L103 - Thu 12 Feb 1987 / Jeu 12 fév 1987
The House met at 10 a.m.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
RETAIL BUSINESS HOLIDAYS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Ashe moved second reading of Bill 188, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act.
Mr. Ashe: It is indeed a pleasure to speak briefly this morning. I do not think I will take my total 20 minutes, although I want to reserve approximately five minutes for closing remarks at the appropriate time.
In putting forth Bill 188, I should make it very clear what my own personal philosophy is in regard to shopping hours and days of doing business in Ontario, and indicate to the members in complete honesty that I am one who still does favour the fact that we should have a common day of rest in Ontario. Because there are seven days of shopping in other jurisdictions, particularly to the south, does not mean it is the right thing for Ontario to become a seven-day commercial operation.
The immediate reaction might very well be to ask: "What is the idea behind Bill 188? Is it not further expanding the opportunities for businesses to operate on the seventh day of the week?" The answer to that, of course, is yes.
In any of these issues, to be fair we also have to be honest. We have to recognize the realities of the marketplace. We have to recognize what is happening out there now and the number of businesses that are allowed to operate in a legal fashion because of the nature of the service or goods they provide, the size of the establishment and, in some cases, the numbers of employees they are allowed to use.
There are some things that, quite honestly and fairly, should be available to the consuming public, in a sense, for the public to be entertained. They can now legally be entertained in many fashions by going to various functions such as sporting functions. They can now go to the races and they have been able to go to theatres, etc., for many years.
It seems rather queer that certain people who may find the opportunity on Sunday to go and browse in a bookstore, to choose at leisure their favourite novel, do not have that opportunity, and similarly with art galleries. Bill 188 would allow those whose particular interests lie along those lines the opportunity, which they may not get on any other day of the week, to browse at leisure and entertain themselves, if that is their forte, and to have the opportunity to make a purchase, if they are so inclined.
Early last year, through our leader, my party set up a task force on extended shopping hours. It toured the province and had public hearings, and there was considerable input on this issue. As a matter of fact, something in the order of 30 representations were made by interested groups that participated in the hearings throughout the province.
There is no doubt that out of that came the conclusion that the general principle of a common pause day should be maintained. There was also a general consensus on other areas. One of those had to do with the possibility of extending some Sunday shopping opportunities prior to Christmas by the opening of retail businesses -- in this case, it reads "for books and records." The task force went into some areas such as Boxing Day and so on which are not overly relevant to the discussion today.
The committee and I were very well pleased with the kind of representations that were made. Regardless of what side of the issue people were on, they made reasoned representations, which were fair and put forth in an honest manner. I would like to read and put on the record, for the benefit of the members, one brief that is very relevant to the bookstore situation.
In a brief presented by Edward Borins of Edwards Books and Art, he points out the confusing and chaotic situation with respect to the right of bookstores to operate on Sundays. I am going to quote from that brief because it states the main points I am trying to make today much better than I could in any other words. He says:
"What we now have is a situation where bookstores are exempted from Sunday closing in certain parts of Toronto designated as tourist-attraction areas; bookstores affiliated with government-funded institutions such as the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum; bookstores which sell a certain percentage of magazines and newspapers; bookstores located in certain specific tourist areas, such as the CN Tower or hotels or quasi-bookstores which sell books and magazines bordering on pornography." These are presently exempted and they are classified as places of amusement.
"All of these operations are legally open on Sundays and holidays. However, a bookstore such as our newest Edwards Books and Art, located at the corner of Yonge and Eglinton in Canada Square, which sells art books and quality literature written by a variety of international and national authors, such as Robertson Davies and Margaret Atwood, is apparently breaking the law by being open Sundays and holidays and selling these materials. In other words, a person may buy Penthouse or Playboy on Sunday, but he can't buy a copy of the Bible unless he shops at specifically designated bookstores....
"Certain nonessential retail operations are allowed to remain open on Sundays because they would encourage people to engage in certain leisure activities. This is the rationale that exempts antique stores, fruit markets during the summer months, smoke shops selling tobacco, newspapers or magazines. But why not bookstores? Can the government in its wisdom impose a value structure on our society that suggests that people are spending their leisure time more appropriately by buying and smoking cigarettes or by purchasing a newspaper or magazine to read rather than a book?"
That sums it up just as well as anything. There are people whose form of leisure or form of pleasure is to be able to browse in a bookstore. In my view, those same words could apply to art galleries and art stores, to browse and yet to have the opportunity still to make a purchase.
I think that is the reason Bill 188 is appropriate at this time. I know part of the response may very well be, "The government has now, through the co-operation of the three parties, set up a new task force" -- a new select committee in this case; our party's was a task force -- "which is going to begin deliberations in the near future."
I suspect their conclusions will probably not differ greatly from those of our task force of a year ago, but why wait? Now is the time to clarify these two areas so that people can go, look for and buy good literature and/or good art on Sunday in the same way they can go to the corner store in the context of a different kind of outlet to buy other types of magazines and periodicals.
I hope that in the spirit of what the people and the citizens of Ontario are quite agreeable to, regardless of their overall general views on Sunday shopping -- and again I emphasize that I am not one who subscribes to the view that we should open up to seven days of commercial enterprise -- we should realize and recognize the realities during the time they are there and take this opportunity of making it legal for businesses that are in the business of selling books, newspapers or periodicals, and art galleries, to be able to carry on, if they choose.
Again, I think this is important. We are not forcing them to open. Those who do not feel they wish to for their own reasons, those who do not feel they are in the correct geographical area, will not be obliged to open, but they will have the opportunity to open to serve their clientele legally. I ask for the support of all honourable members.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the member wish to reserve the last 10 minutes and 30 seconds?
Mr. Ashe: I would be quite prepared to hold on to just five minutes if that is appropriate.
Mr. Philip: It may come as a surprise to some members of the House, considering the views I have expressed on Sunday openings, that I will be supporting this amendment. In the past, I have argued that wide-open Sundays, particularly of grocery stores and large retail stores such as Eaton's and Simpsons, would be expensive to the consumer, would be harmful to families, would be coercive to employees and would be disastrous to some small businessmen who depend on a certain amount of large volume on Sunday when the large grocery stores are not open.
I do not believe this amendment in any way contradicts our strongly held views that Sunday is a day of rest when a majority of stores should be closed. What it does, as the member who has moved it has pointed out, is correct an inconsistency in the present legislation. As Robins, Appleby, Kotler, Banks and Taub, the barristers who have sent us some information on the proposed amendment, have suggested, the Supreme Court decision left bookstores, and in particular Edwards Books and Art, disheartened.
The fight of their committee that is lobbying for this particular bill -- and they assure us that they have the support of their union and of their employees -- is not for a wide-open Sunday, but rather it is to allow for a common quality pause day in the retail sector.
If we look at the Retail Business Holidays Act, we see under section 3 an exemption clause. We see that the exemption is for "newspapers or periodicals, or tobacco or articles required for the use of tobacco." It seems to me blatantly absurd that I can buy a book in one store but not go into a bookstore to buy it. It seems to me blatantly unfair that a bookstore whose main product -- and in most cases only product, with the exception of perhaps a few calendars and stationery -- is books can have added competition it cannot meet. As someone who considers browsing in a bookstore to be my form of relaxation, my recreation, I can go to a baseball game or rent a videotape on Sunday but I cannot go buy a book or browse in a bookstore on Sunday.
I am looking forward to the hearings of the select committee on retail store hours, on which I will be representing our party. One of the first documents I looked at in preparation for these hearings was the Conservative task force report, dated April 18, 1986. I talked to some of the members of that task force. I congratulate them on preparing what I think is in many ways a balanced, nonpartisan document. Indeed, I think they did learn from the hearings they undertook. I was so bold as to suggest that instead of our spending four weeks going around duplicating the Conservative Party task force, we should simply grill the Conservative members of that committee for four days and write our report. I gather that suggestion was unacceptable to the Liberals on the committee.
If we look at the Conservative Party task force report dealing with this specific issue, I think it comes to grips with it and makes some pertinent points. It says:
"The representations received, for the most part, argued one or the other side of the general principle of the maintenance of a common pause day. Very few attempted to make a case for further specific exemption, as one might have expected, from interest groups or particular sectors of the economy. However, a notably convincing presentation was received in Toronto from a group of new- and secondhand-book sellers. These included..." and it lists the various sellers.
Then it goes on to say that Mr. Edward Borins of Edwards Books and AR pointed out: "What we now have is a situation where bookstores are exempted from Sunday closing in certain parts of Toronto designated as tourist-attraction areas; bookstores affiliated with government-funded institutions such as the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum; bookstores which sell a certain percentage of magazines and newspapers; bookstores located in specific tourist areas such as the CN Tower or hotels or quasi-bookstores which sell books and magazines bordering on pornography, and classified as a `place of amusement.'
"All of these operations are legally open on Sundays and holidays. However, a bookstore such as our newest Edwards Books and Art, located at the corner of Yonge and Eglinton in Canada Square, which sells art books and quality literature, written by a variety of international and national authors, such as Robinson Davies and Margaret Atwood, is apparently breaking the law by being open Sundays and holidays and selling these materials."
In other words, a person in this city may buy Penthouse on Sunday, but he cannot buy Margaret Atwood's books. That seems to be blatantly absurd and unfair.
I note with interest an article in the February 1984 issue of the trade newspaper Quill and Quire, in which the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), in his previous incarnation, argued in favour of opening bookstores on Sunday.
Basically, what this bill does is it logically slightly expands the exemptions under section 3. In many ways, one can take this amendment as being analogous to exemptions under the Planning Act. Under the Planning Act, we have a certain set of guidelines or rules, but at the same time, there can be exemptions that simply make common sense. I suggest this is the same kind of commonsense amendment, an amendment which removes some of the inconsistencies in the present act and in no way interferes with the basic principle that Sunday is a day of rest and a day on which a majority of people and a majority of families should be able to get together.
As I mentioned, Bill 188 conforms with the findings of the Conservative Party task force on extended shopping hours. These people went around the province, and I think they heard a fairly wide variety of delegations and people. That task force did not come out in favour of a wide-open Sunday, but it did note that there was a problem in this one area. I think that was a reasonable request.
On this matter, one must look at basic principles, one must look at family life and one must look at society, but at the same time one cannot be dogmatic and prissy about the whole thing. I think this amendment is in keeping with the present act and with the present values of our society as they exist in Ontario. I hope other members will support the amendment and that we will pass it today.
Mr. D. W. Smith: I too am happy to rise in my place today and make a few comments on the private member's bill provided for us today by the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe). It has been suggested that the Retail Business Holidays Act involves and evokes questions of social and economic issues which affect people throughout the entire province. I think this specific act demands our attention as conscientious legislators within Ontario.
I completely support the initiative of this bill, as I believe does each member of this House. I would like to take some time to discuss briefly the situation surrounding the Retail Business Holidays Act and how we as elected officials can best deal with its implications.
A year ago, in January 1986, the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) advised this House that after the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada had been passed down, the entire issue of holiday closing would be sent to a committee of the Legislative Assembly for review, "providing the opportunity for full, public discussion and the expression of the entire range of public concern to be presented directly to the members of this assembly."
This first step has now occurred. The retail store hours committee is presently preparing to travel across the province to listen to the presentations of concern and/or support from the people of the province. The second step is for this committee, on which I am pleased to have the opportunity to sit, to examine in detail proposals such as the one the member for Durham West has brought forth today in Bill 188.
I think I can safely surmise that, in principle, we have an all-party agreement supporting this morning's proposals. Without doubt the anomalies in this act must be rectified. A few weeks ago, during the estimates prepared for the standing committee on administration of justice, under the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) questioned the minister on this very same matter and used the words "the plight of the bookstores."
The suggestions discussed by the member included one which encouraged the minister to fine-tune the retail bookstores thing. To do so effectively demands that all views be heard through our democratic process. It is necessary that this should occur as laws are considered for both modification and/or amendment.
There are numerous issues to be discussed on this matter. We must discover who should open, exactly what a so-called tourist area is and who should be eligible to qualify for this exemption. To do this and to discover these answers, we need what our Premier (Mr. Peterson) has appropriately called a social consensus. Since the end of 1985, our government has verbally supported a major review of the Retail Business Holidays Act and hopes to achieve this much-desired social consensus, regardless of the Supreme Court decision brought down on December 18, 1986.
I am sure we are all aware that within Ontario today there exist numerous and varying opinions regarding the propriety of the current act. To be responsible legislators, we must allow for all segments of Ontario's population to have the opportunity to voice their grievances or their support for this act. With regard to the proposals before us today, we must hear how Ontario feels about this specific amendment.
During his opening remarks prior to the presentation of his task force report on this act, my colleague the member for Oakville (Mr. O'Connor) admitted the task force did not hear from all segments within Ontario's population. My hope is that during the next month, as we travel across Ontario, we can hear from all possible segments of Ontario's population. l trust an all-party legislative committee will encourage representatives from all parts of Ontario life to come forward and discuss this issue from their own perspectives.
Today our immediate perspective focuses on the amendment before us, which would allow all retail establishments that sell only books, newspapers or periodicals, and all art galleries, to be open on Sundays and other public holidays. In theory, as I have already mentioned, we cannot help but agree with this proposal. However, the Solicitor General suggested to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, once again during the estimates in the standing committee on administration of justice, we must be cautious with such an amendment.
Initiating a change of this nature could invite several repercussions, such as other retail businesses that share similar attractions to those provided by a bookstore or an art gallery -- such as browsing, for instance -- demanding that they too receive exemption from the act. The minister cited the example of a pet store. I can think of others, but the point is it could begin a chain reaction if initiated at this stage. To prevent this possible chain reaction from taking place, we have the committee process where we hope these possible repercussions can be eliminated.
It might be worth while to mention it is not the arguments presented in support of today's bill that I am discounting. For the most part, I believe all the points presented by our bookstore lobbyists are extremely valid. Not only are these issues valid concerns, but stores in designated tourist areas are allowed to open on holidays and Sundays whereas the exact same store in a nondesignated area is prohibited from doing the same; and there is the availability of videos and magazines versus the nonavailability of other types of good literature.
More important, the validity of these concerns serves another purpose at this stage of the legislative process. I am sure there are many stores in my own riding where videos are available on Sundays and other holidays. I guess this is something we want to address as we go about the province listening to the different presentations that may be made before this committee. They illustrate the difficulties and the confusions inherent within the act itself. They demand and reinforce the necessity for its review.
As a member of the committee who will be reviewing this very important issue, I am looking forward to the next few weeks of discussion. I would like to thank and congratulate the member for Durham West for the instigation of his private member's bill. I support his proposal and we will be pleased to examine it in detail during the committee procedures.
Mr. McLean: I am pleased to rise today in support of Bill 188, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act presented by my colleague the member for Durham West.
I had the opportunity to be part of the task force that travelled part of the province and to hear what the people of the province felt about the many different aspects of Sunday shopping and retail hours. We are dealing today with this amendment which is part of the report that was prepared. The report has to do with books and records. It has to do with the presentations that were made in the city of Toronto and briefs that were received which indicated there are sections in Toronto that are classified as tourism areas and are classified for Sunday shopping. However, there are sections here that would not allow books to be sold on Sunday.
Really, what the report has said is that it urges the government to give effect to the genuine demand for additional shopping in Ontario. The amendment put forward by my colleague is just part of this report. I think it is a step in the right direction. My colleague the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) indicated that instead of a new committee travelling the province to look into the aspects of business retail shopping time, we should look at the report that has been done. The last speaker indicated that only part of the survey has been done in this province. I am here to tell members that it does not matter how many different committees there are that want to travel the province, one can always come up with some different ideas.
I do think the report that was done is a very thorough report. It was done right across the province and there was some great input that went into it. The radio stations in my riding and the chambers of commerce all did surveys of the people. The greatest indication was that there were about 70 per cent who always wanted that common pause day.
In some of the conclusions and recommendations, there was overwhelming support in favour of the maintenance of a common pause day, which is based upon the necessity of the preservation of the quality of life and the family unit. This argument stresses the potential effect upon family life.
If Ontario should change its policy with regard to the legislation, maybe 10 years down the road there will have to be another change. The tourist parts of the province can have a designation; they can pass a bylaw that will allow certain stores to stay open if they want to classify them as tourist areas. I went through that many years ago as reeve of a municipality, so I know the requests that come in.
When we look at the overall report, it appears to me that there will be no change in the effect on family life if we maintain the status quo, but then everybody is not in favour of that. There are people who want to have their stores open on Sunday. Some people like to go to ball games on Sunday, some like to go to the movies and some like to go to the theatre.
In Ontario, business people have indicated to me that they did not want to be open seven days a week. They felt that the price of the products they were selling would have to be increased to pay those extra people over that extra day. There is only so much money, whether people spend it in six days or seven. I believe this amendment is a step in the right direction. It is an amendment that is going to set a tone that there is need to change some of our laws in the province with regard to the Retail Business Holidays Act. I hear from the people who discuss it with me that there are some who really do have a very sincere concern with regard to this.
I am sure the committee that will be travelling the province will come up with a lot of the same recommendations that are already in the report. When I realized there was going to be a committee working for a month, l thought some of the business that has gone through this House and been referred to committees would have been a lot more important for this committee to deal with than some of the referrals that have been made to it.
When we stop and think of the number of people, the increased population and how times have changed, perhaps a little broader extension of the law would be in order, but I believe this report sums it all up. What this amendment is really doing is strengthening that report and trying to change some aspects of the Retail Business Holidays Act.
I support my colleague's resolution, the amendment to the act, and I wish every other person in this Legislature would do so.
Mr. Reville: I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill 188, brought forward by the member for Durham West. I want to say at the outset that I think the bill is reasonable in itself and is one with which I suspect many people would feel quite comfortable. Of course, the problem is that there is no consensus on the issue of Sunday shopping and, regrettably, I suspect it will be very difficult to achieve consensus on the issue.
As a graduate of Toronto city council, for my sins, I was enveloped in this debate a number of times over the five years I served on that council, and I suspect I have listened to virtually every possible argument on one side of the issue or the other. I will be finding out whether that is correct when I serve on the select committee on retail store hours.
The legislation that currently exists in the province is somewhat bizarre and reflects the difficulty in achieving a consensus about this matter. In fact, I suspect the previous legislation took its shape because of certain trade-offs that were made during the interesting and sometimes invaluable negotiating that goes on in a legislature. Of course, it has created a number of fairly bizarre situations in which stores next to one another and in approximately the same business are treated differently in terms of holidays.
I always find it difficult when dealing with a piece of legislation that is not understandable. In fact, I think one of the prerequisites of a good piece of legislation is that it make sense to people. There is no question that the Retail Business Holidays Act does not make sense to people.
It certainly does not make sense to those who believe there should be no holiday shopping; it does not make sense to those who believe there should be total, anything-goes Sunday or holiday shopping; and it certainly, and maybe more important, does not make sense to those who live next to retail strips or those who are responsible for the activity of a retail strip.
In my own riding, I get fairly frequent deputations from business people who are in some perplexity about the way the Retail Business Holidays Act works and why it is as it is. Some stores are fined or charged for being open when a very similar kind of store is not, and that, of course, leaves people wondering just what is going on and whether or not legislation is being applied with an even hand.
On some occasions, because of the nature of the shopping district in my riding, some people feel there is a racial connotation to the way the law is applied. The Metro police are responsible for enforcing this legislation. Some of my Chinese business people believe they are singled out for particular abuse, and we have met on some occasions with the business people and the police to try to sort out whether or not that is correct.
The dilemma I have with the bill of the member for Durham West is that, while I do not object to it in a personal sense in any way, I think it is somewhat premature, given that we are about to embark on yet another review of the matter and the committee will be charged with trying to make some sense out of a situation. That creates a lot of fairly firm opinion.
I do not know how we could add a particular type of business to the list without creating unhappiness among other businesses that are not added to the list. I think, too, we will discover that we will encounter people with very strong opinions that this should not happen or that this should happen, and we will not, of course, encounter people who have not much opinion at all. A large majority of people are in that last category; they do not really much care one way or the other about this issue, and they would shop on a Sunday if stores were open but it is not going to be the end of the world if they are not.
People who are in business do not have unanimous opinion either. We will hear representations from businesses that absolutely do no want to be open on holidays and are very concerned that they will be required to open on holidays if they are in a mall that has a contract that says they will be open when everybody else is open. Interestingly enough, I expect Birks will take that position. That was the position they took recently in one of the interminable debates at Toronto city council on the matter.
In conclusion, I think there is nothing offensive or inappropriate about the member for Durham West's bill, except perhaps the timing.
Mr. G. I. Miller: I, too, am pleased to be able to rise this morning and participate in the debate on Bill 188, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act. In the beginning, I would like to indicate that I cannot support the bill, for reasons I would like to put forth. I believe we have had to deal only with the store closings. Before Christmas, it came before the court, and the decision was that stores that were open had been open illegally.
I feel strongly that Sunday should be a day set aside for rest, and that has been a tradition in Ontario and in Canada, for that matter. I would like to see that maintained somewhat for our future generations. I realize this bill is specifically dealing with the selling of books and newspapers, and it is a portion of the overall Retail Business Holidays Act, but I think we are reviewing that at present. A committee has been established by the government of the day.
I respect that the official opposition had a task force which went around Ontario looking at options. Certainly, it is going to be useful input into any new legislation brought forward, but under our system any new changes have to be brought in by the government of the day. I do not think we would want to do it in a piecemeal fashion. The bill was reviewed, I believe, 10 years ago, again when we had a minority government, and changes were made at that time to support tourist areas. I believe we do have to listen to the public and provide services at its request, but it cannot be done in a piecemeal fashion.
I believe it should be done in an orderly fashion, and the way the government is approaching it at present is the way it should be dealt with. Therefore, I commend the fact that a committee has been established. The work done by the official opposition will certainly have an influence. Those ideas will be utilized. With all the committees being established, we do not have a lot of time -- one month is not adequate to go around the province -- so shortcuts will have to be used to come up with a report that will be useful for the minister or the government of the day to move forward with proper legislation to deal with the overall review of the Retail Business Holidays Act. The last speaker indicated that. The member for Riverdale (Mr. Reville) was saying something similar.
While I respect the member for Durham West, his expertise and his sincerity, I believe the bill has generated debate this morning. It is going to be useful as far as the changes and the overall review of the Retail Business Holidays Act. I commend them for that. I hope it will make for better service to Ontario and the residents therein.
With those comments, I would like to say thanks for the opportunity of participating in the debate this morning.
Ms. Bryden: I rise to speak in favour of Bill 188 and urge all members to support it as an indication of the need to change the exemption relating to retail bookstores. My colleagues have pointed out very clearly that there are a number of anomalies in the act and that this is one of the most serious ones. It puts retail bookstores in the position of being treated unequally with regard to selling books and art materials on Sunday, whereas books can be sold in drug stores, variety stores, tourist areas and even corners of grocery stores that may have a little section on books. Also, other similar material, such as videotapes, can he sold on Sundays as a matter of entertainment.
I want to draw to the attention of the House that there is a subsection in the Retail Business Holidays Act which says premises may be open on Sundays. Subsection 3(6) says closing on Sunday "does not apply in respect of the admission of the public to premises for educational, recreational or amusement purposes or in respect of the sale or offering for sale of goods or services incidental thereto."
In effect, what this bill is doing is simply clarifying that bookstores really offer educational activities and do fall under subsection 3(6). It is not clear in the act. Therefore, they need a separate exemption. I think it would be very useful to pass this bill to indicate our support of it and not to leave it entirely up to the committee that is sitting. This will be a further guide to the committee that a large number of members are in favour of giving this special clarification and exemption to retail bookstores, because certainly they perform a very important educational function and the ability to browse through bookstores on a Sunday, as well as to purchase books, is part of our cultural development.
I know the group of retail bookstores that has been holding press conferences and urging this activity has had the support of a great many of our writers, artists, journalists and educators. Therefore, this is another very strong reason for supporting this bill as an indication to the select committee of the kind of legislation that is needed in order to remove anomalies and promote our education activities.
Mr. Ashe: First, I want to thank all honourable members who participated in the debate this morning. We did have the opportunity to hear from six other members. Needless to say, I particularly want to thank the member for Etobicoke, the member for Simcoe East (Mr. McLean), the member for Riverdale (Mr. Reville) and the member for Beaches-Woodbine for their indicated support.
One thing that came across loud and clear, in my view, was that even with the two other speakers, the member for Lambton (Mr. D. W. Smith) and the member for Haldimand-Norfolk (Mr. G. I. Miller) -- even though they may not be thinking that way right at the moment, if they read over their remarks in Hansard I am sure they will agree -- I got the impression that not only are they thanking me for bringing forth the issue but they also subscribe to what this bill is trying to do. However, they have their walking orders that suggest it is premature. It is too bad, because we always have the opportunity to procrastinate in righting a wrong.
There is no doubt in my mind that the majority of the speakers who spoke in support of Bill 188 are not for a wide-open Sunday. Again I emphasize for those members who were not here earlier for my opening remarks, neither am I. I think we do need that common day of rest, but there are anomalies that can be and should be rectified as quickly as possible. Procrastination does nothing to rectify those situations.
To go ahead now and pass Bill 188 will in no way impede the work of the select committee and its hearings. Again I want to emphasize that I am quite sure it is going to end up with a similar report to what our task force did about a year ago, so why wait? If we can clear up some anomalies now to let people have the opportunity to take forth their particular form of entertainment -- if you want to put it in that context, to be able to go to the bookstore instead of the theatre, the racetrack, the football or baseball game or whatever -- legally, I see nothing wrong with that.
It is the same for those who have attractions, stores, art galleries and so on. Whether in both instances it is just because of the nature of the day that they have more time to enjoy themselves, to browse, and yet to ultimately have the opportunity to make a legal purchase, I think that is important.
We are not trying to open up the seventh day to wide-open situations, but there are absolutely crazy anomalies out there, particularly in these two areas, and we do have the opportunity today to rectify that situation. I hope and feel this resolution will receive majority support of the Legislature on second reading this morning.
I go so far as to call on and challenge the government. Let us not procrastinate. Let us even go for unanimous consent this afternoon to call this bill for third reading and start the opportunity right away, to correct the anomalies and give people the opportunity to be able to buy a book, to be able to buy the Bible instead of Penthouse or Playboy as they now can legally, to be able to go to and browse in the art galleries and make purchases. Let us correct that anomaly today. Why wait until tomorrow?
FIRE PROTECTION EQUIPMENT
Mr. Wildman moved resolution 10:
That in the opinion of this House, recognizing that small municipalities do not have the financial base necessary to purchase modern, effective and reliable fire protection equipment, the government should provide direct financial assistance to small municipalities for the purchase of fire protection equipment.
Mr. Wildman: I am very happy that this resolution, which I introduced in the House in July 1985, has finally come before the House for debate.
I have tremendous respect for the volunteers who give their time and risk their lives to save the lives of the general public and to protect property in very serious emergency situations. These volunteers have to drive great distances, some times at high speeds, and they have to enter burning, smoke-filled structures that are very dangerous. In my view, they require and must have modern, efficient equipment to assist them in their work. The reason I have introduced this resolution today is that I do not believe the unconditional grants now available to the small municipalities across Ontario are sufficient to allow them to purchase this kind of equipment. The unconditional grants are just too low and are not directed to the needs that these small municipalities have.
I realize there are a number of members in the House who have small municipalities and communities with volunteer fire departments. I hope they will pay attention to the debate because I do want their support at the end of the day.
It has been suggested that in the resolution I should have defined the word "small" and limited it at a certain number. I intentionally did not put in a figure. I wanted to leave it to the discretion of the government to determine what figure was more appropriate. Other members may have suggestions in the debate as to a figure of population that would be desirable for a definition in terms of which municipalities would be eligible.
I indicate that 88 municipalities in this province have endorsed this resolution and not all of them were small municipalities that would benefit from my proposal. For example, the city of Timmins passed a resolution endorsing my resolution, indicating it believed that small municipalities need to have adequate fire protection equipment and that it was in support of a move by the government to provide this kind of equipment and assistance to smaller communities.
This matter was brought to a head by the fact that under the leadership of my colleague the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier), the Ministry of Northern Affairs a number of years ago instituted a program to provide financial assistance and equipment such as rapid attack vehicles, portable pumps and turnout gear, etc., to unorganized communities in the north. This has been a very important and useful program for the small unorganized communities across northern Ontario.
We used to joke sometimes in the House about the member for Kenora arriving in the fire truck with the light going and siren blaring, to the celebration of everyone in the community. The reason everyone celebrated as they did was that all the people in those small communities recognize how important it is to have this kind of equipment so they will not be vulnerable to losing everything, perhaps even their lives, if there is a fire. It is a very important and useful program.
We have to recognize that small organized communities, that is ones with a municipal organization, in some cases have smaller populations than some of the unorganized communities. Small municipalities, particularly in rural areas, have too small a local tax base, even when combined with the unconditional grants from the provincial government, to be able to purchase the equipment that their volunteer fire brigades need. Often they are dependent on old-secondhand and even thirdhand-obsolete equipment for which there are no longer parts available. This equipment may fail just at the time it is needed, putting the lives of the volunteer firemen at risk and, at the same time, putting the lives of the people they are attempting to save at even greater risk.
I have a number of examples I would like to read into the record of the reason that it is so important that the House pass this resolution today. The first one I want to refer to is from the township of Barclay at Dryden. This is a letter from the clerk-treasurer. It says:
"We in Barclay feel that we are being penalized for being incorporated. There is very little physical difference between our township and the surrounding unorganized rural areas. However, since the residents of Barclay chose to become organized in order to exert some control over development of the community and to support provincial policies, we are ineligible for Northern Affairs grants for firehalls and to receive a fire truck.
"Needless to say, our residents look askance at our neighbours across the highway who live, work and play in the same way as we do and simply because they choose to remain unorganized are entitled to a bigger slice of the provincial pie." In this case, they are referring to the program of assistance for unorganized communities under the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.
I have another one here from the township of St. Joseph at Richards Landing on St. Joseph Island. It says:
"The township of St. Joseph presently has a pumper truck, being the municipality's main fire truck, which is 25 years old. Following a recent inspection of this truck by a certified mechanic, we were advised that major repairs were required and that this vehicle was not safe to be on the road in its present condition.
"Upon investigation, we learned that the parts necessary to repair this vehicle were no longer available because of the age of the vehicle. This vehicle was consequently removed from service, which thus greatly reduced the municipality's firefighting capabilities.
"This vehicle is now back in service, however. The fact that the replacement parts are not available for this vehicle serves to reinforce the municipality's belief that this vehicle must be replaced in the very near future. It appears that some form of financial assistance from the provincial government will be required in order for this municipality to provide adequate fire protection for its inhabitants."
Here is another letter, in this case from the secretary of the volunteer fire department in the township of Blake near Thunder Bay. It says:
"The Blake volunteer fire department has become a reality only through the hard work and determination of the people in Blake. We have held dances, raffles, teas, bake sales, stags and any other activity that would bring in some funds. Since the group got organized in November 1982, we have managed to purchase a 1943 Ford pumper, a 1950 GMC pumper and a 1965 Mercury tanker. In this time too, we have built a main fireball and this summer a satellite station.
"Most of the fire equipment has been hand-me-downs from other departments because we could not afford to purchase it at all. There is still a lot of equipment needed, a numbering system set up, and also we will one day have to update our trucks. As you can see by the years, they are quite old. Where will all the necessary funds come from? Our township does not have the tax base to build and support a fire department completely.
"As you can see, we have not sat back and waited for grants. The association members have gone out and worked hard to raise funds, and I think we have done well. It does not seem fair that our department should be denied funds just because we are in an organized municipality. I think we have proved we are willing to work. All we ask is a little help now, and we are having trouble raising more money."
From the town of Charlton at Englehart: "Presently, the town of Charlton is being asked to share in the purchase of a new fire truck for Englehart area fire department. The price is around $85,000, our share being 4.67 per cent. This amounts to a tax levy on our ratepayers of about 10 mills in one year. This is indeed a heavy burden for our small municipality with its present population of 222 and such a low tax base."
I have one from the administrator of the township of Fauquier: "We have put the onus on the volunteer firefighters to raise 20 per cent of the required dollars for the purchase of equipment. The municipality will raise the remaining 30 per cent, with 50 per cent coming from JEPP. I do not think it is right to ask volunteers, over and above their duty of firefighting, to raise funds, but under the circumstances, we had no choice."
In this case, we can see that volunteers are not only being asked to train, become conversant with the ways to fight fires and go out to risk their lives, but they are also expected to go out and spend a lot of time raising funds for the equipment that is needed to protect the community. In my view, it is just not fair.
I have a letter from the fire chief of the town of Rayside-Balfour as well: "It must be considered that the fire protection in a community, large or small, is very important to resident safety. When fire occurs in a community, jobs may be lost, depending on the location of the emergency. More dangerous goods are being transported by rail, road or air. All types of commodities are being transported. Increasingly, hazardous material spills will have to be controlled by the local fire departments.
"In many cases, this emergency service is deprived of necessary equipment because of the inability of the local municipality to pay, because there are no grants available for this emergency service. The community will sometimes have to face disaster because of the lack of emergency equipment that will be supplied by a fire service."
These are just a few examples of the large number of letters I have received from fire departments and small municipalities across the province. I also have a letter from the secretary of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs in which he endorses this proposal. When I finish up, I will refer to this.
What has been the response of government so far, both the previous and present governments? In most cases, the Solicitors General have been very sympathetic, as have the Ministers of Municipal Affairs; but sympathy does not pay for fire trucks. We still do not have any commitment from the government. I believe the passage of this resolution would be a step towards the assembly persuading the government to respond.
The latest letter I have is from the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) to the town of Latchford, dated January 28, 1987. In that letter, the Solicitor General concludes, "I am not optimistic that additional resources will be available from the province to assist municipalities in dealing with their firefighting responsibilities, at least in the immediate future."
I believe it is time for this House to speak out on behalf of the volunteer firemen who are risking their lives across Ontario to ensure they get the kind of equipment they need. I believe it is time for this House to speak out on behalf of the small municipalities that have too low a tax base and do not have sufficient funds or ways to raise those funds to provide the equipment their fire departments need.
It is time we spoke as a group to persuade the government to move in this area. It is of the utmost importance. I urge my colleagues in the House to support my resolution today as a first step towards persuading the government to provide the grants that are necessary for small municipalities, in the same way it is providing them to the unorganized communities in the north.
Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I would like to reserve the rest of my time for the end of the debate.
The Deputy Speaker: Six minutes even.
Mr. McKessock: I rise to speak on this resolution provided by the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman). I congratulate him for bringing this resolution forward.
It has been an area of concern to a lot of small municipalities throughout Ontario, and I have received many letters from municipalities in my riding. There is no doubt that smaller municipalities, particularly, could use help with capital for fire equipment expenditures. There is little in the way of direct funding or shared-cost arrangements with such small municipalities. To qualify as a small municipality, a population level of 15,000 could be an appropriate demarcation point. There are approximately 725 firefighting facilities in Ontario communities of fewer than 15,000 people.
Historically, it was felt the grant system would be limited to incorporated municipalities and would not be applied to unorganized communities, because they had available to them the financial resources of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to help them build and equip fire facilities through the unorganized communities assistance program.
In the past, the government chose to place emphasis on the need to provide capital assistance to upgrade fire and police facilities, as opposed to the firefighting equipment; although it is acknowledged that there is an additional need to upgrade equipment, it has been felt other grant structures were in place that could deal with these problems, such as the unorganized community assistance program and the extrication equipment program.
The needs for both new firefighting facilities and new equipment go hand in hand. The unorganized community assistance program is exclusively for the unorganized communities and provides no benefits to small municipalities. This has resulted in anomalies being created wherein unorganized communities find themselves in a more preferred position with respect to firefighting equipment than their neighbouring municipalities. The extrication equipment program provides nominal assistance to municipalities to buy extrication equipment and does not provide them with any financial assistance to acquire expensive firefighting equipment.
Should direct funding be extended, one hopes municipalities will share in the cost and commitment. It would be preferable to have matched grants, as opposed to outright grants, thereby encouraging municipalities to improve their own facilities to a desired level.
In Ontario, there are in excess of 650 fire departments. There are 33 full-time departments, 122 composite fire departments and 519 part-time fire departments. It is important to appreciate that the provision of fire protection services has placed severe financial burdens upon small municipalities. Fire protection is very expensive. Recent surveys conducted by the office of the fire marshal have demonstrated that 95 per cent of those municipalities surveyed required new or upgraded facilities and new or refurbished firefighting apparatus. A new fire truck costs approximately $100,000, and it costs approximately $25,000 to refurbish an old one. A new water tanker costs approximately $50,000.
Unlike police protection, fire protection is not mandatory at this time. There is no doubt the provision of mandatory fire protection service is desirable; however, it may not seem appropriate to obligate all municipalities to provide fire protection services without a corresponding grant structure which would assist such municipalities in financially supporting such a service.
The Ministry of the Solicitor General, up to this point, has been supporting the municipal fire departments by providing training for the volunteer firefighters at the fire college. The provision of grants to municipalities to provide fire protection services has never been undertaken. It would be expensive, and one would anticipate that at some stage municipalities with more than 15,000 residents would expect comparable grants to assist them in providing this expensive, but truly needed service.
The provision of fire protection has been a municipal responsibility. The unconditional grants program of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs currently provides extensive financial support to small municipalities referred to in the resolution. The extent of this financial support is substantial. Through the unconditional grants program, a small municipality in northern Ontario recovers as much as 50 per cent of any expenditure it incurs to provide municipal services, including the purchase of fire protection equipment.
I have a table here, which shows that 50 per cent of fire protection costs in the north have been covered by unconditional grants. The table also bears out that 32 per cent of the other municipalities of Ontario have been covered by an unconditional grant.
In 1987, nearly $160 million will be paid to northern municipalities under the program. An often neglected fact about these funds is that they carry no condition as to the way they are spent. This allows municipal councils to establish their own spending priorities, which may include, in addition to fire equipment, all other services provided to local ratepayers.
Other initiatives that municipalities can take include an exchange-of-service agreement to provide an enhanced level of fire protection services in a cost-effective way. I think this is being carried out more and more each year, as fire protection departments work together.
It is clear that any extension of a direct grant program for fire protection equipment must be undertaken with caution and a commitment to fiscal responsibility, while at the same time recognizing the needs of these small communities.
It concerns me a little bit that many have just built new facilities, but the equipment is an ongoing need. A grant program, should it come in, should span a 10-year to 15-year period so that municipalities can take advantage of it as the need arises and not feel obligated to rush out and buy new equipment right off the bat.
I do support the member's resolution. Of course, it is a little bit like motherhood. It is hard not to support a resolution that is going to assist our local municipalities.
Mr. McLean: I am pleased to rise this morning to support the resolution from my colleague the member for Algoma. This private member's resolution states, "That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that small municipalities do not have the financial base necessary to purchase modem, effective and reliable fire protection equipment," etc. Then he indicates that the government should provide direct financial assistance to small municipalities to purchase this equipment.
In the small municipalities of Ontario, budget matters are in many ways calculated on a different base to those in the major urban municipalities. On the matter of the provision of fire protection for the citizens of the smaller municipalities, certain factors come into play that have to be addressed, both by that municipality and by the provincial government.
There is little doubt that the smaller municipalities have limited resources to purchase extremely costly equipment and, not only that, for the smaller municipalities it is also necessary to have this equipment and the protection. They have a tax base that, generally speaking, is based on residential and farming rather than on industrial revenues. Much smaller per capita revenues are generated for these municipalities, thus presenting the difficulties. I am referring specifically to proper firefighting equipment and related resources.
With equipment costs escalating yearly, the financing problems faced by the rural municipalities in relation to firefighting equipment increase proportionately. A fireman's regular clothing now costs in the area of $1,000 per man, and his helmet could cost another $100. A basic, fully equipped fire engine costs about $125,000; and a more elaborate, fully equipped vehicle would run in the range of $300,000. I am sure the honourable members can easily understand that these costs are far beyond the capabilities of the majority of small municipalities and communities in Ontario.
The problems of limited funding are further demonstrated by the several unique problems facing the small northern communities of the province. They generally have a more limited firefighting staff and are dependent on volunteers only. The often severe climatic conditions add to the difficulties and to the costs necessary to freezeproof equipment. Many of the roads also are unpaved, and fire equipment has to travel a much longer distance to reach its destination there than it does in the city.
In the cities there are hydrants, of course, and a system that provides for rapid fire containment. Not so in rural communities. Water is available from static sources such as ponds, rivers and storage tanks. It is apparent that more modern fire equipment would help offset this disadvantage. But more modern fire equipment is extremely costly, and the taxpayers of the province are not easily convinced that the large portion of their dollars should be spent on fire protection. It is much easier to bury a $250,000 fire track cost in a $500-million budget than in a $5-million budget, or even a $1-million budget.
Provincial support has traditionally been given to what are called unorganized communities, or those centres with established populations that are not legal entities like towns or cities. Just short of 50 of these communities have received equipment and training support from the provincial government, and this was the policy of the former government of the province. It is hoped that this, at least, will continue to be the policy of this government.
My concerns, however, are that there will be cutbacks in the provision of funding for this type of very necessary service, such as the weekend training of volunteers, as was brought before this House by me last week. The former government always had the policy of supplying small municipalities and unorganized communities with portable pump packages, which cost in the area of $15,000 to $25,000, and they paid the workers' compensation costs of the local firefighters in certain areas.
These actions are no longer enough, and with our growing population, much more will have to be done. The present system of providing unconditional grants to municipalities to be used as they see fit was a valid method until recently. A municipality could assign the grant money to whatever it felt was necessary. This inevitably led to a great deal of debate on priorities, and often the moneys would be diluted down to where, in the case of fire equipment needs, there was insufficient money available.
The problem that I and my colleague the member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt) brought up in the House last week regarding the ending of the weekend fire training courses at the Ontario Fire College is another example of the effect that rising costs are having on the safety of our smaller communities. In 1986, 10 courses were run for the weekend volunteers by the Ontario Fire College, and this year, with 300 applicants already awaiting training, budgetary restraints have held up the decision to continue with these courses in 1987. These volunteer firemen are willing to give up their weekends to take the necessary courses, but so far there appears to be no money in the budget to allow them to do so.
I am disappointed that the Solicitor General is not in the House this morning to listen to this debate, because I think it is very, very important. Members can see that the province is faced with a very real dilemma. The rural municipalities, towns, villages and unincorporated communities have similar needs when it comes to fire protection, as do the large urban centres, but they do not have the funds to pay for it.
It is this situation in the province that we are facing today. Where are we going to obtain the necessary funds to maintain and update the firefighting equipment and the training of the volunteers who man this equipment? Ontario already supplements the northern communities' unconditional grants by an additional 17.5 per cent, but this is still far below what is required in relation to fire equipment needs. Small villages and unincorporated communities may have equipment on loan, but this must be considered a stopgap measure only.
Similarly, the present three training sessions per year allotted to firemen in northern communities are hardly sufficient, especially as these firemen are then expected to return to their own units and pass on their training to their fellow firemen: more stopgap measures.
Action has to be taken to address these problems. They are very real and they are life-threatening problems. Money is hard to come by everywhere and all members of this House are aware of that fact, but we cannot allow people to die because we spent the taxpayers' money on a computer museum or on flying around the country instead of on the somewhat less glorious item of firefighting equipment.
There is a well-known story in firefighters' circles that tells of the fire on a New Year's Eve a few years ago near New Liskeard. The house was located in an area where the two closest fire departments did not have an agreement to go into the area where the house was burning. Neither fire department would respond to the call, and the house burned down. Fortunately, no lives were lost.
The township where the fire took place had asked for a fire department to be set up to protect its residents, but even after possible subsidies that might be available from the federal and provincial governments the balance would be extremely high. As a result of cases such as this in Ontario, many areas do not have reasonable fire protection available to them, and something must be done about this.
In conclusion, I would urge that this government immediately institute some action whereby the small municipalities and the unincorporated communities of Ontario may be provided with proper firefighting equipment and training for the volunteers who will operate it. The Solicitor General should take action. The Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) should take action. People's lives are at stake. I am sorry if any honourable member feels that I am being melodramatic about this, but action must be taken, and it must be taken now.
I want to indicate to members some of the incidents close to me in my riding. I can mention the municipality of the township of Rama, which does not have its own firefighting equipment; it has a contract with the township of Tay and a contract with the township of Mara in order to provide services for that municipality. It is a small municipality with a small tax base.
The township of Matchedash is another area where volunteers went out and raised money. They have had raffles; they have done all kinds of things in order to establish a firehall in that community. It took them years to do it, but they had the volunteers and the Women's Institute. They all donated and they built this firehall for the people's protection.
Why does the province not help more dramatically these very small communities? As I said before, there are lives at stake. It is so important for these communities that help be provided because of their small capital base.
Mr. Hayes: I certainly want to congratulate and compliment the member for Simcoe East (Mr. McLean) for really knowing the subject and putting it forward in a very eloquent manner.
It is indeed a pleasure for me today to stand in this Legislature in support of the motion made by my colleague the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman), which says that the government should provide direct financial assistance to small municipalities for the purchase of fire equipment.
I live in a municipality that to some might be considered one of the larger rural municipalities, with a population of nearly 10,000 people; that is the township of Maidstone. I sat on the township council as councillor, as deputy reeve and as reeve, and I can tell members that even though Maidstone may be considered as one of the larger municipalities, when it comes time to purchase fire protection equipment it is a real financial burden. I can certainly understand why the member for Algoma has introduced this motion. I know it is a very high financial burden for the municipality I come from.
The member is introducing this motion because the population up in those areas is considerably smaller. Instead of talking about thousands, we are talking about a couple of hundred people, and it is very unfortunate that a handful of people have to try to carry such a high financial burden to protect lives in those communities.
In 1980, when I was reeve of Maidstone township, we were in the market for a new fire truck. At that time, we took advantage of the timing of there being a firefighters' conference in Hamilton. I and one of the other councillors went to that convention and took a room. We informed the three fire equipment dealers there that we were going to purchase a fire truck before we left the conference and that the company that came up with the best deal would get the sale.
At the same time, we did not go through the tendering process, which does give companies the chance to put a higher price on their product. When it is tendered, they just put a fixed price, which can create another financial burden for municipalities. What we did saved the municipality a considerable amount of money, but I can just see some of the other municipalities not being able to do the same thing. I do not think the small municipalities can even afford to send people to these conferences. They cannot afford to drive or fly all around this province or the country to try to get the best deal for their municipality. That is another burden.
I really wonder what many or all of our municipalities that have volunteer firefighters would do if they no longer had these volunteers. Volunteer firefighters are very proud and very dedicated people. They are always ready to leave and they are always available when a fire call comes in; whether it be in the middle of the night or during the day, it does not matter.
I know in my municipality we have people who work in the automobile industry, for example. When there is a fire call, these people get up and leave and actually lose money out of their own pockets by doing so. That does not bother them because they are very dedicated people and their concern is to save property, jobs and lives.
I also know in my municipality, and I am sure in many of the other municipalities, the volunteers spend long hours and many weekends trying to maintain the equipment they have. They do this on their own time and without any remuneration. The reason they do it is that they know many of the municipalities could not afford to send all their work out to keep their equipment up to date. That is just one more area.
Firefighters are very dedicated. They are concerned and they are proud. If the funds are not available for these small municipalities the member for Algoma is speaking about to purchase modern, effective and reliable fire equipment, these municipalities stand to lose some of these dedicated firefighters, these dedicated volunteers.
When a fire department does not have reliable firefighting or fire protection equipment, morale can become very low. The firefighters can get very frustrated and depressed when they do not have dependable fire protection equipment. They can get very frustrated and depressed when property, jobs and lives are lost because their equipment was outdated or broke down on the way to the fire. That is a very serious concern.
Let us put ourselves in that same position. If we are supposed to be the people who are protecting these properties and lives, and if we do not have the tools to do the job, I do not know of many people today who would stay on a job if they did not have the proper tools to do the job that had to be done. It can be very frustrating, and my heart goes out to all these volunteer firefighters who are out there on their own time when there are many other places they would like to be.
The least this government can do is to make the funding available so these volunteer fire departments, especially in small areas, can do the job they want to do, which is to protect lives. That is about the least this government can do. Just to reiterate, I very strongly support the motion of the member for Algoma and urge the rest of the members in this Legislature to do the same. It was a pleasure speaking in support of this resolution.
Mr. Haggerty: I want to speak on ballot item 46 and support the resolution of the member for Algoma. It is a timely debate this morning, looking at the comments of previous speakers. In particular, the member for Grey (Mr. McKessock) -- and it has been touched on by other members who remarked about the unconditional grants now provided to municipalities -- talked about the grants of 50 per cent going to municipalities in northern Ontario and I think it is about 33 per cent to municipalities in southern Ontario.
Perhaps one of the problems is that they are not earmarked for fire protection. I often look at that and say it is good that we can get the government to move in that direction and say that it is providing some funding for fire protection in unorganized communities, small hamlets, smaller towns and townships across Ontario.
I often have difficulty, though, when I get letters from fire chiefs and firemen, particularly from the Niagara region, saying, "Why does the provincial government not remove the sales tax on fire equipment?" If you are talking about buying a piece of fire equipment today, say a class A pumper, you are looking at about somebody mentioned $100,000 to $125,000. I think the city of Port Colborne is spending around $140,000. Maybe they are going to a Cadillac approach, but they are buying a Mack, one of the best out there, you might say.
I listened to the member for Algoma talk about the difficulties with some of the antique equipment out there; in my area, they are called antiques and are on display in parades and so on. I can recall my first days of involvement in the volunteer fire company in Port Colborne. We used to have a 1926 Godferson fire truck. The volunteers at that time called it the "Godforsaken fire truck" because we had to push it down the main street of Port Colborne. If you wanted to put the pump into gear, you had to have three persons, one on the throttle, one on the clutch and one with a big crowbar to get the pump going. We used to be criticized by council at that time because it was taking us some 20 or 25 minutes to get to a fire. It was embarrassing for volunteers and it was rather discouraging.
When I talk about the time to get to a fire, I think it is most important that we look at the purpose of fire departments and firefighters in Ontario. They provide the service not only for firefighting purposes, but also for emergency first aid. Those are the two priorities. Often the government of the day, the previous government, seemed to have forgotten what services the firemen provide. Now they are involved in the Jaws of Life. The Solicitor General has provided some funding, but again, it is up to volunteers to raise the rest of it selling raffle tickets and you name it.
I am concerned about the present move in which more municipalities are going to have to be involved in the 911 number, and that is going to be costly. I find, looking at the 911 number, for example, it is really the fire department that is going to back up the ambulance services in Ontario. Many volunteer firemen today are well qualified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and thank God for that. We have someone we can depend upon in the community where we do not have the ambulance service responding in the time that is allowed.
I think the safety margin is about five minutes. If you cannot get there, you might as well forget about it. Even in the case of a building on fire or rescuing a person in a burning building, it is usually about five minutes. When we look at that five-minute response time, many communities cannot build a firehall every 10 or seven miles. It has to be within that range.
I think of the emergency measures organization back in the days when I was a representative on county council, of the money that was spent there putting up all of those alarm systems in almost every community in Ontario. I do not think to this day any of those sirens have gone off. Thank God for that, because the intent of their use was in the case of a nuclear attack. But the money that was spent there was of no value to the municipality.
At that time, the province, with the federal government, came in with a grant to smaller communities that were starting to establish a fire department and paid a 50 per cent subsidy on the purchase of a piece of equipment. Our township happened to be fortunate enough to get one at that time. That started us into modernized firefighting equipment.
Also on top of that, I think of the war years when the government had very little in fire protection in the municipalities. The federal government then came out, for war purposes, and bought these portable pumps. They were all mounted on trailers and provided good protection, even in some of the best municipalities. You could spread these out throughout the community and they were always there for backup. In some cases, they were used right at the start of a fire because you could put them behind any vehicle.
In some areas in Ontario even buying something like portable pumps is costly. With the large costs of trucks today, it is costly for even the richest of municipalities. Someplace along the line, the government is going to have to move in this area and provide additional assistance.
I talked about the 911 number. We are putting more demand upon firefighters to respond to other calls for emergency first aid treatment. When the government moves in that area saying, "We want better protection here to assist the ambulance drivers and to get paramedics in Ontario," they are not going to be in every community. That is why people depend more upon volunteer firefighters, because they are trained in any emergency. I have great praise for volunteer firefighters, and even the paid firefighters in Ontario, for the job they are doing.
Sometimes when you look at what they have to go through to fight a fire, we do not even have a guarantee they are wearing the proper equipment today. It is questionable whether the equipment they are wearing, their uniforms or working gear are safe. Some of the fire departments today probably still have the old canister of air to go into a building, instead of using the Scott Air-Pak for breathing. One has to think about all these things.
I think the government is going to move in and take another look at the direction it is going in as it puts more emphasis on emergency treatment care in Ontario and the impact that is going to have on smaller communities. Those communities should be entitled to the same rights as larger communities in the area of providing health, safety and welfare for that community through the local fire departments. The government should be taking a good look at that.
I suggest a committee of the Legislature should take a look and see what the problems are in municipalities in regard to firefighters, the services that are provided for medical first aid treatment and for accidents on highways, the Jaws of Life. There is a serious problem out there.
One of the fire stations in Fort Erie was called out to the scene of an accident on Highway 3. It was a serious accident, and they had to use the Jaws of Life. The fireman was splattered with blood in his attempt to get the injured person out of the vehicle. The person said: "Don't touch me. I have AIDS." That was a frightening exposure to that fireman, who said, "What do I do now?" He did not have the proper equipment to handle a case like that. We are going to have to take a serious look at this.
I support the principle of the resolution put forward this morning. There is a problem for smaller municipalities that require good, sound fire equipment to look after the needs of their communities. I wholeheartedly support this resolution.
Mr. Bernier: I rise in support of ballot item 46, a resolution that the member for Algoma has put in Orders and Notices, a resolution urging the provincial government to assist the organized communities of Ontario financially with the purchase of firefighting equipment.
First, I must compliment the member for Algoma for his astuteness in observing that the Ministry of Northern Affairs, of which I was the minister for a number of years, brought in a program for northern Ontario. That was the result of a fire in the small northern Ontario community of Hurkett in which nine lives were lost. It was an unorganized community with no fire protection, no fire department at all. Two adults and seven children lost their lives in that fire, and that stirred a public outcry right across northwestern Ontario for some form of organized firefighting capability.
It did not take us long in the Ministry of Northern Affairs to realize that the need was there. It was obvious to us that a structure had to be brought together that would provide some form of firefighting capability to the small, unorganized areas where the dedication, the ambition and the pride of the people was very strong with respect to a program that we could come forward with.
We had to bring legislation before the Legislature to put in place a service organization called a local services board, not a municipal structure but a structure that would be elected through the democratic process at the local level on an annual basis. It would have the authority to raise money in a number of different ways and to accept government grants and assistance for items of service to the community -- or to the pockets of population, as I have often referred to them -- such items as sewers and water, street lights, garbage collection and, above all, firefighting capability.
That program was very successful. It is being expanded today on a regular basis. I believe I can say without contradiction that it was the model the member for Algoma saw which worked so effectively in northern Ontario. Now he wants, I think very correctly and appropriately, to extend it to the organized communities of Ontario.
I would like to put on the record the success of the Ministry of Northern Affairs package, which came into being about April 1, 1977. I might say the program we brought forward was with the complete and total co-operation of the fire marshal's office. In fact, I often said to the director of the fire marshal's office that the only time we saw somebody from that office was under the call of an investigation or something of that nature. With this program, where they are involved in the actual design of the equipment, the training of the volunteers, we now see members of the fire marshal's office all across northern Ontario on a very regular basis; and it is very comforting indeed, I might say.
Members will be interested to know that from April 1, 1977, to March 30, 1986, some 48 fire pumpers were distributed across northern Ontario to the unorganized areas, to those local services boards. We also delivered about 73 firefighting packages. These firefighting packages were designed by the fire marshal's office to look after the needs of very small pockets of population. They were portable in nature and were designed to look after small areas. They could be pulled behind a half-ton truck and had all the necessary equipment available, even to an ice auger to cut a hole in the nearby lake to put the intake for a portable pump. It was a portable package of extreme success.
It was always an experience and a pride to deliver one of those fire trucks; sometimes with my colleagues with me, sometimes not, but they were always pressing. I know the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) was always anxious, and I think he finally had the opportunity to deliver four of those trucks to little communities in his riding. It was a very popular program.
In addition, we developed 52 firehalls across northern Ontario, which saw the development of one-, two- and sometimes three-stall firehalls, for a total expenditure of $4.7 million. I understand that four more fire trucks will be delivered this year, 10 more portable fire trucks will be added to the services in northern Ontario and eight new firehalls will be built, for a cost of $1.1 million.
Mr. McLean: I am glad to see they are keeping that program.
Mr. Bernier: Yes, it is an excellent program; there is no question about it. The total cost of that program to date is about $5.8 million. That is just about twice the cost that it has taken the taxpayers -- what, six months to pay for the travel of the ministers of this government? They spent over $3 million in six months travelling outside the province of Ontario.
Mr. Martel: They were delivering the trucks by air.
Mr. Bernier: I hope they take those funds
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has now expired.
Mr. Bernier: Oh, no. I was just getting started.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Algoma has six remaining minutes.
Mr. Wildman: I want to thank all the members who participated in the debate for their contributions and for their support. I particularly want to mention the member for Simcoe East, who, I think, as my colleague the member for Essex North (Mr. Hayes) mentioned, expressed the needs of the small rural municipalities with regard to fire protection very eloquently and pointed out the tremendous cost that faces small municipalities without a very great tax base.
The member for Essex North indicated the difficulties that he as a reeve had in obtaining very expensive equipment for his municipality, and the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) indicated the new demands that are being made on municipalities by provincial regulation to meet the emergency needs without adequate financial assistance, whether it is an emergency plan, the 911 number or the use of new turnout gear -- helmets and so on -- meeting the needs not only of fire protection but also of responding to emergencies on the highway and the costs that are related to those activities.
The member for Kenora outlined the success of the unorganized communities assistance fund and the provision of assistance to small pockets of population across the north to provide fire protection. It is a very successful program. He is quite right when he says that it prompted me, as a northern member, to suggest that similar assistance should be provided to small municipalities.
I was particularly interested in the comments of the member for Grey (Mr. McKessock), the parliamentary assistant to the Solicitor General. I appreciate his support, but I am a little concerned about his characterization of this debate as a question of motherhood. I do not think any of us in this House should consider the protection of the lives of volunteer firemen in this province as a question of motherhood. I am concerned that the government should not see the passage of this resolution, if it is successful, as a motherhood question, but would see this as a need to expand its assistance to fire protection.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Some of you guys are not even in favour of motherhood.
Mr. Wildman: Of course we are all interested in motherhood, but in the question --
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I said in favour of.
Mr. Wildman: -- we are all protected in motherhood; but the problem with this, with the characterization of this debate in that manner, is to indicate, "Oh, yes, it is something we all favour," which we all do, and therefore, it does not mean a lot in terms of the finances. That is what this debate is about: the cost and the finances.
He mentioned the unconditional grants and the additional assistance provided to the north and he talked about fiscal responsibility. We are all interested in fiscal responsibility, but I want to emphasize that the unconditional grants, even with the extra assistance given in the north, are just insufficient to meet the tremendous costs involved, whether it is $1,100 per man per turnout year; or $125,000, $150,000 or even more for a fire truck.
I would like to conclude by referring to a letter I have just received from the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, dated February 10 and signed by W. J. Brown, the secretary.
I will read a couple of portions from it:
"We wish to notify you that the board of directors were polled, and they unanimously supported your resolution. The huge property loss" -- from fires, that is -- "has given Canada a very dubious distinction of being a leader in per capita loss in the whole world. When you couple this with the loss of productivity and jobs to the industrial and commercial centres and the resource loss of our lumber areas, you realize that our province is especially vulnerable in the Canadian equation.
"If looking at the monetary issues were not enough, we have not even mentioned the untold agony and heartache that the human factor brings, or the ecological impact or the impact on our wildlife.
"We look at this resolution as a start in the right direction, as there is a need in all areas and municipalities for government support with respect to the fire service. We congratulate you on your courageous resolution and support you 100 per cent in your effort to have this legislation passed."
I hope all members of the House will take the words of the fire chiefs of this province to heart in determining whether or not they will support this resolution. We must support the volunteers who risk their lives to protect us and other members of the general public and property in this province. They must have the equipment that is required.
The small municipalities must have assistance over and above the unconditional grants to enable them to purchase equipment, so that they are not dependent on 1943 fire trucks that might fail when they meet an emergency.
I hope the government will act on this resolution, if it passes the House; that it will see it not only as a motherhood question but also as an issue that is of tremendous import today in this province, and one that will affect the budgetary approach of this government in that it will provide assistance to the small municipalities to implement this resolution. Do not just vote for it but make that as a step towards actually providing financial assistance to the small municipalities, so they can get the fire protection that they need and that we all need.
RETAIL BUSINESS HOLIDAYS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Ashe has moved second reading of Bill 188, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act.
Motion agreed to.
FIRE PROTECTION EQUIPMENT
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Wildman has move resolution 10.
Motion agreed to.
The House recessed at 12 noon.
The House resumed at 1:30 p.m.
SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATIONS
Mr. Jackson: Seven people nearly died last weekend on Burlington Bay and, as the Burlington Spectator wondered in its editorial Tuesday, "Why did the rescue effort seem to hinge more on the personal courage of the rescuers and good luck than adequate preparation and standby equipment?"
Why did that happen, I ask the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes)? Why, after he took office, did he cancel the purchase of a proper air-sea rescue helicopter for the Ontario Provincial Police authorized by the member for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory) when he was Solicitor General in the Conservative government? Why did he do nothing when Management Board decided it was better to sacrifice safety and proper equipment than spend the necessary dollars?
Why now, when he has his $1-billion war chest, does he continue to put lives in jeopardy by not adequately equipping our rescue services? What is the Solicitor General's response to Alderman Jim Grieve, a member of the Halton Regional Police Commission, who said, "The Solicitor General must either assume responsibility for rescues or tell us we're responsible and provide the funding"?
Firefighters from Burlington and policemen from Hamilton risked their lives to save ice-boaters who went through the ice. But they did not have the equipment to do the job. That came from a stroke of luck. A man demonstrating his hovercraft was close at hand when the incident occurred.
A man died last month and seven nearly died on the weekend. What will it take for this government to recognize its responsibilities and restore the rescue equipment our people need? We would have that equipment today if the Solicitor General's government had not cancelled it. How many more lives will he risk before he acts?
Mr. Laughren: For the last two years, there has been no chemical spraying of our forests in this province. This year, the minister announced there would be no chemical spraying this year either. There was much applause from the environmentalists, this party and one half of the Tory caucus. There were boos from the forest industry and the other half of the Tory caucus.
The minister then announced he was considering a request from the federal government to permit chemical spraying in selected areas in northern Ontario. There was applause from the industry, the federal government and one half of the Tory caucus. There were boos from environmentalists, the New Democratic Party and one half of the Tory caucus.
The minister should stop his chemical striptease and, as Maine and Quebec have done, ban the spraying of chemicals once and for all. For 17 years, Pennsylvania sprayed chemicals to combat the gypsy moth budworm. In 1982, they switched to bacillus thuringiensis, the biological spray. Since then, the costs have dropped by $1 per acre, less than it cost them for the chemical spraying, and the results have been just as good as with the chemical sprays. It is time we followed that lead in Ontario.
Mr. McGuigan: I was so impressed by the remarkable photography and choice of photographs in John Deere's 150th anniversary publication of The Furrow, the November-December 1986 issue, that I asked the company for copies to be sent to each member. These were put in the mail yesterday.
The company chairman, Robert A. Hanson, points out that despite the remarkable transformation of the industry, certain basic and universal aspects of farming and farm life have remained essentially constant throughout the century and a half John Deere has been in business.
Some of the photos remind us that farming continues to revolve around nature's endless cycles of regeneration and growth, climaxed by the ultimate satisfaction of harvest. Others emphasize age-old problems of coping with nature. Additional scenes include the long hours and hard work that remain very much a part of farming, the fundamental importance of the family in rural culture and the lasting appeal of farm life.
The illustrations point out that the inherent nature of life on a farm draws family members close to each other as well as to the land. Few callings offer a richer variety of triumphs and sorrow to share or as many opportunities for building dreams together. Each farm family fashions its own unique heritage and sacred tradition as generation succeeds generation in wresting a living from the land.
I hope the members will take a few moments to reflect on these beautiful photographs at a time when farmers are preparing for a planting season to be followed by a marketing season made difficult by the government's inability to adopt sensible food production policies.
Ms. Fish: At a time when the pluralistic nature of Ontario society becomes an ever more dynamic part of our way of life, my party and I cannot but regret the cumulative but frankly escalating disrespect for minorities displayed by the present government.
The early anti-Semitic slur of the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Kidded), the remarks of the member for Lambton (Mr. D. W. Smith) in support of Mr. Keegstra, the inappropriate racist humour of the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes), the unfeeling use of the term "retard" by the Premier (Mr. Peterson), the superficial and patronizing 15-minute presence by the Premier at the dinner honouring Bishop Desmond Tutu, only to have the Premier whisked away by helicopter to another black-tie event he was attending that evening, all speak to a pattern that is disappointing at best and disturbing at worst.
Multiculturalism and tolerance are more than just dressing up in folk costumes; they are displaying sincere and honest belief in the reality of a pluralist and caring society. This government has displayed quite the opposite.
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a matter of some importance to raise with the members of this House and with this government. At meetings in Washington over the past few days, representatives of the United Steelworkers of America, including Ray Silenzi, president of Local 1005 in Hamilton, met with various American officials including Congressman Jack Murta, chairman of the steel caucus, who indicated that trans-shipment of steel was a real problem; that steel from outside Canada, from Romania and a number of other countries, shipped through Canada was hurting our cause with the US and was nothing short of fraud in the opinion of the Americans.
Considering the strength of protectionist feelings, elected US congressmen and senators cannot understand why there has not been a stronger position from our federal government aimed at ending these under-the-counter shipments. Inasmuch as the federal government appears to be incapable of dealing with any issue, particularly where fraud is involved or jobs are at stake, it is important that the government of Ontario speak out to fill this void and force the federal government to end the deceitful trade practices in steel that will, if unchecked, lead to a cutback in the market share held by Canada under existing voluntary restraints from 3.2 per cent to 2.4 per cent in legitimate finished steel shipments to the US. This, I am told, would mean 4,000 jobs in the Canadian steel industry.
Mr. Sargent: I have good news. This morning at the game at Maple Leaf Gardens, the three stars were the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Grossman), the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Fulton), the member for Lambton (Mr. D. W. Smith) -- and the member for Middlesex (Mr. Reycraft) nearly had a shutout.
Mr. Sargent: I know, but they are that good we have four this time. We demolished the press gallery.
Mr. Allen: On January 27, 1987, the Divisional Court of the Supreme Court of Ontario issued a unanimous decision declaring that full-time teachers, regular part-time teachers and continuing education teachers are teachers within the terms of Bill 100, the Education Amendment Act, and regulation 277 under the act.
The panel of three judges reviewed these three cases that have been before the courts and/or the Ontario Labour Relations Board for several years: in the first case, the teachers at a special-purpose school, Humewood House in Toronto, administered by the East York board; in the second case, a Windsor case as to whether summer or night school teaching was implicated in a strike under Bill 100; and in the third case, an Ottawa case, as to whether continuing education teachers are teachers under provincial legislation and a proper part of the bargaining unit.
This definitive judgement is crystal-clear that in all these cases the teachers are in fact properly teachers under the acts and regulations in question and part of the teacher bargaining units. Since one or more of the parties appear to be preparing renewed litigation, and so there may be no further doubt, I appeal to the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) to bring this outstanding dispute to an end by presenting amendments to the acts and regulation in question clearly identifying such teachers as teachers in accord with this judgement of the court.
Mr. Callahan: Very quickly, the member for Burlington South (Mr. Jackson) keeps talking about this war chest of $1 billion. I can tell the House that the people of Brampton are very happy about the things the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) is doing and proposing in my riding. The member's government left us without proper court facilities and without proper medical facilities. One had to wait for five hours in emergency services. The Treasurer of this government is doing something about it; so the member should stop talking about the procedures his government pulled on the BILD program just prior to the 1981 election.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
EMPLOYEE SHARE OWNERSHIP PLAN
Hon. Mr. Nixon: In the 1986 budget, I introduced a detailed proposal for the support of employee share ownership plans in Ontario. I plan to introduce legislation today entitled An Act to provide an Incentive to Ontario Employees of Small and Medium Sized Corporations to Purchase Newly Issued Shares of their Employer Corporations.
As members will recall, in announcing the budget proposal, I called for the advice and counsel of concerned organizations, members of the public and members of the House. A working group of staff from the ministries of Treasury and Economics and Revenue was established to review submissions.
In order to inform fully all members of this House, I am also taking this opportunity today to table copies of the written submissions received by the working group, together with a copy of its final report. Both appear in the background compendium to the legislation. A list of the written submissions received is included as an appendix to this statement.
Members will note that a number of significant changes to the original proposal have been incorporated into the final design of the program. Most of these changes are a direct result of the consultation process and are detailed in an appendix to this statement. I am confident that the ESOP program as now designed can attain its principal objective of fostering a spirit of co-operation between employees and employers by providing an innovative opportunity for employees to participate in the ownership of their firms.
My introduction of the bill today and my intention to introduce a similar bill in the new session will provide additional time for discussion.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Today I wish to propose for discussion a draft bill that sets out the first comprehensive revision of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in close to a decade. The draft bill is far-reaching and destined to play a central part in the government's effort to ensure that Ontario has the best occupational health and safety record in all of North America.
The first worker health and safety legislation in our province was enacted in 1884. The Occupational Health and Safety Act came into force in 1979. These draft amendments represent the first comprehensive revision of the act since then. They are designed to ensure that the obligations for work place health and safety are clear to both management and labour and that both work place parties have the capacity to meet these obligations. If the parties fail, these proposals strengthen the government's hand to enforce the act.
The draft bill provides for enhancements in four major areas: rights and responsibilities, training and information, enforcement and administration. It greatly increases the number of joint labour-management health and safety committees in the province by eliminating exemptions that have been granted to work places in the past. It also enhances significantly the role of the committee in the work place. These committees are designed to serve as instruments for the prevention of work place illness and injury and for the resolution of occupational health and safety issues.
In addition, the draft bill proposes greater protection for individual workers. As honourable members know, the current act gives workers the right to refuse work they believe is unsafe. It also requires an investigation of the work refusal. Employers, however, currently have the latitude to assign the refused work to a second worker. This puts the second worker at risk and is unacceptable. We would prohibit such substitution until the investigation of the refusal has been completed and the matter has been resolved.
The right of refusal, however, without the right to be paid for the lost time is an empty right; so we propose to enshrine in law the right for workers to be paid at least 75 per cent of their wages for any time lost because of a work refusal or a stop-work order.
If Ontario workers are to exercise their rights under this act freely and fully, they must be free from the fear of harassment, intimidation and reprisal. Therefore, the government intends to establish a new office of investigations to help workers exercise this freedom.
The draft bill also proposes a number of measures to underscore the fundamental responsibility that the employer has for occupational health and safety. It is the government's belief that an effective health and safety program requires the commitment and active involvement of senior management. The act therefore must state clearly that every director and officer of a corporation has a duty to take all reasonable care for worker health and safety.
We propose that employers be obligated to set out and formally undertake work place health and safety programs. In that context, it is basic that employers mount effective health and safety training for their employees. We also propose that employers be required to respond in writing to the recommendations of the joint health and safety committee and to provide to the committee the results of all tests.
Finally, we propose a number of measures to strengthen enforcement of the act. As honourable members know, I have been of the view for some time that the maximum fine for corporations under this act is far too low. It understates the critical importance of living by the occupational health and safety law. The time has come to demonstrate the seriousness with which the government and society view work place health and safety. We therefore propose to increase 10-fold the maximum fine, from the current $25,000 to $250,000.
Ontario workers have the right to report to the job every day free from the fear that they will return home sick, hurt or not at all. The realization of this right is essential to a caring society. It is a basic measure of society's respect for and recognition of people as human beings and not as mere components in a production process.
The proposals that I have put forward today will give greater meaning to that right. I look forward to discussing them with labour, management and the general public in the coming weeks.
EMPLOYEE SHARE OWNERSHIP PLAN
Mr. Harris: Rarely have we seen so false-hearted a use of this Legislature as the statement of the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) today. Ten months ago, the Treasurer stood in his place and promised the workers of Ontario the employee share ownership plan. Ten months have gone by. Now, knowing full well that this sitting has four hours to run, the Treasurer announces his intention to introduce legislation.
Why would he make such an announcement? Not to keep his promise to the workers of Ontario, and certainly not to prove his ability to set a coherent legislative agenda; no. He made this announcement for one reason and one reason alone: to get headlines, to get a few column inches in the newspapers and a couple of seconds on the evening news. It is just like his cynical announcement of yesterday concerning the capital tax reduction program for farmers. We see a Treasurer whose word carries little weight unless he can get press coverage out of it.
If the Treasurer were serious and sincere about helping employees buy shares in their employers' firms, we would have heard this announcement much earlier than 10 months after the budget. The tax increases in the Treasurer's budget took effect immediately, but his commitments to the people of Ontario are left until much later, if remembered at all.
It is the Treasurer who tells the media he has so much money for high technology he does not know what to do with it all. The Premier (Mr. Peterson) knows what to do with it all. He gives $17.5 million to his friend Abe Schwartz; $5.1 million to Abe's partner, Terry Graham; and $3 million to Wyda Systems when the spouse of a cabinet minister is an officer. The loans-for-Liberals program operates full blast; the disabled are ignored.
The Treasurer forgets his government's throne speech promise to retrain older workers, to set up a modern lab to ensure the purity of the food we eat or to create a nonprofit centre on new information technologies. Where is the commitment? Why are the promises not kept? Is this government so lacking in courage it will say anything to get headlines, but lacks the will to put its promises into action?
When this Legislature meets again, the spring tourism season will be in full swing. By that time, it will be a full year since the government promised to implement a long-term tourism strategy, one of 20 throne speech promises not kept. Part of the strategy includes roadside rest stops along the highways, made in April. This government is so incompetent it needs more than a year to build an outhouse.
The employee share ownership plan deserves more respect from the Treasurer than this. He has let down the workers of Ontario. Let me assure him, they will remember.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Gillies: What a cynical gesture for the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) to come in here on the last day of this session, not with legislation to improve the tragic circumstances in occupational health and safety in this province, but with a discussion paper. How appropriate that this government's sole response to any serious issue affecting working people is study, study, study; discussion, discussion, discussion.
This minister knows that 248 people died in the work place in this province last year, a dramatic increase from 1985. Work place accidents are up. Work place deaths are up.
The member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) brings a bill into this House and the minister says: "There is no need to vote for that because we are going to bring in a bill. Wait and see what the government does." We have the McKenzie-Laskin whitewash, which this minister in a most embarrassing fashion embraces; blaming workers, blaming the opposition, blaming the media for the failings in occupational health and safety in this province. When he has an opportunity to bring in something concrete for the working people of this province, he brings in a discussion paper.
I wonder how much discussion it took for this government to decide to give Abe Schwartz $17.5 million. I wonder how much discussion it took for this government to let Wilf Caplan negotiate $3 million for Wyda. How much discussion did it take for Mr. Graham to walk away with $5 million? All the working people of this province get from this Minister of Labour is discussion on the last day of the session.
We know where this is going to end up -- absolutely nowhere. Maybe after the election, if the minister is still there and if he feels like it, he will do something. All we get now is discussion.
Mr. Laughren: I would like to respond to the Treasurer's employee share ownership plan. We regard it --
Mr. Mackenzie: Can you call order, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: I thank the members for their assistance. I am sure all members wish to hear what the member for Nickel Belt has to say.
EMPLOYEE SHARE OWNERSHIP PLAN
Mr. Laughren: I assume I have five minutes, Mr. Speaker.
We regard the Treasurer's plan for employee share ownership as second-class ownership and a first-class ripoff. We share the government's goal of fostering a stronger partnership between employers and employees and of providing new and welcome sources of equity capital for small and medium-sized businesses; however, we do not believe that the employee share ownership plan advanced by the Treasurer will accomplish these goals.
ESOPs offer working men and women a risky way to share in profits in an already too risky economy without a share of control over the circumstances that determine those profits. By making workers beneficial owners and leaving all the control in the hands of top management and owners, instead of democratizing the work place this plan will serve only to perpetuate a society divided into two classes: those who control and those who are controlled. The only difference will be that workers will have to risk their savings in return for the right to be controlled.
ESOPs were first advanced in the United States by investment bankers like Louis Kelso and anti-union politicians like Senator Russell Long. They have been implemented there by managers and owners interested in cheap capital and tax benefits rather than partnership and worker control.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Martel: It is a hunk of junk that my friend the minister, as poor as it is, could not get by the cabinet to bring it in here as recommendations. It is more of the same despite the Law Reform Commission of Canada saying the internal responsibility system does not work. It is more of the same.
The Harvey study indicated that internal responsibility for the system does not work. It does not shift the balance of power one tittle. It all remains with management. Management still has all the power and the committees still have only a consultative role.
The minister should be ashamed of himself for even bringing this discussion paper forward. There is no requirement under the act. The internal responsibility system in the committees can make recommendations, but if management chooses to ignore the recommendations there is not a thing they can do. They can do what they do at present now, which is to call an inspector in. Whoop-de-do. They have that power now. When management does not comply, one calls in an inspector. Nothing changes.
Do not try kidding the troops about all of these significant changes. It does not give the workers the right to protect themselves. Talk about the right to information. We have Bill 101. What is the minister kidding us for? In three places he has mentioned information in this silly little bill of his, which does nothing. They already have the right to some information. Bill 101 will give them more rights. They do not have the right to conduct tests and monitor. They have the right to be consulted. That is what it is.
The minister increases the fines. Is that not wonderful? He mentioned to the press that the last couple of fines have been $40,000. The average fine has been $2,000. Multiply that by 10, the figure he uses, and he is looking at $20,000. It is the right to commit murder; that is what it is. That is what he perpetuates. The right to commit murder of working people in the work place.
I will tell members how bad it is. In section 20, he is going to remove the right of people to choose their own doctor.
Mr. Martel: Oh yes, he is. He is going to implement a thing that says, "The Lieutenant Governor in Council is authorized to make regulations respecting the appointment of physicians...." Whoop-de-do. We take the position that people have the right to choose their own physician and not somebody the company or the minister would like to deign to do the work. The whole thing is a disgrace. I think he should take it and dump it into receptacle 13 where it belongs.
Mr. Harris: We are in the last day of the session. This is the last time for over two months that we will be sitting here. I just received word that the Premier (Mr. Peterson) is going to be late. I wonder if we could stand down our leader's questions anticipating that he will be here.
Mr. Speaker: There has been a request to stand down the first two questions. Agreed?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: We have no objection to that. I understand the Premier will be attending. He is in meetings at present and has sent word to me to convey that he will be here as soon as he can.
ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICE WORKERS
Mr. R. F. Johnston: My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services with regard to a problem that adult protective service workers in the province have, those workers who advocate for adult mentally retarded people in our society. The minister received a letter on December 10 from the Metropolitan Toronto group of adult protective service workers, in which they indicated that they now have a waiting list of 178 adults needing their assistance. Some of the references go back as far as 1984. The minister will note that, just prior to that, the verdict on the Dimun case, that unfortunate death, recommended that he put more money into APSWs to make sure people like Mr. Dimun would be protected in future.
What is he going to do to make sure there is adequate money to pay for the six extra workers we require in Metro?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: The member is aware that we have approximately 150 adult protective service workers and that there is a review going on right now with respect to the roles of guardianship, advocacy and case management. Part of that review is the examination of the combined case management and advocacy role of the APSWs. While there will continue to be growth in the number of people performing that service, the member would agree that until we have clearly defined who is going to carry out what role we would not want to expand the existing procedures.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I really find this incredible. The minister is suggesting that until Mr. O'Sullivan reports and until the government then takes action on his report and decides where it wants to go, because it has turned down the Attorney General's (Mr. Scott) approach on advocacy up to this point, these people who are already on waiting lists, one of whom has died in Metropolitan Toronto in the last year, have to wait until all of that happens before his ministry will put any extra resources in here.
This is a government that has $900 million in extra resources. There have been a number of coroners' inquests in the last number of years. Ms. Joubert and Mr. Dimun are probably the two most prominent cases. What action is the minister going to take to respond to coroners' inquests, or do those recommendations not mean anything any more?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: My recollection of the inquest into the death of Mr. Dimun certainly did not indicate that his chief problem was the lack of an advocate to speak for him. There were a number of other issues involved in that, and I will not go into any detail. I have already indicated that the Attorney General has a committee looking into the whole role of guardianship.
Springing from that was the clear statement by that advisory committee, involving members from a number of advocacy associations across Ontario, that there should be an independent advocacy role and, as part of that, there was a clear statement of concern about the joint advocacy and case management role of our existing adult protective service workers.
As I indicated, we are certainly moving forward on that front, but it seems reasonable that we identify what the roles are going to be and who is going to perform them before we expand an existing service that is under question. That seems like a logical way to go.
Mr. Reville: The minister's memory of the Dimun inquest recommendations is faulty. The inquest says that APSWs are massively overworked and massively underpaid. He has the cases on the waiting list: a 40-year-old man, waiting eight months, desperately needs housing, and an APSW is a precondition to his getting housing; a 40-year-old man, waiting nine months, with a physically handicapped father, needs an APSW to get financial assistance, housing and a day program; a 21-year-old woman, developmentally handicapped, waiting seven months, in an abusive home, desperately needs an APSW.
How can the minister expect this House to sit still while he talks about a logical review when this kind of abuse is going on in the city and in the province and when we desperately need to provide comfort and support to the most vulnerable people in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I point out to the member that over the last couple of weeks I have had meetings with three different associations dealing with the developmentally handicapped in Ontario and gone over with them a whole range of services at the community level that are necessary for these citizens of Ontario. Adult protective service is simply one of them. The member mentioned housing; that is one. Sheltered workshops are another. A whole range of day programs is another. A whole range of assisting developmentally handicapped people who are living with their aged parents is another. The list goes on and on.
All those are being deal with. Obviously, the resources that are available cannot be put to any one of those applications but have to be spread over the whole range of those applications.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a question for the Minister of Labour.
On December 9, 1986, the Ministry of Labour issued an order for the testing of workers at Stelco in Hamilton who were exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls, an order that was hailed at the time it was issued. This was done under the new biological regulations put in place on December 6. There could be up to 1,000 workers involved.
Will this Minister of Labour explain to this House why, yesterday, on instructions from Dr. Peter Pelmear, director of the occupational health branch, his ministry met with the union and the company, rescinded the order and issued a new order which is restricted to the power department only? Will he clearly explain who ordered this betrayal of the workers' rights to the testing and protection in that plant?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Yes, I would be delighted to explain that. We had a number of discussions this morning on this matter.
I want, first, to assure the honourable member, the other members from the Hamilton area and the workers that the amendment of the order -- and I make no bones about the fact that, clearly, the order has been amended -- does not remove the right, at the choice of the worker, of any of those 1,000 workers, or whatever the number is, to have that testing done by the physician of his or her choice. That right remains. What the amendment has done is to remove the obligation on all the 37 workers to have the testing done.
Effectively, what that means is this: a worker who was exposed to PCBs some 20 years ago and who was on the list under the original order would have been obliged to undergo that testing. What we have done is to say that worker who was exposed to PCBs 20 years ago shall have the right to say yes or no.
My staff has been in touch with Mr. Silenzi and Mr. Fraser. We have invited them to Toronto. We are prepared to do anything they suggest might be reasonable to try to encourage those workers to avail themselves of the rights which remain there.
Mr. Mackenzie: Surely the minister has to realize that is not acceptable. Will he explain to me and the 8,000 workers at Stelco how this retreat on an order that now covers only 40 workers or fewer and eliminates hundreds of workers, some of whom have already been tested, as the minister must know, at up to 38 parts per billion, can possibly indicate a concern for the workers in that plant? Surely he must understand what he has done with this repeal of the order and this new order.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I am not too sure what the member's concern is, because there is no lack of right on the part of the worker to have that testing done by the physician of his or her choice, at cost to the company. While the order has been amended and reduced to allow workers who were exposed, often many years ago, the right to say, "No, I do not wish to be tested," we have reconfirmed with the company that all workers exposed to PCBs who would have been caught by that previous order, or any worker who wishes to be tested, will be allowed to be tested.
I am prepared again to sit down with Local 1005 and to do anything I can to encourage any worker who wishes to be tested to be so tested.
Mr. Mackenzie: I do not know whether the minister knows it or not -- he will find out if he does meet with them tomorrow -- the health and safety committee of the local, the executive and many members of the local union are simply furious.
Can this minister, who used to refer to himself as the minister for labour, tell us how he can retain a shred of integrity when he has just allowed hundreds of workers to sink in his own personal swamp and toss lifeboats to about 35 or 40 of them? What credibility can he claim, with a record that is even more insensitive and incompetent than we are seeing from some of the crooks in Ottawa?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I will try to ignore the cheap shots and give a reasonable and reasoned response. I say to my friend -- and I want to try to be reasonable and reasoned about it -- that I care every bit as much as he does about the workers of Stelco and the workers of this province. I would not take it upon myself to stand up and say I care more than that individual member does. I know he cares a great deal. I just wish he and some of his colleagues would sometimes allow that other honourable members in both parties have the same kind of care and concern he does.
I have said I will sit down with Local 1005 at its earliest convenience -- I hope it will be tomorrow morning because I am quite available to meet with them -- and we will attempt to resolve this in a way that will ensure that every worker who wishes to be tested will so be tested.
Mr. Gillies: We did want to direct questions to the Premier (Mr. Peterson) today, but I guess he is hiding, or maybe he is stuck in the lineup at the London airport. In the absence of the Premier, I will direct my question to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.
Mr. Epp: Your own leader is not there.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Gillies: We were scandalized, as I am sure most members were --
Mr. Epp: That is a cheap shot when your own leader is not there.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I ask members to maintain the decorum, if possible, this last day of the session.
Mr. Gillies: We were scandalized this morning to read in the media that the $5.1-million investment in the Graham Software company has now been settled out of court by the Ontario Development Corp. and the taxpayers will possibly see a return on that $5-million investment in the amount of $300,000. I would like to review a couple of the facts in this matter with the minister.
The minister will know that for months he and his officials did nothing to monitor the activities of this company. He will know that in a seven-month period last year this company spent $3 million in expenses while its gross sales amounted to $200,000. They moved in too late, and the taxpayers' money is gone.
We want to know if the minister agrees with his official at ODC when he says: "We got back what we could for the taxpayers. It could have been a lot worse." Will the minister explain to us how it could have been worse?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I think that was basically the same question that was asked the other day, and I will give the member basically the same answer.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: It is basically the same question. If the members opposite, when they were in government, had set proper rules for the running of the IDEA Corp., there would not have been any of that money lost.
Mr. Gillies: It is not the same question at all. First, the minister knows he and his officials approved this investment, nobody else. The minister's officials now go in and say there are hardly any assets left, but we may be able to recover $300,000 out of $5 million which the minister ill advisedly approved.
Can the minister explain how it is that in recent weeks -- not years ago, which the minister likes to talk about -- the Graham Software company had an asset, the Mazdamon program, which was sold to an American company, UCCEL, for $2.4 million and that the proceeds in the past several weeks from that sale are going to other creditors -- not back to the taxpayers, but to other creditors -- including the officials of the company who were paying themselves inflated benefits and salaries?
Will the minister not give us a history lesson; will he instead tell us what he did in recent weeks to try to recover more than $2 million of the taxpayers' money rather than see it go into the pockets of questionable business people with whom he has dealt?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: First, to set the record right, it was not approved by this government; it was approved by the IDEA Corp., a corporation that was set up at arm's length from this government and whose directors were appointed by the previous government. That is where part of the problem lies.
It is true the assets were sold for $2.4 million and over $1 million was paid to small and large creditors who were owed money by that firm. We felt it was only just that they should be paid off. The remainder was left to the provincial government. It was approximately $300,000 that we recovered.
I will say again that had the previous government set up IDEA in a proper form, with proper rules, regulations and guidelines, we would not have this problem today.
Mr. Gillies: As the minister and members of this House know, the bulk of the funds from the IDEA Corp. were expended under his administration. They went out successively in often questionable political circumstances. Between Wyda and Graham Software alone, we saw $8 million of the taxpayers' money down the tubes.
Will the minister come clean? Will he admit to this House that he settled this matter out of court because he is trying to sweep it under the rug? Will he not admit now to the House that this scandalous situation is worthy of investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police, an agency, I might add, which is already overworked under this corrupt administration.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I think the member would have to agree that this government has kept the standing committee on public accounts fully aware of the procedures as they happened.
The member was asking about not being notified until yesterday. The circumstances did not happen until Tuesday night, but throughout this whole thing ODC officials have been told to keep the public accounts committee fully aware of what was happening. We also had the ODC call up the public accounts committee -- and the clerk of the committee reinforced this -- and state what we were doing and that we would like to speak to the public accounts committee before Friday of this week.
Mr. Pope: Let us be very clear about this to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. There was $3 million to Wyda. It was negotiated by a spouse of a cabinet minister. A self-described Liberal hack was paid $30,000 for his services. There was $17.5 million to Abe Schwartz, a friend of the Premier on his transition team; Abe Schwartz's partner, $5 million; Terry Graham, with connections to the Liberal party, $5 million. It is a Liberal scandal, three of them in a row involving high-technology companies in this province in which the Premier and the minister are involved.
We want to know when the cabinet and the Premier of this province decided to settle that lawsuit out of court for $300,000, costing the public taxpayers of this province $4.8 million. We want to know when the cabinet approved that.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I am sorry the member was not available for the estimates of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology this morning.
Mr. Pope: I was there last week.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: The member was there last week, but he was not there this morning. We brought before the committee hearing estimates of our ministry the officials of ODC who gave a complete overview of both Wyda and Graham Software.
Mr. Pope: Let the record show that for the last six months this minister has not once stood in this Legislature and informed us and the people of Ontario what is going on with his mismanagement and his Premier's scandals. We have to try to get it out of him. That is the kind of standards they have over there with the sleaze and corruption that is going on in this government.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I ask the member to control himself and ask a supplementary.
Mr. Pope: First, I was in public accounts this morning --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Do you have a supplementary?
Mr. Pope: Yes. By way of supplementary, we asked the minister when the cabinet -- and the cabinet had to have made this decision -- agreed the taxpayers would take it on the chin for $4.8 million for the minister's Liberal friends. When did it do it? The government should table all the documents that justify that kind of decision right now. I was in public accounts this morning investigating another Liberal scandal.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: It is my feeling, the government's feeling and ODCs feeling that the moves we took concerning Graham and the recovery of those funds were the moves that should have been taken; otherwise there would not have been anything left at all.
Mr. Pope: There are no answers from this minister as to the dates on which he made that decision, no information tabled in this Legislature. I can tell members what the court document showed. Do members know who got paid that $1 million? Terry Graham got $116,000 in salary for seven months' work and $24,000 in expenses. Another shareholder, a Mr. Wigdor, got $35,000 in wages for a four-month period. Another shareholder, a Mr. Wawrew, got $50,000 in salary for five months last year. That is who the government paid off. The government's friends were paid off.
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. Pope: I want to know what the standards of this government are in handling these scandals. We have had Wyda, $3 million through Wilf Caplan; we have had Graham Software, $5 million through Abe Schwartz's friend; and we have had $17.5 million to Abe Schwartz. What are the government's standards?
Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the member take his seat?
Mr. Pope: John Turner said, "Once is an accident; twice is --
Mr. Speaker: Order. I know it is the last day of the session. I wish members would show a little more respect for the chair. Response, minister.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: First, we stand very high in the things we do here, I can remember that for many years, while we were in opposition, we appeared at estimates of the Ministry of Industry and Trade and used to find fault with the IDEA Corp., the high rentals, the high payments made to people who resigned from it, money wasted over the years. It was something the former government put into place. They were operating on the rules it put into place. The problems we have are those the former government caused.
Mr. Speaker: Order, the member for Brampton (Mr. Callahan) and the member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt). I am sure there are a lot of members who would like to ask questions.
Mr. Pope: I would like to turn to another one of the three scandals involving high-technology companies. I repeat: John Turner said, "Once is an accident, maybe; twice is incompetence, maybe; three times is corruption." That is corruption. That is the record of this government with respect to Wyda, with respect to Graham Software and with respect to Exploracom.
Why was action taken by the IDEA Corp. only against Avi Dobzinski and not against Wilf Caplan, who at all material times was vice-president of finance for Wyda? Why was action not taken against him with respect to the representations that were made in the financial matter of Wyda?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: We took action when we did -- as I mentioned, that petition was allowed on Tuesday evening of this week -- because we had heard that certain furniture and cars were being shipped out of the country and we took the action at that time. We took action against Mr. Dobzinski because he is the main shareholder of the company.
Mr. Pope: The standing committee on public accounts unanimously found that Wilf Caplan was the vice-president of finance and that he prepared the business plans and financial projections that were provided to IDEA Corp., on the basis of which the loan decision was made.
It unanimously found that Wilf Caplan, the spouse of a then cabinet minister, the spouse of a current member, met on the morning of April 10, at which time the debts were negotiated to be paid off. Those debts, in the minister's own affidavits and his own proceedings, are referred to as overinflated and perhaps fraudulent.
I want to know why there is a double standard, why Avi Dobzinski is proceeded against in court, and yet a spouse of one of his members gets away -- and I use the term exactly correctly -- scot-free.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: Again I repeat, the action was taken against Mr. Dobzinski because he was the main shareholder.
OVERCROWDING IN SCHOOLS
Mr. McClellan: I am afraid I have a very parochial question to ask the Minister of Education about the accommodation crisis at the Bishop Marocco High School in west Toronto.
Mr. Sterling: Is that all you can come up with?
Mr. McClellan: I think our community is entitled to a high school.
On November 21, 1986, the minister received a letter from Mrs. S. Vitale, president of the parent-teacher association at Bishop Marocco High School, which reads in part:
"At present, 175 grade 9 students are inhabitating half of the top floor of an existing elementary school. Next year, when the school will have a population of over 400 students, we have a serious concern and apprehension because no high school facilities are available in west Toronto."
Can the minister tell the House what provisions are in place to ensure that school boards in Metropolitan Toronto begin to resolve this very important problem?
Hon. Mr. Conway: I thank the honourable member for his question. I am aware of the situation at Bishop Marocco. In fact, earlier this week I met with the chairman of the Metropolitan Separate School Board. Specifically, I can indicate to the honourable member, as I indicated to the chairperson of the Metropolitan Separate School Board, that in recent months we have changed the regulations under the Education Act to provide specific financial incentives for public boards to share and to lease facilities to those coterminous separate boards that have the kind of space pressures to which the member has made reference.
In other parts of the province -- I think specifically of communities such as Windsor and Sarnia -- those incentives have produced very positive results. I am very confident that both public and separate boards, working co-operatively together in Metropolitan Toronto and recognizing the interests of the students, the teachers and the communities involved, will take advantage of those incentives and provide the necessary accommodation for the students of Bishop Marocco and elsewhere where the pressure is indicating some movement.
Mr. McClellan: The minister will be aware that there will be 400 students coming to this facility as of September 1987. At this point, there is no facility to accommodate them. The deadline is pretty well close to the line. Can the minister share with us what steps he will take to personally intervene in this situation if that becomes necessary?
Hon. Mr. Conway: May I thank the honourable member for his many representations on behalf of the students and teachers and the Bishop Marocco community. Like my colleagues from communities such as Downsview, Parkdale and elsewhere, he has indicated the immediacy of the situation. As I have indicated, we have changed our regulations in recent months to provide additional incentives. I am pleased that in recent days the concerned parties have been meeting to discuss these and related questions.
There is a provision under the legislation, the amended Education Act, Bill 30, that sets out a process. I can tell the honourable member that officials from my department have met with the concerned parties to try to move the process along. I am quite confident that everyone involved is going to recognize that the interests of the students involved are going to require some action for September 1987.
Mr. Reycraft: I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. In the past couple of days and as recently as this afternoon, I have received a number of telephone calls from farmers in Middlesex county who have expressed their anxiety about reports they have heard that the federal government is prepared to trade away our marketing boards as a part of the bilateral free trade negotiations. Is the minister aware of these reports? If he is, what action has he taken to protect our marketing boards?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: I am certainly aware of those reports. The comments coming from that confused and inept group in Ottawa and from the senior officials of the United States Department of Agriculture are most disconcerting, to say the least. Moreover, these remarks seem to contradict the public statements made by the Right Honourable Joe Clark, Secretary of State for External Affairs, the Honourable John Wise, Minister of Agriculture, and Charlie Mayer, who is the minister for the Wheat Board, for the lack of a better description of his portfolio.
I fail to understand the rationale of trading away the stability and the policy flexibility in Canadian agriculture for some vague hope of reducing U S farm subsidies. Given the climate in Washington, such actions seem extremely unlikely regardless of the bilateral initiative. However, I believe all Ontario farmers would like to know what is on the table and what is not on the table, so I have written letters to the Right Honourable Joe Clark and to the Honourable John Wise asking them to explain to us just what is going on and to give us their assurance that marketing boards will not appear on the bargaining table.
Mr. Gillies: I have a question of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. On a day when three scandals of this government are splattered all over the papers, we would have thought the Premier (Mr. Peterson) would have wanted to be here to answer to this. In his absence, I will ask the minister again about the Graham Software matter.
As the minister knows, last year this company expended $3 million while its revenues were $200,000. This company frittered away $5 million. The taxpayers now will recover maybe $300,000. After it was known, as we assume it was known, by the minister's officials that this money was going down the drain in an elaborate scam, will the minister confirm what we find in the affidavit the Ontario Development Corp. has filed with the Supreme Court of Ontario that in October of last year, when most of this money was already lost, ODC lent Graham Software more money to enable it to pull off the Mazdamon sale to United States interests? In other words, it lent them more money so that the asset could be taken out of the country and so that the taxpayers could not recover their money.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member has asked the question.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: If the honourable member were to review the testimony and wording that have been given by the ODC staff, I believe he would find that the investment was made and approval for it was received, but it was made to enable us to make sure we had an asset of approximately $2.4 million that we would have to sell to pay off some of the creditors and at least have some recovery.
Mr. Gillies: I have never pretended to be an expert in high finance, but I want the minister to explain this to me so I can explain it to my constituents. ODC lent further funds to Graham Software so that it could divest itself of one of its major assets, so that other creditors could be paid off, so that we could be sure the taxpayers would not have this money returned to them. Will the minister not agree that this behaviour on the part of his officials is nothing short of bizarre? Will he not agree that clearly an external review of this matter, and very likely a review by the Ontario Provincial Police, is necessary in this matter?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: It is easy to see the member does not understand either high or low finance. We knew there was an asset that was worth approximately $2.4 million. The member will remember that ODC officials came before the standing committee on public accounts and that Graham Software had asked us for additional funding. We turned it down, but to keep the company going a little longer so there would be an asset there that was sold, that money was given to them.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Martel: I have a question for the caretaker, the Minister of Labour. The survey conducted for the minister by SPR Associates of 3,000 labour-management committees concluded, "The system in place is employer-controlled and unable to protect worker interests." It also concluded that work place committees, unless backed up by strong law enforcement, which McKenzie opposed, led not to self-regulation but to self-deception. Without giving workers equal power to management in the work place, how will workers ever be able to protect themselves?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The honourable member did not want to give them equal powers. Let us not even pretend the member proposed a balanced approach.
I want to say to my friend that there are a number of ways to improve the climate in the work place. One of the ways the government has chosen, and the member will see it in the draft bill, of which I am sure he has a copy, is to heighten the obligations on employers. We have dramatically done so. It will certainly not be in the interests of any member of the employer community in this province who wishes to flout the act and not work with health and safety committees. It will not be in the interest of the employer community to do so.
I thought the honourable gentleman would have wished to note the proposed increase in the level of maximum fines for corporations to $250,000. I thought the member would have wanted to say as he quotes that survey for his part, since he believes in additional enforcement, that the level of fine will be five times higher than the second-highest level of fine anywhere in this country. It seems to me this government has proved time and again just how serious it is about enforcing the act where enforcement is necessary.
Mr. Martel: That fellow should take his bongo balls and go home. He is an absolute disgrace.
Mr. Speaker: Do you have a supplementary?
Mr. Martel: That was just a bit of advice I gave him. The report concludes with the following findings:
"The committees are often perceived as ineffective. The ministry concentrates its inspections on large companies. Nearly 80 per cent of all work places are in violation of the law. Thirty-five per cent of the work place or worker safety representatives are selected by management." The list goes on.
In fact, the present system does not work. The minister and his proposed amendments are offering more of the same. Can the minister tell me how 240 inspectors for well over 100,000 work places will ever be able to get into the work places to protect the workers? The only way to protect workers is to give them some rights to protect themselves.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I thought the gentleman would have noted the proposed amendments, which will greatly strengthen, I think he will agree, the workers' rights and the workers' right to refuse. I think sometimes my friend -- and I understand he is sincere in his views -- does not think through his proposals and the effect what he is saying would have, particularly in nonunion work places.
I think he and I will both agree that our greatest problem remains in nonunion work places, where we do indeed have a major difficulty. My friend believes that somehow, magically, through his proposals, which are more confrontational in nature, that problem will be solved in nonunion work places. With respect, I do not believe it will be.
What we have to do is strengthen the system to ensure that labour and management will work together; and to ensure that where they do not the power of government can come down on them quickly and effectively.
Mr. Martel: The minister does not have enough inspectors and he knows it. There are 240 inspectors; they would have to inspect 32 hours a day, eight days a week.
Mr. Mancini: My question is to the Minister of Transportation and Communications. I will try to speak over the voice of the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel).
I want to ask the minister whether he has kept in touch with the Minister of Transport for Canada in regard to the reconstruction of the vessel docks in Kingsville, Leamington and Pelee Island and whether the government of Canada has been kept informed that we are moving ahead in the construction of a new $10-million vessel for the southeastern part of Essex county?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: I thank the member for his question and I will take the opportunity to thank him for his ongoing and continued support for the initiative for the development of the Pelee Island ferry.
I have been in contact with the current federal Minister of Transport, as I was with his predecessor and as I have been with the Governor of Ohio, to bring about the needed dock replacements and rehabilitation to facilitate the new ferry boats.
Mr. Mancini: I want to bring to the minister's attention that there have been comments in the local media, both by federal civil servants and by the federal MP, which kind of put forward a negative position as to whether or not the government of Canada is prepared to fund the reconstruction of these docks.
Since the federal member of Parliament and federal officials seem to be somewhat negative on this particular proposal, will the minister, on behalf of the people of southeastern Essex County, in particular Pelee Island, Leamington and Kingsville, make personal representation to the Minister of Finance, so our community can be assured that the docks will be reconstructed by the time the $10-million vessel is ready to be put in the water?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: I can assure the member for Essex South and those people in the area that the federal government has indicated, through its regional manager from the federal Department of Transport and personal discussions with the ministers, that there is a definite interest.
I cannot imagine the federal government of Canada backing off such a needed economic input to the region of southwestern Ontario and Pelee Island. With the tourism, economic development and the need for the agricultural component to be enhanced down there, I am sure they will see their role as an important one in supporting our initiative in providing that ferry service.
Mr. Pope: My question is of the Premier. Let the record show there are 12 minutes left in question period for him to answer for his corrupt and scandal-ridden government.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Does the member have a question of the Attorney General (Mr. Scott)?
Mr. Pope: My question is of the Premier. We have now seen three scandals involving the Peterson government with respect to high-technology funds. We have seen three, and many more are still under investigation.
We want some explanation from the leader of this government, the Premier of our province, as to what is going on in all these court proceedings that have taken place in the last week and a half. Taxpayers' money is being thrown down the drain. He is responsible for it. His ministers will not talk about it. He will not account for it whatsoever.
We want to know. We now have Wyda, where we lost the entire $3 million; we now have Exploracom, where he was willing to give away $17.5 million to his friend, Abe Schwartz; and now we have Graham Software, with at least $5 million. We want to know when he decided in cabinet to settle that $5 million debt for $300,000, and we want --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Would the honourable member take his seat? The question was asked.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: In response to the honourable member, let me tell him how much I enjoy his company, even if it is for only 12 minutes today. I am sorry his leader and the leader of the New Democratic Party are not here as well to share this final day in the House.
The member is inadvertently misrepresenting some of the chronology of the events he refers to, and I think his characterization of these things is a little excessive. He talks about wasting taxpayers' money and he does not mention in the same breath the $1 billion his government lost on Suncor or the $50 million it lost on Minaki Lodge. It goes on and on and on, if we want to look at these things.
He is not prepared to talk about his government's IDEA Corp. It was his government's arm's length board of directors. Very simply, it was not a cabinet decision; it was made by the Ontario Development Corp. It went in to salvage things his government had put in place years ago but never got to operate.
Our problem with IDEA Corp. is that it should have been axed immediately. It should never have been created and it should have been axed years ago. We are trying to fix up the messes the member and his close associates caused over there.
Mr. Pope: My supplementary is to the Premier, who was the architect of the loans-for-Liberals program, where you had to be an Abe Schwartz, a Liberal member of the transition team, to get $17.5 million; where you had to be the spouse of a cabinet minister to orchestrate a $3-million loan; where you had to be the partner of Abe Schwartz to get $5 million from the government. Their red ties are all the way through this. They have abused the public funds in IDEA Corp. for their own partisan advantage to reward their friends. The Liberal government is corrupt even by John Turner's standards.
When is the Premier going to account for that money? He should give all the documents to this Legislature right now and apologize to the people of Ontario for his corrupt --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I regret that the honourable member continues to perpetrate myths, things that are not factually correct, in this House. I guess he feels that by hooting and hollering he can eventually get people to believe his point of view, even though it is factually wrong. Perhaps the member had too much catnip at lunch -- I have no idea -- but he is factually incorrect. The government is there and ODC is there, trying to salvage a situation that was created under the rules of the member's party.
It is very clear what has been transpiring. All the facts have been shared with the standing committee on public accounts. It was discussed in estimates, I am told, this morning and on other days. If the member has any other information he would like to have, we are very happy to share it in its entirety with him.
Mr. Gillies: All we know about your government comes under our doors in brown envelopes. That is the only way we get anything on you.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Brantford, it is not your turn for a question.
Mr. Reville: I have a question to the Minister of Housing. Listen to what the minister has been saying: "It is a delicate balance. If you tenants pay landlords more of your money, I will make your landlords maintain your buildings." The tenants are paying. Why is there no sign of his maintenance board?
Hon. Mr. Curling: What we have done in Bill 51 is to make provision for the maintenance board. That will be coming forward to be set up very shortly, within another month or so.
Mr. Reville: The response of the minister echoes the response that tenants get when they call their neighbourhood rent review offices. I quote: "We have no idea what is going on. It is pandemonium around here." What I want the minister to tell the House is whether his failure to manage the affairs of the Ministry of Housing is simple reluctance or simple incompetence.
Hon. Mr. Curling: One only has to look at what happened to housing in the past and to see what has happened in the past 18 months, when we have got landlords and tenants together. That could not be done in the past.
One only has to look at 1985, when only 6,000 nonprofit housing units were approved and see that, in 18 months, 27,000 units have been approved. The action speaks for itself. I do not intend to stand here and articulate and express what I have done. I just want the record to show what has been done. Am I in charge? The member is right that I am in charge and he can say that housing has come away up in 18 months since we have taken over.
HOUSING FOR THE DISABLED
Mr. G. I. Miller: I have a question for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons.
Mr. Speaker: Order. We are certainly wasting more time than necessary.
Mr. G. I. Miller: The housing needs of disabled persons are critical. How long is it going to take to bring about the initiatives the minister has announced?
Hon. Mr. Ruprecht: I want to tell the member simply that some of the critical needs of disabled persons are going to be addressed almost immediately. I am speaking specifically about the $1.7 million given to the Easter Seal Society, and within 30 days, people will be able to address those questions.
The convert-to-rent program and the low-rise rehabilitation program obviously are being sponsored through the Ministry of Housing and are going through that ministry. I would say that within three months people will be able to address that program.
Finally, there are the attendant care services that are being provided through the Ministry of Community and Social Services, and they too should be able to be provided within about 30 days.
Simply said, we are proud of the accomplishments of this government in this area.
Mr. Stevenson: I have a question for the Premier about the Premier's loans-for-Liberals program. Did the unsigned contract between his government and his friend's company clearly state that no government funds would flow unless Exploracom raised matching funds from the private sector?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I think my honourable friend, I say with respect, has missed the whole point. There was no contract.
Mr. Stevenson: The Premier has stated in this House, and so has the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon), that there was a contract but it had not been signed. If that agreement, or that draft contract, was in place, why did the Premier not let the company die of its own course and not put the provincial taxpayers in the situation of having to pay millions of dollars of liabilities?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I have never pretended to be a very good lawyer, but to the best of my knowledge, an unsigned contract is not a contract, and I am sure the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) will corroborate that. I said I am not a very good lawyer, but I am probably a better lawyer than the member opposite.
There was no signed contract. The very clear understanding was, as has been stated to the member in this House and the information shared with him, there would be matching funds, and he knows about the operating problems in the long term. I think my friend is quite wrong in the assumptions he is making in this regard.
ONTARIO INSTITUTE FOR STUDIES IN EDUCATION
Mr. Allen: I have a question of the Premier in the matter of the relationship between the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and the University of Toronto. I hope in his sense -- if I do not malign him in the image he has in this House today -- of reason, fairness and propriety, the Premier would find himself in agreement with the negotiated position between the two parties; namely, that any reform in that respect should embrace the concept of a self-governing integration between OISE and the faculty of education.
But lest he not pursue that course, might I ask him whether he is aware of the following two documents. The first is a letter from Professor George Reid, recently published. Professor Reid is a former business professor, a member of the committee that was involved in the integration of the Ontario College of Education some 20 years ago into the university, and also a chairman of the faculty executive committee and
Mr. Speaker: Order. I know it is a question, but there seem to be quite a number of parts to that question. Did that not complete the first question?
Mr. Allen: My question is whether he is aware of these two documents and whether he is prepared to face the implications of them. The first document is the letter of Professor George Reid, whom I was describing, in which he recounts the experience of the integration of the Ontario College of Education in words that describe how, with the integration, the budget of the faculty of education was systematically mined by the university, with severe restrictions imposed on every aspect of activity so that the faculty was unable to respond imaginatively to the education --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Is the Premier aware of those words?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I was not aware of those words until they were brought to my attention by the honourable member. The answer to his first question is no, I am not aware of those letters. As to the second, I have no idea what the implications are, but it is one of the joys of my job that I get to be held responsible for the implications of almost anything around here.
Mr. Laughren: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Your view is better than mine. Can you please tell me, is there a Tory back bench?
Mr. Speaker: That is not a point of privilege.
Mr. Speaker: I have been considering recessing for the balance of the day.
Ms. Gigantes: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I would like your advice on a problem we have run into. The Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) knows of the interest of both opposition parties, expressed as recently as the day before yesterday, in knowing his decision about funding for the mobile health unit run by the Immigrant Women's Centre here in Toronto. We have just received word that he is not funding that health unit, but he has not done the courtesy to us who have asked for an answer on this matter of saying so in the House.
Can you advise us how we can get him to behave in a courteous way to members of the Legislature who are seeking this news?
Mr. Speaker: That is not a point of order. It is not up to the Speaker to inform any members when they should attend the House, other than I hope at all times.
Mr. Jackson: The council of the corporation of the city of Burlington begs leave to petition the parliament of Ontario and the Minister of Health as follows:
"Due to the significant increase of code 4 or life-threatening calls, as well as the proliferation of code 8 or standby calls, the city of Burlington petition the provincial Ministry of Health to request at least one additional ambulance and staff as soon as possible for Burlington;
"And that the city of Burlington support the maintenance and reduction of response times by emergency services of seven minutes and consider anything in excess of this to be unacceptable;
"Furthermore, the emergency health services committee should monitor the response time of ambulance services in the communities of Halton;
"And that the Ministry of Health be asked to develop a regular review of the allocations of ambulances and ambulance personnel that includes criteria that accounts for population growth, calls for service, response times and the in-service time of vehicles."
That was approved by the council on February 9, 1987.
Mr. D. R. Cooke: I have a petition with 224 signatures on it from high school students aged 14 to 19, mostly in the Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax and Pickering area, who call themselves SHAFT, Students Horrified at Free Trade, petitioning to the effect that they feel that "implementation of free trade with the US" might impinge on their "social, economic, cultural and political futures." They ask us to take note of that fact.
Mr. Cousens: I present a petition signed by 433 commuters on the Markham-Stouffville commuter line, the GO Transit service. These people are petitioning the Lieutenant Governor in Council to improve and increase the GO train service on the Markham-Stouffville line. At present, the service is used to full capacity, despite the inflexibility of departure time associated with one run and lack of adequate parking. The petition reads as follows:
"We recommend that the following improvements to the present service to prepare for the increased ridership, which is an absolute certainty due to the explosive growth in recent and forthcoming years in these areas:
"The parking facilities at Markham and Unionville are deplorable. Parking tickets have been issued at Unionville Station as commuters are forced to park in no-parking areas. With only 25 parking spaces available, this has caused potential transit users to drive to work."
I present this petition with the hope that the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Fulton) will respond immediately to this urgent matter.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I ask any members who are having private conversations to keep them at a lower level.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Mr. McCague from the standing committee on general government reported the following resolutions:
That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1987:
Ministry administration program, $7,797,800; policy and technology program, $32,111,900; industry program, $103,629,400; trade program, $23,468,500; Ontario development corporations program, $24,939,600; and
That supply in the following supplementary amounts and to defray the expense of the ministry be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1987:
Trade program, $4,120,000; Ontario development corporations program, $5,334,000.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
Mr. D. R. Cooke from the standing committee on finance and economic affairs presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Mr. D. R. Cooke: On January 15, I reported to the House that the standing committee on finance and economic affairs had unanimously passed a resolution indicating its strong support for the inclusion of Toronto in any federal legislation to designate Canadian locations as tax exempt and partially exempt international banking centres.
We also indicated at that time that we would commence hearings into this issue, and we have subsequently had hearings in which we have had as witnesses the Treasurer and Minister of Economics (Mr. Nixon), two of his assistant deputy ministers, the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. Kwinter), the chairman of the Ontario Securities Commission, an ad hoc committee on international banking centres of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Toronto and a number of distinguished academics. We were unable to find anyone who supported the resolution, although we did watch a video of the presentation of the budget resolution by the federal Minister of Finance.
We have come to certain conclusions. Our conclusions are in two parts. First, the resolution should not take place and, in fact, there should not be any federal legislation of this sort whatsoever.
The second part of our resolution is that if it is the case that federal legislation takes place in any event, the Treasurer and the Minister of Financial Institutions should enter immediately into discussions with the federal Minister of Finance so that all Canadian municipalities would benefit equally from the international banking centre designation.
There is a dissent by the New Democratic members of the committee to the effect that the first part of the resolution alone is pertinent to this Legislature.
On motion by Mr. D. R. Cooke, the debate was adjourned.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Mr. Gregory from the standing committee on government agencies presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Mr. Gregory: As members know, the provisional standing orders adopted by the House on April 8, 1986, established a new committee, the standing committee on government agencies, to deal with the review of agencies, boards and commissions of the government of Ontario.
I have the pleasure today to table the committee's first report, which represents the culmination of the committee's work during the autumn of 1986, when the committee held public hearings and discussed issues of concern with the representatives of the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism and Citizenship, the Ontario Arts Council, the Ontario development corporations, the Ontario Land Corp., and the Ontario Lottery Corp. After the close of the hearings, the committee developed a number of recommendations directed at each of the agencies and, in some cases, the government itself.
I would like briefly to highlight some of the more significant recommendations. With respect to the advisory council on multiculturalism and citizenship, the committee recommended that funding and staffing for the council be increased, that the council receive a separate vote and item in the estimates of the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, that the council's arm's-length relationship with the ministry be strengthened, that the presidency be made a full-time position and that the ministry develop a quicker method of responding to the council's recommendations. Perhaps most important, the committee calls on the government of Ontario to set out in legislation the meaning of multiculturalism in Ontario.
The major recommendation with respect to the Ontario Arts Council asked that if Bill 38 is passed, the arts council and the arts community continue to receive lottery funds on the same basis as in the past. I understand there is some change in that status now.
In reviewing the Ontario development corporations, the committee saw a need to streamline the corporations' internal procedures in order that the corporations could better serve their customers. Thus the committee recommended that the corporations seek ways to amalgamate loans taken out over a number of years. As well, the committee recommended that the corporations introduce state-of-the-art information systems to improve efficiency in their operations. The committee also recommended that the corporations explicitly set out in their annual report the amounts written off each year and that the corporations set a target of one per cent for written-off loans, except for northern and eastern Ontario.
The committee had a number of recommendations dealing with the Ontario Land Corp. The committee expressed some concern with respect to how the corporation will sell the land it has acquired. The committee wants to ensure that large blocks of land are not sold in any given area, so as not to upset local real estate markets and that there be antiflip clauses in all sales contracts.
Moreover, the committee wants the corporation to consult with local municipalities when a sale is contemplated in order to give the municipality a first right of refusal, and the Ministry of Government Services to continue the policy of paying full grants in lieu of taxes when it takes over the land corporation property this spring. To prevent any misunderstanding, the committee recommended that the recommendations directed at the land corporation should be taken up by the Ministry of Government Services when it takes over responsibility for the corporation's properties.
Finally, with respect to the Ontario Lottery Corp., the committee recommended that the corporation continue its efforts, supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation, to establish a cap on the Lotto 6/49 grand prize. The committee also recommended that the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) continue to provide lottery funds for the promotion and development of physical fitness, sports and recreational and cultural activities and facilities.
Another recommendation was to have the corporation accelerate its computerized sale facilities, particularly in small communities. Finally, the committee asks that when the corporation moves to Sault Ste. Marie, it deal fairly with employees who do not wish to move.
These then are the highlights of the committee's report, which I remind the House was agreed to by all members of the committee. In other words, it was a consensus report.
To conclude, during the committee's next set of hearings, in March, it will review the operations of the Agricultural Council of Ontario, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and the Pesticides Advisory Committee.
In accordance with the request of the committee, and pursuant to standing order 32(d), I request that the government table a comprehensive response to the recommendations contained in our report.
On motion by Mr. Gregory, the debate was adjourned.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
Mr. Runciman from the standing committee on public accounts presented the committee's report and moved its adoption.
Mr. Runciman: Since this is our first report in two years, I think a few brief comments would be appropriate. I want to begin by thanking the staff of the standing committee for their hard work and dedication in assisting the committee to carry out its functions. The committee was well served by its researcher, Helen Burstyn Fritz, from the legislative library research service, and by the clerk of the committee, Doug Arnott.
The committee would also like to express its gratitude to the Provincial Auditor, Douglas Archer, and his staff for their co-operation with and assistance to the committee. Finally, the committee would like to take this opportunity to thank the numerous witnesses who appeared before and co-operated with the committee.
This report records the activities, comments and conclusions of the standing committee on public accounts during the two-year period commencing January 1985 and ending December 1986. The committee reviewed 15 sections of the 1984 and 1985 annual reports of the Provincial Auditor. The committee also conducted many special reviews.
Included among these were reviews of the financing of the domed stadium, the Urban Transportation Development Corp., IDEA Corp. and the retirement settlement package given to the former Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. Perhaps the most prominent of the reviews was the committee's investigation into the allegation of conflict of interest concerning the member for Oriole (Ms. Caplan).
In accordance with the request of the committee and pursuant to standing order 32(d), I request that the government table a comprehensive response to the recommendations contained in our report.
On motion by Mr. Runciman, the debate was adjourned.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Laughren from the standing committee on resources development reported the following resolutions:
That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1987:
Ministry administration program, $3,840,500; northern development program, $47,035,900; northern transportation program, $84,899,200; mines and minerals program, $21,305,800; and
That supply in the following supplementary amounts and to defray the expenses of the ministry be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1987:
Northern transportation program, $1,500,000; mines and minerals program, $4,110,000; and
That supply in the following further supplementary amount be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1987:
Mines and minerals program, $4,000,000; and
That supply in the following further supplementary amounts be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1987:
Northern development program, $13,559,000; mines and minerals program, $4,000,000.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Laughren from the standing committee on resources development presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:
Bill 115, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
EMPLOYEE SHARE OWNERSHIP PLAN
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved first reading of Bill 210, An Act to provide an Incentive to Ontario Employees of Small and Medium Sized Corporations to Purchase Newly Issued Shares of their Employer Corporation.
Motion agreed to.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AND HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENT AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Fulton moved first reading of Bill 211, An Act to amend the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Fulton: In keeping with this government's commitment to helping Ontario municipalities provide a safe and efficient road network, I would like to introduce three amendments to the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act.
The first amendment will encourage diversification of economic development and thereby enhance job creation opportunities throughout the province by extending eligibility for development road aid to towns and villages in southern Ontario. Previously, this type of financial assistance was available to all townships and the towns and villages in the territorial district of northern Ontario. By broadening the eligibility for this funding, the government will be able to assist smaller urban municipalities in southern Ontario to develop a road infrastructure that will be more attractive to industrial, commercial and tourist enterprises.
The second amendment being proposed under this act will give counties the legislative power to regulate the construction and alteration of any entrance that permits access to a county road. This will allow counties to address the problem of entrances being placed at inappropriate or unsafe locations. I would like to commend the member for Middlesex (Mr. Reycraft) for his work in bringing about this amendment.
The third and final amendment will permit county councils to determine the composition and qualifications of their road committees, along with the amount of authority to be vested in these committees, whose membership will now be extended to a maximum of 10.
I also commend Brant county for bringing forward its concerns resulting in these amendments.
This proposal, put forward in the form of a resolution by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, is an example of this government's trend towards placing more decision-making power in the hands of local officials. We are committed to instituting changes that will provide Ontario municipalities with greater autonomy and flexibility as well as the financial assistance they require to keep their transportation networks functioning at peak levels of efficiency.
GAME AND FISH AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Bernier moved first reading of Bill 212, An Act to amend the Game and Fish Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Bernier: The purpose of this bill is twofold. First, it would enshrine in legislation the establishment of a publicly appointed fish advisory council. The council would have the power to advise the ministry in its fish management program and would oversee the development and administration of an enhanced fish management program. This follows the statement made by the minister that most of the funds raised through the sale of a new resident fishing licence would be used for such a program. This amendment will guarantee to the anglers of Ontario that these new funds, expected to total about $10 million a year, will indeed be spent on fish management.
Second, it will provide for a system of permanent identification numbers for resident hunters by requiring residents to obtain a resident number card before being issued a licence under the Game and Fish Act. It will put into force the following requirements: (1) to provide hunter identification and proof that licensed applicants meet licensing requirements; (2) to reduce the cost of key entry services for all computerized data systems that incorporate hunter identification; (3) to provide a complete, up-to-date mailing list of all licensed hunters for annual harvest surveys; (4) to provide a key link between data systems relating to hunter effort and harvest, and (5) to provide enforcement staff with licensing information on individual sportsmen.
PUBLIC OPINION POLL
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Before the orders, I would like to table a poll commissioned by the government of Ontario on issues affecting women.
OPENING OF THIRD SESSION
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I would also like to announce that if the House prorogues today or at some time in the near future, it will return on April 28 or thereabouts, God willing. It is our intention to advise His Honour to summon the return of the House then.
Mr. Bernier: No excitement in between? There is plenty of time.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Maybe.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Also, on a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I am sure you are aware, having perused Orders and Notices, that there are some prolix resolutions, which I would prefer not to have to read. I draw to your attention that copies of the resolutions are in the hands of all members. For that reason, I would like to deal with them simply as they are written here. Nevertheless, I am totally in your hands in this important matter.
Mr. Speaker: As all members have received a printed copy, I am sure there would be agreement by all members.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved resolution 14:
That, notwithstanding the prorogation of the House and standing order 71(d), the order of precedence for private members' public business existing at the time of prorogation be continued in the third session of this Parliament.
Motion agreed to.
ESTIMATES AND SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved resolution 15:
That the 1986-87 estimates and supplementary estimates which have not yet been passed by the committees and reported to the House be deemed to be passed and reported to the House, and that the 1986-87 estimates and supplementary estimates which have not yet been concurred in be deemed to be concurred in.
Mr. Mitchell: I will be extremely brief. I am pleased the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) is in his seat today. We went through the concurrences yesterday in a very great hurry. No one really had the opportunity to raise a couple of issues which I think are important, and I wish to put them on the table right now.
The Minister of Health has been in possession of the Ottawa District Health Council report of October 30 for some time. I am not aware whether there has been any acknowledgement of the need for beds, although he did endorse the Vision 2001 report done by the district health council. I am not sure, though, having endorsed it, where his recommendations are going to be. With the $900 million or $1 billion the Treasurer has, I would hope the Minister of Health will soon be able to answer the need for the chronic care and acute care beds in the Ottawa-Carleton region.
In any event, those are important steps that, in my opinion, have not been addressed, and I would hope there would be an early acknowledgement of the need for the facilities in Ottawa-Carleton and that we would see them in the very near future.
There is one final question of the Minister of Health that has not been addressed, and it is an issue I had a very direct involvement in; that is, the Thomson study on environmentally sensitive people. I would like to know when the minister intends to act to provide the much-needed facilities and assistance towards the costs of medication and food for those people suffering from environmental disorders.
Motion agreed to.
STATUS OF BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved resolution 16:
That, notwithstanding the prorogation of the House,
(i) all government orders with respect to committee reports;
(ii) all government and private members' bills referred to standing committees;
(iii) the following private members' bills referred to committee of the whole House: Bill 16, An Act to amend the Municipal Act; Bill 21, An Act to amend the Animals for Research Act; Bill 46, An Act to amend the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Act; Bill 191, An act to amend the Human Tissue Gift Act, and Bill 133, An Act to amend the Liquor Control Act;
(iv) the following private bills referred to the standing committee on regulations and private bills: Bill Pr20, An Act respecting the Town of Lindsay; Bill Pr39, An Act respecting Canadian Opera Company; Bill Pr54, An Act to revive the Toronto Ski Club, and Bill Pr57, An Act respecting the City of Toronto;
(v) all matters referred to standing committees except the annual report of the Ministry of Labour for the fiscal year 1984-85 and the annual financial report of the governing council of the University of Toronto for the year ending April 30, 1985;
(vi) Bill 71, An Act to protect the Public Health and Comfort and the Environment by Prohibiting and Controlling Smoking in Public Places; and
(vii) Bill 142, An Act to amend the Ontario Energy Board Act; remaining on the Orders and Notices paper at the prorogation of the second session of this Parliament be continued and placed on the Orders and Notices paper on the second sessional day of the third session of the 33rd Parliament at the same stage of business for the House and its committees as at prorogation.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the resolution be amended by adding thereto the following clause:
"(viii) Bill 115, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act;" and
That the motion be further amended by inserting after the words "Liquor Control Act" in the sixth line of clause (iii), "Bill 188, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act."
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I am sure you are aware, Mr. Speaker, that this will include, in the carryover on the Orders and Notices to the new session, the two bills that have been reported by committee today.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved resolution 17:
That the following committees be continued and authorized to meet during the recess between the second and the third sessions of the 33rd Parliament, in accordance with the schedule of meeting dates agreed to by the three party whips and tabled with the Clerk of the assembly, to examine and inquire into the following matters:
Select committee on the environment to consider bilateral environmental issues as they affect Ontario.
Select committee on health to consider the commercial for-profit sector of health and social services in the province.
Select committee on retail store hours to consider Sunday shopping and retail store business hours.
Standing committee on administration of justice to consider Bill 154, An Act to provide for Pay Equity in the Broader Public Sector and in the Private Sector/Projet de loi 154, Loi portant établissement de l'équité salariale dans le secteur parapublic et dans le secteur privé.
Standing committee on finance and economic affairs to consider the fiscal and economic policies (budget review) of the province, and to consider Bill 116, An Act to revise the Loan and Trust Corporations Act/Projet de loi 116, Loi portant révision de la Loi sur les compagnies de prêt et de fiducie.
Standing committee on general government to consider the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act, RSO 1980, c. 464, and to consider Bill 170, An Act to revise the Pension Benefits Act.
Standing committee on government agencies to consider the operation of agencies, boards and commissions of the government of Ontario.
Standing committee on the Legislative Assembly to consider Bill 34, An Act to provide for Freedom of Information and Protection of Individual Privacy, to consider the matter of the attempted service on the member for Brantford during the proceedings of the standing committee on public accounts on Thursday, January 22, 1987, to consider matters related to the procedures, administration, and services and facilities of the House, and to consider the matter of abusive and harassing telephone calls received by the chairman of the standing committee on resources development studying Bill 115, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act.
The assembly doth command and compel attendance before the said committee of such persons and the production of such papers and things as the committee may deem necessary for any of its proceedings and deliberations, for which the Speaker may issue his warrant pursuant to section 35(2) of the Legislative Assembly Act.
The committee shall have the authority to adjourn from place to place in North America.
Standing committee on the Ombudsman to consider the report of the Ombudsman's opinion, reasons therefor and recommendations following his investigation into the complaints concerning Argosy Financial Group of Canada.
Standing committee on public accounts to consider the investment by the Ontario Development Corp., and the report of the Provincial Auditor on courthouses (management of government property).
The assembly doth command and compel attendance before the said committee of such persons and the production of such papers and things as the committee may deem necessary for any of its proceedings and deliberations, for which the Speaker may issue his warrant pursuant to section 35(2) of the Legislative Assembly Act.
Standing committee on resources development to consider the circumstances of the announced closure of the Goodyear tire manufacturing plant and the various closures of other manufacturing facilities, particularly in northern Ontario, and to consider the Workers' Compensation Board annual report 1985-86.
Standing committee on social development to consider Bill 52, An Act to amend the Health Protection and Promotion Act, 1983, Bill 176, An Act to amend the Nursing Homes Act, and Bill 177, An Act to amend the Health Facilities Special Orders Act.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the motion be amended by adding to the end of the section on the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, "The committee shall have the authority to travel to Washington, DC."
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved resolution 18:
That standing and select committees be authorized to release their reports during the recess between the second and third sessions of this parliament by depositing a copy of any report with the Clerk of the assembly, and on the second sessional day of the third session of the 33rd Parliament the chairmen of such committees shall bring any such reports before the House in accordance with the standing orders.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved resolution 19:
That the membership on the standing and select committees for the recess between the second and third sessions of the 33rd Parliament be as follows:
Select committee on the environment: Messrs. Charlton, Eves, Ms. Fish, Mrs. Grier, Messrs. Henderson, Knight, Mrs. Marland, Messrs. G. I. Miller, Partington, Poirier, South.
Select committee on health: Messrs. Callahan, D. S. Cooke, Cordiano, Ms. Hart, Messrs. Henderson, R. F. Johnston, Reycraft, Miss Stephenson, Mr. Turner.
Select committee on retail store hours: Messrs. Barlow, Bernier, Guindon, Morin, O'Connor, Philip, Reville, Sargent, Shymko, D. W. Smith and Mrs. E. J. Smith.
Standing committee on administration of justice: Mr. Brandt, Mrs. Caplan, Mr. Charlton, Ms. Fish, Ms. Gigantes, Messrs. Knight, O'Connor, Partington, Polsinelli, Rowe, Ward.
Standing committee on finance and economic affairs: Messrs. Ashe, D. R. Cooke, Epp, Ferraro, Foulds, Haggerty, McFadden, Morin-Strom, Ramsay, Miss Stephenson, Mr. Taylor.
Standing committee on general government: Messrs. Fontaine, Grande, Guindon, Lane, Lupusella, McCague, McClellan, McKessock, Offer, Pollock, Sheppard.
Standing committee on government agencies: Messrs. D. R. Cooke, Epp, Gregory, Hayes, J. M. Johnson, Leluk, Mancini, Mrs. Marland, Messrs. Mitchell, D. W. Smith, Swart.
Standing committee on the Legislative Assembly: Messrs. Bossy, Breaugh, Mancini, Martel, Morin, Newman, Sterling, Treleaven, Turner, Villeneuve, Warner.
Standing committee on the Ombudsman: Messrs. Bossy, Hayes, Hennessy, Mancini, McLean, McNeil, Morin, Newman, Philip, Sheppard, Shymko.
Standing committee on public accounts: Messrs. Barlow, Davis, Epp, Gillies, Philip, Pope, Runciman, Sargent, D. W. Smith, South, Wildman.
Standing committee on resources development: Messrs. Bernier, Gordon, Laughren, Mackenzie, McGuigan, McKessock, Offer, Pierce, Mrs. E. J. Smith, Messrs. Stevenson, Wildman.
Standing committee on social development: Messrs. Allen, Andrewes, Baetz, Callahan, D. R. Cooke, Cordiano, Cousens, Ms. Hart, Messrs. Jackson, R. F. Johnston, Reycraft. Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved resolution 20:
That, with the agreement of the House leaders and whips of each party, committees may meet during the recess between the second and third sessions of this parliament at times other than those specified in the schedule tabled with the Clerk of the assembly.
Motion agreed to.
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 178, An Act to amend the County of Oxford Act;
Bill 179, An Act to amend the Municipal Act and certain other Acts related to Municipalities;
Bill 197, An Act to amend the Architects Act.
CITY OF KITCHENER ACT
Mr. McNeil moved second reading of Bill Pr44, An Act respecting the High Street Recreation Complex of St. Thomas and Elgin.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF TORONTO ACT
Mr. Offer moved second reading of Bill Pr53, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
MIGRAINE FOUNDATION ACT
Mr. Andrewes moved, on behalf of Mr. Grossman, second reading of Bill Pr61, An Act to revive The Migraine Foundation.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF MISSISSAUGA ACT
Mr. Offer moved second reading of Bill Pr66, An Act respecting the City of Mississauga.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
Mr. McClellan: The last time I gave a windup to one of the debates was the windup on the motion of no confidence that led to the fall of the previous government in June 1985; so there is a certain symmetry in my doing the windup on behalf of the New Democratic Party as we finish the second session of this parliament and as we get to the end of the term of agreement between the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party of Ontario.
I want to talk for a few minutes about what has happened to the government of the Liberal Party of Ontario over the course of the last 19 months, because an interesting transformation has certainly taken place. Even the dispassionate observers in the Queen's Park press gallery have noticed a little bit of fraying around the edges, a certain amount of slippage in élan and possibly as well in self-confidence, and certainly in presentation and certainly in perception.
I think it is fair and not excessively partisan to say that this government is running out of steam, is sputtering, is spinning its wheels and is, as one of our previous leaders might have said, bereft of substance. The trick of the Liberal Party of Ontario has always been historically to campaign on the left as the party of social reform but to govern on the right as the party of vested interests, of business interests, and to be as identically conservative, if not as reactionary, as the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and Canada. Nothing has changed.
The Liberal Party of Ontario campaigned in 1985 as the party of social reform, and for a brief period of time following the signing of the accord in May 1985, some of the promise of reform was actually being implemented. In those early days --
Hon. Mr. Ruprecht: Who wrote that speech for you?
Mr. McClellan: I do not have a speech. I do not speak from texts the way the Liberals do, now that their puppets of the bureaucracy write their speeches for them. I am speaking about my own experience here over the past 19 months. After the early successes -- I would say the proclamation of the spills bill, the enactment of a first-contract law, the establishment of a new housing program after seven lean years without even a Ministry of Housing, and I think most successfully, the ban on extra billing -- after some of the initial reforms of the early days in 1985, it has become increasingly clear that the government of the Premier (Mr. Peterson) does not have an agenda of its own and does not have a commitment to the kind of social reform that it talked about during the election campaign of 1985. As we get closer and closer to the end of the two-year accord period, it is increasingly obvious that the gulf between the promises and the performance is wider and wider with each passing day.
Hon. Mr. Elston: Wyda?
Mr. McClellan: I did not say "Wyda"; I said "wider."
The government is seen to be in some trouble. I do not myself think it is for the reasons that my colleagues in the Conservative Party have been putting forward. I think the government is in trouble precisely because there is a perceived gap between the promise of reform and the failure to deliver; between the traditional campaign as the champion of ordinary working people and its traditional performance as the representative of vested interests of the business community, of élites across this province, which has time and again paralysed it and led to a gap between what it said it would do and what it in fact was able to accomplish.
There is an article in today's Globe and Mail that attempts to put forward at least one explanation for some of the difficulties that the Premier has found himself in lately, and it was written by Mr. French. It says: "Of all the reasons advanced for an" early "Ontario election...the most compelling...is one offered by Premier David Peterson himself. He needs more bodies." It does not say "cadavers" but it does say "bodies."
I do not believe for a moment that the reason this government is in trouble is the inadequacy of the Liberal caucus; I do not believe that for a moment. I do not believe that out of 51 Liberals, there are only four real front-bench members. I do not believe that out of a pool of 51 Ontario Liberals, it is not possible to put together a front bench that has depth or even to replace cabinet ministers who, for various reasons, have had to resign or even retire.
I find it incomprehensible that the Premier himself would say that he is incapable of governing with the kind of people who were elected in 1985; that there is not a single person in the third row who could be moved into the cabinet; that there is not a single person in the second row who could be brought down on to the front bench. I do not believe that is true. Even though the Premier said it himself, I do not believe it.
I think there are other reasons the government is in trouble, and they have nothing to do with the incompetence ascribed to the back-bench members of the Liberal caucus by the Premier himself. They have to do with much more basic issues.
First, this government has taken office with a rather unique approach to the public service: it kept everybody on from the deputy minister level on down. It promised social reform, but at the same time it failed and refused to renew the public service of Ontario. It kept the same people, the same deputy ministers, the same managers and the same policymakers who had grown up with the Conservative government over the previous 42 years.
If there is any mystery to the problems the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley), the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) or the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) have found themselves in, it is first to be explained by the fact that those ministers, while promising social reform, have been saddled with public servants who are left over or recycled from the previous regime and in some cases have systematically torpedoed the efforts of ministers to bring about change, to bring about new directions and to solve some of the problems they, as public servants, were responsible for creating in the first place.
I mentioned the Minister of Health. The minister knows to which illustrious servant of the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman), the member for Don Mills (Mr. Timbrell), the member for Muskoka (Mr. F. S. Miller) et al. I refer.
The Minister of the Environment has spent the last two days trying to discover why his officials, without his knowledge, were issuing control orders in Cornwall and a number of other communities. The Minister of the Environment has been knee-capped, cut off at the knees by the Premier himself and taken off the Kimberly-Clark case in favour of a recycled Tory deputy minister and a recycled Conservative secretary of the Ontario cabinet.
Mr. Harris: Not Tory.
Mr. Shymko: Who is the recycled deputy minister? Name names.
Mr. McClellan: Some members are objecting to my line of argument, but I think it is self-evident that the efforts of the Minister of the Environment to fulfil the promises set out in the accord of 1985 have been systematically torpedoed by the Premier through the imposition of civil servants in the ministry who are adamantly opposed to the direction of reform and who are opposed to vigorous antipollution, environmental protection laws and vigorous environmental protection enforcement. That is simply a matter of fact.
The Minister of Labour, of course, is sui generis. The Ministry of Labour is a broken ministry, and the minister has been completely destroyed by the unfortunate accident of having been appointed to that post. One deputy minister has left already, but each and every promise the government made to the people of Ontario which has been the responsibility of the Minister of Labour has been broken. He has not fulfilled a single commitment. His ministry is in a state of tatters and shambles. It is worse, by tar, than it was when the government changed in 1985. It needs to be cleaned up root and branch, and everybody knows that. Everybody knows that on this side and on that side of the House. There needs to be a new Minister of Labour and a fundamental reform of the Ministry of Labour. Every day that is delayed or postponed puts workers in this province at risk. It is as simple as that.
Another reason for some of the problems the government has found itself in go back to the first point I made, that the Liberal Party is still, after all, the Liberal Party. I say to my Conservative friends, one of the reasons we thought the accord would be a good idea was simply this -- I put the question to them as we put it to ourselves at the time: "Have you ever seen a Liberal with a fixed idea? Have you ever seen a Liberal who knew what he or she wanted to do? Have you ever seen a Liberal who made a commitment to a political idea or a political program and stuck to it, starting with Mackenzie King, who championed medicare in 1905 and was buried before it was brought in?"
Mr. Shymko: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The Liberal Party for some reason has attracted two former New Democratic Party members; so there is still hope, apparently, for some change --
The Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order.
Mr. Shymko: -- or else a dilemma as to why they seem to attract former members of the NDP.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. McClellan: The Liberal Party had the opportunity, in case there are some who doubt the veracity or the validity of my second argument, to set out its own independent vision of political life in Ontario when it brought in its own throne speech last year. But what happened? What was in that throne speech last year? High-tech; "Beam me up, Scotty"; the new world of Liberal high-technology. What has come out of that? We saw in question period again this afternoon what has come out of that.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Scotty has been beamed up and out.
Mr. McClellan: Scotty has been beamed up and out, as my colleague says. Exploracom, Wyda and other problems have turned their big high-tech focal point into the laughingstock of Canadian politics; not a single idea of their own, not a single independent reform initiative out of the last throne speech.
Then we get to the budget itself, which is the subject of today's debate. There is nothing really to criticize in the budget itself because it was a do-nothing budget. "Spending a lot of money," the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) said. "Reaping a lot of money," the Treasurer should say. I have been here since 1975, and there has never been a year since I was in the House, and I am sure even since my colleague the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) was in the House --
Mr. Laughren: Some say even longer.
Mr. McClellan: Even longer, says my elderly colleague the member for Nickel Belt -- elder statesman, I meant to say. There has never been such a period of economic boom since the 1960s in parts of Ontario -- I want to stress "in parts of Ontario" -- and certainly not since the oil crisis of 1974 has our economy in parts of southern Ontario been in stronger shape. That is reflected in the windfall profits the government has inherited of just short of $1 billion in unanticipated revenue, which have been reported in the third quarterly statement by the Treasurer.
There is $1 billion in unexpected windfall revenues sitting in the Treasurer's larder being hoarded against the day when the writs are issued and the election is called. In my memory, there has not been a period when a government of this province has ever had that kind of unexpected, unanticipated and, I might add, unearned windfall of an additional $1 billion in revenue. It is because of what has happened in the economy.
The two foundations that have fuelled the economic recovery in parts of Ontario are the boom in residential construction and construction generally and the boom in the auto industry and the auto parts industry. Both of those are as fragile as eggshells. Both of those foundations upon which the present prosperity for the Treasurer rest are as fragile as an egg. This bubble could burst at any time.
The government has not brought in economic programs or policies that would show us where it intends to take us in rebuilding the economy of Ontario. All we have had is the flim-flam of the high-tech, science fiction movie that broke in the middle of the first reel. We have no direction, no sense of anything other than the reaping of a harvest of bounty that was unearned and unanticipated.
While this is happening, there is the other Ontario that many of my colleagues represent: northern Ontario, which has not shared in the recovery and which is still foundering in the kind of depression that those of us in Metropolitan Toronto cannot even begin to understand and mercifully have never experienced. Communities are being threatened and decimated. We have double-digit unemployment in many parts of this province. They have not shared a single drop of the prosperity that has come to places such as my own community of Metropolitan Toronto over the course of the last year and a half.
What has the government done for the other Ontario that has been abandoned and left behind? They have done precisely that: They have abandoned and left behind the other Ontario -- northern, eastern and parts of central Ontario. There are no programs in the budget for these regions, nothing but flim-flam Liberal hucksterism, conferences, consultants, the usual range of Liberal wizardry that we got so used to and so sick of when they were in power in Ottawa. There is no sign yet after almost two full years of any change, any new ideas, any commitment to the kind of public intervention that is required to rebuild the economies of northern Ontario and other abandoned economic regions.
This is at a time when they are sitting on a windfall of $1 billion, when they have the capacity to set up economic development funds and to support the kinds of public and private investment initiatives that could bring a measure of hope to communities across the north. Instead, they are putting it into the war chest. They are hoarding it, keeping it for the day when the writs are issued. It will be frittered and splashed away like so many glasses of champagne poured over the heads of people all across the province. The Treasurer will be out there dancing and throwing money around for 37 days. It will be a grotesque spectacle; I have no doubt about it.
In the meantime, there are all the promises they made and failed to keep. They sit with $1 billion and refuse to put a dime into the subsidization of nonprofit day care centres. They sit with $1 billion and refuse to put an extra dime into the construction of affordable rental accommodation for the tens of thousands of people in this province who are poorly housed, let alone for those who this winter have been dying on our streets in our major cities. They sit with $1 billion and have done nothing to fulfil their promises to replace our reliance on institutional care of the elderly with a co-ordinated, community-based home care and home support system that actually works.
I have made a dozen speeches on this subject since 1975. The problem is still the same. We have a Ministry of Health and a Ministry of Community and Social Services that are running parallel systems, duplicating nursing homes and home-based services. Neither will budge. Neither will give up an inch of its territory. The old government could not make it happen and the new government cannot make it happen. They have a Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens' affairs (Mr. Van Horne) who studies the question and issues learned texts. Meanwhile, the two bully boys, Health and Community and Social Services, jealously guard their territorial turf and nothing changes.
The new system the minister has set up is a joke. It will unravel as surely and as quickly as any system administered by two, separate, independent, autonomous and unco-ordinated bureaucracies can make it unravel.
Mr. Laughren: The minister knows that.
Mr. McClellan: Everybody knows that, especially the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens' services, who was cut off at the knees before he even moved into his office.
They are sitting on $1 billion and they have done nothing to reform the training and education of our young people. It has been a quarter of a century since this province overhauled or even attempted to look seriously at the fundamentals of our educational system, a quarter of a century since some of us were in high school ourselves. Twenty-five years down the road, we still have a system that is geared to provide graduate and post-graduate education to the children of the upper middle class and to do nothing about providing basic job skills training to ordinary working people and their children.
We have a community college system that cannot accommodate all those who wish to enrol and study. We still rely on European apprenticeship and training programs to provide people with the basic skills that are necessary to make our society work. We do not even have a decent apprenticeship program in this province. Now, in the middle of a residential construction boom, we are desperate. Once again, we have to go overseas and import bricklayers, pipefitters, electricians, drywallers -- all the skilled building trades workers we have failed systematically to train ourselves from among our own children.
The government is still sitting on $1 billion waiting to splash it into people's faces during the election campaign.
Finally -- not finally; a number of other items need to be gone through in this litany of unfulfilled promises. The accord promised reforms in occupational health and safety. When I spoke in June 1985, I reviewed the record of the previous government, which promised to designate toxic substances. As of June 1985, instead of designating the 60 substances it had promised to designate, it had done six. As I stand here a year and nine months later and ask about the record of the new government, it has increased the designation of toxic and hazardous substances in the work place from six to 11.
When I say the Ministry of Labour is a broken ministry, that is the kind of thing I am talking about. It is incapable of doing the job that I think even members of the cabinet had anticipated it could do. I say to those who are listening that if they cannot designate toxic and hazardous substances in our factories, mines, forests and construction sites, they damned well do not deserve a majority, and I do not think they will get it.
I am not afraid of facing the people on the basis of what has happened over the last 19 months, because the gap between what the government said it would do and what it has actually done is a mile wide. If the government has some thoughts about going to the people on the basis of what is in the polls, what the polls show now, it should go ahead. Somebody tried that once before when I was in this House. Billy Davis tried that in 1977. The polls were about where they are now, give or take a point. Mr. Davis made the terrible mistake of confusing his own personal popularity with the popularity of minority government.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Are you still ahead of "undecided"?
Mr. McClellan: We will find out whether we are ahead of "undecided" if and when the great day comes.
Having gone through this list -- and I could continue to speak for days, going through promises the government made. It made 29 promises. I could go through each and every one of those and talk about the gap between what the government promised to do and what it was actually able to deliver. If the government thinks it can flim-flam the people of Ontario, I think it will be in for a bit of a surprise.
Hon. Mr. Ridden: Let us see what they have to say.
Mr. McClellan: I agree. I think it will be very interesting to see what they have to say.
If I could offer the government a little word of advice, it would be this: The government should not be too hasty to go back to the people of Ontario until it has actually done something for them. It should not be too hasty to go back to the people of Ontario until it has really done something about solving the housing crisis; until it has fulfilled its promises to reform the Workers' Compensation Board of Ontario; until it has actually done something about making day care a reality for all working families; until it has done something about making it necessary for companies that want to close their plants or lay off their workers to be publicly accountable through a process of justification; until it has actually set up a system of home care and home support for senior citizens; until it has done something about training our young people and providing them with their first job; until it has done something about inflation protection for pensioners, and until it has done something for the disabled.
I have to stop at this point. I cannot remember a more obscene ripoff of disadvantaged people than that perpetrated by the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) against the 13,000 Canada pension plan disability recipients who are being cut off the guaranteed annual income system for the disabled. That is $25 million taken out of the pockets of Gains-D recipients to pay for an enrichment of the Canada pension plan for some 50,000 other people. It is as simple and as obscene as that. Part of the money to pay for the increase in the Canada pension plan disability benefit from $496 a month to $636 a month has been taken directly out of the pockets of Gains recipients in this province. It would have been so easy -- and both opposition parties agreed to this -- to designate that income as exempt. Other provinces have been able to do that, but not this government, even though it is sitting on a hoard of $1 billion in windfall cash.
I will once again give a word of advice. If the government wants to go to the people, that will be done at the prerogative of the Premier, but my advice is that the government should not be so hasty until it has done some of the things for the benefit of the people that it promised it was going to do. By God, it sure has not done them yet.
My colleagues and I in the New Democratic Party are satisfied with the role we have played in this minority parliament. We have written the agenda for this parliament and we are still working off that agenda, the reasons for which I tried to explain earlier in my speech. It has to do with the fact that the Ontario Liberal Party did not have and does not now have any idea of what it wants to do or where it wants to go. We were pleased to do it the service of providing it with direction for a two-year period. We are still working off that agenda.
We are going into a series of intensive committee hearings where we will be dealing with pension legislation, pay equity legislation, nursing home legislation, freedom-of-information legislation, the select committee on the environment and the select committee on the commercialization of health and social services in this province, all of which flow from the accord.
Mr. Shymko: Sunday shopping.
Mr. McClellan: Sunday shopping does not flow from the accord. My Conservative friends can have it. We wanted to make sure they had one thing they could really get their teeth into.
As well, I think the mood of the people for change that was expressed in the election of 1985 has infected even unexpected parts of this Legislature. I am thoroughly confident that when we get to committee and start dealing with equal pay for work of equal value and with reform to pension legislation, my colleagues in the Conservative Party are going to rally behind the desire of their leader to bring them into the 20th century and will support aggressive amendments to the Liberal legislation, which are going to surprise and amaze the government front benches, to say nothing of themselves.
Mr. Laughren: You did not mention the opposition back benches.
Mr. McClellan: I did not mention the opposition back benches for a deliberate reason. I do not want to be provocative.
My time has probably come to a close. I can say, however, that the kind of role my colleagues in the New Democratic Party played as the engine of social reform in Ontario is a role we intend to continue to play. My colleagues and I have already been trying to develop not only the response to the last agenda but also the next agenda for the benefit of ordinary working people in this province.
My colleague the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) has become known from Cornwall to Kenora for his championship of a driver-owned insurance program. My colleague the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) has become known from Cornwall to Kenora for his championship of the rights of workers in this province, of safety on the job and of the protection of meaningful occupational health and safety laws.
My colleague the member for Nickel Belt and the other northern members of our caucus have become champions of the other Ontario, that part of Ontario which has been left behind by the so-called economic recovery. They have put forward sensible, progressive and meaningful proposals to regenerate the abandoned economy of northern communities.
My colleague the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) has become known throughout this province for his championship of the rights of the disadvantaged and of a fundamental overhaul of our social security and social service systems.
I will not abuse the hospitality of my colleagues any further, except to say we continue to take our role seriously. We look forward to trying to make the promises that were jointly agreed to in 1985 a reality. That job has not been done. That job has not been completed. The promises are still there. The work is still there to be done. If the Liberals wish to abandon the promises they made to ordinary working people to bring about some progressive social change, I invite my colleagues in the Conservative Party to join with us and help them keep the promise.
Mr. Grossman: I wish to begin by saying to my colleague and friend the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) that if indeed he had made us an offer to join with him a year and a half ago, he would not have had to make that scathing speech with regard to the budget.
Mr. McClellan: I would have had to attack somebody else.
Mr. Grossman: The member may have been part of it.
I want to begin by acknowledging one item outside the budget debate today. Today marks the last official sitting day that my colleague the member for Don Mills will be sitting as a member of this House. I wish he were able to be here at the start of my remarks this afternoon. I want to take this occasion to invite the members of the House to reflect with me on his quite remarkable 15 years of service to this House, his work as an outstanding minister in several portfolios and his extraordinary dedication to the people of Don Mills riding.
While all of us tend to take some pride in the modest things we are able to accomplish on all sides of the House, in the case of the member for Don Mills, as he departs from this House, he can take some very legitimate pride in having helped not just a few people, but in having directly influenced a great number of people in this province and improved their lot a great deal.
For my part, I can only tell the members that no leader of any political party has ever received more genuine support or more continuing loyalty than I have been able to receive from my colleague the member for Don Mills. Members will not find me one of those leaders who will brush off the loss of an important colleague such as him as a loss we can easily live with, or get me saying, "We will be able to carry on; he will not be missed." I say quite clearly that my colleague will be greatly missed by me, by the members of our caucus and, I hope all members will agree, by the Legislature at large. On this day, I would like to take this opportunity, as I begin the budget debate, to congratulate the member for Don Mills on his extraordinary 15 years of service to this House and the people of Ontario.
I begin this debate by setting out just one bit of framework to which the member for Bellwoods referred. He understandably talked at some length, as I will, about the alleged windfall the Treasurer had. I wish to continue to put this in some perspective. It is not a windfall. It did not fall out of unexpected lottery profits. It did not fall out of an unexpectedly strongly performing Ontario economy. The facts will indicate, and they have not been disputed by the Treasurer, that the $919 million is attributable to approximately $1,054,000,000 worth of tax increases. To put it simply, the tax increases produced the extra $919 million. They are surplus dollars he took from the taxpayers of this province. They are not dollars that suddenly appeared from nowhere.
I want to say to the Treasurer that today is a day to reflect back on the day the budget was introduced. I had a chance to go back and look at some of the headlines he bargained for and was able to get that day. It is ironic to look back at those headlines. I know he will have done so because I know how good he and his people have become at this art.
Here it is: "Painless," it said. Nine hundred and nineteen million dollars painless''? Half a million dollars a day in gasoline taxes overhanging from his previous budget, $1.5 million a week in (and transfer taxes, $300 million to $400 million in personal income tax increases, and corporate income tax increases are about the same. The Treasurer got away with it on budget day but now his third-quarter financial statements make it clear: He took $1 billion from the people of this province.
"Good News Budget," it says here. There was no good news for the people who had to wait -- would you believe, Mr. Speaker? -- until today, no less, until this week, no less, to get the modest relief that one or two groups got out of the budget. They waited until now, but those who were to get major tax increases, and in that regard it is every citizen in the province, did not have to wait; they got it on day one.
Let us talk for a bit about the things that could have been done in the budget and the things we expected in a budget that was bound to produce $1 billion worth of extra tax dollars: the total tax exemption on the $4 meal, the denticare program for children and seniors, the abolition of Ontario health insurance plan premiums -- even the Treasurer has tried to deep six that one -- and a comprehensive plan for universal child care.
Given the misfortunes that have befallen the people of northern Ontario -- first, the appointment of the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine) for a short time as Minister of Northern Development and Mines, and second, the softwood lumber fiasco his government has perpetrated, costing 500 to 1,000 jobs -- it would have been nice if, instead of increasing the price of gasoline by $500,000 a day, the Treasurer had found time to honour his election commitment to introduce a northern tax credit that would have cost him $20 million. In other words, his $919 million would have been reduced to $900 million if he had only met his commitment to the people of the north.
But of course, the Treasurer and the Premier do not like to be reminded of those long, long ago promises to cancel Darlington nuclear station, double the child tax credit and increase public school funding to 60 per cent. I wish the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) had been able to be here today. What did the Treasurer do in this budget? He did what it indicates he was going to do here with this red piece falling oft the trillium. He took the 48 per cent funding for public schools in this province. Did he move it to 50 per cent or to 60 per cent, as he had promised? No. He took it from 48 per cent down to 44.9 per cent, a staggering thing to have done when he is sitting on $919 million extra.
I want to talk about the way the Minister of Education chose to address the science and technology questions that he and the Premier are so fond of talking about. Does the House remember? "We are going to turn the corner. We are really going to do something about science and technology in high schools." What did the Treasurer do? He generously handed the Minister of Education not $10 million or $20 million or $30 million; to improve science and science education in secondary schools, he gave the Minister of Education $500,000 -- one day's extra revenue on gasoline tax. That will really do it for us. He allocated 40 cents per student. The Treasurer knows: $17.5 million for Abe Schwartz; 40 cents per student for their science goals, for their science projects.
Mr. Jackson: If there were more Liberal students --
Mr. Grossman: They just wish they had been friends of the Premier and worked on the transition team. The students might have got, say, $1 a year for science.
I see the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) now getting agitated, as he does when some of us have the temerity to criticize the government. I think it is appropriate that he intervene at this stage because I want to talk about the freedom-of-information legislation, another bold new initiative.
An hon. member: Where is that?
Mr. Grossman: Where it was. They will recall it.
I remember, and I know the government will reflect back to those heady days when it could make an announcement and get a headline any day in the newspapers. The members remember when freedom of information was introduced -- what was the date? -- in September 1985. Today is February 12, 1987, and there is still no freedom-of-information legislation in this province. Let me say to the Attorney General, to the Treasurer and to the Premier, who has taken either to not appearing or not answering questions, if ever there were a government that needed freedom-of-information legislation -- to get the Coopers and Lybrand study, to get information about what the Ontario Provincial Police are investigating on Wyda, to find out what IDEA Corp. is up to, to find out what is happening with Graham Software -- it is this government. Now is the time for freedom-of-information legislation, not the headlines.
I want to talk about the budget specifically and note that the Treasurer chose not to take all the limelight in this budget. He shared it with some of his colleagues. He of course mentioned the Premier many times as he went through his budget address. I remember it all. We understand the Treasurer. We understand the Premier's priorities these days. We understand the importance of doing the black-tie openings. We understand the importance of the helicopter. We understand all that.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: How about the police outriders they used to have down there?
Mr. Grossman: The police outriders. As far as I know, the one time a minister was ever accorded a police escort in this province was when the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) had a police escort through the city of Windsor from the airport to a downtown meeting. That I am not forgetting. The police force in Windsor said that was the only time they could remember ever escorting a minister of the crown from the airport to downtown Windsor. I suspect the police escort was necessary to keep him from insulting any people on the way from the airport to downtown Windsor.
I want to go through the mentions of the Premier's colleagues and see just what substance was behind all the grand words in the budget that we are asked to vote upon. There was lots of talk in the budget about high technology. I know the Treasurer will remember the headlines. He got one headline with the throne speech, "High-Tech Fund Promised"; another headline the day before the budget when he leaked every detail of the high-tech fund; another headline the day of the budget, and another headline the day after the budget. Four times he managed to get a headline for the $1-billion, high-tech fund.
Let us talk about the $1-billion, high-tech fund. The day after the fourth headline, it suddenly became apparent that it was not $1 billion; it was $100 million a year for 10 years. He should have gone for $2 billion for 20 years. He settled for $1 billion for 10 years. Then, of course, when it came out that it was really $100 million a year, it was $50 million in new dollars a year. That is how he makes $1 billion turn into $50 million.
Later we found out how his government turns $5 million into $300,000. That was on the Graham Software deal, but let us talk about the high-tech fund. This four-headline, big, new look into the future turned out not to be $1 billion, not to be $100 million a year, not to be $50 million a year in new dollars; it turned out to be, in accordance with all the information we have so far, $100,000. That is the extent of this government's commitment so far, precisely one and a half years into its time in office; $100,000 for high-technology.
After the budget, the Premier turned his attention to his Premier's Council, the 20-member, high-tech club. They were the ones who were going to distribute this $100 million a year; sorry, $50 million in new dollars; sorry, really $100,000 for the first year and a half.
Let us look at what they did. Before they were brought in, the Premier had to run out and give $17.5 million to his friend Mr. Schwartz. He could not wait for the Exploracom headline. Then, of course, we find out at the end of a year and a half that not only has the Exploracom situation fallen apart, as my colleague the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) predicted, but it also turns out, and I quote from last week's newspaper, "The government is having trouble finding projects to invest the money in."
I ask the members of this House, is it conceivable in Ontario in 1987 that we cannot find high-technology projects to invest in? I say to the government, they are there if it chooses to look for them. They are there if it wants them. Most important, it appears, I say to the government whip, to be there if the government knows you, if the government knows who you work for. Let me say it clearly: The only people who have had any success with the high-technology fund are Liberals. This year, $100,000 for high-technology and no projects; this government cannot find a high-technology project to invest in.
I want to go to the other people mentioned in the budget. I want to talk about the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. O'Neil). The minister of industry is in this position: Lots of talk about trade, but when the trade issues were on the table, he was not allowed to go to Washington. He said earlier this week he had not yet been briefed on the Premier's so-called mission to Washington.
Let us look at what the minister himself has done on trade. In this great expansion of trade opportunities, the minister has done two things: He has dropped the trade division of the ministry and he has closed three trade offices. That is the government's big thrust into the future.
It was also interesting to note all the talk about the service sector. The Treasurer tabled a document on the growth of the service sector. The minister has been handed speeches about the service sector. After the big headline about expanding small business development corporation programs to include service organizations, we all applauded. We find out now that for the first time in the history of the SBDC program, this government also cannot find applicants for SBDCs. We find out that it spent $17 million of $38 million allocated for the SBDC program.
Did they run out of Liberal applicants? Did Ivan Fleischmann finally give up after my colleague got to him? Did he have no more clients who wanted to come? Was Abe depressed over what happened with Exploracom? Did he realize he could not trust the Premier? What happened to Terry Graham? What happened to all the friends? Did they run out of SBDC projects? It is a crime that in this economy, where there are special moneys allocated by the previous government for northern Ontario and eastern Ontario under the SBDC program, the government underspent by almost 50 per cent.
It cannot find investments for high technology. It cannot find small business investments. I want to go on to what we can believe in terms of taxes and upcoming budgets. One of my favourite days here was when the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Ridden) joined us for a short time and was asked by my colleague, before the budget we now are discussing, what tobacco farmers could expect in the upcoming budget. I want to quote the wire story that went out as a result of the minister of agriculture's statement. The Canadian Press wire story across the province read, "Ridden hints at tax breaks for tobacco farmers." That is what the minister told this House.
I want to read it so we will know what we can believe from the ministers of the crown: "The minister of agriculture said prior to the budget, `The member will be pleasantly surprised, as will tobacco growers, in connection with the announcement that will be made.'" He was right. They were surprised. The budget contained not the tax decrease he had promised but a $10-million increase, and now they have increased it another $5 million.
Let me say to the Treasurer that we do not object to that. What we object to is the minister of agriculture getting a headline saying, "Ridden hints at tax breaks for tobacco farmers," giving that information to this House prior to the budget, and then having precisely the opposite happen.
I want to talk about what the Minister of Agriculture and Food has done. This government faces the most critical situation that farmers have faced in this country -- ever -- and what has it done? Did they increase the budget by 100 per cent, as promised during the election campaign? No; they did not double the budget. Alberta doubled the budget. Saskatchewan almost doubled the budget.
What happened in this high-tax budget? What happened was that the Treasurer and the Minister of Agriculture and Food gave the farmers of this province a lower percentage increase in 1986 than they had got in the last budget of the previous government in 1984, a lower rate of increase for farmers.
Let us move to the Minister of Health, who was next mentioned in the budget speech. He got his headline with the $850-million hospital capital-expansion program. Of course, like the high-tech fund, we found out the next day that it was over five years; and then the day after, we found out it was over seven years. That works out -- to give him the benefit of the doubt -- over five years, to $170 million a year. Interesting: exactly the same amount that the previous government was investing in hospital spending. No new money. He just took the next five years, bulked it together and there it was: $850 million.
I say to my colleagues and to all members of this House, what I find to be the most disgraceful part of that headline, that announcement and that information that sent out -- I do not want to use the word "misleading" -- inaccurate information and inaccurate impressions to the hospitals across this province, is that this year, has the government spent $850 million in capital? Has it spent $170 million more in actual capital? No. The actual cash flow under this program to hospitals, this year, is $20 million for 230 hospitals.
I wish the Minister of Health could be here this afternoon. We are now sitting here a year and a half after the New Democrats tried to give some direction to the new government with regard to what it ought to try to accomplish, and I want members of this House to reflect for a moment on the record of the Minister of Health.
Have we seen changes in care for the elderly, as promised? No. Have we seen major changes in mental health? No. Have we seen patient advocates for seniors in this province?
Some hon. members: No.
Mr. Grossman: Have we seen more community health centres?
Some hon. members: No.
Mr. Grossman: Have we seen more operating money for hospitals?
Some hon. members: No.
Mr. Grossman: Have we seen the lowest transfer in operating moneys for hospitals in almost a decade? Yes, we have.
Have we seen, I say to my colleague the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope), more anaesthetists for the north?
Some hon. members: No.
Mr. Grossman: No; we have seen fewer anaesthetists in the north.
The fact is that a year and a half into his term as Minister of Health, I suspect, quite frankly, with the looming and envious looks of the Minister of Education towards the Ministry of Health, that this will be the entire term of the Minister of Health. The fact is that he has accomplished nothing that has not been dictated to him by his bureaucracy. He has become the classic slave of the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Health.
I want to say on a serious level -- and I wish the Premier and the Minister for Citizenship and Culture (Ms. Munro) were able to be here -- that the comments of my colleague the member for St. George (Ms. Fish) earlier today reflected, I think, a more deep-seated concern than I have had on any of the economic issues to date.
The Minister of Citizenship and Culture, instead of perhaps winding down the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism and Citizenship, instead of trying to eliminate it, might perhaps be reminded of its value by the things that have occurred coming out of the mouths of colleagues.
In the year and a half the government has been in office, we have had the Minister of Agriculture and Food, no less, tell the world that the people in rural Ontario still have a great deal of racism and are basically anti-Semitic. We have had the member for Lambton (Mr. D. W. Smith) associate himself with the international Jewish conspiracy comments of James Keegstra. We have had the Solicitor General make a quite inappropriate comment in the area of the colour of people's skin.
I want to say to the Minister of Citizenship and Culture, if she ever had to wonder about the need for the council on multiculturalism; I want to say to the Premier, if he ever wondered about the most important job of the Premier, which is setting standards and ethics; then they should reflect on those three remarks passed in the past year and a half by his colleagues.
I want also to say to the government and to the Premier, who is not here, that apologies can be made. Ask any child; apologies are the easiest thing to offer. It is not difficult. Hershell Ezrin can write them in a minute. It is not difficult to write; a little more difficult to deliver, but it is easy. What is important is whether words such as that belong in the vocabulary or thoughts like that belong in the memory bank of members of the government. The Premier has failed the test on every one of those counts.
I want to deal with the whole question of failing the test. We have talked at some length today about ethics and standards in government. We have reviewed them at some length today. We have talked for the last several weeks about money being given quite cavalierly and easily to Graham Software, owned by a friend and former business partner of Abe Schwartz, and which has now gone down the tubes in such a serious way that the government invested $5 million and bought itself out for a $4.7-million loss.
We find ourselves in a situation where Wyda continues to be under investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police, LSI Applications is under investigation by the OPP and the Ontario Securities Commission is continuing an investigation into PEC Financial, of which Wilfred Caplan is the secretary-treasurer. I want to remind the Premier that being honest about these situations is always the better policy. He said last week to my colleague the member for Brantford that when the Caplan issue was first raised, he took action immediately. He did not deny the allegations, he said.
I remembered it differently, so we went back and looked at Hansard; and what did we find? The first thing we found, outside of Hansard, was that when first asked for a reaction to the Caplan circumstance, our Premier called a senior veteran member of the press gallery senile for daring to question the issue. We then find in Hansard that the Premier did not cut bait; he did not take immediate action against the member for Oriole (Mrs. Caplan). He said, "No member of the government had anything to do with the investment decision in Wyda." Can the members believe the Premier would have said that in this House?
Trying to forestall the inevitable, the Premier five days later read a prepared statement. I think -- my colleagues will correct me if I am wrong -- the now-famous Bob Carman of Kimberly-Clark fame had investigated and provided a report on this matter. I want to read to the House the Premier's prepared statement five days after he investigated the Caplan affair:
"As I said to the member, my assessment on the basis of what I know was that prima facie, there was no undue influence or any influence whatsoever exerted on anyone. There was complete disclosure; in fact, there was no conflict."
That was how the Premier took immediate action. He defended his minister until she had the good sense to resign. Let us remember that the Premier never asked her to resign.
I am not going to take time to go over the Fontaine affair; we know all that. I am not even going to come back to the Solicitor General; we will be back to him later. And I am not going to take the time of the House -- well, I think I will. I will take the time of the House simply to read into the record the number of cabinet ministers who failed to comply with straightforward conflict-of-interest guidelines:
The Minister of Education, the Minister of Housing (Mr. Curling), the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. Eakins), the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Fulton), the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Grandmaître), the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio), the Solicitor General, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Kwinter), the Treasurer, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, the Minister of Agriculture and Food, the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Ruprecht), the Attorney General, the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Sorbara), of course, and the Premier himself, all of whom had not disclosed their assets, as required by the provincial guidelines.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Morin): Order.
Mr. Grossman: I say to the Attorney General, my assets were filed --
The Acting Speaker: Order. Would you please take your seats. Order.
Mr. Grossman: I want now to move on to the Kimberly-Clark issue.
Hon. Mr. Curling: Is this about the nannies?
Hon. Mr. Scott: We are not talking about the nannies. He is going to talk about nannies later.
Mr. Grossman: Let me say to the Attorney General, if he wants to make an accusation I invite him to step outside this House and repeat what he just said to his colleagues, and we will see him. Go on, have the courage to do it.
The Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr. Grossman: I want to say to the Attorney General, I admire his René Fontaine imitation. He would be better to imitate a member of some courage and integrity, which I will say to the Attorney General he has not exhibited one day that he has served in this House, not one day.
The colleagues of the Attorney General were excited. They thought I had accomplished what many of them had been trying to accomplish for some time, and that is getting him out of the House for a moment.
I want to turn my attention --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Brantford will please take his seat.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Cochrane North, order. The member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe), thank you.
Mr. Grossman: I could not help noting that the only time the member for Cochrane North got applause in this House was when he left.
Mr. Fontaine: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Grossman: I want to join the member for Bellwoods in commenting briefly upon the experience we have had with the Minister of the Environment. I say frankly that we listened in this House and applauded many of the initiatives he was promising, hardly any of which he has since taken. He promised most specifically to get tough with polluters in this province.
I remind the Minister of the Environment and the Treasurer, as has my colleague the member for Bellwoods, that today, after the Minister of the Environment's legs were cut out from under him by the Premier on the Kimberly-Clark situation, we have Kimberly-Clark continuing as it was, with a three-year extension but without any help being given to modernize the mill. As sure as I am standing here, somewhere down the road we will find Kimberly-Clark, having polluted the rivers for three more years, ending up closing down or getting money from the government to stay there. This is one of the most embarrassing fiascos the government has been involved in, to see the Minister of the Environment absolutely denuded of his responsibility and buckling in on the single test he has faced. The single test he has faced was that test.
The Treasurer had $919 million to solve that problem. When the Japanese auto firms wanted to locate here without being required to comply with the auto pact, he had $95 million to locate those auto companies in southern Ontario. When Abe Schwartz wanted to put in his computer museum, the Treasurer had $17.5 million for Abe Schwartz. When it came time to help Kimberly-Clark do what every other mill in northern Ontario had been assisted in doing -- that is, to clean up its pollution programs and solve its environmental problems -- what happened? He had no money for them. There was $919 million for the government, $95 million for the Japanese auto companies and $17.5 million for Abe Schwartz, but nothing for Terrace Bay, nothing for Kimberly-Clark.
On the question of having money for people who need it, most important let me turn to the disabled. The disabled of this province had every right to expect the federal increase would be passed on to them. I think there was hardly anything more offensive in this House than the Minister of Community and Social Services standing up and telling us that it was not 83,000 disabled, that we were really talking about "just" or "only" 13,000. I say to the minister, "13,000 disabled" does not join with the adjective "only" and should not be juxtaposed with the word "just." Those are 13,000 disabled people whose money the minister and the Treasurer took on its way to them. The federal minister wanted that money to get there. He said so in the House of Commons. It was on its way there.
We on this side of the House believe ail 83,000 should have gotten that money. The minister wanted to argue that just 13,000 are affected. I say one disabled person is important, let alone 13,000. Every one of those 13,000 has had his money hijacked by the minister and the Treasurer.
I say also to the minister that those people are living on $7,200 a year. Can the minister honestly say that is appropriate? Given all the spending his government alleges it is prepared to do, the $919-million excess tax revenues it has taken, the $500,000 a day in gasoline revenue, the $1.5 million in land transfer tax and the $300 million or $400 million in personal income tax, is the minister comfortable sitting there and saying to the disabled they shall live on $7,200 a year? It is a disgrace that he should have hijacked that money on its way to them.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: You look in the mirror.
Mr. Grossman: The minister suggests I look in the mirror. The minister should look in the mirror and ask himself this question. If his Premier would agree to stand in the line at the airport he might meet a disabled person, and he could ask him whether $7,200 is enough.
I also say to the minister that if the Premier would agree to stand in that line at the airport, he might meet a person who is mentally retarded. That person might have a chance to say to the Premier that the word "retard" is unacceptable in the vocabulary of any person in this province, let alone the Premier. That mentally retarded person, who is able to contribute to society and who should not be subjected to epithets like that, might be able to tell the Premier that stuff belongs in the 1950s locker-room scenario, that it is unacceptable and that an apology does not take it away.
An apology does not mean it is not in the Premier's vocabulary. All it means is that the Premier, a couple of hours later -- a couple of hours? No. On the "retard" remark it took him several weeks, until someone found the quote. Then, after someone had written an apology, he offered it. Quite dearly, the issue is not whether an apology can be written; the issue is whether it is in his vocabulary. It is not whether it slipped out of his memory bank, but whether it was in his memory bank. My advice to the Premier is that standing in the line at the airport might do him a lot of good. He might meet some real people in this province.
I want to deal with the allocations the Treasurer has made.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: Tell the truth.
Mr. Grossman: In refusing to cut the deficit, the Treasurer used these words --
Hon. Mr. Nixon: What do you mean, refusing to cut the deficit?
Mr. Grossman: No; the Treasurer did not refuse. He has cut the deficit by $300 million in two years. We cut it by $1 billion in one year, with less revenue available. I understand; the Treasurer was long a supporter of Mr. Trudeau and he learned right at his feet.
I want to quote the Treasurer. He said, "There was great pressure to improve programs that have been strangled for money."
Let us talk about the transfers and how generous the Treasurer has been in those transfers. In 1983, hospital operating grants were 10.7 per cent; 1984, 7.9 per cent; this year, 1987, 7.4 per cent. This year, with $919 million extra, it is 7.4 per cent, which is significantly below the rate of increase in 1983 and 1984.
Were municipalities strangled for government money when the Treasurer got there? No. Let us look at municipal transit operating grants. The minister is not here. Municipal transit operating grants were 12.3 per cant in 1983 and 11.9 per cent in 1984. Since the change of government, they have fallen to 10 per cent, and next year they are five per cent. In 1983, municipal unconditional grants were 10.2 per cent; in 1987, 4.9 per cent.
With respect to general legislative grants for education, I would like members to remember the alleged commitment of the government to the future, our young people and education. Here it is. In 1983, GLG grants for education were 8.8 per cent; this year they are 5.5 per cent. Can members imagine a government that in 1987 can produce only 5.5 per cent for schools?
Mr. Offer: What about inflation?
Mr. Grossman: Someone over there said, "What about inflation?" The inflation rate is the same now as it was then, with $919 million extra.
Mr. Offer: What was it in 1982?
Mr. Grossman: It was exactly the same.
Mr. Grossman: I have the figures.
If the Minister of Community and Social Services, who we already know is not too good with figures, can dispute the fact that GLGs were 8.8 per cent in 1983, I will concede the floor. I say to the minister to stand up with the accounts and show us it was lower than 8.8 per cent and show us that municipal transit grants were not 12.3 per cent; let him show us those figures. Let him show us that hospital operating grants were not 10.7 per cent in 1983. They were; I was Minister of Health in that year. This year they are three per cent lower.
Let us get rid of this façade that the minister has suddenly increased all these operating grants. The fact is that almost across the board they are significantly lower than they were in 1983. I want to mention community colleges. The Minister of Colleges and Universities is here. Is the minister aware that in 1983 the transfers to colleges were 10.9 per cent and in 1987 they will be 4.3 per cent? Imagine that.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: Look at the base.
Mr. Grossman: The minister says, "Look at the base." Does the minister want to argue that the base left by the previous government was so high that 4.3 per cent is enough for this year? It is scandalous for him to argue that; 12.4 per cent; down, down, down since they took office.
Let us talk about university funding. He has all the headlines. He even managed to wangle a letter of thanks. Let us have a look at the figures: operating grants in 1983, 7.4 per cent; in 1987, 7.3 per cent.
Mr. Reycraft: What was inflation in 1983?
Mr. Grossman: Inflation was the same.
Mr. Grossman: I simply want to remind the back bench for the Liberal Party that is now appearing in the House that inflation in that year was the same as inflation this year. Inflation was down in those years thanks to the tough measures the previous government took in this House. That is why inflation was down.
Let us look at the record. Funding for health care, transfers are down; funding for universities, transfers are down; funding for colleges, transfers are down; funding for the public schools, transfers down; funding for municipal transit, transfers down.
Mr. South: I hope there is a point to this.
Mr. Grossman: I only say to the member for Frontenac-Addington that this is February 12, 1987. It is the budget debate. We are having the windup speeches and I welcome him.
I invite the government to reflect on the fact that all the transfers are down. The only thing that is up is the surplus the Treasurer has accumulated.
Mr. Gillies: And taxes.
Mr. Grossman: And taxes, which have created that surplus.
I say seriously they should reflect a bit on their high-technology commitment, the high-technology initiative of $100,000 this year. It is an embarrassment: $100,000. I admit they invested -- sorry, lost -- $4.7 million on Graham Software. I admit they lost $3 million on Wyda Systems. I admit they have also spent that money, but to no avail in high tech. I say simply they should reflect upon the six high-technology centres that were built by the previous government, the world-leading biotechnology centre, Allelix, and the computer research facility at the University of Waterloo. We built high-tech facilities; they built headlines. We built bridges to the future; they built bridges to their Liberal friends and those who had some influence to get quick money.
The real tragedy of this budget is that they took, cumulatively in two budgets, $1 billion from the people of this province in additional taxes. That fact is not controvertible. It is in Treasury data: $1 billion in taxes. In the third quarter of this year, the Treasurer reports almost all that money as "unexpected revenue." He then juggles the figures so he does not have to spend that money this year.
For the disabled, the community colleges, the universities, the people who thought a $1-billion high-tech fund was more than $100,000, the people needing housing, the farmers who are getting less additional money this year than they got three years ago and who face the biggest problems they have ever seen, the people in northern Ontario who are not sharing the prosperity we have in the south, for those people --
Mr. Fontaine: You started all this. You did not do anything for 42 years.
Mr. Grossman: I say to the former Minister of Northern Development and Mines and to the next Minister of Northern Development and Mines, the member for Timiskaming (Mr. Ramsay), the record is: no high-tech money spent in the north, no job creation programs in the north and a Minister of Natural Resources whose deputy signed an offer to accept a 10 per cent tariff on softwood lumber and give away 500 to 1,000 jobs.
I say to the Treasurer and the Premier, when we get by all the sloppiness of the administration and all the matters that were referred to earlier today about the dealings in Wyda, Graham, Exploracom -- who knows what else, but we will find out -- the big tragedy of their year and a half is a $1-billion tax increase and all those farmers, disabled people, the elderly, the municipalities, the students, the school boards, the universities and the hospitals waiting to share in that revenue growth, and they cannot get it back.
Our party will stand and vote against this high-tax budget. We will stand and vote against budgets until they agree to give the taxpayers their own money back. For those reasons, our party will stand for the people of this province, for the people who are paying the $1 billion in extra taxes, for the people who want that money shared with them, not with the special few. We will stand to vote against this high-tax budget.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: In view of the time -- I gather His Honour is standing by waiting to prorogue this House -- I will not take all the time that originally had been allotted among the parties.
At the same time, I will forgo the opportunity of commenting specifically on the remarks of my friend opposite. I think he has revealed in his remarks in the last half-hour to three quarters of an hour the quintessential Grossman style. It speaks very much to that particular individual.
By way of summary, I say only that my esteemed colleague to the left, a veteran of this House for some 20 years, who has probably witnessed more parliamentary debates than most of us, if not all of us put together, turned to me and said it was the most desperate speech he has ever heard in 20 years.
I will not comment on the new economic vision that has hit the party opposite to lower taxes, lower the deficit, raise transfer payments and accomplish all that. I guess it depends which audience they are speaking to at which time.
In the not-too-distant future, and I cannot tell the honourable member when, we will have an opportunity to test the credibility of his thesis before the people of this province. My guess is that the people of this province will find his credibility in about the same position that the members of this House find his credibility.
It has been a long session. It has been a session of much accomplishment in spite of the tough talk on a number of occasions. I sometimes think that question period -- it is a very worthwhile, democratic institution, and one I support, as I support the new and expanded role members have to participate in this House. I think all the members of this House can take some collective pride in the advances that have been made in serving the democratic process.
I am told there have been some 760 private members' statements in this House when members have had an opportunity to stand and speak about any issue on their minds. We have brought reform in debate and reform in the hours. This is all televised today, something that was steadfastly refused by the former government. I believe we have come a long way in opening up the process. We have much more to do. We all recognize the fragility of this system under which we operate, but I believe it is best played out when it is exposed in microscopic detail to the people of this province so that they can form judgements on those of us whom they elect to serve their needs. I am very proud of the reforms that have come about. All members have participated in that. In spite of the sometimes unattractive nature of the warts on close examination, I think collectively we have served the democratic process well together, and I thank my colleagues.
I think it is also worthy of note that at this moment in the history of this province, we in Ontario are enjoying on average one of the more dynamic economies in the world today. I do not for a minute pretend that this is evenly distributed across the province. Even in the so-called southern areas there are real problems. We acknowledge that and I think the members have seen a number of programs laid out to address those problems.
We also recognize the fragility of the so-called success that we are enjoying at the present time. We recognize the importance of the automotive industry and that any changes in it could be detrimental to our economy. We also recognize that historic talks are going on at the present time between our national government and the government of the United States that could also have a profound impact on our future.
I think you would agree, Mr. Speaker, that this government, with the help of the members of this Legislature, has been monitoring those talks very closely and has been advancing in a thoughtful, well-researched way not just the interests of the people of Ontario but also the interests of this country. As I have worked with my peers and my colleagues across this country, I have recognized how Ontario is looked to, to play a leading role in Confederation. The role I have inherited is a mantle I have inherited from the member for Muskoka, Premier Davis, Premier Robarts and others, a responsibility that I carry with humility and that I hope we can exercise well on behalf of all Canadians.
As I said, we have a dynamic economy at the moment. I know the members opposite would be very loath to give the Treasurer any credit for that, particularly because the Prime Minister took credit for it some time ago. I know the members opposite think it is all their creation. It is always a curious phenomenon to me that when anything good comes out of this government, it was their creation, and when anything bad comes out, it was our creation. Maybe that is just a matter of perception; I am not sure.
But I think we have to say that this Treasurer has conducted the books and regulated the economic affairs of this province with a deft and firm hand. He has started the process of rebuilding what has run down in terms of our capital infrastructure. I say to my friend opposite that if he believes what he said today, he is the only person in the province who believes it.
Mr. Brandt: No, I do too.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I am wrong. There are two. You notice there are no other hands going up at this time. I was almost right in that regard.
We have a profound commitment to rebuilding our educational and post-secondary systems. The members know and I know of the discussions that have gone on in this House over the last 10 years. The members know of the co-operative mode in which we are working with those institutions today. We think they are one of the most important instruments of public policy we have, and we are committed to that rebuilding process after roughly 10 years of slow strangulation.
I remember even the members opposite going to rallies and standing up and saying: "We should spend more on the universities. Was it not a shame what we" -- i.e., the previous Conservative government -- "did to the universities?" They cannot have it both ways, because ultimately what is at stake in this whole discussion is the credibility of the former government, this government and any party in this House.
We have started that rebuilding process, just as we have started the rebuilding process of a capital infrastructure in hospitals. There was a real problem as well. The minister has put forward the largest capital construction program in the history of this province, including cancer facilities and hospital facilities.
I am enormously grateful and I feel somewhat lucky that we have revenues this year that are allowing us to start that rebuilding process. From reading the last quarterly report, members will notice that, indeed, this buoyant economy has generated extra tax revenue. Roughly $200 million of that has gone towards lowering the deficit. On the other hand, some $700 million-odd was spent in that rebuilding process because we are not prepared as a government to stand by and see our social services and educational facilities destroyed any more than they were in the past.
We are rebuilding that, and the people in the province, the transfer agencies, recognize and understand that commitment. I am very proud of the close working relationship we have today with those people who are working to serve this province.
Mr. Speaker, I need not tell you the number of jobs that have been created -- close to 150,000 -- in the last year in this province. That is not to say there are not specific problems and major restructuring going on. That is true; that is a given. We are working with those workers who have been relocated through some of the most ambitious programs in skills training and job training for young people ever introduced.
I stand with my peers and listen to some of their ideas on training for young people, the Futures program, Ontario's Training Strategy and other things; and they tell me our minister has produced the most creative work ever seen in this country with respect to skills training. The members can see the increase in the budget in that regard; it reflects the view of this government that our single most important asset is our people. I hope we have started, in a sense, to respond to those priorities.
I could not argue for a minute that in almost every area, every question brought up in this House, we could not do more. Indeed, there is no government that satisfies all those problems at any given time. At the same time, I say that major progress has been made in all these areas in a balanced way, in a fiscally responsible way, in a way that is attracting investment to this province and in a way that I believe a vast majority of the sectors have confidence in the stability of this government and its capacity to manage the affairs of the people of this province.
It is with great pride that I stand in support of the budget of my colleague, a budget that has worked out even better than he expected or than even the greatest optimist would have expected almost a year ago when it was presented in this House.
Those moneys have been applied to constructive purposes as part of this government's priorities, which have been shared with members on numerous occasions but which I am happy to restate -- our priorities of rebuilding a competitive international economy, of rebuilding an education system that is responsive to the needs of a changing, more technological world and of making sure we have social systems, particularly health care systems, responsive to the changing demographics and the needs of the people of this province.
I think this budget has done that. I think this government has made enormous progress in that regard. The members of this House have passed 70-odd bills, I am told, in the last session, and it has been a productive legislative session. It has been a session that has brought bills of historic significance. Perhaps the number of bills is deceptive because that does not in any way reflect their significance or their historical import.
I looked at some of the great debates we have had in the last year and a half in this province. There was the debate over separate schools, which was so ably handled by my colleague to the right. He was handed as difficult an issue as there is in this province, and with generosity of spirit and with real leadership I believe he has brought a historic justice into place. I am very proud of the leadership he has provided in that regard.
Who could have handled an issue better than the Minister of Health in the historic confrontation with the doctors? This was a very difficult discussion for this government, but he is a minister who stood firm and resolute yet remained fairminded with a great deal of equanimity throughout that discussion. I remember that discussion in this House, where my friends on the far left had one view and my friends on the far right had another view. I can tell members, that was leadership in action, as this minister struck a blow for equality of access in this province.
L'adoption de la Loi 8 a été une occasion historique pour cette Législature. Cela a fait plus de progrès pour la minorité francophone dans cette province que toute autre loi adoptée depuis la Confédération.
It was a historic bill, which advanced the rights of francophones more in this province than had any other act in the last 120 years.
I think of the difficult discussions: Bill 7. I note with great pride the great courage and understanding that was shown by a number of members in this House on that bill. I respect my colleagues opposite and on this side of the House for the view they took, because I think again we collectively struck a blow for equality and a blow to enhance human dignity.
We have our partisan discussions. I respect that this is the order of the day and probably always will be in our parliamentary system. It is not without some design that these two front benches are two sword lengths away from each other at the very minimum, so that very little real blood is spilled. Lots of emotional blood is spilled.
I do not for a minute expect anyone in the opposition ever to stand up and give the government credit for anything. That has never been done, that I recall -- at least I never did that when I was in opposition, and I would not expect the members opposite to do that.
In spite of all that, this system does work, and it works remarkably well. As I said, when history comes to pass judgement on this session, I believe it will judge it to be one of the most productive sessions in terms of not only the quantity but also the significance of the legislation this House has passed.
There is much left to do. It is not as if my colleagues in this House are going on holidays on Monday, because we go back to committee for tough slugging on many other important bills.
May I just say in conclusion that I hope my friends opposite will be persuaded to support this thoughtful, practical budget; they will show the same faith in this parsimonious old farmer from Brant county that I have had since the minute I met him. I know my friends from the New Democratic Party share this very same high view that I do of the Treasurer
Mr. McClellan: Only on a personal level.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I hope we can count on you.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I hope we can count on them; and if they cannot, we have a bus outside just in case.
Counting on their good reason, I must say to my friends opposite, I find their posture here a little bit interesting because just a few months ago they were saying we should carry on for another two or three years. Obviously, the government opposite -- the members opposite, the party opposite, the government in exile -- is so impressed with the job this government is doing that it does not want to have an election; it does not want people to exercise their democratic right. I appreciate, in spite of the rhetoric in this House today, that measure of real support that they have given to this government.
Just to test the proposition, I have an interesting idea, Mr. Speaker: persuade the New Democratic Party to vote against the budget and see what they do opposite. Just try that, Mr. Speaker. I put that proposition to you, and if you could arrange that, it would be very interesting to see the results. I have this problem in reconciling the things they say from day to day, let alone from week to week or month to month.
Mr. Martel: You might have the King-Byng crisis again.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I say to my honourable friend -- and I wish he would settle down a little bit; he has already made his speeches for the day -- I believe we have accomplished a great deal together. I urge members to support the Treasurer and his budget. It has been a constructive one for this province. We have accomplished many social purposes. At the same time, the economy is thriving. How could any province be luckier in this Confederation? How could any country be luckier than we are today?
I count on the reason, the good judgement, the fairmindedness and the sanity of the members opposite to support the Treasurer in his worthwhile endeavours.
Mr. Speaker: Just to remind the members: On Tuesday, May 13, 1986, Mr. Nixon moved, seconded by Mr. Peterson, that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
The House divided on Hon. Mr. Nixon's motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Allen, Bossy, Breaugh, Bryden, Callahan, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, D. R., Cooke, D. S., Cordiano, Curling, Eakins, Elston, Epp, Fontaine, Fulton, Grandmaître, Grier, Haggerty, Hart, Hayes, Henderson, Johnston, R. F.,
Knight, Kwinter, Laughren, Lupusella, Mackenzie, Mancini, Mantel, McClellan, McGuigan, McKessock, Miller, G. L, Morin, Munro;
Newman, Nixon, Offer, O'Neil, Peterson, Philip, Poirier, Polsinelli, Ramsay, Reville, Reycraft, Riddell, Ruprecht, Sargent, Scott, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sorbara, South, Swart, Sweeney, Van Horne, Ward, Warner, Wrye.
Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Bernier, Brandt, Cousens, Davis, Dean, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Grossman, Guindon, Harris, Jackson, Leluk, Marland, McCague, McFadden, McLean, McNeil, Mitchell, O'Connor, Partington, Pierce, Pollock, Pope, Shymko, Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, Treleaven, Turner, Villeneuve, Yakabuski.
Ayes 61; nays 37.
The following bill was given first, second and third readings on motion by Hon. Mr. Nixon:
Bill 213, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the Public Service for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1987.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario entered the chamber of the Legislative Assembly and took his seat upon the throne.
Hon. Mr. Alexander: Pray be seated.
Mr. Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the Legislative Assembly of the province has, at its present sittings thereof, passed certain bills to which, in the name and on behalf of the said Legislative Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour's assent.
Assistant Clerk: The following are the titles of the bills to which Your Honour's assent is prayed:
Bill 127, An Act to revise the Surveyors Act;
Bill 156, An Act to amend the Securities Act;
Bill 159, An Act to amend the Insurance Act;
Bill 178, An Act to amend the County of Oxford Act;
Bill 179, An Act to amend the Municipal Act and certain other Acts related to Municipalities;
Bill 189, An Act to amend the Mining Tax Act;
Bill 192, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth Act and the Municipal Elections Act;
Bill 197, An Act to amend the Architects Act; Bill 199, An Act to amend the Equality Rights Statute Law Amendment Act;
Bill Pr15, An Act respecting the City of Hamilton;
Bill Pr44, An Act respecting the High Street Recreation Complex of St. Thomas and Elgin;
Bill Pr53, An Act respecting the City of Toronto;
Bill Pr66, An Act respecting the City of Mississauga;
Bill Pr60, An Act to revive Williams Creek Gold Quartz Mining Co. Limited;
Bill Pr61, An Act to revive The Migraine Foundation;
Bill Pr64, An Act respecting the Town of Wasaga Beach;
Bill Pr59, An Act respecting the City of Mississauga.
Clerk of the House: In Her Majesty's name, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor doth assent to these bills.
Mr. Speaker: May it please Your Honour, we, Her Majesty's most dutiful and faithful subjects, the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario in session assembled, approach Your Honour with sentiments of unfeigned devotion and loyalty to Her Majesty's person and government, and humbly beg to present for Your Honour's acceptance, a bill entitled An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the Public Service for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1987.
Clerk of the House: The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor doth thank Her Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, accept their benevolence and assent to this bill in Her Majesty's name.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to deliver the following gracious speech.
Hon. Mr. Alexander: Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislative Assembly, the government's priorities during this second session of the 33rd Parliament of Ontario have been to begin to ensure our place in the world economy of the future while advancing the goal of equality of opportunity and social justice for people in all parts of our province.
The Treasurer's 1986 budget combines social concern with a businesslike approach. It introduced a number of measures to promote entrepreneurship, encourage investment in technology and return Ontario's health, education and social service programs to a sound footing. Such measures included creation of the new ventures program and expansion of the small business development corporation program.
The economic statement also announced additional support for agriculture and other basic industries. These and other measures helped to bolster economic growth, as exemplified by the creation of 156,000 jobs in Ontario in 1986, which brought Ontario's unemployment rate to 6.8 per cent, the lowest in Canada.
My government began a long-term effort to firmly establish Ontario as a world-class, internationally competitive society. Preliminary planning and study have been initiated to help steer Ontario into the forefront of economic leadership and technological innovation.
Special efforts were directed to create opportunity in regions of this province that have not had a chance to share equally in its economic growth. The 1986 budget included several measures to improve northern Ontario's infrastructure and support its basic industries.
As well, decentralization of government services has shifted approximately 1,000 jobs to the north and brought several departments closer to the people they serve. Initiatives were undertaken to help many Ontarians with special needs, including funding for improved community and home services for the elderly, increased geriatric services in hospitals and an integrated homemaker program for frail seniors and physically handicapped adults. Improved shelter subsidies were provided for 130,000 Ontarians.
To assure our province's ability to meet the needs of Ontarians in the 1990s and beyond, my government launched an independent review of the social assistance system. Conditions for many workers were improved through such measures as strengthened occupational safety regulations and administration, an increase in the minimum wage and pension reforms.
The new Residential Rent Regulation Act will protect tenants from large rent increases while assuring regular maintenance and an increased supply of rental accommodation. The process that led to this legislation also served as an example of the advantages of bringing citizens together to help devise policies to meet their needs.
Several measures were initiated to improve health care for the people of Ontario, including increased funding and a multi-year capital program for hospitals, passage of the Health Care Accessibility Act, the Ontario Drug Benefit Act and the Prescription Drug Cost Regulation Act and improvements in the quality of care in nursing homes. My government launched an independent study on future directions in health care to ensure the province's ability to meet future needs.
Funding for all levels of education and skills training was considerably enriched. The Education Amendment Act was proclaimed.
The province sought to foster greater native self-reliance through community-based programs such as the Ontario native economic support program and the community facilities improvement program.
A settlement was reached to provide compensation for mercury contamination in the English and Wabigoon river system.
Further steps were taken to guard our province's environment for future generations through amendments to the Environmental Protection Act and improved water quality and waste disposal programs.
During this session, in which we were honoured by an address by the Most Reverend Desmond Tutu, Archbishop of South Africa, considerable efforts were devoted to achieving equal rights for all, including passage of the Equality Rights Statute Law Amendment Act and introduction of legislation to provide for the principle of pay equity in the private sector.
A thorough study was launched into the administration of Ontario's courts to ensure accessibility for the people of the province.
For these and many other achievements, all members of this assembly deserve congratulations.
Au nom de notre souveraine, je vous remercie. In our sovereign's name, I thank you.
Je déclare cette session prorogée.
I now declare this session prorogued.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker and members of the Legislative Assembly, it is the will and pleasure of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor that this Legislative Assembly be prorogued and this Legislative Assembly is accordingly prorogued.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
The House prorogued at 5:57 p.m.