laurence very close to our hearts.
Ms. Fish: I join the leader of the third party in expressing on behalf of my party considerable sadness and regret at the passing of a great woman, a great author and a great Canadian. Margaret Laurence's works were fiction, but in the course of a very extraordinary fiction she showed us life. In her work she never shied away from tackling the difficult, the ugly, the sewer aspects of our society. She showed us the ways in which we could overcome our problems, mindful of some of the more basic traditions of our culture as Canadians.
It is perhaps a mark of someone who was able to show us ourselves in the mirror of the fiction she wrote that she was so often the subject of attack on her works. Various efforts were mounted to remove them from the very place they most should be -- in the hands of our young people thinking about our society, about our province and about our country.
It is with considerable sadness that we are aware that she was unable in her last several years to continue producing very much work because of the illnesses she confronted, and perhaps also because of the wounding of the attacks that had been made on her work. As a woman who stood out so strongly for freedom of thought, as a woman who was so clear on the importance of showing to all in society through her work the warts and the ugly sides so that we might mend them, she was a woman particularly hurt by those who would choose to have that very truth taken from the shelves and from the hands, the eyes, the minds and understanding of the people of this province, particularly our youth.
If we remember people after their passing, surely we remember them for their contributions. We also think of them in their lives. Margaret, we will always think of you in the life you showed us through your works. We are sad at your passing.
Hon. Ms. Munro: I would like to join my colleagues in the Legislature in mourning the passing of a great and visionary Canadian cultural figure.
Margaret Laurence will be well remembered and history will show that she was a woman who fought for the rights of many people. She was a very famous novelist, and will be recorded as such because she had so many of the values we often say separate us, as human beings, from the animal world. She was able to reflect on emotions and to encapsulate emotions in her writings that often expressed the need for pressing and very real social change. She was able to pass those feelings down to each of us.
As a woman, I am particularly proud not only to have met her but also to have reaped the benefits of her thoughts and lifestyle. She was many things to many people and always will be. Her ability to portray us for all people to read about, and for us to grow as we read about ourselves, was a true gift that she did not exploit but worked on for the benefit of us all.
Her characters will never be forgotten. I think of The Stone Angel and The Diviners and I know that I developed because of her compassion for other people. Her sense of humour allowed her to reach out to us and to lay before us the paradoxes, the despair and the laughter of the human race. She was indeed a person. She was fiercely Canadian. She was a woman interested in and acting on behalf of women. She was embraced by all of us. She was a true friend to many. The life and works of Margaret Laurence have been a legacy to all of us.
Thank you very much for allowing me to speak.
Mr. Speaker: I thank the members who have spoken. As usual, when Hansard is printed I will make certain that these words of sympathy are sent to the appropriate persons.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Today, I am pleased to present the report of the external review by Geoffrey McKenzie and John Laskin on the administration of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The report makes a number of recommendations that will help advance the government's response to the work place health and safety challenge. It dismisses without reservation allegations that Ministry of Labour officials and managers deliberately sought to undermine the enforcement of the law and to obstruct the administration of justice. I wish to express my appreciation to the staff of the ministry and others for the professionalism with which they have met their obligations during the conduct of the review. For many, this has not been an easy time.
Before I make detailed comment on the substance of the report, let me recall how the review came to be commissioned in the first place.
In the spring of 1986, the government determined that a thorough review of the administration of the act was necessary. The health and safety service had been seriously neglected at a time when the public was demanding improved work place health and safety. We decided to invite Mr. McKenzie to help us assess the strengths and weaknesses of the system and to recommend changes that would permit the health and safety division to reflect, in its activities, the political direction of the new Liberal government. Mr. McKenzie, as the managing partner of the Coopers and Lybrand Consulting Group and as a consultant broadly experienced in policy development, planning and organization, was ideally suited to examine management policies and practices.
Then, last May, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union made a number of very serious public allegations about the attitudes and conduct of ministry officials and managers publicly entrusted to administer the law, allegations impugning the very integrity of those officials and managers. As a result, I announced not only Mr. McKenzie's appointment but also the appointment of John Laskin to investigate all cases in which it was alleged that ministry personnel had behaved improperly. Mr. Laskin is counsel to the law firm of Davies, Ward and Beck. He has extensive human rights experience and, through his service as counsel to the Royal Commission on Matters of Health and Safety Arising from the Use of Asbestos in Ontario, intimate knowledge of many occupational health and safety issues.
In their report, the reviewers reject totally, categorically and in the strongest terms all the allegations. They report and judge the detail of 77 cases and in the process cite instances of mistake, error in judgement and inadequate response to work place problems. In short, they find human imperfection; but let no one confuse imperfection with impropriety and let no one impugn any further the integrity of officials and managers within our occupational health and safety service.
On the management audit side of the review, the reviewers find much that is right and much that needs improving. They find that the underpinnings of the occupational health and safety system are sound. They endorse the principle that the primary responsibility for occupational health and safety must rest mutually with management and labour in the work place. This is known as the internal responsibility system.
This principle is a very important one. Here is what it means to this minister and this government. First, management, with its resources, has the weight of responsibility for ensuring work place health and safety. Second, workers have vital responsibility as well. Third, if employers and workers fail to fulfil their mutual responsibilities, they can be assured this government will not hesitate to act.
In the context of the need for an internal responsibility system that works well, the reviewers make a number of recommendations to increase the capacity and authority of joint labour-management health and safety committees. They also take special account of workers in small work places that are not required by law to establish health and safety committees. They make major and important recommendations concerning the qualifications, recruitment, training, career development, compensation and status of inspectors.
As well, the reviewers make a number of recommendations designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the occupational health and safety service: further regionalization, improved information systems and the enhancement of the single-window service in which one inspector or technical specialist co-ordinates all contacts between the work place and the ministry.
On the whole, the report's recommendations on management policy, practice and organization are sensible. A number can be implemented readily, and I undertake to do this. Indeed, in some cases, the process of reform began some time ago, and the report's recommendations confirm the wisdom of the government's actions.
A second group of recommendations has direct cost implications. Last fall, I alerted my colleague the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) to the service's need for more money. This report will help us to define the areas of greatest need.
A third group, those concerning reorganization, requires a careful consultation process with staff at all levels to proceed towards implementation. There are significant benefits in the concept of the decentralized and regionalized management structure the report recommends. However, careful preparation of staff, management processes and an assured funding base are essential for the major organizational changes contemplated. My deputy minister, Glenn Thompson, is putting this consultative and preparatory process into action immediately.
Much of this report is about reform. That reform began when this government took office and continues today through administrative change, policy initiative and legislative amendment.
Fifteen months ago, we instituted a new orders policy. In it, we abolished the reissuing of orders and prescribed specific deadlines for compliance with orders, all to enforce the act with greater vigour and toughness.
Twelve months ago, we introduced Bill 101, which set out the most progressive worker and community right to know about potentially hazardous materials in the work place of any jurisdiction in Canada.
Ten months ago, we put into place two new designated substance regulations, one for asbestos in the construction, building and repair area, and the other to control arsenic. Eight more of these special regulations to control the most hazardous and pervasive substances are in the final stages.
Three months ago, we filed a group of important occupational safety regulations to provide protection with regard to crane operations, commercial diving, offshore oil and gas drilling and X-ray use.
Two months ago, we filed a critical new regulation to increase worker protection from harmful exposures to toxic agents and to strengthen the government's hand in enforcing the law.
Last month, we successfully concluded negotiations to establish a national work place hazardous materials information system. The government of Ontario played a pivotal leadership role here.
While all of this has been going on, we have been able to build the service: almost 100 new people at an annual salary cost of nearly $4 million and a major expansion of our training programs.
The challenge of government is to make things work. It is a far more weighty and worthy challenge than that of pulling things apart by unjust accusations.
The reform process we have just come through has been exhaustive and unremitting, but it has yielded important insights that will help Ontario become the leading jurisdiction for work place health and safety in all North America.
In the end, that is the goal to which we all aspire.
TARIFFS ON SOFTWOOD LUMBER
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I would like to inform the House of my government's response to a recent agreement between the federal government and the United States to impose a 15 per cent export tax on softwood lumber.
We have been opposed to these negotiations from the beginning. As I wrote in a letter to US Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige on December 15, we believe that the information and methodology used by the US to reach its position in the preliminary determination was flawed and that the decision went far beyond the scope and intention of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Further, our belief in the integrity and fairness of our forest management programs is so strong that we believe the US position could have been successfully challenged.
A very impressive case against the preliminary determination was made to the Department of Commerce by the Canadian lumber industry. The Ontario government took the position of supporting the lumber industry in its fight against the arbitrary imposition of countervailing duties by the US.
Instead, an agreement to terminate the countervailing duty investigation was reached on December 30 between the Canadian and American governments, without the support of the Ontario government. Again, Ontario was not alone in its opposition to negotiating an agreement. We have had the support of almost the entire Canadian lumber industry, including the Ontario forest industry, the Canadian Forest Industry Council and the lumber and sawmill workers' union.
The softwood lumber agreement with the US puts a 15 per cent tax on the final mill price of all softwood lumber exports to the US. Ottawa has apparently accepted the responsibility to collect at least $500 million each year in export duties. This tax can be reduced or eliminated if the provinces agree to increase the stumpage or other charges they impose on producers, but the calculation of the value of these replacement measures must be approved by federal and US officials.
My government finds this agreement totally unacceptable. We believe that major components of the Canadian-US softwood lumber agreement constitute a significant intrusion on provincial sovereignty. In fact, imposing an export tax on a provincial resource in this manner would appear to be a violation of provincial jurisdiction under the Constitution. Not only does it intrude on the provinces' rights to exercise control over provincial resources, but also it puts the management of our Canadian forest resources under the supervision of the US government.
Under the terms of this agreement, the money Ottawa collects will be closely monitored by the US to make sure Canadian producers or exporters do not receive any benefit from it. Moreover, the US government must approve the calculation of the value of replacement measures and has interpreted this to mean US approval for any reduction in the federal export charges. In addition, the US will oversee Canadian measures such as the provision of grants, low-cost loans and the awarding of contracts for forestry activities on a noncompetitive basis.
These conditions impose serious limitations on the capability of the province to develop policies or programs, or even to deliver existing programs to assist the Ontario softwood lumber industry towards further modernization and international competitiveness. Further, it sets major constraints on the flexibility or the ability of the provinces to use the export tax revenues to support affected firms, workers and communities.
The federal government would have us believe that the agreement preserves for the provinces exclusive responsibility over our forest management policies. However, the US government, in close consultation with the US softwood lumber industry, can determine that provincial measures to replace the federal export tax are unacceptable and violate the US interpretation of the December 30 agreement.
If the agreement, as interpreted by the US, has been violated, the US will be able to take further unilateral action against Canadian softwood lumber exports. In this case, tariffs or other retaliatory measures on Canadian exports can be imposed by administration fiat, and Canadian defence in US courts is then very limited. Indeed, the threat of unilateral retaliation provides even less certainty for Canadian softwood lumber exporters as a result of this agreement.
The US has spelled out its interpretation of the agreement in a letter from Malcolm Baldrige and Clayton Yeutter to the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports. The Canadian government has stated that this letter was not the subject of negotiations and is not part of the agreement. Nevertheless, in the case of disagreement between the parties as to interpretation of the agreement, the US industry would certainly submit the letter as evidence of the meaning of the agreement. The US government would be hard pressed, both politically and legally, to disavow its own interpretation as expressed in the letter.
I have described in some detail a few of Ontario's major concerns with this agreement in terms of the loss of provincial sovereignty and the threat of US retaliation. I believe the federal government must address these concerns. Equally if not more important, we view this agreement as a capitulation to US protectionism that will encourage similar actions in the future against other provincially controlled resources and Ontario exporters. This agreement promises to have a devastating effect on the economy and social fabric of northern Ontario communities.
Many towns in northern Ontario are dependent on a single industry: forestry. There are few other opportunities for these people to find other employment. Yet not only do we find ourselves hurt by a situation that has been thrust upon us, the terms of the agreement, as I described earlier, could well prevent us from helping those workers who have lost their jobs because of the export tax or those communities that are dependent on the forest sector.
Since the federal government is directly responsible for creating this situation, I am aggressively seeking federal assistance to help alleviate the suffering it is going to cause. Ottawa must assume responsibility for creating this situation and must show leadership in helping the provinces deal with the consequences. I will be meeting with Miss Carney and the other provincial ministers in Vancouver next Wednesday and I will be discussing these concerns at that time. I am also very concerned about what will happen to the approximately $500 million the federal government expects to collect as a result of this tax.
At the first ministers' conference in Vancouver, the Prime Minister committed himself to a 100 per cent flowback of any export tax revenues to the provinces affected. I fully expect the Prime Minister will honour that commitment. In addition, the financial flowback must not disrupt previously negotiated federal-provincial funding programs, including forest management agreements.
Finally, I am concerned about the fact that this agreement may result in the diversion of lumber from one province to another. For example, if excess lumber from the west coast is directed to Ontario because the export tax has priced it out of traditional US markets, it could lead to even more layoffs in this province. The federal government has failed to address this possibility.
Ontario's opposition to this agreement is clear. We will be doing everything in our power to reduce the inevitable job loss and decline in economic activity that this agreement will cause, and we will be working with the other provinces as much as possible to minimize the harm the agreement is going to do to Canada.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Gillies: With regard to the statement made by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) today, I would say on behalf of our party that for the member for Windsor-Sandwich to retain any credibility whatsoever as Minister of Labour, he should have moved very quickly today to dissociate himself from this report by Messrs. Laskin and McKenzie. This report is as close to a self-serving whitewash as I have ever seen brought into this House by the Minister of Labour or by any other member of this government. The report and the minister's response to the report fail completely to allow the minister to take responsibility for the operations of his own ministry and to take responsibility for a deteriorating situation in terms of health and safety in the work places of this province.
The report, in turn, blames the problems in occupational health and safety on the labour movement, the media, "a concerned public" and the opposition. I want to quote from the executive summary of this report regarding the labour movement. Lord knows I have had and will have my disagreements with the labour movement, but I want to read this into the record.
"At least some members of the latter group" -- referring to organized labour in this province -- "are ideologically opposed to co-operative solutions and believe that the system must be changed. Unfortunately, there is evidence that members of this group have another agenda and are using occupational health and safety to achieve other objectives."
For all the disagreements I may have had with labour in this province, I have never seen any agenda on the part of the labour movement in this province but the improvement of occupational health and safety and the reduction of accidents, injuries and deaths. For the report to suggest otherwise and for the minister to associate himself with this report in that regard is disgraceful. The labour movement in this province deserves an apology from this minister rather than the endorsement of this report.
Page 185 of the report cites a lack of leadership from the minister's office in this regard. While the minister would parrot and prattle on about reform and improvement in this area, the report does nothing to propose solutions to the very basic fact that the work place in this province is less safe now than it was the day this government took office, and the situation with deaths and injuries is completely unsatisfactory.
As recently as today's morning papers, we see yet further accusations by inspectors within the minister's own staff about interference with their ability to do their jobs from senior officials. We in this party have withheld from joining with the third party and calling for the resignation of the minister. His inability to come to grips with this issue makes it necessary for us to join with the New Democratic Party and say this minister has to resign.
TARIFFS ON SOFTWOOD LUMBER
Mr. Grossman: I rise to address the rather fatuous statement made by the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio). He talks at some length about having been opposed to these negotiations from the beginning. In point of fact, this minister accepted and was part of the Canadian offer to accept 10 per cent. The day the 15 per cent was announced, this minister stood up in this House and suggested it was good news for Canadians because only 1,000 jobs would be lost.
The minister goes on to suggest that the federal government alone created this situation. In 1983, the Americans were considering the same information. In 1983, the then Minister of Natural Resources made four trips to Washington to argue the Canadian case; this minister made none. His Premier (Mr. Peterson) went to Hollywood for a gala. This minister went to Hong Kong, China and everywhere else in the Far East. No one went to Washington to speak for Ontarians.
All we can conclude from this is that Ontario's interests were not represented in Washington by this government and that British Columbia's influence was more effectively exercised by its Premier than ours was by our Premier. The British Columbia position prevailed. Our position did not prevail in Ottawa or in Washington because it was never put by this government or by this minister. It is fatuous for him now to stand up and cry over the 1,000 jobs that will be lost, which he said was good news for Ontarians.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Further responses, the member for Sudbury East.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Martel: In 20 years in this Legislature, I have never seen a more rotten report in my life. It is sick. It is about as sick as the minister. This minister, who had to get rid of a deputy and a whole group of people because he could not get control of his own ministry, goes on with this game continuously. He should not have allowed this in the first place.
My leader and I opposed this sort of inquiry right from the beginning. We said it was wrong and we said the minister had to have a system whereby he could cross-examine witnesses so he could use the law to determine whether he was getting at the facts. He chose to do a little in-house inquiry, a little private inquiry, which is the worst snow job I have ever seen in my life. There is none worse.
It says categorically that all the allegations made by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and all the allegations I have made over the year are unfounded. It says some of us have our own game plan, a hidden agenda. Before the minister is done today, he is going to tell me what that hidden agenda is. It goes on and on.
There are three main contentions by the union, but this report says he should not do any further investigation, everything is okay; do not do any further investigation. It is a whitewash from square one.
The report says, "For them, enforcement of the occupational health and safety legislation should be no different than the enforcement of the Highway Traffic Act and even the Criminal Code." Imagine that. We want people to live up to the act that is before us.
McKenzie is saying, "You want that operated in the same fashion." He is darned right we do. When one contravenes the act, one pays the price for it. It is interesting that when one walks into a job site and a worker does not have his glasses on, he is fined on the spot. If he does not have his helmet on, he is fined; but that does not happen to management, they can go on flagrantly abusing the act.
This tough minister has taken out of his own annual report the section that tells us where companies have failed to comply with the orders. He improved it; he simply removed that section. Noncompliance is gone now. The minister shakes his head. He is going to have to show me where noncompliance is in the 1986 report. That category has been removed.
This report says in another place that when matters are raised in the Legislature the Ministry of Labour then goes out and corrects them. He talks about Valenite-Modco, Domtar, de Havilland, Westinghouse, Robert Hunt -- all the cases that were raised here. The ministry has yet to answer in most cases.
He says, on one hand, those are the way we get things corrected. For every one we can raise in this House, there are 100 out there not being dealt with. This minister used this underhanded, sleazy way of getting a report that does not deal with the issue. The minister bears the responsibility for this. He can blame his staff, he can blame McKenzie and Laskin; we said it was going to be a whitewash.
Rather than helping the minister, this is going to unify the trade union movement as it has not been unified in a long time. It has been highly critical, blaming the workers of this province in a conspiratorial fashion, with a hidden agenda to get things changed. We are going to get them changed, and my friend is going to pay the political price for this. It is a snow job from square one.
TARIFFS ON SOFTWOOD LUMBER
Mr. Laughren: I want to respond to the very self-serving comments of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio). I notice in his statement he gave us no indication of any kind of program or timetable for negotiating with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade people. Why did the minister not give us some explanation of how it was that our Premier (Mr. Peterson) went to British Columbia for that meeting with the Prime Minister and was outmuscled by Bill Vander Zalm? Why was it that Bill Vander Zalm got his way and our Premier did not get our way? That needs to be answered. Why was he so cleanly and clearly outmanoeuvred by the Premier of British Columbia?
About four years ago, this party had a task force on forestry, in which we indicated there were some problems out there with our stumpage fees. I am not surprised that what has happened has happened.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Grossman: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. We would like to ask him some questions relating to what is yet another example of how the government seems to want to move from alleging to be the most open to being the most secretive and whitewashing government extant.
Does the minister agree with some statements in this report that he has so warmly endorsed this afternoon? In the executive summary, on page iii, in an attempt to blame everyone but the minister for the problems in the work place, the report says, "Unfortunately, there is evidence that members of..." -- the labour movement -- "have another agenda and are using occupational health and safety to achieve their objectives."
On page 8, the report then blames the media, saying, "This balanced, objective interpretation of occupational health and safety issues by the press in Ontario has been lacking."
Will the minister this afternoon endorse the theory that the labour movement and the media are to blame for some of the problems? Does he specifically endorse these statements from the report?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I am delighted to get a question on this subject from the Leader of the Opposition, who has apparently discovered health and safety issues.
If the Leader of the Opposition is asking me whether I endorse comments by Mr. McKenzie that seek to place blame, I would want to place blame where it belongs, and that is on an administration that left not only the division but also the whole Ministry of Labour in an abject mess.
The reason I am so glad the Leader of the Opposition has asked me that question is that I want to remind him that he was Treasurer of Ontario between July 1983 and May 1985. Thus, he was responsible for the budgetary expenditure in fiscal year 1984-85.
I remind the House that in that year the total expenditures for all government ministries went up by 7.9 per cent. In that same year, the expenditure for the Ministry of Labour went down by three tenths of one per cent. What a sterling commitment to health and safety.
Mr. Grossman: I have some advice for the minister. He and his staff, who are subject to criticism in this report, which tries hard not to criticize him for having failed to communicate with his officials and bureaucrats, might spend more time worrying about occupational health and safety in the province than about getting someone on his staff to work on calculations with regard to what the budget was four years ago.
Specifically, does the minister agree with the report, which alleges that the labour movement and the media are somehow to blame for the problems he faces? That has nothing to do with what happened before he took office. It has to do with a statement that has been made. We are asking the self-styled "minister for labour" to tell us whether he agrees with those statements. Does he or does he not?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Those are the statements of an individual who has taken a look at the management of the division and has delivered himself of his opinion. That is his opinion. I am more concerned with, and in my statement I commented on, the recommendations he makes in the policy area in terms of practice and organization. I do not know what prompted Mr. McKenzie to make those comments. I did not ask him about them, but I read them and took note of them.
It is not the first time I have heard those comments made by individuals, but if I can reiterate, in terms of blame, the Leader of the Opposition and the former Treasurer for this province ought to know where the blame is for the fact that when we took office the number of construction inspectors had diminished to 66. The blame lies across the aisle on that side.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) asked me what we have done about it. The construction inspectorate is back up to just under 90 and will continue to grow as quickly as we can hire and properly train the inspectors.
Mr. Grossman: Let us deal with this. This is a report which has been described by our colleagues in the New Democratic Party as a whitewash if ever there was one, one that attempts to blame the media and the labour movement, anyone except the minister who ultimately has the responsibility, whether he likes it or not, for occupational health and safety in this province.
The most condemning thing is written on pages 185 and 186. It does not talk about what happened in 1981, 1983 or 1984. It says this minister has failed to provide leadership; that he has not given direction through the ministry; that he has failed to send clear messages or support his own people; and, unbelievably, after two years in office, it recommends the bold step that the Minister of Labour visit the field offices.
Given the condemning nature of those recommendations with regard to the government's year and a half in office, given the fact that both the minister and his deputy are appointees of the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and given the fact that the minister has had a year and a half to clean up this mess and bring back the inspection level to the 1981 level, will the minister properly serve the injured workers of this province and the workers who are not yet injured by agreeing with the NDP suggestion that he and his deputy resign now and let us start over again?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: We have now redressed the levels of inspectors virtually to the 1980 levels. We have undone the foolishness that the Leader of the Opposition's government and he, as Treasurer, were responsible for, and that is where the responsibility lies.
While we have been doing it, we have virtually doubled the number of lawyers in our legal branch from the days when the member for Brantford was the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour when nothing was happening. We have added more than 30 people to the occupational health branch. In short, as I said in my statement, we have added approximately 100 people to the division. We have added enormous new resources and will continue to add more.
Mr. Grossman: Does the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) know the ministry has more lawyers and fewer successful prosecutions? That is the record.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Roy McMurtry is in England.
Mr. Grossman: And he is embarrassed by what has happened over there in his former job since he left. He notices that whenever the Attorney General is in trouble he invokes Mr. McMurtry's name, but it will not help him.
Mr. Grossman: I have a question of the Premier, who has been ruminating lately about the auto pact in fear over its being on the negotiating table. Can the Premier inform us today what the termination provisions in the auto pact are?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I believe there is a year's notice.
Mr. Grossman: The Premier is not sure or else he would have spoken more loudly, as we have come to learn here.
Canada is running a huge surplus under the auto pact provisions and the Americans can at any time give one year's notice of their intention to terminate the auto pact, with or without free trade discussions. Given that this government so ignored the softwood lumber problem that it did nothing about it until the decision was made, can the Premier tell us specifically what he and his ministers are doing to ensure that the Americans from Washington do not give that one year's notice under the auto pact?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I find the honourable member's questions most strange, but let me do the best I can with a very strange question. The member will be aware that over the life of the auto pact, which I believe is about 22 years, it has involved -- I could be wrong about the figure -- around $60 billion. It has netted out over the years. Some years Canada wins and some years the United States wins, but on balance it has netted out well.
It has been called by many people, including the chairman of General Motors, one of the greatest trade instruments ever devised, certainly in North America. The member will know the importance of that document to Ontario and to the rest of Canada. This is a point that has been made on many occasions by me and by my colleagues to the Prime Minister, who is a close associate of the member. I hope he will make the very same point to the Prime Minister and to Miss Carney, who now is responsible for these matters.
Obviously, one of my concerns is that this matter may come up during the so-called free trade discussions, whenever they are, that the federal government is having and that they may want to get it on the table. I think that invites a look at this. It could be very harmful to Ontario and to Canada. I am saying to the Prime Minister, to Miss Carney and to anyone else there who will listen: "Do not touch the auto pact. Leave it as it is. It has worked well. It has allowed the industry to put investments in place around it. It is something that everyone understands well." I do not think there is any merit at all in touching the situation.
Mr. Grossman: Every Canadian agrees with that position. No Canadian I know of is advocating anything but leaving it alone. The issue has nothing to do with whether the Premier is encouraging the Prime Minister or anyone else to leave the auto pact alone. Every Canadian agrees with leaving the auto pact alone. The issue, just like softwood lumber, is that the Americans are angry over certain practices and may give the one year's notice that they have always had the right to give and terminate the auto pact. It is just as with softwood lumber. This government did nothing to go to Washington to make sure that action was not taken. Similarly on this issue, it is doing nothing to make sure action is not taken.
We know of the Premier's early dedication to no walls and no barriers. I wonder whether he might make public to us and to everyone else the now-famous leaked document of David Barrows on this whole issue. Will he make that public?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: That analysis by one public official was made public and I am not happy about that situation. It is not something I was aware of or encouraged. The answer is no.
Mr. Grossman: You will not? Why not?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: No, I will not. I answered the question. The reason is that I do not think it is helpful to circulate all these opinions that various people have. It is only part of the greater package, an enormous amount of correspondence on this one subject.
Mr. Grossman: Freedom of information.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: My friend will be aware that he is part of a party that never would bring in freedom of information legislation. I appreciate his recent conversion to our point of view in that regard. I do not think it was ever the intention of freedom of information legislation to include private correspondence, advice to cabinet or interdepartmental memos. I do not think that is particularly helpful. I regret it when these things are leaked, as they are from time to time -- far too many around here for my taste -- but there you have it. I do not think it is constructive to debate. If he wants to ask any questions on the subject, we will be happy to answer them.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Rae: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Even in this most abject of whitewashes, without any basic legal protection for the people asking for an investigation, without the right to cross-examine, without the right to call witnesses, without the right to subpoena evidence, without the right to do any of those things, even given that, this report states:
"In Valenite-Modco, Domtar, de Havilland, Westinghouse, Mack Canada, American Can, Fleet Industries and Robert Hunt we concluded that the ministry did not take sufficient measures to ensure that levels of toxic substances were reduced within an acceptable period of time. What makes some of these cases even more troubling is that no substantial improvements to conditions at the various plants appear to have been achieved until concerns were raised in the news media and in the Legislature."
Given the importance of that statement and some of the evidence I am going to ask the minister about, why did he choose to side with Mr. McKenzie in the very cheap statements he made with respect to those who raised these allegations? In particular, why did he choose to say, "The challenge of government...is a far more weighty and worthy challenge than that of pulling things apart by unjust accusations," when the report itself states that were it not for accusations made by people such as my colleague the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) this evidence would never have been brought to light and people would never have been helped by the actions of government itself?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: It is the honourable member's interpretation as to whom I was making those comments about. That is his interpretation. I can only say --
Mr. Rae: All right. Whom are you accusing? Come clean; tell us who it is. Get out from behind the sleaze and tell us who is unjustly accusing whom.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: If the member of the third party, who gives out cheap shots so quickly but does not like it when somebody actually responds to him, would let me answer the question --
Mr. Martel: Name me, you dog. If you want to name me, go ahead.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the member for Sudbury East contain himself?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I was in Sudbury last week trying to work with my friend the member for Sudbury East. It was all so successful then; now here we are back in the House.
Let me suggest to the leader of the third party there is no doubt, as I read the specific case details of the Laskin cases -- some of which occurred after I took office, or at least part of them -- that a number of the cases were very troubling. I acknowledge that a number of these cases were resolved only after the kind of activity he describes: input in the Legislature and in the media. I acknowledge that. I also want to point out to my friend that, not in all cases but certainly in some of them, I think he would want to acknowledge that those cases are several years old.
Indeed, if I could use Valenite-Modco, because I am very familiar with it, when the government took office and the employer missed a compliance deadline eight days later, he was given a stop-work order. When the employer said he could not meet a compliance deadline at the end of October, we indicated that if he did not meet the compliance deadline there would be a stop-work order. In both cases, having had that threat of tough action, the employer met the deadlines.
Mr. Rae: In the minister's statement he has given credence to a very sleazy accusation made by the authors of this report. He himself has made a similar sleazy accusation in saying there have been unjust accusations without naming any of the individuals involved who have made these unjust accusations, or indeed telling us what they are. If the minister thinks he is going to get away with that kind of intimidation in this Legislature with respect to any member of this party, he is sadly mistaken. He will rue the day he made the kind of statement he made in this House today.
Mr. Speaker: Question?
Mr. Rae: With respect to one particular company, American Can -- and we are not dealing simply with a company; we are dealing with individuals, individual workers who have suffered irreparable and irreversible neurological damage -- can the minister explain why it is that in the report no reference is made to those individuals, when their names were well known and their cases well documented? Can he explain why in fact there is in this entire report no sense, not of individual companies but of individual people whose lives are put at risk every day because of the neglect of this government and the neglect of this minister with respect to occupational health and safety?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I think Mr. Laskin indicated right at the outset -- the honourable gentleman may disagree, but I do not -- that other than those places where it would be useful and appropriate to name names -- and that included members of the Legislature, by the way, against whom a number of comments were made -- he would not do so. I noted, as I quickly glanced at American Can, that he described one of the workers -- and I was certainly aware of the name -- referred to by the leader of the third party.
I suppose -- and the member will have to ask Mr. Laskin that question, and perhaps he may want to some time in casual conversation -- Mr. Laskin decided on a fairly dispassionate description of the cases as he found them and his conclusions on them; but let there be no mistake about the willingness and determination of this minister and this government to turn Ontario into the finest health and safety jurisdiction in all North America. We have made a start. There is a long way to go, but let me be equally clear that I think both reports make it clear that we are on the right track. I am determined to see the matter through to a successful conclusion.
Mr. Rae: I do not know how the minister can say the report says he is on the right track. There is not a person in Ontario who knows what the hell track he is on.
Mr. Speaker: Is there a question?
Mr. Rae: The minister wants to talk about his track. We have not seen any legislation dealing with the major issues involved in this report. Despite the fact that it is a whitewash, an inquiry that gave no rights to those people who had questions to raise with respect to cross-examination of evidence, with respect to a challenge to answers made to certain questions, it had, in the words of the report, "the advantages of candour, informality and expedition"; advantages to those in management and the ministry but not advantages to those concerned about health and safety with respect to the future of the province.
Can the minister tell us why in his statement today he made absolutely no reference to new legislation with respect to occupational health and safety, to a new response and reorganization of his ministry, which is clearly called for, and why he is not prepared to take responsibility for the neglect, which is documented even in this document, in several cases we have raised in this Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Sometimes I wonder whether some people would have been just as happy if we had had some kind of body count of misconduct. That is not the way I view life. Frankly, on a personal basis, I am delighted and happy that no individual has been found guilty of misconduct and of resolute reluctance to prosecute. I know there are certain areas of serious neglect. I was aware, and had been for months, that we missed a couple of prosecution dates. That is inexcusable to me.
Mr. Laskin says -- and I think it is important to read this into the record because the member and I have a disagreement -- that:
"They argued that where misconduct is the issue, a public inquiry with the right of cross-examination for all interested parties better ensures a full airing of all the pertinent facts. As against that position, it may be fairly argued that the review process that was established had the advantages of candour, informality and expedition." He concludes, "Indeed, we are satisfied that several persons we questioned would not have spoken to us under the glare of a public hearing."
There it is, one view on one side and the other view on the other side. Obviously, there were two choices to make, and we made the choice we did.
Mr. Rae: I suspect the minister is embarrassing to even his own colleagues.
Mr. Rae: I have a question for the Premier about the auto pact. We have now had the advantage of a published memo in the Montreal Gazette, as well as the documents we released in November on which the Premier commented at that time. To quote the words of Mr. Barrows's memorandum, "Mr. Reisman and the Tories are out of control and apparently willing to scrap the auto pact." Is that the position of the government of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: That memo was the result of a report by one particular official in the ministry to his superiors. I would not go that far at the moment. We garner information from a variety of sources, and one is monitoring very closely what is happening at the official level. Officials talk to officials, and the view of the federal government may not necessarily be the view of some official who is working on a particular project at some time.
I would not go that far, but I want the member to know that I am sufficiently worried about these matters and others. I have shared my views with the House, the Prime Minister, the minister and anyone else who will listen. These are matters upon which not just this government but also, I suspect, every member of this House feels very strongly.
Mr. Rae: We all feel strongly about it, but after a year and a half in government we are still in the dark about the Premier's position once it is clear the auto pact is on the table. We have been saying time and again during that year and a half that it is obvious it is on the table.
Given the memorandum from Mr. Barrows, given the internal cabinet document we released in November and given my understanding today that our federal research office has an internal memorandum from General Motors stating that GM has heard that the federal government has privately told Hyundai and Toyota that the auto pact will be dead within five years -- given those three footprints in the sand that clearly tell us the position of the federal government, what is the Premier's position? What is he going to do to change that whole thrust of the federal discussion with respect to free trade?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: This is an initiative that has been undertaken by the federal government, not by me. If I had been asked to conduct these discussions in the first place, I would have conducted them in very different ways from what has been going on. It must come as no particular surprise to the honourable member that there are some very serious differences of opinion between the federal government and this government on a number of key issues of the day. We put those views through very forcefully. No one can tell what will happen in the future.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: If the member could tell his honourable friends to keep the noise down a little, perhaps we could have a discussion in the House.
We are watching what is happening and at some point in the future we will have an opportunity to pass judgement on what they are doing.
Mr. Mackenzie: It is pretty obvious that it would be difficult for anybody to have a clear view of exactly where this provincial government is going based on the hearings and report of the select committee on economic affairs. Most of the time, the Liberal members on that committee were voting with the Tories on this issue. We tried to make it more specific in terms of what can happen and the difficulty in proceeding with these free trade talks.
It is obvious the talks are being carried on in an atmosphere of lies and deceit. It is very clear that is what is happening. We are not being told the truth. Even all the members of that committee agreed the auto pact could not be on the table. It is clearly obvious it is now on the table. Given that deceit in these talks and given the danger to this province of doing away with the auto pact, is the Premier prepared to use the clout Ontario has to end this bloody charade?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I do not know what the honourable member is suggesting in that regard. Perhaps he is suggesting that Ontario should say it is against discussing the auto pact. We have said that at least 100 times. I am not in a position to end the talks. The talks can go on with or without us. The member knows that as well as I do.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Similarly, I say to my honourable friend, if he will listen for a moment, that I was not in a position to end the discussions on softwood lumber. Mr. Mulroney takes advice from the people he trusts, perhaps the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Grossman), and he carries on and makes these judgements in that regard. Under the federal system, each of us has certain powers at certain times. We give the federal government the best advice we can. It listens to the members of the New Democratic Party and to our friends opposite and then makes its conclusions in that regard.
If the member is asking me to stand in this House to defend the federal government, I am not prepared to do that.
Mr. Cousens: As the Minister of Community and Social Services will have read in today's papers, a 54-year-old man was found frozen to death in an abandoned building yesterday morning. The minister has been warned repeatedly that there would be deaths this winter unless action was taken to solve the chronic problems of the province's homeless. The minister has chosen to ignore my warnings and those that came out of the Drina Joubert inquest. Did the minister refuse to do anything because he did not believe the warnings or because he is willing to accept these deaths as an inevitable part of urban life?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I will begin by saying neither of the above. I recognized not only the warnings of my honourable colleague opposite but also those from many others across Ontario that the crisis he has described exists. However, in this situation, the gentleman he refers to has used the hostel system in this city on a number of occasions. The hostel he used most frequently was just around the corner from where he was found, and there were empty spaces in it that night. This was known to him, and he chose not to take advantage of it.
Mr. Cousens: The problem is deeper than the minister would have us assume. The minister has done nothing to correct the acute shortage of hostel spaces in Toronto. He has done nothing to provide affordable homes to the more than 12,000 people who are homeless. As a result, police have nowhere to take these people and leave them on the street to die. The police are expecting even more deaths this winter. Tonight the temperature will be below freezing once again.
Mr. Speaker: And the supplementary is?
Mr. Cousens: Can the minister tell us where these people should be taken tonight, or will we read about another death tomorrow?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: The information the honourable member shares with the House is not completely accurate. There are approximately 300 additional hostel spaces in Metro alone, mostly in the city of Toronto, over the winter months. Above and beyond the number last year, there are an additional 193 hostel spaces in the Metro area, mostly in the city of Toronto, for this winter. There is additional money for the Metro area, as there is across the whole province, for winter emergency programs. That is for the emergency shelters. That is there. There are available hostel spaces in this community, and particularly in this community, every single night.
The second point I would make in response to the member's observations is that last year my honourable colleague the Minister of Housing (Mr. Curling) announced an additional 67,000 units. In the past couple of months, above and beyond that, an additional 3,000 units were announced.
Mr. Cousens: They are not there now.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: They are in the process of being put in place. With his background, the honourable member knows as well as I do, and as well as my colleague the Minister of Housing does, that there is a time lag between those announcements and those new spaces being made available. In addition to those, spaces have been made available under the Renterprise program and under a number of other renter programs. The intent is to accept the premise of the honourable member, that some of the people who are using the hostels on a regular basis should be provided with ongoing housing. We accept that. That is the role of my colleague. He is fulfilling his role and I am fulfilling mine.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Martel: I have a question to the Minister of Labour. Since the Provincial Auditor was highly critical of his ministry in its failure to respond to problems, and since this report says: "They call for an expanded inspectorate, acting not as monitors, mediators and problem solvers, but as policemen...unfortunately, there is evidence that members of this group have another agenda and are using occupational health and safety to achieve other objectives," is the minister suggesting or does he agree with McKenzie that the Provincial Auditor is part of that hidden agenda? Is he prepared to tell us what the hidden agenda is since he so warmly endorsed this report?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: It is probably as well hidden to me as it is to the honourable member. Perhaps the member was not here for the beginning of my statement, but I think he mistakes what he was hearing. I indicated in my statement that in terms of Mr. McKenzie's review, I find much to commend in the suggestions of decentralization, of various levels of inspectorate and of greatly improved training, objectives I know my honourable friend endorses.
I do not know what Mr. McKenzie suggests when he talks of a hidden agenda. I do know the direction this government wishes to follow. We want to follow a direction in which the internal responsibility system, as the minister and as my honourable friend understand it, works and works effectively in places such as Algoma, which was used as a case study.
The steelworkers' union and the management of Algoma Steel worked closely together to make the health and safety system work. Where it does not work, I believe the government has to be in a position, has to have the capabilities and has to have the systems in place to move in quickly: first, to fix the problem; and second, to make sure the IRS will work in the future.
Mr. Martel: McKenzie indicates that the hidden agenda is control of the production process. I find it offensive that he would even suggest that. Let me ask a supplementary about something on the same page.
Mr. Martel: That is what McKenzie says. McKenzie says the workers want control of the work place, and that is the hidden agenda.
Given that accident rates in the province went up by 24 per cent last year, by 24 per cent the year before and that we are now up to probably a 50 per cent increase in the past two or three years, does the minister believe the following statement by Mr. McKenzie on the same page of the report: "The management community has been essentially passive in the public debate, believing that they are in a `no win' situation. Short of achieving a perfect accident and health record, they perceive that they will always be in a defensive position and therefore vulnerable"?
Is not McKenzie once again saying management is right and that the workers, the people who are getting hurt, are irresponsible and must be quiet, otherwise they will be condemned? Who has created this bloody problem if it is not management, which will not accept Bill 70?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Again, I do not know what Mr. McKenzie is saying, but I suggest he is probably speaking about -- I will go back to that example at Algoma -- Mr. McKenzie is describing a situation where management has not been part of a dynamic in the work place that will lead to better health and safety, which ultimately the honourable gentleman and I both wish for.
Mr. Wildman: Until they hit economic problems, and then they start having problems.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: If the member for Algoma will let me continue, I believe that is exactly what Mr. McKenzie is speaking about.
While I am on my feet, in terms of the preamble, I regret that I continue to hear the kind of statistics from that side that can almost be described as disinformation. The fact is that the number of accidents in 1986 rose by 3.6 per cent, which is much lower than the previous year, is lower than the year before that and is lower than the year before that. It is the lowest increase. They rose at a percentage that was about the percentage at which employment rose in the province, a much lower percentage than in many other provinces in this jurisdiction.
INTERNATIONAL BANKING CENTRES
Mr. Ferraro: I have a question for the Treasurer. Specifically, it has two parts. The Treasurer will be aware, as are all the members of the House, about the absolutely ludicrous proposition we are reading about in the press in regard to the federal government's proposed designation of Vancouver and Montreal as international banking centres, excluding Toronto, the heartland of such an entity in Canada.
Can the Treasurer give us his comments on this proposal if it becomes a reality, and what can or will Ontario do if it becomes a reality?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I am surprised at the statements made by the spokespersons for the government of Canada in this regard. Although this stems from the budget almost a year ago, no concrete action has been taken. We are hoping that wiser heads in Ottawa will prevail and that they will not proceed with it. However, our latest information is that they intend to proceed with the designation of centres other than Toronto.
I agree with the honourable member who asked the question that it is ludicrous, since this is, and we trust will continue to be, the financial centre for Canada. It must be very misleading for people in other parts of the world who participate in the financial work necessary to finance expanding industry and government to find that the government of Canada is establishing two other international centres.
The government takes this matter very seriously indeed. We hope there will not be a continuation of this announced initiative, but if there is we are looking at alternatives that will keep Ontario and Toronto in the forefront of world competition in these financial matters.
Mrs. Grier: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Last November 18,000 gallons of diesel fuel leaked from tanks owned by the National Research Council into a swamp adjacent to the Ottawa airport. Can the minister explain why there was no public indication of this spill? It came to attention only when an oil-soaked beaver was found in the swamp. Is it the minister's policy now that he only announces the good news and leaves it to the beavers to tell us when something bad has happened?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I cannot believe even the member believes that. I think she was being amusing in this case. From that point of view, I will be happy to investigate this matter that she has appropriately drawn to my attention. It seems I spend a good deal of my time revealing the bad news that exists in terms of the challenges facing us with the environment. I reveal good and bad news when it comes to my attention. I will be happy to investigate the matter the member has brought to my attention.
Ms. Gigantes: At the same time as the minister is looking into the way we receive news about environmental matters in Ottawa, will he look into the question of the operation of that ministry office and find out why, for example, the director of that office said on Sunday the feds should have called him to let him know about what was happening; and he then said, "That's a hell of a lot of oil"? Now the fact is his office had been called by the feds, apparently, but he did not know about it.
Why is this same office telling people that what goes into the Trail Road dump site is the decision of the regional municipality when there are 1,200 drums of industrial waste looking for disposal there that the ministry has not been able to handle? Who is running that office and what is happening there?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The situation that would exist in relation to what should go into a landfill site, for instance, is the following: while the regional municipality does operate the landfill site, there will be consultation from time to time with the Ministry of the Environment to determine whether any particular substance would meet regulation 309, which deals with substances and categorizes a substance, for instance as to whether it is contained as part of soil, whether it is a liquid being poured straight or what kind of substance, and what the ingredients are within a particular pile of stuff going into a landfill. There would be that kind of consultation.
However, as I indicated to the member for Lakeshore (Mrs. Grier), I will be pleased to investigate this matter. Obviously, she would not have raised it in the House without some degree of concern, and I will look into the matter to see that everything was appropriately done. If it was not, then we will make the appropriate changes.
Mr. McGuigan: I have a question of the Minister of the Environment. The people of southwestern Ontario who suffer crop damage, building damage and damage to their health from acid rain, as well as the people of eastern and northeastern Ontario who suffer lake, forest and health damage, were appalled to learn that the Reagan budget omitted any reference to an acid rain abatement program, and they were outraged by the announcement of an abatement program between Mexico and the United States.
What can we do and what can the minister do to switch channels from the doodling duo singing Irish Eyes are Crying to that old Gene Kelly favourite, Singing in the Acid Rain?
Mr. Gillies: Sing your response.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The member for Brantford has requested that I sing. I will not acquiesce in that request.
I remind the member for Kent-Elgin that in March of last year, when the Prime Minister and the President concluded their remarks, some were hailing the agreement that was arrived at between the two heads of state as a good agreement as far as acid rain was concerned. However, we in Ontario were, to say the very least, restrained in our enthusiasm. One of the reasons is that we believe we must see an actual acid rain reduction program with a timetable with specific reductions contained in it, with a specific schedule, before we really have a positive impact on Ontario and on Canada in terms of emissions coming over here.
I have consulted with the federal minister on many occasions. I have urged the federal government to press the case with Washington, perhaps in a less conciliatory fashion than was the case last year, because I think, in fairness, even the federal government is concerned now that the kind of agreement it was able to come to with the Americans last year really has not been worth much, because the President has not been able to put the money in the budget or has not been prepared to do so.
PROTECTION FOR HOME BUYERS
Mr. Cousens: I have a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. On December 17, he made some revisions to the Ontario New Home Warranty Program. Why did he not at that time make a change to protect the consumer immediately after the offer was signed, rather than the way it is now, whereby it is when he takes possession that the new program goes into effect? Why did he not make that change now?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The member will know we tried to address a problem that has been ongoing. That problem is one that has been addressed and recognized both by the industry and by my ministry. What we did was on the basis of our best advice and the determination of what we thought was best for the consumer, in keeping with the needs and the problems the builders are facing.
Mr. Cousens: What has happened is that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has forgotten about the consumer. What he has done is to put the Good Housekeeping seal of approval on a builder's solution to a builder's problem. Right now there is no one to protect the new home buyer when he buys a house, no one to arbitrate and resolve problems that happen between the time he buys and the time he takes possession. Who is there going to be in this province, in his government, to protect the consumer?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The member is mistaken. The Good Housekeeping seal, or whatever he wants to call it -- the approval -- is not being done by the builders; it is being done by the new home warranty program. The program is there to do exactly that. As the member knows, in the Ryan Homes situation, it stepped in and did the job.
Mr. Cousens: It does not do it now.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the honourable member take his seat?
CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE
Mr. Morin-Strom: I have a question for the Premier about the centres of excellence program that was announced on the last day the House sat in December. The call for proposals issued by the Premier's Council clearly stipulated that these research centres will go to a consortia of universities and the private sector, based on the strength of the sponsor's current research programs, which must be internationally recognized.
Areas such as northern Ontario without a strong research and technology base do not qualify under the stated criteria. Will the Premier go back to his council and ask it to redraft the criteria so that such technology centres will go to the areas of the greatest need and opportunity to create the jobs we all want to see in this province?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The member is wrong on several counts. Northern Ontario is not excluded. We have a number of programs designed to meet some of the needs of northern Ontario, and the centres of excellence could possibly qualify, but in this program we are aiming at building world-class critical masses of research capacity. It is not a regional development program; it is looking at building on the strengths we have.
I am with my friend. I believe we have a number of those strengths in northern Ontario. I am told a number of consortia involving northern universities are competing. I do not know why the member continues to sell the north short.
Mr. Morin-Strom: The Premier must recognize that this province has never established a research university in northern Ontario. The universities in the north have directed undergraduate programs; they do not have graduate programs of the sophistication available at the universities in southern Ontario. At the same time, the private sector has never established major research operations in northern Ontario. Probably the most significant one is Inco's, which has always been located in Sheridan Park in Metropolitan Toronto.
Will the Premier look at the criteria he has established in his call for proposals and ensure that what is promoted are not the areas that currently have the greatest research strength but the areas that do not have research and need it in order to develop the technological base to create the jobs we need? Northern Ontario does not have the research base we want up there, and if it is based on need, which is excluded completely as a criterion, the opportunity would be completely different.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I say respectfully that my honourable friend is wrong. He will have noticed the substantial number of initiatives this government has undertaken, specifically to build Sudbury into a world-class centre in the area of mining and mining research. He should look at the moves that have gone on with Laurentian University, with the Ontario Geological Survey and others to build that critical mass there, and it is going in exactly that direction. We did it several months ago. I am surprised my honourable friend was not aware of it.
The member will be aware of new funding that has gone into the forestry area at Lakehead University, new links that have been established with the University of Toronto and new relationships with the industry as well to build in Thunder Bay a world-class centre of forestry expertise and research associated with that university.
They are not excluded. Exactly the kinds of things he wants to see happen are happening. The communities are delighted. I am surprised my honourable friend was not aware of those initiatives that are now several months old.
REGISTRATION OF DAIRY COWS
Mr. Polsinelli: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. It relates to the registration of dairy cows by name as a requirement of the Ontario Dairy Herd Improvement Corp.
It has come to my attention that one client was permitted to record the name Nigger in reference to a heifer in his herd. In this province, we have made great strides in eradicating overt forms of racial discrimination. However, the use of such racially derogatory names to describe cattle is blatantly offensive. Is the minister prepared to communicate this government's policies governing discrimination to the Ontario Dairy Herd Improvement Corp. to ensure its compliance?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: It is my understanding that the Ontario Dairy Herd Improvement Corp., a private concern commonly known as ODHIC, has been made aware of this situation, and I trust that the corporation will deal with this matter in a most appropriate manner.
FARM TAX REDUCTION PROGRAM
Mr. Villeneuve: I have a question of the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The minister will know that the farm property tax rebate program is the largest assistance program this government provides to farmers and that applications are normally mailed in September. Why, as of last Friday, January 9, were some forms still not mailed, according to his ministry? Will he, as the minister, provide special funding to those municipalities that are experiencing cash flow problems because farmers have not been able to pay their entire taxes, thanks to the bungling in his ministry?
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: I must apologize to the member and to a great number of farmers in this province for a human error, not only in my ministry but also in the Ministry of Government Services. I can assure him and the House that every application has now been mailed. As of today, they are all in the mail, and we have received the co-operation of the post office here in Toronto to make sure these applications are all in the mail.
Thus I must apologize to the member, to this House and to the farmers for a human error.
Mr. Stevenson: I find this a little difficult to understand. This issue was raised in the House on November 24 and again on December 8. The minister told his own Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell), as stated in the Hansard for the estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, that all the applications were mailed on December 3. His own staff were telling members here that all the mailing was done by December 15, and then, as of last week, they were telling our offices that there were bags of applications still to be mailed. Why has the minister been so totally inept in dealing with this problem?
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: The member is quite right. I was told --
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: If he wants to keep his mouth shut and listen, he will get an answer.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: The member is quite right. I was instructed that all applications had been mailed; but if the member wants to ask the acting Minister of Government Services (Mr. Conway) where the original mistake was made, then he will believe that my original answer was the right one.
GRAIN DEFICIENCY PAYMENTS
Mr. Hayes: My question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. The minister will agree that the federal government's $1-billion grain deficiency payment is really not enough to cover the losses experienced by Canadian farmers as a result of the subsidies that the United States and European Community countries pay to their farmers. The Ontario soybean growers' association, though, feels that, to meet its costs, it would need about $20 million more in deficiency payments for its commodities.
Does the minister feel that the 19 cents a bushel the soybean growers in Ontario are receiving is sufficient to compensate the farmers for the hurt caused by the fall in international grain prices? Is he prepared to pick up the need and supply deficiency payments that will cover the costs where the soybean growers have not received enough to meet their costs because of the falling prices of grain?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: It was the opinion of the federal government and the federal Minister of Agriculture that the Food Security Act did not cause the injury to the soybean growers that it did to the grain growers throughout the country. That is the reason the subsidy amounted to 19 cents a bushel for soybeans, compared with 34 cents a bushel for corn.
I am prepared to put more pressure on the federal government, if indeed the soybean growers feel that is not adequate, that they have been injured to a far greater extent than the federal government believes they have, but it is a federal government responsibility.
On this side of the House, we are a little sick of having the federal government renege on its responsibility and throw the ball into the court of the provinces. We are going to see that the federal government lives up to its responsibilities.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
Mr. Runciman from the standing committee on public accounts reported the following resolutions:
That supply in the following amount and to defray the expenses of the Office of the Provincial Auditor be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1987:
Administration of the Audit Act and statutory audits program, $4,771,200;
That supply in the following supplementary amount and to defray the expenses of the Office of the Provincial Auditor be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1987:
Administration of the Audit Act and statutory audits program, $465,000.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Mr. McCague from the standing committee on general government presented the committee's report and moved its adoption:
The committee begs to report the following bill as amended:
Bill 71, An Act to protect the Public Health and Comfort and the Environment by Prohibiting and Controlling Smoking in Public Places.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Laughren from the standing committee on resources development reported the following resolution:
That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Energy be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1987:
Ministry administration program, $7,296,600; policy and planning program, $4,008,100; energy management and technology program, $21,891,400; and Ontario Energy Board program, $3,054,100.
Mr. Speaker: There are a lot of private conversations taking place. Are they all necessary?
STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS
Mr. Callahan from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the committee's report.
Mr. Callahan: There were some 705 regulations reviewed by counsel for the committee, a number of which were brought before the committee and considered. I might add that when I was first asked to take on the responsibility of this committee, not too many people around this House knew what it was all about. I hope the report will be helpful in assisting them to know what the committee does do.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
ELECTION FINANCES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Nixon moves first reading of Bill 186, An Act to amend the Election Finances Act, 1986.
Motion agreed to.
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF HOUSING
Hon. Mr. Curling: I think we are now in committee of the whole. May I step forward?
Mr. Chairman: Do we have the unanimous consent of the House that the minister take a front-row seat?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The purpose of these debates in the estimates for the Ministry of Housing is to provide this House with a blueprint of the goals that have been set by the ministry for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1987.
The estimates debate deals of necessity with detailed and complex information. In the hours ahead, we will be discussing a broad series of housing programs and the large support system that is necessary to deliver those programs.
Mr. Chairman: Minister, one moment, please. Order.
It is quite unfair to the minister and to the critics who are trying to hear him that private conversations are being carried on. Would members please carry on their private conversations elsewhere. I am not looking at anyone in particular but perhaps a dozen or 16 people in particular.
Hon. Mr. Curling: I know this is quite important to all the members because they have seen an outstanding year in this government's performance in housing. They also have before them my prepared remarks. However, to put these debates into perspective, I want to begin today's session by establishing a first principle; that is, that all the activities, expenditures and employees of my ministry are dedicated to one essential and compelling goal: to provide the people of this province with decent and affordable housing.
From the first dawn of human settlement, shelter has been a basic human need and a basic human right. The society that fails to provide shelter for every single one of its members is a society that has failed in its most essential responsibility.
Our government may achieve great things. We may build great cities, lay down highways, bridges and airports, increase trade, enhance culture and develop high technology; yet if we fail to provide shelter, decent and affordable housing for the people of this province, we will have failed as a government and as legislators.
I am proud of my ministry's achievements in the past year: 19,000 new rental units that would not have been committed without our efforts; creating unprecedented communication and cooperation between landlords and tenants; a sensitive system of rent review unequalled by any other in North America; and a series of important initiatives to assist those in compelling need of assistance.
Yet we have only begun to address this pressing need for housing that exists through every corner of this province. Each member of this Legislature campaigned on a promise truly to serve the people of Ontario, to make this a province where people with genuine needs would be heard and answered. As we sit in this comfortable chamber, it is too easy to forget there are tens of thousands of people in Ontario whose needs are not being heard and not being answered, that some still go to bed hungry in Ontario, that too many still search for work and do not find it and that many are without a decent place to live. It is too easy to forget former psychiatric patients, battered women with young children, underage parents, the homeless and all the other dispossessed of our society, who ask only dignity and a place to make their home.
As a government, we have made an important beginning to help these people. There is still much to be done. As a government, we must renew our determination to direct the vast natural wealth of Ontario in ways that will ensure every citizen is allowed the dignity and security he deserves.
In this fiscal year, the Ministry of Housing is working with dedication and determination to meet its responsibilities in this regard. These estimates reflect that effort. This ministry was established in June 1985. The government, recognizing the fundamental importance of housing in Ontario, recreated a separate ministry whose sole responsibility would be the provision and maintenance of housing in this province.
When I came to the Ministry of Housing, I was determined to evaluate what was being done to meet these responsibilities. More important, we were determined to ensure that what would be done in the future would be comprehensive, co-ordinated and complementary to the public's need.
My first objective was to meet with all parts of the housing industry and with all those impacted on by past programs. Those are tenants, low-income singles and families, existing participants in socially assisted housing, builders, landlords, financial institutions and municipal and regional officials.
The first and most startling result of this process was the discovery that many, indeed most, of these individuals and groups had never before met with those responsible for policy and program development and for the delivery of our programs.
The second discovery I made was that while there are many groups and individuals with diverse interests in this area, almost without exception they are prepared and willing to work towards solutions that would be reasonable and fair to all. That dialogue, which involved all who were interested in housing, took several months of meetings across Ontario. The result was our assured housing for Ontario strategy. This is an initiative of which we in the ministry are extremely proud. It sets out for the first time in this province a clear, long-range strategy that over time should ensure that all Ontarians become and remain the best-housed citizens in North America.
When I introduced our assured housing strategy on December 16, 1985, I commented on what we were trying to achieve. It is important to reiterate those comments. I do this because in the debates that occur in this House, all of us from time to time become so involved in specific details that we lose sight of the overall objective and what our long-term goals are all about.
I would like to emphasize again that a priority of this ministry is to come to grips with the very crucial issues we face in housing. As a result, in announcing the assured housing strategy, I said we were initiating a major change in direction and attitude towards housing in Ontario. I stressed that this change was designed to accomplish many objectives, including the need to bring certainty back to all elements of the housing market. I said we would move forcefully to protect tenants and provide them with long-term certainty, and move assertively to give confidence to landlords and the building industry. In short, we would provide a housing policy that would be fair and just for all.
Our goal is to put in place a balanced system to ensure that all Ontario residents have access to adequate housing at reasonable cost, now and in the future, one that recognizes the valid work of the building industry and its investors.
I stated that we proposed to achieve our goal through a program based on five main elements: (1) a fair and effective system to protect the rights of tenants; (2) a policy of equitable treatment for owners of rental property in a climate of increased confidence, another very important point; (3) prompt measures to meet essential housing needs, with the government assuming an active role; (4) a commitment to a dynamic and efficient building industry that will continue to be a major source of employment in Ontario; and (5) an era of improved co-operation and conciliation among governments, producers and consumers of housing throughout Ontario.
I said we would meet those challenges by increasing housing supply, developing a new rent review system, initiating a building industry strategy that would promote long-range and secure employment and, finally, using government-owned lands more effectively for housing.
I indicated the actual goals we had set for ourselves. They are ambitious but vitally necessary. Over the next five years, I said we wanted to produce 43,000 rental units, including 32,000 social housing units. We targeted a goal under which the private sector would immediately build a further 5,000 units of modest rental housing and under which we would encourage creation of a further 6,000 affordable units through conversions from other uses.
This government moved decisively with an act to halt indiscriminate conversions, demolitions, luxury renovations and other such measures. We did this because there was an urgent need to preserve the existing supply of affordable rental housing in many areas of our province and to protect the security of tenants in that kind of accommodation. At the same time, my colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Grandmaître) indicated his concern about these activities, which had contributed to the severe depletion of affordable rental housing in this province, particularly in our larger urban centres. We promised to reform the rent review system, to provide fair and just treatment for tenants and landlords and to get real movement on rental construction in this province.
I reported that a new atmosphere of trust and confidence was developing and that a Rent Review Advisory Committee had been established, consisting of equal representation of both landlords and tenants. I said I would introduce new legislation for a much more effective system of rent review, which would fundamentally restructure the operations of the Residential Tenancy Commission.
I stated that new legislation would fulfil our commitment to extend the review process to virtually all rental housing in the province and establish a ceiling of four per cent on annual rent increases, retroactive to August 1, 1985. I said that thereafter the, guideline would be set annually at a rate linked to the rate of inflation. More important, I said clearly that the four per cent guideline would be in place for all 1986. That commitment was met.
To achieve our goals, I indicated that a combination of legislative initiatives and direct government action would be required. To support our efforts, the government would commit more than $500 million during the next five years to a variety of measures, ranging from help in the production and upgrading of rental housing to funding of housing alternatives for seniors.
As members may be aware, the delivery of nonprofit housing is now the responsibility of the provincial government. This transition of responsibilities from the federal to the provincial government during the past year, as well as the increase in social housing activity, has brought great benefits to Ontario. One indication of our commitment to social housing was the federal-provincial agreement signed almost a year ago.
Under the previous arrangement with the federal government, Ontario picked up less than 10 per cent of the cost for municipal nonprofit housing. Now we are responsible for delivering the private nonprofit and co-operative programs, as well as the municipal nonprofit program, and because of the new funding formula we will be contributing about 50 per cent of each dollar spent on subsidizing social housing.
The nonprofit program emphasizes the importance of directing most of the housing assistance to households that need it. Targeting is a key feature of the program. For households with certain income limitations that cannot find adequate suitable rental accommodation in the community without spending more than 30 per cent of their incomes on rent, the subsidies are shared 60-40 between the federal and provincial governments.
However, subsidies required to support other rent-geared-to-income units, as well as market-rent units, are paid by the province alone. As I said, the bottom line is that the total subsidies now are split pretty evenly between Ontario and the government of Canada. Think how much more we could address if we had the kind of support in subsidies that the federal government had given to the province before.
Our nonprofit housing activities are not confined to joint arrangements with the federal government. Earlier this month, we advertised for nonprofit sponsors to develop housing units under a special initiative that will be funded solely by the province. The special allocation of 3,000 units is aimed at a broad range of groups but particular emphasis will be placed on serving the neediest. I am talking about physically, developmentally or psychiatrically handicapped persons, battered women, homeless people and other socially disadvantaged persons. I urge the members to keep this in mind in times to come when they have questions in the House about what we are doing about the homeless.
Apart from the Ministry of Housing, the ministries of Health and Community and Social Services are involved in this initiative. We will be working together to help disadvantaged people throughout Ontario who require a combination of support care services and housing. We have asked interested community groups and nonprofit organizations to attend orientation sessions on the development of housing with support care services. Meetings will be held next month at each of the six Ministry of Housing regional offices.
Preliminary applications indicating an intent to develop housing projects with support services must be submitted by March 31, 1987. Up to 1,000 of the 3,000 units will be selected from applications for housing with support services that have already been submitted to the ministry. This will save a tremendous amount of time in getting them into the system. This special provincial allocation is yet another example of this government's sensitivity towards the most disadvantaged in our society. I thank all those involved for the co-operation they have shown in dealing with the transition period.
Our comprehensive policy firmly establishes the provision of housing as one of the highest priorities of this government. It is our firm belief that decent affordable housing is achievable for all Ontarians and that equitable treatment is the right of all, whether tenant, landlord, home buyer or builder.
We have set a new course in open dialogue and made a new commitment to the people of this province. We are beginning a new era of assured housing for the people of Ontario. This is what these estimates are all about: a new, clear and consistent commitment to all Ontarians. That is the context in which I hope the debate will proceed as we go along.
Mr. Gordon: I say to the minister that those of us on this side of the House find it passing strange he would tell us today that the provision of housing in Ontario is one of his highest priorities. We on this side have watched for the past two years he has been the minister and we have seen an excessive amount of time and energy spent on what can be called, quite clearly, a rent review bill. That is what the ministry calls it and that is exactly what it is.
The ministry spent almost two years in bringing that bill to the House. It spent almost two years in circulating it throughout the province and yet the minister tells us today that his highest priority as Minister of Housing is to create more housing in the province. Who is he kidding? I was at those committee meetings as we went across the province. I heard him practically beg developers to say that by having a new type of rent formula in Ontario there would be more building by the private sector in the province. Time and time again I listened to those developers as they told him they could not make that kind of a promise. Yet here and now in this House he is telling us his highest priority, the priority of his ministry, is to provide housing in Ontario.
Let us look at the facts. First of all, despite what the minister says, that adequate and affordable housing is a priority of his ministry, all we have to do is look at the latest statistical facts concerning the vacancy rates in some of the major communities, and I would like to do that at this time to put it on the record. In case there are any illusions about how much housing he has created in the past two years, let us take a look at those rates.
First, I want to refer to Metro Toronto, where we heard in this House earlier today that a 54-year-old man passed away, frozen in the cold. Much of this has to come from the fact that there is so little housing available in the province at present.
I would like the minister to pay careful heed to this. The vacancy rate in Metro Toronto right now is 0.2; Barrie, 0.4; Brantford, 0.4; Chatham, 0.1; Cornwall, 0.9; Guelph, 0.4; Hamilton, 0.5; Sudbury, 0.7. We could go on and on. It is a litany of disgrace for this minister and his ministry that in the past two years he has spent his time developing and working on a rent review bill and he did not do much about housing. If he had done something about housing, I would not be reading out these kinds of statistics.
The minister cannot get away from the facts. His ministry has not been able to come up to the mark when it comes to providing more housing in this province. As a matter of fact, it is really interesting that for some time he has been touting the idea that perhaps some housing would be created by the private sector at the high end.
When we talk about the high end we are referring to the idea that the private sector would build apartment units that would be rented for $800 or $900 or more a month and that in 10, 15 or perhaps even 20 years from now this would become the new affordable housing that the people of Ontario who were renters in middle-income or lower-income groups would be able to move into.
Quite simply, it is obvious that is not going to provide any real housing for those who need it in Ontario. Yet this is one area that he as the minister pointed out to us at one time or another in this House as being an area we could look to for housing in the future.
I would like to point out to the minister that about one third of the housing in this province is occupied by renters. At the present time, 200,000 people in Ontario are looking for, want and need affordable and suitable housing that will allow them to live in dignity. We do not see the housing that those 200,000 people need in the vacancy rates I just read out. These are the facts, and they speak for themselves. The facts are that the minister and his ministry have been a dismal failure when it comes to providing more housing in the rental area for people in Ontario.
In Ontario right now, 40,000 people require social housing. The minister is promising those 40,000 people that some time over the next five years some of them are going to be able to find some of that social housing. The minister is not even meeting the backlog of need and demand that exists in this province. At the rate the minister is going, he is never going to achieve the housing that is required by our people.
I think back to the public relations effort that the ministry put into talking about Bill 51, and about how the minister had the gall to hold a party in the office of the Premier (Mr. Peterson) to celebrate bringing in a rent review bill that did nothing; it did not build one single apartment unit for those who need it. He spent two years doing that but still calls himself the Minister of Housing. I cannot let him get away with that.
We talked about Bill 51 in this House some time ago. As I pointed out at that time, no one here would have objected to the rent registry that was part of that bill. We would be the first to say that this is a way to ensure that when people go to rent a unit they know the rent they should be paying. It creates a fair system. No one would deny that costs-no-longer-borne, which was also a feature of Bill 51, is required so that renters do not continue to pay for a roof long after it has been paid for. No one argued with these things. This House would have passed those measures if they had been introduced in bill form almost two years ago.
What has the minister really done for housing in Ontario? That is what I would like to know. We have heard a lot of promises. We have heard a lot of high-faluting words, as we say in the north. In his estimates speech the minister said, "The government, recognizing the fundamental importance of housing in Ontario, re-created a separate ministry whose sole responsibility would be the provision and maintenance of housing in the province." Imagine; the government put together a ministry whose sole purpose was going to be the provision and maintenance of housing in Ontario.
What did that ministry do? It spent two years putting together a rent review bill and ignored the tremendous crisis that we have in Ontario at the present time: the crisis of a lack of housing.
I would like to point out to the minister something that was written recently in one of our local newspapers in the Sudbury region. This editorial came after the minister's visit to Sudbury. I saw a picture of him in the Sudbury Star with a dart in one hand. A lady I know very well, a Mrs. Tyerrel, who is in her 90s, a very gracious person who has contributed a great deal to the wellbeing of the Sudbury region, is showing him how to play darts and how to score a bull's-eye. The minister is far from scoring a bull's-eye when it comes to the provision of housing in this province.
I would like to read to him an editorial about housing that appeared in one of our local papers. As the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) knows, I always quote sources from Sudbury because they are usually correct and up front. As the Minister of the Environment also knows, the people of Sudbury are very up front about their feelings and their views and do not hesitate to point out what needs to be changed.
I will read the minister this editorial because I think he will find it edifying.
"A survey of rental housing units in Sudbury done by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. shows that Sudbury has one of the lowest vacancy rates in Canada, surpassed only by booming metropolitan areas in southern Ontario. In Sudbury the vacancy rate stands at 0.7 per cent, which favours the landlord by more than four times the ideal rate, according to CMHC.
"It means that people looking for affordable housing in a certain location must often settle for available housing in any place they can find. The tight rental housing market in Sudbury is evident when in the past year 110 rental units were constructed and all were quickly rented. In the Sudbury region there are 5,270 privately owned rental units in buildings with more than six units. The vacancy rate of 0.7 per cent tallied in October means there would be only 36 vacancies for an apartment hunter to choose from.
"Low vacancy rates for rental units are consistent throughout the province. The average across the province is 0.6 per cent, with the scales being tipped by the virtually nonexistent vacancies in southern Ontario. That vacancy rate is much lower than the average for all Canada. There appears to be an anomaly of low vacancy rates in Sudbury and the rest of Ontario which is not matched in many other places in Canada. In the country, only nine other cities match or are lower than Sudbury's low vacancy rate, and seven of those cities are located in Ontario."
What is particularly apt about this editorial, and it is the point of what I have been saying in this introduction to the estimates, is this quote from the editor of Northern Life. He says: "Sudbury shares its problem of affordable rental accommodation with the rest of the province. Perhaps provincial policy on housing should be investigated more thoroughly to see where the problem lies."
That is exactly the point. The minister has had two years to investigate and to come up with new policies to provide more housing in this province. I have to say that he and his ministry have failed. They have not come up with the kind of housing that is needed in this province. We will be glad to talk during estimates about statistics. We expect the minister will send his staff scurrying to come up with statistics about the kinds of things he is trying to do, but I put it to the minister on the following basis.
We on this side of the House are aware that the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) in his first budget introduced higher personal income taxes for Ontario citizens. We are also aware of the other tax grabs he made at that time. As a matter of fact, I have to deem those tax grabs as avaricious. Right now, that minister has about $2 billion in the kitty, and these dollars could go towards building more housing in this province, towards providing more social housing in this province. That is the kind of thing we want him to do, and I will have more to say about that as the estimates go along.
Mr. Reville: The minister started his remarks by indicating that he had the honour of undertaking the defence of the estimates. I suppose the estimates are defensible, but it really depends on what the yardsticks are. They are eminently defensible if the yardstick is the effort of the Ministry of Housing of the previous government. There is no question this ministry and this government are doing better than the half of the ministry that existed under the previous government. I used to spend a good part of my life in heated debate with the then Minister of Housing, the member for Ottawa South (Mr. Bennett), who is not in the House, nor has he been in the House, perhaps because he is so embarrassed by the record of the ministry when he was the minister.
On the other hand, the estimates are not defensible at all if the effort of the Ministry of Housing is compared to the need for housing in the province. It strikes me as absurd for a Minister of Housing to spend so many pages congratulating himself and his ministry on the effort when the position of Ontario relative to the other provinces in Canada has not changed since the Liberal government took office. It continues to be ahead of only the four maritime provinces, and that is the position this province occupied when the Liberal government took office. That is a shocking situation, particularly given some of the realities of housing in Ontario.
The vacancy rates are the lowest in the country, and yet the economy is the most buoyant. The housing prices are the highest in the country, which creates even more pressure on those who are not lucky enough to have tons of money so that they can compete in the housing market. I do not know whether the minister is familiar with these figures. At some point during these estimates I can provide him with a copy so that he will have the benefit of the figures and will then pause to reflect on how much more effort this government has to deliver.
However, given that we have a situation where the total expenditures of the Ministry of Housing are but 1.09 per cent of provincial expenditures, it is clear that housing does not have the kind of priority the government would have us believe. In spite of all the fine speeches about the government's interest in assuring that everybody has decent, affordable housing, when it comes down to dividing up the financial pie in the province, housing continues to get a tiny sliver.
Because the minister is content to repeat things he has often said before, I am going to take the liberty of repeating some things I have said before.
It strikes me, and it has struck me for some time, that a housing policy has to have three major pieces. One is protecting the existing housing stock to make sure it continues to be affordable, to make sure it continues to be habitable and to make sure it does not turn into something else, such as a parking lot. It is my submission that the government's efforts in this regard have not been adequate. We will probably talk more about that.
Bill 11 was designed to protect the existing housing stock. I wonder whether the minister feels it protects it adequately. Is there information, for instance, to indicate what has happened to applications for conversion, demolition, etc.? Are there policy deficits even within the existing policy; and how are we doing in developing a permanent policy to replace Bill 11 when it runs out of steam not very long from now, in 1988?
The second major piece of housing policy has to do with consumer protection. How do you make sure that people in housing are protected from unconscionable rent increases? How do you ensure that they get the maintenance and repair to which they are entitled and for which they have paid? The government's response to that problem has been Bill 51. A great deal of time has been spent on Bill 51. It is too bad the time that was spent did not produce a better bill.
The third part of the housing policy has to do with delivering new supply. A part of the minister's presentation today was spent talking about initiatives to deliver new supply. While those initiatives are greater than any we have seen from governments in this province in recent years, they are clearly inadequate to meet the need that exists today. Earlier today we had already referred to the fact that people are homeless and do freeze in the winter in our province. In a province as wealthy as ours, with the resources our province has, it is inexcusable that even one person should freeze to death because access to housing is impossible. Some work has been done, and more will be said as we go along about the supply program that is being delivered by the Ministry of Housing.
The minister started off by saying the estimates were a sort of blueprint of the goals and objectives of the Ministry of Housing. In fact, we have heard much about what the objectives of the Ministry of Housing are. They are laudable objectives and are obvious objectives. The real question is how well are those objectives being met. It is the contention of the New Democratic Party that the objectives are not being met at all well.
Some useful policy changes have been brought forward. I think of the policy change with respect to Ontario Housing whereby 16-year-old and 17-year-old parents are now eligible for housing. Clearly, that is a policy change the New Democratic Party welcomes. It is astounding to us that it was ever necessary to make a change such as that. Likewise, the change that was made with respect to people who are on the guaranteed annual income system for the disabled pensions by reason of a mental handicap, who were previously ineligible for housing: that was changed in the dying days of the Conservative government. Again, it is astounding that there had been a policy that prevented people with that kind of disability from getting housing.
The problem, however, is not solved merely by making someone eligible for housing. I do not want the minister to turn his back on that policy change, but he has achieved a situation in which the waiting list for Ontario Housing will grow longer, rather than shorter, because he has increased the number of people who are eligible to join the waiting list.
I have always had a lot of difficulty with the notion that to get housing, you have to be able to stand before an application taker with a label stuck on yourself that says you are a battered wife or a 16-year-old mother or have one leg or some mental disability. This is the labelling approach to the provision of housing. The federal government, in its shocking withdrawal from the provision of affordable housing, pioneered this offensive notion of worst first, as though it were somehow possible to decide that some people need housing and some others do not.
One of the problems with the worst-first approach, and it is an approach I hear echoed in the minister's remarks and it worries me a great deal, is that quite often the supply is managed so that it is not only worst first but also worst last. A large number of people who require housing do not ever become eligible, or if they become eligible they do not advance to the head of the line.
One of the other problems that occurs is that sometimes particular labels become more attractive in the minds of policy makers, and then they jump the queue. One year, ex-psychiatric patients may be the cause célèbre; next year, it may be battered parents. Therefore, we have reciprocal leapfrog, which is only a device to hand out to a very large number of people a very small number of units. The way we manage to do that kind of loaves-and-fishes routine is to make sure that most of the people waiting for housing are not really eligible at all. That is a situation that has to change.
In spite of the rhetoric of the Minister of Housing, I wonder whether it is the case in Ontario that every citizen has a right to housing. Clearly, everybody does not have housing, and the supply program the minister has advanced and announced for the next five years is not going to deliver the housing that is needed.
It is interesting to try to understand the way the Ministry of Housing has gone about allocating the 16,000 units in this year's allocation. I am leaving aside the 3,000 units for the moment. In a number of places, the allocations will not leave us in a position that deals at all with the vacancy rates we experienced before the allocation.
Let me go at that again, because I know it is an astounding proposition. In the Metro Toronto area, the vacancy rate in October 1986 was 0.1 per cent. Through various programs of the Ministry of Housing, such as Renterprise, convert to rent and nonprofit, about 4,200 additional units are expected to appear in Metro Toronto in the next year. Regrettably, the total number of units will be less than the annual absorption rate in Metro. After all the sod-turning by the minister, the vacancy rate in a year's time will be less than the annual absorption rate in Metro.
Thus, after all the sod turning by the minister, the vacancy rate in a year's time will not be 0.1 per cent but zero per cent, which makes one wonder what the Ministry of Housing is going on about. The same situation occurs in Ottawa-Carleton, where the vacancy rate will drop from 2.4 per cent to 1.3 per cent, in spite of the hoped-for construction of 3,628 units. Clearly, the minister's efforts are falling far short of the mark.
There have been some fairly blinding achievements by the Ministry of Housing which were touched on earlier in the minister's remarks. What is called the startling process, the discovery that the Ministry of Housing made on page 4, is that people know things. That was followed by another startling discovery: that people are reasonable. The ministry has to come up with something more amazing than that in terms of a housing policy. The proposition that people know things and that people are reasonable are things I am sure the minister knew before he came here.
I do not doubt the minister feels there has been a major change in direction and attitude in Ontario. There is a vast difference of opinion, though, about whether the major change is major enough. It is our view that it is not major enough and that until the supply program is vastly increased, no one in this Legislature should be content with the effort that is going on in housing in the province.
For instance, as we get to specific votes, it will be interesting to hear more about how well we are doing at using government-owned lands more effectively for housing. I am not aware that the use of government-owned lands for housing has been particularly effective. It will also be interesting to hear from the minister how many of the 32,000 social housing units hoped for over the next five years will be rent-geared-to-income units and what the rent levels of the balance will be. It will be interesting to know as well how the minister's goal of 5,000 units of modest rental housing will be delivered by the private sector and how the 6,000 affordable units through conversion from other uses will be achieved.
The minister has spoken to us about the importance of targeting. There is no question that targeting is important; in fact, it is absurd to deliver housing that is not affordable for those who require it. We know that the way a number of the social housing programs operate is that the market rents, or economic rents as they are called, are often very high. That is a function of the housing market.
For instance, a Renterprise project I was examining the other day, one that I am very interested in seeing go ahead, generates a rent of more than $1,100 a month for a three-bedroom apartment on Bathurst Quay. It would require a family income of about $45,000 a year to handle the rent. I understand the co-op federation that is delivering the project is hoping to get 40 per cent of the units as rent geared to income and will be allocating about 12 units to Jessie's, an agency that delivers housing to young mothers.
Both of these hopes by the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto are ones I share. I hope that happens as well, and I use this opportunity to remind the minister that it would be a great idea if both these aspects of the project were realized. Notwithstanding that, I think this leaves us with about 70 units in that project. It will be quite expensive but perhaps a little less expensive than what one would find in the private rental market. Certainly, we are glad of any rental units, but are they truly affordable units? We are going to have to struggle with that, and I know it is something the minister is prepared to struggle with.
The minister mentioned it is too easy to forget that in Ontario we have people who go to bed hungry. l do not forget that. I do not find that easy to forget at all. In fact, I find it horrifying to be reminded of that every day. Much of the reason people go to bed hungry is that they have to make a choice between paying rent or buying food. That is a choice no one should be forced to make in our society. It does not make sense to me that anybody should have to make a choice between paying rent and putting food on the table. A lot of the hunger in Ontario is related to the lack of affordable housing. There is no question in my mind that this is the case. The matter is being brought forcefully to the attention of the social assistance review group and will be again brought forcefully to its attention when I join members of the New Democratic Party at the hearing on January 23, I believe.
Ex-psychiatric patients often lose their "ex." Because of the lack of affordable housing, they end up back in the psychiatric hospital. It is my view, one I believe in very strongly, one I have shared many times with anybody who cared to listen and one I shared with the social assistance review group when I went to speak about the plight of people with psychiatric problems, that the lack of affordable housing contributes to recidivism.
People who have had a period of hospitalization are very likely to have another period of hospitalization because, when they are discharged from hospital, there is no reasonable place for them to live. In the absence of a decent affordable place to live, people are going to encounter all sorts of problems. The evidence is clear that people who are discharged from hospital and who do not have a good housing situation very often end up back in the hospital. This is a terrible human and economic cost we are currently bearing. It is a cost we could avoid paying, both in human and economic terms, if there were a reasonable housing circumstance waiting for people when they are discharged from hospital.
I realize that when we start talking about ex-psychiatric patients or people who have psychiatric problems we are getting into a situation where we start to cut across ministries. We have to deal with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services as well as the Ministry of Housing. I very much hope the Minister of Housing will be prepared to be the lead minister in this regard. For too long we have heard the lame excuse, "It is not my responsibility," once the Minister of Health has seen a patient beyond the doors of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre.
One former Minister of Health, the member for Don Mills (Mr. Timbrell), with whom I used to discuss this matter and who I was glad to see was in the Legislature today and who must read the newspapers as well as I, once said, "Do you expect me to put a leash on people after they get out of hospital?" Obviously no one wants to put a leash on anyone, but on the other hand there is no point in dumping somebody out of a back ward on to a back street or into a doughnut shop. That is what happens today.
I will conclude my remarks at this point and we can probably proceed to the votes, if that is your pleasure, Mr. Chairman, unless the minister would like to withdraw his previous remarks and start again.
Hon. Mr. Curling: What previous remarks?
Mr. Reville: I have given the minister all these good suggestions. He can have them for nothing.
Hon. Mr. Curling: Is the member talking about my withdrawing some remarks?
Mr. Reville: I thought the minister might want to reconsider his position and make a new statement incorporating any of the remarks I have made that he wishes.
Hon. Mr. Curling: The remarks I made were quite calculated, thought through and researched. I did not pull those remarks out of the air or out of a hat, so I stand by them.
The Deputy Chairman: Do you plan to vote item by item or to discuss vote 1901 as a whole?
Mr. Gordon: We can start off by talking about vote 1901.
The Deputy Chairman: Yes, but item by item or all the items at the same time? Would you like to have a vote, for instance, after item 1 on main office or would you like to go --
Mr. Gordon: Item by item.
The Deputy Chairman: Is that the wish of everyone?
Mr. Reville: If my friend the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon) is amenable to having a general discussion about each vote, if there are items of particular interest to anybody in the Legislature they can be dealt with. For instance, we could do vote 1901 and chat all we want to about ministry administration and if the member wants to talk about any specific lines, I will be delighted. Why do we not do it vote by vote? Is that agreeable?
The Deputy Chairman: Is that agreeable to everyone?
Mr. Gordon: Mr. Chairman, as Housing critic for my party, in case you have not noticed, in reply to the member for Riverdale (Mr. Reville), who is Housing critic for the New Democratic Party, that is a fair assumption on his part.
On vote 1901, ministry administration:
Hon. Mr. Curling: Mr. Chairman, before we get into that, I hope you will allow me the privilege of making some comments on vote 1901, the first vote, on administration.
The Deputy Chairman: Go ahead.
Hon. Mr. Curling: The government of Ontario established the Ministry of Housing as a separate entity in June 1985. That decision was part of a broader recognition by this government that housing issues needed the full-time commitment of a minister and staff. The government also recognized that the municipalities also needed a full-time minister and staff.
In implementing this separation, we looked seriously at costs and benefits and made the decision not to duplicate ministry operations unless absolutely necessary. We felt, and I believe experience has proved us correct, that substantial savings in administrative costs could be realized if certain elements of our operations remained unchanged and continued to serve both the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
Both this ministry and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs have been able to carry on with their mandates efficiently and effectively while sharing common corporate resources such as communications and information services, financial services, operations review and audit services, human resources services and information processing services, except for the Municipal Affairs wing. Our legal service has designated legal staff for planning the Municipal Affairs wing with administration by Housing and the services of the corporate secretary.
Let me point out that both this ministry and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs have been able to carry on their respective tasks while taking on responsibility for new tasks. In the case of the Ministry of Housing, I would include responsibility for rent review, for the expanding mandate of the buildings branch and the building industrial strategy, and for the expanded delivery of social housing.
Recognizing the efficient way the government has been able to carry on while sharing these fundamental and important administrative services, I must at this point acknowledge a very big debt to the staff within those service areas for their dedication in helping this process succeed. It is only with the commitment of senior staff that such initiatives can be implemented. If the deputy minister, the assistant deputy ministers, the executive directors and so on provide a corporate overview of operations, then the use of shared services can indeed succeed.
I and my associate the Minister of Municipal Affairs have been extremely fortunate in working with staff who see and are committed to that corporate view of government and who are concerned for taxpayers' dollars. This truly enables the concept of shared services to succeed.
The forward thinking and dedication of ministry staff are nowhere better illustrated than within the ministry's management services branch and the work it has undertaken to ensure that we have the best management information services available to meet our ever more complex operations. In fact, as the Treasurer pointed out in his budget of last May, it is one of the areas where this government is prepared to move ahead rapidly. It is a great compliment to our staff and assistants, who have done very well.
At that time, the Treasurer said: "As the overall business of government has grown increasingly complex, so have the management information requirements. Management of the central budget plan and program performance requires timely, accurate and complete information. The financial information system of the province will be supplemented to reflect current management information needs."
More gratifying from my perspective was the fact that the Treasurer recognized the work done by the Ministry of Housing, which agreed to undertake the lead role in developing the system applications at the line ministry level.
The decade of the 1980s has seen tremendous growth in user-oriented data processing within both the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. This phenomenon is evidenced by the growing number of mainframe users and microcomputing work stations. As a result, both technology and user demand are forcing the outward spread of technology from the corporate computer centre to line departments.
The concern of senior management is to control this process to ensure that data required at the corporate level do not become totally fragmented and that the benefits of such elements as the development of new applications, software, reduced programming time, lower maintenance costs and better access to corporate ministry information are fully realized.
Let me outline now the proposed financial management system, using the operations of the Ontario Housing Corp. as an example. The Ontario Housing Corp. administers an assisted rental housing portfolio of approximately 84,000 units. The day-to-day property management operations of OHC-owned housing are carried out by 58 local housing authorities. The OHC had a 1986 gross budget of approximately $450 million and a total cash flow of approximately $800 million.
During the past 10 years, OHC has moved from direct ownership of rent-geared-to-income housing to the funding of community-based housing delivery organizations. It has also restricted its own involvement to approving proposed new projects and annual operating budgets and to monitoring performance.
The municipal nonprofit, private nonprofit and co-operative housing programs are examples of community-level, municipal and private sector housing delivery organizations and currently represent a total of 12,000 units. The recently announced nonprofit housing program will bring an additional 32,000 social housing units on stream during the next five years at a cost of $200 million.
With regard to the 84,000 OHC-owned units, OHC has moved towards a corporate strategy of decentralizing accountability to its local housing authorities as they become increasingly more capable with regard to budgeting, operational planning, purchasing of supplies and services and contract administration.
For the record, because I think my sequence of order has gone, I will go to -- I know the member for Sudbury is paying much attention and that is why I thought I would pause.
Mr. Gordon: Did you lose your place?
Hon. Mr. Curling: Exactly.
Mr. Gordon: You were just trying to get my attention.
Hon. Mr. Curling: I know I have the member's undivided attention.
Mr. Gordon: Undivided.
Hon. Mr. Curling: OHC has also further decentralized its program support function in the areas of property management, social-housing program delivery and technical support to six regional housing program offices to effect a one-window support approach at the community level. As a result of this strategy, an efficient financial reporting system with the necessary financial modelling capability has become of the utmost importance to OHC senior management.
The research already completed and the process put in place offer great potential to all government operations and it is for that reason this ministry is taking the lead in developing applications at the line ministry level. Another of the major components of this information processing activity is the provision of a computer processing facility that will ensure our best return on investment. To this end, the ministry undertook a comprehensive computer service tender with the objectives of controlling costs, improving customer service, providing for growth in demand and providing for disaster recovery.
The tender resulted in a new computer service arrangement that has seen the installation of a medium-sized computer in the head office premises. It is more cost-effective and is easier to use than that previously provided. Indeed, our new service contract has already yielded savings of well over $1 million in this fiscal year and we will continue to reap savings in years to come.
While for many, this type of administrative activity is not a glamour issue, as I can see by the interest shown here by the critic, when one compares program delivery as shown inside --
Mr. Gordon: I am following it line by line.
Hon. Mr. Curling: I know the member is, but his efforts and enthusiasm picked up when we came to program delivery. It is nevertheless an excellent example of the ministry's commitment to efficient and effective internal management of our resources and affairs.
More and more it is recognized that excellence of program delivery is in direct proportion to the excellence of the administrative services that support it. Those services support the strategic and operational goals of the government. For example, the rent registry soon to be in operation in this province would be almost unattainable without the availability and use of contemporary computer technology.
I have spent some time on new directions we have taken with regard to technology and equipment. As I said earlier, without dedicated staff and managers, little of value would be accomplished. That cannot be overemphasized.
I would like now to refer to initiatives we have implemented with relation to human resources. During the past 11 years, the ministry has supported an affirmative action program. Today, we are moving to an employment equity program, which will continue its focus on women but will also broaden its mandate to include visible minorities, disabled persons, native people and francophones. During the next few months, we will be seeking input from our staff, ideas and suggestions that will assist in the development process. We will also be looking at other areas where programs are in operation. This ministry is committed to ensuring there are no barriers -- physical, organizational or attitudinal -- to impede the career growth of all people or to bring new people into the ministry.
In 1987, the local housing authorities will begin a formal employment equity program, setting out their plans and reporting levels. The ministry has also initiated executive skills workshops, general management workshops, getting-ahead seminars and several other one-day courses with more than 500 women from the Ministry of Housing and other ministries in attendance.
There are two volunteer committees working to assist women in the ministry: the employment equity volunteers, who have arranged noon-hour sessions at 777 Bay Street, and the publications committee, which prints a quarterly news bulletin called News of Women or N.O.W. These committees provide developmental experience for the members as well as benefits for other women in the ministry.
In 1987-88, we will continue our skills development in working with women. More important, we will develop programs to ensure that the composition of our staff reflects the community in which we live.
A growing issue in major urban centres of Ontario, and an issue that falls under this vote, is the loss of housing stock previously occupied by roomers and boarders. While the provision for hostel-type accommodation under the convert-to-rent program should be of some assistance in this connection, the whole question of both rights and supply for these people needs to be addressed.
On March 27 last, I announced the establishment of a provincial task force to address the need for improved regulations to protect roomers, boarders and lodgers and to recommend ways to increase the supply of affordable housing for low-income single individuals. That task force is headed by Dale Bairstow, who has conducted housing studies in several provinces and just recently was a principal in a major study of singles' housing for New York City.
The mandate of the task force is to develop recommendations with respect to an adequate supply of affordable, accessible accommodation for low-income single individuals, protection for occupants of single-room accommodation, the assurance of adequate standards, a positive response to specific areas of need wherever they occur in Ontario and the recognition of the rights and requirements of landlords of this form of housing.
I am sure members will agree that the tasks at hand were and are extremely complex and difficult, keeping in mind the lack of previous studies undertaken on these issues. The task force recognizes that a number of initiatives preceded its work in this field; namely, a 1982 study entitled No Place to Go, which was undertaken by Metropolitan Toronto, and a Metropolitan Toronto study entitled A Study of Homelessness in Metropolitan Toronto: Characteristics, Trends and Solutions.
Other studies, entitled Major Action Task Force on Discharged Patients, 1984, and Off the Streets -- A Case for Long-Term Housing, 1985, report that traditionally, up to the early 1970s, private rooming and boarding houses and flophouses provided various housing forms. However, the study indicates that the expense to conform to new housing bylaws, together with the thrust towards gentrification, resulted in the disappearance of 7,000 room-and-bed units between 1971 and 1985.
In addition to these studies, the task force undertook to look into and examine initiatives outside Ontario. Specially commissioned papers have been received from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Washington, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal. These papers outline in detail initiatives and studies that have occurred in the various jurisdictions and the success that has been experienced.
A review of legislative measures has also been undertaken, ranging from measures in New York City where a moratorium on conversion, alteration and demolition of single-room-occupancy multiple dwellings occurred, to Seattle where the housing authority has spent $48 million to purchase and rehabilitate 1,200 units under its housing preservation ordinance. These cases are cited in the state-of-knowledge report submitted by the task force in May 1986.
The report assesses the available literature on roomers, boarders and lodgers and the homeless both in Canada and the United States. The paper also examines current attempts being undertaken to solve these problems and look at available financial, social and physical solutions.
The task force also reviewed information on programs that might be applicable to roomers, boarders and lodgers but from which they are currently excluded for various reasons. For the first time in Ontario, the task force has summarized into a directory sources of information on roomers, boarders, lodgers and the homeless.
The directory is intended to assist three different groups of individuals interested and involved in this form of accommodation across Ontario. The first group is made up of the roomers and boarders themselves. Information contained in the directory is presented in a way that seeks to address their needs, and most important, how to find housing, food and advice on problems.
The second emphasis reflects the different groups trying to improve the situation in which roomers, boarders and lodgers find themselves. There is a network of people across the province who have views and information to share. They are listed in the directory by city and by area of interest.
The third group consists of the government agencies that want to contact individuals who can make use of their programs. As I mentioned earlier, this is the first time information has been put together exclusively for the benefit of roomers, boarders and lodgers, and I hope this material will be revised and updated annually and kept as a source reference.
One of the most difficult tasks undertaken by the task force has been a background paper entitled Protecting Occupants and Owners of Rooming, Boarding and Lodging Accommodation. Occupants of this form of accommodation require effective protection against arbitrary eviction, seizure of possessions, rental gouging and other undesirable practices. In addition, owners and operators of this form of accommodation also require better recourse when things go wrong.
In an effort to ensure that there was an open consultative process in defining the problem and recommending workable and equitable recommendations, the task force held public hearings across the province last July and August. It went to Kingston, Hamilton, London, Windsor, Ottawa, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. A total of 514 individuals attended the hearings, and the task force received 107 briefs and presentations. Each city has its specific problems and circumstances, even Sudbury.
The comments the task force heard suggested that there is a need to look at the issue of protection being afforded those living in rooming, boarding and lodging accommodations, the provision of a broad range of support services to these individuals and heightened public awareness and education.
Those are my comments with regard to vote 1901.
Mr. Gordon: That may be one of the most extensive briefs with regard to a vote I have heard since I came to this Legislature. Do I take it the minister plans to make an extended statement on each vote?
Hon. Mr. Curling: As the member knows, we regard all votes as important. For the understanding of the members, I will try my best to capitalize on what is needed so we can have a better debate on this. To say the vote is extensive -- I will give a commentary on all the votes.
Mr. Gordon: Estimates give an opportunity to the opposition parties to question the minister about the various ramifications of his ministry, to zero in on those items in the budget that give us pause and to look to the minister for the answers. That is what I expect this dialogue to be. The estimates book itself, which is given out at the beginning of estimates, does not contain -- how many pages do we have here? We have something like 35 pages of a speech being given on vote 1901.
I am going to give the minister an opportunity to tell us something about his ministry. We are looking not only for good programs but also for value for the money that is put out for those programs. We on this side of the House want to know how well this ministry and this minister are interacting with the problems faced by the people of Ontario.
Taking that into consideration, I have a number of questions for the minister. In regard to the ministry administration program, in 1985-86 the ministry spent $9,233,600, as pointed out in the estimates book, which the minister has before him. I am glad to see he is looking at it. In 1986-87, the ministry spent $12,430,300. That is a change of $3,196,700. It is obvious that for ministry administration alone, in one year the amount has gone up considerably. Could the minister explain why we have this great increase in administration cost in this coming year over last year?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The member asks quite an extensive question. If he will give me a moment, I will tell him the various expenses from 1985-86 to 1986-87.
I presume the member was listening to the commentary earlier when we talked about setting up the separate ministries. Certain areas were separated from the ministry and certain programs were put in place that needed additional funding, such as the communication strategy, the rent review system, setting up the registry and, as I gather from the staff, communication, part two.
Even though many of the programs we had in the past were in place, they were not known of. Our communication strategy to get to all the various areas and media and bring about an awareness of some of our programs increased our advertising costs. The staffing we put in place also increased our costs. Our costs increased from $9 million to $12 million, a difference of $3 million.
Mr. Gordon: Is the minister saying his costs are going up by $3 million because of advertising and the addition of staff? That sounds like an awful lot of staff. Could the minister give us some idea of how many additional bodies he is bringing on board to sop up this $3 million he is talking about? Perhaps he can refer as well to what advertising programs the ministry is going to be involved in and how much those advertising programs are going to cost. I am sure that the minister has sat down with his people in the ministry and that they have gone over those advertising programs with him. Given that he is a hands-on kind of minister, I am sure he can answer the question without any difficulty.
Hon. Mr. Curling: I draw to the attention of the critic that on vote 1901, item 6, systems development services for 1985 is shown at $3 million and in 1986 there is an increase of $3 million for systems development services. That alone shows a great increase. The member wants to know where the items are that increased it by $3 million. That in itself, systems development services, increased by that amount.
Mr. Gordon: Then am I to believe that the reason for the $3-million increase in administration costs, where $1 out of every $100 in the budget is going into administration, is the computer? Is that what the minister is saying to me?
I can see there is a problem here. Why do we not move on a little? We will move on to the next point.
I notice that the main office expenditures are up 13 per cent over 1985-86. I wonder whether I can have some explanation why the main office expenditures in this coming budget are up 13 per cent over 1985-86.
Hon. Mr. Curling: If the member wants me to give him a full explanation of that, of the additional staff, costs and all that, I can get back to him and tell him how many staff we increased by. Going back to the first question about systems development services, I can give him a detailed explanation later on.
Mr. Gordon: I wonder whether I might go on to the next point. The minister knows I have been rather critical of him in the House with regard to a lot of the publicity that goes on and that surrounds his ministry. Earlier in the estimates, I made the point that I thought there was more publicity coming out of this ministry than there were apartment units being built in the province today. We have more than 200,000 people looking for affordable housing and another 40,000 families looking for social housing in this province. It really bothers me when I see that in 1986-87 we are looking at a 30 per cent increase in information services. A 30 per cent increase in information services is almost unheard of in any government, and yet we are not just hearing about it in the government; we are hearing about it in this ministry. Surely the minister can give us an explanation for a 30 per cent increase.
Hon. Mr. Curling: I will have to get back to the member on the detail of what caused the increase in information services. I have tried to explain to him, but I do not think he accepts, that there are many promotion and information devices to be developed in informing the people of the programs we have. The member says he has been critical of me in that way. That is his job but he has to admit that more people know about the programs of the Ministry of Housing than knew previously.
A good example is that when we advertised social housing, nonprofit housing, we had 28,000 applications. Therefore, there is a cost for the very effective way in which we promote our programs. If the member wants me to come back to him with details and tell him specifically where the growth was, I can do that.
Mr. Gordon: While the minister is at it, perhaps his staff people, who are sitting there passing him papers and pointing out to him some of the facts, can help him on this vote. Let us take supply and office services. They are up by 15 per cent. What are we doing? Are we buying more pencils? What is going on?
I come from an area where we are looking at 12 per cent unemployment, where people are having a hard time paying their taxes. They are already groaning under the weight of the budget the Treasurer brought in, his first budget, whereby the government ended up with a surplus of about $2.5 billion. Is he trying to spend the Treasurer's surplus? Is that what is going on?
I see systems development services are up by nearly 70 per cent. Is he going to go back and tell me that is that $3 million? Here is another one, legal services. I know in the law profession in Ontario at present there are a lot of new graduates coming out and some of them are having trouble finding jobs, but I find his ministry's legal services are up by nearly 40 per cent. Would he like to comment on the legal services part of his ministry?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I know it is the prerogative of a critic to try each line and say, "Explain that." Again, the critic from the NDP stated too with regard to the programs we have that, for instance, people did not know about the rent review program. He said we spent a lot of time looking at Bill 51 and that he had hoped we would have spent more time on the other issues of housing.
Within the rent review alone, Bill 51, the cost was there in the sense of the brochures we sent out to tenants advising them of their rights and what is available to them. We know we are communicating not only with people of English or French backgrounds, but we are also communicating with a wide variety of people of different languages. Those messages were not getting there. I have instructed the staff to make sure those messages and the available services are being explained properly in the languages of the people they affect.
We have a multicultural society, and if we want to serve those communities, then we must speak in their languages so they can understand. It is costly to advertise. We advertised about the guidelines to tell people the process to go through. We had many brochures and pamphlets sent out. As a matter of fact, I am quite sure there is one in his office in Sudbury right now. We give you any amount of information you need in the flyers explaining the process. Those are the costs for these and for advertising the Renterprise program and the other nonprofit programs. The new rent review legislation brought about an increase in staff. We moved from covering not only the pre-1976 rental units but all. That takes staff.
If he is saying to us that cost of $3 million is a matter of waste or is not warranted, I say we got much more -- and we are not spending it all yet -- for the $12 million in a ratio than for the $9 million. We have reached a far wider community. We have made the Ministry of Housing a place that people see serving them. Line by line, as one goes along about our legal costs, we had some legal responsibilities. We had an extensive building code review, the building industrial strategy, and in many areas we have gone beyond what is expected of us to reach people by communicating with them. It used staff. It has used an increase in computer services and legal services.
Mr. Reville: Excuse me, Mr. Chairman. I wonder whether the member for Sudbury will permit a supplementary.
Mr. Gordon: Yes, certainly.
Mr. Reville: I have listened to the minister's answer and I am becoming concerned that the amounts of money that he has indicated were for advertising various programs may appear in other votes. For instance, under vote 1905 there seems to be money allocated to talk to people about Bill 51. It does not seem appropriate to describe that money under vote 1901 if it is under vote 1905. In addition, for all we know, information about some of the supply programs may be included under other votes.
I am not satisfied with the minister's answers. Will he undertake to be more specific about answers to the questions from the member for Sudbury? Clearly, there appears to be money in the budget under other votes to cover information about specific programs.
Hon. Mr. Curling: The member is perfectly right. In reply to the question that was asked, I said that if we look at Bill 51, the rent review bill, we can say those expenses are spread out accordingly in different areas. There are added legal services which may come with drafting the legislation, which will fall under this area. The member puts it as if Bill 51 is out there and all the costs are associated with that, but we would not use any part of the administrative services of the ministry. We must use this area and we have expanded this area to accommodate the expanded programs we have done.
To be more specific about the bill, the member for Sudbury asked why the cost is like that. He targeted one or two areas, and I said that built into that are some of the extra costs that were used for Bill 51, Bill 11 and other areas. As far as I am concerned, there is no vote called Bill 51 or Bill 11, but other costs are involved right across the votes.
The Deputy Chairman: Are you satisfied?
Mr. Reville: Yes, thank you.
Mr. Gordon: The member for Riverdale is always satisfied, so why not just ask me about it.
Further to what we were talking about, as Housing critic, let me be fair to the minister and let me be fair also to the deputy minister and to the ministry staff. I think I am speaking for the majority of the citizens of Ontario when I tell the minister that most people are probably looking for an increase in pay in the range of two or three per cent, or, if they are very lucky, four per cent. When we come to his budget and we find it has shot up to such an extent and that ministry expenditures are up by 30 per cent overall, we have to question that. We have to ask on behalf of those citizens of Ontario exactly what is going on. Those are the answers we are looking for.
Given that we are into this discussion on administration and we see here that 80 per cent of the main office expenditures are taken up with staff -- and naturally staffing is always very important -- and given the kinds of moneys the minister seems to want to spend as the Minister of Housing, despite the fact that people are getting so little back in their pay packets right now, will the minister table for us in the House on Thursday, which is when we come back to these estimates again, the salaries paid out to the people in the administration part of his office, the salaries of the ministerial staff? Will he elaborate on the qualifications of that staff at the same time?
Furthermore, can the minister tell us what the costs will be for the accelerated career development initiatives of the ministry?
Hon. Mr. Curling: Perhaps I should explain a little. The number of people in this career development options program was 21, and 20 people have so far been trained and been able to leave the system and find careers outside. One person has yet to be trained and to find an appropriate place to go. It is zero-based; there is no cost to us. As a matter of fact, the training was done within. Therefore, to ask what the cost is, I would have to go to the other side and ask what are the cost savings? To give the member the figure of how much was saved in that process, it was $474,000.
Mr. Gordon: With regard to vote 1901, which we are on right now, can the minister tell us the occupational target areas for the affirmative action program in his ministry?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I remarked that the affirmative action program was targeted to women. If I can recall, we were talking about francophones, visible minorities and the handicapped as groups we were going to be targeting in future.
Mr. Gordon: Moving on to item 2, information services, I would like to talk a little about contracting out. I understand the ministry is into contracting out. Can the minister tell us what costs are involved in contracting out and exactly what he does contract out?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I want to decipher what the contracts are. I do not want to associate the Ontario Housing Corp. contracts within this one. I gather that the specific ones we are talking about, the communication contracts handled under this vote, are communication contracts of that nature. Communication contracts, writing pamphlets, etc., were the areas offered out. If the member wants a list of those, he can have one, but it is within those areas that we contract under communications, under vote 1901.
Mr. Gordon: Given the minister's reply, can we then have an itemized list for Thursday of the various firms involved, which they are, how much he is paying these firms and what kind of contracts are involved with these campaigns -- for example, his advertising campaigns, which no doubt have been seen by many of us to have been quite expensive, almost exorbitantly so.
In talking about communications services, I am a little concerned about the targeting of the services to the francophone population, for example. Can the minister tell us something about the targeting of communications services to the francophone population in Ontario at present, which falls under this vote?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I presume the member is asking, for instance, where we send these French advertisements and to what areas we send them. As he knows, there are areas designated as French areas, and we target the French newspapers -- we advertise in the French newspapers -- in areas that are targeted as French areas. There are areas from which we would get requests -- in other words, in other multicultural areas.
Did the member ask only about the French?
Mr. Gordon: I was asking about francophones.
Hon. Mr. Curling: Just in areas that are designated. If there are requests, we will send them out too.
Mr. Gordon: I have asked quite a few questions. Perhaps the member for Riverdale has a few he would like to ask, and then I would like to come back to this subject again.
Mr. Reville: To go back over some of the territory that has already been covered by the member for Sudbury, can the minister tell us how many employees the ministry administration program tends to have and how many it had last year so that we can understand the difference in the growth?
Mr. Chairman: Only one person can be on his feet at a time. If you want the minister to answer --
Mr. Reville: I will sit down.
Hon. Mr. Curling: Sorry. I thought he had completed his question.
Mr. Reville: No. I had fallen into a dream, but I will sit down and let the minister answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Curling: That is okay. It is understandable that the member dreams at times.
It is quite a difficult question that the member asks. Last year, as he knows, we were under one portfolio, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I gather there are some answers here. Let me see if I can find an answer, because the member wants me to be specific about the number who are employed by the Ministry of Housing, and that will be kind of difficult. I will have to get back to him to tell him the specific number.
Mr. Reville: To clarify, it is under "ministry administration program" on page 20 of the briefing book.
Hon. Mr. Curling: Did the member ask how many, and he saw 339 on page 20? Is that what he is saying?
If the member is directing me to page 20, where it states there are 333 classified positions and 43 unclassified staff, for a total of 37, is he asking how many staff are in the ministry while it is there?
Mr. Reville: I was trying to help the minister understand how his briefing book works. The answer is on page 20. That is the answer the member for Sudbury was looking for earlier.
Can the minister tell us, in the same manner, why it is that audit services will be less expensive in this fiscal year than in the previous fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I must thank the member for telling me how my briefing book works. It is almost a waste of time if he asks a question to which he knows the answer. On the other hand, he asks why there is a reduction in audit fees. I gather that when there was a turnover in staff, the people who left had a higher salary and new people were taken on at a reduced salary, hence the reduction in amount.
Mr. Reville: Is the minister suggesting that $974,000 is somehow less than $964,000? If he finds that confusing, how about if I read to him from the right page? Rather, is it the problem that he is getting more recoveries? Is that not where the saving is; more recoveries, which I assume are payments made by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I gather the member is talking about the $159,200 as a recovery cost and he is asking how we got that. When we do any work for the Ontario Housing Corp., we charge it, it gets the federal subsidy for it and in turn pays us back, so there is more or less of a saving. Instead of contracting the work out, which is done in here, we get that saving from the amount of money paid back to us. The $159,200 is a reflection of that saving.
Mr. Gordon: Maybe we can move on to another area of this vote. Under the Ontario building program, I notice the budget was $2,209,000 in 1985-86 and in 1986-87 it has gone up to $6,644,600. This budget has increased threefold. Could the minister explain these dramatic increases in the Ontario building program budget?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The Ontario building program; is that vote 1902? I thought we were going to take each vote as it goes along and then we could deal with that.
Mr. Chairman: I checked with the Clerk, and it was my understanding that the Deputy Chairman asked if we would stay on vote 1901 right through and carry all votes and items at the end. It was my understanding that was agreed to by the committee.
Hon. Mr. Curling: I am not insisting; I am just asking whether we are on vote 1902 now.
Mr. Chairman: It means that because the committee has so instructed, we are going to be going all over the various five votes throughout.
Mr. Reville: I suspect the Minister of Housing was going to do a leadoff to vote 1902. I wonder whether the member for Sudbury would hold his questions until we finish vote 1901, because we are going to interrupt the minister's rhythm and that is not a good idea.
Mr. Chairman: I am in your hands. That is why the Deputy Chairman asked earlier whether it was going to be totally wide-ranging or whether we were going to discuss and carry each vote and item as we go.
Mr. Gordon: If the minister would like the time to get the answer to that question, it is fine with me.
I guess, though, what we are pointing out in these estimates is the fact that it seems this ministry is out of hand when it comes to the increases in expenditures. We have to know why, because we have the people of Ontario looking at it. As I indicated earlier, their pay packets are increasing somewhere in the neighbourhood of two, three or four per cent, if they are lucky. Some are getting no increases. We have to know why this ministry and this minister have launched such a wide-ranging, all-encompassing spending program. We should also have in this House a clear explanation of why this is being done, what the programs are and what people will be affected by these programs.
As I indicated, this is the first time in all the years I have been in this House that I have seen a minister come in and not only make a statement at the beginning of estimates but also have a comprehensive paper for each vote. It does not give the opposition the opportunity to ask specific questions about that ministry, which I believe we have a right to ask.
Hon. Mr. Curling: I want the honourable members to know that I am not resisting the questions in any way. I would like the debate to be productive.
I will admit I am not an expert in presenting estimates. I think the members are all experts in asking questions. It is simply to proceed in an orderly fashion, in order to give members the best answer we can. If I do not have it, I have no qualms in saying I will get back to members with it. It is in no way restricting members. We are keeping it orderly so that my thoughts can be kept orderly too. I am not as bright and intelligent as the honourable member who can jump from vote to vote. That is why I have staff to help give me some of the answers.
I want to come back to the member by responding that we are spending government money and we will be spending it in a very effective and efficient manner.
Mr. Chairman: May I make it clear that the committee did decide for itself that it would be wide-ranging. Technically, we will be staying on vote 1901 until the end of the estimates, 12.5 hours, and we will then be carrying all votes and items.
If the committee had wanted to go vote by vote and item by item, it would have so instructed. Even though it is not as orderly, it is what the committee has stated it wished. Therefore, we will range widely throughout.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: What has become clear in the questioning from my counterpart in the Progressive Conservative caucus and from me is that the minister has absolutely no idea why the ministry administration program will cost approximately $3 million more in 1986-87 than it did in 1985-86.
I have no objection to the minister reading a prepared statement before each vote, but I certainly object strongly to the minister having no answers to why $3 million is being added to one section of his ministry.
However, I want to go now to some information that was contained in the very long statement the minister read prior to discussing vote 1901. I have done some calculations. His opening statement was 24 pages long. Vote 1901 is 35 pages long. If that ratio keeps up, by the time we get to vote 1905 his opening statement will be 167 pages long, which is something to contemplate, Mr. Chairman. God willing, you will not have to sit through all of that, but somebody will.
I would like to refer the minister back to his statement on vote 1901 and deal with one of the policy matters that is being addressed in it. Beginning at page 23, the minister actually spends the next 12 pages talking about the very serious problem affecting those people who can least afford housing, who normally would be found in boarding and lodging houses or rooming houses, and he describes the action of the Bairstow task force. Although none of this is news to us -- we have all heard it before -- some questions arise out of that material.
The minister points out that provision for hostel-type accommodation under the convert-to-rent program should be of some assistance in replacing housing stock lost. First, can the minister expand on what he means by hostel-type accommodation under the convert-to-rent program?
Hon. Mr. Curling: In the past, the convert-to-rent program did not include hostel-type accommodation. What we have done in the last program is to expand it to include hostel-type accommodation. This will of course be of some assistance to those people who seek that type of accommodation.
Mr. Reville: What does the minister mean when he says "hostel-type accommodation"?
Hon. Mr. Curling: Within that jurisdiction we have roomers, boarders and lodgers in accommodations that are not similar to the usual arrangement, where people share facilities. We have included in the convert-to-rent program accommodations where people can have shared facilities; in other words, accommodating the hostel-type tenant. That is where the hostel-type situation would come in, regarding hostel-types as those where people would be sharing facilities.
Mr. Reville: I do not understand the minister's explanation at all. I am trying to discover some kind of understandable definition of the kind of accommodation that is referred to as "hostel type." Does he mean a mattress on the floor, as is customary in hostels? If he cannot describe it now, can the minister undertake to return with a description of hostel-type accommodation and the numbers of units of that kind of accommodation that are expected to be provided under convert-to-rent?
Hon. Mr. Curling: Maybe I did not do such a good job, but those are the nonself-contained units versus the self-contained units; in other words, where people are sharing bathrooms and kitchen facilities. That is what we define as hostel-type; those who share those types of facilities.
Mr. Reville: Would that include accommodation similar to that provided at the corner of Jarvis and Shuter in what is called the Third House? Is that what the minister means by hostel-type accommodation?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The member has specifically named a place. I would have to see about the one on Jarvis. I would have to see the place itself to see whether it is a hostel-type. Does it have shared bathrooms? If there are shared facilities and it is a convert-to-rent -- I do not know; I will have to get back to the member on that specific case.
Mr. Reville: It is amazing that the minister is not totally familiar with the Third House at the corner of Jarvis and Shuter. It is 11 storeys high. It is the first example of its type. The minister should pay attention; he is going to learn here. It is like a high-rise rooming house, in which people have a bedroom but they share a sitting room, kitchen and bathroom. This is of help to the minister to be able to determine whether this is what we are talking about here.
Another good example would be a university dormitory, where a person has a room and shares a bathroom and may have a kitchenette. Is that hostel-type accommodation?
Hon. Mr. Curling: It is rather tempting. The member says that if I pay attention, I can learn from him. If he were in my position and paying attention to the Treasurer -- I can learn a lot more from him than I do from the member. However, I have learned a lot from the member over the months.
I have explained what hostel-type accommodation is. The member is surprised I do not know about the accommodation at Jarvis. I am the Minister of Housing for Ontario, and many times when I concentrate outside of Toronto it is because I am paying more attention to a wider field of housing.
I have explained that accommodation with shared facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens is of the hostel-type. I presume it is quite possible the specific case the member has raised would fall under that definition.
Recently, I opened one of the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute student housing situations. Those also have shared facilities in some respects.
Mr. Reville: Can the minister tell us how many units of hostel-type accommodation he is expecting to provide in this round of allocations?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I cannot say offhand how many we are expecting now. I could get back to him on how much we anticipate. I presume the member is speaking solely about the convert-to-rent program.
Mr. Reville: Yes.
Hon. Mr. Curling: I will have to get back to the member and tell him what I anticipate in hostel-type accommodation from that program.
Mr. Reville: The description of the work of the task force goes on for some length, about 12 pages, but it does not indicate the conclusions to which the task force came. It is my understanding that this task force was originally intended to report by the end of October. Can the minister indicate when we will see the report of the task force on roomers and lodgers?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I have received the report from Mr. Bairstow and handed it to the advisory committee at a discussion today. It will be looking at his report. I would say that within a very short time, a week or 10 days, the member will have the report.
Mr. Reville: Can the minister give us a hint about whether roomers will finally be protected under the Landlord and Tenant Act?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I can give the member a hint and say that the kind of approach we use will be consistent. We have received this report from Mr. Bairstow. I have now given it to the advisory committee, and it will make its recommendation to me. At that time members will know specifically the direction I will go. I would also like to have the member's comment on that report as soon as it is in his hands.
Mr. Reville: Is the minister telling the House that the report of the Task Force on Roomers, Boarders and Lodgers is going to the same advisory committee that invented Bill 51? I ask him to tell me it is not so.
Hon. Mr. Curling: It is not so.
Mr. Reville: No?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I want to explain that. It is not the same group. A group of people will be looking at it. It is not going to the Rent Review Advisory Committee, so I am saying it is not so. It is not going to the same group of people who looked at Bill 51. I was just indicating that I am seriously looking forward to the member's comments because of the expertise and knowledge he has in that area.
Mr. Reville: Can I get the minister to turn to page 33 and provide me with some explanation of the last sentence, which says, "In addition, owners and operators of this form of accommodation also require better recourse when `things go wrong.'" I am somewhat at a loss to know what that might mean.
Hon. Mr. Curling: As the member knows, many of the operators have expressed their frustration because of some of the client groups or the tenants in their accommodation. For instance, let us say I am an ex-psychiatric patient who has been housed within that accommodation. For some reason or other, things go wrong. I may need more treatment and not know where to turn or the resources and avenues that there are.
We are saying that owners and operators should be aware of where to turn to. There is no use calling the police if there is disruptive behaviour among their tenants. We help them with the avenue they can take to direct the disorder when things go wrong. We have to look at those disorders. Many times, the wrong people are called and the wrong action is taken, and it is much more disruptive to all the tenants.
Mr. Reville: Is the minister talking about some kind of education program for owners and operators on how to solve particular problems?
Hon. Mr. Curling: What I am talking about is partly that. That may not be sufficient. If the system is not sufficient to take up that specific situation, we must look to putting things in place so that redress is available. Education will only tell what is available; if it tells me something is not available, we would like to make a correction to address that inadequacy.
Mr. Chairman, because of the time, it might be better to address the next vote, vote 1902, in the next session.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Curling, the committee of supply reported progress.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Tomorrow we will proceed with second reading of the adoption bill, the number of which eludes me at the moment. I understand that there may be some amendments and that we will go into committee as well. In the unlikely event that debate is completed, we will return to these estimates tomorrow afternoon, if that is convenient for all concerned.
The House adjourned at 5:56 p.m.