L011 - Thu 14 May 1987 / Jeu 14 mai 1987
The House met at 10 a.m.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
LANDLORD AND TENANT AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Reville: It is with a sense of some moment that I rise today to speak in the second-reading debate on my bill in respect of roomers, boarders and lodgers.
The Deputy Speaker: Would you please move the motion first?
Mr. Reville moved second reading of Bill 10, An Act to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act.
The Deputy Speaker: The honourable member has up to 20 minutes for his presentation and may reserve any portion of that for the windup.
Mr. Reville: As I was saying when I was interrupted by some procedural niceties, I am delighted to be speaking in this debate today.
It strikes me as particularly odd that one group of people in our society is denied the protection that all other members of society have; that is, of course, security of tenure. How could it be that a group of people, usually the most vulnerable people in our society, certainly the least well-off people in our society and therefore the most deserving of any breaks that are available to be had, should be left out in the cold, so to speak, by a Landlord and Tenant Act that does not recognize their right to security of tenure?
For those who are at all familiar with my history, it will not be surprising that my private member's bill should be on the subject of rooming houses and roomers in particular. In 1972, when I first became involved in community activism, I was working with roomers. I had recently founded the Neighbourhood Legal Services and our first set of clients was roomers in south St. Jamestown who were being threatened with massive evictions by the big speculator of that time, the Meridian Group.
Those who are familiar with the history of the St. George and St. David ridings, as they still are called but which will soon disappear, will know that in the 1960s and 1970s, the Meridian Group bought up large numbers of existing buildings using a tactic that was appropriately called blockbusting. The main victims of this blockbusting attack were roomers. At that time, we were working to try to protect as many of the rooming houses as we could and we were grateful to be able to preserve 51 rooming houses in that community which were subsequently purchased by the city of Toronto and are continuing to be operated as rooming houses.
The regrettable fact is that those rooming houses may be the only rooming houses that are secure in this city and in cities such as Ottawa because in fact they are owned by a public body. What we are seeing happening more and more, and particularly in the recent speculative housing boom, is that rooming houses are the favourite target of speculators. The reason for that is not hard to fathom: it is easy for a vendor to guarantee vacant possession. Why should that be? Because the people who live in rooming houses are not protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act and it is not required for an owner to give them any notice at all, nor to allege any reasons why it should be that they should lose their home. That strikes me as an absolutely shocking situation.
Yesterday, down the street in district court, the tenants of 433 Ontario Street, a building in the new riding of St. George and St. David, were before His Honour Judge Webb pleading for their homes. Their house had been bought in January of this year for $175,000. In March 1987, the same house was sold for $225,000 and the vendor quite wrongly said, "You will have vacant possession." The vendor is going to get vacant possession because His Honour Judge Webb said, "The people who live at 433 Ontario Street are not tenants." Incredibly, they are licensees. Because they are not tenants, they are not protected as other tenants are from eviction without cause.
This is a pattern that has been repeated over and over again over the past number of years. When I started working with roomers in 1972, there were double the number of roomers in Ontario that there are today. The population of roomers has not been halved because there is not a demand for low-cost housing; on the contrary, the demand for low-cost housing is increasing. Where are those roomers? They are on the street. As the number of roomers goes down, the number of homeless goes up. If the members understand the way we supply affordable housing in this province, they will know that for every unit of affordable housing that is created you have to build four units of housing because the rent-geared-to-income portion is generally 25 per cent. Even under a 40 per cent rent-geared-to-income quota, you need 2.5 units for every one of those roomers who has been displaced. What would protect them? A simple amendment to the Landlord and Tenant Act.
This was not an amazing new discovery I had made on April 29 when I introduced this bill for first reading. In fact, one can start back in 1974 with the verdict of the coroner's jury inquiring into the death of Isabelle McIntosh. That coroner's jury recommended that roomers should be protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act. That was in 1974. It is now 1987. In the ensuing 13 years, the number of prestigious task forces established at great cost to study this problem, and the number of housing studies and housing policy suggestions that have recommended roomers be included under the Landlord and Tenant Act, has grown into quite a pile.
In fact, I was able to discover 14 such documents dating back to 1974, including the verdicts of four coroners' juries. One will remember that one does not get a verdict of a coroner's jury unless one has a death. In each of those four verdicts, one of the top recommendations was, for God's sake, to bring roomers under the protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act and do it now. Thirteen years have elapsed and tens of thousands of roomers have been put out on the street or have returned home one evening to find the lock has been changed on the door of their room and their belongings are out on the street next to the fire hydrant.
I cannot think of any reason why there should be a delay in moving on this much-needed legislation. I have heard some concerns from people who suggest that in cases where perhaps an older woman is letting one room in her home, the operation of the Landlord and Tenant Act might pose a problem. If that is a problem, then let us deal with that by adopting my bill and sending it to committee where we can review the kinds of concerns that may be expressed around the situation of an older person who rents out one room or perhaps a couple of rooms.
In the vast majority of cases, rooming houses are operated not by people who love to run rooming houses but by people who are reserving a piece of property for future sale. There are no little old ladies involved in running these rooming houses, although there are many little old ladies who live in them because, as we know, little old ladies are particularly susceptible to being of low income in our society.
I am going to close my introduction at this stage. I am very interested to hear what other members of the Legislature have to say. I will reserve the balance of my time for a windup in due course.
The Deputy Speaker: The member reserves 10 minutes and 20 seconds.
Mr. Cordiano: Let me start off by talking a little bit about how the government has acted to improve the housing conditions for our citizens in both rooming and boarding situations.
The Ministry of Housing's convert-to-rent and home-share programs are helping to increase the supply of affordable housing units in the existing housing market.
Mr. McClellan: Right. How many? Have you got some figures?
Mr. Cordiano: It is enough to say that it is a far cry from what happened in the past. I have the ministry's Project 3000 here on paper and I want to talk a little bit about that.
Project 3000 is totally funded by the provincial government and is producing 3,000 new units for the so-called hard-to-house. That is a real figure for my friend across the floor. These include people such as the homeless, the disabled, discharged psychiatric patients and many other victims; victims of family violence, for example.
The Minister of Housing (Mr. Curling) also commissioned two comprehensive studies of the supply, support and protection problems faced by roomers, boarders and lodgers. I allude to the Bairstow task force and the minister's advisory committee headed by Don Richmond, general manager of the Metro Toronto Housing Co. Ltd. They have looked at, for example, private homes where the owner resides with four or fewer roomers; hotels; motels; university residences and a number of other items, and have made a number of recommendations.
As well, the April 28 speech from the throne announced that further measures of assistance will be introduced this session. I certainly hope that these measures will include legislation, as my colleague pointed out, to provide protection for roomers, boarders and lodgers against arbitrary eviction, which I think is uncalled for. That type of initiative is long overdue. On the other hand, there should be procedural modifications that make the system more workable for shared facilities situations.
We have some real concerns, and I hope the form of the new legislation will not be such a simple solution as suggested by the proposed amendment of the member for Riverdale (Mr. Reville). It is a very complex situation that he is trying to address and to solve with a simple solution. I do not think it is that easy.
I would like to talk about one of the things to which my colleague alluded earlier with respect to an elderly person who may open up his or her home to a boarder or lodger. In the amendment of the member for Riverdale, there is no exemption for that. As he says, let us look at it.
Mr. Reville: Move one in committee.
Mr. Cordiano: Fine, but that is only one example of the kinds of difficulties we could face. Of course, in these situations we are not talking about commercial rooming houses. We are talking about the one person, the elderly person, who opens up his or her home to a student or someone else who is just starting out in life and who has moved into this area from another area. We have to be careful on that because what it really amounts to is that someone is taking on a boarder or a lodger, and we are talking about an intrusion into that individual's private affairs.
It not only would be inconsistent with the rule that a person's home is his or her castle but also could have a really detrimental effect on the people to whom this legislation is addressed and whom it is trying to protect. It could have a detrimental effect and work in the opposite direction.
Home owners are willing to open their homes to those in need of accommodation, but if they are faced with the prospect of having to spend months in court in order to deal with someone with whom they are sharing a kitchen or bathroom, I think this amendment will have the opposite effect and will create far fewer available spaces than we have now.
Vacancy rates are already low, and this could exacerbate the situation. I think the Legislature previously recognized special circumstances of owner-occupants sharing facilities when it exempted such dwellings from the anti-discrimination provisions of the Human Rights Code. The same sort of provisions should be included in any amendments to the Landlord and Tenant Act that extend the protections of the act to rooming and boarding situations.
I am aware that there is a provision in the Landlord and Tenant Act for classes of accommodation to be exempted by regulation. However, the exemption for private homes is something that should be set out in the statute. I am not sure the member for Riverdale's amendment addresses the issue of how all the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act will apply to shared-facilities situations. Before we enact something, we should know what the real impact is going to be.
For example, is the 20-day notice period required in dealing with disruptive tenants appropriate where the tenancy is on a weekly basis? Are the other tenants really heard from when a resident poses a real threat to the life, health and safety of the other tenants? We have to keep that in mind. Will the general procedures of the Landlord and Tenant Act allow for such problems to be dealt with expeditiously or do there have to be adjustments to recognize the special circumstances of shared-facilities situations?
I do not have the answers here today, but before enacting this kind of amendment, I think we have to concern ourselves with some of the issues I have raised. It would be hasty of us to pass this amendment because it just does not address the complexity of the situation. There are a number of exemptions that must be allowed for and there are a number of other, complicated situations that this amendment does not look at.
I think a number of other issues are pertinent and should be addressed before we simply pass an enactment saying that roomers, boarders and lodgers are to come under the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Mr. Jackson: I am pleased to be able to respond to the bill of the member for Riverdale with respect to improved circumstances for Ontario's roomers and boarders. As I understand the bill -- as the official opposition's Housing critic I should understand the intent of the bill -- in Ontario today we have a situation where roomers, boarders and lodgers are not defined in the Landlord and Tenant Act and where the courts have ruled that these people are to be treated as licensees rather than tenants.
The bill, as written, would include this type of occupancy for all tenants. However, it leaves open the definition of a roomer, a boarder and a lodger, since there is no strict definition in Ontario statutes. There is no definition of rooming homes or boarding homes anywhere in the Landlord and Tenant Act, but they are included for the first time under Bill 51. We therefore have a situation where the physical accommodation is covered with respect to the rent increases but not security of tenure for the tenants who are actually in it.
The bill clearly has merit, is timely and is appropriate for Ontario today. There are arguments that this is possibly more a Toronto-centred problem, but I believe legislation should be sensitive to that situation. In that regard, I am concerned that we give full debate to this bill this morning.
I was interested and fascinated to hear the member for Downsview (Mr. Cordiano). I guess he is providing the official government version of its attitude towards this bill. I was intrigued by his reference to the government's speech from the throne and how it was going to react to this bill. He used the very significant phrase -- I am sure Hansard will bear this out -- "I certainly hope that this type of legislation will be forthcoming." That is real assurance for the roomers and boarders of Ontario that there is a certain degree of hope on the part of the government that it is going to deal with this problem.
Then they provide the buzzwords of all governments. It frightens me every time I hear them from governments. They say, "Of course, you have to appreciate that this is a complex issue." If I have not seen a scenario where they are trying to buy time, I do not know whether I have ever seen a scenario where they were trying to buy time.
The truth of the matter is that this Minister of Housing spent $180,000 of taxpayers' money to commission a report, yet the member for Downsview says there are still many issues are yet unknown. When are they going to know? After they have spent $500,000 or $1 million on further studies? What did we pay for this report? It is an excellent report.
Mr. Cordiano: There are further issues to discuss.
Mr. Jackson: The member for Downsview says we should be discussing it. I will give him an invitation. If he was listening to the member for Riverdale, that member was saying, "Pass this bill and put it into committee where it can be amended in a sensitive manner instead of delaying it."
In today's Globe and Mail, I read a comment from the Minister of Housing that he is not going to support this bill because he thinks his version is going to be better. Where does he get that kind of arrogance: his bill is going to be better? Whatever happened to the important words "consultation," "consensus," "co-operation"? That is why minority government is supposed to work and it has worked in the past in Ontario.
Is the government afraid to go to committee, or is it the condition of its support that it gets all the credit for bringing in these necessary amendments for a certain group of people in Ontario? The Progressive Conservative Party is prepared today to work co-operatively in this chamber and in the standing committee on resources development in order to ensure that the very points raised by the member for Downsview are incorporated.
As a matter of fact, today I will be tabling in the House a bill which has the effect of amending my colleague's Bill 10. This bill is a product of the recommendations which have come from across Canada, as well as from the Bairstow report, with respect to the very point that maybe Bill 10 goes too far. It does not accommodate, for example, those landlords who are owners of their property, resident in their homes and renting out one or two rooms in their basements. Clearly, Bill 10 goes too far in covering those types of situations.
On the other hand, the government should realize that is a very simple amendment to make. What I will be doing today is tabling a bill which calls for an amendment to section 2 of the Landlord and Tenant Act and to certain regulations so that a class of accommodation will be deemed not to be a residential premises for purposes of the act. Specifically, the exemption will include private homes in which the owners are occupants and which are accommodating four or fewer roomers, boarders or lodgers, regardless of the physical arrangements.
I submit that if the government has the commitment and sincerity it professes, as it did in its global statements in the throne speech, then it will support both Bill 10 and the bill I am presenting today, and will put them in the resources development committee where we can work co-operatively to develop a final resolution to get this thing resolved before the end of the summer and before we are faced this winter with problems that have been enumerated by a variety of groups both in the media and before committees of this Legislature.
The Conservative Party is pleased to present this amendment, because it recognizes a growing problem throughout Ontario. Even the Bairstow report -- I am quoting directly from page 79 of the report -- makes reference to the fact that "the task force would like to see a substantial increase in the number of rooms provided in private homes across Ontario. These places will simply not be provided if there is a fear that a person may be welcomed into the intimacy of a family household only to prove incompatible and very difficult to evict without substantial cost." In Quebec and Manitoba, where roomers and boarders are covered by the landlord and tenant legislation proposed in Bill 10, there is this exemption which I will be tabling in the House today.
"What are the complex issues?" I ask the government. I ask the member for Downsview, "What are these complex issues that we have to address?" We do not want to affect adversely those kinds of tenancy arrangements in Ontario, we can agree on that; but I am asking the government to provide some leadership in support of this bill.
My colleague the member for Riverdale has indicated a willingness to accept in principle the bill I will be placing today to form part of the discussions in the resources development committee. I hope he will be making a definitive statement on that fact before the close of today's debate.
At such point, we will be pleased to support his bill and bring it forward so that the necessary amendments will be brought forward and we address the supply problem of the housing for independent-living adolescents in Ontario, which is a growing problem; we address the supply problem with respect to roomers and boarders by providing them the necessary protections and providing the necessary exemptions not to destroy that supply.
I would point out that the legal aid clinics in Waterloo have also made comments within the report that they would support the kind of an exemption we are proposing in the Progressive Conservative Party.
I would like to share one quick example of the kind of tragic situation that is facing roomers and boarders in Ontario; not in Metropolitan Toronto, that is well documented by the media, but in the smaller towns and communities all across Ontario where we have a growing number of adolescent teenagers who are having difficulty with their home life, with school and, yes, sometimes even with the law.
There is an acute housing shortage, and one of the greatest single sources of housing for those individuals in society is the roomer-boarder situation in a residential home. I am upset and concerned that this government has not been forthcoming with the necessary funding for groups, such as the Halton adolescent support services, which are providing a housing network with the kinds of home owners who are providing rooming situations.
It is for that reason that I encourage all members of the House to look with an open mind at Bill 10 and to look with an open mind at the amendment the Progressive Conservative Party is proposing, so that it can go to the standing committee on resources development and that responsible legislation will be in place before the end of the summer.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. Your time has expired.
Ms. Gigantes: It is with a sense of relief that I rise to support Bill 10 put forward by my colleague the member for Riverdale. The problem this legislation would address is a problem which is widespread throughout Ontario and it is a problem we know well in the area I represent, the Ottawa area.
The city of Ottawa did a study in 1984 of what had been happening with housing in that city. It discovered that the single largest need was for affordable rental accommodation for single-person households, single people with low and moderate income. When you get right down to it, the most urgent need is for rooming house space.
The city of Ottawa undertook another study at the staff level this year and discovered that, since 1976 when we had 3,000 rooming house accommodations in Ottawa, we have seen a drop-off in the supply of rooming house space for people to call their home. At this period in time, we are down to 1,300 rooming house spaces in Ottawa, and that includes a couple of recent developments that have been undertaken by community-based, non-profit groups and the city of Ottawa's own City Living corporation. In other words, we have seen a drop in the supply of rooming house accommodation of 63 per cent over the period 1976 to 1987.
That has serious social consequences and in Ottawa the city council is beginning to address that. Unfortunately, it has been left to municipalities so far to try to study the problem and bring forward solutions. Although we have had a task force report at the provincial level, we have not had any action in spite of the voluminous report and the clear recommendations of that report. We have the member for Downsview on behalf of the government still describing this as a problem which is so complex it is going to need government study in order to bring forward a bill.
This is not a complex matter. It is a simple matter and it needs to be addressed simply. People who look for rooming house accommodation in Ontario simply do not exist in law; they have no legal protections. The result of that status has been enormous suffering and an increase in the difficulties experienced by people who have the lowest of income in the province and who are most in need of a place to call home.
I keep saying "a place to call home" because that was the name of the provincial task force report and it is a name that summons up in our hearts and in our heads an understanding of what we are talking about when we talk about this subject. There are thousands of people who need a place to call home, where they know they have some rights, so that they can call that little room, that little space, theirs; so that they know they exist legally; so that they cannot be treated as non-persons living in this province as far as their rights to accommodation are concerned.
We have had the member for Downsview talk on behalf of the government about the difficulties of making exemptions for private dwellings and on and on, how complex these things can be in a simple question. He knows perfectly well, or he should after almost two years in this Legislature, that the whole process we have around here legislatively is one where you put forward a proposition for a legislative initiative, the House approves it in principle and it goes to a standing committee, where if need be there can be public hearings and expert opinion brought forward. The members of that committee then bring a recommendation to this Legislature about whether there might be the need for amendment to a piece of legislation.
Frankly, I cannot see it, but if he feels it is so complex why not go that well-established route? We have been travelling that route with legislative initiatives long before he was born. I think it is about time he learned what this kind of process is all about. We need to have people who occupy rooms in Ontario treated as if they are people, with some rights like other people, even though they may have less income than many people of the member's acquaintance and his friendship.
Within the existing Landlord and Tenant Act, we have something we might call the "peace, order and good government" clause. It is a clause of very general application. It says every person shall, in a rental situation, have the right to quiet enjoyment, and "every person" covers every person. A tenant, whether it be a roomer or a tenant in a luxury apartment building -- which the member for Downsview, of course, would be more familiar with -- has an obligation to allow the other people with whom he or she is accommodated the right to quiet enjoyment. If that tenant does not allow other people their right to quiet enjoyment, that tenant can be evicted.
That process is well established. It has been in our law for ages; perhaps unbeknownst to the member for Downsview, but in fact it exists in law and it is used in practice. Under this proposal from my colleague, every tenant and every roomer would have the responsibility to allow for the quiet enjoyment of other people with whom he or she was accommodated. The member for Downsview presents problems that do not exist. Let him just allow us to bring this matter to committee and we can show him in great detail.
I want to address briefly some of the examples of what happens to people who have no rights as roomers. In the city of Ottawa, there has been a clear pattern established as the rooming house market and the supply of accommodation for single households with low incomes shrank. That market has squeezed the people who seek accommodation in it to such an extent that they are at the whim and the mercy of the owner of the building.
We know of cases -- I know of four in Ottawa -- where people who were roomers were told by their landlord -- of course, they have no landlord in law, because in law they are not tenants and do not have rights -- they were told by the owner of their accommodation that their welfare cheques had to be handed over to the owner and services had to be provided for those welfare cheques. It was a kind of work-for-welfare scheme that the owner suggested to them they were living on and living in, in which they would be called upon to provide janitorial services because they were renting a room and because their source of income was a welfare cheque.
This is not just one owner. This is what happens in the kind of market that people are living in. When they questioned that implication, that they should be working for welfare for the owner of their accommodation, they were locked out. Of course, they can be locked out. They can simply be locked out. If you are locked out, and you are working on a construction site and your boots are inside, you cannot go to work.
Owners of rooming house accommodation in the city of Ottawa have evicted people in the middle of the month for no good cause and refused to return the portion of the rent cheque that had already been paid. People who are living on welfare will go to welfare and say: "My whole month's accommodation allowance is gone. Can you help me?" Welfare says, "Sorry, we cannot help you."
There was a case of a couple living in Nepean. The woman was ill. They were living in a tent for several weeks. They finally found a room at a certain price. They were told that with two people living in that room the rent would be doubled -- as if it were a hotel, where in fact they do not double rates for two-person occupancy.
I know of a case where a woman brought to the attention of the property standards branch in Ottawa the problem that existed in her rooming house -- which mainly was that it was a fire hazard -- and she was immediately subjected to sexual harassment by the owner of that accommodation. She left, and worried about what would happen to the other women living in that accommodation.
We must pass this legislation.
Mr. Offer: It is a pleasure to participate in this debate with respect to the motion on Bill 10.
I speak with some of the sensitivities from my riding of Mississauga North, a part of the city of Mississauga, which in recent times has had such a large increase of people moving into the city.
There is no question that housing in all its aspects is at critical levels. There is no denying that; it is at critical levels. I speak from my sensitivities as a member for one of the cities which is having a great increase in population, in industrial, commercial and retail activities. There are great demands at all levels and for all different types of services, not only housing but also education and health. We can go right down the line. Mississauga is not unique in this respect, but in many ways possibly it feels more of the demands and the stresses than some other parts of the province. That does not diminish in any way, shape or form the great need and requirement for affordable housing at all levels.
It is not an easy position. It is not an easy solution. It is one that has to be met. It is one that has to be attacked at many different levels. I would like to say at the outset that this government and the Minister of Housing are indeed attacking that problem. There is not an easy solution to the requirement for affordable housing at all different levels.
The throne speech did indicate that the government would introduce measures to improve conditions of roomers and boarders, and we have already heard about the task force. It has been alluded to by previous speakers.
This particular amendment, though seemingly simple at the outset, must be looked at with respect to the impact that this seemingly simple amendment may have; not would have, but may have. I submit it would be irresponsible on our part not to keep in mind the potential negative impact this amendment may have.
We know that the Bairstow committee recommended including roomers and boarders in the Landlord and Tenant Act, but it also recommended a number of other changes. We know he recommended not just that seemingly simple amendment, but rather exemptions for private homes where owners reside with four or fewer roomers. He wanted exemptions for hotels and motels, for university residences, for accommodation occupied for rehabilitative or therapeutic purposes and for temporary shelters such as hostels.
I do not believe the amendment in Bill 10 comes to grips with the potential negative impact this might have on housing. I know that in a previous life, prior to being the representative for Mississauga North, and even as the representative for Mississauga North, people would come to us and say, "There are too many rights given to tenants." I do not think there is a member in this Legislature who has not heard that. On the other hand, we would hear, "There are too many rights given to landlords." I do not think there is a member who has not heard that also.
I think we must keep in mind that accepting this amendment may provide for a negative impact in that people, private home owners, may be inclined not to admit and not to provide accommodation for roomers and boarders because of the mere fact that the rights provided under Bill 10 would be too much in their opinion. In that respect, we have to be very aware of the negative impact. That is what we have to assess. We have to assess what this amendment would do in the minds of persons who are private home owners. We have to assess what they would think as the people who would be the major suppliers for roomers and the boarders.
To divorce ourselves from that consideration does not do the type of service and justice that roomers and boarders demand. They expect a much greater responsibility on the part of the Legislature. It is because of this that I speak against the amendment to Bill 10, which I do not think will be a great surprise considering what I have previously indicated.
The Minister of Housing and this government have unveiled many other types of programs such as Project 3000, Renterprise, convert-to-rent. We are expending many more dollars with respect to housing, but I do not for a moment say that this means the problems with respect to affordable housing at all levels shall be and now are a thing of the past. Unfortunately, they are not. There is a constant demand on governments and officials at all levels to meet the demands and needs of those who require affordable housing.
I suggest to the member who proposed it, because I have heard him and I know from where he speaks, that this particular bill and this particular amendment may not rectify and remedy the problem for which the amendment was proposed. Although I compliment him, I must stand against it. There is no question in my mind that this is going to have an impact on the private home owners so that they will be more reluctant to take in roomers and boarders.
In conclusion, I stand against the amendment. I wish to reiterate that this government and the Minister of Housing are doing great work at all different levels for all different types of housing through this province so the critical need and the increasing demands for housing will be met and affordable housing will be a right for everyone in this province. I suggest Bill 10 takes one step away from that particular purpose, which this government and this minister have promoted in the past and will promote in the future.
Mr. Reville: It is hard to believe what terror of indecision my little bill has cast into the hearts of my Liberal colleagues opposite. I want to respond to some of the comments made this morning.
The member for Downsview worked himself into a veritable paroxysm of ecstasy over what his government is doing for roomers. Clearly, the roomers who had lived at 433 Ontario and who left the courtroom yesterday, do not share that view. While I am delighted that the government has embarked on Project 3000, not one single unit is occupied in this province, nor will one unit be occupied for some time to come. In the meantime, because of the inaction of this government, tens and hundreds of roomers may be out on the street, joining the lineup of those who are already there. There are 20,000 waiting for those 3,000 units, so the member can see how inadequate and pusillanimous the government effort is.
My little bill has been accused of being a simple solution. A simple problem requires a simple solution. The problem my little bill addresses is simply this: it provides security of tenure for people who live in rooming houses. It is not, as the member for Mississauga North (Mr. Offer) said, a complex problem; this is a simple problem. It is typically paternalistic and Liberal to try to make a complicated problem out of a simple problem.
We have seen the consistent recipe for inaction from this government. What they do is set up a task force. The task force struggles mightily and emits a report. Then they set up an advisory committee to look at the report that their task force has emitted. All the while, people are getting evicted.
My two colleagues from northwest of Metro worry about what impact Bill 10 might have. Let me tell them what impact their inaction has had. In the last 10 days, 167 people in one riding of this province are out on the street. That is the riding of St. George-St. David, where we are seeing the disappearance of our last great stock of rooming houses. At the snail's pace at which this government moves, it will take 20 years to rehouse the people it is now dehousing.
My dear colleague the member for Ottawa Centre (Ms. Gigantes), who is given to making astounding statements all the time, has offered this Legislature the astounding proposition that roomers are people. As usual, she is absolutely dead right. Roomers are people, and I think it is shocking that the government of Ontario, which is making much of its effort in respect of the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, is too gutless and too goofy and too indecisive to protect the people in our province who have the least leverage. Shame on this government.
If I could speak to the member from the southwest corner of the province, I would advise him what the United Nations defines as homelessness. I ask the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) to listen to this: "Anyone who does not have security of tenure is homeless." That is what the United Nations says in this the Year of Shelter for the Homeless.
This province, which is richer by far than virtually any nation in the United Nations, is declining to give security of tenure to its poorest people. The government cannot get away with it. It is shocking.
Mr. Mancini: You're getting carried away with yourself.
Mr. Reville: I say to the member, "Don't you dare stand up." Is it not amazing that the United Nations would include a person living at 209 Canton Street, which is valued at $465,000, as homeless because, in fact, at any minute a knock can come on the door and the big shadow in the doorway can say, "Get on your way"? The person in that room is powerless to do anything whatsoever about it.
Sometimes a legal clinic will say, "Let us go off to the court, and we will try to get the court to do what the legislators have declined to do, what the legislators are afraid to do, as they wallow around in pious claptrap, worrying that somehow, somebody, somewhere in this province might not have a rooming house because a tenant in a rooming house would be protected." I have never heard such nonsense. In 1983 in the city of Toronto there were 905 licensed rooming houses. In 1987 there are 657, a decline of 27 per cent. Am I going to be told that it is because roomers are unprotected that rooming houses have declined? I say to the members: "Come on. Have a little sense."
My colleague the member for Burlington South (Mr. Jackson) has made some useful suggestions. He has talked about those few instances, probably in the smaller centres in Ontario, where Mrs. Murphy decides -- he will remember Mrs. Murphy's rooming house that Mr. Kennedy talked about. He probably does not remember. I do not think he remembers much. Let me remind members that there may be a lovely woman wearing a kind of paisley dress with some chintz curtains, who wants to offer a room in her home, and bless her if she does, because people need rooms. It may be that in that case, when we are talking about rooms in primary residences, we should create some exemptions for that; but let me remind my dear colleagues that in fact the Landlord and Tenant Act does provide a number of causes for which one can be evicted.
None of the 167 people who were evicted in the last 10 days committed any of the offences in the Landlord and Tenant Act. They were not disruptive, they were not behind in their rent and they did not beat down the landlord's door with an axe. They were going about their business quietly and, because the landlord thought it was time to cash in and make a ton of bucks on the home they were out in the street.
Should somebody in a rooming house break the law, a simple 911 call will bring the police, who will drag him off and charge him if there is suspicion that he has committed an offence. Let us not be absolutely silly about this. I know that before tenants in other kinds of accommodation got the protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act, those land owners said, "`There will be no more accommodation should you protect tenants from whatever our whim is." There are 1.2 million rental units in this province which turn a nice profit for those who own them and they are quite cheerful to stay in that business. Let us not be so goofy.
This bill must go off to committee. By all means, members should bring their concerns there. We can have the member for Essex South come to the committee too. He can bring whatever puny concerns he may have as well, and we will look at them carefully. I will tell you this, Mr. Speaker, if this government chickens out today on Bill 10 --
Mr. Mancini: What will the member do?
Mr. Reville: It is not what I am going to do; it is the impact on the remaining 100,000 or so roomers in this province who are going to continue to be victims of a housing boom and who cannot protect themselves with the Landlord and Tenant Act, as can every other tenant in the province. Every one of those people on the street is a mockery of the intention of this government to do something serious about the housing problems. Something serious can be done by passing this bill.
I say to members, screw up your courage, vote for Bill 10 and get it to the standing committee on administration of justice. Let us make it law, with whatever exceptions that committee thinks have to happen, and let us start protecting roomers instead of abandoning them to the street.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. The time allotted for this ballot item has expired.
Mr. Dean moved resolution 7:
That in the opinion of this House, recognizing that many regions of this province, particularly northern and eastern Ontario, are being discriminated against with regard to gasoline prices, this House recommends that the Treasurer of Ontario, in his budget, bring about changes to the methods of calculating and applying the gasoline tax so that the price for gasoline may be equalized throughout the province.
The Deputy Speaker: The honourable member has up to 20 minutes for his presentation and may reserve any portion of that for his windup.
Mr. Dean: It is most unfortunate that the government blocked the transfer of a resolution similar to this one, standing in the name of the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon), as was requested last week by our party with the support of the third party.
It is obvious the government is very touchy on the issue of gasoline prices in northern and eastern Ontario; it does not want to talk about them. Today, this House will talk about fair gasoline prices all over the province, even if the government does not care about them.
In our society, it is self-evident that transportation is one of our essential services. Throughout our province, auto and truck transport is the way almost all our travelling is done and is the means by which most of our goods are distributed. All our residents, in every part of Ontario, depend on such services and cannot get along without them.
It is not fair, therefore, that our fellow citizens in parts of eastern and northern Ontario are forced to pay more for gasoline than what is charged in the rest of the province. My resolution calls on the Treasurer, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), who I wish were in his seat today to hear this important debate, to change the government's method of calculating and applying the gasoline tax so that the price of gasoline may be equalized throughout Ontario.
I am stating unequivocally that I am one of many members in our party who want to see action by the government on this vital issue. I ask for the support of all members of all parties for this fair-minded resolution. The Treasurer has a golden opportunity to effect this change in his budget of next week. I am sure he is looking for substantial support from us, his colleagues in all parties, so that his resolve to carry out this desirable change may be strengthened. By passing this resolution, we demonstrate our belief that all citizens of Ontario should have equal treatment when they buy gasoline; that is, fair treatment.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the honourable member wish to reserve the last 17 minutes and 48 seconds?
Mr. Dean: No.
Mr. Morin-Strom: In rising to participate in this debate, I want to state how important I feel this issue is to residents right across northern Ontario. I welcome the fact that the resolution also addresses prices in eastern Ontario. This is an issue that affects people throughout the province, in rural areas, in the more isolated areas of the north, eastern Ontario and some areas in southwestern Ontario. The fact is that we are paying gasoline prices quite a bit higher than those in the Golden Horseshoe area of the province, and it is about time this government took some action to equalize those prices across this province.
It is an issue we have worked hard on and advocated long throughout this term of the Legislature. It was the first issue I brought forward as an issue of concern to my community when I had my first opportunity to speak in this Legislature, in question period. I have pursued it since then but with little impact in terms of tangible government action by either the Conservative members who were in power at the time the Legislature started up two years ago or by the Liberal government which succeeded them.
The accord agreement with the Liberals asked that a major inquiry be conducted into the price differential between northern and southern Ontario. That study clearly showed the discrepancies; the fact they came up with was that on average, residents in northern Ontario are paying an additional $130 a year just because of the average differential of about five cents a litre between northern and southern Ontario. In many communities, the differential is much higher than that. I recognize it is not only in the north but also eastern Ontario, and I hope we can address those differentials as well by taking action that would ensure prices are equalized across this province.
I have some serious concerns about the sincerity of the Conservative members on this issue, however. They had many years in government to act on this issue and never took any government initiative to do anything. In recent months, they have taken up this cause, particularly in northern Ontario, because I am sure they recognize the popularity of this issue among the people and the concerns that are being expressed by northern residents on this issue.
I commend the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane), who 10 years ago presented a bill to the Legislature asking that gasoline prices be equalized throughout the province. I would far prefer that the member in his resolution had advocated the action the member for Algoma-Manitoulin proposed 10 years ago, that oil companies which wished to sell gasoline in Ontario would be required to sell that gasoline for the same price in every community in this province. It is that kind of regulation that is required to ensure we do get equalized gasoline prices and that we are no longer paying the high cost, the high penalty, for our location at a time when we in the north, because of the longer distances required and the absolute necessity of automobiles, have no choice but to pay more as it is today, and generally drive greater distances as well.
The Conservative members should look back at the bill that had been presented by the member for Algoma-Manitoulin 10 years ago. We had a bit of discussion on this several days ago, in which the member for Algoma-Manitoulin stood in his place and stated that this kind of legislation had been advocated by him at that time and should be brought back to this Legislature.
That is the direction I think we have to go. I am not sure what the Treasurer can do in his budget. I hope he does take some action that will lead towards elimination of the differentials in prices of gasoline between the north and the south, but I think it is going to take far greater action than has been suggested specifically within this resolution.
Regulation alone has its risks, certainly when we talk about the kind of regulation that has been instituted on other issues by this Liberal government. Our current Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Kwinter) announced several weeks ago he was going to regulate the insurance rates in the province. As we have found out there, a freeze is not necessarily a freeze, a cap on prices is not necessarily a cap, and a reduction of 10 per cent on certain insurance rates is not necessarily a reduction at all. Consumers in this province are still getting auto insurance increases of 20 per cent or more from what they were paying six months or 12 months ago. In fact, this government has taken no action in that area, which also affects the drivers of this province and which is a very important issue of basic injustice and unfairness to the consumers of this province.
We do not want to see that kind of action come from this government. We want to see some action that has some force and some teeth and that will ensure the prices are fair in this province.
I would also say there is some competition within this province. One of the major problems in the north is the fact that there is no competition. The study that was done by this Liberal government, which had no conclusions whatsoever, did come up with some interesting facts though, including graphs such as this one on comparative gasoline prices between Sault Ste. Marie and Guelph.
As we can see, the price in the Sault is anywhere from five cents to 12 cents a litre higher than in Guelph over a long period. While the Guelph prices go up and down on a week-to-week basis, the Sault Ste. Marie prices have one fluctuation over a period of a number of months; just one shift, which was an increase of 1.5 cents. In fact, that one shift was not because of any competitive pressures; it was because there was an increase in the federal gasoline tax rate imposed by the Conservative government federally at that time.
There is no indication that there is any competition in prices in northern Ontario, particularly in communities of the Sault area, where there are no independent operators. The price is set by one of the major outlets, and the other gasoline distributors fix their prices identical to that. The dealers we have talked to -- and I have talked to a number of them -- say they cannot do anything about it because they are told to work only with their margin. They are not given what the price is going to be; they are told by the people in Toronto what the price they are going to be given is. They have a three-cent margin to work with and that is all they can deal with.
I ask this government to take action on this issue before an election is called. Over the two years since the accord was signed, the government has had the chance to take action on one of the major initiatives that was in that accord, and that was a major investigation of the price differentials between northern and southern Ontario. It took them eight months before the study was even commenced. It took them another eight months before the study was completed. It was supposed to be a major inquiry; in fact, it turned out to be a farce, with insufficient notice to the general public. The public was not able to make full presentations.
The details of what is going on internally within the oil industry, the setting of gasoline prices and the kinds of contracts that are being imposed on the local dealers that prevent them from competing on prices were not addressed by that study. Most serious, the conclusions were totally superficial. The conclusions were, of course, that we are paying $130 more per consumer in northern Ontario and that the reasons are the transportation cost to get up to northern Ontario, the lack of competition in the north and the fact that there are fewer consumers in the north. We know those facts, but there were no recommendations in that study for what the government was going to do about it.
The government has abandoned its role to represent the legitimate interests of the consumers of this province and to take action to see that we do have the price of gasoline equalized, not only across northern Ontario versus southern Ontario but also across the whole province. If a company wants to be in the gasoline business, it should be able to provide gasoline for the same price to every consumer in this province.
M. Fontaine: M. le Président, c'est avec grande surprise, il y a deux ou trois semaines, je suis allé à North Bay et lisais dans les journaux que M. Harris faisait campagne pour défendre les parties du Nord contre le prix de la gazoline.
I would like to remind the House that there was a Royal Commission on Petroleum Products Pricing in 1977 or 1976 by Claude Isbister. This royal commission was started by the former Conservative government and in this report there is a section about northern Ontario. As my friend the member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Morin-Strom) said, this was tabled with the previous government in June or July 1976 and there were some good points made about gas in northern Ontario.
I know we can blame the government and we can blame the big companies in all this, but it is a fact in northern Ontario the dealers or the wholesale people are taking more per litre. In this report, the one my friend does not like, the one we did last year, there is the fact that in some areas the dealers or the wholesale people are taking more per litre.
This is a fact. I think that royal commission had the power to get the facts that perhaps we did not get last year. It was over a year and we found after 10 years that it confirmed the figures. That is not only the fault of this company or that company, but it is general in northern Ontario or in the east, where there is less volume, that the distributor takes more. It varies between 2.8 and eight cents a litre, and then by gallon there was an eight-cent difference between Kapuskasing and Hearst at the wholesale price level and the retail price.
Then there is talk about the tax. Tax reduction was put in place in other provinces such as Quebec. In Quebec, they reduced the tax in isolated regions by 4.2 cents a litre, but still, after a few months, the price was up again. We looked into that. To say we did not look at it is not right. We worked at it too. We did not spend the time just dreaming.
Mr. Morin-Strom: Undoubtedly.
Mr. Fontaine: Never mind. The member can talk after. He will get a rebuttal.
We looked at the Quebec situation after that. We looked at the Nova Scotia situation. Nova Scotia had a regulated price. It is still at 50.8. They put it down by two cents not too long ago; I guess because an election is coming up, but still it was higher.
Mr. Fontaine: The member for Rainy River (Mr. Pierce) should shut up, because his government has done nothing with this. Also, the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier) asked for another price for the real north, but he did nothing because up there they paid $4 or $5 a gallon on the reserve. It is a report that I found when I was Minister of Northern Development and Mines, and they did nothing about it.
At least we recommended to the people who worked for the northern development councils and the members that this year we should reduce the tax; because if we reduce the tax by four cents, the problem at Red Lake, at Chapleau, at Hearst and at Red Rock will still be the same. You will be a hero tomorrow if you reduce the tax by four cents, but the next day the guy who lives in Chapleau will still pay eight cents more than one in Kapuskasing.
Mr. Laughren: What does that tell you?
Mr. Fontaine: Never mind.
We recommended to the NDCs that we put more money into roads instead of reducing the price at this point. The NDCs came out for it. There were nine NDCs, and there was one dissent on reducing the price and then half of Sudbury was for reducing the price. The rest said we should put the money into the roads.
At the same time, what is fun over here is that every time there is a budget coming up some people ask for debates so they can go back to their ridings, and if there is something in the budget they are going to say we did it because we figured there was an election tomorrow. That is all they are doing it for; that is it. If it were coming from the New Democratic Party I would accept it, but coming from that side I do not accept it. They had from 1976 to 1985 to do something about this and they did nothing. The report of the royal commission said they should do something, but they have done nothing with it.
Mr. Gordon: That is no argument.
Mr. Fontaine: I do not have to take anything from him. I will listen to this side instead. I have nothing to do with him.
I think my friends from the third party are on the right track. I know they used it in the election last year, or two years ago. I think they won two or three ridings with it. Now the Conservatives are trying to do the same thing because they are scared in the north; they are shaking. Now they are trying to use that as the NDP did a few years ago to win a few votes, but the people will not listen to that because it is going to be all over the north what they did with that report.
At least we are going to do something with our small report. We are going to try to do as was done with food. We are considering a number of options to help increase the level of competition in gasoline marketing in northern Ontario. Past experience in the food sector has shown that with accurate information it worked with the public. It has worked in the food sector, and we are going to try it again. We are going to use some money to reduce the tax; we are going to put it in the roads. The members saw in the throne speech that we are committed.
I want to remind my honourable friend that 15 years ago the gas station -- I used to own a gas station at one time. We used to take 14 cents a gallon in Hearst. In Timmins at that time they were working with eight cents and 12 cents on number one, and we were working on 14 cents and 17 cents in Hearst. The wholesale people used to work on seven cents a gallon in Hearst and they worked on three cents in Kapuskasing or Timmins. That had nothing to do with Imperial Oil or Esso; that was our markup.
At the same time, today the service stations are not doing repairs any more, so they have to rely on the gas or the oil, and it is 4,000 or 10,000 miles before the oil needs to be changed so there is less oil to be sold. The service stations today need more money. That is one of the big problems we found. How we are going to change that, I do not know.
I repeat that I was in Red Rock the other day. There was eight cents a litre difference between Red Rock and Nipigon on the highway. I guess the small service station there was working on eight, nine or seven cents. I did not check, but I know that in some places they are working with only 2.8 cents, and some wholesalers work with 3.2 cents. There is a wholesale price difference between Toronto and Chapleau of 2.3 cents and there is only half a cent difference in wholesale price between Marathon and Toronto.
This is a problem that I do not think we can change by regulating. Looking at the price at the self-serve pump. The crude cost is equal all over the country. When you come to the provincial tax, the federal tax, there is a movement; then we have refining and marketing costs, and profit. We use only 7.5 cents in Toronto; some other provinces use 13. At the retail level in Toronto, they work on 2.9 cents.
Mr. Morin-Strom: Tell them to give it to every retailer for the same price.
Mr. Fontaine: That is the problem. It is okay to have that dream. I had that same dream. I was in Hearst all my life. When you look into it deeper it is not that easy, but I think there are other ways.
We are going to try other ways. We are going to put more money into roads and save some mileage for the people going from Chapleau to Sudbury. First, we will repair our roads; and second, we will look at other ways to do that before we say we should cut that equally. If it was that easy, somebody would have done something with this. The report did not recommend it that way either after a year of investigating the prices in Ontario. This is for the price in Ontario. There is a section on page 81 that talks about northern Ontario. That is where members will find what I am saying.
The posted price showed 4.7 cents difference between Timmins and Kapuskasing. The dealers' margin was 3.7 at that time. We confirmed that this year. It is easy to go and say things to the people to win votes, but when you come to apply a solution it is different because the small village of Hearst or Red Rock will still be faced with the same differential whether you raise the price or not. Tomorrow, if you took four cents off in the north, the next day northerners would still pay 10 cents more because the dealer takes a bit more. That is the truth.
Can we regulate the dealers? We cannot regulate the dealers. Maybe we can regulate the price at the level of the refining, I do not know, but we cannot tell a dealer who sells gas, "You should sell it at three cents, four cents or five cents less." Can we say, "That is enough of that"? No way. I do not want to see that in this country yet. We are not Communists.
Mr. Morin-Strom: You put it to every dealer in the province for the same price, René.
Mr. Fontaine: I have sold gas for 25 years, and I buy more gas in one day than members buy in a whole year, so I know how much it costs too. When I used to be in the lumber business we went through five million gallons a day. Still, we cannot regulate the dealer. The truth is the dealer and the wholesaler take eight cents too much. That is all. That we cannot change.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Polsinelli): Order. The member's time has expired.
Mr. Gordon: It would just be great if we sent the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine) out on the hustings in the north to explain why people should be paying more for gasoline.
More than one year ago, I received a letter from the Minister of Energy (Mr. Kerrio) heralding the arrival of the north-south gasoline pricing study. I would like to quote from that letter sent to me by the Minister of Energy in reply to a letter I sent him asking that gas prices be lowered. The minister told me, more than a year ago, "You will also be aware that the government considers this study to be the first stage in the resolution of this issue."
In other words, they said that the north-south gasoline study put together by this government on the other side was the first stage in bringing about a resolution of the issue. The north is still waiting for the changes in gasoline prices that the government intimated it was going to bring about.
On December 2, 1986, I wrote to the Premier (Mr. Peterson), who is Minister of Northern Development and Mines, urging him to implement a gas equalization policy. I would like to quote exactly what the Premier said in reply to my letter. His reply was a pure and simple defence of the status quo.
Mr. Laughren: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I really do think that the member for Sudbury's privileges are being abused by his own back-benchers who are heckling him. I wonder if he could make a stop to that.
The Deputy Speaker: If it were correct, it would be a point of order. However, the point is well taken that several members of the official opposition, not being in their seats, are being very noisy even as I speak.
Mr. Warner: Heckling their own member.
The Deputy Speaker: Yes, and the member for Cochrane North is also aiding that noise. Could we please have some more silence for the member for Sudbury?
Mr. Gordon: The Premier's reply is rather interesting. He wrote back saying, "Higher margins for gasoline may be justified."
I would like to say to the Premier that northerners do not believe that higher margins for gasoline are justified. Northerners are fed up; northerners do not want to pay for this ripoff any more. This is the kind of thing that takes money out of the pockets of ordinary people; out of pensioners' pockets, out of the pockets of people who are living on fixed incomes and out of the pockets of people who are carrying a lunch pail in the northern part of this province. It is just not fair.
As a result of the Premier's letter, I launched a campaign in northern Ontario to get gasoline prices lowered. I want to tell the House today what happened. Do members know that across this great province of ours, and particularly in northern Ontario, we had overwhelming support? Through letters and resolutions, the northern municipalities indicated to us that they wanted gas prices lowered. The chambers of commerce said the same thing and so did the travel associations. Ordinary northerners wrote letters to the Premier and to the Treasurer. They sent petitions, all of them saying: "We want gas prices lowered. We are tired of this ripoff. We are tired of being taxed to live in the north." That was their reply.
I think back to what was said in the throne speech, that this government was looking for northerners to tell them what we believed was essential, what we thought should happen in the north. One of those home-grown ideas, and an overwhelming idea, was to cut the price of gas in northern Ontario. That is what the ordinary northerner said.
I think it is rather sad. Two years ago, the Premier of this province, when he was campaigning in northern Ontario, promised that he would see that the cost of gasoline between north and south was equalized. He said that. He said it in Sudbury, and we have reporters there who can verify that. It is a shame that today he is saying, "The margin on gasoline may be justified." How fast they forget about ordinary people once they get their limousines and big offices. The ordinary people in the north deserve a break.
I would like also to say it was sad that this government chose last week to refuse to debate my resolution to cut the price of gasoline in the north. That is one of the first times that has happened in years in this House. I cannot think of another precedent like that.
I want to thank the member for Wentworth (Mr. Dean) for making it possible for me to get up today to talk for ordinary northerners in this province. The government is not going to be able to stop the people of the north from expressing their views. We have a right to debate an issue like that today and we are going to be looking very closely at the government members to see which way they vote on this issue. If they vote against this resolution to equalize gas prices between north and south, what they are saying is: "We do not believe in our campaign promises. We do not believe northerners deserve a break."
Do members know that the difference between what someone makes living in the south or living in the north is now $5,000 a year? Do members not think that person should have the chance of having some of the same opportunities as people who live in the south? Do they not think that person should have his gasoline equalized instead of having to carry on in this way? I want the members of the government to understand this. We in the north view this as a tax for living in the north, and it is just not fair.
I know what the government is going to say. It is going to say, "We are going to use that money on roads." Now what the government is telling us is that it is going to use the money it raised from northerners to pay for roads for northerners. I have to tell them, no one is going to be impressed by that. People are not fooled.
I would like also to point out to the members on the other side that the advisory committee on resource dependent communities, which had as its chairman Dr. Rosehart -- and our government took pains to appoint people who represented the north -- recommended that there be a cut in gas tax of at least five cents a litre. Yet today we have the member for Cochrane North standing up and blathering away about how he used to run a gas station and saying that northerners -- I cannot believe he said this -- should pay more for gasoline to prop up the gas stations across the north. I do not think the northerners are going to buy that argument. I think it is a weak argument and a foolish argument.
I would go so far as to say this: we in northern Ontario know there are two Ontarios today. There is the prosperous southern Ontario, where unemployment has almost been wiped out. We have a southern Ontario where the economy is booming. Yet we have seen over 20,000 jobs disappear in northern Ontario in the last two years. It is time northerners got a break on their gasoline. It is time they stopped paying a tax that is both regressive and unfair.
I would just like to point out what happens in a small town in northern Ontario. Let us take Chapleau, for example. The people of Chapleau pay on average 50 cents a gallon more for gasoline than the people down here in southern Ontario. We are not talking for the Sudburys, we are not talking just for the North Bays or the Timminses, we are talking for the little people, the small communities. Do members know, for example, that at present Chapleau has the lowest per capita income in the north? Yet these people are being hosed. They are no farther away in actual miles than places like Wawa or Timmins, yet they are paying more. It is not fair, it is not right and it should be changed.
For example, if you owned a Monte Carlo, you lived in Chapleau and you filled the tank twice a week -- which is quite conceivable; they do a lot of long-distance driving in the north -- you would be paying $759.20 more a year in cost of gasoline than someone living in southern Ontario.
In conclusion, I want to say that northerners are tired of losing their jobs. We are tired of having tourists come to the north and tell us they are not coming back because they pay too much for gasoline, it is costing them too much. We are tired of a government that has shown such insensitivity to northerners. It is only fair that this government lower the price of gasoline. It has the power; we expect it to do it.
Mr. Laughren: Whenever I hear this debate going on, I always think it is appropriate that the word "gas" is involved in it.
I must say the resolution as put by the member for Wentworth is a very strange one, because there are two principles involved in his resolution, as I understand it. One is the question of equalization of prices and the other is the question of who pays for the equalization of prices for gasoline across this province.
I think it is appropriate to reread the member's resolution. It states:
"That in the opinion of this House, recognizing that many regions of this province, particularly northern and eastern Ontario, are being discriminated against with regard to gasoline prices, this House recommends that the Treasurer of Ontario, in his budget, bring about changes to the methods of calculating and applying the gasoline tax so that the price for gasoline may be equalized throughout the province."
The member is saying the prices should be equalized: no problems from this caucus. He is also saying, though, the taxpayers of the province should pay for that equalization. That is what the member is saying. The member is saying it is not the fault of the private sector for causing this inequality for northerners and easterners. That is what he is saying. He says it is not the fault of the private sector. I do not know where he got that information. How did the member come to the conclusion that it was not the private sector that was raising the prices to unacceptable levels in northern Ontario? Where did he get that information? I did not hear him give us any. If he is saying it is the tax system in Ontario that is discriminating against northerners, let him stand up and say so and let him admit that his government endorsed that policy for many years. He has not said that.
The member for Cochrane North is more honest in his response. He said we could lower the tax today by four cents or whatever and tomorrow the retail price would be right back up to where it was before. I agree with the member; that is exactly what would happen. What he did not do was tell us why. He did not say what that says about the oil and gas industry in this province. He did not make that final statement. He left it hanging. I think the people of Ontario will draw their own conclusions on that. If we lower the tax by four cents a litre and the next day the price is the same, somebody is taking advantage of the market.
I represent a community called Chapleau that has been abused by the oil and gas industry. There is absolutely no question about that; no question whatsoever. The service station operators in Chapleau blame the industry, the suppliers. The industry -- and we have correspondence to back this up -- blames the service stations. Who is sitting on the sidelines digging deeper and deeper into their pockets while this argument is going on? The motorists in Chapleau. The same is true for motorists all across northern Ontario.
I find it very strange that we have this bizarre debate going on, with the Tories saying, "Let the taxpayers pay for what the industry is doing to drivers in northern Ontario;" and the Liberal government saying: "We do not think the taxpayers should pay for that. As a matter of fact, we do not think anybody should, except the motorists in northern Ontario." That is exactly what they are saying.
If they do not want the industry to pay the price of equalization and they do not want the taxpayers to pay the price of equalization, then they simply do not want equalization.
I was taken aback when the member for Cochrane North, in response to some out-of-order heckling from this side -- I cannot remember from whom -- said: "You cannot set the price of the retail level. We are not Communists." We are not Communists; retail price? The member said we cannot set the retail price in this country because we are not Communists.
Shall we look at all the retail prices that are regulated? Are those Tories, because they regulated the price of beer and liquor, a bunch of Commies? I think the privileges of the Tories have been abused by the member for Cochrane North. I have never met a Commie in the Tory party; I never have, and I am prepared to go on record with that.
I really find it strange, because we have a choice to make if we are serious about the equalization of gasoline prices in northern and eastern Ontario. Either the taxpayers of Ontario pay for that equalization or the industry pays for the equalization. If one of those two do not, then we will continue to have the inequality we have now.
This is a classic case where if the industry does not put its own house in order government will. It is like the auto insurance industry. Because they have allowed the drivers to be abused on auto insurance rates, the government is moving in. In some way or another, either through the public auto insurance plan or through regulation, which the minister is rambling about, one way or the other there is going to be intervention in the marketplace and those lovers of free enterprise out there will wring their hands and say: "Too much government intervention. That is the problem with this country and this province."
But in virtually every single case where there has been government intervention, it has been because of abuses by the private sector. This is just another example; if the industry does not get its house in order and equalize the price across northern and eastern Ontario, government, whatever government, will have no option but to intervene and do it on behalf of the consumers of northern and eastern Ontario.
So the industry has a choice. The industry has a clear choice, and if it chooses to go the route of not putting its house in order itself, then I would suggest government will have no choice. The Liberal-appointed task force, affectionately referred to in northern Ontario as the dog-and-pony show, travelled the province a couple of years ago; and when that group went around northern Ontario it concluded that the cost of transportation was about one and a half cents per litre more, as I recall.
We know the price of gasoline in Chapleau is a lot more than that above the transportation costs. I think the member for Sudbury used the price of 50 cents per gallon above what it is in Toronto. I do not think the people in Chapleau and other communities in the north should be paying 50 cents more per gallon. What has allowed the industry to get away with it was the whole conversion to metric, which allowed the industry to jack up prices, one, two, three and four cents a litre. It would never have dared do that if it was cents per gallon, priced in gallons. Even though I am not one of those opponents of the metric system, when I see abuses like this I say the private sector is begging for intervention. As a matter of tact, it is challenging the government to intervene. If the government chooses not to do so, then of course it will pay the price.
It is silly to talk about whether there is political grandstanding or whether it is being used for political purposes. What in the world are we here for if not to use leverage in order to effect government policy?
On this side of the House, we have no hesitation in saying to the government it is time to intervene in the marketplace. They are abusing the motorists of northern Ontario and it is the responsibility of government to intervene on behalf of the motorists of northern Ontario.
Mr. Ramsay: I would like to tell the honourable member before he leaves that I will be voting in favour of this resolution. I am sorry he does not want to hear it.
Mr. Laughren: It is taxpayers' pay.
Mr. Ramsay: I am not exactly in favour of the mechanism, because probably the taxpayers should not pay.
The problem with trying to wrestle with this situation in the north is the discrepancy in prices throughout the small towns and big cities of northern Ontario, from the northwest to the northeast. Sometimes when you are travelling around you find the prices are on par, and the odd time some prices in the north have been lower than those in the south. I think the trick is that we all feel there has to be some sort of equality in the prices paid; but what mechanism do we adopt to do this, that is the problem.
I would argue with some of the statements made in the House today about who are the culprits in this. I think it might be possible to lower, say the tax in northern Ontario and to control it at the wholesale or company level, but how do you control it from town to town, from station to station through the small operator? That is the problem.
It is a problem of enforcement of control that is a concern of the government, and I would certainly welcome the ideas of the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris), the member for Sudbury and the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) on how we can do these things, because we share the same concerns.
As a northerner, I spend much time in my car and on the highways. Maybe we have differences of opinion on how we have to go about solving this problem, but in the north this type of issue -- highways and gas -- is a people issue. We spend a lot of time in our automobiles, travelling great distances. It is not uncommon for people in the north to commute 60, 70 or 80 miles to work. Obviously, the condition of the highways and the price of gas are of vital concern to northerners.
Mr. Laughren: You are talking out of both sides of your mouth.
Mr. Ramsay: No, I am not talking out of both sides of my mouth.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Ramsay: At this time in northern Ontario, the self-service price is lower than the Canadian average, and that is taking an average of northern Ontario prices. If you go to Thunder Bay, North Bay and Sudbury, you have gas prices a couple of cents more a litre than in the south, but if you go to Red Rock and Nipigon you get very expensive prices, sometimes up to 10 cents a litre more. How do we control that? What mechanism do we use?
The member for Wentworth, who proposed this motion, talks about using a mechanism of tax adjustment. How fine-tuned do you make that mechanism in order to deal with the discrepancies in the different towns and regions of the north? That is a very difficult problem when you have to deliver a program. We know there is a problem and we accept that. How do you regulate and control that?
I will be voting in favour of this. It is obviously a challenge to our government to deal with this problem. We thank the member for bringing it up.
Mr. Harris: I am pleased to rise in the Legislature today to support this resolution. I want to compliment the member for Sudbury, who first put this resolution for debate, and I want to say how disappointed I was, as he expressed earlier, that the government would not allow that resolution to proceed. Also, I want to thank the member for Wentworth for allowing this resolution to go ahead today standing in his name. I think it shows a great sensitivity to what is happening in northern Ontario at this particular time of our political life.
I also want to congratulate the member for Timiskaming (Mr. Ramsay), who I think recognizes there is a problem. Even though he was not a member of that party when it toured the north and made a commitment to equalize gas prices, now that he is a member of that party he recognizes it is not good enough to say, "Forget what we promised two years ago in the campaign. Forget that we said we would address the problem." He has come forward and said: "Yes, it is difficult. There may be some problems."
Do you get into total regulation? I have to be the first guy to tell members that this is not a new problem; it is a growing problem, a severe problem. It is particularly relevant now for two reasons. It is particularly relevant now because the disparity between the north and the south has been very much more pronounced in the past couple of years than it had been in the past.
Second, there are significant dollars available for the government to do something about it at this particular time. The member for Sudbury and I have talked about this issue. It was difficult to go to a Treasurer in 1982, 1983 and 1984 -- we went; we talked about it -- and say we needed $100 million when the government was $2 billion in the hole and there was a recession on and it did not have the money to address this problem.
So I do not apologize. I do not apologize for fighting for the past six years for northern Ontario. I do not apologize for fighting two years ago, I do not apologize for fighting last year and I do not apologize for fighting right now for northern Ontario and something that can be done.
When we get to this particular resolution: some have said four cents, some have said five cents and some have said to regulate prices. I want to talk about regulating prices. I have had difficulty with that. There is no point in following the example of Nova Scotia, having regulated prices and having them equal in the north and the south if they are higher than they are now. I do not want equalized 55-cent-a-litre gasoline prices throughout this province, and regulation leads to that. Big companies -- you see it in Bell Canada, the gas companies and Ontario Hydro -- have more lawyers, more accountants, more people who can justify all the cost pass-throughs, and I firmly believe that will lead to even higher prices. So I do think the government has to play a role.
Some of my colleagues may disagree with me, but I do not object to service station operators making a living either, and it is more difficult in the north. That is one of the reasons government has to get involved. They do not have the same volumes; we know that. But the old argument of transportation costs is a very small part of this problem. It is the lack of competition, the lack of price wars and the higher cost of doing business in northern Ontario.
When we look at all those options, I come down to the one where I think the government and I have said it should look at the taxation policy -- any government has to sit down with the oil companies. They have to say: "Here is what is happening. Never mind all the arguments about why it is happening and telling us the profit margins and everything else. It is happening. We have the bucks. We have the money right now. We are going to help the north."
Maybe it should be eight cents a litre. What the heck is the matter with doing a little something to stimulate northern Ontario? Maybe we should eliminate the gasoline tax in the north altogether. It would cost about $142 million.
Let members ask any person in northern Ontario, any council, any business or any tourist operator: "What would it do for you in northern Ontario, Mr. Industrial Commissioner, if gas were eight cents a litre lower? Would that help you attract industry? Would that keep the bus tours rolling through? Would that encourage the trucking companies to keep coming through northern Ontario instead of going through the United States? Would that help your trucking businesses? Would that help your transportation costs?" It would help literally everybody.
I have said fair is fair. Number one, the government should live up to the campaign promise of two years ago. It was a good promise, a promise I agreed with. The government is now in the position and has the power to do it, so it should live up to it.
Number two, the government's promise was to attempt to equalize. Its own study says on average four cents. That will not solve all the individual problems. It is not going to be perfect. There is still going to be a little difference here and there. There will be a big gas war in Guelph or some place, and they will get it for 25 cents a litre for a week; but on average, the study says that is what has happened. If the government lives up to that promise, that is what it will do.
I would be the first one to encourage the government to go even further and say, "Let us do something to stimulate northern Ontario; it is at a great disadvantage right now." Why are the auto parts companies getting grants and everything to locate in southern Ontario? The government argues, and I understand the argument, that nobody can go to General Motors and say, "If you want to do business in Ontario, you have to do it in Kapuskasing." They cannot do it, or they will not do it. There is nothing the matter with keeping on trying to encourage them, and we should all keep working on that.
But here is something where we can bring northern Ontario closer to the market, closer to southern Ontario. I had an interesting comment from one of my constituents talking about this. We were talking about the problems of industry in Nipissing and encouraging it to locate there, and somebody said, "You know, if North Bay was right beside Toronto, we would be booming." What brings North Bay closer to Toronto? You cannot pick it up and move it beside Toronto. Four-lane highways bring it closer. Reducing the cost of transportation brings it closer. This guy was on the right track.
We are dealing today with a resolution that will go a long, long way towards helping northerners help themselves, towards helping make it more attractive.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Why did you not do it 42 years ago?
Mr. Harris: First, I guess, I was not born 42 years ago. If one reduced it by four cents a litre 42 years ago, I guess you gave it away for free. The member should not be so stupid with his ridiculous interjections and live up to his own commitment.
I have had six years to fight on behalf of northern Ontario, and I am going to have another 20 to fight on behalf of northern Ontario, because I will continue to fight whoever is in government, whenever the time is, on behalf of northern Ontario issues.
I have to compliment our colleague the member for Timiskaming. He has learned this is not a Progressive Conservative issue. It is not a New Democratic Party issue. It is not a Liberal issue. Damn it, it is a northern Ontario issue. When you are from northern Ontario, those people elect you to come down here and fight for northern Ontario. Any northern member who comes down here and does not fight for his people in northern Ontario does not deserve to be re-elected and does not deserve to come back into this Legislature and may be in for a big surprise when the time comes.
We are talking now about this window of opportunity. When the differential was some 10 cents a gallon instead of up to 50, the previous government lowered northern car licences. They did a few things along the way.
The problem in the last two years has gotten much worse. The disparity between the north and the south in the last couple of years has gotten much worse. This government committed in the last campaign to do it, a good campaign promise. The NDP committed as well. I disagree with their method; I am afraid they would equalize it and they could say, "Look, it is equal," but it would probably be even higher than it is right now.
I believe there is an opportunity, and it is critical that the government listen now. There is plenty of time before the budget comes down next Wednesday. It is critical that this debate was allowed to take place before that budget comes down. This government has an opportunity now to say to the north: "We will put you on equal footing. We will try to do something to help you." They should reduce the gasoline prices and monitor the oil companies, and away they go.
Mr. Wildman: I join this debate with rather mixed feelings. What is proposed in this resolution in effect does not guarantee lower gasoline prices at the pump. What it does in fact is to have the taxpayers and the Treasury subsidize the oil companies' higher pricing practices in northern Ontario. It is not adequate. It is speaking to an issue that is very important to all northerners, but it is not adequate.
It is unfortunate that this government did not live up to its commitment to do something about gasoline prices in northern Ontario when it signed the accord. It is most unfortunate that we now have these Johnny-come-latelies, who 10 years ago could have acted on the bill of the member for Algoma-Manitoulin to have equal prices across Ontario but voted down their own member's bill.
What kind of phoniness is this? Let us actually do something for northern Ontario and do something about high gasoline prices in the north, instead of having these silly debates and never doing anything.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I would like to inform the members that the time for debate has expired. We will now deal with ballot item 4.
LANDLORD AND TENANT AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Reville has moved second reading of Bill 10.
All those in favour will please say "aye." All those opposed will please say "nay." In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Reville: May I request unanimous consent of the Legislature to refer Bill 10 to the standing committee on the administration of justice?
Mr. Speaker: Is there a majority agreement? The standing orders say there must be a majority agreement.
Bill ordered for standing committee on administration of justice.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Dean has moved resolution 7.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: I hope I can have the attention of the members at this point. Because of another matter that is on Orders and Notices, I would like to bring to their attention the matter in relation to the notice of motion standing in the name of the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon). Since the House in its wisdom has made a decision on the resolution of the member for Wentworth (Mr. Dean) today it now becomes out of order for the member for Sudbury to move resolution 4 as it appears on page 9 of today's Orders and Notices because it deals with the same subject matter.
For the information of the members I would like to refer to Beauchesne's fifth edition, page 150: "An old rule of Parliament reads: `That a question being once made and carried in the affirmative or negative, cannot be questioned again but must stand as the judgement of the House.' Unless such a rule were in existence, the time of the House might be used in the discussion of a motion of the same nature and contradictory decisions would be sometimes arrived at in the course of the same session."
Also, our own standing order 43 states, "No motion, or amendment, the subject matter of which has been decided upon, can be again proposed during the same session."
Therefore, I am advising the House that it would be out of order to proceed in this session with the motion by the member for Sudbury under ballot item 7.
Mr. Harris: This party accepts the Speaker's ruling. We would ask, and perhaps serve notice to all members of the Legislature and to the House leaders, that in view of that and the shortness of time between the two ballot items, the member for Sudbury does have another resolution that he will be circulating with as much notice as he can. Obviously, it will not fit in with the rules of the House. We ask the parties to take that into consideration and perhaps allow the member for Sudbury to substitute another resolution.
Mr. McClellan: We also accept your ruling, Mr. Speaker. It is unfortunate that the government obstructed the member for Sudbury from being able to move resolution 4. We were perfectly willing to have ballot item 7 standing in the member's name proceed but, as I say, it was obstructed by the government House leader, and we are prepared to make whatever arrangements that are necessary to permit the member for Sudbury to take his regular turn in the ballot rotation next week.
Mr. Speaker: I appreciate the comments; however, it will be up to the House to make the decision on what action shall follow that ruling.
The House recessed at 12:06 p.m.
The House resumed at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: Before we proceed, yesterday the member for Oakville (Mr. O'Connor) raised a question of privilege regarding a letter he had received in his capacity as chairman of the select committee on retail store hours. At his request, I undertook to examine the matter to determine whether there appeared to be a prima facie question of privilege in relation to the letter the honourable member was kind enough to forward to me.
There is a long-standing tradition of parliament that matters which arise in a committee or which in some way pertain to the activities of a committee should first be dealt with by the committee in question. If, upon reflection, the committee feels its privileges have been attacked in some way, it would be its duty to report that fact to the House, which could then take a decision.
That is why, upon reflection, it would seem to me wiser for the committee to deal with this matter directly. It is presently still legally constituted and has at hand all powers necessary to deal with this matter. If, after due process, the committee feels that it must report the matter to the House, I am certain the House and its members will give the committee's report their full attention.
I thank the member for Oakville for bringing this matter to my attention and I urge him to bring this matter to the attention of the committee, of which he is chairman, as quickly as possible. I will return the letter to the member.
HAZARDOUS WASTE TREATMENT FACILITY
Mr. Andrewes: Some time ago, by way of a hand-delivered letter, I asked the Premier (Mr. Peterson) to meet with a group of citizens from my riding who wished to petition him over the proposed toxic waste treatment and storage facility of the Ontario Waste Management Corp. in the municipality of West Lincoln. This group is widely supported in the community by citizens, interest groups and a number of elected municipal representatives. This is not a group of radicals, but residents of a rural community who fear that this proposal might jeopardize their future and the future of their children. Furthermore, if technology for treating toxic waste could develop fairly in Ontario, the mammoth plant proposed by the OWMC might prove redundant.
To date, in spite of repeated phone calls, I have received no response from the Premier's office. I am left in the very awkward position of not being able to advise my constituents on whether they will receive a positive or negative reception. Must the Premier hide behind a busy schedule, which includes naming the domed stadium, or will he allow these citizens of Ontario to exercise their democratic rights? Perhaps we must wait until after the Liberal nomination in Lincoln this evening.
ONTARIO MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM
Mr. Foulds: I rise to raise the concerns of a number of public service employees in the Thunder Bay area with regard to OMERS, the Ontario municipal employees retirement system. Spearheaded by Don Campbell of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 966, this group has been examining the structure and benefits of the plan. Basically, it feels the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) and the OMERS board should look positively into the stacking of Canada pension plan and OMERS benefits instead of the present integration. It feels the present surpluses in the plan should be used to improve substantially the plan's benefits in the area of spousal allowances and regular indexing.
The Thunder Bay group has already taken steps to enlist the support of workers all across Ontario through the Ontario Federation of Labour. It is anxious to bring about changes that will enable workers to retire as early as possible and still live with dignity. It feels it is vital to create a framework that will allow all workers to retire earlier so younger workers will have jobs to move into.
Finally, the group feels very strongly, as does the New Democratic Party, that any surpluses in the plan are the property of the employees and should be used to improve benefits, not to write down the employer contributions in the future.
I am also sure they will be seeking representation on the OMERS board when such a position for an employee representative becomes available.
Ms. Hart: This week, in Ontario and throughout the other provinces of Canada, members of the nursing profession are celebrating Nurses' Week. As parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston), I wish to draw the attention of this House to this special celebration and to express my support for the work nurses are carrying out here in Ontario.
With more than 75,000 registered nurses in Ontario, nurses are the single largest health care profession in our health care system and they represent an essential and key component in its effective operation. While I am expressing this tribute, thousands of Ontario nurses are attending to patients at their bedsides, assisting in operating rooms, emergency rooms and critical care units in hospitals, visiting elderly and disabled people in their homes and caring for the frail in nursing homes.
The record of the nursing profession in the provision of health care stands for itself. Let me, on behalf of the members, express the appreciation and thanks of this House to all Ontario nurses this week, Nurses' Week.
Mr. Villeneuve: Just as the summer camping season is about to begin, the St. Lawrence Parks have decided to enforce measures against many of our senior citizens and handicapped people. Many of our seniors spend their summers camping at our parks with their trailers. In all cases I know of, the parks are not crowded, so these seniors are not denying a camping site to anyone else.
This year, the parks have decided to enforce a maximum 23-day camping limit. My riding office has already received many calls and letters of concern, and this at a time when most seniors do not even know about this new policy.
The result of this policy is that the long-term camping traditionally carried out by many seniors will be banned in the St. Lawrence Parks Commission parks. No attempt has been made to deal with the summer camping patterns of seniors and to accommodate their needs. In the past few days, many seniors have told me that they are willing to pay their fair share, but seniors cannot even do that if they are not allowed to stay beyond the 23-day limit at one site.
Ontario has three cabinet ministers with some responsibility for this, and among them surely they can make some policy and give us some direction. The Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens' affairs (Mr. Van Horne), the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) and the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. Eakins) must act now before the season is under way to provide camping access for our seniors.
We need leadership. We need direction from these ministers. We need it now.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: On April 29, the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) announced that 130 developmentally handicapped people would be released this year from the intolerable situation they find themselves in homes for special care, leaving about 2,000 people in those institutions in inappropriate care.
He said to people in the know that there would be a full announcement about a seven-year plan to deinstitutionalize on May 7. It now is May 14 and we have still to see that plan. As a result, we are left with the notion that he is playing god. He will decide which people can stay in those institutions and which people will be released to the community and when.
He has said nothing about the repairs to the major institutions for the developmentally handicapped that he promised last year. He has said nothing about how many people who are mentally retarded are in rest homes in Ontario, and I do not even believe he knows that number. He has said nothing about the amount of money he is going to give for programming for those people left in homes for special care. He gave out about $30,000 a year to those individuals who will be brought out to make sure they can live in the community. He has left people in the homes for special care, without any individualized programs to speak of, and less than $5,000 of budget.
I suggest that we have had nothing but flim-flammery and what we need is a real plan of total deinstitutionalization.
JOB TRAINING FOR OLDER WORKERS
Mr. McLean: I have a statement today that is directed to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye). As he knows, unemployed workers have the opportunity to take advantage of the Futures program for job retraining. Once they complete the program, they are better equipped to re-enter the work force rather than having to resort to unemployment insurance.
I am seriously concerned that older workers, those in their 40s, 50s and 60s, are becoming a lost generation when they are laid off because of declining production or factory shutdowns. These people have given much of their work experience, dedication and skills. They are being pushed into the background because of the rush to retrain and re-employ younger workers. The odds are currently stacked heavily against older workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. There are no retraining programs for them. That means no work and a very dim future at a time they should be working at their full potential, rather than becoming just another segment of society forced on to the unemployment rolls.
Futures may well be the answer for younger workers but there is no future for their older counterparts who are laid off and need retraining to re-enter the work force.
What government assistance will be made available to retrain these workers between the ages of 45 and 60? Will the minister announce a program to enable older workers to continue as productive members of the Ontario work force?
Mr. Allen: The question of capital allocations for school construction has recently been a matter of debate in the Legislature during question period. This party is not going to claim that the $226 million allocated is sufficient to meet the full needs that are out there, but neither are we going to argue that one part of the public system was rewarded at the expense of the other. There is a reasonably fair process in place to establish the priority of need. What we do say is that the province-wide process appears to have bypassed some outrageous school accommodation conditions that the minister must review on a case-by-case basis.
I refer, for example, to St. John's College of the separate board in Brant county, where 1,250 students endure incredibly cramped conditions. No funding was allocated to St. John's, even though by September there will be 25 portables on the site and by 1989 there will be 35. Local solutions, as proposed by the minister, simply leave the students at the mercy of coterminous boards and incite interboard rivalry.
I ask the minister to review this and other similar cases in both systems with a view to relieving utterly intolerable conditions.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Elston: Earlier today, I announced that my ministry had approved a grant of $7.5 million to the University of Toronto. This money will be used to develop and install a positron emission tomography, or PET, scanner at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry. This is new high-technology diagnostic equipment that will help the Ontario research effort into schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis and degenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease.
I also wish to inform the house that my colleague the Minister of Citizenship and Culture (Ms. Munro) today announced that the Ministry of Health has approved a $500,000 research grant to McMaster University in Hamilton to develop a prototype patient information system.
We have strong expectations that the new system will result in better health care planning and more efficient service by health professionals. Once tested, we will then determine the system's application in other Ontario communities.
Today's announcements are testimony to our government's intention to see this province develop into one of the world's leading health research centres. To create the environment that will make this possible, within the past six months more than $50 million in government funding has been committed to Ontario's research effort.
We have provided $10 million for construction of a new heart research centre at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. The new centre will attract some of the world's leading cardiovascular experts to continue their scientific investigations at Ottawa. Two million dollars has been approved to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.
In April, I announced that $4.5 million had been approved to establish the Eye Research Institute of Ontario at the Toronto Western Hospital campus of the Toronto Hospital Corp. The institute's prime objective will be to conduct research into diseases of the eye and to develop new treatment techniques for eye disorders.
Last December, our government approved $5 million for the new multi-organ transplant unit at the University Hospital in London.
Funding of $2 million has been approved for the John P. Robarts Research Institute in London to help new research programs generated out of that institution. It will also help us to attract those most respected Ontario and Canadian scientists to return from abroad to work here in Canada.
In April, my colleague the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Sorbara) announced that a multidisciplinary department of geriatrics and gerontology would be established at McMaster University in Hamilton with government funds of some $12 million.
In addition to these major programs, this year the ministry will provide a total of $7 million to Ontario's five health sciences centres to support research personnel and to buy necessary equipment. Another $5.3 million will support some 82 independent research projects in a variety of community and clinical settings.
Finally, because good management is so critical to our health care system and because good management requires sound decision making, our government will provide $1.4 million to establish Canada's first health economics research centre at McMaster University in Hamilton.
These research grants represent a sound investment in Ontario's health care future. Our government recognizes that we need a vigorous research community if we are to generate new ideas and create new options and alternatives within our system. We are open to innovative and responsible approaches to health care and we expect to see leadership from our research community.
We have another priority. We want to guide research effort in Ontario in such a way that we obtain maximum return on our investment. We do not want a proliferation of duplicated efforts. What we do want is to create centres of specialty and excellence in heart disease, eye research and organ transplantation, for example, so that each centre becomes a source for the whole province.
Finally, we have a third priority. We want research to have a direct impact on patient care. Our long-term objective is to see clinical practices changed and modified by information received from the research community; in other words, improved health and better health care for the people of Ontario.
LEGAL SERVICES PLAN
Hon. Mr. Scott: I rise today to inform the House of a very significant development in the provision of access to legal services.
As I have had occasion to say a number of times, there is a risk that access to justice will tend to be restricted to either the rich who can afford to retain counsel or the disadvantaged who have the benefit of legal aid under the legal aid plan. Those in between, the great bulk of our fellow citizens, often face significant hardships in knowing and exercising their legal rights.
Two and a half years ago in Ontario, the Canadian Auto Workers, together with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, decided to do something about this. They launched Ontario's first major prepaid legal services plan. Pursuant to this plan, union members in those plants have free access to lawyers for a variety of legal services and the right to obtain further services at rates below those normally charged by lawyers.
In the fall of 1985, the Law Society of Upper Canada, which is the governing body of the profession, established guidelines for these kinds of plans that the CAW legal services plan found unacceptable. Litigation was commenced. In the meantime, the plan operated under an interim arrangement. The arrangement permitted the plan to open offices staffed by full-time, salaried lawyers and to offer services through members of the private bar, both those who enter into arrangements with the plan to limit their fees and those who do not.
The plan has proved to be a success. From November 1985 to May of this year, over 52,000 cases were commenced under its auspices, a usage rate of more than 50 per cent of all eligible employees. Roughly 85 per cent of this business has involved real estate, wills and family law matters.
All this has been at risk in the pending litigation. However, today I am delighted to announce that the Canadian Auto Workers legal services plan and the law society have resolved their differences. The litigation has been discontinued and a fair and balanced agreement has been achieved, pursuant to which prepaid legal services plans can now flourish across Ontario.
In my opinion, this is a momentous achievement. As a result of the ground-breaking efforts of both parties, the law society and the Canadian Auto Workers, this important method of providing legal services to ordinary Canadians is as of now a recognized part of the legal services fabric of Ontario. The rules are now clear. They reflect the law society's duty to ensure the quality of legal services as well as the desire of organizations such as the automobile manufacturers and the Canadian Auto Workers to effectively deliver legal services to their members.
I call upon all members to salute the authors of this historic agreement. Present in the gallery -- and I ask members to honour them today -- are: Arthur Scace, Esq., treasurer of the law society; Rendall Dick, undertreasurer of the law society; Dr. Ron Ianni, the president of the University of Windsor and chairman of the administrative committee of the CAW legal services plan, and Sid Linden, the executive director of the plan. In the upper gallery are members of the union side of the plan and the employers' side of the plan, and I would ask them to stand.
Also, in his absence, I want to commend Bob White, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, and various officials of the approving companies, some of whom are present, for the important role they played. I want to underline that this important new initiative has been undertaken without legislative intervention.
Mr. O'Connor: You stayed out of it; that is what got the deal done.
Hon. Mr. Scott: There are some here who would legislate everything. I am not in that crowd.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Perhaps you would let the minister continue with his text.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I want to underline that this important new initiative has been undertaken without legislation. It is not a matter on which we have dictated the appropriate position to be taken by either party. They have met together. Instead, we have made ourselves available and only intervened as necessary to help the parties mutually achieve an agreement which fully respects the public interest.
The public is well served by this significant new initiative and I wish, as I know all members of the House will wish, the Canadian Auto Workers' legal services plan and those plans that may succeed it across Ontario in the future every success in the years ahead.
Mr. McClellan: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Given that standing order 28 requires that ministerial statements deal with short, factual statements of government policy or ministry action, and since it is clear from the statement that neither the government nor the ministry had anything to do with this initiative, why does it qualify as a ministerial statement?
Mr. Speaker: Order. With respect, there is a certain amount of time for statements.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: As members of the House are well aware, farmers in Ontario have been hurt by the current trade war between the European Community and the United States, as well as by a number of trade actions and support programs of the American government. Important sectors of our agricultural community are concerned about the damage that could be caused by a so-called free trade agreement with our neighbour to the south.
In an attempt to overcome existing problems and head off new ones, I have been working closely with the federal government, as well as other provincial administrations. I have also discussed trade irritants on a number of occasions with individual US state agricultural officials and with the members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
As a continuation of this communication process, I visited Washington yesterday, with the assistance of the Canadian Embassy. My purpose was twofold. I wanted to give them a first-hand account of the concerns of the Ontario agriculture and food sector, and I also wanted to find out more about their concerns about our agricultural policies.
During my one-day visit, I met with senior officials of the Senate agriculture committee, as well as Democratic Congressman Kika de la Garza, the chairman of the House agriculture committee. In addition, I had discussions with the ranking Republican on the House committee, Congressman Ed Madigan, as well as Congressman Charles Stenholm, the chairman of the House subcommittee on livestock, dairy and poultry. On the administration side, I met with Peter Myers, the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, and a number of other senior US Department of Agriculture officials.
Equally important, I also met with representatives of major US farm organizations such as the National Cattlemen's Association, the National Pork Producers' Council, the National Corn Growers' Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National American Wholesale Grocers' Association.
I believe my American counterparts gained insights into the challenges and opportunities facing Ontario agriculture and food. I also made them well aware of the impact their programs have on Ontario agriculture.
After meeting with these key American agricultural decision-makers, it is clear that we must forcefully ensure that the federal government is representing the interests of Ontario farmers in trade matters. The federal government has a lot of work left to do in making sure Ontario's agricultural interests are made known.
As Canada's largest agricultural province, we must work to ensure that our successful national and provincial agricultural support systems are not bargained away under any free trade deal. Agriculture and food are major components in Ontario's economy. It is our second-largest industry next to autos and auto parts.
The Ontario agriculture sector needs a clear signal from Ottawa that marketing boards and seasonal tariffs, which are essential parts of our farm support network, remain protected under any freer trade arrangement.
In Washington, I made these concerns clear. I found that the American farm leaders are also concerned about the potential impact of free trade on some sectors of the American agricultural community. We also discussed a number of other important trade issues such as the US countervail against Canadian pork, the Canadian countervail against US corn, the US countervail against Canadian flowers and the current US investigation into Canadian beef.
I now have a better understanding of their position and they have a better understanding of ours.
I found some American agricultural leaders have a general lack of information and serious misconceptions about Ontario agriculture overall and some of the trade issues in particular.
By keeping the lines of communication open and showing a willingness to co-operate with our neighbours, we can work out some of our differences and improve the overall state of agriculture. I will be continuing this process by meeting with key representatives of state departments of agriculture next month in Saskatchewan to continue my effort to get Ontario's point of view across and work out differences with our neighbours.
As members of the Legislature will recognize, we cannot solve all of our problems overnight. All these meetings are a step in the right direction. We must work together to solve the long-term problems of the agricultural sector being caused by current international trading problems. If agriculture is to return to a healthy state, we must solve the underlying challenges.
In the meantime, this government remains committed to helping farmers survive during these troubled times. We have increased spending on agriculture by 58 per cent in less than two years and have introduced 60 new programs and initiatives to help the agriculture and food sectors.
We will continue to use this two-pronged approach, working to find long-term solutions while providing short-term help.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I wish to inform the members of my intention to introduce later today the Automobile Insurance Act. This is another step in our overall strategy to ensure equity and fairness for consumers.
This act provides the legislative framework to enforce the interim control of automobile insurance premiums that I ordered on April 23, 1987.
As members know, on April 23 I ordered that the rates for all automobile insurance categories be capped at the levels in force on that date. As was detailed earlier, the cap provides that the rate related to a specific class or factor used to set premiums by individual insurance companies cannot increase beyond its level on April 23, 1987.
I would also note that consumers' premiums can only be set on the basis of criteria and procedures in place on April 23, unless different rules would lower premiums. In other words, an insurance company cannot create new rules subsequent to April 23 which could result in a consumer being shifted to a different, higher category.
The cap was necessary to prevent increases in anticipation of the establishment of the rate review board.
In order to ensure compliance immediately after April 23, all automobile insurance companies have been directed to file rate information with the superintendent of insurance, including criteria and procedures used to determine rates as of April 23, 1987.
The legislation I will be introducing today will also give enhanced powers to verify rates, with appropriate penalties for noncompliance.
The cap applies to all components of motor vehicle insurance: liability insurance, collision and comprehensive insurance, accident benefits, special perils and policy endorsements.
On April 23, I also ordered a 10 per cent reduction in rates for taxicabs insured through the Ontario Facility Association and for male drivers under the age of 25. These groups have experienced particularly serious rate increases and are deserving of special consideration. As well, for those taxis not in the Facility Association, insurance companies are prohibited from charging more than Facility Association rates.
Auto insurance companies will be required to compensate a policyholder for any reduction or for any amount paid that exceeds the capped rate. Compensation will be made by either refund or a credit.
It is the government's intention that these transitional measures remain in effect until the establishment and operation of an independent rate review board and insurance advocate, and the other consumer protection initiatives.
Today's proposed act is one in a long series of reforms which the government has announced and will continue to work towards.
We are also looking at no-fault insurance through the inquiry headed by Mr. Justice Coulter Osborne, which will report by November 1.
The Ontario Law Reform Commission is also examining several issues and, as I announced on April 23, we will be introducing a consumer protection law in the automobile repair industry. Legislation has already been passed dealing with a number of Dr. Slater's recommendations.
In closing, I would like to reiterate to the members that the act I will be introducing today is one part of a total approach to consumer protection. It is this government's intention to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that consumers receive fair and equitable insurance coverage at a fair and reasonable price.
Mr. Andrewes: I want to thank the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) for reminding us of the proliferation of research programs recently announced by the Liberal cabinet campaign team.
Research is fundamental to the support of an integrated health care system in Ontario, and certainly we want to make sure it is an effective and efficient system. What the minister must keep in mind is that the working relationships with professionals are also a very important ingredient in making that system effective and efficient.
There are many cracks in that dike. The minister's failure to deal effectively and fairly with psychiatrists and other health care workers at provincial mental health centres and his compulsion to deal piecemeal with his announcements on the health professions review are really doing nothing to patch the cracks in that dike.
LEGAL SERVICES PLAN
Mr. O'Connor: I want to sincerely congratulate the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) for his good sense and good judgement in staying out of the dispute between the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Canadian Auto Workers. It was resolved to everybody's satisfaction. Congratulations to him.
The message is clear. Will the minister take similar advice and begin to butt out of the dispute between the judges and his ministry? Will he butt out of the dispute with the lawyers over their Queen's Counsels? Will he butt out of the dispute with the crown attorneys over their salaries? Will he stop being disruptive? Will he take his own advice of today, get out of these situations and allow them to be resolved to the satisfaction of the parties involved?
Mr. Stevenson: I want to say to the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) that I am pleased he followed the lead of the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. Pollock) and went to Washington to speak on behalf of Ontario agriculture. I see he met with Charles Stenholm, one of the same people with whom the member for Hastings-Peterborough met. I only hope he does not do for Ontario agriculture the same thing the Premier (Mr. Peterson) did for softwood lumber in northern Ontario.
About three or four weeks ago -- I wish I had the paper here -- I think he was quoted in the London Free Press as saying he had no involvement in the free trade talks and no knowledge of what was going on. Today he says he has been involved in the free trade discussion. It is interesting to note, in one of the latest issues of the paper Ontario Farmer, there is a big story on how free trade could hurt Ontario agriculture. The final paragraph, however, states very clearly that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food states and believes strongly the status quo is not an option. Very clearly, the message has gone from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food here in Ontario to Ottawa to sign some sort of deal with the Americans. That message is loud and clear.
The other thing is that he allowed the release of a research article on supply management in dairy, one of the most damning indictments of supply management. Very clearly, that is going to be quoted by the opposition of supply management for many years. The timing of the release of that research material could not possibly have been worse. Then, a week or two later, the minister stated in a speech in southwestern Ontario that the Ontario dairy industry could compete.
I sincerely hope the people with whom the minister met in the United States have not been following the agricultural press here in Ontario, because they will be very confused about what sort of message is coming from the government of Ontario on trade with the US.
Mr. Ashe: I want to respond briefly to the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. Kwinter) for finally putting some legislation before us, although it would appear to me that the Automobile Insurance Act of 1987 has nothing to do with the establishment of the rate review board. Is that correct? It is a little late. It would appear this bill is putting into legislation the knee-jerk reaction of the minister and the government to try to freeze rates; to give an impression of freezing and reducing rates. At least we will see on paper what he has in mind.
The minister and I know that the supposed freezing of rates on April 23 is a complete charade. Companies within the insurance industry establish their rate policy for the year in February, which really means the increases for 1987 were already established and in place in February and effective March 1, 1987; freezing them as of new policies beyond April 23 does not mean a thing. When are the minister and this government going to stand up and be counted and be honest, clear and forthright with the consumers in this province?
Mr. D. S. Cooke: Very briefly, we welcome the announcement from the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston). We agree that further research in the province is important. I only wish that large amounts of money were being put into community-based mental health programs in our province. I also wish the minister would start looking at a multidisciplinary approach, especially to mental health in this province.
It is my understanding that just a few weeks ago the minister made a final decision that psychologists would not be covered by the Ontario health insurance plan. They are disappointed and we in this party are very disappointed as well.
Mr. Swart: Obviously, I want to comment on the statement made by the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. Kwinter). It is political posturing at its worst. The cap is meaningless, and everyone, even the minister, knows now that the end result of what he is doing will mean that rates are going to go up this year and go up substantially.
He made the announcement on April 23. He tried to leave the impression that somehow or other this was going to freeze rates. Unfortunately, the superintendent of insurance announced a day or two later that rates up to April 23 would probably have increased by two per cent per month. Anybody who renews his insurance in May of this year is going to pay 22 per cent more than he did last year. If the superintendent of insurance is right, it means that rates in this province this year, the total paid in premiums by motorists, will be $400 million higher than they were last year.
If the minister had been sincere in wanting to do something for motorists instead of posturing, he would have frozen those rates and said, "After April 23, no one is going to pay any more for insurance than he paid last year." That would have had some meaning to it.
The 10 per cent reduction to the young people is just as phony. They all have a 20 per cent or 25 per cent increase and then that will be reduced by 10 per cent, so they will still have a substantial increase.
As to taxis, it is even worse because almost all taxi insurance came due on May 1. The cap was on April 23. That means taxi drivers on average will have a 24 per cent increase over that period of time, reduced by 10 per cent, so they can all look at a 14 per cent increase. Again, if the minister were sincere, he would have frozen those taxi rates at the level they were at last May I and would not have allowed this kind of increase.
If the insurance companies do not like this and if any of them say, "We are not going to abide by it," they can cancel the insurance, can they not? There is nothing in the bill to say they have to provide insurance, so there will be all kinds of people going to Facility by the action the minister is proposing today.
The minister himself said that putting in a rate review board will increase rates by eight per cent to 39 per cent. If he had been sincere, he could have used section 371 and done all this to freeze rates. That is what he should have done if it were to have meaning. What he really should be doing is announcing that a public auto insurance plan is going to be put in place in this province to give real savings to motorists and abolish discrimination, and he should be freezing the rates until it is in place. That would have had some meaning. What the minister is proposing here has not a milligram of meaning to it.
Mr. Hayes: I would like to respond to the statement by the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) with regard to his trip to Washington to discuss agricultural issues and free trade.
I am very pleased the minister made the statement that he does not want our national or provincial programs or support systems bar -- gained away under any free trade deal. At the same time, I am terribly displeased that the minister has not stated that he is opposed to agriculture even being discussed in the free trade talks. He knows that our supply management or marketing boards, in the eyes of the Americans, are unfair competition. That would also be in the free trade talks. We are strongly opposed to it and I wish the minister would take that stand.
Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I wish to draw to the attention of the House an inaccuracy with regard to some figures that our party laid before the House earlier this week and to have an opportunity to correct them.
During the course of what I consider to be very appropriate and important questions, which still remain, on the issue of funding public and separate schools and whether sufficient moneys have been given to the public school system or the separate school system, we obtained figures from the Ministry of Education. In fact, it has turned out that the figures we obtained from the Ministry of Education, and they are obtainable from no other source, were correct with regard to the grants actually given by the ministry, but incorrect with regard to the actual educationally approved and needed requests from the boards.
In this case, the information we obtained from the ministry was reversed, i.e., indicating that the separate school boards had requested less than the public school boards.
This error was discovered only after ministry officials told reporters our data was incorrect. The minister had the opportunity on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, because we raised it on both days, to obtain the information from his ministry. It was not available. None the less, our party put forward the questions. I want to inform the House that it was not our intention to provide inaccurate information and, to the extent that information was inaccurate, we wish to apologize.
By way of making the record entirely accurate, we would remind members that this accident occurred due to an understandable human error. The fact is the information is not available from any source other than the Ministry of Education. It is not information that can be doublechecked by any other source. We simply have to rely, as does the public, on the information obtained from the ministry.
In this case, the information, as it came from the ministry, appeared to have been reversed in one particular area. For that, to the extent that we have no opportunity but to relay that forward, we apologize as the party having raised it in the House. I take full responsibility for that and, to that extent, I wish to apologize to the House for the misunderstanding.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: It is with great sadness and a deep personal sense of loss that I rise to inform the honourable members of the passing of an outstanding public servant. Richard Snell was director of communications in my ministry and a valued colleague of mine. I am sure the four former Ministers of Agriculture and Food he served will echo my sentiments.
Dick had a distinguished career as one of the country's top journalists, as attested to by the National Newspaper Awards and numerous other honours he received before joining the Ontario government in 1967. For 13 years he directed the communications programs of the Ontario Housing Corp. and the Ministry of Housing. In 1980, he joined the cabinet office as communications co-ordinator. For the past five years he was the driving force behind the award-winning communications programs of my ministry.
Dick was a professional in every sense of the word who met each challenge with enthusiasm and unfailing good humour. I know I speak for his many friends and admirers, his colleagues and co-workers when I say his presence and his contribution will be sorely missed. I know members of this House will join me in expressing condolences to Dick's wife, Heather, and other members of his family.
Mr. Andrewes: Just briefly, as one of those former ministers the member alluded to in his comments, I want to say a word or two about Dick Snell, who was a co-worker of mine while I was at that ministry.
Dick Snell was a gentleman, which I think was fundamental to his personality. He had an acute understanding of people's feelings, whether they were the feelings of people he was working with on a daily basis or those of his friends.
He started his career at Queen's Park in 1958 as a member of the gallery, working for the Toronto Star. It was unusual even in those days for members of the gallery, particularly members of the gallery who were associated with that well-known journalistic corporation, to compromise themselves by taking employment with Conservative administrations. However, Dick Snell did that in 1968 or so when he became the director of communications for the Ontario Housing Corp. That career continued to the present day, latterly with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, where our association began.
I think the most significant indication of the respect people had for Dick Snell was the fact that his colleagues at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food saw fit, as a demonstration of their affection and their respect, to start a bursary in his name that would sponsor a journalism student at Carleton University.
It is with a great deal of sympathy, on behalf of my caucus, that we offer our condolences to Dick Snell's family.
Mr. Speaker: On your behalf, I will make certain that when Hansard is printed, these words of sympathy will be sent to the Snell family.
ASSISTANCE FOR THE DISABLED
Mr. Grossman: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. He will know that for several weeks last session the two opposition parties were pressuring him to allow the pass-through of the $150 increase in payments for the disabled, offered by the federal government, to flow through to the disabled in Ontario. He refused to do that at the time, arguing that there was a federal impediment due to the agreement between the provincial government and the federal government.
I now have in hand a copy of the letter sent by the Minister of National Health and Welfare, Mr. Epp, to each of the provincial ministers responsible. It was sent out earlier this week, and I presume the minister now has it.
He will know that this letter, which I will read into the record if necessary, specifically and directly authorizes him not to treat the payments as income, which would remove the impediment he talks about, and makes it clear, to use the words of the letter, that, "Provinces will then have the freedom to pass on these federal increases and continue to receive cost-sharing for social assistance programs." This is specifically the instruction and the change made in the letter he received this week.
Given this removal of the federal impediment, would the minister now undertake to send the money he has been holding back for so many months to the 13,000 disabled?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I indicated to the honourable member last evening that the other aspect of this question was the equity with the other 70,000 disabled in this province.
Let me quote a section of the minister's letter: "It was not until January 1987, when I had a sufficient number of responses to my August letter, that it became apparent to me the necessary changes provinces would have to make to their programs in order to pass on the increase could, in fact, result in significant additional provincial expenditures. Any increase in social assistance rates would have to be applied to all disabled social assistance recipients and not just to the Canada pension plan disability beneficiaries. This would result in higher social assistance rates and a greatly expanded number of recipients."
In other words, the federal minister is clearly recognizing the discrepancy that would be created between the 70,000 who receive provincial benefits and the 13,000 who receive federal benefits. I have indicated to the member before that it seems to me to be unfair and inappropriate that we direct that money to one small segment.
I have indicated before that during the process when this took place, we directed some of these funds to all the disabled, and I can assure the member that we are going to direct some of the other funds.
Mr. Grossman: I want to read to the minister the answer he gave the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) on February 4, 1987.
He said, and I quote directly from Hansard: "The member surely understands there is a mandatory agreement between the province and the federal government that all income has to be taken into consideration with respect to assistance programs. If they switch, we have no choice."
Those were the minister's words. This letter goes on to switch. The federal government specifically does what he said it had to do, and thereafter, he said, he would have no choice.
I will quote from the minister's letter: "The barrier to the passing on of the CPP increases has been the possibility the provinces would have to incur significant additional costs. I am therefore confident that all provinces will pass on these increases now that they can be assured that they will not incur any additional costs in doing so."
The federal minister has specifically removed the single barrier the provincial minister raised, and he says so in this letter. Given the fact that the single barrier to 13,000 disabled people receiving the federal money in this province has now been removed, will the minister give an undertaking today to pass on that money to the disabled in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: Contained in the minister's previous letter was a request to us that we not withdraw from those people the benefits that accrue to them because they were on the family benefits allowance plan. I indicated to the federal minister, in my response to him in January, that we intended to do exactly that, but I also pointed out to him:
"While I am pleased that I am able to respond to your suggestions that social assistance clients be protected for major expense items, I wish to express my disappointment that the grandfathering of FBA cases for CPP and the Spouses Allowance are not cost-shareable.
"By your very suggestion, you appear to concur with us that these are cases in need. However, we are unable to continue cost-sharing for these cases unless we administer a very detailed and burdensome needs test."
The point I am trying to make to the honourable member is that the federal minister asked us in August to do certain things. We have done those things, but we do them at full cost to us.
The second point is that I clearly indicated to the federal minister that it would be inappropriate to pass on an increase to one segment of that population and not to the others, that I would much prefer to take that total sum of money and pass it on to all the disabled in this province.
Mr. Grossman: The minister can try to mix this up with bureaucratic gobbledegook, but the fact remains that other provinces have passed on the federal money to the disabled people in their provinces. The fact remains that the federal minister today has specifically authorized the minister to do that. The fact remains the federal government removed the sole impediment he referred to earlier.
Finally, we got this quote from the minister the last time he tried to defend this, on February 11. In response to my question, he said: "I cannot do it for just the 13,000 who come under the jurisdiction of the Canada pension plan. That is the problem."
Today, with this letter in hand, he can specifically do it for the 13,000; he has the federal impediment removed. The disabled in this province are living on $7,260 a year while the minister's executive assistant lives on $40,000, $45,000 or $50,000 a year.
Mr. Speaker: The question is?
Mr. Grossman: The minister has the money sent to him by the feds. He has a lot of money available in the budget of the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon). He has no impediment to doing it.
Mr. Speaker: Does the member have a question?
Mr. Grossman: Why does the minister not give that relief to the disabled people in this province?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: Not only will we give that money; we will give more than that money to the disabled, but we will give it to all the disabled. The member will remember that in his letter the federal minister clearly indicates it is up to the individual provinces to decide how to allocate that money. We will allocate it and we will allocate it more fairly than the member would.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I would remind members this is question-and-answer period and the chair always tries to get the opportunity for as many members as possible to ask questions.
Mr. Grossman: Since the federal minister's letter authorizes the minister to do that January 1, 1987, we expect that to happen today, effective January 1.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I would like to remind the member that the standing orders allow the Leader of the Opposition to ask two question, so do you have a question?
Mr. Davis: Is the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) going to take that money too? He tried to take the Wintario money.
Mr. Grossman: Win Ontario is what we plan to do.
LAND TRANSFER TAX
Mr. Grossman: My question is to the Minister of Revenue. In August 1985, a sale of all the Gulf assets in Ontario was made to Petro-Canada. That sale closed in the spring of 1986. In an affidavit filed by the director of the tax branch at Petro-Canada, it is indicated that in a private meeting with the oil company Petrocan, the minister and his officials agreed to accept land transfer taxes on land which was valued at $525,000 but his staff agreed to collect land transfer tax based upon $39,000.
We are told this agreement was reached between Petrocan and the Ministry of Revenue officials with the minister's consent and approval, which he is allowed to do under the legislation. The net result of this is that the minister excluded Petrocan from paying about $3,800 in taxes on one parcel of land. There are about 500 parcels of land in Ontario subject to the same transaction.
Mr. Speaker: And the question is?
Mr. Grossman: Could the minister explain to the House why he decided to give Petrocan such a significant waiver on land transfer tax payable to his ministry?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I will have to look into the details of the discussions that the honourable member has described, without giving me any notice, and I will report to the House.
Mr. Grossman: May I say to the Treasurer that this is a very significant transaction involving, we are told, about 500 Gulf outlets in Ontario. This is an extraordinary situation, because the minister will know he does not very often exercise his power to waive or reduce land transfer tax. In fact, I expect he has done it only once or twice. Therefore, I would have expected the minister would have reported to this House, or elsewhere, the fact that he had decided to give Petrocan such a significant alteration in land transfer tax payable long before this question was raised.
If the minister does not have all the details, he surely remembers the meeting at which he and his officials agreed to give Petrocan such a significant tax break. Could he report to us the reasoning behind his decision to give it such a significant tax exemption?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I hope Mr. Speaker will permit me to say that in a matter such as this, when there is a specific instance that has not been a subject of any particular discussion, I do not recall the details. If the honourable member wished me to be in possession of the details, he might very well have given me notice, which is the customary way to proceed in matters of this type. I simply reiterate the fact that I am not in a position to give him the details now; I do not recall them. I will refresh my memory and provide the honourable member with the information.
Mr. Grossman: Under section 17 of the Land Transfer Tax Act, this becomes the minister's specific responsibility. I find it inconceivable that he would have had a meeting with the Petrocan officials, that he would have dealt with 500 and perhaps 514 outlets, making an arrangement to allow them to pay something other than market value on the land as shown on the deeds, and yet does not seem to remember the discussion. Surely it is not unfair for us to come to this House to ask for the reasoning behind that.
I have not asked him today to give us the specifics of how much tax he waived or how much the land specifically was worth. We have simply asked him this afternoon to tell us what his reasoning was behind a situation which may well have cost his government $2 million in tax revenue. Surely it is not beyond his capability to report to this House, without notice, as to why he would have said to an oil company in Ontario that he was going to relieve it of perhaps as much as $2 million in taxes. Would the Treasurer undertake today to table tomorrow -- not Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday -- the list of all the properties involved in this transaction
Mr. Speaker: Order. Would the member take his seat. Minister?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, no.
Mr. Speaker: Order. There are other members who would like to ask questions.
Mr. Speaker: If you wish to waste the time, that is fine.
Mr. McClellan: I have a question for the Minister of Financial Institutions -- if I may say, the best friend the New Democratic Party ever had -- not about the insurance ripoff but about the pension ripoff, which he also presides over.
On Tuesday, I asked the minister a question about the $73.5 million that Ontario Hydro took out of its surplus funds to write off its 1986 pension contributions. The minister said Hydro had to take the $73.5 million because it was there; it had no choice.
I want to ask the minister whether he is aware that in 1986, our old friends at the Toronto-Dominion Bank took $46.1 million in cash from their surplus funds and put it into their pockets, and an additional $23 million from the surplus was used to write off their 1986 pension contributions, for a total ripoff of $69 million. Is the minister aware of that?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The House leader of the third party was incorrect when he said I said they would have to take the money out because it was there. What happened, as he knows, was that we had a situation where they removed the funds. I do not know the specific details, but what I said to him was that sometimes, under the federal income tax statutes, they must take a contribution holiday.
What was happening was that in that particular case there was the provision, which was exercised, that they could refer it to the courts. The Supreme Court ruled that they were right. All I was saying was that the decision had been made, and surely he was not suggesting that I overrule the courts.
Mr. Speaker: Order. My left ear is starting to hurt.
Mr. McClellan: The minister repeated the fatuous answer to Tuesday's question, but he did not answer my question about the Toronto-Dominion Bank. I assume he knows nothing about it.
Let me ask by way of supplementary, since I have the Toronto-Dominion Bank's minutes for its pension fund society's annual general meeting of February 1987, whether the minister is aware that the cumulative rate of return for the Toronto-Dominion Bank's pension funds over the last five-year period, according to McLeod Young Weir, is 20.1 per cent, at the same time that the cumulative consumer price index rate was 5.1 per cent. The Toronto-Dominion Bank employees have no indexed pensions.
Does the minister think it makes any sense at all that the Toronto-Dominion Bank or any other company is allowed to earn such tremendous profits on the funds of pension contributors, at the same time denying them indexed pensions and ripping them off for $69 million out of their own surplus pension fund accounts?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I think everyone should know that before any withdrawals can be taken from a pension fund, they must apply to the Pension Commission of Ontario. Before the pension commission would even consider any withdrawal of surplus or a contribution holiday, it must be satisfied that, actuarially, all the obligations of that pension plan are protected to a level of 125 per cent. Under a defined benefit plan, all the obligations of that plan are met, plus 25 per cent, so the plan members are certainly not at risk.
We have the alternative, as I have suggested. Once the pension commission rules, if those members of the plan object to the ruling, they have access to the courts, which is exactly what happened in the case the member mentioned. That is where we are on it.
Mr. McClellan: Instead of forcing workers to go to court to stop the theft of their own money, which the minister is permitting, why does he not simply accept the logic of common sense and accept our amendments to Bill 170 which would make it impossible for companies, if I may say, to steal surplus pension funds and instead require them to use the earnings on the workers' pensions contributions to pay for inflation protection?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The House leader of the third party will know that we have set up a committee under Professor Martin Friedland which is looking at exactly that issue. It is looking at the issue of indexing, it is looking at the issue of surplus, and it will report back to us with its recommendation. It is something that is in hand and is being addressed.
Mr. Reville: I have some new questions for the minister of the new swamp. That is the Minister of Housing. Swamps seem to grow in that row.
During the rent review debate, the minister said over and over again that the statutory guideline was so good that landlords would not go to rent review much and that if they did, tenants would get a streamlined rent review process. There are over 18,000 applications for rent review, compared to just over 2,000 in 1986 and 1,700 in 1984. There are, at most, only 300 rent review administrators. How can the minister possibly keep his promise of a streamlined rent review process, given that each one of these 18,000 applications is going to take 90 days at least?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The honourable member mentioned that 18,000 applications are before us now. The honourable member failed to say that 15,000 of those would never come before any board to be heard because they are post-1975 applications. We have to say that because we were steadfast in bringing about Bill 51, these people, who normally would have had increases of 20 per cent, 30 per cent, 40 per cent and sometimes 50 per cent without any redress, today have a process where they can be addressed. Not only that, we have a guideline of 5.2 per cent, and any landlord who requires more than the guideline must justify those increases before the board.
Mr. Reville: The minister is continuing to say that tenants will not get large increases. During the debate, he kept talking about average increases of 4.7 per cent. What does the minister have to say about these facts? There are 2,522 buildings applying for increases of between 10.4 per cent and 25 per cent, and 1, 767 landlords are asking for increases of over 25 per cent. Where does his 4.7 per cent stand now?
Hon. Mr. Curling: May I just take a moment and tell the members that when I first came into the House, the honourable member was way ahead of me in housing details. I bow to that. It took about six months to realize that what he knew about housing was more damaging to the tenants out there than what we have today. What I am saying to my honourable friend is that we have a guideline and a process by which any landlord can come forward with a 50 per cent, 60 per cent or 80 per cent increase, but he cannot have that increase unless it is justified. I am asking the member not to use those scare tactics on the tenants, saying they are in for 20 per cent or 30 per cent increases. Landlords must justify those before the hearings board.
Mr. Reville: I do not feel better, and I do not think the tenants at 833 Kennedy Road feel better either. They got a 30 per cent rent increase justified last year. Their landlord is asking for another 14 per cent this year. I know they write to the minister all the time and they say he never responds, or if he does they do not know what he is saying. Will the minister rise in the House and say to the tenants of Ontario that he was kidding, that rent increases are going to be high and that in fact there are going to be intolerable delays because his system just does not work?
Hon. Mr. Curling: What we saw in Bill 51 was fair treatment and protection for tenants. The member said it failed; but if the honourable member were to go out on the streets or to his tenants, they would say this bill is not only the best bill we have seen in Ontario but also the best bill we have seen in North America.
Mr. Swart: Go for the world.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: Not world class?
Hon. Mr. Curling: As a matter of fact, it is quite possible. It could be the best in the world. It is not a perfect bill but it goes a long way in addressing the injustices that were done to tenants before. I am sorry if tenants in the member's riding did not get a reply from me, but I have written thousands of letters back. I make sure I respond to them all and I will continue to respond to them all.
Mr. Speaker: Order. There seems to be a somewhat jovial but restless attitude around here today. Maybe all members will stay calm so we can complete question period.
LAND TRANSFER TAX
Mr. Grossman: I have another question for the Minister of Revenue. We have an affidavit from the manager of development for Petrocan who says that the subject property, which I referred to earlier, at the corner of Eglinton Avenue and McCowan Road in Toronto, was worth $525,000 in August 1985 but that it paid tax subsequently on $39,000. This was at a time when the minister was raising the land transfer tax for all individual people around the province, but he was in the process of reducing the tax for Petrocan.
The other affidavit we have reads as follows: "I sought agreement from the Ontario Ministry of Revenue, pursuant to section 17 of the act, for payment pursuant to the plan which I had devised." This is an employee of Petrocan. "The scheme was acceptable to the minister, who agreed the tax might be paid on this basis and accepted payment of land transfer taxes pursuant to the Petrocan plan."
Given all this history, why will the minister not table all the information on the 500 or so sites in Ontario so we can all see for ourselves how much tax he gave away? Why will he not table that?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: In case the Leader of the Opposition is suffering under any misapprehension, nothing is done by the Ministry of Revenue in cases such as this that does not include full public knowledge. He asked me, as his second supplementary a moment ago, whether I would table this material tomorrow. I said no, because I have to find out what the material is, and as far as we are concerned the House is not available for tabling tomorrow as far as that goes. I indicated to the Leader of the Opposition that as soon as I had apprised myself of the facts and had got the material, I would respond to him in the House or any other place.
Mr. Grossman: In the event it has to be any other place, I wonder whether the Treasurer will be kind enough to assure us that the details his ministry surely has -- I would not believe for a second that he would have blindly waived land transfer tax on 514 major sites in Ontario without knowing specifically the pieces of land, the valuation on those lands and the taxes he was accepting instead of --
Mr. Speaker: The question?
Mr. Grossman: I have not asked the question.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Oh, God.
Mr. Grossman: I know the Treasurer is eager these days. I know parliament is a drag for him. I understand.
Mr. Speaker: And the question is?
Mr. Grossman: As this is all available in his ministry, would he be kind enough to assure us that if the House is not sitting tomorrow, and it will not be, we may send people over to his ministry and obtain a list, which I am sure is available this afternoon, of the 500 properties and the land transfer tax paid? In the spirit of freedom of information that the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) talks about but does not practise, will he make it available to us tomorrow?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: No. I will make the answer available right here in the House, where the question was asked.
Mr. Laughren: I have a question for the Treasurer. The Treasurer will recall that a couple of weeks ago, in an act of unparalleled generosity, the opposition gave him another couple of weeks to get his budget together. On this side, we were hoping he would use that time to introduce an element of fairness to his budget. Even though the Treasurer dismissed rather out of hand our proposal for a tax on land speculation, I wonder whether he has had a chance to reconsider that in view of the following example?
In December 1986, at 5 Massey Square in East York, a condominium was bought for $77,900. Four months later, in April 1987, it was sold for $107,900. That was a profit of a neat $30,000 in four months. If a worker in this province works an entire year, earns $30,000 and has four dependents, that taxpayer pays about $6,500 in combined federal and provincial tax. On the sale of the home, the tax assessed would be zero.
Mr. Speaker: You are coming to a question, are you?
Mr. Laughren: Will the Treasurer tell us how he thinks that is fair and why he cannot do something about it?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I would be very glad if this could have been the day the budget was read. Then the criticisms that might flow from the budget, although I cannot imagine what they would be, would be responded to by myself and my colleagues. It is as nearly perfect as a budget can be, but there may be some flaws that the honourable member will be able to detect since the public is paying him to do that. But for now, I am going to have to forego the pleasure of responding to a specific request for information that is in fact associated with the budget.
Mr. Laughren: That sounds encouraging because last week he was dismissing our proposal out of hand.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I thought I said all these things were under discussion.
Mr. Laughren: It is all right. Successes come in small doses for the opposition. The Treasurer understands that.
Just in case this component of fairness does not get into his budget, will the Treasurer table any information he has on why such a proposal is not workable, since he seemed to dismiss it? I am a little nervous that it will not make its way into the budget. Will the Treasurer table any information he has on the whole question of the speculation tax?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I suppose that most of the information I have is based on my experience as a long-term member of the House and as a taxpayer in the province. I look at how effective the speculation tax was when it was applied by the previous government. It was described by some noted observers as chaotic and resulted in a royal commission because of special decisions made by the then Minister of Revenue to relieve individuals of special tax responsibilities. The royal commissioner did not recommend that criminal charges be laid.
Mr. Ward: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. The minister will be aware that workers at Stelco recently rejected a tentative settlement reached in early negotiations with the company. Can the minister give this House any information on this situation?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: There have been negotiations for the collective agreement with Stelco that expires on July 31 of this year. Those negotiations began on March 2. As the honourable member and the House will know, the purpose of the negotiations is to secure an early settlement and to preserve orders at Stelco in the light of very severe competitive pressures. A tentative settlement was reached and, regrettably, rejected by four locals in Hamilton and Brantford about a week and a half ago. The union has since held a strike vote and been given a mandate to strike by the membership. At the present time, I am advised that the union bargaining team is meeting with the membership in an effort to ascertain a clear indication of its wishes before the negotiations resume.
Mr. Ward: There has been a great deal of speculation that if the parties are unable to settle this dispute, there could be substantial losses of contracts and subsequent potential layoffs in the Hamilton area. What specific actions is his ministry taking to ensure that negotiations do not break down?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I must say at the outset that I share the member's concern, and I think it is a concern shared by all of the parties in this matter, that layoffs might occur if a settlement is not reached in an expeditious fashion. In that regard, we have offered our assistance throughout the bargaining. Currently, we are offering the assistance of the director of mediation and conciliation, Trevor Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson has met with the parties throughout these discussions and continues to be available for further discussions.
I am very hopeful that the negotiations and discussions between the parties will be able to resume within the next week or so, and Mr. Stevenson remains available for a call from the parties to get back to the bargaining table at the earliest possible time.
Mr. Jackson: My question is for the Minister of Housing. A moment ago he said that this may be the best bill tenants have ever seen. I remind him that under his bill they do not even get an automatic right to a hearing. It is possible that a tenant will not even be able to evaluate this bill because he will not be able to sit down and look at a hearing process.
It is very clear that there are going to be significant increases as a result of Bill 51. Significant increases even as high as 40 per cent are being suggested. Given that his bill calls for the upfront payment of those increases for thousands of tenants across Ontario and that those payments may go on almost indefinitely, and given that his backlog in his ministry could be backed up for as long as two or three years, what action is the minister personally taking now within his ministry to ensure that tenants in Ontario are not being hurt by the delays he is causing?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I repeat to the honourable member that many tenants were not protected before, especially in post-1975 buildings, and he is asking what provisions we are making. I empathize with the member, in that he is a new critic and has most of this thing totally wrong --
Hon. Mr. Curling: It does not take one day. It takes 90 days to review a case and the tenants have an opportunity to look at it for 40 days. I am asking whether the member is saying that we should take away the right of the tenant to review that application. There is a process in place. There will be no backlog. We have put things in place and it is working very well.
Mr. Jackson: I am asking the minister what action he is taking because of this horrendous backlog. These are real people we are talking about. Most of these tenants who are at high risk are senior citizens and they are being harmed directly by the mismanagement of this program. I want him to take one case, the case of Archie and Mary Dodd of Burlington who live in the Diplomat apartment building. The owners in that building have applied for a 33 per cent rent increase under his bill. Mr. Dodd is 82 years old. He is currently paying 50 per cent of his total income towards his rent and will be paying 67 per cent when that increase is approved.
Mr. Speaker: And the question?
Mr. Jackson: Currently he owes his landlord $1,000 retroactively and in six months he is going to owe --
Mr. Speaker: And the question is?
Mr. Jackson: -- $1,968.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Do you have a question?
Mr. Jackson: I have a question.
Mr. Speaker: If you look at Hansard, you will see you have already asked a question at the beginning; make it fast.
Mr. Jackson: What is the minister going to do for the Dodd family and for thousands of tenants in Ontario who are waiting for action from him to overcome the backlog that is occurring because of his inability to handle his own piece of rent review legislation?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I think the honourable member has asked what is the definition for backlog or another word. There was neglect for years by that party, not taking any action to protect those tenants. It was also in 1975 that they deliberately excluded those people from protection. It was a deliberate action by this government to bring those tenants under protection and to make sure there can be redress.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I ask all members to show a little more respect for those asking questions and for those responding.
Mr Speaker: Order. The member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon) does not listen very well. New question, the member for Scarborough West.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: At least under the old system we actually had a system. Now we do not.
ASSISTANCE FOR THE DISABLED
Mr. R. F. Johnston: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services and goes back to this whole question of the Canada pension plan pass-through. In the emotion of the minister's last response to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Grossman), he indicated there were going to be large increases to the disabled in this upcoming budget and we are very pleased to hear that.
Does this mean there will be an increase that will finally bring about the promise of the now departing Premier (Mr. Peterson) when he was Leader of the Opposition that the Liberals would finally equalize the amounts for the guaranteed annual income system for the aged, for the elderly in the province, with the amount for the guaranteed annual income system for the disabled in the province as the base income those people could expect? Is that what the minister is going to do?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I did not refer to an increase in the budget. I do not know what is in the budget. What I said to the Leader of the Opposition was that the money that had accrued to the province as a result of the CPP increases, approximately $18 million, was going to be spread over all the disabled people in the province, not just on those 13,000. We think that would be unfair, given that our program is designed to bring people up to a level that is common for all the disabled.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: A new consistency from the minister; we now have his day care policy administered to the disabled.
Will the minister be increasing the base amount that disabled people in this province receive from the $605 a month now to at least the $727 senior citizens receive as their base amount? Yes or no, and why not?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: In the previous two budgets from this government, that gap was closed each time. I expect it will be closed again this time.
TORONTO AREA TRANSPORTATION
Mr. Gregory: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications regarding the minister's statement yesterday of the government's transportation initiatives. The statement made much of the Network 2011 proposals that include the Sheppard Avenue subway line, the Mississauga busway and Highway 407, among others. While these statements are politically appealing, they are qualified with the condition of requiring further examination.
Is the minister simply proposing yet another transportation study that will delay these initiatives for one more year or does the government have a set agenda or timetable; and if so, can he clarify the details?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: Yesterday the member acknowledged some money we had previously allocated to Mississauga. What he seems to have trouble accepting is that this government announced $130 million of new money, $30 million this year and $40 million in the subsequent two years, to the four regions of Metro, Peel, York and Durham. Those are initiatives that were on the table long before this government took office. In fact, if the previous government had been doing its job as far as this ministry is concerned, we would not have had that backlog.
Mr. Gregory: The minister seems to be taking a great deal of credit and lauding himself for this so-called $30 million this year, $43 million next year and so on. The minister knows as well as I do -- he attends the same meetings I do -- that when he went to the Ontario Good Roads Association, it let him know that its minimum requirement was $75 million a year for five years just to maintain the roads they have without building another new road.
Now the minister is telling me that $130 million over three years is going to take care of all the roads required for the developing areas. I assume that means Mississauga, York and so on. He is going to do all this with $130 million when the Ontario Good Roads Association says that just to maintain what we have requires a minimum of $75 million a year. What kind of magic tricks did he learn while he was away from here?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: The member was certainly at the Good Roads convention, but I do not think he was paying much attention. The $75 million referred to in the report was for all of Ontario, including northern Ontario, eastern Ontario and western Ontario. The announcement yesterday spells out what is needed to meet the backlog for the four regions: three around Metro, with Metro Toronto being the fourth. It does not make reference to the balance we have included in other allocations, including the $30 million annually in the Ontario Municipal Improvement Fund and what might come out in the budget next week.
CENTRE FOR LABOUR STUDIES
Mr. Warner: I have a question for the Minister of Colleges and Universities. The member is relieved, is he not? He should wait until I ask the question. I would like to know whether the minister agrees with the decision by Humber College to terminate the Centre for Labour Studies. If he does I would like to know why, and if he does not I would like to know what he intends to do about it.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I am just delighted that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is back on the scene. We have been back in this House for two weeks and I thought all the issues in the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Skills Development had been resolved. If one listens to what is coming out of either of the opposition parties, one would probably believe that.
I am sorry to tell my friend from Scarborough-Ellesmere that I am not aware of the closing of that program. I admit that. I will look into it and report back to him as soon as I have more information on it.
Mr. Warner: One can easily tell now why one need not ask a question of this minister every day. There are no answers.
I am surprised the minister is not aware that the Centre for Labour Studies is the most unique program of its type in Canada. It offers a large number of occupational health and safety courses in seven languages, antiracism programs for workers right in the work place, the largest English-as-a-second-language program in Canada, special programs for immigrant workers, and the list goes on. For a mere $50,000 a year out of a budget of $75 million, the college has the audacity to close down this valuable centre. I want to know whether the minister is going to protect this centre and make sure it continues to operate. Will he, yes or no?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: That is a good question. If the government were to maintain every single program that my friend the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere and all his friends on the opposition benches suggested we must maintain in that kind of determined style, we would still be living in the 19th century.
I am not aware of the termination of the centre's programs. In addition, though, many of the activities that are carried on by that centre will continue to be pursued at Humber College, as they are at every other of the 21 community colleges in the province, with the English-as-a-second-language program and programs for immigrant women among them. These sorts of initiatives are supported not only by the Centre for Labour Studies, or whatever it was, but by a number of other initiatives, within both the programs of the colleges and programs initiated through the Ministry of Skills Development.
I regret that my friend suggests the world is coming to an end in the west end of Toronto because of the termination of that program, if indeed it is being terminated, but I will report back to him with further details on it within a few days.
MARKET VALUE ASSESSMENT
Mr. McFadden: I have a question for the Minister of Revenue. Over the past day I have received numerous calls from constituents of mine -- and I know a number of other members in Toronto have received similar calls -- concerned about the impact market value assessment would have on their property tax. Many of the people calling are elderly people who are afraid they will lose their homes if the kinds of tax increases go through which we could have, even under the 1980 market value assessment figures.
The report provided by the Ministry of Revenue, carried out by the Ministry of Revenue and submitted to Metropolitan Toronto, states that 83,095 homes in the city of Toronto will face tax increases, while 64,868 units would face decreases. It is obvious that some very detailed work went into this in order to get those kinds of detailed figures.
Would the minister not provide to this House now the background information upon which these detailed figures were secured so that home owners being affected can see what the impact of market value would be, more particularly on their properties?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: There are no detailed figures being kept back. As a matter of fact, I want to refer to a couple of things the honourable member has been saying, because it is an extremely important and sensitive issue.
When the first impact study was done by the previous Conservative government, it paid $3,383,590 for the detailed impact study. This was kept secret until the Liberal government took office almost two years ago. One of my first acts as Minister of Revenue was to make that public. We were requested to update that study by the chairman of metropolitan council, on behalf of the Metro Toronto Advisory Task Force on Assessment Reform. We undertook to do that at an additional cost, not of $3.3 million, but $311,000.
This was done, and a detailed answer will be given in the order paper, as requested by the honourable member. There was no house-to-house reassessment; the impact of property value changes in that period of time were factored in, in the way that is apparent in the report the honourable member is brandishing.
Just a couple of days ago he was referring to that as the secret report. All this material has been made public. It is in his hands.
My report was requested by metropolitan council. It is in their hands. They are discussing it. As far as I am concerned, we are going to await their recommendations and that may take quite a while.
Mr. McClellan: In other words, this figure of 83,095 homes facing increases is taken out of the air. It is not founded on any kind of basis at all; it is some sort of illusion, a random sample. Is that what we are to understand? I suppose what is being stated here is that these figures may even be invalid.
The point is that there must be some basis for those numbers, at least on a vicinity-by-vicinity or neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis. I would ask the minister to provide to us more background information than we now have on how these figures were determined. The way these figures are now set up makes it impossible for a home owner to know where he stands. It makes it impossible even for metropolitan council to understand what it is voting for, based on the kinds of figures the minister has provided to date.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I am not aware that anybody is called upon to vote on anything, either now or in the immediate future. The matter is there as a report that was requested by metropolitan council and we have placed it in its hands. The reason the individual home owners do not know exactly what happens to their property is because we have not done that kind of assessment. We have done an impact study and the honourable member knows precisely what that is, because the figures associated with it have been made public.
The honourable member knows the basic assessment in the city of Toronto is based on 1940 figures, some of them much earlier than that. The metropolitan council, including Toronto, including people representing Eglinton riding at the municipal level, have requested the report and it is made available. We do not have the impact on an address-by-address basis. It was not called for. We do not believe it is necessary.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I would like to ask the Minister of Health whether he agrees with the statement that was made in the Globe and Mail on April 22 by Randy Reid, an assistant deputy minister in his ministry. He said he thought it was inappropriate and inhumane for people in longterm care facilities, chronic care beds and nursing home beds to have to live in ward rooms where, by the nature of their illnesses and the nature of the facilities. We understand they will be for a long time, yet there is no privacy. It is an inhumane approach to health care.
If the minister agrees with that statement by his assistant deputy minister, why has he approved the 3,082 chronic care beds, as well as the large number of nursing home beds, for which there will be no change in policy in terms of ward rooms?
Hon. Mr. Elston: I thought the honourable gentleman told me he was going to have a short question and he wanted a short answer. I can tell the honourable gentleman that what we are doing with respect to all our long-term care facilities is providing much better services in terms of how the ward rooms are set up, how they are constructed and the ability of people to five more comfortably in them.
The design which I think has been featured on those pre-1972 nursing homes, for instance, is one which causes problems in terms of service, not only on behalf of the staff who must provide the personal care but also on the part of the residents who live there.
In terms of our chronic care facilities, I can say without a question that we look to the announcement of new facilities for chronic care patients as providing us with up-to-date opportunities, not only for accommodation of chronic care patients but also for the rehabilitation programs which will provide them with much better care.
That having been said, I think that patients being able to be living in new facilities will allow us to provide better conditions for privacy and certainly much better conditions for long-term stay and for provision of service by the people who staff those long-term care facilities.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: The minister is saying he disagrees with his assistant deputy minister. Would the minister not consider adopting the approach that is used at Bethany Lodge, a nursing home in Thunder Bay? It has only private and semi-private rooms, and the cost per day is the same as it would be for a ward room in another facility. The private rooms are allocated on the basis of need, not on the basis of whether you can afford to live in a private room.
Hon. Mr. Elston: There are many approaches throughout the province to providing facilities for long-term care residents or patients. I can appreciate that the honourable gentleman would like us to examine all the options which are provided, not only by the not-for-profit sector but also by the profit sector. That is what is interesting when we take a look at all the care providers in the province. There are some interesting variations which provide a very high level of care. He has provided us with an example of one particular facility where the facility arrangement is such that there is more privacy.
There are other opportunities as well in terms of the design that is put in place. I was at a very interesting facility not long ago where long-term care patients in Grimsby, through the hospital there, have an interesting collection of rooms and services available which provide them with a lot of privacy.
OVERCROWDING IN SCHOOLS
Mr. Gillies: I have a question of the Minister of Education. The minister will be aware of the very serious overcrowding problem at St. John's College in Brantford. Indeed, the minister and I are meeting a delegation here at the Legislature later this afternoon.
By way of question, I want to describe briefly some of the conditions at this school. We have a school with 1,250 students in a building originally built to house about 400. We have students eating their lunch on the floor in a hallway. We have students studying on the floor in a hallway because of the completely inadequate facilities. We have 19 portables and a projection of 25 in the fall.
Will the minister reconsider his decision not to grant capital funding to this school and help meet this very urgent situation?
Hon. Mr. Conway: I am quite aware of the situation at St. John's College in Brantford. That matter has been conveyed to me by my friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), by a number of others in this caucus, by others in the city of Brantford and, I might add, by my friend the member for Brantford. That is why I sometimes find it difficult to cope with some of what has been suggested here in recent days. It is very difficult for me to cope with that. I am aware of the situation.
We have said our capital allocation, while the most significant in recent memory, does not solve all the problems. I am going to look forward to a meeting this afternoon with the delegation from St. John's College. The honourable member can rest assured that this government will continue to be as sensitive as we possibly can to the many demands, new and old, extant in the capital aspect of the school community.
CHILDREN'S LAW REFORM ACT
Mr. Lupusella: I wish to table a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The petition was collected by Sylvia Lasher and Abraham Silver, who formed the Heritage of Children organization as a result of grandparents being unable to see or visit their grandchildren.
The petition reads:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"That the Ministry of the Attorney General hereby amend section 21 of the Children's Law Reform Act so that the word "grandparent" be included to apply for access to their grandchild. The existing law must be improved to recognize that a child has the right to his or her heritage."
Attached, Mr. Speaker, you will find a petition of 330 people who strongly believe in correcting the situation.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I bet you are going to guess the new total.
Mr. Speaker: I am waiting.
Mr. Warner: "To the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"That the government of Ontario provide the funds needed to build a 10-bed renal dialysis unit at Scarborough General Hospital to serve patients in the Scarborough area."
The petition is signed by 126 persons, bringing the new total to 1,794.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE ACT
Hon. Mr. Kwinter moved first reading of Bill 56, An Act to control temporarily Automobile Insurance Rates in Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I wish to introduce for first reading the Automobile Insurance Act. This act provides the legislative framework to enforce the interim control of automobile insurance premiums I ordered on April 23, 1987, pending the establishment and operation of an independent rate review board.
Automobile insurance consumers are demanding fair and equitable insurance coverage at a fair and reasonable price. The government believes their demands are justified, particularly in a system where automobile insurance is compulsory. I would therefore urge speedy passage of this important bill.
Mr. Speaker: As I look around the House, I see quite a number of members involved in private conversations. It is sounding a little better now. I hope it will remain so.
GASOLINE HANDLING AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Kwinter moved first reading of Bill 57, An Act to amend the Gasoline Handling Act. Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I am pleased to reintroduce amendments of the Gasoline Handling Act and code. As members may recall from the last session, in addition to housekeeping changes, the amendments will aid in environmental protection by requiring fuel suppliers to provide my ministry with locations of private outlets with underground storage tanks, providing for the registration of all identified outlets and making it an offence under the act, after January 1, 1991, for a supplier to deliver fuel to an outlet that does not meet safety standards.
These amendments form an important part of our plan to make sure that underground gasoline tanks do not pose a threat to the environment.
SIMCOE DAY ACT
Mr. McLean moved first reading of Bill 58, An Act respecting Simcoe Day.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. McLean: The purpose of the bill is to change the name of the public holiday celebrated in many municipalities on the first Monday in August from Civic Holiday to Simcoe Day in honour of John Graves Simcoe, who was appointed first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada on September 12, 1791, and who convened the first Legislative Assembly and established the capital of the province at York, now Toronto.
LANDLORD AND TENANT AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Jackson moved first reading of Bill 59, An Act to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Jackson: The purpose of this bill is to ensure that roomers, boarders and lodgers are protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act. However, the bill specifically excludes homes occupied by their owners where no more than four roomers, boarders or lodgers are accommodated.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I wonder if I might have the consent of the House to revert to motions. Apparently, there are some motions.
Mr. Speaker: is that agreed? Agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the select committee on retail store hours be authorized to meet in the morning of Wednesday, May 20, 1987.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the standing committee on administration of justice be authorized to meet in the morning of Thursday, May 21, 1987.
Mr. McClellan: On the question of committees, there seems to be some uncertainty about the regular schedule for committee meetings for next week. I want to indicate for the record that we are ready, willing and eager to begin our regular committee work at the beginning of next week so that the very important legislative program of this parliament can be moved forward.
I understand there is some difficulty in tabling the schedule this afternoon, but we are confident the schedule will be tabled on Tuesday so that we can begin our regular, normal committee sittings.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I appreciate the comments made by the House leader of the New Democratic Party. It is extremely helpful that he is taking that position.
I think he is aware that one of the main jobs of these standing committees is to review the estimates of expenditure. He is aware these are not normally tabled in the House until some days after the budget. Normally, these estimates would have been available next week for perusal by the committees but, unfortunately, with the budget delayed they cannot therefore be available.
The other thing, naturally, is that the committees deal with legislation that has had second reading in the House, and we really have not had an opportunity, although we have been here since April 28, to deal with legislation because of the decisions taken by the majority of the House to deal with a number of important, though ancillary, subjects.
I agree with the honourable member who has spoken that we want to proceed with the important legislative program and the detailed consideration of the spending estimates and we look forward to that happening in the near future.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
I understand we are discussing this motion. This is the motion that is before the House.
Mr. Andrewes: If only to add what little I might to this discussion, certainly on behalf of my caucus I would want to indicate to the government House leader and the House leader for the New Democratic Party that we stand ready, willing and able as well, but I do understand there are some discussions going on with respect to the timetable and that it was the government whip who indicated some concern about that timetable. I think perhaps it is necessary that those discussions run their course before we confirm the agenda for committees.
Mr. McClellan: I am sure the honourable government House leader would not want the erroneous impression to be created that we could start estimates on Monday or Tuesday even if the budget had been introduced, because we have not had the mandatory two weeks' notice for the estimates briefing books and we would not have had them had the budget been on May 14. Two weeks from May 14 is not May 19.
Second, we are not ready to do legislation because the government House leader has not called any legislation. It is as simple as that. To the extent that he has asked to call legislation, we have agreed to do legislation.
Mr. Speaker: Following the discussion, are all members aware of the motion before the House?
The motion simply states that the standing committee on administration of justice be authorized to meet in the morning of Thursday, May 21, 1987. That is the motion we are voting on.
Motion agreed to.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that in the order of precedence for private members' public business, Mr. Hennessy's ballot item be considered following Mr. Lane's ballot item, that all members of the Progressive Conservative caucus be advanced by one place in their turn and that notwithstanding standing order 71(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot item 6 and ballot item 7, both of which deal with the price of gasoline in the north.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
Hon. Ms. Munro: I will complete my reaction to the throne speech on behalf of Hamilton Centre, reflecting the views of Hamilton-Wentworth also.
I would like to spend a few moments thinking about the signals advanced when we talk about enhanced trade opportunities, and the significance of that for regions such as Hamilton-Wentworth, particularly a very strong manufacturing and steel city such as Hamilton.
We agree that we must always be prepared to expand our options with regard to trade opportunities and look forward to proposals which provide a sensitive balance to tariffs, incentives and protection so desperately needed to support sensitive industries.
We also embrace the signals that allow us to go into Pacific Rim countries and to take a look at our procedures and our imagery in those countries as we look to new export markets. In addition, we will be embracing all of the initiatives that look to attracting expanded domestic markets. Indeed, our city of Hamilton is currently working closely with a Chinese mayor who has visited to try to exchange both trade and cultural opportunities, with the end result perhaps of bringing into the city of Hamilton more entrepreneurial skills and therefore also providing for more jobs. We do embrace the expanded trade vision of the throne speech and commend the government for what appears to be workable resolutions.
We in Hamilton also have our views on the need for legislation to review automobile insurance. We understand that it is a comprehensive process and therefore look forward not only to public participation, but also to the results of a comprehensive review, not the least of which is the Osborne report. We follow the views of most people in Ontario that we are looking for a fair means of establishing rates and coverage for all. Health care and social services are flip sides of the same coin, especially when one looks at both of those services in the context of community and public participation and responsibility. Therefore, we in Hamilton look forward to receiving the results of the social assistance review report, which is coming down fairly soon.
We also applaud the sense of community that is reflected in so many decisions and recommendations in the throne speech. For example, in the area of health care services, the capital support so needed by hospitals should be balanced by continuing education, giving fairer recommendation and credibility to needed research and development and access to that research and development by the public. We are also very pleased to see that health is continuing to be looked at not only as a preventive issue but also as part of a lifestyle.
We applaud the views of the government on bringing into being a denticare plan for children of low-income families, and we are also pleased to see that mental health facilities are being made available to children. In addition, when one looks at lifestyles, we are very cognizant of the need for more information on addictions, a better understanding of alcohol consumption and a better understanding of the rights and obligations of individual citizens in educating families.
We want to move away from a welfare mentality in many of our programs to the issue of calling those programs public service, and nowhere is this more evidenced than in the child care area.
We would like to see disincentives and labels attached to those situations over which families and individuals have no control removed. It seems to me that this is the essence of the thrust in the throne speech on both health care and social services.
I would also like to applaud the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) for additional moneys being made available to the city of Toronto medical facilities to investigate the particular aspects of prevention of acquired immune deficiency syndrome and dealing with AIDS patients, which are very significant areas of endeavour. Indeed, people from McMaster University have also taken a great deal of interest in the results of that study, and therefore I would like to mention the care and compassion of that university in dealing with a significant social problem and a problem that is before each one of us.
Finally, as a woman, I would like to speak to some of the women's issues that are either mentioned directly or that are alluded to in the throne speech.
We are very much looking forward to the results of the pay equity legislation in order to allow us as women to have better access to so many opportunities. Child care is a fundamental issue for us, and we are looking forward to the results of the negotiations between the federal and provincial government. We would also like the minister to know that we applaud the establishment of a policy research institute on child youth and the family.
Many women have not been able to access training at normal stages of life, if there are any normal stages of life, and we therefore very much appreciate the opportunities for training, for moving into various levels of endeavour, for looking at different career options, whether it be entrepreneurial skills or moving into nontraditional areas of work.
We would like to be full partners in the true sense of the word. We will therefore embrace any adult learning opportunities that move us forward in that direction.
For women, a long-term and a long-time problem has been the whole issue of family violence. Indeed, we are very pleased to see that the government, through a number of ministries, has already flowed money into a comprehensive program taking a look at wife battering and also looking at that particular problem within the context of a family.
We are also pleased to see that the government is sensitive to cultural differences and strengths and indeed applaud the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) as he grapples with the issue of protection of domestic workers, most of whom are women.
We abhor any move by any party that would enhance and keep underlying systemic discrimination, which we have been fighting against for so many years.
We abhor sex stereotyping and therefore will be working with the government to ensure that legislation is compassionate and ensures accessibility.
In conclusion, I feel that the throne speech of April 28 will have a major, positive effect on the city of Hamilton, the region and the individual people who live in that particular area. This government, of which I am so proud to be a part, has shown that it understands the needs of the people of Ontario and has shown a sensitivity to our city and region that has so long been lacking.
Along with my fellow Hamiltonians, I look forward to the future and the contributions our city can make to this province. This government has shown that it can govern and that it can take a leadership role. I believe the throne speech will move into a budget which shows itself to be accountable yet passionate, fiscally responsible yet looking to the future with all the support that governments must give.
The Deputy Speaker: Comments and questions of the member for Hamilton Centre? There being none, debate. The member for Cochrane South.
Mr. Pope: Thank you very much, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I would have preferred the normal Speaker to he here, because he is much more charitable in his rulings; however, that is the way it goes.
The Deputy Speaker: You get what you have at any particular time.
Mr. Pope: That is right. Just luck, I guess.
I want to join in the debate on the speech from the throne and deal with a number of issues in my riding, in northern Ontario and throughout the province. A number of important issues and the intentions of this Liberal government towards the people of Cochrane South and northern Ontario have to be addressed in the context of the speech from the throne.
I want to begin, if I may, by making very clear my concern on behalf of the laid-off workers, softwood lumber workers, bush workers and mill workers in northern Ontario. I know that the government, some of its members and some of its cabinet ministers have statistics derived from another source that indicate a minimal impact. Those are employment analyses of the actual operators of the mills in Ontario. It does not reflect the layoffs of the contract workers, the contractors' employees who have borne the brunt of the impact of the softwood lumber export tax and a subsequent reduction in demand for Canadian softwood lumber in the American market.
It is very important to understand that we are not talking about an issue that does not have dramatic human overtones, dramatic impact on the workers in northern Ontario, their families and their communities.
I could talk about Hornepayne, Nakina, Terrace Bay, Thunder Bay, the communities around Sault Ste. Marie and Kapuskasing. I could talk about all sorts of small communities and large -- across this province. They are now feeling the very difficult economic impact of softwood lumber and the export tax. It is important to recognize that this is an issue governments of both levels have to address -- the federal government and the provincial government.
So far, quite frankly, the attitude of the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and the provincial government has been: "We had no part in it. It had nothing to do with the Ontario government and, therefore, we have no responsibility for it." True to their word, they have done not one iota, put not one program in place, helped not one laid-off resource worker who is suffering as a result of the export tax on softwood lumber -- not one.
We have raised this issue time and time again in the Legislature. I have yet to hear from any minister of this government any specific steps he has taken to help even one laid-off resource worker. They have never indicated any such program or any such policy. They fall back on the same excuse: "We had nothing to do with this. It was Pat Carney's announcement. We did not know about it until it was made. We had no role to play in the development of this policy, and certainly we do not want to accept any responsibility."
I have just two quotations that will buttress this argument. I could quote from the words of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) in the Toronto newspapers and his words to the Ontario Lumber Manufacturers' Association when he said: "The government's position has been the same from the outset, from the very beginning of this issue in 1985, that the Ontario government opposed any negotiated settlement with the Americans on the softwood lumber dispute and it opposed any tax measures that will be brought to bear as a result of the American pressure."
The Minister of Natural Resources maintained that position religiously for over a year and still maintains it today. I refer members simply to Hansard of October 20 for the words of our Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. O'Neil), who has a responsibility to us in this Legislature and to the people of Ontario in this matter.
Page 2578 of Hansard: "After the announcement had more or less come out of Washington, there was a meeting between Pat Carney and the ministers of trade from across the country. There was agreement by both the federal government and the other provinces, and as I said, Ontario reluctantly went along with that decision."
He is talking, supposedly, about a decision that was made after Pat Carney went to Washington and made the announcement on October 1 that appeared in the October 1 newspapers across this province.
Again he says, on the same page, "I am saying our original feeling on this whole matter was right; in other words, it should not have been supported."
Again, on page 2581, "We said no both to the federal government and to the other provinces, but the consensus had been made that they were going along with the offer that had been extended by Miss Carney in Washington."
In other words, our Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology takes the position that any consensus that was arrived at on the matter of softwood lumber was arrived at after Pat Carney went to Washington, after the offer of a negotiated settlement of eight to 10 per cent was made on October 1, 1986.
That is the same position the Premier of this province took in an interview written by Robert Sheppard and Kimberley Noble that appeared in the Globe and Mail on October 21, 1986:
"Premier David Peterson said his government had not realized Ottawa's intentions to increase lumber industry fees until `we read about it in the newspaper,'" referring to the October 1 announcement by Pat Carney. He made those statements, which were reported on October 21, 20 days later.
The article also said, "Both Mr. Peterson and industry minister Hugh O'Neil said in the Legislature that the announcement" -- i.e., Pat Carney's announcement of October 1 -- "was made without the prior knowledge of the Ontario government."
We have the Premier of this province and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology of this province and the Minister of Natural Resources of this province all singing from the same hymn-book, signing the same song when it came to those workers, that they had no function and no role to play, that the first they knew about a settlement, a negotiated settlement or a proposal of an 8 to 10 per cent tariff or countervail on softwood lumber was when they read it in the newspapers after Pat Carney made the announcement in Washington on October 1. They maintained that position for six months and in those six months did nothing for the laid-off workers in those communities, absolutely nothing. They cannot point to a single program.
I want to set the record straight, because this has been a concerted campaign of deception. It is the lumber workers of this province who have been suffering because of this campaign of deception. The Liberals are doing nothing as a government, because they claim they are not responsible for it. They claim they are not responsible for it because they did not know about it and the first they heard about it was when Pat Carney publicly announced it in Washington. After that, they went along with the consensus, albeit reluctantly.
Here is the text of the letter from Mary Mogford, who the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology indicated was the negotiator on behalf of Ontario in the softwood lumber matter. That is what he said in the estimates of his own ministry in February of this year, that Mary Mogford and one of his officials were the negotiators for the Ontario Liberal government on the softwood lumber issue with both the federal government and the American authorities. Here is what Mary Mogford wrote:
"To Mr. G. E. Shannon, Deputy Minister for International Trade, Department of External Affairs, Lester B. Pearson Building, Ottawa, Ontario.
"Dear Mr. Shannon:
"In the interests of maintaining a national position on the softwood lumber issue, Ontario is prepared to raise revenues, largely from the softwood lumber industry, by $30 million per annum. This sum is the equivalent of a significant increase in stumpage fees for the softwood lumber industry and might well be partly raised through other revenue-generating mechanisms.
"We anticipate that we could schedule 50 per cent of the revenue increases to Ontario to begin January 1, 1987, and a second 50 per cent increase by July 1 , 1987.
"More detail on the precise methods of implementation will be provided as soon as possible.
"Sincerely, Mary Mogford, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources."
The date of that letter is September 26, 1986, five days before Pat Carney's announcement in Washington and 25 days before the Premier told the Globe and Mail that Ontario had played no role, that the first Ontario had known about this was when it was announced in Washington by Pat Carney.
Clearly, on the record, this government has engaged in a campaign of deception over its involvement in the softwood lumber issue. It is engaged in a campaign of shirking its responsibilities for the unemployed lumber workers and mill workers in northern Ontario, who are suffering by a decision of which we now know the government was the co-author.
In September 1986, the Ontario officials negotiated a deal that not only included the authorization of Pat Carney to negotiate a settlement with the American authorities and contained a deal that Ontario would contribute to the costs of that arrangement, but also set the Ontario contribution at $30 million -- a figure, by the way, that the Premier used the day after the throne speech as being the size of the heritage fund, thereby confirming the number contained in this letter. They proposed increasing revenues that the forest products industry would pay, at least in part, to make up the $30 million.
The Premier, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and the Minister of Natural Resources denied all of this in this letter for six months. I think the workers of this province, particularly the bush workers and the mill workers, deserve an honest government that will confess to what it has done, meet its responsibilities and help out those workers. They have received no help whatsoever from this government; none.
I have asked for six months in this House, going right back to October 16, what this government was going to do, what projects it was going to introduce, to help those laid-off workers. I have never had an answer and I have asked it at least 25 times.
The reaction now of the Premier is: "Ha, ha. You did not catch us soon enough. You are flogging a dead horse." The reaction of the Minister of Natural Resources in his interjection is: "Ha, ha. You did not catch us in this campaign of deception soon enough. That is old news." The laid-off lumber workers of this province are not old news.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Cochrane South has been dancing along the line. He was on the right side of the line until that point. Up to that point, he had talked about the government having a campaign of deception, etc. At that point, he came into the area of identifying particular ministers or people and, therefore, he should get back on the right side of the line and not identify people with adjectives that are not in order.
Mr. Pope: The lumber workers of northern Ontario do not appreciate these fine distinctions. They know they are out of work because of what this government did. They know this government would not tell the public or them its implication and role in this matter. They know this government, subsequent to its involvement in this matter, shirked its responsibility and refused to help them. That is what they know. They know how compassionate a Liberal government is; it walked away from its responsibilities.
Mr. Breaugh: I have never heard a more eloquent withdrawal in my life.
Mr. Pope: He never asked for one and I do not intend to give one, anyway.
We have the same attitude with respect to other ministers in this government on the trade issue. Three and a half to four weeks ago, we had the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) reported in the London Free Press as having no idea of what agricultural matters were being discussed in the free trade talks, as having been uninformed but having a generalized concern over the potential impact of the trade negotiations on the farm and agricultural communities of this province.
Today, we have a statement from him that confirms what we knew all along: he has been involved in negotiations, along with his officials, with the federal government on the matter of the trade negotiations with the United States. That is a concerted campaign to shirk his responsibilities to fight for Ontario on trade negotiation matters, trying to pretend he is not involved when we know full well that his officials are meeting at least once a month with the federal trade officials to review the matters that are the content of the trade discussions between the US and Canada.
The Liberal Party, as the government of this province, has an obligation to fight for the people of Ontario, not to find excuses not to do anything, not to try to claim it is not involved in a matter when we all know it is. The government has an obligation to fight openly and publicly for Ontario's unique interests. It has shirked it so far; it tries to hide from its responsibilities when the impact is felt.
We need a better voice on trade matters than we are getting from this government, and that is for sure. There are too many jobs in too many sectors of this province that are at stake. We have had nothing from this government but a song and dance over the last six months as it tries to politically posture itself at the expense of the workers who are going to suffer unless we have a strong, forceful presence at the table.
The government should not bother walking away from the federal government or politically distancing itself. Never mind the rainbow tours to Washington hoping to get good press coverage. It should just do the hard work to represent Ontario workers and Ontario interests in the trade discussions. It has not done it so far and it is time it started.
I have a number of other comments I would like to make on the speech from the throne and its initiatives, such as they are, for northern Ontario. I want to put the matter somewhat into context by indicating that, once again, this government has announced a so-called commitment to northern Ontario. I want to take members back to the estimates of 1986-87 because in those estimates I think we find out a bit about what the Liberal commitment to northern Ontario really is.
Members recall that last year in the speech from the throne there was an announcement of a northern development fund to the tune of $17 million. True to their word, the Liberals put an item in the budget of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines in the amount of $17 million for a northern development fund.
But what else did they do? They took almost $7 million -- $6,913,100 -- out of the economic development package. They reduced it by almost $7 million, I presume to assign $7 million of the $17 million into the northern development fund. Now we only have an additional commitment of $10 million, not $17 million, because in reality they reduced the economic development fund by $7 million and increased the northern development fund by $7 million.
What else did they do? We turn to the next page and, lo and behold, we have a reduction in the northern transportation allocation of -- guess what? -- $10 million. They took $10 million out of northern transportation and $7 million out of economic development, all in the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, and put it into a northern development fund. The net effect was they did not add a single blessed dollar to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines for economic development in northern Ontario, not a dollar. It was all a charade, a public relations exercise, and no new money flowed into northern Ontario as a result of that initiative.
That is the context, and it is right in the estimates of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. There is no secret about it. It is right in there, pages E-138 to E-140: an announced new program, but no money.
Now we have further initiatives announced in the speech from the throne, and I think it is important to have a look at them because if they are analysed in detail, they indicate rather clearly the position of this government towards northern Ontario.
I am referring to page 23 of the speech from the throne, which says, "We will continue to pay special attention to meeting the health care needs of northern Ontarians. In particular, we will address ways of alleviating chronic shortages of health manpower."
The first response, "A northern regional office will be established." We do not need another set of bureaucrats in northern Ontario administering health care. We need dollars for services on the ground, not a new regional office.
Second, "The program to provide physiotherapists in underserviced areas will be expanded to include other rehabilitation therapists." Good move, and it is time it was done because the need is there, but that is all the government has announced in terms of initiatives.
The third is even more laughable. So far, the government has a northern regional office with bureaucrats in it and it has an expansion of physiotherapists in the underserviced areas to include rehabilitation therapists. The third is, "A feasibility study will be undertaken to determine ways of linking health science centres in southern Ontario with educational centres and health facilities in the north." That sounds good.
So now the government has a northern regional office, rehabilitation therapists added to physiotherapists and a feasibility study. "Those are the government's initiatives on northern health care for this coming year. Let us look at them. Let us look at this "feasibility study...to determine ways of linking health science centres in southern Ontario with educational centres and health facilities in the north."
That, my friends, is a withdrawal of a commitment to the associated hospital program that was announced in the speech from the throne in 1985. It was a program I had the privilege of negotiating, first with the University of Western Ontario and then with other hospitals in northern Ontario. It was announced in the throne speech. The associated hospital program is in that speech from the throne we issued in 1985. I was involved in the negotiations with the University of Western Ontario. It was a fait accompli. The arrangements were made. This government cancelled it.
It cancelled the arrangements between the Timmins District Hospital, the Timmins Hospital Centre and the University of Western Ontario. It refused to honour Dr. Frank Covington's contract. This government refused to do it. He was responsible for community mental health services and psychiatric services in the Cochrane district. He had been moved from Thunder Bay, where he and an associate had done a tremendous job of establishing community mental health services across northwestern Ontario in association with the Thunder Bay hospitals. We moved him into northeastern Ontario because we needed his experience.
This government cancelled his contract, refused to honour it. He has now left the country. The Liberal Party of Ontario refused to continue with the associated hospital program that would link southern Ontario training centres and university hospitals to hospitals in northern Ontario. Now, two years later, it has the gall to say it is going to do a feasibility study on the very thing it cancelled. That is its commitment to improved health care in northern Ontario. It did not do only that. I could go through all sorts of things.
First, we had the innuendo from the Minister of Health over a period of a year that the Timmins District Hospital was never fixed for funding. I have a document here that is part of documents that were developed in 1985, and the normal hospital scheduling program is a multi-year program.
It clearly shows that the Minister of Health in March 1981 gave permission to develop a master program; that the Minister of Health on October 3, 1984, gave permission to develop the new hospital on the Ross Avenue site; that on February 24, 1983, the approval of the role study was given, and that on November 21, 1983, the approval of the master program was given.
It also shows that the total cost of the project was $55 million; that the Ministry of Health's share was $36 million; that the operating cost implication was $1.75 million a year; that it was currently at the functional program stage; that the anticipated tender construction date was October 1987; and that the capital cash flow for this project in 1985-86 was $0.3 million, in 1986-87 was $0.5 million, in 1987-88 was $6 million, in 1988-89 was $17 million, in 1989-90 was $12 million and in 1990-91 was $0.2 million.
It was all scheduled for dispersal over a period of five years, in the normal course, along with every other hospital construction program in this province. Yet the Minister of Health has engaged in rhetoric up north and in the Timmins area and has tried to indicate that this hospital was never approved and was never funded. That is simply and categorically not true. In 1985, it was set into the regular budget process and the regular capital process of the Ministry of Health. Clearly, if the minister would release the documents to the people of Timmins, they would show exactly that fact.
What is the Liberal commitment to health care in northern Ontario, particularly in Timmins? Before I was elected, we had an unfortunate closure of a psychiatric hospital in 1976 in Timmins. The closest psychiatric facility for acute care, other than the 24-bed unit that is an adjunct to St. Mary's General Hospital, was in North Bay, which is 220 miles away.
Because of that wrong decision in 1976, I made a decision that I was entitled to make, with the approval of the policy and priorities board of cabinet, to establish 60 psychiatric beds for the new Timmins District Hospital. Because they were replacing 100 per cent funded beds that were closed down in 1976, I made a decision, supported by the policy and priorities board of cabinet, that they would be fully funded in terms of capital.
The Minister of Health removed the 100 per cent funding commitment that I made. He cancelled it unilaterally, without authority, because he did not agree with my decision, and then he reduced the number of psychiatric beds from 60 to 43. That is the commitment that we see from the Liberals to health care.
I say to my friends that the air ambulance service is another good example. With great fanfare, the Liberal government announced the patient transportation system and the northern Ontario travel grant, and the Minister of Health religiously denied over a period of a year and a half that the Conservatives ever had a program in place.
It was only when we got him in estimates that his officials were forced to tell him not only that we had a program in place, approved by the cabinet of the day, but also that money had actually been allocated to the Ministry of Northern Affairs to operate the air transportation system and that the amount was $1.5 million for the first part of the first year of the patient transportation system.
Again this is a denial of the past commitments and a withdrawal of services, because the new program was only announced as taking effect on December 1, 1985, and for six months the people of northern Ontario were denied that program because of the political agenda of the Minister of Health.
When it comes to the commitment to health care in northern Ontario, I have to say to my good friend the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) -- whose riding is providing the wine for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the city of Timmins, and he is more than welcome to come up and join us there -- I am sorry, it will take more than a northern regional office, a program to expand physiotherapists with other rehabilitation therapists and a feasibility study to give the emphasis on improving health care that we need in the north.
The next reference to northern Ontario comes in the form of a world-class -- and we all know the definition of that now; it has to do with cross-fertilization, according to the Premier tourist destination program. The throne speech says, "More funds will be provided to the Destinations North and East program." It talks about a heritage inns program. I would like to know how many heritage inns have been designated by the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. Eakins) in the district of Cochrane. How many? Zero. This program initiative does not include any support for northern Ontario. The heritage inns program is of assistance to some of the Liberal members in the cabinet; it is of no assistance to northern Ontario.
"Increased funding will be provided to improve provincial parks." What provincial parks? The Minister of Natural Resources has refused to bring into existence 51 provincial parks, which he was committed to doing when he took office. That was one of his very first commitments. If anything, he is weaselling on that commitment. He is not bringing in the orders in council.
We created 100 new parks in 12 months in 1984; the other 51 parks were prepared for order in council. This minister has done nothing to bring those forward and, in fact, he is denying traditional uses in those parks now under his review of the parks guidelines. Traditional users of these lands situated in northern Ontario are going to be denied access to them for their livelihood. They are going to be taken out of mining activity.
I warned those fellows who thought that by separating the mining branch into a separate ministry there would be no impact, one of the first things that would happen would be that mining would not be allowed in provincial parks, even on a permit-of-exploration basis and -- guess what? -- it has come to pass exactly as I knew it would. The government is denying access by prospectors and developers in the mining industry to some of the areas of greatest mineral potential in northern Ontario and it is doing it because the minister is doing a review of the book.
I say to the minister, get on with the job of creating these parks in northern Ontario, get on with the job of allowing the economic development of mining lands and tourist facilities in these areas, stop delaying development in northern Ontario, stop acting to the prejudice of northern Ontario industries and northern Ontario workers, allow the development to take place.
What is the government's next reference to northern Ontario? A renewal of the apprenticeship system. In that area of the province, layoffs have increased by 250 per cent in 1986 over 1985 because of the inaction of the Liberal government. Their inaction has led to these layoffs. We have raised it in the Legislature for a year and a half, without response from this government. Their inaction has led to a 250 per cent increase in layoffs in northwestern Ontario, and they are going to offer them apprenticeship programs. Where are they going to work after they finish their apprenticeship training in an area with a massive 250 per cent increase in layoffs in basic resource industries? Where are they going to find work? There are no answers from this government.
It is passing strange to note that this government, which claims it is committed to job creation and development, has formulated no response to the people of northern Ontario other than telling them to find their own answers.
That is what the Premier told Geraldton council in the summer of 1986: "Find your own answers. You will have to come up with your own solutions because I do not have them." He has an obligation, as the government of all of the people of all of the province, to darn well work hard to come up with the answers, to help and not tell people they are on their own.
That is precisely the message he gave in Sault Ste. Marie at this economic development conference he himself, as Premier, hosted, a conference where the public relations costs were greater than the benefits for northern Ontario. Public relations firms from Toronto were hired and invitations were sent out at the last minute by Purolator Courier from a Toronto address. Northerners had very little opportunity either to run the conference or to participate in the benefits of the conference. It was all run out of Toronto.
What was the conclusion of the conference? Guess what? The Premier said: "You are on your own. You will have to come up with your own solutions. We cannot help you. I do not have any answers."
He said the same thing in Sudbury two years before that with respect to the Inco and Falconbridge workers: "I do not have any answers for the nickel problems. You are on your own."
A Premier is supposed to be the Premier of all the province. He is supposed to work hard for answers to help workers in every region of the province. This Premier has done so little. If he thinks going on an imperial tour of northern Ontario and having people come in and pay $200 each to share wine and cheese with him is going to solve the problems of the north and win him support, he has got another think coming.
The imperial tours are over and the media blitzes are over. It has come down to time for action. There is more to governing this province than losing 20 pounds, substituting contact lenses for glasses and buying a red tie. There is more to governing this province than sitting back and enjoying the good times generally.
One has to work hard to help the areas of the province that are in difficulty. This government has not worked hard for the north and the Premier has not worked hard to help the north. That will all come forth in the next campaign. Do not worry, it will.
The clearest example of the Premier's commitment to job creation in northern Ontario comes in his own estimates on February 10, 1987. I am referring to page R-535. The question I posed is this: "How many dollars have you as Minister of Northern Development and Mines put into northern Ontario in the last year to help unemployed resource workers?"
In 1982 and 1983, under sections 38 and 39 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, by federal-provincial arrangement between myself and Lloyd Axworthy, over 7,000 laid-off resource workers were employed in northern Ontario under section 38.
The Premier's answer, in Hansard, was that he had committed $350,000 and had employed between 20 and 25 laid-off workers in northern Ontario in the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.
Actions speak louder than words and the Liberals will soon learn that. They have shown no commitment whatsoever to an area of the province devastated by layoffs right now.
Mr. Pope: No? Seven thousand workers employed in 1982-83 who were temporarily laid off because of the economic downturn, 7,000 families who were helped, 7,000 workers who could earn up to $10 an hour doing essential resource work across the province, 7,000 workers in communities from one end of the province to the other who were helped in this program. His government helped 20 to 25 at a time when the layoffs were even greater.
They are proud to speak in favour of that? They are proud to interrupt and give their comments in favour of that? They should be ashamed. They should be ashamed of their track record. They should be ashamed of the fact they have turned their back on the north and those resource industries and those workers. They should be ashamed of the economic and social impact their neglect has had on workers, their families and their communities across northern Ontario. They should be ashamed of it, because really, it is criminal what has been going on.
Lots of talk, lots of show, a lot of show-biz glitz, but no action to help the people of northern Ontario, other than the back of the hand and the Premier saying: "You are on your own, fellows. Have a good time, because I intend to have a good time in Toronto."
That is exactly the Premier's attitude, and it will come back, it will be discussed in the coming months. I look forward to that opportunity to compare the BILD program and its positive impacts on northern Ontario between 1981 and 1985, to compare the employment growth in northern Ontario between 1981 and 1985, with what those birds have done since they got into office. I look forward to that comparison.
The Liberals think the BILD program was so bad they have virtually tried to imitate some of it; very little of it, but some of it. I have a good example for them. One of the initiatives they announced was a reference to peat. They want to develop the peat resource in northern Ontario. That sounds good. The media in Toronto think it is a brave new initiative; it is innovative.
I have to tell them that in 1981 the entire peat resources of this province were mapped and made available under licence of exploration, and some licences of exploration were developed. This is not a new program. This is a six-year-old program they have announced. It has already been completed. All they have to do -- and it is even in red -- is to change the date on it and reissue it, because that is all they have announced, something that was done in 1981. That is their peat initiative. That is all it is.
The Liberals have also talked about the aerospace industry and its relationship to the resource sector. My friends, in 1982 we started mapping the natural resources of this province using satellite imagery. That is what they announced as a new initiative; something that had been going on since 1982.
The forest resources of this province were being mapped both in terms of harvest and in terms of reforestation, starting in 1982, using satellite imagery that had been released by the United States Army for use for civilian purposes. I gave a lecture in 1983 at the University of Toronto to the forestry faculty on that subject, and we had maps up there to show all the forestry students and the staff the advances that had been made in the linkage of the aerospace industry with the forest resources sector. Boy, some new initiative those fellows announced for northern Ontario; something that started in 1982.
Northern development councils were established a year and a half ago and for the first year were given no information, no mandate and no guidelines by this government. They could not get answers out of this government. They could not get directions on what to do. They were totally frustrated, and these were the government's own appointees who were desperately seeking direction. Yes, they were a wide group of individuals. Many people from many different walks of life, of many political persuasions in northern Ontario, were appointed to these councils, but they languished for a year, and finally the Premier came up with a hot idea, "Let us give them authority over the northern heritage fund."
Then the Premier made another startling disclosure. It appeared in the Timmins Daily Press on April 29, 1987. He said, "The seed money for the fund" -- referring to the Ontario heritage fund -- "will be the province's share of the federal tax on softwood lumber exports to the United States and is to be administered in collaboration with the nine northern development councils already established."
Now it is not only that the Liberals are going to accept their advice, they are going to consult with them, but also the northern Ontario heritage fund would be funded with the $30 million from the export tax on softwood lumber. That seemed like an innovative idea, except that the Premier had already announced on January 8, 1987, that money would be used to retrain the lumber workers who were laid off because of the softwood lumber export tax. So now he is doing what we call double-dipping: he is using the same amount of money for two different programs that he announces at two different times and hopes that he is going to get away with it.
It will not work. We and the people of northern Ontario know that $30 million a year is less than the transfer payments for the public institutions in the city of Timmins alone. It is less than the budget of the Northern Ontario Development Corp. It is less than what is going on with the northern Ontario regional development program and NODC right now. It is a meagre contribution to an area that is experiencing substantial economic difficulties.
I say to my friends that a greater commitment has to be made to northern Ontario. I say to the people of the rest of the province, if they will not help the laid-off lumber workers, if they will not help the iron ore miners, if they will not help the steel workers at Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, are they going to help you if your turn comes? is this government going to stand up for you? Is it going to retrain you? Is it going to find you new jobs? Is it going to give you economic security if the layoffs ever hit you? Based on their past performance, certainly not.
Based on the Liberals' past performance, certainly there is no way you can count on this government. It came true with Goodyear, right here in Toronto. It is coming true in the petrochemical industry in Lambton and Sarnia, where there has been a 20 per cent layoff, from 10,000 down to 8,000, in the last year and a half.
The member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt), the member for Essex North (Mr. Hayes) and the member for Lambton (Mr. D. W. Smith) -- oh no, not the member for Lambton; I am sorry -- the member for Sarnia and the member for Essex North have expressed concerns to the government in this House about the petrochemical industry and the 20 per cent layoffs in the last year and a half. The Liberal member for Lambton has never raised it once. A 20 per cent layoff in the most important industry in that part of the province and the Liberal member for Lambton has never raised it.
In response to the questions by the member for Essex North and the member for Sarnia, we got nothing from this government, other than sending the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) down to try to slam them in the face while they are down.
I say again to the workers of this province, if they are not going to help you in Sarnia and Lambton, if they are not going to help you at Goodyear here in Toronto, if they are not going to help you in the steel mills, the iron ore mines, the nickel mines and the sawmills of this province, are they going to help you when your time comes? The answer is they will not. They never have before. They never will. So you can look forward to no help.
The Premier will stand back and be relaxed, maintain his image and be relaxed, with a smirk on his face, and tell you, "You are on your own, but by the way, vote for me." The people of this province deserve better government than that. They deserve a better commitment to the economy and job creation than they are getting from this current government.
Yes, there have been many projects undertaken in the riding of Cochrane South, initiatives started by the previous government. I can point to the EldCap program initiated in 1985, which has led to the construction of the Anson General Hospital, which is now ongoing; the construction of Bingham Memorial Hospital in Matheson, which is now ongoing; the furtherance of phase 2 of the Golden Manor home for the aged, and the construction of South Centennial Manor in Iroquois Falls, which is almost done.
We have also the commitment of this government -- previously fixed, so it could not be reversed -- to the four-laning of Highway 101 from Pamour right through to the heart of Timmins. We have the commitment to improvement of other road facilities in our area. We have the announcement of a workers' adviser office, which I will talk about in a minute, with the Workers' Compensation Board coming into the city of Timmins.
We have work being done on the Twin Falls road. We have work being done on the park on Lake Abitibi. We have work being done on the development of the infrastructure in Black River and Matheson and specifically Holtyre and Ramore. We have work being done with respect to the infrastructure, the water supply, to South Porcupine from the city of Timmins central, so it can have access to proper water supplies. All that work is going on, and it is a sign of progress.
One of the current issues that is most worrisome to the people of the city of Timmins and in the gold mining industry generally is the matter of lung cancer among gold miners and the rights of the widows and their dependents to proper compensation.
The worker adviser office must be located in Timmins immediately, even if it does not open its office until the end of the summer, as the Minister of Labour stated. The worker advisers must be in Timmins immediately to help those widows and those dependants with the processing of their claims; to give some help to myself as a member of the provincial parliament and to Moe Sheppard of the Steelworkers union to help those claims through the appeal process with applications for reconsideration and notices of appeal .
Some widows and their families will benefit even from the stringent guidelines, and I think it is mandatory that those who will benefit be processed immediately, without delay.
Jean Larcher of the victims of the mining environment group and Moe Sheppard of the Steelworkers union and our staff at our office are working hard to try to accumulate the information so that these widows and their families can get what they justly deserve: full compensation benefits where their spouses have died from lung cancer.
We need more than that. We need more than a worker adviser. We need, and in fact I think we have the right to demand, an independent medical expert in lung diseases to come to Timmins, to stay in Timmins, to process the medical information and evidence, preparing it for applications for reconsideration, preparing those appeals and helping us to counterbalance the nonsense we have had for so long from the medical advisers of the Workers' Compensation Board. We have the right to have that kind of assistance from the Workers' Compensation Board, and we demand that it happen now.
We demand that these claims be processed, as they should be. Once we get through those who can qualify under the existing criteria, we then intend to challenge the criteria with everything we have at our disposal, including legal challenges in the Supreme Court of Ontario, because we are not satisfied with the way the Muller study was handled. We are not satisfied with the Ham committee report. We are not satisfied with the criteria that have been gazetted this week in the Ontario Gazette. We intend to use them for the people who can benefit, but from then on, we will do whatever we can to change those guidelines so that people who have suffered from lung cancer, who have died from lung cancer, and their widows and dependants will get the compensation they deserve.
Everyone from all political persuasions in Timmins is united in this effort. It is time it happened. There has been a six-year delay since I first raised this matter in the Legislature in 1979, and the response to my raising it initially was the Muller report, within two weeks of the questions being raised. Those questions were based on the existence of a federal study called the Wigle study, which showed a higher than normal linkage of incidence of lung cancer to the communities of Kirkland Lake, Timmins and Kapuskasing.
That led to Robert Elgie, as the then Minister of Labour, announcing the Muller report. We were told the Muller report would be ready by 1983. What we got was a first-phase report that statistically linked lung cancer to gold miners in the city of Timmins. Then it went on to a second phase of the report, where it tried to determine the cause of the higher than normal lung cancer incidence among gold miners in Timmins. It threw out smoking -- that had no impact one way or the other -- and laid it directly on dust conditions in the mines. The finding of that direct linkage should have ended the argument, never mind the exposure times. Clearly, exposure to silica dust in the gold mines enhanced the incidence of lung cancer and was a direct cause of that increased incidence; therefore, anyone who died or suffered from lung cancer should be automatically qualified without exposure time frames or limits.
That is the position I maintained in front of the Ham committee when I met with it. That is the position I maintained in this House. That is the position I maintained in estimates with the Minister of Labour a year ago and a year and a half ago.
We think it is time the government sorted through the nonsense that is going on in the Workers' Compensation Board, made a policy decision, even if it wants to do it outside the Workers' Compensation Board system, and said from now on: "If your spouse died from lung cancer and he was a gold miner, you as a widow are going to qualify for a provincial pension, and you deserve it. We will argue about retroactivity later, but you are going to qualify immediately and you are going to get full pension benefits. We will set up a separate fund, if you want, outside of the compensation system so that it cannot be appealed by the mining industry, and we are going to make sure those payments are made. We will fight out the arguments later on."
Mr. G. I. Miller: What about the farmer who gets cancer and dies the same way?
Mr. Pope: It has been proven statistically and by medical evidence that miners who worked in the gold mines and who have lung cancer are suffering from lung cancer because of their work, and the Liberal member for Haldimand-Norfolk (Mr. G. I. Miller) does not want them to get the pension benefits they are entitled to. I might say that is a typical Liberal attitude.
Hon. Mr. Van Horne: You are twisting things a touch, just a touch.
Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, I know you want me to continue at some length.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. This is not the recess. Member for Cochrane South, if you are going to carry on, please carry on.
Mr. Pope: I was just allowing for the reaction to set in; that is all.
It is very clear that in terms of northern Ontario and the entire province, this government has no policy on trade matters. It has no presence in Washington. They thought he was Premier Anderson in 1985. Now they just wish he would go away. His rainbow tour was as catastrophic as another rainbow tour by a certain Argentinian vice-president many, many years ago in Europe; it was just as much of a failure as a rainbow tour as that was.
He has no credibility in Ottawa. He failed to carry the day in Vancouver, and the first ministers were talking about the Premier who tailed in Washington, who failed in Ottawa and who failed in Quebec City. Why did he fail? He failed because he had no credibility. Why has he no credibility? Because every leader of every provincial government in this country and the Prime Minister knew that on his first test, softwood lumber, he was saying something different to the people of the province from what he was saying to them. He was making a secret deal in writing with the federal government to impose an export tax on softwood lumber with all the impact on northern Ontario workers and telling the people of this province he did not know anything about it. That is why he has no credibility. That is why he is going to fail in representing Ontario's interests in trade.
This government has no policy with respect to economic development of this province except to sit back and enjoy the good times. He will get his picture taken often and enjoy the good times; he will ignore the regions of the province that have specific needs, as my colleagues have indicated. They have indicated specific needs in Durham, downtown Toronto, Cambridge, Burlington and in west Toronto for housing, for transportation, for an industrial strategy. This government has none of that. But boy, can it throw a good press reception -- lots of red ties, lots of smiles, everyone sitting back enjoying himself.
The workers of Goodyear and the people in Ottawa who object to a planning decision can sit and wait, because their Premier is going to go for a skate on the Rideau Canal, a photo opportunity, rather than meet with them. Their Premier is going to have a wine and cheese party in Thunder Bay or Sault Ste. Marie rather than meet with the union representatives and the political representatives of the laid-off steelworkers at Algoma Steel. This Premier is going to meet in secret with the members of the Geraldton council and tell them they are on their own, but he will not go out to meet with the unemployed bush workers who have been laid off because of his negligence in the handling of softwood lumber.
All is right. The style is all there: "It is a great world, just sit back and enjoy it. I do not want to hear about all the problems." That is not the responsibility of this government.
Mr. Shymko: Cosmetic politics.
Mr. Pope: Cosmetic politics at its worst.
At least we had the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) preannounce the budget today. The disabled of this province are going to get at least a $150-a-month increase in the upcoming budget, an increase that should have been passed on last January 1 but was not. It was not passed on, but it is going to be passed on, on the eve of an election, in the budget. They are going to pass on those increases -- a policy dictated by the imminent calling of an election and not by the needs of those people. Will it be retroactive? Will it be more than $150 a month? Will the government give back the benefits it withheld from disabled people?
What about the drug benefit cards that people have lost because of the failure to pass through and, therefore, the disqualification? Dozens of them have called my office and many other constituency offices across this province, dozens upon dozens, literally hundreds of people who have lost their right to a drug benefit card because of this decision that was made and stuck to for five long months when the governments of Alberta and British Columbia passed it through.
Mr. Shymko: What is five months to the Liberals?
Mr. Pope: What is five months to the disabled people of this province? It meant an awful lot to those of us who had to go to our constituency offices and listen to the problems that decision created.
This speech from the throne is the same cosmetic canvassing of touchpoints in the hope that the government will attract widespread public support. It is the same cosmetic attempt to try to claim they are solving all problems when in reality they are not addressing them, when in reality they are not doing anything more than shuffling money around and putting money into areas that already exist.
There are no new initiatives here. The government has just announced it is going to carry on like it is supposed to. Congratulations. The Liberals are going to carry on like they are supposed to be doing in their government. They are actually going to build highways. Goodness, what a brave new initiative.
Mr. Shymko: Cross-fertilization, they call it.
Mr. Pope: Cross-fertilization -- developing a world-class speech from the throne. It fits the definition, this speech from the throne. A world-class effort -- lots of cross-fertilization.
This province and the workers and the people who need the government deserve better than they have been given. For that reason, I and my colleagues cannot support this speech from the throne. We will take our own initiatives, our own responses, our own ideas and our own policies to the people of this province in the coming weeks and months, and the people will judge which party in this Legislature really understands the problems, is predicting future responsibilities we may have and is putting in place new ideas and innovative approaches to try to help the people of the province.
The day of the red tie, the silly grin and the laid-back attitude is over. People need and expect some action from this government. I have been from one end of the province to the other; with the Liberal government of Ontario, they are not getting it.
Mr. Mancini: There are a lot of things a person could say about the speech that was just given by my colleague across the way. One thing I have found over the last few months as I have watched the Conservative members of the Legislature -- actually, they appear to be like a rowboat in the ocean, just drifting and bobbing up and down. That was probably one of the most negative speeches I have ever heard given in the Legislature.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, especially from members who might not be sitting in their seats.
Mr. Mancini: All members will know, and I am sure they realize, that our colleague who just finished speaking, during his term as the Minister of Natural Resources, received tremendous, positive support from myself on a number of activities which affected his former ministry and my constituency. To sit here now and look across the floor at the former minister and see how negative he has become, really, I do not think that sits well, even with himself.
If I could offer some advice to my good friend, a person I deeply respect, a person I hope to visit and go fishing with in the near future, or at least play golf or something, I would suggest he should be a little bit more positive and then his thoughts and considerations would be taken more seriously.
The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments? There being none, reply.
Mr. Mancini: Do you mean he gets to reply?
Mr. Pope: Of course.
Mr. Mancini: If I had known that, I would not have said anything.
Mr. Pope: To my friend the member for Essex South, the invitation still stands and he is more than welcome. I remind all members that this is a great year to come to the riding of Cochrane South. We have three 75th anniversaries going on. Industries from across this province, including a very significant industry in Essex South, are contributing to the celebrations that are going on in the city of Timmins, and I think the publicity f
or that particular industry has been beneficial for the industry in his riding.
I accept my friend's comments. I guess my only response is that if you are a laid-off lumber worker who has had no work for six months -- and I have met with these people and visited them in their communities; I have occasion to do so when I am visiting the in-laws -- if you have no recourse in these small communities to any other option except leaving the community and virtually abandoning your home, your life and your friends, if you have no option because of the softwood lumber tax, if you have no option because of the economic downturn in the forest products industry, I think that is a pretty sad situation and someone has to speak for them.
This government systematically over six months denied its responsibility. I can play games about who is saying what and who said what as well as anyone else in the Legislature. The fact of the matter is that the impact of all this is devastating for those workers in Ontario. Timmins has one of the smallest unemployment rates in the province. We are doing very well economically. There is no doubt about it. Everyone will tell you that. It is these workers who desperately need the help that we have to look to, and this government has not done it.
Mr. Charlton: I am not sure it is a pleasure to rise and join in the debate on this throne speech. It was fairly easy to summarize the throne speech by the Premier and his government, and I would like to have a crack at coining a new phrase that sort of flows out of an old quotation we all know very well: Never in the history of mankind has one person said so much for so long, and in doing so, said absolutely nothing. I think that fairly accurately summarizes the impact this throne speech has had on Ontario.
It is 10 years now since I first arrived here. This is the 11th throne speech I have sat through. I honestly have to say that of the 11 throne speeches I have sat through, this is the only one about which I have not received a single call, either pro or con. I continue to receive calls on the issues of concern out there in this province, whether it be unemployment, youth unemployment, plant closings, layoffs, day care, education, housing or health care. I continue to receive calls on the issues outstanding in the province, but I received not a single call commenting on the content of this throne speech.
I defy any member of the government to latch on to one of the people in the press gallery and go out on to the streets of this city, probably the one city in the province that should be most aware of what the government said in the throne speech because of the three major newspapers and all the television networks here that focus on Queen's Park, and interview people on the street as to whether they thought there were useful comments in the throne speech about a future direction for Ontario, and what those comments were. Unless, of course, they happened to interview their colleagues from across the way on the back benches, the response would be in every single case: "I am sorry. I do not know. I cannot recall anything specific that was suggested." That is precisely because nothing was specifically suggested in the throne speech of two weeks ago.
I have listened not to all of the speeches that have gone on over the past week and a half, but to quite a number of them. I think the last speech we just listened to was a reasonably good example of the long list of very specific things in the province with which the government has failed to come to terms.
To take that comment a step further, it is fair to say that this government has had extreme difficulty making a decision about what to do about virtually anything and everything raised in this House in the past two years. As a matter of fact, I think it becomes quite clear that the only issues -- even this is not absolutely true -- on which they have been able to make any kind of constructive and useful decisions are those issues that formed part of, not all of, the accord we signed with the Liberal Party on June 25, 1985.
Unfortunately, they even had difficulty with somewhere between a third and a half of the issues in that accord, issues they presumably thought through. They made them campaign issues. They were issues they had to think through a second time in the process of negotiation with us. To this day, they still have not been able to make a decision. I will run through just a few of them very quickly. They have been touched on by others.
In the campaign, we were promised legislation on justification of plant closings and layoffs and extension of severance pay. We were promised that again in the accord. The Minister of Labour stands up here day after day, week after week, month after month, saying: "We are working on it. It is coming." What is it the government has been doing for the past two years? What is it the government did for the 42 years prior to June 1985? Did it not do any thinking? Did it not do any planning? Did it not have any understanding of the processes of government and of legislation and implementation?
Of the issues promised in the last campaign and in the accord, finally last December we saw Bill 154, the broader public sector and private sector pay equity legislation. "Pay equity" is the new term that evolved between June 1985 and December 1986. In 1985, it was called "equal pay for work of equal value." That is what was promised to the people of Ontario. We finally got the bill, Bill 154, and what we ended up with was a piece of legislation that at the absolute minimum will exclude one quarter of the working women in Ontario from coverage; half a million women at an absolute minimum.
To everybody who was involved in the hearings around Bill 154, it is clear that the number of women who will be excluded is substantially larger than that half million because there are a number of exemptions in the bill. The Ministry of Labour, the Ontario women's directorate and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology cannot tell us what those exemptions will mean in their application in the real world; nobody can tell us.
They do not know, for example, what the gender test built into the legislation will mean. They do not know how many job classes across the province will be excluded by the 60 per cent female, 70 per cent male comparison test in the legislation. They cannot tell us how many women will be excluded by the exemption of casuals in Ontario. When you combine the gender-predominance test and the regional or geographical notion of an establishment, they cannot tell us how many women will be left out of the legislation.
The estimates range from the minimum I suggested of half a million or one quarter of the working women in Ontario up to something more than a million or half of the working women in the province. That is this government's idea of universal pay equity legislation. We have not even completed that bill yet, but the process has not been very pleasant, let me tell the members.
I raised in this House the other day with the Premier the question of bringing Ontario Hydro under control and making Ontario Hydro accountable to this Legislature and to this government. Three years ago, while standing on his feet in this House, the Premier said : "We are clear. We have been very specific about what we will do to bring Ontario Hydro into line and make it accountable to this Legislature." Yet in the two years since the government took office, we have seen absolutely no change in the relationship between Ontario Hydro and this government and this Legislature.
Last July, the select committee on energy tabled its report in this House. The select committee made 20-odd recommendations. Most of those recommendations dealt with the relationship between government and Hydro, with amendments to the Power Corporation Act to alter that relationship to make it more accountable and a series of amendments to make changes to the Ontario Energy Board Act to allow greater power to the Ontario Energy Board to regulate publicly the processes, Hydro rate-setting processes, etc.
With a government that in March 1984 was clear about what it was going to do, with a committee report after months and months, in fact a whole year of study, that clearly sets out good, useful and concrete recommendations about specific changes, we still have a throne speech with not even a mention of the accountability of Ontario Hydro. The throne speech mentioned everything else in the world, but on one of the issues the Liberals fought hard on day after day while in opposition, the accountability of Ontario Hydro and the threat that Ontario Hydro posed to the financial stability of Ontario, there was not a single word in the throne speech.
During the 1981-85 parliament, I spent four years as the Environment critic for this caucus, the present Minister of Energy (Mr. Kerrio) spent about a year as Environment critic for the official opposition and the current Minister of Health spent the remainder of that period as Environment critic for the official opposition.
Last fall, we had a report tabled in this House by the Minister of Health. It was a report on a study commissioned by his predecessor in the former government, a report all of us had expressed very real interest in when the study was announced back in 1982. When the interim report of that study committee was tabled in 1983, we clamoured in 1983, 1984 and early 1985, demanding to know when and where we would see the final report. I was part of that clamouring and the present Minister of Health was part of that clamouring. It was an important issue that should not be delayed.
The site study committee report on the Upper Ottawa Street landfill site in the city of Hamilton, a landfill site used for 30 years as a dump for domestic, household garbage, but also as a dump for very seriously toxic chemical industrial wastes, was finally tabled in October 1986. In January 1987, both the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health said they did not want to comment until after the public had been fully briefed on the content and import of that report and had time to respond. It is fair game, I guess.
We had public meetings in December and January in Hamilton with the affected people. I want members to understand something about that report and why I am so perturbed about inaction. There are all the horror stories we have heard over the past decade about the environment around this province and across the border. Some of the horror stories across the border have even been worse, with the Love Canal and the Hyde Park dump site moving out a whole community. We can all remember the rest of those horror stories because the vast majority of us were here when they were being debated.
The Upper Ottawa Street landfill site study committee report of October 1986 is the first report anywhere in North America that has clearly and conclusively proved the health linkage between the existence and the operation of the landfill site and the health effects on the workers at the site and in the community surrounding that site. It is the first study anywhere on this continent that conclusively proves that linkage. At the Love Canal in Niagara Falls, New York, they moved out a whole community without having a study that was this conclusive; in fact, without having much of a study at all at the time they moved the people out. We have the first study that conclusively proves the health linkage to the operation of the dump site.
To date, we have had absolutely no response from either the Minister of Health or the Minister of the Environment to any of the recommendations in that study; not one peep. The Minister of the Environment managed for the first year and a few months of the existence of this administration to win over the environment community in Ontario as somebody who was going to move forward quickly and strongly.
However, for the past seven, eight or nine months this performance has been rapidly losing for this government the support of environmentalists across this province and the concerned citizens in the large number of communities across this province where there are serious environmental problems to be dealt with, such as the one I have just described. That decline in support will escalate very rapidly if we do not start hearing some response from this government, from its Minister of the Environment and from its Minister of Health on some extremely serious issues that face this province.
Just two days ago, my colleague the member for Lakeshore (Mrs. Grier), our present Environment critic, raised in this House an update question on the St. Clair River blob. Her question was focused on the fact that since that whole debate a year and a half ago on the St. Clair River blob, with all the focus about cleaning up the St. Clair River and protecting the drinking water of the communities that depend on the St. Clair River for their household and drinking water, there have been an additional 200 significant spills into the St. Clair River from the chemical industries in that area.
The Minister of the Environment's response is, "Is it not nice that we now have a system in place that lets us know it happened?" That is fine. We certainly want to know when spills of that nature happen, but my god, it is the drinking water we are trying to protect, not the knowledge that the drinking water has been contaminated that we are trying to protect. Certainly, we want to know when a spill occurs, but the primary objective has to be the elimination of those 200 significant spills in a year-and-a-half period if we have any inkling or any hope of being able to protect present and future generations in Ontario and the very environment of the province itself.
My colleague the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) probably made some comment about this in his remarks in response to the throne speech. My remarks will be a little more pointed perhaps than his were. I refer now to GO Transit.
The GO Transit authority has sent us invitations to a 20th anniversary celebration a week this Saturday to celebrate 20 years of commuter transit under the GO Transit authority. Unfortunately for those of us in Oshawa and Hamilton, what we have to celebrate a week from Saturday is 20 years in which the previous government and the present government have failed to do what was promised 20 years ago, which was to provide effective commuter transit links between Hamilton and Oshawa through the city of Toronto.
We are still waiting. Unfortunately, although there were a number of vague comments in the throne speech about the need for improved transportation and communications in Ontario, we in the city of Hamilton are still waiting to find out if and when we will ever see a full GO rail transit service to our city. We were fortunate enough to get one additional train a day out of the is government last year, a government which I remind members promised full service -- at least its local candidates in Hamilton promised full service.
So that the members can start to understand how this debate affects a city like Hamilton, let me say that we have a significant number of Hamiltonians who work here in Toronto. And yes, we have GO service into Hamilton. It is currently a bus service for the most part. We have three trains a day, but essentially we have a bus-based service into the city of Hamilton.
I do not know how many members get involved with the Queen Elizabeth Way between Hamilton and Toronto or between even St. Catharines and Toronto, and how many get involved with Highway 401 between here and Oshawa, but when I was elected 10 years ago the morning rush hour on the QEW started about 7:30 a.m. and ran through until just after nine o'clock. The afternoon rush hour started about four o'clock and ended almost right on the nose of six o'clock. During the rest of the day, that highway was a fairly quick route between Hamilton and Toronto and ultimately between points even farther down the peninsula. I imagine it was much the same on Highway 401 between here and Oshawa. Those rush hours now start at 6:30 a.m., not 7:30 a.m., and they extend until 11 a.m. The afternoon rush hour now starts about 2:45 p.m., and that rush hour does not finish until almost 7:30 in the evening.
All those GO Transit buses that are the base of our commuter link between Hamilton and Toronto get dumped out into that rush hour mess, and they sit there on the Gardiner, and they sit there at Highway 427, and they sit there at Highway 10, and they sit there at Oakville. They burn fuel and people get fidgety and waste time. Some people read the newspaper five times a day because there is nothing else to do on the bus. Some people take work on the bus, but other people cannot work with all those fumes and all that noise.
We are not very far from the time that if we do not make some major commuter transit decisions in the Golden Horseshoe, we will be looking at a really unworkable and perhaps unresolvable crisis. Yet a government party whose members promised quick, prompt action on resolving those issues has sat silent and continues to sit silent; no new initiatives.
In the accord after the last election, we were promised changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. I am not going to dwell very long on this, because this is one of the issues that happens to have been focused on here in the House. I simply wanted to make a couple of comments about it because I can recall that when I first came here, although occupational health and safety in Ontario, particularly the occupational disease side of that question, was just in its embryo stage in terms of political consciousness here, in terms of public consciousness out there in our ridings and communities across the province, I get half a dozen to 10 calls a week now on occupational health and safety issues. I do not recall having any at all in my first year as a member. Then a smattering started to come in over the course of my tenure here, but I am getting six to 10 calls a week now on occupational health and safety related matters.
I recall when this government first took office two years ago and the member for Windsor-Sandwich, now the Minister of Labour, was first appointed minister and made his first few statements in this House and his first few speaking engagements out there in Ontario. There were a lot of trade union and working people who were saying: "Hey, this guy sounds like he is going to be pretty good. Maybe, for a change, we will be able to get something done."
When I get those six to 10 calls a week now on occupational health and safety questions, I not only get the complaint about the occupational health or the occupational safety problem which confronts that worker or group of workers, but also I get the comment: "When are you going to be able to get that Wrye off his behind to do something? When are they going to get enough inspectors so that we can get somebody in here?"
The sense of optimism which was clearly there in spades two years ago, and that sense that we have to give them some time to make the changes, to bring in the legislation, to find the staff, to train the staff to make the system work -- that sense of optimism is disappearing very quickly. Certainly nobody out there was impressed with the comments in this throne speech about occupational health and safety changes in Ontario.
On Workers' Compensation Board reform -- that was something this government promised, both in the election campaign and in the accord with this party -- we have seen nothing in this House in the way of legislative change, reform of the act itself, the act that provides the benefits and the approach to benefits for injured workers in Ontario.
We have seen some initiatives with the Workers' Compensation Board, though. We have seen those established and some announced. We now have regional offices. The member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) mentioned he was happy to have the announcement about the workers' adviser office in Timmins, which is going to be opening up at some point in the future, I cannot remember what the date was now. We got a workers' adviser office in Hamilton and we also got a Workers' Compensation Board office. We used to have just a rehabilitation counselling office. Now we have virtually a full operation there in the city of Hamilton, although it does not yet have the capability of handling all of the adjudicator-level appeals, we are still hearing some of them here and some people are still being sent through to Toronto for pension assessments.
But for all intents and purposes, we have, supposedly at least, most of the infrastructure to deal with all those things the Workers' Compensation Board is supposed to deal with in relation to injured workers.
Yes, we expressed sincere happiness when the announcement was made two years ago -- or I guess not even quite two years ago, it will be a year ago last September -- we expressed thanks to the government for the initiative. But we ended up with an office that opened up that fall, with some expert staff but totally understaffed, that did not really get operating until mid-spring last year.
It now has what it claims is a full complement of staff, and for the things we used to complain about that were being handled here on Bloor Street, for the things that in some cases used to take us two weeks and we said that was too long and that was inexcusable, and for those things that used to take five months and we said that was too long and that was inexcusable, and the minister always agreed, we have now doubled and tripled the time frames in the new office in Hamilton that was supposed to provide better local service for injured workers in Hamilton and Brantford and Burlington and so on.
We have an operation there that is a disaster. There is no staff organization that you can detect in terms of organizational lines of responsibility. There are staff there that have never been trained at all. They have been hired straight off the street and stuck behind the desk, and they do not know what they are doing. We have people sitting on files for three months. Then when you phone them, they are not even sure they have it, because the piles of files on their desks are so high they have to phone you back tour hours later and tell you, "Yes, I found it on top of my desk."
We were thankful to get that operation in Hamilton, but until the commitment is made to make that operation a service-oriented operation and not just a sign and an address, the injured workers in the city of Hamilton are not being well served, and their great expectations and growing love two years ago for the present administration in Ontario is going downhill very quickly.
I have a couple of other items I would like to touch on very quickly. One is the announcement of two weeks ago and the introduction today by the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. Kwinter) of his legislation to control, supposedly, auto insurance rates in Ontario.
We have been out there doing mass mailings and canvassing with auto insurance leaflets. We did our task force, we had hearings all across the province, and we know what the problems out there are and how the drivers in this province feel about those problems.
This government and this minister may get some short-term mileage out of this package that was introduced today. It is not going to take very long, because the people in this province get renewal notices on a fairly regular basis, for the drivers in Ontario to understand that the protection in this package of protection that was introduced today does not exist in this package. It is not going to take very long, as my colleague said in his comments this afternoon, for those young drivers who thought that, at the very least, they were going to get a 10 per cent reduction out of this package, to find out that because they are already in the top bracket and the insurance companies cannot bump them up to the next bracket in the market system, they are going to be the ones the insurance companies refuse to renew. They will not even get their 10 per cent reduction on a 20 per cent increase, which my colleague was talking about this afternoon. They will get dumped into the Facility Association and they will be paying $2,800, $2,900, $3,000 or worse.
As other people get bumped-up categories because of one minor accident -- because theoretically the only way the insurance company can get an increase is to bump them up a category -- people who used to be able to get two speeding tickets but had nothing else happen and never got an increase are going to get an increase up a category because they get a speeding ticket or because they have a minor bumper-thumper.
This insurance package will not hold water for very long. In the two weeks since the announcement, we have already heard the cases being raised here in the House about people, who because of the announcement expected that they were not going to get an increase, or at least not a significant one, getting bumped up significant dollars. It will not hold water very long.
The other issue I want to raise quickly goes back to the area of the environment and the Countdown Acid Rain program which was announced a year and a half ago by the Minister of the Environment. I want to link my comments on this to the comments I made earlier about my discussions the other day with the Premier about controlling Ontario Hydro and making it accountable to this Legislature, an issue on which the Liberal Party in this province has fought hard for a decade, an issue about which the Liberal Party in this province has done nothing since it became government.
There have been no changes to the Power Corporation Act, there have been no changes to the Ontario Energy Board Act and there have been no changes even in the policy relationship between government and Ontario Hydro. Because of that and the way the Hydro process is totally internalized -- Hydro does all its own studies and then sends the government the answer after it has looked at all the questions and eliminated the ones it does not like -- it managed to hoodwink a government that should have known better.
In the Countdown Acid Rain program it managed to convince this government to allow it to have a banking program which would allow it -- if you can believe this, Mr. Speaker -- to save pollution emissions, to bank them and to draw on that bank if it runs into problems. I have heard of lots of good savings programs that probably had good, long-term benefits for individuals, societies and pension groups -- but a savings program where you save pollution to use in the future? Can one imagine how that could he used internationally in the debate around acid rain abatement?
This government was duped. It was duped because all it gets is the end piece. It does not get any of the studies. It does not get to look at the alternatives. It gets Ontario Hydro walking into the office, having done all that and having eliminated the parts of the process it does not want anybody to know about, and putting what it says is the only solution on the government's desk.
After the hearings, the Liberal members of the select committee on the environment, which just tabled its report on Monday, understood that the banking provision had to be eliminated from the control regulation. That is the committee's report to this House. The only question is, why did that happen in the first place? Why could not the minister and the expert staff in the Ministry of Energy see the same things the Liberal members, the Conservative members and the two New Democrats on the select committee saw?
Mr. McGuigan: It is open government.
Mr. Charlton: Again, that is not my concern at this point. My concern is that there has been no action over the course of the last two years to alter the relationship between government and Ontario Hydro, to change that accountability mechanism and to take up the recommendations of the select committee on energy last year on regulation of Hydro's operations by the Ontario Energy Board and hearings on its planning process, where all the alternatives have to be looked at instead of hidden in an internal process.
It is because we have not taken any action to make those changes that Ontario Hydro got away with tooling the Minister of the Environment and his expert staff and the Minister of Energy and his expert staff. It is because we have not proceeded with those changes. Until this government is prepared to make those changes, members of this government will be made to look like fools on a number of occasions in the future by Hydro because they will not know the answers.
I am not concerned about whether the Liberals think their government has been open. They may feel they have been open with this House, but Ontario Hydro has not been open with them and they have not done anything about it.
In closing, there is a whole range of important things that the Liberal Party, now the government of Ontario, has said to the people of Ontario on repeated occasions that it was prepared and ready to proceed with. Two years later, in this throne speech -- the throne speech that, theoretically, subject to an election, takes us through the third year -- we have no mention of this whole range of issues that the government said two years ago it was ready to proceed with.
If this government wants to survive in Ontario, it is going to have to do better than proceeding with 60 per cent of the items in the accord that it signed with our party two years ago. That figure of 60 per cent is not even a true figure, because on pay equity and freedom of information the government certainly has not proceeded in the way the promise was perceived two years ago.
It has at least proceeded, and that is a positive aspect, but if this government wants to survive it is going to have to do far better. It is going to have to be far more imaginative and far more capable of making decisions than to accomplish nothing more than 60 per cent of an accord that it negotiated with an opposition party.
If the government wants to be able to demonstrate leadership to the people of Ontario, it will have to start providing them with answers, followed by decisions and implementation, or all that high rating it is receiving out there at present will start to disappear very quickly.
In May 1985, the people of this province voted for a change, and they still have the sense that the change is happening. In major sectors that I have already laid out today, however, the sense is already starting that there really is not any difference. Now is the time, during the budget next week, that the people of Ontario will be watching very closely. If there are not a whole lot of new ideas and initiatives flowing out of the promises that have been made over the course of the last number of years, public opinion of this government will start to change very quickly. We will see yet again, after only two short years, the beginning of a new political era in Ontario.
Mr. Breaugh: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: We have been maligned somewhat in the last week for being so bold as to use the rules of the House to set aside the throne speech debate for an emergency debate. Unfortunately, we are into a throne speech debate this afternoon, but I am not sure I see a quorum in the chamber.
Mr. Warner: There is a distinct lack of interest on behalf of the people who wanted to be here to have this debate, namely, the Liberals.
Mr. Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Mr. Callahan: It gives me great pleasure to rise in my place and participate in this throne speech debate.
At the outset, it is somewhat important to let the people at home know what the rules are, that the opposition parties always have nothing other than negatives about any throne speech of the government. Perhaps that will explain to the people out there who have been watching the official opposition, the Conservative Party, and the third party, the New Democratic Party, being so absolutely negative that one would have to wonder if they in fact had read the throne speech, had it read to them, or perhaps fed to them. Quite frankly, I am very enthusiastic about what I see in the throne speech of this government.
Mr. Speaker: I do not think the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) is in the proper place to even interject.
Mr. Callahan: It is hard to tell when the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is in his seat.
In any event, I would like to continue. It is very exciting to see a throne speech build on a throne speech previously given in this House by this government and demonstrate that there is planning, that it is not just a shotgun approach, which, in reading some of the former throne speeches of the Conservative government, was the case.
I have to say as well that the promises, the statements made in that throne speech have gone a long way towards accomplishing or fulfilling many of the reasons I ran for a seat in the provincial Legislature. I ran in the 1975 and 1981 elections because I recognized that in the city of Brampton, which was one of the fastest-growing communities in Ontario, many of the things were not being looked after by the former government.
Overcrowding in our schools was taking place. The hospital we had in Brampton, Peel Memorial Hospital, although an excellent facility, had great need for beds because of the growing population. The waiting time at emergency was up to five and six hours. I could see this was going to continue to grow simply because the people who were coming to my community, to my riding, were people who were newly arrived and had perhaps not established a relationship with a doctor and were taking their services outside of the riding.
I urged upon my council colleagues at that time that something dramatic had to be done. I took the step of trying to persuade them not to allow any further development in the city. I had hoped by that step to stimulate the Conservative government of the day -- as Mr. Speaker and all members will know, that riding was represented by the former Premier of this province, William Davis -- to take some action to recognize that, because of this dramatic growth, people were being denied access to appropriate buildings for education and were being denied or delayed their rights to access to appropriate health care.
One of the conundrums of my entire political life, in terms of being on council or being in the Legislature, is that I will never understand why, in the 1975 and 1981 elections, when I dogged the former member with these specific issues, nothing ever took place. When I look at the throne speech and I see that there are statements made, some of which have already been fulfilled in terms of establishing further buildings in which our young people in the riding of Brampton and throughout Ontario can be properly educated, it makes me feel good.
In the days on council, with the tremendous growth that was taking place, the approach that was taken was that you put a sign up outside of each new development, which said, "We regret to tell you that your children may not be able to be educated in this area and may have to be bused elsewhere." The hospital difficulties we had urged me one night to suggest to my council colleagues that perhaps we should put up a sign saying: "You may not be able to receive your health care services in this community. You may have to be bused elsewhere."
I am pleased to say that, in general, the throne speech addresses that issue. The Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) has already addressed that issue to a significant point in my community and in that of my colleague the member for Mississauga North (Mr. Offer), in that some $52 million plus was allotted to the region of Peel to service both the separate and public school capital needs. Unfortunately, that does not go to complete the inadequacy that has existed and has arisen because of the growth and the lack of appreciation by the former Conservative government of that growth. I have learned, as my colleague has, from speaking with the public school board, that it needs some $50 million to $80 million just to catch up with capital structures. The separate school board needs almost the same amount.
Portable upon portable is available for education in my community. Comments from the other side say, "Nothing has been done." I suggest a very giant step has been taken by this government, in this particular throne speech, to start along the road of trying to address the particular difficulty I and my colleague have in Peel region, and most specifically in the riding of Brampton.
I am optimistic, in looking at the previous throne speech and the way this throne speech builds on it, that we will have the opportunity to meet the commitment of providing proper facilities for the young people of the riding of Brampton, as well as the region of Peel and throughout Ontario, over a period of time.
Within two years, this government has taken giant steps to solve many of the problems that arose as a result of inactivity on the part of the former Conservative government, its perhaps being asleep at the switch and not recognizing that Ontario was changing. Along those lines, I might say I am very pleased to see in the throne speech that recognition has been made of the pluralistic society that Ontario has come to be. I suggest steps have been taken in that respect by establishing health facilities and health services that can be provided to the many people who make up the diverse cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds of our people.
I am very pleased as well to see that this government is taking a far more realistic approach in the throne speech -- not just this one, but the one previously -- to the question of seniors. The attitude in the past, as near as I can figure from what went on, was simply to provide places to house them. There was no sensitive, planned approach to trying to keep seniors in their homes as long as possible, to try to provide them with the services they require from a health standpoint and from other standpoints. That is addressed in this speech from the throne; so I find it absolutely incomprehensible that anyone in either the official opposition or the third party could make statements like, "There is nothing in this throne speech."
I suggest that if that was all that was in the throne speech -- the schools, the hospitals and the seniors -- that in itself would be significant enough to get a round of applause from everyone in this Legislature. I do not expect that to happen.
The most incredible thing I have ever run into is that I attended the Peel Literacy Guild in Mississauga and discovered that in the region of Peel there are some 40,000 people who are illiterate. How did that happen? Did that happen overnight, or did that happen over 42 years: how did it happen? More important, our government looked at that issue and said: "It happened. We are not going to go back to history and say why it happened. We are going to address that issue."
In fact, very early on in our forming the government, the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) set up a breakfast, which was attended by many of my colleagues and Frontier College, and we discussed this very issue. As a result of that, in the throne speech we find efforts directed towards trying to solve not only the question of traditional illiteracy but also that of the illiteracy of the future in terms of bringing knowledge of the computer to our young people so they are able to compete and to get on with the 21st century. To me, that is looking after the most essential commodity, or one of the many most essential commodities of our entire province, our young people.
I am also pleased to see that our government has recognized that the drop-out situation has to be rectified. I can tell members that over all the years I practised my former profession and had to read about reports being made on young people who had gotten in trouble with the law, there were two basic reasons that wended their way through each one of the difficulties these people had got into. One was being illiterate, and the other one was that they had a learning disability which had gone undiagnosed and, as a result of it, they were pushed on through school. Eventually they lost any semblance of respect for themselves and wound up in trouble.
For that reason, I am pleased to see that our government has had the sensitivity to recognize that and to recognize that we should have consideration of early childhood training and education. If that emphasis is what I think it is, it will give us an opportunity to locate or to find some of these problems of learning disabilities and so on in our young people early on in life so they can in fact be corrected. I suggest that with that being done, it will certainly make for a much brighter future for a lot more young people in Ontario and, accordingly, will reduce the numbers of them who perhaps will lose respect for themselves and wind up in the criminal justice system.
It is an absolute pleasure to see the university funding and the facilities upgraded. During the last election, and perhaps even the one in 1981 that I ran in, I recall making the statements to the voters that the university system and its funding had become depleted because the previous Conservative government, when it received transitional grants from the federal government, did not apply them towards that purpose and in fact diverted them to other means. I suggest that our government, not only through the throne speech but also through announcements that have been made by the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Sorbara), has gone a long way towards upgrading this particular difficulty.
I look at things such as the assistive devices. It is perhaps looked at as a small item in this throne speech, but if one looks at the previous throne speech, the age at which you can receive assistive devices has been moved up. I suspect there will be further advancements in terms of assistive devices for people.
One of the things that made me feel very sensitive during the last election was the concern I had for young people who would receive a prosthesis which was paid for at that time. As they grew or as they wore them out in terms of the activities of a young person, they could not acquire another one without paying for it or without getting it through some charitable source. Again, I suggest a sensitive approach has been taken by this government, and that makes me proud to be a member of this government and to be able to stand up and speak on the throne speech.
Sheltered workshops: it is indicated in the throne speech that there is going to be a reform of the sheltered workshop system to increase employment opportunities for the developmentally handicapped. I applaud that because, in the past, people who were handicapped were placed in a workshop where the work they were doing could not have given them a great deal of pride about themselves. The attitude in the past has been, "These people are developmentally handicapped so we will give them something very menial to do." I am pleased to see there is going to be a restructuring of that, because I anticipate that restructuring will go a long way towards not just providing work for people who have a disability but providing them with work they can perform and have a good feeling about themselves, and advance as best they can, to the extent they can, to become productive citizens of Ontario.
l am pleased to see the government has also looked at the question of waste management. In my community, we have a difficulty now in that we are locating, not a gravel pit but a --
Mr. Breaugh: Yes, what is it?
Mr. Callahan: I am trying to think. Give me a chance; help me out. They are establishing a landfill site. The process in establishing it, even coming to the selection on which the region itself agreed, has been a very lengthy procedure. It has gone on over numerous years and has kept citizens of my riding on tenterhooks, because there were locations all over the riding. They have finally come down to a specific site, and because our government now requires -- as opposed to what the Conservatives had -- an environmental assessment hearing, there will be a hearing to determine where that site should best be located.
I would submit that the throne speech goes beyond that. The traditional burying of garbage and perhaps ravaging of good agricultural land and the interference with residents in the community are things that should be looked at as ancient history. We should be looking at the technology of the future in recycling. We should be looking at things such as incineration. Although it is not spelled out, that may very well be what we are moving towards. I applaud that action on the part of the government.
I am pleased to see as well that despite all the years domestic workers were sort of left out in a category of their own, through the throne speech and the promises made therein they will be covered under protection of the Employment Standards Act for the first time. I applaud that. That is a recognition of people who have been left out in the cold and who should not have been left out in the cold.
I am also pleased to see we are now recognizing that the schools we create for the education of our young people for eight hours a day, perhaps eight months of the year, are community facilities that are going to be used for purposes other than just educating our children. The government is recognizing a need in the changing society of Ontario, that child care spaces are absolutely necessary, and has recommended through the throne speech the innovation of placing these child care units in each new school built hereafter.
I would submit that is a first step towards using our community facilities for more than just educating our young people. I can recall back many years ago when we were having difficulties in locating libraries in neighbourhoods in our community. I suggested to our council that we should use our school buildings and that any new school building built should have a library on the main floor which would serve as a local library for the neighbourhood, as well as an excellent library for the students, thereby getting full dollar value out of that building.
I would hope to be able to persuade my colleagues in the government that this being a first step towards providing to the people a community service in the school buildings that are used for education, there might also be that introduction of library services and perhaps other facilities that might be available to neighbourhoods. I would prefer that, rather than having such units built in a single area of a particular riding, requiring transportation to that location and requiring extra money being spent on those additional buildings.
I have to go back to the question of the schools, in that I spoke with my school board and it was certainly pleased with the steps that had been taken. We were able to obtain in Brampton two elementary schools that were absolutely beyond waiting any longer. This means that young people will now have built for them two brand-new elementary schools in the Fletchers Creek area and the Heart Lake area which are in fact high-growth areas in the riding of Brampton. In addition to that, we were able to secure some $3.2 million to start on Notre Dame high school in Heart Lake, which is also a high-growth area. For that reason I am very thankful.
It is time that steps were taken towards trying to provide definitive places to which young people can go for treatment of alcohol and drug addiction. If we are to make certain that the future citizens of Ontario are going to be able to reach maturity and continue on with a full life without the addictions of the present day, and perhaps previous days, then we have to provide, quite frankly, the available and accessible help to them.
In regard to the question of affordable housing, I suppose it is a bit of a shock for a person from the riding of Brampton, where, thank god, we do not have anybody sleeping on the streets yet, to come to Toronto and find a citizen lying on the street and people walking by him as though it was an everyday event. I suspect that perhaps it has come to the stage in a large city where that it is an everyday event. I am very pleased to see that the government is approaching that particular situation.
They are to expand programs of integrated housing and support services for the homeless and people with special needs. That is well in itself. It is certainly a rejection of the humanity that this government has. It also demonstrates in a very real fashion the new wind that has blown through Ontario with a caring attitude, one that is planning for the future.
I am encouraged to see that the government will encourage home owners and municipalities to explore creative approaches to low-cost housing. In the past, municipalities have waited for a lead from the provincial government. That has reduced the amount of stock that we have available for these people to a limited capacity. For that reason, it is good to see this commitment and this joining of hands to establish that purpose.
Mr. Speaker: I am just wondering if I may interrupt the member. If you have a number of other matters you wish to bring before the House, you might want to adjourn the debate and do that at a further time.
Mr. Mancini: He is doing quite well; I think he should continue.
Mr. Warner: Let him continue his remarks while we are not here.
Mr. Callahan: Mr. Speaker, I am not certain whether I should take that as unanimous consent to continue or whether you are asking me to adjourn the debate.
Mr. Speaker: It is six of the clock now and this would be the appropriate time if the honourable member would move the adjournment of the debate.
Mr. Callahan: I would then move to adjourn the debate.
On motion by Mr. Callahan, the debate was adjourned.
Mr. Speaker: The acting House leader may wish to make an announcement.
Hon. Mr. Van Horne: I ask unanimous consent to revert to motions.
Hon. Mr. Van Horne moved that the standing committee on social development be authorized to meet following routine proceedings on Tuesday, May 19, 1987.
Motion agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Van Horne: As acting House leader, I would like to indicate the business of the House for the coming week.
On Monday, May 18, the House will not sit because of the Victoria Day holiday.
On Tuesday, May 19, until 4:15 p.m., we will deal with third readings of Bill 52, the Health Protection and Promotion Act, standing in the name of the member for Rainy River (Mr. Pierce), plus government Bill 176, the Nursing Homes Act, and Bill 177, the Health Facilities Special Orders Act, followed by second reading of Bill 6, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Haldimand Norfolk Act, and Bill 12, An Act to amend the Municipal Act and the Education Act, and the motion for interim supply as time permits.
At 4:15 p.m., by agreement of the House leaders, the throne speech debate will wind up. The time until 5:45 will be shared and at 5:45 the vote on the throne speech will be held.
On Wednesday, May 20, until 4 p.m., we will continue with legislation not completed on Tuesday plus committee of the whole and third reading of Bill 188, the Retail Business Holidays Act, standing in the name of Mr. Ashe. At 4 p.m., the 1987 budget will be presented to the House.
On Thursday morning, May 21, we will consider private members' ballot items standing in the names of the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon) and the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris). Thursday afternoon will be devoted to the budget response by the official opposition. Any time remaining will be spent on business not completed on Wednesday.
The House adjourned at 6:02 p.m.