L034 - Thu 25 Jun 1987 / Jeu 25 jun 1987
The House met at 10:02 a.m.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
RIDING OF PARRY SOUND
Mr. Eves moved resolution 20:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should designate the entire riding of Parry Sound, specifically the district of Parry Sound, as being part of northern Ontario for the purpose of all government ministries, agencies, boards and commissions.
Mr. Eves: It is with some reluctance, I must say, that I have to be here today in the first place to introduce this private member's resolution. I would have thought that in the last 24 months the Premier (Mr. Peterson), who also twins as the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, would have acquiesced to my requests and the many requests of my constituents and municipal leaders throughout the district and riding of Parry Sound to have done something last month in his budget, where he outlined spending of $35 billion, $8 billion more than the province spent in 1985, when he became the Premier.
I would have thought that if the Premier really had the true interests of northern Ontario at heart and had paid attention to the correspondence and many resolutions he has received from myself and constituents over the last two years, he would have done something about it by now.
I am somewhat regretful that we have to go through this, but we shall proceed, and perhaps out of political embarrassment, if for no other reason, the government of the day will see fit to include the district of Parry Sound in northern Ontario.
First of all, I would like to go over some of the history of the district and riding of Parry Sound and why it finds itself in the particular predicament that it Ends itself in today.
For many years, the district and riding of Parry Sound was spelled as if it was in Never Never Land, so to speak -- not quite northern Ontario and not quite southern Ontario. In 1976, the town of Parry Sound hosted FONOM, the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, for its annual meeting. Interestingly enough, FONOM had considered Parry Sound to be part of northern Ontario and one of its members for many years.
In late 1976, FONOM passed a resolution requesting the government of the day to include the district of Parry Sound in northern Ontario for the purpose of the Ministry of Northern Affairs, for the specific purpose of municipal grants. For those members who are not aware, municipalities in northern Ontario receive larger municipal grant structures, payments and transfer payments than do municipalities in southern Ontario.
The government of the day and the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier), the Minister of Northern Affairs at the time, acquiesced to the request of the then member, the Honourable Lorne Maeck, and granted that status to the district of Parry Sound. They got what they asked for at that time.
It has been suggested by some members of the government that perhaps the previous government should have done something about including the district of Parry Sound in northern Ontario. Well, the previous government was never asked to include the district of Parry Sound in northern Ontario for the purposes of all ministries.
I might also read another indication of the previous government's commitment to the district of Parry Sound. At the FONOM meeting held in Parry Sound on April 28, 29 and 30, 1977, another resolution was submitted by the town of Parry Sound requesting the government of the day to include the district of Parry Sound in northern Ontario for the purpose of purchasing motor vehicle licences; it made reference to the fact that gasoline prices were higher in northern Ontario than they were in the rest of the province.
I might add that the government of the day acted immediately upon that request and included the district of Parry Sound in northern Ontario for the purposes of motor vehicle licences as well, recognizing the fact that there was a difference. They responded to it, and they responded to it immediately, I might say.
In 1985, 1986 and 1987, the District of Parry Sound Municipal Association, which comprises all 28 organized municipalities in the district of Parry Sound and some seven from the district of Nipissing, unanimously passed resolutions asking that the district of Parry Sound be put into northern Ontario for the purposes of all ministries of the Ontario government.
These resolutions have been forwarded directly to the Premier, to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines and to relevant other government ministers upon their passage, both by myself and by the association as well as by other interested municipal politicians. Unfortunately, none of the ministers has seen fit to respond positively to any of these requests, nor has the Premier of the day seen fit to acquiesce or respond positively to any of these requests.
If one goes back to the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) introducing his northern travel grant program -- I believe it was on December 5, 1985 -- I wrote to the minister on December 13, shortly after its introduction, and asked him if he would not include the district of Parry Sound in his northern travel grant program.
The minister responded to me that the program was a new one, that his ministry would have to look at the effects it was going to have and that it was not so much whether or not you were northern in Ontario but the distance, which was 300 kilometres, that made the difference as to whether or not you qualified for the program.
It is interesting to note that just a few months ago the same minister reduced the qualifications for that program to 250 kilometres, yet has still not seen fit to include the district of Parry Sound in the northern travel grant program.
Nor does his ministry consider the district of Parry Sound to be part of northern Ontario for any other purpose, I might add. This would certainly mean increased payments to hospital boards and to hospitals within the district of Parry Sound. More particularly, it would also provide tremendous financial aid to the many constituents, literally hundreds of constituents, who have either written or phoned me over the last two years, complaining that they do not qualify for northern health travel grants because they reside in the district of Parry Sound.
This affects many people, but especially cancer patients who commute weekly -- some monthly, depending upon the stage of illness and their particular problem -- to Princess Margaret Hospital here in Toronto for treatment. These people have to pay their travelling costs out of their own pocket or rely upon local service clubs to pay those for them. Despite the fact that we have made this plea repeatedly to the Minister of Health and to the Premier, we have seen no positive action from either with respect to this program.
Now, some two years later, we have another response from the Minister of Health. He has referred this entire matter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Grandmaître) so he can co-ordinate an approach by all ministers. It is nice that the only action this government has seen fit to take is to decide two years later that it is going to throw this hot potato to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and maybe he can deal with it at some time in the future. I do not think that is good enough.
The riding of Parry Sound, for those members who are not fully conversant with respect to the riding boundaries, is the district of Parry Sound plus everything in Nipissing district lying north and east of North Bay. We have the peculiar situation that there are some residents of the riding who live in the district of Nipissing portion of the riding who are actually farther south in the province than many residents in the district of Parry Sound, for example, who live on the south shore of Lake Nipissing. They qualify for northern health travel grants, despite the fact that they live farther south; but the people in the district of Parry Sound who live farther north than they do, do not qualify for northern health travel grants. I suppose only the Minister of Health of the day could explain that sort of convoluted logic as to how you could qualify for a northern health travel grant by living farther south in the province. I do not think it makes much sense, and it certainly causes great hardship to those many constituents.
Another ministry that has a very detrimental effect on the district of Parry Sound in not recognizing the district to be part of northern Ontario is the Ministry of Education. Over the years, the Ministry of Education has sort of come part-way; it now recognizes the district of Parry Sound to be in northern Ontario for the purposes of six of the nine northern Ontario factors. The other school boards in northern Ontario all receive nine additional weighting factors to their grant transfer payments. The district of Parry Sound boards -- namely, the east and west Parry Sound boards of education -- receive six of the nine. In other words, I guess the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) regards the district of Parry Sound to be two thirds northern Ontario but not quite three thirds. I do not know how you would ever come to that convoluted logic either, but that is the decision which the Ministry of Education has reached.
I have tried to persuade the Minister of Education to also consider the district of Parry Sound to be in northern Ontario for the purposes of all nine weighting factors. The only response I have had to that correspondence and to those questions is that the Ministry of Education is currently reviewing the factoring and educational funding in its entirety throughout Ontario, so the minister would be totally unwilling and does not see fit to consider this specific request until the entire province is reviewed; he expects that review will not be completed until the fall of 1987, and therefore he can make no such commitment. That is his response. That has been the Premier's response to this problem as well.
To give some idea of the dollars we are talking about here, the east and west Parry Sound boards of education alone each would receive in excess of approximately $200,000 a year more money if they were included in northern Ontario for the purposes of all nine weighting factors for northern Ontario. You can see the big impact it has with respect to the field of education as well as health care.
Those are probably the two ministries that have the biggest impact on not being included in northern Ontario, but there are others as well; for example, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication. We note in the recent budget of the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) how much more money the government plans to spend in northern Ontario. However, the member for Timiskaming (Mr. Ramsay) was in North Bay and Sudbury a few weeks ago with grand foofaraw supposedly delivering this government's commitment to four-laning Highways 69 and 11. Then we found out about a week later, through questions in the House by the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) and the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris), that we are not really committing ourselves to four-laning these highways at all. All we are committing ourselves to is to do some studies and planning to look into the practicalities of whether and when we may decide to four-lane either one, both or none of these two highways.
They also made reference to the fact that they were going to spend some of the $26 million supposedly added to the northern affairs budget for highways in northern Ontario to do some of this planning, yet it is very interesting that the highway they are talking about doing the studies on they do not consider to be part of northern Ontario because that particular ministry does not recognize the district of Parry Sound as being part of northern Ontario. That comes out of the budget of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications; it does not come out of the budget of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has nothing to say about where this money is spent in the district of Parry Sound. It is somewhat contradictory.
The member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine) is here, I see. He was in attendance at a FONOM meeting in 1986 in the town of Parry Sound, which is where FONOM's annual meeting was. I must say that at that time he was the Minister of Northern Development and Mines and made a commitment that his government would seriously look into putting the district of Parry Sound in northern Ontario for the purposes of all government ministries. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter the member for Cochrane North was no longer the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, and I gather that commitment has been sitting in the Premier's office gathering dust since then.
I have raised this matter directly with the Premier, who is also the Minister of Northern Development and Mines these days, on several occasions. I have raised it by way of questions in the Ontario Legislature. I have raised it by way of members' statements. I have raised it by way of sending him carbon copies and direct letters on all these requests I have made to all these various ministers in the Ontario government over the last two years.
I would like to quote some remarks of the Premier from Hansard from February 12, 1987, in the estimates of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. I outlined the dilemma that the district of Parry Sound finds itself in, much the same as I have done here this morning. The Premier's response to me on that occasion was:
"The case you make is a rational one, and I am not going to tell you it is not. It is a question of making some of these lodgements that have to be made along the way.
"With respect to the northern travel situation, I can see that being a real problem. It would be a real problem wherever it was, as you know. Mr. Bernier brought to our attention some problems in the Kenora area. It is a relatively new program. There are some kinks that probably have to be worked out in the situation. Nothing is sacrosanct. My view is that if we are wrong, let us change it.
"If you will allow me, I will go back with renewed vigour to discuss this with my colleagues, particularly the three you bring to my attention."
That is a quote from the Premier, who is also the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. Obviously, the Premier does not have much influence in pursuing his renewed vigour with some of his cabinet colleagues, because that was on Thursday, February 12, 1987. Just last month his government and his Treasurer introduced a budget to spend $35 billion in this province. I would have thought that would have been a very opportune time to decide to take this step, to spend the extra money and include the district of Parry Sound in northern Ontario, but obviously the Premier was not able to influence the Treasurer or his other cabinet colleagues to include the district of Parry Sound in northern Ontario.
I have to wonder whether or not the Premier really has any influence over his government, whether or not he controls his government or whether or not he is really trying and these are just words, so to speak.
I think that at this particular point in my presentation I would like to reserve the remaining minutes that I have for some comments to respond perhaps to other comments that other members may have with respect to the resolution and to wrap up at the end.
The Deputy Speaker: The member is reserving four minutes and five seconds.
Mr. Foulds: I take a good deal of pleasure and delight in rising to speak to this resolution and indicating my support for it. One of the reasons I am supporting this is that the New Democratic Party in the 1970s, when it established its northern council of the party, included Parry Sound, if it wished to join northern Ontario, and it did. As far as I am concerned, anybody who wishes to join northern Ontario can, for a number of reasons.
First, we need the company. We need all the company we can get, because we need to expand the power block of northern Ontario in this Legislature.
Ms. Caplan: How about North York? But then you get Mel Lastman.
Mr. Foulds: Mel Lastman we would exclude. North York is going a little far south. We have our standards and Mel Lastman does not meet them.
Second, we know that Parry Sound is an essential part of northern Ontario. Every time one of us from northern Ontario sets off in a car from Toronto and heads north, we can tell Parry Sound is part of northern Ontario because as soon as we hit Highway 69, what do we get? A measly two lanes, very few passing lanes, probably the worst stretch of busy highway in the province. That obviously needs improving.
Now that we have had 44 years of Conservative government, I know that is not going to fundamentally change, but we just have to try.
Seriously, if I could be personal for a few minutes -- and I always am, anyway -- some of the problems of Parry Sound have come to my attention in the past couple of years because my son, who many of you know is a pretty good competitive swimmer, has won two weeks at a swim camp in the riding of Parry Sound and I have had the pleasure of driving him there.
When we think of the distances and the spread-out nature of the population, we see some of the very same problems we see in rural northern Ontario, such as the need to improve ambulance services and the need to improve fire protection services, particularly in those areas that would be very small communities or unorganized territories. I had correspondence with the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Eves) because one of my constituents who has a summer cottage in the Parry Sound district pointed out to me a very tragic situation where there was need for emergency ambulance service and it just was not available in that area. It is that kind of thing that needs to be improved in Parry Sound, as it does all through northern Ontario.
Therefore, if the grant structure through the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines for education and health services was available to all the district of Parry Sound, that would help to improve the situation.
The other point I want to make is that Parry Sound is to Ontario very much what northwestern Ontario is to Canada; that is, it is caught between the north and the south. It is sort of the hinge of the province, just as northwestern Ontario is the hinge of the country. Just as everybody in western Canada thinks of northwestern Ontario as part of fat-cat eastern Canada, I suppose Parry Sound is thought of by most northerners as part of fat-cat southern Ontario. Southern Ontario does not include Parry Sound in terms of its design for development and industrial expansion.
I want to take the last few moments of my time this morning to make a plea. I do not think I want this interpreted as a separatist speech, but I have come to the conclusion that it is a mistake, and has been a historical mistake, for northwestern Ontario to be part of this province. If we wanted to have the power that is necessary to get the services we need, it would be much better for northwestern Ontario to be part of Manitoba.
Mr. Wildman: The member just wants to be a cabinet minister in Pawley's government.
Mr. Foulds: No. I have decided to step down from politics, so those ambitions do not pursue me any longer.
Ms. Caplan: Be careful -- they might make you Labour minister.
Mr. Foulds: They would not get into trouble if I were.
If we stop to think of it, northwestern Ontario has a population of about 250,000. That population is about a fifth of the population of Manitoba. If we were moved into Manitoba, we would have a fifth of the seats in the Legislature instead of the measly one twenty-fifth of the seats we have in this Legislature. That power block, along with northern Manitoba, would certainly balance the metropolitan centre of Winnipeg and we would, in fact, get a better government for that region no matter which party was in power.
At the present time, one of the problems that northwestern Ontario faces, frankly, is that for all of the excellent representation it has had over the years from all three parties, it is essentially an underrepresented area, and an area that is ignored by the province because it can afford to be ignored by the province. Any attention that is paid to it is paid in a paternalistic way. In that way, I do not believe the structural problems, economic in particular, that affect the area will be attended to.
It is really important, if we are going to make areas like northwestern Ontario an essential part of Ontario, just as it is really important if we are to make Parry Sound an essential part of the province, that we go beyond this resolution, because at the present time, unfortunately, all that the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines does is tackle the symptoms of the problems rather than the essential problems.
It will, as an initial step, I remind the member for Parry Sound, give more access to some grants and some programs, but if we are to essentially improve the situation in Parry Sound, just as if we are to essentially improve the situation in northwestern Ontario and just as if we are to essentially improve the situation in northern Ontario and make those parts of the province an integral part of the province, we must change the power structure between Queen's Park and those areas, between the south and the north, and to do that, you have to take, if I may say so, socialist action. That is, you must intervene in the economy to make them an essential part of the economy. That is not a revolutionary idea because governments of all stripes in other jurisdictions have done that to underdeveloped areas in their countries: Austria, Sweden and Japan.
Hon. Mr. Ruprecht: That is Liberal action.
Mr. Foulds: It is not Liberal action. Liberal action, if I may say to the member for Parkdale (Mr. Ruprecht), is basically well-intentioned but ineffective when it comes to changing the economic structure of a country, a province or a nation, because Liberal action believes that the present economic structure is sound. Frankly, the present economic structure is not sound to develop the underdeveloped regions of our province or of our nation.
What we need is socialist action that makes those an integral part of our economy and that means intervening in the marketplace. The marketplace no longer exists as it did in the 19th century when liberalism had some justification, but liberalism in the 20th century, in economic terms, simply does not work because the economy has moved past that stage.
Therefore, while I support this motion, I agree with the intention and I sympathize with the situation in which the member for Parry Sound finds himself, I do not believe that it will meet the essential developmental and financial needs of Parry Sound, just as I do not believe that the present government or the past Tory government essentially met the needs of northern Ontario or northwestern Ontario to make those part of the economic and social mainstream of our province.
Mr. Ramsay: I appreciate the treatise on socialism and liberalism from the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) and possibly we could enter into a debate later on that, but I would like to address --
Mr. Bernier: That is your former belief.
Mr. Ramsay: The former minister from Kenora and I may be able to enter a debate on conservatism later on, possibly over a pickerel dinner some day.
I would like to address the motion this morning and say to the member for Parry Sound that it is not up to the ministry or the Minister of Northern Development and Mines to make that decision. It is actually up to the cabinet. I would like to assure the member for Parry Sound that this has the highest priority before cabinet right now, because of the Premier's interest in the topic.
As the member will remember, it was the member for Parry Sound who brought this up in estimates. We are giving it active consideration. I would like to note, though, it is a bit unfortunate that this government has been left with all sorts of untidy ends, a lot of loose ends from the previous government.
When the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines was formed -- back in 1977, I believe; the founding minister is in the House and he can correct me if I am wrong -- I would have thought that would have been the time to tidy up these loose ends and make a very firm definition of what is northern Ontario and where should the line be drawn?
At that time, Parry Sound was said to be included in the mandate of this ministry but not for the other ministries. That was a bit of a conundrum that, unfortunately, the previous government had eight or nine years to deal with but failed to do it and left it upon us to do it. Our cabinet will be considering it and will be making a decision very soon.
I can understand why the member for Parry Sound would like to see his district included, as far as the jurisdictional map of northern Ontario is concerned, in regard to all the ministries of the government, because the government of Ontario does treat northern Ontario in a special way because it is an extraordinary place in Ontario. It is extraordinarily beautiful. It has an extraordinary, energetic and ambitious people, but it has the penalty of geography from being away from the major markets. It has other penalties running against it that need extraordinary action, and the government has deemed it wise -- the previous government and this one -- to take that extraordinary action.
I am very proud of the programs that the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has ongoing and is considering for the future. I understand why the member for Parry Sound would like to see his district included in all the ministries as being a part of northern Ontario.
I would like to say that we brought this question to the northern development councils. The member for Cochrane North, as the member for Parry Sound has said earlier today, is very aware of this problem and feels it should have been considered, and basically took it to northerners, the NDCs, for consideration.
All the councils across the north said yes, they felt it was a good idea to have Parry Sound to be considered as part of northern Ontario. When that was brought before all the chairmen, they also agreed. That, basically, is the opinion before the government. That is a very strong opinion and this government is listening to northerners and will be giving that active consideration.
There certainly will be some advantages if Parry Sound is treated by all ministries as northern Ontario. As the member pointed out, the Ministry of Education does have an extra nine per cent grant to municipalities under 25,000 population that would be a benefit up to about $500,000 to the Parry Sound district. I can see why the member for Parry Sound is fighting for that.
I would like to argue somewhat, though, with the member on the necessary health-travel program. Because the kilometric limitations are 250 now does not mean that every resident in Parry Sound would be eligible. There will have to be a line drawn, obviously, at the 250-kilometre mark to the different access points where medical service is available in southern Ontario, but it would affect some of the constituents of Parry Sound. I can understand again why the minister would want to avail his constituents of this program.
It is a very good program. We got it off the ground last year. We made some improvements to it. We are, as the member said, starting to iron out the kinks, but it is a program that has been very well received, because it is the principle of this government, and especially of this ministry that northerners deserve nothing less than what the people in the south deserve. I think the health travel grant is one very concrete way this government has shown that we believe northerners have and deserve equal access to medical services.
Some of the services we have in Ontario are the best in the world. They tend to be congregated in southern Ontario, and we believe northerners should have access to those good services.
I applaud the member for fighting for his constituents. It is the job of all northern members to do that in this Legislature. I think we all do it for our constituents because we know we do have some disadvantages in the north.
I would like to debate a couple of points that the member for Port Arthur brought up this morning. He was citing that he thought the government, particularly my ministry, was just there to administer Band-Aids to some of these problems.
I believe that since this government took over. it has really tried to turn around the orientation of this ministry to no longer be just a Band-Aid applicator but to be really attacking main and difficult infrastructure problems.
I think foremost of those infrastructure problems, as the member for Port Arthur mentioned, is highways. Ground transportation is vital in order to develop secondary industry. It is all well and good to be able to produce manufactured goods anywhere in this province, but if we cannot get them economically to the market then there is no point in setting up those industries.
We are starting now not only to fund in a much larger way but also to look at those main transportation routes between south and north; hence my announcement the other day that we are starting the planning of the four-laning of Highways 11 and 69.
I am sorry that a lot of the bad-news bearers from the north in the opposition wanted to dump on that and the member for Parry Sound has written articles and columns about that in the Parry Sound press. I am disappointed that he takes good news so poorly --
Mr. Eves: It was recommended by Jim Snow in 1980 and again in 1985, and you guys hacked it up.
Mr. Ramsay: I would like to say to the member that there was not one stick of engineering work on the shelf for the four-laning between Powassan and North Bay. I would invite the member for Parry Sound to talk to the minister and he will confirm that there was not one stick of engineering work done on Highway 11 between Powassan and Huntsville; not one.
Mr. Eves: We are talking about Highway 69 from Waubaushene. You know the difference between the two highways.
Mr. Ramsay: Okay. We are now starting that up anew. That has never happened before. On the four-laning work from Waubaushene north, the engineering work and the multi-year plans are so old that they no longer satisfy the criteria of the Ministry of the Environment. What we are doing now is restarting that engineering so that the engineering will come up to the present-day standards required by the Ministry of the Environment so those multi-year plans can continue. We are starting to do that work so that this planning work will lead to the multi-year plans of construction and continue the work that has gone on.
As a matter of fact, I was extremely disappointed a couple of months ago when I made the inquiry to see what were the multi-year plans for Highway 11. I was extremely depressed to find there were none. The perception had been by the previous government, when construction was continuing through Huntsville and also construction was proceeding south from North Bay, that obviously the government had intended to join the two routes, but there were no plans at all. There was no intention, regardless of what statements may have been made by former ministers of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications; there was not one stick of engineering work, planning work or prefeasibility work for that Highway 11 construction.
We now have kick-started that, and the people in the North Bay and Parry Sound areas are pleased with that. We are taking the present engineering off the shelf and we are proceeding with that work. That is good news for the north. We have got to get good transportation routes to the north and within the north. Parry Sound district already benefits from our ministry's funding of provincial highways in the Parry Sound area. Many northerners do not realize it is the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines that basically funds the highway construction and MTC is the facilitator in northern Ontario. The two ministries work together and the two ministries are determined to improve the infrastructure in northern Ontario so that the economy can flourish.
As a matter of fact, this afternoon the member for Cochrane North and I are meeting with the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Fulton) to finalize many of these northern projects that we want to see going, that we know are going to be rebuilding the economy of northern Ontario.
I think the message is being presented to northerners, and I think what northerners want is a chance to rebuild their own economy. For the first time, northerners are going to start to take the economy into their own hands and not be dependent upon outsiders just to create the jobs. The entrepreneurial spirit is now starting to build in the north, and we will build a new economy in northern Ontario.
Mr. Pierce: I rise in support of the resolution by the member for Parry Sound to have Parry Sound included as part of the great section of Ontario called northern Ontario. It is interesting to note that a number of the ministries in the province recognize Parry Sound as being part of northern Ontario. Yet we have other ministries that, for some reason or other, have decided within their own ministries that they are not going to recognize Parry Sound.
For example, we have the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology which recognizes through its programs that Parry Sound is, in fact, part of northern Ontario. It recognizes that in the form of the involvement of the Northern Ontario Development Corp., which is the lending agency for the province and looks after programs in northern Ontario. That is a major program for the development of northern Ontario for secondary-industries growth, tourism and the development of northern Ontario. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology has recognized that region as being part of northern Ontario.
The Ministry of Community and Social Services recognizes Parry Sound as being part of northern Ontario. Because it is an area for easterners and southerners to use, the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation recognizes Parry Sound as being part of northern Ontario. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food recognizes it as being part of northern Ontario. The Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations recognizes it as being part of northern Ontario. The Ministry of Energy recognizes it as being part of northern Ontario, as does the Ministry of Revenue.
The great Ministry of Municipal Affairs, the Premier has said, will study whether Parry Sound should be part of northern Ontario; yet the Ministry of Municipal Affairs recognizes Parry Sound as being part of northern Ontario. The Ministry of Housing recognizes Parry Sound as being part of northern Ontario. The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines recognizes Parry Sound as being part of northern Ontario --
Mr. Ramsey: So what is the problem? What is left?
Mr. Pierce: What is the problem? That is it. What is the problem? What is the problem for the Minister of Health in recognizing Parry Sound as being part of northern Ontario? Had the Minister of Health recognized Parry Sound as being part of northern Ontario, it would have cost his ministry $50,000 last year to have the northern health travel grants available to the residents of Parry Sound. What is the problem with the Minister of Health? It is not only in Parry Sound that we have a problem with the Minister of Health, but in this case it is certainly a blatant exhibition of a minister who is not prepared to accept the responsibility of delivery of health services in northern Ontario.
The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has an office in Parry Sound. If that is not recognition of Parry Sound as being part of northern Ontario, I do not know what else we could have. The Minister of Education refuses to acknowledge it because it would cost the Ontario government some money to provide additional assistance to the schoolchildren of a northern section of northern Ontario. That is really the only reason the Minister of Education refuses to acknowledge Parry Sound: because it would make a difference in the weighting factor for the schools to the benefit of the students -- not to anybody else's benefit but to the benefit of the students -- in order to allow them an educational system which will provide the same types of programs available in other regions of Ontario.
The programs of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines are not specific for Parry Sound. The Ministry of Natural Resources has failed to acknowledge that Parry Sound is part of northern Ontario. Why? I ask the member for Timiskaming, the member who is the parliamentary assistant for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, who stood up in the House today and said: "It is not an individual ministry which can dictate or direct whether Parry Sound will be part of northern Ontario; it is a cabinet decision."
I have just named seven, eight or nine different ministries that acknowledge Parry Sound as being part of northern Ontario. Is the member trying to tell us in the House today that those nine ministries do not have any influence on the remaining ministries of this government to recognize Parry Sound? Is he saying the other ministries are powerful enough in that cabinet that they can say, "We are not going to recognize them for any reason whatsoever, and if you want to recognize them that is entirely up to you"?
I have a number of issues I would like to talk about but I know that the member for Kenora would very much like to be part of the debate. I would ask for unanimous consent to reserve the remaining part of my time for the member for Kenora. Agreed?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Morin): You cannot do that.
Mr. Pierce: With unanimous consent, the House can do it.
The Acting Speaker: You can pass it on to your colleagues on the left but you cannot pass it on to another member.
Mr. Pierce: All right, Mr. Speaker, that being the case, if unanimous consent does not represent the strength and the power of the House, then I will continue.
I think the member for Port Arthur said in his comments, for example, that because of his son's involvement in the swimming programs --
The Acting Speaker: Is there unanimous consent that the member for Rainy River give his allotted time to the member for Kenora?
Mr. Pierce: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, I support the resolution of the member for Parry Sound, and all members of the House are supporting the resolution of the member for Parry Sound. I would expect that when the House recesses today he will go back with --
The Acting Speaker: There will not be too much time left.
Mr. Bernier: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate your reconsideration of the member for Rainy River's request.
I stand in my place today and support the member for Parry Sound in his notice of motion number 20 which would bring Parry Sound into northern Ontario. Quite frankly, I was surprised that the member had to put a notice of motion of this magnitude and concern in Orders and Notices. I just took it for granted, after all the years I was in the previous government, that Parry Sound was indeed part of northern Ontario, from my point of view.
In fact, when we brought in the $10 registration for automobiles across northern Ontario, it was the former member for Parry Sound, Lorne Maeck, who prevailed upon the government to change it and have it moved down to Parry Sound. In 1977 -- I think that is when the major change did take place in this Legislature and across this province -- the government of the day recognized the special and unique nature of northern Ontario by establishing a special ministry, the first regional ministry in the Ontario government's history, in this province's history, the Ministry of Northern Affairs, that would look after those special interests and unique needs of northern Ontario. They did include Parry Sound. We brought in all the programs of the ministry at that particular time.
When we look at the district of Parry Sound from a municipal point of view, it has something like 35 organized municipalities and 47 unorganized communities. That is the way northern Ontario is in the districts. We do not have the county government structure that southern Ontario has, so it is obvious that Parry Sound really does belong to northern Ontario. The terrain, the people, and the thoughts and attitudes of the people of the Parry Sound, are obviously oriented to northern Ontario. So to hear the member complain and to bring this motion forward and plead with the government to have all ministries consider Parry Sound as part of northern Ontario is a bit of a surprise and a bit of a shock to me.
We heard the member for Timiskaming stand up again today and say it is the highest priority, it is under active consideration, "We are sympathetic, we are concerned, we are going to study it, we are going to review it." I have to tell him the people of northern Ontario are sick and tired of those comments. Two years have gone by, and the government has been saying this.
We have heard it from all the ministers as they traipse across northern Ontario with massive amounts of promises. They never say no to anything in northern Ontario when they are there, but nothing ever happens. It is going to show up at the next election, because the promises that the government has made and the expectations that it has raised among the northerners are really high, but nothing happens. There is no production, there is nothing at the end, so the government is going to have to answer those questions at election time.
As I traipse across northern Ontario, I get the same feeling right across the north: "We are going to review it. We are going to study it. The Premier is in favour of it. Yes, we are going to do it. The cabinet is going to study it." That is gone. It is finished. I have to tell the government it has to move. This is one issue that it could move on and get some credibility, because credibility and integrity are gone from that side of the government.
The Acting Speaker: Your time has expired.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I am glad that you are in the chair today because I know that although you are not a northerner, you have an active interest in northern Ontario. You spent a lot of time in North Bay in your former position, and I know have a good understanding of the difficulties we face in northern Ontario.
I stand in support of the resolution. When I was thinking about what position I would take on this private member's resolution, I had to think about how one defines the north, what is northern Ontario. It certainly is not just a geographic location. It is not just north of the French River or north of some other body of water or something like that. It is more than just a geographic location. In fact, if we look at geography and think about the latitude of most of northern Ontario, even the northwest, in many cases we are south of what is mostly considered western Canada. It is not geography or latitude.
How does one define northern Ontario? I think we have to define it in terms of the economic and social structure. Obviously, northern Ontario is a hinterland. It is an area that is not in the centre. It is dependent on an economic centre elsewhere for its growth and for its development. It is an area that is dependent upon resource exploitation, whether it be mining or forestry. It is an area that has very little secondary industry. It has stunted industrial development.
It is an area that is generally very dependent on tourism, and that tourism is not the kind of tourism that one has in a large city or urban centre but rather one that is dependent on the resources again. It tends to be a tourism which benefits from the wilderness experience and from hunting and fishing and getting away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
It is an area, too, where the transportation and communications links are different. In northern Ontario we no longer have what could be called a network in terms of transportation and communications. There is no longer a grid, but rather it becomes two or three long ribbons holding together very widely spread pockets of population. That makes it very difficult to develop economically and to ensure that there is proper growth spread over the area.
It is also an area that has stunted administrative development. As has been mentioned, northern Ontario tends to have very large areas that have no municipal organization, many communities that have never developed along the lines of southern Ontario municipalities.
When we look at northern Ontario in those terms, certainly Parry Sound fits. All of those things are descriptions of Parry Sound district, and so it makes sense that Parry Sound be part of northern Ontario.
I would like to comment briefly on some of the remarks that have been made about who is doing what for northern Ontario. It has been a little amusing to listen to the members of the government party saying everything is wonderful in northern Ontario since they became the government, and talking about the interest they are taking in the north. Then we hear members of the official opposition saying, "Well, nothing is happening and there are a lot of problems that have been long-standing." They were there before, so it is a lime amusing to hear that kind of argument.
It would be more useful, frankly, to sit down and say: "All right, what is needed in the north? What has been done in the past and why has it not worked? Why have we not changed the stunted, economic development that we have in northern Ontario." The reason it has not changed is because basically the approach has been to change grant formulas. I know this is one of the reasons the member for Parry Sound wants to have his area included in northern Ontario, because there are easier grant formulas in the north.
To improve, and basically to throw money at various problems and see if we can change things or improve the infrastructure is something else that has been argued. In this debate, it has been argued that this government has made a difference in the north because it has taken such an interest in the north. It has expanded and moved ministries into the north and put jobs into the north and it is a good thing, but obviously that does not really change anything.
The suggestion was made that there is a difference in approach, along the lines my colleague the member for Port Arthur was talking about, the need to intervene. I question that. I question whether this government really believes that it should challenge the market forces which have produced the kind of stunted economic development that we face in northern Ontario and have experienced ever since the railways first cut across the Canadian Shield.
Does this government question the fact that economic development decisions should essentially be made by the private sector in boardrooms in Toronto and New York? Does this government question that? Frankly, I doubt it. I do not think so. Does this government believe that economic decisions should be more democratic, that the people those decisions affect should in fact be making those decisions? It has been said that because they have economic development councils set up that is an indication of a more democratic approach to economic decision-making. I think it is useful to have input, but those councils are not making the decisions that matter.
They can talk about whether Parry Sound should be in northern Ontario. They can talk about which highway should be improved or what planning should be done in terms of government spending. But do they actually influence the decisions that are made by Inco and Falconbridge and Great Lakes Forest Products? Not one iota.
Nothing, in that sense. has changed; and it will not change until we have a government that actually believes it should challenge the market forces, and should not just be involved in infrastructure planning but should also be involved in economic planning, that will actually direct investment to ensure we have the economic growth and development in the communities in the north that we need. Unless we have that, it is not going to benefit Parry Sound a great deal other than being able to take advantage of the Band-Aid approaches, the different grant formulas that the former government and this government continue to use to say they are responding to the particular problems of northern Ontario.
It has been said that one of the examples of this government's different approach is that it is committed to four-laning Highway 69 and Highway 11, which I know have significant importance in Parry Sound. If the government had been honest with the people of northern Ontario, Parry Sound and the rest of the province and said, "We are going to initiate planning and engineering studies and prefeasibility studies," there would not have been any problem. We would have said: "All right; fine. That is what is needed."
Instead, this government said, or at least a representative of this government said, "We are going to four-lane those two highways from southern Ontario to North Bay and to Sudbury." In fact, that is not going to happen for at least 10 to 15 years. If they had said exactly what they planned, then we would know they were interested in the north and being honest with the north. Unfortunately, it appears nothing has changed.
Mr. Eves: It is my pleasure to wrap up and I would like to respond to a couple of comments made, but I want to make sure I get on the record a couple of general comments or feelings.
I note with interest, and I do not doubt for one moment, the member for Timiskaming's sincerity in his active role as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. However, he says it is under active consideration. I just point out to the honourable member that it has been under active consideration by cabinet for the last 24 months.
This is not just a brand-new thing. This is something that the District of Parry Sound Municipal Association passed resolutions on in the fall of 1985, the spring of 1986 and again in the spring of 1987, and brought them to the attention of the various ministries, the Premier and the member's boss, so to speak, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
There was progress made over the years. In 1977, when the Ministry of Northern Affairs was first created, the district of Parry Sound was included for the purposes of that ministry, and over the years my colleague the member for Rainy River has outlined the other ministries that have come on stream one at a time.
When my colleague the member for York Mills (Miss Stephenson) was the Minister of Education, she saw fit to bring the Ministry of Education part of the way at least -- not as far as we would have liked, but she did bring it part of the way. When my colleague the member for Nipissing was the Minister of Natural Resources, he made a commitment to me that he would consider the district of Parry Sound to be part of northern Ontario for the purposes of his ministry as well. It is too bad that his successor has not followed up on that commitment.
However, this is the whole idea of this resolution here today, to try to spur on some of these cabinet members to some greater heights, so to speak. I just have to go back, though, to the comment of the Premier in February that he would try to pursue this idea with renewed vigour. Either the Premier does not have much influence over the rest of his cabinet colleagues --
Mr. Wildman: Or not much vigour.
Mr. Eves: Or he does not have much vigour or is not truly committed, as exactly said by my friend the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman).
With respect to the District of Parry Sound Municipal Association, all these municipal representatives certainly have made their point felt with respect to where they think the district of Parry Sound should be, and I think properly so, even in the issue of redistribution. When it was proposed that Parry Sound be lumped in with Muskoka, there were more presentations from the district of Parry Sound than any other sectional hearing -- all seven or eight tidings in each one of those sectional hearings put together -- throughout the province. There were 52 delegations from the district of Parry Sound objecting to being included with Muskoka, because we do not consider ourselves to be part of southern Ontario or part of Muskoka.
I think that some of the comments made by the member for Algoma are quite accurate and correct. I think that for all purposes, the district of Parry Sound is indeed northern Ontario.
I do want to comment, though, on a couple of the comments made by the member for Timiskaming with respect to commitments. I think everybody in this House knows that you cannot four-lane Highway 69 or Highway 11 in one year, two years or three years. All we ask for is a definite commitment -- not a commitment to study, not a commitment to do engineering, but a commitment that those highways will be built within 10 or 15 years and that we are going to do 10 miles a year, 20 miles a year or whatever it is. We want the commitment and we want it now. No government in its right mind, present or succeeding, would every dare go back on that commitment. I do not know why that commitment cannot be made.
With respect to the Waubaushene portion -- with all due respect to the member for Timiskaming -- the engineering was done on that portion of the highway in the early 1980s. The construction was announced by Jimmy Snow in 1985, and it sat on hold until June 11, when an article appeared in the Midland newspaper. Some civil servant -- Mr. Dawley, to be exact -- from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced that "we are now going to get on with what we should have been doing two years ago."
The same thing can be said of the Callander bypass. It sat there for two years, and no action was taken; now, when we think there might be an election, we are going to start paving the Callander bypass. The same can be said of the Parry Sound bypass, the environmental assessment for which was done three years ago. If there is a true commitment on the part of this government to four-lane the Parry Sound bypass, construction will start tomorrow morning at nine o'clock.
The Acting Speaker: Your time has expired.
Mr. Eves: Next week I would expect that cabinet will announce the inclusion of the district of Parry Sound in northern Ontario.
The Acting Speaker: Order. The time allotted for this ballot item has expired.
Miss Stephenson moved resolution 21:
That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that the council of Metropolitan Toronto called the Sheppard subway line the number one transit priority in the Metropolitan Toronto area, that over 6,000 people travel along the Sheppard-line corridor during peak periods every day, that the growing number of commuters are placing an increased burden on the present infrastructures, that the Network 2011 report was released and carefully studied ever since June 1986, that the costs of construction escalate dramatically with each passing year, and further recognizing that the council of Metropolitan Toronto has voted unanimously for immediate construction, the government of Ontario should allocate funding for construction of the Sheppard subway line on an immediate basis.
Miss Stephenson: It is perhaps appropriate and fitting on this occasion, which may in fact be my final act of participation in what passes for debate in this Legislature, that I have the opportunity to speak to the resolution which relates specifically to the needs and requirements of the community in which I have lived for more than half a century.
Mr. Newman: You are not that old.
Miss Stephenson: I thank the member very much. Flattery will get him everywhere.
Perhaps it is essential that one have such a long sojourn in a community to really understand what has happened to the community and what the community really requires. When I moved to the township of North York in 1930, there were 7,000 people in the entire area. You were not born at that point, Mr. Speaker; that is unfortunate, because you missed a very interesting experience during 1927, 1928 and 1929. However, in 1930, North York had a total population of 7,000 people.
At the end of the Second World War, it was characterized as the fastest-growing community in North America, and it was; it went from 45,000 at that point to somewhat over 200,000 within a period of less than three years.
It is now the third-largest city in Canada, with a population of 560,000. During that time it has maintained, on the whole, a very reasonable developmental program. But that developmental program is certainly dependent upon and sometimes impeded by either the transportation program which is in place or that which is not in place or that which is not being instituted.
I am rising to propose an action that I think will improve significantly the current transportation situation in the city of North York and in Metropolitan Toronto and should help to prevent some future problems related to appropriate development in the city of North York and the transportation of citizens in Metropolitan Toronto. The action, of course, is the immediate undertaking of construction of the proposed Sheppard subway line.
It is perfectly obvious that I am not alone in my support of this venture, since the member for Oriole (Ms. Caplan) has brought at least two petitions at this point from citizens in her area of North York as well as in other areas of North York, and since the mayor has instituted a very active signature-seeking program in order to try to impress upon the provincial government that the people of the city of North York feel very strongly that the Sheppard subway line is a necessity to them.
Members will recall that a number of urban research initiatives have been undertaken over the past decade or so. One of the most recent was Network 2011. This study was completed in 1986, and it analysed the various compelling reasons for the improvement of transit activity throughout Metropolitan Toronto and particularly the Sheppard subway line. It determined that indeed that subway line would be an appropriate response to the long-term travel needs of much of the northern part of Metropolitan Toronto.
As we all know, the northern part of Metropolitan Toronto has been growing at a rate that can only be classified as geometric progression. Rapid transit, while it has not always proved to be the bonanza or the panacea that its strong proponents feel it is, is in the minds of many experts, such as civil engineers and regional planners, one of the important solutions to appropriate development and the appropriate movement of people within a planning area.
Certainly, rapid transit has proved its success in Metropolitan Toronto. Its success has been of such magnitude that it has outgrown its capacity and is now providing some impedance to the expansion of people movement as a result of its lack of capacity to meet all the requirements of most of the people who want to use rapid transit. However, it is important that we understand that rapid transit, such as subways and light rail transit lines, is not the only answer to the transportation question.
I would like the honourable members in this House to understand that I am not proposing that the subway line along Sheppard be carried out to the exclusion of other forms of transportation which must be a part of the transportation planning mechanism in Metropolitan Toronto. It is impossible to consider the city of Toronto or Metropolitan Toronto itself without considering a balanced transit system. That transit system must include such mechanisms as the road system and the GO Transit system, which is essential to the movement of people as well. All the patterns of transit in Metropolitan Toronto need to be examined in a very comprehensive way in order to monitor and hopefully to meet the future needs of the citizens of this area adequately.
Studies that have been done by demographers demonstrate that regional population and employed labour-force growth up until the year 2011 -- and that, of course, was the reason for the name of the study -- will occur outside Metropolitan Toronto. The growth will not be within the boundaries of Metropolitan Toronto but just beyond the boundaries of Metropolitan Toronto. However, the employment growth in Metro itself has been projected at an increase of about 100,000 workers within the boundaries of the Metropolitan area in that period of time.
The majority of new trips for those who are travelling in or out to their employment will originate outside Metropolitan Toronto, and there is expected to be a very considerable increase in interregional commuting. Metro's revised regional population and employment projections will exaggerate this trend, I think, and will definitely emphasize the need for better, expanded, balanced transportation systems.
Consider what has happened over the period between 1975 and 1985. Inbound rush-hour trips at the Metro boundary cordon -- that is, at the boundary of Metropolitan Toronto -- increased by 90 per cent during that decade. That is to be compared with an increase of 10 per cent in inbound trips at the central-area cordon, which is the area at the north end of the city of Toronto itself.
Most of the suburban-trip increase was, unhappily -- or happily for the automobile manufacturers -- by way of automobile. Unhappily, our road structure is not built to accommodate all of that increase. However, the slower growth of Metro's employed labour force is probably going to ensure that we do not need quite as much expansion in the road system in the inner part of the city but that we will probably need a tremendous amount of expansion in the interregional-commuting transportation system, be that by subway or by road.
Many of these trips are certainly going to be very difficult to serve with the current Toronto Transit Commission pattern of service. The North York metropolitan subcentre itself is projected to require increases of about 35,000 employees by the year 2011. In North York's particular case, the road capacity itself may prove to be the greatest inhibition to future growth. Transit access may not be the factor which inhibits future growth in North York, but the Sheppard subway, if completed, certainly would support the development of the major metropolitan subcentres in North York and Scarborough. I think all of us would have to consider that serious and important.
The subway itself would most certainly relieve the very heavily used Sheppard and Finch bus routes. Any of the members of this House who have to travel east-west on Finch Avenue or Sheppard Avenue during rush-hour will recognize that at this point it is almost as bad as travelling west on Highway 403 at 5:30 in the afternoon and probably just about the same as travelling on the Queen Elizabeth Way at almost any time of the day.
The subway, which would free a good deal of that road capacity, would improve the situation mightily. The subway would provide a connection between the three other rapid transit lines -- Spadina, Yonge and the Scarborough RT -- which would improve rapid transit access for a great number of Metro residents. The fact that it would intercept the south feeder bus routes and the Richmond Hill GO line from the very rapidly growing region of York would provide much wider access to the larger numbers of citizens who are moving to that part of Ontario just outside the boundaries of Metropolitan Toronto.
I think the experts would echo the statement that the Sheppard line is needed immediately because traffic volumes are now at capacity levels. I think we should point out that the need for the Sheppard line is based on current development and current employment figures, not even projected figures. Right now, the capacity levels have been reached, and the citizens of North York and those who live beyond North York who would use such a service do require this line at this time.
The line will ease crowded buses, the long waits to board buses at the Sheppard and Finch stations and the general disruption to existing auto traffic along Sheppard Avenue and Finch Avenue. Nearly 100,000 cars cross the Scarborough-North York boundary every day on Sheppard Avenue and Finch Avenue, which means that more people travel on these two streets in Metropolitan Toronto than live in the outlying municipalities of Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Pickering. It is essential that we add that the bus routes connecting to the Yonge subway at Sheppard and Finch stations are the two most heavily leavened in Metropolitan Toronto, with buses carrying 6,000 passengers per hour during peak periods.
The Sheppard subway line will help to significantly relieve congestion in Metro's busiest residential and employment areas, the loon Mills corridor, Consumers Road, Birchmount-Sheppard and Kennedy-Sheppard. Furthermore, employment levels along Sheppard Avenue alone are expected to grow by more than two and a half times by the year 2011. Sheppard Avenue is a key employment area in Metro, with a 25 per cent increase of all of Metro's employment projected to occur in that area during the next several years.
Obviously, the subway line would serve not only the residents who are moving to other parts but also residents in other parts of Metro who are moving to their employment along the Sheppard line. It is impossible to project if the increased load of commuters in this area could be handled by means of improvements only to the road system. There is no doubt that improvements to the road system are necessary, but they will not be adequate to meet the needs of the citizens of North York or the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto, who will be increasingly moving into North York for their employment.
In the words of the accelerated rapid transit study report of 1981:
"The problem is not the promotion of increased ridership on the TTC" -- the problem of rapid transit -- "it is rather the constraints upon the system which provide impedance to an increased ridership because it does not allow the system to handle increased ridership."
I think it is the responsibility of this Legislature to act decisively and effectively on behalf of the travel needs of the citizens of North York and Metropolitan Toronto. That responsibility has parameters which include serious considerations, not just for the questions of how best to handle the volume of commuter traffic but for the broader related questions of growth and development, which to a very large measure provide the foundation for the quality of life within this province and within Canada, and the quality of transportation provides the foundation for that growth and development.
I think we are compelled to act immediately on the matter of the Sheppard subway line by the factual argument of the conclusions drawn from informed analysis of this issue as well as the concerted voice of the citizens of the city of North York who, I think, have given unanimous approval to this project. They understand their travel needs and problems. I am sure the member for Oriole will echo that remark.
I would request that the government of the day manifest its determination to move swiftly in the prescribed direction and provide the funds that are necessary to begin this project immediately.
To delay any further will be interpreted by the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto as the demonstration of a lack of will by the government to develop authoritatively such an issue of importance, upon which depends a good deal of the economic vitality of this province and this country.
To delay any further would be to ensure that the cost for construction will rise absolutely astronomically, and the human costs will increase as well. To delay is most certainly a demonstration of lack of leadership at a crucial moment in this metropolitan area's driving move forward as it really begins to develop as a truly great urban centre. We have been told this by many of our visitors. Let us make sure that it remains a truly great urban centre by developing appropriately.
There is much more to lose by delaying than there is to gain by delaying, and all that is left really to do now is for the government to remove the last barrier which is blocking the inevitable of the future taking place. I would call upon the government to begin to remove that blockade immediately. Provide the funds for the Sheppard subway line right now.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the member wish to reserve the last three minutes and 10 seconds?
Miss Stephenson: For response.
The Deputy Speaker: Yes.
Mr. Warner: It is not a usual thing for me to agree with the member for York Mills (Miss Stephenson) on a subject. In fact, I am rather hard-pressed to think of the last time when the two of us did reach a common agreement on a topic; but, none the less, this happens to be an occasion where I agree and completely endorse the resolution that she has brought forward.
I listened attentively to a very thoughtful presentation, and she is to be commended for the presentation she has made. I guess what makes me a little bit sad with this morning is that having to move this resolution speaks to the continuation of our ad hoc approach to the development of transportation in Metropolitan Toronto and indeed throughout much of the region of southern Ontario.
Good, thoughtful, long-range planning has been absent for a long time. In fact, I would suggest that we really have not done any serious, thoughtful, long-range planning in this province with respect to public transit. We have never done that. It was a fault of the former government and, unfortunately, remains a fault with the new government.
Somehow, especially over the last 50 years, many people have found it perhaps convenient to see public transit in opposition to the development of highways and arterial roads, that somehow it was one or the other.
Many of us will recall -- certainly the member for York Mills will recall -- some of the really bizarre plans that were brought forward to have the city criss-crossed by expressways. She may recall the idea that was put forward to have an expressway that went east-west along either St. Clair or Bloor, and some really strange and bizarre ideas of simply not just putting expressways around the periphery of Toronto but in fact having them come through the city and that it was either this or public transit.
Somehow, there was never the notion that we could integrate the use of public transit with the use of arterial roads or expressways. Never, for example, was there the notion a long time ago that we could have an expanded expressway area that would accommodate some public transit, a rail line or an express lane for buses, taxis and so on. This was just something that was not considered.
As we go through the current debate about Sheppard, the question is now raised, "Will it be Sheppard or Eglinton?" I suggest we should not be approaching the question on an either/or basis. Surely to goodness, by now we appreciate, as they have appreciated for many decades in London, England, and in Paris, France, that a good subway system should be the base of an excellent transit system in a large urban centre and that both the Sheppard line and the Eglinton line are important, as indeed other sections of subway lines will be important, not just in the next 10 years but for many decades to come.
We missed the chance, I respectfully suggest, back in the 1920s and 1930s to have developed a good subway system in this city. We knew the technology. We understood that we could develop a subway system and yet we failed to grasp that opportunity and develop it. What makes me a little sad as well is that we will debate and at some point -- unless everybody over there has lost his or her marbles -- we will approve the Sheppard line. That is very nice.
I know in my community of Scarborough, the number one complaint I get from senior citizens is that they have difficulty travelling within Scarborough, from one place to another inside Scarborough. In a city of 500,000 people, half a million people, we have seniors whose transits needs within the city of Scarborough are not being met. At times I get so totally frustrated to think that we have the technology, the money, the intelligence, we know what needs to be done and yet we cannot do it; we fail to do it.
I support the resolution brought forward by the member. A lot of her comments with respect to the growth of the city are absolutely correct, but we can approve the Sheppard line and maybe through pressure the government will agree to build the line. Yet, a lot of problems will remain unanswered. For example, are we content to allow the sprawl of Metro Toronto through the surrounding areas, such as Markham, Durham, Pickering, Peel and York? Is that what we want?
We have forgotten about the greenbelts. The greenbelts are gone. The concept of having greenbelts so that there was an orderly development within Metropolitan Toronto and an equally orderly development in outlying areas and that we could protect our environment to a certain extent and try to civilize our urban development -- that is gone. Greenbelts are gone and we are looking at continuous urban sprawl.
Transit will be part of that, because as we allow that continuous urban sprawl then we have a transit need that needs to be met. Perhaps it involves merging GO Transit with the Toronto Transit Commission. I suggest at some point that has to happen, but as we develop that, what we will do is develop something that is similar to what we have seen in New York and down that eastern seaboard: continuous urban sprawl. I suggest that does not do any of us any good.
I get terribly frustrated because I know that the transit needs are not being met. I know that still there are many politicians who see public transit as being in opposition to highway construction and public transit will take a back seat. Metro council was not prepared to adopt a very modest proposal that the buses be given privilege on the roads, that the buses be given the right of way to pull out of the little turn-ins at the bus stops, that they be given the right of way to go back out into traffic. Metro council was given that opportunity by the former government and turned it down. We still have some backward-thinking politicians, both here in Queen's Park and on Metro council as well.
Unless we are prepared to meet the challenges of public transit, then I suggest, perhaps in a slightly different fashion, but as the member for York Mills has said, this city runs the risk of losing the good status it has achieved. As much as members from Metro Toronto are often put down for standing up for their city, I do not think there is any question that this is a good city. It is a darned good city and it has gained a good status, both within our country and within the world, but if we do not develop our public transit properly and if we do not take the initiative to ensure that those commuters who are living outside of Metropolitan Toronto are able to get in and out of the city, if we do not do those things, then I think we run the risk of creating a mess. That would be a real shame.
In conclusion, I am pleased to support the member's resolution, but I suggest, and I suggest very strongly to this government, that it is engaged in an ad hoc approach that has not served us well, an ad hoc approach that has been in this province for decades and remains. The member for Oriole, give her credit, will fight for this line, but she is part of a government that has no concept of orderly planning of a transit system for Metropolitan Toronto.
Ms. Caplan: I am pleased to enter the debate today with my colleague the member for York Mills and my colleague the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner). I would like to refer to some of the things they have said. I think it will come as a surprise to no one when I say how delighted I am that we have this resolution before us. I had been quite concerned because of the silence from the opposition benches on this particular issue.
The only time there was no silence was when, at the very first opportunity following the budget, I rose to ask a very important question which was on the minds of my constituents and the people of North York, and that was to the minister and to the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon): Was it either/or? Was the announcement of Highway 407 the end of the planning for the Sheppard line? Did one preclude the other? That was the only time when, in fact, there was a lot of noise in this House and I felt that, in some way, there was some suggestion that the question should not be asked.
So I am delighted that we have unanimous support, it would seem, from both opposition parties. The member for York Mills and I go back a long time. I remember her appearance when I was a newly elected member of North York council. It was 1978, and shortly thereafter, as a member of the planning board, she appeared before that not-so-august body and we had a little debate over some planning issues and appropriate development in downtown North York. As she speaks about her half century, I want to say I have spent the last 15 years -- not quite a half a century -- in the city of North York. I was there when it became a city. I sometimes feel as if I have been there half a century, or perhaps appear as if I have been there half a century.
I believe the very salient point made by the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is the one that I would like to take a few minutes to address, because most of the facts and the points in support of this proposal have been laid very well before us by the member for York Mills.
That has been the absence of long-range planning. One of the earliest positions that I took as a newly elected member of North York council was chairman of the development and economic growth committee. It was during my time as chairman that we requested the subway station which was just opened, the Park Home and Yonge subway station. That had been something that seemed such a natural. Why was this not done? Why was this not planned?
At the same time, I recommended that we have an ongoing and continual rapid transit subcommittee in North York because, as we changed our committee membership each year, we lost that continuum of planning, of knowledge among council members. In fact, I became familiar with terms like "Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority, Accelerated Rapid Transit Study, GO advanced light rail transit, articulated rapid transit," all of the words of transportation planning. The end result, just after my departure from North York council, was in fact Network 2011, a report that I was very, very familiar with.
The part I was most distressed about was that I found there had been no comprehensive planning or discussion among the Toronto Transit Commission, Metropolitan Toronto, North York transportation department, Scarborough transportation department and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. They had been looking at planning for Metropolitan Toronto, for North York, for Scarborough, but they had not been looking at the greater Toronto area, they had not been looking at the greater needs and doing long-range planning.
Let me say very clearly and strongly, I was disappointed that we did not have an announcement of funding in the budget. The minister explained to me very clearly that it is the policy of this government that we have that kind of comprehensive long-range planning, that we not make the kinds of ad hoc decisions that have been noted in the past.
When the announcement of $2.75 million was made for the evaluation and the studies to allow the Sheppard line to continue in the planning process, I was heartened. I really felt we were moving along. I have had assurance from the minister that the approval of Highway 407 did not preclude the Sheppard line.
I think the needs are clear for the people of my riding, the people of York Mills, the people of the new Willowdale riding, the people of Scarborough, the people not only in North York but those throughout north-central Metropolitan Toronto, those north of North York in the new planning regions, the region of York, the region of Durham, the region of Peel.
I was just discussing this with my colleague from the west end of North York, the member for Yorkview (Mr. Polsinelli). He was saying to me that it takes him longer to travel inward and across the city than it does his colleague the member for Brampton (Mr. Callahan), who is that much further, or his colleagues coming the other way. So we have to look at a total transportation plan.
On this point, I would like to echo the words we have heard this morning and talk about a balance. It is not either-or roads or traffic, highways or traffic. I think the minister and the Treasurer are very aware. I believe this process, which has been going on since 1981 looking at Metropolitan Toronto's transit needs, was quite confusing. There was another process going on at the same time and that was the GO advanced light rail transit study for the interurban lines that the member for York Mills referred to.
What I found, because of my involvement, was that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications was looking at the GO-ALRT lines while Metropolitan Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission were looking at the needs of Metropolitan Toronto and North York. There was a lot of confusion among the public. Now is the time to stop that confusion, to look at a comprehensive, balanced plan for future transportation needs that will allow for the appropriate development of the Scarborough Town Centre, the North York Town Centre, the downtown North York that I am so proud of and that I had some part in seeing become a reality.
I believe the Sheppard line is needed not only for North York but for all of greater Metropolitan Toronto. I think the study that is under way now within the ministry, looking at the needs of the greater Metropolitan Toronto area, will come to that conclusion. It is important this be done so that we can end the kind of ad hockery the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere referred to.
I believe this resolution should be supported unanimously in this House. It speaks to an immediate start. I guess the word "immediate" is the one we are all going to look at and say, "What exactly does that mean?" I think immediately upon having that kind of comprehensive planning done and the commitment to the long-term needs of the people, not only of North York and Metropolitan Toronto but of the greater Metropolitan Toronto area, looking at all those transportation needs, then we must see the ground-breaking.
One of the points that was made already that I would like to reiterate, because I think it is most important, is that more people cross that boundary between North York and Scarborough every day than live in the new, fastest-emerging communities to the north, the east and the west. We are looking at 25 per cent of the employment opportunities within Metropolitan Toronto and this region occurring in North York and Scarborough. The link between the two is vital. I think it is important that the people not take for granted that this planning is occurring without their participation. They must participate by petition and by discussion with their members.
I have been an advocate of this line from the time that the decision was made at the Metropolitan Toronto council level. I have raised it at every opportunity in this House. I have presented petitions on behalf of the people. This morning, perhaps as a token of their appreciation, I would like to take the last four seconds to present to the member for York Mills a T-shirt saying "Sheppard Subway Line `I Need it Now'" and to ask for unanimous support of the resolution.
Mr. McFadden: I am rising, as have the other members who have spoken so far this morning, in support of the resolution of the member for York Mills.
I think the way to describe transportation in Metropolitan Toronto is really one word, and that is "congestion." We have congestion right across Toronto on our streets. There was a time when congestion was limited to traffic downtown or during rush hours. Today, we have traffic congestion from one end of Metro to the other, not just at rush hours but throughout the day, to the point where it is unpleasant for many drivers even to try to cope with the type of traffic congestion they face in street after street, on artery after artery, from Scarborough right across to Etobicoke.
To add to this, we have congestion in our parking lots everywhere. Try to find parking in downtown Toronto on an average work day. Any of the parking you do find, if you can find any, is expensive. In fact, there are a couple of lots downtown where at times you almost have to mortgage your car to get out with the kind of prices that are being charged.
We also have congestion, though, throughout our public transit system. I think we have reached a point where our subway system today is overloaded and past the saturation point. I suggest that the congestion in public transit throughout Metro, at rush hour at least, has reached the point of being inhuman. "Congestion" is very clearly, in my view, a word that describes transportation virtually everywhere in the major travelled arteries of this city.
It is safe to say, though, that this is the result of the success that Toronto has enjoyed since the Second World War. You could say that Toronto is a victim of its own success. If we take a look at the period since the Second World War, I think we will see through that whole period one of the most exciting periods of growth of any city anywhere in the world. Toronto has moved, over the past several decades, from being a moderately successful regional city to being a city which today is well known worldwide as a financial and commercial centre.
We can take a good deal of pride in the fact that Toronto has a remarkably low level of unemployment relative to other areas of Canada. One of the key reasons for that has been the success of this city in developing into a financial and commercial centre. Of course, there have been other areas of strength in the city besides those particular sectors, obviously in the area of education and other services, but the diversification of the Toronto economy into a whole broad area of concerns and activities has brought tremendous strength to the city.
Toronto has also become a leading theatre and cultural centre which is well regarded world-wide. Toronto is the home of some of the greatest teams in sport. Today we are fortunate to have in Toronto the finest baseball team in professional baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays. I know there are odd members of this House, and I describe them as odd, who actually cheer for other teams besides the Blue Jays, but even they have to admit today that the Blue Jays are the finest team in baseball.
Toronto, of course, is the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now the Maple Leafs have gone through some troubling years in recent times. They have historically been one of the finest teams, but as a sports fan, I am well aware of the fact that the Leafs are right in the middle of another one of their rebuilding programs. I am confident that this current rebuilding program, led by Wendel Clark, will lead the Leafs to a Stanley Cup, which will create additional congestion in downtown Toronto.
Who can forget that tonight the Toronto Argonauts begin another fine season in the Canadian Football League hosting a surprise guest, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers? Again, that is another fine team that attracts people in from across Ontario and different parts of Canada and leads to further congestion.
One of the things, though, that has characterized Toronto now for many years is that it has become a magnet, attracting people from outside of the Toronto area, from across Ontario, from across Canada and different parts of the world. This is something that both Toronto residents and Ontarians can be proud of, but the kind of congestion that this has created is something that has to be dealt with on an urgent basis.
The current system of public transportation was, in effect, designed about 35 years ago with the decision of the city and the province to go ahead with the construction of the Yonge Street subway. From the 1950s on, we have just had further elaborations in the area of public transportation. We have had the construction of the University line, then the completion of the Bloor line and the construction of the light rail transit line in Scarborough.
Today, though, we very clearly need some major new initiatives in the area of public transportation. Leadership and support for this must come from the province now, as in the past, if Toronto is to remain an attractive city to visit, to work in and to live in. The Network 2011 report set out what I would suggest is a very practical and well-considered strategy for the improvement of rapid transit in Toronto over the next 25 to 30 years.
As the member for York Mills and other members have mentioned this morning, one of the strengths of Toronto is that a conscious decision was made not to rely on the automobile as the sole reliable means of transportation. That was the mistake that one city after another made in the United States. We have developed in this city a balanced system involving both the private automobile, surface transportation and mass subway transportation, but it is clear today that the rapid transit system we have in place in Toronto must be expanded on an urgent basis and improved.
Construction should start immediately on the Sheppard line as a first priority in the improvement of rapid transit in the city. This line is clearly needed to service the needs of the people in North York and the expanding business community in that city. More than that, we must also move on an urgent basis when that construction project is completed to construct a downtown relief line and other improvements to relieve the very severe pressure on the Yonge-University line.
Anybody who has travelled on the University-Yonge line in the last year or so would have to agree with me that the Yonge line has reached the breaking point. In fact, one of life's most unpleasant experiences is to ride on the Yonge Street line on a day like today when the temperature is 25 or 30 degrees. It is well past the point of saturation. I suggest that we have a situation now on the Yonge line where it has gone past the point of even being saturated, it is supersaturated.
I also suggest that the situation on the trains on both the Yonge line and the Bloor line is unhealthy and unsafe for elderly people and for children. They can virtually be trampled at rush hour trying to get on and off the subway trains. Something has to be done to relieve that problem as well, on an urgent basis.
Given the fact that thousands of people use public transit every day in Toronto in cramped and often unpleasant circumstances, the province should move immediately to allocate the required funding to start construction on the Sheppard subway line as an important, but only a first, step in improving rapid transit across Metropolitan Toronto.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Oshawa for up to seven minutes.
Mr. Breaugh: I want to join briefly in this debate because it hits on a point that is becoming more and more important to people in my area. I want to say that I support the resolution. I would be afraid to do otherwise because the sponsor of the resolution is well known for her tenacity.
It is apparent, if one drove in as I did today, that the road system in Metropolitan Toronto is past its saturation point. It does not matter which road you choose to take. You will find that the Red Brigade has totally taken over Metro works. They have completely shut down the transportation system on the ground in Metropolitan Toronto. There is not a motorist out there who does not know that. If they do not know it yet, on their way home tonight, if they just pause to look around, they will understand that the reason they are sitting still in traffic for long periods of time is that the road system cannot handle any more capacity.
The argument about whether there ought to be an expansion, as many American cities had, of the road transportation system, has been resolved in Metropolitan Toronto. We are not opting for a system of huge expressways that take apart a major urban centre and cause a raft of other problems. We have begun to focus on what I believe is the correct option, and that is rapid transit systems of different types that really have to be integrated.
Frankly, my concern is not that there is an absence of planning. When I sat on a regional council in Durham, we were aware there of many of the transportation plans of a long-range nature that have been done in and around Metro. As provincial politicians, we are or we should be very sensitive to the fact that there are people in Ontario who want to get a concession road paved this summer, and that is not going to happen because somebody said there is no money.
When you talk about transportation plans in Metropolitan Toronto, particularly rapid transit plans, you are talking about really large amounts of money. But the fact remains that we do not have any options left in this regard. There needs to be established a transportation system around Metro -- that would be the consensus I see -- to address this need to move huge numbers of people in and out of the city for a variety of reasons.
In my area, the hot potato these days is that this government is not much better than the previous government at actually carrying out the plans. It is obvious that we need to provide GO Transit into the region of Durham. It is so obvious that it is already there to Pickering. It is so obvious that they are already constructing it to Whitby; but it is also obvious that it needs to be extended further into Oshawa and to service Newcastle. It is equally obvious that the same GO Transit needs to go west. It needs to go into Hamilton.
Those are our priorities, and that is why the construction is under way. It needs to be done now, frankly, because the people are there now. This is not a theoretical argument any more. It used to be, and sometimes I wish it still was planning theories that we are talking about, but we are talking about something which is almost of emergency status. We need to develop things like the Sheppard line if we are ever to do anything to relieve Highway 401.
I do not believe there is a member here who would argue, even bother to argue, that we can further expand the Highway 401 complex. The only one that I have heard is the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent) who said we ought to put up a second tier. That is the only place that I can see that you could go. You cannot go any farther. My problem is that the system we now have, ground transportation in particular, is beginning to crumble under its own weight. If we do not continue to do proper maintenance, that one is going to be in dire straits for a long period of time. We are well aware this summer that there is a problem when you try to do that repair work.
I am happy to support this resolution. I wish it were part of a somewhat broader resolution, because it will address one of our needs. If the member is proposing that this is the starting point for a transportation system which moves people almost in a ring around Metropolitan Toronto, more power to her, because those are the kinds of things that need to be done. I did hear her say earlier that this is meant to be a system that will fall in place eventually to link up rapid transit systems going through Scarborough and through the west end of the city so you will have the opportunity to use rapid transit all over Metropolitan Toronto.
As an alternative, you can come to Oshawa and we will build you the pickup trucks and everybody can hop into the back and whip around the Gardiner Expressway and do all of that; but short of that one, I do not know of a system that is going to work unless you go to some rapid transit system. It does not have to be subway; it could be light rail transit. There are some options that can be expressed there, but the need is apparent now, almost of an emergency nature.
In Metro and around Metro we are caught with this: the theoretical move to plan for the regions around Metro happened in the 1970s, and in those days on those councils we all proceeded to say: "This is what the province wants, it wants us to accept housing in large numbers." We did that; we approved those development plans; we went through official plan amendments; we did zoning bylaws.
Then' of course, because of the way we do housing in Ontario, we turned that over to the private sector, because it would be the one to actually construct the housing, and we lost control of when the housing would be built, the housing being built according to the market demands for it. The demand is there now. The problem is that all that massive housing -- if you go north, east or west, you will see housing being built on a scale we have never seen before in Ontario, 1,500 and 2,000 units at a time.
I believe this mode of transportation has to be addressed by the government right now. It has to be part of a package needed right now. It means extending GO Transit to Oshawa and Hamilton. It means putting in place now the Sheppard line. It means putting in place other lines.
We know there are some transportation options that still have to be looked at and examined. We know it is attractive to say those big GM diesels can do the job cheaper than anything else, but the truth is that if we want to move people on the scale we are talking about here, we need a rapid transit system, one that we have in part, one that we need in whole, or this community will experience just exactly what happened on the Don Valley Parkway this morning. It is going to come to a roaring and obnoxious dead halt.
Mr. Speaker: The member for York Mills has three minutes either to wind up or wind down the debate.
Miss Stephenson: I am delighted to know I do not have to wind the debate up, because it would appear that all three parties are in support of the resolution.
I would like to remind the member for Oriole that our association goes back longer than her freshman year as alderman. It goes back to 1977 when she was the campaign chairman for her husband who was my Liberal opponent in the 1977 provincial election.
Mr. Warner: You crushed him, right?
Miss Stephenson: No, I did not crush him. He sort of crushed himself at that point. He did not listen to his wife; that was what was wrong, as usual.
Over the past decade, many studies have been carried out. The studies are good solid work, but they need to be integrated. That process was begun in 1983, the integration of the GO advanced light rail transit study with the Metropolitan Toronto study, in order that we could develop an appropriate, balanced transportation system, not only within Metropolitan Toronto but also for the larger area of Metropolitan Toronto and its environs.
Were I the Treasurer at this point with a windfall of $8 billion, one of the first things I would be doing is making sure that some of that study, which has been done and clarified, was being initiated right now, because the economic future of this province, whether we like it or not and whether anybody outside of Toronto likes it or not, depends very heavily on what happens to the Metropolitan area of Toronto. A good deal of the future of Canada depends on what happens here as well.
It is essential that this area be maintained as the vital financial-industrial-commercial centre that it is. We are not going to be able to do it if we cannot invite people to come and live here because they cannot get around the area to get to the services that are provided or to get to their employment. That is the kind of thing that is likely to happen if we do not proceed.
I could not agree more with the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere and the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) that we must develop an integrated program and we must begin on several fronts. But, for goodness' sake, let us not hold back right at the present time. If we cannot begin on all fronts at once, at least let us begin Highway 407, the extension of GO, which is absolutely essential, and the Sheppard subway line immediately, and then proceed with the other components that are absolutely essential to the future of this province and the future of this country.
The needs of the people must be met and the needs of our economic development depend heavily on the needs of the people.
RIDING OF PARRY SOUND
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Eves has moved resolution 20.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: Miss Stephenson has moved resolution 21.
Motion agreed to.
The House recessed at 12 noon.
The House resumed at 1:30 p.m.
ASSISTANCE FOR THE DISABLED
Mr. Eves: For some time now, Thomas and Gail Dowswell of Parry Sound have been trying without success to convince the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) that his provisions for disabled people are both inadequate and unfair.
Mrs. Dowswell is unable to work due to severe epilepsy and receives a disability pension from the ministry; however, because her husband is working, Mrs. Dowswell's pension is reduced. Mr. Dowswell makes the grand sum of $10,000 a year. The Dowswell family can hardly make ends meet as it is and the ministry is penalizing the Dowswells because Mr. Dowswell is earning a wage that is below the poverty line, even for single people in Ontario.
The minister seems to think that $10,000 a year is plenty to live on, which is rather hypocritical because the difference between the salary of his executive assistant now and my executive assistant when I was the minister is about $10,000 a year.
In response to the latest letter to the minister on the matter, which I received four months after the request was made, the minister's answer to the Dowswell's situation is that Mr. Dowswell is free to quit his job if Mrs. Dowswell wants her benefits reinstated. Because she is disabled, she cannot exercise the option to go out and work and augment her family's income. Mr. Dowswell could sit back and live off the government, but he believes in the work ethic. The government's track record with respect to the disabled is indeed a sad story. Hardworking people such as the Dowswells are trying to get ahead and deserve better.
Perhaps the minister could help these people out by raising those income levels.
POLITICAL ACTIVITY BY CROWN EMPLOYEES
Mr. Philip: On May 28, the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) on behalf of the Liberal Party, and the member for York South (Mr. Rae) on behalf of the New Democratic Party, signed an accord which stated, "Redefinition and broadening of the rights of public service workers to participation in political activity." On January 13, the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) stated: "The government undertakes to deal promptly with the issue of political activity by crown employees as soon as the law reform commission report is received."
The summary by the Liberal government in its review of the 1985-86 session stated: "The government expects to give the commission's report high priority on its legislative program."
On introducing that report on July 10, 1986, it stated: "The government expects to give the commission's report, for which I congratulate it once again, high priority in our legislative program."
The government has signed an accord in which it promised political rights to public servants. We have a report with very concrete and specific recommendations on how that is done. It is fairly obvious on this date that this government cannot be trusted in its promise to its own public servants, in its contract that it signed with the New Democratic Party, or indeed in the promises the minister has made in this House.
Mr. Callahan: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise today to commend my colleague the Minister of Citizenship and Culture (Ms. Munro) on the fine work that she and her ministry have done in developing the government-wide multiculturalism strategy.
As a representative of the riding of Brampton, which has a wide cultural diversity, I am keenly aware of the concerns many members of the multicultural communities have regarding access to services and access to the many opportunities this province has to offer to its citizens.
These concerns go far beyond the confines of any one ministry's responsibility; that is to say, multiculturalism is not just song and dance but the very fibre of all aspects of life throughout this province and my riding. It has just as much relevance in the fields of health, social services, education, labour, human resources, management, etc.
As for the celebration of our differences in our heritage, multiculturalism means all of us, not just ethnics. We have a culture. We all have our own traditions and histories, but let us celebrate them together.
I would like to take this opportunity for the last time to invite all the members of the Legislature, as well as those who may be viewing, to our very excellent celebration in the city of Brampton, Carabram, which will be opening officially on June 30 and will continue thereafter with the sights, sounds and tastes or our multicultural community on July 3, 4 and 5.
PROPOSAL FOR WATERWAY
Mr. Runciman: Before the House adjourns, hopefully today, I want to place on the record my concerns and the concerns of many of my constituents in respect to the Ministry of Natural Resources' intention to designate the waterway between Otter and Charleston lakes as the James Auld Provincial Waterway Park.
The proposed designation of this waterway as a park has raised valid concerns, as residents and users perceive a threat to established uses and traditional occupations of those living along the waterway. I share these concerns and have advised the Ministry of Natural Resources to abandon its plans to implement a park designation and, instead, designate the waterway as the James Auld Waterway Trail.
In response to mounting criticism, the ministry has opted to establish a citizens' advisory committee and, although its terms of reference are open to interpretation, the minister has personally assured me that the committee will consider the need and desirability of the park designation.
On the basis of that commitment, I have urged interested groups and individuals, despite their reservations, to participate in the committee process. I would urge the minister to ensure that the committee's first order of business be the park designation question. To do otherwise would very quickly bring into question the credibility of the process and discourage complete citizen participation.
IRRADIATION OF FOOD
Mrs. Grier: It is high time the people of Ontario knew where the provincial government stands on the question of food irradiation.
On May 14, a federal standing committee on consumer and corporate affairs released a comprehensive report on this nuclear technology for the preservation of food. This report was endorsed by all three federal parties. Its major finding was that there is currently not enough evidence to say that irradiated food is safe for human consumption.
The federal committee did not support the changes to regulations under the Food and Drugs Act proposed by the Department of National Health and Welfare. These draft regulations would allow companies to market irradiated food without having to prove it is safe.
Federal ministries have another three months in which to respond to the parliamentary report. I think it is essential that Ontario ministries respond also. I urge the ministers of Health (Mr. Elston), Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) and Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Kwinter) to make public their positions on food irradiation. I hope all three ministries will support the position of the parliamentary committee.
It is shocking to think the federal government would go ahead and approve food irradiation when its safety is still so much in question, but this could happen: tremendous pressure is being put on the federal government by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and other vested interests.
Irradiation could change the Ontario food supply in a dramatic way. It is too important a provincial issue for the decision about its introduction across Canada to be left to Ottawa. It is premature to approve regulations allowing food irradiation while the safety of the irradiated food is so much in doubt.
INTERNATIONAL PLOWING MATCH AND FARM MACHINERY SHOW
Mr. McKessock: A couple of weeks ago I wrote to all members of the Legislature inviting them to the international ploughing match this fall in Grey county. If members have not responded to that letter, they should please do so immediately so we can send them meal tickets for the opening day and also have a sign made up for them to participate in the MP and MPP ploughing competition.
I also want to ask the Premier (Mr. Peterson) not to have the election in the week of September 15 to 19, because all the people in Ontario are going to be in Grey county for that week.
Besides inviting the members, I want to make this an open invitation to everybody in Ontario to attend the international ploughing match this fall, September 15 to 19. This is where the urban and rural people come together for a week of fun and education. Grey county is happy to play host to all those in Ontario this fall. One and all, come out to Grey county, near Meaford, this fall to the international ploughing match.
FISHING LICENCE REVENUES
Mr. J. M. Johnson: I rise with a great deal of sadness because I feel I must chastise the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio). In January 1987 the minister imposed a sport fishing licence on the residents of Ontario, the first sport fishing licence in the history of our province. My colleagues in the Progressive Conservative Party supported that initiative with the explicit understanding from the minister that all funds generated by this fishing licence would be used to improve sport fishing in this province and that the minister would set up a fisheries advisory council to ensure that happens.
The minister has not honoured his commitment to the members of this assembly or to the anglers of our province. He has failed to set up the fisheries advisory council, and it is my understanding that he has already allocated more than half of the projected revenue from this tax for expenditures of his ministry that should have been paid out of general revenue. This is completely unacceptable, and I call on the minister to honour his commitment and spend 100 per cent of the licence fees for sport fishing.
Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: On a number of occasions in this Legislature over the past six months, members of this party, myself included, have repeatedly asked the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. O'Neil) to produce the Biddell report with respect to Wyda Systems and Graham Software. We have been told by the Premier and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology on a number of occasions -- including, I may add, in writing; a letter dated June 15 to the member for Leeds (Mr. Runciman), chairman of the standing committee on public accounts, signed by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology -- that the report had not been completed or that it did not exist.
My point of privilege is this: this morning in the public accounts committee, we were advised that not only did Mr. Biddell's report on Wyda and Graham Software and IDEA Corp. exist, it had been given to the minister on February 11, 1987, that he had kept it and that Mr. Biddell saw no reason for it not being produced and made public.
Clearly, what the minister said and what was really going on are completely at variance. This minister and the Premier said something to us, as members of this House, that was not true. I call on them both to resign or else to explain their actions to this House.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I listened very carefully to the member. He rose on a point of privilege. l cannot see in any way where any member's privilege has been breached. He stated that on many occasions he had questioned different ministers on matters. There are certain aspects of the standing orders which would allow the member to take further action on receiving further information. It is not a point of privilege.
Statements by the ministry.
Mr. Gillies: Mr. Speaker, on the same point of privilege, if I may --
Mr. Speaker: On the same point? I actually ruled it was not a point of privilege. I may have been too quick, but I ruled it was not a point of privilege.
Mr. Gillies: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I ask you, as Speaker, what remedy we have in this House when both the Premier and the minister have so clearly misrepresented this situation in writing and verbally to this House.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Gillies: What remedy do we have, through you as Speaker, to ensure that we are given factual information by this government and are not so clearly misled as in this case?
Mr. Speaker: Order. I ask the honourable member to withdraw the words "misrepresented" and "misled." Will you withdraw?
Mr. Gillies: I will withdraw "misled," Mr. Speaker, but I assure you and all members of this House that what these two members have told the chamber is 100 miles from the truth.
Mr. Speaker: Will the member withdraw the word "misrepresented"?
Mr. Gillies: I withdrew it, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: I understood you withdrew "misled." Do you want to withdraw both?
Mr. Gillies: I withdraw "misled" and "misrepresented" and I leave on the record that what they have said is 100 miles from the truth.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
ROMAN CATHOLIC SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Hon. Mr. Scott: I am pleased to be able to report to the House that today the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously affirmed the majority decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, which in turn affirmed the constitutionality of Bill 30. The constitutionality of full funding for separate schools and its requirement as part of the Confederation pact is thus established by a unanimous decision of our highest court.
Honourable members will recognize that both Ontario and Quebec entered into Confederation on the condition that the educational rights of the religious minorities in those provinces were protected. This was one of the cornerstones of Confederation, a condition precedent for the formation of Canada in 1867. Indeed, Sir Charles Tupper, a Father of Confederation, speaking in the House of Commons in 1896, described the Confederation bargain in precisely that way, noting that without the education guarantees contained in section 93 of the British North America Act "the provinces would have been unable to obtain any confederation whatever."
It appears from their reasons for judgement that a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada has reaffirmed this historic bargain. The court has concluded that the Confederation compromise of 1867, which took account of the rights of minorities, is not displaced or modified by the Constitution Act of 1982.
As well, a majority of the members of the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that the Tiny township case, a decision of the judicial committee of the Privy Council in 1928, which was believed to have stood in the way of full funding for Roman Catholic separate secondary schools, was wrongly decided.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I would like to join the Attorney General in a brief statement regarding today's Supreme Court decision.
The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the constitutional validity of Bill 30 and I would like to say that this government intends to proceed with a careful and sensitive implementation of this initiative.
This government is looking to the future of our publicly funded school systems with a strong commitment to provide quality education for all Ontario students.
I might just add that on this occasion, I would like to personally and sincerely thank all members of this assembly for their support, their constructive criticism and their wise counsel in this very important matter.
I would like to say as well on this day a personal word of congratulations to my colleague the Attorney General for his wonderful handling of our case, which was decided successfully in the Supreme Court of Canada. It proves once again that he is truly one of the most outstanding lawyers ever to grace this chamber and operate in Ontario.
Finally, I want to say in conclusion how very much I have appreciated the very strong, constant and unbending loyalty of my colleague and seatmate, the Premier (Mr. Peterson) of this province, without whose support and commitment all this could not have happened.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: As members of this Legislature know, the government of Ontario is committed to making our province's system of social assistance fair, progressive and effective.
Last fall, the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) and I announced plans to eliminate the so-called spouse-in-the-house rule for social assistance recipients.
Under this rule, a single parent on social assistance could lose benefits simply because a person of the opposite sex was staying in the house of the recipient. It did not matter, under that rule, whether the recipient received any financial help from the other party.
This was unfair both to the woman, who in most cases depended heavily on our social assistance net, and equally important, to the children. These innocent children could be denied, through no fault of their own, the very basics of existence.
Accordingly, on November 1, 1986, we took the first step by eliminating any inquiries about the sexual or conjugal nature of a relationship between a recipient and another adult. It was the end of a rule that many people found objectionable.
As a second step, we asked George Thomson's Social Assistance Review Committee to provide an implementation framework to replace the spouse-in-the-house rule. I am pleased to table its report today.
We have taken the principles recommended by the committee and fine-tuned them to make them work within our existing system of allowances.
Under the spouse-in-the-house rule, women and their children were the most likely to be adversely affected. The new rules I am announcing today will ensure that no woman will lose her sole source of income simply because she is residing with a man who in fact does not demonstrably provide support to her or her children, nor have a legal obligation to do so.
Under the new criteria, a sole-support parent will be eligible for social assistance unless he or she resides with another person who has a legal obligation to support the parent or the parent's dependent children, or who provides a significant economic contribution to the parent or his or her dependent children.
We recognize, though, that a recipient's needs are less when accommodation is shared by the other person. Therefore, there will be an appropriate reduction in benefits in such cases.
These changes will come into effect on November 1, 1987. This will allow us enough time to train our own staff and to assist our municipal partners in implementing the new rules.
I would like to thank the Social Assistance Review Committee and the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund for their hard work and help in developing this new policy.
I am sure members will agree that these changes will have an immediate, positive and fair impact on thousands of our most vulnerable women and children -- our families.
Hon. Ms. Munro: Yesterday, at the Royal Ontario Museum, I had the honour of announcing a government-wide multiculturalism strategy which will encourage responsiveness in our political, economic, cultural and social institutions. Today I would like to outline the strategy for you.
Our strategy is based on the following principles, which cabinet has endorsed.
We consider the presence of a people of diverse cultural backgrounds to be a source of enrichment and strength. We are committed to equal and responsible citizenship for people of all cultures and races in the province. We support the value of cultural retention for those who choose, and of cultural sharing. We are committed to providing public services which are accessible and responsive to our changing population.
Many reports and studies during the past decade have told us about the realities of this multicultural province. This new approach will move from philosophy to action. The goal of our strategy is to ensure that individuals of all cultures have the opportunity to participate fully in society. Our government legislation, policies, appointments and programs will mirror the spirit of our strategy. For example, my colleague the acting Chairman of Management Board (Mr. Nixon) will be announcing a comprehensive employment equity program shortly.
To turn commitment into action, my cabinet colleagues and I pledge to implement a five-year plan which will ensure that programs operated or funded by the province will respond to the needs of our multicultural society. Our ministries will design and deliver programs and services in a manner which accommodates our multicultural and multiracial society. We will continue to seek out the views of individuals and cultural communities on issues.
Our plan of action strikes a balance between the individual's responsibility to strengthen the skills needed to participate in society and the government's responsibility to ensure that services are widely accessible.
Government action begins now. We are building on existing programs and launching initiatives across the board. Over the next 18 months, the government will be spending in excess of $14 million in support of this strategy. While this figure represents our financial commitment, the total impact cannot be measured only in dollars. What we are talking about is fundamental change in the way government operates.
In my own ministry we will provide more support to community groups offering English or French second-language instruction, we will develop new basic materials on citizenship and civic affairs and we will increase assistance to community multicultural museums and provide special funding to the Archives of Ontario for the collection of multicultural records.
As I said before, this is a government-wide plan of action. My colleagues in other ministries will be announcing program details in the future. The following examples, however, illustrate the kinds of initiatives that other ministries will take. The changes will improve access to public services as well as increase intercultural sensitivity and the participation in society of every person in Ontario.
The Ministry of Health will promote multicultural representation on district health councils. It will consult with cultural groups on health promotion issues and with community health centres on expanding services for multicultural clients. The ministry will also produce a resource guide for health care workers.
The Ministry of Community and Social Services is developing a multicultural resource kit and training program for child care workers.
The Ministry of Education is taking action to improve relations between the school system and the multicultural community.
The Ontario women's directorate is continuing its efforts to remove barriers to the work force. In co-operation with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology, the directorate will also accelerate the drive to foster entrepreneurship among women of all cultures.
As I said, these are but a few examples of the initiatives which my colleagues will be announcing in the coming months. Together, all ministries will make our excellent public institutions more sensitive, responsive and accessible to everyone.
This strategy was developed with the help of the public we serve. My ministry held eight think-tanks in Toronto and my colleague the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Ruprecht) held 21 dialogues across Ontario to hear presentations from members of cultural communities. We also talked to cabinet ministers, their staff and other levels of government. I met with many individuals and groups, and I sought the advice of the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism and Citizenship.
As we develop new policies and programs, the council, with its wide regional and cultural representation, will continue to advise us. If we are to create a truly open society, then individuals, industry, volunteer organizations and other levels of government must join in the effort. We will do our share.
ROMAN CATHOLIC SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Mr. Grossman: While we are all very much relieved by the Supreme Court decision, I want to take this opportunity to remind the government, specifically the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) and the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway), that the tough job still lies ahead.
It is not enough for the Minister of Education to rise this afternoon and repeat the words "This government is looking to the future of our publicly funded school systems with a strong commitment to provide quality education for all Ontario students." Those words are easy to type, they are easy to put in a statement, but we found out about the minister's strong commitment to quality of education in the public school systems with the budget tabled by the Treasurer.
We found out, in table C3, that total spending for education this year will drop by $10 million. We found further, in table C6, that grants to school boards will drop by $61 million this year. That hardly is consistent with brave words such as "a strong commitment to provide quality of education for all Ontario students." The Minister of Education should also know that it lies in his hands not only to get the necessary funds out of the extra $8 billion dollars his government has had to spend, not only to get enough money for the education system, but also to make sure it is allocated fairly.
From what we have seen, we can draw only three conclusions.
First, the minister and his colleagues have cut funding absolutely, on a percentage basis, in dollar terms and on every measure this year to both the public and separate schools, in elementary and secondary schools. Those facts lie on the record of the budget of the Treasurer. It does not matter how many times the Premier (Mr. Peterson) uses words that would try to give lie to that reality. The reality is contained in the budget.
Second, if the minister believes he can prove the Premier's words are accurate, I challenge him this afternoon to release the figures with regard to transfers to individual school boards that he and his ministry have totally refused to make available to us. I have no doubt that later on in the year he will make them available, but until now he has covered up the realities and the details of his commitments to the school boards, because he does not want us to have the information.
Third and finally, might I say to the minister he has either failed to get enough money from the Treasurer, who had lots of money to give to the education system to back up the Premier's words, or he has used a significant portion of the money allocated for the public school system for the separate school system. That is a breach of the commitment both governments have made to the parents and students in the public school system.
He has not at all carried through on his commitments, and the words he offered today have not been lived up to one iota by him and his colleagues. His responsibility lies in the future. He has abdicated it to date. He has broken commitments, and it is not enough to stand up and be proud of the fact that the bill dealt with by all three parties in this House has withstood the test of the Supreme Court. We always thought it would.
The easy part is done. The tough part is to fund the school systems properly. He has failed to fund either school system properly and he has failed to fund the public school system fairly to date.
Mr. Jackson: I wish to respond to the announcement of the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) of the changes in the spouse-in-the-house rules for social assistance recipients.
What is interesting is not necessarily what is in the announcement of the minister today but specifically what is absent from the minister's announcement. Nowhere has he made any clear indication of what he is going to do with the hundreds, indeed probably thousands, of cases that have fallen under the old criteria, where they are the subject of civil actions by his government for breaches of that old criteria.
I would like to indicate that the report he referred to, the George Thomson review report, makes one reference: "We also encountered much confusion about how individual cases should now be handled. This confusion extends to the ministries and municipal staff as well as recipients."
The minister has made a political statement today. He has drafted and presented no clear-cut guidelines with respect to the retroactive issue and to how the program will be implemented.
ROMAN CATHOLIC SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Mr. Rae: I want to comment briefly on the Supreme Court decision. I think the important point about the decision, which was not mentioned explicitly by either the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) or the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), as I heard them, and which I think it is important to underline, is that in part of the unanimous decision, four of the judges -- indeed the majority of the judges -- chose to look not simply at whether the Legislature could do what it did with respect to the extension of funding, but specifically at the question of whether in fact there was not an obligation on the part of the Legislature, in the light of the history over the last 120 years, to do basically what it did.
I think that point has to be brought out again and again. The point has to be made that what we did in this last period with respect to the funding of the last two or three years of Catholic high school was to complete the bargain, which was essentially the Confederation bargain, made in 1867. That point is an important one. I think it is of enormous historical importance that the court chose to do that. They chose to basically disagree with the Privy Council case with respect to Tiny township, and we now have a very different view of the law and of the jurisprudence in this province with respect to our historic obligations as part of the Confederation bargain. I think that is very important and it would be wrong of us to ignore that and not to point that out.
I also want to say to the government that I think this decision now clearly places the question of funding and the adequacy of funding at the very centre of the future of debate about our province. It seems to me we can no longer afford to concentrate or focus on questions that divide us. What we must focus on in this province is what unites all parts of the public school systems, and that is the inadequacy of funding, the problem of access, the question of literacy and the problem of drop-outs. These are questions that unite all supporters of our education systems, public and separate, both parts of what I call the broader public system in this province.
That is the focus of the debate and that is the focus of the future. It may divide us on partisan lines but not on any other lines. I must say that is much the way I prefer to do business in Ontario when it comes to fighting for the people of this province.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I would like to respond briefly to the announcement on the spouse-in-the-house rule changes that have finally come to light and been made public. This party has fought very hard to get these changes made in the last number of years, and I am glad there has been some reaction by the government; but I am starting to believe that this government can never do anything completely, that it never can do anything in total. Instead, it comes through with something that picks out part of the good things that are in Judge Thomson's report to it and then ignores others.
I find it amazing the minister has not even mentioned how he has disagreed with Mr. Thomson. What the minister has done is to demand of anybody who is living with a spouse, even if the other terms of legal responsibility are not there, that half the shelter cost will be paid. What Mr. Thomson said was that where they had the capacity to pay that would be demanded, but only then. The government has not brought that factor in.
The other thing he says is that deemed contributions in his case would only be for shelter costs. The government has made it a means to reduce the benefits in their entirety. It has used it, unfortunately, as a means of making more money for the government, reducing the cost and forgetting the rights of these people that it supposedly is asserting with the legal criteria at the beginning.
Mr. Rae: I want to respond to the statement by the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Munro).
My copy of the statement reads as follows. On page 2 it says, "For example, today my colleague the acting Chairman of Management Board announced a comprehensive employment equity program." That is what my copy of her announcement says.
I realize that the minister made her statement in a museum and I fully realize that in fact the statement was clearly intended to become part of an exhibit in that museum, because that is about as relevant, up to date and piercing an announcement as we heard today from the minister.
Hon. Mr. Scott: You must have been in the museum yourself, Bob. What were you doing there?
Mr. Rae: The Attorney General (Mr. Scott), who chooses to speak from his seat and frequently makes more sense when he speaks from his seat than when he speaks from his feet, has chosen to --
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired. That completes the allotted time for ministerial statements and responses.
Hon. Mr. Scott: More, more.
Mr. Rae: The Attorney General is suggesting I should speak for longer. I am happy to accede to his request.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: Go ahead. Speak from your seat.
Mr. Rae: You are doing too good a job, Vince.
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps we can continue that dialogue on Monday. Oral questions; the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Grossman: Speaking from his seat is what the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) always does, if I might say.
Mr. Grossman: I have a question for the Premier. We have a very serious issue that relates to the very fundamental principles of the parliamentary system. That issue relates to cabinet ministers offering truth to the public on every occasion. When ministers fail to offer the truth to the public and to members of the assembly, the long-standing tradition is that ministers must resign.
We have experienced here today an example where, clearly, one of his ministers has failed to offer the truth to the members of this assembly and has an obligation to resign.
We have asked on many occasions over the last few months about the Biddell report on the IDEA Corp. investments. On June 15, just a week ago, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. O'Neil) wrote the chairman of the standing committee on public accounts, saying: "The Biddell report on IDEA investments has not been finalized. Mr. Biddell is still working on the report."
Mr. Speaker: The question?
Mr. Grossman: This morning, at the public accounts committee, Mr. Biddell appeared and indicated that he had completed his work totally by February 11 and that he had handed in all of his work to the minister. He considered his job to be totally done, no more work to do. The report was in the hands of --
Mr. Speaker: And the question?
Mr. Grossman: In view of the fact that the minister has not been truthful with regard to the completion of the Biddell report, why will the Premier not now seek and require his resignation, in accordance with tradition?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I think the honourable member would want to check more carefully what Mr. Biddell said this morning. My understanding -- and I was not there -- is that he said the report had not been finalized. Our view is that when it is there and when it is finalized, we will be happy to share it. We invited the member to invite him to the committee to discuss it.
Mr. Gillies: The Premier is dead wrong, completely wrong. Mr. Biddell told the committee this morning that he handed a report in on February 11 with the understanding that the report was complete, that he would be doing no further work on Graham Software or Wyda Systems. Mr. Biddell further told the committee this morning that he had every expectation at the time he brought the report forward in February that it would be made public.
In view of the fact that the minister, and indeed the Premier himself, on numerous occasions in the last five months have so completely misrepresented this situation, in view of the fact that the work Mr. Biddell is going to commence in the near future on the ongoing companies --
Mr. Speaker: Order. I asked, on a previous occasion today, the honourable member to withdraw when he accused another member of clearly misrepresenting. Would you withdraw that?
Mr. Gillies: Mr. Speaker, in order that I can complete the question, I will withdraw it.
Mr. Speaker: That is very good. Place your question, please.
Mr. Gillies: In view of the Premier's completely inaccurate assessment to this House of what Mr. Biddell told the committee this morning, and in view of the fact that it is very clear that the report on Graham Software and Wyda was completed in February and that his government has been covering it up ever since --
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. Gillies: -- will the Premier bring the report forward immediately and will he ask the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology to tender his resignation immediately?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I gather my honourable friend was at the committee hearing this morning, but I can assure you there were a number of very credible people there as well. The representatives I have talked with on this matter do not agree with my honourable friend's interpretation.
Mr. Pope: Just to put this matter into context, we are talking about the Wyda Systems investment of $3 million involving the spouse of one of the Premier's former cabinet ministers. That was the investigation. The Premier ignored a unanimous recommendation of the public accounts committee last fall to have a forensic audit done; he has refused to do it to date. He will not give any information with respect to the Ontario Provincial Police report; he still refuses to do that. He now refuses to release a report that Mr. Biddell says is the totality of public information that can be released on this matter, that this is his report on Wyda and Graham Software, that there was nothing more left to be done.
Ask the New Democratic Party members of the committee. He is completely wrong.
Mr. Speaker: And the question?
Mr. Pope: He has been covering up this matter now for over a year. Will he stop the nonsense, get the minister's resignation and clean up his act?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: My honourable friend has had a preoccupation with this question for some period of time. As I said to him before and will say to him again, I will be very happy at the appropriate time to make the full report available to him and everyone else when Mr. Biddell has completed it. We suggested to the committee that it invite Mr. Biddell to discuss the entire matter. We have nothing to hide. It is the members opposite who have things to hide, not us, believe me. My colleagues who were there have quite a different interpretation than my honourable colleague has of this matter.
Mr. Gillies: My question is to the Premier. Mr. Biddell said this morning that the report on Graham Software and Wyda, two very ill-fated and foolish investments by the Premier's government which cost this province $8 million in taxpayers' money, was completed in February. Mr. Biddell further told the committee that with any work he undertakes on the remaining functioning companies, Mr. Biddell's recommendation to the government will be that those reports not be made public because they could endanger the commercial viability of those companies. Anything Mr. Biddell will be recommending to the Premier be released has been completed for five months.
The Premier asked Mr. Biddell to undertake this study to get the political heat off him for his IDEA scandals, and now that he has completed the report he will not have it tabled. Will the Premier ensure that this information is put before the public and will he undertake to secure the resignation of a minister who has so completely mishandled this matter and who has been responsible for withholding vital public information from this House?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The answer to the member's last question is no, and the answer to his first question is yes. We are happy to make public whatever is appropriate in the circumstances. My honourable friend may want to just characterize this thing accurately rather than inaccurately. IDEA is an independent board. It was not our government that made these expenditures. It was an independent board the Conservatives created. We have with this, as with many other things, been trying to clean up the mess the previous government created. I will admit one thing. I will admit this thing should have been put to death the first day we came into office, rather than prolonging its agony. It was a terrible mistake of the member's government.
Mr. Grossman: If the Premier had nothing to do with these investments, one wonders why his conflict-of-interest adviser told the husband of the member for Oriole (Ms. Caplan) not to make representations to that board. In point of fact, it is those representations that caused the OPP investigation and the Biddell report, both of which the Premier is ensuring do not come to public light until he finds it convenient.
Let us invite the Premier, for once, to stand up and be counted for a tough decision but a necessary one in order to protect the integrity of the system, let alone his government It was reported by his minister to a committee of this Legislature, "Mr. Biddell is still working on the report." That is what he said a week ago. So that we can get out of this who said what, if the transcript from the standing committee on public accounts this morning indicates that Mr. Biddell says he was not working on his report as of June 15, but that he was finished working on his report on February 11, will the Premier in those circumstances get the resignation of his minister and defend the system and defend truth and integrity in information handed out by the cabinet?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I have answered that. The answer to the member's question is no. As was indicated by many members, it is an interim report and at the appropriate time it will all be made public.
Mr. Grossman: Let us just establish the record. The member for Oriole was in cabinet. The Premier's conflict-of-interest adviser told her and her husband that he must not approach IDEA Corp. or anyone during her time in cabinet. That is precisely what the Aird report says. The Premier should have read it. It would have been a good lesson for him. That happened and Mr. Caplan approached the government and got a grant from IDEA Corp. and got his salary increased.
The member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine) found himself in the classic definition of conflict of interest, his own mining company dealing with his own ministry and getting a grant and not disclosing many of his holdings, as required by the rules.
Mr. Speaker: Question please.
Mr. Grossman: Then we found out last week that the member for Cochrane North and a number of parliamentary assistants, a year later, do not meet the guidelines once again. Now we find a minister who simply has told this House things which were not true.
Mr. Speaker: Question?
Mr. Grossman: My question is this: remembering that the Premier did not ask the member for Oriole for her resignation; remembering that he did not get the member for Cochrane North's resignation, remembering that he took no action against the parliamentary assistants who again failed to file and meet the guidelines, why will he not once stand up for truth and integrity and get the resignation of a minister who has not been truthful in this House?
Mr. Speaker: Order, the question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: If my honourable friend is so concerned about these matters, why will he not join with us in passing a historic conflict-of-interest bill that will solve all these problems?
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope), order. There are other members who wish to ask questions. We will just wait. Order.
New question, the member for York South.
Mr. Rae: I think the answer to the rhetorical question from the Premier is that the legislation he is proposing would only condone what has taken place over the last two years.
Mr. Speaker: I ask the member for York South whether he would like to ask a question, and if so, to which minister?
Mr. Rae: That was an answer, Mr. Speaker. Now I have a question.
Mr. Rae: My question is to the Minister of Financial Institutions. Shortly after I was woken up by the dulcet tones of my two-year-old this morning, I could not help hearing the only slightly less dulcet and significantly less coherent wording and sounds of the Minister of Financial Institutions.
The minister was talking about how his great efforts to be the white knight in defence of the consumer had somehow -- he was not being able to carry out this great function of consumer protection. He apparently has been thrown off his horse by some forces of evil that are out there and he alone is able to protect the consumer. If the minister is a fighter for consumer protection, then J. R. Ewing is a Girl Guide cookie salesman, that is what we are looking at.
Mr. Speaker: The question is?
Mr. Rae: If the minister is such a fighter on behalf of the consumer, can he tell us why he made his announcement on April 23 about the legislation that was going to be forthcoming on the government's action plan with respect to the problem of car insurance and the problems of car drivers? He said beefed-up consumer legislation was on its way for car owners in Ontario. Obviously it had an accident on the way.
Where is the legislation with respect to the rate review board? Why has he not brought it forward if he is really interested in doing something for consumers or in allowing us to have a debate in this House and get information out? Where is the legislation with respect to --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The leader of the third party, when he heard my comments this morning on Metro Morning, obviously found that I had struck a chord. What has happened is this --
Mr. Speaker: Is there any further response?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: Bill 56 was meant to be introduced immediately to put a cap on what the categories were as of April 23. The reason for that is because the legislation that we are going to propose is quite complex. While that was being developed, we felt that the consumer should be protected.
There are over 300,000 drivers in Ontario who were liable to get a rebate on the basis of that legislation. The leader of the third party and his colleagues have chosen fit not to pass that legislation, not to bring it forward and that is where we are. That is the key. That is not the major legislation but that is the temporary cap while that legislation is being developed.
Mr. Rae: My colleague the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) has just told me that he got $5 back from his insurance company. We know the Minister of Financial Institutions as Five-Buck Monte, that is what he is. He is Five-Buck Monte when it comes to the consumer ripoff in this province.
The minister says the legislation is too complicated to write, but it is not too complicated to announce. It is not too complicated to hold a press conference at four o'clock in the afternoon and tell the world what he is going to do, but it is too complicated to bring it into this House so we can have a debate.
The reason he has not brought forward that legislation and the reason he is afraid of having a committee look at the legislation he has already proposed is because he is scared. He is scared of a debate on insurance. He is scared of his defence with respect to the insurance companies. He is afraid to debate with us and he is afraid of having the facts come out. Can he deny that?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The leader of the third party, in his usual way, tries to cover up the drivel that comes out of there with rhetoric. Let me tell him --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: If he was truly committed to helping the drivers of Ontario, he would have seen that Bill 56 was passed immediately. He has no more interest in bringing a solution to this problem than the man in the moon. All he is interested in doing is dealing with the issue to prop up his failing campaign.
Mr. Speaker: I wonder if I can have the members' attention. The member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) would like to ask a question, and I know he does not want to shout.
Mr. Swart: By way of supplementary, I would like to say to the minister it would be impossible to imagine any minister anywhere being as hypocritical and insincere as he has been on the issue of automobile insurance.
The minister is aware --
Mr. Speaker: The question.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Now, the question.
Mr. Swart: The minister is aware, is he not, that already on the books for many decades is section 371 of the Insurance Act, which says: "It is the duty of the superintendent...to order an adjustment of the rates for automobile insurance whenever it is found by him that any such rates are excessive...unfairly discriminatory or otherwise unreasonable."
All he has to do is proclaim that section. He could have done it six months ago, four months ago, two months ago, yesterday or tomorrow, and he would have all the power he needs to freeze rates and eliminate the injustices. Why does he not simply admit he does not want to do anything on the auto insurance issue that is real except some meaningless posturing before an election?
Some hon. members: Happy birthday to you; happy birthday, dear Mel. Happy birthday to you.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I now understand the reason for the question. The member for Welland-Thorold is celebrating his birthday, and as a present the leader of his party decided to give him a platform where he could stand up and be recognized, and I appreciate that.
Mr. Swart: Another present the minister could give me would be an answer to the question.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I will be happy to. The member will know --
Mr. Swart: Remember? Section 371.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I will deal with section 371. The member will know that section 371 has been on the books for nearly 50 years and there has never been a desire to implement it. The reason is that to bring about rate control using section 371 would mean an individual hearing for every single company. It is a very unpractical solution. What we are doing with our new rate review board legislation, he will see, deals with it in an efficient, economical way and will bring fairness to the system.
Mr. Rae: My new question is to the Minister of Citizenship and Culture. The minister today made a statement that apparently is a summary of a statement she made yesterday in the Royal Ontario Museum. I think most of us would feel the statement, to be polite, simply contains a rather pedestrian series of truisms that could have been said by any government at any time in this province in the last 20 years, and indeed, if you look back over statements made by various Premiers, in fact have been said.
We were and have been looking for a realization of the commitment the Liberal Party made in 1985 dealing specifically with the question of employment equity and affirmative action. Again, that statement was supposed to have been made today in conjunction with this announcement by the minister. Can the minister tell us why the requirement of contract compliance has been dropped by her, in comparison with the document she submitted to the cabinet last fall?
Hon. Ms. Munro: Contract compliance? I am sorry; I do not understand exactly what the member means. Maybe he will have to state it to me again. All I can say in answer to the member's preamble is that this government's new strategies, which we are announcing today, are significantly different from those which have been articulated by previous governments.
The statement says -- l think it is well worth repeating, which is the reason I encapsulated it in the format I did today -- this government is taking action; it will now be firmly committed to being accountable to multiculturalism, whether it is sensitivity to cultural services or access to decision-making responses within the provincial government. That is worth celebrating. If the member would care to rephrase his question, maybe I could respond in the best way.
Mr. Gillies: Pinch it, Bob; go on, pinch it.
Mr. Rae: Yes, but this is T-Ball.
I think it is absolutely unbelievable that a minister who has the responsibilities she has with respect to multiculturalism and race relations would not understand the meaning of the term "contract compliance." It is a basic concept that applies in the world of affirmative action and employment equity.
I would like to ask the minister: is the government intending to make it a requirement for those who are doing business with the province that they comply, as a matter of law, with the requirements of the government of Ontario with respect to affirmative action?
Hon. Ms. Munro: l am afraid I cannot respond to that question, but I will get back to the member, who will appreciate that I do not want to mislead him. I think what we are trying to do in terms of affirmative action is to make sure that we allow everyone to work within the employment standards as well as we are able to do. I will get back to the leader of the third party.
Mr. Rae: For two days now, the minister has held press conferences outside this House, one in a large tent and another in a museum, to selected audiences, audiences of Liberals selected by her from around the province. Now she is in the House, and she has to answer some questions and she has to know what the answers are.
These are questions that are relevant to women. They are relevant to various groups that have been literally locked out of the power structure of this province for hundreds of years, for centuries in this province, and she has a responsibility to do something about it. It is a responsibility she committed herself to two years ago.
Hon. Mr. Scott: This is a lecture. Let's have the question.
Mr. Rae: The Attorney General (Mr. Scott) should stop heckling. If he does not like it, too bad; tough turkey, my friend.
The question I have for the minister is if she can tell us whether is it going to be a requirement of public policy in this province -- somebody just gave her a note --
Mr. Martel: Saved.
Mr. Rae: -- saved by the note -- that companies doing business with the government of Ontario have to have an affirmative action program, have to have an employment equity program and have to comply with what should be the basic law in this province or not. It is a very simple question.
Hon. Ms. Munro: I think the honourable member's very simple questions are very simple, but they are also very complex and they require a compassionate government to look at all aspects. I have already told the member that various ministries in the government are taking a look at equal opportunities for all peoples and all racial peoples, and we are doing that. Maybe the member would like to ask me a further question on contract compliance.
Mr. Speaker: Order, member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston), please.
Mr. Pope: On a very basic issue, this Liberal government has been found wanting and having no knowledge of its programs and principles once again.
Mr. Speaker: To which minister?
Mr. Pope: My question is to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. We all carefully took notes this morning. My recollection -- and it is shared by virtually every other member except perhaps some of the minister's cohorts who do not want to admit what was really said this morning -- is that a draft report was sent to the minister in late December or early January; that the report itself was sent to him on February 11, 1987; that Mr. Biddell said, "This is my report," and he expected to do no further work; that he did not expect to do a more detailed review; that no further work was going to be done on Wyda Systems and Graham Software matters; and that after he tabled that report he was called and asked to do some more work.
He indicated this morning to our committee that nothing more remained to be done that could be made public and that he saw no reason this report and all the information he gave to the minister could not have been made public on February 11, 1987.
Mr. Speaker: The question?
Mr. Pope: Did he or did he not say those things this morning?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: The recollections of our people who were there at the meeting this morning are not the same as what the member is giving us here this afternoon.
I would like to refer back to my statement given in October 1986, which stated, "I have asked Jack Biddell to institute a thorough and complete review of the entire IDEA portfolio." It goes on to read "...provide a full review of all existing investments." All those existing investments were not reviewed. That report of Mr. Biddell's was a draft report and the member knows it. We asked him for additional information.
Mr. Pope: You withheld the report deliberately. You misled the House. A slimy answer.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Cochrane South, you asked your question. Please allow someone else to ask a supplementary.
Mr. Gillies: By way of supplementary, let me tell the minister that Mr. Biddell told the committee this morning that he put in the report on Wyda and Graham Software in February; that was his report. He further told the committee, and I quote directly, that "very little has been done in this area since February." Of the 20 existing companies the minister makes reference to, one has given permission to have the Ontario Development Corp. officials come in and have a look.
The supplementary question to the minister is simply this: anything that Mr. Biddell will be recommending to the minister be made public was completed in February. He will be recommending to the minister that the work on the ongoing companies not be made public. The minister has covered this up for five months. He has not been candid with the House in this regard. Will he table the report, and in the lack of any standards or direction from his leader on matters of this kind, will he do the honourable thing and submit his resignation as minister?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: l can tell the member first of all, no, I do not intend to resign. I intend to continue in the job of trying to clean up the IDEA Corp. The member cannot even remember from this morning that there were 33 companies. He stated 20. We received reports back on only two, so there are still 31 to hear from. I tell the member again --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: The member's facts are all wrong. It was a draft report and the member knows it.
Mr. Gillies: They are not. My facts are not wrong. You are dead wrong and you have lied in this House. You have lied.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Brantford accused another member of lying. Will you withdraw that?
Mr. Gillies: No, Mr. Speaker, I will not withdraw that.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: He wants to get thrown out.
Mr. Pope: Because it is true.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Phil's day to get thrown out. They rehearsed this in caucus. Standing ovation. Just the way you rehearsed it.
Mr. Harris: It is all there on the record. You know how it works.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order, member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris). Order, member for Downsview (Mr. Cordiano).
Mr. Harris: Because I have seen it. I saw it work.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Remember how you rehearsed this?
Mr. Harris: That is exactly how it works.
Mr. Mancini: You are talking about your own experience.
Mr. Harris: You watch the tube. That is how it is going to work.
Mr. Speaker: Order, member for Nipissing.
I will have to ask the Sergeant at Arms to escort Mr. Gillies from the chamber.
Mr. Gillies left the chamber.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Lakeshore (Mrs. Grier) is waiting patiently. Order, Attorney General (Mr. Scott).
NIAGARA RIVER WATER QUALITY
Mrs. Grier: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment, and it is a question about water quality in the Niagara River in the light of the latest Environmental Protection Agency report that shows the threat of dioxin in that river is growing from a trickle to a flood.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order, Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Grandmaître). It would be very nice if you would sort of respect the rules of the House.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mrs. Grier: Last February, the Minister of the Environment, with a great deal of fanfare, signed a four-party agreement with the US government and the federal government about cleaning up the Niagara River, yet last Monday at a meeting of the co-ordinating committee of the Niagara River Toxics Committee, the fact that there had been released a report showing a growing threat from dioxin in the Niagara River was never even mentioned.
Can the minister explain to the House why he is telling the public as often and as frequently as he can that he is actively pursuing the excavation of the dumps on the New York side of the Niagara River, yet in the very forums designed to deal with that problem, his ministry is not even putting the question on the agenda?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I think there is nobody in Ontario who is not aware of the stand the province has on those particular dump sites which are immediately adjacent to the Niagara River. We have been consistent in that. That position has been enunciated by me not simply in Canada, where it is easy to do so, or in Ontario, where we recognize the potential consequences which I have contended for a long time have been forthcoming -- this report confirms once again that those are exactly the consequences of their inaction -- but also in the United States, right in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, wherever it happens to be.
The honourable member would know that Henry Williams, who is the previous commissioner of the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation, and Mr. Thomas, the administrator of the EPA, are all well aware of the position that I will continue to put.
I welcome the opportunity, through the member's question, to reiterate that once again. It is our belief that the permanent solution to those particular sites which are immediately adjacent to the river is in fact the excavation of those sites.
The member for York South (Mr. Rae) is falling asleep. But in addition to this --
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps the minister could add that addition to the supplementary.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The supplementary, fine.
Mrs. Grier: The minister is saying again, as he has said before, he wants excavation of the dumps, but is it any wonder that his message is not getting across to the US authorities if his officials in the working meetings designed to solve the problem do not even talk about the issue? That was the question I asked the minister.
What I would like to ask him as a supplementary is: given that nothing is happening to clean up the Niagara River, is he at least and at last prepared to put into place some standards for drinking water in this province so the people can be assured that when this dioxin gets down into Lake Ontario, as it obviously will, it is not getting into the treated drinking water? When are we going to get some standards for drinking water in this province?
Mr. Speaker: The question has been asked twice.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The fact that we would have standards, of course, would not remove that particular dioxin from the position it is in, or any of the other substances; although I think the member does have a concern in that direction which I share.
I want to indicate to her a good example of our ministry's activities. As members are aware, we are working in conjunction with Pollution Probe. We help to fund a study, because on the other side of the river, of course, for years they refused to even talk about the potential for the excavation of those sites. So we funded to the tune of $25,000, along with the federal government which matched it and Pollution Probe itself, a study which in fact was a feasibility study done by a person from the Netherlands on the Hyde Park site.
It seems to me the evidence is clear, it is there and our American friends know it. I call upon them on every occasion to ensure that kind of activity is undertaken. In addition to that, the provisions of the agreement between Canada and the United States and New York state and Ontario are such that we have given an undertaking that there shall be a programmed commitment to significantly reduce those contaminants which are going into the river.
Activities are already under way. They are not moving quickly enough for the member or for me, but I will tell her that I, as a minister of Ontario, will continue to push the Americans in every possible forum to take the action that is necessary.
Mr. Epp: I have a question for the Treasurer. As he knows, Waterloo region has undergone and is undergoing unprecedented growth. In conjunction with this we also have a serious water shortage. In fact, we recently had restrictions on lawn watering and the region was seriously thinking of restricting the washing of cars and so forth.
Given that we had these drought situations and that they are increasingly serious from time to time, I wonder whether the Treasurer will accede to the request by the region of Waterloo to meet with the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley), together with the regional officials and other government officials, to consider this very serious matter of possibly providing alternative action to supply water to the region.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I thank the honourable member for his question. I think he is aware that I have already indicated I would be very glad to meet with the regional chairman, the Minister of the Environment -- who is always a pleasure to meet with, as the member knows -- and the members from the area to talk about this whole matter of water supply.
I am also aware that extensive planning has gone on for an alternative water supply that has had an environmental assessment and approval. It seems to me the funding that I would be asked to approve certainly ought to be given active consideration so we could go forward with that approved plan. I understand that provides adequate water supply for 15 years. I would also be glad to give any consideration necessary to any alternative that might be thought more appropriate by the regional chairman, the honourable members or the Minister of the Environment.
Mr. Speaker: I just checked my list and I understand the member is parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Nixon).
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Harris: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: l believe it would be appropriate, in view of the fact that the question was totally out of order and a fairly flagrant abuse of the rules of the House, that four minutes be added to question period.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The suggestion has been made that four minutes be added. However, the honourable member realizes that it certainly did not take up that much time. I will be glad to add one minute.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Pope: I have a question of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. We will continue to differ, in light of his statements in the House over the last five months, as to what he really said and what the truth is. We will continue to differ on that.
In any event, will the minister admit the truth of what Mr. Biddell said this morning with respect to the Wyda Systems and Graham Software investments, that there is no further work left to be done on those two matters? If the minister accepts Mr. Biddell's word that he is doing no further work on the Wyda and Graham Software matters, will he today, right now, table that February 11, 1987, report that deals specifically with those matters, as the minister asked Mr. Biddell to do at the time?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I reiterate to the member that the report we have received is an interim one or a draft one; it is not complete. We are waiting for additional information to come in, and when the additional information comes in, we will be very pleased to release that report.
Mr. Pope: This government has consistently --
Mr. Pope: The member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) is absolutely right. That is exactly what is going on.
Since last fall, this government has refused to do a forensic audit on Wyda in spite of the fact that all members of the committee, including the Liberals, asked it to do so. They did a financial review that accomplished nothing. This matter is now in the hands of the Ontario Provincial Police and has been for a few months. The government still has not produced any report on that investigation. They have not produced the Biddell report with respect to Wyda and Graham Software, which led them to appoint Mr. Biddell --
Mr. Speaker: And the question?
Mr. Pope: Why do they continue to cover this matter up? Did Mr. Biddell recommend that OPP charges be laid? Is that why they are covering it up?
Mr. Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: As usual, the member is full of wind and no substance whatsoever. We could go back to our estimates. The member was told at the time that it was a draft report, that it was not completed and that Mr. Biddell was being asked for additional information. The member also knows that he called before the standing committee on public accounts last week the OPP investigators on this and he did receive a report on it, but he is saying today he does not know anything about it. He has been kept fully advised by the OPP, the Ontario Development Corp. and the members of our committee.
Mr. Epp: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I ask the member to withdraw the comments.
Mr. Speaker: It is general practice when a person has a point of privilege that he gives notice. There is a certain time when the House meets, for instance, after question period, if you have a point of privilege.
Mr. Epp: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Just a few minutes ago, I heard the member for Etobicoke use some very unparliamentary language with respect to my colleague the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. I believe he is going to want to withdraw those remarks because they were completely unparliamentary and uncalled for.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I am not aware of what the member said. I will have to look at Hansard, because I do not know what he said.
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. The minister is aware of the efforts made by the Canadian Auto Workers to deal with excessive overtone. Two prime examples in this province are de Havilland and Northern Telecom. Is the minister aware that voluntary overtime, the company requirement that the workers work overtime, is one of the key reasons that almost 4,000 workers at de Havilland are now out on strike?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I am absolutely amazed that members of that party would stand in this political forum and begin to make comments on collective bargaining disputes in such a way as could prolong them. I am aware --
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Do not give me that holier-than-thou stuff. Any time it is on the other side, the members are always the first to say --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Perhaps the minister would address the chair and disregard the interjections.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: It is just absolutely amazing, Mr. Speaker. I know you are amazed. I am aware that there is a complex series of issues which regrettably, after very difficult and very extensive bargaining, has led to a labour dispute at de Havilland. It is the hope of the government in this dispute, as it is in all disputes, that an early and amicable settlement will be reached by the parties. The parties are bargaining directly. However, I say to my friend the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner), who shows his ignorance again today, the mediation services of the ministry are available, but if the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere knew what you and I know, Mr. Speaker, the CAW prefers to bargain directly.
Mr. Mackenzie: I feel a little sorry for the minister, but I will not respond to his first remarks.
Given the report of the Donner task force appointed by this minister in response to the overtime problem, a report which recommended a 40-hour work week and voluntary overtime, with a unanimous recommendation from business and labour, and which would allow Ontario only to catch up with five other provinces and the United States, will the minister give a clear message to the parties to the de Havilland dispute that he intends to implement these recommendations of the Donner task force? Let us take this out of the dispute problem at de Havilland Aircraft.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I have said all I am going to say for now on this matter. I will repeat again and the honourable member can take it for what it is worth, that I react in a positive way to the fact that the parties, in a matter in which they had near-consensus, have reached an agreement on a package of reforms to hours of work and overtime. Beyond that, I will not make comment until we can bring a package of reforms forward to cabinet, and we hope to do that as quickly as possible.
Very briefly, I do not want the impression again to be left that this is the only issue on the table at de Havilland. The member, who has bargained for many years, knows full well that in this dispute there is a very complex series of issues which regrettably have led to this labour dispute.
Mr. Morin: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Ottawa-Carleton's sewer and water infrastructure needs tens of millions of dollars of rehabilitation. Otherwise, they will continue to decay and pollute our rivers and drinking water. How will the new LifeLines program help Ottawa and other regions?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Very good, I must say -- one of the better questions that has been asked in this House today.
I respond to the member by saying that the program to which he made reference, the LifeLines program, means that for the first time in the history of Ontario, infrastructure renewal will be funded by the Ministry of the Environment. I have indicated to the municipalities of Ontario that we are prepared to fund one third of the cost of all infrastructure renewal.
The municipalities will have to undertake studies, as some of them are at the present time, to identify the specific problems. When they have identified those specific problems, we are prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with them to help them solve what has been a historic problem because of the ageing of the system. We are talking here about the pipes that deliver water for drinking purposes and the pipes that take sewage to sewage treatment plants in Ontario. Many of the municipalities have indicated their problems with these and we are now prepared to help solve those problems.
PEC FINANCIAL CORP.
Mr. Pope: I have a question for the Minister of Financial Institutions. It is a matter I spoke privately to him about some four months ago. It is a matter the member for Leeds (Mr. Runciman) put in Orders and Notices last July 7, and it relates to an investigation that is now about to enter its third year.
Could the minister inform the members of the House of the state of the investigation of the PEC Financial Corp.? Why has it taken the Ontario Securities Commission so long to complete its investigation? Can the minister explain to us, in view of the fact that the spouse of a former cabinet minister, Wilf Caplan, is involved in this matter, why he has not expedited this investigation and completed it, as we privately and publicly asked him to do many months ago?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The member will know that once the investigation has started I have no jurisdiction to interfere with it. The investigation has been ongoing; it has been conducted by the Ontario Securities Commission. I understand the Ontario Provincial Police have been involved as well. When the report comes in, I will be able to respond. I have no control over the speed at which they conduct their investigation.
Mr. Pope: With respect, I believe the minister can request and it is incumbent upon him, given the circumstances of this case -- an expediting of the investigation. It has been over two years now. This is going on into its third year. There have been a number of private inquiries before this matter was brought to the minister in the House today. Understanding the public interest because of the significant financial implications of this matter, why is he not taking it in hand and making sure the investigation is completed expeditiously and the public knows what is going on?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: With respect, I suggest that most people in the public are not even aware of the investigation. The member has, rightly so, spoken to me about it privately. I told him at the time that an investigation was ongoing and when the investigation was complete, I would report back to him. I do not have the report yet.
Mr. Rae: I have a question for the Attorney General. The Attorney General will know the sense of dismay in the Sudbury community after charges were laid against Mr. Kuhle. That sense of dismay has been only increased by the decision to delay the holding of the preliminary inquiry, over the objections of Mr. Kuhle and his counsel, to January 18, 1988.
Is the Attorney General aware of any discussions, either between him and the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) or between any crown attorneys or officials in his ministry and officials in the Ministry of Labour, with respect to the report of the Ministry of Labour with regard to practices in our province's mines? Can he explain why this report is still being delayed?
Hon. Mr. Scott: With respect to the second question, I am unaware of any such conversations, and for my own part have had none. I should say that I gave instructions to the crown attorney in the district of Sudbury that the preliminary inquiry, if one was requested, should be held at the earliest available date, consistent with the desire of the accused. I take it from what my friend says that he does not believe that has occurred. I will undertake to look into that question to see what can be done so that an early date can be achieved.
Mr. Rae: I think that is important, because the date is a delayed one, as we understand it.
With respect to the other part of the question, we have been promised in this House a statement by the Minister of Labour, which statement has not been forthcoming. We have also been told by the Minister of Labour that one of his concerns is that he does not want any report to affect, as he put it, the outcome and the conduct of the criminal trial.
What I would like to ask the Attorney General is quite simply, what discussions have taken place with respect to the report of the Ministry of Labour? He knows the opposition within the Ministry of Labour to the laying of the criminal charges. I know he is aware of that. When are we going to get that information from the Ministry of Labour? It may well have an impact with respect to Mr. Kuhle.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I have had no discussions with the Minister of Labour about this. I am aware that none of my senior officials has had any discussions with the Minister of Labour about this. I am not aware as to whether some very junior official might have had such discussions, and I will inquire. It seems to me that if the member wants a report from the Minister of Labour, he had better ask the Minister of Labour for the report.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. D. R. Cooke: I have a question for the Minister of Citizenship and Culture concerning the new strategy for multiculturalism, which appears to me to be a rather exciting approach to integration of ethnocultural groups into government, particularly agencies, boards and commissions. The question I have has to do with the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism and Citizenship and what place it will have in this new strategy.
Hon. Ms. Munro: As the member will be aware, the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism and Citizenship has been asked on many occasions to give advice as it relates to multicultural policy and strategy. We consider using that particular council to help us in evaluating the program. The council will work in an objective arms-length relationship with government.
In addition, in terms of evaluating the program we will also, as a lead ministry, take a role in that particular evaluation. I can assure the citizens of Ontario therefore that this new multicultural strategy will have teeth in it.
Mr. Grossman: On a point of personal privilege.
Mr. Speaker: Or a point of order.
Mr. Grossman: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I have just received from the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Kwinter) a news release, Compensation Fund Proposed for Prepaid Funerals. It is very interesting, but this two-page press release came in a maybe $3 envelope. I want to indicate to the minister that he could send these without the envelope and save the taxpayers $3.
Mr. Speaker: What standing order were you referring to?
Mr. Grossman: Standing order 41 -- standing order 41(b), I am sorry.
Mr. Speaker: I will check that out, thank you.
Ms. Caplan: I wish to present an additional 5,000 petitions from the residents of North York, bringing the total to over 12,000 petitions that I have tabled in this House.
I want to say on behalf of the residents, particularly in my riding, how pleased they were with the unanimous support this morning for the resolution in private members' hour.
These petitions are in support of the Sheppard subway line, and I am pleased to table them with the House.
Mr. Speaker: They are addressed to the Lieutenant Governor, are they?
Ms. Caplan: Yes, sir.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
PREPAID FUNERAL SERVICES ACT
Mr. Kwinter moved first reading of Bill 103, An Act respecting Prearranged and Prepaid Funerals.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: This act is designed to provide increased protection for Ontario consumers who prepay for funeral services. A compensation fund covering consumers for certain financial losses is one of many important safeguards proposed.
To allow these protection measures to function, changes to the Ministry of Health's Funeral Services Act are also required. These amendments are contained in companion legislation being proposed by the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston). I hope my honourable colleagues will support the proposals.
FUNERAL SERVICES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Elston moved first reading of Bill 104, An Act to amend the Funeral Services Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Elston: These amendments provide necessary backup legislation for the proposals of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations under the Prepaid Funeral Services Act so it can proceed with consumer protection measures.
Certain legislative provisions and mechanisms must be established through my ministry, and the expansion of the Funeral Services Review Board is among the proposed amendments included in the package. I urge all to support this reform.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
HAMILTON JEWISH COMMUNAL PROJECTS ACT
Mr. Ward moved second reading of Bill Pr9, An Act respecting Hamilton Jewish Communal Projects.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
PORT STANLEY TERMINAL RAIL INCORPORATED ACT
Mr. Reycraft moved second reading of Bill Pr18, An Act respecting Port Stanley Terminal Rail Incorporated.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
TOWNSHIP OF CHAPLEAU ACT
Mr. Laughren moved second reading of Bill Pr19, An Act respecting the Township of Chapleau.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF BARRIE ACT
Mr. McLean moved, on behalf of Mr. Rowe, second reading of Bill Pr45, An Act respecting the City of Barrie.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF LONDON ACT
Mr. Reycraft moved, on behalf of Ms. E. J. Smith, second reading of Bill Pr51, An Act respecting the City of London.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF TORONTO ACT
Mr. Offer moved second reading of Bill Pr57, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
INSTITUTE OF MUNICIPAL ASSESSORS ACT
Mr. Cousens moved second reading of Bill Pr63, An Act respecting the Institute of Municipal Assessors of Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
ONTARIO INSTITUTE OF THE PURCHASING MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF CANADA INC. ACT
Mr. McFadden moved second reading of Bill Pr65, An Act respecting the Ontario Institute of the Purchasing Management Association of Canada Inc.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
WINDSOR YOUTH MARCHING
AND CONCERT BAND ACT
Mr. Newman moved second reading of Bill Pr68, An Act respecting Windsor Youth Marching and Concert Band.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY ACT
Hon. Mr. Scott moved third reading of Bill 34, An Act to provide for Freedom of Information and Protection of Individual Privacy.
Mr. Sterling: I want to make a few brief comments in regard to Bill 34, which is the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. After many sessions over the past two years dealing with this particular bill, I want to draw to the attention of the Legislature the --
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: Could we dispense with this?
Hon. Mr. Scott: Dispense.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I may want to comment at some length on this.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Carleton-Grenville has the floor.
Mr. Sterling: The standing committee on the Legislative Assembly worked for a long period of time putting together a number of amendments to the original piece of legislation. The bill we now have before us has significant amendments to it, and I would like to draw members' attention to three matters in the bill.
First of all, under section 11 of the bill, there is an obligation to disclose under this act without a request from the public. No other freedom of information act contains this. It is an innovative and new step that was introduced in the former government's legislation some time ago in 1984 under my name. I just wanted to indicate to the Legislature the origin of that particular section of the legislation.
The second point I wanted to raise is the concern of our party over the inclusion of the privacy section under the public interest test. The privacy provisions of this act have been significantly attacked by the fact that while an individual who is dealing with the government may feel that he has confidentiality protection under a statute, he may not have that particular privacy protection.
Under this act, if you give to the government a piece of information about which a piece of legislation says, "This information will not be disclosed about you," this act gives the right to the Information and Privacy Commissioner to overrule that statute in effect. It also gives the Information and Privacy Commissioner the right to overrule the head of an institution who chooses to look at the legislation, look at the freedom of information act, and withhold that information. While our party supported the public interest test in a number of other areas, we do register our concern over the inclusion in the exemptions under section 21 of the public interest test.
The last and final point which I wanted to make relates to the review process which this bill outlines. Under this bill, the Information and Privacy Commissioner is the be-all and end-all with regard to the release of information. There is no appeal mechanism set forward in the bill in order for another body of commissioners, another court, to review the decision of the information commissioner.
We find the greatest flaw in this piece of legislation in relation to the appeal structure. The method by which a person will be applying for a piece of information will be such that he will go to the information commissioner in order to obtain a piece of information. The trouble with the structure is that not only is the information commissioner there to help a person seek information, or inform him of his privacy rights, but he is the final judge and arbiter on the matter.
We would have preferred the federal structure, where the Information Commissioner or Privacy Commissioner acts in the role of an ombudsman in order to assist members of the public who wanted to utilize this piece of information. We would have preferred that another person or another body of people would have made the final decision with regard to the release of the information.
With that, we look forward to utilizing many of the sections of the act, as it may be implemented into law, which I understand will take place in the very near future. Thank you.
Mr. Speaker: Are there comments and questions of the member for Carleton-Grenville? There being none, is there any other honourable member who wishes to participate in the debate? If not, this will complete the debate.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I was going to take a little time to thank all honourable members who have participated in the debate and to thank the public servants, Steve McCann and Frank White, who have worked so hard on this bill over the last two years, assisting me at committee. In addition, I wanted to thank the administrators in each of the departments who have made a determined effort to get this bill ready for its administration. I should tell the House that we hope to appoint a commissioner very shortly.
I was going to take the time to do all those things, but my friend the member for Carleton-Grenville took all the time explaining why the Conservatives never passed any such bill in 42 years, so I must stop right now.
Motion agreed to.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill 79, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
House in committee of the whole.
PENSION BENEFITS ACT (CONTINUED)
Consideration of Bill 170, An Act to revise the Pension Benefits Act.
The Deputy Chairman: There are some sections that were stood down yesterday. Would you prefer to discuss them now or wait?
Mr. McClellan: I think we can fruitfully discuss them now if that is agreeable to my colleagues. I suggest we return to section 8.
The Deputy Chairman: Is there unanimous consent that we start with this one?
On section 8:
The Deputy Chairman: Mr. McClellan moves that clause 8(1)(e) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
"8(1)(e) if the pension plan is a multi-employer pension plan established pursuant to a collective agreement or a trust agreement, a board of trustees appointed pursuant to the pension plan or a trust agreement establishing the pension plan of whom at least one half are representatives of members of the multi-employer pension plan, and a majority of such representatives of the members shall be Canadian citizens or landed immigrants."
Mr. McClellan: I spoke briefly yesterday, indicating that I was moving a package of three amendments designed to protect the interests of Canadian workers where they are members of a pension plan that is trusteed by an international union in the United States.
The first of these amendments, which I am moving now, establishes that at least half of the workers' representatives on a board of trustees of a multi-employer plan shall be either Canadian citizens or landed immigrants. This is simply for the purpose of protecting the assets, protecting the property of the Canadian members of trade unions whose funds are trusteed in another country.
As part of the package of amendments, we are making provision that if a Canadian affiliate of an international trade union makes a decision to become a Canadian union, it will be possible under my amendments -- this amendment to section 8, the next amendment to section 39 and the third amendment to section 81 -- for the new Canadian trade union to receive the assets of the pension plan in an orderly manner. There would be an orderly transfer of pension assets from the parent international union to the successor union, the successor in terms of collective bargaining rights under section 56 of the Labour Relations Act.
I want to thank the ministry for a tremendous degree of co-operation and sensitivity in dealing with this very complex and difficult issue and in providing a great deal of assistance to myself and to representatives of the trade union movement in developing this package of three amendments. I think a great many people appreciate the co-operation that has been shown by the ministry in working out an acceptable draft, acceptable language, to achieve the objectives I have described.
I understand that my colleagues in the Conservative Party as well are comfortable with the compromise language that has been developed and that these amendments will in fact be incorporated as part of the Pension Benefits Act. I think this goes a long way towards protecting the financial interests of Canadian workers and making it possible in future times for Canadian workers to make democratic decisions about whether they want to make their unions wholly Canadian, without having to worry about the power of an international union to withhold pension funds and prevent them from so doing.
I think these three amendments are significant to move forward in both our pension legislation and our trade union legislation. Again, I congratulate the minister for his helpful co-operation and that of his staff in making these amendments possible.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I just want to reiterate what the member for Bellwoods said, in that we were delighted to be able to work out this accommodation. It was something that had input from all parties and it had input from the labour movement. We will certainly be supporting this amendment.
Mr. Ashe: I have to apologize to the member for Bellwoods. When he started his remarks relative to this amendment, I was carrying on some dialogue with our House leader.
Just in the way of clarification, I understand what these amendments now do is only make sure that the assets shall flow if there is a separation from an international union for the creation of a Canadian union, and of course, they will be handled only by Canadian citizens or landed immigrants, but it has no impact upon recognized multigroup employers, as I think they are called, that are international in nature, that still exist in their international form and that already have ongoing joint plans, etc., in which there are no ongoing problems.
Can the member just assure me those multi-employer plans that now exist that are international in nature and have international pension boards and so on are not included in this envelope? I know that is not intended but I just want to be assured they are not.
Mr. McClellan: The member correctly describes the purpose of the amendment, which is in a sense to provide for successor rights. If one trade union as a bargaining agent succeeds another trade union as a bargaining agent under section 56 of the Labour Relations Act, these amendments make it possible for the members to transfer their pension fund assets from the old union to the new union.
There is a provision that will affect existing plans and that is the present amendment that there will be a requirement that a majority of the representatives of members of a multi-employer pension plan registered in Ontario -- that is to say, a pension plan that is holding money of Canadian citizens -- be Canadian citizens or landed immigrants as the union representatives on the board of trustees. What we are doing is providing for a measure of protection for Canadian workers who are contributing to pension plans that are registered here in Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
Section 8, as amended, agreed to.
On section 27:
Mr. McClellan: Did I move my amendment to section 27?
The Deputy Chairman: No, not yet.
Mr. McClellan: I thought I had moved it. I stood it down, but I thought I had moved it for the record in which case I need to withdraw it.
The Deputy Chairman: Do you wish to withdraw it?
Mr. McClellan: If I am correct that I moved my amendment to section 27 yesterday, I wish to withdraw it and move instead another compromise motion.
The Deputy Chairman: The motion is withdrawn if you move the motion now.
Mr. McClellan moves that section 27 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the fallowing subsection:
"(5) Where a proposed amendment affects members or former members represented by a trade union that is a party to a collective agreement filed as a document that creates or supports a pension plan, the administrator shall transmit to the trade union the written notice mentioned in subsection (1)."
Mr. McClellan: Very briefly, what I would prefer to put into section 27 would be an amendment that gives trade union representatives who are responsible for pension plans that flow from the collective agreement for which they are responsible the right of consent to any changes, the right of notice to any proposed changes in the pension plan and the right to represent their members before the commission.
However, as I say, we are obviously engaged in a process of negotiation and compromise here, as befits a minority parliament. Since there is not agreement to the first of these items, that is to say, prior consent, we will not pursue it since it would not carry in this parliament.
The notice provision is being accepted by the ministry.
The third item, the entitlement to represent members before the commission, is something that any member of a pension plan can request. Any member who is involved in a dispute before the superintendent or before the commission has the right under this act to have his trade union act on his behalf as his representative, so that right is already guaranteed in the act. Again, I understand this is an amendment that all parties will support.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The amendment as proposed yesterday really provided a veto power for unions and that was something we could not accept. We are pleased that we have worked out a compromise and we certainly feel that the idea of having notification to all members of the union and provision that, if members desire, they can have the union represent them at any pension hearing is something we accept. We will be supporting this amendment.
Mr. Ashe: I think this compromise that has been reached is a reasonable and rational one. I think it is only fair that those who are party to a plan should be aware of any proposed changes and so on, and of course that is exactly what this subsection 5 does. Therefore, we are in support of it.
Motion agreed to.
Section 27, as amended, agreed to.
On section 39:
The Deputy Chairman: Mr. McClellan moves that section 39 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsections:
"(5) Where a member of a multi-employer pension plan is represented by a trade union, which, in accordance with section 56 of the Labour Relations Act, ceases to represent the member, and the member joins a different pension plan, the member is entitled to terminate membership in the first plan.
"(6) Subsection 5 does not apply where there is a reciprocal agreement respecting the two pension plans."
Mr. McClellan: This is the second of the package of three amendments designed to deal with multi-employer pension plans and the hitherto difficult problem of transfer when one trade union succeeds another trade union. Obviously, where there is a reciprocal agreement in place, the reciprocal agreement will apply. But if there is not a reciprocal agreement in place, and we are dealing with a situation of a parent international union and a newly formed Canadian union, this amendment makes it clear that the members of the successor union, under section 56 of the Labour Relations Act, have a right to terminate their membership in the plan.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: Again, this is an amendment we have worked out with representatives of all parties and labour and we will be supporting the amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Section 39, as amended, agreed to.
Mr. Ashe: I wonder whether the minister would like a third shot at section 54a?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I do not know whether I want a third shot, but I am still a little troubled by that vote. Perhaps I can just spend a minute. We had section 54, which was the amendment of the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan). We then had a new section 54 brought forward by the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe).
Mr. Ashe: Carried on a voice vote.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: Then we had section 54a. It seemed to me that if the member for Bellwoods amended the member for Durham West's motion, section 54, and was defeated, then we should have passed section 54 and moved on from there to section 54a. The confusion is that we went from the first section 54 to section 54a without dealing with the second section 54. That is where the problem came up and that is where we lost the continuity. If that is not the case, I do not know, but that is where the confusion came in because I had an original section 54 that I withdrew in place of the member for Durham West's section 54. It was a very complex issue, but somehow or other I think the second section 54 was missed in the vote.
The Deputy Chairman: In any case, the problem was settled to the satisfaction of everyone.
Mr. Ashe: I share slightly, if that is the right word, the concerns of the minister. My understanding of what happened -- l think before we move on we have to make sure that is what happened or we may end up with no section 54 at all -- is that I think section 54 as I moved it carried on a voice vote and therefore was not part of the divisional vote later on. That is my understanding of what happened but I think we want to make sure that the Chairman of the committee of the whole House also indicates and shows it that way or we will end up with no section 54 at all.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: What I felt was that if section 54 as proposed by the government had been carried by a voice vote and had not been amended or attempted to be amended, I would have agreed. But what we have is that we withdrew our amendment; the member for Durham West brought in a new amendment; the member for Bellwoods brought an amendment to his amendment and we defeated that amendment. I felt that because the second section 54 was a new amendment, we should have voted on it. I stand in your hands, Mr. Chairman. You make a ruling on it.
The Deputy Chairman: I have very broad shoulders, if you want to pass the bag to me. Let me read you section 54 that was proposed by the member for Durham West:
"I move that section 54 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
"54(1) Pension benefits, pensions or deferred pensions shall be adjusted in accordance with the established formula or formulas and in the prescribed manner to provide inflation-related increases.
"(2) Any formula or formulas for any inflation-related adjustments to pension benefits, pensions or deferred pensions shall be established only by amendment to this act."
That was carried. Is everybody satisfied?
On section 64:
The Deputy Chairman: Mr. McClellan moves that section 64 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsections:
"(9) In respect of employment before the first day of January, 1987, any member of a pension plan is entitled to waive his or her entitlement to a pension and any former member is entitled to waive his or her entitlement to a deferred pension by filing a waiver in the prescribed form with the administrator of the pension plan.
"(10) Upon the filing of the waiver, the member ceases to be entitled to a pension and the former member ceases to be entitled to a deferred pension in respect of employment before the first day of January, 1987, but becomes entitled to a refund of contributions made by or for the member or former member in respect of the period before that date and to interest on the contributions.
"(11) Subsections 9 and 10 apply notwithstanding subsections 1 to 8."
Mr. McClellan: That complex-sounding amendment has a very simple purpose. It provides a waiver to locking-in for contributions prior to January 1, 1987, to give members of the pension plan one last opportunity, if they choose to exercise the option, to attain their vested benefits prior to locking-in. I do not know whether the minister is inclined to be this generous to people who want to exercise that option or whether he is going to be rigid and inflexible.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The member will know that I am known for my generosity, but having said that, I find the amendment is unacceptable because it eliminates all locking-in requirements for pre-January I, 1987, pension benefits. Some locking-in is desirable, but employees should be encouraged to leave their contributions in the plans and save for retirement. An employee who withdraws the employee contributions will lose his or her entitlement to the employer's contributions and to a pension, and because of that I will not be supporting the amendment.
Mr. Ashe: Actually, I find this amendment rather amusing, to put it mildly, after listening to the diatribe yesterday from the member for Bellwoods about retroactive vesting, about shorter vesting periods that would go retroactive before, earlier in 1987, etc. It seems to me exactly the opposite of this one.
Yesterday he was making the case that people should be able to count on that money at retirement and so on, regardless of whether it was a contribution prior to 1987 or not. Today he is saying, "Really, we should give everybody a last kick at the cat to be able to take out everything before they are locked in." From my perspective, that is trying to play both ends against the middle.
I agree with the minister in regard to those that are locked in under the present regulations, which were rather loose in any event with the 10-and-45-type situation -- 10 years, aged 45. They should remain to the credit of that individual, that worker, for his or her retirement benefits. That is what they were put in for in the first place and that is why they should be there at the end. We do not support this amendment.
The Deputy Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. McClellan's amendment will please say "aye. "
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the nays have it.
Section 64 agreed to.
Sections 65 to 78, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 79:
The Deputy Chairman: Mr. McClellan moves that subsections 79(2) and (3) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
"(2) The commission shall not consent to payment out of a pension fund of money from surplus to or for the employer."
Mr. McClellan: This very succinct amendment would put an end to the legalized theft of surplus pension funds. I do not know how many times we have raised issues, examples, horror stories of corporations taking the deferred wages of employees and sticking the money in their own pockets.
Conrad Black, of course, now busily engaged in destroying one of Canada's premier magazines, is the most grotesque example of this kind of corporate ripoff. Mr. Black applied to the Pension Commission of Ontario for $62 million in surplus pension funds from the Dominion Stores workers, having already destroyed the Dominion Stores empire, as he successfully destroyed the Massey-Ferguson commercial empire.
This gentleman, this industrial baron, this paragon of capitalism, having destroyed every enterprise he touched his hands upon, then decided with legal impunity to steal the money of the Dominion Stores workers and applied to the pension commission for $62 million of the Dominion Stores workers. He was awarded by the pension commission, I believe, $38 million or $39 million. What is a million when you are Conrad Black, stuffing your pockets with the pension fund of Ontario workers whom you have recently put out of work?
Despite all the examples, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been taken out of surplus accounts since the free-enterprise community discovered that this was an untapped gold mine, starting in the early 1-980s, the ministry has responded with a temporary moratorium.
I have to say to the minister that I believe the only reason there is a temporary moratorium in place is the pressure put on this government by the leader of the New Democratic Party and my colleagues in the NDP and the response that got from the people of this province. But I do not trust him, quite frankly, to continue that moratorium In place were he to return in more fortunate circumstances for himself.
I do not think any government should be trusted to turn the tap on and off on the issue of surplus pension fund withdrawals. I believe that all earnings from pension fund accounts should be used solely for the benefit of the members of the pension plan.
This is not to say we cannot work out a kind of reconciliation of accounts so that pension fund sponsors and pension fund contributors are not required to bear extraordinary upfront costs if there is an unfounded liability. I think it is possible for accountants to work out reconciliation. I do not think it is an unusual accounting concept. We all know it is a normal accounting practice to do a cyclical reconciliation and to equalize burdens according to some prescribed and agreed-upon formula.
But to say, as we have been saying in this province, that all the earnings on pension fund accounts are fair game to be siphoned off either in the form of withdrawals or by service contribution holidays is legalized theft. There is no other word for it. They are taking the earnings on people's deferred wages and allowing the assets to build up to a point where they can be looted by people like Conrad Black. The minister's temporary moratorium is not a solution. I do not know whether the Friedland task force will have the courage to put an end to this piracy; we will see.
I have to say that the people of this province I have talked to over the last two years, since serving as pension critic for the NDP, understand the fundamental unfairness and injustice of surplus pension fund withdrawals, even if the minister and his officials do not. The people of this province understand unfairness when they see it happening, and the minister will be forced by the pressure of public opinion, whether he does it now or at some future time, to make sure all moneys in pension funds are used solely and exclusively for the benefit of the members of the pension plan.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: Subsection 80(8) provides for a moratorium on surplus fund withdrawls, and it will remain in effect until the Friedland task force reports and makes its recommendations.
One of the concerns I have, as the minister, is to make sure pension plans remain viable or solvent and provide the promised benefits that workers in this province expect to get. One of the reasons that is so is that plan sponsors fund these plans adequately. They usually fund them small-c conservatively to make sure those funds are there.
Mr. McClellan: Is that what Conrad Black did?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: What I am saying to the member is that what we have to do is make sure we do not do two things: force plan sponsors to decide either (a) "We are going to get out of defined-benefit plans and go to defined-contribution plans and group RRSPs," or (b), "We will not put in our contributions until we absolutely have to," and continue to have a series of unfounded liabilities with plans in jeopardy as to their solvency.
What we would like to do is wait for the Friedland report and decide how this is going to be done. Until that is done, we have a moratorium.
I would like to spend one minute, because it has come up several times, to deal with the contribution holidays.
If members have investigated the federal tax statutes, I am sure they will know pension plans cannot maintain more than two years of their ongoing obligations in surplus before, under certain circumstances --
Mr. McClellan: The surplus should be paid out as inflation protection.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: That is something we are addressing, but in the meantime what happens is that they are compelled by federal statute --
Mr. McClellan: No, they are not.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: They absolutely are. There are provisions that in certain circumstances they are compelled to take a contribution holiday until they reduce that surplus; otherwise, it is taxable in the hands of the plan's sponsor. So we will not be supporting the amendment.
Mr. McClellan: If I may respond very briefly, and this will just take a second, the minister says that because of the tax laws, companies have to take the surplus. That is completely and utterly false. They can take the surplus and spend it for the benefit of the members of the pension plan by providing inflation adjustments and eliminate the surplus that way.
There is nothing in the Income Tax Act that says people like Conrad Black are obliged by law to steal the money from the pension plan. It is ridiculous for the minister to stand up and say that, and it is absolutely untrue. It illustrates again that the minister does not understand we are talking about the property that belongs to working people, not property that belongs to people like Conrad Black to be used for their own illicit benefit.
Mr. Ashe: Boy, what diatribe that is that comes out of the third party.
Mr. McClellan: What do you know about it?
Mr. Ashe: A lot more than the member knows about it, and that is exactly the problem. He does not know of what he speaks.
The Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Ashe: I think where the problem comes with some of the members of the third party is that they are aware of the odd crooked union and they just presume each and every employer is crooked as well. That does not mean everybody is lily-white, that is for sure, on either side; but to draw the presumption that every employer and every employer pension plan is governed by crooks is just diatribe out of the mouths of those people to the left-hand side. I think it is ridiculous when we listen to that all the time. If there is any concern out there, it is because of the misinformation put out by those members.
I only wish some of these members would look at the background of how and why some of these surpluses got there; and I am not suggesting all of them, by any stretch of the imagination. If members were to look at the history of many of these plans -- something I am sure they have never been wont to do, because they get up with their rhetoric and never check on their facts -- they would see there was a situation where employers were obligated, particularly in rougher times a number of years ago, to make substantial -- substantial, I reiterate -- additional contributions to keep the plan viable, over and above what was normally required in many instances to keep it actuarially sound. That is why there are extra moneys in there.
Sure, part of it comes about eventually because they have extraordinary returns through high interest rates and so on -- those are issues that should be and I am sure will be addressed by the commission -- but to suggest that all these are moneys that are not rightfully divisible between retirees, employees and employers is utter claptrap, to say the very least.
Again, we can look at some examples. I can cite one where the normal contribution by an employer is two and a half times what employees put in. I would suggest it is rather generous. But during a couple of years earlier this decade -- not decades ago -- they were required to put in four times what employees put in to keep the plan actuarially sound.
In my view, it is not doing anything wrong to recoup that amount of the extra one and a half times they put in during bad times. That is exactly what these people are saying is dishonest. In fact, I resent it as a Canadian and as an Ontarian that we have to listen to that claptrap all the time. We will not be supporting this BS.
The Deputy Chairman: Would you retract the word "BS," please.
Mr. Ashe: That was a "blind statement."
The Deputy Chairman: Translated that way, I will accept it.
All those in favour of Mr. McClellan's motion will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. McClellan: May we stack this vote until the completion of this bill?
The Deputy Chairman: Is there unanimous consent that the vote be stacked until the bill is completed?
On section 80:
The Deputy Chairman: Mr. McClellan moves that section 80 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
"80(1) No money shall be paid from surplus to an employer out of a pension fund.
"(2) Subsection 1 applies in respect of both a continuing pension plan and in respect of a pension plan that is partially or fully wound up."
Mr. McClellan: The arguments we made with respect to surplus pension funds on section 79 apply here as well, regardless of the high level of support for the Conrad Blacks of this world that is being expressed by the member for Durham West, and the ridiculous position stated by the minister that if there is a surplus built up, the only way to spend the surplus is to give it to the company. What a grotesque thing for a minister to say. Why can there not be laws that say a surplus that is built up has to be spent for the benefit of the members of the pension plan? That is what our amendments do.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: If I could just comment briefly, in the previous amendment I was talking about contribution holidays only. We are not talking about surpluses; we are talking about contribution holidays. I am not suggesting the only way they can get the surplus out is that way.
What I am suggesting is that in some cases there are contribution holidays imposed because all the benefits have been paid out. There is no problem. Let us say they even have indexing and every possible payment has been made to the employee, and there still are excess amounts in the plan. The federal income tax provides and mandates, under those conditions, a contribution holiday. That is all I was talking about.
To get back to this amendment to section 80, it is the same argument as we had before and we will not be supporting it.
Mr. Ashe: We will not be supporting it either.
The Deputy Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. McClellan's amendment will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the nays have it.
On section 81:
Mr. McClellan: Section 81 is the third of a package of amendments dealing with multi-employer pension plans for which there appears to be a consensus of support among all three parties.
The Deputy Chairman: Mr. McClellan moves that section 81 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsections:
"(9) Where a group of members of a multi-employer pension plan are represented by a trade union and in accordance with section 56 of the Labour Relations Act the trade union ceases to represent the members and they become represented by a different trade union certified as their bargaining agent and become members of a different pension plan, the administrator of the first pension plan shall transfer to the administrator of the new pension plan all the assets and liabilities respecting those members who have elected under section 43 to transfer their entitlement to the new pension plan and the administrator of the new pension plan shall accept the transfer as assets and liabilities of the new plan.
"(10) Where a group of members of a multi-employer pension plan are represented by a trade union and in accordance with section 56 of the Labour Relations Act the trade union ceases to represent the members and they become represented by a different trade union certified as their bargaining agent and become members of a different pension plan and the members are not entitled to make an election under section 43 of the act, the administrator of the old pension plan shall transfer to the administrator of the new pension plan all assets and liabilities of the pension plan attributable to such members determined as prescribed and the administrator of the new pension plan shall accept them as assets and liabilities, determined as prescribed, of the new plan.
"(11) Subsections 9 and 10 do not apply where there is a reciprocal agreement respecting the pension plans."
Mr. McClellan: Very briefly, this simply makes it possible for the assets of a pension plan to be transferred from the membership of one pension plan to the membership of another pension plan when the bargaining agents have changed, pursuant to section 56 of the Labour Relations Act. This is the section that makes it possible to arrange an orderly transfer of pension plan assets, for example, from a parent international union to a successor independent Canadian union.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: This is another of the amendments on which we have been able to work out a compromise, and I will be happy to support the amendment.
Mr. Ashe: We will be supporting the amendment as well.
Motion agreed to.
Section 81, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 82 to 93, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 94:
Mr. McClellan: My next amendment is to section 94. I should explain that I had a number of amendments proposed which do not have, I understand, the support of members of the House. Because of certain time constraints, I will move the most important of these. If it turns out that it passes, I will ask for unanimous consent to go back to reopen other sections but, since there are some time constraints, I will move my amendment to section 94 and see how that goes.
The Deputy Chairman: Mr. McClellan moves that subsections 94(2) and (3) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
"(2) The commission shall be composed of a head, one or more vice-heads and as many members equal in number representative of employers and employees respectively as the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers proper, all of whom shall be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
"(3) The Lieutenant Governor in Council shall designate one of the vice-heads to be the deputy head of the commission."
Mr. McClellan: Bill 170 does not make any provision for representation on behalf of workers on the pension commission, even though the pension commission is charged with the responsibility of overseeing their property in the form of deferred wages. I find it just grotesque that we would be reforming the Pension Benefits Act, setting up a new pension commission and not making provision for equal representation by employers and employees.
I have proposed a model that is exactly the same as the Ontario Labour Relations Board, which has equal representation from management and labour, and I think that is the appropriate model. One could argue, of course, for the appropriate model to have full representation of worker representatives, since we are talking about the property of working people and their deferred wages. But this is a reasonable proposition that is being put forward for 50-50 representation.
It would avoid the kind of blind-sided bias that has characterized the current pension commission which, after all, authorized and approved Conrad Black's application for --
Hon. Mr. Scott: This is your last speech in the House I suppose.
Mr. McClellan: The Attorney General (Mr. Scott) would remember the exact number. I believe $39 million of workers' money was appropriated by Conrad Black with the blessing and approval of the Pension Commission of Ontario.
This is like the president of the Toronto-Dominion Bank on the 45th floor authorizing the robbery of the teller's cage downstairs. It is grotesque that this happened and it is grotesque that the government is reappointing a commission that is structured to continue the same kind of blind-sided bias, a management bias, without adequate employee representation.
I urge the minister to take a second look -- welcome to the 20th century -- and add half of his pension commissioners from the employee side of the ledger.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: It is our position that it is undesirable to make the Pension Commission of Ontario into either an adversarial or a partisan body.
Mr. McClellan: Therefore, it should be exclusively management.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: No, it is not exclusively management. If the member takes a look at the representation on the board presently, there are two representatives of unions who are certainly not management; there are two actuaries who certainly have to be perceived as neutral; there is one layperson who is a consumer advocate; there is an economist; there are two representatives of management, and there is a chairperson.
Mr. McClellan: I count nine to two.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: That is only the member's interpretation of it. I am suggesting to him that the Lieutenant Governor in Council has the authority to appoint people who are neither purely employee nor purely management. They can be brought from the broad spectrum of the community to bring expertise to that body. We will not be supporting the member's amendment.
Mr. Ashe: I would also agree that the present flexibility that is available in the appointment of the members of the commission has proved to be more than satisfactory. As the minister has just identified, I think there is a broad cross-section of people who can add their expertise and intelligence, hopefully, to that group.
I also do not concur that there should be complete flexibility in the size of that commission, which is what is alluded to for some ridiculous fashion by this amendment. This means one could have, I suppose, as low as four and as high as infinity. Although the New Democratic Party members may visualize the fact that they may get on the executive-council appointment list from time to time, I suggest that they are going to have to fall within the numbers of five to nine if they wish to do so.
We will not be supporting the amendment.
The Deputy Chairman: All those in favour of the amendment will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the nays have it.
The Deputy Chairman: Does the member have an amendment to subsection 94(8)?
Mr. McClellan: I have no further amendments.
Sections 95 to 119, inclusive, agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr. McClellan's amendment to section 79, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes 20; nays 68.
Section 79 agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr. McClellan's amendment to section 80, which was negatived on the same vote.
Section 80 agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr. McClellan's amendment to section 94, which was negatived on the same vote.
Section 94 agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Nixon, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with certain amendments.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
INTERIM SUPPLY (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for interim supply for the period commencing July 1, 1987, and ending October 31, 1987.
Mr. Harris: We will, of course, support this motion and we are delighted obviously -- not delighted, but we do not want in any way to impede the ability of the government to pay the civil service of this province and to pay the bills. I might add that we feel there are some 6,000 more than are necessary to be paid throughout this period for which the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) is asking interim supply. However, that is not the individuals' fault; that is the fault of this government.
We might also point out that we do not agree with some of the other items that will have to be covered under this supply motion for spending on the part of this government. However, having said that, there are contractual obligations, most notably those of the civil service, and I suggest we give speedy passage to this.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I made an undertaking to some of the honourable members that since they had made some remarks on interim supply during my absence, I would respond in detail. Since I can see there is something less than enthusiasm for that, I simply report to the members that the motion makes available $10.2 billion, which will pay our day-to-day operating expenses, plus a little on the side, until the next time we meet.
Motion agreed to.
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Wrye moved second reading of Bill 85, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I will be fairly brief. I am proud to lead off the debate today on a measure for which this government is asking approval in principle, a measure that further ensures the rights of working men and working women to economic security and economic justice. It is a measure that I know all members are keenly interested in and I am looking forward to contributions from colleagues from all sides.
The human tragedy of being thrust into the job market after several years of employment with a company has been chronicled time and again across this province. Mass layoffs resulting from cutbacks and plant closings have also taken their toll on individual workers, their families and indeed on whole communities. The government proposals --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. Will the members please be a little quieter. The chair cannot even hear the minister.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The government proposals we are debating today address these issues in a balanced, understanding and equitable manner. They seek to protect the individual victims of layoffs and business discontinuances and the communities in which the workers and businesses are located.
The bill provides terminated individual workers who have had five years' employment with the right to severance pay. It greatly improves the economic security of workers who are employed by enterprises with an annual Ontario payroll of $2.5 million. What this change means is that a worker, even if he or she works in an establishment or for a single company whose payroll is less than $2.5 million, will receive severance pay so long as the payroll of that establishment or company and related establishments or companies is at least $2.5 million. In those cases, the workers would be entitled to severance pay.
I know members of the House can think of individual circumstances in their own communities that have happened fairly recently. Under this measure, a worker who is laid off by such an enterprise for 35 weeks within a 52-week period will qualify for severance pay. Our proposals lengthen the notice-of-termination period an employer must give individual workers depending upon their length of employment, and indeed, makes those termination notices for individual workers the most progressive in this country.
In addition, a worker laid off for 35 weeks in a 52-week period would be entitled to termination pay if he or she had not been given notice. It ensures that workers will be told what is going on, and why, by placing a duty upon employers to give the worker, the community and the government information on why a closure is taking place, what the impact will be and what the employer is prepared to do to help the workers affected.
The proposals will also enable a worker to give two weeks' notice during the statutory notice period without jeopardizing his or her claim to statutory pay, a measure that is very important and would have proved very important in a number of recent situations; most notably, the Goodyear situation comes to mind.
The bill will increase and ensure benefits for workers who in the past have not been adequately protected. As members of this House know, this government has also indicated its intention to create an active early warning system capable of preventing or reducing closures and mass layoffs before they happen, with the appointment of an industrial restructuring commissioner.
The bill before this House today provides a balanced, reasoned approach that will ensure that workers who are losing their jobs receive fair and just treatment from employers. The provisions of this bill will put Ontario in front of any other jurisdiction on this continent when it comes to protecting workers from contemporary forces of economic change that adversely affect them and their families.
The importance of these proposals cannot be overstated. The importance of these proposals, I suggest to the members of this House, is well known to the workers and to the leadership of organized labour in this province. They will provide the economic justice to which workers are entitled. The proposals before us address in a fair and balanced way the protection workers have a right to expect in Ontario in 1987, have a right to expect as of June 15, 1987. It is my hope that this assembly will give speedy passage to this bill.
Mr. Mackenzie: I rise on this bill to indicate that our caucus will be supporting it. We will be moving a small number of amendments and they are important ones. The intent is to put these on the record, because I think there are deficiencies in the bill the government has brought into the House, but not to attempt to hold up the bill, particularly because there are a large number of workers right across the province who at this very moment are looking at this Legislature for the possible relief at least some of them might have if this bill goes through the House.
I suggest that anybody who is thinking of not proceeding to clause-by-clause on this bill in the House should be prepared to answer to the workers at SunarHauserman in Rexdale, for example, who have been on the phone all afternoon, or to any number of other plants with workers who are waiting, who do not have the coverage and who just might gain it with this piece of legislation. If, as the rumours have it, my colleagues on the right are not prepared to proceed with clause-by-clause on this, they are doing a very tragic injustice to an awful lot of workers in Ontario.
The bill that is introduced does help. It is a step, but it seems all we are getting from this government is partial steps forward. We said earlier today, and I think we can say it again, that they do not seem to be prepared to move in a really effective way with an adequate bill that really does the job that is necessary in Ontario.
Under the new proposals, severance pay will be payable where a company's payroll exceeds $2.5 million. That is approximately 110 workers earning the average industrial wage or 250 workers earning the minimum wage. However, more than 50 per cent of layoffs in Ontario occur in firms with fewer than 100 employees -- more than 50 per cent; I underline that. Employees must still have worked for five years or more to qualify for severance pay. Statistics Canada reports that as of March 1987, 53 per cent of the labour force in Ontario had been in their jobs for less than five years. Right there alone, we have eliminated 53 per cent of the workers who might otherwise have qualified for severance pay. No increase in the notice period for mass layoffs was announced, nor was there any requirement that firms justify their decision to close or effect a mass layoff.
I want to point out that the justification process or procedure was, to our party, a very important step, the only kind of protection we had or could have in Ontario to see that the workers in plants facing closure are getting a fair shake, that they are not getting a con job done on them, that it is not simply on the basis of a corporate rationalization where a company is both profitable and, in some cases, closing out operations simply to consolidate and even to eliminate competition.
I always thought that to the other two parties in the Legislature of this province, the idea of competition was something that was almost sacred, and yet we have had closures in Ontario that have been based on both corporate rationalization and eliminating competition. It seems to me there is something pretty tragic when that is allowed.
We do not envisage a public justification procedure as an opportunity to castigate employers or to force firms that are not viable to remain open. Some plant closings are going to remain unavoidable. However, the decisions to close plants or to lay off significant numbers of workers are made in an isolated manner, dictated by corporate decisions or calculations of internal costs and benefits. We in this party do not accept the notion that the only role left to the Legislature is to ameliorate the severe social and public consequences of private corporate decisions. We feel there is a public duty and responsibility to ensure that public scrutiny and control is exercised to either prevent or minimize social hardships.
We have found that the existence of this type of legislation in other jurisdictions has not been a deterrent for companies investing in those jurisdictions. Coupled with a number of positive benefits of investing in Ontario, we are not swayed by the corporate arguments that investment will drop and competitiveness will be hindered. As well, if there is a useful justification procedure in place, there can be time when decisions can be made that can have a number of important benefits.
Had we had this procedure in place we would today probably have had the porcelain plant, the glass plant in the city of Hamilton, as one of the first worker-operated enterprises in Ontario, but in the fight there, we did not have the procedures. When we finally rallied the community and the workers, we could not get past a federal cabinet minister by the name of Sinc Stevens. That really shot down what I think could have been one of the most exciting episodes of worker involvement in plants, a viable operation where the worker option that was put together was a better option than the private-industry offer that was made and that the government accepted at that time.
We feel as well, with more than 53 per cent of the workers in Ontario not having five years in their jobs, there should be a lowering of the time that allows you to qualify for severance pay. We do not think it makes sense to have long-term workers cut off at 26 weeks in terms of the ceiling that is put on the time. We think also that with the largest number of plant closures being plants of under 100 employees in Ontario, indeed under 50 employees, it would make sense to lower the figures of the number involved to qualify in a plant closure situation.
It seems to us these are not radical recommendations that are being made. They are positive recommendations in line with what is done in some of the free western world today. They are moves that would help us to protect the workers involved from the increasing problem of corporate concentration in this country and even from the takeover battles we see that lead to the loss of plants, the loss of jobs, the loss of workers.
We have some real difficulty in understanding why the government did not go further, but I have to say that like so many things that happen in this particular Legislature, at least it was a step. It was a step that would have helped a substantial number of employees. It is a step that should be taken here today, because there are literally hundreds and probably thousands of workers looking at it right now. Yet I understand there is a good possibility this will not get to committee of the whole House. To me, that would be a tragedy. If it does not, I can guarantee that people are going to answer for that decision in Ontario.
I cannot continue or finish without making one other observation. If my colleagues on the right do not allow this to go through clause by clause here today, they are not totally and solely responsible for denying the rights to workers in this province. They will be denying protection to an awful lot of workers, but I want to say also that we just got this bill in the past two or three days from this government. Given what they have put in the bill, they could have brought it in long before this and we could have had it through this House so those workers would have had that kind of protection.
I want to make it very clear that the blame ends up on both sides of this House. This government, in its refusal to move sooner -- a year and a half, almost two years, we waited; this was one of the accord items. Now that we could have it through and protect a sizeable number of workers, my colleagues on the right are afraid to move this thing ahead. I do not know why. There is no real corporate opposition to it. I think their own leader could probably tell them that from calls. That is the situation we face.
I want to indicate my support for this bill. I hope we can send it to committee of the whole House and deal with it here this afternoon so we can give the protection to the workers in Ontario.
Mr. Harris: I want to say a few words on this bill. Let me concur with the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) who indicated that we are dealing with a bill that has just been tabled in the past few days. Last week, I guess, it was tabled and probably printed some time last week. Not very many members have had an opportunity to take very much of a look at it. That is exactly the problem that our party and the public are once again facing.
What we really have in reality from this particular bill, as was mentioned by the member for Hamilton East, is an item that could have been introduced two years ago. Certainly from what is in the bill, there is no reason, after taking office -- maybe two years is long enough; maybe they could have studied for a month and come up with what is in this bill.
We have a government party, the leader of which has said to his Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye): "I may want to call an election this August, not because of any other reason than that is when I think I want to call it." Perhaps the reason he may want to call it is because he does not know how to govern. He has had an accord agreement with the third party that I have not agreed with, either the principle or the items. I will say this, it has given direction to a government that has not shown any indication it knows how to govern, whether it be in a majority or a minority position. Obviously, in a minority position it has given them a direction and a blueprint to follow and spelled it out for them.
Perhaps the Premier (Mr. Peterson) has said to his Minister of Labour, "I am afraid we do not have the ability or the expertise to be able to govern this province under the existing setup." That certainly has not been the case from any other Premiers that we know in the past. Of course, that is one of the measures the public would want to take a look at: Does this administration have any ability to govern on its own? If the Liberals are afraid the public will sense they do not have any ability to govern on their own, then the thing to do is to try to figure out as many silly excuses for an election as possible, so they do not get a look at their inability to govern.
Consequently, I suggest to the members that the Premier went to the Minister of Labour and said: "Look, you've had two years. I know we agreed we didn't want to do this. We weaseled and we cajoled and we did everything we could to get out of living up to the accord on this, but look, we're going to adjourn at the end of June. Could you, Minister of Labour, draft up some silly little bill that shows the intent? We can do up our press releases as we always do on these things. People will think we care, and I can say I dealt with this accord item."
So one week before we adjourn, we have a bill introduced.
Mr. Mackenzie: That's not far off.
Mr. Harris: The member for Hamilton East says, "Not far off." Let me suggest as well that we have had other examples of this. Last year about this time we had Bill 11, one of the biggest shemozzles. It is with regret that some time was not taken on Bill 11 last year.
We were faced with a similar situation. The government House leader turned the air conditioning off in the whole building and in the Legislature, made us all sit here and sweat and said, "If you guys want to go home for the summer, we have to have Bill 11."
Hon. Mr. Nixon: That's what Winkler used to do.
Mr. Harris: Yes, you learned that from Tom Wells. The member is quite right. I have always suspected that, since I have been here, since 1981.
Let me say that was an example of a bill that went through too hastily and caused a multitude of problems afterwards. There have been other examples: Bill 190 of the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) -- l am delighted he is in the chamber today -- was a bill they just tried to deal with too quickly to say, "We are concerned."
Mr. Andrewes: On and on and on.
Mr. Harris: On and on and on. Withdraw the bill. Do this; do that.
Bill 98 is coming up. What does Bill 98 do? Bill 98 corrects a government amendment to one of our bills. The government said, "We need this amendment." They got the amendment. We obviously may be somewhat to blame. We did not take a good enough look at it, I guess. But we assumed the Minister of Health, with all his $10 billion of resources, knew what he was doing. Now he is back saying: "Oh, I was a little too hasty. We ought to have another bill. We have to change this bill."
That is not the way to proceed with legislation in this chamber. I am surprised as well that the members of the third party have come forward. Their reaction when this bill was introduced last week, all I heard, was: "What a weak-kneed, lily-livered, no-good bill. After two years, that is all they could do." They said this bill does nothing. It does not change anything. It is not a good bill.
Well now, a week later, I heard from the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) -- not from Sudbury East; that is a Freudian slip, because he starts to sound like the member for Sudbury East at times -- from the member for Hamilton East that this is urgent. What was a "lily-livered, no-good bill" a week ago, we have to have today. We have to have second reading today. We have to have the committee of the whole House today. We have to have hearings today. We have to have third reading. We have to have it all today.
That is not the way to come up with good legislation. We have had a number of calls since the bill was introduced. The first calls we started to get were from the unions, "Jeez, this bill needs lots of amendments. It is not a good bill. It does not do this. It does not do that."
Our reaction: "Look, it has only been introduced. Sometimes it takes this government two years to deal with a bill. Not to worry, boys, it has just been introduced. You will get an opportunity. I am sure the New Democratic Party will want you to have an opportunity to come in. We would support that, and I sense the government would."
Then a few days later this feeling came out that: "This is all we are going to get. It is no good, but it is all we are going to get."
I confess that some of the same unions have called my office today and said: "It is no good, but it is the best we are going to get. Could you pass it?" I said, "What do you mean, it is the best you are going to get?" They said, "You are going to adjourn and there is going to be an election." I said: "It might be. Are you worried that a new government is going to come back and not support this? All three parties are going to support this today. We are going to support it." They did not know the answer to that.
I said, "Are you worried?" They said, "The Liberals may not reintroduce it." I said, "Well, do not vote for them, then."
A number of businesses, as well, have expressed some concerns. They have said, "We would like the opportunity to come in and comment on this legislation."
Unfortunately -- and I regret that it appears to be by ourselves -- we are going to provide the opportunity to the unions. We are going to provide the opportunity for business. We are going to ask that this bill go out to committee. We may be sitting here for another month, the way the government House leader and the Premier run this place.
There may be an opportunity. We could place ads next week and the hearings could start about the third week of July. I think it deserves that opportunity.
All that had to be done was to introduce this bill a month ago, and we would now be having a routine third reading; even three weeks ago, we might have had a third reading. But they have insisted, perhaps because it is so flawed, they did not want anybody to look at it; or perhaps -- my first suggestion -- it was one of those last-minute things where the Premier said to the Minister of Labour: "If I call an election, I have to say I did something on this. Dream up some silly thing and introduce it, and that will be the end of it."
We are in support of the principle of the legislation. We will be voting for that principle. We would like to indicate to all who are here that if, as we suspect, the Premier takes the line that he is afraid he does not have the ability or the horses to be able to carry on governing and he tries to go to the people, when we come back --and we may not be the government, but if we are the government after an election -- we will be introducing similar legislation. We will be asking for input from the various interest groups that will have interest in this legislation and we will pass a far more meaningful bill than what is trying to be jammed down here today.
Let me tell members as well that if, after reflection, the Premier decides: "Do you think the jig is up? Do you think they realize I want an election because I am afraid I cannot govern?" and he does not call an election, we will have had the hearings, we will have a much better bill and we will have it in the fashion in which all good legislation proceeds in this Legislature.
We will support this. We have served notice that we would like this to go out to the standing committee on resources development.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Let me start by saying that I look forward, even at this late hour, to some sanity beginning to come over the party opposite, so that later this afternoon we can entertain the amendments from my friend the member for Hamilton East, who has served notice that his party, while recognizing the steps forward in this bill, has some difficulty with some areas of the bill. They are very clear to the member for Hamilton East, the areas in which his party disagrees. The bill is extremely straightforward.
The member for Hamilton East mentioned this in passing. The House leader for the official opposition has spoken about the timing of the bill. The bill was brought into this House some 11 days ago, has been printed for several days and indeed, that legislation is the product of months of consultation. If the member had talked with any union leaders or if he had talked with any business leaders, he would have known that the final consultations have been going on for months on this legislation and that indeed the bill attempts to reflect some of the important things this government heard.
Having heard the sheer hypocrisy which came from the House leader for the official opposition
Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I object.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I will withdraw the word "hypocrisy."
An hon. member: That is what it was, Mr. Speaker, just the same.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
The Deputy Speaker: The member is not in his seat. He has withdrawn, has he?
Mr. Mancini: I will withdraw it just the same.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I now understand completely why the Labour critic for the official opposition could not bring himself to offer any comments on this legislation. Indeed, I remember the Labour critic -- and I want to say some complimentary things about that critic, because he is apparently one of the few members of that party who supports this legislation in general -- did not think it went far enough.
That was before his leader went outside the House and said we were not going to have any more of this anti-business legislation. That is what the leader of the official opposition said.
Here you had the Labour critic in the House saying it did not go far enough and you had the leader of his party saying it was anti-business.
Mr. Davis: Are you saying it is anti-business?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I say to my friend the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Davis), I am quoting the leader of the official opposition.
I begin to understand why my friend the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) is not in the House at this hour. I am beginning to understand. Would any member want to be here standing in his place, being from the community which has gone through the difficulties that community has had with places like Massey-Ferguson? Would you want to be in your place, Mr. Speaker, forcing a piece of legislation to committee? For what? So we can waste time? Would you want to do that, or would you want to get on with the job of protecting workers?
An hon. member: You know he is not in the House because of a statement your minister made -- a misstatement of the truth.
Mr. Davis: Because you people have as much regard for the truth as a tomcat has for --
The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Scarborough Centre is disturbing the House.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I want to say to the good reverend from Scarborough Centre, being that this is his first term, that he might look back in the Hansard debates of June 1981. I see my friend the member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt) has a smile coming over his face. He was the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour of the day now the distinguished chairman of the Workers' Compensation Board. In June of that year, the previous government brought in Bill 95, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act.
Within that legislation was a new concept, something called severance pay. The law was flawed. It was riddled with loopholes, loopholes closed in these amendments. Nevertheless, the new concept was there -- praiseworthy. The members can look back at my remarks in which I supported the principle of that new concept, but did the government of the day see any necessity to send an entirely new concept, never before brought into North America, to a committee? Oh no, it can be handled in committee of the whole House, no need to have public input on a new principle, on a new concept, no need to have consultation.
But now here we are in 1987 and they are over there. As we seek to close the door on the loopholes left open by the Progressive Conservative Party, as we seek to enhance this legislation, as we seek to bring a fivefold improvement in the number of workers to be covered by the severance provisions, as we seek to improve the termination notice, as we seek to bring the kind of disclosure that workers want, there is the party that is going to bring that to a halt. If there are workers who are not covered because of the refusal of that party over there to get on with this job, then it seems to me those workers will remember for a very long time the actions that may occur here this afternoon.
That party, 11 days after the introduction of the bill, claims that it has no idea what is going on. The morning after the introduction of the bill, I happened to speak at a conference at which there were a number of labour lawyers -- both management and union labour lawyers, management people and trade union people present; they all understood full well this legislation and they were very supportive of it.
I say to my friend the member for Scarborough Centre and to the members of the Progressive Conservative caucus that they should have returned their phone calls today. The leader of the official opposition should have spoken to the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour and the head of district 6 of the United Steelworkers. If he had spoken to the leaders of the labour unions, he would have known they wanted this bill and they wanted this bill to be passed today in this place. They realize it is good legislation, progressive legislation; indeed, it is the finest legislation anywhere in North America. They know it and all the members of this House know it as well.
This is not some silly little bill, as my friend the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) has suggested. It increases the protection of workers in this province fivefold in terms of severance. It increases the termination notice. It provides for disclosure to workers, to communities, and indeed a means for consultations when layoffs and closures are proposed to occur.
It is the most progressive legislation anywhere in North America, and it is worth repeating. I say to my friend from Durham that it is worth repeating. I hope the members of the official opposition will reflect on that. I hope they will allow this bill to move forward. I hope they will allow for workers in this province, whom we can protect, to be protected in a way I would have thought all of us would want to occur.
Mr. Ashe: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The minister may want to correct the record. I think he referred to first reading 11 days ago; I think he will find it is 10.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. That is not a point of order.
Mr. Davis: Right on. Maybe it's nine. Bob has some accounting --
Mr. Morin: This is the 11th day.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: This is the 11th hour.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. Mr. Wrye has moved second reading of the bill.
Motion agreed to.
The Deputy Speaker: Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?
Mr. Harris: Mr. Speaker, we would ask that this bill be referred to the standing committee on resources development.
The Deputy Speaker: In excess of 20 members having stood in their places, this bill will be referred to a standing committee.
Bill ordered for standing committee on resources development.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: May I have the approval of the House under standing order 63 for the five-day rule to be waived?
The Deputy Speaker: Mr. Wrye has moved asking for unanimous consent under standing order 63.
An hon. member: What five-day rule?
The Deputy Speaker: It cannot be considered in standing committee until more than five days after it has been committed. The minister is asking a waiver of that, i.e., that it be committed and dealt with in the standing committee in fewer than five days.
Hon. Mr. Riddell moved second reading of Bill 96, An Act to revise the Bees Act.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: The Bees Act provides for inspection of honey bees and control of honey bee diseases. The registration of colonies and inspection of bees under this legislation have for many years served the industry well. Changes to the legislation are now needed because three honey bee diseases and pests not found in Ontario threaten to become established here to the detriment of the commercial beekeeping community.
The honey bee tracheal mite is widespread in the United States while other pests are advancing --
Ms. Fish: Can we see the file folder again?
Mr. Breaugh: Would you hold up the file folder?
The Deputy Speaker: Order. The minister must be heard by someone, by Hansard if no one in the chamber. Will you please keep the noise down.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: The honey bee tracheal mite is widespread in the United States while other pests are advancing at a rapid rate towards the United States from South America and Central America. The federal government banned honey bee imports into eastern Canada from the United States last year to protect the domestic industry from these diseases and pests.
An amendment to provincial legislation is required now to support the federal action. Amendment to the Bees Act will strengthen the ministry's disease control by requiring a permit to import package and queen bees from outside the province, specifically from the western provinces where United States bees continue to be imported.
Other proposed amendments would improve the administration of the apiary inspection program. These include inspectors being given authority to take samples of bees and equipment to identify any disease outbreak. A new person would be appointed to improve the mechanism for beekeepers to appeal decisions of apiary inspectors.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food would also be given authority to establish quarantine zones. Beekeepers would not be allowed to move bees or equipment within or through these zones. Maximum fines for any contravention of the act would be increased to $1,000 and $5,000. Existing maximum levies are $50 and $100.
The Ontario beekeeping industry accounts for gross farm receipts of $8 million a year and the pollination benefits from commercial beekeeping are many times that amount. This important industry must be protected from imported health threats. We feel confident the proposed amendments to the act will furnish this protection and we wait upon the favour of the House for support.
Mr. Stevenson: I gather the bee the minister was holding up over there had to be a yellow-jacket. I am not sure it was a honey bee; but anyway.
This is another situation of a bill that was just introduced one or two days ago and brought into the House without giving us much opportunity to examine it. In correspondence from the Ontario Beekeepers' Association as far back as January, the association was asking that this bill be passed as quickly as possible. They were wondering why the government was moving so slowly on it because this has been a concern.
The last previous change to the Bees Act was in 1980. Certainly, with the growing industry, an industry that keeps attracting new people into it, there is concern with health matters and some degree of control in the industry. There are some beekeepers who are quite concerned about this particular bill, and I have a letter from a constituent of the member for Brock (Mr. Partington) stating his great concern over certain sections of the bill.
I hope the beekeepers who are concerned can deal with the Ontario Beekeepers' Association and with the minister and resolve any points that they feel are not adequate under the current situation. With that, we will be supporting the passage of this bill.
Mr. Hayes: Very briefly, in the spirit of expediency and knowing the importance of this bill, how important it is to preserve the beehive industry in this province, I would just like to say we support the Bees Act and hope we can move right along and get to third reading quickly on it.
Mr. Sterling: I am very much concerned with the haste in which this bill has been brought forward. While the beekeepers' association represents the large commercial operations, there are many people in this province who keep bees, particularly in eastern Ontario. Their number far exceeds the number of people who are involved in the large commercial endeavours.
It is a very important activity which takes place. It supports many other agricultural endeavours because of the pollinations the bees provide, particularly at this time of the season when we think of strawberry and raspberry patches, which depend very heavily on a bee population being closely associated with those particular endeavours.
This act gives strong powers to inspectors to go in and order certain things to take place in a particular beehive or in a particular area where there are a number of beehives. Since yesterday, I have had an opportunity to talk to some of the beekeepers in my area. They are very much concerned with the dramatic increase in the penalties proposed in this piece of legislation.
There are many people who are involved in a minor way, if only with a couple of hives that they attend to. They cannot be expected to know the provisions of the Bees Act. That, coupled with the fact that inspectors are given wide latitude to trespass on property, undertake the burning of hives and undertake a number of other steps, albeit with some kind of notice, is a matter people cannot and do not know all the facts about.
I am strongly supportive of the provisions which control the entry of bees from other parts of Canada and the United States into Ontario. Perhaps that offence alone would be the one that would require such high penalties. The problem many people are going to react to in this particular piece of legislation is the high fines related to what I would term very minor violations of the law.
While many people would treat this act in a trivial way, I take the act as a serious piece of legislation. We would have preferred to have a little time to at least talk to more of our people back home in order to put forward constructive suggestions in terms of dealing with some of the issues raised in this.
I find much difficulty with subsection 5(3) with regard to the kind of notice which is given to a beekeeper if the inspector makes an order. It seems convoluted. It seems that it could not be understood. I would have preferred that we had had an opportunity and time to put this in committee of the whole House to address not only the notice provision but also the penalty provision.
I think the minister should know that there are many beekeepers out there who are not going to be satisfied with this particular act, and I am talking on behalf of those people who are not deeply involved with the association.
That notwithstanding, because of the request of my House leader that we deal with this in an expeditious manner, I will not force it into committee of the whole House, as I could, and would ask that perhaps in the next session we have an opportunity to bring the piece of legislation forward and discuss it in a full manner.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: I want to thank my honourable colleagues for the support they have given to this bill.
I have met several times with the beekeepers' association about the bill and what the association wanted to see in the bill. My staff has also met with the beekeepers' association. It seems to be in general agreement with what we are endeavouring to do with this bill.
The honourable member was a little concerned that the inspectors are given too much power. The inspectors are only given one new authority they do not have under the present bill. That new authority is to take samples for examination for the tracheal mite and other diseases. This is important, as bees can quickly spread the disease to neighbouring hives.
The honourable member was also concerned about the increase in the level of fines. The current fine levels are $10 to $50 for a first offence, $25 to $100 or 30 days' imprisonment for a subsequent offence. A substantial increase in fines was needed to present a disincentive to contravening the act and threatening the Ontario beekeeping industry with damaging diseases.
Again, I have to say that we have met with the beekeepers' association. I trust they were speaking for the beekeepers around the province, and they were in general agreement with what we have included in this bill. I thank the members once again for their support.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
HEALTH PROTECTION AND PROMOTION AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Elston moved second reading of Bill 98, An Act to amend the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
Hon. Mr. Elston: Bill 98 was introduced yesterday. It deals with changes to legislation that was passed under the provisions of private member's Bill 52, which received third reading in the House on May 19.
The current legislation requires that the patient, or the person authorized to consent on behalf of the patient, be informed of the benefits or possible adverse reactions to the vaccination. This has raised concerns among health care professionals and our public health units that the information requirements are too broad and too vague and could be interpreted to include every possible reaction from the most serious to the most insignificant. In other words, it places a difficult, unenforceable burden upon health care professionals.
Bill 98 amends the information provision such that the patient or the person authorized to consent on behalf of the patient must be informed about all material risks associated with immunization. Material risk is a concept understood by health care professionals and the courts and represents a standard by which the information requirements can be measured. It means that patients must be informed about all serious risks associated with immunization, no matter how remote the likelihood of such reactions occurring.
I believe this amendment is a major and necessary improvement over the wording of the current legislation and I urge the members to assist with its speedy passage through the House.
Mr. Jackson: Given that this bill was tabled only yesterday and given that there are no compendiums and no copies of the bill put in the places for the members to read, I imagine only about eight members of this Legislature have had circularized to them the details of this bill, yet we are being called upon today to do this vote.
In that regard, the minister's bill purports to change six words in the old bill and to replace them with five words he has created, we assume on the basis of some counsel from the Attorney General (Mr. Scott). Would the minister please explain to this House what is meant by "cause the patient," replacing "inform the patient"? I have received conflicting legal opinions as to whether that means an actual conversation and exchange will occur person to person between the person administering the agent and the parent or the person receiving the vaccine.
My second question is, did the minister consult with the Attorney General as to whether there was an alternative such as the replacement of the words "known adverse reactions," which would provide the legal protections the Ontario Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Protective Association cogently present to him?
Finally, would the minister please explain for the record why he is unable or unwilling at this point to put in regulations the terms and the parameters this program was supposedly proceeding on the basis of when it was approved by all parties in this House and received his support, back as early as February 16?
Hon. Mr. Elston: Briefly, with respect to the first question, I do not know the conflicting advice the member has received. I think the advice could be in the form of a patient speaking directly to someone or there could be pamphlet material as well. He is holding it up there. I presume the conflicting advice is that there could be various kinds of advice offered, both orally and on paper. I tend to think that causing a person to be informed would include both those types of advice.
The member asked whether I talked to the Attorney General about the phase "known adverse reactions." We did not discuss this with the Attorney General, but of course we do have people from the Attorney General's department on our ministry staff who act as legal counsel for us. They provided us with the backup information with respect to what is available for us to put in word form. They are the ones who advised with respect to what is known in the courts in terms of measurements of the types of standards, I guess, about which I spoke earlier, the test of material risks.
The third question was about regulations. We were advised through our legal department that this is the preferred way of proceeding to make it much more precise in legislative form in terms of being able to measure according to our common law the duty placed on professionals within the system.
Mr. Jackson: l appreciate the response from the Minister of Health regarding this 11th-hour amendment, given that members of this House have not had an opportunity to examine it; however, I have for the last 24 hours, and I am distressed by the lack of consultation that it appears went into this amendment.
Certainly, there has been no consultation with the Association for Vaccine-Damaged Children, which has provided most of the impetus for this bill, and very limited consultation with my colleague the member for Rainy River (Mr. Pierce), who introduced the amendment. Unfortunately, he has to be at a district health council meeting in Thunder Bay in approximately 20 minutes and was unable to be in the House today.
The minister has known about this bill since last year. He agreed to send it to committee on February 16. A proclamation was made in April with respect to this bill. Now it is June 25 and all we have had from the minister is an indication that there will be no regulations, there will be no guidance and there will be no direction from his ministry with respect to assisting the Ontario Medical Association and the families of children who have yet to be immunized in Ontario. He has provided no assurances publicly or elsewhere with respect to assisting with regulations.
On June l5, when the minister was attending his now famous fund-raiser, a series of 10 questions in Orders and Notices was tabled in this House to which the minister has chosen not to respond. They clearly set out questions of him with respect to promises that were made during the course of public hearings on this bill, promises that were made on his behalf by his parliamentary assistant, the member for York East (Ms. Hart).
It would now appear that the minister has made a 180-degree turn as a result of the amendments he tabled yesterday and wishes us to have the final vote today. He is removing from the old bill, which is the law today, the clear wording that a physician or his authorized person informs the patient, and he is replacing that with "cause the patient." We now know that could mean simply making sure these pamphlets about whooping cough are sitting on a shelf somewhere. When a mother walks into her doctor's office with her baby crying in her arms, some secretary or receptionist is going to stand there and say, "Have you taken the time to read this pamphlet?"
The minister knows that is exactly what this bill means. He has admitted it in the House, yet he is not prepared to honour the commitment that was made in the original Bill 52.
The minister has replaced the words "possible adverse reactions." He knows the debate on "adverse reactions" was very intensive. There was agreement from the OMA, from legal counsel in the ministry, from the parliamentary assistant, from the Liberal members of the standing committee on social development and from the members of the third party -- indeed, I will pay credit to the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen), who raised the amendment -- who supported the notion that an adverse reaction must be included in this bill. The minister's removal of the words "possible adverse reaction" removes each and every reference to adverse reactions from this bill. He knows full well the impact that is going to have.
In Ontario today, encephalitis and death are not reportable events, but they are classified as adverse reactions. The minister knows the impact that is going to have when coroners are signing death certificates for children who have died as a result of a vaccine injection. He knows the impact if he has taken the time to read Hansard from that committee hearing. There are members in this Legislature who were present that day who heard what the implications would be.
The focus and purpose of this bill today is to deal with legal issues, not the issues of the delivery of a health care system in this province. We are reverting to the old practice, which was inappropriate; it put too many children in Ontario at risk. There have been thousands of children born in Ontario since this bill was proclaimed who have yet to receive their two-month inoculation and who now may not be required to be fully informed of the effects of the immunization. The minister bears the weight of that responsibility with this decision and he knows he does. He is merely causing a pamphlet to be read.
Has the minister taken the time to read the insert Conaught Laboratories puts with every vaccine vial that is sent to a physician in Ontario, the same vial that is not allowed and is outlawed in the United States? You cannot inoculate an American child with the vaccine we settle for in this country. It says right on here, "The parent should be questioned about the occurrences of any severe adverse reaction after the previous dose."
With his bill, this is how the minister is now saying we are going to question parents about an adverse reaction. Does the minister expect that to educate a parent as to what a series of adverse reactions are? Conaught Laboratories has made sure it is legally covered and it has increased its cost to his ministry from $3 to $8 in order to pay for the cost of insurance to cover the litigation. They have covered themselves; but no, we will not let the doctors speak openly to a parent about all the effects. We have created a loophole here and the minister knows it.
It goes on to talk about sudden infant death syndrome, saying, "It has been reported following administration of vaccines containing diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and pertussis vaccine." I had a public health nurse tell me they read this and all they got out of it was that if a child at two months is allergic to eggs, he or she should not be vaccinated. She said sheepishly to me, "I feel badly asking a mother if her child is allergic to eggs when every doctor advises against feeding eggs to newborn infants until they are at least nine months to a year old." She was horrified to find out the facts. We are not even informing the health care deliverers.
I put on the record that the minister should have considered the issue of a known adverse reaction. That creates the legal loophole the minister is looking for, it allows the bill to proceed, just so we give the information to a parent who is sitting there, perhaps with a first child, never having gone through the inoculation experience.
There are no regulations and guidelines forthcoming. The minister has indicated that publicly and he has indicated it privately. He has put the entire onus on the Ontario Medical Association to develop the program. The minister has provided absolutely no funding through his ministry to assist them with a contract which would provide them with the legal background to comply with certain elements of disclosure and confirmation of adverse reactions. He has done none of this.
What is the minister going to tell his district health councils? What is he going to tell his public health units? What guidelines is he going to give? Is he going to ask the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, as he has in the last 24 hours, to prepare all that? Is he then going to take theirs, give it to his Ministry of Health operations people and ask them to do whatever the doctors are doing? That is not the kind of leadership we expected. It is not the kind of leadership he promised when he publicly stated how proud he was that Ontario was taking a leadership role in this, that we were going to have a safer vaccine immunization program than anywhere else in Canada.
I want to read just briefly a letter, that was hastily prepared today, because the Ontario Association for Vaccine-Damaged Children learned only last night what the minister was planning to do, and only through the efforts of members of the Legislature outside of the government. It is addressed to the minister and it is dated today:
"Our association is shocked and horrified that you would even consider altering the context of Bill 52 without first holding meetings and discussions with the Association for Vaccine-Damaged Children and the Ontario Medical Association. Your own parliamentary assistant, Christine Hart, represented the ministry at the committee hearings about Bill 52 and composed the wording herself.
"We have no choice, as an organization consisting of over 100 Ontario families whose children have been left severely brain damaged by adverse vaccine reactions due to the lack of a simple warning from their physician, but to issue the following statement:
"`The Association for Vaccine-Damaged Children will hold the Ministry of Health responsible for any future cases of vaccine damage which occur in the province of Ontario if the warning to parents by their doctor is removed from the context of Bill 52. Such a move will seriously jeopardize the health and wellbeing of the Ontario children and is totally irresponsible.'
"The issue of vaccine damage has long been neglected in the province of Ontario. We had hoped that the support you gave to Bill 52 was a sign that the situation would improve for the sake of our children. I request an immediate response from you and an explanation to this association of your action to remove the warning to parents by their medical professionals from Bill 52." I assume that means the removal of the direct warning to parents. "What responsibility are you prepared to take for future vaccine victims?"
That is signed by Donna Rathwell, the president of the Association for Vaccine-Damaged Children.
I raised several questions with the minister prior to my comments. No parent who is also a legislator in this House today should be comfortable with what the minister might refer to as the kind of assurances he has given us about how he is conducting himself with this program. It is an absolute tragedy. If only he would take the time to try to understand what is happening to the children of this province, albeit a very small number.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) spent more time preparing a compendium to present to every member of this House so we would understand this bill for some bloody bees that are coming in from out of this country than the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) has spent for the children of Ontario who are ending up with brain damage and dying as a result of the vaccine injection program in this province.
This is not a proud day for his ministry or his performance. He knows how angry and upset I have been, and he knows how much I have asked him to be forthcoming with the information on this bill. He has left the Ontario Medical Association out on a limb with this. He has not agreed to work closely with the parents or with the legislators who have spent a lot of time on all sides of this House.
The member for Middlesex (Mr. Reycraft) is very aware of the implications of this bill and this amendment. He has several families in his riding. The minister has even failed to consult him when he has that much information that could be helpful to the minister's understanding.
I will not be supporting this bill -- not in any conscience at all. I have had a daughter vaccinated and I got the information out of my physician, but we know the cases where they are not being informed and the minister is going to settle with a brochure which ends with this simple statement, "This information gives parents a better understanding of the dangers of whooping cough and the benefits of pertussis vaccine and explains why the vast majority of medical experts agree the risks involved in the disease are far greater than those involved in immunization."
The minister knows exactly what he has done with this bill and he should be ashamed of it.
Mr. Reycraft: Since the member has made reference to me in the closing of his remarks, I would just like to put it on the record that I have indeed talked today with some people in Middlesex who have had children who have suffered adverse reactions to vaccines. I talked to them about the proposed changes my colleague the Minister of Health has brought forward, and they are quite satisfied with those changes.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: Very briefly, I do want to make a couple of comments in response to the member for Burlington South (Mr. Jackson). I am actually surprised and quite shocked at the approach the member is taking on this issue.
When we dealt with Bill 52 in committee, one of the major advantages of that bill we saw was that there was going to be reporting of adverse effects and that there would be data kept and we would have better information on the whole field.
The bottom line of what the member from Burlington is saying is that children should not be vaccinated.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I think it is incredibly irresponsible for a member of the Legislature in 1987 in Ontario to say that children should not be vaccinated. We know from debates --
Mr. Jackson: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Those words do not appear anywhere in Hansard this afternoon and he knows that. Ask him to correct the record.
Mr. Speaker: Order. It is not a point of privilege. Every member has a right to explain his point of view.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: The fact is that the member is saying we are going to give people information, and I totally agree that people should be given information about possible adverse effects of vaccinations; but at the same time he is saying that if this information is not provided, something is going to happen if parents are not aware of the possible risks. What if they are aware? What if parents are totally aware of the risks?
We are saying that information should be made available. What is the alternative in Ontario? We have mandatory vaccination for children. Is the member suggesting it should not be mandatory and parents therefore should be told the risks? We are agreeing they should be told, but should they then be given the option that their children should not necessarily be vaccinated? Is he going to take on his shoulders the responsibility for children who may die from one of the diseases they can be protected from by vaccination in Ontario?
The message clearly coming out of the mouth of the member for Burlington South is that children should not be subject to the risk of vaccination but they should be subject to the substantially larger risk of disease that vaccination prevents in Ontario. I am shocked and disappointed that the Conservative Party would voice that when it was its Minister of Health, supported by the opposition parties, who brought in mandatory vaccination in Ontario.
I want to make one final point. We obviously will be supporting this amendment. I am not thrilled with the process that has been followed in the last couple of weeks. I think the minister and his staff have to begin to learn that mistakes like this cannot be made. We saw mistakes made in mental health legislation, we saw mistakes made in nursing home legislation, and the list goes on.
The fact of the matter is that if this amendment is not passed today or before the Legislature breaks, we could see a slowing down and possibly even the grinding to an end of vaccinations in this province, because physicians and other practitioners who give these vaccinations will not want to take the risk that was provided in Bill 52.
As a final point, I think this Legislature is eventually going to have to come to grips with the fact that if it is going to be serious about private members' bills, as it was with Bill 52, there might in fact have to be a better process.
It used to be that private members' bills never became law. That was a bad process. I think it is now appropriate that the Legislature take private members' bills very seriously, but perhaps we should look at a committee process that takes them seriously with the understanding that they could very well become law, therefore they have to be studied much more closely and much more carefully so that we do not have any more blunders like we had in Bill 52, which put kids in this province at risk.
Mr. Jackson: I would like to correct the record. The member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke) would seem to try to mislead this House by putting words in my mouth. The member knows absolutely full well that at no point have I been against vaccinations. If he were aware of the process of vaccinations in this province, he would know that every child gets vaccinated at around two months. If parents do not know about adverse reactions, they proceed with the second injection at four months, the third injection at six months and so on.
The whole purpose of keeping the public informed is so that people can participate with and consult with their physicians, so that they can share with them, "My child had an adverse reaction." The standard procedure in Ontario is not to have the second vaccine administered. The member knows that is the whole point. The number of cases that were brought before our committee where children were dying based on the second injection, which was the lethal dose, was well documented. No one can anticipate in all cases, in spite of the fact that Conaught Laboratories gives guidance to doctors as to certain cases where a vaccine should be avoided.
The member knows the whole purpose is to have the adverse reactions recorded, but we have had no commitment from this minister that he will record the information. He has said to the Ontario Medical Association: "You guys keep your records. You guys do your reporting mechanism. Do not keep me involved in this thing." How does a parent report an adverse reaction if he does not know what an adverse reaction is in the fast place? That is the point.
Children should continue to be vaccinated. If a child receives a lethal dose in the first instance and dies, the member knows the death record shows that he died of encephalitis. Even two hours after the vaccine, they do not put on the death certificate that is the cause of death. That is the kind of thing we want corrected in Ontario today. I am not against vaccines.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: The member for Burlington South is trying to have it both ways. All one has to do is read Hansard and his comments. The point he was making is very clear, and it is an embarrassment to any progressive legislator who knows anything about public health in Ontario.
Mr. Andrewes: I want to support the member for Windsor-Riverside in his comments with respect to private members' bills.
I believe this bill was first introduced in July or June 1985. It was debated during private members' hour prior to the summer recess in 1985. At one point, it was referred to the select committee on health, which had yet to be convened, had yet to be organized and had yet to be endorsed by this Legislature. It subsequently found its way to the standing committee on social development, where we held two or three days of public hearings and debated the various clauses of the bill.
Throughout this process, there seemed to be a great deal of hesitancy on the part of the Ministry of Health to get involved in this legislation, and I think that has added to the concerns that have arisen as a result of the passage of this bill. It was rather interesting that the subject being debated today, the actual requirement that physicians inform parents of children of the possibility of adverse reactions, was a clause drafted and added at the request of the parliamentary assistant to the minister, who was a participant in that committee.
What really needs to happen, of course, out of all this discussion, is that at some point in time there be undertaken the development of some professional standards in the inoculation vaccination program. The Ontario Medical Association indicated to the ministry over the last week or two its desire that these standards be developed by way of regulation. I assume they were told no, as we were told no, that this was intrusive. But we have not been given any substantive reason why regulations under this act cannot be developed.
Certainly, the physicians want to retain professional discretion. It is not wise for us to directly intrude into that professional discretion, but at the same time this act, by virtue of its passage in this Legislature, does intrude. The amendments now require the informing of patients and their committees. Those amendments, as I have mentioned, have been put forward by the ministry, so I think it is very clear.
I am not sure I have the rapt attention of the whole House in this debate.
Mr. Harris: I am with you.
Mr. Andrewes: I know my colleague the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) is listening carefully.
I think there is some obligation on the part of the Minister of Health to develop some guidelines or standards for the vaccination program, through legislation or regulation or at his request to, say the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario that this be done. I hope the minister will consider and move towards this development. I want to indicate for my own part that we will be supporting this bill.
Hon. Mr. Elston: I just have brief comments. With respect to the difficulties of dealing with private members' bills, I would join my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside and my colleague the member for Lincoln (Mr. Andrewes) and indicate that perhaps there is a better way of dealing with this. I know both the honourable gentlemen would probably like to acknowledge the fact that during the clause-by-clause debate there were several amendments to this piece of legislation, including the item about advance notice, about which neither the OMA nor a number of people had an opportunity to make comment.
The difficulty of passing the legislation in a form altered in clause-by-clause analysis is that it produces a bill the effect of which none of us is sure about until there is adequate time to review and understand from a professional's point of view the impact of all the sections taken together in their broadest form.
The information was brought to my attention last week and we moved to try to come up with a situation which would assist professionals to feel that there was ample opportunity for them to use their professional judgement and wisdom in giving advice, and the result is the bill we have here today.
The question of the point of "shall inform" and "shall cause to be informed" is a matter of degree. The question is whether "shall inform" really does mean person-to-person, verbal communication. It is my understanding that in fact "shall inform" might very well mean delivering something as well.
I can say it is my understanding that all physicians are quite concerned about the problems dealt with in respect to vaccination and that the public health people are likewise concerned. I know that the process of providing a heightened awareness of the difficulties which face people who have vaccinations is such that people will take the time to provide the information required.
I agree that we must have vaccination. It is essential for our public health, and I am pleased to hear that the two parties, in their official representations, have agreed to support this bill.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Just before adjournment, I want to inform the House that when we meet on Monday, we will be dealing in committee of the whole House with Bill 10, An Act to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act, in the name of Mr. Reville, and Bill 188, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act, in the name of Mr. Ashe.
We will also deal with Bill 23, An Act to provide for greater Certainty in the Reconciliation of the Personal Interests of Members of the Assembly and the Executive Council with their Duties of Office. I have it en français if members want it.
If time permits, we would invite the members to participate in the budget debate or any other matters that by mutual agreement we want to pursue.
The House adjourned at 6:01 p.m.