L021 - Wed 3 Jun 1987 / Mer 3 jun 1987
The House met at 1:33 p.m.
COMMISSION ON ELECTION FINANCES
Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that I have today laid upon the table the 12th annual report of the Commission on Election Finances for the year 1986.
Mr. Baetz: The Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) finally came to Ottawa to announce the increase in hospital beds and additional construction that he promised more than one year ago. His announcement was welcomed by all of us. Regrettably, this minister, who consistently has trouble in differentiating between crass partisan politics on the one hand and proper government programs on the other, tried clumsily to make a political event out of the occasion.
Flanked only by local Liberal MPPs, he stated that the added beds were necessary because of years of neglect by the previous administration. That misguided remark has the people of Ottawa wondering where this new minister was during the past decade when the previous government spent hundreds of millions in the Ottawa-Carleton region developing world-class hospital facilities for that area.
As part of this phenomenal growth, the Heart Institute of the Ottawa Civic Hospital became world-renowned. The Ottawa General Hospital, an obsolete downtown hospital, was relocated and built into the most modern bilingual hospital in the world. The outstanding Queensway-Carleton complex grew out of an empty field. The Royal Ottawa Hospital was transformed from a small mental health clinic to its present magnificent status.
The people of Ottawa can perhaps forgive the new minister for not being aware of all this phenomenal growth, but the politically sophisticated people of the nation's capital are less likely to forgive him for his clumsy, heavy-handed efforts to make what should have been a nonpartisan, good-news day into a rather ugly piece of partisan politics.
Mr. Martel: The night of the accident at Levack mine that cost four workers their lives, I asked the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) to conduct an investigation into whether Inco mines and other mines in Ontario had a policy where work was allowed to be done in the shaft while at the same time work was going on above. Inco indicated on a number of occasions at the briefing that Joe Kuhle was in fact working above the inspection crews.
I have a letter here written by R. J. Ludgate, an Inco manager, to J. R. Doran, district mining engineer, Ministry of Labour, dated April 30, 1980, that states in part:
"We agree with you that mucking a shaft bottom can be done safely during hoisting. This has been confirmed by the crew that has mucked shaft bottoms while hoisting operations were in progress."
In other words, the practice was to allow workers to work down in a shaft while someone was working, and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and those responsible in the Ministry of Labour knew it.
The question remains, was this practice investigated by the Ministry of Labour? I do not know, because the Minister of Labour has not made a statement to this time. I am also told by an official of the Ministry of Labour that there is a report that indicates that one month prior to the accident at the Levack mine a similar incident occurred.
Finally, since the company maintains that its policy is that no one works above the men who are working in a shaft and we know this is a practice that is going on, why should a worker be charged?
Mr. Haggerty: As members of the House are aware, this week has been designated as Canadian Environment Week with a special focus on environmental issues and challenges facing us at this time. One development that is of particular significance and is very encouraging is the establishment of environment committees by various locals of the Canadian Auto Workers union.
In the city of St. Catharines and Niagara region, for instance, CAW Local 199 has brought into existence an environment committee that reports to readers of 199 News on a variety of topics of current and historical importance.
Chairperson Catherine Murney, vice-chairperson Dorothy Abrams and secretary Roland Vangameren have been given the responsibility to familiarize themselves with environmental issues in Ontario and Canada to keep members of Local 199 informed. Their attendance at various conferences and workshops has been most welcome and valuable to increasing environmental awareness in their community.
It is encouraging to see the labour-union movement becoming deeply involved in the environmental scene, as workers of this province are able to see on a firsthand basis the detrimental effects of the neglect of pollution problems and the circumvention of our laws.
PLAINVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOL
Mr. Sheppard: I rise today to make a few comments about a letter to the editor that recently appeared in one of the local newspapers. The letter was written by a grandmother who was completely devastated with the condition of Plainville Public School, which her five-year-old grandson attends.
The grandson had made reference to a family of rats living under his portable classroom and how the rats would come out to watch the students. Upon further investigation, the grandmother discovered that families of rats actually do live under several of the portable classrooms, and furthermore that the principal has to do rat control before the children can exit the portables.
The condition of Plainville Public School is deplorable. The school, which was built to accommodate 80 students, now has more than 200 students in attendance. There is not even enough water pressure to flush the toilets and use the drinking fountain at the same time. This is now not only a matter of education but also a matter of public health.
I call upon this government to stop issuing empty press releases and looking for headlines and to start solving the problems faced by children at Plainville Public School.
I will send over a clipping to the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway). I see he is not here, but I will leave it on his desk.
Ms. Gigantes: Two nights ago, on the Toronto late night local CBC television news, I learned of yet another police chase. I always shudder when I hear of such chases because they have produced damage, injury and death in Ontario for years. Like other members of the public, I have become increasingly doubtful that the end of these police chases can in any way be justified by the very dangerous means police are employing.
Last night, I walked up Queen's Park Crescent and saw a large stone-covered lamp-post, one of those decorative huge lamp-posts at the edge of the sidewalk. This heavy post had been shifted off the sidewalk, and the imprint of where it had fallen diagonally across the walk is embedded as testimony to what might have happened to a person walking by during the Monday night police chase.
On Monday, the police nabbed a 19-year-old driver who was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, dangerous driving and three other offences. During the chase, the car went out of control and crashed into two other cars. The lamp-post was broken off and fell across the sidewalk. No one was injured. Was it worth the risk? I think not. I want this government to begin taking action to remove that risk.
DR. CECIL SHAVER
Ms. Hart: It is with great regret today that I must inform the Legislature of the passing of one of Ontario's most devoted medical practitioners. Last Saturday, Dr. Cecil Shaver, the founder of the Shaver Hospital for Chest Diseases in St. Catharines, died at the age of 85.
Dr. Shaver, a well-known community leader in St. Catharines, spent more than 59 years in his chosen profession after graduating in medicine from the University of Toronto. In 1927, he was appointed director of the St. Catharines Consumptive Sanitarium, at that time located in a farmhouse. When drugs became available for the treatment of tuberculosis in 1947, it was reclassified as a general hospital.
Dr. Shaver, who spent 47 years at the hospital as superintendent and medical director, retired in 1974; however, that retirement was short-lived. When the hospital experienced financial difficulties, he was asked to assume his old post. They needed him to steer it through the difficult times when its very survival was in question. Dr. Shaver returned in 1976 and his leadership enabled the hospital to continue its work.
I recently had the great pleasure of visiting the Shaver Hospital and was very impressed with his creation. I believe, as do countless others in the health care field, that Dr. Shaver will for ever be recognized for being well ahead of his time as a leader in the revolutionary concept of preventive medicine and health promotion.
NORTHERN REGIONAL TREATMENT CENTRE
Mr. Gordon: Last fall, the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) promised the people of Sudbury that he would establish a northern treatment centre for prisoners in Sudbury. He raised the hopes and the dreams of the unemployed in Sudbury. Since that time, the minister has trashed those dreams. He has taken away that little bit of bread he offered to them.
Time and time again the regional municipality has met with the minister and his officials trying to find a suitable site. At the present time, there is a suitable site next to two hospitals and close to Laurentian University, where there are social work programs. When is he going to make a decision about this northern treatment centre? People have a right to hope. Those people in Sudbury who are faced with 10 per cent and 12 per cent unemployment need jobs and need jobs now. When is he going to do something about this?
The minister has put the people of Sudbury in a prison--a false prison of hope. It is about time he did something.
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: They were in a prison when they elected you.
Mr. Speaker: Order. That completes the allotted time for members' statements. Statements by the ministry? None?
Mr. Speaker: Order. There are no ministerial statements. Oral questions.
Mr. Harris: Before oral questions, we understand why the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) are not here, but do we know whether any of the eight, 10 or 12 ministers or so who are supposed to be here are going to be in?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I am not really my brother's keeper, but my brothers are even now taking their places.
Mr. Pope: My question is directed to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. Could the minister tell us what the projected overcapacity in the auto industry in North America will be by 1990 in terms of the number of cars, the number of plants involved and the number of jobs at risk in Ontario?
Mr. Gordon: Don't say 42 years.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: The member mentioned the 42 years; I did not. Let me tell him and the member who asked the question, never has the auto industry been more healthy than it has been under this government over the last two years.
Mr. Pope: I think it is perfectly in keeping that we have a Liberal Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology who has no information or knowledge whatsoever on an industry on which 285,000 people in this province are dependent. He does not know a thing about it. All he does is get up and rant and rave. He has no knowledge or information to share.
When the minister knows very well that there is a problem of overcapacity arriving in two and a half years, that very many jobs are at risk in Ontario and that the auto industry itself, which was secure under our previous governments, is now at greater risk than it has ever been at any time in its history, can he tell us what he is doing to protect Ontario jobs and Ontario's industries? What is he doing to protect us for the next two and a half years?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: First, let us get one thing clear. The member is the one who rants and rages in this House, not other people. I again tell him that never has the auto industry been more healthy than it has been during the last two years of government.
I would also tell the member that we are not as pessimistic as he and many of the other people who feel the auto industry is going to fail in this province.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Cochrane South would like to ask a final supplementary.
Mr. Pope: By 1990, imports to the North American market will approach five million vehicles, making 22 million vehicles available each year to serve a market for only 18 million vehicles, resulting in 10 surplus assembly plants in America and putting 285,000 jobs at risk in this province, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology does not know a thing about it, has no plans and is doing nothing to face that eventuality in 1990.
That is the same Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology who, along with the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio), made a secret deal about softwood lumber that put hundreds of jobs in jeopardy in northern Ontario; they did nothing about it and they are walking away from the responsibility.
Why is the minister walking away from his responsibility to 285,000 people in this province and their families? Why is he not helping to plan for these problems that are right at our doorstep now? He knows the United Auto Workers are anxious to get at it, as is the Governor of Michigan. When is he going to start acting like a minister?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: We are not walking away from our responsibilities whatsoever. There are ongoing studies that both the government and private industry are doing and they are looking at it. Again, I do not remain as pessimistic as the member does, neither do many of the companies that are investing in this great province. Auto parts manufacturers are investing in it, the Big Three are putting further investment in. They have confidence in this province and so do many others, even though the member does not.
Mr. Gillies: I have a question for the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston). I do not know if he is about. I wonder if we could stand down our second question until the minister arrives?
Mr. Speaker: Is there unanimous agreement to stand down the question?
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I want to stand down both my questions. I have a question for the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) and a question for the Minister of Health and I was told they would both be here.
Mr. Speaker: Is there agreement to stand down those two questions?
Mr. Pope: This government is obviously in a shambles; that is the problem. None of the ministers are here who are supposed to be here. We have a minister who does not know anything about 285,000 jobs at risk. What a Liberal shambles we have in this House.
Mr. Speaker: I recognized the member for Cochrane South to ask a question.
Mr. Pope: My question is to the Solicitor General. Tomorrow the standing committee on public accounts is going to deal with a motion which I introduced--and it may or may not pass; that remains to be seen--dealing with the production of documents the Solicitor General has steadfastly refused to produce over many weeks now.
He can end that confrontation tomorrow in the public accounts committee by simply agreeing today to make public the Ontario Provincial Police report--draft, final, interim, whatever he wants to call it--that has been made to his office, to his ministry and to the Ministry of the Attorney General. Will the minister end this needless confrontation and coverup by releasing that report today?
Hon. Mr. Keyes: I would challenge the member opposite to show evidence that such a report exists, because I can tell all members of this House that there is no final report on any of those investigations. I could go into great length of detail as to the number of months it will still take to complete those, and the number of witnesses still to be interviewed. If the member wanted to go into that at length, I would be happy to do so, and it would certainly show there are no reports subject to any Speaker's warrant that may be dealt with tomorrow in the public accounts committee.
Mr. Pope: The Solicitor General can water-ski around this question all he wants. The fact of the matter is that an investigation was started last fall. There were full and complete hearings in the public accounts committee that lasted three months. Those transcripts are in the hands of the Ontario Provincial Police, his ministry and the Ministry of the Attorney General.
The minister had full and adequate disclosure of all the information over six months ago. When is the minister going to stop the coverup and produce the report which he himself is now saying he is suppressing?
Hon. Mr. Keyes: Again, I would ask that the statement be corrected. I have not said I am suppressing anything. I have said the reports are not available because they have not been completed and that record can stand. If the member wants to look at what was done in the public accounts committee hearing, that was one set of witnesses. He might be interested to know, as I have said, that in the one investigation--the honourable member has not referred to which one of three ongoing investigations he is referring to today--I can tell him it will be at least six months before the one report will be completed, because the actual interviewing of witnesses will take place in both the United States as well as Canada and there are some 250 of those witnesses still to be interviewed.
ACCESS TO LAKES
Mr. Laughren: I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister will know that all across northern Ontario there is a great deal of anger about his policy, unstated as far as we know but nevertheless a policy, of closing off access to many lakes.
Can the minister tell us why he closed access to all those lakes all across northern Ontario in the same year that he levied the annual angler's domestic resident fishing licence, and why he did that without ever coming to the Legislature and without any kind of proper public consultation across northern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I cannot agree that we are closing all access roads in northern Ontario. The fact of the matter is, access roads are put there for a very particular purpose and that is to do forestry work. When they are no longer needed, there are those areas that should be protected and there are those roads that are closed because they are no longer needed for the purpose for which they were built.
We are examining that whole issue of access and access roads into those various areas, but we have had personal involvement where, for instance, two bridges that were involved in the access became a danger to the public and for those reasons they were closed. There are many reasons that roads would be closed; and I am sure when we examine the reasons and take into account what the member is suggesting, it will be evident that I want to provide every opportunity I can for those people to use roads to get to those remote areas to enjoy the recreational aspects of fishing and hunting.
Mr. Laughren: Before they clap, I should tell members that the minister, with all due respect, as we are wont to say around this place, does not know what he is talking about.
The Minister of Natural Resources allowed the forestry companies to cut access roads almost down to the lakeshores and provided access for fishermen all across northern Ontario. Now the ministry is going in and arbitrarily closing off access to those lakes. Would the minister make a commitment here and now to declare a moratorium on any closures until there has been proper public consultation through public meetings all across northern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: The member might suggest that the minister does not know what he is talking about but he just made the point himself that the roads were cut down there to access the forests. They were there for that very reason, and I agree with him on that score. What he is asking for now is that after the purpose of the road has been served to the extent that it would be, we leave the road open.
I say that the citizens of Ontario, and maybe the citizens of northern Ontario, are going to pay a great deal of money to keep those kinds of roads open. If the member expects the government to continue to put money in to maintain roads for other purposes, I would take that into account. Certainly, to the degree that we can get public input as to the need to keep those roads in place, that would be a priority of mine.
I also take into account that there are some areas where lakes are used for the purpose of tourism, and I think people in northern Ontario themselves are willing to accept that as being a reasonable way to protect that resource.
I share with the member that I would be prepared to examine that whole process.
Mr. Speaker: I see the Minister of Health is in his place. We will return to the question from the member for Brantford.
Mr. Gillies: We would like to offer the Minister of Health an opportunity to give a full and appropriate explanation of his very questionable fund-raising techniques. What we would like to know from this minister is whether he personally authorized members of his staff to access ministry mailing lists in order to address fund-raising letters for $200-a-head cocktail party invitations to invite those people to his function.
Hon. Mr. Elston: My staff did not access any special ministry mailing lists for any purpose with respect to this. I can tell the honourable member the names are really quite well known, quite public. If he wishes to take a look at the published lists of memberships in the associations, he too could find those names.
Mr. Gillies: The minister would have to agree it has become very apparent to the public that a lot of these invitations went to people who have absolutely no affiliation with the Liberal Party. They went to health care professionals and to the administrators of hospitals. Will the minister table all the lists that were used for these invitations? Will the minister bring this matter before the public now? Will he not agree that this kind of sleazy fund-raising has no place whatsoever in Ontario politics?
Hon. Mr. Elston: The honourable gentleman can find the names of the people who were addressed invitations for this particular event without too much difficulty. If the honourable gentleman wants my list, I will let him have my list. I understand that his party is in need of lists for this particular purpose. I have no problems. I will make it available to both parties, I have no big problem with that.
I will help the member for Muskoka (Mr. F. S. Miller) with respect to his official agent. I understand that he received an invitation to attend. Everybody in the province is invited to attend on June 15, at the University Women's Club, if they wish to attend. There is no problem with that. I will provide the member with the list of names of everybody who was invited.
Mr. Gillies: I really think the minister is missing the point here and I am not sure he appreciates how serious this is. These people received an invitation from the Minister of Health with a government crest on it, with absolutely no mention of the Ontario Liberal Party on it. These went to a number of people in the health field who depend on him and his ministry for funding.
I say to the minister, only he and his government can put an end to this kind of practice. The last time one of these scandals came up with this government, one of the chief Liberal fund-raisers, William Somerville, said in March to the Toronto Star, "Politicians tend to listen better when they know that money for the party is involved."
Is Mr. Somerville speaking for this government and this party when he says that? Is this the kind of open access to government we have been reduced to in two short years?
Hon. Mr. Elston: The honourable gentleman has raised questions about fund-raising and the type of campaign that is carried on. I can tell the honourable gentleman that in the Globe and Mail of March 30, 1985, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party is singled out as sending out election campaign material that appears to use official government stationery and envelopes and carries the signature of the Premier. The honourable gentleman cannot have it both ways.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Elston: Obviously, they want to say it did not happen. It did happen. This particular invitation I sent out to an event for June 15 is open for everybody in the province. I can tell the honourable gentleman that people are freely able to attend or not to attend and it will go on as scheduled.
Mr. Rae: I want to take this opportunity to introduce the Minister of Health to two people who are not on his list. They are Cordelia Simpson and Dorothy Delol, who are sitting in the gallery today. They are nursing home workers, and for some reason they did not receive his letter for the $200 fund-raiser, nor have they been given an opportunity, since his becoming the Minister of Health, to meet with him to talk about the fact that they do not have pensions. In fact, 25,000 workers in the nursing home industry do not have private pensions.
I wonder if the minister can tell us why he has been so abjectly and completely silent, particularly when the arbitrator in a recent award, Mr. Teplitsky, said he regarded the fact that these women did not have a pension as something that shocked the conscience of Ontario. Why has he not responded?
Hon. Mr. Elston: The honourable gentleman knows we have had serious discussions about several aspects of the differences of care being provided in our extended care facilities. I think Mr. Teplitsky's arbitration comments are well known to the ministry and I can say the suggestion that was made by the honourable arbitrator is being very widely considered within the ministry in terms of the discussions about the level of funding which is appropriate to that area of endeavour.
What has to be considered, of course, is the impact of the government funding of private pension programs. As the member knows, as a third party with respect to negotiations between the employer and the employee in this situation, we do have to understand and know what the implications of a decision might be if we make a move to fund a particular program, as suggested by the arbitrator.
Mr. Rae: I want the House to know the minister has not fessed up to the fact that he personally has not met once with the employees or their representatives with respect to the establishment of a pension plan. He has refused to meet. He has failed to meet with these people.
They are waiting to meet with him to get an answer as to why those who work in the nursing home industry, where old people are cared for under the extended care program funded by the government of Ontario, do not have a pension while other employees who work in municipal homes for the aged and charitable homes for the aged do have a private pension, a pension which presumably is also funded, at least in part, by the transfer payments from the government of Ontario.
I would like to ask the minister why, when he is busy throwing cocktail parties for $200 fund-raisers, he is prepared to meet with the people who want to put up $200 but he is not prepared to meet with the people who make $10 an hour in Ontario and deserve to have that kind of treatment from their government.
Hon. Mr. Elston: The honourable gentleman has it wrong again. We meet with people all across the province in various activities in terms of all the people who have needs.
The question of my dealing directly with the employees' association at this particular time, when the question of setting up the program is really one between the employer and employee, is not quite appropriate.
The suggestion by the arbitrator is that there be a program established, and I understand the employers and the employees have some sense of agreement on that. At the same time as they are asking that to be done, the member is asking me to provide more funds for increasing staff levels and increasing the level of care in those facilities. The suggestion is that the government provide more funds for us to establish a private pension plan for these people. They are suggesting that if the employers do not have the wherewithall, they be funded.
I can tell the honourable gentleman that has special implications right across the government, and we are considering those implications in the context of all our responsibilities to the people who work in the health care system.
Mr. Rae: Let the record show that the Liberal Party applauds a government that fails to provide the funding for a pension plan for 25,000 workers in this province. The minister has completely and utterly misrepresented the award from Mr. Teplitsky. He does not know what he is talking about with respect to the award. It says the exact opposite of what the minister has said in this House.
Does the minister realize that award, in fact, says directly to the Minister of Health in this province that it is his responsibility to deal with the nonunionized employees with an industry-wide plan and that it is not an appropriate subject for arbitration; it is better for the government to get involved? Does he realize that? If he did realize that, why did he give such a hopeless--
Mr. Speaker: Order. The question has been asked several times.
Hon. Mr. Elston: What the honourable gentleman is saying, however, is that there is an employer-employee relationship. We provide the funding; there is no question about that. But there is and there continues to be an employer-employee relationship. I am not the employer. We do flow funds into the system. I can tell the honourable gentleman and his friends that we are considering the ramifications of any recommendation by that particular arbitrator.
Mr. Rae: My new question is for the Minister of Labour. I would like to ask the minister whether he can tell us what his understanding is of the practice with respect to workers across the province working in mine shafts while mucking is going on. Can he tell us what the practice is across the province and whether it is the general practice that workers will not work above or below other workers?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I say to the leader of the third party, I am certainly no expert on the mining industry, but my understanding is that it is quite fundamental to that industry that working above is a very dangerous practice which ought never to go on.
Mr. Rae: I am interested in that answer, because I want to share with the minister a letter which was sent April 14, 1980, from the manager of the Copper Cliff mine to J. R. Doran, the district mining engineer in the Ministry of Labour in Sudbury. I would like to refer the minister to the third paragraph of that letter, where it says: "We agree with you that mucking the shaft bottom can be done safely during hoisting. This has been confirmed by the crew that has mucked shaft bottoms while hoisting operations were in progress."
I wonder whether the minister can comment on that letter, since it does seem to imply some agreement between the company, in this case Inco, and the Ministry of Labour with respect to what is a safe practice. Can the minister confirm what is the practice across the industry?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I think the honourable member knows this, but I do want to point it out to the House in case members missed the date on this letter, it is April 14, 1980. I am not certain whether on June 3, 1987, this is the view of Inco. I can say to the leader of the third party that my friends from the Sudbury area were present the day the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and I travelled to Sudbury, the day of the terrible tragedy at Levack. Quite clearly, and again I am no expert on this, the discussions I heard that day were that both the Steelworkers' union-Local 6500 and the leadership that was there-and the leadership of that mine, and indeed of Inco, all agreed that working above was something that was not just frowned upon, but that the company did not--there was no practice.
I will look into this. I will raise this question and see whether this practice is one that is going on, but that is certainly the view that Inco, and indeed with the acquiescence of the Steelworkers' union, agreed that was that party's policy
Mr. Speaker: Order. Final supplementary, the member for Sudbury East.
Mr. Martel: Supplementary, since that is not quite factual. It was at that time on that night that I turned to the minister and said, "I want you to have an investigation conducted with respect to the rest of the Inco holdings, not as to what the policy is but in fact as to what the practice is."
This is an indication of what the practice is, and I asked him to do it, not only for Inco but also for other mines in the province, and to determine if in fact workers are working above people in shafts. The minister was going to do it. To this time we do not have a statement.
Will the minister tell me what the results of his investigation are? Does this practice go on in mines in Ontario or not?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I am glad the member asks me that question. We have been doing that, exactly the commitment I made. I remember the commitment I made to the member for Sudbury East as we had those discussions on that evening. As that member will know, the director of the mining health and safety branch was there; both he and I turned to Mr. Pakalnis and said, "That is exactly what is going to go on;" and Mr. Pakalnis said, "Yes."
As the member for Sudbury East knows, there was a statement which was issued in my name, a press release, about two days later, saying that was exactly what would happen. That is exactly what has happened, and I can say to the honourable gentleman that investigation, a very detailed one, is virtually complete.
I expect within the next week to 10 days to be able to make a statement in the House on a number of matters surrounding this whole tragedy. I intend to include in that statement, as far as is possible, the results of our investigation, because I agree we should be looking not only at the policy but indeed at what the practice is as well. We will look to see whether what appears to have been a practice on April 14, 1980, is a practice in June 1987.
Mr. Ward: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment, who I see is coming to his chair right now. Following the discovery of polychlorinated biphenyls in the monitoring well immediately adjacent to the Smithville Chemical Waste Management site, could the minister inform the House as to the status of his ministry's involvement in this situation at this time?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I can indicate to the member that when it was placed there, a number of years ago I think, as he will recall it was a private company that set up the transfer station, as it was called at that time, for the collection of PCBs around the province. Subsequent to that, some problems arose with the site.
What we have done in the interim to overcome those problems is, first, a consulting firm that specializes in this was hired in order to undertake remedial action. That remedial action is at present under way and is expected to continue. The action consists of consolidating--
Mr. Turner: He hasn't got an answer.
Mr. Jackson: Is this a ministerial statement?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I would have thought that the members would be interested in what was happening there. The action consists of consolidating the material together; and we are, of course, at the present time evaluating various methods of mobile destruction of PCBs, including high-level PCBs such as these. In the meantime, the thrust has been in the containment of this particular substance.
Mr. Ward: I wonder if the minister could advise what steps are being taken to safeguard Smithville's drinking water supply in the interim.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: In addition to the remedial work being undertaken at the present time, I can say that the ministry is continuing, on a three-times-a-week basis now, to monitor not only the private wells but also the municipal well which exists in that community at the present time.
One of the two wells was closed down by the regional municipality of Niagara because of off-site contamination, so we have been sampling the private wells and the public well and are taking remedial action.
In addition to that, of course, I announced a pipeline at a cost of approximately $3 million which will take water, actually from Lake Ontario, from the Grimsby plant, and will be servicing the people of that municipality by the fall, I think, of this year.
LAND TRANSFER TAX
Mr. Harris: On May 14 the Minister of Revenue, in an answer to a question about the millions of dollars of land transfer tax he forgave Gulf, indicated he would not make that information on the 500 or so properties available to the House that day. He indicated he did not have it. He was asked if he would make it available the next day, which presumably would have been May 15. He said the House was not sitting. We asked if he could get that information from his office and he said he would make it available right here in the House.
That was all over two weeks ago. Our staff has been trying to get the information from the ministry. I wonder if the Minister of Revenue would indicate when he is going to table that information or make that information available to us on all the properties he forgave the transfer tax on to Gulf.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Now. I would be more helpful with a more complete answer but the information was put in my hands an hour ago by the Deputy Minister of Revenue and I have tabled it. I was going to table it at the appropriate time and copies of it are being sent to the House leaders when it is tabled.
Mr. Harris: Perhaps I could ask the minister why it would take two weeks to assemble the information that was required, that we had asked for, when he had already signed? That information surely was all available before he signed it, or did he sign it not knowing what he signed? Why would it take over two weeks to give us the information on the millions of dollars of tax he forgave Gulf?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: There was no tax forgiveness and no signature. The transfers of the properties are registered in the normal way, as is any other transfer of property, in the registry office where the tax is collected and remitted.
As far as those values are concerned, they had to be collected from all the registry offices, which has been done. The member understands the Ministry of Revenue does not assess the value; it simply taxes the value or it taxes the purchase price which was part of the deal when Petrocan bought the facilities and the properties of Gulf. There was no remission of tax, no minister's signature, nothing out of the ordinary.
The whole matter is under audit as all these are, because they were taxed at book value.
Mr. Martel: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. From the period 1965 to 1984, 224 miners were killed; in 1984-85, 15; in 1985-86, 14; and 10 have been killed already this year. Of the 82 miners killed by falls of ground, 20 were killed while scaling and 20 were killed while drilling. How will his protection devices on motorized vehicles, in new mines only, protect workers from being killed when most of them are not killed while riding motorized vehicles?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The honourable gentleman will know that this improvement in the mining regulation, and a very significant improvement it is, was arrived at arising out of the so-called Grep inquiry, the ground control and emergency preparedness inquiry, headed by the gentleman who is now the director of mediation and conciliation services, Trevor Stevenson; it is out of his unanimous report which was put together by a number of people from both the business community and labour.
We have come forward with a number of changes, including fall-on protection for these workers. A lot of the improvements are positive ones, and they supplement the very strong safety regulations already in place in the mining industry. It is interesting that just yesterday I had an opportunity to speak with a leader within the labour movement, who shall remain nameless so the honourable member will not have to come in and deny that he ever said it. It was a private conversation. He is a leader of the labour movement in the mining industry that has a number of members in the mining sector and he believes that these are very positive and very important changes. Indeed, his view was that they were long overdue, and he is glad we have got on with it.
Mr. Martel: The minister may pat himself on the back, but the people I spoke to in the trade union movement--and I spoke to three out of the four people from labour today--did not agree with him on it at all.
Let me ask the minister another question. There were 53 falls that led to fatalities in a mine, 48 falls of objects not counting rock in a mine. Proper lighting in a mine might have helped--not the helmet, but proper lighting. The new bulk mining, where you drill six inches instead of one and a half and blast, which blasts the hell out of a mine, is blamed primarily by the workers for the many rockbursts which are occurring and which mining companies must report.
Will the minister introduce immediately an investigation and a study to determine whether the lack of proper lighting and the new bulk mining in fact are both responsible for the large number of fatalities that are occurring today?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: No.
Mr. Martel: No, I did not think so. You are a dummy.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Martel: No. My people are getting killed because he will not introduce studies to find out why they are getting killed.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Sudbury East asked his question, and the answer has been given. I wish he would show respect to the House and control himself.
Mr. Martel: No; I cannot when workers are getting killed. It is too phoney.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
BRAMPTON CITY HALL
Mr. Callahan: I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Some time ago, the council of the city of Brampton took the position that a new city hall should be built in the city. Tenders were let and a particular contractor was chosen. I believe seven council members of the city council were upset with the decision that had been made by the totality of the council and accordingly petitioned the Minister of Municipal Affairs, as is their right. I would like to ask the minister what representations he has received to date with reference to this petition.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: I have received the petition from the Brampton people asking for a commission of inquiry, and I have asked my staff from the Cambridge office to look into the allegations made by some of the councillors, some of whom had voted for and some against the construction of a city hall complex. I can assure the member that within the next two or three weeks I will be making some announcements in the House.
Mr. Hennessy: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. He is well aware that many accidents have been occurring on the Thunder Bay expressway. As a result, earlier this year the minister promised the people of Thunder Bay a study to examine the problems of this expressway. The minister promised the study would be ready by April. It now is the month of June. Where is the report?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: I thank the member for his question and his continued interest in this matter. I can report that my senior staff met with senior officials from the city of Thunder Bay early in May of this year. A number of the issues that have been raised, in particular five or six outstanding, are being reviewed by the city transportation study and its personnel and are indeed being addressed.
Through the good offices of my colleague the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes), the Ontario Provincial Police is improving its monitoring of the expressway. The illumination we talked about earlier is being addressed. The advanced signalization, which was an issue at the time, is also being addressed currently.
Mr. Hennessy: I think the people of Thunder Bay want this situation resolved. To get a little personal, it is all right to meet with the mayor, who is a Liberal, but not to meet with the Conservative member there. I cannot understand the minister's way of thinking. I asked the minister that question in the House and he did not answer. He chooses to go to the mayor of the city of Thunder Bay, who is a Liberal, and reply to him. Where does that leave the people's representative? Is the minister representing only the Liberal Party'?
When is the minister going to do some work on that highway and get something done? The fire department and the city council have asked him to do something. Is he going to wait for more fatalities, more deaths, more accidents, more injuries to take place before he does anything? When is the minister going to do something?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: I think we have a competition here between the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) and the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart).
I remind the member that I would meet with the mayor of any town or municipality in this province regardless of his political stripe, which I do on a daily basis. I would also like to point out to my honourable friend that I was not at the meeting--if he was listening to my first answer. I met with one of his colleagues only this morning. I will meet with the member for Fort William any time. All he needs to do is call and let me know he wants to meet.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Reville: My question is for the Minister of Labour. Workers in industry and people living near industry need to be able to find out just what kinds of hazardous materials those industries are using. The municipality of Windsor and the municipality of Toronto recognized this and introduced their own right-to-know bylaws. The minister killed Windsor's bylaw and he has threatened the city of Toronto to withdraw its right-to-know bylaw if it wants its other legislation to proceed.
Why would the minister stifle these two important local initiatives when he himself is unprepared to act on right to know?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I am really amazed that the honourable gentleman has done so little research on this subject, because if he had, he would have found that the legislation is going to move forward very shortly and that business and labour wish to have it move forward on a national consensus.
He would also know that the Toronto legislation is riddled with some of the same weaknesses that befell the legislation in my own community of Windsor. I applaud both communities for their good intentions and indeed for the leadership they have shown in bringing this matter to public attention.
The need to have comprehensive, national legislation giving workers and the public the right to know is the reason this province took the leadership role it did in forging the national consensus we now have. In the days not too many hence, we will be coming forward with this legislation. When this legislation comes forward, I urge him and all the members of the House to get on with it and give it quick passage.
Mr. Reville: It is good to know the Minister of Labour is capable of something, if only amazement. What he has not done his research on is that the federal initiative is not in any way inconsistent with municipalities approaching this issue in their way. He has continued to delay, dither and stall. Will he not now commit to this House that what we will get is a right to know what kind of hazardous materials are being used instead of endless promises that he is going to move on it?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that through the leadership of this government and, quite frankly, a couple of other governments, one in Quebec and Manitoba--his friends in Manitoba, and I will give credit where credit is due--we have, since the work place hazardous materials information system report came down a couple of years ago, forged a national consensus and indeed, through constant pressure on the federal government, we have driven matters to the point that the federal legislation is finally about ready to go.
I assure the House no one has been more frustrated than I as the federal government first told us February and then told us into the early spring. It has moved an early May deadline three times in the last month and a half. Quite frankly, we are finally at a point where our legislation will dovetail closely enough with theirs that we can move forward. I expect in the not-too-distant future to be doing just that. Again, I urge the member for Riverdale, who is quite properly concerned about the workers in his riding, to convince his colleagues--particularly the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel), who I know is very supportive of this whole effort--to get on with it.
Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Colleges and Universities has a response to a question asked previously by the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner).
CENTRE FOR LABOUR STUDIES
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: It was on May 14 that the member for Scarborough Ellesmere asked me a question concerning the termination of funding for the Centre for Labour Studies, which is part of the Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto. I undertook at that time to get back to him in a couple of days.
I know I am a little bit late, but I did not think that my tardiness warranted a point of order the other day, other than the need for a little bit of theatrics from the member for Scarborough Ellesmere. In any event, I am now prepared to answer. I say that because it was the day after that question that I spoke with the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) about the same matter and undertook at that time to ask Humber College to delay consideration of the issue until I had an opportunity to meet with Mr. Lyons of the Metropolitan Toronto labour council.
The program has been funded by Humber College for a number of years, and indeed the Humber College board of governors is considering the termination of that funding. There are a number of concerns of the board of governors, including financial cost, lack of control over operations, lack of control over program quality and the status of the centre.
Notwithstanding that, as I undertook with the member for Bellwoods, I am going to be meeting with Mr. Lyons from the labour council to hear his point of view on the matter. I should say that unless I hear something radically different from what I have been told thus far, I am certainly not of a mind to interfere with the decision of the board of governors.
Mr. Warner: The minister calls it interference. I would call it leadership to protect a course that has been established for 12 years and which course has provided tremendous assistance to workers and others throughout our community.
Does the minister realize that unless he shows some leadership, he will disappoint thousands of people? I quote from a participant of the course: "Finally, I felt comfortable raising the issue of racism among my co-workers" or "When an emergency arose at the plant, I knew exactly what steps to take." There are hundreds and hundreds of quotes of the 10,000 people who have successfully gone through the courses.
Why will the minister not show leadership today and simply say that this course needs to be protected and needs to continue to be funded?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I am surprised at my friend's view of leadership. When we as a government and as a ministry were undertaking steps to give boards a better ability to make the decisions they are required to make, I thought that party was behind those decisions; indeed, of bringing members from the internal community served by community colleges as part of boards of governors. Now, when there is a decision my friend thinks is not an appropriate decision, he says the Minister of Colleges and Universities should simply intervene and take away the authority of boards of governors to make the decisions. I will tell my friend the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere that those programs will continue, and I expect they will continue within the department of continuing education within the college. I think it is inappropriate that he grandstand and suggest that we just take over colleges when they make decisions he is not in favour of.
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
Mr. Warner: As under the rules, I am dissatisfied with this answer and I am prepared to debate it at the next possible moment.
Mr. Speaker: I hope the honourable member will look at the standing order and give written notice as well.
APPORTIONMENT OF EDUCATION TAXES
Mr. Mitchell: I have a question to the Minister of Education. A week ago, I suggested that the minister should be called, more properly, the minister for interference with the Ontario Municipal Board. I suggested to him at the time that he overstepped the bounds he was allowed under the Education Act and, in fact, tried to direct the Ontario Municipal Board after, I understand, he met with four mayors of other municipalities without the courtesy of a meeting with Nepean Mayor Franklin or Anton Wytenburg.
It was only after some fuss was raised that he met with them in a restaurant in Renfrew and said to them at the time that he wanted the OMB to examine the implications of the Nepean-Goulbourn decision, because other municipalities had started appealing. I wonder, then, why the minister did not interfere in the Onondaga appeal. Was that because it is in the riding of the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon)?
Mr. Speaker: Is that your question?
Mr. Mitchell: Can the minister table for me and the residents of Nepean how many municipalities are as adversely affected as Nepean and Goulbourn?
Hon. Mr. Conway: Where does one begin with that kind of question? Let me try. I think my friend from Nepean might sit down with our colleague the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling) and talk this over, because there is a certain dissonance that I detect from over there on this question.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Two Tory positions again?
Hon. Mr. Conway: I would not say that, because that might be uncharitable. I want to say as well that I have met on a number of occasions with the mayor of Nepean.
Mr. Mitchell: After the fact.
Hon. Mr. Conway: No. I have met in the Tea Room in Renfrew. I have met at the Talisman in Ottawa. I have met on a number of occasions. I met the mayor of Nepean in 1975 when he was a Liberal candidate running under the standard of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), so long has my association been with Mr. Franklin. I want to set to rest any confusion that might exist in the mind of the member for Carleton that there exists some difficulty in meeting as between the mayor of Nepean and myself.
I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that we are taking legal advice on this matter and we are working to a solution in the long term for this particular difficulty. I can simply make very clear as well that the reference to a situation in Brant county, with some suggestion that there is some personal or political difference there, is simply not true.
Mr. Mitchell: After the minister's interference, the OMB did hold a hearing and the Ministry of Education people had their wrists slapped. The results of that hearing accomplished two things; one of them that the appeal of Nepean, Goulbourn and Cumberland was upheld by the OMB, but what they also did was freeze any further appeals by Nepean, Goulbourn and Cumberland or other municipalities.
What I want to know from the minister is, since his ministry acknowledges there is a problem, when is he going to have the rules changed and get the situation resolved so that it does not happen again?
Hon. Mr. Conway: Faster than the administration of which the honourable member was a part.
Mrs. Grier: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. I know the minister has been told by his staff of the demonstration that is even now taking place on the steps of this building, where citizens from the township of West Lincoln accompanied by their town crier have decried the minister's lack of any policy on the reduction, reuse and recycling of liquid industrial waste.
Given that this province produces 1.5 million tons of liquid industrial waste per year and that the facility the Ontario Waste Management Corp. is planning in West Lincoln can handle only up to 300,000 tons as a maximum, 10 per cent to maybe 20 per cent of the province's waste, can the minister tell us how he plans to dispose of the 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the province's waste that the OWMC is not planning to handle?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: It is an interesting question in that it is often put to me in the opposite direction: that the OWMC is not a necessary component and that when Premier Davis set up the OWMC it was not really required. I recall that we in opposition and the New Democratic Party agreed with Premier Davis when he established the OWMC to deal with the problem of hazardous wastes.
The member identifies, however, something beyond those substances that would be able to be dealt with by the OWMC. The waste management branch of our ministry has a mandate, along with the OWMC having a mandate, to establish technologies that deal with much of the waste that comes from these plants. Part of that will be involved in and will evolve from the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement that will deal with the waste produced that ordinarily would come out in effluent, either directly into water ways or into the various sewers in Ontario. The member raises what I consider to be a legitimate question. She seems to understand the need for a method of treating waste in Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Supplementary.
Mrs. Grier: I do not think anyone in this House needs to be told by the minister that he has a mandate to deal with liquid industrial waste. I thought that was what he was put in the job to do. What I was asking him was, given that he has the mandate, why does he not have any plans, any money or any priorities to do something about it? He tells me about MISA, which we all know has 12,000 loopholes.
Mr. Speaker: That is a good question. I thought that was the question.
Mrs. Grier: Given that in 1984-85, the OWMC allocated only one per cent of its budget to reduction or reuse, and given that MISA does not cover 12,000 industries, can the minister explain how he plans to deal with the 80 per cent of the province's waste the OWMC will not handle?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: As I indicated to the member, the waste management branch of the Ministry of the Environment is undertaking a number of activities that are designed to do exactly that. Under regulation--
Ms. Fish: What does the member for Frontenac-Addington (Mr. South) have there? Hold it up so we can see.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Pope: That is all on television; way to go.
Mr. Speaker: Minister.
Mr. Breaugh: You need your parliamentary assistant back.
Mr. McClellan: Is that clown your parliamentary assistant?
Mr. Speaker: Order. Minister.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I am trying to give as succinct an answer as possible.
Mr. McClellan: With a deputy minister and a parliamentary assistant like that, no wonder you are having problems.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Some days I think the member wishes he had my problems.
I indicate to the member that within the allocation of funds for the waste management branch of the Ministry of the Environment is a considerable allocation of funds for exactly the purposes the member describes.
It seems to me that regulation 309, which deals with substances essentially from their production until the time they are laid to rest, has had a major effect as well. In addition, the member may be familiar with the fact that we are at the present time upgrading regulation 308, which deals with emissions that would come from various stacks in the province. All of those are components that deal with hazardous waste. I can tell the member we have a very extensive program in that regard.
Mr. Gordon: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Sudbury has the floor.
Mr. Gordon: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a petition presented by Mrs. Doralice Carroll. Mrs. Carroll spent a number of weeks with the petition in Sudbury because she is against the kind of gas prices that we pay in northern Ontario. The petition reads as follows:
"Why should people in northern Ontario--"
Mr. Speaker: I was just waiting for you to read the exact wording of the petition.
Mr. Gordon: I was waiting for a little quiet in this House, Mr. Speaker.
The petition reads: "Why should people in northern Ontario pay more for gasoline than the people in southern Ontario?"
This petition was signed by a great many people; as a matter of fact, 348. I have to say that Mrs. Doralice Carroll feels very strongly about this petition, as do the people who signed it.
Mr. Speaker: There are many members standing and many members having conversations. Are there any other members wishing to present a petition?
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I have a petition that asks the Lieutenant Governor in Council to do what the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye), when he was in opposition, used to say he would do if he were the Minister of Labour.
"We, the undersigned, do hereby petition the Minister of Labour to immediately enact legislation to stop the hiring of strikebreakers in Ontario."
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS
Mr. Callahan from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the following report and moved its adoption.
Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:
Bill Pr2, An Act to revive Adona Properties Ltd.;
Bill Pr11, An Act to revive The Quetico Foundation;
Bill Pr 39, An Act respecting Canadian Opera Company.
Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:
Bill Pr20, An Act respecting the Town of Lindsay.
Your committee would recommend that the fees, less the actual cost of printing, be remitted on Bill Pr11, An Act to revive The Quetico Foundation and Bill Pr39, An Act respecting Canadian Opera Company.
Motion agreed to.
WITHDRAWAL OF BILL 68
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the order for second reading of Bill 68, An Act to postpone the Commencement Date of certain Provisions of the Mental Health Act, be discharged and the bill withdrawn.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I do not think we can let this motion go by without making a few comments about the process that has been followed over the last few months which, I must say, is turning out to be a regular process with this minister and this ministry.
One wants to look at this minister and how he has handled the legislation that has come from this ministry before the Legislature since he has become minister. It can only be spelled out and it can only be described as somewhat amateurish, and that is a charitable way of describing the process.
We had drug legislation introduced by this minister. We had amendments to that drug legislation; we had amendments and we had amendments. They were produced every day in committee; no advance notice, no proper notice, no consultation, nothing at all. That is how he handled those pieces of legislation.
We had nursing home legislation handled in exactly the same way. We had extra billing legislation handled in exactly the same incompetent way. Now we have a bill that deals with the same subject, which was initially addressed by the member for Ottawa Centre (Ms. Gigantes) in amendments to Bill 7. It was further addressed by Bill 190. It was then further addressed by this bill, Bill 68, and then further--addressed by Bill 78.
Mr. Reville: And Bill 199.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: Bill 199 as well.
It is too bad the minister is not listening, because the way this issue has been handled is an absolute disgrace. In addition to having the standing committee on social development looking at the issue, he has committees within his ministry looking at the issues. The only thing that has happened with regard to this issue is that the minister and his bureaucrats did not properly think through the consequences of his potential policy. He introduced legislation, that the doctors supported on one hand and then later did not support, and then he found out the whole lay of the land.
I do not think this party is going to be so co-operative in the future. The Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) had better get his act together or he is not going to have a free ride in dealing with legislation in such an incompetent, amateurish way. I think it is fair to say this side is disgusted with the way this issue has been handled and the way the legislation has been handled by this minister.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, I do not know if you have had a chance to read this particular bill, but I would like to join my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke), especially having been put in the invidious position of being in the chair for all these bouts with this particular minister throughout all these pieces of legislation and seeing the way they have been handled.
If one looks at Bill 68 one will notice this has to do, ironically, with competence. This has to do with the whole question of the competence of people within the mental health system to make decisions, and now bringing in an override to the rights of competent people to say they do not wish a certain kind of treatment or for incompetent people or their representatives to say they do not want a certain kind of treatment for the patient.
I want to run through the list of bills. The member for Ottawa Centre brought in, in the open and public meeting, a resolution which for the first time gave real rights to the mentally ill in our institutions under Bill 7. It passed.
Mr. Runciman: It was not for the first time.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I do not know if the member for Leeds (Mr. Runciman) knows much about mental health legislation in this province--
Mr. Speaker: Order. Interjections are out of order.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: --but there have been no rights for mental health residents to be able to make determinations or to participate, as a right, in treatment decisions about them in this province until the resolution moved by the member for Ottawa Centre.
Under pressure by the medical lobby and others, the minister then brought in Bill 199 to delay the implementation of that section of Bill 7. He then brought in Bill 190 to try to deal with the issue of the rights given under what the member for Ottawa Centre brought forward. It was such a draconian piece of legislation that he actually had as a section of that bill an announcement that people in the community, people who were ex-psychiatric patients, would also be covered under this legislation. That was part of this thing, if one can imagine the amazing infringement of civil rights involved in that.
He got his toes stepped on, as one can well understand, so he brought in the bill now before us, Bill 68, to change the dates, again to stop the member for Ottawa Centre's motion from coming into effect for these people until next January. Then he determined or discovered that bill does not work and that he now has to come forward with Bill 78 to make it work. I tell you, Mr. Speaker, in my eight years in the Legislature I have never seen anything like it and I do not want this moment to pass without indicating that to you.
Mr. Harris: I would like to take just a few moments to comment, as well, on the process in particular. The member for Lincoln (Mr. Andrewes) will be here very shortly. He is out on the front steps addressing those who have concerns, I assume, with this government's incompetence in another area, the group that is picketing out in front of the Legislature. I know if he were able to be here he would probably want to comment a little more on the particulars.
However, I do think that I am qualified to comment at least on the process and the ridiculous incompetence of the minister that has led to the charade of some semblance that he knew what he was doing or that the government knew what it was doing in this whole procedure.
My colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside, in particular, has pointed out the number of bills that have come forward from this minister, most of them one would presume in some form of knee-jerk reaction to a response from one pressure group or another, none of them apparently really very well thought out and none of them thought out at least well enough to solve the problem.
Perhaps the minister was more worried about assembling his fund-raising list out of the ministry files than about paying attention to the business for which he actually was appointed to that ministry. One would certainly have to wonder, when we see the legislative, nightmarish shemozzle that this Legislature has been subjected to with the preponderance of bills in and bills out: "Can we do this? Can we do that? Can we withdraw this?"
Every day he is over here, talking to the critics. I happen to be privy at least to that amount of information because I sit beside the distinguished member for Lincoln who is the Health critic for our party and I hear the ramblings and the musings of this minister on this.
I would also like to go back briefly to the original bill and the discussions that were entertained at that time, that in fact our leader had talked about, concerns over a specific aspect, that concerning electroshock therapy and the unwillingness of the minister to deal with that very specific problem. At that time, we had really no option available to us to get the attention of the minister, other than to support the amendment of the member for Ottawa Centre.
The reason, of course, that we supported that was because it was the only way we could get the attention of the minister, who had, up until that point, seemed to be ignoring what certainly my leader felt was a very significant problem. One might ask whether we were successful in getting the minister's attention. As a result of that we got the attention, as members are aware, of a number of other groups who, I think, acknowledged some difficulty with what was there but also acknowledged difficulty with what we supported in the amendment of the member for Ottawa Centre.
None the less, I have to tell you I give the member for Ottawa Centre credit and have no hesitation in the procedural aspect of our support for her amendment which has brought this issue to a head, which should have been brought to a head right back when the original bill was there. I guess if we have any evidence that it was justified in getting his attention, it is this silly charade of a minister introducing a bill one day, withdrawing one another day, introducing another one, saying, "No, I can't go with that one." Then he gets three phone calls and he says, "No, I have to change that"; and then he gets two more phone calls and he says, "No, I have to change that."
That is really typical, as we are now finding out as we read through the press releases and some of the government bunk that is put out. It is not this Minister of Health alone; it appears to be typical of the type of forethought or lack of it, obviously, or planning or lack of it, that this government is putting into a lot of the legislation we are seeing here.
I would like to have those few kind words on the record as we deal with this motion to withdraw yet another example of the minister's incompetence.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
WINDSOR UTILITIES COMMISSION ACT
Mr. Newman moved first reading of Bill Pr62, An Act respecting the Windsor Utilities Commission.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Newman: If I may explain, Mr. Speaker
Mr. Speaker: This is a private bill and no explanation is really allowed on private bills.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Before the orders of the day, I wish to table the following public opinion polls.
Mr. Harris: Now he is going to tell us what they are.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Let us say, "Table these public opinion polls."
ORDERS OF THE DAY
MENTAL HEALTH AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Elston moved second reading of Bill 78, An Act to amend the Mental Health Act.
Hon. Mr. Elston: We heard a little bit about the need to make some arrangements whereby we can consider the amendments proposed under Bill 190 which deal with the Mental Health Act. Bill 78 is required so we can take the time to consider the issues raised by the amendment spoken about earlier by a number of the people in the Legislative Assembly, Bill 190.
As members know, committee hearings on Bill 190 began on May 26. Bill 190 would maintain review board authority but with new safeguards to protect the rights of patients. For example, doctors who examine an involuntary patient will be required to give reasons why they believe the patient will not improve without treatment and why the review board should issue a treatment order.
Second, in granting authority to proceed with treatment, the review board must specify the period of time for which the treatment order is effective. The board may also include terms and conditions under which treatment is to be provided.
Third, during the course of any appeal by a patient or relative regarding the board decision, treatment will not proceed unless a judge of the court rules otherwise.
In addition, under the bill all patients will be advised of their right to designate a representative to give consent to treatment should they become incompetent. The measure also removes the legal uncertainties now surrounding the treatment of voluntary and informal psychiatric patients as well as those on Lieutenant Governor's warrants.
I urge the members of this House to co-operate in passage of Bill 78 so the delicate balance between patients' rights and the need for psychiatric treatment can be thoroughly reviewed and deliberated within the legislative process.
The point of Bill 78 is to temporarily restore the authority of the psychiatric review board to issue treatment orders until July 10, 1987. Since June 1, with the implementation of the Mental Health Act amendment originally passed as Bill 7, the review board authority has been struck down. This bill will restore that authority.
Mr. Harris: I point out once again that my colleague the member for Lincoln (Mr. Andrewes) is still out on the front lawn. Obviously, the government is more incompetent than I thought on this issue.
Perhaps I could ask the minister very simply, since I heard most of his explanation but not all: is this bill to allow to remain in force until July 10 what was already in force before Bill 7 was passed and nothing else, nothing new? It is just to carry it on from May 31 until July 10?
If there is in fact something new that an uninformed person such as the lowly House leader, not the Health critic, should know about, perhaps the minister could indicate that to me.
Hon. Mr. Elston: Actually, to assist the House leader for the official opposition, the bill does not restore the authority of the review board back to May 31, 1987. It cannot do that. At this particular time, as of June 1, 1987, the review board authority does not exist in terms of new orders to be made and it will not exist until the passage of this bill reinstitutes the activity of the review boards. With the passage and proclamation of this bill, review boards will once again exist with the new safeguards as before Bill 7, and they will then exist only up to July 10, 1987.
Mr. Reville: I find the minister's explanation of Bill 78 to be simply preposterous; not incompetent, preposterous. In fact, the explanation he has given this House has nothing to do with Bill 78 but is the minister's "phoney" justification far quite another bill.
I found it amazing that he would stand in the House and try to justify Bill 78 by speaking to another bill. In fact, he is compounding this outrage by talking glowingly of items in another bill that could have been introduced to this Legislature through the vehicle of Bill 7 but which were resisted by this government every time.
He neglects to point out that the other bill, not this bill but the other bill, contains a provision that completely violates the rights of Ontario's citizens. We do not hear a great justification of that. No; we hear that the violation of some persons' rights are somehow necessary to preserve the delicate balance between patients' rights and patient care.
The problem is that when you violate someone's rights there is no balance at all; what you have created is an imbalance. So I find the minister's explanation, which basically is a regurgitation of a compendium that was written, I presume, for the minister to try to justify this atrocity, to be quite ill placed and inappropriate.
The amusing thing about the incompetence of the minister that my two colleagues have spoken to so well is that, currently, Bill 7, as adopted by this Legislature, is now the law of the land. I think it is quite fitting that the minister's incompetence should be rewarded by a much healthier civil rights atmosphere in this province, if only for a short time.
Of course, what Bill 78 seeks to do is to repeal a very recent act of this Legislature, an act of this Legislature of December 1986 that brought Ontario into the 20th century in terms of civil rights for people. That is what this bill seeks to do, to repeal a clause. Then, under great pressure I must say, the minister has agreed that repeal will sunset after Bill 190 passes.
I certainly hope quite sincerely that this particular offensive section of Bill 190 never sees the light of day and then we will have discovered yet another exercise by this minister to have been totally futile. There is no question that there are some progressive measures in Bill 190. Why did the minister not introduce them on their own? Why did he have to couple those progressive measures with a regressive measure?
Mr. Andrewes: Briefly--I think I have missed most of this debate so I hope I am not redundant in what I might say--for the last week and a half we have had a very effective hearing going on downstairs on Bill 190. We have heard from a number of witnesses and have had good participation in the discussion with them. The discussion on Bill 190, which is before the committee, now has taken the form of debate on the subject at hand; that is, the question of the role of review boards in the treatment of competent patients and about the whole question of competency and incompetency of mental health patients.
What remains very confusing to us is the fact that we have gone through--one; two; Bill 7, three; Bill 190--now four pieces of legislation and have yet to arrive at any conclusion. I am most confused as to why the government, and the minister in particular, have found it necessary to confuse this issue with a plethora of bills postponing dates, re-enacting dates and doing whatever else these pieces of legislation are doing. What it has done is to seriously sidetrack the discussion on Bill 190 from some very serious concerns.
I only hope that when we make peace on this piece of legislation, if we ever do--that is, on Bill 78--and the issue of timing is finally put to rest, that the tarnish that remains on the whole discussion surrounding Bill 190 will not hinder this Legislature and its members from bringing in an appropriate piece of legislation and doing the right thing for people in the province who are suffering from mental illness.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I think it is important that people in the public should know what this bill is about and what it is about in combination with Bill 190. If people were really aware of the implications of the suppression of civil rights that is involved in this, there would be a huge outcry against both pieces of legislation.
Yesterday in our committee, we had a presentation from David Baker of the Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped, or ARCH, a legal clinic that deals with problems surrounding the disabled. I thought he put the point remarkably well. Essentially, what we have at the moment--perhaps for a few brief days depending on how quickly this is passed--is the right in Ontario for a person who is deemed to be competent and able to make decisions to decide whether he wishes to be treated in a mental institution. That is the same right that you or I, Mr. Speaker, if we were ever to be presumed competent, would have if we were in a general hospital and decided we did not wish cancer treatments or whatever it might be. That decision, as competent individuals, would be left to us.
As well, if I were incompetent and institutionalized and my sister were my guardian, my trustee, she would have the right to say that she did not wish me to have electric shock therapy or to take particular drugs to control my state because she felt she had seen the impact of these drugs on me, the devastating side-effects I had perhaps developed over the period I had been on these drugs before.
Until we bring in this piece of legislation, people in Ontario have that right. If the members can imagine it--I want them to think of this in terms of its implications for our mental health system--what we will have now is a situation where a competent person in a mental institution can be overridden, where his desire not to have treatment can be overriden, by a board where the burden of proof is against the patient and in favour of the doctor who wishes to treat that patient against his competent desire not to be treated; not only that, but the representative of an incompetent person who makes that decision can also be overriden by the doctor who wishes to treat.
The implications of this are enormous. They essentially are as follows. There is a presumption of consent within our mental health system at this point--in fact within our medical system--that we as adults have the right to consent or deny consent to treatment if we are competent. This takes away the notion that there is any consent at all within the mental health system, because even if I go in as a voluntary patient and I am competent or have not been deemed to be incompetent and a doctor says, "I want to give you this treatment," I will know that if I say no to his treatment he can say, "That does not matter because I am going to take it to the review board and I will win." That is hanging over my head. That coercion now is part of the system being brought back by Bill 78.
If I am an incompetent person, one of those very vulnerable people in our society, and the trust for my physical and mental wellbeing and integrity is left with a loved one or some advocate, that advocate now can be overriden as well, so he or she have no power within the mental health system.
In my view, this destroys the whole premise of what true medical care is all about. It separates out psychiatrists from other medical practitioners in terms of the requirement to gain this kind of normal consent that we would expect within our society. It obscures the issue, which is do we have an adequate competency test for our mental institutions? Everybody seems to be saying that we do not have; that is we are hearing from everyone who comes up on the other side of this issue before the committee. If that is the case, let us surely deal with that question of competency. Let us not take away the basic civil rights that belong to each of us.
I know this is an outrageous analogy to make, and I say that as I make it: we happen to live in a democracy, but can one imagine what it would be like if we had this provision for mental institutions in a place where some of the other safeguards of our democratic legal system were not in place? I ask the members what the difference is in this power we now are vesting in our mental institutions from the mental institutions of Russia and keeping political prisoners who are competent under drugs and sedation and other kinds of torture because there is an override to competency. There is a very frightening notion involved in this.
I do not think most people realize that very few cases were taken before the review boards in the past, before the motion of the member for Ottawa Centre passed. Very few cases were taken, on an annual basis. We are finding out there were maybe 10 or 16 in a year where people were actually saying they did not want the treatment and were going to a review board.
I submit they can be dealt with in the most serious cases, where they are a threat to the safety of others or to their own health. We already have a means of dealing with those people and giving them treatment. But for the sake of dealing with the ease of treating those few people, we now are bringing in a notion of a suppression of civil rights that has implications I think are very profound for our whole society. I think it would be wise for members of this assembly to think very seriously about what they are doing when they support this piece of legislation.
The minister alleged in his opening comments that the review boards do not exist. Review boards do exist under the present legislation. The only thing they cannot deal with are these overrides of competent people's decision making, or their representatives' desire, not to take treatment. They still deal with all the things they normally deal with, the bulk of their work, which is to deal with competency testing and committal. That is their major role now and it will continue to be their major role.
I remind the members of this House that matters dealing with substitution consent to be added to Bill 7 were raised by the member for Ottawa Centre and were defeated in committee. Instead of those kinds of very helpful means of dealing with some of the more difficult cases, now we have come up instead with what I consider a most draconian and most dangerous approach to civil rights in this province.
When one tries to think of what a liberal party is about--for some of us this is often confusing and when one thinks about the basic premise of liberalism, it is surely individual civil liberty, the individual's rights within society. It is very ironic in my view that to deal with a very small problem, the Liberal Party, the Liberal government, would come in with such a dangerous move in terms of the rights of mentally ill people in our province.
What this does is to reinforce the idea that somehow mental illness is so substantially different from all other medical ailments that we must deal with people's rights in a fundamentally different way. I think this reinforces all the mythologies, all the scares, all the bogymen out there about mental illness. I think it is incredibly dangerous for us to do this.
Ontario Friends of Schizophrenics, a very worthwhile organization in this province, has come before the committee wanting this kind of legislation because of their fears for their schizophrenic relatives, often sons and daughters--
Hon. Mr. Elston: Husbands and wives.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: --and husbands and wives. They come with some very poignant stories about the problems of being a schizophrenic or a friend of a schizophrenic in this province, but I am convinced that this is not the way
Hon. Mr. Elston: Should we be prepared to ignore it?
Mr. R. F. Johnston: No, not to ignore it at all; but because of everything I have said up to this point, this is not the way one deals with the problem of a schizophrenic not getting the appropriate treatment. What we really need is a much quicker method of determining competency, for allowing substitute consent.
I raised it with the mother of a schizophrenic yesterday after our hearings. I said: "You are taking it from the one perspective and I understand that at this point. You went to the institution. At this point, your child has been determined to be incompetent and you are now responsible. What if you did not want electroshock therapy for your child but instead wanted psychotropic drugs, but the psychiatrist you were dealing with demanded your child get the electroshock therapy? Do you not understand that this process we are bringing in here can override you as well?" She had not thought of that. She had not thought this was taking away her powers as the substitute consenter. She had thought only her child needed protection.
We are mixing apples and oranges when we try to deal with this issue by taking away the rights of competent people or the people who have substitute consent for incompetent people. What we really need to deal with is the question of competency and how quickly we can get people who have the right to substitute consent to have that consent. That is the issue.
I suggest to the members that given the small numbers of people who now use the override provision and given the fact that we have emergency ability to deal with those who are a danger to themselves or society, we would do much better not to enact Bill 78 at all but to allow this gap of total freedom for these people that now is out there, to allow them to have the same freedoms as the rest of us in society, and to work hard to get in a competency test that is useful and practical, and not to take away their human rights or make them the second-class citizens they have been in this society for far too long.
Hon. Mr. Elston: I could comment a little on the eloquent presentation by the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston). In many ways, we have all been moved by the presentations about the need for assistance by the Ontario Friends of Schizophrenics, among others, who came in front of the committee dealing with Bill 190. I think the honourable gentleman did point out very well that there are compelling reasons to look at what there now is in the system to assist those people. Admittedly, I believe it is not very well established yet in terms of how we help people who are worried about their children.
I think particularly of a woman who presented the story of the suicide of her son in circumstances that distracted us from listening to the rest of her presentation. It was a horrendous experience for her. These people have reached out and indicated that we ought not to change a system that at least provides them some access at this time to deal with questions of ensuring that there is some assistance to protect their loved ones.
They mentioned that we must take into account the feelings of the mothers and fathers and wives and husbands of people who suffer from schizophrenia and understand that there are tremendous pressures on them as well. They are concerned about what is available to allow them to deal with the question of providing treatment for those of their relatives who may not understand the need for taking treatment that would provide some stability in their lives.
This bill will bring back the review boards. Because we are dealing with Bill 190, I think it is necessary that we not disturb the ability of those boards to provide service to those patients in the interim.
I have a couple of comments provided to me by staff, with respect to comments by the member for Scarborough West. In particular, there is no way, as I am told, that a refusal by a voluntary patient or his or her relative can be overridden. For a voluntary patient that cannot be overridden.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: We had that debate with the minister yesterday. Your staff has a different opinion, but it is not
Hon. Mr. Elston: The honourable member obviously does not believe the counsel being provided. There is obviously a difference of opinion between, presumably, one of the presenters yesterday and some of the staff in the Ministry of Health.
We do need to bring this bill back to be passed, to bring back the review boards to work on behalf of patients. I am pleased to move the second reading.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: On a point of order. I realize it is not appropriate under our rules to respond to a wrapup, but the minister has used part of his time to respond to my comments. I wonder if you could clear up just what that was: a response to comments or a wrapup. He kept saying he was responding and I want a chance to rebut.
The Deputy Speaker: That is the wrapup of the debate. That completes the debate. Yours was not an appropriate point of order.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say "aye." All those opposed will please say "nay." In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
PAY EQUITY ACT
Mr. Ward, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Scott, moved third reading of Bill 154, An Act to provide for Pay Equity.
Mr. McClellan: There are a number of people who want to speak on third reading of Bill 154. What I wanted to do was to indicate to the House how I suggest we deal with the item before us.
The government has moved third reading of Bill 154. It is unfortunate the bill was ordered for third reading. It should have been ordered for committee of the whole House, but that did not happen.
After all those who have spoken on the third reading debate have concluded their remarks, I will be moving a motion to recommit Bill 154 to committee of the whole House. If it passes, it is my expectation that the proceeding in committee of the whole House would take, at most, two days.
I am not moving the motion for committal right now. I am speaking on the motion for third reading.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I was wondering whether you want a point of order or whether you were on a point of order. As you know, all members may only speak once. You are speaking now. I wanted to advise you that you would have difficulty
Mr. McClellan: I was speaking on a point of order from the beginning.
Mr. Speaker: On a point or order; just advising what you are hoping the House would do.
Mr. McClellan: Yes. I would never make such a terrible mistake, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: I just wanted to make certain.
Mr. McClellan: And I appreciate your intervention very much. What I would propose is that we have the third reading debate so everybody knows what is happening, and there are no surprises. When everybody has finished speaking on third reading then I will participate in the third reading debate to move a motion of recommittal, which can then be debated.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other member wish to make any comments on that point of order?
Mr. Ward: I would like to comment on the point of order. As I understand it, the House leader of the third party has proposed we complete the third reading debate at this time and subsequent to the completion of the third reading debate, he then proposes that it be recommitted for committee of the whole House. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, is that an appropriate procedure?
Mr. Speaker: No; I hope I understood the member for Bellwoods correctly, that he hoped he would have an opportunity some time during the debate to offer an amendment to the motion for third reading. I hope I was correct in understanding that.
Mr. McClellan: I did not intend to move that until everybody had finished participating in the third reading debate--that is, everybody except myself.
Mr. Speaker: I am at the member's mercy.
Mr. Harris: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker: Let me congratulate the member for Bellwoods; first of all, for indicating what he intends to do--quite a contrast, frankly, from the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) and the shemozzle we have been through on all these bills.
He is merely indicating and serving notice, by way of a point of order, because there has been a lot of speculation on this, that when it comes his turn--and he intends to wait for some length of time before his turn comes to speak on third reading debate--he is serving notice so that everybody will know and there are no surprises that he plans to move a motion that it not be read for the third time, that in fact it be recommitted. I think it is a matter of courtesy that he was doing that, to the Legislature and to the members of the House. I hope that is in order, and if the Speaker so rules we proceed now with the debate.
Ms. E. J. Smith: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I think it was the clear understanding of the House leader that indeed the motion would be put to refer it to committee of the whole House and speeches would be made to that and that this was an understood procedure and what was going to happen.
The present plan would mean that all speeches were over with no chance then to speak to the bill at its conclusion. This is certainly not the understanding of the Speaker of the House. We can see that the Speaker of the House is not here. It is a way of preventing the normal course of
Mr. Harris: Au contraire, the Speaker is right in the chair.
Mr. Ferraro: The House leader.
Ms. E. J. Smith: Pardon me, the House leader. The House leader was clearly planning to speak to this and was clearly allowing what he knew was intended by the two opposition parties, that this would be referred to committee of the whole House for reasons they would give in the speeches. This was his understanding. To change the process is hardly the fair way we deal in setting out the procedures on Thursday mornings.
Mr. Harris: If I could speak to that: perhaps the member can clarify that after the speeches today, then we know, because of the courtesy of advance notice, there will be a notice for recommittal. Mr. Speaker, perhaps you can clarify that everybody who wants to speak can speak to that motion for recommittal, I think for up to 10 minutes. If you could just clarify that for us, then presumably if that does not carry the third reading will be put to a vote and it will carry.
If it does carry, it will go back to committee of the whole House, and presumably some amendments may be made or an attempt at some amendments will be made. Then it will come back again for third reading. I would assume at that time everybody can speak again.
Ms. E. J. Smith: If that is the correct interpretation, that indeed the speeches will still be open after the committee of the whole House, I am sure that is acceptable.
Mr. Speaker: I hope I can clarify the situation. All members, I am sure, are fully aware there is now a motion before the House for third reading of Bill 154. They are all aware of that. We are now open for debate on Bill 154. I suppose the members will have an opportunity to say in that debate whether they are going to support or oppose the third reading of Bill 154. Any member, when that member has the floor, has the opportunity to make an amendment to that motion.
According to standing order 62, "If a motion to recommit a bill is opposed"--and that is the question I would have to ask once that amendment is put--"no member shall speak thereon for a longer period than 10 minutes."
I will not go into the detail of what would happen if it was approved or disapproved. I think we will wait until that time comes, so I would now ask that we continue with the third reading debate of Bill 154. Does the parliamentary assistant--yes?
Mr. Harris: I have one more point. Could you clear up for the deputy House leader and whip of the government party that, should all that take place, as we think history may unfold here in fact today, and this bill go through several days of committee of the whole House, as we think history will unfold, then the bill will come back again for third reading. I think the whip for the government party was concerned, at that time, about who then can speak when it comes back a second time for third reading. Maybe you could clarify that. My understanding is that everybody can speak all over again.
Mr. Speaker: I hope I am correct in responding that if the decision is taken that the bill is recommitted to committee of the whole House, then it will be removed from Orders and Notices for third reading. If, at some later date, it comes back for third reading, then members will have the opportunity to speak. Am I correct in that? That is the way I would understand the situation.
Mr. Baetz: In view of the fact that it now appears as if there will be ample opportunity for all of us to address various aspects of this bill in this third reading and then when we go into committee and then ultimately, when we go back to third reading again, I shall be neither exhausting nor exhaustive in my comments, except simply perhaps to draw to the attention of the members some of the continuing concerns that our party has about certain aspects of this proposed legislation.
In the first instance, I would say that any piece of good legislation not only has to be understood, but it also has to be respected by those people who will be affected by it. Certainly, we have the very definite impression that there is one very important community out there, namely, the business community, that at this point in time does not understand all the aspects of this bill and certainly, the way the bill is now written, does not respect some aspects of this bill.
In fact, many members of the business community, to varying degrees, feel that parts of this bill are ridiculous and are ludicrous. I must say that we are very much inclined to agree with that point of view. In the fullness of time, when we get back to committee of the whole House and I suspect that is the way we will be going; we know the New Democrats have indicated they will support the motion to get it back into committee of the whole House and certainly we will support it, so we have every reason to think it is going to go back to the committee of the whole House--we will be dealing with these aspects at greater length.
I might just say here, in saying that good legislation has to be not only respected but also understood, I found rather interesting, and I think other members of the committee probably also did, the report that was issued by the Canadian Press and appeared in the Globe and Mail this morning, headlined: "Purpose of Pay Equity Legislation is Found Confusing by Ontarians."
It goes on to say, and I will not read all of it: "Despite more than a year of debate over the province's proposed pay equity law, the vast majority of Ontario residents still appear confused about the issue.
"A recent Gallup poll done for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found 87 per cent of Ontarians do not understand the purpose of the legislation, soon to be passed into law. Nationally, the results show 89 per cent of the respondents gave the wrong answer when asked what pay equity laws mean.
"Under the pay equity principle, workers receive the same wage for jobs, that, while not necessarily the same, are considered to be of equal value to the employer.
"More than 38 per cent in Ontario thought pay equity meant equal pay for equal work, a law that has been on the province's books since the early 1950s but has done little to close the ... gap."
There is not only among the affected business community but certainly among the public and the population at large still a vast, vast amount of confusion as to what this bill is supposed to achieve.
I just wanted to touch on very briefly some of these aspects of the bill as it now stands and how it is seen and the concern that is out there in the business community about some of these aspects.
The one glaring example, and I am sure the parliamentary assistant over there already has a look of knowing what is coming about him, has to do with the construction industry of Ontario. It is certainly a very large industry, as I am sure the chief whip of the government party will know, having some acquaintance with the construction industry, but that industry looks at certain aspects of this piece of legislation and says it is ridiculous. It is ridiculous. It goes quite contrary to many of the features of the Ontario Labour Relations Act that are in effect right now, and I deal specifically with this whole issue of the fact that workers who are on construction site, who are construction site workers, that under the Labour Relations Act these workers are not treated in the same manner as employees of the construction industry who are off the construction site. That is the law. We passed it.
The construction industry has to operate under that particular law and yet in this particular instance here we are disregarding that, we are saying "Well, forget that;" or we are mum about it, or we are ambiguous about it.
I tell you that when you propose to introduce legislation like that, that has got to be ridiculous in the eyes and the minds of a very respectable, large industry, then I think we have to do something about it.
Just to illustrate: in Toronto at the present time there is a lot of construction activity going on at the domed stadium. Ellis-Don, that very reputable segment of the construction industry, is down there building the domed stadium.
The workers who are onsite down there are treated under our present legislation very differently from any construction employees who happen to work at Ellis-Don or some other construction company headquarters offsite.
And yet in this legislation we are saying "Disregard it. You are all going to be treated equally and the same in future." I ask, does that make sense? Are we not in a sense here becoming the laughingstock of the construction industry in insisting that they all be treated the same?
That is certainly one of the things we will be taking up later on when we get back into committee of the whole.
Another segment of the business community has to deal with companies like Canteen of Canada Lid. , Cara Operations Ltd. , Eastwood Food Services Ltd., VS Services Ltd. and so on. These companies have been, from the time that we started our debate on this particular subject, trying to say this piece of legislation assumes that all of the business community here is organized, is made up of large, centralized employers like municipalities and large manufacturers and that we, the architects of the bill, have overlooked its impacts on smaller decentralized and diversified service businesses whose workforces are spread right across the province. They fear that they simply cannot comply the measures of this bill.
The fact is that in their operation, as they work in several distinct lines of business, in which their employees are working in a large number of separate work places scattered across the province, and they are saying it is going to be virtually impossible for a Cara Operations, an Eastwood, a VS Services or a Canteen of Canada that is carrying out various different services, in various different matters and under various organizations, that you cannot deal with these people as if they were a centralized, one-industry organization.
They have come to us time and again and said, "For heaven's sake, take another look as to whether in fact we can operate under this piece of legislation, which appears to be applicable to General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and other centralized groups, but which makes no sense for the diversified industry."
That is another area we will want to look at, and we intend to introduce amendments to deal with that ongoing concern.
Mr. Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member. You are referring to amendments; maybe they would best be discussed at some future time, if there is an opportunity. This is third reading of the bill, and you are to give reasons why you are for or against the bill.
Mr. Baetz: All right. I will not go into the amendments any further. I am simply indicating where we will be discussing amendments when we get into committee and why at this point we are opposing the bill--why we are unhappy with the bill, I would say.
Mr. Barlow: We are trying to improve on the bill.
Mr. Baetz: We are trying to improve it. I thank my colleague over there who has helped me very much in it.
I am keeping the Speaker's observations in mind here, and I will not go into details, but certainly another area we will be speaking to later on, not here, has to do with the fact that this piece of legislation should be administered under the Employment Standards Act and not set up a brand-new, independent, free-standing bureaucracy.
We have seen in the last year or two the very rapid growth of bureaucracy in this province. It does remind one of that burgeoning growth of the federal civil service that is finally being brought under control. Under this bill, we are simply planning to set up one more segment of bureaucracy, the Pay Equity Commission. We feel, and the business community feels rather strongly, that this could very logically fall under the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) and within the Employment Standards Act.
The only argument we have heard about this not coming under the Employment Standards Act is that it is not a very effective branch, it is not being effectively administered with the work it has mandated to it today, and simply to add more responsibilities to it would be foolish. We will get into the reasons later on, but we frankly think there are ways to remedy that: simply improve the administration under the Employment Standards Act; do not just sort of throw the baby out with the bath water. If it is logical, if it is sensible, and business thinks it is and we think it is, then it should be placed under the administration of the Employment Standards Act.
The other concern we have with this piece of legislation--and again, as I say, legislation like this not only has to be understood but also has to be respected--is when we get down to this business of the job classes. We can accept the fact that we can identify a female job class or job group where 60 per cent are female and a male job class where 70 per cent are male; but when we get down to how many people constitute a group, we find that in this piece of legislation--and it is no wonder we would like to improve it; that is, I think, the proper way to put it
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Ward: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The member for Ottawa West (Mr. Baetz) has not yet mentioned one item that was not discussed during the consideration of this bill by the standing committee on administration of justice after second reading. This is obviously not a third reading debate but just an attempt to forestall passage of the bill. I would ask that you bring the member to order on this.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I tried to draw to the attention of all members that because of the previous discussion there may be some action taken at a later date. However, it is third reading, and I am sure the honourable member will direct his remarks to third reading; that is, whether he is going to support or not support the motion for third reading of this bill.
Mr. Baetz: I thought I had made that point clear. If the parliamentary assistant wants to have a long, drawn-out debate on this bill, he will get it. We will talk on it for days when it gets back in the committee of the whole House, if that is what he wants, but we are trying to avoid that. I am not going to be repeating myself later on.
Anyway, as another reason we have real trouble with this piece of legislation, and as I was saying before I was interrupted by the parliamentary assistant, I want to finish up on the size of group. How many people? What is the minimum number of people who can be in a group? According to this piece of legislation, it is one person. The business community is saying: "That is ridiculous. How can you have a group of one?" We are inclined to agree. How can you have a group of one and appear to be sensible about this?
The final concern we have with this legislation is the fact that it gives such wide and sweeping powers for the implementation of the bill under the regulations. We can understand that one reason may well be that this is pioneering. It is new, it is complex; we have little to go by from other jurisdictions. If you cannot spell it out in legislation, you say, "Let us turn that responsibility over to those people who make the regulations and pass them." Presumably that is cabinet. I know other people feel this simply means that cabinet will have the responsibility of changing and interpreting this legislation before it ever gets back into this House again. That is a point of real concern.
We have an even larger concern; that is, under the pressures of the day, cabinet may simply, more than is appropriate, turn those interpretative powers over to the proposed Pay Equity Commission to do what it likes about interpretation, so that in fact the implementation of this bill is going to rest largely in the hands of unelected, unseen, faceless bureaucrats. That is a point of concern and something we will be discussing at considerable length, as we hope to do if we get into committee.
With those very few and brief comments, as has been indicated, we will be supporting the motion, when it comes before us, that this bill will be going back into committee of the whole House.
Ms. Gigantes: We have gone through a somewhat unusual procedure this afternoon. It might be useful for people who are here in the chamber with us to understand how this happened.
We had the very strange event that a member of the standing committee on administration of justice, who was neither the chairman nor the vice-chairman of the justice committee, reported this bill back to the House. While others of us who were on the committee watched in startled amazement, she suggested the bill be reported for third reading. We had an understanding that, quite naturally, there would be discussions on this bill in committee of the whole House.
In speaking in what has begun as a third reading debate, I would like to indicate on behalf of our party--certainly on behalf of myself and my colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton), who sat on the justice committee--that we are very anxious to spend a little bit longer before completion of third reading debate of this bill in looking at the key elements of the legislation which in our view are still not satisfactory.
The principle we are discussing here is a very basic social issue. It is an issue of fundamental economic fairness for women and it is an issue this province has been discussing for well over 10 years. It is over 10 years now since a group formed of women's groups, of men and women in the labour movement, men and women in political parties and community groups around this province came together as the umbrella organization known as the Equal Pay Coalition. Their work over more than a decade led to a situation where, in a change of government with the May 1985 election, there were two parties that had said going into the election they wanted to see equal pay for work of equal value.
We came out of that election with an agreement or an agenda for work in this parliament--an agreement supported by two parties, the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party--in which we said that in the first session of the Legislature we would see legislation tabled that would provide equal pay for work of equal value in both the public sector and the private sector in Ontario.
That did not happen. We have spent two years, in fact, getting to the point we are at now, where we finally have one bill that covers both sectors. We have a bill that, having been the subject of many representations before the justice committee, has been amended in minor form, not to our satisfaction. It is a bill which still provides large areas of exemption and exclusion in terms of the coverage and protection it will provide that will give some element of pay fairness to women in this province.
It is a bill which has stagings and timings built into it so that the effectiveness of what is in the legislation, limited as that may be, is going to be drawn out over many, many years for whatever influence it will have on the work situation and the pay that women receive in this province.
We are not satisfied with that and we think it worth the extra few hours to have consideration of committee of the whole House so this House can in all seriousness sit down and think about the very basic framework it wants for this kind of legislation in the years to come. This is legislation that women will live with and live under for many years.
We certainly do not take the approach that has just been suggested by the member for Ottawa West on behalf of his party and as the spokesman these days for what is called the pay equity committee of the Conservative caucus, they having lost a very forthright spokesperson on behalf of women from their caucus in the course of their meanderings all over the face of this bill. It is clear they are still not sure whether they are in favour of equal pay for work of equal value or indeed whether they are in favour of even such a limited concept as we see laid out in this legislation, which is called pay equity.
There are exclusions and exemptions in the bill. There is drawn-out staging and timing. "there is a question of whether employers or employees are going to pay the costs that will be incurred for equal pay adjustments to women who can establish a right to equal pay adjustments under this legislation; the bill now provides that employers can shift those costs to employees by restraining annual wage increases so that the restraint they exercise on wage increases can be shifted over to make so-called pay equity adjustments.
We think that is a very inadequate way of dealing with what is supposed to be a very basic change in the way each employer in each work place looks at payment of his or her employees. We think employers, having benefited for years from underpaying women for work that has comparable value in terms of its skill, effort, responsibility and the conditions under which it is done--comparable value to that done by men for the same employer--should now finally undertake the obligation to pay fairly for the work that women are doing.
It is important to remember too that if employees end up paying for pay equity adjustments, it is the very women for whom this whole legislation is being created who are being asked to carry some of that burden. I think we still have to look at that question seriously.
When an employer is called upon to make a pay equity adjustment, that employer can charge that as a tax deduction, as a cost of business--the cost of wages is a cost of business--and that employer is allowed to deduct that for income tax purposes. Why then, given that situation, should employers not now finally accept whatever responsibility we put on them to provide fair pay in this legislation?
This is not the kind of legislation I would have hoped to see. It is not effective legislation at this stage. I think, however, there are amendments that can be considered in the final analysis by this Legislature before we come to a decision on third reading that would substantially improve the effectiveness of this legislation and would substantially mean that women in this province would receive real benefits under the legislation.
Some of the women we have thought about most in considering this legislation on behalf of our party are women who are very often the most underpaid, the most vulnerable in terms of their work situation and the most in need of this kind of legislation. They are women who work part-time. They are women who may be women of a visible minority origin; women who, because of the way they look, because of their backgrounds, because of the colour of their skin, can be identified as a minority group; women who may not yet have had access to full language training if they have immigrated from another country.
There are thousands and thousands of women who work, not by their choice, in extremely vulnerable positions in Ontario. Indeed, of the two million women who are working for pay in Ontario right now, fully 500,000 are working part-time.
This legislation says it will provide protection and assistance for women to ensure they get pay fairness even if they are working part-time, but it also provides an exemption which allows employers to change the nature of their hiring pattern and the nature of the timing of their work, because it encourages them to say, "This woman is not really a part-time worker on a regular basis; this woman is really a casual worker." A casual worker does not count under this legislation, does not count in terms of job comparisons under this legislation and does not qualify for wage adjustments under this legislation.
Is it enough that in 1987 we say to the employers of this province: "Here; there are 500,000 employees who are working part-time. They are women, and you do not have to count them in here if you do not want to. Just shift them from regular part-time work to what we call casual on-call work, and then you do not have to include them under any of the motions you make to comply with this legislation."
That is an open invitation to employers, and it is one that I think this Legislature has to look at again. It is just too dangerous to leave that lying there in the bill as an exemption, an invitation for employers to use. It can in fact undermine the work situation of women who are in the most vulnerable positions in the work force in Ontario. I do not think this Legislature truly wants to do that, and I think and I hope this Legislature will support amendment to that question.
There are a number of other matters which we have attempted to formulate in as simple and clear phraseology as possible for purpose of amendment directly to key sections of this bill, so that this bill will in fact provide some of what has been promised to the women of Ontario, even though we are not satisfied with a bill that says it is bringing about a formula called pay equity. We would like to see a bill that established a mechanism which would be an ongoing mechanism to provide equal pay for work of equal value. That is quite a different kind of concept from the formulistic approach that is put forward in this bill.
Even though we are not enormously happy with Bill 154, we could support Bill 154 with much broader heart if this Legislature could, in all seriousness, sit down and look at some of the key, critical matters that are the heart of this legislation and really at the core of determining whether it is going to be effective and whether it is going to be a real help to the women of Ontario.
For all those reasons, I am hopeful that the motion which we expect to come from our wonderful House leader--
Mr. Speaker: There is no motion yet.
Ms. Gigantes: --will find favour with members of the Legislature and that we will indeed have an opportunity to put amendments to this legislation.
Mr. McClellan: I do not believe there are any other speakers in the third reading debate, Mr. Speaker. If there are any other members who wanted to participate in the debate
Mr. Barlow: Go ahead.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. McClellan moves that the motion for third reading of Bill 154 be amended by deleting all the words after the word "that" and substituting the following therefor:
"Bill 154, an Act to provide for Pay Equity be not now read a third time but be recommitted to committee of the whole House for the purpose of reconsidering the clauses of the bill."
Mr. Speaker: Is there any discussion? The member for Bellwoods, and I would remind the member that he may speak for up to 10 minutes.
Mr. McClellan: I do not intend to abuse the hospitality of the House. I do want to indicate that it is normal procedure that a bill, especially a long, complicated bill such as this one which has completed its clause-by-clause stage in standing committee, to be reported back to the House and sent to committee of the whole for further clause-by-clause consideration.
On the day this particular bill was reported back to the House, it was not reported by either the chairman or the vice-chairman of the standing committee on administration of justice but was reported by the member for Oriole (Ms. Caplan).
Quite frankly, since the member for Oriole had no business to be reporting the bill in the first place, it was not noticed by members of the opposition that the bill was being reported and ordered for third reading. Normally, when that kind of inadvertence occurs, the House leaders simply agree out of courtesy, by mutual consent, to send the bill back to the committee of the whole House for the normal clause-by-clause consideration. For whatever reason, the government House leader refused to do that on this occasion, I assume guided by the truculence and intransigence of the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), who has displayed uncommon pique, arrogance and incivility in the course of the discussion, debate and consideration of this particular bill.
I assume that his annoyance at being challenged by such upstarts as members of the opposition had something to do with his unwillingness to permit the additional democratic debate, the additional democratic process of putting forward amendments, arguing pro and con and then bringing them to a vote. For the life of me, I am baffled and amazed at a minority Liberal government which has so little respect for democratic traditions and practices that it would attempt to prevent the opposition from having a clause-by-clause debate of such an important bill in committee of the whole House.
Mr. Runciman: You would not get that from a Tory government.
Mr. McClellan: Fortunately, my colleagues in the Progressive Conservative Party have, I think, a keener sense of the proprieties of a parliament and a better sense of what makes a parliament and a democratic government function than our friends in the Liberal Party seem to have. So I have some assurance that when this motion is put to a vote in a very few minutes it will carry, and we will go back to committee of the whole House and have the kind of democratic debate on amendments, pro and con, which characterizes parliamentary government and parliamentary democracy.
I do not know what the Liberal government is afraid of. I do not know what the Liberal government's problem is with an additional two days of debate on these important amendments. I do not know what the Liberal government is so fearful of. Is their position so weak that they are afraid to have it scrutinized for even an additional two days? Is their position so fragile that they cannot stand the scrutiny of debate? What is the problem over there? What is the Liberal government afraid of? If they are not afraid to exclude a quarter of a million women from coverage under this bill, perhaps they are afraid of the scrutiny of debate on that account.
I cannot account for the difficulty of my colleagues in the Liberal Party, but again I am confident that our democratic traditions will prevail, that this motion will carry and that, as I said, we will have an additional two days of debate on this important bill, and then it will proceed through the normal process to a third and final reading.
Mr. Ward: I am very disappointed to have to participate in the debate. I am very disappointed that the House leader of the third party has reflected that his party's wish, after all this time, is to not move forward with pay equity legislation but, in fact, to move backward.
The member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) talked at some length about the fear of scrutiny with regard to this legislation. I would remind him of a little bit of the process that was undertaken over the course of the past nearly two years now in trying to develop legislation on an issue as complex as the one before us today.
Some time ago, we established labour advisory groups, business advisory groups, that travelled throughout the province to get the input of many of the groups and individuals that would be affected by this legislation. They received over 240 submissions.
Subsequent to that, the standing committee on administration of justice held its hearings on Bill 105, the public sector part, pay equity legislation. Over 60 submissions were heard there.
During the course of the consideration of the clause-by-clause debate on Bill 154, there was no attempt by anyone to limit the debate, not from this party and not from any other party. There were no limits put on the debate whatsoever. Over the course of five weeks, we again heard submissions from many groups and individuals and took into account their comments and concerns about the specifics of Bill 154. We had a very long and drawn-out debate on clause-by-clause consideration.
At the end of that process, the committee reported the bill, with no proviso that it go into committee of the whole House. The first we heard of this was at some point--obviously, the third party felt it was asleep at the switch, and for some unknown reason they now choose that this legislation not proceed, perhaps for reasons unknown to me.
I can think of no reason the third party now wants to move backwards, not forwards. One can only suspect that it might suit some political agenda, but how can the member for Ottawa Centre (Ms. Gigantes) in the same breath complain about the length of time it has taken in this debate and at the same moment support a motion that would not move this bill ahead but in fact move it backwards? Obviously, they are not prepared to proceed.
I was interested in the comments from the member for Ottawa West. He put forward a lot of the issues he would like to see debated in committee of the whole House. Not one item he mentioned was not considered at length by the standing committee on administration of justice. Not one of the points made by the member for Ottawa Centre was not discussed, debated and voted on in the justice committee during consideration after second reading.
Frankly, it absolutely baffles me that at this moment there seems to be some political agenda driving the opposition parties, some fear of proceeding with this legislation. Frankly, it distresses me greatly to see political advantage being taken, at the expense of the working women of this province, to further delay this legislation.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Harris: I too am very disappointed to have to participate in this debate. I am astounded, though, at the comments of the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Ward).
The reason for this debate is that for some reason or other, on this particular bill--and if anybody is afraid to look at this bill it is the government, because it has tried to whip this through into third reading without it first going through committee of the whole House. I suggest this is the very first occasion that I can recall, after having been here for a little more than six years, the very first occasion since 1981, since I was elected, when any government has attempted to stifle debate in this Legislature, has attempted to run roughshod over people and bypass a very important stage and step in the House, that being a look by committee of the whole House before a bill goes forward for third reading.
The member for Wentworth North talks about the eight or nine or 10 people in the justice committee who had an opportunity to go through this bill, but he seems to have ignored that there are 125 elected people in this Legislature and the committee-of-the-whole process is there just for that purpose.
We have never had a government that I can recall, and maybe some others will remind me, we have never had a House leader who has said: "No, we will not let you do this in committee of the whole House. It has been ordered for third reading." I have never heard that come forward. I have never heard the House leader for the third party say "No" when we have said: "You know, this bill has been whipped through, going for third reading. We have a couple of things we'd like to do in committee. What do you think?" They have never said "No" when that request has been made by our party or the third party. We have never said "No" to that type of request, that I can recall. Certainly on any bill that I can ever recall, the government House leader has never said "No," until this bill.
If anybody has any concerns about this particular bill, it is the government and the message that has been relayed through to the government House leader. Quite frankly, I do not think he is that insensitive to the House. However, I guess he gets his marching orders from the Premier (Mr. Peterson).
Ms. Fish: He did not used to be that insensitive.
Mr. Harris: I honestly do not think that it is entirely he who is that insensitive. I think it is the Premier who has ordered him to become insensitive. "To heck with what the opposition parties want to do. We are going to whip this through for third reading before anybody can get a look at the specific aspects of the bill."
I want to get that on the record. It really was not the reason I rose, but the supercilious, pompous comments by the member for Wentworth North prompted me to get those few comments on the record as well.
I want to indicate why we think this should be in committee of the whole House. I am disappointed that we have to go through this route of supporting this resolution, but I want to tell the members some of the reasons we are supporting this resolution.
During the committee stage, we found massive confusion by the staff of the government, who did not know answers to many questions. The minister did not know. The staff did not know. You can figure out where the heck the parliamentary assistant would have been in the process, because he is down below all of those. There were a number of issues in which we had difficulty getting answers to questions as it went through that process.
Second, I want to tell the House that in my opinion the business community's views were not given enough of an airing--certainly were not given enough of an understanding--and I doubt that members of the government party understood some of the concerns and the views that the business community was putting forward.
We understand the anxiety of the government to get any pay equity bill through rather than getting the right pay equity bill through; we understand that political agenda. There is no doubt there is a political agenda, by the example of the refusal to deal with this in committee of the whole House, without the opposition having to combine and force it there. That is indication of a political agenda.
I would suggest to the House that it is a political agenda and it is an agenda to be able to hold up a pay equity bill and say, "It's through, it's passed," without really giving serious thought about whether it is the right pay equity bill, whether it is going to work, whether it is sensitive to the needs both of the business community, which is going to have to make it work, and of the workers, the employees, the unions and the women we hope this bill will help.
We moved very important amendments in the committee. We feel they were important, we feel they were substantive, but we feel they were perhaps not understood by everyone. Therefore, we want the opportunity to put these amendments again. I am astounded that there is one party in this Legislature that is afraid to have a look at those amendments again, to have them debated again and voted on again.
I suspect that is the political agenda. There are some members in the government party who do not want to stand up and be counted. We are going to give them that opportunity to stand up and be counted, even though, for some reason or other, they want to whip through it and not have that opportunity.
I urge those members who thought that through some procedural method they could escape that and could say, "Gee, could we just whip this through so that I do not have to actually stand up and speak and show where I stand on these issues? Please, Mr. House Leader, please, Mr. Premier, find somewhere I can hide. Find some way I can hide and not have to get involved in this;" I urge those members to seize upon the opportunity I am going to give them and the members of the third party are going to give them to take a really good look at this piece of legislation.
In the short amount of time left to me, if my colleagues from all three parties will let me get one other point on the record, I also want to say, and I think it is important the people of Ontario know and everybody in this Legislature knows, we could have pay equity in the public sector today. We could have had it two years ago. We could have had it one year ago. We could have had it six months ago. There is nothing stopping the government from being fair in the negotiations.
We do not need a bill--that is a proposal put forward by this party in the last campaign--to proceed immediately with pay equity in the public sector. That was a proposal, put through to break this logjam while this bill went on for a couple of years: to proceed immediately. I think the public has a right to know and understand that there is nothing saying the government cannot proceed with pay equity in the public sector. In fact, this party has encouraged it to do so, and the third party, to its credit on this particular issue, has encouraged government to do so for longer than that.
There is no reason that could not be done, and we could then take the time to look at what we are really doing with pay equity in the private sector. But the government has got to rush this bill through for some reason, even though it does not take effect in the private sector for three years: three years, because the government will not proceed, as it can and as we have told it to do and we have suggested it do, with pay equity in the public sector right now.
We will be supporting this motion and I urge all members to pay attention to the amendments we will be putting forward.
Ms. Gigantes: It is hard to credit the words we heard from the member for Wentworth North, the parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General and the minister responsible for women's issues. It is really hard to credit it.
This party has managed to put off month after month over a year, then up to Christmas of this past year, before it got itself unwound and on track to deal with legislation affecting the private sector, and to finally sort out the fact it could do the public sector and the private sector equal pay legislation in one bill, which we had told it a year and a half before.
It finally got on track, it finally agreed. We took the initiative this year, after Christmas, to sit down with the government and say: "When are you going to hold the hearings? Let us get this schedule off the ground because otherwise we are not going to get legislation passed before this summer."
Frankly, we were afraid it was not going to want to pass the legislation. We had good reason to be afraid. It had dragged its feet month after month after month; it would not table legislation; the excuses; the committees; the interministerial working groups; the advisory groups; the public hearings--there was not a thing it did not do to delay this moment.
Now we are asking for a very brief time in this Legislature--two days is the proposal being put forward by the other two parties--to debate amendments which are clear. Our amendments were circulated to both other parties last Thursday. The parliamentary assistant says we are looking to move backwards. We want to move forward to a better bill. This bill is not adequate. If he will just take the wool out of his ears and listen one more time to why the amendments we are going to propose again are amendments that he should be supporting this time, it will be to the benefit of women in this province for a long time to come.
Mr. Ward: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The member for Ottawa Centre made some references to some limiting facts within this motion. I do not see where the debate was limited to--
Mr. Speaker: Under what standing order would that come?
Mr. Ward: I am not sure.
Mr. Speaker: You are not sure. I am not sure either. That is not a point of order.
Mr. Rae: I can only say that the parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General knows perfectly well there have been very active discussions between the House leaders, and indeed between the critics, with respect to what should be done with this bill at this stage. He knows perfectly well, or if he does not he is singularly ill-informed and has not bothered to find out or he has not been told because he is not in on the decisions that are being taken.
Mr. McClellan: He is not one of the Big Four.
Mr. Rae: Or the Big One in this case. He does not know, so he stands up and says, "I am not aware." That is fine. He has just publicized the fact that he does not know what he is talking about.
I think the record will show the ink was scarcely dry on that section of the accord which said equal pay in the public and the private sectors before the Liberal Party started to back away from that promise and back away from that commitment. All we have seen in this House for the last two years is a Liberal Party that is unwilling and unable to do what it said it would do. I think it is perfectly clear to all members in this--
Mr. D. R. Cooke: All right. Let's go to the polls. Let the people decide.
Mr. Rae: All right, let the people decide. I have no problem with that. I said to the Premier a while ago: "If you want to go, go ahead. Fine. I have no problem with that." I say that to the member for Kitchener (Mr. D. R. Cooke) right now.
Mr. Breaugh: Get out the cruiser. Start it up, Ken.
Mr. Rae: That is right. We will be glad. We have a Minister of Health who has the time to raise $200 a shot--a tollgate practice to get in to meet the Minister of Health--and he has not even had the common decency in a year and a half to sit down and talk to the nursing home workers in the province. That is the quality of the Liberal Party. That spoke more eloquently than any speech I have ever heard in this assembly with respect to the true character of the Liberal Party. It is prepared to hob-nob with those people who have $200 a shot and come across with $200, but it is not prepared to sit down with the working people of this province to talk about their working conditions. That is the quality of the Liberal Party. That is what the Liberal Party is all about.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I do not know. Is the member aware of the motion? Would you like me to read the motion?
Mr. Breaugh: This is one of the nuances.
Mr. Rae: I was referring to the Minister of Health by way of example in relation to the particular motion that is before us.
I want to say with respect to the equal pay matter that it has been the most incredible period of green papers, of white papers, of consultation, of backgrounding, of deep backgrounding, of throwing things back on the back burner and back on the back of the back burner. Then when we ask the House leader and when we ask the Liberal Party, why do we not let the public see what amendments are being discussed so that debate can be crystallized in this House for two days on the particulars that are before us, what do the Liberals say? "No. No way, we do not want to have that debate. We want to ram it through." We say no to that kind of behaviour.
They held up this legislation. They held up any introduction of legislation for a year and three quarters and they are not going to deprive the people of Ontario of the chance to see just what a bunch of reactionary people they really are when it comes to these amendments. We think it is time the people were able to see that, and that is why we are going to be supporting the motion so brilliantly manoeuvred by my colleague the member for Bellwoods.
Mr. Speaker: Is the House ready for the question? Are you all aware of the motion --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Mr. McClellan has moved that the motion for third reading of Bill 154 be amended by deleting all the words after the word "that" and substituting the following therefor, so that it would read, "Bill 154, An Act to provide for Pay Equity, be not now read a third time but be recommitted to the committee of the whole House for the purpose of reconsidering the clauses of the bill."
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour, say "aye." All those opposed will say "nay." In my opinion the ayes have it. Motion agreed to.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
Mr. Speaker: I believe the member for Haldimand-Norfolk had the floor. Does the member wish to continue?
Mr. G. I. Miller: Yes, I certainly do. It gives me a lot of pleasure to rise again and speak on the budget debate. Peculiar things are unfolding around the Legislature. I would like to indicate to you, Mr. Speaker, that a week ago
Mr. Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the member, but if any members are departing, would they depart quietly?
Mr. G. I. Miller: A week ago today, we were speaking on the budget debate and bringing to the attention of this Legislature the things we have done to assist agriculture. I believe that was where we left off.
I had the opportunity of going to the ball game last Wednesday night. My buddy there, who I happened to be sitting beside, was the leader of the third party. That is the first time we sat on the same bench, cheering for the same team, and it was an excellent ball game, and were viewing the same lines.
The budget that was brought in by the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) has certainly improved to some degree the financial assistance to the farming community. The improved farm tax rebate, plus new programs to promote farm safety and land stewardship, are provided for in the 1987 Ontario budget. Spending by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food is expected to pass the half-billion mark in the current fiscal year, from $475 million last year to a budget of $563 million in 1987-88. This represents a 72 per cent increase in farm funding since our government took office less than two years ago, in 1985.
In the budget speech, the Treasurer said that low commodity prices, declining farm asset values and high debt loads are still squeezing Ontario's agriculture sector. As one who has been working closely with agriculture, I certainly realize that.
The programs we have put in place, the replacement of the 60 per cent tax rebate on farm property tax with a 100 per cent rebate on the farm land and outbuildings, with farm residences taxed separately as farm property, are changes valued at $18 million and represent a 17 per cent increase in the total value of farm tax rebates.
Only last Thursday night, the Treasurer and I had the opportunity of going to Dunnville to a very exciting meeting to inform the residents there of how the farm tax assistance is going to assist the communities across Ontario. As I said before, the region of Haldimand-Norfolk is reviewing its assessment because of the devaluation of farm land, particularly in the tobacco area, and this has created a lot of misunderstanding. But when the dust has settled, I am sure taxes in all parts of rural Ontario will go down. Particularly in my riding in the region of Haldimand-Norfolk, taxes will be decreasing rather than increasing.
This will be done on a fair basis. It is important that legislation was brought into this Legislature only a couple of weeks ago through Bill 6, indicating the assessment will be carried out and giving the authority to the municipality. I just want to share with those people in the town of Dunnville, in the town of Haldimand and in the region of Haldimand-Norfolk, that taxes will be going down, but under the 1984-85 assessment it will be done on actual value.
Another program that has been put in place to assist the farming community is the introduction of a three-year, $40-million land stewardship program to encourage sound land management and environmental protection. The program will help farmers restore soil productivity and reduce environmental damage. When we have overproduction and prices that do not reflect the cost of production, it is important that we bring in programs to protect the environment and our water resources because that is so important, not only to our future but also for the future generations that take over our responsibility.
There is $50 million for a new farm management safety and repair program. Under this program, the government will pay up to $2,500 per farmer to encourage farm safety, improve farm management and help defray costs of machine repairs and grain storage facilities. All farmers who gross at least $12,000 a year will be eligible for this program. It certainly should give some assistance to farmers in providing good storage facilities so they have good-quality grain or whatever they are storing--corn, soy beans and grain--because quality is so important to meet the prices in any market. Quality obviously comes to the surface as being beneficial to everyone concerned.
We also announced the extension of several farm programs. The beginning farmer assistance program will be extended for a further five years. The Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program, OFFIRR, will be maintained at the 100 per cent level instead of being cut back to 70 per cent as was originally planned. I think that plan has been utilized by more farmers than any other plan that has been put in place. We are proud that the farmers are using it and that it is being successful.
I would like to read to the members of the Legislature some of the comments made by farm leaders around the province after the budget was introduced. Farmers are pleased with a provincial budget that boosts agriculture spending to more than half a billion dollars, up 18 per cent over last year. They say it will not save the hundreds of Ontario farmers facing bankruptcy, but "They did a pretty good job with what they had to work with," said Brigid Pyke, president of the 26,000 farmer members of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, "and they have a sense of fiscal responsibility. We realize that the programs are not going to save all the farmers, but we certainly want to save as many as we can and stabilize the industry as much as we can." This was a statement by Brigid Pyke, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, in an article in the Hamilton Spectator.
Another headline read, "Fellow Farmer Coming Through for Province's Food Producers." This is referring to the Treasurer. "Ontario food producers are delighted with the provincial budget their fellow farmer, Treasurer Robert Nixon, read Wednesday in the Legislature. `I do not see how we could be more pleased,' said Terry Daynard, general manager of the Ontario Corn Producers' Association. `Agriculture is getting quite a share of the windfall profits from the economic boom,' said Bill Jorgen, president of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario."
I might indicate that while there may be and has been a boom in urban areas and in many sectors of the economy, agriculture has taken the brunt. With the programs we have been able to put in place, in which I had a role to play and made recommendations to the Treasurer, who took up those recommendations, we feel confident the agricultural industry will strengthen. Working along with our federal friends, with the other provinces across this great country of ours, and not only across our country but around the world, agriculture again will gain the growth in the economy it requires, because food is the basic requirement. Even though we have overproduction at the present time, there are a lot of hungry people who require that food and it is important that we work on a world basis to make sure they have access to it. The surplus can soon disappear. It takes just one bad season in any one particular part of the world and the food supply can diminish very quickly.
I feel that with proper management, the farmer does play an important role in all parts of rural Ontario and in Ontario generally. If he can buy and replace equipment, it makes jobs. I think it is so important that we try to stimulate that as much as we can, to strengthen that industry at the legislative level. We are pleased to have had a role to play. The Treasurer has seen fit to support this great industry and we have the support of the Premier (Mr. Peterson).
I would like to give other members an opportunity to respond to the budget, and I will close now by saying it has been a pleasure to work with a government that has been so co-operative, that wants to work with the people and wants input from the farming community, not only from the farming community but also from everyone across this great province, to resolve the difficult problems we have to face, to share those responsibilities and rewards with everyone in the province. It is a pleasure to be part of that team.
Mr. Sheppard: I am pleased to have an opportunity to participate in the debate of the May 1987 budget. Previous to the budget presentation, I was thinking the Treasurer must be quite used to the task by now, this being his third budget. I would like to make a comment about the red trillium. Seeing that late Premier Mitchell Hepburn brought in the white trillium in 1937, I just cannot understand why the Treasurer decided to bring in a red trillium. I want to read a couple of comments.
According to the Macmillan Wild Flower Book, "Because the red trillium has such an unpleasant odour, its more popular name is the stinking Benjamin." I am just wondering if that is what our Treasurer was thinking when he brought in that red trillium. It says here, in a horticultural book, "Note: The white trillium is the most striking of the species and traditionally regarded as the blossom of peace and hope." I wonder whether the Treasurer wanted to get out of the blossom of peace and hope and if that is why he brought in that stinking red trillium.
I am surprised he would go against his own party which back in 1937 brought in the white trillium. I am very surprised the Treasurer would do that.
Mr. Pollock: When you get a red trillium, it is starting to die.
Mr. Sheppard: The Liberal Party over there is starting to die, after bringing that one in.
At first glance, the figures announced in the budget appeared impressive, until you read further that the same funds were to be stretched over a period of three years and some even over a period of six years. Once again, I was quite disappointed in the budgetary policy as set out in this year's budget or, perhaps more to the point, this quarter budget. It is no secret that most of us anticipate an election some time in the not-too-distant future, although the Premier is playing the "I've got a secret but I'm not telling" game for all it is worth. I am sure he is enjoying it, since that this is the first time he has such authoritative powers over the people of Ontario.
There is no doubt in anyone's mind that this budget is in preparation for this upcoming election. When economic times are at an all-time high right now, the Treasurer could have done a number of things that would have put this province ahead for the bad times we all know will come again. This budget does nothing to better our future; instead, it looks to the next few months to make the government look as good as it possibly can. Primarily, and what concerns us all, the Treasurer could have eliminated this province's deficit. He could have been remembered historically as the Treasurer who wiped out the provincial deficit. No one, not one person, would have forgotten that.
He could have eliminated all our transportation problems throughout the province, while at the same time providing employment and increased tourism, not to mention facilities in trade, when many of us are getting correspondence from constituents expressing their fears about free trade. This government has not even provided one red cent to help the federal government negotiators plan a deal that will benefit this province. This proves either that the Premier does not care how Ontario fares in negotiations with the United States or that this budget is merely a preparatory measure to the anticipated election.
In the throne speech this government promised to create an education system that would set high standards in helping students to reach their full potential. I quote from the throne speech: "We will soon announce details of a major new capital funding program to eliminate overcrowded classrooms and modernize our education facilities."
In one of our local papers last week there appeared a letter to the editor from a grandmother who was completely devastated by conditions in the so-called school her five-year-old grandson was attending. The grandson made reference to a family of rats living under his portable classroom and how the rats would come out to watch the students. The grandmother thought perhaps her grandson was exaggerating a little, as young boys have a tendency to do, but decided to do some investigating on her own after she had heard some older children talking about the rats too. To her utter shock and dismay, families of rats actually do live under several of the nine portable classrooms, and the principal goes on rat patrol before the children leave the portables.
Furthermore, the conditions are deplorable. The school was built to accommodate 80 students, now has over 200 students and in the fall there will be 215 students, not taking into account those enrolled for this fall. There is not even enough water to flush the toilets, for crying out loud, because the facility was not built for 200 students.
These conditions in our primary schools comment on the horror story--
Mr. Mancini: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I bring to your attention and to the attention of the member for Northumberland (Mr. Sheppard) that standing order 19(d)4 states that a member shall be called to order "if he...in the opinion of the Speaker, refers at length to debates of the current session, or reads unnecessarily from verbatim reports of the Legislative debates or any other document," meaning that is out of order.
I want to bring to your attention, Mr. Speaker, that the member has now read verbatim from what I counted as a minimum of four, possibly five, pages and it appears he intends to read the entire reply to the budget speech verbatim from a speech some researcher has prepared for him.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. D. R. Cooke): The member for Northumberland will take note of the admonition and refer to his notes sparingly.
Mr. Sheppard: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Treasurer with his tremendous windfall of money could have a massive investment in the education system. What about the gaps between high schools and elementary schools, as opposed to the grants for secondary schools? This was one of the promises of the 1985 election; they were going to provide 60 per cent of educational costs to the elementary and secondary schools, but today it is 46 per cent. I do not believe that with the $1.2-billion windfall, this government could not fulfil its promise of funding the 60 per cent.
I also want to say you can tell how they feel, because I spoke to some of these people the other weekend, and they are damned mad because this government is not providing the education needs and the money they deserve to fix up our schools across Ontario, let alone in the great riding of Northumberland.
I just want to mention that the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) should come down to Northumberland, because it is the best riding in Ontario. Even the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) comes up through the great riding of Northumberland and says it is the best scenic drive in the fall that there is in Ontario. I would like to remind the member for Essex South, if he ever wants to have a nice scenic drive, to come down and drive down Highway 45 between Cobourg and Norwood.
Mr. Poirier: They have the biggest rats.
Mr. Sheppard: I would say that the biggest rat comes from Essex South.
Perhaps the government party never believed it would ever have the opportunity to govern and therefore--
Mr. Mancini: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I think the honourable member would probably want to withdraw what he said.
Mr. Sheppard: Is that in the book there? If he can prove it to me, I will gladly withdraw it, but it is not an uncomplimentary remark. It has been said several times this afternoon.
The Acting Speaker: The Speaker would rule that there was no particular personal reference to anyone. The member for Northumberland has the floor.
Mr. Sheppard: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Mancini: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: There was a reference to my constituency, and the people of Essex South are very fine people. I will have no member insult the constituents of Essex South the way the member for Northumberland has, as I choose not to insult his constituents or the constituents of any other member. I ask him to please consider what he said.
Mr. Sheppard: I did not refer to the people from Essex South.
The Acting Speaker: The Speaker is of the view that the member was referring to a certain animal and not to people. He may carry on.
Mr. Sheppard: Thank you. Perhaps the government party never believed it would ever have the opportunity to govern and therefore made rash promises it never thought it would have to keep. How could this government claim that its top priority is to improve the quality of education in Ontario when it cannot even keep up with a two-year-old election promise?
What is more, I know many people, including myself, were hoping to see the realization of yet another campaign promise made in 1985, and that is with respect to child care. Whatever happened to the comprehensive new policy on child care of two years ago? What happened to the accord commitment to make day care a universal right?
The budget states, "This issue is not confined to Ontario." Quite frankly, anyone could have informed this government of that fact two years ago. It is merely an excuse then, because the minister has not seen fit to do his homework with respect to the needs of the people of Ontario. I grant you that day care is a national issue, but we should not be waiting for the federal government to tell us what to do.
This budget makes no provision for direct financing of its day care facilities. Instead, it provides $26 million for day care initiatives, which is equivalent to about 5,000 new spaces. At 5,000 spaces per year, it will take many years before we reach the 100,000 spaces the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) was noted to say of the provincial need.
Furthermore, not one word was spoken against this budget with respect to rural child care, and once again the government totally ignored the thousands of middle-income families who cannot afford the high cost of day care and are not eligible for subsidization.
As I said earlier, the Treasurer could have eliminated our transportation problems throughout the province with this wonderful $1. 2 billion. One does not have to be a mathematics whiz to realize that after we take away the $130 million already allocated to the greater Toronto area, there is not much left for the remainder of this province to address vital road and transit requirements, especially when this amount is divided up to cover the next three years.
The $28 million allocated to municipal roads alone is a far cry from the $75 million deemed essential by the Ontario Good Roads Association in order to arrest the deterioration of our municipal roads infrastructure. It only makes common sense that the longer we wait to repair roads, which are so essential to commerce, agriculture and tourism, the more expensive and extensive rehabilitation work will have to be.
Had I not known the Treasurer had some farming background, I would never have guessed it by his lack of sensitivity to the farming community. I am not saying the Treasurer could have wiped out all the farmers' problems with his magic wand, because we all know the difficulties our farmers have been faced with in the last few years. What I am saying, however, is that the Treasurer could have implemented a program that would have given hope of some relief to our farmers, a program that would have ensured our farmers a fair and reasonable return for their products.
An alternative such as the Family Farm Security Act would have been expensive, but our farmers would have had a chance to compete and prosper. Instead, the budget introduced a $50-million farm management, safety and repairs program. Quite honestly, what good will a $2,500 grant be to improve farm management techniques when the banks are foreclosing on the family farm? Really, where is the logic here? That is almost as wonderful as the program that paid farmers to get off the land.
On the 100 per cent rebate on farms, I might say that the previous government discussed it in 1983 and 1984. I do not think it is going to make the farmers happy when they get their tax bill next year. Anybody who has a new house and one acre of land with a new garage on it is going to be paying more taxes than he is at the present time. I think it is a bad policy for this government to bring in a 100 per cent rebate on one's taxes, because there will be people going out and buying a farm with no house on it, and they are going to get all their taxes back. I do not think that is fair, and I hope that maybe the Treasurer and the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) will look into it in the future and correct that mistake.
I have not even touched on the mere $5-million-per-year allowance for eastern Ontario. This pittance is a complete insult to the residents of eastern Ontario. This government claims to realize the importance of tourism to local economies, yet it chose to provide again a mere $5 million to the Destinations North and Destinations East programs. With 14 counties in eastern Ontario and the city of Ottawa, what is $25 million over a five-year period?
The Treasurer could have achieved so much for the people of Ontario with this budget. He could have put us ahead of the game for the rainy days that will undoubtedly come. Instead, he chose to squander our resources of funds. I believe the Treasurer abused his position to make his budget the best election budget ever, with enough money to keep the announcements of grants and so-called new programs coming until the election is called.
This truly is an unacceptable budget from this government. It does not plan for the future beyond the next few months. This government showed its true colours to the people of Ontario by displaying what it perceives to be of primary importance; that is, winning the fall election.
This government is a disappointment to the people of this province. I am sure the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Fulton) is going to be receiving more delegations, because we were promised that Highway 30, for the last 9.3 kilometres south of Campbellford, would be fixed. It is a disgrace. There have been delegations in to me and there have been delegations go to see the minister and he just does not seem to care about the roads. The roads are deteriorating very fast. I suggest the roads could have been fixed up much, much more with more money. That $1.2 billion-I was going to say gift to this government--should have been put to better use.
Mr. Ramsay: It is a pleasure to rise today to speak on the budget. I am sorry some of my colleagues from the north are not here because I have listened to most of the northern members speak on the budget. I am very disappointed that all we hear is gloom and doom from the northern members in regard to the budget and economic conditions in general in the north. If I were a person considering living in northern Ontario or as a northerner myself and I just had the information I heard from the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) or the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) in regard to northern Ontario, with such a bleak picture being painted, I would not want to be living in the north and I would not want to move to the north.
I want to bring to this House what is going on in the north. What is going on is that we are in an era of transition. We no longer have to rely on the jobs of the big multinationals because those companies now are withdrawing with the resource-based industries they are in. Northerners are starting to feel that they will start to rebuild the economy themselves. In this transition, we are going to create some of our own jobs. In this transition, we are starting to have confidence in ourselves that we can run our own economy. What we are going to do as a government--we are starting to do it and this has been laid out in the budget--is to put some of the tools in place for northerners to grab on to, to rebuild that economy.
That is what the throne speech was about and that is what the budget was about. I would call some of these members I hear talking bad news bears. We have a lot of bears in the north but some bad news bears from the north have come down here. All they are doing is glooming-and-dooming. In the last two years, as the member representing Timiskaming, I have tried to act basically as a promoter for our area of the north and as a cheerleader saying, "Listen, we can do it ourselves."
It is a challenge. There are problems. I look at them as being challenges and opportunities rather than just excuses for nay-saying and glooming-and-dooming. It is time we, as northerners, start to take up those tools that are in place and that the government is providing. We should look at our greatest resource, which is us, the people of the north, and stop putting ourselves and the region north of North Bay down. It is the most beautiful part of this country, let alone of this province. As a northerner, I am proud to live there. I am going to work with northerners to help rebuild our economy.
I would like to go into some of the specifics the Treasurer mentioned. What we have tried to do through the throne speech and in the budget is to look at the very basic infrastructure problems we have in the north and to try to get them improved and ironed out so that we use those improvements, such as in transportation and the heritage fund, as economic development tools to rebuild that economy.
The transportation component is one of the most important aspects of the budget. Our penalty of geography, being so far from the markets, has cost us in the development of this province. We feel that we can start to overcome these by providing good transportation services to and from the north and within the north itself.
Some of the opposition members say: "You threw in only another $26 million. You increased the northern transportation budget by only a third." That is somehow peanuts. "We need $100 million there." I would like to tell the members that $100 million cannot be spent on transportation in one year. What we have not done is what the fellows across the way would do. That is why they are over there and why they are going to be staying there for the next few years. They used to create a budget that would say, "We will spend $100 million on roads," or "We will put $80 million into this farm program next year." When it came down to the end of the fiscal year, it would be shown to us that, "Gee, yes, we budgeted $80 million in that farm program"--or this or that--"but golly, we were able to spend only $20 million. Isn't that too bad? We did budget for that because we thought the need was there."
It is a tremendous trick of inflating a budget. What we are saying is that we are here for the long term and we are putting out a responsible budget and we are putting in the money we can spend. Sure, we can put it up and blow it all up and say we are going to spend $100 million on northern roads, and eventually we are going to, but we cannot spend that this year.
Basically, the pipe is full. The engineering and the planning have been done and are being carried out. If we were to place that money there, even if we had the engineering plans in place, we could not carry out the work because there are not the contractors in place to carry it out.
One of the things we want to do, as this government is helping to build the north, is to have the people of the north do the work and the companies of the north carry out the contracts. We want the money that goes to the north to stay in the north, and it is going to take a while for that to happen.
Tomorrow in North Bay I am going to be announcing the specific projects in relation to the transportation budget. The people in the north are going to be extremely pleased by most aspects of that announcement because we are starting to target the very basic roads and highways and municipal projects that northerners have been asking this government to carry out. We will be addressing that tomorrow.
Another criticism we get is about gas tax, and I admit it is a nuisance and it is a problem. I do not like paying higher gas tax than southern Ontario. Part of the problem is that we as northerners, when we drive down to southern Ontario, pass through gasoline alley south of Gravenhurst and see the very cheapest prices in Ontario.
If you travel around the province and fill up in west Toronto or farther on down the line, you will find that at many times you will fill up at the same price as you will, as of yesterday, in Sudbury, for instance, or in other northern towns and cities where the big discrepancy is not between north and south but between the cities and towns of the north itself.
This is a problem. Our sister government of Quebec has tried to address that problem. It has tried to address it in a way that many members of this House are proponents of: that somehow we decrease the excise tax for northern Ontario as was done in northern Quebec to see if that would solve the problem. I would love that to happen. I would love to see that happen and to see it become a reality at the pump, but the reality is that it does not happen. Quebec has tried that. We have seen reports now, after a lengthy study the government has done after doing the very thing proponents in this House have asked for. It does not work because the oil companies and, unfortunately, the retailers pocket the rebate.
I have sympathy for why the retailers do that. The reason those margins are much higher in many of those small towns and cities of the north is that the margin they have to play with has to be large because of the very low volumes of gasoline they are selling.
It is very easy in Metro Toronto and other very busy places in southern Ontario to work on a margin of 2.8 cents per litre, which is the minimum-type margin that most gas stations work on. When you have the volume flows, you can do that.
However, when you are up in places such as Longlac and Sioux Lookout and many of the towns in northwestern Ontario, it is not so much the transportation component that adds on to the extra expense of northern gasoline; it is that they do not have the volume of traffic.
If we were to go ahead and lower the excise tax for northern Ontario, we would see it all the next day at the pump, but over the next few weeks and the next few months, what we would see is the gradual increase back to the prices we had, the day before we lowered those taxes.
That would be unfortunate because what we would see then is that the Treasurer, who needs that income to spend on northern road construction--the very things northerners want--would have less money to do that and northerners would be paying the very same high prices for gasoline again, so we would not be solving anything at all.
We have just completed an exercise, and we did this before the budget, of consulting with our northern development councils. These councils were set up by my colleague the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine), who is the chairman of these councils. I would like to say and put on the record that these councils are working marvellously.
What we are getting from these councils, which are made up of a cross-section of northerners, is advice to the government. We put the question to them: "We know it is a problem with high gas prices in northern Ontario; what would you like to see? How would you like to see these problems solved?" Northerners said to us through the NDCs--except for one; eight of them out of the nine--"We would like to see extra moneys being put towards northern road construction."
That is the very thing the Treasurer did. The Treasurer is listening to northerners and has responded through the budget to northerners. As a northerner, I agree with the NDCs, and it is ironic that the one NDC that said, "No, we want it both ways: lower taxes and increased roads," happened to be the one from Timiskaming. I am in agreement with the majority of the NDCs and think that we have to work at the road transportation problem first.
We will continue considering the problem of gas prices in the north because it is going to be a problem and it certainly is a challenge. We have watched our sister province deal with it and fail, unfortunately. I was hoping that its solution might have worked and that I could come to the Treasurer and say, "Quebec has tried this and it does work." Unfortunately, it does not. The Treasurer was right and the people in Treasury were right that it cannot be done that way, but we are continuing to work with these problems.
I would like to continue about transportation and say how important it is. As I said, because of our penalty of geography, we do not have the closeness, because of speed and time, to some of the manufacturing plants in southern Ontario. Plants in southwestern Ontario might be of a similar distance but, because of better four-lane highways, they have better and quicker access to factories.
Let us take a look at the car manufacturing assembly business that we have in southern Ontario which is a great part of the economy of this province. Because the Highway 401 corridor was there, basically the car parts manufacturing runs along that 401 corridor from Windsor through Oakville to Oshawa. Now that we have plants in Alliston and other places, cities like North Bay, for instance, are just as close to Alliston as some of the cities further down the southwest Ontario corridor towards Windsor, but the reason we do not have companies locating in North Bay, for instance, is that we do not have four-lane highways running up to North Bay.
What we are looking at today, with the car industry in particular, in the new leaner and meaner times that have come upon us as a result of the recession of the early 1980s, is basically the principle of just-in-time inventory. Now we are seeing all the car parts manufacturers clustered around the assembly plant areas. If they are not clustered, some people in the north have solved this problem by having a warehouse that is mobile.
If you have a factory in northern Ontario and you want to service Detroit, Alliston, Windsor, Oakville or Oshawa, you have a transport parked outside the gate of the assembly plant so that when the parts are required, they can be delivered immediately. You also have one on the road so that there is a moving warehouse on the way to the plant and you have one leaving your operation in the north so that you can satisfy the just-in-time inventory concept.
In order to help northern entrepreneurs get into this market, we have to provide the infrastructure; that is, the roads. We are working on that and we will be announcing that sort of planning very shortly.
The heritage fund was another tool that the Treasurer has now placed in the hands of northerners. Right away, the opposition jumped upon it and said, "It should be $l billion, not $30 million." We said we thought we could spend $30 million this year. That is the initial allocation. Maybe we cannot spend it this year, I do not know, but we are not going to rush in and spend it madly.
I would rather see it retained as a fund that we do not have to gobble up and that we can carry over. We are working towards that if we do not spend it all. It should be a fund that has been established in lieu of the resources that have been extracted from the north. Basically, it is a people's fund and we are going to be setting it up in consultation with the people of northern Ontario. It is going to be northerners who decide how we spend those moneys, how we administer those moneys and give us advice on how much money needs to be put into that fund.
This is the first time I can remember in my lifetime that a government in Ontario has actually worked with northerners and asked them to come up with the guidelines, asked them for their solutions, their answers to the problems here, instead of imposing some sort of made-in-Toronto solution or Queen's Park solution to the north. We have decided that if we are to come up with permanent, long-term solutions, we have to involve northerners. It is northerners who are going to come up with those answers.
There is another thing I would like to comment on that is a very important industry in my riding, and that is agriculture. This budget the Treasurer brought out addresses in a very serious way the problems that are facing us in agriculture.
As a farmer before I came to the House, I have always been very concerned about agriculture. It certainly saddens me to see the acres and acres of abandoned farms around the farming communities in northern Ontario. Timiskaming is probably one of the most intensively farmed areas of northern Ontario. It saddens me to see that the tremendous expansion, the clearing and the draining of land that occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, has really come to naught now and we are seeing some of that land abandoned.
It is because of my not wanting to see for a third time in Timiskaming and in other places in the north the regrowing of that cleared land into bush that I started an exercise, in conjunction with the member for Cochrane North as co-chairman of the northern development councils, to travel the north, as I did in April, to go to all the agricultural areas. We had nine regional meetings in the north to talk to the farmers and to ask them what they thought we could be doing in the north to help them earn a living on the rural land base.
The farmers were absolutely amazed that people from government were actually coming to them to ask their opinion of what we, as a government and as a province, should be doing to further enhance the life of northern, rural Ontarians. They were absolutely amazed we would actually come to them and that we would listen. What they were used to was usually a minister flying into an area, dropping off a cheque, basically saying "adios" and exiting as fast, within an afternoon; that was their impression of what government was all about.
That is not our impression over here of what government is all about. When ministers and other members visit the north, they stay and carry out the business that brought them there. But then they stay, they talk and they listen to northerners. They all bring that information back to their ministries and to the Premier. The Premier is getting very well informed, from all the ministers and all the members who travel to northern Ontario, on what is going on there.
So it was with the NDC agricultural task force that we carried out throughout the north. As I said, northerners were amazed. We found that northerners had ideas they gave, that they thought we could help them initiate. We discovered there was not any one magical solution, any one super idea, some medicinal super pill that would fix all the ills of our economy in the north, but what they came up with was that there were many small initiatives that could help the farming community and the rural community of northern Ontario diversify.
We thought, and they told us, we could identify new markets, new products, new sidelines that the rural land base of northern Ontario could produce. In many cases, there were very, very small ideas. For instance, around the Thunder Bay area where you have a large urban centre, there were many opportunities to look at the pick-your-own strawberry market, the whole pick-your-own market. Urban people today want to get an attachment to the land. They actually would like to get involved with food production, even if it is only at the harvesting end. There is a tremendous opportunity in the Thunder Bay area, Paipoonge township and all those areas there.
We are finding that those opportunities are now being seized upon by our farmers in the north. It is not one big answer, that somehow somebody might be able to make a full living on a pick-your-own strawberry operation, but it may be that farmers who are up there can put two, three, four, five acres towards strawberries, or any of the European small fruits, such as the currants and gooseberries that all of a sudden seem to be coming into high demand, and produce a high-value crop as a sideline to help them get through this tough time the agricultural community is facing.
We found many answers like that, whether it be aquaculture or agraforestry. There tended to be many solutions northerners were putting forth, basically challenging us as a government to help them and come up with programs so they would be able to see their initiatives come to fruition.
We are a government that listens and works with northerners and we are going to continue to be so. That is why this government will be back after the next election, whenever that is, because we listen to the people of Ontario.
I would also like to address what I think is very important in this budget and a very important principle of what the Treasurer had set out to do for all Ontarians. I think that principle is that people who are earning a subsistence living should not be paying Ontario income tax. What the Treasurer said is that people who are struggling, who are working to make a living in this province, should be able to retain as much of that money in their own pockets as they need to take care of themselves. That is why the Treasurer basically took $246 million out of his Treasury and said that will remain in the pockets of Ontarians, and he has done that in three basic areas that I think are very important.
He did that, as I said, by cutting 160,000 people off the tax rolls. That is a continuation of his first initiative in the budget of last year. He also did it by basically raising the income levels that allow people to qualify for Ontario health insurance plan premium assistance. The people of Ontario understand the OHIP premium and they understand it as an insurance policy, but some people find it very difficult to pay the full premium. The Treasurer has taken many people off the OHIP premium rolls, and I thank him for that. I know the people of Ontario thank him for that.
There is something else the Treasurer did that I think seems, at first glance, maybe not that important. It is, as I experienced last night in buying my supper on the way home and as many people have since June 1, the elimination of the seven per cent sales tax on basic meal items under $4. I think it is a very important principle that we should not be taxing a very basic, simple meal, that people should be able to go out and buy a meal that is under $4 and not have to pay sales tax on it.
It is quite a shock when you come to a fast food place now and you buy a hamburger, you buy a pop and you know it is not going to be the cost of what is posted above you across from the counter, but it actually is today for the first time. It is quite amazing and it is going to be an adjustment for all of us, but an adjustment I know the Treasurer of this province is going to get full credit for.
Another industry I would like to talk about in dealing with northern Ontario, and that is the industry of tourism, because tourism is going to be basically one of the industries of the future for not only northern Ontario but also the province as a whole.
The Treasurer has approved $2.8 million extra in the Destinations North program, for a total of $6 million. In my riding, I have been communicating with as many tourist operators as I can about Destinations North, because what this program does is offer money to tourist operators for capital expansion to make those improvements and to expand in order to capture the ever-increasing tourism market that is coming through northern Ontario.
Not only that, Destinations North also offers operating capital which is quite unique for any type of business, because it is basically a cash-heavy business where there are tremendous cash flows needed in order to build up food stocks and inventories of other supplies to service the tourist industry. Destinations North appreciates that. It has that component built into its program.
Also, with our TRIP loans through the Northern Ontario Development Corp., there has been more funding there, and that is something else I am telling our tourist operators they should be looking at. If they want to expand or get into the tourism business, this is an opportunity they should be looking at, and there are many programs from the Ontario government that are going to help them with this expansion.
There is one other industry I would like to talk about that is very important to northern Ontario, and that is mining.
At this time in northern Ontario, and it has a particular effect on my riding, gold mining is on a tremendous boom. I am glad to see that boom come back, because many of the northern towns have been riding on the downside of the boom-and-bust cycle of northern Ontario for far, far too long. We are seeing that boom-and-bust cycle now start to swing on the upside. We are getting out of the trough in our gold mining areas, because the gold is there. I would argue with some people that it is not a finite resource because there is enough gold in northern Ontario to keep that economy going for a millennium. It is just there and it has to be found.
The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has put programs in place that allow and help people to find that resource. There are many programs in place that are allowing us not only to find it but also, once it has been found, to access that resource and to help the mines develop. One thing the Treasurer did, as he saw that the mining industry was developing, is that he said, "We are now going to put a forgivable clause in the mining profits tax to the mining industry for the next three years."
At first look, people think that is maybe just new mines, but that is all new workings. That has a very important component to it that I would like to talk about, because it also ties in with our love of the environment and the need to clean up the sins of our grandfathers in the mining industry.
Because of inefficient milling methods in the old days, we are finding now that there are tremendous resources out there in our tailing ponds. The tailing ponds from the old gold mines are a tremendous resource for northern Ontario. Through modern milling methods, we will be able to clean up those areas and, not only that but create wealth again in northern Ontario.
This basic three-year exemption from the mining profits tax not only includes new workings from new discoveries but also includes reworkings of tailing mines and the reopening of old mines. As one of the mining executives said, this is possibly going to be the kicker that will just swing that idea and that decision from mining companies to make a go decision on having an operating mine. We are going to make sure that kicker is in place and we are going to see, because of that and thanks to the Treasurer, many more mines and new workings established in the next few years.
I would like to give other members of the House a chance to laud the Treasurer's budget, I hope, because it is a laudable document. I am sure the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) would agree, as the member for Kingston and the Islands (Mr. Keyes) has noted, that it is a laudable document. I relish the words from the member for Brantford.
The point I want to make is that it is not gloom and doom in northern Ontario. There are problems up there and there are challenges and opportunities, but I am sick and tired of hearing a steady stream of gloom and doom, because it is self-destructive. The members come up day after day and, basically, they talk down the place and they talk down the people.
How are we to rebuild the economy that way? That is not the way to do it. There is a lot of opportunity there and through positive action, we are going to rebuild the economy in northern Ontario. We are going to have a place for our children and our grandchildren to live and work, because when it comes to the bottom line, that is what it is all about.
Mr. Pouliot: I had no intention to speak, but sometimes, not in the face of provocation but of comments, with respect, sir, that border on the misleading. In some of our communities in northwestern Ontario, we have an 80 per cent or 85 per cent rate of unemployment. If it invites controversy or anger, if it brings out the worst in people at times, we must always keep that in mind. The member for Timiskaming (Mr. Harris) was one of the first to complain some years ago. How things change.
Maybe under the umbrella of expediency and opportunism, you can commit some terrible sins, but you must never forget that the people of the north have not been the recipients of the recovery that started to take place around 1981 or 1982. We are most appreciative of the efforts being made. We do not adhere to the philosophy that if everything else fails up north, then you blame the south.
What we are seeing, and we are justified, is that we need a concerted and constant effort. We need a timetable and, at times, we need to make noise, so we do not get bypassed. We are less than 10 per cent of the population. At times, we are lost in 90 per cent of the land mass. If we appear from time to time to be making noise, I think our position is very justified, and the member for Timiskaming (Mr. Ramsay) should really keep that in mind. He gets sick and tired. We get sick and tired as well, and our grievances are most legitimate.
Having said this, we will look forward to more measures, but we do not want any patchwork. What we wish to have is a specific timetable established, so we can at last benefit from the recovery the people down south have been able to appreciate over the past five years.
Mr. Ramsay: I am sorry that my friend and colleague the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Pouliot) was not here for all of my speech. I said that what we need to do as northerners is to rebuild our economy and that the government, with certain tools the Treasurer has given us through the budget, is putting those aids in place to help us.
We talk about the heritage fund. Let us use that fund for the community adjustment the member is talking about where we have those tremendous problems, where there is a town where basically a single industry collapsed. That is what it is for. It is there now. Why does he not work with me and we will start to work on and address those problems. When we have a tremendous community adjustment problem, as we do, we are going to have to come up with a solution as a community, not a made-in-Toronto solution, saying, "This is the answer for this town now. We are going to make it into a lumber mill instead of a steel town." We are going to have to do it from the ground up and it is going to have to be northerners who decide what they want to do with a town when the economy collapses. We have many options. Northerners want to hold on to that town because it is no longer a mining camp; it is a town and they have a sense of place and community.
I am sympathetic to that and that is what the fund is there for. The member knows that and I know that. Let us work together and make it an adjustment fund. Let us start to work on that, but we cannot decide here in Toronto and say, "That community should produce this and here is a bundle of money to do it." It has to be a viable enterprise. The government is not going to be able to do it. It is the people of the north who are going to do it.
I am saying that some of those tools are in place now. Let us keep working at it and not just accept it. We need more of those things. He is going to fight for it and I am going to fight for it too. Let us work together and get some of these problems solved.
Mr. Jackson: As the representative from Burlington South, I wish to respond to the government's May 19 budget statement. I joined with all members of this House on the point of our anticipation, in spite of all the hype that was associated leading up to this long-awaited budget, and I also shared the hope that many of the needs of many of the constituents of Burlington would be met by this government's statement. It is actually its third budget statement.
The Liberal government, in fact the Treasurer, spoke of his commitment to the principle that all people in Ontario should be able to live independent lives for as long as possible. They are willing to provide community support services and expand opportunities for independent living for our seniors and the physically disabled, the developmentally handicapped and the discharged psychiatric patients.
In my office in Burlington South, I receive on a daily basis calls from people who are trying to lead those very lives the Treasurer described. Even with the services that exist now, they are frustrated daily in their attempts to live independently. There are reasons for this frustration in spite of recent Ministry of Health announcements. There was an announcement that the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) tried to convey came out of the budget announcement, but in fact it was established a year previously. He made an announcement about increasing chronic care and acute care beds for Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital. In that announcement of only a week ago, the minister has not recognized the immediate need for more chronic beds in hospitals and the need to expand beds immediately in nursing homes in Halton region. The announcement he made will not net additional new beds in that region for five years. Where is the commitment in this budget?
Burlington has a senior citizen's population of approximately 12,000 people. These are people in the age bracket from 65 to over the century mark. They are very active. They are the young at heart, the quiet reserved senior going through his golden years in his own way, those who are growing older with the infirmities of ageing and a comparatively new group in the category labelled frail elderly. The gathering crisis for the ageing society is having adequate facilities to meet the demands and the financial support from three levels of government to develop systems and facilities that will allow seniors to enjoy a third of their lifetime with comfort, financial security, dignity and a place in their community.
I looked at the budget carefully to determine where those initiatives would be followed through. I am saddened to say we are unable to find specific cases and specific dollar commitments that would assure the people of Burlington those commitments would be met.
We have an immediate need for acute care beds, for chronic care beds, for affordable retirement home facilities, for living accommodations according to income and for funding to expand every health service utilized by the seniors community.
The time has past for addressing this problem with grand statements in the budget or in the throne speech or with announcements for programs that will possibly be in place five years from now or even by the end of the century, as some of the announcements are referring to.
There is need for greater sensitivity for the problems among those who have the power to implement the necessary programs without delay. There is a need to commit the necessary dollars for an immediate response.
Generally, our community-based hospitals are designed to provide care to acutely ill or injured individuals. However, they are now being asked to care for chronically ill patients as well. The age of patients is getting higher; for some patients, their length of stay is being extended.
I am concerned that at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital the waiting list is now almost four years for the chronic care beds that the minister announced some weeks ago. I am concerned that this local hospital has proposed on at least two occasions to the minister, a resolution to that problem of providing immediate relief for that waiting list. That is not to say we do not appreciate the $20 million but, as I have stated, we are concerned that commitment of dollars will not net proper beds for at least another four and probably five years.
This has raised concern about a particular group of patients who are waiting at the Joseph Brant hospital for transfer to nursing homes or some other institution. The fact that they are on waiting lists is acknowledged, and they are inappropriate within the hospital. They are called bed blockers.
I find it difficult to understand that we will not accept waiting lists for our maternity wards or students entering our public school system but we do accept such lists for senior citizens in Burlington and across Ontario.
While awaiting a placement, patients live in an environment that is socially restrictive and poorly designed for their needs. The daily functioning of these patients inevitably declines, and one is left to wonder how much better these individuals would be if their most appropriate home could be available at the time it is first needed.
Closely related to this concern is the fact that on occasion, elderly confused but ambulatory patients are cared for in psychiatric wards. This is the case at Joseph Brant hospital.
Although done to protect the patient from the risks of wandering, it exposes the patient to other risks, such as the young psychotic patient. Alzheimer's disease and most other dementia are neurological disorders, and we question the appropriateness of care in a psychiatric unit. Nowhere in the budget do we see a reference to resolving that question or that problem in an immediate sort of way.
What do I tell the constituent who phones in to our office and wants to know why the government is not acting now to see that facilities are able to take her husband? She does not want to see him placed on a waiting list for three and a half years. How do I handle her fears for her husband's safety as the only appropriate placement for him at this time is in the psychiatric ward at Joseph Brant hospital?
She wants him to live an independent life but is hampered by the real stress she lives under daily in her attempt to fight for the best care for her husband who, because he is a victim of Alzheimer's disease, cannot fight for his own rights.
The health care workers we speak to in this province are dedicated, caring individuals who are also frustrated in their attempts to deal with a rising ageing population without adequate accommodation for them.
We must be looking for real ways to strengthen the support that is given to the care givers in this province. If we do not, we stand to have even more people who require medical assistance for the problems brought by their caring for their spouses or family members.
The region of Halton has projected that in 1987 we will have a population of more than 25,000 people over the age of 65. Of those, it is projected that four per cent over 65 will have some form of dementia that would range from mild to severe, but for the 1,000 who will be directly affected by Alzheimer's itself, four times that figure are also affected, those being the spouses and families.
I want to talk about the government's recent announcement to spend more than $1 million on an advertising campaign to convey a new image about seniors in Ontario. It is included in the budget, of course. Many constituents of mine have called and taken exception to the fact that in their opinion that is an inappropriate use of dollars if they are earmarked for the seniors in Ontario. They are hopeful that this government will reconsider that program and that use of dollars to pay an advertising agency when there are programs and needs, as I have just stated, that go unattended for the most part in the current budget.
I want to talk a bit about homes for the aged. I believe the budget makes reference to an extra $100 million that would be spent over six years. My understanding is that the government plans to spend less than $10 million in this year. Reference has been made to programs that would be funded, yet the government has not announced whether this means refurbishing or recreational programming costs.
There is a home for the aged run by the region of Halton. It is called Halton Centennial Manor. It has 50 residents and it has an additional 245 residents with an in-care situation. That manor is badly in need of upgrading and refurbishing. It has been a major topic of discussion within the Halton region. The architect who has been commissioned by the region says they need $26 million to bring this facility into an appropriate state. They wish to refurbish Martin House, to rebuild part of the main manor and to build some geared-to-income housing units.
It raises the question of how this government expects to address the needs for an entire province when this year's allocation will not even begin to address the needs of one manor in Halton alone. The health and fire regulation work alone on this site will cost $2 million and that manor has been given official notice that they must be completed by February 1988. For the government to stand there and state that it will be able to address those needs is unfair to the seniors who are living at Halton Centennial Manor and to the regional councillors and the district health council that has expressed concern about conditions there.
I want to talk about nursing homes for a moment. I was very disappointed the budget did not address many of the concerns being expressed by nursing home residents and nursing home operators across Ontario. Nowhere is there a clear statement in the budget that the government is prepared to deal with the fact that the current daily rate for operators is $49.16 per resident. That fee has been in place for almost two years now. The government has been obligated to deal fairly and openly with the nursing home operators since January 1, 1987, and yet no agreement has been reached.
Nowhere in the budget do we have a clear statement about the dollars that will be committed, not only on that base rate but also on some of the enrichments that have been requested as a result of the government's Bill 176, An Act to amend the Nursing Homes Act. I worked on that bill for several months. The members of the House will recall this involves the patients' or residents' bill of rights, and it was my pleasure on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party not only to support the residents' bill of rights, but also to table a motion that says the government should commit the necessary funds to ensure that the assessed needs of a resident in a nursing home in Ontario are being met.
I was disappointed the government paid only lip service to the needs of Ontario residents with a statement on their rights, even when the member for York East (Ms. Hart), parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health, suggested the bill of rights was merely "a symbolic tool for residents' educational purposes."
If this government had been listening to the residents of nursing homes in Ontario and if they had been listening to the operators, it would know there have been requests outstanding for improvements and they cost money. The government has indicated it will fund 60 additional nursing home beds for the community of Burlington, but then indicates it will do that only if a nonprofit nursing home makes application.
All the nursing homes in the community of Burlington are having difficulty under the current financial arrangements the government has made. For this government to suggest it is addressing the problem by setting out dollars in the budget to expand nursing home services, without addressing the issue of the funding, is only playing optics, playing games with the real issue of providing nursing home beds in our region.
I call upon the government to be forthcoming in this budget, which is silent on the increase in that fee. There are insufficient beds in Burlington, as I have indicated. Currently, the total number is 272 for a population of over 120,000. I predict we will not have an application for those 60 nursing home beds announced by this government for at least the balance of this year, which means that even if someone were willing to construct the units they would not be ready for our citizens for at least three years. Are there no short-term solutions and funds committed in this budget?
I would like to speak briefly about the Ontario tax grant for the seniors in my riding. The government announced this as major step forward. It has increased the Ontario tax grant from $500 to $600, but will this insulate Burlington seniors, particularly home owners, from huge municipal tax increases over the next two years, increases due to the potential move to market value assessment as well as to make up the shortfall between the province's funding and increases anticipated by the tax portion charged by the public and separate school boards.
What about the seniors in rental situations under Bill 51 which passes through additional expenses previously not absorbed by tenants under old legislation? This $100 increase, although it will put an extra $100 in their pockets, will be immediately removed by the actions of this government, will be removed by a Treasurer who gave it with the one hand but who will take it back again with the other by providing shortfalls in the municipal tax base.
Mr. Speaker, I notice it is six o'clock. I have not completed debate.
The Deputy Speaker: You will move adjournment of the debate.
On motion by Mr. Jackson, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.