L013 - Wed 20 May 1987 / Mer 20 mai 1987
The House met at 1:32 p.m.
Mr. Dean: I would like to take this opportunity to draw to the House's attention the strength of women's hockey leagues in Ontario. In the recent first women's world hockey tournament, which was hosted by the Ontario Women's Hockey Association, Ontario hockey teams took both the gold and silver medals. This strong showing clearly confirms the view that women's hockey in Ontario is more highly developed than in any other part of Canada or the world.
I am particularly pleased to point out that the gold-medal winners were from Hamilton, the Hamilton Golden Hawks. I would also like to tell the members that one evening last week, I presented provincial certificates to the Saltfleet Women's Hockey Peewees from Stoney Creek, who are the provincial peewee B champions this season.
I congratulate not only the Hamilton Golden Hawks and the Saltfleet Peewees but also all women's hockey teams in Ontario for the hard work of the players and their leaders and, dare I say it, for the world-class excellence they have achieved.
SAULT STE. MARIE ANNIVERSARY
Mr. Morin-Strom: This year, Sault Ste. Marie is celebrating its 75th anniversary as a city. Throughout the year, our community is commemorating this diamond anniversary with many special events planned. With summer approaching and many families now planning vacations, I would like to invite people from across the province to come and enjoy the friendly hospitality we offer them in Sault Ste. Marie.
As the oldest community in Ontario, Sault Ste. Marie is the historic trading centre of the upper Great Lakes. We have the Lake Superior cottage country on one side and the delightful North Shore of Georgian Bay on the other. Our American friends are right across the international bridge, while both the Trans-Canada Highway and the Agawa tour train head north into the scenic beauty that enthralled the Group of Seven in Algoma country.
On behalf of all northern Ontario members, I want to send a special invitation to residents of southern Ontario to come north this summer. Explore the boundless beauty of our northern Ontario wilderness playground. There is so much to do and so many friendly folks to welcome you, and nowhere more so than the northern centre of it all this summer, Sault Ste. Marie.
Mr. Reycraft: I want to draw to the attention of the Legislature a very splendid example of the strong sense of community that thrives in Middlesex county and indeed throughout rural Ontario.
Paul Grose is a young farmer in London township who suffered a very severe disabling injury just a few months ago. Paul was injured when a large, round, hay bale fell from the front-end loader of his tractor and rolled over both tractor and driver. Paul's injury, which resulted from the accident, has left him paralysed from the waist down and obviously unable to carry out his normal duties on the farm. The people of London township recently organized a benefit auction for Paul and his family. The auction was held last month and the sale of goods and services, all of which were donated, provided a return of some $24,000. Since then, a benefit dance and a canvass of residences and farms have added over $30,000 more to the benefit fund.
With us today in the members' gallery are two guests of mine who participated in that auction, Heather Lang and Stewart Thompson. They are examples of the fine, generous and compassionate people of Middlesex who have joined together to help a family that finds itself in very difficult circumstances.
I would also like to advise the Legislature that part of the benefit fund is being used to equip Paul Grose's tractor with an elevating device that will allow him to continue as an active farmer. No doubt his determination comes, in part, from the tremendous community support he has received.
Mr. McFadden: Sidewalk safety has become an increasingly important concern for many seniors and for mothers with babies and young children. The Eglinton Seniors' Advisory Council, a body that I created over a year ago, has strongly urged the passage and enforcement of more effective legislation to deal with the unsafe and inconsiderate use of sidewalks by cyclists.
The position of the council has been supported by a petition signed by some 600 concerned citizens in north Toronto. The elderly and young children find it difficult to get out of the way of cyclists who are speeding down the sidewalks. Many accidents and near-accidents occur. A recent meeting of the Toronto city council supported the concerns raised by the Eglinton seniors' council and work has now begun on reviewing existing municipal bylaws.
But the effective enforcement of cycling safety will depend upon amendments to the Highway Traffic Act. The city of Toronto and the Toronto cycling committee have urged the provincial government to take several initiatives, including an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act to require cyclists to identify themselves to police where an offence has occurred. It is important that our sidewalks be safe for everyone to use. I would urge the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Fulton) to introduce amendments to the Highway Traffic Act to achieve this objective.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
Mr. Allen: Freedom of information and the right to know have become a matter of great concern to this Legislature and yet one still encounters cases in this province where the government or its ministries are apparently unprepared to provide appropriate information to people affected.
I think, for example, of the case of the Canada Christian College in this city which, when I came to this Legislature, was seeking to find out why the government of that day was not prepared to provide it with reasons as to why it should not have the support of the government in securing degree-granting powers.
This appears to be the case again with this government. In March 1986, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities established a series of guidelines that were quite clear with respect to the financial facilities and community support required in order to undergird and recognize the degree-granting respectability of an institution of this kind.
Yet, in spite of the fact that the Canada Christian College appears to have met and exceeded all of those requirements, the ministry still refuses not only to support the initiative from the college to secure the degree-granting rights but also refuses to give the reasons it will not support that measure.
People in this province deserve to have reasons when they are going through due process with this government and it is time this ministry responded with the reasons.
Mr. Ashe: This morning I delivered to the legislative post office 124 envelopes, each addressed to one of the honourable members, on behalf of the Realwomen of Durham. It is a critique of the Marion Powell report on abortion services in Ontario.
I appreciate this is an issue that many members have strong feelings about on one side or the other, but knowing that all members would like to be aware of the other side of the issue, I think this is a very sincere and honest critique of that report, which I do not think anyone would suggest is a completely unbiased report.
I recommend it to the members. It is very brief and I hope all honourable members will read it--again I emphasize, regardless of which side of the issue they stand on.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I rise to discuss the question of the light rapid transit provisions in Scarborough inflicted upon our community by the past Progressive Conservative government. When all we really wanted was some rapid streetcars, we now have a major noise pollution problem in that community as a result of this LRT. I regret to inform the House that this government has been unable to deal with that issue any more than did the previous government.
On May 4 there was a meeting of Toronto Transit Commission members, the Urban Transportation Development Corp., government officials and community members in Treverton Park in my riding. As a result, nothing has been agreed upon as to a means of cutting down the noise. The noise is so extreme that it is keeping people awake late into the night. They are grinding the tracks after the regular hours of transportation end, so that there is a continued problem for the residents in that way as well.
There has been no move to bring in berms or some kind of acoustic protection for the residents of that community. It is about time there was. That track has now been in operation for several years and the planning was done long before that. These citizens need not be inconvenienced any longer.
DRINKING AND DRIVING
Mr. Sheppard: I would like to make a few comments on the perils of drinking and driving. On March 7, two constituents in my riding were killed when driving home after attending a party promoting a local fitness club. The tragedy lies in the fact that they left behind four small children between the ages of one and eight. The irony of the matter lies in the fact that a bumper sticker was found on the rear of the demolished car reading: "Arrive alive. If you drink, don't drive."
Mr. Harris: It is interesting to note that the government has run out of ideas already, waiting for this great document to come later today.
I have a question for the Premier. Given that the Quebec New Democratic Party, Don Johnston, Pierre-Marc Johnson, Manitoba Liberals, Bourassa himself and others across this country are all experiencing some difficulty with the Meech Lake accord, why does the Premier continue to refuse to hold public hearings in Ontario on this most important constitutional subject?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The authorities my honourable friend quotes are not necessarily of the same view on the subject. It has been a matter of wide public discussion, as well it should be. It is my intention to share the wording with the members of the House as it is developed and we hope we will have a discussion in this House.
I said before that we will have very full public debate on this matter before it is ratified and becomes part of our Constitution. I think that will allow all of us to express our views on the matter. I probably have more faith in the honourable member opposite than he has in himself. I think he is quite capable of standing up and expressing his views on the matter.
Mr. Harris: Here in Ontario, groups such as immigrant groups concerned about family unification, the day care coalition, native rights groups and those concerned with social assistance in this province and across this country are all concerned, and I suggest rightly so, as to how this accord will impact on future social and economic policy development in this country. The Premier felt it was important to set up a select committee to tour the province for months to hear from the public on Sunday shopping. Why does he feel now that our nation's Constitution does not deserve the same consideration?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: As the member knows, that committee travelled at its own pace and its own speed. I gather it will have a report to the Legislature fairly soon.
As he knows, the formal meeting has been scheduled for June 2. That is not too long from now. I am hopeful we will have some kind of discussion in this House prior to that and the member will be entitled to put forward his views on the subject. I would be interested in knowing his views. I have discussed the matter with a number of groups. They know my views and surely the Legislature should be entitled to know the member's views as well.
Groups that are interested are expressing their points of view. Concerns have been raised or there are differences of interpretation. That is quite legitimate. My honourable friend will recall that when the Constitution was amended five and a half years ago, we had the same kind of discussions and people presented their points of view. There was not always unanimity, but Canada made a great leap forward five and a half years ago and I think it is about to do the same in a couple of weeks or so.
Mr. Harris: But the Premier does not want to hear from the people of Ontario.
I would like to get this straight. The Premier claimed in the Toronto Star that he was a major architect of this agreement. Is he suggesting that this agreement he was so proud of two weeks ago cannot stand the scrutiny of even one week of public hearings in Ontario? Is the Premier now backing off this wonderful agreement that he was so proud of two weeks ago?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I do not know where my honourable friend gets such strange interpretations of reality. Let me help him out, if I may. I do not claim to be an architect of this situation. All the Premiers went to play a constructive role. Great leadership was shown by the Prime Minister, and if the member has any concerns he may want to express them to him. Perhaps the Prime Minister does not listen to those people opposite, I have no idea, but if the member has views he may want to express them to him as well. Premier Bourassa obviously played a great leadership role, as did other people such as Premier Getty, of the same party as the member. He may want to express any views he has on the matter to him.
The answer is no, I have not backed off in any way. As a matter of fact, I am still very supportive. I understand the concerns that are expressed but let me tell the member that a lot of those concerns are misplaced. I do not have the same fears others have. Granted, any time anyone commits anything to words, i.e. a Constitution, it will be subject to judicial interpretation at some point in the future, but I think we have kept the integrity of this country intact.
I believe we have allowed for some flexibility in our Confederation that recognizes the realities of our federation. It does not diminish power in any way and still allows the provinces and the federal government to work together in a co-operative way in a spirit of true, co-operative federalism.
Mr. Jackson: I have a question for the Minister of Housing, the minister responsible for tenants and landlords in Ontario. I understand the backlog of rental applications under the minister's new bill now has reached 21,000, as reported by his office as of Friday, and that as of this week many of his rent review administrators have assembled in London, Ontario, for a three-day seminar to get briefed and trained on understanding and use of this new cost-revenue statement. Can the minister confirm that there are also landlords at this seminar? Is he planning other such publicly funded seminars so that landlords will learn and understand the new forms they now are required to fill out?
Hon. Mr. Curling: Yes, we are continuing to have seminars and workshops to acquaint tenants and landlords with the procedure.
Mr. Jackson: That is a marked improvement from the response yesterday when the minister was unaware even if the forms had gone out.
In this copy of Rent Review News, the minister promised that one of the main features of his new act would be, and I will quote from his publication, "the creation of a streamlined rent review process designed to be accessible and to ensure consistency." That is what he promised.
Since it is taking his staff three days just to understand the one component of this legislation, which is in fact the cost-revenue statement, can he tell us if he now has been advised by his ministry staff that it will be his intention to conduct similar publicly funded seminars for tenants across Ontario so that they are equally as equipped to be prepared in the event of a hearing or an appeal?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The honourable member is correct that the procedure in the past was rather ad hoc and not organized. In the sense that he talks about the cost-revenue statement, which is a very detailed form, a form that lists all the costs that would be involved in every increase or the running of a building, it also gives the landlord--not to continue as in the past where he would come running back and forth with receipts, which he had to do when the former government was in power--the chance to state all his costs. It also allows the tenant to review those costs, and not in a very ad hoc way, as I stated before.
Mr. Villeneuve: Forty-two years.
Hon. Mr. Curling: The member is right; for 42 years this inconsistency developed.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Curling: It reached a state that, in recognition of that, we will be funding situations where people will be educated in that process with seminars and workshops. The honourable member raised in the House the matter of pamphlets to assist in that education; and we will continue to bring information to the landlords and tenants.
Mr. Jackson: The minister realizes this backlog is now up over 21,000. His ministry staff are even indicating that it could be up to a year before this backlog is cleared out. I want to give the minister one example by way of illustrating my question.
Fred Webster of Burlington is 71 years old. He currently pays 45 per cent of his total income towards rent. His landlord has requested a 33 per cent increase, which will bring his shelter costs to 67 per cent of his total income. He lives in a pre-1976 building, which means he will owe his landlord $1,752 in back rent. He has had to take a part-time job--at age 71--in order to pay his rent.
Mr. Speaker: Your question is?
Mr. Jackson: He indicated that he had never imagined he would have to go back to work at his age in order to keep a roof over his head.
If the minister does not know when his hearings will be completed, can he please tell Mr. Webster and the thousands of Ontario tenants when the first rent review will be undertaken by his ministry? When will the first hearing take place?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I would advise my honourable friend that what Mr. Webster did not have in the past was a comprehensive housing policy, which we put into place. What Mr. Webster did not have in the past was protection under a policy that excluded those tenants who were living in post-1975 buildings. What we can tell Mr. Webster is the case will be addressed.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Curling: We will also tell him that we have set up a Residential Rental Standards Board, which was not in place before. We are also addressing key money, which is now illegal. We have also protected tenants from being evicted from their residences, from demolition or eviction in any form.
Mr. Speaker, I am telling him we have--
Mr. Speaker: Order. Would the minister take his seat?
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Martel: I have a question of the Minister of Labour regarding Falconbridge's refusal to recognize the workers' right to choose their own representative to the health and safety committee.
The minister will know that subsection 8(5) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act says the following, "A committee shall consist of at least two persons, of whom at least half shall be workers who do not exercise managerial functions...."
The workers at Onaping have in fact elected their members to the shop and utilities health and safety committee. Falconbridge refuses to recognize those workers' rights to sit on the committee. The Minister of Labour issued an order on January 6, 1987, to allow the duly elected worker representatives to sit on the committee and that there should be compliance by February 9. Falconbridge did not comply, nor did it appeal. His ministry rewrote an order on March 25, 1987, and that has not been complied with.
Can the minister tell me why the order was repeated in the first place, since the minister says there are no repeat orders; and was there a special action request by his ministry, which is the initial step in a prosecution?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The member has asked a very specific question about a problem which has occurred at Falconbridge. I know there have been some discussions. There have been some concerns raised with the ministry. I can indicate to the honourable member that the allegations have been investigated and that the matter has been referred to the legal branch of the ministry.
Mr. Martel: Since this matter has been going on for almost six months, with orders issued in January and March and the company has failed to comply, why did the minister send Ian Carruthers up there today to try to mediate the situation? Why has there been no prosecution, since these workers are without a worker rep on that committee and Falconbridge again had a worker killed just last week?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I regret that my friend seeks, quite inaccurately and unfortunately, to link the two. With all due respect to the member, I do not think the two incidents are linked, and I think the honourable member knows that. I think the honourable member knows that very well.
I can only say to the honourable member that the matter has been investigated and the matter has been referred to the legal branch. I can add and I can confirm that Mr. Carruthers' involvement in this matter has been undertaken. Mr. Carruthers is there. I was not aware he was going to be there today. I was aware he was going up there.
The advisory services are doing in this case exactly what they are supposed to be doing where the internal responsibility system between the parties on joint health and safety committees begins to break down, in this case between Falconbridge and the Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union. Mr. Carruthers is there in an attempt to bring these matters back into a more positive light. That is a very proper role for the ministry to have. It is in no way contradictory to the enforcement role, which is also being carried out quite properly in this case.
Mr. Mantel: First of all, there has been a repeat of the order, and the minister has stated in this House over and over again there are no repeat orders. So do not hand us the guff; I understand the system pretty well.
I have a supplementary regarding Kidd Creek, which, as the minister knows, is owned by Falconbridge nickel, this same wonderful company. Is the minister aware that on sites where health and safety committees were to be elected, management monitored and conducted the elections of the worker reps and did not advise the workers of their rights under the act?
Management stated that spare-shift bosses--and I just quoted a part of the act that said that was not tolerable--could run. One was in fact nominated to run for the worker rep on the committee. Finally, the company issued a directive which states, "We will also establish two divisional health and safety committees, one at each site, comprised of three management representatives at the superintendent level and"--get this--"three employee representatives elected from the co-chairpersons of the committee on each location," which is contrary to the act.
Will the minister order and supervise a new election at Kidd Creek immediately? It is the same bloody company.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: My friend is going to have to meet with Bill James.
Mr. Martel: Jesse doesn't want to talk to me these days.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Jesse does not want to talk to him.
I should not make light of this, because in the Kidd Creek example the member has raised a matter which, if the facts are as he has described them, is a matter of very real concern. Quite frankly, joint health and safety committees are not properly in place in any way, shape or form if workers do not have the entire right and responsibility in choosing the members of the joint health and safety committees.
I see the member is going to send over the information. I will be glad to receive it. I will look into the matter and get back to the member on this as quickly as possible.
Mr. Reville: I should like to put a question to the Minister of Housing about the due course of rent review. The minister has told us two contrary things. He says, "Rent review is working;" and he says, "Rent review is not working but it is not my fault." This is a bit confusing.
Using the minister's own confusing numbers where he says a rent review application might take between one and two hours, and using the 1,495 applications per administrator in Mississauga, will the minister tell the House whether he thinks it is good service to the tenants of Mississauga to have the last rent review applications there for 1985, 1986 and 1987 determined around July 15, 1988?
Hon. Mr. Curling: As a matter of fact, I do not understand the question of the honourable member. Each case is heard on its own merit, and if he wants me to say that all cases will be heard in two hours or one hour, I am not able to answer that question.
Mr. Reville: The minister talks about cases being heard on their own merits; tenants are worried that they are not going to be heard at all. In fact, there are 161 tenant families at 135 Marlee Avenue paying 30 per cent increases while waiting for the minister. There are 107 families at Millside Towers in Milton paying 15 per cent for last year and 10 per cent for this year, and they are waiting for the minister. There are 1,318 tenant families at Crescent Place all facing increases of 11 per cent. They cannot do any planning because there is no possible way they can figure out when the minister's system is going to begin to work. Will the minister stand up in the House and explain to us how he is going to deal with this flood of rent review applications in a timely fashion?
Hon. Mr. Curling: This same honourable gentleman standing in his place is the same honourable gentleman who was in the committee hearings and knew the process and understood the process full well. He knew that by March 2, 1987, we would have received all the applications. We are telling tenants to submit all their applications and from there on the process will work. At that time, he did not make one single amendment in committee in order to assist that, but today he stands up and says it is not working. He was there, he knew the process and he knew the time, and today he asks about the backlog.
Let me again state that whatever figure the members may raise, whether it is 18,000 in one day or 21,000 as the honourable the member for Burlington South (Mr. Jackson) has stated, many of those tenants would have no redress if we had not brought in Bill 51 to protect those tenants, and that is the fact. The situation is being monitored by me daily, and it will be looked after.
Mr. Reville: What I saw during the process was ministerial incompetence. The minister has had this legislation in place for five months and still we have no telephone in the rent registry. I want to congratulate the minister though. He managed to appoint the Residential Rental Standards Board yesterday.
Will the minister now tell the House when the standards board is going to develop its standard and begin to hear applications from tenants; and when a tenant in Ontario will be able to call a number and find out what the legal maximum rent is, as promised by him and to be in place by February 2, 1987?
Hon. Mr. Curling: I presume the question is, has the standards board been established and will it be operating? Yes, as the member said, it has been established. The appointments are there, with representation from tenant groups, landlord groups and inspector groups. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario will also have representation there.
The member asked me, if I appoint them today, will a telephone be in that office? Definitely. The chairman of that standard board has her office in place and can be contacted at the ministry.
Mr. Gillies: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. I would like to ask the minister again about the rather absurd banking provision that allows Ontario Hydro a right to pollute the air, which no other source of emissions has.
The question is simply this: we know there is a fight going on between Hydro and himself on this matter. Every environmental group in the province would like to know: who is the Premier (Mr. Peterson) backing this time, the minister or Tom Campbell?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: First of all, I have to point out the nonexistent acid rain abatement program that was in effect before this government came in. That is first. I know the member for Brantford would have been disappointed if I did not point that out.
He will recall that in the last election campaign we promised that there would be a comprehensive acid rain abatement program introduced within six months. Within six months we introduced it. It was hailed in Canada and the United States as the toughest, best acid rain program that existed anywhere in North America, perhaps anywhere in the world.
The member will recall that one of the provisions that was not finally determined and that was going to be determined was, if there was a banking provision, how much could be withdrawn at a later date if Hydro was, indeed, well below its regulated emission level.
Mr. Stevenson: Rain drops are falling through your head.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I will not say that. It would be too unkind, because I may reach that stage some day. I will not say that. To the member for Durham-York, I am sorry.
I want to say to the member, as I did in the House the other day--and he is wrong if he thinks people fight and battle. We have good discussions on this side of the House all the time. He will find that we have a group of cabinet ministers and officials in public who like to comprehensively discuss these matters. We have taken into consideration the viewpoints expressed by all members of the select committee on the environment, and in due course I will be making a determination as to how we will treat that.
Mr. Gillies: As usual, I enjoyed the minister's speech. I know he would be disappointed if I did not mention that Inco's emissions were at their peak, two million tonnes, and that his predecessors reduced them to 700,000 tonnes. If he had done half as well with Inco, they would now be at zero.
But that is Inco; let us talk about Ontario Hydro. The minister has not answered the question. Is he going to remove this regulation before an election or is he going to let it languish? Will he also tell the House what Hydro refused to tell the select committee? What steps is it going to take and what option is it going to exercise after that provision is removed to ensure that our citizens have an uninterrupted supply of energy and that, in fact, they will not be subjected to brownouts or insufficiencies of supply because the minister finally has the guts to make it adhere to the emissions standards that he himself set?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: It is interesting to see how the opposition wants it both ways. One half of the question deals with whether we can prevent brownouts, while the other half deals with acid rain reduction. It is a contradiction, is it not?
I must say that when the member's party was in power, Inco wrote its own ticket as far as acid rain was concerned. In the preamble to the question the member indicated differently. It changed when we came to office: the regulations were not held down.
The member asked a specific question. He knows how I like to give direct and specific answers to his questions. I can assure him that I have looked very carefully at the recommendations of the committee, which included members of the Liberal caucus and other parties of this House. I am in the process of discussing this with my colleagues. I know the member opposite would want to know all the ramifications of any changes that could be made in terms of cost, brownouts and so on. When I have gathered all this information together I will be making a suitable announcement as a reaction to the committee report. I believe, as always, the people of Ontario will be pleased with that result.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I would remind members that sometimes when they ask long questions they get long answers, and sometimes it works the other way.
Mr. Swart: I have a question of the Minister of Financial Institutions, again on his broken-down insurance system.
I want to tell him about Ralph Clark of Port Colborne, who answered an ad by the Niagara region community support services for seniors asking for volunteer drivers to take the elderly for doctors' appointments and shopping. When Mr. Clark inquired of his auto insurance company, he was told it would increase his rates substantially if he did that, so he decided not to be involved.
For more than a year this has been a common practice of the insurance companies and it affects most, if not all, of the community groups that need volunteer drivers. How can the minister excuse the social irresponsibility of the insurance companies in this practice? How can he excuse his own irresponsibility in not stopping it long ago?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The member raises a very interesting point. He should know that the whole area of good Samaritan legislation, the whole area of the Ontario liability insurers, that group that we put in place to cover people of that kind, have been addressed. I can assure the member that if he can get that group to get in touch with me I will put him in touch with the Ontario liability insurers and we can resolve that problem.
Mr. Swart: If it has been addressed, the minister must have kept it a secret. Even the insurance companies do not know it. Maybe he should notify them.
Does the minister not know--perhaps he does not, because he refuses to look into it--that none of the public auto insurance plans in the west has ever permitted extra rates to be charged volunteer drivers for community organizations? Why does he not drop his bloody blinkers and philosophic bias and realize that this is only one of 100 reasons why he should replace Ontario's costly and discriminatory insurance system with an affordable and fair public system such as they have in those western provinces?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The whole area of good Samaritan legislation has really nothing to do with insurance per se. Whether or not the private sector or the public sector delivers the insurance, it is a question of liability. It is something that requires legislation. It is something that various committees are looking at, including the Ontario Law Reform Commission. That is the issue, and if the member would only learn the issue maybe we could have a meaningful discussion.
Mr. Speaker: That question has been dealt with. New question, the member for Brantford.
Mr. Gillies: The Minister of Labour will know that Thursday last his officials charged a company in Brantford, Koolatron Corp., with breaching the Occupational Health and Safety Act with regard to isocyanates. The information surfacing this morning would indicate that this company moved to Batavia, New York, over the weekend, throwing between 100 and 125 of my constituents out of work.
What steps did the minister and his officials take to work with this company to ensure that the guidelines were being adhered to with regard to the chemical, but also to ensure that this company would continue to employ those people in my riding?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I can tell the honourable member and the House that on Thursday last week, in response to an anonymous complaint, the industrial health and safety branch went to that plant and according to the notes I have: "Splashed isocyanates were observed on the floors; on workers, including skin contact; and on their clothing. Workers were not wearing appropriate protective equipment and some workers had not had preplacement medicals." In short, it was a mess.
We issued a stop-work order, and because the practice of working with isocyanates was such that the plant could not continue to operate in any way as long as a stop-work order was in place, production ceased. Apparently, the company tried to get in touch with the ministry on Friday after it requested that the stop-work be lifted and that request was refused. I am advised as well that the plant is going to be partially shut down, at least, and some of the work has been moved to Batavia.
I can tell the honourable member, who did call my office this morning, as did the mayor of Brantford, that I have today asked my officials to get in contact with the company and ask it to be at the ministry at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning. As I have said to the member privately, he is invited to be there as well.
Mr. Gillies: I have no quarrel at all with the minister and his officials enforcing the Occupational Health and Safety Act. I would like to know at what time he became aware of the company's intention to move, at what time he became aware it had laid off all the workers and apparently hired 82 people off the street in Batavia, New York, on Sunday afternoon and started production there this morning.
What steps did the minister take to try to dissuade them from this foolish course of action? Further, I wonder whether the minister is aware that this company is the recipient of a $300,000 loan from his colleague the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. O'Neil); and what steps his government is taking to protect the taxpayers' investment in this company.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: On the latter matter, I can tell the honourable member that a lot of this has obviously become known to us only this morning. I can indicate to the honourable gentleman that I am aware there is Ontario Development Corp. money outstanding in this matter, and we have been in touch with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology to alert it to the difficulty.
We will see tomorrow morning whether there is some way we can reverse the decision. I do not like seeing Brantford or any other community lose 100 jobs, but I must tell the honourable member that if this decision is to be reversed by the company, it must understand that if it intends to stay in Ontario it will obey the laws; it will obey the health and safety laws of this province so that workers at Koolatron and every other plant and factory in this province will be properly protected.
Mr. Wildman: I have a question of the Minister of Natural Resources. Given that in 1984 the previous government developed a three-page Guideline for Wetlands Management in Ontario, after three years of consultation, and given that those are only guidelines which are not enforceable, can the minister indicate when he expects the interministerial wetlands committee to arrive at a provincial wetlands policy and when he will publish that policy, which will be enforceable under the provincial Planning Act?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: One of the first interests I had in the wetlands had to do with taking an inventory across the province. I was not satisfied with the time frame talked about two years ago, and I asked that to be accelerated. What is happening is that we want a meaningful appraisal of the wetlands we have in Ontario so that we can address the problem the member has described. I cannot tell him precisely where that is now, but I certainly will get an answer for the member.
Mr. Wildman: It is my understanding that, some time ago, the ministry found that only 13 per cent of the wetlands in southern Ontario were left. Given that the 1984 guidelines dealt only with Ontario wetlands south of the pre-Cambrian shield and given that the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority has submitted to the minister a brief proposing sensitivity to the differences in northern Ontario, will the minister ensure that the new policy, when it is published, will include criteria specifically relevant to the north?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: Yes, I will take that into account. I am fully aware of the fact that the wetlands in northern Ontario have very different uses from the ones in southern Ontario. They will certainly be addressed in the description that we set down on meaningful use of wetlands in the future. It is one of the areas that I have a concern for because a great many of the problems in flooding and other things that are happening in parts of Ontario have to do with the reduction of wetlands and the precipitation flowing immediately to the streams.
I am certainly most anxious to address the problem and I am sure the honourable member will be pleased when we hand down the criteria.
TRADE WITH UNITED STATES
Mr. McFadden: I have a question for the Premier. The Premier will know very well that the American Congress today is considering the most restrictive, most protectionist legislation we have seen since 1930 when the Hawley-Smoot tariff was passed. I wonder if the Premier would indicate to the House today how many jobs in what industries would be at risk in Ontario if the kind of omnibus trade legislation which is now before the American Congress were to pass this year.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I do not think there is any way to make that determination. I do not honestly think my honourable friend thinks there is. What it does essentially is accelerate some of the trade remedies and provide more power in the hands of the administration to deal with a number of issues, the sections 301s, 201s and other sections of its trade laws.
I do not think we can make that determination now. Whether that bill comes forward depends on a lot of other things that are going at the same time. There are certain vulnerable parts of our economy. Others are being dealt with in other ways as well. At the moment, it is impossible to tell what harm would be wreaked on the Ontario economy and whether in fact these administrative actions that are proposed would be used. So I regret to tell my friend that the question cannot be answered at this time.
Mr. McFadden: I am assuming that the officials, who I think are very capable, in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology, and perhaps in the Ministry of Labour and in the office of the Treasurer, are likely investigating this and trying to get some estimates on an ongoing basis so that we can have a better idea what Ontario's appropriate position should be in the next few months and what kind of programs we might want to consider.
Does the Premier expect that jobs could be at risk in the steel industry and in other industries which today enjoy free trade with the United States if this kind of protectionist legislation becomes law in the United States by the end of this year?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I think my honourable friend is somewhat confused. He is operating under the assumption that the steel industry, for example, is operating under some kind of free trade agreement or free trade with the United States. That is not the case. There are voluntary quotas, as he knows. They are managing that trade. It is under very serious assault at the present time. It is now going to be monitored by the federal government here, so in a sense it is part of the managed trade.
My friend is asking legitimate questions, but I am sure that having been there and talked to people, he knows enough about this issue to know that there is no answer to those questions. He cannot predict and I cannot predict how the administration would use those weapons that it is in the process perhaps of creating for itself. My honourable friend will be aware that it is essentially targeted at the Pacific Rim countries. He will also be aware there has been a revaluation in the price of the yen. That may take some pressure off the trade imbalance in the United States. That being said, the situation is serious, and we are mindful of that.
My honourable friend may go on and ask me another question, whether free trade would solve these questions, and the answer to that question is no. There is no guarantee of that either because, as he knows, Mr. Murphy and others have said there is no guarantee that the United States is prepared to get rid of contingency protections or exempt Canada from any omnibus trade bill if, in fact, that comes along. Senator Bentsen told me he regarded the steel industry as a strategic industry, and he could not see any particular exemptions for the steel business if there was a free trade agreement.
I am telling my honourable friend that there is a wide variety of opinion on those subjects. We do not know the answers to those yet. I can assure my honourable friend that we are monitoring this in great detail. We have some idea of what is happening there, but the answers to his questions cannot be provided today and perhaps not for some long period of time.
Mr. McClellan: I have a question for the Minister of Education concerning a report in today's Toronto Star of a study by Jim Cummins of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, which has documented that immigrant children are being given culturally biased IQ tests by school boards across Ontario.
These IQ tests are being administered to children within five years of their coming to Canada, and in the case of most school boards within two years of their coming to Canada. Naturally, since the tests are culturally biased, the children are testing lower than Canadian-born students and, as a result, they are being streamed by this testing process into dead-end schools, are being barred from university as early as grade 6 and, quite frankly, are being streamed out of the education system.
I want to ask the minister what action he intends to take to regulate this kind of absurd, institutionally racist, culturally biased IQ testing applied to young children.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I saw the article to which the member for Bellwoods has made reference and I share his concern. It was because of the new government's concern that very early in our administration I sent a memorandum to all school boards in the province alerting them to this whole question of streaming and indicating that as a government we wanted to see action taken to deal with it.
As I recall, Mr. Cummins is part of an advisory group that is at work. I think it is having its last meeting within a week to prepare information for me so that we can take further steps. I share with the honourable member the concern he has identified, and we have taken action. I expect in the very near future, on the advice of the advisory committee in which Mr. Cummins is playing a role, to take additional steps to root out the very problem that the honourable member's question concerns.
Mr. Grande: Since the minister knows this is not the first time a report of such nature has been made public--this problem goes back at least 15 or 20 years, and most of us thought some halt had taken place in IQ testing--could the minister decide right now to ban further IQ tests in this province until he takes a look at Professor Cummins's report and decides what policy he wishes to follow in regard to this? Otherwise, the future of many children is in jeopardy.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I want to indicate to my friend the member for Oakwood that we have taken a number of steps. One of those steps was, some time ago, striking an advisory committee in which a number of very expert individuals are playing a part. I expect a report from that group very shortly. As I recall, they will be meeting for the last time within a week to 10 days. On the basis of that I expect to have their advice and hope to be in a position to report back to my colleagues very shortly thereafter as to additional positive steps we want to take as a ministry and as a government to deal with the problem that has been identified.
URBAN TRANSPORTATION DEVELOPMENT CORP.
Mr. Hennessy: My question is to the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Specifically, what new business is the provincial government prepared to commit to the Urban Transportation Development Corp. and the workers in Thunder Bay and Kingston to replace the $190-million Via Rail contract that it promised to Lavalin and Can-Car and cannot deliver on?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: I would remind my friend the member for Fort William that in fact it was the federal government that cancelled the order. It was his friends in Ottawa and not the provincial government.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Once again, the federal Conservatives are letting Ontario down.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) is disturbing the environment here.
Hon. Mr. Fulton: As the member is well aware, there is a great deal of work in place for a continued period of time, as we stated previously in the House on his previous questions on the same subject. There is a lot of work for both Thunder Bay and Kingston. We have no reason to think the present status of the Via order is going to change that in any way, shape or form, as we answered previously to the member.
Mr. Gregory: We know all about the present contracts UTDC has. My colleague's question had nothing to do with the existing contracts or the federal government's involvement.
My question to the minister, who now wants to tell us all about the virtues of UTDC and yet sold it for a pittance of its true value, is can he explain why, when he did not have a contract with Via, he could agree to assume liability for up to $190 million should Via choose not to purchase rail cars from UTDC?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: The member today and his leader yesterday have totally distorted and misinterpreted the terms and conditions of the sale. The $190 million is nowhere close to our exposure as far as the province is concerned. It is much less, considerably less than $190 million.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I have a question for the Minster of Health. It is in regard to the problem of people who suffer from the disease, environmental hypersensitivity. I am sure the minister is aware that people who suffer from this disease have extreme difficulties in accessing housing, the health care system, the social service system, and specifically disability pensions. I would like to ask the minister why, after nearly two years since the Judge Thomson report was tabled with his ministry, he has implemented only one of the recommendations; namely, some research be carried out in the province on this important problem?
Hon. Mr. Elston: The gentleman is absolutely correct that we recognize there are problems generated by people suffering from what is called environmental hypersensitivity. One of the things we do not know and do not understand is the basis on which this debilitating problem arises and occurs. We do not always know exactly how to deal with it and that is one of the reasons we have asked for research proposals to be brought forward to us, so that we can determine what we can do to get to the root of the problem and eliminate it for those people, if that is possible.
We have had several meetings with people who are interested in these projects with respect to research. We have met with people who are putting the case for less stringent requirements with respect to pensions. I know my colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) and I are both very sensitive to the issues that are raised there.
We have moved beyond the theoretical standpoint where people were questioning whether it was causing disabilities. We recognize it, but we have to understand what it is so we can then determine how we move in conjunction with my colleague the Minister of Housing (Mr. Curling), who is also very much involved in developing a response to this very serious problem. Together, among the three ministries, we will deal with this issue in a most sensitive fashion.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: The fact of the matter is that the minister can talk as long as he wants to talk, but there were recommendations in the Judge Thomson report other than just research: things dealing with testing, with food and with accessing the health care system. None of those recommendations has been implemented by the minister. Why is it that the doctors who deal in this area of clinical ecology who have made a very basic request to the minister in writing have been refused a meeting? Is he not simply reinforcing one of the concerns Judge Thomson expressed on page 268 of his report, which says, "Efforts to condemn the practice of clinical ecology...will only reinforce the isolation of the patients who have sought their help..."? When is the minister going to act on this problem and help the thousands of people who are literally dying without his assistance?
Hon. Mr. Elston: One of the problems in deciding how to respond to the requests of the clinical ecologists is providing ourselves with the basis upon which their interventions are either helpful or not helpful. We have to understand what it is that is appropriate in terms of treatment.
I am sure the honourable gentleman would like to make the public aware of the fact that a private operation in the United States that was the only clinic in North America--the only hospital, anyway--that dealt with this particular problem has closed its doors. I do not exactly know the reason. He is right in suggesting, as he probably would, that this requires us to understand even more soundly the response we must make to assist these people. We cannot make a response to these people, however, unless we understand what the problem is.
Once we understand that, we will be in a much better position to make a definitive response to their problems by coming up with some sensitive solutions. I appreciate the need to move as quickly as we can. We are trying, but it is very difficult for us to move to solve a problem when there is no agreement with respect to what is the cause of the difficulty.
Mr. Haggerty: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Is he aware of the recent serious fire that destroyed the Niagara waste recyling facilities in the town of Fort Erie? What steps is the ministry contemplating to provide a measure of assistance in maintaining the important community service of a waste recycling facility in the Niagara region?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The member identifies a genuine concern that people have in the Niagara region.
Mr. Villeneuve: Right in your own backyard.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: That is right, and we will address that as fairly as we address it everywhere else in the province.
Mr. Pierce: What are you going to do?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: There will be no favours shown to my backyard.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Interjections are out of order. Please disregard them.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Members of the House will be aware of the popularity of recycling programs in the province and of the new measures that our government has taken and will continue to take to improve the attractiveness of recycling.
The Niagara waste recycling facility, which the member for Erie identifies, did have a fire a couple of weeks ago that removed its warehouse facility. I can assure the member it is my intention to meet with those who operated Niagara recycling, and with others who are interested in this important field of endeavour environmentally, and to have very extensive discussions with them in order to restore a service that is essential to ensure that there is a diversion of waste going to the landfill site.
Mr. Haggerty: I had difficulty hearing the answer. Would the minister mind repeating it?
Mr. Speaker: Order. I suggest the member could do the same as I do on many occasions: read Hansard.
ONTARIO NATIVE ECONOMIC SUPPORT GRANT
Mr. Pollock: I have a question to the Minister of Citizenship and Culture. Would the minister please tell this House why an Ontario native economic support grant application, which was started in 1985 by the Tyendinaga Indian reserve for an addition to the All Saints Anglican Church hall, still has not been approved?
Hon. Ms. Munro: I will have to get back to the member. As he knows, I have met with that particular group and I suspect it is just administrative details that they have not supplied to us, but as long as the application is before us we will try to deal with it.
Mr. Pollock: The native people of Tyendinaga Indian reserve have been waiting for over two years. Will the minister assure the people from Tyendinaga that the application will be dealt with immediately?
Hon. Ms. Munro: I can certainly do that. I just want the member to know that it is very uncommon that we would drop an application. We keep the application open in order that both parties can continue to work with each other. We will try to expedite the matter.
Mr. Speaker: Order. It is very difficult to hear. The member for Ottawa Centre would like to ask a question.
Ms. Gigantes: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. He has talked of the need for 100,000 new day care spaces in this province, which is an underestimate, and he has told us that he is going to see the development of new day care spaces in the nonprofit sector. Since we do not have a white paper to which we can refer after a year of promises, can the minister tell us what provision he will be making to assist community-based groups such as Project 2000 in Toronto and the co-op day care development centre proposal from the Glebe Parent Co-op Day Care Centre to provide the kind of assistance community groups need to start their own day care centres in the nonprofit sector?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: We are supportive of community development groups for the very purpose the member has just mentioned. As a matter of fact, we are examining the Project 2000 request at the present time. One of the things we have said, though, is that it must be available to the entire community. We have received some requests for support from groups that have a very narrow focus and we have indicated that we are not prepared to support that very narrow focus.
Ms. Gigantes: Can the minister explain why it is a very narrow focus for hundreds of families on waiting lists at family co-op day care projects to be interested in developing more family co-op day care projects in the nonprofit sector?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: In the particular situation I believe the member is referring to, there was a reluctance of that particular group to work with the local municipality. As a matter of fact, it did not want the municipality included in the process at all. I think the member is well aware of the fact that as a ministry we work very closely with municipalities and we intend to continue to do so.
Mr. Pierce: My question today is to the Minister of Natural Resources regarding his ministry's policy with respect to fish management in northern Ontario. Along with my colleagues, I was led to believe that the latest form of Ontario tax, the resident fishing licence, would be used to increase fish stock and public participation in the sport of game fishing. I have information that reveals the Ministry of Natural Resources has been closing access roads to fishing lakes in northern Ontario. What are we to believe? Is the ministry increasing the fish stock and accessibility to lakes with the funds generated by the new licences or are they going into the general revenue?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: The honourable member has been here long enough to know that all money goes into general revenue, into the consolidated revenue fund. He should know that the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) promised me that this money will be transferred and I will use every nickel and dollar that comes in in the form of a fishing licence to enhance the opportunities for people to fish across this great province. It is something that has needed doing for a good long time. It is being done and I think everyone in the province is very pleased about it.
Mr. Pope: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: There are many distinguished guests in the galleries today, but one who I think deserves particular note is Leo Del Villano. He was the mayor of Timmins for 18 years and municipal alderman and municipal representative in Timmins for 27 years. He has had a 40-year career in municipal politics.
Mr. Speaker: We are most pleased to have all our guests. I remind the honourable member that the appropriate time to do this is during members' statements.
TABLING OF INFORMATION
Mr. Wildman: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I would draw your attention to standing order 88(d), related to written questions, which indicates that a "minister shall answer written questions within 14 days unless he indicates he requires more time."
I tabled a question on May 5 dealing with spraying in northern Ontario. I asked the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) to indicate what areas would be sprayed. We have yet to receive any response--not an interim one either--other than a letter from a Mr. Lessard of his ministry, which basically does not tell us anything.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Wildman: When will this minister respond and follow the rules as they are stated in the rule book?
Mr. Speaker: The member makes a good point. It is a point of order; it is according to the standing orders; and he has drawn it to the attention of a minister. I am sure the minister will take note of it.
Mr. Warner: If he does not follow the rules he should resign.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Warner: If I resigned, they would all be happy. I am not going to do that.
Mr. Warner: Thank you. I appreciate the members' support.
Mr. Warner: "To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario"-members are waiting to see what today's figure is. I know that is why everyone is waiting.
"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."
This is signed by 107 persons, bringing the new total to 2,012.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
SELECT COMMITTEE ON RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. Guindon from the select committee on retail store hours presented the committee's first report with respect to correspondence from Timothy S. B. Danson.
Mr. Speaker: Does the honourable member have a brief comment on the report?
Mr. Guindon: As vice-chairman, I am presenting the first report on the select committee on retail store hours. It is in regard to the letter which was sent to the chairman of the committee, the member for Oakville (Mr. O'Connor), from a Mr. Danson.
Upon your request, Mr. Speaker, the committee sat this morning and reviewed the matter. Upon review of the matter, your committee views with alarm the veiled threats in the letter of May 13, 1987, to the chairman of the select committee on retail store hours by Timothy S. B. Danson and views this type of conduct with deep regret.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
OSHAWA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION ACT
Mr. Breaugh moved first reading of Bill Pr10, An Act respecting the Oshawa Public Utilities Commission.
Motion agreed to.
CITY OF TORONTO ACT
Mr. Offer moved first reading of Bill Pr8, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, just before you call the orders, I would like to have a word to say about this afternoon's agenda. In Orders and Notices, we have two important third readings dealing with the regional municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk and, peripherally, the county of Brant.
We would then go on to a continuation of the discussion on the provision of interim supply. Bill 188, order 64, will not be called for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the select committee on retail store hours has just had an interim report today. We understand their complete report will be available tomorrow. If the members would like the other reasons, I will talk to them later.
It is my intention to call resolution 6 at four o'clock. With the consent of the House, I would like a brief adjournment beginning when we finish interim supply or at 3:45, whichever is more appropriate. I would like to call order 1.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill 6, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk Act.
MUNICIPAL STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Grandmaître moved third reading of Bill 12, An Act to amend the Municipal Act and the Education Act.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Just a word: I know the honourable members would be glad to know that representatives of the county of Brant and the regional municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk are in the gallery. They are expressing their interest in the passage of this bill through the House. On their behalf, I want to express the gratitude of the taxpayers in the area for the co-operation that has been experienced.
The honourable minister has made it clear how important this legislation is. It actually breaks new ground. It may very well want to be followed by some other regions and counties in the province.
I would also inform the members that we have arranged, if the House gives third reading to this second bill, that His Honour the Lieutenant Governor will give his royal assent tomorrow afternoon at four o'clock.
Motion agreed to.
INTERIM SUPPLY (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for interim supply for the period commencing June 1, 1987, and ending June 30, 1987.
Mr. Stevenson: I want to draw attention to basically two major issues, one relating to highways and the other to agriculture. Of course, if we are to believe some of the initial releases in the Toronto Star today about what is coming in this afternoon's budget, maybe all my concerns about roads and highways will disappear in a matter of a few moments, but I suspect we are not going to be quite that fortunate.
With particular interest in one highway, I want to talk briefly about Highway 48 in the Sutton-Virginia area. This is a road that we have been drawing to the attention of the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Fulton) for over a year now. It is a piece of highway that is becoming increasingly dangerous to drive on because of increased traffic of all types but particularly because of increased truck traffic largely related to the aggregate industry north of that area.
We are seeing these trucks going through there at a very high rate of speed. People in the area wish to make left-hand turns off Highway 48 into the Morning Glory public school or into the many beach roads off that area leading up to the lake. Of course, there are many permanent homes now on these beach roads; there are not just cottages but several hundred homes, in some cases, on these beach roads.
We have asked for left-turn lanes on this piece of highway so that people can make safe left-hand turns and not be bowled over by these trucks that are going through, which at times get so close one can pretty nearly tell whether they are using General Electric, General Motors or Ford lights in their headlamps. There is certainly never any problem reading the names of the trucks in the rear-view mirror as they whistle past on the right-hand shoulder of the road as you try to make a left-hand turn.
It is becoming increasingly dangerous and many people are quite concerned about safety there. There have been a number of near misses as far as serious accidents in the area are concerned, and I hope that as the new budget is released, the government will do some work on that section of road in order to make it a safer piece of highway. Last summer, there was a major resurfacing job on Highway 48 just east of the section I am talking about, and I certainly request that it is about time that highway reconstruction was continued to the west to deal with some of the very serious safety problems that are occurring in that particular area.
The ministry staff are very much aware of it. We had a citizens' meeting and we had a whole hall full of people out to hear the concerns from bus drivers in the area, from the school principal and from several parents associated with the Morning Glory school. We had many representatives of the beach residents along there, and so it is coming loud and clear from the local residents that something needs to be done.
In closing on that particular section, I suggest to the minister that it is about time he quit studying it and actually got down to work to get that problem solved before somebody is killed on that piece of road.
I want now to talk very briefly about the situation in agriculture. We have an industry that is in the worst condition since the 1930s, and we have a situation where governments around the world have tried to react to a new development since this government took over. That new development, really, is the retaliation of the United States to the ongoing funding and subsidization of agriculture in the European Community. That retaliation has meant a significant reduction in the price of grains to Canadian producers and, in particular, to Ontario producers. That has had all sorts of ramifications through the whole agricultural industry, not just to farmers but to all the agricultural suppliers as well. Many of them are hurting because the agricultural industry is suffering so significantly.
We have seen responses from other provincial governments. We have seen responses from the federal government; for example, the special grains program, the $1-billion special allotment that came last year to grain producers across Canada. Unfortunately, the provincial government here has not responded to those needs at all.
The minister is always quick to point out some of the money that has been forthcoming to this industry--money that was promised at the time of the 1985 election and money that was promised to address certain other needs they saw at that time, but nothing has been brought forward to address the new needs and, certainly, the most critical needs relating to the current shootout in the international marketplace.
As I say, this is a new issue that came to pass since this government took power, and there has been absolutely zero in terms of new policy or new funding to react to that particular issue. I suspect that if one checks around Ontario, there will be hardly a farmer who will disagree with my statement on that particular issue.
There are requests now for major new positions and actions to be taken by this government in assistance to the agricultural industry here in this province, and the government simply has not responded to them. Of course, we have the request in from the Ontario Cattlemen's Association relating to the checkoff, which we have seen no action on since the annual meeting.
We have the situation in the Ontario Vegetable Growers' Marketing Board for processing vegetables. They are asking for action to clean up a situation in that sector of the industry that is causing them some real problems in organized marketing. There has been no action from the government in that area. It does not require changes in legislation, as I understand it. It does not even require a change in regulation through cabinet. It is just a matter of a change in policy by the ministry. Essentially, that could happen overnight and the minister can make those changes. Again, there has not been the correct action taken in that particular area.
We have groups coming forward now asking for stabilization in the grains that are kept on the farm for feed. Again, we have had no indication of the policy direction this ministry has taken.
There simply is no leadership, no position being taken by the current government on any difficult problem that is occurring in agriculture. Of course, as soon as something came forward within the last two years, they threw some money at it and hoped that people would shut up, go away and leave them alone.
Time is catching up to them. The easy answers have been dealt with and now they have to face the difficult problems. As a result, they go to the minister and they are getting no response whatsoever on these very difficult problems. The agricultural organizations are becoming extremely frustrated by the lack of imagination which is being shown by this government in dealing with some of the real, tough matters that have to be dealt with that are facing agriculture today.
Think of the amount of money this government has to spend. We are expecting something like $5 billion of new money this year. Think of what one could do with $5 billion. It is something that is almost impossible to comprehend for most people. Certainly, it is our hope that a significant portion of that money will be put into agriculture in such a way that it will deal with some of the new problems that are facing the agricultural industry, problems that have come into existence since this particular government took over.
Mr. Gillies: There are just a couple of thoughts that we would like to put before the House now, very appropriately I think, on the question of interim supply, mere minutes away from the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) introducing his 1987 budget.
As was the case yesterday, we would like to talk about issues and about some of the matters of importance to the province. I would not want to seize on this occasion to offer the kind of petty and personally nasty remarks that were offered by, let us say, the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) yesterday during the throne debate. That is a kind of politics that our caucus and, in fairness, I believe the New Democratic caucus, has tried to eschew of late, but with the increasingly imperial style of our friends opposite becoming apparent as they begin to crank up the Liberal-bureaucratic machine for their expected election, perhaps we should just dismiss the minister's remarks yesterday as a couple of crass little shots and nothing to be too awfully worried about.
Mr. Breaugh: Petulant.
Mr. Gillies: "Petulant" is another word I hear used. I think there is general agreement on this side of the House that that kind of personally nasty stream of politics should just be ignored.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: You should be the last person to speak those words.
Mr. Callahan: You know a lot about that, Phil. You are a master of it.
Mr. Gillies: With that in mind, with the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) and the member for Brampton (Mr. Callahan) now contributing their own insults--
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Morin): Order. Please address the chair.
Mr. Gillies: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will direct my comments through you so I can ignore the nasty insults coming from the member for Brampton. Maybe that is the best way to do it.
Certainly in granting our support to the government for interim supply so the necessary services for the people of Ontario can be funded and maintained and the civil service can be paid and all those wonderful things, it does provide us with one more opportunity to tell the people of Ontario the direction of spending and the direction of fiscal policy under this government. It is particularly appropriate if we can do so on the eve of the budget.
The real legacy of the Peterson administration in its first two years is that it spends unlike any government we have ever seen in Ontario before. We have a government that, as it prevents--presents its 1987 budget--a Freudian slip; perhaps we would like to prevent that budget, but the government will present it--a government that has increased spending by some 30 per cent since it took office; a government that has lifted deftly from the pockets of the taxpayers of Ontario some $5 billion more than in any budget presented before the Peterson administration took office; and a government that has increased 19 separate taxes since taking office.
This has been a cause of some alarm to our party, because we believe our administration in years past had taken the lead in Ontario in trying to hold the line on government spending and trying to address the very pressing concern of the provincial deficit. I believe every responsible member of this House, of every partisan stripe, shares a concern about the level of the provincial deficit and the concern that we should be focusing our fiscal energies in Ontario on funding the necessary services for our people today without burdening those who come after us with an unwieldy debt.
I know this is a noble sentiment that would be shared by my friend the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) and any thinking politician in this province who does not want to leave an unwieldy burden on those who come after us. We have a concern that the Treasurer keep this in mind and that as we grant the necessary funds for him to continue the government's operations, we do so in a fiscally responsible manner.
Our government, starting with the direction taken by Premier Davis and by the former Treasurer Mr. McKeough back in 1975, had tried to do two things to hold the line on government spending and address the deficit problem long before any administration in the country, and especially any Liberal administration in Ottawa, had thought this was a necessary or good thing to do.
Also, there had been an effort through the late 1970s and into the 1980s to get some sort of handle on the size of the provincial civil service. There was a feeling, especially in an age of increasing automation, that we could maintain or even improve the services offered to our people without the continuing growth we had witnessed in the public service through the 1960s and early 1970s. During the latter years of the Davis and Miller administrations, we saw that some 4,000-plus employees were trimmed from the provincial payroll.
We believe this was done with no pain and no inconvenience to the public, but through greater efficiency and greater use of the resources available to the government of Ontario. Sad to say, we have seen this trend completely reversed by the current administration. Under the leadership of the Treasurer and the Premier (Mr. Peterson), we have seen the civil service in Ontario grow again in the last two years by some 5,000 people, thereby completely undoing any good that had been done in this area by the previous administration.
This causes us some alarm and it strikes us as incongruous with the kind of good sense and parsimony we had always associated with the current Treasurer. I say this with the full knowledge that there are representatives from the municipalities of Brant county in the gallery, with whom the Treasurer and I try to work closely on matters of mutual concern.
I know that as municipal politicians and administrators, they have felt themselves very constrained in the last number of years. They have had to economize. They have had to hold the line on the level of employment in their jurisdictions. They may well ask themselves, "Why does the province of Ontario not feel it should show the kind of diligence and restraint we have had to show?" I say to my friends from Brant county that this is a question they may well ask, one that is of concern to a number of members of this House.
We have seen a number of changes in the provincial tax system since 1985. I could run through them quickly. Under this administration, we have seen an increase in personal income tax of four per cent plus the addition of a surtax levy. We have seen the changed capital cost allowance.
Mr. Callahan: What did your government ever do?
Mr. Gillies: The member for Brampton, who did not feel constrained to contribute to this debate between the speakers on this side of the House, has decided to contribute through my part of the debate. I wonder whether I might ask him to hold those very valuable thoughts that emanate from the member from time to time and offer them when we can all hear them clearly.
In the meantime, we have seen this government change the capital cost allowance and eliminate the inventory allowance, increase alcohol-beverage markup--a matter of great concern, I am sure, to the member for Brampton--increase fees for drivers' licences and motor vehicle registrations, raise the corporate income tax rate, increase the land transfer tax and increase the gasoline tax by going to a flat tax. Now that is something my colleagues and I spoke very strongly against, but in its last budget the government chose to do so to the detriment of the motorists of the province.
Again, my friends from Brant county might be interested to know that we had raised in this House the question of whether all the additional revenues coming from gasoline and fuel consumption in this province would go towards meeting the needs of our infrastructure in terms of transportation, and in particular, whether we would see tax increases of this nature going to the construction of Highway 403, something about which we are very concerned in our part of the province. Sadly, we see that project just sort of lumping along--
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Mayor Neumann is looking after that.
Mr. Gillies: In due time. My friend the Minister of the Environment interjects. I know the mayor of Brantford shares my concern about the progress of Highway 403.
If I might continue, we have seen increased tobacco taxes and that has caused a lot of concern among some of the tobacco farmers in our part of the province. I might say parenthetically on that subject that we are all extremely concerned about the health effects of smoking, but something--
Mr. G. I. Miller: Do we have to ask you whether we can do it or not?
Mr. Gillies: My friend the member for Haldimand-Norfolk is currently interjecting, which as we all know is against the standing orders.
What we would like to see is something meaningful come forward from this government in terms of getting the resources needed to the tobacco farmers so they can make a livelihood at another type of farming. We have not seen those kinds of resources or directions coming from this government.
Then we have seen the retail sales tax base broadened and the effects of that tax placed on a number of goods and services in the province. What this tells us is that it is really about time--even at a time of economic growth and relative prosperity in our province, the message we are trying to get through to the Treasurer and to his officials is that we believe the time is right to start holding the line on spending and seriously addressing the question of the provincial deficit.
Although I would not presume to throw out figures, because the Treasurer will be in a position one short hour from now to tell us the actual situation, I would, by way of direction, offer to the Treasurer that he should definitely take advantage of the economic prosperity and the unprecedented amount of money coming into the provincial coffers right now to give the taxpayers a break.
We have suggested a reduction in the sales tax from seven per cent to six per cent, which is easily doable in the current economic situation. This kind of leverage and this kind of money was not available to administrations five or even 10 years ago. It is now. We believe that it could be done and that it would stimulate growth in our province. We believe there could be a reduction of some 10 per cent in the personal and corporate taxes.
Having done these things and having given the Treasurer the authority under the motion before the House right now to fund the operations of the government--having done all those things--we believe that the two aims can be met: the maintenance of essential services, the improvement of the social and economic lives of our citizens, and at the same time, the tax-cut measures and the holding-the-line ethic that we believe can be achieved by this government. I believe the Treasurer and indeed his officials, many of whom I had the honour of working with in the past, are people of ability and are sensible people who could achieve these aims.
A number of us in the House right now have sat in past cabinets, and we know the kind of competing pressures that are put on a Treasurer in terms of expenditure, especially leading up to a budget. Everybody wants more money and every minister has that special case that simply has to be met by the Treasury; but, even in so doing, we urge the Treasurer to exercise a very light hand in terms of tax increases and to do what he can to give the people of this province a break.
I will conclude with that. We will, of course, be supporting the motion for the granting of interim supply. We look forward in the next number of minutes to hearing just what the Treasurer's financial plan for Ontario is. He can rest assured that the kind of policies we have been offering and the kind of direction we believe should be taken will indeed be spoken to consistently following the budget. These are the directions we believe he should be going in, and believe me, be it now, be it during an election campaign, be it in the fall of this year or the spring of next year, these are the things we will be talking about and calling this government to account with regard to.
Mr. McClellan: I do not intend to speak for more than a few seconds. It is a little bit strange to be making a budget speech in the few minutes prior to the Treasurer's budget address. We will have lots of opportunity in the period following the Treasurer's budgetary address, however long or short that may be, to respond to the initiatives put forward by the Treasurer.
I simply want to say, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, that we will of course be supporting the motion for interim supply which makes it possible for the government of Ontario to pay the public service and to pay for government programs between June 1, 1987, and the end of June of the same year.
Mr. Brandt: I am delighted to have an opportunity to participate in this debate. At the outset of my remarks I want to say I have no difficulty whatever associating myself with the comments made by my colleague the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies), who put the position of our party before the House in a very clear and very succinct fashion.
We have some concerns about the expansion of the budgetary expenditures that have been the experience of the current Treasurer, with respect to what we have seen in the past and the kind of increases in taxation that have occurred in this province. Certainly when one takes a look at the figures, one realizes that the people of Ontario, those who pay the bills, the people who have to go to work every day and raise the amounts of money that are necessary to create the tax revenues the current Treasurer requires for his various programs, are the people who are having an increasingly great deal of difficulty in attempting to come to grips with the amount of taxes being extricated from them on a regular weekly basis.
The one tax measure alone which my colleague from Brantford commented on, but did not give the figure related to that, was the increase in gas tax, which is about $500,000. Each and every day we go through in this province, an additional $500,000 rolls into the ever-bloating coffers of the Treasurer in order to provide the funds for some of the programs he deems necessary. That $500,000 per day--
Hon. Mr. Nixon: You raised the gas tax by 10 per cent a year.
Mr. Brandt: The Treasurer will have more than adequate time; he is going to be highlighted very shortly, nearing the hour of four o'clock. After I have concluded my remarks, he will have more than ample time to raise any questions he has on the comments I want to share with him, but according to the rules of this House, I believe I have the floor, at least momentarily.
With respect to that, I wanted to say the additional $500,000 was brought into this House in, I might say, a very cute and circuitous kind of fashion by the current Treasurer in the sense that he virtually promised, without saying so, that the people of this province were going to get a reduction in their gas taxes.
That was certainly the impression he left when he talked about how evil the ad valorem tax was in this province, when he talked about how we were taking this money from the poor taxpayers on a regular basis. The fact of the matter was that as soon as the Treasurer brought in his new application of taxation, the taxes went up very dramatically.
Now let me tell members how quickly those taxes have increased. Ontario's revenues are up about 15.5 per cent and the per capita, disposable income of the people who are paying the bills in this province is up about one third of that amount, which means that the programs being put in place during admittedly good times in this province are taking more and more tax dollars to fund. I think that only follows, and we understand that some of those additional expenditures, some of those additional programs, are in fact necessary.
But I want to caution the Treasurer: there are ups and downs economically that occur in this province and there are some predictions about a potential slowdown in the not-too-distant future that the Treasurer is also going to have to make some preparation for funding. When one increases the base of each and every program throughout the provincial bureaucracy, when each ministry gets substantially more money--some three times what the people of this province are getting--and when that continues to grow by leaps and bounds as it has through the experience we have had with this current Treasurer, the fact of the matter is that what we are ultimately going to end up doing is paying for future bills with our children's credit cards. That is exactly what we are doing.
One of the things I am very concerned about that the Treasurer has not addressed--and certainly the throne speech is not a matter of his responsibility but to a certain extent it does indicate the direction the government intends to go with respect to some programs--but dealing with developments in the year prior to presentation of the current throne speech, the concern I have is with respect to the thrust taken by the current government in terms of job creation.
I know there are members opposite who will stand up and say, "We have created some 150,000 jobs annually," and they are quite proud of that record, knowing full well they have had very little, if anything, to do about that job creation program, principally because they have not--
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Brandt: I see the member for Brampton woke up again. It is a pleasure to have him back in the House, alert and interjecting. Without him it would be very difficult at times to keep our interest level up.
The fact of the matter is that the members opposite have not one single program they can point to that has resulted in the creation of jobs in this province, other than a 4,000- or 5,000-person increase in the provincial bureaucracy.
Mr. Bernier: Ministry staff.
Mr. Brandt: And some of the ministry staff they have taken on who were part and parcel of that number.
I have to tell the Treasurer that they have had absolutely zero to do with other job creation programs. They have not created an investment climate; they have done nothing with respect to new initiatives in terms of high technology; they have done nothing for the slow-growth areas of this province. It is interesting to note that a government that pats itself on the back, indicating what great initiatives it has taken in the field of job creation, consists of the very people who wring their hands and say there is nothing they can do about the thousands upon thousands of people who have been laid off in the north. Some 2,000 jobs have been lost in my riding alone as a result of the downturn in the petrochemical industry.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: They need better representation.
Mr. Brandt: I hear the Treasurer interject that if they had better representation those job losses would not have occurred. I recall some problems that occurred in the Treasurer's own riding with respect to certain job losses. I bring to his attention certain cutbacks that occurred with respect to Massey-Ferguson at one particular point in his very illustrious political career. I recall his standing up on this side of the House and asking the government what it was going to do about that.
I find the positions are reversed today. I have no qualms, no reservations whatever about saying to the Treasurer that my riding now requires help. After going through many, many decades of providing very substantial sums of money for the revenues that this province requires, it now finds itself in a position where it does need some government help. Is that government help forthcoming? Government help has not, up until this point in time, been forthcoming.
I want to be fair. The initiative taken by the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) with respect to the expansion of St. Joseph's Hospital in my riding was an initiative I applauded. I congratulated the government and gave it full marks for having made the right decision in that respect. Hopefully, that expansion will not only create some jobs in the construction field in my riding but also relate to permanent employment.
I want to get back to the issue I think the Treasurer lost sight of in his previous budget. Hopefully, he will cover off this point in today's budget in some fashion. It is very easy to spend additional money and to expand programs. It is very difficult, however, to put in place programs that are going to provide the new type of jobs we are going to require in the days to come.
In this particular respect, I have to say that the government has failed very miserably. They have failed badly because they have no grasp of what it is they have to do to create these jobs. They have no grasp, no understanding of what high technology is. They bungled badly the Exploracom situation. Their highly vaunted high-tech fund, the $1-billion, 10-year program that was supposed to result in an injection of some $100 million a year has not only floundered badly, it is a total, absolute failure. Nothing happened during the first year of that program.
I am hopeful that something will happen in the Treasurer's budget for the coming year, because I think it is absolutely essential for this province, and for the jobs that we are going to require in the future, that those programs be successful.
I for one will stand up and applaud the Treasurer if he does invest some money in those kinds of very concrete initiatives, because they are badly needed and they are ones that will determine, to a great extent, the kind of future we are going to experience in this province.
We are, on all sides of the House, in favour of many of the social programs and the initiatives taken by the current government. We do have some concerns, however, about the affordability of some of those programs in the long term. In fact, the affordability of these programs can be guaranteed only with a strong employment creation program brought about through something such as a high-tech fund, but certainly not in the direction the government took with its previous statements in that regard.
We do not need a shotgun approach. We need a very specific, well-honed kind of program such as the previous government put in place. The number of research and high-tech centres we put in place right across the province have worked extremely well and have provided our industries with the kind of research and development assistance that places them at the forefront of some of the new technological developments that are required to keep them competitive.
It is interesting to note that the competition we face in many parts of the world, with the United States, Japan and some of the Pacific Rim countries, has a type of unified government-industry approach where they take a collective thrust in certain specific well-identified industries to create the kinds of economic activity and jobs that are going to be required in the days ahead. This government has not found the wherewithal at this point to be able to do that kind of thing. As I say, if it has failed miserably at any initiative it has taken previously, this is one that has been a nonstarter to this point. Absolutely nothing has happened.
I know other colleagues want to speak on interim supply, which is the dollars that will be required by the government from June 1 to June 30. I have no reservations and no objection to supporting the government on this request, but I think the money should be spent wisely and well because the government, in and by itself, does not create money. It has to be taken from the people of the province. The nine million plus people of this province have to pay for the programs that are being put in place. They are the ones who have to dig even more deeply into their pockets to provide the revenues the Treasurer requires.
I say to the Treasurer and to the government that it is important that we have more emphasis on future planning with respect to high technology and on the competitiveness of Ontario industries. He has rejected our call for a royal commission on workers' compensation. I have to tell him by way of caution that an increasing number of employers are coming into my office who are having great difficulty funding the present program, which is running about three times the level of inflation in terms of the dollars required to fund that particular program alone. The unfunded liability is absolutely and totally out of control at this point, somewhere between $5 billion and $6 billion, and no one on that side of the House has any idea how deeply in debt it is with respect to that program.
What we have asked for on this side of the House is some form of responsible response to the whole issue of workers' compensation. We know there are workers who are dissatisfied and who are having great difficulty getting the benefits they truly require, need and deserve in relation to workers' compensation. On the other hand, we have a program that is becoming increasingly unaffordable.
It may be of interest to some of the members opposite to know that the Workers' Compensation Board increases for employers over the course of the past two years this government has been in power have resulted in increases of 12 and 13 per cent. How long can that go on when we have relatively controlled inflation at present that is running at only four per cent? How long does the government think it is going to be before a great number of industries, small employers in particular, simply go out of business, not able to keep up with the increased pressure and demand for dollars that it is taking out of their businesses?
I caution the government that it cannot kill the goose that lays the golden egg. The golden egg of taxation must come from the creative efforts of the people of the province. It has to come as a result of a healthy environment, a healthy economy and a competitive response to what is going on in various other parts of the world. None of these issues, none of these questions has been addressed by the people opposite.
I had better conclude at this time and allow some of my other colleagues to speak on the matter. I thank the members of the House for listening to me on this issue and I look forward to the budget on the part of the Treasurer within the next few moments.
Mrs. Marland: In rising to speak in this debate on the interim supply bill, I really wish it could be with more enthusiasm that I address this particular motion. I have to say at the outset that I do not have any difficulty with the calibre of the civil servants we have in Ontario; indeed, I am very proud of the people who work for our province.
I do, however, have a great deal of concern and a great deal of disappointment with the programs the province has had from this government for the past two years. Being a new member of this Legislature and having just celebrated the end of my second year in this House, I suppose I have to admit that more than anything else my disappointment with this government has been with the fact that it does not seem to care about the very real needs of the average person in this province.
When we talk about real needs, I respectfully suggest that after food there is no greater need than shelter. It is somewhat ironic that in this International Year of Shelter for the Homeless we have in Ontario a housing policy that is practically nonexistent. If there is one need above all other needs that is brought to my attention both at my Queen's Park office and at my constituency office in Mississauga, it is the need for affordable housing.
Quite frankly, I do not know, nor of course does anyone else, what the budget that is going to be presented in this House in about 22 minutes' time will do to resolve that problem for the people of Ontario, certainly including those people I have the privilege of representing in Mississauga South. I find that people are very disturbed when they come into my office and ask for the list of lower-priced apartment buildings or whether there is any other accommodation we may know of where they might be able to look for a room to rent; any accommodation whatsoever.
They are disturbed because I am not in a position to provide them with a solution. There are simply no units available for them. Even when they go out to the areas or the buildings where we think there are spaces available, very often by the time they get there the space we were told in the morning was available is gone by the afternoon.
These people come back to me. It is amazing how many of them are well aware of the financial affluence of this province at this time in our history. A number of people have said to me, "How is it that when Ontario has a surplus in excess of $1 billion there are simply no rooms?" There is no room at the inn, as it were. These people say, "Where are the priorities of a government that does not first address shelter for the people who live in its jurisdiction?"
It is the lack of initiative to resolve these severe problems for the average person in Ontario that causes me the greatest grief. It is grief about the parents of a 24-year-old son, and this is just one example. This son, aged 24, functions at about a five-year-old or six-year-old child's age. He has been waiting now for two years for accommodation in a group home facility.
In the meantime, he is causing duress and unhappiness for the people in the community where he lives because he is a grown man physically. He is obviously a man of 24 and in this case is a good size physically. Because he thinks like a five-year-old, he wants to play with the children in his community who are that age. Of course, the police and the neighbours are involved because they do not understand that this child is not going to harm the little children with whom he wishes to play. They perceive him as an adult man wanting to play with little children, yet this family does not have any alternative accommodation for the 24-year-old son.
Time and time again, they go to the different government agencies and are told repeatedly: "We are sorry. We do not have a program because we simply do not have any money." How is it that in this year of 1987, with a $1-billion surplus, any government could say to the parents of this young man, "We do not have any money for the program your son needs"?
There is a 67-year-old mother with Alzheimer's disease who is trying to cope with a 41-year-old mentally retarded son. They live in a one-bedroom apartment. The 41-year-old son cannot get out to benefit from programs for mentally retarded people because his mother, at 67 with Alzheimer's disease, cannot cope with getting this 41-year-old son up, dressed and out in time to get the bus to take him to the ARC Industries program.
That is just one further illustration. I am sure every member in this Legislature has a dozen stories a month where there is a need for some government-funded program. We are not talking about luxuries. We are taking about necessities. We are talking about the survival of human beings.
It distresses me greatly that with this Liberal government, in the priorities the province has had during the last two years we have not seen a priority great enough to first address the real survival needs of human beings. Yes, we have seen some increased funding in some areas, but it is amazing when one looks at the very real figures of what has happened with Ontario's tax revenues in the last year alone.
During 1986-87, Ontario tax revenues have increased by 15.4 per cent, yet in the same period the average per capita disposable income in Ontario increased by only 4.7 per cent. The wages of Ontario workers have increased by 4.3 per cent. Hospital grants rose by 7.4 per cent. Unconditional grants to municipalities went up by only 4.9 per cent. Provincial grants to colleges inched up by 4.3 per cent. General legislative grants to school boards moved up by just five per cent. The Progressive Conservative caucus does not think it is fair that a government should do twice as well as its people and yet not care for the desperate needs of those people in this province.
I look forward to the beginning, in 15 minutes, of the presentation of the budget by the Treasurer, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. I hope that in the budget we will see the very real needs of the people of this province addressed without any further delay and without any further suffering in human terms.
On motion by Mr. Harris, the debate was adjourned.
The House recessed at 3:45 p.m.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Peterson, that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
Mr. Speaker: With the indulgence of the members, as has been the custom, I would like to ask the pages to deliver a copy of the budget to each of the members before the Treasurer commences his reading.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: While the distribution of the document is being completed, I want to draw to the members' attention that we were able to locate a special trillium in the woods of South Dumfries, and there is a picture of it on the cover of the document.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Does every member have a copy?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I should also indicate to the members--perhaps it is a mistake to do so--that it will take me approximately an hour to read this. It was suggested by one of my friends in the New Democratic Party that perhaps we could just table this with Hansard and all go home. On the other hand, because of its importance, I feel it necessary to continue to bring the good news to this House and to the taxpayers of the province.
Before beginning to read the document, I want to express my thanks and appreciation to the civil servants in the Ministry of Treasury and Economics, in the Management Board, in the Ministry of Revenue and in the office of the House leader of the government for co-operating, and for all the work, the research and the development that have gone into the preparation of the document.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: This budget will outline the government's record of fiscal management and present an economic plan for this year.
Under the leadership of the Premier (Mr. Peterson), the government has dealt effectively with the issues confronting it over the past two years and has given a high priority to education, technology development and entrepreneurship. These are the surest foundations of Ontario's continued prosperity. We have increased spending on vital programs that have been starved for funding due to economic constraints. We have funded programs for special regions and for groups requiring special assistance. At the same time, we have significantly reduced the provincial deficit. Our aim now is to build on the sound fiscal foundation that has been established.
Ontario's economy is showing solid growth, but some regions, some economic sectors and some people are not sharing fully in the benefits. The government is committed to working towards a durable prosperity that is shared by all. Today I am laying out our plan to do this.
Before proceeding, I acknowledge the contribution of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs. I also thank the many organizations and individuals who appeared before the committee and met with me and with Treasury staff.
Ontario is experiencing its fifth straight year of economic expansion. Over the past two years, the real gross provincial product has grown by 9.4 per cent, faster than any of the major economies in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Lower interest rates, lower oil prices, stable inflation rates and high and growing employment levels have encouraged consumer spending. In addition, favourable exchange rates and competitive cost structures have made Ontario an attractive location for investment by both foreign and domestic enterprises.
The world economy has been undergoing a major restructuring and the impact on Ontario has been significant. Some traditional industries have experienced decline, while a range of new industrial activities has emerged. This restructuring has been accompanied by job losses in some industries and some communities. Over the past two years, major layoffs in Ontario have affected some 27,000 people and have caused hardship not only to these individuals and their families but also to their communities.
During the same period, newly emerging industries and a generally strong and more efficient economy have meant that job gains overall have far exceeded job losses. On a net basis, overall employment increased by 312,000 jobs. In fact, Ontario has had faster employment growth than any other major industrial jurisdiction in North America.
Business capital investment has been one of the major sources of Ontario's recent economic strength and represents a vote of long-term confidence in our future. Over the past two years, private sector capital spending has grown by more than 30 per cent. In 1987, we expect a further increase of 7.2 per cent to a total of $24 billion.
Manufacturing investment in Ontario will remain strong, with transportation equipment maintaining the largest share. US and Japanese auto companies are undertaking major capital investments. As well, many Canadian-based auto parts suppliers are investing in new technology, often through joint venture projects.
Ontario's competitive position in materials, labour and electricity costs has allowed the province to attract a large share of new automotive investments in North America. State-of-the-art production facilities, a well-trained work force and innovative management techniques will enable Ontario's auto industry to continue to compete effectively with other jurisdictions in North America.
Capital investment in the electrical, high-technology electronic and machinery industries, as well as in pulp and paper and in clothing, will also show significant increases.
I am especially encouraged by the increase in investment activity in northern Ontario. In addition to new capital spending in pulp and paper, several new mines are under development and mining investment is growing.
Consumer spending remains strong, particularly in housing and household goods. Housing starts rose to 81,500 units last year, the highest level in more than a decade. We expect a further 82,000 housing starts this year.
The overall economic outlook for the province continues to be favourable. Real gross provincial product is forecast to grow by 3.5 per cent in 1987. Job creation will average 125,000 and the unemployment rate is expected to average 6.5 per cent for the year. Consumer price increases will remain moderate, averaging 4.2 per cent.
This budget will present policies in five priority areas: first, to promote economic expansion and job creation; second, to enhance opportunities in sectors and regions that are not fully participating in the benefits of economic growth; third, to rebuild our ageing infrastructure and accommodate growth pressures; fourth, to improve important social programs and to promote a fairer distribution of wealth in our society; and fifth, to maintain our vigilance over tax levels and the deficit.
It is essential that Ontario maintain and, indeed, increase its share of world trade and investment. To do so, the government must encourage the development of areas that are crucial to our international competitiveness, including technology and education.
The Premier's Council on technology was created in July 1986, in recognition of the importance of technology to the realization of our economic potential. The council plays a pivotal role in the government's technology development strategy. I acknowledge that in setting our first-year spending plan for the technology fund we allocated more money, as it turned out, than could be prudently spent. It is of foremost importance that these funds are spent wisely, not quickly, and the council will continue to help us ensure the money we have committed is well spent. Our $1-billion commitment remains intact.
The members of the council are busy people in their own chosen and widely varying fields, yet they have devoted considerable time and effort to the task they have undertaken.
The council has provided guidelines and criteria for the industry component of the technology fund and for the centres of excellence program. Its members have insisted on a rigorous review of all proposals, many of which are now being subjected to a peer review by an international panel of experts. Over the next few months, the government will be announcing its decisions in respect of the proposed centres of excellence.
The council has also commissioned an in-depth study of the competitiveness of our industry. This study will help guide us in directing our expenditures to best effect.
It is the government's top priority to improve the quality of education in Ontario. This includes not only schools and post-secondary institutions but also the entire spectrum of lifelong opportunities for learning and skills development. It is a crucial responsibility. Education is not only essential for long-term economic growth; it is also the key to the development of each person's full potential.
Ontario's education system has adapted well in recent years to society's changing needs, but as former Ontario Youth Commissioner Ken Dryden pointed out in his recent report:
"The rapidly accelerating pace of change will require people to have more adaptable skills and attitudes, to be better able to deal with change. Increased use of technology will mean less physical labour but the need for greater conceptual and numeracy, analytical and problem-solving skills."
The throne speech set out the steps we are taking to broaden the range and improve the quality of educational opportunities. The government attaches particular importance to establishing learning skills projects, upgrading the basic curriculum and improving the assessment of student achievement. We are launching new programs to make educational resources more readily available, especially to Franco-Ontarians and students in the north.
We have also acted to provide school facilities in areas of rapid growth. Capital grants for education have been set at $147 million for this fiscal year, which is double the amount provided in 1984-85.
Equally important are the government's efforts to confront the problem of young people leaving high school without having a job or plans for further training or education. While the drop-out rate is improving, it is still unacceptably high and special efforts are required to reduce it further.
Last year we launched a two-part program to help students remain in school and to ease their transition from classroom to work place. The co-operative education component is providing 28,500 Ontario students with alternating periods of classroom instruction and on-the-job training. The other phase, the transition to employment component, will help some 9,000 students find jobs when they leave school.
The budget provides funding for additional education initiatives announced in the throne speech. My colleague the minister will give details shortly.
Provincial and local spending for primary and secondary education in Ontario will total almost $9 billion this year, or $47 million every school day.
Miss Stephenson: What level of percentage?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Forty-six. Where has my friend been?
In 1985, the government introduced the Futures program to deal with the unemployment problems of out-of-school youth. The program has been highly successful. Since its inception in November 1985, Futures has provided more than 50,000 young people with a chance to upgrade their education as well as their life and work skills. The Futures program will be strengthened by assisting workers under the age of 25 to return to school on a part-time basis.
For older workers, who often have difficulty finding new jobs upon layoff--I bring to the attention of the former minister--the government will provide training support to help them acquire new skills, at a cost of $5 million this fiscal year and $14 million in a full year.
The government's commitment to post-secondary education is clearly reflected in its record of funding improvements. Last autumn, I announced that universities would receive a substantial base increase in operating grants of 11.5 per cent for 1987-88. Ontario's colleges of applied arts and technology received a special allocation of $60 million in 1986-87. These funds will continue in the funding base for 1987-88 and beyond.
The need to upgrade facilities in universities and colleges has accumulated due to capital funding constraints dating from the mid-1970s. The government will provide $100 million for post-secondary capital expenditures in 1987-88. This represents a doubling of the capital funding provided as recently as two years ago.
Accessibility to post-secondary education can be hindered by concern over the rising burden of loan repayment facing students upon graduation. The government has taken concrete measures to address this problem.
The Ontario student assistance program has been increased by $25 million, or 17 per cent, for the coming academic year. As well, a new interest relief plan will be introduced for those having difficulty repaying Ontario student loans. Unlike the Canada student loans plan, Ontario's plan will be closely geared to the graduate's actual income. The Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Sorbara) will call on the federal government to extend its interest relief provisions to graduates in low-paying, part-time or internship positions.
One benefit of having outstanding educational institutions is that their excellence can be shared with others. Accordingly, we will assist 1,000 highly qualified graduate students from outside Canada by reducing their tuition fees to the level of domestic students. The benefits of this $5-million program will be substantial. The presence of international students in our universities strengthens the cultural and business links between Ontario and other countries, and it enriches the institutions themselves.
In addition to the measures we are taking to expand our economic potential, we are acting to enhance assistance to those regions that are not fully sharing in Ontario's current economic expansion.
Our northern economy is undergoing a difficult process of adjustment to a world economy characterized by more intense competition and low mineral prices. Many resource companies have been forced to cut costs, rationalize operations and to lay off employees or, in some cases, to shut down operations. Even though economic conditions are improving in some parts of the north, unemployment in the region as a whole is four percentage points higher than the provincial average.
We have responded to these difficulties by providing short-term assistance to help communities and individuals adjust to major layoffs. We have also committed ourselves to a strategy for long-term revitalization of the northern economy. This strategy is aimed at strengthening the resource-based sector and diversifying the economy by attracting new investment and making government programs and services more accessible and relevant to northern needs. It is our objective to return prosperity to the north by making it more competitive and less vulnerable to volatile resource markets.
In 1985, we established the $100-million northern development fund. To date, some $17 million has been spent. This fiscal year, we expect to spend a further $28 million in support of community adjustment, business and tourism development, new educational opportunities and northern job creation.
We have also set up nine northern development councils to advise the government on ways to achieve our northern development objectives.
The transfer of several government offices from Toronto to northern Ontario will assist in the diversification and stabilization of the local economies. When these transfers are completed, more than 1,200 permanent public service jobs will have been moved to northern Ontario. These relocations represent an annual payroll of $40 million.
We have consulted and listened. We have acted. We know that more needs to be done for northern Ontario.
People in the north are very concerned about transportation issues because of the distances they have to travel. We have consulted widely with northerners--in fact, our entire caucus has been up there consulting--and have been told that while there is concern about gasoline price differentials, the immediate priority should be that of improving northern highways.
In response, the government has decided to increase the allocation for northern transportation by over 32 per cent, or $26 million, to a level of $107 million for 1987-88, most of which will be spent on northern roads. Also, some of the extra funding will be dedicated to key northern access highways in order to improve commercial transportation and tourism. In addition to improving transportation in the north, a significant number of construction jobs will be created.
For decades, many northerners have believed that a larger share of revenue derived from their resource heritage should flow back into the region. We are establishing a northern Ontario heritage fund to help ensure long-term economic growth and diversification in the region. This fund will have an initial allocation of $30 million. The fund will operate under the guidance of the Minister of Northern Development and Mines (Mr. Peterson), who also happens to be the Premier. He will be assisted in his decisions by a heritage fund advisory council, with representatives from each of the northern development councils.
As a further benefit to the northern economy, I am proposing a three-year mining profits tax exemption for new mines. This exemption would apply to the net income of newly producing mines, and I estimate the value of the incentive to be $5 million per year.
Many parts of eastern Ontario are not fully participating in our economic growth. The throne speech announced a number of initiatives to address this problem, including the establishment of a small business services network and the opening of an Eastern Ontario Development Corp. office in Pembroke.
In addition, I am announcing a new eastern Ontario community economic development program to enhance growth and employment opportunities in the region. Under this program, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology, in conjunction with local economic development commissioners and other municipal officials, will identify special opportunities for enhanced community economic development. We will allocate $25 million of this program over the next five years. The program will provide funding to co-ordinate business-related assistance programs and to help finance business support services and capital assistance.
The tourism industry represents a major source of economic potential, particularly for many of Ontario's smaller communities and the northern and eastern regions of the province. The government is committed to the strengthening and revitalization of this important sector. In the past year, we have significantly enhanced our marketing efforts and extended the tourism redevelopment incentive and the grading assistance programs for a further two years. Under the TRIP program, provincial loan guarantees are expected to reach $130 million this year.
The Destinations North and East programs we introduced in 1986 have received an enthusiastic welcome from the industry. To ensure that quality proposals are not passed over or delayed because of a lack of available funding, an additional $5 million has been provided to these programs.
This budget provides funds to make tourism and recreation programs and facilities more accessible to disabled persons and to provide financial support for the renovation and development of heritage inns.
These measures will bring the growth in the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation's budget to 9.3 per cent.
The agriculture community in Ontario continues to face difficult times. While red meat prices have improved, low prices for many other farm commodities, high debt loads and declining farm asset values continue to place many of our farmers in a tight financial position. Increasingly, farmers have to supplement their incomes from nonagricultural sources.
In recognition of the problems facing the agriculture community, the government has taken a number of initiatives. In 1985, we introduced the Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program. During the past year we extended the program and enhanced it further. In the fiscal year just ended, $50 million was provided through the farm income stabilization program. To assist in the orderly rationalization of the tobacco industry, we are contributing $15 million to the federal-provincial tobacco assistance plan. In 1986, we introduced the Ontario pork industry improvement program, for which funding will be increased to $11.3 million in 1987-88.
This fiscal year, we will be taking further steps to assist the industry.
To stimulate the agricultural and rural economy we are introducing a $50-million farm management, safety and repairs program. It will provide grants of up to $2,500 per farmer to encourage farm safety, improve farm management techniques and assist in the purchase of machinery repairs and grain storage facilities. The program will run from June 1, 1987, to May 31, 1988, and will be available to all farmers with a minimum of $12,000 in gross farm production income.
As announced in the throne speech, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food's headquarters will be moved to Guelph. This will improve communication among federal, provincial, university and private sector farm organizations and enhance Guelph as a centre of excellence in agricultural research and training.
The beginning farmers assistance program will be extended for five years.
For 1987-88, benefits under the OFFIRR program will be maintained at the 100 per cent level, rather than the scheduled reduction to 70 per cent.
To encourage sound land management practices, the government is introducing a new, three-year, $40-million land stewardship program. This program will provide financial assistance to farmers for restoring soil productivity and for reducing environmental damage on both productive and marginal lands.
Property taxation of farms is a long-standing issue in Ontario. Currently farmers receive a rebate from the province of 60 per cent of farm property taxes paid. The farm tax reduction program recognizes that productive farm property should not bear the full brunt of property taxes, but as currently structured it does not concentrate benefits on bona fide farmers. This situation is inequitable and should be corrected.
I am proposing a revised program to provide a more equitable tax treatment.
Beginning this year, the farm tax rebate will increase from 60 per cent of taxes paid on the entire farm to 100 per cent of taxes assessed on farm land and outbuildings. I want to make it clear that this will be a rebate, not an exemption. Farm residences will be considered separately and will continue to be taxed as farm property.
Starting in 1988, the rebate will be paid in two instalments. The requirement to prepay 60 per cent of taxes will be discontinued. As a result of these improvements, the total value of these rebates will increase by 17 per cent.
Similar changes will be introduced in respect of managed forest lands, and we will introduce a new rebate program for wetlands. The Ministers of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Ridden) and Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) will be announcing the full details shortly. With these announcements, funding for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food will have increased 72 per cent since we took office.
Sustained economic growth is our goal for Ontario, but we must recognize that growth is putting great pressure on our school and transportation facilities, particularly around Metro Toronto. Moreover, housing and environmental pressures must be addressed. Growth generates certain problems that, without good management and planning, would threaten the quality of our urban life.
With respect to school facilities, I have already indicated that the capital budget has been set at $147 million for the current fiscal year. In recognition of the pressing need to plan now for the rapid growth that is taking place in some Ontario communities, we have approved a capital budget of $226 million for 1988-89.
Ontario has one of the world's safest, most efficient transportation systems. But we agree with municipal representatives who have warned that it will take major expenditures to keep it that way. After years of spending constraints, Ontario's network of roads, bridges and expressways is beginning to deteriorate. We must act now to reverse that trend. In addition, we have to make provision for traffic congestion relief and other improvements to the existing network.
The government has decided, therefore, to provide a major enrichment of $290 million over the next three years to upgrade and expand the transportation system. As the minister has already announced, $130 million of this new funding will be spent in the greater Toronto area. As well as addressing other priority needs for municipal roads and transit, this will enable an immediate start on Highway 407. The balance of $160 million in new funding will be spent outside the greater Toronto area to address vital road and transit requirements.
Mr. Speaker: Order. All members have copies to follow. Many of our guests do not have copies to follow and find it very difficult to hear.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: In this fiscal year, in addition to the enrichment for northern roads, $50 million more will be provided for other regions of the province.
Transit spending will continue at high levels. Service improvements and expansion of the GO Transit system will be funded at more than $100 million this fiscal year. We will also be providing $177 million to municipalities for capital spending on their transit systems. In addition, the government is continuing discussions with municipalities and transit authorities to examine carefully proposals for new transit projects for the greater Toronto area.
With the three-year enrichment I am announcing today, the 1987-88 municipal roads allocation will be increased by a further $28 million to a total of $601 million, for an increase of 9.5 per cent over last year. In addition, we will continue the $30-million Ontario municipal improvement fund.
Transportation spending will rise by 7.8 per cent in 1987-88. The government is firmly resolved that by the end of this decade, Ontario will have a safer, more efficient and better-maintained transportation system.
As I mentioned earlier, the Ontario housing industry has returned to its full strength; however, the problem of providing enough low-cost rental accommodation continues to be a major challenge. Since taking office, the government has increased significantly the level of spending on housing programs. This year, the ministry will begin the next phase of its assured housing strategy that will, in total, provide a further $220 million in capital support for the construction of more affordable rental housing.
The government will also provide an additional $50 million annually to support the operating costs of these initiatives. As part of this strategy, we will enhance housing and integrated support services for the homeless, the disabled, discharged psychiatric patients, victims of family violence, the frail elderly and other socially disadvantaged persons.
In conjunction with the housing industry, we will undertake a program to use provincially owned lands for the production of affordable rental accommodation. We invite the federal government, with its extensive urban land holdings, to join us in this innovative approach.
This fiscal year, the Ministry of Housing will have available a total of $378 million, an increase of more than 34 per cent over the level spent last year. Details of the new initiatives will be announced by the minister.
For 1987-88, this budget provides more than $11 billion for health-care programs, including initiatives announced in the throne speech. This represents more than $1,200 per person. The government will provide additional funding to improve the quality of care in nursing homes, establish new addiction treatment services for youth, and increase access to health-care professionals and community mental health services in the north.
We are also aware of the greatest challenge in managing Ontario's health care system: to maintain quality in the face of rising demand, while at the same time holding costs within affordable limits. Two major studies of the future of our health-care system are under way--the Ontario health review panel and the panel on health goals for Ontario. The government is confident that their reports will recommend fresh responses to this challenge.
The government is proud of its record in supporting a greater emphasis on community-based services. We are also committed to maintaining and enhancing institutional services. In the 1986 budget, I announced a major hospital capital expansion which will improve access to institutional services.
The Minister of Citizenship and Culture (Ms. Munro) will be announcing a government-wide range of initiatives to enrich the cultural mosaic of our province. This budget provides $4 million in new funds to begin the implementation of a series of activities, including expanded second language training, multilingual resource materials for newcomers and increased support to community museums and activities.
The government places a high priority on protecting the environment and has introduced several major pollution abatement programs.
To reduce the level of toxic contaminants entering our waterways, the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) has introduced a municipal-industrial strategy for abatement.
An $8 million comprehensive waste management program is being introduced to assist municipalities in upgrading landfill sites and in developing waste management facilities.
Deteriorating water and sewer systems throughout the province must be rebuilt before they require even more costly replacement. To determine the extent and urgency of this problem, $14 million is being made available over the next three years to assist municipalities in undertaking detailed assessments of the condition of their facilities.
Although most of the pollution in the Niagara River originates from American sources, Ontario is committed to cleaning up domestic sources. In support of Canada's international agreement with the United States to reduce toxics in the river by 50 per cent by 1996, we recently announced more than $9 million over the next three years towards water pollution control projects in Welland and Fort Erie.
In total, an additional $49 million in capital funding is being provided this fiscal year for waste management and water and sewer projects.
Under the 1987 Canada-Ontario Agreement on Acid Rain, the two governments will each make available up to $85 million. These funds will assist Ontario's three largest industrial sources of acid gas emissions in financing the large investments required to meet the province's emissions target by 1994.
The total budget of the Ministry of the Environment has been set at $418 million, 16 per cent larger than last year.
The federal government did not respond favourably to the province's request that it participate in protective measures to deal with the problems created by high water levels in the Great Lakes. Although lake levels have receded in recent months, many municipalities along Lakes Huron, Erie and St. Clair have sustained damage to publicly owned infrastructure. To respond to immediate needs while a longer term solution is being developed, I am providing $6 million to share the cost of needed capital repairs. This funding will supplement existing capital assistance programs.
We believe there is an important link between strong social programs and the health of our economy. Fiscal responsibility and social conscience are not mutually exclusive.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Who wrote that line?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: People on both sides can listen to that.
We have made substantial progress towards improving our social programs and we will do more.
The government realizes that high-quality, affordable child care is both an economic and a social need and that parents require a range of choices--co-operative, nonprofit, private and informal-to suit their family circumstances.
The issue is not confined to Ontario. In recognition of its national dimensions, federal-provincial discussions are under way. The Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) is taking an active part in these discussions.
We believe that a national policy should provide support for nonprofit and commercial centres. In addition, there is a need for capital grants and startup money to nonprofit operations. Furthermore, the current system of subsidies to needy parents should be simplified and made more flexible. In this regard, we are concerned about the directions proposed by the special House of Commons committee on child care.
While we have every expectation that the current negotiations will result in a national strategy, given the pressing needs in this area we have decided to take some action now. We will provide an additional $26 million for child care initiatives this year, raising our total commitment to child care to $185 million.
Over the next three years, the government will provide $33 million in capital funding. The minister will be announcing the details. Moreover, planning is under way to provide child care spaces in all new schools and to encourage municipalities to require child care facilities in new commercial buildings.
In recognition of the needs of the low-income disabled, I am increasing the guaranteed annual income system for the disabled benefits by $50 per month, to be paid beginning June 30, 1987. This change will cost $45 million this fiscal year and $54 million in a full year.
In addition, funding will be provided to improve our system of community support services for the disabled. Opportunities for disabled adults to maintain an independent existence in their own communities will be enhanced and the special needs of physically handicapped children at home will be addressed.
Since 1980, Ontario has paid tax grants to seniors for the first $500 of their property taxes. To help Ontario seniors continue to live independently, I propose to increase the maximum grant from $500 to $600 a year. In the fall, this enrichment will be included in the grant cheques to 570,000 Ontario seniors' households. These benefits will provide $55 million in 1987-88, bringing total property tax support for seniors to $385 million this fiscal year.
There is a pressing need to maintain and upgrade the municipal and charitable homes for the aged. Under the capital rehabilitation program announced in 1985, more than 60 homes have already received funding. The government will provide a further $100 million to renovate additional homes over the next six years.
Improvements are also needed in our taxation system to better reflect people's ability to pay their taxes. I expect tax reform to involve a reduction in tax burden for low-income Ontarians, but we cannot ask low-income people to wait for tax reform. Today, I am bringing forward three measures designed to ease their tax burden.
I am proposing legislation to strengthen our commitment to the Ontario property tax credit system. The basic property tax credit will be increased from $180 to $230, effective for the 1987 tax year. As a result, about 1.8 million low- and moderate-income tax filers who pay property taxes or rent will share an increase in benefits of $85 million.
This enrichment will raise the cost of the Ontario tax credit program to $360 million and will make local tax burdens fairer and more affordable.
But more can be done to ensure fair taxes for lower-income citizens. As members will recall, I enriched Ontario's tax reduction program for 1987 in the last budget. For 1988, I plan to expand the Ontario tax reduction program by an additional $10 million, bringing total tax cuts under the program to $35 million. As a result, an additional 100,000 people will pay no Ontario income tax and 60,000 people will pay less Ontario income tax.
This action means that since taking office, the government will have doubled the number of Ontario tax filers receiving income tax reductions. Fully 600,000 taxpayers, who pay up to $270 each in federal income tax, will pay no Ontario income tax in 1988 due to this program.
We will also substantially reduce the number of Ontarians who pay Ontario health insurance plan premiums. Effective for 1988, the income limits under which premiums are reduced or eliminated will be increased. As a result, another 40,000 individuals and families with low income will no longer pay premiums. This provides an additional benefit of $20 million.
In total, these measures to reduce income and property taxes and OHIP premiums will put $115 million into the hands of low- and moderate-income people.
We have made a commitment to a $4 exemption level for prepared food. I am pleased to announce that I am proposing the full implementation of this promise, effective June 1, 1987, at a projected cost of $40 million this year.
There are two matters on the federal-provincial horizon that could affect this year's fiscal plan and indeed the Ontario economy. I refer to tax reform and the Canada-United States trade negotiations.
On June 18, the federal government will table its proposals for tax reform. I believe the current tax system is failing the tests of fairness, simplicity and taxpayer acceptance. The proliferation of tax preferences has made the system complex, confusing and inequitable. With the right changes, the Canadian tax system can be fairer, more competitive and less intrusive into business and personal affairs.
l would like to commend the Minister of Finance on the forthright and co-operative manner in which he has dealt with the provinces on tax reform. Since last September, provincial treasurers have met with Mr. Wilson on four occasions to exchange ideas, concerns and advice on this important issue. In those discussions, I have outlined a number of key areas for federal consideration. I would like to summarize these for the members today.
In Ontario, we are studying major changes to our social welfare system. While the review is not complete, we have already found wide variation in benefits to social assistance recipients in similar circumstances, and serious disincentives to work. Tax reform must recognize that the tax system and the social assistance system need to be harmonized. Tax reform should not preclude the introduction of a guaranteed annual income.
Fairness also requires that exemptions be clearly justifiable. I have indicated my concern to Mr. Wilson, repeatedly, that the $500,000 capital gains exemption is unfair and leaves untaxed the profits from a number of types of transactions of dubious economic benefit to Ontario. This aspect has to be attended to if Canadians are to accept the spirit of the overall tax reform package.
I believe that improvements in simplicity and national tax harmony should also be objectives of tax reform. Members will be aware of the successful tax collection agreement for the administration of personal income tax between the provinces and the federal government. If the federal proposals to reform the federal sales tax result in a simpler and more progressive system, one which is generally acceptable, I believe the provinces should consider co-ordinating their sales tax structures with the federal system.
The province of Ontario now administers its own corporate income tax. While this separate administration provides maximum flexibility, it puts added paper burden on corporate taxpayers. If the federal corporate tax reforms are fair and consistent with Ontario's economic priorities, I plan to examine the possibility of re-entering a corporate income tax collection agreement with Ottawa. However, I would consider such action only with assurances of flexibility to pursue important provincial economic objectives through this tax.
I want to make it clear that consideration of these options will not impair the employment of any Ontario public servant associated with the current tax administration.
Federal reform will alter tax bases, rates and the shares of taxes coming from the three largest sources of federal revenues. Because provincial tax systems are closely linked with the federal tax bases, provincial taxes will have to be amended. I believe that provinces should not undermine federal rate reductions associated with tax reform. Neither should tax reform impose added costs or revenue losses on the provinces. It is my intention to meet both these objectives in designing any required adjustments.
There is much uncertainty in the area of Canada-United States bilateral trade negotiations. No one can yet be sure that there will be an agreement or indeed which of numerous possible features will be included should an agreement be reached. It is unquestionable that Canada-US trade issues are of utmost importance to our economy, our social policies and our cultural development.
Once I have greater certainty on the details of federal tax reform and the outcome of the trade negotiations, I will assess the impact on my economic forecast and fiscal plan, review our spending and tax policies and report to the House.
The emergence of a global trading economy has been accompanied by a global financial market. As the links between Canadian businesses and foreign markets have grown in importance, the existence in Toronto of a vigorous and outward-looking financial services industry has been of increasing benefit to the city, the province and the nation. The government is taking steps to encourage new competition and growth in the securities industry and to enhance Toronto's standing as a centre of domestic and international finance.
In addition, I intend to examine income and capital tax changes to make Ontario a more competitive location for international financial activity. This may be necessary to ensure that the financial industry makes business decisions on the basis of economic conditions rather than tax planning.
I would like to provide an update on the 1986-87 fiscal year. Last year's revenue was almost $1.3 billion higher than the original forecast. First the federal revenue forecast for personal income tax turned out to be $670 million too low. Second, higher corporate profits, an exceptional housing market, stronger retail sales and other factors combined to produce additional revenue of $602 million.
Of these additional funds, $233 million was used to reduce the provincial deficit. We provided $330 million to ease pressures on local mill rates, by reducing the level of short-term borrowing required by local school boards during the first three months of the calendar year.
A further $121 million was used to meet additional capital expenditure requirements. A total of $578 million was used to fund increased operating needs in post-secondary institutions, for health care and for social assistance.
When we took office, we faced a planned deficit of $2.2 billion for 1985-86 which we reduced to $1.6 billion. During 1986-87, the deficit was cut to $1.3 billion. I now turn to my fiscal plan for 1987-88, which, I am proud to say, includes a further reduction in the deficit to $980 million.
The fiscal plan I am putting forward today involves total expenditure of $34.8 billion and revenues of $33.8 billion. Projected net cash requirements stand at $980 million, a further reduction of $331 million from last year's reduced level. The province's operating position, which deals with current revenue and current expenditure, stood at a deficit of $416 million in 1985-86. In 1987-88, this operating deficit will be reduced to $28 million, an improvement of $388 million. Since this is a goal I set out in last year's budget, I am proud to say that it means the province's operating account is essentially balanced.
I expect to be able to secure $350 million in reductions through expenditure savings and constraints in the current fiscal year and I have reflected this in the overall expenditure target. Each ministry will be required to show Management Board of Cabinet where it can cut spending in areas other than transfer payments. Exceptions will be made for selected operations such as psychiatric hospitals and correctional institutions.
Ontario's total borrowing in 1986-87 was more than $300 million below the level projected in the 1986 budget. The province borrowed $232 million from the Canada pension plan and repaid $333 million in maturing CPP debt issued in the late 1960s. As a result, Ontario's own CPP debt declined by $101 million.
Ontario's 1987-88 financing needs will be less than $1 billion. With the amounts expected to be available from the teachers' superannuation fund, no CPP funds will be needed in this fiscal year for Ontario's own purposes.
We will also be repaying the final instalment of the province's deutsche mark loans, which were undertaken in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I am pleased to report that, by the end of this year, the province will have retired all its outstanding foreign debt.
The next stuff is particularly good. I would like to sum up the 1987 budget for the province of Ontario.
It cuts taxes by $246 million, primarily for the elderly and low-income people.
It funds essential social and economic priorities in education, health, housing, child care, transportation and high technology.
It provides important new programs for northern and eastern Ontario.
It delivers needed assistance to our agriculture community.
It reduces the deficit by $331 million. And, it contains no tax increases.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other member wish to participate in this debate?
On motion by Mr. Harris, the debate was adjourned.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I ask for unanimous consent to revert to introduction of bills.
Mr. Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? Agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
RETAIL SALES TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved first reading of Bill 62, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.
Motion agreed to.
INCOME TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved first reading of Bill 63, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act.
Motion agreed to.
ONTARIO LOAN ACT
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved first reading of Bill 64, An Act to authorize the raising of Money on the Credit of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 5:01 p.m.