L043 - Mon 11 Apr 1988 / Lun 11 avr 1988
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I am sure you and other members are aware that late last week there was a major flood emergency in Goulais River in my constituency. I would like at this time to express my congratulations and appreciation to members of the staff of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ontario Provincial Police, as well as the Goulais River fire team, for the efforts they made to assist the flood victims and to ensure that the evacuations, when necessary, were carried out well.
I would also like to express my appreciation to the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) and his colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Eakins) for visiting the flood scene on Saturday and indicating their willingness to assist. I understand there is a meeting being held this evening at the Mountain View School in Goulais River under the auspices of the local services board, at which time there will be an assessment or an estimate of the damages. We will get an idea of the extent, and I hope then that if there is an application for emergency disaster assistance, the provincial government will respond as quickly as it has over the last few days to provide financial assistance to the home owners who need help to repair their dwellings.
GAME AND FISH LEGISLATION
Mr. Pollock: Last week, a press conference was held at which a number of wildlife groups voiced their grave concerns over amendments to the Game and Fish Act. Representing over 80,000 members, this coalition of organizations questioned this government’s commitment to providing effective protection to Ontario’s wildlife and real leadership in the natural resources sector. In particular, they are most concerned over the lack of input that this government has sought over the amendments to the Game and Fish Act.
In late 1986, 50 controversial amendments to the act were proposed. These amendments later died in Orders and Notices. The Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) has stated his intent to once again bring forward amendments to the Game and Fish Act. Such a proposal will surely include those 50 and possibly even more amendments. However, this coalition of organizations was denied access to the complete file of the proposed amendments and in fact was consulted on only three sections related to wildlife rehabilitation, native animals in captivity and falconry.
These groups and indeed all those individuals concerned with Ontario’s natural resources are left wondering why the minister is so reluctant to allow input on all these amendments, as he usually does. What does the minister have to hide? Indeed, whatever happened to open government?
TRAILMOBILE GROUP OF COMPANIES LTD.
Mr. Neumann: I want to speak today about a Canadian company which has shown tremendous initiative and taken great risks in the past several years. Management of the Canadian branch of Trailmobile pooled its resources in 1981 and purchased Trailmobile Canada from its American parent company. The new owners have turned the company around, improved union-management relations and increased their market share.
Showing continued initiative last year, the Trailmobile Group of Companies, which I am pleased to say is centred in Brantford, became aware that Fruehauf Canada, its largest competitor, was available for purchase from its American parent corporation. The Canadian owners took a risk and purchased Fruehauf Canada. This bold move was designed to help the combined companies prepare themselves for life after the free trade agreement. The economies of scale and widened product lines would enable Trailmobile-Fruehauf to compete with giant US trailer production firms.
How did the present federal government reward this initiative? It decided that the combined company would control too large a share of the Canadian market. It invoked the Competition Act, and now Trailmobile must divest itself of its van production line. Coming from a government which has signed an agreement which will in effect create a common North American market, this decision is ludicrous. Trailmobile-Fruehauf will control only four per cent of the North American market.
What has been the result? Because of the uncertainty as to the future ownership of the van production line, sales have dropped substantially and, by Friday, 99 workers in our community will have lost their jobs, with a good chance that many more will be so affected.
Miss Martel: I want to point out to the House the latest fiasco associated with the Workers’ Compensation Board. The problem concerns the commutation of WCB pensions. In January 1988, the board approved new guidelines to determine how and when a worker’s pension would be commuted.
Under the act, “the board may commute the weekly or other periodical payments payable” to a worker “for a lump sum,” and may charge the same to the employer or to the accident fund.” The legislation is not restrictive in any sense, but the board has used its discretionary power to narrow the criteria to the point where few, if any, commutations will be granted in future.
For example, the whole policy hinges on employment. If you are not employed or if you have already left the workforce, do not bother to apply. The board has decided that a worker must have a firm job offer before applying. Even those individuals participating in a WCB training program to return to the workforce are not eligible.
Those people requesting a commutation to start a new business or to become self-employed cannot qualify. The board has narrowly defined employment and has squeezed out many who previously qualified. Second, commutation of a pension to pay off debts is considered only when the debt is producing a disability, usually psychological. The worker must provide medical information from a psychologist or a psychiatrist to prove this and to prove that removal of the debts will help him keep the job. By the time this occurs, the worker will probably have lost the job, and then he will no longer qualify, because he will not have a firm job offer.
The new guidelines completely undermine the spirit of the legislation, which was to help workers. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Sorbara) should demand that the board alter or abandon these guidelines completely.
Mr. Sterling: I was very pleased to receive recently the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology’s publication entitled Small Business Ontario. Imagine my surprise in reading the cover story, which outlined the success of Tridon Ltd. of Hamilton, the success story of a firm which was built on its trading capabilities, proving, according to the article, that “Canadians can take on the world and win.” Don Green, chairman and chief executive officer of Tridon, states: “Once you visit a country, you build up confidence. I never doubted that Canadians could compete anywhere, and we have proved it.”
It is not Mr. Green’s success that surprises me. Rather, it is the fashion in which this story is presented by MITT in its publication. Correct me if I am wrong, but does this not come from a government which fears free trade, one which has been warning everyone of free trade’s devastating effects?
Mr. Green is also quoted as saying, “Because of bigger economies of scale, we’ll improve productivity.” No, say it is not so: access to more markets may make us more competitive, may allow us to be more productive and perhaps more profitable? Perhaps the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter) should take a moment to read his ministry’s own publications. He may be interested in its findings. Failing that, he should hire a better proofreader.
Mr. Ruprecht: This year, 1988, is a significant year for Ukrainian Christians throughout the world. It is the 1,000-year anniversary of the introduction of Christianity to the land called Ukraine. It was in 988 that the Ukrainian people accepted Christianity from Byzantium, during the reign of Prince Vladimir the Great, the ruler of the first Ukrainian state.
The commemoration of the millennium of Vladimir’s adoption of the Christian faith provides a unique opportunity for Ukrainian Christians everywhere to reflect on the meaning of their spiritual inheritance. This is the time for them to renew their commitments to the past and to reaffirm their obligation to protect their faith from atheism.
Joining us in the House to celebrate this historic event are distinguished members of the Ukrainian Canadian community: Dr. Peter Hlibowych, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee; Bishop Borecky; the Right Reverend Peter Bublyk; Myron Barabash, World Congress of Free Ukrainians; Joseph Terella; Dr. George Danyliw, president of the Ukrainian People’s Home; and many others today.
It gives me great pleasure to extend our heartiest congratulations and best wishes on behalf of the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and my colleagues as we recognize 1988 as the year of the millennium of Christianity in the Ukraine, and we commend its observance to the people of our province.
Mr. Reville: Drug companies are inflating the price of their products with no objection from the Ministry of Health. I can give one example in the time I have. The Upjohn Co. sells 100 Motrin tablets for $10.56. Its generic, ibuprofen, made by its subsidiary, Kenral, sells for $3.32 -- same strength, same quantity. Consumers and taxpayers are being ripped off when these drugs are purchased through the Ontario drug benefit plan. The Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) should wake up.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I would like to inform the House of a major new initiative by the Premier’s Council. As members will recall, the council was established in 1986 with a mandate to steer Ontario into the forefront of economic leadership and technological innovation. It had at its disposal a $1-billion fund to support science and technology research and development in the private sector and post-secondary institutions.
The 28 members of the council include senior representatives of business, labour, government and the academic community. Over the past two years, they have worked with enthusiasm on the daunting task the council faced. Setting aside private interests, they dedicated close to 1,000 hours of research, discussion and debate to develop a common plan which will serve the interests of all Ontarians. Both personally and as a representative of the people, I would like to thank them for their efforts.
Already, the council has been responsible for other important programs aimed at achieving its goals. Seven centres of excellence were announced last June, with an allocation of $200 million from the fund. These centres, which are co-operative ventures between industries and universities, are undertaking long-term scientific research and development. They are already attracting considerable overseas attention and have received at least seven delegations from countries interested in the centres’ concept, operations and programs.
Six centres of entrepreneurship were subsequently announced by my colleague the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mrs. McLeod). These centres are developing programs in innovation and enterprise and seek to provide young people with the skills to operate their own businesses. The council has also initiated a major symposium on entrepreneurship to be held later this spring.
The technology fund has also awarded approximately $38 million to eight industrial research and development projects in areas of strategic importance to Ontario. These projects were selected after extensive assessments by council and government representatives and range from developing a new form of radar to creating advanced ceramics, plastics and laser microscopes. These projects require close collaboration among firms, universities or research institutions in order to qualify for funding.
As I mentioned earlier, while they were developing these initiatives, members of the council were also taking part in a major review of the competitiveness of the provincial economy, assessing its strengths and weaknesses and determining ways of ensuring continued jobs and prosperity for Ontarians.
More than 1,000 people in business, the labour movement, colleges and universities and government were interviewed in the process. Members of the council visited Japan for a firsthand look at how that country has achieved such remarkable economic success, and the experiences of the United States, Europe and other industrialized countries were reviewed. Within Ontario, strategic analyses were carried out in the key sectors of the economy.
The result of 18 months of work is the Premier’s Council report entitled Competing in the New Global Economy, which I am tabling here today. This report contains a sobering message, that our economic future is at stake unless we adapt quickly to the new rules governing economic development in the world. Ontario has prospered, thanks in part to our abundant resources, our cheap Canadian dollar and protected domestic markets, but this will not be enough to guarantee continued success. From now on, Ontario will need to create more of its wealth through technological innovation, improved skills of its workforce, better marketing of its products and higher productivity.
The Ontario economy has some fundamental flaws in these areas. In its report, the council has identified weaknesses and developed a comprehensive set of proposals that have long-range implications for the province. The council calls for changes in public policies and programs to assist Ontario to develop the industrial infrastructure it needs to remain among the economic front runners.
By any measure, this report is a major addition to the debate about how we can guarantee a prosperous future for ourselves and our children, but it also represents a crucial step forward in consensus-building in the public policy process. The council marks a unique attempt by Canadians to bring together labour, business, academia and government into a common forum with a common purpose. The results so far show, I believe, a success.
It is my hope that Ontarians everywhere will view it with equal importance in the months and years ahead and that they will become active participants in the debate over how to ensure the province’s continued wellbeing. For its own part, the council will continue its work in the coming months with a major emphasis on the people side of technological challenge: the training, education and adjustment issues which will be as important to our future success as research and development or export development.
This government regards the Premier’s Council report with utmost seriousness. We intend to begin considering its specific recommendations immediately. In short, this is only the beginning of a process which I strongly believe will stimulate widespread discussion and decision-making on a variety of levels for the betterment of all Ontarians.
OTTAWA-CARLETON FRENCH-LANGUAGE SCHOOL BOARD / CONSEIL SCOLAIRE DE LANGUE FRANÇAISE D’OTTAWA-CARLETON
Hon. Mr. Ward: It is my great pleasure to rise and inform the House that later today I will introduce legislation to create a French-language school board in the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.
Le projet de loi marque l’aboutissement d’autant d’aspirations à la reconnaissance du droit à l’éducation pour la minorité linguistique de l’Ontario. J’estime également qu’il atteste l’engagement de notre gouvernement à reconnaître le droit à l’éducation en français de notre minorité francophone en Ontario.
Members will recall that a French-language school board for Ottawa-Carleton was first proposed by the Mayo commission in 1974. The government of the day failed to act on that report, but several subsequent studies on the region’s more than 100,000 francophones and the four existing school boards responsible for French- and English-language education continued to support the establishment of a single French-language board.
On December 12, 1985, upon introduction of Bill 75 in this Legislature, my colleague the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway), then Minister of Education, stated that the government intended to introduce legislation which would allow for the establishment of a French-language school board in the Ottawa-Carleton region in time for the 1988 municipal elections. I am delighted to affirm today that our government will indeed make good on that promise.
On that same date in 1985, the minister announced the creation of an Ottawa-Carleton French-Language Education Advisory Committee to address issues involved in the creation of the new board and to consult with constituent groups affected by the proposed changes. The committee, chaired by Albert Roy, released its report on January 2, 1987. It recommended a single French-language board composed of two sectors. I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to Mr. Roy, members of the advisory committee, as well as to members of the Ottawa-Carleton planning and impact committees for their continuing determination and dedication to this most worthy goal.
The legislation I am tabling today provides a legal framework for the following: one French-language school board with two sectors, one Roman Catholic, one public; the board’s composition, being a minimum of seven elected trustees per sector and additional trustees to be determined by a formula set out in the legislation; the duties and powers that are exclusive to each of the sectors and to the full board; the exclusive power and duty of the new board to offer instruction to French-speaking pupils who desire and qualify for a French-language education; the transfer of staff working in or on behalf of French-language schools from the four existing boards to the new board, or to its sectors, under the collective agreements or employment relationships currently in force; the transfer of school facilities currently occupied by the French-language pupils and the transfer of other assets from the four existing boards to the new board; and a mechanism for the resolution of disputes that arise during and after the implementation of the French-language school board.
The proposed legislation also deals with finances. It provides that the public and Roman Catholic sectors of the new French-language board will share in the legislative grants under the Education Act. The sectors of the new board will also be entitled to a share of local property taxes raised for educational purposes.
Many groups have expressed concerns regarding the financing of the new board. They view it as essential that the sectors have sufficient financial resources to maintain the quality of programs and services that are currently available to all French-language students in the Ottawa-Carleton region.
My ministry realizes that the new French-language board will require a number of years to fully develop its local assessment base. I wish to state clearly today that in keeping with this government’s commitment to the provision of French-language educational rights, we will provide special, temporary grants that will enable the sectors of the new board to offer the same quality of education as that available to the French-language students in Ottawa-Carleton.
These special funds are to be flowed to the sectors of the Ottawa-Carleton French-language school board by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. For 1989, special grants will be initially estimated by applying levels of expenditures reported in 1988 by the existing four boards in Ottawa-Carleton to the number of pupils who register in the sectors of the new French-language board and the assessment available to the sectors of the board. The actual level of special grants will be adjusted when the final estimates of the Ottawa-Carleton English boards become available and when the new board’s enrolment figures and tax support data are determined.
I must emphasize that these temporary grants are to be provided only until such time as this government completes its review of the financing of elementary and secondary education in Ontario. It is my intention to further address this topic in the near future.
Members will recall that last month my ministry delivered to both French- and English-language educational groups a consultation document on the ministry’s proposed legislation for a French-language school board for Ottawa-Carleton. Major groups representing French-speaking Ontarians and other concerned organizations took part in special consultation sessions at which their input was sought and recorded.
At this time, I would like to thank all those who participated in the consultation process and assure them that their input has been of great value to the ministry. We have incorporated several suggested changes into the bill and we will continue to consider other recommendations throughout the legislative process. It is my intention to recommend that this legislation be referred to a committee of the Legislature and that public hearings be held in both Ottawa and Toronto.
À mon avis, le projet de loi est conforme aux droits constitutionnels conférés à l’article 23 de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés ainsi qu’à l’article 93 de la Loi constitutionnelle. Cette mesure historique souscrit de façon positive aux attentes longtemps exprimées de la communauté francophone d’Ottawa-Carleton.
I appeal to all members of the Legislature to join me in demonstrating Ontario’s commitment to the recognition of minority French-language educational rights with their support of this legislation.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT WEEK
Hon. Mr. Eakins: Today is the first day of Local Government Week in Ontario. Local Government Week, as many members know, began in Ontario four years ago. It provides local government bodies -- not just municipalities, but school boards and public utilities commissions as well -- with an opportunity to tell their constituents about the important role played by local governments in Ontario. It offers them an opportunity to participate in special events that focus on different aspects of local government.
Over those four years, Local Government Week has been celebrated by many municipalities across the province. The concept has been adopted by a number of other provinces as well. They believe, as we do, that well-informed citizens will become more involved in selecting the best people to make the decisions that so profoundly affect our lives.
This year, Local Government Week is especially important because 1988 is a municipal election year.
The participation in Local Government Week of municipalities, public utilities commissions and school boards across Ontario, with open houses, council meetings and other special events, can only help make people more aware of what their local government does for them.
I am proud to tell the members of the Legislature about something new my ministry is doing this year during Local Government Week. We have recently produced videos and handbooks in eight different languages to introduce members to Ontario’s system of local government. They have been put together with assistance from the Ministry of Citizenship as part of the government’s multicultural strategy.
A better informed electorate means a stronger, healthier local government and a strong, healthy local government is indeed important to all of us.
Mr. B. Rae: I want to respond to the Premier’s (Mr. Peterson) announcement today. I simply want to say that obviously, in the very short time I have had the report over the lunch hour, it has been difficult to read the whole thing. However, I have had a chance to read much of it and I want to make some preliminary comments, if I may.
The major point I want to make is that I think the government has its approach backwards. Instead of talking about human problems and labour adjustment as an afterthought or as the next stage of the problem, it seems to me this government ought to be dealing with that head on. It ought to be talking about that first and ought to be making that the focus of its effort.
We have had report after report on, in quotes, “the restructuring of the province of Ontario.” Indeed, the last election but one, in 1985, was launched by the third party on the basis of a new approach to a new entrepreneurial Ontario. What I find particularly troubling in this document is the rather, I might say almost casual, comments that are made about the future of some industries and some people working in those industries, without any mention of what is going to happen to them.
The report, for example, makes it very clear that in its view the so-called low-wage businesses, which, I would tell the Premier and the government, employ literally hundreds of thousands of people in this province -- not a few people but hundreds of thousands of people -- are declining, we are told; I am quoting, “and should continue to diminish in importance.”
I think we are allowed, on behalf of those workers, to ask just what is intended for them. I think we are allowed to ask on behalf of the women who are making $4.50 or $5 an hour and working on Spadina Avenue if it is the government’s brave new world of the Liberal Party that these industries are going to disappear. Perhaps we might ask, “What is going to happen to those workers?”
I would have thought that a document which talked about the future of this province would talk about the future of its people as well as the future of “large industry and large companies” in the province.
I must confess that of course it is important that there is now more planning and discussion at the industrial level with government and with all the partners as to what is going to happen. My first concern is that there is not enough focus. There indeed is not that central focus which we would want to see in our province on what happens to people.
My second concern is that I am still not clear, both with respect to this council or with respect to the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy, what is going to happen to these documents and what is the relationship between what is said and what is done. We have no major disagreements, I suggest, even in this House, on some crucial things that need to be done. What is lacking and what remains lacking from this government, as from previous governments, is a sense of how it is going to be done, a sense of how to make it work.
They cannot have the government and bureaucracy over here with the Premier at its head, a Premier’s Council over here with the Premier at its head saying, “This group is now going to report to this group,” and hope that it will be made operational in some ways. That is fundamentally incoherent as an approach to how to do things, and that is the problem we face.
OTTAWA-CARLETON FRENCH-LANGUAGE SCHOOL BOARD / CONSEIL SCOLAIRE DE LANGUE FRANÇAISE D’OTTAWA-CARLETON
M. Allen: L’annonce du ministre de l’éducation (M. Ward) a été une des annonces les plus importantes de ce gouvernement ou de tous les gouvernements de l’Ontario dans l’histoire de notre province. C’est l’annonce d’une démarche historique établissant un conseil scolaire homogène français pour les étudiants francophones et pour les professeurs francophones de la région d’Ottawa.
For us, the announcement the minister has made today with respect to the French-language board for Ottawa-Carleton and the introduction of this piece of legislation is very important. I remember a meeting with the past Minister of Education when several of us in this party pushed him very hard in the direction of a multifaceted approach to the governance of French-language education in Ontario, and this certainly was part of that.
At the same time, there are many technical aspects to the legislation that is coming forward that we will want to look at very closely to make certain that this enterprise is undertaken in the most effective and efficient manner possible, so that it delivers the best education for the French population in the Ottawa region and does justice to the other boards that are participants in the educational process in that important region of our country.
Mr. Sterling: I want to respond briefly to the statement of the Premier (Mr. Peterson) on the Premier’s Council. I would like to congratulate him on the announcement: I understand there was a lot of glossiness to his announcement this morning at Ontario Place. To the surprise of no one, the council’s report justifies the Premier’s decision to create this body in the first place. Two years ago, the Premier thought he had found a solution and since then the council has been busy finding the problem.
The government has made much of the fact that this report represents a consensus of views of a number of different sectors of our economy and society. I am reminded by my colleagues that the last time this government engaged in consensus building of this type was with the tenants and landlords and developers of Ontario. That exercise resulted in Bill 51, an affordability and accessibility crisis in housing and an unworkable rent review system.
To this point, the latest exercise in consensus building has resulted in the production of a glossy package. I caution the Premier that this initiative will be judged on the results of public policy implementation, not on public relations. I am told that the Premier and other speakers this morning managed to talk for about one hour about our future without even addressing the major issue with regard to our economy; that is, free trade. This strikes me as being somewhat peculiar, given the Premier’s dire warnings about the impact of the free trade agreement on our province.
It also strikes me as ironic that the report talks about the need to build a national consensus and to pursue co-operative policies in this field. The Premier knows that the majority of the provinces believe that the free trade agreement is essential for our future economic development in Canada, yet the Premier is opposed to that agreement. I suggest to the Premier that his colleagues in other provinces will regard his sudden concern for their future economic wellbeing with some scepticism.
The Premier has provided us with a detailed and well-researched statement of the obvious. It remains to be seen if his government will be as effective in solving the problem as the council has been in defining it.
OTTAWA-CARLETON FRENCH-LANGUAGE SCHOOL BOARD
Mr. Jackson: I wish to join all three political parties in commending the tabling of the long-awaited Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board Act. We appreciate receiving it. I note that the minister indicates it is a promise which he has kept, but again the promise was only that he would table it in the House. It is clear there is much work to do in order to make this bill a reality.
The minister has been apprised of several concerns with respect to how this bill can be implemented. Currently in this House, we are debating Bill 77 which will provide a mechanism by which a completely new enumeration system will occur in this province, and yet there is reference in the statement that the minister hopes to have this in place for this fall and some of the information required by this act will be based on assessments and enumerations, which may not even be completed until late August or September.
There has been concern expressed by the four boards in the Ottawa-Carleton area and our party, too, wishes to express concern that this House should have assurances from the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward), as well as from the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), prior to reorganization that the francophone community can support this reorganization, that there are no legal impediments for the government to create a francophone school board in accordance with the bill the government has tabled, and that the public and separate boards involved can be supportive of the program.
There are outstanding concerns with respect to the transfer of staff, the transfer of students, the transfer of property, and now for the first time in a piece of legislation under a Liberal government, we get a reference to the transfer of assets, which we have not seen before. All these matters are of concern. They will go to committee, and yet next week this House will be debating Bill 76, which deals in a more omnibus fashion with trustee representation matters in this province.
The minister is aware, painfully aware, that there is a lot of debate with respect to the impact of Bill 76 on the bill he has tabled in the House today. I urge the government to send Bill 76 to public hearings as well so that we can do all of these matters. Finally, boards need to know the funding commitment the government is going to make to francophone education and not simple promises and assurances.
Mr. Speaker: Just as I was looking around the galleries, I noted we have two former members with us today. In the lower west gallery we have John Lane, the former member for Algoma-Manitoulin; and in the lower east gallery we have Mrs. Margaret Campbell, the former member for St. George.
An hon. member: And Albert Roy.
Mr. Speaker: Oh, and the former member for Ottawa East, Albert Roy.
WILLIAM H. TEMPLE
Mr. B. Rae: I want to take this opportunity before question period to ask the House to remember one of its most remarkable members, who died on the weekend -- I am sure other members will also want to pay their respects -- a long-standing member of my party and a really outstanding individual, Bill Temple.
William Temple is probably known to this generation of Ontarians principally as a campaigner on the subject of temperance. Certainly, the concern about the social effects of alcohol and its effect on our society was something which preoccupied William Temple for all his working life. Anyone who met Bill Temple would know that it was impossible to have a conversation with him on any subject without its turning very quickly to the subject which was, of course, his life’s cause, the subject of prohibition and temperance.
I want to take this opportunity to remind members of his really remarkable political career. He was elected to this House in 1948 in the riding of High Park, and of course in that election he defeated the Premier of the province, George Drew, who then went on to become the leader of the federal Conservative Party and our high commissioner in the United Kingdom.
Bill Temple’s election was a very famous one. It is not every day that a Premier who is sitting and who is leader of a party is defeated in his own constituency, though I must say, having witnessed the last election, I began to wonder whether other leaders might also face the same fate. One did and one almost did. It was a very close-run thing.
In thinking over what I would say today about Bill Temple, I had the occasion to read Bill Temple’s maiden speech on March 3, 1949. It is quite an interesting experience. The first thing that is remarkable about it is that, like almost every other maiden speech I have seen, it is literally full of interjections, debates, comments. He, for example, refers to the fact that when he defeated George Drew, George Drew’s response was to say -- and temperance in all things -- “Bill Temple was elected on June 7 by the bootleggers and the Communists.” That is a standard of political repartee that perhaps we might all not try to emulate, though nothing much has changed.
It is also fair to say that Bill Temple went into politics not simply because of the temperance issue, though that of course was his life’s cause. He also went into politics because he believed very strongly in some important values which he talked about in this speech. He talked about the importance of political honesty, about the importance of ending political corruption. He talked about the importance of dealing with our health care problem. He talked about the fact that as late as 1949 the government of Ontario still had not produced a single house for veterans coming back from the Second World War.
He talked about the values of social justice and of family, which motivated his campaign against what he described as the liquor interests. But in talking about the liquor interests Bill Temple also had a vision of a different kind of society and of a decent society; it is for this that I think we all want to remember him.
Having said a little about his career, may I also just say to those members who never met him that he was a remarkable man. Until the very end of his life he was, in a word, feisty. He would come into my office, as I know he came into everybody else’s office, full of vim and vigour on any subject of the day, talking about the Grits and Tories as if the election he had been in had just been yesterday, talking with great interest about whatever issues were before the House at that time, always asking personal questions about how one’s family was or how one was doing in terms of the ups and downs of the political process.
He was a great fighter. He was a very fine man. I know he will be missed by literally thousands of members of my own party and of his supporters in the west end of Toronto, but I know he will be missed by members of all political parties. It is in that spirit that I wanted to say these few words today and pass on our thoughts to his family, his wife, his children and his grandchildren, and say how much we are thinking of all of them at this time.
Mr. Fleet: I am honoured to rise on behalf of the Ontario government and my party to praise a great Canadian, William Horace Temple. For almost half a century, Bill Temple was seen as a community institution in west Toronto. He was known as Mr. Temperance for his opposition to liquor, but his contributions were much more than that. Bill Temple served our country in the First World War and the Second World War as a flying officer in both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was involved in social issues almost all of his adult life. He was a very generous donor to charities and he adored politics.
Bill Temple was an early and keen supporter of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. His convictions were so unshakable that, in the midst of the Depression, he quit his job rather than change his political beliefs when pressured by his employer. His faith was rewarded because he took advantage of this forced change to become a successful importer and manufacturers’ representative.
Bill Temple sought the support of the electorate several times as a candidate. He electrified the voters of High Park in 1948 by personally defeating Premier George Drew, despite a Conservative sweep across the province. Bill Temple’s unswerving dedication to his principles earned him great respect in the community. He and his supporters have preserved a dry area in High Park to this day. In doing so, Bill Temple helped change the lives of his neighbours.
In his later years, Bill Temple could frequently be seen at Granny’s Fish and Chips on Bloor Street, talking passionately about politics with his friends. For all of his convictions, he had a good sense of humour and could laugh at himself. Perhaps the most telling example of this was his admission that he destroyed three airplanes during the First World War. Unfortunately, and accidentally, all of them were ours.
William Horace Temple served his country and his convictions with distinction and he will not be forgotten.
Mr. Harris: I am pleased to rise on behalf of our caucus and to say a few words in memory of Bill Temple. He obviously distinguished himself in his three years in the Legislature. As many have said, he distinguished himself by the way he got here, let alone his involvement when he was here.
As others have said, he distinguished himself through two world wars on behalf of Canada and on behalf of what he believed in. As others have mentioned, he distinguished himself and this is probably what most of us remember him for-with his war against alcohol. Certainly, Ontario and Toronto, and particularly west Toronto, will remember him more for that than for some of his other fights.
I never met Mr. Temple, nor did I know him, but I was impressed as I read some of the background on him in preparation for today. For those of you who have not had the opportunity, even the Globe and Mail article on Mr. Temple gives you a fair insight into the man, into the commitment that he had for his fellow man and into the commitment that he had for the little people, if you like, in their fight against what he perceived as big industry and oppression, regardless of what field it was in.
He obviously was a man of integrity and principle. He not only espoused stands that he believed in but, on behalf of others, he put his job, he put his life, he put himself and he put his family on the line to fight for those principles.
On behalf of our caucus, we remember Bill Temple today and we also extend sympathies to his family.
Mr. Speaker: On behalf of all members of the Legislative Assembly, when Hansard is officially printed I will make certain that a copy is sent to the Temple family so that your words of sympathy will reach them directly.
RENTAL HOUSING PROTECTION
Mr. B. Rae: In view of the absence of the Minister of Housing (Ms. Hošek), I will have to address these questions to the Premier. They concern the number of loopholes that now exist in the law which the government has just extended for another year. I am talking about a building at 114 Vaughan Road, in the constituency of the Minister of Housing.
I would like to tell the Premier that this building was declared vacant because the owner managed to get rid of all the tenants in that building. Having created a vacancy by getting rid of the tenants in the building, the landlord then turned around to convert the units into so-called equity co-ops.
I wonder if the Premier can tell us just what he intends to do to stop the abuses in the law and the loopholes in the law which allow landlords to make a vacancy in a building and, having made a vacancy in a building, to then turn around and get permission for conversion. In this case, both the city of York and the Ministry of Housing said the conversion could go ahead because the building was vacant. I wonder if the Premier could comment on that loophole in the law.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I wish I could comment. I am not familiar with the situation, but I will indeed ask the minister to look at it and report back to the honourable member.
Mr. B. Rae: We are talking about a principle as well as an example. Since the Premier was in the House last week when the minister released her so-called discussion document, he will no doubt be aware that of the 1,008 rental units which have had their applications for condo conversions dealt with by municipalities, 70 per cent have had their conversions approved; and of the 1,410 rental units that had their applications for demolition, luxury renovation and conversion dealt with by municipalities, 76 per cent have had the demolition, renovation or conversion approved. That is the broad policy.
We have a law which is designed to protect existing apartments and stop them from being converted or demolished. We have over 70 per cent of the applications for conversion and demolition being approved on the basis of this government’s law. Does the Premier not think that is a lousy law to be extending for a year and that we ought to have a better law which really protects people who are living in apartments?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I appreciate the honourable member’s point of view on this matter. As he knows, a discussion paper has been released and obviously his views on the matter are going to be taken very seriously.
Mr. B. Rae: I wish I had that sense. I mean, it would be nice, but I do not think that is the problem right now. The difficulty we have is that we have been putting forward these views for the last two and a half years on this question. Our Housing critics in committee pointed out that the effect of the weakness in the legislation would be with respect to conversion.
If I can come back to one point, would the Premier not at least agree to changing the definition of “vacancy” so that we do not have the kind of abuse where landlords can take over a building, can, by a series of carrot-and-stick measures, get tenants out of the building and then turn around and say to the municipality: “Look, it is a vacant property. What a miracle. We had 32 tenants; suddenly, now it is a vacant property”?
Does the Premier not think he ought at least to change the definition of “vacancy” in the act so that we do not see tenants out on the street so that landlords can carry on these kinds of conversions?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I think the honourable member is being far too humble in this regard. We do have a great respect for his point of view. I appreciate the point he has just made in the House and, indeed, I will take it forward and share it with the minister on his behalf.
Mr. Speaker: New question, and to whom?
Mr. B. Rae: I will go to the same guy. He is being so amenable today, I will try again.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. B. Rae: I would like to ask the Premier a question arising from this question of leases and the question of Sunday working and Sunday shopping. I see him muttering from the side of his mouth that he wants the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) to answer the question. I do not know which one I will get, whether I will get the designated hitter or the real thing. The Attorney General is pointing to the Premier, so he can figure it out.
Mr. Wildman: Where is George Bell?
Mr. B. Rae: Many of us would like to know where George Bell is. In fact, many of us might be there.
Mr. Speaker: Maybe you could try the question?
Mr. B. Rae: I wonder if the Premier can tell us --
Mr. Callahan: I am surprised you haven’t got Blue Jay flu.
Mr. B. Rae: I have never felt better, I say to the member for Brampton South.
On Thursday, when I raised the issue to the Premier of the individual small business owner, I raised the question to him as to what particular steps that small business owner could take in the event that a municipality said that the stores could open. The Premier’s answer as to how the small business owner could protect himself or herself in terms of spending time with his or her family was, “You do not have to open.”
What do you do in a situation where you have a lease that says, as this lease does, “The tenant shall keep the demised premises open for the conduct of such business on such days and during such hours as may be permitted by relevant governmental laws, bylaws and regulations and as the landlord shall require, from time to time, and in such manner as shall assure the transaction of a maximum volume of business in and at the demised premises”?
How do we deal with the contradiction between the answers the Premier gave on Thursday and the lease I am holding in my hand today?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I will refer that to the Attorney General.
Hon. Mr. Scott: The question was asked by the same member on April 6 and answered by me at that time; but just so it will be clear, the lease provision that the honourable member refers to is found in a number of leases, and we have had those brought to our attention as recently as two or three months ago about the problem. I want to assure the honourable member that when the bill of the Solicitor General (Mrs. Smith) is produced in the House, an examination of it will reveal the way in which we propose to respond to that particular problem. I, unfortunately, am not authorized to release the terms of the bill before it is introduced in the House.
Mr. B. Rae: I understand the minister has to get it through cabinet first, and I know many of us will be looking forward to hearing about those discussions in all the newspapers and elsewhere. It is five months after he announced the policy and he still does not have it.
Perhaps the Attorney General can tell us if it is the intention of the government to say that no business has to remain open at any time, or is it the intention of the government to say that leases and contracts signed by existing tenants must be enforced and maintained? Which is he going to do? He cannot do both.
Hon. Mr. Scott: The honourable member will be interested to know, parenthetically, that it is not that difficult to get matters through cabinet. I am sure both the Solicitor General and I would indicate that we had a very high level of co-operation from our colleagues throughout.
Mr. B. Rae: They are even more spineless than we thought.
Hon. Mr. Scott: It does not help to refer to people as spineless.
The honourable member last week raised the problem as if it were something that was newly discovered that had just come to his attention. We are aware of the problem and our bill will respond to it. I have the map from the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) showing where one announces bills in the area marked in red, and that bill will be announced in the House in the ordinary way. Then, I think, the way we propose to respond to that problem will be plain.
Mr. B. Rae: Like everyone else in this House, and indeed elsewhere, I am slower than the Attorney General and I just want to ask him --
Hon. Mr. Scott: You were pretty fast last night.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I watched you on Dateline Ontario. You’re pretty fast.
Mr. B. Rae: I am sure his cabinet members feel the same way that all the rest of us do when we hear him speak, but the question I have for him is quite simple. The Premier told me Thursday in this House, quite simply in a very short answer, when I asked him what possible recourse a business person who wants to spend time with his family on Sunday has: “You do not have to open your business. You can keep it closed.”
I ask the Attorney General, is that in fact true? How can it be true when we have these leases which are in existence in thousands of businesses across the province? If somebody wants to shut on a Saturday or a Friday or whatever day he wants to close, right now that business cannot close because of the commitment to maintain a maximum flow of business.
All I am asking is whether that is going to be the law or is there going to be some new law?
Hon. Mr. Scott: The answer that the Premier gave is, of course, true. The honourable member makes this point: is it true when the retailer is subject to a lease of the type he has described, and if it is not true in those circumstances, what is going to be done about it?
The answer is that we are aware of the problem and our bill will respond to that issue. I cannot tell the member how we propose to respond to it in advance of its being introduced in the House.
I thought the honourable member was quite quick last night on Dateline Ontario. He moved along really quickly.
Mr. Cousens: In view of the fact that a third of the cabinet is away and the Minister of Housing (Ms. Hošek) is absent, I have a question of the Premier. The Minister of Housing was recently --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: What are all those blue seats around you with nobody in them?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: They are at the ball game.
Hon. Mr. Scott: I guess Paul Godfrey’s box is full today.
Mr. Breaugh: The Blue Jays are leading 4-3, if the member wants to put the score in.
Mr. Cousens: For the members’ information, the Blue Jays are leading 4-3.
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps the member would just take his seat until things quiet down. May we go ahead? OK.
Mr. Cousens: We struck a raw nerve.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Now for the question.
Mr. Cousens: The Minister of Housing was interviewed in the April-May edition of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association magazine. She was asked a simple question. “How do you feel about the affordability problem and what could the government do about it?’’ Her superfluous answer was this: “I think if people feel that it is hard to get into the ownership market in significant numbers, then there is an affordability problem. But it does seem to me that if we can show that it is increasingly difficult for people to get in the housing market, then we should certainly look and see if there is something government can do about them.”
Based on those statements, may the Premier answer this question? His Minister of Housing has not yet determined whether there is an affordability problem and she wants to look and see. How much more time is he going to give this Minister of Housing to look and see?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I have great faith in her. There is no question about it, she is dealing with a complex set of problems, and the member is seeing and will continue to see solutions.
Mr. Cousens: It is inconceivable that there is such confusion even in the Ministry of Housing. An astounding statement was made by the Deputy Minister of Housing in October of last year when he said that housing prices in Metropolitan Toronto were 40 per cent higher than they should be and indicated that we risk a city for the very rich and for the very poor. In the Toronto Star on October 17, Gardner Church said, “We already know some ways to cut housing costs and we are studying other ways.” The Premier has done nothing to reduce housing costs. What is he doing right now to make housing more affordable for the average Ontarian?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I think if the member will attend just a little bit, he will see new initiatives on top of the ones which have already been introduced.
Mr. Cousens: I asked what the Premier is doing right now and I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, right now has not happened, because there has been no announcement, no gesture of credibility or anything else coming from this government.
l happen to have the speaking notes of the Minister of Housing to a Liberal caucus briefing on February 10, and she says in this, on page 10, when she is talking about what housing means to government: “It’s not just a Housing ministry issue. It’s a government issue. We will develop partnerships with community groups and social service groups, municipalities and the private sector. We will learn to navigate the choppy waters of community resistance to change.” I will repeat the last line in case the Premier missed it; “We will learn to navigate the choppy waters of community resistance to change.”
As first minister of this government, what is the Premier doing to solve the housing crisis in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I am glad my honourable friend is reading the speech notes of the honourable minister. That is going to substantially increase his own personal knowledge about the housing problem and the need for co-operation right across this province. We have said to him before, and I am sure my honourable friend will agree, that the housing crisis is one which requires responses from all levels of government and needs a high degree of co-operation. We have already seen programs brought forward by this minister, but the member will recognize, as I recognize, that neither she nor this government can do it alone.
That is why it requires the sterling leadership of people like the member persuading people in his own community that affordable housing is part of their responsibility. It may come as a shock to some of his colleagues, but I know of the very high esteem in which the member is personally held in his own community. I would like him to stand up and say, “It’s this community’s responsibility to provide some percentage -- say, 25 per cent -- of affordable housing.” If the member put his reputation behind it, because it is large, I know he would get a lot of things going in Markham.
OTTAWA-CARLETON FRENCH-LANGUAGE SCHOOL BOARD
Mr. Sterling: I have a question of the Minister of Education. During the debate on Bill 30, dealing with the extension of funding, in committee and in this Legislature on third reading, our caucus and I put forward an amendment to that bill in which we asked that unified boards be permitted to be created if, in fact, both boards volunteer to the unification of those two boards. We were told at that time by the government that this would be unconstitutional. Why, then, is it now constitutional for the francophones in the Ottawa-Carleton area whereas it was unconstitutional for every other school board in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Ward: In formulating the legislation that will be introduced later on today, legislative counsel was very much aware of the concerns that had been expressed throughout the community at large with reference to the need to guarantee the section 93 rights of Roman Catholics in this province to govern their own affairs relative to education. We believe that the delineation of the powers of the two sectors that operate under the umbrella board structure in fact upholds those section 93 rights.
Mr. Sterling: There are several groups in Ontario which have some trouble with the unification step, one being the Ottawa Board of Education, and I believe the Roman Catholic teachers’ association is concerned about it. Because this could be a matter for future litigation, would the minister, on behalf of his government, undertake to refer this particular section immediately to the Court of Appeal so that we can get a ruling on it now before we get involved in a mess?
Hon. Mr. Ward: As I indicated in my response to the initial question, the government believes that the legislation as it is currently before us does in fact respect those section 93 rights, and I am not prepared to give an indication at this time that we would seek a referral.
Mr. Sterling: If this government now considers that unified boards are constitutional, will the minister now move to permit unified boards across Ontario, whether they be francophone or anglophone?
Hon. Mr. Ward: There currently is nothing that prevents public and separate boards anywhere in this province from co-operating on joint ventures or participating on that basis, and we have no intention to move in that regard.
Mr. Laughren: I have a question for the Treasurer on tax fairness in Ontario. According to the federal Department of Revenue, from numbers we obtained from it for the latest available year, which was 1985, there were over 3,000 Ontario taxpayers who earned in excess of $50,000-a-year-as a matter of fact, almost 100 of them earned a quarter of a million dollars-who paid absolutely no income taxes whatsoever. That same year, almost 450,000 Ontario citizens who earned $10,000 a year or less paid income taxes. Does the Treasurer think that is the kind of tax system we want in Ontario? Does he agree that it is too regressive and that he will indeed do something about it?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: The honourable members knows that, because of the federal-provincial tax collection agreement, the federal government, so far, is responsible for the base for personal income taxation. It is open to me, as provincial Treasurer, to have a tax reduction program which gives a special allocation of funds voted by this Legislature to remove low-income people from the tax rolls. I have done that with each of the three budgets for which I have been responsible, and I wish that we had been able to remove more. If I remain consistent, it is possible that in the budget a week from Wednesday, that trend will continue.
The same is true at the other end of the tax base. I am sure the member is aware that the federal government in its tax reform decisions has reduced the levels of taxation that have affected us all, as income earners, from about nine levels down to about three. While this has had some salutary effects, it has really put an additional pressure on the low end and been particularly useful for earners at the high end once again. This is information that we have discussed in the House before.
I guess it was in the last budget, maybe the one before last-already my memory grows dim-that we established a surtax for high incomes that clicked in at approximately $50,000 to $55,000, depending on what tax preferences were available. We tried to improve the progressivity of the personal income tax base that way.
I am saying, in answer to the honourable member’s question, I would like it to be more progressive, I have tried to make it more progressive; and in fact I have made it more progressive.
The honourable member remains unsatisfied.
Mr. Laughren: More than unsatisfied. Day after day, when the Treasurer is questioned, he makes pleasant-sounding noises about progressivity but, in fact, his actions do not match his words. As a matter of fact, if I could give the Treasurer one statistic, back in 1975, when the Tories introduced the exemption for tax levels based on taxable income, they set a level of $1,395, below which no Ontario citizen would have to pay any income tax. If that amount had been indexed since 1975, the amount below which nobody would have to pay any income tax in Ontario would now be in excess of $3,800. In reality, it is $2,400 and change.
The Treasurer has had three budgets in which he could at least have gone some way to alleviating that by bringing it up to the level it would have been even if it had just matched the rate of inflation. When will the Treasurer stop talking out of both sides of his mouth and give us a tax system that is at least as fair as what the Tories had, and their system was regressive?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: The honourable member knows that however progressive the Progressive Conservatives were on that date in ancient history that he refers to, they unfortunately did not keep it up to date.
Mr. Sterling: That’s when you were leader, wasn’t it?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Yes, but we have moved it forward. Hopefully, if we have sufficient opportunity and sufficient support, we will achieve that level of excellence that the honourable members sees as desirable.
Mr. Harris: I am not sure who is more progressive these days, our party or the minister’s.
TEMAGAMI DISTRICT RESOURCES
Mr. Harris: I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. The Daniel report on the Temagami resource use issue is now before cabinet. Dr. Daniel says, “After passing the political buck, the report throws the whole thing back in Mr. Kerrio’s hands, where it should have been from the start.”
I would like to know if the minister agrees, since it is back in your hands, with Dr. Daniel’s recommendation that while the government sorts out how it might deal with amending long-term commitments and plans that have been made, the government must honour existing commitments that have been made to employers and employees. I would like to know if the minister agrees with Dr. Daniel’s recommendation, and does he indeed plan to honour those commitments?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: Of course, we are now examining the doctor’s report. There were those who asked if I was disappointed that they had not reached some kind of consensus. I must share with the people here in the Legislature that it pointed up how difficult it is when you get all of the users in a certain situation and ask them to reach a consensus. They are in exactly the same position as the government might be in when it is trying to do what is in the best interest of the people of northern Ontario.
So while all of those things are still facing us, and Dr. Daniel has his own appreciation of that kind of situation, having tried to reach a consensus that could not be resolved -- I guess what I am saying is that it certainly is in our court. We are prepared now with all of the information that is before us to make a decision and to do what is in the best interest of most of the people affected. It does not surprise me that a consensus could not be reached. We face that sort of circumstance on many occasions when we have to come down and make those very important decisions.
Mr. Harris: It was not a bad answer to the question that was not asked. I asked the minister specifically if he was going to honour the commitments. Let me quote further from Dr. Daniel, who I thought did a good job under very difficult circumstances.
He says, after the minister appointed him -- it was this minister who appointed him, do not forget. This is after throwing out 10 years of public input and planning. He says, “It was not a hell of a smart thing to do in the beginning, but it allowed the government to buy time.” He is talking about how the minister handled the issue. That is Dr. Daniel.
Now, we are dealing with hundreds of jobs in northeastern Ontario. We are dealing with precedents surely that are there, but all I am asking is very specifically that while the cabinet is reviewing -- not the industry, really; the cabinet is reviewing the minister and his ministry, that is what the cabinet is doing; it is passing judgement on him and his ministry -- all I am simply asking is, while that is going on will he not accept Dr. Daniel’s recommendation and live up to the commitments that were made to the mills, to the employers and to the employees, commitments that have been made in writing over the years?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: The honourable member is asking me to share with him what we are doing about this particular report. I do not think it is time for me to do that. I think we are taking into account all the circumstances before us. We certainly are going to make that announcement here at this Legislature when we come to that conclusion. As far as looking after the interests of all the people in northern Ontario and the users is concerned, certainly that is going to be taken into account and we are going to do everything that is possible to maintain the kind of integrity required to keep northern Ontario strong.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mrs. Stoner: My question is to the Minister of Labour. On February 15, a Metro works employee was seriously injured as a result of a methane gas explosion at the Metro Toronto-owned-and-operated Brock West landfill site in Pickering. When will the investigation of the Ministry of Labour be complete, and does the minister anticipate charges will be laid in connection with the explosion?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I am glad to respond to the question of the member for Durham West. That incident at the Brock West landfill site was a very serious one. It involved, I understand, the buildup of methane gas in a weigh-scale house, with ignition of the gas. One worker on that site suffered burns to some 30 per cent of his body.
In answer to the question of the member for Durham West, I can tell her that our investigations at the Ministry of Labour commenced immediately. Appropriate orders were issued to stop work at the appropriate locations. Those investigations are still going on. They are still going on with officials from the Ministry of the Environment as well.
I am afraid I cannot tell my friend from Durham West precisely when those investigations will be completed. I anticipate they will be soon. I do not want to give out any details of the investigation, because that may prejudice our decision whether or not to bring charges in this case, but I hope I will be able to bring further information to my friend rather shortly.
Mrs. Stoner: Perhaps the minister can tell me what steps are being taken to prevent such an accident from occurring again. Is his ministry satisfied with these steps?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: Well, when a worker suffers an injury like the one at this landfill site one does not generally talk about satisfaction. Of course, the issue is, how in the world are we going to prevent a recurrence of the kind of accident that occurred? We have been doing extensive follow-up testing at the site and we are in a position now, I think, to say that the steps that have been taken, including the putting into place of an alarm system which will sound when the lower explosive level reaches 10 per cent, that will be put into place; and a mechanical fan will be activated at 20 per cent of lower explosive levels. We hope, and we are satisfied in effect, that, those steps having been taken, we will not see a recurrence of that sort of incident.
Mr. Pouliot: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. A recent study conducted by the Department of National Health and Welfare has revealed high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls in the blood samples of native Canadians on the reserve of Big Trout Lake, approximately 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, and in other northern communities. Also, alarmingly high levels were found in women of childbearing and nursing age, putting the welfare and the health of future generations at risk as well.
The people of Big Trout Lake and surrounding communities are confused. Those people are scared and those people are angry. What assurance will he give the residents of Big Trout Lake that he will do everything humanly possible to remove the PCB contaminants up north?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I guess all of us face problems in this particular situation of removing PCBs. In this particular case, they are located on federal land that belongs to Environment Canada’s weather service up there, so they have been making a plea to the federal government to remove the storage of PCBs, which, by the way, are securely stored.
Right across Ontario, when we talk about PCBs, the easy part is to say that they should be moved. The more difficult part is to say to which location they should be moved. Until such time as we have a full method -- and we are developing and implementing that method now -- of actually destroying them, either on site or finding a central location eventually for dealing with PCBs of this kind, it is the policy of the government to ensure that they are securely stored. I understand those concerns. They are shared by me and they are shared by people in many parts of the province.
As we do more intricate testing, as we have instrumentation which is even better than it was in years gone by -- we measure now in parts per quadrillion -- we find these problems existing.
I instructed officials of the Ministry of the Environment to meet with officials of the native peoples in that area, and they did attend a meeting. We offered our co-operation at that time in determining the specific extent of the problem, whether it is a problem on a continuing basis or a historic problem, and we will take whatever action --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Mr. Pouliot: I can hardly believe what I am hearing. The minister is talking about jurisdictional capacity and I am talking about PCBs. PCBs scare the heck out of people, as well they should. The minister should stop passing the buck. He should remember Minamata disease.
He should remember the 15 years it took the previous government to address our first Canadians being poisoned in the English-Wabigoon River. How can he stand there, rather than put pressure on the federal government, and talk to me about jurisdictional capacity when people are being poisoned?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I do not think I talked about jurisdictional problems in this particular case. I simply wanted, for the members of the House who may not be as familiar and as intimately concerned as the member, to outline for members of the House where the problem specifically existed and what actions were being taken. I have indicated to him the full co-operation of the Ministry of the Environment in this regard. Our officials have discussed this problem with them.
I should not do this, but I often say it to people, I invite the member to say where we should put the PCBs once we take them away. That is a problem. That is not to say --
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I have PCBs in my riding as well. I have a lot of PCBs in my riding from old electrical plants there. I share his concern, as he does for people in this area. I do not want to ever diminish it. I compliment him for bringing it to the attention of the other members of the House, but he has my assurance of the full co-operation of the Ministry of the Environment in attempting to find a solution to this problem, which legitimately brings concerns to people, whether it is in northern Ontario in this specific location or any other part of Ontario.
QUEEN’S PARK CHILD CARE CENTRE
Mrs. Marland: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Last week, I brought to the attention of this House our concern for the Queen’s Park child care facility. We read in the Toronto Star today a quote by a member of the minister’s staff that the problem is now resolved, although the minister does acknowledge that they do not normally do this, but the deficit was getting larger and larger. This centre has no rent to pay, it has no telephone to pay and the furniture is provided by the ministry.
I would like to know whether the minister considers this a shining example to the private sector and industry as a whole as to how to operate a child care facility, that with all of that help, there is still a $37,000 deficit.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: As I had indicated last week, given the kinds of points the member has just made, a review would have to be made to find out what was causing this deficit. We have now done that and discovered two things. First of all, this is the third centre like that in the Metro area which has come under these kinds of difficulties and for which we have provided deficit funding. I point that out only to make the point that this is not the only centre.
Second, what we have discovered is that up until very recently, the centre was being run directly by its board of directors. With the assistance of members from my ministry staff, they have now put a supervisor in place who will overview the operation on a day-by-day basis, we think, more effectively.
The second thing we found out was that every staff member in that centre, unlike, I believe, any other centre in the province, is a community college graduate. As the member will appreciate, in most centres there must be one community college graduate for each group of children, but there can be two or three other people there who do not have the same qualifications. That one trained person acts as the leader of the group.
The third thing we found out is that there is a much higher proportion of infants in that centre than you will find, we believe, in any other centre in the province. As the member would know, infant care is the most expensive component of the entire system. But I believe it is the first point that I made, the presence now of a full-time supervisor, that will begin to make a difference in the financial --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Supplementary.
Mrs. Marland: We did not have that information in the House last week, because the question was not asked to the minister last week. I think it is important to understand that, yes, the infant care in a child care facility is the highest cost, but the parents of children of all ages in this facility are paying the highest rates in Ontario today, and if it is an infant they are paying more for that infant’s care.
I am wondering if this announcement by the minister today means that we no longer need worry about this very much needed facility at Queen’s Park. I am concerned about it. I am concerned for the parents who have had to pay a 25 per cent fee increase at the beginning of this year. What I am wondering now, in response to the minister’s reply, is, does this mean that he is going to allocate ministry staff time to any facility within the province that runs into a deficit problem? Is that going to be the solution?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: No, we do not intend to do that. However, the honourable member will recognize that in the news report she refers to, a member of my staff was specifically named. That staff member has been asked to continue to monitor the situation now that the new supervisor is in place and to do what he can to prevent the recurrence of this kind of deficit.
The honourable member made the observation, both this week and last week in a different context, that this is somewhat a flagship centre. I would ask the member to go back about a year ago, when we clearly indicated that this was going to be a special centre. We would like to try some things, quite frankly, that other centres would not be able to afford to try and determine whether or not they were applicable on a broader basis. We are beginning to see now that some of those are very costly and, quite frankly, I do not think they will be.
CONTROL OF SMOKING
Ms. Hart: My question is to the Minister of Education. According to recent statistics provided by the Canadian Cancer Society, the percentage of girls smoking in our elementary and high schools is significantly higher than the number of boys and, contrary to the trend in the general population, the percentage of young female smokers increased between 1978 and 1984.
My question to the minister comes not because I have recently added two teenage daughters to my family. This has been a long-standing interest of mine, and I would like to ask the minister if he is aware of this gender difference and, if so, what the ministry is doing to address the problem.
Hon. Mr. Ward: In response to the member, I would indicate that existing ministry guidelines do, indeed, give attention to the issue of smoking in health classrooms throughout this province.
We are currently developing new guidelines and we expect to send them out to school boards and teachers throughout the province for a process of validation. I can assure the member that the new guidelines indeed recognize the different social pressures on males and females and recommend a much more interventionist approach to stop this problem at its earliest stages.
Ms. Hart: Could the minister tell me if his ministry is working together particularly with the Ministry of Health to come up with a coordinated approach to this problem? It is clearly a problem that crosses ministerial boundaries and it is one that concerns us all.
Hon. Mr. Ward: I can assure the member that, indeed, the Ministry of Education does work very closely with the Ministry of Health on issues and initiatives such as this.
Mr. Wildman: I have a question of the Minister of Municipal Affairs, now that he has returned from his helicopter ride with his colleague the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) over the Goulais River. Am I correct in understanding that it is the position of the government now that it is awaiting a formal application from the Goulais River local services board for the declaration of the area as a disaster area to provide provincial funds? If so, can the minister explain what criteria are used in determining whether or not the matching funds would be $1 for $1 as opposed to $4 for $1, as was provided by the previous government in 1979?
Hon. Mr. Eakins: I just want to say again that the Minister of Natural Resources and I did visit the Goulais River area. Indeed, I had previously visited the area three weeks ago today, looking at some of the situations that exist there.
It is the responsibility of the local services board to assess the situation and the damage and to make a recommendation to myself. In turn, I will make that recommendation to cabinet.
In regard to the contribution, the rule is usually $1 for $1, but this has varied in other cases across the province and I will certainly be prepared to look at the recommendation that comes to me and, in the light of that, to make a recommendation to cabinet.
Mr. Wildman: I hope the minister recognizes that it is perhaps more difficult for unorganized areas to raise local funds than it might be for a municipality, even a rural municipality. If that is the case, will he then consider, perhaps, depending on the magnitude of the damage, going on beyond the one-for-one funding?
In that context, as well, can the minister indicate what discussions he and his colleagues might be having to try to alleviate the possibility of future floods in the Goulais River valley rather than having this recur every three or four years?
Hon. Mr. Eakins: That is a good question, and I say to the honourable member that it was exactly three weeks ago today that I did look at the area with the Sioux North Planning Board personnel. They pointed out some of the problems of that area, and one of the concerns they raised at the time was the continual flooding in some of the areas. We have been assessing that and, in the meantime, of course, this difficulty arose. Certainly, that being an unorganized area, we will give that every consideration.
I want to add that I, along with my colleague the Minister of Natural Resources, was very impressed, in meeting with the people of Goulais, with the spirit of the people and the action of the fire department in regard to this situation. They are to be commended and I was very impressed indeed.
MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS LEGISLATION
Mr. McCague: The Minister of Municipal Affairs will not be surprised that this question is for him. The Orders and Notices paper today says the first order of the day is third reading of Bill 77. Under what authority was the minister advertising the effects of Bill 77 on the radio over the weekend?
Hon. Mr. Eakins: This is the beginning of Local Government Week and, in that connection, we had decided to promote the effects of Bill 77. However, when Bill 77 was not completed, we asked that that be rescinded and, in most media, we were able to stop that.
There were one or two isolated cases in which we were not, and I regret the fact that we were not able to catch all of that.
Mr. McCague: That is a completely unsatisfactory answer. It was on many stations over the weekend. The minister did not call the bill until Wednesday last, did not show up for its consideration, came on Thursday, got mixed up on the rules, and did not know where he was going on it. When is the minister going to start giving this House the right to consider these things before he goes around the country blethering about them?
Hon. Mr. Eakins: We were prepared to move earlier with this bill; a day earlier. We accommodated the opposition so that the question of Sunday shopping could be debated. I feel we have moved ahead as early as possible with this bill and I am sure that the honourable member, with the opening of Local Government Week, will not feel too bad if one or two stations carried that.
Mr. Callahan: I have a question for the Minister of Health. In 1977, when the city of Brampton was about 80,000 people, I identified a very significant need in the municipality. Unfortunately, it was not shared by anybody else in the municipality; none of my colleagues on council. It seemed to be a conspiracy of silence, in fact. In 1981, as the population grew, I again identified the problem as being in existence.
As the minister is well aware, there is a process under way in the city of Brampton with reference to locating a medical facility on lands that have been held by the city for 15 years. I would like to ask the minister, since I have not asked for some time, for an update on what stage we are at in that process.
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: Let me once again acknowledge my colleague the member for Brampton South’s interest in the delivery of health services to his constituents. Let me take a moment as well to say that we have been looking at innovative alternatives. For the information and update of members of the House, the district health councils have been asked to look at some proposals in the comprehensive health organization concept. I believe that Peel is one of those, and we are in the process now of awaiting a review of those proposals.
Mr. Callahan: This will be a zinger. In light of the length of time and the urgency of the matter with the growing population of Brampton, presently 181,000 people and estimated to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 320,000 by the year 2000, can I be assured that this proposal is certainly in the forefront of the applications which are presently before the minister?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: I want to assure the member from Brampton South that this proposal will be viewed, as will others pertaining to innovative and creative proposals in delivery of health services, and just acknowledge his interest and his leadership in this matter.
Mr. Swart: I have a question to the Minister of Financial Institutions. Perhaps while he is taking his seat I can tell him that it is about the fraud which I publicly disclosed about a year ago, whereby black market auto insurance certificates could be readily purchased in the province. He will be aware that the news media now has reported that has been escalated.
I have one of them here, for which I paid, through an intermediary, $130. I have another ticket for which I may have to pay more in the near future. In conversation with Cheryl Barr, who, of course, is a provincial prosecutor in the Scarborough traffic court, she confirmed that there has been a definite increase in the use of fraudulent certificates and people driving without insurance. She further said to me today, “You’d be shocked at the number of people driving without insurance.”
Does the minister not realize that his government is directly to blame for this, that this is part and parcel of the system it has in place? I ask him the inevitable question: why does he not bring in a public insurance system like they have in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia, where you have to buy your insurance with your plates and with your driver’s --
Mr. Speaker: I believe the question has been asked. Minister?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Was it not in Saskatchewan that the rates went up 22 per cent? Was it not in Manitoba that it caused the downfall of a government? What do we want to do that for?
Actually, the honourable member must blame me for this black market in pink slips; because we have a law that says you cannot drive a car unless it is properly insured, therefore I am responsible for the black market in pink slips.
I was glad to read that the police who were interviewed in this particular matter said that they can pick them up rather readily, that whenever there is an old clunker driving along the highway heading for Florida or something like that -- I mean the car, not the driver -- they figure that under normal circumstances it might not be worth insuring; but there are going to be --
Mr. Breaugh: Sit down and take your punishment.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I have a red flag here.
In fact, as long as we are going to demand that our drivers be insured, then of course we are going to require proof of insurance. I think the honourable member would be aware that we require a driver’s licence and at any one time there are many thousands of people driving on the road without proper licences. If the police find them, that is a very serious offence also.
The member for Welland-Thorold should just take it easy. OK, go!
Mr. Speaker: Does the member have a supplementary question?
Mr. Swart: I sure do. I think the people of Ontario have come to the conclusion that if public auto insurance in Ontario would bring that government down, it is worth it on that count alone.
The minister tries to minimize this and somehow indicate that it is not really the system that causes this, although he knows very well it is. He must know that his government reported, and it was published in the underinsured motorists survey, that in 1985 the Ontario government estimated 165,000 motorists on the road did not have insurance in this province. There are none in those three western provinces.
Given these increases, that is probably now at least a quarter million who are on our roads. Does the minister not realize the risk that this puts other drivers to for those who do not have the insurance, and does he not realize that the insured drivers have to pick up between $150 million and $250 million in insurance premiums that the uninsured drivers are not paying?
May I --
Mr. Speaker: No. That was two questions.
Mr. Breaugh: Well, he has three.
Mr. Speaker: I think in fairness to the other members who are sitting on the edges of their seats waiting --
Mr. Swart: Give me one more sentence.
Mr. Speaker: No, the minister will answer the questions.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: What questions?
Mr. Swart: I will put the question again. I will put the two together. How is that?
To add to this situation, the costliness of the system here, the unfairness of our system, how is it possible that the government rejects the public systems in the west which would eliminate all these problems?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I do not want to draw any conclusions that will turn the member on even further, but he will recall that this was an issue in the election campaign last September, that he spoke in favour of public insurance and I spoke against it, and the people cast their ballots.
Mr. Swart: We are both here.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Well, we are both here, but a lot more of my friends are here than --
Honestly, I do not want to pursue any undue lessons in democracy because I know there were many issues in the election, but this certainly was one and many people who spoke to me were very much in favour of public insurance and many others were not. I am supporting all of those people in bringing forward an automobile insurance rate review board, which we believe is going to be effective. As members know --
Mr. Swart: That has nothing to do with these pink slips.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: It has a lot to do with them, because we believe that fair rates and approved rates are going to reduce the numbers of people who would even think about driving without adequate insurance -- or too fast.
Mr. Jackson: My question is to the Minister of Colleges and Universities. Last week in the House the Premier (Mr. Peterson) advised us that this government is committed to “the maximum number of young people receiving post-secondary education.” This contradicts a pledge and promise that the Premier made in this House on June 15 last year. I will quote what he said: “Every qualified student will find a place in a post-secondary institution in this province this fall.”
Could the minister tell this House today when and what this new maximum number will be, in the light of the fact that the Council of Ontario Universities indicates that up to 5,500 students may be rejected from post-secondary education opportunities in this province this fall?
Hon. Mrs. McLeod: I must confess I find it difficult to deal with the specifics of the figures which the Council of Ontario Universities is putting forward, largely because they must necessarily be based on estimates and extrapolations of past patterns of enrolment. I think it is also very important, if we are talking about figures, to look at the fact that there may be a number of reasons, when there are a very large number of applicants, that some qualified applicants may not in fact register. For example, there may be applicants who have applied for a particular program and are not able to be accepted in that program or have applied to a particular university and are not able to be accepted in that university. I think we have to have some questions about using specific figures.
If I can set aside the figures for a moment, the honourable member is addressing a concern about how we can respond to the very significant increase in the number of applicants to universities this year. I can assure him that we are, as the Premier indicated, committed to ensuring that we are able to provide support so that people who are interested in post-secondary education have an opportunity to pursue that interest. I think the member knows well that last year in response to an unprecedented increase in applications, this government put in place significant funding support in terms of operating support, support for new students registering, as well as increased student assistance. I cannot give the member the specifics of exactly how we will in turn respond this year.
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps the minister may want to add something further if there is a supplementary.
???Mr. Jackson: The minister says she has had a year to examine the statistics from last year which state that around 2,500 qualified students were not allowed access to university education last year. She has had a year to analyse those statistics. We established in this House that in fact that was our projection. If we in opposition were able to come that close, within a 100 students of what the denial rate was in this province, why can she not substantiate the fact that her government has changed its policy from guaranteeing students to creating new maximums? Can the minister tell this House what she considers to be a qualified student who should be guaranteed a post-secondary education at a university in this province this fall?
Hon. Mrs. McLeod: It would be presumptuous of me to attempt to define what is a qualified student since clearly it is the role of the universities to define who in fact is qualified and who should be admitted to particular programs. I would not at any point take that right away from the universities.
We are committed to ensuring that there is support for the universities to enable them to respond, as in fact they responded last year with, as I remind the House, a seven per cent increase in the enrolments of the first year of the university programs.
I also stress that I think it is important that we recognize that there is a full spectrum of post-secondary educational opportunities in this province and that we must look at the college system as well as at the universities. We will be looking at how we can best provide support to universities to respond again in the next year.
Mr. MacDonald: I have a petition signed by 82 people addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
The petition calls on the government to ensure that naturopathic medicine continue to be practised in Ontario as a primary-access profession and that naturopaths continue to deliver natural health care.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
OTTAWA-CARLETON FRENCH-LANGUAGE SCHOOL BOARD ACT / LOI SUR LE CONSEIL SCOLAIRE DE LANGUE FRANÇAISE D’OTTAWA-CARLETON
Hon. Mr. Ward moved first reading of Bill 109, An Act to establish a French-Language School Board for the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.
L’hon. M. Ward propose la première lecture du projet de loi 109, Loi portant création d’un conseil scolaire de langue française pour la municipalité régionale d’Ottawa-Carleton.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
VETERANS’ REMEMBRANCE DAY ACT
Mr. Henderson moved first reading of Bill 110, An Act to declare Remembrance Day as a Holiday for Veterans.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Henderson: This bill will redress in part the serious shortfall in our level of recognition of the priceless human gift bequeathed by Canadian veterans who gave or risked their lives to defend the freedoms that we know and, I hope, cherish in Ontario. Different jurisdictions, including Canadian provinces and other nations, recognize Remembrance Day in ways as different as very little recognition at all to declaring Remembrance Day a full statutory holiday, yet a common Remembrance Day with common observances among nations could serve to help unite veterans around the globe as a potent force for peace. The purpose of this bill is to make Remembrance Day a holiday for veterans.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Eakins moved third reading of Bill 77, An Act to amend the Municipal Elections Act and the Assessment Act.
Mr. Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
Some hon. members: No.
Some hon. members: Carried.
Mr. Speaker: All those in favour will say “aye.”
All those opposed will say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. McCague: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I was on my feet. I had wished to say a few things and I was not recognized. Is that appropriate?
Mr. Speaker: No, it certainly is not appropriate. I am afraid I missed the honourable member.
Mr. Breaugh: How about unanimous consent so the honourable member could be heard?
Mr. Speaker: I thought I looked around as I usually do but if I --
Mr. Breaugh: The eyes go first. I understand the problem.
Mr. Speaker: Yes. I must apologize to the member. The bill has been passed and I do not know whether it is really in order to give unanimous consent. I am having a little difficulty with this one. As I say, I looked around and I certainly did not see anyone standing.
Hon. Mr. Conway: If it is of any help, I am quite prepared to agree with my friend the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) that we give unanimous consent to allow our friend the member for Simcoe West (Mr. McCague) to make some comments. I am afraid I was out looking at the Orders and Notices so I was not observing the House but I am quite prepared to offer unanimous consent to allow the member to make some comments.
Mr. McCague: I think the record will show there probably were about three seconds between the time that third reading was announced --
Mr. Haggerty: You have to move faster.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Just as long as you are all aware, as I was just advised, that you realize you have now rescinded third reading.
Mr. Breaugh: That is all right.
Mr. Speaker: Is that OK? Is there unanimous consent?
Hon. Mr. Conway: I just want to be clear. I think the member for Simcoe West, whom I must say I did see on his feet -- l was looking at my own Orders and Notices -- has an interest in this. I just want to facilitate that. I am very hopeful, obviously, that we can conclude the third reading debate this afternoon. I hope that could be the case. I do not want to cause any undue difficulty but I am certainly prepared to revert to third reading to allow the member for Simcoe West to make his comments.
Mr. Speaker: Then I will have to ask: Is there unanimous consent?
Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity and I think if you check the timing in the record, there were probably two to three seconds between the time that third reading was moved and the vote was taken, and I was on my feet.
I hope the minister will stay. I will take it easy on him -- or I will not take it easy on him but I will make it short. This bill has been a kind of foulup right from the very start. I think we deserved a better compendium than the minister gave us on this bill. He had his parliamentary assistant bring us a form that he intends to put out to the public and we got that about five minutes before we took the vote the other day.
Then we had the problem of the minister not being here the first day we talked about it. I can understand that problem, except that, as I pointed out to him, had the bill, in the first instance, taken two days, he would have started it on the first day and I do not think he would have been absent on the second. The excuse he continually makes, that he was accommodating to us on the Sunday shopping issue on the first day of the House, just does not wash.
I want to again put that on the record, only to be followed up by the fact that he is advertising the passing of the bill on the weekend when, in fact, it has not passed. I do not blame the minister personally; his staff jumped the gun. There has been such a ballup on this bill, and it is a ballup, even in its form, as many members of this House have told the minister. I just want to get on the record that this has been really loused up. I hope it works out a lot better for him than we think it will and I hope he has a reasonable enumeration system in place for the 1988 elections.
Mr. Breaugh: I think I have heard that before.
Mr. Speaker: I think so. I guess I had better ask the minister if he has any final comment and also put third reading.
Hon. Mr. Eakins: I simply want to make one quick comment in reply to the honourable member in regard to the sample form which was presented. We cannot print a form until the bill receives third reading. The sample that we presented here was for the members to review. Also, the member made comment on it. That will go back and, no doubt, incorporate some of the concerns he raises. In that sense, I am sure the form is going to be a very acceptable one.
Motion agreed to.
INTERIM SUPPLY (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for interim supply for the period commencing April 16, 1988, and ending June 30, 1988.
Mr. Speaker: As I recall, when the debate was adjourned the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve) was speaking and adjourned the debate. Possibly, under the circumstances, I will ask if there are any other members wishing
Mr. Harris: Mr. Speaker, maybe it is totally inappropriate and maybe I should not be asking -- there are far more learned people than I -- but there was a long-awaited bill dealing with French-language school boards that was introduced in the House today. My colleague the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry got called out and thought that third reading of Bill 77 was going to take much longer than it did. I think he did want to make a few remarks. I could get him forthwith or I could ask the indulgence of the House, with unanimous consent, so that he might be able to conclude his remarks when he comes back. Is that a fair proposal?
Mr. Speaker: The member for Nipissing has made two suggestions to the House. The first one was, should he get him forthwith?
Mr. Speaker: No?
Mr. Harris: Perhaps while there is some discussion on that I will slip out.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Here he comes.
Mr. Harris: I do not want to ever set a dangerous precedent by having somebody speak twice to a motion. Perhaps I will withdraw the second suggestion and thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: I will recognize the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.
Mr. Villeneuve: It is always interesting to participate in the debate on interim supply. I was addressing some of the local problems last Thursday when we recessed for the weekend.
The northern and the eastern sections of this province must be treated in a somewhat different fashion. Certainly, we have different types of problems. Agriculture is, to some degree, very important in those areas. I have just this weekend faced a number of areas of concern, particularly as they involve applications for severances.
We have the situation that agriculture and food still is the number one industry in Ontario and we have many of our producers in that particular industry in some degree of trouble. I am addressing no fewer than six applications by farmers for severances that have had recommendations from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food that they not proceed. I am personally going to look into them and I think I will be reporting to the minister situations that go beyond what common sense would dictate.
We have areas where, in one instance, apparently a severance that has on it what was a former building site is growing nothing but brush and weeds, but according to a bureaucrat it is situated slightly closer than it should be, according to the Food Land Guidelines, to a small hobby-type farm sitting on 40 acres. I do not think there is any chance this farm would ever be operated as a full-blown, economically viable agricultural operation, and yet the Ministry of Agriculture and Food will not allow this 1.5-acre or two-acre parcel to be built on. Everyone else was in favour. This I find annoying, to say the least, and I will be looking into that one situation, along with five others, which all came to my attention on Friday and Saturday last.
Regarding the Food Land Guidelines, I know the minister will shortly be coming forth with right-to-farm legislation. What annoys me on that one is that the Ministry of the Environment will be playing a very key role -- not only an important but also a key role -- in how the Ministry of Agriculture and Food will be interpreting and proceeding with this legislation. That annoys me because, yes, the Ministry of the Environment is a very important ministry, but it looks as if it is more important, when it comes to dealing with agriculture and with farmers, than the Ministry of Agriculture and Food itself.
I am anxious to see that right-to-farm legislation come forth. I know I was pleased to make a presentation to the committee when it came to Kemptville in eastern Ontario and it will be interesting to see how many of those recommendations that were made by a number of people will be incorporated as part of the legislation.
On severances -- I return to that -- we have many, many areas in eastern Ontario, as I am sure the minister is aware, of marginal land. We have some of our small towns faced with tremendous costs to accommodate the sewage that is being produced and that is presently polluting. I firmly believe that we should be allowing severances in those areas that really may be a little too close, a severance that someone asks for that may be 50 feet too close to a barn that may not even be in operation, may be run as a hobby-type endeavour.
We have to have enough flexibility there that a two-acre parcel could be severed. Someone will go and build on that parcel. They will drill their own well and they will put in their own septic system. The municipality is wholly in favour of this because it is additional tax revenue, and yet we have the ivory-towered bureaucrats telling us, “Oh, you can’t do this and you can’t do that and we” -- the bureaucrats -- “know what is good for you, Mr. Farmer,” who happens to be doing the chores seven days a week.
That annoys me and I am sure it annoys the minister. I know it annoyed him when he was in opposition anyway. I am sure it still annoys him, as minister.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: I was always out to preserve agricultural land but you want the farmer to have the right to farm and you also want severance, which caused the problem in the first place.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: You can’t have it both ways, Noble. You can’t have it both ways.
Mr. Villeneuve: I hope the minister understands that we have large areas in eastern Ontario -- my colleague sitting behind him, the member for Cornwall (Mr. Cleary), Cornwall township and Charlottenburgh, could vouch for it -- many marginal areas where, for whatever reason, some bureaucrat has looked at the soil map and said, “The soil map says it is class 1 or class 2; therefore it must be.” I happen to know, as a real estate appraiser and as a farmer.
I have been to some of these properties and I cannot agree with what I understand is in the reports. I am going to be asking for some of these reports and I am going to be looking at them personally.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: That is the federal land inventory. Go to your feds and tell them they better do a better job.
Mr. Villeneuve: Are you telling me that your bureaucrats do not go and look at the property physically?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: That is a federal land inventory.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. If the member addresses the chair, he might have an easier time making his point.
Mr. Villeneuve: Thank you, Mr. Speaker I am sorry I got into a little discussion with the Minister of Agriculture and Food. He and I discuss things a lot and I suppose maybe I should be addressing everything through the chair. We agree on many things, I am sure, except sometimes politics happens to get in the way. That is a strange phenomenon, but it happens now and again.
But with these severances, I am going to look at the reports and I am going to see what I see on site. If he is telling me that his bureaucrats do not go out and have a look on site to confirm what is in the soil map, be it the provincial soil map or the federal soil map -- I do not care which map they use; they can use that as a guideline, but I feel they must go to the site and do a physical inspection -- if they are not doing that --
Mr. Wildman: The member for Brampton used to send Ronnie McNeil out.
Mr. Villeneuve: They are not doing that, Mr. Speaker. I am addressing all of my commentaries through you, Mr. Speaker. I hope you appreciate that. There are times when there is a bit of distraction.
If bureaucrats are not shouldering the responsibility of signing a document which they stand by, which creates situations where a number of severances that I feel should occur are not occurring, then they are not doing their job. I am going to be looking into it because I feel there are just too many people bringing forth too many complaints. We have to look at it a little more closely.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: Yet they want the farmers’ right to farm.
Mr. Villeneuve: Of course, farmers must be protected.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: They want severances and they want the farmers’ right to farm. I don’t understand it.
Mr. Villeneuve: The minister does not come to eastern Ontario often enough; I will certainly make it a point the next time he is in the area. I will go to these six places I am investigating personally and I will take photographs and do my own little report. Then I will ask the minister for what he has on file on these applications for severance, and we will see what I think I saw and what someone else thinks he saw, or took someone’s word for what was there. We will see just exactly what happens. It will be interesting.
On a slightly different topic -- I see the Treasurer moving around -- Wintario funds are a most important asset to some of our small communities. He could drop probably a million
Hon. R. F. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The honourable member just mentioned that I looked as if I had something else in mind. I have a briefing associated with the budget and I have asked the parliamentary assistant, my colleague who has just taken his place, to make notes of the comments made by the honourable members. I will be back shortly if that meets with everybody’s approval.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you for the point of information.
Mr. Villeneuve: I know the Treasurer is a very, very busy man, particularly just prior to bringing forth a budget. I hope he is working hard trying to balance it. I think it is most important that it come close to being balanced, if indeed not be totally balanced.
In regard to Wintario funds to small communities, and I represent many small rural communities, a $15,000 or $20,000 Wintario grant or Wintario assistance can mean more to some of these small communities than $1 million or $5 million right here in Toronto or some of the larger communities. I am very concerned about the fact that Wintario funds may wind up as part of the overall general funding of government. I feel Wintario funds should be kept separate and allocated in a separate fashion.
Tax reform will be occurring at the federal level. I touched on this last Thursday. I actually completed my income tax return this past weekend and I found it most interesting comparing the schedule of Ontario income tax in 1987 with what it was in 1984. That is not very long ago, only three years ago, but there is a very substantial increase in the amount of provincial funds at the same income level now compared to what it was in 1984 when a previous administration was in place.
As tax reform comes into place, it is my understanding that the federal government will be reducing to some degree the income tax to be paid by individuals. I have been told by some fairly reliable sources that the Treasurer of this province is watching very closely so that without giving the impression of having an increase in taxation, whatever benefits Ontario taxpayers obtain from tax reform at the federal level will be mostly absorbed by the province in additional taxes, come 1988. It will be interesting to see exactly how the different ministries fare as the Treasurer proceeds with his budget on April 20.
The road system in the united counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry has to be addressed. The Minister of Transportation (Mr. Fulton) did meet with the roads committee, the warden, during a recent visit to the Smiths Falls area in eastern Ontario by the cabinet. I believe the Minister of Transportation realizes that some additional funding is required in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, with 700 and some miles of road network, basically all of which is in rural Ontario and certainly subject to a lot of heavy traffic, increasing traffic and a reduced amount of funding through the province. I certainly hope the Ministry of Transportation will see fit to provide some additional funds, particularly on several major projects, which include some bridges.
I will not pursue this much longer. I know there are many members in the chamber who want to debate the interim supply motion. However, in summation -- I am really pleased to see that the Minister of Agriculture and Food is here -- agriculture must be addressed in a fashion that will assist in supporting the basic industry as it exists here in Ontario. I have the Farm Credit Corp. statistics that indicate that from July 1985 to July 1987, we had very marked and significant reductions in market value throughout the agricultural areas of Ontario.
In northern Ontario, for instance, in 1986 it was minus two per cent. In 1987, it was minus 21 per cent. In southwestern Ontario, by July 1, 1985, there was a reduction of minus 12 per cent in market value; in July 1986, minus 24 per cent; in July 1987, minus 46 per cent. When one compounds those reductions in market value, one just wonders. We hear of the escalating costs of housing and yet in the most basic primary industry in Ontario, we have some drastic, real reductions in market value and in the equity that our agricultural people have.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity of participating in the interim supply debate and I look forward anxiously to the Treasurer coming forth with his budget later this month.
The Deputy Speaker: Are there any questions and comments on the member’s statement? If not, do other members wish to participate?
Mr. Wildman: I rise to participate in this debate on the interim supply motion. I must say at the outset that I find this a most inappropriate way of dealing, as a Legislature, with our main responsibility, which is holding the government responsible for the expenditure of the funds raised from the taxpayers of the province. I know that when this motion was introduced, the Treasurer explained the reason for it as being that we had not passed the estimates last year, and he attributed that mainly to the fact we had had an election campaign in September, which took a lot of time out of the year when we might normally have been dealing with the estimates.
That is, of course, true, but it does not really explain why we did not complete the estimates. Frankly, the estimates process in itself is unsatisfactory, because by the time we get around to dealing with the estimates of the various ministries, in most cases the money has already been spent. We find ourselves passing estimates in December, January or February when the end of the fiscal year is March 31 and when we really should be considering the estimates for the next year.
I look at the Orders and Notices on pages 36 and 37 through pages 38 and 39, where the estimates are listed. The total number of hours was 381 hours and 30 minutes, but of that, very little has been done. We note that Treasury and Economics was completed on December 8. Industry, Trade and Technology was completed December 10, and Housing December 17, in the standing committee on resources development. The standing committee on social development dealt with Skills Development on December 10 and the Office for Disabled Persons on December 17.
In most cases, only one or two of the estimates listed by committee had been dealt with by the end of 1987. In some committees, such as the standing committee on general government and the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, none of the estimates listed has been dealt with. You cannot explain this simply by pointing to the election campaign. The fact is that for some reason this government has not had the House sitting to deal with the estimates. We cannot deal with estimates if the House is not in session.
After the election was over, we did not come back until November 3, almost two months after the election, when normally the House sits about three weeks after an election. Then we sat through November and December and had that silly process where we sat through the Christmas-New Year season. The Premier (Mr. Peterson) insisted that we had to sit and discuss this matter and he could not put it off, because the free trade agreement was going to be signed by Reagan and Mulroney around the New Year, when in fact the Premier did not intend to do anything. But I will not be sidetracked.
I want to deal with the actual process of dealing with the estimates and dealing in an orderly manner with what is our main responsibility in this House, to ensure that the government spends the money responsibly.
What happened after we adjourned in the first week of January? Did we come back in February? No. Did we come back in March? No. Well, we came back in February for one week to deal with two specific pieces of legislation, and the committees did not sit, so we could not deal with estimates in committee. Then we did not come back until April -- Easter. If we sit from now until the end of June and then go into the summer season and September, in the year after the election this House will have sat maybe five months, when normally we sit about eight or nine months.
What is the reason for this? Why is it that the government does not want to sit to deal with the business of the Legislature? Why is it that they do not want to sit in January, they do not want to sit most of February, they do not want to sit in March, but for some silly reason they want to sit at New Year’s?
I want to know if we are going to continue to have this process where we pass interim supply, where we do not deal with an analysis of the ministries and what they are doing with the funds, what their programs are, how much they are spending on various things, but rather are going to have this sort of omnibus debate where we all get up and say: “Well, we know the money has already been spent. The Treasurer is running out of cash to keep the everyday operations going, so we had better pass them or the civil servants cannot be paid.” How many times have we done this, where we keep moving motions?
It is not acceptable, I dare say, even for the government. I do not think the people of this province deserve this kind of government. I am surprised. I do not understand why the government feels this way, that it should deal with things outside of the House and we should just come back in a rush and pass things in a hurry. They have an enormous majority. They have a majority on all the committees. They should not have any problems dealing with the issues before the committees and dealing with the estimates of the government. But they do not.
Certainly the committees have sat between sessions, but they are dealing with other issues and they normally do not deal with estimates when the House is not sitting. I do not understand how this government justifies the fact that it is not having the House sit. I hope we do not go through this process one more year.
Frankly, I think the government has lost control of the agenda of the House. That was shown in the Christmas-New Year period. I think the government does not realize how to operate, even though it has an enormous majority that should be able to run things pretty smoothly around here.
Having said that, I want to deal with some of the specific ministries we have not debated in committees, the estimates we have not dealt with. I want to deal mainly with those areas that I am responsible for as our critic. I will be talking mainly about resources and agriculture and also, obviously, about some of the issues related to northern Ontario.
I must say that, as we approach the new budget -- the Treasurer has gone out to have a prebudget briefing -- it is ironic that we are now almost one year from the 1987 budget, which announced a northern heritage fund, yet we have not spent any money out of it. As a matter of fact, the government does not even have the criteria by which applications for assistance from the northern heritage fund can be judged.
My colleague the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Pouliot) asked the Minister of Northern Development (Mr. Fontaine) -- it is interesting. We have one ministry with two ministers: a Minister of Northern Development and a Minister of Mines (Mr. Conway). At any rate, my colleague from Lake Nipigon asked the Minister of Northern Development, that sort of one wing of a two-winged bird in the ministry, to explain why there had not been any money spent out of the northern heritage fund in almost a year.
I must say that the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine) reacted rather strangely. He accused me of laughing at him. Anyone who knows the relationship between me and the member for Cochrane North would know that I was laughing with him, not at him. At any rate, he said that if I continued to laugh, Algoma would not get any money. It is rather a hollow threat when you consider that nobody has got any money out of the northern heritage fund. If no one gets it, I guess people from Algoma will not get any, either.
When that fund was announced by the Treasurer in last year’s budget, he said the government would be budgeting $30 million for northern development. At the time, we said that was a pittance; it would not even begin to respond to the needs for diversification and development and producing jobs in northern Ontario. I will not go through a long discussion of this because we have dealt with it many times in the Legislature, but I think it is important to recognize that there really are two Ontarios, at least two Ontarios. We have an enormous boom going on in the Metropolitan Toronto area. While things are better in northern Ontario economically than they were during the deep recession or depression of 1982 --
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: You are talking about the Conservatives?
Mr. Wildman: Yes. In the north, they are not what they are in southern Ontario. The Minister of Revenue (Mr. Grandmaître) will know, since I know he has a great understanding of and concern for northern Ontario, that we have had an outmigration of population The population of northern Ontario is dropping. People are moving to southern Ontario, particularly to Metropolitan Toronto, because they have to, to get jobs. The large number of that outmigration are young people, people who could be the future of northern Ontario and who are leaving. They are not leaving, in the main, because they want to leave; they are leaving because they do not have a choice.
We should be responding. I think to wait a year after an announcement of only $30 million and still to be able to say, “Well, we don’t have the criteria yet,” and the Minister of Northern Development says he will be presenting them to the cabinet in a few weeks. Even if you take the election period out of last year, there has been plenty of time. Why is the government dithering? Is it hoping that market forces somehow will resolve the problems of northern Ontario and that this fund, for which the Treasurer is not really enthusiastic, might not have to be really used at all? I hope that is not the case.
When the Liberals first announced the northern heritage fund, for which we had been campaigning for about 10 years or so, and said it was going to be only $30 million, some of us who were perhaps a little cynical suspected that perhaps that $30 million was going to be the revenue this government would receive in transfers from the federal government as a result of the imposition of the export tax on softwood lumber. I know the Treasurer denied that and the Premier denied that, but $30 million is a nice round figure which is about exactly what is going to come from the federal government to the provincial government as a result of the imposition of that tax.
We know that the Premier, at the time the provincial government agreed with the federal government on this so-called solution to the Americans’ demands for export controls on softwood lumber, said he and the government would be using this money to assist the lumbering communities that might be harmed because of the increase in the cost of their product of about 15 per cent as a result of the imposition of this tax.
A few weeks ago I received a letter from the Treasurer in answer to my questioning about the revenue that had accrued from the tax and how much money of that had been spent to assist lumbering communities and the workers who had been displaced as a result of dropping markets. The Treasurer wrote back to me and informed me that approximately $27.5 million has been transferred to the Ontario Treasury from the federal government as a result of the imposition of the export tax, but then he went on to admit that this government has not spent one cent of that money on retraining workers.
Sawmills in Longlac, Smooth Rock Falls, Kapuskasing, Keewatin and Hudson have all been closed, at least in part as a result of the increase in the cost of their product in the US market because of this unfair tax. Somewhere between 500 and 700 jobs have been lost in the north, and the Treasurer has the audacity to admit to me in writing that nothing has been spent on retraining those workers and helping them to adjust.
What is the Treasurer doing with this $27.5 million? It certainly is not going to be used to help northern Ontario specifically, which is what the Premier said it would be used for. The Premier and his government have broken the promise that they made to northern Ontario lumbering communities when this unfair deal to impose a tax was made with Mulroney. The people of the north recognize that there is not the same commitment on the part of this government dealing with the problems of the north that it may demonstrate about dealing with the concerns of their southern Ontario neighbours, and that is just not acceptable.
One just has to look at resource management to determine the lack of commitment on the part of this government. There have been a number of studies commissioned to deal with the concerns that many of us have about the timber resource we have in this province. When one of them, the Woodbridge, Reed and Associates study, came out after being commissioned by this government, it made a number of statements about a serious decline in the timber stands and that we may in fact face serious timber shortages in the not-too-distant future. Yet we have had no response from the government to this study, its own study. What is the Ministry of Natural Resources doing, or does it disagree with the report of its own consultants? If they do, they should say so.
Mr. Harris: It is a disgrace.
Mr. Wildman: My colleague the member for Nipissing says it is a disgrace. I agree with him it is a disgrace. He raised in the House today the whole question of the Temagami land-use issues. Everyone in the House agrees this is a very difficult issue. There are many competing interests, but the fact is that this government does not want to make a decision. They continue to postpone. First they call for an environmental assessment of the Red Squirrel Road, and now we find that the consultant the ministry hired to do the EA for it is so ashamed of what has been produced by the Ministry of Natural Resources that he will not have his firm’s name affixed to it. It has basically been laundered.
On top of that, when there is a proposal for another road into the same area, the minister says, “Well, we will not have an environmental assessment on this road,” which, in my view, then makes a farce of the first environmental assessment. If you need an environmental assessment on one, how can he justify not having it on the other?
Then, when it gets pressure from many people who want to have a wilderness area in the area of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park, the government, instead of making a decision, appoints Professor Daniel and many representatives of the various interests -- the tourist industry, the ecologists, the environmentalists, the local townships, municipalities, the logging companies and labour -- to sit on a committee and come up with another proposal. The minister had to admit in the House today that they could not come to a consensus. Well, that is not really surprising. But also, the minister could not give us an indication of when he would come to a consensus.
When is he going to make a decision as to what should be done? When is the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) going to take control of his ministry, be able to get agreement from his cabinet colleagues and develop a land use plan, not only in the Temagami area but also across northern Ontario, that takes into account the needs of the various interests: the tourist industry, the lumbering industry, the pulp and paper industry, the anglers and hunters and all concerned?
In that regard, I have been told that the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation has been developing a northern tourism strategy. This tourism strategy has been in development for a long time now. First they were supposed to report in December. Then the reporting of that group was postponed until February. Then it was postponed again, and it was supposed to be out by the end of March. We still have not seen it.
Of course, the problems the Liberals have in dealing with tourism in northern Ontario relate to the whole difficult problem of land use, the same problem we have in Temagami, basically. They relate to the construction of forest access roads and who, if anyone, other than the forest industry, will have the right to use those roads when they go farther and farther into wilderness areas and tourist areas where tourist outfitters have had fly-in operations.
We know that the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association made a proposal for something called tourism management agreements, in some way patterned after forest management agreements, where the tourist outfitter in the area would somehow be able to reserve a lake for himself or a small group of tourist outfitters and prevent people entering the area who are not purchasing a vacation or a hunting or fishing experience from them. Obviously, that caused an enormous storm in northern Ontario. The hunters and anglers are completely opposed to any suggestion that a tourist outfitter should be able to say who can come into an area and who cannot. They point out that, in fact, taxpayers’ money is used to build these forest access roads in most cases, and therefore they feel they should be able to use them.
I admit that the Ministry of Natural Resources has a difficult time balancing all the issues and all the interests. Legitimately, a tourist outfitter who is paying for a permit for a fly-in operation wants to have his investment protected. The legitimate sports fisherman wants to be able to go in and fish on a lake when he feels that it is appropriate. The forest industry needs the timber. It is difficult but the ministry has the responsibility of dealing with those conflicts and of resolving them.
The Minister of Natural Resources cannot continually try to foist that responsibility off on one committee, one study group or another consultant for ever. Sooner or later, this government and the minister have to get off the fence on these issues. I sympathize with the minister; it must be very difficult sitting on a picket fence. It must not feel too good, but that is what it is. The longer he sits on it, the more uncomfortable it is going to get.
In regard to other types of resource management, the previous government proposed the designation of a number of provincial parks. That was delayed and delayed. When the new government came to power, the Minister of Natural Resources indicated he was going to move quickly on the designation of the parks.
Mr. Harris: In 1985 they would all be designated.
Mr. Wildman: That is what he said, in 1985 they would all be designated. None of them has been designated as yet -- not one.
The minister pointed to the fact that he made an agreement with the federal government for a new federal national park in the Bruce Peninsula as evidence that he was committed to parks. We would like to see a real commitment on the part of the ministry to move on the designation of parks and determining how the lands within the parks are going to be managed, who and what interests are going to have the right to use them. We cannot waste any more time.
The government says it is interested in consultation. In northern Ontario we have been fighting for adequate animal and fishing management for many years. This government has indicated that it is prepared to move on the changes in the moose hunting system -- the moosetario, as I call it, the lottery system. It appears it is prepared to go to party hunting. I think that is a good idea, a progressive move, but then when it makes that kind of a change, it turns around and changes the date of the opening of hunting season without consultation, so everybody who has booked his holidays is now going to be out a week. What happens to consultation? Why does the ministry act this way? I do not understand it.
The minister has been doing a couple of things that I am very concerned about. In terms of management of the resources, we know the government has instituted the resident fishing licence. I will not reiterate what led to my unfortunate departure from the House June last. I did have discussions with the minister subsequent to that and we did come to some conclusions, but I want to point out that somewhere between $8 million and $10 million has been collected from the sale of fishing licences in this province. The minister said that money would be reserved. I know the Treasurer does not like this kind of process, but the minister had said it would be reserved for the improvement of fish habitat and for fish stocking.
What have they done with the money? As I understand it, the ministry spent a little over $4 million to stock approximately 12 million fish in 1986. In 1987, the minister spent just about $5 million to stock about the same number of fish the next year.
Mr. Polsinelli: A 25 per cent increase.
Mr. Wildman: The parliamentary assistant said, “A 25 per cent increase,” but the fact is they took in between $8 million and $10 million and they ended up spending approximately an additional $1 million.
Mr. Polsinelli: What about the additional officers who were hired?
Mr. Wildman: There is the crunch. We all agree we need more conservation officers. As a matter of fact, I raised the issue in the House. I said we needed more conservation officers. But the minister argues that by hiring more cops to enforce the fishing regulations, somehow we are producing more fish. It just will not wash. I might say there is something fishy in the whole operation, but I will not say that.
The other thing that I am mainly concerned about in the operation of the Ministry of Natural Resources is this whole approach to contracting out. I know my friend the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) will be concerned about this, as I am.
We know that under the previous government, and continued by this government, many, many people have been treated by the Ministry of Natural Resources as if they were casual employees. I am not just talking about people who have seasonal jobs, people who do things like plant trees or fight fires. I am talking about people who have ongoing jobs: heavy equipment operators, mechanics, clerks, carpenters, all sorts of people like that.
This government has continued that process, but it has made it even worse because, after many years of fighting, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and members of the House from northern Ontario had persuaded the government at least to extend some benefits to those workers, some sick leave benefits, even some pension contributions and they are also getting paid at the OPSEU rates.
But what is this government now doing’? They are now contracting out more and more jobs, like tree planting, things like that. So if these individuals want to continue working, they now have to work for a private contractor and the private contractor pays the minimum wage or just above it. Because they are bidding against one another for the jobs, in many cases it appears that they do not bid high enough, and if they run into bad weather or other problems, they end up running out of money and the workers do not get paid at all.
As a matter of fact, last year this government had to bail out one of the contractors and pay some summer students. Instead of going in the other direction, this government is increasing contracting out and doing it in more and more activities of this ministry. It is just not acceptable. It is a way of pretending that you are maintaining a smaller civil service than you really have and it is a way of saving taxpayers’ money on the backs of the workers who work for this province. It is just not acceptable.
I might have accepted it, or at least understood it, from a Conservative government, but this government is supposed to be concerned about equity and reform. Why is it treating its own employees in this terrible way?
We guesstimate that in the Blind River district alone, contracting out will cost that community approximately $340,000 this year in payroll. For a small community of 3,500 people, $340,000 is a lot of money. It is not just going to affect those workers and their families. It is going to affect all the small businesses. It is going to affect the whole community. I do not understand. I do not think the minister knows what is happening because, if he does, he should be held responsible.
The other area I want to go to before I conclude is the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. I know the minister is here and I appreciate his listening to the debate. I know the minister is aware that this year, as in past years, the farm community is facing a terrible debt crisis. The Farm Credit Corp. has an enormous number of people in arrears. There is a very difficult problem we face in agriculture in this province.
A few months ago I raised in the House the fact that at that time a total of 11,203 Ontario farm operations, or 28 per cent of all Ontario farms, were either insolvent or experiencing serious cash-flow difficulties. That was at the beginning of this year. In farm arrears, there are approximately 9,400 farmers and farm operations that cannot make their debt payments.
I cannot accept the fact that this government is going to continue to wait for the federal government to act. I agree with the minister when he says we need a national program, we need co-ordination and we need the federal government, in co-operation with the provinces, to deal with this serious problem in the farm community. But we cannot wait for Mulroney and for the federal Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Wise, to act. We just cannot.
There are a couple of things the government has done which are certainly welcome. I welcome the extension of the Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program last year. The minister, I know, was very proud of that and thought that it would help the young farmer to reduce his interest payments, stay on the land and become more viable. I am suggesting here, though, that the minister has to give a commitment on a longer-term basis on the OFFIRR program. I do not think the farmers can operate on a one-year-to-one-year basis. If you are looking at your debt situation and your financing, you have to be able to know over a longer term what your situation is going to be.
I think the ministry should give at least a three-year commitment on what it is going to do with the OFFIRR program so that the farmers who are benefiting from it will be able to better plan the future of their farm operations and also, frankly, so that the banks know what is going to happen and the financial institutions understand the situation over the longer term.
I would hope that the Minister of Agriculture and Food will be able to stand in the House soon and say, “Look, we are not just going to extend the OFFIRR program for one more year; this is how it is going to be for this year right into 1990,” so that the farmers know the situation in advance.
There are a couple of bills pending. I understand that the minister has been concerned about how long it takes to get legislation before the House. I reiterate what I said at the beginning. If the House is sitting, it is easier to get legislation before it. If it is not sitting, it is kind of difficult.
I welcome Bill 78, the Farm Implements Act, that the minister has introduced. He and I have had discussions on this in the past, and I think it is a step in the right direction. I had a private member’s bill that was similar, very similar -- it is amazing how similar -- introduced a number of times in the House before, and I welcome this. I would like to say, though, that --
Mr. Riddell: It just shows how we take your contributions into consideration.
Mr. Wildman: I appreciate it, I sincerely do. I do say, though, that one possible improvement to the bill might be to consider, before we get to actually dealing with it in the House, how we might deal with the sale of used farm equipment, how we might ensure safety of that machinery, and ensure that the purchaser knows he is not buying a pig in a poke and he knows what he is getting.
Also, there has been discussed earlier today in this House the right-to-farm legislation. I recognized what the minister was saying basically when he was having the exchange with my colleague the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. Possibly we would not have so many problems or perceived problems on the right to farm if we did not have so many urban people living in farm communities. The question is, how did they purchase that land?
I am concerned about the right-to-farm bill, Bill 83, the Farm Practices Protection Act, which has been presented before the House, because it does not seem to do very much. It sets up a board that could hear complaints and sort of try to mediate complaints, but that is it. Obviously, the farmer in his operation is still going to be subject to all the current legislation he is subject to, the Environmental Protection Act, the Ontario Water Resources Act and so on, and he should be, so it does not mean less restriction for the farmer. On the other hand, for those other people who are perhaps looking for more restrictions on farm operations, it does not do anything for them either, so I do not quite understand what the purpose of the bill is other than to set up this board. We do not really need a bill to do that.
Having said that, I look forward to the budget. I look forward to the government responding to some of the issues that we have been raising. I would hope that small municipalities would finally get assistance for firefighting equipment that this House indicated they should get some time ago and unanimously voted in favour of, even though nothing has happened since.
The last two solicitors general, and one of them is here, have indicated they are in full agreement with this, that the fire brigades in the small communities in the province need assistance. But they have not been able to set up a program, they have not been able to get it through cabinet, they have not been able to persuade the Treasurer, who himself comes from a small community. I do not understand it. The firefighters, the fire chiefs and just about everybody says we need this, yet there is no money for it.
I look forward to the budget. I look forward to a more orderly dealing with the estimates in the future. Once we have the budget and the tabling of the estimates, I look forward to a new system of developing a standard approach to dealing with estimates, a new committee which deals with estimates on a orderly basis in some way or other that is agreed to by the House or, if we do not have that, then we get the committees to do the job they are supposed to do and we get ourselves, as legislators, to do the job we are supposed to do; that is, to be protectors of the public purse.
We should not continue to have motions of supply introduced in this House because the government has not passed the estimates, is afraid of running out of money and may not be able to pay its own civil servants. It is a hell of a way to run a store.
The Deputy Speaker: Are there any questions and comments on the member’s statement?
Mr. Harris: I enjoyed the member’s remarks. I want to ask him a couple of questions about a few areas he raised. One in particular has caused a great deal of concern in my area and, as the member mentioned, has caused some concern. It deals with the resource area and the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association paper. I was quite surprised when I saw the paper. I do not know if it was internally generated or whether it was generated because NOTOA perceived there was a vacuum out there and nobody was following up with implementing some of the plans which had been talked about in the land-use guidelines and what not.
I would concur that there has been a three-year hiatus on continuing to further that co-operative planning with those groups interested in resources being brought together, such as NOTOA, and the conflict of NOTOA, the hunters and anglers and the local people, the forest industry and the mining industry.
But the NOTOA tourism paper struck me -- and perhaps the member has more information -- as being very similar to a proposal that was floated by a colleague of mine some time ago, recommending that there may be some lakes that our native peoples should have exclusive jurisdiction to.
NOTOA cried foul. Nobody cried higher or harder than NOTOA did, that our native peoples should actually have the exclusive use of a particular lake, to manage that resource to the benefit of their band and to the benefit of their community. I was shocked when I saw its paper. Perhaps it was meant to provoke comment, perhaps it was meant to provoke the government to get off its duff and start doing something. I wonder if the member knows more about it than I do.
The Deputy Speaker: Do other members wish to make comments and ask questions?
Mr. Polsinelli: I could say that the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) had recounted a number of fish stories during his speech, but of course I will not say that.
What I would like to talk about, though, is the estimates process. The member for Algoma has indicated that the estimates process is quite unsatisfactory. I have to tell him that I agree with him. I think in many cases they are just a waste of time and I do not know why we spend our time doing that. For the government members, they are an opportunity to find out what some of the ministries are doing. For the opposition members, it is an opportunity in committee to try to embarrass the government or, in those cases when the estimates are handled in the House, it is an opportunity in the House to try to embarrass the government.
But the member for Algoma should know that there presently is a proposal before the House leaders, which they are presently discussing, of a reform of the estimates process. Hopefully, at some brief time in the future, there will be a consensus among the three House leaders and we will have a much more fair, more adequate process to handle the estimates and the budgetary policies of the government.
Mr. Wildman: I thank my colleagues for their comments. With regard to, first, the estimates process, I understand and I realize that there is a discussion going on among the three parties at the House leaders’ level about a new committee that might deal with estimates in a more orderly fashion. I would welcome that. I think that would be a lot more sensible and might deal with the problem in a more orderly fashion, so that we might deal with at least some ministries on a rotation basis, or something like that.
Frankly, though, I think the government has had the best of both worlds in the last couple of years. It has not reformed the process and it has not had estimates dealt with in committees either. l do not think that is acceptable. I do not think we are meeting our obligations to the taxpayers if we continue to pass, holus-bolus, millions of dollars in funds to the government without real debate and discussion. I admit, though, that most of the estimates in the past were dealt with after the money was spent, which was unsatisfactory.
With regard to the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association proposal, I agree completely with my friend the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) that it was very similar to the native fishing agreement that was proposed by the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope), and the NOTOA members were the most vociferous in opposing that proposal. To be fair to NOTOA, it is arguing, I think, that it was just a white paper in response to the government’s request for proposals with regard to a tourism strategy and that it was not a definitive statement and was only set out for discussion.
I hope that was the case. NOTOA seems to be backing off right now, and I think that is a good thing because we cannot say to anybody that we are going to reserve crown land for a particular interest to manage at the expense of all the other interests that have a legitimate reason for being in that area. I agree with my friend the member for Nipissing that it is a most strange position for NOTOA to find itself in.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: I would like to participate in this debate for a few minutes. Before the member for Algoma leaves, I would like to mention that I support his thrust on the sport fishing industry. I was on a fact-finding mission on Saturday past. We were up looking for fish in Owen Sound harbour. Unfortunately, the fish were not very co-operative and we did not catch too many; in fact, none.
I have always felt that there is a conflict between the sport fishing industry and the commercial fishing industry. It bothers me tremendously when we see a commercial fisherman take out tons of sport fish. They use gill nets and many of the fish will not survive, of course. Then the question is what to do with them even if they keep them. It has been an ongoing controversy, and at some point in time the Minister of Natural Resources is going to have to address the problem and try to help to resolve the conflict between these two groups.
When we think of the sport fishing industry, the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation should be as involved as well because sport fishing brings many benefits to this province. I can think, for example, of the motels, the hotels, the restaurants, the marinas, sport shops, bakeshops and even possibly beer and liquor stores. They all benefit from the fishermen who engage in trying to catch fish. If we allow commercial fishermen to go into the areas that are the habitat for a fairly large number of sport fish, we are then depleting our stock. To me, that does not make a lot of sense.
Surely there can be an accommodation worked out with the two organizations so that we do not have to conflict directly. If we use trap nets instead of gill nets, at least in some areas, it would be of some benefit. It is my understanding that in Ohio, Michigan and New York state they have moved in this direction. In fact, I understand they have even banned commercial fishing in some of those areas.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food has slipped away, and it is unfortunate because I had several comments I wanted to make pertaining to his ministry.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: He is coming back.
Mr. Dietsch: Hang on to them. He will be back.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: I will see if I can save a few of them.
Anyway, I would like to follow up on some of the comments made by my good friend the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry pertaining to severances. I know some of the members on opposite sides concur with the comments. One is even nodding his head. It is a controversial issue in rural Ontario and always will be, and it is one that has to be addressed very carefully.
I do think it is something that should be the responsibility of the local municipalities to have some input into. If they do not have actual control, certainly they should have more input than they have at the present time. It does not make sense to me to have bureaucrats sitting in Queen’s Park who have never even been close to there to determine whether land is indeed of the first quality, second quality or third quality. That does not make sense.
Mr. Villeneuve: And they are calling the shots.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: Yes, they are. The minister may feel that it does make sense because he is in control of the situation in Toronto, but it is impossible for a few individuals to be able to determine all the land in question. I have always maintained that the local people should have some rights.
I might make reference to the Sunday shopping issue, which has been thrown at us so often by our illustrious Premier. He says the government is giving local autonomy to the people. Why not give us something meaningful? Instead of just a simple question on Sunday shopping, why do the Premier and the government not return some control of land use to the municipalities, counties and regions, so that we have some input? Local people know the conditions better than people living in the cities.
The Acting Speaker (Miss Roberts): Order.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: There is absolutely no question that the first priority must be to protect our farmers and to protect good agricultural land. That is quite sensible, and I think everyone would concur with that. But as the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry has pointed out, there are many parcels of land that are not suitable for farming and that would make excellent locations for small industries or urban development, and in areas that will not conflict with the farming practices.
Mr. Villeneuve: Absolutely. Common sense is what we need.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: The member on my immediate right says we need common sense, and that government certainly does.
I was hoping the Minister of Agriculture and Food would be here for my next comment.
Mr. Breaugh: Make it anyway.
Mr. Villeneuve: He can read about it.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: He can read about it later possibly. I would like to mention a letter I received just today from the Ontario Farm Animal Committee. This is a group that people have set up because they are concerned about the animal rights movement. They consider it one of the most serious threats facing agriculture in Canada today.
“OFAC wholly supports responsible animal welfare and care and we are working with recognized animal-welfare societies, and with government in an ongoing quest to improve the legislation, regulation and codes of practice already in place to protect the wellbeing of animals.”
No one is going to argue that animals should not be well cared for and looked after. There are very few farmers, and certainly none I know of, who are sensible who would in any way cause harm to their animals. They think more of them than do any of these people from outside the communities who come in and try to tell them how to look after their animals.
I feel that the minister and this government have to address this very serious concern. We have to address it before it becomes something that is out of control, and I encourage the minister to take some action immediately.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food has always considered severances and the control and use of land in rural Ontario a priority, but I wonder where he is when municipalities are faced with the dilemma of opening a sanitary landfill site or a glorified dump. The Minister of Agriculture and Food should be in the lead in protecting that land. You cannot use gravel base, you cannot use rock and you cannot use many qualities of land that are not suitable for farming but you can use good-quality clay land and that is where the dump sites end up. We take our good agricultural land to fill it up with garbage and that does not make sense in today’s society.
I have the problem in the county of Wellington and it exists, as everyone here should know, certainly in the city of Toronto and in many other areas around this province. There should be more guidance, advice and direction given by the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley), the Minister of Agriculture and Food and the Minister of Energy (Mr. Wong) because one of the ways to solve part of the problem is to produce energy from waste facilities. If we cannot get this advice and guidance from these ministers, then they are not fulfilling their mandate to govern this province.
Last Thursday, April 7, I had the opportunity to meet with the Wellington County Roman Catholic Separate School Board; the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward); the parliamentary assistant to the minister, the member for Ottawa-Rideau (Mrs. O’Neill), and two boards, the Wellington separate board and the Wellington County Board of Education -- not at the same meeting but at two separate meetings -- and also the member for Guelph (Mr. Ferraro).
We had a very interesting meeting with the minister and are quite sure that the minister will accept the concerns expressed by both boards. The bottom line, quite simply, is that the county of Wellington and the city of Guelph received pennies last year under capital allocations. They received a few dollars to repair the roofs of a couple of schools. That was the total sum.
There is all kinds of pressure exerted by Peel and some of the larger boards. They do have a need, which certainly it should be addressed as much as possible, but at the same time you have to accept the fact that the smaller counties and the smaller cities have the same concerns. They have growth, if not to the same degree, certainly to a degree that is detrimental to the present school system.
For several years the Wellington County Board of Education has placed a school in Fergus named Belsyde at the head of its list as a school that it wants to see as its top priority. The ministry has promised to give consideration this year to that request once more. I certainly hope that consideration is given because I do feel that there has to be consideration given to all of the province and not just isolated large growth areas.
I am not sure I should mention this once more, but I will -- that is, Sunday shopping. The only reason I mention it is that I did take part in the debate last week, but this morning I received another letter. It is a very important letter. It arrived from the Mount Forest United Church. That happens to be my church, so I feel I should read it into the record.
It is addressed to the Honourable David Peterson and it mentions that, at the session of the Mount Forest United Church, the following resolution was passed. I will read the resolution into the record:
“Whereas this session of the Mount Forest United Church considers the declaration of intention regarding Sunday opening by the government of Ontario on December 1, 1987, a major threat to a commerce-free Sunday in Ontario;
“Whereas this declaration by the government of Ontario is considered unacceptable by members of this session, for the following reasons:
“1. Sunday shopping deprives both employers and employees of the right to be with their families or attend church, and as a result, will adversely affect family life;
“2. Persons should be protected from unwanted conflicts of conscience between working on Sunday and religious beliefs;
“3. Municipalities not in favour of Sunday shopping would be forced to comply with the concept in order to compete with those in municipalities where Sunday shopping is permitted;
“Therefore be it resolved that the session of the Mount Forest United Church support the Coalition Against Sunday Shopping in the province of Ontario.”
Signed, “W. J. Brown, Clerk of the Session.”
Naturally, I totally support the views set out by the church I attend.
I would like to mention one concern I have. I am not sure it is factual, but if it is not, it can soon be corrected. It is my understanding that the Ministry of Government Services is going to consider presenting plaques or having plaques made up for Ontario citizens who will be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary or their 80th birthday.
At the present time, as members well know, citizens receive plaques on their 50th wedding anniversary and on their 90th birthday, and later dates of course. The plaques are presented by the member and bear the member’s name. Naturally, they are signed by the Premier, as they should be, but it is also my understanding that in the future the plaques will bear the name of the Premier but not of the member making the presentation. I hope this is not correct, that there is a misunderstanding.
I have sent a letter to the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Patten) and have requested that he clarify whether this is indeed going to be the case. If it is, I am going to be extremely disappointed, because the plaques will be nothing more than an advertisement for the illustrious Premier and leader of the Liberal Party. I might also point out that my estimation is that it would increase the cost of the program at least fourfold.
One other concern I have related to this is the fact that, at the same time, the Ministry of Government Services is responsible for the mail service in this Legislature. As I pointed out in the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, which I am a member of, sometimes mail takes 10 to 12 days. In fact, one of the Liberals’ own members mentioned the fact that 14 days is not the least bit uncommon. Part of the problem is Canada Post, but it is also my understanding that as soon as the mail arrives in this building, it becomes the responsibility of the Ministry of Government Services, and the time turnaround is too long.
If a constituent wishes to contact a member I hope that the member would try to respond within a reasonable period of time. I personally try to return phone calls the same day and mail within a day or two, but if it is 10 to 12 days late in arriving, sometimes it is too late by the time I receive it.
I think if we are going to spend money on anything, it should be to increase our mail service or the delivery of the mail and not worry about presenting plaques to people on their 80th birthday or their 40th wedding anniversary.
Mr. Villeneuve: With the Premier’s picture on them.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: With the Premier’s signature on them.
When we are speaking of plaques and people receiving them on their 80th or 90th birthdays, naturally we are speaking about the elderly, and I feel that we should be giving more support services in home delivery to the elderly. Rather than presenting them with a plaque, we should have that amount of money spent on some other more beneficial, positive action.
One concern I have had is that on numerous occasions it has been mentioned that, of all the new support services that are coming in for the elderly, I find that in my riding of Wellington we receive very few of these. I might point out to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) that sometimes we may think too much of the cities, where there is a large number of people, and have a tendency not to be as concerned about the smaller communities.
Every citizen in the province, regardless of where he lives, should receive the same consideration. I realize that at times there are pilot projects and he has to zero in on certain areas, but I suggest the minister could take a look at the smaller communities and try them as his pilot projects instead of always zeroing in on the cities. I would request accommodations -- what do you call the homes they put up for seniors?
Mr. Villeneuve: Municipal nonprofit.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: No, the little cottages beside the --
Mr. Villeneuve: The granny flats.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: I have had requests for granny flats in my riding. I am not sure they would serve the purpose. I think they are too expensive, for one thing, but I do think that some money spent on helping people convert their homes, especially older and larger homes, with a small apartment for the father, mother or in-laws, would serve the same purpose at much less expense to the government. I strongly encourage the government to give consideration to more of this initiative.
I understand there are some situations like this around the province, but I think it would help to relieve the housing problem, as well as help to give more support to seniors in the home atmosphere and yet retain privacy between the children and the parents. The Minister of Community and Social Services, the Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) and the Minister of Housing (Ms. Hošek) should give some consideration to more initiatives in that direction.
I would like to close on a concern I have about the elderly. In my riding, in the little hamlet of Hillsburgh in the township of Erin, there is a senior citizens’ apartment building. It was built in two storeys and there are approximately 30 families living in the residence. The problem is there is no elevator. If one of the people confined to the second floor should suffer a stroke or have a heart condition, he can no longer stay in the building. Naturally, there is no place for him on the lower floor, because the places have all been taken.
Several months ago, the people of this building requested my assistance in obtaining either an escalating chair or an elevator. The government has made commitments to provide elevators in certain conditions. I cannot think of a better place than in a senior citizens’ building. In fact, I am nearly positive that now the government would not allow a building that had more than one storey to be erected if it did not have an elevator, but we do have many in the province that are in this situation.
I hope the minister will confer with the other ministries that are involved in this and provide some funding so that these people can obtain elevators in two-storey seniors’ apartment complexes, because they really are locked in their apartments. They cannot get out. The buildings are mostly filled. It is not simply a matter of moving to the lower floor. The minister could not find a better place to spend money than to help our seniors. I think he will agree with that --
The Acting Speaker: Are there any honourable members who wish to make any comments or pose any questions to the member for Wellington?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: If I may, I am glad I heard the honourable member make his usual valuable contribution to these matters. We just put up a senior citizens’ apartment in a hamlet in our community, and like most of the others that have gone up under the program that was sponsored by the government of Canada and the government of Ontario for years gone by, the design of these three-storey buildings is usually on a slight incline so that you can enter at the ground level for the first floor and also for the second floor. That usually leaves the third floor without an elevating device.
Quite often, I think the plan is good enough; maybe not perfect, but good enough. In our own instance in St. George, the Lions’ Club felt, just as you do, that they really should not allow the building to be built without an elevator and went out and raised the money to put one in.
At the time, the program of the government did not permit an elevating device in a senior citizens’ apartment of that type. It has an elevator because of initiatives taken locally. Most of the ones in my riding do not have elevators, but they are designed as I have described and seem to work reasonably well.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: l have a comment to the Treasurer: In the community of Rockwood, there is a three-storey building and it has two elevators that work extremely well. In the situation that he mentions, the three levels, I would accept that.
In the case I mentioned of the hamlet of Hillsburgh, it is a two-storey structure with no entrance to the second floor except by stairs. It is on a flat level. There is no way a ramp type of approach could be used. I concur it was a mistake in design at the time it was built. There is no way seniors should be put on a second floor without some type of accommodation, because at some point in time they will require the services of an elevator or they will move.
At the late time in their lives, l think we should encourage their being allowed to stay as long as they can in an apartment they have become used to. But I know of at least three seniors’ apartment buildings in my riding -- in fact, four -- that have two storeys and have no access except for the stairs.
M. Pouliot: Je prends plaisir a avoir quelques minutes pour participer à ce débat.
I take some pride in taking a few minutes. I am not going to take too much time. I wish to highlight --
Mr. Pouliot: Would somebody have the courtesy of capping the bottles, please? I think it comes under standing order 24(b), disruption while a member is speaking. If you cannot control yourself, try to emulate the member for Lake Nipigon in decorum and good manners.
When he opened last week, the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) -- members will recall the debate on behalf of our party -- in his usual nonpartisan fashion made mention of the difference between 1985, when the electorate of Ontario elected a minority government, and the present state of affairs in 1988. I too would like to take a few minutes to very vividly recall the atmosphere that prevailed, not only in 1985 after the election but specifically before the accord was signed.
It was shortly after the election. The atmosphere was different; changes were coming. I remember it was right outside here, in the west lobby, when some of these people from the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party were sharing the same premises.
In fact, I remember the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway). It was one of my first days. I was very candid, very timid, so I tiptoed --
Mr. Pouliot: Truly, I have changed. I was having a cup of coffee and the member for Renfrew North said, “Hi, Gilles.” I said, “How are you today, sir?” He said, “More importantly, how are you?” It was the good old days.
People like the member for Parkdale (Mr. Ruprecht) and the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) were inviting people very openly to oil their way across the floor. It was to be some time before I knew what they were talking about.
I also recall very vividly having been so impressed that I called home after six o’clock one evening. I said: “Suzanne, those people are our friends. Yes, they are our friends.” She said: “Gilles, don’t get overagitated. I know you. You take things very seriously.” I said: “I do, I believe. They are almost like we are.” She said, “You better check it out with Jack.” So I called Jack Stokes, my predecessor. Jack Stokes said: “Gilles, you are probably right. Just go to the library and read Machiavelli.”
Then I began to understand that we were in the process of being had, that those people were tacticians. Nothing was impossible then. The future was going to be right. We were going to have an agenda for reform. Imagine the chances we had of achieving fair play when the government had people like the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon). Add to him the member for Renfrew North and some of the people -- Ottawa or Toronto, it makes no difference.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: Hey, hey, hey; enough is enough.
Mr. Pouliot: No, with the highest of respect Madam Speaker.
Making an accord with qualified, but nevertheless, first time arrival -- I say this with the highest of respect, because this person will not be had again. The member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) acted in good faith.
The following two years were to be fine years. After all, the New Democratic Party of Ontario, with its reputation for social conscience, had succeeded in convincing the Liberals --
Mr. Villeneuve: You thought. Careful; pure thought.
Mr. Pouliot: Wait until I get talking about federal laws on solicitation. I do not have to be careful now.
We had succeeded in convincing them: “If you want power, we will draft 24 or 25 items, not 85 or 90. We’re reasonable people. Together, we will do it, but the agreement will last for two years. We’ll give you a break, so the people will not throw you out of office too soon. You will have time to implement the reform.” Sure, there was the odd threat or ultimatum, but they were not serious.
I have to commend them. This historical agreement lasted two years. Then the temptation became irresistible. They said: “Two years and four months. We can read polls. We have just about had enough.” They went to the people under the pretext that we needed a strong government. They said, “Give us a strong mandate to deal with the federal government on the issue of free trade, among others.”
I was not like this before, but I will be very careful the next time a politician approaches me soliciting my support and says, “Gilles, give me a strong mandate.” I am not the least bit biased or prejudiced, but I will have to be careful that I do not automatically vote against her or him. It is a terrible situation.
Today, as the result of that endorsation -- and the people of Ontario deserve far better; look at them, Madam Speaker -- they have become complacent, they have fallen asleep. They are a lame duck conglomerate in the first year of office.
Terrible; it is a terrible situation. The people of Ontario are starting to ask, “What’s going to happen in terms of your promises and your agenda?”
A few minutes ago, my predecessor mentioned some of the social amenities that needed to be improved in his riding. I represent the riding of Lake Nipigon. Our riding is 114,000 square miles. Some of those social amenities, in the riding of Lake Nipigon, need not be improved. They simply do not exist. Things are getting better.
The government does not know how, but the government is trying with goodwill and with faith to improve the situation in the northern part of Ontario. I really believe that it is. However, the idea or the sentiment that the marketplace always chooses better is not enough up north. The Premier (Mr. Peterson) can tell us in Sault Ste. Marie, and he can repeat in Thunder Bay, that we have to draw from within, that we have to come up, as northerners, with our own answers. It is OK for an evangelist to say this, but it does not quite work. What works are positive alternatives and we have offered them to the government.
Ontario Hydro, in an overcapacity situation in northern Ontario, has never been asked to play a leadership role. It has more electricity than the system needs. We are not saying that it should give it away, but why not use it as a tool, as an incentive, to give people a break? Give the small business people a break. Give the consumer a break. It is done elsewhere and it works.
Reduce the sales tax, not by the full seven per cent, but reduce it by a few percentage points for goods that are manufactured or produced up north. Well, we do not have any. That is why. It may be one reason. Entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well but it cannot do it by itself. We need a blended economy. We need a gentle push to compete with the Barries of this world. Things are not the same in northern Ontario. We need a little bit of help. People will say it is not enough. Others will say, “You always say it is not enough.” We do not really bitch for the sake of bitching.
The future can last a long time. We know, we are filled with patience up north. The Treasurer gives us a northern heritage fund. Out of a budget of $30 billion, he gives us $30 million 10 years after the fact. Really, $30 million here, $30 million there, pretty soon he will be talking about real money. That is really not enough.
Madame la Présidente, comme je me souviens, comme je me souviens; I want to say a few words about some of the items. I promised I would not talk about 11 per cent of our people not having plumbing facilities in the riding of Lake Nipigon. This is 1988. Some of the members have travelled halfway around the world. Some of them have been totally around the world. When we talk about the human dimension, about basic necessity, we are no fools. Eleven per cent do not have toilet facilities in Lake Nipigon, and yet I go to Markham, a short plane ride away, again in 1988 in this very rich province, and I see that more than 80 per cent of the homes have two.
When I go to the government, you know what it tells me? It tells me it is a federal matter. I thought it was a plumbing matter. So I go back up north and I have one difficult time. I do not speak Ojibway. They do. I know that they are entitled to the same basic necessities as others. It is not a joke; I have one heck of a difficult time telling them about the difference between provincial and federal jurisdiction. We have one heck of a time.
I travelled the road on the Trans-Canada Highway. We have presented petitions to the Minister of Transportation (Mr. Fulton). Letters: I am a prolific writer and I will not stop. We have spoken in this House about the need to upgrade and expand our road system up north.
Lorenzo Gauthier, an ordinary person, a worker who lives in Marathon, goes to work and travels about 40 kilometres each way 10 times a week. This is what he says about the roads up north. “Half the time you have to drive over the yellow line because there are potholes at least six inches deep at regular intervals along the sides.” That is the Trans-Canada Highway. That is what we have to go through, or around, to go and make a living.
The Minister of Transportation has the audacity to get up in the House, with great fanfare, with the support of the trained seals, and mention that he will be paving the soft shoulders on the Trans-Canada Highway in southern Ontario, while we up north are more concerned about the section between the soft shoulders. Trying to get through to the minister is very difficult.
What is not difficult is the realization that we are being bypassed, that we are not getting our fair share. We export our resources. Most of us came up north 20 or 25 years ago to improve our lot. We chose to go up north. I worked in a mine for 20 years in a small town named Manitouwadge. We started by exporting the resources. Today, the mine has only 10 to 12 years of proven ore reserves left. For 30 years we have tried to plan for the future so that we can look to tomorrow with confidence, so that after having exported the resources and our sons and daughters we will not necessarily, as a grand finale, have to leave ourselves.
It was a condition that we were forced to accept in advance. Some of us passed five, 10, 15, 20, 25 years, but almost inevitably the day would come, when your work years were over or the mine had run out, when you would be asked to go elsewhere.
I think if the government means what it says, if it plans -- and we have not done this up north and this is the tragedy. The government has been studying us to death. The government has spent thousands and thousands of dollars to prove that Rossport is located on water. What we need is planning. We are no longer the only kid on the block where we automatically sell our resources.
The recommendations are in those studies. We want to know where we will be five or 10 years down the line. I really believe that the government has the goodwill to do so. It does not have the methodology, but I think it means what it says about giving the north the chance to get involved in the economic mainstream of Ontario.
We have had so many studies that we find it difficult to believe. At one time, if you sent 15 or 20 jobs up north or if a minister paid us the compliment of a visit -- if the Treasurer, for instance, came up north and granted us the pleasure of an audience, and if he were to listen to our legitimate grievances, we would believe.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I have been in Red Rock. I do not remember seeing you there.
Mr. Pouliot: The Treasurer was not there during the last campaign; I was.
But they are not giving us a chance to look to tomorrow with confidence. With the stroke of a pen, the Treasurer can do that. He has that power. He has $30 billion of the money of ordinary people, people who have been subsidizing the less fortunate in our society because we are civilized. But they are people who have also been subsidizing the more fortunate in our society, and that is wrong. Life is very short, it is very condensed.
All we are asking is to put into practice -- and it is a reasonable request -- the recommendation of Rosehart. It does not cost that much money, but it demands planning. It demands commitment, it demands political courage, it demands goodwill.
The Fahlgren report, 114,000 square miles, 41 postal codes, more than 50 communities the size of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia put together and multiplied by two, are asking the Treasurer -- that is what it is. I travel more than 100,000 air miles a year and I have to almost literally plead with the Board of Internal Economy for the right to service our constituents while I see some government planes -- and we welcome everyone in our riding -- go back and forth, not always full.
If we had co-operation, if we were interested in giving people value for money and if we meant what we said, rather than send the minister with a few cheques, then, more important, we would be paying attention to the needs and the aspirations of the people, in this case the people of Lake Nipigon.
I wanted to talk about the heritage fund. I wanted to talk about trucking. I wanted to say a few words in French. I wanted to talk about health matters, about energy, gas, hydro, natural resources and native issues. The shortcomings associated with the people of northern Ontario are so many. But I would be hypocritical if I did not mention that, as I examine each dossier -- some of them, albeit, are still very embryonic -- I sense goodwill, I sense some commitment; but there is a dramatic shortage of dollars and there is still some lack in terms of addressing the matter expediently.
Mr. Philip: The member said he wished to talk about trucking but he did not do so. In light of deregulation by the Liberal government, I wonder why he is concerned about the potholes on the roads in northern Ontario because, as many of the Canadian and Ontario trucking companies go bankrupt thanks to that legislation, there will not be that many trucks in northern Ontario.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I would like to say something if I may. I always enjoy the member’s contribution. I should just point out to the members who are here that the score at Exhibition Stadium right now is 13-7 for the Blue Jays and they are in the seventh.
The member, in talking about the extent of his constituency, reminded me of an occasion some years ago when the government undertook to fund and organize a tour of all members through that pan of Ontario. I used to urge the government of the day to organize it again since it was such a tremendous eye-opener. The nice thing is that members from all parties went together. We were not going on some capital-P political expedition. We certainly went right through Trout Lake, to Severn and Attawapiskat and Winisk and all those places that all the members should visit some time during the four-year or five-year term that we have been elected to. It could be that the member might use his undoubted persuasive powers and initiative to persuade my colleagues to plan for such a trip, say some time in August, and we could see these things.
My own experience in travelling in the north is not as extensive now as it used to be. I used to try to use my persuasive powers in the north, usually to no avail. I remember when I went to Red Rock it was usually to speak to a throng of about nine people, all very friendly and receptive, and that is why I said I did not see him there. I have gone up the logging road to Ombabika and had a large Liberal meeting at Ombabika Bay with several whitefish attending.
Maybe some time during the summer we could undertake it. If not this summer, next. Let us get working on it.
Mr. Pouliot: I have a brief response. Most people, unfortunately, who visit the riding of Lake Nipigon -- and there are not that many members; I guess they are so busy with their own backyard, which is a normal reaction -- do so to come fishing. It is not a fishing story. In Lake Nipigon, indeed, you have the best fishing in Ontario. We extend to Hudson Bay, at Fort Severn, which is the northernmost community in Ontario.
My good friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale (Mr. Philip) made a brief mention of the proposed deregulation. It is not re-regulation but deregulation of the trucking industry. Perhaps if he had had more time, he would have made mention of what it will mean to the travelling public in northern Ontario when we know already up north that truck traffic has more than doubled in less than five years. Safety will be jeopardized. As people compete in the large places, the first thing to go will be the element of safety.
Regulation is there for a reason. It is there because remote communities -- it is a tradition in Canada -- would not, under the auspices of a free enterprise system, have had access to the delivery of commodities. We rely less and less on the railroads. They are not really competitive, so we rely on trucking. With the road conditions that we have and with the safety element being jeopardized, the people of the north will suffer a great deal when, or if, this government introduces deregulation.
Mr. McLean: I am pleased to have this opportunity to make a few remarks on the interim supply. I would like to focus most of my attention on the tourism industry, both in the riding of Simcoe East and in Ontario. I would like to spend a little time outlining this very important and vibrant industry because I believe a healthy tourism and hospitality industry will ultimately create employment and capture a large percentage of foreign visitors to Canada and also increase the revenues of the Treasurer.
Tourism represents a very real new frontier of growth for Ontario. Evidence of this is contained in the Ontario Study of the Service Sector, which was commissioned by this government and released nearly two years ago. That report indicates that the service sector, in which the tourism and hospitality industry is the mainstay, now accounts for 73 per cent of employment and 70.2 per cent of gross domestic product and will account for an estimated 80 per cent of all new jobs that will be created during the next decade.
Employment demands in 10 occupational groups in the Ontario accommodation and food service industry have been forecast by the Department of Employment and Immigration to increase by 24 per cent, for a net gain of 37,000 new jobs between 1987 and 1992.
These optimistic forecasts and projections are based, in part, on the healthy provincial and national economies. While the methods used by the governments and other restricted forecast agencies provide a sound basis with which to gauge current and future economic activity, there are equally important circumstances which will impact on this industry’s ability to sustain its impressive economic growth and create thousands of meaningful and productive employment opportunities.
Chief among these factors is the desire and willingness of this government to encourage private business productivity and enterprise and to stimulate capital formation and profits in the private sector through prudent fiscal policies and sensible legislation and regulation.
With the assistance of this government, the tourism and hospitality industry must plan, develop, finance and provide an increasingly broad and diverse range of quality tourism and hospitality products, services and experiences which appeal to the more demanding and sophisticated business and pleasure patrons from our own domestic market and from around the globe. These products and services must be competitively priced and offer good value or the industry will be swamped by intensive competition from bordering and foreign jurisdictions.
The advertising and promotion efforts of both the public and private sectors in tourism should be broadened and intensified if the tourism industry is to maximize its business opportunities and its share of the market. Clearly, responsive and responsible public policies exert the greatest impact and influence on the fortunes of the tourism and hospitality industry, and that industry is looking to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation and his government to provide continuing leadership, counsel and assistance.
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the tourism and hospitality industry, and this spirit will continue to survive and flourish as long as there is an appropriate level of co-operation and support from this government, and that means leadership, something we have not yet seen with this government, especially when it comes to the tourism and hospitality industry.
No matter how you look at it, the impact of the Ontario tourism and hospitality industry on local, provincial and national economies is extremely substantial. Preliminary estimates for 1987 indicate this industry fostered $9.3 billion in direct tourism expenditures in the Ontario economy. In 1985 the industry contributed $1.1 billion of this province’s consolidated tax revenues, including $345 million in retail sales taxes, as well as generating $1.4 billion and $300 million in taxes for federal and municipal governments respectively.
The Ontario tourism and hospitality industry accounted for 402,000 full-year-equivalent jobs in 1985, or 10 per cent of this province’s total employment for that year. As one of Canada’s largest export industries, this province’s tourism and hospitality industry generated $2.2 billion in valuable foreign exchange earnings in 1985. Preliminary estimates for 1987 place this figure at $2.9 billion.
The Ontario tourism and hospitality industry has clearly demonstrated that it can and will generate millions of dollars in new wealth and taxes as well as creating badly needed jobs in this province, but this can only happen through the support and assistance of the provincial government. There are a number of ways this government can ensure that the tourist industry remains vibrant and healthy.
As members are aware, I have introduced Bill 24, which will establish a Tourism Advisory Board. This board would be composed of 12 members representing industry, labour and government to advise the government on matters concerning tourism and hospitality in Ontario. I introduced this bill because it is quite clear to me that the tourism and hospitality industry can provide unparalleled economic and employment opportunities, substantially reduce our provincial travel deficit and attract our rightful share of world travel and tourism revenues.
To do that, the industry relies heavily on the provincial government to generate creative, innovative and sensible public policies and financial stimuli. In order for the government to do this job effectively and efficiently, this government should and must rely on input from the experts. In this case, those experts are to be found in the tourism and hospitality industry itself.
This Tourism Advisory Board that I have proposed would develop innovative methods for working with all government ministries in creating programs and policies aimed at strengthening and expanding the tourism and hospitality industry. It could look into and make recommendations about revamping a growing number of government regulations, acts, controls, licences, taxes and levies, fees, tariffs and assessments which I believe discourage investment and enterprise, and those which are counterproductive.
This Tourism Advisory Board could receive input from such local agencies as the Orillia and Penetanguishene chambers of commerce, Tourism Orillia, Tourism Ontario and the Huronia Tourist Association for important information from the grass-roots level of the tourism and hospitality industry.
I would further recommend designating Highway 93 as the Charles Drury Heritage Highway. This is something the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Tourism and Recreation and the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) should be working together on.
Charles Drury was appointed as the province’s first Minister of Agriculture in 1888. His son, E. C. Drury, served as Premier of Ontario from 1919 to 1923, with the Treasurer’s father, I believe, serving in Mr. Drury’s cabinet.
At this time in Ontario’s history, Charles Drury’s grandson, Robert Drury, is the reeve of Oro township. As members can see, the area I am talking about today is steeped in history. I believe the Minister of Transportation, in co-operation with the Minister of Tourism and Recreation can honour this history by designating Highway 93 as a heritage highway in 1988, which is the 100th anniversary of Charles Drury’s appointment as Ontario’s first Minister of Agriculture.
As the Minister of Tourism and Recreation and his colleague the Minister of Transportation will now know, their ministries have been approached by members of the Simcoe county council in the past asking for Highway 93 to be designated as a heritage highway. Simcoe county council supports this idea, as do municipalities in the area, as I do as well. I would urge them to work together with the Minister of Agriculture and Food and perhaps have this named the Drury Highway for the 100th anniversary.
The erection of more signs on major highways throughout Simcoe county and the rest of Ontario is needed to direct vacationers to major tourist centres or to such attractions as cruise boats, museums, historical sites and other important events or attractions. Municipalities and attraction owners and operators spend a considerable amount of time, effort and money on promoting what they have to offer, but this will all fall by the wayside if tourists are not directed on how to get to these sites.
Tourism literature should be exempt from provincial sales tax. I am certain that an estimated provincial government expenditure of $7 million per year on tourism industry promotional literature would be returned to the provincial Treasurer several times over through increased revenues created by this industry and, therefore, increased taxes in other areas. I would also urge this government to curtail the expansion of camping and conservation areas and extend the camping fee adjustment period in provincial parks to ensure a fair form of competition between private campground operators and provincial parks.
The Minister of Tourism and Recreation should take a close look at the operations of Ontario Place and give serious consideration to selling the Toronto lakefront attraction to the private sector. I was dismayed to learn from the ministry’s annual report that attendance plunged by 14 per cent this year at Ontario Place and that Toronto’s waterfront tourist attraction lost nearly $900,000 this year, even after this government doled out about $4.9 million worth of operating and capital grants. The annual report indicated that, without the provincial grants, Ontario Place’s loss on day-to-day operations would have been a staggering $4.1 million this year.
It was right that the government got involved in setting up this innovative form of attraction 15 years ago, but it is also right that the government should consider selling this property, this money-losing facility, to the private sector so taxpayers will not have to continue pumping millions of dollars into it annually. I believe public funds were used wisely to establish Ontario Place, which served as a catalyst to waterfront development in Toronto and provided entertainment and recreation opportunities for visitors from throughout Ontario and the United States, but attendance has steadily declined and that decline will probably worsen when the Toronto Argonauts and the Toronto Blue Jays move from Exhibition Stadium to the new domed stadium in 1989.
Ontario Place could be sold to the private sector for $100 million or more and the proceeds divided equally among 10 Ontario municipalities that could develop theme parks of their own to attract tourists and boost their local economies.
The time is right for the proceeds from the sale of Ontario Place to be used by these municipalities in Ontario to launch these theme parks on their own.
These are only a few of the areas where I think this government should be showing leadership and playing a stronger role in ensuring that an important segment of the Ontario economy maintains its momentum and remains vibrant and healthy. Tourism needs more appropriate programs and policies. It needs more research and study into marketing and some of the new technologies which are now available, or will become available, to support a revenue-, tax- and employment-producing leader in industry in Ontario.
The Ministry of Tourism and Recreation has maintained a strange silence about this industry over the past two or three years, and I believe the time has come for that silence to end. It is now time for the minister to speak out loudly about the industry he is supposed to be looking after. It is time to show leadership before we find our visitors, revenues and jobs in the tourism industry declining. We cannot sit back and let other provinces take over Ontario’s lead in attracting visitors from throughout Canada, from our neighbours to the south and from other countries overseas.
When I talk about tourism, I think of the boat cruises in the Georgian Bay, the Thirty Thousand Islands. I think about the shrine, the great monument in the riding which is now Muskoka-Georgian Bay, which I at one time had the opportunity to represent, the tourist attraction that is there at Ste. Marie Among the Hurons. I think of the Stephen Leacock home in the city of Orillia. There are many attractions in the area that are good to bring the tourists here.
If the Treasurer at one time had left the ad valorem tax on instead of making it 8.8, which we finally got reduced to 8.3 cents, then we would be paying about 3.5 cents less a litre today than we are at the present. But the Treasurer in his way decided that he needed extra revenue and therefore he wanted to gouge our visitors who are coming in here.
The other area that I would like to touch on briefly, and I would hope that this government will show some leadership when it comes to talking about it, is garbage. In the region of Halton they have spent some $18 million and they have not got a disposal site yet. My understanding is that they are taking it to Niagara Falls and somebody is picking it up from Niagara Falls and taking it to the United States. I am wondering if the Minister of the Environment knows where it is going. Is it going there, being put in an incinerator and coming back across with the wind?
Garbage in this province is a disaster, and we are not getting leadership from the minister. He can go and tell the municipalities, as he did last week in my riding, two of them, that their dump site is no longer to be used. He gave them one week to close a waste disposal site. That is totally unacceptable to me and to all the people who are involved. But here we are now, there are seven local municipalities now whose dump sites have been closed.
Mr. Ballinger: Not for years though.
Mr. McLean: Well, I have got to tell the member that the minister has to show some leadership, and when he closes a site down there has got to be an alternative site established for every group of municipalities in order to get rid of their waste.
That is only one small area of concern when we look at the problem we are having across all of Ontario with regard to our garbage.
I remember not too long ago -- I believe it was last September some time -- when I remember hearing the Premier indicate something about a promise of 60 per cent funding for schools. My observation today is that the percentage is down from what it was last year. It concerns me when the people have faith in a politician who makes promises and does not keep them. I find that unacceptable.
I remember not too long ago when there were promises made with regard to dental coverage for seniors; Ontario health insurance plan premiums would be done away with. I have not seen those commitments fulfilled. I am as concerned about the seniors of this province as anybody is, and when we look at the cost of dental bills for these people, it is atrocious.
The Ontario health insurance plan is supposed to be free. We have not seen that. On hospital capital funding, I hope that the Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) is looking at the facilities across this province to make sure that we do get the capital funding that has been requested, and I look forward to taking part in that.
I could also read members the story about the person who goes from the cow barn to the college, and I am sure the Minister of Agriculture and Food will be interested in that, because he is well aware, as the rest of us are, of the young people who go to the barn at 4:30 in the morning to do a couple of hours’ chores and then head off to college. I know it is important that we all get that college or university education. The problem is that they do not come back to the farm, and today I have to say to the minister -- I am glad to see him here -- that I would like him to tell me where we can get farm help today.
I know that the federal government has instituted a policy and wants to bring help from overseas. We had that policy years ago, and I happen to be one of those people who has brought people from Ireland, from England, and I had Cubans who worked for me at one time -- always reliable, they were there.
It was interesting, being at a maple syrup festival the other day, to see this young lad there with two children, a young lad I brought from England to work for me, probably 20-some years ago. He is here and one of our great citizens today, and still in the farming business. It was a delight to see that young man and his two small children. He has really added something to the economy of this province.
I am serious when I say that there is a crying-out need for farm help. My son at the present time needs help. He cannot get it. I would love the minister to be able to tell me and the people of this province how these farmers who are having difficulty getting help can get it.
Mr. Ballinger: Why don’t you apply?
Mr. McLean: After the next election, there will probably be several of the government party who will be able to apply for that, seeing that the member for Durham-York has brought up the subject.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak on this interim supply bill. It gives the person the opportunity to relay a few of my concerns that I have for my riding and across the province.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I was very glad to hear the honourable member talk about the difficulty of getting help on the farm. My advice is that you have to pay more than a dollar a day and all the milk you can drink. I am not sure that --
Mr. Breaugh: Why? You don’t.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I got rid of that problem by selling the cows.
Actually, one of the things that has impressed me is the willingness of young people, mostly young men but not exclusively, to look at a career in agriculture. For a time it was simply not attractive at all, but for farmers like the member’s son, if the overhead costs are not too high, that is -- I do not know how much the member is taking out of it in passing -- there is sometimes enough left over to actually hire some help. I would think on the kind of farm that those people operate -- a very well-known place with a lot of valuable livestock.
But seriously, you can offer a real career to a young man interested in agriculture. I have even heard of instances where over the years they develop a financial interest in the herd themselves and it is like money in the bank, tax-free under those circumstances, at least to some degree -- I had better be careful -- and when the time comes for them to set up their own farms, they have some resources and can do so.
Rather than looking to some other country to provide the kind of manual labour for what we need to do here, I think we should still think of a career working on the farm as a valuable and viable one in which people can establish a real future and learn at the hands of people like the honourable member, who is very expert in maximizing return from all sources.
Mr. Harris: I enjoyed the member’s remarks immensely and I congratulate him on taking the time and the initiative in trying to get a few comments on the record. It is difficult in this chamber to get time for --
Mr. Ballinger: You have to be on this side.
Mr. Harris: That is right. It is even tougher, I know, on the other side of the House. With next to nothing in time being provided for estimates, it is very difficult for critics to get on the record and start to point out some of the problems that are out there. The member specifically, as a tourism critic, talked about some of the tourism problems and the advisory council he has proposed. I, too, share his chagrin that the government has not picked up on that excellent proposal.
I wanted also to ask him, in connection with the tourism comments he was making, whether he has even yet got any explanation from the minister as to why he and the Minister of Natural Resources changed the moose hunting season with only five months’ notice, contrary to the long-standing agreement that nothing would be done without a year’s notice. The brochures have been printed by all the tourist operators around this province, the bookings have been in, nothing can be changed now and now the moose hunting season has been changed by a week, from the first week in October to the second week in October.
The literature cannot be changed, they have been to the shows, they have made bookings, they have made plans and they have made staffing arrangements. I wonder, in his capacity as critic -- I know he commented on some tourism areas; I am not sure if he talked about this area specifically -- whether the member has any kind of explanation from the minister why this long-standing tradition was violated and moved without any consultation in the tourism industry.
The Deputy Speaker: Do other members wish to comment? The member for Beaches-Woodbine.
Ms. Bryden: I am glad to participate in this debate on the supply motion, because it gives me an opportunity --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Wait a minute.
Ms. Bryden: Sorry.
The Deputy Speaker: Comments on the member’s statement. Do other members wish to comment on the member’s statement? If not, would the member wish to reply?
Mr. McLean: Yes, I really would; I would like to have the opportunity to reply. I will reply to the latter member first. With regard to the moose hunting, I myself was just asking why the minister has done exactly what the member talked about. I have had comments from people in my area wanting to know more about the moose hunting season and why.
I want to talk a little more in detail about what the Treasurer has been talking about, that the day has passed when it is $1 a day and all the milk you can drink. I want to assure him, and the Minister of Agriculture and Food also, that the day is gone when farm help gets paid a pittance, so to speak. People working on farms today are paid as much as people working in industry and in the service sector. I know that the help my son has on his farm makes as much as what a member would make here in the Legislature. Really, they are not underpaid.
The point of the matter is to get help. That is the key. We have phoned the farm labour pools around this province. I often wonder what a lot of those staff are doing. They are not getting help for farmers. I believe they work mainly on seasonal help, but we are there full-time and we need full-time help. I know the farmers today are willing to pay for that full-time help. I want the Minister of Agriculture and Food to show some leadership and to make sure that if my son needs help, or anybody else’s family needs help, they can get it. That is important, because who do you think feeds the nation? It is the farmers, and if they cannot get help, you are in trouble.
The Deputy Speaker: Do other members wish to participate in the debate? Now the member for Beaches-Woodbine.
Ms. Bryden: I am glad to participate in this supply-motion debate, because I do want to draw the government’s attention to the need for looking in the next few months at expenditures which should be covered by this vote if the government is to carry out its responsibility with regard to preserving a pause day for workers and retailers and the general public on Sunday shopping.
The only way for the government to fulfil that responsibility is to recognize that the local-option proposal it is putting forward is not going to preserve a pause day. It will not protect workers who do not wish to work on Sundays; it will not protect retailers who do not wish to open on Sundays; it will not protect the public from huge increases in prices which will result from the wide-open Sundays that the local option, so called, will produce, and it will not protect the taxpayers in the municipalities from the huge increases in costs which could result from a wide-open Sunday in a large municipality.
In fact, the government should recognize that the domino effect of Sunday openings is such that any local-option bylaw will result in a wide-open Sunday, and I think it is showing that it is putting its head in the sand when it says the question of Sunday openings should be left to the local municipalities.
I am afraid the government is showing the same chameleon characteristics as the previous government in dealing with what it considers a hot potato: If you do not want to make a decision, send it to a royal commission or an all-party committee -- and they have done that on Sunday openings; if you want to be on all sides of the question, ignore the reports and recommendations of the committees and do nothing; and if it is a hot potato, toss it to the municipalities, regardless of what the cost may be to the municipalities or the effects on overall regulation of Sunday openings in this province.
This indicates that the government is not realizing that there will be no increase in net profits. In actual fact, there will be a decrease because stores will have to operate for longer hours, will have to hire more staff and will have to use more electricity, more garbage collection and more insurance coverage. They may even have to pay premium wages for Sunday work, which they should do. And in many cases they will find the same volume of business will be done over seven days instead of six.
As I was mentioning, they are also ignoring the huge costs to the taxpayers which will come from greatly increased traffic on Sunday. To bring shoppers to the stores, there will have to be greatly increased public transit, police services and traffic control. All of these will be extra costs on the municipalities, and this is why many of the municipalities are rejecting the government’s offer of local option.
If the minister in charge of the bill, the Solicitor General (Mrs. Smith), were prepared to pick up some of those costs, the municipalities might be more interested, but I think the majority of them realize that the government is tossing a very expensive hot potato at them and are not prepared to accept it, because there are real losers from this local-option legislation. The real losers are the workers who do not want to work on Sundays, for whatever reason. It may be that they want to spend Sundays with their families or friends; it may be that they want to go fishing or sailing; it may be that they want to go for a drive in the country.
Those recommending wide-open Sunday shopping say that workers can choose not to work on Sundays when they are hired and make an agreement with an employer, but already some firms are hiring people with a clause in the employment application which says, “I agree to work on Sundays if it becomes legal for this store.” Other retailers are having to sign agreements with mall operators that they will open on Sunday if Sunday opening becomes operative in the municipality. There is not a question of choice; there is a question of coercion. This is why we need province-wide regulation and province-wide laws. I think it is very obtuse of the government to ignore the domino effect of any local-option bylaws.
Some proponents of Sunday shopping say you can make it an offence for an employer to fire an employee who refuses to work on Sundays and put a stiff penalty on it, but most observers in the labour relations field know it is very difficult to enforce such laws. An employer can find many other reasons for firing an employee. An employee without a union may be afraid to refuse to work on Sundays. It is naïve for the Premier and the Solicitor General to put faith in any such legislation to protect employees from such intimidation.
I remind the House that in December 1986, when the flouting of the Retail Business Holidays Act was becoming rampant, the then Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) and the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) did bring in bills to protect workers from being forced to work on Sundays and being intimidated by employers. They also brought in a law under the Attorney General’s name to allow the courts to demand that the scofflaws, as they are called -- the retailers who insisted on opening in defiance of the law -- could be brought before a court and ordered to obey the law.
The interesting thing is that, after the Retail Business Holidays Act was upheld by the Supreme Court of Ontario, these two bills brought in by the white knights on the other side of the House were allowed to die quietly when that particular session was prorogued. Obviously, they knew they were not enforceable, but they had brought them in as a sort of grandstanding legislation to show that they were on the side of the workers.
The second large group of losers from local option and a wide-open Sunday is the public, which will have to pay higher prices for the privilege of giving so-called freedom of choice to consumers. The people who will lose their pause days are very significant losers. They will no longer be able to spend Sundays with their families and their friends or to have their children at home when they are also at home themselves.
There are conflicting interests to satisfy in community services, and this is why freedom of choice cannot be absolute. We must balance those conflicting interests.
On motion by Ms. Bryden, the debate was adjourned.
The Deputy Speaker: I beg to inform the House that, in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to a certain bill in his chambers.
Clerk of the House: The following is the title of the bill to which His Honour has assented:
Bill 77, An Act to amend the Municipal Elections Act and the Assessment Act.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.