L012 - Tue 19 May 1987 / Mar 19 mai 1987
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Sheppard: I would like to express my sincere concern, and that of my constituency, with respect to the core government funding provided to Ontario nursing homes. Elderly people today have increased lifespans. Health care needs have grown more demanding, not to mention more complex.
In recent years, medical advances and growth in community-based services have allowed elderly people to remain at home longer. As a result, many residents require more care than ever before upon entering a nursing home. Because of this, nursing homes and their staffs are straining to provide services that far exceed their original mandate with the present funding levels.
Caring for the elderly is a subject that concerns all of us, now and in the future. We would all like to believe that we would be able to live out our later years in relative self-sufficiency. However, for many of us, a long-term-care facility may be the only alternative. We know that nursing homes fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health, while homes for the aged fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Community and Social Services. But these are ministries of the same government, a government that promised universal equality of health care to all of its citizens.
I strongly urge that this discriminating factor be examined and corrected in order for the government to fulfil that promise.
Mr. Breaugh: I am bearing sad news today. I do not know how this happened, but on Saturday afternoon at the Civic Auditorium, a hockey team from Medicine Hat, Alberta, won the Memorial Cup, and on that afternoon it was the better team.
It happens to the best of us, I suppose. What we lost here was a hockey game and the bragging rights to the Memorial Cup, but what we gained over a very long season was an impressive display of ability by a group of young men known as the Oshawa Generals. We want to congratulate the organization and the team itself. They did have a very long season. They had a little trouble with the team from North Bay, which kept coming back. We had to beat them twice in order to get into the finals, but we like this hockey team. You will see a lot more of the members of this team as they go on through their professional careers. They did us proud; they did Ontario proud.
I had the pleasure and the pain of sitting amidst the Medicine Hat fans on Saturday afternoon. I knew I was in trouble when they all showed up with their orange-and-black streamers. They told me they had a good time in Oshawa all week long, and I know for a fact that they had a better time Saturday afternoon than I did. We congratulate the Medicine Hat Tigers for a very fine display.
LOAN AND TRUST CORPORATIONS ACT
Mr. D. R. Cooke: Later today I will have the honour of reporting out of committee what I understand to be the longest bill in the history of this Legislature and the first corporate commercial bill to be considered clause by clause in committee in both official languages. Of course, I am speaking of Bill 116, an act which will establish a new procedure for incorporation and regulation of loan and trust companies to prevent the scandals that we have had in the past -- such as the Seaway, Crown and Greymac Trust scandals -- and to protect the public by creating a new and tougher standard and duty of care.
Perhaps this is an appropriate time to say, in view of the tight work schedule of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, that I would like to compliment the ministry for its co-operation, and the witnesses in particular, as well as all three parties, in getting this matter through the clause-by-clause stage. I think I see all three House leaders here today, and I trust we will have clear sailing for third reading.
Mr. Harris: The tourist season is now under way. This morning I drove from North Bay to Toronto. As I hit the Gravenhurst area, I saw gasoline prices of 36.9 to 36.2 cents per litre. The most common price at 20 or 30 stations was 36.7 cents per litre, about eight cents a litre or 50 cents a gallon lower than at North Bay or Sudbury, and perhaps up to $1 less than in other parts of the north.
Today is the last chance for the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon). Tomorrow his budget spending will be more than 30 per cent higher than in our last budget. That is an increase, in three years, of inflation plus an extra $5 billion -- a staggering free -- spending figure, a provincial disgrace and, I might add, very dangerous for this province.
With all this money, I urge the Treasurer to call his Treasury officials and tell them to change two items on page 3 of his budget statement. First, instead of trying to buy votes with a piddling $100 tax credit that does not solve the problem, he should give northerners what they want and deserve and completely eliminate the gas tax in northern Ontario. Second, he should tell them to change the wording of the four-laning announcement on page 3 that now says, "Higher gas prices will pay for the start-up of the four-laning projects that we put on hold for two years," and tell us that the government will pay for the four-laning and transportation in the north -- the same as everywhere else in the province -- out of the general revenue, not by ripping us off with higher gas prices.
AWARD FOR TREASURER
Mr. Pouliot: My task this afternoon is most pleasurable indeed. On the eve of our provincial budget, on behalf of our caucus, I have the honour to present our first international monetary award to the Honourable Robert "London Bobby" Nixon, on the occasion of his 1987 British tour, in recognition of his truly liberal interpretation of creative financing and his demonstrated commitment to artificially stimulating our economy.
Our Treasurer may be penny wise indeed, but he is very pound foolish.
URBAN TRANSPORTATION DEVELOPMENT CORP.
Mr. Hennessy: It is appalling that the Ontario government and the Premier (Mr. Peterson), who is also Minister of Northern Development and Mines, have no comment on, nor have they taken any action to oppose the plan to ditch Via Rail's purchase of rail cars designed by the Urban Transportation Development Corp. This government talks long and loud about its commitment to the north, but when it comes time to take action that will provide real jobs, real action for northern Ontario, it falls silent.
Workers at UTDC's Can-Car Rail facility in Thunder Bay are concerned. They can read the headlines. The papers say the cancellation of the Via Rail deal will cost the taxpayers of Ontario $190 million. The workers want to know how many jobs the cancellation would cost. They deserve to know from this government. Let us not hide behind the press releases. Let us not hide behind the election threats of the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon).
Let us hear from this government, the Premier and the minister today. Will Ontario fight for UTDC'S proposed deal with Via Rail? How many jobs will the Via Rail cancellation cost Thunder Bay? When will this government come forward with a co-ordinated plan for industrial development in the north? The people of Thunder Bay and Fort William deserve to know what the government is going to do about this because it is going to cost a lot of jobs. A lot of jobs are going to be terminated in September or October of this year, and we will have mass unemployment in Thunder Bay.
Mr. Charlton: I would like to thank the board of directors of GO Transit for inviting me to their 20th anniversary bash this coming Saturday at Ontario Place. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend because of a previous commitment. I will be in Hamilton, along with the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) and the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen), attending a celebration of a different kind in relation to GO Transit.
I understand from my colleague the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) that the good folks of Oshawa will also be gathering the same day. We at both ends of the GO Transit system will be celebrating 20 years of noncompletion of the rail system to our respective cities. It is sad indeed when the commuters of Hamilton and Oshawa have to gather to commemorate an event such as this.
I also ask that the government not give us the standard Tory gift that has become so common. Please, let it not promise us completion of the train lines in Hamilton and Oshawa. We do not need to be jerked around again by another false promise from the government's celebrating 20 years of false promises. No more talk; let the government just get the damned thing completed.
Mr. Speaker: The member for York Centre for 30 seconds.
Mr. Cousens: I continue to cry for the need of Highway 407. The chairman of the region of York gave me a letter last week that said: "Highway 407 is needed now. The progressive and substantial growth that has occurred in southern York region and northern Metro has been a boon to the provincial economy, but has imposed upon us an inadequate transportation system."
If there is anything that is going to come out of the budget tomorrow, let us hope that this government will respond to the cries of all the mayors of the region of York, the MPPs of York and the developers of York to give us Highway 407.
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired. That completes the allotted time for members' statements.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
CHILDREN'S LAW REFORM AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Scott: Later today, I will introduce for first reading the Children's Law Reform Amendment Act. This important bill, the first government bill of its kind in Canada, will introduce remedies for custodial and noncustodial parents with respect to the rights and obligations to exercise access to children.
The bill reflects one very significant principle. That principle is that where a court has determined that a child's interests are best served by access to a noncustodial parent, adequate remedy should be available to advance the best interests of that child. The purpose of our bill is to maintain relationships between parents and children.
Access to a child by a noncustodial parent is something which is in the child's interest, not something which should be used to continue a dispute between parents. Access orders are therefore orders for children, and yet the existing methods of access enforcement are totally unsatisfactory.
For example, a parent who is entitled to see his or her child but is wrongfully denied access to the child has little recourse other than to ask the court to jail or fine the custodial parent for contempt or, in very serious cases, to order a reversal of custody. Those remedies are, to me, not only unsatisfactory; they also clearly do not serve the individual most directly affected -- the child. Fines deprive a family of much-needed support and jail sentences only deprive a child of a parent for a time.
The bill I am introducing today provides some new, sensible and clear remedies for both custodial and noncustodial parents confronted with access problems. The bill introduces a new, simple, speedy remedy for the enforcement of access provisions of an order made under provincial law or contained in a separation agreement. Persons entitled to access to a child on specific days or at a specific time but wrongfully denied that access may make a motion to the court for relief. The motion must be heard within three days of being served.
If the court is satisfied that access to a child was wrongfully denied -- and criteria are supplied to assist the court in making this determination -- the court may require the custodial parent to give compensatory access to the noncustodial parent. This compensatory or makeup access will be ordered only if the court considers it to be in the best interests of the child.
On such motions, the court can order that access be supervised or require reimbursement of the noncustodial parent for any reasonable expenses actually incurred as a result of the wrongful denial. The court may require the custodial parent to post security for the performance of his or her obligation to give the noncustodial parent access to the child.
In addition, and most important, the court, at the request of the parties, may also appoint a mediator to assist them in resolving their differences over access.
Remedies are also provided where the noncustodial parent has wrongfully failed to exercise access. The court may require the noncustodial parent to reimburse the custodial parent for any reasonable expenses actually incurred or require the noncustodial parent to give security for the performance of his or her obligation to exercise the right of access in the future.
These remedies will be available for both provincial orders and separation agreements. For constitutional reasons, it cannot apply to orders under the Divorce Act, which is federal legislation. At a meeting of Attorneys General at the end of this month, I will be urging my federal counterpart to adopt similar legislation for orders under the Divorce Act in order that all children of separated parents in Ontario may have the benefit of this legislation when it is needed.
In addition, a specific protection has been incorporated to ensure that cases involving the possible risk of serious physical or emotional harm to the child are handled with sensitivity. A belief that there is a substantial risk of harm is a valid reason for a denial of access by the custodial parent.
I have mentioned the fact that parties would have access to mediation for such services. I wish simply to draw the attention of the members of this House to the fact that on March 31, 1987, I announced the creation of the Advisory Committee on Mediation in Family Law. This committee will examine the role of mediation in family law and make recommendations to the ministry on the establishment of a comprehensive mediation pilot project. The committee comprises prominent members of the legal profession as well as mediators and government representatives. I expect that this committee will report its findings to me by the end of this year.
I believe these are important initiatives in the important area of family law. They are intended to enhance the ongoing relationship between persons entitled to access and their children, and determine whether new alternatives are available to assist families in dealing with some of the difficult problems that confront them when marriages break down.
I know the bill will receive careful consideration by my colleagues in the House, the legal profession and the public. I look forward to suggestions from all sides of the House and to discussing the bill with them in the near future.
CHILDREN'S LAW REFORM AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. O'Connor: The Attorney General (Mr. Scott) wants suggestions; he will certainly get them from this side of the House.
Perhaps the Attorney General is unaware that there is already a Children's Law Reform Amendment Act before this House, Bill 8, which has been before the House for some three months now and was reintroduced in this session. The bill deals with exactly the same issues as are intended to be dealt with by the bill the Attorney General is suggesting be introduced this afternoon. However, there is a significant difference, and the Attorney General is well aware of this difference. Not only is he late, he is wrong in his approach to this particular issue.
His solution to the question of access difficulties between separated and divorced parents, who are unfortunately choosing to fight over the children of the marriage, is what in the business is called "stacked access." He refers to it as compensatory access. It is a process whereby, if access is denied by the custodial parent, the noncustodial parent has the opportunity to go to court and seek an order whereby that access can be made up at a second or subsequent or stacked or compensatory access session.
The difficulty with that, quite obviously, is that the parents are warring with each other to the extent that one of them has denied access to the children. How is that difficulty between them going to be resolved by doubling up the access, by requiring that person to double up the access which he or she has already denied because he or she hates his or her partner so much?
Obviously, it is only going to exacerbate the situation. The answer to the problem is as set out in Bill 8, the bill already before the House on this same subject, which suggests that the approach should be one of mandatory mediation whereby the court has the opportunity of ordering the parents to attend before a skilled mediator, a person who, in a series of sessions with the two parties, can break down the barriers of ill will and hatred between them with a view to trying to resolve the differences between them.
I can tell the Attorney General from some considerable study in this area that the mandatory mediation approach is one which is much preferred by everybody involved in the system, from the groups of parents seeking access who are having difficulty to the social workers who are trying to deal with this problem, and the legal profession which inevitably gets involved.
Hon. Mr. Scott: How about the women? Women are opposed to it.
Mr. O'Connor: The Attorney General says, "How about the women?" The women, who are for the most part the ones who are denying access, have some difficulty with the mediation approach. But why should they? If they are being required to resolve their differences by discussion and mediation, inevitably the barriers will be broken down and the problem will be resolved. I suggest the Attorney General is late and he is wrong on his approach. He will find that out during the deliberations on and reaction to his bill, which will inevitably come in the days and weeks to follow.
Ms. Gigantes: In response to the Attorney General's announcement that he will be introducing legislation affecting access procedures which will provide speedier relief in situations where people who have a legal right to access have been denied access, I want to say very briefly that we will look upon that legislation with great interest.
I have two points in response to the Attorney General. I think it very strange that he is proceeding with this kind of legislation and with the setting up of an advisory committee dealing with access when he and his colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) have not been able to mediate among themselves about how they can provide the funding required for a very good service providing access for parents, based in the riding of Lakeshore.
That has been brought to their attention many times and there has not been any resolution of that difficulty. We might suggest mandatory mediation for them, where it would not be acceptable in the form that is being proposed by the spokesperson for the Conservative Party.
I ask members at this stage in the discussions, which are obviously very preliminary on this matter, to consider whether the notion of mandatory mediation is not a statement of two contrary notions.
Mr. Grossman: In the absence of the Premier (Mr. Peterson), who now has been absent for four of the 11 question periods since the throne speech, I have a question for the Attorney General.
It was indicated by the Quebec Minister responsible for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs, during public hearings in Quebec on the Meech Lake accord, that Quebec was now prepared to move a new clause to permit the opting out of federal cost-share programs. He specifically cited the interpretation the Attorney General of Ontario had placed on that accord item and indicated how different that was from the Quebec government's understanding.
Given the fact that Quebec is now preparing to move a significant amendment to the Meech Lake accord and given the fact that it is premised in part upon the Attorney General's own interpretation of it -- which conflicts with Quebec's -- will he now agree to do what Quebec has agreed to do and have public hearings surrounding this issue?
Hon. Mr. Scott: I read the press report that the honourable leader referred to. I should bring to the attention of the House that I have not met or spoken with anybody in the Quebec government at any level since Meech Lake. Consequently, I am not able to judge what Mr. Remillard thought I had said about the accord and which led him to the conclusion that he advanced. As a result, I am not able to comment on the observations he made.
Mr. Grossman: By way of supplementary, let me try to answer that question. The Premier has said with regard to that clause that the accord "will in some ways strengthen Ottawa's ability to set up new social programs since the agreement formally recognizes the federal government's right to spend on programs in the provincial domain." That is what the Premier said.
Let me tell the Attorney General what the Premier of Quebec said at the open hearings held in Quebec last week. He said, "We are working on a legal text that would ensure a legal mechanism that would not give a constitutional groundwork to federal spending. It is obvious this was not the goal of the agreement in principle."
We now have the Premier of Quebec and the Premier of Ontario categorically disagreeing with each other on the import of that very important clause. Given that disagreement, does the Attorney General not think it is time to have public hearings in Ontario such as they are having in Quebec?
Hon. Mr. Scott: First, I do not see the conflict that the honourable member refers to. The comment made by the Premier of this province is correct. There is no provision in the Constitution of Canada that permits the federal government to expend any funds in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. There is not one word of that in the Constitution.
As a result of the Meech Lake accord, there will be a provision in the Constitution that spells that out; putting an end, by the way, to some pending litigation. That is what the Premier of the province was saying and that is technically correct. There is no question about it.
Mr. Grossman: With respect, there is obviously a great question about it. I will repeat to the Attorney General the words the Premier of Quebec used. He said, quite in contradiction to what the minister just said, "We are working on a legal text that would ensure a legal mechanism that would not give a constitutional groundwork to federal spending."
The Premier of Quebec is totally and completely at odds with the interpretation the Attorney General just gave and his Premier has just given to a very important clause in that agreement. Before the Premier goes back to sign an accord, which the Premier of Quebec now interprets quite differently from the way the Premier of Ontario interprets it, would the minister not agree that in the name of open democratic government it is now time to have the public hearings in Ontario that the people of Quebec have been entitled to have?
Hon. Mr. Scott: To be frank, I do not read the quotation from the Premier of Quebec with the same intonation as my honourable friend does. The issue that had to be resolved at Meech Lake, and was resolved, was not whether there should be a right in a province to opt out of a federal plan. That was recognized long before Meech Lake. There was no federal plan in provincial jurisdiction that could compel the performance of a province.
What was addressed at Meech Lake was whether there should be compensation for a province that sought to opt out of a federal plan in exclusively provincial jurisdiction. The answer to that, given by those who agreed to the Meech Lake accord, was yes, so that the provinces would be deprived essentially of double taxation, that is their tax funds going to Ottawa to fund a federal program in provincial jurisdiction and local tax funds being used to formulate a plan or an initiative within the province.
That being said, I have to conclude that I do not understand what the Premier of Quebec said in at all the same light as my friend the Leader of the Opposition does.
Mr. Grossman: The Attorney General has once again refused to have public hearings in Ontario. What is he covering up?
URBAN TRANSPORTATION DEVELOPMENT CORP.
Mr. Grossman: My second question, in the absence of the Premier once again and in the anticipated absence of the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Fulton), is for the Treasurer.
The Treasurer will recall that last October we asked for the tabling of all the Urban Transportation Development Corp. documents. On October 28 last, we drew to the attention of the House that the government had refused to table the most important document in the UTDC deal until we demanded it, which was the Via Rail side letter. After we got the Via Rail side letter tabled by the government, it indicated clearly that in the event the proposed purchase by Via Rail of rolling stock from UTDC fell through, the entire deal would be renegotiated. It is also clear on the face of it that $190 million now has fallen through.
Mr. Speaker: The question is?
Mr. Grossman: Will the Treasurer today agree that as a result of the Via Rail side letter and his negotiations to sell UTDC, the government of Ontario now is liable for as much as $190 million on a deal for which it got $30 million?
Hon. Mr, Nixon: The honourable member will recall that the government of Canada reached an agreement, and perhaps we should call it a tentative agreement since the cabinet of the government of Canada now has rejected it, to buy $190 million worth of rolling stock built by UTDC. They now have decided at the highest level that they will not proceed with that agreement. In the sale of UTDC this contract, which we consider to be a firm contract, was an asset. As I understand the situation as it now is, our contract, at least in part with UTDC, will be to maintain at least a reasonable amount of work in the factories in Thunder Bay and Kingston as associated with that contract. We have a potential liability of $190 million.
Mr. Grossman: The Treasurer has just given the information that the Minister of Transportation and Communications and Mr. Kruger, when he was allowed to participate before he was shuffled off somewhere else, refused to give us. Let us hear the Treasurer's answer. He admitted the government is subject now to a $190-million potential liability.
Let us set this framework properly. All the documents, and we have the copies here, indicate clearly that they did not have all but an agreement; it is quite clear from all the wording used in these documents that both parties to the purchase and sale understood it was quite a tentative agreement with Via Rail. Given all that, can he explain today why he would have negotiated a sale that brought $30 million in cash and that he admits today brings a potential payout to Lavalin of $190 million, leaving the taxpayers of Ontario potentially in the hole $160 million because the government had to dump UTDC and give away those jobs early in its term?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: The Leader of the Opposition and his colleague the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) are very much pessimists, even Cassandras, when they predict a very negative approach to the market for these rail cars. The only way this liability would ever be called upon, and it is not a liability until the beginning of the next decade, would be if the market for the rolling stock simply were not in existence at all.
We are confident that the quality of the rolling stock built there is going to continue to be in demand in the world market as well as in the local market. We feel that with the buoyancy of the economy of Canada, and in particular that of Ontario, this liability will be met by contracts placed in these factories, which have established such good reputations for quality workmanship and reasonable prices.
We feel the disposition of UTDC was a good one. We feel it is being well managed. We feel further that this particular commitment about which the government of Ontario received assurances from the government of Canada will be filled by the market I have just described.
Mr. Grossman: Only a Liberal caucus would applaud a loss of $160 million.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Grossman: The Treasurer indicated, consistent with the sloppy way in which this deal was negotiated --
Mr. Grossman: The member's colleagues are getting a little worried about having to explain the loss of $160 million here.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Grossman: The information which the Treasurer offered the House a moment ago perhaps does not coincide entirely with the documentation which we have here. It does not indicate that this liability is something down the road. It indicates that in the event the deal falls through the parties shall negotiate in good faith an appropriate compensation or adjustment by October 15, 1987, or the arbitration provisions kick in.
What we find out here as a result of the sloppiness with which he disposed of UTDC is that by October 15, 1987, an arbitration is going to occur to determine whether the provincial government has to pay out $190 million to Lavalin -- say half of it, $95 million or whatever. It is going to be in this year that the Treasurer is going to have to find almost $200 million to pay a company for taking UTDC off its hands.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Does the Treasurer agree?
Mr. Grossman: My question to the Treasurer
Mr. Speaker: Do you have a supplementary question or not?
Mr. Grossman: Yes, I do indeed.
Mr. Speaker: I thought you had asked whether the Treasurer agreed with all those statements you made.
Mr. Grossman: No, you did.
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. Grossman: My question to the Treasurer is, would he acknowledge this afternoon that on October 15, 1987, an arbitration could kick in which would require the taxpayers to pay out $190 million to Lavalin on a deal in which the government got $30 million?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I cannot acknowledge that. I do not know what the member is reading from. I do know, however, that the government of Canada had made what we consider to be a very wise decision in purchasing rolling stock for Via Rail from the manufacturers in Canada that happen to be located in Ontario. For reasons that are obscure they decided not to buy in Ontario, and this is a serious matter, as the honourable member has pointed out. We sincerely hope their alternative decision to spend $1 million on renovating each of these rail cars --
Mr. Speaker: Order. I would just like to remind the members that a quarter of the time has gone by with two questions.
Mr. Rae: I will ask the question very quickly. My question is to the Minister of Housing.
Mr. Rowe: Hurry up, Bob, hurry up.
Mr. Rae: It sounds better that way.
The minister will know that rent review is in a complete state of shambles as a result of the passage of Bill 51 and the government's lack of preparation. In Mississauga alone there are 4,486 separate applications for rent review. There are three people to hear those applications, which means on average one person is being asked to hear 1,500 applications. There are over 18,000 backdated applications in Ontario. How can the minister explain this complete and utter shambles, and what does he intend to do to protect tenants who are now paying higher rents than they ought to be because of the administrative shambles as a result of Bill 51?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The honourable member, again, has his own strategy of trying to bring in scare tactics to the tenants there. We know the rent review process is working. Sure, there are 18,000 applications; but again, the member is trying to indicate that only one application will be heard per day, and this is not so.
As members know, some of those applications, for instance a single application for a three-bedroom, could be heard within an hour or two. What the member is trying to indicate is that 18,000 will take years to do. That is not the case. The system is working properly.
Mr. Rae: If this is what happens when things are working, what happens when things are broken? What does the minister say then?
I have a question relating directly to what the minister is saying, because I am sure he will know there are perhaps as many as 40,000 tenants who are in the position of being in post-1975 buildings who received notices of rental increase last October. They are having to pay that increase and basically having to lend that money to the landlord, even if the increase cannot be justified. Many of those tenants are still paying those inflated rates.
Ron Gauthier, of 135 Marlee Avenue in the city of York, for example, had a rent increase of 30 per cent on April 1, 1987. He is going to have to continue to pay this unjustified increase.
My question to the minister is, what is he going to do for all those tenants who are basically making interest-free loans to his friends, the landlords of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The member raised that question some time ago, and I explained to him that it is an agreement between the landlord and tenant that there are certain cases where tenants will continue paying the increase over and above the guideline because of a certain date on which they had made that application. However, as soon as the case is heard, if the increase is not granted, those increased rents will be paid back to the tenants. That is an agreement between landlords and tenants.
We knew at the start, because of the startup situation, that these situations would happen. For the member to stand up and bring this kind of panic to the tenants is so unfair; he is very irresponsible, as a matter of fact.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: When are the hearings going to be?
Mr. Speaker: Order, the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke), the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Davis).
Mr. Reville: The minister is suggesting the New Democrats are trying to put fear into the hearts of the tenants, and yet he knows his bill is resulting in Mr. Gauthier and others paying $200 a month up front prior to their rents being justified. When I asked him about this situation in February, three months ago, he said: "That will be resolved after March 2. All the hearings will be heard by then."
I want to ask the minister: on what date, and I would like him to specify also the year, will the tenants of Ontario have their rents justified and get the rebates to which they are entitled so that they can do the kind of planning all of us like to do about our housing?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The rent review bill, Bill 51, that has been in place will save the tenants $20 million in 1987, as I have stated over and over again.
It gets even better. In 1988, it is anticipated that $40 million will be saved.
The member spoke of 18,000 applications that are being processed. As I explained, 15,000 are in the post-1975 category. Because of the fairness of the bill and the provisions that have been made to have this redressed, everyone is coming forward to have his case heard. Those rent review commissioners are in place and the applications will be heard in due course.
Mr. Rae: Presumably March 2, 1987, has now become in due course.
Mr. Speaker: To which minister?
Mr. Rae: My new question is to the Minister of Housing as well. It concerns the fundamental social transformation that has taken place in this province in the past 20 years. The cost of buying a home has doubled from being two and a half times the average annual income to nearly five times the average annual income. It is now far more difficult for the children of working parents to buy homes than it was for their parents. This is a crisis which all of us are aware of as constituency members. We are facing this housing crisis every day in our own constituency offices.
How can the minister justify the failure of this government to move on the question of affordable housing and to deal with the fact that the children in working families today do not have that vision, that dream of having their own home, because that has been taken away from them by governments which have failed to act?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I agree with the honourable leader of the third party that with the cost of housing having been driven up so high, it has shattered many people's dream of owning their own home. I think statistics have shown that the average home in Toronto is about $225,000. However, I do not agree with the member when he says it is this government that has done the disservice of getting affordable housing away from the people.
I come back again to Bill 51. If we did not have that in place, can you imagine, Mr. Speaker, the escalated rents that one would have to pay. We did take action beyond the dreams of the opposition to realize, to implement such a very progressive bill, to at least give people some place where they could live.
Mr. Speaker, you heard the speech from the throne, to which you listened very attentively, and I am sure members have done so. We talked about our "housing first" policy. This in itself is addressing the affordability problem, where we can use all our resources.
Mr. Rae: I wonder if the minister can explain how it is possible that in the last year, which has seen the most vicious cycle of speculation in this province in memory, certainly in recent memory, the government of Ontario has refused to introduce a tax on speculation in land and why it has failed to take any specific measures that will keep down and keep affordable the price of homes for working parents in Ontario. Why has the government failed to do that and failed to take the one measure that might have made a difference?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I think the honourable member is trying a little approach here, hoping that I may agree on something that we have strongly taken a position on. He heard our Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) state that a speculation tax would not in any way assist us in having affordable housing. If the member wants to talk about speculation, speculation is when we talk about an election. We are quite comfortable in ruling here now, and each day we hear about the speculation. We are saying that we failed to implement the speculation tax because, as the Treasurer has indicated to him, it would not help the situation in the least.
Mr. Reville: Judging from the government's record on rent review, we should probably rename the "housing first" program the "housing in due course" program.
Why is the minister not standing in his place today to say that he will introduce a new home ownership made easy program so that people can recapture the dream of home ownership in this province?
Hon. Mr. Curling: Again, the throne speech indicated the aggressive way we are going to approach the housing situation here. I know how anxious the member is to hear our program. Tomorrow when the budget is being stated, I know he will listen attentively. Flowing from that will be another aggressive assured housing policy that will address the concern of housing in this province.
Mr. Jackson: My question is to the Minister of Housing. With respect to these 20,000 applications that are backing up in his field office, can he please advise whether he has mailed out the cost-revenue statements that landlords need to complete? Has he sent those out to those landlords who have made application?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The honourable member has raised a concern about the rent revenue statement, and I gather from my staff the statements have been posted out. It was a rather detailed form, and it took some time to get it right. We will not behave in an ad hoc situation as in the past, having some buildings under rent control and some not under rent control; but to get the process in a correct form, the rent review statement took longer than we thought it would. I gather from my staff, and I stand to be corrected, that was posted out.
I also want to comment that I am glad the honourable member is defending Bill 51 today. He is one who did not vote on this, as members can gather.
Mr. Jackson: The minister issued a statement on December 5, and I will quote from his statement:
"The Residential Rent Regulation Act will be phased in over a period of 60 days to ensure an orderly transition from the previous rent review process to the new system. Implementation of the new system will be completed by Monday, February 2, 1987."
That was the minister's statement. He obviously relied on someone's judgement that he would be ready but I can assure him, if he is not aware, that those cost-revenue statements have not been sent out to landlords or tenants for their examination. In fact, his ministry has not even conducted the seminars of instruction for his own field staff. Under the former legislation it was a four-page report. I understand this new cost revenue statement is more than 20 pages long. He has been reluctant to give the Legislature his time lines.
Mr. Speaker: And the question is?
Mr. Jackson: When is he going to start taking responsibility for this legislation, understand its implications, free up the backlog and give the tenants and the landlords of this province a reasonable time line to follow?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I have a full understanding of this bill and its process. What I do not have is the control of this House. When we put the timetable down, I was convinced that every single member here would co-operate in the way we passed those bills and the detailed way we went about the province in bringing the clauses together, and that the third reading, etc., would go through in an organized manner. Perhaps because of my ignorance of the facts or lack of experience in the House, it took a little time. I hope we get better co-operation in the future so that we can move along in getting the tenants in this province protected.
Mr. Jackson: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: The minister is accusing us of lack of co-operation. We waited five months for him to get these timelines --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Perhaps the honourable member will read the standing orders some time to see the difference between order and privilege.
Mr. Jackson: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Could I correct the record?
Mr. Speaker: Your record?
Mr. Jackson: Yes. My office did check with the Ministry of Housing with respect to the timing of the distribution of the cost-revenue statements. I have learned from the ministry office that it has been sent to the rent review offices but, in fact, it has not been sent to the landlords or the tenants in Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: Order. It is not a point of order. As I understood it, you were correcting your own record.
Mr. Rae: The minister said they were gone.
Mr. Speaker: I asked him if he was correcting his own record.
Mr. Rae: But the minister made a statement that is fundamentally out of keeping with the facts.
Mr. McClellan: It is appropriate for the minister to rise and correct his statement. I am sure he would want to do it.
Mr. Speaker: Order. There is no need for a debate.
Mr. Rae: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I would have thought that if a minister is found to have made a material misconstruction of the facts, it would be in keeping with the traditions of this place for the minister to rise in his place and indicate what the truth is with respect to a matter upon which he has made very direct representations in the House.
Mr. Speaker: It is certainly not up to the Speaker to direct anyone.
Does the Minister of Housing wish to speak on that point of order?
Hon. Mr. Curling: Yes, Mr. Speaker. The record may show that I said I stand to be corrected.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services, who is aware of the large increases in the welfare rolls in Metropolitan Toronto and probably of recent press, both in the Toronto Star, which made it look like it was very easy to get welfare in Toronto, and in the Toronto Sun, which had a headline, "Jobless Flock to Easy Street."
Is the minister aware that in Metropolitan Toronto now they have changed the rules, as a result of this pressure, in a "get-tough measure", as one administrator put it, to require of employables at least five days of employment search before they will give them any money for housing.
Given that this is the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless and knowing the profound problems we have here in Toronto, does the minister agree with that policy and, if he does not, has he made his views known to the city of Toronto or to Metropolitan Toronto?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I was not aware of that change; and no, I do not agree with it.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I am pleased. I hope the minister will convey his feelings to the Metropolitan Toronto council. I should also advise him of another change in their policy, which is to refuse funding to individuals who are appealing to the Social Assistance Review Board for interim assistance. It used to be their policy to give some assistance for housing while that appeal was on. Now they have even taken that away from them. Will the minister please contact them about that as well?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I will do so, but the honourable member will be aware of the fact that SARB has the power to order interim assistance while it is having a hearing. My understanding is that order still stands.
LAND TRANSFER TAX
Hon. Mr. Nixon: On May 14 the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Grossman) asked me about the land transfer tax payable by Petrocan on properties purchased from Gulf. He indicated in his question that I had secret meetings with the chief administrators of Petro-Canada and/or Gulf. I can assure him that there were no meetings at all, secret or otherwise.
He indicated that I had used my ministerial prerogative by regulation or order in council to relieve them of appropriate tax payable. I assure him that no orders nor regulations have done so. He should be aware, and I am sure he is, that the purchase of the assets of Gulf by Petro-Canada was an aggregate purchase. In order for the appropriate taxes to be applied to the properties -- and there are 280 of them -- the purchase price had to be disaggregated, a word that I have learned in the past few days.
The officials from Petro-Canada visited the Ministry of Revenue because they wanted to know whether they could have an approval for registry of the new title of the land, and in order to do that they have to have the approval of the Ministry of Revenue that the tax is paid or payable.
Under those circumstances the book value that was assigned in the purchase of the property was approved on a pro tem basis under those circumstances, but all of these matters are under audit. I just want to read a comment taken from a letter, signed by Mr. John Nicol on December 30, 1985, who also signed the affidavit that the Leader of the Opposition read to the House. "We also recognize that the certification of the payment to be provided by your office for the purpose of conveyance registration does not constitute acceptance by the Ministry of Revenue of the amount of the land transfer tax liability."
Mr. Speaker: I am just checking the standing orders. It said when a minister was responding, if it was a fairly lengthy response, that it should be done during ministerial statements.
Mr. Gillies: He could have put it in the throne speech.
Mr. Rae: He is new around here. He is just learning. He does not know all the rules.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I was just informing members of the rules and I think I should add a minute to the question period.
Mr. Grossman: The affidavits referred to indicated that this was as a result of meetings held in the minister's office, not public meetings but private meetings held in the minister's office, that it was with the approval of the Minister of Revenue and that it was pursuant to his powers under section 17 of the act; all of which, in those sworn affidavits filed with the court, contradict the information he offered the House. Let us just get that on the record.
The Treasurer talked about aggregating and disaggregating the numbers. The fact is that his ministry has allowed, on a tentative basis, a payment of tax on book value, not market value. My question to the Minister of Revenue is a simple one. Can he tell us today the difference between the book value and the market value, which he surely must have known before his ministry agreed to that? Why would he agree to allow Petrocan to do what single home owners are not allowed to do, which is to pay on book value, not market value?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Because we followed the procedures used for the past number of years by the honourable member's colleagues, and there are a number of them who have been Minister of Revenue. Let us get back to the affidavit. I can assure the member that there was no meeting in the Minister of Revenue's office or any other office between the Minister of Revenue and the officials of Petrocan or Gulf. Such a meeting did not occur. Does he understand me? It did not occur.
Mr. Grossman: The affidavit clearly says there were secret meetings. We want to know why the Minister of Revenue gave away millions of dollars --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the honourable member take his seat.
Mr. Speaker: Will the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Grossman) take his seat. New question, the member for Lincoln.
ASSISTANCE FOR THE DISABLED
Mr. Andrewes: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. It is about an issue of which he is quite aware. It is an opportunity for him to respond in a brief but very positive manner. Responding to my leader last week, the minister pledged an increase in funding to all handicapped people in Ontario. Given the excess of almost $1 billion that the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) has in his fold, which he has confirmed, has the minister contacted the Treasurer regarding this public commitment and asked the Treasurer to pass through the guaranteed annual income system for the disabled support to handicapped Ontarians in tomorrow's budget?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: In response to the question of the member's leader, I indicated that money would be shared with all the disabled people in the province. I have already said that.
Mr. Andrewes: Last week, the Leader of the Opposition tabled a letter from the Minister of National Health and Welfare, Jake Epp. That letter clearly allows the Gains-D supplement to be passed through to those handicapped people who so desperately need it. Other provinces have found ways of doing it. Will the minister guarantee today that the Gains-D supplement will be passed through, retroactive to January 1, 1987?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I do not have the authority to indicate a yes answer to that.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Can the minister tell us the last time comfort allowances for people in institutions were raised and whether he has recommended any raise in these comfort allowances recently?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I am sure the honourable member realizes that it is the responsibility of ministers to advise the Treasurer on a number of issues. For roughly another 24 hours, I will not be free to answer his question; maybe after that I will be happy to do so.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: As I understand it, it is the Treasurer's prerogative to decide what he will put in a budget but it is not a minister's prerogative not to say whether he has given advice in a particular area. As the minister will know, for a number of years now people in institutions have received comfort allowances. It has been several years since the $112 given to senior citizens has been increased. For disabled people, the amount is $77. Did the minister recommend: first that they should be brought to parity; and second, that there should be increases this year?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I have recommended that the gap be closed and that it be done this year.
Mr. Callahan: My question is for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens' affairs. About a week and a half ago, I attended at a nursing home in my riding, Tullamore Nursing Home, at the request of the operator and had a discussion with him and his chief nurse. I was advised that because of the number of elderly seniors coming to be placed in that home and because they are living far longer than in the past, many of these people constitute heavy nursing care. Accordingly, the 1.5 hours required by the Nursing Homes Act are being exceeded. In the absence at the present time of chronic care facilities for these people to be placed in, what steps are being taken by his ministry to review this issue? When can we expect we might hear something in that regard?
Hon. Mr. Van Horne: I thank the member for the question.
Hon. Mr. Van Horne: I thank the members opposite for their interest in seniors. I know they are very interested in what we are about.
The question the member raises was one of the main points of concern pointed out to me as we travelled about in our consultative process almost two years ago. The old definition of the nursing care requirement for extended care, the hour and a half of nursing care per day, was a requirement that was perhaps fine in 1972 when the previous government brought in this program. At that time, the people who were coming to a nursing home situation were on average approximately 68 years of age. By the last statistics we had, in 1983-84, they were coming in at an average age of about 83, obviously in a much more frail condition requiring a lot more than one and a half hours of nursing care per day.
The question is, how do you properly define heavy care? This is what we are attempting to do through a group of people who represent the various aspects of the industry, along with some representatives from the various ministries. We hope that piece of work will be concluded by the end of this calendar year.
FOREST SPRAYING PROGRAM
Mr. Gillies: My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Over the weekend, a spokesman for the ministry indicated that up to 60 per cent of the province's forest spraying program could be cancelled this year because of unacceptable levels of contaminant in the insecticide. Can the minister tell the House whether this is the case, whether any of this insecticide has been used; and if so, what health hazards it presents for the people of this province?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: We had commenced our spraying program with bacillus thuringiensis only. It was found there was some contamination in some of the spray. We immediately stopped the spraying program. Our consultative process with the other ministries that are interested now has suggested that there is no danger, but we are still examining the situation. There will be no spraying until we are absolutely certain it poses no problem. That is precisely where it is at this point in time. I will be pleased to keep the member advised as to when we might go forward. I am quite optimistic that we will.
Ms. Fish: I am a little amazed there was not a statement on this today. If the minister is saying he is not going to proceed with the Bt at this time, can he tell us what his proposed plans are to deal with the budworm and gypsy moth situation since he has a remaining window of about 10 days?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I do not think that question should be put by that person who did not care to have any spraying done to protect all the forests of Ontario. She cannot have it both ways. If we want to protect the trees, we have to take the initiative to do it. We have done that as no other government ever has in the history of Ontario. The Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) transferred nearly $30 million. It is a program that is about five times what their government ever did at its best. The forests of Ontario and jobs for northern Ontarians, and a job in northern Ontario means one in southern Ontario, are being protected as they never have been in the history of this province.
Ms. Gigantes: Although the first instalment on equal pay adjustments for women in the public sector of Ontario will not be necessary under Bill 154 until about May 1989, and heaven only knows who will form the government then, I wonder whether the Treasurer will state as a matter of current government policy that funding for pay equity adjustments in Ontario municipalities, hospitals, children's aid societies and day care centres should be from the provincial tax base rather than from the property tax base.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I cannot make that commitment, attractive though it would be to the municipalities and to those who function under their aegis. I can assure the honourable member, however, that in subsequent budgets, whoever has the responsibility for preparing them, this will obviously be a matter of careful review.
Ms. Gigantes: The Treasurer will have to recognize that it is not only an attractive notion to municipalities, etc., as he suggests, but is also attractive to those people who look upon this as a question of fairness. The property tax system is much less reflective of progressive tax policy, and the Treasurer understands this, than is the provincial tax system. When we undertake a major social reform such as this one, why should we not use the most equitable source of funding for that reform?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: The member as usual makes a good deal of sense, particularly from her own point of view. Her party is committed to abolishing property taxes and our party is not quite that progressive at this time. We still consider that an important part of the tax mix. Seriously, since the initiative for pay equity has arisen in this Legislature, as the burden of this in dollars comes on it will mean that the Treasurer, whoever he or she may be in the future, will certainly have to consider the position taken by the member.
SMALL CLAIMS COURT
Mr. Ferraro: I have one quick question for the Attorney General.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Take your time.
Mr. Ferraro: I would take my time but July 2 is approaching quickly.
The question I have pertains to small claims court limits. I have received a number of complaints recently, as I am sure other members of the House have, about the fact that an inequity exists in Ontario, the inequity specifically being that the limit in Toronto for small claims court is $3,000 and outside of Toronto it is $1,000. Why does this inequity exist? When, if ever, will this be standardized throughout the province?
Hon. Mr. Scott: As the honourable member knows, the judges of the provincial court, civil division, are located only in the Toronto area, extending to Hamilton and St. Catharines. There are no judges of that court anywhere else in Ontario because the previous government did not appoint any.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I just knew that would get a rise.
The reality is that the proposed change the member refers to is a sensible and important one. I have had a number of inquiries from members about it in their areas. There are two ways to deal with it. The first is to persuade the district court judges in their home towns who can hear those cases up to $3,000, if they want to, to do so. They are perfectly entitled to do so. They always did when I began to practise but I gather they are busier on other matters now. The other method is to appoint an entirely new provincial court civil bench all across Ontario. That would be a very expensive endeavour and I have not been able to obtain funds for that in the current year.
Mr. Cousens: I have a skill-testing question for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. In the light of his government's commitment to "improving our overall competitive position" in business and technology, can he list the six Ontario technology centres and briefly tell this House what his plans are for each of these tech centres?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: As the member is aware, there was a review that went on of all the technology centres across the province. That review is ongoing. They have been given a further life of approximately two years in which to submit new business plans that we are reviewing and will be asking some questions about. They have also been asked to cut back a bit on some of their expenses and to be more self-supporting.
Mr. Partington: The government is proceeding with the privatization of the Ontario Centre for Automotive Parts Technology in St. Catharines, despite recommendations that its mandate be extended two further years. Will the minister agree to extend the mandate of this centre past December 1988 or guarantee continued service to those companies using OCAPT and guarantee the jobs of the skilled workers at the auto tech centre?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: We have been very pleased with the job the auto tech centre has been doing. We figure there are some improvements that can be made. We of course have talked about privatization, but no final decision has been made. That is certainly one of the things we are considering.
Mr. Grande: If the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) will listen, he will be interested.
My question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Culture. Given the fact that since October 1985 the minister and the Minister without Portfolio responsible for citizenship and culture (Mr. Ruprecht) have gone around this province talking with every ethnic group possible in every major city and noncity in Ontario, and given the fact that last year in October she presented to the cabinet Multiculturalism: A New Strategy for Ontario, a new policy paper, a new policy position, can the minister explain to us whether her cabinet colleagues said no to her draft policy or whether they said to her, "Yes, but keep it secret so you can announce it at the start of an election campaign"?
Hon. Ms. Munro: As announced in the throne speech, this government gave very clear signals that it was committed to taking a look at new strategies in multiculturalism and that the members would see indications of such a policy which could be observed and measured as the months proceeded. This is a very strong indication and the member can certainly wait for the announcements as they proceed. This minister and this government are completely committed to multiculturalism in whatever way the member chooses to define it or whatever way we come out with it as a policy and a program.
Mr. Grande: The minister has answered the question: they will keep the policy until the election call. In other words, they have certainly learned well from the Tories to keep it secret and make an announcement before an election, call the ethnic press together and make a big do about it.
Can the minister tell us, since people across this province now have been waiting two years for this multicultural policy -- she announced it back in October -- and since the minister was good enough to leak it to the press in January of this year and since she said she would officially announce a policy some time in March, where it is? Why is it taking her such a long time?
Hon. Ms. Munro: The honourable member would be delighted to know that I learned nothing at all from the official opposition on the multicultural policy because it did nothing other than elucidate principles for so many years.
Second, this government does not intend to stand on the backs of ethnics nor to use any of the member's supposed jargon to be a reason for an election campaign. I have indicated to him that this government announced in the throne speech its intention and that the programs and policies will follow in due course. That is my statement. If he chooses to take issue with it, that is fine. If he chooses to take issue with the government, that is fine.
It is not going to be announced just before the election, I can assure him of that.
ONTARIO BASIC SKILLS PROGRAM
Mr. McLean: My question is for the Minister of Skills Development. As he knows, many people are taking advantage of the ministry's basic skills upgrading program in 22 community colleges in Ontario. The ministry's brochure featuring the program states it is individual and flexible, but lasts no more than 16 weeks. I met with 30 students last Friday in my Orillia office. They are worried they will not be able to complete their allotted program in 16 weeks.
Will the minister clarify if students will be permitted to continue the program for as long as it takes them to improve their skills, or will they be cut off after 16 weeks?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: My friend is referring to the Ontario basic skills program which is part of Ontario's Training Strategy, and as he says the program lasts 16 weeks. I am not sure why individuals from his riding who are taking advantage of the program cannot complete the program within 16 weeks. The programs are designed to fit into that time period. If he gives me more information about the particular problems those constituents are experiencing, I will look into it and get back to him.
Mr. McLean: The students indicate to me that 16 weeks is not long enough. The previous program, the technical upgrading program, was up to 52 weeks. There is a federal program at this time, basic training for skill development, which is up to 52 weeks; 32 weeks for grades 11 and 12.
These students cannot continue to get their upgrading in the short period of time. It is indicated in the brochure that it is flexible and can be longer. Will the minister tell the House today that he will extend it if necessary?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I just told my friend I will look into it and determine whether there is a particular problem where Ontario Basic Skills is being offered in his riding. There are a number of programs available in the province, whether through the federal government or privately, to enhance the basic skills capacity of the people.
In our analysis, it was deemed appropriate to create a program of 16 weeks as being a program that would be sufficiently long to give individuals the basic skills they need to enter the work force, oftentimes coming back after bearing children or being out of the work force for some other reason.
I told my friend I would look into it and determine whether there is a problem in his area, and I will do that.
Mr. Charlton: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment, if he can return to his seat. The minister is aware that the Upper Ottawa Street landfill site study was completed about a year ago and turned over to the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) by the site study committee. That study was tabled in this House last fall and the citizens were basically given three months to look at the study and respond in terms of their feelings on the recommendations and whether they were satisfactory.
Can the minister tell us when his ministry will be responding in terms of the specific recommendations in the study for remedial work on that site to improve its safety, and specifically whether he is now prepared to proceed with a gas collection and flaring system or some other appropriate technology to stop the gas emanating from the site?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The member asks an appropriate question and he has had a long-term interest in that particular question. I can assure the member that we have an interministerial committee looking at it. He appropriately points out --
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I am trying to give him an answer, but the leader of the third party is interrupting this good answer that the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton) will enjoy and find useful.
We have an interministerial committee involving the Ministry of Health. Perhaps the Ministry of Labour has some interest as well, in terms of the occupational health and safety end of things. That will please the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel). I expect that in the relatively near future we will have a response.
I think what the member wants is a specific response to the concerns that were identified by the citizens and by the so-called experts who did the report. As soon as I get that information, I will be pleased to share it with the members.
Mr. Warner: Ontario certainly is a place to stand.
I wish to table a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. It reads as follows:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"That the Ministry of Health respond to the need for a renal dialysis unit at Scarborough General Hospital, since no such unit exists between the city of Toronto and the city of Kingston."
It is signed by 111 persons, bringing the total now to 1,905 and more to come.
Mr. Wildman: I wish to table a petition:
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and in particular the Honourable James Bradley, Minister of the Environment:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:
"We are against the low-level flights of B-52 jet bombers and F-111 jet fighters. We petition the Ontario government to stop these flights at once."
There is a second petition with an additional eight names.
Mr. Reville: I have a petition signed by 33 constituents which notes that the fuels safety branch of the Ontario government has closed Toronto Taxi's propane station at 1030 Danforth Avenue. The petition says:
"Protect our safety; keep the Toronto Taxi propane station closed until the report is received from the committee on the siting of alternate transportation fuels outlets."
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
Mr. D. R. Cooke from the standing committee on finance and economic affairs presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:
Bill 116, An Act to revise the Loan and Trust Corporations Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
CHILDREN'S LAW REFORM AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Scott moved first reading of Bill 60, An Act to amend the Children's Law Reform Act.
Mr. Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
An hon. member: No.
Mr. Speaker: All those in favour say "aye."
All those opposed say "nay."
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I referred to this in an opening statement today. I have nothing further to add at this time.
DRUGLESS PRACTITIONERS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Shymko moved first reading of Bill 61, An Act to amend the Drugless Practitioners Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Shymko: I have a brief explanation. The purpose of the bill is to ensure that naturopaths and their profession are covered by the Drugless Practitioners Act.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
CITY OF TORONTO ACT
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved resolution 5:
That, at the request of the applicant and on the recommendation of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, standing order 76(e) be waived with respect to Bill Pr8, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill 52, An Act to amend the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
Mr. Pierce: May I speak very briefly on third reading of Bill 52?
Mr. Speaker: I am sorry; it actually has passed.
Mr. Pierce: All right.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: My good friends in the official opposition indicated that orders 5 and 6 are not convenient at this time, and I am informing you, Mr. Speaker, that my colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Grandmaître), who was expected to be here, has been unavoidably delayed.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I do not think it would complicate matters unnecessarily if the government House leader were to move the two bills in question. I think we are generally in agreement with him, and I am not anticipating that there would be either a long debate or a division on those two bills. I would agree to having the government House leader move those two bills, if that is acceptable.
Mr. Harris: That may be very well for some member of the New Democratic Party, but as the House leader indicated, he concurred that this might be more timely after the budget and that is what was agreed to by all three House leaders.
Mr. Harris: Yes.
Mr. Speaker: Order 6? Order 13?
Mr. Harris: We are prepared to proceed with those.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Just so that all three parties are suitably implicated, the NDP indicated it did not want to proceed with government notice of motion 4, having previously agreed to it. The Progressive Conservative Party felt it did not want to proceed with orders 5 and 6, having previously agreed to it. Then I just told the House that it is not convenient to go with orders 13 and 16, because the minister is delayed.
I appreciate very much the thoughtful suggestion by the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) that we might proceed with the bills, and I would be glad to do so. Although I am not what one would call the definitive authority on these bills, I have some passing knowledge of their implication.
Mr. Harris: We had not agreed to anything previously. We had agreed to take them to our caucus today to see how long they would take.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: No, no. That was orders 5 and 6.
Mr. Harris: That is right, but the Treasurer wanted to throw that back into the mix in his discussion on this.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: No. I just wanted that implication that all three parties were slightly off base. I think the honourable member might accept that.
Mr. Harris: No, I do not.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Some time ago, I called orders of the day. I just wonder whether there is any order that should be called now.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved resolution 1:
That the Treasurer of Ontario be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing June 1, 1987, and ending June 30, 1987, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: This is the standard interim supply motion. The honourable members are aware that the authority of the spending power of the government approved by the Legislature with the supply bills some months ago ran out at the end of the fiscal year. Although the Legislature has been in session since April 28, we still have not had an opportunity either to consider the spending program of the government or to discuss interim supply.
This particular motion will give the government the approval to pay the appropriate expenditures for the salaries and other necessary payments, pending the voting of supply eventually, to the end of June 1987. The warrants of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor have approved the allocation of public expenditure in the amount of approximately $7 billion up until now, and I ask that the honourable members expeditiously give me their approval for this interim supply.
Perhaps you would consider it in order, Mr. Speaker, if I indicated that the House leaders, in a more amicable frame of mind, some days ago decided that we might continue with debate on any bills, motions or resolutions that we could possibly bring forward, including this one, until 4:15 this afternoon, at which time we would resume the throne speech debate with the windup speakers, who by agreement would be equally allocated the time remaining until the vote is held at 5:45 p.m., at which time it will then become known publicly where the NDP stands on the principal issues of the day.
Mr. McClellan: As the Treasurer said, we were expecting to do legislation this afternoon. I know the government is eager and anxious to begin the legislative program of this parliament, and the opposition parties, as always, have indicated that they too are willing to make whatever arrangements are necessary to facilitate the government's legislative program. Unfortunately, the minister seems to have gone AWOL and we are unable to begin these important bills. We are ready to discuss interim supply. I gather there is some urgency attached to debate and passage of Bill 6 and Bill 12. I was going to suggest that if the minister does find his way to the chamber, we could adjourn the debate on interim supply and return to the sixth and 13th orders and deal with the legislation, as we had scheduled.
Even as I stand here, the minister has assumed his chair.
Mr. Laughren: He slunk in.
Mr. McClellan: He slunk in.
Mr. Gillies: If it is the wish of the government House leader to discuss interim supply, we would be pleased to do so at whatever length may be determined to be appropriate, but I concur with the observations made by my friend the House leader of the third party.
The government has been cranking up the pre-election machinery of late about the unwillingness of the opposition parties to make this place function, but at the first opportunity it has to bring forward legislation it is clearly unable to get its act together. We see the minister is here now. We are eager to discuss those bills and we concur with the suggestion that the interim supply motion be adjourned for the moment.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Sometimes this place is a little hard to take. I just want to point out in the few moments I have in this connection that the House leaders agreed to deal with a motion establishing standing orders as the first item this afternoon. At the behest of the New Democratic Party, I agreed to stand that down, since there seemed to be a slight difference of opinion within the New Democratic Party as to how to proceed and we wanted to accommodate our good friends and supporters in the democratic socialist movement.
The second orders of business were to deal with health bills that had been discussed in committee; these would include Bill 176, An Act to amend the Nursing Homes Act, and Bill 177, An Act to amend the Health Facilities Special Orders Act, 1983. For this reason, the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) was in his place, ready to take part in the discussion. Much to my surprise, I was informed by the House leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that some of his colleagues were somewhat reluctant to proceed until after the budget, which, as members know, was unnecessarily delayed a full week.
I do not think it is surprising that our mutual friend the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Grandmaître), in coming to the House based on the Orders and Notices that had been approved among the House leaders showing their usual perspicacity and goodwill, came at the appropriate time only to find that everything else had fallen into a little pile of ashes and that, in fact, we were dealing with interim supply on more than an interim basis.
Having made that clear and being the last speaker in that regard, I would like to move the adjournment of the debate.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Nixon, the debate was adjourned.
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF HALDIMAND-NORFOLK AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître moved second reading of Bill 6, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk Act.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: This legislation implements the request of the council of the region of Haldimand-Norfolk to introduce a new system of sharing regional and school board costs and brings all properties in the region to a uniform assessment base.
Actuellement, dans la région, 77 pour cent de l'impôt foncier prélevé est déterminé en fonction des besoins des régions et des conseils scolaires. La répartition des impôts fonciers n'est pas équitable pour les contribuables qui rélèvent de la même compétence régionale et du même conseil scolaire.
This legislation will permit the implementation of cost-sharing arrangements that will allow the regional municipality and each school board to establish one mill rate for residential purposes and one mill rate for commercial purposes, to be applied uniformly throughout their jurisdiction and the region. Councillors, trustees and ratepayers alike will be able to understand and compare property taxes among properties.
Il est donc essentiel, qu'au moins tous les quatre ans, le Ministère du Revenu réalise une mise-à-jour de l'évaluation foncière afin de refléter, dans l'évaluation, l'évolution de la valeur marchande.
This change, combined with the proposal contained in Bill 12 for county areas, represents a major step forward to improve the property tax system in Ontario.
Mr. Breaugh: We appreciate that it is terribly difficult to get the limousines through the downtown Toronto traffic these days and that service in some of those pricey restaurants really is very slow, but we are glad that the minister made his way into the chamber this afternoon.
We will support Bill 6. It is not exactly with great enthusiasm, but it is out of respect for two things. First, it is a request of the municipal council. Rightly or wrongly, councils are duly elected to make these kinds of decisions. I am not a fan of this particular process but there is a second question that does have to be addressed. That is, in many of our municipalities there is a wide variety of assessment techniques that are used. Some rather startling inequities are at work there. This is one way to resolve those. It is not the first time that it has been done, and I suppose it will not be the last.
We will support it on the basis that it has been asked for in the generally agreed upon way by the municipality. It does move to rectify a problem which is actually quite severe in many municipalities. I do not think it is the ultimate solution. I support it with some reluctance, and mostly out of a feeling that when the Association of Municipalities of Ontario deals with matters such as this, the provincial Legislature should pay some attention to it. So we support it with a bit of reluctance, but we do support it.
Mr. Partington: I too, on behalf of my party, would like to express support for this bill for two reasons. First, I think it is important that we strive to have fairness in the tax system, and it is my belief that the passage of this bill will go some distance towards achieving that goal in the regional municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk. Second, as the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) has stated, this bill has been requested by the municipality, and I am sure it is done with that intent of fairness in taxation.
Clearly, that does not solve the problem of the continuing growth of burdensome property tax, but it is hoped that it will be more properly and more equally distributed among the taxpaying citizens of Haldimand-Norfolk. I believe it is a step in the right direction.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the member for Nipissing wish to enter into the debate?
Mr. Harris: Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I have just walked in. I did not realize the debate was going quite as quickly as it has been. Is this the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk Act?
Some hon. members: Yes.
Mr. Harris: It has been a long day. I started out by getting up at five o'clock this morning to drive down, so I could check out all the gas prices on my way to Toronto; therefore, I ask the indulgence of the Legislature. Members would understand my concern, as I saw price after price that was eight, 10, 12, 50 or 60 cents lower. The big mistake I made was to fill up in my home town of North Bay before I drove past all these cheap gas stations.
I will be very brief. However, I am not sure if there has been put on the record the grave concerns that have been expressed by those in -- is it Norfolk?
The Deputy Speaker: Order. Perhaps the member would address his comments to the chair. The chair can assist him.
Mr. Harris: I know there are a number of people who have been concerned with this bill and that it will in fact lead to higher taxes. I know a number of farmers have been in to see us in our caucus, and we have met with them. I think it ought to be put on the record, particularly today before the budget comes down tomorrow, that the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) in his budgetary estimates for the province may want to look at some way of making this a little easier on our farmers who will be affected negatively by this legislation. I know there are some who will be affected positively, but as we know, the farmers anywhere in our province are not finding things very easy these days. I hope the Treasurer may reflect on that.
Mr. G. I. Miller: I would like to speak briefly on Bill 6, just to straighten out for some of the members in the province where Haldimand-Norfolk exists. It takes in six municipalities: the township of Norfolk, the township of Delhi, the town of Simcoe, the city of Nanticoke, the town of Haldimand and the town of Dunnville.
Some concern has been expressed by the ratepayers in the region. It was requested by the region that Bill 6 be brought in so that we would have fair taxation. There has been a tremendous amount of pressure applied to the agricultural industry, as the member just indicated, and it is the opportune time to make some adjustments so that there is some fairness. I believe there has been some indication that some of the adjustments will be taken care of by the province and, hopefully, will soften the blow.
We did have a group which I know visited all caucuses within the Legislature with concerns about increases in the tax bill. I share those concerns. As one taxpayer, I know my own taxes are going to go up considerably, but again I hope that it is on a fair basis, and that when everything is put in place the increase will be acceptable and those adjustments will be fair. All we can ask for is fairness. Nobody likes to pay taxes, but if it is done on a fair and reasonable basis, it will be acceptable.
There were a couple of issues that they expressed to us, and one was the rate that was established on rural residential versus urban residential. It was at 10.3 and the urban residential was 7.4. This appears to tax rural residential higher than urban areas, which to me seems unfair when rural residential people have to provide all their services. I hope that the minister can look at that.
The other one was in connection with agricultural lands in areas of up to 20 or 50 acres that are not producing the required amount of $8,000 production to qualify for the agricultural tax reduction. These seem to come under a different category and, consequently, the home owners have projected that it is going to cost them more money and that they will not be eligible for the farm tax rebate.
I would like to put those two concerns on the record. Again, we hope that it comes out to be fair taxation.
The last concern -- and it was expressed -- is that the tax will be going up 100 per cent or better. That is an extremely high increase, whenever it takes place. I do not know whether there is anything within the legislation that requires that it can be increased only by a certain percentage. I do not know whether that can be explained by the minister, but those are the concerns that were expressed to us.
Again, I hope Bill 6 does the job it is intended to do: fair taxation to everyone. That should be a reasonable solution.
Mr. Gregory: I have just a very few words on this bill. On first blush, I really have to speak in favour of it. It was always my contention, when I had the honour of serving as Minister of Revenue and was in charge of the reassessment program, that the market value assessment program was an excellent one and that the only fault with it was that it did not go far enough. It was always my hope, had I survived in that ministry a little longer, to have instituted regional market value assessment. I felt it was very necessary.
I think one outstanding example of the need for regional market value assessment is in the Metropolitan Toronto area. It has caused a great deal of anguish and heartache on the part of people because of delays on this item.
To my mind, it is the ultimate in fairness to have everybody in a region assessed on the same basis. It is totally unfair if assessment is done on a hotchpotch basis, municipality by municipality. Yet when one has a central body, such as a region, then the municipalities are not necessarily paying their fair share, because of the assessment base. Such is the case in the Metropolitan Toronto area at present.
That is a big one. We are talking about a smaller deal here, but nevertheless, the theory is the same. No doubt there are some areas or municipalities within the regional municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk which are paying either too much or too little towards regional costs. Many people have great fears about this, because they say, and I think the member for Haldimand-Norfolk said, that in some cases the taxes go up as much as 100 per cent.
Basically, one cannot argue that. Some taxes will go up substantially, but the truth of the matter is that the reason they have to go up substantially is that they were not paying enough before. What we have is a levelling out. If some people's taxes are going to go up 100 per cent, then some people's taxes are going to go down a substantial amount as well.
That is borne out in many of the studies we have done on tax reform. The newspapers come out and trumpet that there is going to be 43 per cent of the people whose taxes are going to go up, but they do not say very much about the balance, the other 57 per cent, whose taxes are going to go down. They barely mention it in passing. All the thrust seems to be on those people whose taxes go up; if they do go up, it is obvious they have not been paying enough in the past.
One thing has to be said: If we are going to rely on the assessment basis and property taxes -- if we are not going to go towards the position the New Democratic Party tends to favour, that of an income tax scheme, because it is possibly a little fairer, maybe it is more even distribution to those who can afford to pay more, and that is fine; but we do not have to be going that way, we are going on the basis of property taxation -- if we are going to depend on property taxation, then surely we have to do it in the fairest way possible. Since we do not have too many other yardsticks to use, then we have to depend on market value; in other words, what a willing seller will receive for his property from a willing buyer. Even that is discounted. It is adjusted down to make sure there is no more money in taxation coming into the region or the municipality than there was before. So it is not a money grab, it is not a tax grab in any way; it is a way of levelling out so that everybody is paying his fair share.
I commend the minister for taking this action. I hope we will -- and it hurts me to say I admire the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Grandmaître) for it, but I do. It is something I certainly would want to see happen were I in that position.
In my own municipality, Mississauga has gone through the tax reform recently. The last time prior to that was 1969. Recently, they have done a market value study. They have adopted it, it has been applied and there has been a lot of unhappiness.
Particularly in the riding represented by my colleague the member for Mississauga South (Mrs. Marland), there has been a lot of unhappiness in certain segments. It is from people who have had big homes. They were fairly new homes and they were not properly assessed; they could not be properly assessed under the old system. Consequently, they were paying too little tax relative to the value of their property. Of course, one is going to get some unhappiness from them that their taxes are going up.
But a corresponding number of people are enjoying tax reductions, and rightly so. They can make a very strong point that they have been paying too much tax all the way along. What we have to be afraid of is that some of these people may start taking legal action, even if it is not worth a darn, to try and recover some of the tax they calculate they have overpaid over the years. That is one of the things one has to be concerned about.
I would hope, and I know it is beyond possibility or beyond the scope of anybody's imagination in this House, that we could eventually have the entire province on a market value system on the whole, rather than hotchpotch, rather than even region by region or municipality by municipality, that the whole of Ontario could be assessed on the same basis.
It is a monumental task and it is going to be many years before it can be accomplished. But we have to think in terms of that, that the only truly fair way to do it is to have all Ontario done that way. The procedure we have used up to now has been --
Mr. Martel: That was the campaign promise in 1967, tax equity.
Mr. Gregory: Well, I hope the --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Mississauga East might address his comments to the chair and then the interjections likely will not distract him.
Mr. Gregory: A criticism from my good friend the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) took me by surprise because he is normally not critical of me. I could not understand why he would be doing this. Normally, we are the best of friends.
Mr. Martel: That was the big 1967 promise, and we are still trying to sort it out.
Mr. Gregory: I want to thank the member for pointing out that the last intention to do this was in 1967. That is marvellous; I am delighted to learn that. That is something I did not know, nor did I care.
Mr. Breaugh: You used to introduce a bill every year putting it off for another year.
Mr. Gregory: The fact of the matter is that there is a bill every year, as we well know and the minister knows. A bill has to go through because if it does not, everything reverts. Either that or we suddenly declare the whole of Ontario on a market value system relative to every other community, and we cannot do it.
It might be a good idea. If we can train assessors very quickly, it might be a good employment scheme, because surely we could give 100,000 people a job reassessing every property in Ontario relative to every other property. Marvellous; maybe the unemployment problem would be solved if we did that, but I do not think it is practical. Even though the government now has all the extra money in the world to spend and could afford to do it, it is not likely going to do that. It has other schemes in mind for us.
Back to what I was talking about. Notwithstanding what the member for Sudbury East has said -- I point out very quickly that I was not a member in 1967 so I cannot verify what he said -- I still feel that the ultimate is to have it done that way, on an across-Ontario basis.
The method that has been used is an excellent one, which was instituted by my good friend and former colleague who used to be the member for Parry Sound, Lorne Maeck. As the then Minister of Revenue, he brought in under section 83 the right to bring in or do market value studies at the option of the municipalities. In other words, they had to request them, which was good and has worked well. I am sure the minister, along with the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon), knows it has worked extremely well. I do not know what the percentage is now, but I believe something like 75 per cent of the municipalities are under market value assessment. Something right has to have been happening.
I think it will continue, and this particular bill is a natural progression from that tactic. Therefore I welcome it and hope this is going to be the way of the future, that by taking region by region we will eventually reach that point where everybody's assessment can be assumed to be fair because it has been appraised relative to every other property in Ontario.
With the use of computers, this is a lot easier thing to do than it would have been back in 1967, 20 years ago, which my friend was talking about. Through the Ministry of Revenue, efficient as it is and with the programs it has on computers, this could well happen, maybe in our lifetime, but not necessarily in our political lifetime; maybe the minister's lifetime, but not mine. At any rate, it is certainly worthy of proceeding.
I did not take the trouble when I began to speak, because we did not have a great consultation -- am I supposed to be in favour of this?
Mr. Breaugh: You are in favour.
Mr. Gregory: Whether I am supposed to be or not, I certainly am in favour of it and advise the minister to proceed on this with all haste.
Having said that, the minister is going to get an awful lot of opposition to it, from the particular region and the different municipalities in it, from those whose taxes are going to go up. He is going to get an awful lot of complaints, and I think he is worthy of handling them. I think it is marvellous that this minister is going to get a few complaints for a change; he has not had his share.
He will be hearing from the people saying, "You are gouging us;" people who misunderstand and say it is a government money grab. They are going to say all those nice things to the minister that they used to say to me. The then opposition party used to help people say them. They used to encourage these people and try to get meetings together to "get that fellow Gregory who is trying to impose this nasty thing on us."
I can tell the minister that I will not be playing a part in that. I guess that is the nice part of having been through a ministry and having seen the reasons for these things happening. I certainly will not be opposing him or trying to get meetings together to try to oppose him in this, particularly in Haldimand-Norfolk. I might do so in the region of Peel, but not here.
At any rate, the minister is going to have his hands full. It is not going to go smoothly. In my experience, it did not matter which municipality we were talking about that was doing a study for market value assessment. Even though the local councils make the decision to ask for the study, even though the local councils make the decision to proceed after having seen the study, the action of municipal councils afterwards, when it hits the fan, is to say, "The provincial government has done this to us."
Naturally, they are going to do that and they will continue to do that. It does not matter how small the village or the community is, it will put together massive demonstrations to tell the minister how wrong he is to have done this. He is going to stand up there like a man and take it and admit that he is doing it because it is the right thing to do.
He might not believe it for one minute at the time, but he will still do it, and it is the right thing to do. Anybody who gives it any serious thought knows you cannot make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. When the minister gets into market value reassessment, in other words, reform, he is going to break a few eggs and a few people are going to be told their taxes are going up.
The minister will hear stories that it affects those who can least afford it. That is not necessarily the case, but that is the story he will get. He will get it from the newspapers and the great editorial writers who, we know, are so unbiased in their opinions. We see it every day, but they will come down hard on this great unfair money grab on the part of the ministry.
I am looking forward with great interest to see what the minister's reaction is when this starts. It is going to be the test of his mettle when that happens, because he will get it, as I got it as a minister and as a member, from the municipality.
I suppose the way I have been talking, it sounds as if I am a complete devotee of the system of market value assessment. Surely it is the best we have available to us at present. It is the best system we know of. I do not think that we can rest on that and say that since it is the best system, we need not look any further. As representatives of the people, we have to put our minds to this particular problem and say, "Is there a better way?"
I do not happen to have any idea of anything better at the moment, but we do have to put our minds to that, to see if there is a more fair way of collecting tax from the people that is, let us say, totally errorproof. That is a pretty big order because nothing is errorproof, not even income tax. Certainly, there are ways around paying income tax, as we all know, and I hope our federal government is going to make some corrections there.
I cannot envisage in my mind any fairer system than the market value system. It is working very well where it has been brought in, after the initial two-year period, sort of a testing period. However, if it is brought in and then reviewed every four years, as is supposed to be done, in the second review the problem should not be as great, to my mind.
It is a case of diminishing reaction. In the second review, there will probably be some people who will be uptight, but they will be fewer in number than in the first review. The first review hits roughly a third of the people hard, it benefits a third of the people and a third of the people stay neutral; in other words, there is not much change, a dollar or two here or there.
The government always hears from the people whose taxes are going up, but rarely does it hear from the people whose taxes are going down. Maybe that is because they do not want to rock the boat. They figure if they rock the boat, then we will change our minds and not do it; and there is a fair amount of money involved.
I guess the government would hear from them if it suddenly made the threat that it was not going to go through with it. Then the government also might be slapped with a lawsuit for not having done so, because they say, "We have been overpaying taxes for years and we are going to see what we can do in the courts about getting some of this money back."
These are some of the trials and tribulations we have to go through in this particular job. I cannot think of any one thing that has caused more -- I was going to say heartache, but that would be rather melodramatic -- trouble in ridings than property taxation. That is because it hits people right where they live, to coin a phrase. It hits them very close to home. They are probably more aware of that tax than they are of any other tax.
When you pay income tax, usually it is withdrawn from your paycheque and, sure, you can look and say, "Gee, that is a lot of money," but collectively you do not appreciate the amount of it the same way you do with property tax, when you get that bill from the municipality and it says, "You owe $2,542 this year." People are very aware of that.
They are also aware of the fact that when market value assessment jacks it up to $3,500 instead of $2,500, that represents a 40 per cent increase. They are very aware of it and are going to hit the government with it, even with the elaborate appeal system that the government has. That is totally fair too, because in most cases where people have a legitimate complaint about the way the assessment is done, it is very quickly adjusted by the excellent staff in the Ministry of Revenue.
I have never really understood why the Minister of Municipal Affairs carries this legislation regarding market value assessment. It is beyond me. The whole job is done by the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Nixon) and his very capable staff, yet along comes an act dealing primarily with market value assessment and it is the Minister of Municipal Affairs who deals with it. I have never fully understood that, but I never did when I was the minister either. In other words, we do the work but we do not get our name on the bill.
However it is done and whoever handles it, the fact of the matter is that the work is done by the Minister of Revenue and the very capable assistant deputy minister, Jack Leaner. I know, having dealt with him, that this will be done entirely fairly. Everybody will get a fair deal on it. Some will not think they did, but they will. Having said that, I do hope, now that the Treasurer is back -- I know how anxious he is to proceed with the regional market value study on Metropolitan Toronto. I know he is anxious to do that; I wonder why there is a delay. It really has nothing to do with Haldimand-Norfolk, except that we are doing to Haldimand-Norfolk precisely what we seem to be afraid to do to Metropolitan Toronto.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Is the member recommending that we do it?
Mr. Gregory: Are we recommending that? The Treasurer has said that we recommend that he do it. He well knows that the Treasurer or the Minister of Municipal Affairs does not do it; the council decides whether it is to be done. He knows that. The only responsibility the Minister of Revenue has is to make sure they have the figures to enable them to make that decision. I do not know whether they have those figures up until now. I have to assume that they are now available to the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. If they are, the municipality is undoubtedly going to make the right decision somewhere along the line.
This is probably unfair to say, but I have the feeling that the Treasurer would rather they did not make the decision until after the impending election. I guess the Treasurer was not listening to me when I said that. I did not get any reaction, so he obviously was not listening. I was just suggesting to him that I cannot help this germ of a suspicion that goes across my mind every once in a while that he might be doing his very best to delay the Metropolitan Toronto thing until after the election. I assume that is not right. Right?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: It is almost after the election now.
Mr. Gregory: Almost; only a few weeks to go. So that means that perhaps in about seven or eight weeks from now, the implementation of market value assessment in Metropolitan Toronto will be a reality. Is that fair?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: No.
Mr. Gregory: That is not fair. It may not be fair but it looks pretty obvious.
At any rate, back to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I must admit that I have never been able to read the legalese in these bills and must rely on the explanatory notes, but having read the explanatory notes in some detail, I cannot find anything that I object to in the bill. I am not the critic. I am just giving a few viewpoints from my standpoint.
I think it is very important that the last sentence in the explanatory notes be adhered to, that is, that there be an update of the uniform assessment base at least every four years. That is so important. I think it is a total waste of time if we do a market value study, a reassessment on the market value base, and then forget about it, because 10 or 15 years from now, everything will be back in the mess it happens to be in.
This is particularly so in the regions, because this involves transfer payments from regions to the regional government. If that gets out of whack, particularly if one region suddenly puts on a splurge and has all kinds of industrial development, and the market value assessment is not reviewed or updated every four years, the Treasurer is going to find a tremendous imbalance in that plan. I think the minister should almost make it mandatory that this be done; that it must be updated every four years, or a minimum of every four years.
Those are my few comments on this bill. I do support it.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: I think every member of this House realizes that something has to be done with reassessment. I quite agree with the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh), the member for Brock (Mr. Partington), the member for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory) and my friend the member for Haldimand-Norfolk (Mr. G. I. Miller) that the government had to move.
The member for Sudbury East came out with a very interesting comment. Somebody has been talking about reassessment in this province since 1968 and finally this government is moving on it. I can assure the members we will do it with the approval of those regions. I think our first test was with Sudbury and it worked out very well. I would say Sudbury was the most complicated jurisdiction. If I am not mistaken, there were 35 different jurisdictions in 11 municipalities, but now it is under control.
The same thing applied with Haldimand-Norfolk. This request came from the regional municipality. It was approved by a vote of 13 to six, and two councillors from the areas of Dunnville, Haldimand and Nanticoke voted against it.
I would like to point out that some farmers will certainly benefit from this reassessment. For instance, in Delhi farm taxes will go down by $600,000, in Norfolk they will go down by $346,000, in Nanticoke they will go down by $177,000 and in Simcoe they will go down by $16,000. Naturally, the taxes in Haldimand and Dunnville will increase, but this ministry will provide them with the needed funds to phase in this process. Over three years, we will provide $2.7 million to phase in the program.
I can assure the member for Mississauga East that yes, it is part of the legislation that it will be reviewed every four or five years. I would prefer four years. It is the intention of this government to follow through with more regions; at their request we will certainly look at that possibility.
Again, it shows the commitment of this government to make taxation more understandable because it is a very complex system, and taxpayers in this province deserve to be taxed under a system that is understandable.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I would like to call the third reading order, with the permission of the House.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: It is a bit unusual -- as a matter of fact, it is against the standing orders -- to do second and third reading of the bill on the same day. That was not my understanding of what would happen. It was my understanding that we would now move to Bill 12, and I would be quite happy to do that.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: If the honourable member is on a point of order, I would like to respond to it to say, by all means, we would do that. I think it is quite customary after the second reading of a reasonably routine bill to do third reading and then go on to a companion bill, but if there is any objection, I am quite prepared to call third reading on another occasion. Is the member objecting?
Mr. Breaugh: Yes. Hon.
Mr. Nixon: Okay.
MUNICIPAL STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître moved second reading of Bill 12, An Act to amend the Municipal Act and the Education Act.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: The fairness of the property tax system, particularly in county and regional areas, has been the subject of considerable debate. Many municipalities and a number of municipal associations have indicated that in order to achieve equity in the sharing of county and school levy requirements, the government should allow each county and its local municipalities the requested cost-sharing system of upper tier and school purposes for use as taxable assessment.
Les conseillers, les administrateurs et les contribuables ont tous indiqué leur préférence pour un régime fiscal plus compréhensible qui faciliterait la comparaison des impôts fonciers entre les biens immobiliers relevant de la compétence des comtés et des conseils scolaires.
The bill I am now introducing for second reading will permit any of the 26 counties within the province to implement a new cost-sharing system and update their assessments to a uniform base at the most opportune time.
La loi autorise le Ministre du Revenu (M. Nixon) à mettre en application la mise-à-jour de l'évaluation foncière à la demande d'un comté et d'une majorité des municipalités au sein du comté.
It requires that the county and each school board establish one mill rate for residential purposes and one mill rate for commercial purposes, to be applied uniformly throughout the county.
The county of Brant and six of the local municipalities have passed resolutions requesting the implementation of a uniform county-wide assessment update for taxation in 1987. Final tax bills normally issued in the month of May cannot go out until this legislation receives royal assent.
Mr. Partington: One of the purposes of the bill is to require that the portion of payment in lieu of taxes and telephone payments received by a municipality can be paid to a board or a municipality. I wonder whether the minister could describe the nature of payments that are made in lieu of taxes and telephone and telegraph payments.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: I am sorry I cannot explain to the member for Brock, but after consulting with my people, I can advise him what system or what formula is being used to calculate these taxes.
Mr. Partington: I am pleased to join the debate in support of Bill 12, An Act to amend the Municipal Act and the Education Act. I think, as the minister indicated, this act has the effect of promoting greater fairness in the distribution of property tax and it will be available throughout all the counties of Ontario. I note that to date the county of Brant and six of the local municipalities have passed a resolution requesting the implementation of a uniform county-wide assessment.
I note in the explanatory notes, "The purpose of the bill is to permit a county municipality to apply to the Minister of Revenue to institute a uniform assessment update of all real property throughout the county on the same market value basis."
Uniformity is very important. Fairness is important. There was a concern raised with respect to an earlier bill, Bill 6, about the effect it might have on various segments of our society; for example, the farming community. Clearly, in implementing a system of fairness, I believe the bill would stress that different classes still have to be treated fairly, one to the other.
The purpose of this bill is to make sure that where there are two similar properties in a county, in a municipality, they basically have the same tax. For a tax to be different is totally unfair. It is an unfairness that has been going on for some time, it is an unfairness that must be corrected, and this certainly is the way to do it.
In those extreme cases where such a change in tax might be intolerable to some individuals, perhaps there should be some discretionary method of phasing in or alleviating such a burden over a period of time.
Nevertheless, in the great majority of cases I am sure any adjustment would be minimal one way or another, but clearly fairness must dictate, fairness in property taxes and fairness in all walks of life relative to the earlier statements with respect to the judicial system where we see inequity and unfairness. The residents of Toronto have a system that affords them reasonable, expeditious justice to a $3,000 level, whereas in the rest of the province the limit is $1,000, beyond which the costs and the complications of a lawsuit become expensive and full of delays.
Certainly, we must make sure the type of injustice that the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) continues in the justice system is one that should not be perpetrated in the property tax system. There is great concern among members of society that the burden of property taxation is becoming too heavy and, clearly, it is. It is a tax that is paid with after-tax dollars. It is a growing tax; it is a tax that grows not only because of inflation but also because the province and the federal government are continuing to burden the local municipalities with a greater burden of services.
I might point out to the "treasurer the commitment made by the government some time ago to assume 60 per cent of the educational costs. Last year, that share went to an all-time low of 44.8 per cent, I think it was. There is a clear understanding of the tact that people in society are considering the property tax to be unfair and in need of change.
The thrust of Bill 12 will be to create fairness between property taxpayers, but it will not redress the problem of the growing burden on the property taxpayer, which I believe the government must address soon. Clearly, the part of the bill that requires the ministry to conduct an update every four years is important because it is necessary to make sure that the inequities that currently exist in the system do not recur.
Generally speaking, I think this bill will introduce fairness. It is not meant to create a greater burden on a class; it is implemented to create equity among all members of a class. I think it will do the job and I hope fairness in property taxation will shortly come to all the counties of Ontario, perhaps first to the one that requested it first, which is the county of Brant and the six local municipalities. I am pleased to support the bill.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Morin): Questions and comments?
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: To answer the member's previous question, the telephone taxes are based on five per cent of the gross receipts of the company rather than the assessment of wire and land right of way. That was the member's question, if am not mistaken.
Mr. Partington: That point can be answered later.
Mr. Breaugh: I want to indicate that we will support the bill. We do have some reluctance with it. We have no problem that a request has come from Brant county and that we need the legislation to do that. The bill does address one part of a very complicated problem and that is to try to put together a uniform assessment rate that would go county-wide. That is fair.
My only difficulty is that it talks once again about market value assessment, and members will know I am not a big fan of market value assessment. We will support the bill because it is a request of a local municipality and it is at least consistent with positions that have been put forward over the years by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
It does not solve a whole lot of problems but it does resolve one problem. This would not be our preference or priority. Quite frankly, there are other ways to resolve this. The assessment problem is a difficult one for many municipalities, but the problem of financing municipal government is the larger and more pertinent problem.
At some point, we would be very happy to see the Treasurer entertain a rather major funding thrust that would solve these municipal financial problems that are becoming more and more serious by the day. In the meantime, I suppose we will have to be satisfied with this kind of tinkering with the process. In many respects, if somebody thought, as the previous government apparently did, that this market value assessment was such hot stuff, at some point they probably should have done what they said they were going to do, oddity that this would be, and instituted it province-wide.
It would have taken them out of office very quickly and I suspect this government will move with the same speed to implement market value assessment province-wide. If it were looking for some other good gimmick to pull, it could try regional government. I really enjoyed that one when these guys pulled that through Ontario. If the government wants two really winning propositions to put to the people in Ontario, there they are. They can go to market value assessment from one end to the other and there goes their landslide in the opposite direction, or they could try a few more regional governments. That is always good for the loss of a few seats on the government side.
We will support this because we think it is a not unreasonable request.
Mr. Gillies: Briefly, as my colleague has indicated, I will be supporting this bill. I am very conscious that the request has come forward from the county of Brant and the six component municipalities, none of which I represent, but my friend and neighbour the Treasurer does.
In supporting this bill, I want to express a cautionary note that I believe both the other speakers alluded to. Several of the lower-tier municipalities in Brant county are very small. The minister knows this. Their tax base is very modest. For example, in supporting this legislation, I do not want to go back to Brant county at some point, and I am sure the Treasurer does not, to have our friend the reeve of Onondaga, Mrs. Dougherty, punch us in the eye as she threatens to do every now and then because of her feeling that the province is shifty.
Mrs. Dougherty and I share something by way of an affiliation that she does not share with the Treasurer. The concern is simply this: We want to ensure the viability
Mr. Breaugh: However, we will not go into that.
Mr. Foulds: Give us the gory details.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Don't anybody touch that.
Mr. Gillies: Leave it alone.
The concern simply is that the financial viability of these small municipalities is an integral part of their autonomy. I do not think any of us wants to do anything that would interfere with the right of these small municipalities to conduct their business. They obviously feel that uniform, county-wide assessment is something that will do them some good. I happen to believe it will.
The Treasurer knows the figures. We cite them from time to time. Education funding coming from the province, as a proportion of the whole pie, is at approximately 44.8 per cent now. My friend the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) will agree with me that it is moving in slightly the wrong direction from the Liberal promise of 60 per cent of education being funded by the province.
In the move to try to redress some of the inequities in the assessment, let us not inadvertently shift a burden on to very small and modestly funded municipalities that they cannot handle. I do not think that is the intent but I want to cite that caution in indicating my support for the bill.
Mr. Harris: I wonder whether the member for Brantford will entertain one question. He talked about the drop in provincial funding for education from some 48 per cent after this freespending, free-wheeling, $5-billion-overinflation-as-of-tomorrow regime took office. I believe they made a commitment. They campaigned that 48 per cent was not enough, that it would go to 60 per cent. Of course, as the member for Brantford has pointed out, the record indicates that in those two years it has gone from 48 per cent down to 44.4 per cent.
I appreciate his concern for these municipalities. As we get into the whole assessment question, I wonder whether he has given any thought to the school boards as they have seen the provincial percentage shrink. This has had a great effect on some of the capital dollars required now because repairs have not kept up, such as roof repairs for old buildings. They have had to steal dollars from programs to do what repairs they can. When they deteriorate to such an extent, they need a whole rebuilding process.
Since the member mentioned it, I wonder whether he has heard from any of them in Brant county as to whether this is the case, that even the capital funding the minister announced is the greatest shortfall from request in the history of any school board in Ontario. I wonder whether he has given thought to that.
Mr. Gillies: I will respond briefly to my colleague's question, the first I have had the opportunity to respond to in some two years. Of course, my colleague is quite correct about the situation my friend the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) is very conversant with at St. John's College School in Brantford, a school that serves the rural municipalities in Brant county as well as the city of Brantford, a school that was originally built to accommodate some 500 students, and now with one addition and with 19 portable classrooms, has to accommodate some 1,300 students. Yes, it is a problem and an extra burden for the Brant county Roman Catholic board of education and indeed for the public board of education to maintain all their obligations by way of operating their schools while at the same time facing such serious capital constraints.
The effect this has with regard to -- whatever the number of this bill is we are debating.
An hon. member: Bill 12.
Mr. Gillies: Bill 12. We fear that there could be an additional shift away from the provincial responsibility for these expenditures over to the municipal taxpayers and that this could compound an already serious situation. I am very glad my colleague the opposition House leader was able to draw this to my attention at a time when two of the most senior ministers in a position to take care of the situation at a school such as, let us say, St. John's College in Brantford are here to listen and respond.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: I know how everybody feels about assessment and reassessment. I agree with the member for Brantford that some small municipalities will certainly be hit and hit quite hard. Some of them simply cannot afford it and that is why this bill is permissive legislation. We recognize that for some small municipalities it is practically impossible. That is why this ministry has come to the rescue of small municipalities that cannot afford this new system. If requested, we will certainly try to help them resolve their differences.
I would like to remind the House that this is a very important bill due to the fact that final tax bills normally issued in the month of May cannot be mailed out until this legislation receives royal assent. I hope I will receive members' unanimity on this bill.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONCLUDED)
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. Mr. Nixon: Perhaps I might say just before the debate begins that the House leaders have agreed that the time remaining between now and 5:45 p.m. will be equally shared and that the vote, if one is required, will be taken at that time.
Mr. Foulds: Whether the election is called next week or next fall, in all likelihood this will be the last major speech I will give in the Legislature. Therefore, with the members' indulgence, I would like to make some observations that are a combination of the personal, the public and policy.
Let me start with the personal. I just want to say that I have enjoyed my almost 16 years as an Ontario legislator. There is nothing I would rather have done with my life for the past 16 years. However, there comes a time for change and renewal. It was not an easy decision and I want to assure all members that it was not a decision that was made in haste, anger or frustration. It is just, as I say, that there does come time for a change.
It is always easy to listen to the tempting appeal of one's own ego -- "Run just one more time because you can hold the seat for us" -- but I have too much faith in democracy and the strength of our party to believe I am the only one who can hold the Port Arthur riding for our party. In fact, I am convinced that in the next parliament of this Legislature, the new New Democratic Party member for Port Arthur, Chris Southcott, will have a lot to contribute.
On a very personal note I recognize, as Robertson Davies tells us, that clichés are often true. That is why they become clichés. As the cliché goes, I want to spend more time with my family. My wife and I were married after the 1971 election and therefore my family has known nothing but a commuting, three-day-a-week husband and father. In effect, my wife has been a single parent. My two sons now are aged 12 and 14. Very simply put, I would like to spend some time being a full-time dad with them before they wave goodbye in five or six years.
As I say, I came to the conclusion that it was simply time for change and renewal, for me personally, for my constituency and for my own party.
When I was first elected to the Ontario Legislature, I promised myself that if the electors wanted, I would serve three terms or 12 years. Back in 1971, that seemed like an eternity but time has sped by. It does, you know, when you are having fun. I want to say that in spite of the difficulties, the frustrations and the punishing demands of time of this job, it is a job worth doing, a job worth having and a job I have enjoyed. I have been asked by a number of people, including reporters, if I want a government job. My answer is simply: "Hell, no. I already have the best government job there has been being the MPP for Port Arthur." It has been fun. I would not have missed it for the world, but it now is five terms and almost 16 years later.
I always admired Syl Apps when he was captain of the great Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team of the 1940s and 1950s. When he retired at the height of his hockey career at the age of 32, he said, "I always thought it was better to retire when people might ask, `Why are you quitting?' rather than wait around until they started to ask, `Why don't you quit?'"
For me, there are only three jobs in this life that are worth doing. One is politics, one is writing and one is being a teacher. I plan to go back to teaching. I believe that if I can show some youngsters the glory of the symphony that is Shakespeare's work, then the last one third of my working life will also be worth while.
Before that, I want to make it clear that I plan to hang in here until that election is called. I plan to be the full-time MPP representing the people of Port Arthur both here and in my riding. For me, this can never be a part-time job.
I want to talk for a minute or two about the old boys' club here at the Ontario Legislature. It is an old boys' club, an elitist club, but by and large it is a club made up of decent, hardworking men and women. If there were anything I could wish for it, I would wish sincerely that the next parliament will have far more women representing the ridings than there are at present or than there have been historically.
Hon. Mr, Nixon: Half and half by the end of the century; that is the goal.
Mr. Foulds: I hope so.
I want to talk for a minute or two about my riding and my constituents. Back in 1972, in my first speech in this House, I said, the people of Port Arthur are the most decent, hardworking, ornery, but lovable people that I know. I still believe that in 1987. I want to thank them here publicly in this place, their Legislature, for the privilege and duty of representing them here for almost 16 years because I believe that any politician who forgets that his source of power, his only source of strength and energy is the electorate is a politician in trouble and one who is not serving either his vocation or his constituents properly.
Therefore, I believe unreservedly in the wisdom of the electorate, in democracy. In that sense, I am both a populist and a democrat. I also strongly believe, like Edmund Burke, that a representative must be a leader as well as a listener. I strongly believe that a representative owes his constituents not merely his industry, but also his experience, his intelligence and his better judgement, So I say thank you to the people of Port Arthur for those occasions on which I have differed from them but on which they have endorsed me as I exercised my responsibilities as I saw them through my better judgement.
That gives me my transition to talk about the speech from the throne. Without being overly harsh or critical, let me just say that the speech from the throne showed little experience, less intelligence and no better judgement. It had no focus. It was significant that a page was actually missing from the text that the Lieutenant Governor read and nobody missed it.
I would like to point out that all the great political speeches, from Pericles's funeral oration over the dead Athenian soldiers through those of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address to Churchill's great wartime speeches or even John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, were always short, focused speeches. I point out to this administration that the speeches from the throne of all previous Liberal administrations, from Edward Blake to Mitchell Hepburn, were all done in three pages or less. No puffery or unrealistic goals for them.
Although there are many topics I would like to talk about, I will concentrate on three: the poverty of our present social assistance system, free trade and the north. My theme is simply this: Ontario is indeed a rich and wonderful province. We have magnificent resources, magnificent people and a so-called buoyant economy. However, we really do have two Ontarios, one we like to brag about and one most public figures want to ignore.
In that buoyant economy we have food banks and bread lines. We have the working poor paying more taxation than wealthy and profitable insurance companies. We have governments that are willing to trade our cultural and political independence and we have a geographic part of our province, the north, that like the homeless on Toronto's streets, partakes not in the wealth this rich province is producing.
During my 16 years as an MPP, nothing, absolutely nothing, has given me more anguish and caused me more anger than the way those who require social assistance are treated in our society. My colleague the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) has brought this up again and again, as recently as May 5 and May 6 of this year. He pointed out that in spite of the billion-dollar windfall in profits for the Treasury of Ontario, somehow the speech from the throne did not mention those people who have been left out of the prosperity of Peterson's Ontario.
Why is it, he asked, that there was no mention of food banks? Why is it that with a so-called low unemployment rate of five per cent or six per cent we have food banks in this province`? Why was there no mention of the things the government was going to do specifically for people on social assistance? I ask this Premier (Mr. Peterson), this Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) and this government, where is the commitment to full employment?
I was much struck by a phrase used by Ken Dryden, the former youth commissioner for this province, when he appeared before the standing committee on economics and finance. When he was asked about his experience under both Liberal and Conservative administrations with regard to their commitment to full employment, he indicated quite fairly that there were good people in both parties in positions both in the government and in the bureaucracy, but he said the words "full employment" were used "like a comma in passing as they hurried on to find the end of the sentence." That should be the full sentence.
We in the New Democratic Party say that full employment has to be any government's number one job. We in the New Democratic Party have an ideal of a society in which all persons who wish to take a productive part in our society, in our work force, should be able to do so.
A full economy is possible. It exists today in the free world in three widely divergent countries, Sweden, Austria and Japan. In those societies, those living on social security have not been forced to inhabit some kind of second-rate secondary economy, such as exists in Ontario today because that is the truth of the present situation.
There must be four basic goals of a social assistance system. First, it must help people to gain more control over their own lives. Second, it must provide enough for them to play a full part in our society. Third, it must ensure a fair, equitable and accountable delivery of services. Fourth, it must be delivered with humanity, maintaining the personal dignity of all recipients. I regret more than I can say that at the present time none of these goals is being adequately met in our society.
I also want to say that it is shameful that the poor in our province, in our country, are largely women and children. You can roll out the statistics: 180,000 children make up 38 per cent of Ontario's social assistance recipients; a further 180,000 children are in families of the working poor living below the poverty line; 56 per cent of all low-income Canadians are female; 66 per cent of low-income people between 16 and 64 are women; 70 per cent of the elderly poor are women; 82.7 per cent of the elderly unattached poor are women; 60.2 per cent of single-mother families were poor in 1985.
In Canada and in Ontario in the 1980s, a large majority of the poor are women; women with children and elderly women. Poverty has become sexually oriented. We should not be proud that when it comes to poverty, the phrase "women and children first" is all too appropriate. There is no doubt that in our present social assistance system, social assistance recipients are treated as secondary human beings. Second-rate or second class may be more appropriate terms.
I want to emphasize that these people are not and must not be treated as some kind of second-rate human beings, as much for our sake as a society as for their sakes as people. People who are already victims of society or of their own inadequacies or of their own disabilities over which they have little, if any, control must not be further victimized by the way they are treated. The helpless and the vulnerable must be treated with the same respect and dignity as we expect for ourselves. Our levels of support and our methods of delivery at the present time guarantee poverty rather than dignity. As well as economic poverty, it promotes a poverty of spirit rather than a liberation of that spirit.
The system, as I have seen it administered daily from my constituency office and the problems we face there, is based not on generosity or compassion but on a rather grudging admission that the poor will be always with us. I refuse to accept that. We need also to devise and administer a social system based on two criteria: (1) that we are indeed our brothers' and sisters' keepers and (2) that society does need to distribute its wealth so that those in need receive what is needed. In a society as rich as Ontario in these so-called buoyant times, surely we must aim for that. Food, clothing, shelter, health care and education are everybody's right in a society this rich. This government has yet to guarantee all our people those rights.
In the previous section, I have been speaking about economic justice. I know that is difficult for Liberals and Tories, because they are both caught in an ideological straitjacket. They cannot honestly bring themselves to believe that intervention in an economy might be a good thing to do. They intervene occasionally, but only when pushed to do so or in response to an electoral need. This government displayed its ideological bias, for example, when upon assuming government, like the federal Conservatives, it started selling off its crown corporations such as the Urban Transportation Development Corp.
However, in this section of my speech, I would like to plead with the government merely to take legislative action in a narrower field, in taxation reform. Our one million unemployed, underemployed and poverty-stricken Ontarians not only deserve help but also are a drain on our economy. Therefore, it only makes sense to take certain legislative steps to enhance their buying power in order to stimulate not only their lives but also the economy.
It makes common sense to eliminate all Ontario health insurance plan premiums for the working poor. It makes common sense to raise today's niggardly provincial minimum wage. It makes common sense to institute a dental plan for both the elderly and the young. It makes common sense to raise the tax threshold so that the working poor, those working in Ontario but living below the poverty line and who now pay Ontario income tax, would not pay that Ontario income tax.
If there is one taxation measure I could persuade the Treasurer to do in his budget tomorrow, it would be to raise the tax threshold so that those living below the poverty line do not pay Ontario income tax. Is it not shameful that at present, a single-parent family with a 1986 poverty-line income of $18,836 has to pay $715.70 in Ontario income tax? Of course, they pay more in federal income tax.
I say that is wrong. I say it is wrong when we have profitable and financially successful insurance companies testifying before the standing committee on economic affairs that they could not remember the last time they paid corporate income tax. One of them actually did remember: it was back in 1972, but it was not in Ontario or Canada; it was in the United States.
Therefore, I say there is one thing this government should commit itself to tomorrow, and that is a restructuring of the taxation system of this province so the working poor in this province do not pay income tax.
In this final portion of my speech, I want to turn my attention to free trade and northern Ontario. I was much struck about two weeks ago when I read in a Thunder Bay newspaper that "Most Business People Say Yes (To Free Trade)". That article said: "Eighty per cent of the audience at the Valhalla Inn's annual economic conference Wednesday voted yes to free trade in a questionnaire handed out by economic researcher Peter Anderson. Anderson told local business people that `the largest contribution' of the current Canada-US free trade talks might be `to give Canada some exemptions from the very restrictive trade legislation now passing through Congress.'"
From my personal experience in accompanying the standing committee on finance and economic affairs to Washington, I want to say that people who believe that are living in a cloud-cuckoo-land. We will not get any exemptions or special treatment from the United States. Governments like the present Mulroney government are living in a cloud-cuckoo-land, and as long as this government continues to sit on the fence with regard to free trade, it too is living in a cloud-cuckoo-land.
That trip was a very valuable one. It taught us, as Ontario legislators, the following truths: The US Congress remains in a very protectionist mood, and although the United States is still the leading western economic nation, the men and women of Congress dimly realize their economy has peaked; they realize their share of the world market and their own domestic market is under attack from many nations, not merely Canada. Therefore, their only interest in free trade is part of a method to expand their domestic market. Any interest the United States has in free trade is simply to make Canada part of Fortress North America. That is not going to work.
One of the famous stories that came out of that trip is the story of Senator Matsunaga. Eleven Ontario legislators crowded into his office. He had, in his view, become a Canadian hero by casting the deciding vote for fast-track negotiations on free trade between Canada and the United States.
His views were expressed by phrases like this: "The sooner your country blends with ours the better." "I am a free-trader, except when it comes to Hawaiian sugar." "Free trade means an integrated economy." "I am talking about economic union." Although his views were graciously expressed, there was no doubt left that Senator Matsunaga had no understanding of Canada's fight for independence for over 120 years, nor did he think Canadians should resist the welcoming bear hug of American culture.
But Senator Matsunaga was not the most protectionist of the members that we met; Senator Heinz, of the 57 varieties and the $7-million campaign to get himself elected, has a very protectionist bill aimed at Canadian steel. Perhaps the phrase that struck me most was the phrase uttered by Congressman John Dingell, the Democrat from Michigan, as he threw his arm across the shoulder of the chairman of our committee and said, "Gentlemen, all we want is a fair advantage."
On behalf of the New Democratic Party, I want to say they cannot have that fair advantage. Canada does not wish to become a cultural, economic or political dependency of the United States. We wish to remain the independent nation we have been for 120 years.
Where has that fair trade advantage got northern Ontario? Northern Ontario has been one of the major casualties of free trade discussions, as exemplified through the whole softwood lumber debate.
Unlike the southern part of Ontario, northern Ontario has never recovered from the recession of the early 1980s. In fact, the recession is deepening and worsening across the north. Five years ago, the unemployment rate in northern Ontario was on a par with that of the rest of the province, at about eight per cent. Now, the real unemployment rate across the north is about 12 per cent; in places such as Sault Ste. Marie it is 15 to 20 per cent, and in Atikokan, a single-industry town in the northwest, it is 35 per cent.
The big difference between layoffs in northern Ontario and layoffs in southern Ontario is that if you get laid off in Atikokan, Fort Frances or Terrace Bay, you cannot go across the street to get another job.
This government must have the courage and guts to make some significant interventions in the northern economy. That, frankly, is where the present Liberal government has failed northerners, as have the past Tory governments.
I want to outline quickly eight ways in which I believe this government must intervene in the northern economy.
1. The northern Ontario fund must be a genuine fund managed by northerners with enough capital in it so that they can create their own industry and, I say frankly, their own economic independence.
2. The resource planning agreements must be signed by a government, a company and the townspeople before any new industry goes into the north so that the government and the people know the plans of those companies, not merely weeks but years in advance.
3. We need to have a genuine forestry institute in northern Ontario that would develop forestry manufacturing machinery. Do members know that a factory in Sweden making scarifiers, which are sold all over the world, is 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle? If they can market forestry equipment from 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden, we can market forestry and mining equipment from the towns in northern Ontario all over the world. That is why we need 4.
4. We need an Ontario mining development foundation as well as a forestry institute.
5. We also need to develop a technology research and development institute in the north. That is because northern Ontario will not be disadvantaged in competing in world markets with the new microchip technology.
6. When is this government going to have the guts to equalize gasoline prices between northern and southern Ontario? It is a cliché but it is true: If the government can equalize beer and liquor prices, if it can take on the distilleries, it sure as hell can take on the oil companies.
7. We need a medical research facility in northern Ontario. We have the population the size of Saskatchewan's. Saskatchewan has a medical school. We need and deserve a medical school as well.
8. Finally, for those cases where we do face layoffs, where we cannot avoid shutdowns in the single-industry towns in northern Ontario, we need a community adjustment fund to make sure people can handle the transition and we can get new industry into northern Ontario.
I want to conclude on a very personal note. I have said it before and I will repeat it. About two and a half to three years ago, I came to the heartbreaking realization that my own two sons, aged 12 and 14, would in all probability have to seek their fortunes, their futures, their jobs and their ideals outside of northwestern Ontario, the area of this province I have called home all my life, the land I have tried to represent and fight for in this Legislature for the last 15 years.
I belong to this party and I will always belong to this party, the New Democratic Party, because it is the one and so far the only party that has proved it will do its damnedest to ensure that not only my sons but also the sons and daughters of all northerners will have at least the option of fulfilling their dreams, hopes and ambitions in the land that I love, the land that I have spent my entire political career trying to represent and for which I have tried to get some measure of social and economic justice.
Inside or outside of politics, whatever the future holds, I will not rest, I know the New Democratic Party will not rest, and I hope this Legislature will not rest until northern Ontario takes its rightful place in the mainstream of Ontario's economic life.
May I therefore leave with all my colleagues from all parties in this Legislature this motto, which has been my political motto for the last 16 years: "I shall live this life but once; therefore, if there be any good thing I can do or any kindness I can show, let me not postpone it nor delay, but let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again."
I say to the government, to the opposition and to my colleagues in the New Democratic Party, if there is any good thing that can be done for the people of Ontario, do not postpone it, do not delay; do it now, for they shall not pass this way again.
The Deputy Speaker: Before recognizing the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies), I would like the agreement of the House for an equal division of time among the parties and a vote at 5:45 p.m. Is the House agreed? Agreed.
The Deputy Speaker: The House had not previously agreed. The House leaders may have, but the House had not agreed.
Mr. Harris: It was mentioned.
The Deputy Speaker: It was mentioned, but the House leaders are not the House.
Mr. Harris: The House leader asked for unanimous consent of the House.
The Deputy Speaker: It is my understanding that the government House leader proposed and the other two House leaders concurred. That is not the House. The House has now given me consent.
Mr. Gillies: It is nothing new or unusual for the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) to make it very difficult for the person who has to follow him in speaking in this Legislature. I think I speak for all of us in the chamber at this moment if I share the feelings I had as I listened to someone who has served the people of this province and the residents of his constituency so long and so well.
I think we were all touched by the words of the member for Port Arthur. I want to indicate on behalf of our party that he leaves here, I am sure, for a full and rich retirement. I anticipated from his remarks that it will not be a retirement in the traditional sense of the word. The member certainly leaves with a considerable reservoir of respect and goodwill from the members of the Progressive Conservative caucus. We want to indicate to him our very best wishes in his next career.
Perhaps it would be appropriate to quote Winston Churchill at such a time. For the member for Port Arthur: "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
The Treasurer liked that. I have seen him applaud Churchill's quotes before.
It would also be appropriate, and as is traditional, some time during the debate on the speech from the throne to pay respect and tribute to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor, who certainly has the loyalty and goodwill of the members of the official opposition as he goes about his very serious responsibilities and does so, we believe, with such flair and natural ability. We certainly want to indicate to His Honour our best wishes for the job he is doing.
However, I suppose the main thing we want to talk about today is not the eloquent and able manner in which His Honour delivered the speech from the throne, but rather the raw material that was handed to him by the real drafters of that particular speech, the members of the government. Unfortunately, His Honour presented to us probably the lengthiest and possibly the most vacuous speech from the throne in living memory. If one takes the time to count, one will find that this particular speech from the throne contains no fewer than 157 promises that can be broken down in a number of ways.
First, let us look at it just from a statistical point of view. I know my friend the member for Sudbury East is a bit of a statistician. Of the 157 promises, 43 can actually be counted as representing new policy initiatives; 50 of the promises were simply announcements indicating continuing support to existing programs; 38 of the promises were reannouncements of previous commitments; in 19 cases, the government boldly announced it would either undertake new studies, release previously commissioned studies or wait for advice from ongoing studies; and in seven cases, the government announced initiatives that could potentially expand the size of the provincial bureaucracy.
If we view this particular speech from the throne with any cynicism, it is because we see it as a hotchpotch, perhaps almost a fast-food-restaurant approach to government. It is a menu of everything the government is doing, everything it would like to do and everything it is studying doing, but it is not a prescription for the economic and social development of our province. It is rather a description of government activity or would-be activity. One might as well have handed His Honour the Kwic Index, which we all refer to from time to time and which describes all of the programs and activities of the government, because that index would have been just about as enlightening in terms of the directions of this administration as was the speech itself.
We see no cohesion or direction, and we fear little sincerity and little intent to implement, in this particular document. Members need only look back to the throne speech of one year ago at all the promises and all the good intentions left unimplemented by this particular administration. Following His Honour's address, the debate in this chamber has continued on a more or less predictable and pro forma basis. The various government members stand and talk about the inspired message that has come down from above, and the members of the opposition get up and criticize this completely inadequate document.
I am afraid that all too seldom during these debates do we hear new ideas or new suggestions put forward as to the direction the government should be going in, and all too often we hear this pro forma support or opposition and indeed the usual trading of insults.
I am sorry the member for Kitchener (Mr. D. R. Cooke) has left the chamber, because I was sitting the other day listening intently to his contribution to this speech, which started off with a quite remarkable insult in that it was based on no less an authority than the holy Koran. After listening to several members of the opposition speak in the debate, the member for Kitchener quoted the Koran, saying, "The harshest sound in nature is the braying of an ass," which is but one indication of the esteem and the respect shown by this particular government and its supporters for the members of both opposition parties.
Perhaps in the absence of the member for Kitchener, I would quote back to him another quote from that most holy book: "Some are illiterate. They know naught but their own false notions and they do nothing but conjecture." I would say that the member for Kitchener, in considering the tone and content of a debate such as this, could well remember that and, indeed, so could some other members of the government and its party.
The suggestion comes from across the floor that the opposition has nothing to offer. The election is imminent and, as is alluded to from time to time by various spokesmen for the government, the Liberal Party stands on the threshold of a great majority. How many times have we heard that sandwiched between government advertisements in the last couple of weeks? I read it in recent days said by no less a person than the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Kwinter) and I have heard it elsewhere.
Let me perhaps caution the more sober and experienced political minds now sitting opposite. If that kind of statement and that kind of posture does not really fit with their game plan, let me assure the government members that kind of posture and that kind of presumption certainly fits with our game plan.
I would direct members' attention back to the last several elections, both federal and provincial, that this particular jurisdiction has been through. The presumption of majorities and the presumption of victory sometimes just do not quite work out.
Before addressing the individual points within the speech from the throne, perhaps we should build a framework in terms of the real, tangible legacy of this government through the first two years of its tenure, which we hope will be short-lived. As I said, we have recently had 157 promises offered by the government, but the real legacy and the real track record of this government is perhaps more enlightening and more cogent than is the throne speech promise list.
We have an administration that in two short years has increased spending by 30 per cent. We have an administration that has taken $5 billion more out of the pockets of the taxpayers of this jurisdiction than was the case the year it took office. We have a government that has reversed the efforts undergone in this province to get some sort of handle on the size and complexity of the bureaucracy of the government of Ontario.
The previous administration reduced the size of the civil service by some 4,000 persons without, I believe, damaging the delivery of programs. This government has increased that number by approximately 5,000 persons. We have a government that is very quick to put its hand into the pockets of the taxpayers, the working people of this province. We have a government that is very quick indeed, with very little framework and very little direction, to try to solve all the problems facing the government of Ontario by throwing money at them.
We have a government, I believe, that in some respects has become remarkably cynical in two short years. I was driving from Brantford this morning. I did the drive in my usual hour and some minutes because, of course, I never go over the speed limit. In that hour, I flicked around my three favourite radio stations, and in one hour, I heard four advertisements for various programs of the government of Ontario.
Mr. Swart: Four? Incredible.
Mr. Gillies: Incredible, absolutely incredible. I would say, in fairness, some of the programs being talked about in these advertisements are very good. None of us opposes programs to increase awareness of the problems of family violence or to increase awareness of programs available to address youth unemployment. We do not question the content at all. But the timing of this intense media blitz is interesting indeed. Could it be that in two short years this government has taken hold of every advertising agency available to it in Metropolitan Toronto in an effort to puff its programs in the pre-election period? I would hope I could be disabused of a notion quite so cynical.
On the subject of government advertising, I am sure we have all watched with great interest some of the television advertisements that go on. Again, we do not quarrel with the legitimate attempts to convey necessary information to the people of this province. Have members seen the ads of the Minister of Skills Development (Mr. Sorbara)? The little computer graphics triangles with this meandering green line that wraps itself around them, one after another, and at the end of the ad you are left marvelling at the wonders of computer graphics technology. You are also left wondering what the devil the point of that ad was and what it was the minister, at quite considerable expense, was trying to tell us.
This at a time when we are being called by our constituents unable to access training money and unable to get young people into the various youth employment programs, and I say very directly to the members on the Treasury benches opposite, the money squandered on those extravagant and meaningless television ads could have put young people to work and could have put young people into training opportunities in this province. They opted for the big sell, they opted for the big message and they have turned their backs on an election commitment to put every young person in this province to work. We say shame. It is about time this government learned that the substance is, in fact, more important than the message.
The speech from the throne, in all its lengthy dissertation and in putting out 157 promises before the people of Ontario, has offered no meaningful economic framework for the economic improvement of this province, and it has offered us no signal as to the direction, in great terms, in which the government intends to take this province.
As we look at the various economic references in this speech, we see, to our astonishment I might add, that the cornerstone of the government's economic plan seems to be, for the second year running, the high-technology fund and the Premier's Council. One has to give the government an A for nerve for bringing this one up again, after the complete and abysmal embarrassment it proved to be for this administration in the last year. We all know the story.
Mr. Grossman: I have forgotten.
Mr. Gillies: My leader has forgotten, so I will refresh his memory.
Last year, His Honour informed the House that there would be a $1-billion technology fund and everybody on the Treasury benches applauded in wonder at this marvellous initiative. But then we started hearing a few of the details. The $1-billion technology fund was over 10 years, so it was really only $100 million a year in the technology fund. I might add that in the next step -- and this is like playing a game of 20 questions; if you ask enough questions, you will get to the root of it -- only $50 million a year of this high-technology fund was actually new money. So the $1-billion technology fund is really a $50-million technology fund, and they could not even spend that.
There were two announcements in 1986 that had anything do with this technology fund. One was the premature and everlastingly embarrassing Exploracom project. The $17.5 million for Abe's Disneyland on the waterfront --
Mr. Grossman: It should be opening soon.
Mr. Gillies: It should be opening soon, but it is not going ahead.
The other announcement was for a cash grant of $114,645 to go to the university research incentive fund. Unfortunately, the Exploracom project is not going ahead. There were a couple of problems with that one.
Mr. Barlow: Tell us about those problems.
Mr. Gillies: Does the member not recall the problems?
Mr. Barlow: Help us out.
Mr. Gillies: Apparently, the announcement was a little premature and the structure was not really in place to announce Mr. Schwartz's grant. It became a bit of a political embarrassment because some cad in the opposition had the nerve to raise it. Then it just went from bad to worse and all the warnings that the opposition parties put forward, that perhaps this project was not going to proceed on merit, came to be. The project is not going ahead, so the $17.5 million was stopped. Are the members following me?
Mr. Andrewes: We are listening.
Mr. Gillies: The $17.5 million was stopped, but only after about 40-odd people had uprooted their families and moved to Toronto to take up positions with the company, and now the Premier has left them high and dry.
But that is all in parentheses, because when we actually add up the money expended, the $1-billion technology fund turned, last year, into a $114-million technology fund. In fact, this fund is not coming anywhere near to meeting the challenge or the financial commitment of the former Board of Industrial Leadership and Development fund. That is the reality.
With reference to the Premier's Council, I was among the first to say when the council was announced that there are some very prominent, high-powered people who have lent their names to this particular council for the administration of the technology fund, and I want to indicate to these very worthy citizens that they should beware. These very worthy citizens and these very capable, high-profile people should look back at the experience of the volunteer members of the Innovation Development for Employment Advancement board, the experience of those people on the IDEA board in the Wyda affair, in the Graham Software affair and in all of the other financial indiscretions of the Premier's administration with respect to IDEA. The initial and continuing reaction of this administration when those scandals blew up was to say: "There is an independent board in place. It was not our doing. It is their fault." Do members remember that?
It was Ian Macdonald and his people who put the pressure on this administration to fund Wyda when that went down the tubes and to fund Graham Software when that went down the tubes, and so on. So the caution I issue to these very worthy people on the Premier's technology fund is, if they screw up and the going gets rough, they should not look to the Premier to back them up. They should ask Mr. Schwartz. The Premier of this province is very quick to cut bait, very quick indeed. I just offer that cautionary note to the members of the technology council. So we move on from what we have to hope is an improved situation in high technology. We really hope that something good comes of this dollar commitment and this Premier's fund.
We move then to other aspects of the economic policy offered by this government. We see northern Ontario. For months now, our friend the member for Port Arthur and all the northern members in this caucus have raised the continuing recession in northern Ontario. Many of us have been up there. Many of the government members, as ministers, have been up there on business. They know what it is like. Many of us on committees have been up there. I say to my friends, the recession continues in northern Ontario.
While this government sits around wallowing in self-congratulation in the speech from the throne, we have rampant unemployment in northwestern Ontario. We have a 300 per cent increase in layoffs in northwestern Ontario and a 40 per cent increase in layoffs in northeastern Ontario. Quite frankly, it is now at the point that when we on the standing committee on resources development went up there to see what the problems were and to talk to the people, the reaction was very close to: "Why don't you guys just go away? We have had ministerial studies. We have had task forces. We have had various committees of this Legislature come up. If all you are going to do is tie us up day after day making presentations and repeatedly taking back to Toronto the message that you already know, then we do not want you here."
What they are saying is, "We want a meaningful commitment and a meaningful economic framework for northern Ontario from this government."
One year ago this government announced a northern development fund of, as it transpired, $17 million to redress the economic inequities of the most vast region of our province. They were willing to give $17 million to Abe Schwartz. What on earth? What are the single-resource communities -- Kenora, Rainy River, Sault Ste. Marie and all those communities -- to do with $17 million?
My colleague the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) then found, as he conducted some modest investigation, that they did it again, because only about half of that $17 million was new money. Those guys are playing with mirrors and they are playing with smoke when there are people in our province who are in very serious need.
It now has been adequately documented by our party how this government mishandled the softwood lumber issue. It now has been adequately demonstrated how this government was complicit in the decision that was taken by Ottawa. They were not victims. They did not stand back in awe and watch as this direction was taken. The letter drafted by the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources demonstrates very clearly that they were complicit in that decision and have to take some responsibility for the effects of it. The north languishes and wonders when it is going to see some meaningful action.
In this throne speech, we see some verbal attention, anyway, paid to eastern Ontario.
Mr. Wiseman: Very little.
Mr. Gillies: I hear one of my colleagues from eastern Ontario say, "Very little." I think he is right.
What do we see? We see a commitment to open a series of offices in the east where, in one of the most remarkable statements to come out of this throne speech, it is hoped that the bureaucrats of the Ontario government are going to teach the people of eastern Ontario to be good business people. I say to the government, give us a break. I would suggest we do not need a series of offices, even in the very worthy community of Renfrew, to teach some of the most entrepreneurial and skilled people in our province how to be good business people.
When I was in eastern Ontario during the last couple of weeks I got a message from the people. Really, what they would prefer is that the government not open an office to tell them how to be business people, but that in some minor respects the government should try to get off their backs a little, should start caring a bit about the 19 tax increases that have been brought in by this fledgling administration, by the increased revenues flowing to the Treasurer out of the cash registers of our small businesses and out of the pockets of our citizens.
Maybe, just maybe, we should start being a little sensitive to their legitimate wish to conduct their business in a healthy economic climate with the minimum of red tape in which we can entwine them and let them get on with it.
While I am sure that my friend the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) would love to have an office opened in Renfrew -- and we would all like to be there for the ribbon-cutting with him --
Mr. Wiseman: He would prefer Pembroke; I would like Renfrew.
Mr. Gillies: Pembroke, pardon me. Renfrew next year. Maybe, just maybe, the Minister of Education would be doing the business people in his riding more of a favour by giving them a break and letting them get on with their work as opposed to giving them bureaucrats to show them what to do.
It has become quite apparent in the last number of months that the economic directions, in terms of practical, helpful suggestions for the improvement of our province economically, are not coming from the government. They are not coming from statements by the ministry. I really think the most helpful suggestions are coming from the select and standing committees.
We have seen some very clear and workable ideas come forward from the standing committee on resources development and other committees. Things the Premier said he was going to do, like reform the Workers' Compensation Board --
Mr. Andrewes: Reform Hydro.
Mr. Gillies: -- like reform the accountability processes of Ontario Hydro; things that the now Premier said he was going to do on that now famous visit to the Burns Foods plant in Kitchener, when he said that layoffs and the neglect of working people would not happen in a Peterson administration, that in fact we would see new and stirring reforms, that we would see accountability put in place so that working people could not be tossed out on the street; on all of these wonderful things that our good friend the Premier thought were so important when he sought the office he now holds we now hear nothing.
I want to issue a challenge to the government on behalf of our party. Indeed its most senior ministers, the people who pull the strings, are here. We would like to issue a challenge to them to review the recommendations coming forward from the standing and select committees of this House, to address themselves to the recommendations coming from the resources development committee. Our challenge to them is, quite apart from 157 throne speech promises, if they really want to do something to help working people and if they really want to do something to reform, they could do a heck of a lot worse than just implementing the recommendations coming out of the committees of this House on a whole range of topics. If they did nothing less, they would be taking a distinct step forward from where they are now.
We saw other promises in this throne speech on the environment. Again, I say to my friend the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley), the goodwill that he built up in the first number of months as minister is eroding somewhat. The leadership in terms of the Hydro banking question is not coming from the minister now; it is coming from the select committee on the environment.
So we say, again, the government should not delay and should not wait for an opportune political moment. It should implement the recommendation of the select committee on the environment, the provision that will stop Hydro from having the privilege of breaking the government's own environmental standards.
On education, the minister is not coming close to meeting the requirements, in terms of capital needs, of the schools of this province. I know the minister understands the problem, but his administration is moving in entirely the wrong direction. When he assumed office, the province bore the cost of 48 per cent of education in this province.
The minister said he was going to restore the provincial share of education spending to 60 per cent. We say to the minister that he is not fulfilling his word and he is not moving in the direction that we believe he should be moving, and indeed that he committed himself to more.
By way of conclusion, I want to say on behalf of my colleagues and my party that we believe the overall direction that is needed to move this province forward is lacking, that the government's menu of promises in the throne speech is inadequate, that it is time now for the government to focus and get down to work and to put before the people of this province the kind of practical reforms we believe are necessary. If it does less than that, then it is not fulfilling all of the promises and all of the commitments it has made to our nine million citizens.
Hon. Mr. Conway: It is a pleasure and an honour for me to stand here and support the motion, unamended I might note, standing in the name of my colleague and friend the member for York East (Ms. Hart) and seconded by my friend and colleague the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan). I have had the opportunity over the last number of days to hear a number of the contributions made by a number of my colleagues in this debate. I regret that I was not able to hear, in a personal way, all of the comments, but I was pleased to have heard the many speeches, and particularly to have heard the speech this afternoon by the member for Port Arthur who spoke with such eloquence and with such feeling about matters that have long been of great concern to him.
I want to say I found it an interesting debate. A few weeks ago, we heard that this throne debate drove the member for Scarborough West, through some considerable irascibility, to the movies. He was speaking at one point about the movie, The Man Who Would Be King. He said it reminded him of the Premier. I rather thought it might have reminded the member for Scarborough West of what might have been three or four years ago.
At any rate, we then had the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) who drove through a lot of traffic concern to Paul Simon and Graceland. I found that an interesting intervention as well, to say nothing of the comments by the illustrious member, the member for Ottawa West (Mr. Baetz) who entertained us with quite a parade through baby food, Luvs and Pampers and a variety of other things that are of great concern to my friend from Ottawa West.
This afternoon I want to pay some particular attention to the comments offered by the two party leaders opposite because I did spend a very considerable amount of time some two weeks ago listening to the comments made by the leader of the third party and by the leader of the official opposition. I found it interesting that the leader of the third party should spend so much of his time focusing on the document on which, when I think of it, we were spending some time working about two years ago. I think it was two years ago when the new Miller government was sworn in. I think it is almost two years ago yesterday that cabinet was sworn in amidst great flourish; very heady days indeed.
I thought it was very interesting that the leader of the third party would spend so much of his time focusing upon that particular business. He was full of exhortation that certain matters be observed. I almost had the feeling that the leader of the third party was worried. In fact, I heard him this morning on the people's radio here in Toronto and he sounded almost despondent as he was communicating with his audience at 7:45 this morning. I found it interesting that he should be so concerned that none of us have an identity beyond that particular arrangement. I think the leader of the third party is altogether too narrow in his focus and he does not understand the identity that this government has developed from Kenora to Cornwall and from Kensington to Timmins.
At one point, the leader of the third party actually had the audacity to suggest that the government was not doing very well on the national scene. So desperate is the reach now of the leader of the third party that he would offer that opinion at this particular point in time, but I thought it was even more interesting, at one point, that the leader of the third party should offer the opinion, and I quote the member for York South (Mr. Rae): "It is not the Blitz, it is not the showbiz...that is important in Ontario today."
That is interesting, because a few weeks ago I picked up a journal that is well read across the province, the Eganville Leader, a very important journal in the Ottawa Valley. On page 3 or 4 was the following: "NDP Leader Bob Rae and Ish Theilheimer, a recently nominated acclaimed candidate for the upcoming election in north Renfrew, sang up a storm at the recent nominating convention." There they are.
The leader of the third party and the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) were having an interesting discussion the other day about Neville Chamberlain. I looked at this and I thought, "My God, the leader of the third party is more like Charlie Chamberlain than Neville Chamberlain." I thought it was rather interesting that the leader of the third party should advise us all to eschew Blitz and showbiz, but outside of this place the leader of the third party is singing an old song.
I just want to warn the leader of the third party that two years ago he began in the campaign in the spring of 1985 by singing, "Frank, they have turned your plaid suit blue." By the end of the campaign the independent observers on another bus were singing, "And frankly, Bob, you cannot sing too."
I hope the leader of the third party does not forget his --
Hon. Mr. Conway: I say to my friend the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) that the leader of the third party was offering an opinion about perhaps a lack of focus and some confusion in this throne speech. Surely the leader of the third party was really thinking as the executive director of the Ontario New Democratic Party was thinking when he told the Toronto Star the other day about the campaign that the Ontario New Democrats ran under the leadership of the member for York South just two years ago. I quote Brian Harling who just 48 hours ago said: "We had some problems in the last campaign. We didn't improve as much as we had hoped to. Our message was too confusing, unfocused." I can only say to my friend the leader of the third party that on the basis of that self-analysis, I am not going to comment further on the ability of the third party to observe confusion and a want of focus.
But then, I really want to have a few things to say about my friend the leader of the official opposition, because I listened in its entirety to his speech a few weeks ago.
As I have said before, I have a great deal of regard and some real affection for the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman). I have said on many occasions we were elected together, and I have happy memories of the 12 years that the two of us have spent in this assembly together. He is a very interesting fellow is the Leader of the Opposition, but I thought he was stretching interest beyond credibility when he commented that he thought this particular speech was too much of a grab bag, too much of -- I think he said at one point, "a panoply of requests and a wish list;" and "an intrusive grab bag," said the Leader of the Opposition.
I say to my friend the member for Nickel Belt, can he imagine the Leader of the Opposition, a man who sat in a government here two years ago and participated in the famous document of June 4, 1985, having the nerve and the unmitigated gall to stand up and say that anyone could top this particular document? I ask the members, is there no shame left in the official opposition? I know there is a great deal going, but I had hoped that before the end of the day there would at least be some shame left.
I have to say to my friend the Leader of the Opposition that if he thinks we have forgotten the Tory party's last effort here in June 1985, he is sadly mistaken. I cannot conceive that he would make those comments thinking that we might have forgotten.
Mr. Laughren: Remind us.
Mr. Martel: Read a few extracts.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I would not want to. It is too pleasant an afternoon to take my friends in the Legislature through that long and painful process that we remember from that day in June 1985.
I listened here for the last number of weeks to the interventions being made, official and unofficial -- as I look to my friend, the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Davis) -- from the official opposition. I have to say, "What are we to make of the Tory party in Ontario in this, the springtime of our opportunity, 1987?
I really wonder where they stand on policy. It depends on the day, it really does. It is not the Minister of Education who makes that observation; no less a person than the House leader for the official opposition told a group of people on the people's television network last fall, quoting the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) who, when asked on Dateline Ontario about his caucus's apparent flip-flop on a number of issues -- I will not go into the list -- said, "We in the Conservative caucus get up some days feeling different than we do on other days."
My friends across the way smile. Even the Leader of the Opposition in London last fall, according to the London Free Press, admitted that on a number of policy issues he was fuzzy and felt there would have to be an end of the fuzz and a greater degree of focus. That is from the London Free Press of not too many months ago.
Where do they stand on the critical issues of our day? Where do they stand on issues such as health care, the environment, insurance, education? It depends on the day and it depends on the spokesperson. But it is interesting to understand how the dialectic is working today in the modern, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario under the leadership of my friend, the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick.
The Leader of the Opposition said, as quoted in the Toronto Sun just last summer, the following: "Mr. Grossman added that it is his responsibility to balance the progressive and conservative wings of his party, and `If you are not prepared to play off the Susan Fishes against the Bette Stephensons then you should not be leading this party.'"
What am I to make of that`? The member for St. George (Ms. Fish) has resigned her position as the spokesman for the party on women's issues, and the member for York Mills (Miss Stephenson) has resigned altogether. I have heard of working both ends against the centre, but when that is the result -- I ask you? And that, again, quoted in no less a journal than the Toronto Sun.
I thought it interesting that when the very distinguished member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) was addressing the assembly today on this important issue, I counted at peak numbers, I think 16 of his caucus -- now of about 48 or 50 -- who were here to listen to him.
That, of course, begs the question, "What is the real size of this caucus opposite?" There is a lot of election speculation. I am worried for the Leader of the Opposition, because at the rate his colleagues are retiring he will not have a quorum for caucus by the end of May. I am concerned that the list is now 13.
What, I say to my friends opposite, are the people of Ontario to make of this exodus? They might find some interest in rumours which abound that more are to come. In a recent comment in the Toronto Star the Leader of the Opposition indicated that he was not very disappointed that his colleagues were leaving in such numbers; and in fact it is suggested that the Leader of the Opposition would not even be disappointed if more of his colleagues were to leave.
I do not know what this is to suggest, except that I saw in the Ottawa Citizen the other day where my friend the member for Ottawa West said not to worry, the Tory party is just going through "the healthy process of traumatic renewal."
How can I say it any better than the distinguished outgoing member for Ottawa West, who may not be as outgoing as we first imagined? I do not know. I worry that so many of the members of that historic caucus opposite are flowing forth into other opportunities.
I was trying to imagine what it would have been like the other night at that York Mills executive meeting, where the very famous member for York Mills tendered her resignation, or indication that she would not be running again next time. When asked for her comments about the leader she said she would be silent; and the sounds of silence still resonate around this place.
I have to look again at the performance of my friends opposite, because they aspire to their old places on this side. One imagines the citizenry of the province looking on and saying: "How well are they performing? Quite apart from the numbers who are taking their leave, what are we to make of the goings and comings in and around this place?"
For example, I look at my friend the member for Scarborough Centre who is coming and going more on the streets of Scarborough Centre than he is in the Legislature these days. I have to say to him that he will get over the disappointment of having been shuffled out of his previous responsibility as shadow minister for Education. He need not worry, because there are a lot of other movements around and about the opposition caucus.
I thought I would never live to see the day when the Ontario Chamber of Commerce would be forced to attack publicly the leader of an Ontario Conservative party. If the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick has done nothing else that is historic, that record of having made the Ontario Chamber of Commerce attack the Ontario Conservative caucus, and over daddy's pension no less, is an achievement that I believe will stand the test of time.
I have had some difficulties in recent times with my friend the Leader of the Opposition, because he has been making some very serious allegations about data and statistics. I think, "Well, who am I?" I try to stand by the statistics I offer and protect my public servants from charges that I sometimes do not think are very well made in this place; but I am in good company, I am with the chamber of commerce. I am even with the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling).
Mr. Speaker, do you remember last year when our good friend the squire of Manotick had to stand up some place in this building and publicly dissociate himself from words that were put out in his name by Tory research? The poor member from Manotick had to do that. You have the Minister of Education saying that the poor Leader of the Opposition has his data all wrong on capital grants. You have the chamber of commerce saying: "No, leader; you have daddy's pension all mixed up. It is not that way." It is probably not even a pension. You have the member for Manotick having to say publicly, "I dissociate myself from Tory research." I say to the Treasurer that we might look at those budgets and see that perhaps they are not receiving enough research funding when the member from Manotick has to stand up publicly and say: "No, it is not so. The release may have been issued but it is not so."
Then of course, to the delight of us all, there are the opposition economics. Not since Major Douglas posited his famous A plus B equals C Social Credit economics in the mid-1930s has anyone done it with such alacrity and panache as has the Leader of the Opposition, a former Treasurer. Cut taxes, increase transfer payments and cut the deficit; things, of course, that he was not at all prepared to do when he was Treasurer. I tell the members that the Socreds of the 1930s would be truly proud of that view of economic theory.
I say to my friend the Minister of the Environment, the member for St. Catharines, is it any wonder the member for York Mills quit? Is it any wonder the member for Muskoka (Mr. F. S. Miller) has walked away? Is it any wonder the member for Don Mills (Mr. Timbrell) has gone to greener pastures? It is because these very distinguished and reputable leaders of a previous Tory government in Ontario can count. They know. They understand the realities of real economics. I say to my friend the member for Scarborough Centre that the kind of legerdemain in which the Leader of the Opposition has been engaging embarrasses the true blue Tories across the way. I see that my friend the member for Lincoln (Mr. Andrewes) is empurpled with nervous tension, if not embarrassment, himself.
The concern we all have is that this once-great party not fall to too ridiculous a level in this important debate, because even my Tory relatives are telling me at family gatherings: "This is very embarrassing. We believe there is a historic conservatism in this province. Whither does the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick purport to take us?" I say, "Well, you will have to talk to others." My friend the member for Perth (Mr. Edighoffer) might help, because I know these have been trying times for him as well.
What are we to make of all the talk about the election? The members all noted, of course, that the Leader of the Opposition, or I should say some of his staff, called the provincial election last week. I do not know whether the Premier noticed that. I went home on the weekend and there was great excitement in the Ottawa Valley because the Leader of the Opposition had called the election. I said: "It is sort of like his cabinet shuffles. He has had four or five of those in the past eight or 10 months."
I know it is tough, I say to my friend the Leader of the Opposition, but hallucination is no substitute for the hard work that awaits him in the coming weeks and months. It might sometimes be an attractive prospect, getting out there on the outer ring of Saturn, but I do not think it is really going to impress his stalwart supporters and the great Tories we still have in much of my part of the province.
Then of course there is the election. We called it last week. Of course, it depends on the day of the week. Some days the Leader of the Opposition says: "They can govern for four years. I think they should govern for four years." How many times has my friend from Wingham heard that? "Four years, absolutely. There is no reason why they should not govern for four years."
I note today that the traditional amendment to the address has certainly not been moved by my friends opposite, so I read certain things into that. Then, other days of the week, it is time to throw the rascals out. It is hard to know, I say to my friend the member for Durham-York (Mr. Stevenson), exactly on which wavelength his leader is broadcasting.
Then there is the activity in the House. I know my friend the member for Nipissing is enjoying his time as House leader. He has taken his colleagues through quite some callisthenics in recent weeks. I will not comment upon the efficacy. I know the chair has had some interesting rulings about some of what has been engaged in, but it is certainly interesting watching our friends opposite as they travel.
I was reading something the other day. It quite distressed me actually to read that the Leader of the Opposition had gone to a Tory gathering in Essex-Windsor. One can fantasize what that must be like. This was the lead in the Windsor Star, "Somebody should do Conservative leader Larry Grossman a favour and mail him the pet ads from Monday's Windsor Star." He goes on to suggest that might be a good place to find candidates. I have said a lot in my time but I have never said that about the candidate recruitment in which the Leader of the Opposition has been engaged.
It goes on to say, quite properly, that when one looks at what my friends from Windsor, the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye), the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. Newman) and the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini), have done in terms of the chronic hospital and a variety of other long-sought-after concerns in the Essex-Windsor area, "Who could possibly imagine voting for anything but that kind of commitment and that kind of result?"
I know the time is quickly going. The other day I was sitting at home reading the Ottawa Citizen. I always read the Ottawa Citizen because I find it is quite an interesting journal. There was an article in the Ottawa Citizen the other day, not the one where it was reported that a vice-president of the Leeds Conservative association said following some Conservative incumbents was like "following lemmings to the sea." It was not that particular quote.
The Ottawa Citizen of May 6, 1987, reported that the Tories had a big political think tank getting ready for the next election. My friend the member for Ottawa Centre (Ms. Gigantes) will want me to read this. "Heads up, unsuspecting Liberals and New Democrats, the Tory flying wedge is coming at you." The provincial Tories announced the creation of a regional special weapons and tactical team under the leadership of the member from Manotick to lead the Tory charge in eastern Ontario in the next campaign.
Wait till I tell members what this SWAT team, the flying wedge, is going to be capable of doing. I quote from the article: "In a party brochure, the team members, the flying wedge, are said to `be ready to come together at a moment's notice.' One evening they might be attending an all-candidates meeting in Carleton East and the next night they can be in Ottawa West.'" At that rate, they will make Pembroke by Christmas.
Join with me in fantasizing, I say to my friend the member for Ottawa Centre, about the Tory flying wedge -- the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve), the member for Carleton-Grenville and the member for Ottawa West -- flying into action. Has the Big Blue Machine come to this? I say to my friend the Leader of the Opposition, I do not think a flying wedge, in the final analysis, will be anything but a boomerang to embarrass, but I look forward to the wedge coming like Halley's comet across the Ottawa Valley sky.
I should not say this, but I worry for my friend the Leader of the Opposition. Some of his very good friends are seated to his immediate left, the member for Brantford and the member for Lincoln. When the member for Brantford and the member for Lincoln, front benchers, have big events in Brantford and Beamsville, do they invite the leader of the Conservative Party? No, according to the Brantford Expositor, which reports on the leadership future of the member for Brantford. Bill Davis of Brampton is invited to both Beamsville and Brantford. What are we to make of that? If nothing else, the member for Muskoka must chuckle.
At any rate, I want to say that whenever that time and opportunity presents itself, we in this government and in this party are going to be delighted to meet our friends, particularly in the official opposition, however many might be left -- and it could be a corporal's guard so microscopic as to be almost unseen -- to engage the debate and stand on the record. It is a record of achievement, a record of action and a record that I believe will recommend itself to the people of the province as it did to the people of York East but a year ago; a record that indicates clearly that this government has quite an identity beyond the narrow confines imagined by the leader of the third party. It is a record in health care, banning extra billing and a substantial long-term commitment to capital funding of our health care community; an assured housing initiative undertaken by my friend the Minister of Housing (Mr. Curling); the outstanding leadership in the environment provided by the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley); education; and economic growth and development.
Think about northern initiatives, for example. While the member for Cochrane South could not move two jobs in the mines department -- rope testing, I think it was -- while he could not move two jobs, with his friend the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon), to Cochrane or elsewhere in the region, in the space of two years we have moved to the north about 1,200 positions with an annual payroll of about $40 million. We have created the heritage fund. We have northern development councils and a variety of other very important initiatives. My friend the Minister of Financial Institutions is taking a tough leadership position on auto insurance. There is of course much more than I could enumerate this afternoon.
We have the speech from the throne with its focus on excellence in education, on improved quality of life, particularly for the disabled and for seniors in the province, and on economic equity for families, women, the north and the east.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I am not embarrassed that this government in its first two years has done things for Renfrew county that the previous government could not even imagine. I am not embarrassed about that, nor is my friend the member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman) embarrassed at all. We are proud that this government is recognizing some of the legitimate aspirations of that important region in the eastern part of this province.
It is not just a matter of record. It is not just a matter of an agenda for the future. It is, perhaps most important, a matter of leadership. I want to say to my friends in this assembly that we on this side are privileged to have leadership of both style and substance. I say to my friends opposite that if they did not like the speech from the throne, if they found it a bit boring, they might enjoy Saturday Night.
Leadership of vision and vigour; leadership that is open and accessible; leadership that is performed very, very well, whether it is in the farm community of southwestern Ontario or on the national stage at Meech Lake or in Victoria -- I say to my friends in this assembly what I will proudly say to the people of Ontario whenever we are honoured with that consultation: we on this side are honoured with outstanding leadership in the great tradition of Mowat, Robarts and Davis and we will be proud to take that record under this leadership.
That is why I am not worried at all that the motion which stands unamended in the name of my friend the member for York East, seconded by my colleague the member for Kent-Elgin, will win the day this afternoon, as this Premier and his record will win the day whenever that comes in the future.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
On Thursday, April 30, Ms. Hart moved, seconded by Mr. McGuigan, that an humble address be presented to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor as follows:
"To the Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, a member of Her Majesty's Privy Council for Canada, Knight of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, one of Her Majesty's counsel learned in the law, bachelor of arts, doctor of laws, colonel of Her Majesty's armed forces supplementary reserve, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario:
"We, Her Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario, now assembled, beg leave to thank Your Honour for the gracious speech Your Honour has addressed to us."
The House divided on Ms. Hart's motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Allen, Bossy, Bradley, Breaugh, Bryden, Callahan, Caplan, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, D. R., Cooke, D. S., Cordiano, Curling, Eakins, Elston, Epp, Ferraro, Fontaine, Foulds, Fulton, Gigantes, Grande, Grandmaître, Grier, Haggerty, Hart, Hayes, Henderson, Kerrio, Keyes, Knight;
Laughren, Lupusella, Mackenzie, Martel, McClellan, McGuigan, McKessock, Miller, G. 1., Morin, Morin-Strom, Munro, Newman, Nixon, O'Neil, Offer, Peterson, Philip, Poirier, Polsinelli, Pouliot, Reville, Reycraft, Riddell, Ruprecht, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sorbara, South, Swart, Sweeney, Van Horne, Ward, Warner, Wildman, Wrye.
Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Bennett, Cousens, Cureatz, Davis, Dean, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Grossman, Guindon, Harris, Hennessy, Jackson, Johnson, J. M., Leluk, McFadden, McLean, McNeil, O'Connor, Partington, Pierce, Pollock, Rowe, Runciman, Sheppard, Shymko, Sterling, Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, Treleaven, Wiseman.
Ayes 66; nays 36.
Resolved: That an humble address be presented to the Honourable Lieutenant Governor of Ontario as follows:
To the Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, a member of her Majesty's Privy Council for Canada, Knight of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, one of Her Majesty's Counsel, learned in the law, bachelor of arts, doctor of laws, colonel in Her Majesty's armed forces supplementary reserve, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario:
We, Her Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario, now assembled, beg to thank Your Honour for the gracious speech Your Honour has addressed to us.
The House adjourned at 6:04 p.m.