L089 - Tue 18 Oct 1988 / Mar 18 oct 1988
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
MEMBER’S REPORT TO CONSTITUENTS
Mr. Harris: Mr. Speaker, could I rise on a point of privilege? You, sir, as Speaker, are in receipt of a letter from a resident of Toronto concerning the free report of the Minister of Energy (Mr. Wong) that goes out to constituents in his riding. The letter indicates:
“I was most distressed to see the recent report of Bob Wong, MPP for Fort York. Mr. Wong’s report openly endorses a candidate for the municipal elections at the expense of the taxpayers. I find this type of misuse of public moneys to be distasteful and unsavoury and I believe that it is your role to ensure that this type of blatant politics does not find its way into future constituency reports by any member of any party.”
The article in question concerns Peter Maloney, a former executive assistant of Mr. Wong. I do not want to read it all into the record, but if you, sir, and members read it, clearly it is a very strong personal endorsement, campaign type of insertion in what is to be a constituency report of what is going on at Queen’s Park.
I would ask you to concur with me and with this letter that there is in fact an abuse of privilege. I would also suggest that this letter be referred to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, along with the newsletter, for an investigation and possible disciplinary action.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, just on the point, I have not seen the report --
Mr. Reville: I saw it. It’s terrible.
Hon. Mr. Conway: The member for Riverdale (Mr. Reville) says he has seen the report.
I would be very pleased to have the matter referred to you, Mr. Speaker. Quite frankly, I have a file of similar such information from, in some cases, I think, my friends in the third party. Perhaps at the time of your consideration and adjudication of the particular items to which the honourable member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) directs our attention, you might as well want to look at some of the other material, because as members such as the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) and others will know, we have struggled very vigorously over the years trying to find a protocol that would be fair and reasonable.
I must say that any time the Speaker or the Tory House leader wants to review that protocol with a view to its current level of enforceability, particularly as it affects all parties, I would be more than willing to second that motion.
Mr. Speaker: I have listened very carefully to the two members who have spoken. A letter was addressed to the Speaker. I have received it and I am dealing with it. As all members know, they are given by the House, through the Board of Internal Economy, three opportunities to address their constituents by mail. Therefore, I have really commenced looking after the item and have suggested that the first place should be the Board of Internal Economy. They can take it from there.
CAMBRIDGE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
Mr. Farnan: The Cambridge Memorial Hospital Board submitted a recovery plan to the Ministry of Health in mid-August. My understanding is that no changes were to be made to the operation of the hospital until that recovery plan was accepted.
As of yesterday, two months after the recovery plan was submitted, the Ministry of Health had not given any written response to the board of CMH.
At the same time, I have received several telephone calls from constituents who are concerned about the imminent closure of laboratory services for outpatients.
Surely the people of Cambridge have the right to know what this recovery plan is and whether the minister has approved it. Surely the people of Cambridge have the right to know if this recovery plan does indeed include any cuts in service or cuts in staff. If laboratory services to outpatients are being cut, while there may be a savings to the hospital budget, the ministry must recognize that, since the private labs can charge the Ontario health insurance plan, there will be no savings to the taxpayer. As for the quality of service, that provided by the hospital is as good as or better than that of any private laboratory.
My suggestion to the minister is, please cut out the cosmetics. Instead of transferring the cost and the expense from one budget to another, from the hospital to the private labs, with the taxpayers continuing to pay the bill anyway, why not simply maintain the laboratory services for outpatients at CMH? Does the minister realize that peoples’ jobs are being lost?
Mr. Runciman: I have often heard that there is no such thing as a good Liberal idea, that most of the ideas they have are not good and that the few good ideas they do have are not Liberal.
The report of the Task Force on Illegal Drug Use in Ontario, released yesterday, illustrates this point. It recommends, among other things, that the Ontario Provincial Police drug enforcement section be expanded. That is a good idea. It is also a course of action which was recommended by this party last June, only to be rather summarily dismissed by the Solicitor General (Mrs. Smith). We can only hope, now that her colleague’s report has confirmed our view that her government has not provided the OPP with sufficient resources to combat the drug problem, she will take a less cavalier attitude.
The Premier (Mr. Peterson) has said that his government recognizes illegal drug use as a serious problem and that there are a number of things it can do and do quite quickly. There are a number of things this government could have done five months ago, and we trust we will not have to wait another five months before action is taken.
The member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr. Black) has done a good job but, not surprisingly, given this government’s sad track record regarding family issues, not enough emphasis has been placed on the serious problem of parental responsibility.
With respect to the OPP’s recommendations, he has put the ball in the Solicitor General’s court. We will watch to see if her response goes beyond a declaration of concern and good intentions, which has to this point been the sum and substance of her government’s solution to the drug abuse problem.
WORLD FOOD DAY
Mr. Faubert: On Sunday, October 16, peoples and governments around the world celebrated World Food Day. This event allowed citizens throughout the globe to increase their awareness of world hunger and to examine and search for possible solutions to this very significant problem.
In commemorating the founding of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations in 1945, World Food Day also honours food producers here and abroad and encourages people to address their needs and concerns. We have the resources and technology to feed the entire global population, and yet one out of every seven persons in the world suffers the pains of hunger and malnutrition. The hungry are not only in the Sudan or Ethiopia, but are here in Canada as well. I am sure many members would be astonished to learn that in Metropolitan Toronto over 50,000 people a month require emergency food assistance.
I commend the Ontario Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) for his efforts to raise awareness of this issue by raising its profile through the media, by circulating educational materials throughout Ontario schools and by encouraging the observance of World Food Day in the communities across this province. The theme for 1988 is “Food Security,” to secure food is to secure our future.
As legislators, let us join together with other public servants, food producers, educational institutions, voluntary organizations and the citizens whom we represent to work towards a solution to this world problem.
FERTILIZER PLANT FEASIBILITY STUDY
Mr. Laughren: In 1982, New Democrats called for a study into the feasibility of a fertilizer plant in the Sudbury area using phosphate deposits from Cargill township up near Kapuskasing and acid from the Sudbury operations of Inco and Falconbridge.
In 1986, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines agreed to do a study. That study was done, completed, released and part of that study indicated that such a facility was indeed feasible, that there would be markets for the product by 1992, that 80 jobs would be created at the mine site and another 80 wherever the fertilizer plant was going to be built.
But, despite the positive aspects of that study, the minister has now gone into a deep stall and absolutely nothing seems to be happening. The consultant called for phase 2 of the study to be done to determine some of the technical aspects that would be required before the next step would be taken, such as who the major developer would be and where the markets would be and so forth. The minister now says he will not proceed with that study unless the private sector gets involved.
We agree that the private sector should end up doing the project, but the minister should get involved through his ministry to complete the study, only part I of which was ever done. The minister has really weaseled out of his commitment to make sure that study was done. What is the sense of having a member on the government side if he cannot even get phase 2 of a study done?
ONTARIO ROUND TABLE ON ENVIRONMENT AND ECONOMY
Mrs. Marland: I want to express my concern with the membership on the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy, recently announced by the Premier (Mr. Peterson).
This panel of senior decision-makers represents government, small and large industry, agricultural and environmental organizations, labour and academics. This combination sounds wonderful, if it is well balanced. However, it is not well balanced. There is no representation from agriculture. The Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) is not on the panel; nor is anyone from an agricultural organization. If the Premier thinks the representative from Quaker Oats qualifies, I hate to guess what he thinks of our farmers.
There is only one representative from the municipal level of government, but there are six provincial ministers and six business leaders. It is great to have the ministers on the panel, but the municipalities will be some of the major players when it comes to implementation of the panel’s ideas. The Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Eakins) should have been one of the first appointees to the round table.
There is a definite imbalance between the business point of view and the environmental point of view. Only two conservation organizations are represented on the panel. There should be more. I hope we can count on the Premier to rectify the imbalance and appoint the ministers of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture and Food as well as additional representatives from the conservation and agricultural groups in Ontario. I look forward to the Premier’s announcement in the near future.
TWINNING OF NORTH YORK AND CASSINO
Mr. Matrundola: It is with great pleasure that I rise today to inform the House of an event that took place last week. On October 11, 1988, the city of North York and the city of Cassino, Italy, celebrated the signing of a pact of twinning. On October 11, 1987, exactly one year before, a number of people from North York, including myself, travelled to Cassino for the first phase of the twinning and this month a delegation from Cassino came to North York for the second phase.
This pact of twinning was especially moving to me, as Cassino is my place of birth. Cassino is situated between two rivers, Rapido and Gari, at the foot of the mountain from which rises the renowned abbey of Montecassino. Cassino, destroyed 100 per cent by the ravages of the Second World War, was awarded a gold medal for military braveries and is now a modem, beautiful city, one of the most important industrial and commercial centres in the region of Lazio, in central Italy.
The cities of North York and Cassino are similar in many respects. A large number of North York’s Italian-Canadians came from Cassino and district.
While the delegation was in Toronto, it toured a number of sites, including the Legislative Building, the Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Place and Niagara Falls. I wish to point out that they loved every moment of their visit here in Ontario.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mayor Mel Lastman of North York, Mayor Marcello Di Zenzo of Cassino and the councils of the cities of both North York and Cassino for this fine achievement, as well as the Val Cassino Social Club and a number of citizens and corporate sponsors, both here and in Cassino, who played an important role in ensuring that this goal was achieved.
Mr. Speaker: The member’s time has expired.
ACCESSIBLE TAXI PROGRAM
Mr. Harris: I would like today to call on the Minister of Transportation (Mr. Fulton) re the accessible taxi program and ask him when we are going to get this program into ridings like Nipissing and cities like North Bay. I call on him today to stand up in the House and tell us when.
Mr. Sterling: May I ask unanimous consent of the House to bring to the House information about a former member, Jules Morin, who passed away on September 23 of this year?
Mr. Sterling: It is with regret that I bring that news to the House. Mr. Morin sat as a member of this Legislature from 1955 to 1971, well representing Ottawa East for a period of 16 years. Mr. Morin was also able at that time to sit as an alderman on the city of Ottawa council, from 1944 to 1974, as it was possible to hold both those positions at that time.
Mr. Morin started out from humble beginnings. He first became a milkman, then a merchant, and was active with his family in business until his death. He was always accessible to his constituents, who often went to his store if they had a problem. Jules Morin started from humble circumstances and was always willing to represent with enthusiasm people who were in difficulty.
Mr. Morin took an active interest in the Central Canada Exhibition, where he was honoured with a lifetime directorship. Jules Morin was a hard worker all of his life, for his family, his church and his community. He will be remembered by many in Lower Town Ottawa for his encouragement and help. The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario expresses its sympathy to his wife, Molly, and his family.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: I would like to do the same on behalf of my party.
Monsieur le Président, je crois que les paroles que vient de prononcer mon ami conservateur, qui a siégé avec Jules Morin pendant plusieurs années, sont tout à fait appropriées. J’ai connu Jules Morin depuis ma tendre jeunesse, et M. Morin était reconnu non seulement comme un politicien mais aussi comme une personne dévouée à sa communauté. Il n’a jamais jugé les gens sur leur couleur, leur religion. Alors, le Parti libéral, ainsi que tous les membres de cette Assemblée, Monsieur le Président, convient de vous faire parvenir les condoléances les plus chaleureuses de la part du Parti libéral. Merci.
M. B. Rae: Monsieur le Président, de la part de mes collègues du Nouveau Parti démocratique, j’aimerais exprimer nos condoléances à la famille de M. Morin, un collègue de beaucoup d’entre nous. Nous espérons que les bons sentiments de ses collègues, des gens qui ont travaillé avec lui, vont les aider à accepter cet événement si triste dans leur vie.
We share with all members the sentiments that have been expressed by my colleague the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Grandmaître) and my good friend the member for Carleton (Mr. Sterling) and say that we too express our real sadness at the loss of Mr. Morin. We would like very much to send best wishes on the part of all members to members of his immediate family.
We hope that the good feelings that are expressed here and indeed in Ottawa and in many parts of the province will help the family in accepting this very sad event.
Mr. Speaker: I will, of course, send those words of sympathy to the Morin family when Hansard is printed.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Ward: Members will recall that earlier this year, I stated that I would bring before the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, a proposal to create an interprovincial program for the development of Canadian education indicators. Today, I would like to report on some of the details of this initiative, which I am happy to say received strong support from my fellow ministers at our annual meeting in Regina last month.
This program will involve developing national comparable statistics and various indicators of student performance in education. Our goal in introducing this initiative is to both measure and improve the quality of education, not only here in Ontario but also across Canada, and to develop and strengthen mechanisms to make education more accountable to the public.
The proposed program of indicators will provide Canadians with new information. For example, these indicators may be used in comparing Ontario students in mathematics with their counterparts in other provinces. They may also be used to identify strengths and weaknesses in curriculum and assess the potential impact of policies we may be considering.
It should be noted that this program is in line with the report of the Premier’s Council entitled Competing in the New Global Economy, which made recommendations concerning provincial standards for educational performance.
Under the indicators program, a number of measures will be used to assess performance of the school systems. The indicators will examine, for example, the amount of time allocated for instruction, curriculum content and the standards and expectations we place upon students and teachers.
We will also attempt to establish indicators at the level of student achievement across Canada and student retention rates from elementary right through post-secondary schooling. The indicators will address such factors as performance appraisal, pupil behaviour and teaching styles.
To ensure that some of the benefits of this program are realized as soon as possible, the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, has agreed that this program will be conducted in three stages over three years, commencing this fall.
The first phase will include an examination of student retention rates across Canada to determine how many students are completing secondary school requirements.
The second phase, to begin in 1989, will include a study of the directions students are taking after secondary school. As well, there will be surveys conducted to determine what Canadians expect from our school systems and how satisfied people are with those systems.
During this third phase, which will start in 1990, we will investigate developing or selecting a way of assessing student achievements in reading, writing and mathematics among students aged 13 from across Canada.
We continue to be proud of the accomplishments of our schools and of our students, but we believe that this Canada-wide indicators initiative will greatly assist us in enhancing the performance of the educational system in Ontario and in Canada.
ACCESSIBLE TAXI PROGRAM
Hon. Mr. Fulton: I would like to take a few moments today to bring to the House an update on my ministry’s accessible taxi program, which I announced last February.
The program was designed to provide incentive grants to licensed taxi operators across Ontario to encourage them to incorporate wheelchair-accessible taxi vehicles into their fleets. During the demonstration project, we have subsidized the purchase of wheelchair-accessible taxi vehicles to the tune of $5,000 per vehicle.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Fulton: Some members of the Legislature and community out there, Mr. Speaker, are very interested in accessible taxis.
The accessible taxi service has already commenced in Ontario. The first accessible taxi program went into effect in Sudbury last spring and has been operating three vehicles. Sault Ste, Marie inaugurated its service of three vehicles last August. Both operators are now considering additional vehicles. I was also pleased to participate, last month, in launching a similar service in Richmond Hill.
In addition, I recently announced Ontario participation in a joint provincial-federal initiative to introduce four accessible taxi vehicles in Ottawa. This demonstration project opens new transportation options for disabled persons travelling to and from airports, train stations and intercity bus terminals.
By the end of this year, accessible taxi service will also be available at Pearson International Airport and will commence in St. Catharines, Thorold and Markham. My ministry is also negotiating to introduce service in North Bay, Pembroke, Lindsay and Mississauga. Many other municipalities have shown interest in the program.
Our accessible taxi program is also providing a boost to the Ontario economy by generating interest among private industry. This initiative -- to make personal travel available to all Ontarians, regardless of disabilities -- is my ministry’s and this government’s positive acknowledgement that the freedom of mobility is a basic necessity in our society.
The accessible taxi program is on track and, judging by the response we have received on this program to date, I am confident that accessible taxi vehicles will soon become a commonplace service in municipalities right across Ontario.
CONSERVATION LAND TAX REDUCTION PROGRAM
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I would like to inform the House that the government is moving forward on an important tax rebate program for Ontario’s conservation lands. The details for implementing the conservation land tax reduction program are now in place. The reduction program will provide owners of specific conservation lands with up to a 100 per cent rebate on municipal taxes.
In effect, we are telling most private land owners, “If you preserve your conservation lands in their natural state, we’ll refund all the municipal taxes you pay on those lands.” No other province in Canada offers a tax rebate like this for conservation lands. If all those eligible apply for rebates, the program will pay out $5 million annually.
About 372,000 hectares of land, much of it in southern Ontario, have been identified as conservation land. Nearly 250,000 hectares are eligible for rebates. Lands that qualify under the program include class 1, 2 and 3 wetlands, provincially significant areas of natural and scientific interest, lands designated as escarpment natural areas within the Niagara Escarpment plan, conservation authority lands that do not produce revenue and other conservation lands owned by nonprofit groups.
Before the last election, the Premier (Mr. Peterson) committed the government to easing the property tax burden threatening the natural heritage value of these lands. Conservation lands make a vital contribution to our province’s heritage. The conservation land tax reduction program encourages the type of stewardship that will enhance and protect their natural value. It reaffirms our government’s commitment to preserving Ontario’s wetlands and conservation lands.
NEW VENTURES PROGRAM
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: On behalf of my ministry, I would like to inform the House that, as of today, the New Ventures program has provided 7,900 loan guarantees in support of startup financing for small businesses across the province. On this second anniversary, we are celebrating a total investment of over $105 million in Ontario’s entrepreneurial community and a high percentage of those entrepreneurs are women.
In September 1986, when the Premier (Mr. Peterson) announced the program, the message to entrepreneurs was that the government was lending a helping hand to those who were experiencing difficulties in finding money to get started -- the kind of difficulties which, if they persist, can cripple a lot of dreams.
New Ventures was set up to address these problems, which are generated in large measure by the lack of venture capital for startup firms and the lack of collateral usually required by lenders. Under the program, loan guarantees for up to $15,000 are provided on a dollar-matched basis. In the north and east, the matching requirement is reduced to 50 per cent of the loan amount.
On a geographic basis, the program is contributing to the development of regional economies. Entrepreneurs in eastern and northern Ontario account for 29.5 per cent of borrowers.
The program gives small businesses a necessary tool to help them develop into viable ventures. In return for this assistance, applicants must fulfil two important conditions: they must commit to hire at least the equivalent of one full-time employee and to prepare a comprehensive business plan.
We are now reaping the benefits of New Ventures. About 13,800 jobs have been created as a result of the program. In dollar terms, it is estimated that the matching requirement has in fact brought the total investment in the economy to over $200 million. And, considering the increasing presence of women among business owners’ ranks, it is not surprising that women entrepreneurs represent 28 per cent of all New Ventures borrowers.
Ten lending institutions are involved in the program. They include six major chartered banks, National Trust, the Credit Union Central of Ontario, I’Alliance des caisses populaires and le Federation des caisses populaires de l’Ontario. Their participation is a good example of partnership between government and the private sector. By all counts, the New Ventures program is proving to be an excellent stimulus to entrepreneurship in Ontario. This is good news for the new firms that will join the 400,000 small businesses in Ontario, adding to this thriving segment of the economy.
From 1978 to 1986, the small business sector alone accounted for 73 per cent of net job creation in Ontario. Women and youth had 24 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, of all new businesses created.
Today, I will be joining New Ventures loan recipients from across Ontario, representatives of the financial community, members of the committee of parliamentary assistants for small business and members of the House shortly after four o’clock to talk about entrepreneurship in the province.
SAFETY IN SPORTS
Hon. Mr. O’Neil: I am pleased to make public today the final report of the Ontario Sport Medicine and Safety Advisory Board. The advisory board was appointed in April 1985 to study safety in amateur sports. The board also examined fitness and recreation. It was asked to determine the number of injuries and recommend ways to reduce them.
They have done an outstanding job. I thank them for their efforts and congratulate them on their excellent report. The information they have gathered reflects a growing problem. For instance, the board estimates that 1.3 million injuries related to sports, fitness and recreation occurred in 1986. Those injuries cost Ontario more than $663 million in medical expenses and lost productivity. What they cost the victims and their families in pain and suffering cannot he measured.
Certainly not all of those injuries were life threatening, but 530 were classified as serious; that is, they were fatal or had the potential to cause long-term disabilities. Eighty-seven of those injuries resulted in fatalities, 47 occurring in and around water. Thirty-five of the fatal accidents involved alcohol. Figures like these are not acceptable.
That is why, in January of last year, my ministry, after studying the interim report of the board, embarked on a $1.4-million program to make sport and recreation safer for all Ontarians.
The initiatives in this program are ongoing. For instance, we will expand our efforts to help put breakaway goal nets in community arenas.
The measures we introduced were aimed at establishing an environment that would encourage the sports organizations, the medical and scientific community, the public and the government to work together to make safety in sport and recreation a top priority.
I think we have made a good start but, as the board’s final report makes clear, we still have a long way to go.
In light of the board’s findings, I am announcing today a new, seven-point, $1.76-million program to carry our safety strategy forward.
First, we have established an Advisory Committee on Sport, Fitness and Recreation Safety. There will be seven members on the committee drawn from the medical, sporting and recreation communities. They are: Dr. Mary Keyes, Dr. Noelle Grace, Marg Thomson, Guy Lemieux, Dr. Darwin Semotiuk, Bob MacKinnon and Harvey Singleton.
I think this would be an appropriate moment to introduce some distinguished visitors in the gallery today. I would like to introduce Linda Thom, Olympic gold medallist and chairman of the advisory board; Doug Ferguson of the Canadian Lifesaving Society, chairman of the new advisory committee; and Dr. Charles Tator, neurosurgeon and sports injury expert, vice chairman of the advisory committee.
The advisory committee, which had its first meeting last Thursday, will provide me with expert advice on the latest developments in their various fields. It will play a key role in making sport, fitness and recreation safer and therefore more enjoyable.
Second, a resource centre for sports safety information will be established at the Ontario Sports Centre. People will be able to get their safety questions answered by calling a toll-free number.
Third, the Canadian Sport Spine and Head Injury Research Centre is studying trends and patterns of those catastrophic injuries I mentioned a moment ago. We intend to look carefully at the results and integrate them into our program. If it can isolate some common elements in the injuries, perhaps we could start to get those numbers under control.
Fourth, we have formed partnerships with the Ontario Soccer Association, the Ontario Gymnastics Federation and the Hockey Development Centre for Ontario to survey the injuries suffered in those sports. The information we gather will form the basis of new safety and education programs. We expect agreements with other sports bodies in the near future.
Fifth, we will continue to work with leading organizations in sport, fitness and recreation to develop safety guidelines and procedures to minimize risks. We will also work to find better ways to get proper onsite injury care applied quickly, because accidents will still occur despite our best efforts. Both of these approaches should ease concerns about the issue of liability insurance.
Sixth, in recognition of the complex and wide-ranging nature of these safety issues, my ministry will take the lead in an interministerial effort to make sport, fitness and recreation safety a priority for the whole government.
Finally, we will undertake a major public awareness campaign. If we can get the kind of results that have been achieved, for instance, by the anti-drinking-and-driving campaigns, then I, for one, will be well pleased. In all of our efforts, we will work closely with staff and volunteers in the many organizations involved and provide funds and other assistance to help make all these programs work.
This is what we will do in Ontario. We will also collaborate with the federal government and the other provinces to make sports, fitness and recreation safety a national priority. This issue must be confronted on a national basis.
Ontario is prepared and equipped to take a leading role. We are announcing a very ambitious program today, a program that is built on co-operation and joint effort. The government, the sports organizations and the public must work hand in hand to make Ontario safer. Everyone has a role to play. My ministry will do its part.
Let me conclude by expressing once again my thanks to the members of the advisory board for the splendid job they have done. Let me also say that I am looking forward to working with the new advisory committee in the months ahead as we put our new safety strategy in place.
SAFETY IN SPORTS
Mr. Farnan: First, let me commend the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. O’Neil) for his obvious concern for sports safety. I have some suggestions to the minister. It has been very important to the New Democratic Party and we have encouraged the setting up of an independent sports commissioner. I believe this is absent from the report and it is vital to a healthy and safe environment in sports.
Second, I want the minister to make this pledge to the House today. Insurance, and the minister brought out this very well, at what cost to the victims and their families in pain and suffering cannot be measured. We must have insurance in sports. No matter what we do, there are going to be loopholes. There are going to be injuries, with terrible consequences to young children and to more mature players. Will the minister, in cabinet, encourage his government to work for a universal sickness and accident program so that no child and no adult will ever again have to suffer the consequences of a sports accident?
CONSERVATION LAND TAX REDUCTION PROGRAM
Mr. Wildman: I would like to make a brief comment with regard to the statement of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) regarding the conservation land tax reduction program which he announced for a second time today.
I note that the minister has said the details about the rebate program are now in place. I note, though, that he did not make clear in his statement how he was going to respond to the concerns I raised at the time he made his first announcement; that is, how he is going to ensure that farmers who also have access to drainage grants will be encouraged to take advantage of this program rather than to take advantage of drainage grants. He has not made that clear.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: The announcement today by the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) was possibly a religious experience; that is, it takes a leap of faith to be able to accept the fact that this government is going to show leadership in gathering statistics about education.
This is the same government that has no information to give to the select committee on education about the real dropout or dropin rates for Ontario today. It has no information on how many children were held back in public school for one year or more. It has no information on the absentee rates of children, especially young children, whom we have to get to very early. It does not have one socioeconomic study commissioned by this province about who are the dropouts, and yet today we are hearing that it is going to show national leadership. I am becoming a believer.
ACCESSIBLE TAXI PROGRAM
Mr. Allen: Responding to the announcement today by the Minister for Transportation (Mr. Fulton) with regard to accessible taxi programs, I want to compliment the minister on the further steps that have been taken to expand the accessible taxi program.
He is certainly a well-intentioned minister with regard to the needs of the disabled, especially in the transit area, but I sometimes wonder about his colleagues, inasmuch as the Ontario Advisory Council on the Physically Handicapped has long since had a report before the minister, The Freedom to Move Is Life Itself, which has called for the ministry to outline a multi-year prospectus for developing integrated transit systems in our municipalities across the province.
Such a plan has not been developed, and I note that this year the government has not taken the steps to require that renovations in the subway system, for example, and new capital developments in the Metro subway system be in fact handicapped-accessible. That was an important step that could have been taken and was not.
NEW VENTURES PROGRAM
Mr. Morin-Strom: I would like to respond to the minister’s statement on the New Ventures program. Certainly this program has been a successful one in terms of stimulating the small business sector. The pat on the back by the minister is one thing, but I do not see anything in this statement in terms of any new initiative that is going to help stimulate more business investment in this province.
In particular in areas like northern Ontario, we need more than just those small businesses with $15,000 loans from the province. We still need a diversified economy. We need strong industries that can export major products, industrial concerns that can balance the economy in those one-industry towns that we have across the north. I would ask the minister to address that concern as well.
SAFETY IN SPORTS
Mr. McLean: I would like to respond to the announcement today by the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. O’Neil).
It was interesting to realize this report was commissioned back on April 2, 1985, by a previous government that had seen the wisdom of being involved in sports medicine safety. I would like to congratulate the board’s findings and the work it has done, and I want to say that I hope the new advisory committee that is set up will make sure it continues to took at what takes place in Ontario in the sports area. I am sure they were made aware through the first report and I know they will bring out and bring forward to the minister what they see and the improvements that need to take place.
EDUCATIONAL PERFORMANCE PERFORMANCE SCOLAIRE
Mr. Villeneuve: I would like to reply to the proposal by the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) to create an interprovincial program for development of Canadian education and his trip to Regina to make education more accountable to the public.
Il est inconcevable pour moi, Monsieur le Président, que ce gouvemement libéral refuse, une deuxième journée consecutive, de répondre au jugement de la Cour suprême et de clarifier comment les prochaines élections aux conseils scolaires seront menées, des élections qui laissent les conseils scolaires dans un état de bouleversement complète.
Cette confusion a été créée par un gouvernement qui a violé les droits constitutionnels des Franco-Ontariens. Il n’écoute pas les nombreux avertissements du public et des conseils scolaires, ainsi que du Parti progressiste-conservateur, concernant les problèmes que causerait la Loi 125 pour les élections de 1988.
Ils ont imposé cette violation des droits des francophones et ils doivent immédiatement avertir les citoyens de cette province et leur trouver des solutions. Montrez-nous un peu de leadership.
ACCESSIBLE TAXI PROGRAM
Mr. Cousens: When the Minister of Transportation (Mr. Fulton) talks about accessible taxi service, I think this is a worthy thing, but why not allow it so that the taxis can be accessible into Toronto and into the big cities? Accessibility is becoming a problem because he is not putting the dollars where it counts, into roads and into buses and into the total service so that we can get people in and out of the Metropolitan area easily and safely without spending all their time sitting in their cars or sitting in their taxis trying to get somewhere. Let’s do something about accessibility and start building the infrastructure to make it possible to get cars and trucks moving in this great area.
Mrs. Marland: The wheelchair-accessible taxis are only a beginning. In real terms, the solution for the disabled in terms of transportation in this province has to be more funding for the existing transit systems for the disabled.
We would like this government to do more than window-dressing for the disabled; we would like it to give more money in this area.
We also would feel more convinced that this government is sincere with respect to the disabled if it had not interrupted the flow-through of money from the federal government last year for pensions.
CONSERVATION LAND TAX REDUCTION PROGRAM
Mr. Pope: With respect to the announcement of the conservation land tax reduction program, since this has been the previous government’s initiative that this Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) has sat on for three years and now announced for the second time, of course we support the initiative. We can only conclude that the Ministry of the Environment decided it was now a priority and got it through cabinet. That has to be our presumption, because the government has sat on it for three years and it has never seen the light of day when it was needed in Ontario.
While I am talking about the conservation land tax reduction program, I cannot believe the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) is not making a statement today about the trustees election process in northern and eastern Ontario and the complete chaos the Minister of Education has created. That falls under the conservation land tax reduction program, I know, and we expect better of the Minister of Education.
ACCESSIBLE TAXI PROGRAM
Mr. Harris: When I come to ministers and demand action for Nipissing, I expect action right away, and I congratulate the minister on action right away in giving us the accessible taxi program in Nipissing; it took about five minutes. All you have to do is ask him, I guess. We appreciate it.
NEW VENTURES PROGRAM
Mr. Harris: I want to comment, as well, on the statement by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter). There is a reception today. It was unclear, in my invitation, whether in fact I am expected to pay $200 to come to this meeting or is that just for the program recipients?
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps the member could continue that during question period. That completes the allotted time for ministerial statements and responses.
Mr. B. Rae: I have some questions this afternoon for the Minister of Community and Social Services. I asked the minister yesterday some questions about child care, in which what his government is doing flies directly in the face of recommendations made to him by Judge George Thomson in the report which the minister hailed on the day of its release, amid much fanfare, a little over four weeks ago.
I met, this lunchtime, with several people, all of whom will be dramatically affected if this government decides to do something about the Thomson report, and all of whose lives are dramatically affected today because the government has done nothing -- kids going to bed hungry, women having to balance budgets when there just is not the money coming in.
I have a very simple and direct question for the minister: Why does he continue to delay the implementation of a report which will have, if implemented, a dramatic effect on the lives of poor people in Ontario today?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: The honourable Leader of the Opposition (Mr. B. Rae) is well aware, I am sure, that the report itself recommends that there be up to a six-month time period for the government to thoroughly understand what the report says, to understand the comprehensive nature of the report, to have an opportunity to appreciate the consequences and the implications of 274 recommendations.
The report also clearly says that the whole report has to be considered as a comprehensive whole. It cannot just be taken in bits and pieces. It indicates very clearly that if only one element of it is dealt with, in fact, you could end up doing more harm than good.
I have said very clearly that there will be a response to this report in this session of the Legislature. I have also said, in terms of some of the higher-cost elements, that we would have to wait until the new budget of next March or next April. I think the honourable Leader of the Opposition is also aware of the fact that during the past two years, while this report was information, a considerable number of improvements were made to the social assistance system in this province.
Mr. B. Rae: Perhaps the minister could explain to the women I met with at lunchtime today, who are having to raise their kids on a few hundred dollars a month, who are penalized when they try to go back to work, who have to give much of that money back to the government. When they get child support from their husbands, they are told they cannot receive it until 1999. They have to hand that over to the government. They are continually discriminated against in terms of their attempts to find work. They cannot find child care, and the government is not unfreezing those spaces.
Perhaps the minister could explain to Betty McKay, whose total income is $1,021 and whose rent, gas, hydro, phone, clothing and student loan for herself and her children come to $970 a month, how it is that increasing her benefits by some 18 per cent, which is what George Thomson is calling for, and getting rid of some of the discrimination in housing, which would increase the subsidy to deal with her real costs, how doing that would, to use his unforgettable words, do her more harm than good? Perhaps he could explain that.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I would go back to the former answer and indicate very clearly that the report itself says that its various elements must be taken together. They cannot be taken separately.
Second, I would remind the honourable member that there have been six increases in social assistance in the last three years. In each case, they were designed to deal with a specific need that had been brought to our attention. Whether that need had been shelter subsidies, children’s clothing, special needs of the disabled or increases in the basic rate, all of those factors were taken into consideration.
Over that three-year period, a total increase of $337 million was added to that program. That represents an overall increase in excess of 23 per cent at a time when there was a 13 per cent cost-of-living increase. For single parents, it represented a 30 per cent increase. For the disabled, it represented a 36 per cent increase. For a family of four, it represented a 37 per cent increase.
We have not been standing idly by while this was in formation. All the various problems and concerns which the honourable member --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. Order.
Mr. B. Rae: If the minister is saying that George Thomson is urging the minister to delay the implementation of his report, then I think the minister is completely misreading and misunderstanding what Thomson has said and indeed misunderstanding the situation out there affecting families. What George Thomson has said is: “Get on in the first year with the first stage. Deal now with the problems that can be dealt with now.” That is precisely what Thomson says. That is precisely the point he is making.
I would ask the minister to answer my question again. Can he explain how increasing benefits dealing with the discrimination against people on housing and allowing people to work and not have to give all that back to the government, can he explain how moving on those three very specific recommendations could possibly do more harm than good to people who are living on $50 and $60 a month for food and for everything else for their kids?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: Clearly, Mr. Thomson and his committee are not suggesting we delay. What they are clearly saying, though, is that we do read the report and understand the report and make a series of recommendations in terms of how we plan to deal with those recommendations. That is what Mr. Thomson clearly says.
As the honourable member obviously knows, at each subsequent year in the past three years we have made changes. All of the items he just mentioned have been dealt with over the last three years. We have dealt with the shelter subsidy. We have dealt with day care. We have dealt with the needs of single parents and the disabled. We have. All of those things have been dealt with and will continue to be dealt with. This is a guideline and a blueprint as to how we should proceed in the future.
Mr. B. Rae: We would do better with Marie Antoinette.
Mr. B. Rae: The question I have is for the Minister of Health. The minister will no doubt be aware, because of press reports, of the case of Albert Horlock, who suffered a serious heart problem in his home in Orangeville and was transported by means of emergency helicopter to Toronto General Hospital. There were severe arguments between Toronto General Hospital and Sunnybrook Medical Centre as to which hospital could provide for Mr. Horlock, to the point that his family was able to drive to the Toronto General Hospital more quickly than Mr. Horlock got there by helicopter.
The minister has spent a lot of time in the last number of days and weeks huffing and puffing about the fact that there are too many doctors in our health care system. I wonder why she has not focused as much energy and attention on what is surely the most critical problem facing our hospital system today; that is, the fact that we do not have enough nurses. I wonder if the minister can possibly respond to the Horlock family and to the many other patients who are either being denied care or being delayed care for the simple reason that there are not enough nurses right now in our hospitals to provide the care we need.
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: I was very concerned and very distressed when I heard about that particular case. I have asked ministry officials to investigate and find out why that would occur. I believe the people of this province have an expectation that people in need of urgent care will be given priority. That is what we expect from the system, and I want to find out why in this case that did not work.
The issue the Leader of the Opposition raises is probably one of most perplexing dimensions, I would say, because the whole role of nurses within the health care system and nursing human resource and manpower issues are directly related to the changing role of women in our society. They speak to the need for nursing to have a stronger voice in the management of hospitals and to have job satisfaction.
The question is, why are nurses leaving nursing? In fact, I have been discussing this with members of the nursing profession, the leadership of the profession over the past year, and I believe we are beginning to see some of the answers addressed in the report of the Advisory Committee on Nursing Manpower. I am expecting another report, from the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario and the Hospital Council of Metropolitan Toronto, this fall.
Mr. B. Rae: The nurses that I spoke to in the last month, at several open sessions at the Wellesley Hospital and Sunnybrook Medical Centre, say one of their problems is that they cannot talk to the minister, that the minister is not interested in talking to working nurses. That is what they tell me. I just spoke to the critical care nurses, and that is exactly what they are saying. The minister might not like it, but she should talk to them. The minister does not like it, but it is true.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I am waiting for a question, and I hope all members will listen carefully.
Mr. B. Rae: Can the minister explain to this House how she can talk about there being a well-managed and well-run system when it takes several hours for someone to get emergency treatment, when in fact the number of emergency, intensive care unit beds in the Toronto General Hospital has been cut from 58 to 36 beds because of the nursing shortage and when Sunnybrook has had to close 15 of its 48 intensive care beds? They are short 30 critical care nurses at Sunnybrook and there are 103 full-time nurse vacancies at the Toronto General Hospital.
Can the minister explain how she can talk so much about how we have a well-run, well-managed system when this is allowed to happen and why she is spending so much time telling everybody there are too many doctors in the system when the real problem in Ontario is that there are simply not enough persons there, because the nurses are leaving the system?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: I have been meeting with the leadership of nursing over the course of the past year. What they are telling me is that the Leader of the Opposition and his categorization are fundamentally wrong. In fact, the vacancy rates across the province vary from community to community. The concern is far more with job satisfaction and working conditions. There is a role to play for numerous partners in our health care system to face this important challenge.
There is a role for the profession and for the associations, which are often those involved in negotiations or setting standards for the profession. There is a role for the employers, the hospitals, to address. As well, there is a role for government to ensure that nurses will have a greater voice as part of the health care team in our system.
I can tell the member that as a result of the nursing manpower committee, I have already taken action in asking that the ministry draft regulations to ensure that nurses will have a voice and a say in the allocation of resources within our hospitals,
Mr. B. Rae: Mr. Horlock is lucky today to be alive. He is alive despite Ontario’s system right now, not because of what happened, because there was a breakdown at a critical point. Dr. Demajo, who is the coordinator of intensive care units at the TGH, said that the problem is nursing, that the nursing shortage caused the problem and that it is the lack of beds. He had somebody on a ventilator in the emergency department at the same time. Simply not being able to respond, he tried to get that person into Sunnybrook. Sunnybrook said, “We don’t have a space either, because the number of beds has been cut back.”
Quite specifically, I would like to ask the minister this simple question again: How can she talk with such confidence of our having a well-run, well-managed system when Mr. Horlock is treated in this way by that very same system? Would she not agree with me, and indeed with Mrs. Horlock, who says she is raising this case and is happy to talk to the public for the one simple reason that she wants to make sure it never happens again? How can the minister make that kind of guarantee when we know the system is in danger of breaking down at its most critical point?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: Let me make it clear again that I think the people of this province, and I and every member of this House, as a reasonable expectation believe that people in need of urgent care should be given priority in this province. It speaks to the need, I believe, not only for everyone in this House to work together but also for hospitals to work together.
I can tell the member that is happening and beginning to happen in many communities where it never happened before. In Metropolitan Toronto, we have seen the use of changing technology to help us and we know, as I have said, that we need to have a better planned and a better and more manageable health care system in the future than we have had in the past.
There are enormous challenges facing health care, but if we work on the basic principles that everything we do must result in quality care, the most effective quality care possible, then I believe we will achieve our goal in the future.
Mr. Brandt: My question too is to the Minister of Health with respect to the hospital system. The minister has constantly, over the course of the past number of months, virtually since the day she was appointed to that ministry, blamed hospitals for mismanagement and for some of their underfunding problem. Yet after indicating publicly that there would be no money added to the system, the minister in some mysterious fashion was able to find close to $40 million to assist some hospitals with their underfunding problem, for which I applaud her.
But I would like to point out to the minister that, as a result of a misplaced memo in her well-planned, well-managed administrative staff up at the Ministry of Health, she delayed a loan to the Welland County General Hospital, and as a result of that one-month delay, she cost the Welland County hospital an additional $10,000 in interest. They are going to have to find the money to fund that particular interest charge, and it relates directly to a lost memo in her department.
I would like to ask what the minister is doing to rectify the problems in her own administrative staff and in her own department as they relate to problems of this kind.
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: I do not think there is anyone in this province or in this Legislature who does not appreciate the enormous challenges being faced by health care in Ontario, in this country and in fact internationally, given our ageing population, the economic reality that health has its fair share of our economic resources by any international standard and rapidly changing technology.
Where I disagree with the member opposite is that there is anyone to blame. I have been very clear in this House that in fact there are no white hats and black hats. We know that within the management of our hospital system there are different levels of expertise and we must help them. But I can tell the member opposite that we have looked within the ministry and we have been reorganizing into the kind of organization that will allow us to look at programs across this province and maintain a provincial perspective. We believe that health care is not a partisan issue and that every part of this province deserves its fair share of our health care resources.
Mr. Brandt: It really does not answer how the memo was lost or how Welland is going to come up with an additional $10,000, which was my question, but will the minister explain another rather unusual circumstance that occurred within her ministry?
On April 14, there was in fact a form letter sent from the special assistant to the deputy minister to all Ontario hospitals, asking them to inform the Ministry of Health of any capital projects that they had under way that had been approved by the ministry.
Since she is constantly blaming hospitals such as Cambridge Memorial Hospital, Sarnia St. Joseph’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital in London, Welland County General Hospital and many others for their shortfall in funding, will the minister please advise this House why it is that she does not know the amount or the location of projects she has approved within her own ministry?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: I have said repeatedly in this House, on numerous occasions, that our goal is to see that hospitals are fairly and appropriately funded to meet the needs of their community. I can tell the member that a recent conjoint review of 23 hospitals told us that the ministry must be clear, consistent and fair in its approach. Why did they point that out? Because in the past, under previous leadership, the ministry was not clear, consistent and fair.
When I talk about the challenges in health care, I say we must look back 10 years to see where we are going to be in 10 years and we must not blame anyone. In fact, we must work together co-operatively. We are working with the hospitals on an individual basis and with the Ontario Hospital Association to help us to resolve many of the issues that are outstanding and facing us in health care.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary,
Mr. Brandt: I did not get an answer to the question on the $10,000 to Welland. I did not get an answer with respect to why her ministry does not know where the various projects are or even at what level she has funded them.
It is very obvious from the form letter that was sent out that the ministry did not know the status of the various projects that have in fact been given approval by her own ministry. Surely she knows the budget that has been allocated to her by the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon), and surely she knows what projects she has approved. I would think it would be virtually automatic within a minister’s portfolio that she would have that information handy.
How can she, again and again, as she has over the course of the past number of months and particularly through the summer, blame hospitals, which she has done, with respect to their underfunding problem when she does not have her own house in order within the Ministry of Health?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: I must object to the categorization of assessing blame. I will make a deal with the leader of the third party. I will not blame the leadership of the past for all of the problems we have today if he will categorically say the truth is that I have not been blaming anyone.
I have been saying very clearly that we must work together co-operatively to resolve the problems left to us by past administrations. We began three years ago. We have a lot of progress to make.
I also said clearly in this House that approval by the Ministry of Health results in a letter from the minister. If the leader of the third party has any particular inquiries or if he knows of anyone who has a letter of approval from the minister that the person has questions about, I am always happy to look at these particular issues on an individual basis.
Mr. Speaker: New question.
Mr. Brandt: If it is an offer being made by the minister, I reject the offer; I do not want it. The offer is a silly one, because the minister knows full well the hospitals are more concerned about what she has done during the course of the past year --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Does the member have another question, and to which minister?
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. Brandt: Yes, I do, in fact. My question, in the absence of the Premier (Mr. Peterson), is to the Solicitor General. As the Solicitor General knows, I think it is fair to say that some 90 per cent of all of the individuals and organizations that came before the standing committee on administration of justice dealing with Sunday shopping indicated that they were opposed to the government’s plans. There were religious groups, as she knows. There were municipalities that have made submissions to that committee, there were retail workers and small business people who were all opposed.
The minister has perhaps been too busy to see this particular ad, but I would like to bring to the attention of the minister a full-page ad which indicates, by way of headline, “Do Liberals Care?”
Hon. Mr. Curling: Yes.
Mr. Brandt: I hear one of the ministers say, “Yes, Liberals do care.” Well, if the government is in fact listening, I say to the Solicitor General, will she use her considerable influence to discuss with her Premier and her cabinet colleagues the right thing to do, which is to reassess their position on Sunday shopping and give some reconsideration to that whole plan, which is certainly not meeting with the support of the people of this province?
Hon. Mrs. Smith: I wish to point out to the member for Sarnia that there is nothing new in what he says or what is happening here. The people who appeared before the committee, by and large, were the same group that put in the ad and signed many petitions and continues to address this problem in a way that does not reflect the bill. They continue to address the problem of wide-open Sunday, etc., whereas in fact we are talking about the possibility of a municipality controlling its own shopping pattern in a way that is suitable to its own people.
I would point out to the member of the opposition that the city of Sault Ste. Marie, for instance, which already had a decision by its council to have open Sundays, did not appear before the committee.
Mr. Wildman: No. It is having a referendum.
Hon. Mrs. Smith: It is now having a referendum to confirm whether it will remain open. It is presently open by vote of council. It did not appear before the committee to say why it wanted to be there. However, there are many people like them throughout this province. I have been on many committees, and generally speaking people come forward to tell you how they want to change a bill or improve it, and that indeed is what we ask: for people to come forward with improvements and changes --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. That seemed like a fairly full answer.
Mr. Brandt: I am full of the minister’s answer, too. When she uses Sault Ste. Marie as an example of one out of close to 900 municipalities in this entire province, she is grasping at straws. Even in that particular case, I point out to the minister that all they are going to do is move towards a referendum on the question.
Will the minister consider sitting down with some of these very concerned groups and individuals to discuss some of the viable alternatives to the present, ill-thought-out bill she plans to bring forward for passage by this particular House? Will the minister agree simply to meet with those groups and organizations, because they are complaining that she has not listened at committee and they have requested direct meetings with the Premier and with her office?
Mr. Speaker: You have asked the question.
Mr. Brandt: Will she agree at least to do that and hold the bill up until she has given them a chance to air their views?
Hon. Mrs. Smith: I remind the member that I have met repeatedly with these groups and I have spoken to them on all these issues. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario specifically refused to discuss anything because it considered it a letting down of its position. It still has not come forward with any positive suggestions. In fact, we are moving to amend our own bills in the particular area I asked them to address and have input on. We knew there was work to be done and we are doing it on our own to bring in a process, to bring in changes.
In the meantime, we have left a provincial framework in place that will remain in place. Only at the will of municipalities will it be altered. Roughly 110 municipalities, not just Sault Ste. Marie, have, before this bill is passed, made changes in their municipality to reflect the type of society they wish to have in that community.
Mr. Brandt: As the minister wants to refer to municipal governments, I point out to her that a recent editorial in Municipal World indicated some real concern about her bill. I point out to the minister, if she has not seen that particular magazine, that it is the voice of municipal government in this province. It complained about the lack of input into the development of the bill and went on to say, “But the bill would result in further cost to taxpayers, which will not be recoverable from any increased retail activity,” something we have been saying to her all along.
The minister has also indicated that there are no alternatives or positive suggestions. I point out to her that my colleagues the member for London North (Mrs. Cunningham) and the member for Durham East (Mr. Cureatz) have put forth a reasonable suggestion, which is to establish a board to consider tourist exemptions. That is a very reasonable and sound recommendation from my colleagues; I might add that it has met with some interest on the part of New Brunswick, which has contacted our caucus to see exactly what we have in mind.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Would you put your question?
Mr. Brandt: Why will the minister not delay bringing the bill forward until such time as she can sit down, along with her colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Eakins), and have a full and thorough discussion with the municipalities who do not want her to pass on this --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. I think there is a question somewhere there.
Hon. Mrs. Smith: It should be no surprise to the member that the newspaper of the organization said the same thing the organization is saying. They are taking a very one-sided point of view. They do not want the responsibility of making what, in some cases, may be an unpopular decision. If the municipalities do nothing, they will not have increased cost, they will not have anything, because they will not have increased openness. Only if the municipalities opt for more openness will they have any increased cost that comes along with that.
Furthermore, we looked with great care at the suggestion of the member for London North. I think she should have looked at it more closely, too; we discovered that the caucus had not studied it in depth. The committee she suggested related to appointments -- one each from several ministries, one appointment from an Ontario tourist association of some sort -- and three of these people were to be permanent. This committee, which is suddenly to make this decision, had no accountability to the public.
We are saying that only the municipal government, which is accountable to the public, can make changes to open up the municipalities. We do not want some committee made up of appointments --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Mr. Speaker: Order. We will just wait. I want to inform the members that I have had a number of notes from members and a number of comments from members regarding yesterday and now today. We have had four questions each day with supplementaries and responses and it has taken over the full half-hour. I would ask for better co-operation in the days to come.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I would be glad to discuss that with anyone because I have them timed here.
HERBICIDE IN SEWER SYSTEM
Mr. Morin-Strom: My question is for the Minister of the Environment who, in the case of residents and workers at Sault Ste. Marie’s east-end treatment plant, seems to be protecting neither the environment nor human health.
A month ago, the minister called on “thousands of industrial users of sewers to eliminate toxic contaminants from the liquid waste before it is dumped into the community’s sewer system.” However, now we have the Ministry of the Environment itself dumping the toxic herbicide Spike into Sault Ste. Marie’s water system, a product that the industry’s own supply data sheet specifies as follows: “Do not allow material to reach any waterways or water intakes. Material is insoluble and may accumulate in the environment if spills are improperly contained.”
Can the minister therefore explain how he can allow water containing the herbicide Spike to be entering, under his approved guidelines, Sault Ste. Marie’s water system completely untreated?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: First, in regard to the first reference the member made to occupational health and safety, the individuals exercised appropriately their right to refuse until such time as they were assured that in fact they were working in conditions they considered to be safe or which the ministry considered to be safe. The member would know that the Ministry of Labour investigated this and indicated that in its view the working conditions were safe. That was the Ministry of Labour ruling on this matter, based on the scientific and health information it had.
However, further discussions have taken place today, I would share with the member. My understanding is that the workers are in fact back on the job today and that there is daily testing of the material which is going into the plan to ensure that it meets the occupational health and safety standards they would consider to be appropriate. It is my understanding that that agreement has satisfied the people who are involved.
Mr. B. Rae: It is a fine day when the Minister of the Environment has to stand up in the House and not admit that his own ministry suspended two workers who were concerned about their health dealing with the Spike compound and that in fact that is what has created this crisis in the Sault.
An official in the Ministry of the Environment stated, “Spike is biodegradable.” I am quoting what Mr. Gillespie, who is a ministry official, said in the Sault Star on October 15. Can the minister explain how his official could have said something like that when it has been stated by C-I-L itself, which manufactures the product, “Do not allow material to reach any waterways or water intakes. Environmental effects: Material is insoluble and may accumulate in the environment if spills are improperly contained. May be toxic to fish at low concentrations,” and the doctor from the Ministry of Labour said, “Because of similarities between the chemical structure of Spike and known toxic compounds, a cautious approach should be adopted to human exposure to this compound”?
Can the minister explain the contradiction between what the experts are saying with respect to this particular compound and what his own ministry is telling the workers who are having to handle the substance?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I can indicate to the member for York South (Mr. B. Rae) that the basis we followed was the basis of the information provided to us by the Ministry of Labour. I indicate to him as well --
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I will wait for the member to calm down.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Of course, the member would be aware that in terms of occupational health and safety, it is the information provided by the Ministry of Labour which is the regular procedure we would follow.
As well, in discussions which are ongoing with the particular company involved, Canadian Pacific, going back to what the member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Morin-Strom) suggested, I have indicated that I believe, in keeping with future plans we would have in terms of the use of sewers and sewage treatment plants, there should be pretreatment of that material before it is going to the plant.
Mr. Wildman: It is going directly into the river.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: No, into the sewage treatment plant, not directly into the river. Let’s not confuse that.
Testing is going on at the present and the results will be produced. It is my view that pretreatment, as I have indicated on many occasions, is the preferable method of dealing with this, and I intend to see that is the method that will be employed. I think the member has indicated to me that concern.
Mr. Eves: I have a question for the Minister of Health. The Horlock incident is not an isolated case. As a matter of fact, a constituent of mine, Mrs. Foley, this week is in Sunnybrook Medical Centre and she has had her aneurysm surgery cancelled twice so far. Her doctor has another critically ill patient who has been on a waiting list for over four weeks now. Due to the shortage of nurses, Sunnybrook has closed 48 beds servicing everything from cardiac surgery to neurosurgery. Dr. Maggisano, Mrs. Foley’s surgeon, alone has 20 to 30 patients on a waiting list that is three to four months long.
Does the minister think this is satisfactory and is this ensuring that all critically ill patients receive immediate care?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: When we discuss these issues, I am always happy to have any specific cases the member has which he feels are not being appropriately dealt with so I can communicate directly with the hospitals. I am very concerned that the hospitals respond, that physicians who have responsibility for determining urgency of care make sure they take the responsibility to do that.
The Ministry of Health, when it funds in a global way the hospitals, expects that people in need of urgent care will be given priority, no questions asked, and that that will be determined according to appropriate medical judgement and medical standards. I would urge the member, if he has any of those specific questions, to either take them directly to the hospital or to me, I would be pleased to took at them.
Let me state that it is extremely important to understand that services are provided right across this province by many competent and qualified physicians in a number of different centres. Because of the very nature of some of the challenges we face, it is important for hospitals to work together to share information and for people to be appropriately referred when they need urgent care.
Mr. Eves: With regard to the type of surgery Dr. Maggisano does, there are only three surgeons in Ontario who do this: two at Toronto General Hospital and one at Sunnybrook -- Dr. Maggisano himself. So much for sending them to other centres and hospitals communicating.
The minister announced last June that $19 million was being put towards expanded heart programs, yet many of the problems we have outlined in the Legislature today will not be solved unless the wider problem of a nursing shortage is addressed.
Last spring, members of the opposition had to literally embarrass this government over a period of some two or three months into acting on the serious issue of waiting lists in cardiovascular surgery. Do we have to go through this entire exercise again, come in here day after day for the next two months or three months and embarrass the Minister of Health into action, or is she going to act in a responsible fashion and deal with the nursing shortage in Ontario today?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: The member opposite displays a singular lack of understanding of this very important issue. Clearly, he is not listening to the answers that have been given in this House. As I have stated in response to a question from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. B. Rae), we have already begun to draft a regulation under the Public Hospitals Act to respond to the need for nurses to have a stronger voice in hospital management. I have also acknowledged that we will be opening the Public Hospitals Act for review and amendment, so that we can respond to those systemic needs.
We know we are talking about a societal problem that responds to the many opportunities open to women in society and the changing role of women. There is a role for the profession itself to address, a role for the employers, to look at working conditions as well as our educational institutions. From day one, I said that one of the things we should be looking at in nursing is the kind of affirmative action program that says this is a wonderful profession for young men as well. There are many societal issues.
The perplexing problem of nursing manpower and human resourcing in this province is one I believe the member opposite should acquaint himself with, so that he fully understands the implications of what he is suggesting.
Mr. Owen: I have a question for the Solicitor General. In recent months, in talking to traffic officials and police, they tell me that in their judgement there has been a significant increase in bad or reckless driving across the province and that there has been an increase in drivers ignoring traffic signs and traffic lights.
Has this increase been taking place? Are there any studies available to the minister to try to identify if there has been such an increase? Has there been a result in an increased number of accidents or types of accidents from this type of driving?
Hon. Mrs. Smith: I did have a letter asking somewhat similar questions recently. As I recall, in the greater Toronto area there has been an increase in deaths. I believe that where we are today, something in the order of 87 casualties, is the same as the whole year last year. It is an increase, and indeed there has been a seven per cent increase in property damage.
However, I would point out a few relevant facts that make it difficult to make a final judgement. First, there is a lot more traffic in Toronto. Toronto is a growing community and the suburbs are growing -- our school situation tells us that -- and the increased volume has made for greater frustration, which may make people tend to be a bit more careless with the laws.
As well as that, I would remind the member that from the statistics we heard from Manitoba during discussion of insurance rates, we got a clear indication that the greater the volume of traffic, the greater the proportion of accidents. It is very hard to measure these things out in a very definitive way.
I would point out, however, that we have measured the success of the Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere program in cutting down on both death and damage due to drinking and driving. This has been measured and is working.
Mr. Owen: I am pleased the minister has referred to the success of the RIDE program because I understand that the number of accidents caused by drinking and driving has dropped from 60 per cent down to 40 per cent.
I would like to ask the minister, if we have had this kind of success with the RIDE program for drinking and driving, has she given any thought to a similar program to bring to the attention of the public the effect of their bad driving and whether the ministry can endorse, support or work out a program with its police officials and other traffic officials to have the same effect of educating the public on what they are doing to themselves?
Hon. Mrs. Smith: There are two points here, I guess. In the first place, the RIDE program was a little more extensive. An exception was made to a general rule, and in fact, people are tested by mechanical means for drinking and driving regardless of whether they have committed an offence. This meant it had very special powers that are not applicable generally within our society and I think people would object if we tried to increase them beyond the special need for the special exception.
However, I concur with the idea about education. In fact, five local police forces plus the Ontario Provincial Police presently have a new slogan they are trying to push in an educational program called “Speed Slows You Down.” There is another program that has been in place for some time now that is called “Strict is Fair,” meaning that if you get pulled over, do not try to talk your way out of a ticket. In the end, I think --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Thank you.
Mr. Speaker: Order. New question, the member for Lake Nipigon.
INDIAN POLICING PROGRAM
Mr. Pouliot: I have a question for the Solicitor General. The native community of Kingfisher Lake in northwestern Ontario, with a population of some 300 people, has often been cited as a model, orderly community, and yet in the past six months one per cent of the population has been wiped out. We have had three youths committing suicide in this orderly community, and in each case gas sniffing and alcohol were involved.
In the community of Kingfisher Lake there is no one, no special constable to enforce the band council resolutions, nobody to maintain law and order. When will the minister direct the Ontario Indian Policing Commission to appoint immediately a special constable in the community of Kingfisher Lake?
Hon. Mrs. Smith: I share with the member his concern for the fact that we do not have nearly enough special Indian constables. The program has proved itself to be immensely successful and should be growing at a rapid rate. There has been a lot of discussion among the native communities, the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) and myself.
The basic problem is this: that program is a jointly shared federal-provincial program which is presently split, costwise, 52 per cent to 48 per cent. The native people are most anxious to keep the federal involvement in it, so they do not want us to go beyond the 48 per cent. This is something we continue to negotiate. We continue, along with them, to try to convince the federal government to put in more money. As well as that, we talk to them about whether they would be willing for us to go beyond this 48 per cent. In the meantime, it becomes a negotiated matter.
We certainly favour any increase to this program that we can get and arrange, and certainly Kingfisher should be one of the places that is considered, along with many others.
Mr. Pouliot: Meegwatch. The minister should be more concerned with family violence, including severe beatings, suicide, drug abuse and alcohol abuse, than with her rapport and/or relationship with her federal cousins. The situation is urgent. We have fully 29 communities with no law enforcement whatsoever. When is the minister going to start doing her job?
Hon. Mrs. Smith: On the subject of suicide and other social ills, I would agree that there is a tremendous amount to be done, particularly on the reservations and any place where there is a preponderance of native people living. These areas cover a lot more than law enforcement. Basically, they cover such things as education, social programs -- many areas. I think we must continue to address these together with the native people.
To do with family violence, we are trying very hard to put in programs. As the member knows, I have been travelling around on the family violence programs this summer. We are looking at them and will be reporting shortly. But even there, I feel very strongly, when talking to the native people, that they wish to have more opportunity to address these for themselves. Unfortunately, I think, too often, someone coming from outside and speaking to them about family violence and the way maybe women are being abused creates a defensive reaction that is helpful neither to the law-enforcement officers, who are non-Indian, nor to the native people themselves. That is why we need more native constables, which I completely concur with.
Mr. Harris: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. The government has pursued policies, which have shifted an increasing portion of the cost of financing of the education system on to the municipalities. It has hiked housing prices through increases to the land transfer tax, the retail sales tax and an expansion of the sales tax base. Now we understand that the government has a plot brewing to include a special education component in municipal lot levies.
Can the member tell the House, as the minister responsible for ensuring affordable housing, what she is doing to protect new home buyers, who have paid about $1 billion in lot levies in the past three years already, from this latest scheme to make it more difficult for them to own their own homes?
Hon. Ms. Hosek: Yesterday, when the honourable member asked me a question, I neglected to welcome him to his new portfolio as critic. I welcome him today and I am very glad to answer his question.
I am obviously very concerned about the whole question of affordable home ownership. The honourable member will be pleased to know that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs has been conducting, along with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and some representatives of the industry, an inquiry into the whole question of lot levies and how they are to be handled. He will be hearing the results of those discussions very soon. I believe those will be much more helpful for the whole question of affordable home ownership than they have been in the past.
Mr. Harris: The question is, what is the minister doing to protect the affordability of housing prices? She is the minister. I know the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) wants more money. I know the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) would like to have more money. Every new home buyer will be disappointed to learn that the Minister of Housing has done nothing to protect them in this issue. In fact, she appears to be helping bail out the Education minister for failing to keep his promise to increase the provincial share of education costs to 60 per cent.
Given that the government will collect $200 million this year alone from increases in the land transfer tax, and given that the sales tax increase has added $2,000 to the cost of an average house; and given, in short, the government’s record of really profiteering in the housing market, can the minister tell the new home buyer when, if ever, the minister is going to stop putting roadblocks in their way, and when she is going to get around to dealing with them instead of contributing to the affordability problem --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Hon. Ms. Hosek: The honourable member will know, if he has been paying attention, that over the last number of months we have been doing a number of things that are going to make a significant difference in the cost of home ownership for people who are buying new homes. We have been actively working with mayors and regional chairs on speeding up the building process and the land use approvals process.
This summer we also announced our land use policy, in which we are requiring municipalities to work together with the provincial government, to make sure that all new housing that gets built in the province meets the goal that, within municipal neighbourhoods, 25 per cent of that housing is affordable and is targeted to the people who need housing which is affordable and moderate in price.
I believe the direction we are taking in land use policy represents a major breakthrough in making sure that the moderately priced house, the house for the family of modest income, is available to people. I think we have been working very successfully with municipalities in this direction and the member will see many, many more movements in this direction.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
TRADE WITH UNITED STATES
Mr. Carrothers: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Recently, I have had a number of constituents speak to me --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mrs. Marland: There were 800 people at the meeting.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: What meeting?
Mrs. Marland: He is going to ask you about it.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Has the member for Mississauga South finished?
Mr. Carrothers: Recently, many of my constituents have spoken to me about their concerns over the free trade agreement and the impact it may have on the environment. Recently, a coalition of environmental groups across Canada has stated its concerns about the effect this deal might have on the country’s ability to develop environmental policy, to establish environmental standards and to help industry meet some of the new environmental standards which may be set. What effect does the minister feel this agreement will have on Ontario’s environment?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: In August 1987, when the National Task Force on Environment and Economy was here in the city of Toronto, I indicated my concerns about the possible ramifications of the free trade agreement, and there was a meeting held this past weekend of environmental groups, who once again underlined their concerns about the effects.
The main problem I have is that the pressures will increase on ministers of the environment across Canada to adopt those kinds of guidelines and standards and rules which relate to the environment and to impose American rules on us. They will say, of course, that because there is no tariff barrier at the border any more to protect them, they are in a position to try to pressure each of the ministers across Canada to adopt the same rules as the United States, and in many of the states, in fact the majority of the states, the rules and regulations which govern the environment would not be the same as they are here. In fact, they would b
e weaker than they are in Ontario.
Mr. Carrothers: With tighter environmental standards, there could well come a call on behalf of industry for more help in meeting the costs of these environmental standards. Does the minister feel that agreement might impact on this government’s ability to help industry clean up its act and clean up our environment?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: If you look at some of the programs we were talking about yesterday, such as the waste recovery programs and the transfer of waste from one company to another for utilization in proper processes, you would find that in fact is an indirect subsidy from government. Those kinds of programs are designed to increase the kind of reuse and recovery and recycling of waste we would like to see.
Another excellent example is the acid gas reduction program which exists at smelters like Noranda in Quebec and Inco in Sudbury and Falconbridge in Sudbury and Algoma in Wawa. All of those have been discussed by the federal and provincial ministers as having potential for receiving funds. In fact, an agreement has been made with Noranda.
In that regard, I would say that would be placed in jeopardy if the free trade agreement were to be implemented. I think you would see American companies, as they already have complained about our mining industry, would in fact be trying to invoke American rules that would apply to us.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I thank all members for their assistance. New question, the member for Sudbury East.
Miss Martel: I have a question for the Minister of Labour concerning Bill 162. I would like to return to the Minister of Labour, because he got so carried away answering yesterday that he neglected to actually answer the question I asked. I am going to make it very simple for him, so he will not be confused and will not be able to stray from the issue.
Mr. Speaker: Please do.
Miss Martel: The minister knows that the trade union movement, the legal clinics and the injured workers’ groups in this province are demanding full public hearings across the province on Bill 162. Will the minister commit himself today in this House to guarantee there will be full public hearings across the province on Bill 162?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: Just to correct the opening remarks of the member for Sudbury East, I would not say that the list of groups she rhymed off is objecting or demanding full public hearings. Let me say this about public hearings: I think she knows very well what the rules of this House are. The committee that considers the bill after a debate in this House on second reading will determine its agenda.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: We know what you said privately --
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: If the front row of the New Democratic Party will be quiet for just a moment, I will answer.
If the member for Sudbury East wants my views on public hearings, I have no particular objection, but I am not going to usurp the responsibility of the committee to determine that agenda. I will tell the member for Sudbury East one thing quite clearly --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: If she thinks public hearings ought to be based on the kinds of representations she has made thus far on Bill 162. I do not think they will be fruitful. If public hearings can be fruitful and can add to the process, I would have no objection. The fact is, there has been a great deal of misinformation handed to injured workers, labour unions and a number of other groups, based on material that I have seen come from her office, and I think it is regrettable.
Mr. Speaker: That completes the allotted time for oral questions and responses.
Mr. Adams: I have a petition which reads as follows:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario, as follows:
“We oppose the proposed landfill site on lot 6, concession 4, Cavan township, in the vicinity of Peterborough county road 28 and Tapley Drive. We believe a garbage dump at the above location would have a negative impact on the Baxter Creek watershed and numerous farms that surround the site.”
ST. JOSEPH’S GENERAL HOSPITAL
Mr. Adams: I have a petition from over 300 people concerning St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Peterborough. It reads as follows:
“We, the undersigned, wish to voice our strong disapproval with any closure, shutdown or cutback of any department or service at St. Joseph’s hospital, Peterborough.”
Mr. Adams: I have another petition on the same topic.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I am finding it very difficult to understand what the members are presenting to the House. Thank you for your assistance. The member for Peterborough.
Mr. Adams: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The petition reads as follows:
“We, the taxpayers, wish to voice our strong opposition to the cutbacks in health care in our community. We are very much against the proposed closing of 45 surgical beds at St. Joseph’s General Hospital, and the layoff of the 55 nurses.”
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. D. R. Cooke: I have a petition from 40 employees of Weind Ford Sales Ltd. who ask that we exhibit concern for their opposition to Bill 113 -- Sunday opening. They believe that the Ontario government must maintain Sunday as a day of rest.
Mr. Harris: I have a petition which reads as follows:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
”We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
“That the government of Ontario undertake immediately to proceed with the necessary repairs to the bridge erected in Gibbons township, district of Nipissing, crossing the Sturgeon River on access road, called Leduc Road, linking highways 575 and 539. Its closure has inconvenienced thousands of people by their having to travel an additional 15 to 20 kilometres.”
This petition is signed by 463 people, signed by myself, with a personal note from the federal candidate in Vemer, from Benoît Serre, that says, “Please, David, you can move faster than that.”
SCHOOL OPENING EXERCISES
Mr. McLean: I have a petition signed by 20 members of the Gleaners bible class of St. Paul’s United Church in Orillia, which reads:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, the Minister of Education and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the members of the Gleaners bible class of St. Paul’s United Church in Orillia wish to protest the Ontario Court of Appeal’s judgement to discontinue the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer in Ontario public schools. We strongly recommend that it continue to be said each day in school, as has been our custom for years.”
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
ARIANN DEVELOPMENTS INC. ACT
Mr. J. B. Nixon moved first reading of Bill Pr66, An Act to revive Ariann Developments Inc.
Motion agreed to.
PETERBOROUGH HISTORICAL SOCIETY ACT
Mr. Adams moved first reading of Bill Pr53, An Act respecting the Peterborough Historical Society.
Motion agreed to.
288093 ONTARIO LIMITED ACT
Mrs. LeBourdais moved first reading of Bill Pr55, An Act to revive 289093 Ontario Limited.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
INTERIM SUPPLY / CRÉDITS PROVISOIRES
Hon. R. F. Nixon moved resolution 15:
That the Treasurer of Ontario be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments, pending the voting of supply for the period commencing November 1, 1988, and ending December 31, 1988, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: The honourable members would be interested to know that, if approved, this notice of motion will require about $5.4 billion to service the expenses of the province until the end of the calendar year. The appropriate expenditures have paralleled quite closely the estimates in the budget. Since most of these issues have been going so smoothly, I am looking forward to simply a routine discussion and rapid approval of this motion.
Mr. Harris: I find it a little bit offensive that the Treasurer tells us today that the expenditures are roughly paralleling the estimates. I have not researched it thoroughly, but I venture to say that there has probably not been a government in the history of this Legislature of Ontario, going back as many years as one would like to go back, where at this late date in the sitting not one hour of estimates has been provided by the government House leader.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: We wanted to do those yesterday and they set it aside.
Mr. Harris: Had we sat yesterday, we would have had three hours out of some 420 hours required by the standing orders.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: If only “hypocrisy” were a word we could use here.
Mr. Harris: I think I used it on the telephone this morning with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Wrye). Actually, if he is not here today, I might withdraw it, but it was early in the morning when I used it.
Mr. Laughren: We know you meant it.
Mr. Harris: I did want to mention that, because the same thought comes to my mind with the Treasurer today. It really is a little bothersome the way the government has treated the whole estimates process. I do not know what it has to hide. I do not know why it does not want us to look at its budget.
We have not done one budget bill. This is a new practice of this government, to leave the budget bills until, in one case, after a provincial election. Now it appears he wants to leave the tax bills until after the federal election, because we see no sign the Treasurer has any interest in even debating the $1.2-billion tax grab in the budget bills that we have coming before us.
I want to have that on the record as we enter this very lengthy debate, obviously necessitated by the lack of time spent on the estimates that we now must spend on supply.
The Deputy Speaker: The member’s time is up.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I just want to point out that there have been a number of occasions when our House leader has valiantly attempted to schedule estimates and in each instance these attempts have been nullified by initiatives taken under the rules by the opposition parties, quite often at the insistence and initiative of the very member who has just been critical, which is a most surprising aspect of his personality that has recently emerged. In fact, even yesterday we were anxious to debate estimates and the members set the matter aside so we could debate garbage, which admittedly is perhaps more interesting.
As a matter of fact, if the honourable members would agree with me that this is a routine motion, we could simply carry it routinely and revert to estimates immediately. I am sure the government House leader would be glad to accommodate me and the member.
The Deputy Speaker: Do other members wish to participate in the debate?
Mr. Laughren: I do indeed. I could not help but think when I was sitting here, though, since I am rising in my place to talk about the expenditure of $5 billion why I do not get a real rush. It is not happening to me. I think it is perhaps because I have seen it too many times.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: It’s your age.
Mr. Laughren: I can take that from the Treasurer.
We will support this government motion to pay the salaries of the civil servants of Ontario. I suspect that the Tories will too, despite their numerous musings on the worth of the civil service in Ontario and its numbers.
We, of course, have some observations to make on this, which the Treasurer calls a routine motion. First, the budget for this fiscal year, which the Treasurer presented last spring, was about $38 billion, as I recall, and about $1.3 billion was new taxes which the Treasurer decided he needed.
Many of us who observed the expenditures of the government are mystified by where that money is going. We know there is an accounting of government finances from time to time, but it does not really explain it.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Has this man ever met a payroll?
Mr. Laughren: Yes, as a matter of fact, I have met a payroll, but I will tell the minister about that some other time.
Despite the fact that the Treasurer raised an extra $1.3 billion and despite the fact that the economy of Ontario is booming -- which is like a double-barrelled benefit to the consolidated revenue fund, since a lot of the revenues that come in go up when the economy goes up in terms of corporate taxes, income taxes, sales taxes; so that it is not just $1.3 billion that the Treasurer was able to get in new money, it is the new money that comes as a result of a booming economy, particularly in southern Ontario -- at the same time that this money is coming in and the economy is booming, the list of programs that need funding continues to grow.
There really is an unlimited demand, it seems, for various programs. I think of health, education, child care and housing in particular, where there never seems to be enough money even to meet the basic needs. That is what mystifies a lot of people.
If the government is getting these massive new revenues and the economy is booming, when will we ever get our house in order as a government, as a people, and be able to meet those very serious demands? The demands are not frivolous; they really are serious. The needs, in some cases, are truly basic and I wanted to talk about those for a few minutes.
In response to these almost unlimited demands, the government seems almost paralysed as it staggers from promise to promise and program to program. There really does not seem to be any real sense of purpose or any real agenda. If people were asked what were the major aspects of the new Liberal administration since 1987, I think they would be hard pressed to say what the priorities of the government were, other than Sunday shopping, and I do not think that is what the government wishes to be seen as, as historians write about it.
In 1987 the people of Ontario gave this government an enormous mandate, a truly remarkable mandate, and it seems to me that it is an abuse of that mandate not to do something positive with it. Surely that mandate came about for a couple of reasons. First, I believe the people of Ontario wanted a break with the past; and second, I believe they wanted to continue the reform program that was established between 1985 and 1987 as a result of the accord with this party. I believe that is why people out there gave this government the mandate they did in 1987, just a year ago.
As a result of that mandate, I really wonder what the government is all about. I will give the Treasurer a couple of quotes that really puzzle me. These come from people within his government. This is from the Globe and Mail of October 12: “The Ministry of Education trimmed $3 million from a $43-million program announced in the April budget to help school boards purchase computers and related equipment.” That is a strange place to cut, given the age of high technology and the musings of the Premier (Mr. Peterson) about the importance of high technology.
Grants to literacy groups under the Skills Development ministry have remained static or been trimmed, and no new groups have been financed.
The Ministry of Community and Social Services cut $2.8 million from a $42.7-million program to provide homemaker services to the disabled and elderly, and cut $1.5 million from Alzheimer’s disease programs, which originally had been granted $9.5 million.
With those kinds of cuts, given the enormous new revenues by the province, we cannot be expected to ask anything else but what kind of perverse agenda is in place out there by this government and what kinds of messages are being received out there by the people of the province when they see that?
I look at health care, where, if our research is correct -- and the Treasurer knows how seldom our research is wrong -- the health care system is costing the people of Ontario $24,000 per minute in health care costs; a truly remarkable amount of money.
We know that health care costs have more than tripled in the last 10 years and now eat up a third of total Ontario government spending. In hospitals across the province, more and more patients are lying in acute care beds while they wait for residential, extended or chronic care beds. Government research shows that more than half of these people would be better off in home- or community-based settings, and that the cost of keeping the 45,000 elderly people affected in this way in nursing homes and homes for the aged is more than $500 million a year.
Finally, Liberal and Conservative governments have refused to confront the institutionally biased and open-ended, fee-for-service system. The result is that powerful hospital boards, doctors, private laboratories and drug companies continue to control the financial goodies of this province. Given that, it is not surprising that the health care system is costing us $24,000 a minute.
There is no emphasis from the Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) on preventive health care. There is no real push to teach health and nutrition in the school system. It is no wonder that our health care system is not only expensive but also very inefficient.
I cannot leave the discussion on health care without saying a few words about health care in northern Ontario. I am glad my friend the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Pouliot) is here because he will perhaps add to these comments later. I hope he does.
In June, part of our caucus went on a tour of northwestern Ontario to look at health care in the northwest. Then in September a number of us -- and I included myself on this trip -- went to certain communities in northeastern Ontario. We went to North Bay, New Liskeard, Kirkland Lake, Kapuskasing, Cochrane and Timmins, and we had over 50 submissions from people about health care in the north.
It is remarkable that many of the demands by people in the north are not expensive demands. They are demands that there be a different way of delivering health care in the north because the present system is locked into the past. For example, native people want control over the administration of health care on their reserves. Franco-Ontarians need services to be provided in their own language.
Health professionals, including specialists, general practitioners and therapists, could be attracted and retained in the north if there was a medical school in the north. It is a very strong feeling. Even the Ontario Medical Association agrees with this now, that there needs to be a medical school in northern Ontario. Until that happens, we are for ever going to have a shortage of medical people, particularly specialists, in small communities in northern Ontario. That is not going to change until there is a medical school in the north. People trained there will practise medicine in the north. Without that, it is simply not going to happen.
As well, we could develop a different model of health care. I personally would not support a carbon copy of the University of Toronto medical school, for example, in northern Ontario. It should be a different model. It should be a medical school that deals with nurse practitioners to work in the small and remote communities in northern Ontario. It needs to be a model based on community health care, not the centralized model we have here. It needs to be one based on preventive care. That is simply not the model in the medical schools elsewhere in the province. We feel very strongly, as do those people who came before us. We are not asking for the same kind of medical school as we have down here. They want a medical school designed for northern Ontario.
One of the most impressive presentations we had was from North Bay, where the medical officer of health made a very powerful presentation on the need for some preventive health care. I believe at present 1.5 per cent of the Ontario health budget is spent on preventive care. If that figure was even increased by 50 per cent or doubled, from 1.5 per cent to perhaps 2.5 per cent or 3 per cent, that would make an enormous difference in what the health units were able to deliver across the province.
In particular, the chiefs from a number of reserves on James Bay and Hudson Bay came before the committee as well, in Timmins. They were the chiefs from Moose Factory, Fort Albany, Kashechewan and Attawapiskat. I thought the chiefs made some very moving and powerful presentations to our task force. They told us, for example, that the elderly in Moose Factory, which has a population of 1,200, have no chronic care. Chief Ernie Sutherland spoke of the “game of musical beds played to a sour tune that must be played to try and accommodate 30 elderly people in four beds in the active treatment hospital.”
Kashechewan, with a population of 1,100, is accessible only by air or snowmobile and is in need of an ambulance and 15 chronic care beds. It does not need the six polychlorinated-biphenyl-contaminated transformers that Ontario Hydro still has not removed from that community.
Moosonee, with a population of 1,300, does not have adequate sewers. Obstetric care is not available. Women must fly hundreds of miles to deliver their babies, often giving birth before they make it to the hospital in the south. Martha Sutherland, speaking in Cree, echoed the stories from the other communities in her description of Attawapiskat, where there is no proper sewer line and patients are transported in police vans or on snowmobiles instead of in an ambulance.
When native people approach the province, which, it seems to me, has jurisdiction over health care, they are often rebuffed and told to go see the federal government, that this is where the problem lies. For example, this government has rejected a proposal from the Moose Factory band for chronic care resources even though it knows full well that the medical services branch of the federal Department of National Health and Welfare will not provide for chronic care.
Here we have the Moose Factory band going to the Minister of Health, saying, “We would like some chronic care resources,” and the Minister of Health, knowing full well the federal government will not deal with chronic care, says to them, “Go see the federal government.” How cynical can you get? At least they should have the honesty to say, “No, we’re not going to help you.” Instead of that, they play this game of shuffling them off to the federal government, knowing full well --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: That is a federal responsibility. They have a treaty.
Mr. Laughren: The federal government will not deal with chronic care. It is as simple as that.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: They should.
Mr. Laughren: Perhaps they should, but they are not doing it. You sit on the sidelines and rub your hands.
The Deputy Speaker: The member will address his remarks through the Speaker.
Mr. Laughren: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is good to have a Speaker who is so interested.
Chief Sutherland said to us, and I quote: “Our people who require chronic care services don’t need to be labelled a federal or a provincial responsibility, but rather as human beings who require a very basic, essential need as they age. All we have are two governments looking for an inexpensive way of copping out at the expense of ageing first nation people.”
I think that says it as clearly as it can be said. It is a game of jurisdictional ping-pong that the provincial government is playing with the federal government. So we are urging this government to do some things about chronic care beds, about ambulance services, about removal of PCBs and other environmental hazards in Indian reserves, and to provide proper sewers. It is the responsibility of this government to provide those things. If the federal government will not do it, then it seems to me, particularly in health care, that the province has an obligation.
I know the pressures on the health care budget are truly enormous. We do understand that. But we understand as well that there are some very basic health care needs that are not being met, and at this point we have no reason to believe the Minister of Health has either the clout or the will to proceed with the changes that are necessary in order to get our health care system on a different track, so that it emphasizes more the preventive nature of health care and the educational aspects of health care, and provides a different kind of delivery system, basically community based, in northern Ontario.
Perhaps I could turn for a moment to housing issues. It seems as though it is business as usual with housing in Ontario. The last number I saw was that there were 20,000 homeless in the province and I think about half of those are in Metropolitan Toronto. It is truly a serious problem.
Since this government came to power in 1985, the waiting list for people to get into homes has increased by 50 per cent. The backlog of rent review is now, I think, at about 25,000 cases. It is truly a jungle out there and it is not getting any better.
Home prices in Metropolitan Toronto have increased by 75 per cent in the last two years. If there is anybody responsible for that it is the person sitting across from me. The Treasurer of Ontario had every opportunity to nip that land speculation in the bud. He had an opportunity to put to an end to those dramatic price increases on housing in Ontario. He could have done it. It worked before. The Treasurer even admits now that it worked before, after he denied it for weeks. It worked before; it would work again.
Yet the Treasurer sat there and watched housing prices skyrocket and did absolutely nothing about it. He did not increase the supply of public housing that would have eased the pressure. He did not put on a land speculation tax that would have stopped trading in houses as though they were pork belly futures. He did not do anything like that; nothing. He just sat there and watched the prices go up, so that housing for many people in the Metropolitan area is simply a lost dream.
I wanted to say a word about taxes because the Treasurer is the resident expert, having raised more than any Treasurer in the history of this province. Therefore, I would assume he knows a little bit about it. As I said earlier, he raised almost $1 billion just with the increase in the provincial sales tax, and he had two reasons for doing that, as I look back on those days.
First of all, he wanted the extra billion for obvious reasons, expenditures for programs. I understand that. I do not agree with doing it through the sales tax because that is a regressive tax, but nevertheless I understand the need for revenues to provide new programs.
The second reason he did it is one that is more diabolical, and quite frankly, less honourable. The Treasurer is very much aware of the federal government’s plans for tax reform. The Treasurer knows that. He knows the federal government plans to impose a federal sales tax that will work, I assume -- understandably, I would appreciate hearing from the Treasurer if his understanding is different from mine -- so that the new federal tax would wipe out existing provincial sales taxes and be one large sales tax from which the provinces would extract their fair share. That is the way it would work, and the provinces would be compensated for their sales tax being wiped out and the new federal tax being imposed.
The Treasurer increases his sales tax by one per cent, even though the economy is booming like it has never boomed before. He increases the regressive sales tax by one per cent as a hedge against the new federal sales tax, so that when that federal sales tax comes in, the Treasurer does not claim seven per cent of the new federal sales tax for the province of Ontario; he claims eight per cent. I wish that the Treasurer --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: That is very strange arithmetic.
Mr. Laughren: Why is it strange arithmetic? What he is doing is putting in place negotiations for the future.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: If they have a tax of nine per cent and ours is eight per cent, why should I --
Mr. Laughren: He is claiming the equivalent. He would have claimed --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: -- claim eight per cent of the revenue? Fifty per cent of the revenue.
Mr. Laughren: That is what I meant. Yes, that is right.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Laughren: When that federal sales tax reform comes in, the Treasurer will claim what would be Ontario’s share if there were no federal tax and we still had our eight per cent -- that is all I am saying -- which would be, as the Treasurer correctly points out, about 50 per cent of what was raised.
Of course, the Treasurer knows full well that, presumably, the new sales tax is going to be somewhere between 15 per cent and 16 per cent in Ontario, and maybe higher; it may be up to 19 per cent. The taxpayers are not going to be particularly delighted when they start paying anywhere from 15 per cent or 16 per cent to 19 per cent on the purchase of goods at the store. It is not going to be just on goods. It is going to be on a much broader range of services, as well.
Mr. Pouliot: Right after the next election.
Mr. Laughren: I can tell the member that it certainly clarifies for us the reasons the Treasurer has not been resisting the federal tax reform. He sees this as a pretty easy political way of getting increased revenues, and quite frankly, he snuck in that one per cent increase in the sales tax before the federal tax reform takes place. It was a pretty sneaky way of getting at it.
In effect, there is obviously a clear message to the Wilson-Mulroney team in Ottawa, “Go ahead, because I have just increased my share of whatever you do.” I think there was a very clear message there to Mulroney and Wilson that as far as Ontario is concerned, they can go ahead and raise their taxes and proceed with tax reform. It does not matter that it is going to be very regressive. It does not matter that it is going to be an extremely unfair tax.
At least Don Blenkarn, chairman of the standing committee on finance, trade and economic affairs, was honest enough to say, “It looks as though there is going to be $10 billion in new revenue as a result of this tax.” That is what he said. Brian Mulroney says, in the middle of a federal election: “No, Mr. Blenkarn. You should not have said that. It is going to be revenue-neutral.”
Members should mark my words. They think they have heard the term “Lyin’ Brian” up to now. Wait until after the next federal election. If the Tories win federally and they bring in this federal tax reform and we get an 18 per cent to 19 per cent sales tax at the federal level, wiping out the provincial sales taxes, and they see the new revenues that will go into the federal government, the term “Lyin’ Brian” will be cast in stone.
What bothers me is that I expect this from Brian Mulroney. I do not expect the truth from him, but I am dismayed when I see this Treasurer playing the game and going along with that kind of sales tax reform and that kind of deception of the people of this province. It simply is not appropriate.
As a matter of fact, in a study done by Clarkson Gordon, it is indicated that Ontario consumers will pay between 16 per cent and 19 per cent sales tax on goods and services if that federal tax reform goes through. There is going to be hell to pay. Guess what? This Treasurer will not have fought the good fight to resist it, but at that point he will throw up his hands and say: “What are you going to do with those federal Tories? We are Liberals in Ontario. We would not do that.” But he has been an accessory before the fact, he will be an accessory during the fact and he will be an accessory after the fact, as he sits there smiling like a Cheshire cat.
As I said, we do not expect anything better from the federal Tories, but from this government, we did expect more. We will see what happens, but it is clear that now it is too late to fight that battle. We are in the middle of a federal election. When the opportunity was there to fight it, the Treasurer was nowhere to be seen.
I want to spend a minute or two on how this government spends its money. It is really strange sometimes when I see it handing out its cheques. I raised it very briefly the other day during members’ statements, where we only have 90 seconds to make a statement. It had to do with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter). He came galloping into Sudbury on his horse and he presented to Inco a cheque for $2.81 million.
I am a good friend of Inco and its senior management. However, I think even Inco’s senior management would tell you that this year it is going to make a net profit of probably more than $500 million. They had about $300 million in the first six months, as much as they have ever had in an entire year in the best of all years. Here we have a company that is going to make a net profit of about $500 million this year and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology comes in and gives them $2.81 million.
For what purpose? Is it to improve the environment? No. Is it for research and development on safer mining methods? No. Is it for increased benefits to the pensioners, many of whom have very low pensions? No. What is it for? It is to help them develop new methods of backfill in their mine, something they do anyway. When they take out the ore, they backfill it so they can then proceed to mine the adjoining ore body. It is not something they do not have to do.
When the press went to him, the minister argued: “It is a program that they’re entitled to. Just because they are big doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be entitled to it.” That is a very strange rationale. He said also that other mines will benefit from it and it will be safer. Why cannot the mining industry do that itself?
Mr. Laughren: The member for Niagara South (Mr. Haggerty) knows Inco is capable of doing this itself. He knows as well that they have an obligation. If it is going to be safer, if they argue that they are going to investigate ways to make backfilling safer and so forth, is it not their responsibility too to make their operation as safe as possible and to do research to make sure that happens? Here we have the minister coming in and giving them $2.81 million. It must be nice.
At the same time that is happening, Inco is winning appeals on its property assessment. Now the regional municipality of Sudbury owes lnco -- I do not know if I have the figures here.
Mr. Haggerty: It’s time for market value assessment.
Mr. Laughren: Stop throwing red herrings across the path. It is several hundreds of thousands of dollars and it could go up as high as $800,000, they tell me. But this is only the first of many appeals and they have won these two. Here is a company that has not paid its fair share of property assessment ever and it is winning appeals to the Assessment Review Board, a provincial government review body. They are winning them.
Here is the city of Sudbury having trouble paying off its debt on the World Junior Games. I do not see the minister riding in and saying, “Oh, you’ve got a debt of around $1 million on the World Junior Games,” which everybody supported in the province -- it is part of the rehabilitation of Sudbury, as I view it -- ”Here is $1 million to help you pay off that debt.” No, he rides into town and gives $2.81 million to Inco. For heaven’s sake, what kind of perverse priority is that? At the same time that is happening, the women’s centre in Sudbury closes because of no funding.
I do not expect the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology to ride into town and give $1 million to the women’s centre. That is not the way the system works. But as a government, is there not something perverse about seeing a community struggle with sewer and water projects it cannot even fund within its boundaries, not being able to pay off the World Junior Games debt -- something around $1 million -- losing appeals to the provincial Assessment Review Board and at the same time giving Inco a cheque for $2.81 million simply to do mining? That is, to me, really offensive.
It has nothing to do with environmental improvement either. It will not reduce the acid emissions at all. Oh no, it is to help them backfill. It was an outrageous allocation of funds. I know members of the Legislature are not really supposed to stand up and complain when a grant comes into their community, but I want to tell you, there are times when it is so bad you really should do it.
I have heard the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) stand up and say that he did not appreciate some grants that went into his community. Just because it is coming into the particular riding does not mean it makes any sense.
I think that was fundamentally wrong and I would sure appreciate it if I could hear the member for Sudbury (Mr. Campbell) stand up and say there are better uses in Sudbury for that $2.81 million than to Inco, which is going to make half a billion this year.
As though to add insult to injury, what did Inco do? They said: “Well, we’ll really have a boom year. We are going to take $1 billion and feed it back into ourselves.” The reason they did that -- they had to borrow about half of that to do it and the bond agencies did not like it and lowered their rating -- was they said, “We are worried.” Well, I am paraphrasing because they did not quite put it that way, but it is all based on Inco having been worried about a takeover.
Their shares are very widely held. They are cash-rich at this point. The price of nickel is very high. They were worried about a hostile takeover. Hostile to whom? To the shareholders? No. To the workers? No. To the community? No. To senior management, that is whom. So what did they do? They said, “We’re going to make it very difficult and very expensive for a takeover that we, senior management, do not approve of,” so they increased their equity base by $1.5 billion, as I recall.
What kind of nonsense is that? What a way to spend $1 billion. Whom does it benefit? Does it benefit the community? No. The people who work there? No. The pensioners? No. It was an outrageous decision on the part of Inco. I know there is nothing to prevent them from doing it, but I think the bond agencies spoke loudly and clearly about what they thought of it.
I do not consider that capitalism or free enterprise. I said the other day that I thought it was self-indulgent and incestuous capitalism; that is what it is. It makes no sense whatsoever to anybody except senior management because it protects them from a hostile takeover, and that is an outrageous allocation of resources, considering they made their money from our resources. You wonder why we talk about the need for those nonrenewable resources to be in the public sector. We do not need a better example than that.
On top of all this, while all this is happening, galloping into town is the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. “Here’s $2.81 million dollars.” That is what he did.
I will never understand how the government can then, with a straight face, deny funding for worthy programs. Even the Globe and Mail, in a lead editorial entitled “The Poison Pill” makes that point as well. I will not read it to members but the Globe and Mail had a lead editorial called “The Poison Pill”. So it is not just the rantings of someone left of centre that you are hearing. It was truly a self-indulgent, selfish act on the part of Inco.
Mr. Pouliot: Totally, absolutely, explicitly. The Treasurer just sits there reading “Report on Business” in the Globe and Mail. What a shameful performance.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: The member is not in his seat.
Mr. Laughren: I will not go on about Inco, because I do not want to offend anybody there, but --
Mr. Faubert: Why not? You offended everybody else.
Mr. Laughren: I just wanted to express my frustration in a way that you cannot do in a 90-second member’s statement; that is what I wanted to do, because I think it is not fair to the community for Inco to have done that; and second, it is not fair to the community for the Minister of industry, Trade and Technology to have done what he did. It is a very strange allocation of resources.
While I am talking about Sudbury and while the member for Sudbury is here, and I am really pleased he is here because I am sure he will want to get into the debate. I want to talk about something New Democrats started talking about in 1982, and that was -- wait for it -- a fertilizer plant in Sudbury. Back in 1982 we recommended that there be a fertilizer plant built there using the Cargill township phosphate deposits. Up near Kapuskasing, in Cargill township, there are phosphate deposits. At Sudbury there is an enormous amount of acid produced as a byproduct of the nickel mining operations. When you combine phosphates and acid, with a few other ingredients I am sure, you get fertilizer.
We called for it in 1982. In 1986 the Minister of Northern Development (Mr. Fontaine) finally commissioned a study on it. The Tories never would. They would not even look at it. They said, “If the private sector doesn’t want to do it, we don’t want to touch it.” The Minister of Northern Development, to his credit, in 1986 commissioned a report.
The report concluded that it was a feasible operation, that the ore body would have a 13-year life and that it would create 80 jobs in Cargill township up near Kapuskasing and 80 jobs wherever the plant was built; and of course, there would be service jobs, trucking jobs and so forth. It was quite a major operation for northern Ontario. Those are big job numbers in the north.
In 1986 the minister commissioned the study and this is what he said. I would not want to misquote the minister. This was on March 27, 1986: “Northern Development and Mines Minister René Fontaine stated, ‘The ministry staff have already begun to draft terms of reference for a consultants’ study that would, in its first stage, assess, in conjunction with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the market outlook for fertilizer and other products, based on northern phosphate and sulphur products in the Sudbury mineral operations.’”
I draw your attention to a couple of phrases in there: “that would, in its first stage, assess”; second, “sulphur products in the Sudbury mineral operations.” When the consultants’ report was done, it talked more about the Timmins acid operations than Sudbury’s. I found that a little strange. Anyway, that was what they did.
In June 1988, there was a meeting in Sudbury to discuss the study. This is a couple of years later now. Why the government sat on it as long as it did, I do not know. Anyway, there was a meeting and a lot of elaborate correspondence has flowed back and forth since then. I should tell members that the study that was done was not ambivalent about the possibility. It was quite clear. I quote from that consultants’ study.
“The attractive economic benefits revealed in this preliminary study warrant more detailed work to prepare a final development plan for Ontario’s Cargill phosphate deposit. It is our opinion that after additional studies are completed to fully define the project’s scope, such a development plan will have a good probability of proceeding to completion. This plan will likely include development of a phosphate mine at the Cargill site and may also include development of a new phosphate chemical plant in Ontario or the reactivation of an existing idle facility, such as exists at Port Maitland and at Courtright.”
It goes on to say: “An initial description of sequential actions for developing Ontario’s Cargill deposits is recommended below.” This is the next stage they are talking about.
“1. Obtain from appropriate authorities acceptance of the project as described in this preliminary report and tentative financial commitments to support development, i.e., approval in principle.
“2. Identify the primary developer or developers who will assume authority and responsibility for moving the project to a timely completion, including commitments of deposits and plants, preparation and execution of contracts, production and marketing of products and financial matters. The developers should select a contractor or contractors for conducting the integrated project study and work closely with the contractor or contractors during the study.”
That was what the consultants’ report said. When we saw that, we were very pleased at the work that had been done and began writing letters to the Premier and to the Minister of Northern Development to get on with phase 2 of the study. This was back in June and July 1988.
Now, what is happening? I wrote a letter to the Minister of Northern Development on April 25, and four months later I got a reply in which he apologized for the delay and in which he indicated that he is interested in following it up, but on the other hand, you know -- I will read what he says:
“I regret the delay in responding, but as you will recall from our discussions in the House on this matter, this ministry is prepared to become involved in a follow-up study if interested private sector representatives agree to participate financially.”
It is “if.” At no point did we ever demand, insist or even urge that the government do the whole project. We were saying that the government’s responsibility was to do the lead-up to it, all of the studies and so forth to see if it was feasible, and to talk to the private sector.
Suddenly, the minister is saying that even for the study purposes the private sector has to participate financially -- even for the study part of it. I was not very happy when I saw that. That was on August 31. On September 15, the Minister of Northern Development replied to Homer Seguin from the United Steelworkers in Sudbury, a man who has spent an enormous amount of time over many years working on this project as well, and who knows a great deal about it.
He states: “A copy of my letter to Mr. Laughren is attached for your information. As you will see in that letter, I believe there is sufficient justification for this ministry to initiate contact with several private sector firms that may have an interest in participating financially in the phase 2 phosphate study.” Financially in the study; not in the project, in the study. “This ministry’s further involvement in this project depends on the private sector coming forward to support it as well.”
All of a sudden, we have gone from the ministry agreeing to do this study -- the first one I quoted from was a very preliminary study -- to saying, “Well, we are going to wash our hands of it and insist that the private sector get involved with it.” That is not going to happen unless the government takes the initiative and does the preliminary study on it. It will not do it. We really feel snookered by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.
There was a real opportunity here to do something that I think was really meaningful and I am very disappointed. The regional municipality of Sudbury has written to the minister expressing its dismay as well. The report indicated that there is going to be a need for new phosphate supplies by 1992. You do not build a study overnight. It is going to take time to complete the study and then actually build the plant. If we keep moving at the pace we are moving, by that time somebody else will be filling the vacuum that is there to supply the phosphates, unless we get that plant on stream. Yet this government will not even take the necessary step to do the next phase of that study. That is fundamentally wrong, I think, when it has an opportunity to use a resource and create jobs in two different places in the north.
They would get a real bang for their buck up there because they would be developing in Cargill up near Kapuskasing -- I think that is even a government-held riding -- and they would get a bang for their buck in Sudbury, which is also a government-held riding. What are the people of Ontario going to think if even though they elect a member on the government side, it cannot deliver phase 2 of a study.
What is the sense of the member for Sudbury being there with we opposition members? I will be interested to see what he says. I am making the assumption that the member for Sudbury is going to speak on this routine motion put by the Treasurer. I am urging the member for Sudbury to get off the sidelines, get into the game and do some very public pushing of the Treasurer and the Minister of Northern Development so that the good people in Sudbury, and they are good people, will know why they voted for a member on the government side.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I always like to hear the honourable member contribute to these debates. It is always useful. I am not even going to argue about whether it is on or off topic because I have approached that argument from both sides.
The honourable member referred to the tour of northwestern Ontario by his caucus. I am sure he is aware that the government caucus, the Liberal caucus, also went to northwestern Ontario. We had a very educational time. I understand the member’s caucus travelled in a school bus and that there was room in the back for the portable crowd it normally takes with it to those meetings.
Actually, we went to Quetico. We were certainly well treated by the people in the surrounding area, in Atikokan, and had an extremely interesting time.
Mr. Pouliot: We don’t fly in at ministry expense.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: No, no. None of that.
Just in the few moments I have before a more formal response to the points the honourable member raised, he was talking about federal offloading. This is a matter of great concern to me as Treasurer. The honourable member would recall that over the last three years, the reduction in the rate of increase for the established program financing has really meant a substantial difference for the budget of Ontario.
As a matter of fact, we are short about $1 billion for post-secondary education and health services in the amount that would have been coming to us if the formula had been maintained as it was during the last year of the former Liberal federal administration. To be fair, it was also phasing down its support because it felt at the federal level it could no longer continue to pay the traditional 50 per cent of the costs of these open-ended programs.
The support on these formerly federally supported programs is now down to below 40 per cent, about 38 per cent, and one of the big differences in this budget is the $1 billion of federal money that is missing.
The Acting Speaker (Miss Roberts): Would the honourable member for Nickel Belt wish to have two minutes in reply?
Mr. Laughren: I do understand the Treasurer’s concerns about the federal offloading, as he calls it. I do not question his numbers at all. I was quite serious when I spoke of my fervent hope that the member for Sudbury will engage himself in this debate because I think it is important, what is going on in Sudbury and what is not going on there. The people in Sudbury certainly look forward to hearing from the member for Sudbury.
Mr. Cousens: We are dealing with a subject that has many ramifications to Ontario. I would like to spend some time thinking of the effect it has on Metropolitan Toronto and the greater Metropolitan Toronto area.
What we are dealing with is an area of our province that has probably been one of the most successful commercially. More and more people from around Canada are coming into Ontario and settling into Metropolitan Toronto and the greater Metropolitan Toronto area, bringing to the city success, the like of which is the envy of just about every city and municipality in Canada. In fact, this is a centre that is becoming a financial centre for the world and is becoming one of the great cities of the world.
As one who went to school in this city, I happen to --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: The federal Tories do not want it to be a financial centre.
Mr. Cousens: I am disappointed at that. I see there are so many things in Toronto that make it a place we want to keep, we want to maintain, we want to build upon. We want to keep it as a place where people will continue to enjoy their families, enjoy their culture, enjoy good recreational outlets, have good shopping, to bring commerce together so you have an opportunity to do those things in the free enterprise system that make this city tick.
As one who has seen university life here, as one whose mother lives in the downtown core of Metropolitan Toronto, I know the place from a very personal and intimate view and want to preserve as much as I can of the character and beauty of this city and also something of the fabric and the infrastructure that allows this city to continue to become an even greater place.
Yet I have great fears, as I think many, many people are having now, that the growth that is taking place in and around Metropolitan Toronto is going to have its toll, a toll that will begin to have an effect on people who cannot find a house to live in, people who are having trouble getting to and from work because the transit systems are overcrowded and because there just is not a way of getting in by train or because the GO Transit services have not been expanded to meet the needs of the outlying areas.
We are talking about a community that has people within it who are homeless and helpless on their own part, but the province and the municipalities are not really doing their share to help them out. We are talking about a city that has a character that is becoming blemished because of the failure by the province to take seriously these crises that are beginning to manifest themselves in this city.
I think one of the examples of it was an article by Sean Fine, of the Globe and Mail, not too long ago, when he said Metro is a mass of crises heading into a vote.
Mr. Harris: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I do not recognize, on the second day back, a quorum.
The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Mr. Cousens: The people who I want to hear this message are not necessarily sitting across from us today, but there is a message.
Mr. Laughren: Start all over.
Mr. Cousens: No, I am not starting all over. I happen to believe that there is a heap of crises developing in and around Metropolitan Toronto, and the article by Sean Fine in the Globe and Mail just over a week ago was entitled “Metro a Mass of Crises Heading into Vote.” We all know it is municipal election time on November 14, and certainly the people of Metro and the greater Metropolitan Toronto area have to be confused as to whose responsibility it is to help solve some of the problems that are becoming critical in the eyes of those who are trying to get to work and trying to find solutions to it.
This article just talks generally about the housing crisis, the garbage crisis, the disposal crisis, the transportation crisis. As Alderman Brian Ashton from Scarborough says, “It is a coming-out party. It’s Metro’s own bar mitzvah.” He has fun in describing the problem, but he touches upon it when he says, “We’ve lost our vision, we’ve lost our anticipation. I sum it by saying, is there life after the Dome?”
When I talk to Metro councillors, and when I was talking with Ron Watson, who is running for Scarborough council, he feels a great sense of estrangement between his own Scarborough --
Mr. Campbell: Don’t mention any names. Tories; it’s the kiss of death for re-election, a schism.
Mr. Cousens: I do not know who. The different people in these articles and so on who are commenting and are concerned with what is going on feel that they are acting alone and they are isolated, that no one else seems to understand the gravity of the problems they are having.
We have a series of crises that are developing within and about Metropolitan Toronto that we here in Ontario have to begin to take far more seriously. It is not something that we can put off until tomorrow. It was not just a few days ago that this great city began to become what it is, but I will tell you, it does not take long to destroy that which our forefathers and those who have come before us have tried to build here.
There is a tremendous impact from the growth. It is just a matter of realizing where Metro Toronto is today and that it is going to be even bigger in the next several years. Ontario’s rate of growth is at 0.7 per cent. The projected population in the year 2006 for Ontario is about 10.5 million people. Toronto will continue to be the magnet for the province as people come to this area and realize that this is where they can make a living.
What is the province going to do to help sustain this growth, to help manage this growth to help allow this great area to continue to have its own character and the seeds of its own growth rather than the seeds of destruction built within it?
I have to say that unless there is action taken by this province, unless we begin to see a closer relationship between the province and Metro and local governments in trying to address and resolve those problems together, then we are going to have a problem of disintegration rather than one of growth and one that is of a positive nature.
We need far more emphasis by the province in participating in a leadership way in trying to come back to those municipalities to bring them together and find a common way of solving common problems instead of throwing the problem to the municipalities, saying, “It’s your problem, not ours.” More and more programs are being placed by the province on the municipalities. At the same time, we are seeing less and less investment by the province in the municipal costs of trying to provide those services.
We have a series of problems, and we cannot just come along and say, “Oh, it’s so nice to be back at Queen’s Park.” Indeed, there is something good about being back. We have had one of the longest holidays I can remember. The fact that the Legislature could have been dealing with some of these issues sooner is an indication that the government -- the Premier and his cronies -- has other things to do than deal with the issues important to the people of Ontario.
Anyway, we have a chance to do something about it now if indeed this government can give the leadership in the key areas of environment, waste management, education, housing and transportation. These are issues that are beginning to hurt in this greater Metro Toronto area.
What is this government doing with regard to the environment and air pollution in and around Metro Toronto? Why does this government not begin to say, “We’re going to do more than we’ve done in the past to clean up the environment”? Put the investment where it counts. Maybe what we would have to do is put scrubbers in the Hearn plant so that we cease to be a contributor to acid rain in this city.
I have not heard the pollution counts for a while because they do not give them on the radio any more, but there is not a day right now that you cannot sniff it in the air. This city should be far purer if we were doing our share to keep the air pure.
I believe this government has a responsibility to it. We are getting words, but we are not getting action. I think every one of us in this House has to become far more alarmed and concerned with the environment. Every one of us should become an environmentalist, aware that our common future depends on our ability to protect the ozone layer, to help make sure that we do not have the teasing problems of the greenhouse effect, that we are doing our share to recycle and reuse things, that we are really being leaders in making a conscious effort to set an example to the world. We are not.
Hon. Mr. Elston: The Tories never have been.
Mr. Cousens: I am saying the member and this government are failing to give the leadership on environmental issues affecting the very air we breathe in this city. I think we should not take any kind of back seat to anyone. If we are going to be serious about our environment, then we all have to make a commitment to do everything we can to manage it better and to plan for the future, to protect this land, this great place, for future generations.
Why is it that this government does not begin to take seriously the problems around the management of waste and landfill sites? Why is it that Metro Toronto has to come along and spend $300,000 on a plan to double the size of the Keele Valley landfill site in Vaughan? Why is it that this government will not come along and work with Metro Toronto and the greater Metro Toronto area to try to resolve the problems of finding those places for landfill sites?
It is becoming a desperate situation. It is so desperate that we almost saw landfill sites going into the Rouge Valley, and that is the last thing we need. There are places where we can create the proper environment to place our dirt, our refuse and those things that are left over. We all generate it. But we as a government should not just say to the Metro council and the surrounding regional councils, “It’s your problem.”
We come along and make it their problem because we will not get involved. I am convinced that the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) will not have an environmental assessment hearing on the whole problem of the Keele Valley landfill site. The Keele Valley landfill site, in case people are not aware of it, is near Maple, in Vaughan, in the southern part of York region. It is the largest landfill site in Canada. It presently has a capacity of 20 million tons. It is already up to seven million tons. By the year 1992, that landfill site will be filled. What are we going to do between now and 1992, and where is the leadership coming from in this government?
Metro Toronto is saying, “Well, for $300,000 we are going to do a study to see whether or not we can expand that landfill site to double it in size.” The fact of the matter is that that site was reviewed in 1978 and it was decided then that, because of the aquifers underneath it, because waters that are underneath it feed into the Don Valley into the Don River, it was not capable of being expanded; and yet here Metro Toronto is now considering, by spending $300,000, doing just that thing. We need to be assured that this government is going to give leadership by saying: “Hey, whoa, boys. Before you do that, let’s go through the environmental assessment so that we can be absolutely certain that what you are going to be doing in the Keele Valley landfill site is the right thing and that we will hear from all those who are capable of articulating the situation and understanding it well so we just do not make a mistake.”
We cannot afford mistakes in our environment. We have got to do the right things for the future, and we are not doing so right now, because we are seeing a government where the Minister of the Environment has almost washed his hands and is not taking the kind of role that he can in coming together with the representatives from regional councils and Metro councils to develop a long-term solution.
Mr. Haggerty: Has Markham got a site up there?
Mr. Cousens: Yes, we use the Keele Valley site, and York region uses that site. We are allowed to use it, but so is Orangeville, so is Midland and so is Tiny. The honourable member wants to know about the landfill site, but the problem is that I do not know what we are going to do in 1992 when it is filled up, unless they double it; and if they do that, then that becomes another problem. We need leadership and we are talking about a community that is starting to worry about it, and that is one of the crises that is brewing.
When you have growth coming into Metro Toronto, as we have it right now, it brings the good and the bad. I hate to see the suffering that goes on because of growth. We are seeing now an increase in the number of portables in my area and in and around Metro Toronto the like of which I have never seen. I was chairman of the York Region Board of Education, and in those days we thought it was bad when you had a few portables around. Now I go to schools and there is not a school in my community that does not have three or four or five and some as many as 10 or 12. I have got some schools where a third of the young people are in portables.
Since this government came to power, that of the Treasurer, who is responsible for trying to see that the money is spent properly, we have seen an increase in the number of portables, from September 1985 to now, of 71 per cent. The portables in use in Ontario have increased from a figure of 4,096 in September 1985 to a figure now of over 7,013.
That is not good if you are talking about quality of education and about the needs of young people and drawing them into a community. Have members ever been in some of those portables? Some of them should have been burned years ago. Are you talking about environment? You have got to have certain things in place when you are setting up an educational environment for young people. I will tell members, with the lack of air-conditioning, and not just air-conditioning but the flow of air, the heating and the smell of wet feet in the wintertime, you just have to go in to realize that it is just not a wholesome, good environment to be sending our kids to school in.
To anyone who is listening right now who has his child going to portables, it is probably only the teacher who is saving the day for the young people, because the teachers are the ones who are living with the hardship. The washrooms are not working and they do not have sufficient numbers of them. You end up having libraries and resource rooms not being available.
The growth of this city is not being managed. We are seeing it come out piecemeal. The Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) will come forward in the allocation time for schools and say, “I will have this and that and this and that.” But planning could take place right now, because in Peel, York and Durham, where you are having instant new communities, they still have to wait until 80 per cent of the students are resident before they get their schools. That is absolutely ridiculous. In the meantime, we are seeing portables and more portables. Then they move the portables to another school. I bet there are going to be some children in and around Metro Toronto who will never be out of portables.
Now we are talking about planning and managing growth. The portables in the schools are purely a symptom of the greater problem we are talking about. We are going to have a community, people who come along and pay their taxes, do everything else within that area to make that investment, buy their homes and bring in their families and want the best thing for them, and what we are giving them is second- and third-class facilities.
When I talk about there being an educational problem, I am serious. I am saying it is a matter of making the proper investment at the right time in order to help our young people. What greater and more important resource is there to this country than our young people? Then why are we giving them second-class treatment? I do not really care whether we end up having some of the extras that we put into schools, but at least let’s have a proper roof over their heads.
There is no doubt that in this great Metro Toronto area we have a housing crisis. I pick up the sarcastic remarks from different people who say, “Does Markham have a housing crisis?” Yes, we have a housing crisis in Markham, in my riding, and we have it in Metro and we have it right around this greater Metro Toronto area. It happens to be a different kind of crisis for different areas, but the problem has to be addressed.
This government has not come out with a comprehensive housing policy, which it promised over two years ago. Now come on; if we are going to begin to deal with the situation, there has to be a plan. Instead, what I am getting from the Minister of Housing (Ms. Hosek) and the different ministers all involved in trying to address the housing situation is a little bit here and a little bit there but nothing really that comes together. There is no comprehensive housing policy on the part of this government. By virtue of not having that, it means the government just coming out and saying, “We’ll put a little house here and we’ll put another place there.”
We have not begun to understand the land that is available to be developed for affordable rental housing. And how about making housing so that people who want to buy their house can buy it? It is out of sight. Someone who wants to buy a house in Metro Toronto will not be able to afford it, because the price of an average home for a first-time buyer is over $200,000. They will not even qualify for the mortgage. In fact, the kinds of incentives the government has tried to give the new home buyer to get a start on it do not make any difference, because by the time he will save that up the inflation and everything else is just out of sight. They are out of luck.
That is the problem. This is going to become a luckless city if we do not begin to take seriously the problems of the people who make it up. We are seeing this intensification going on in Metro Toronto, where they are taking a house on my mother’s street and other places like it, and instead of there being four or five roomers and two or three apartments, someone comes in from somewhere else and says, “I’m going to fix up that house.” They do a beautiful job, and it is delightful as far as the landscaping they put on it, the new paint jobs and their new BMW that goes in front of it, but in the meantime 4, 5 or 10 people have been affected.
They are shunted out and can no longer live in the heart of downtown Toronto. They are having to go outside of Metro Toronto because of the government’s apartment policy and whole business of rent control. We are not having more rental units, so they are going farther and farther out and are having to commute farther and farther to come into this great city. They are ending up living all over the place, commuting from Barrie and neighbouring areas, taking so much longer than ever before to get to work.
The transit systems have not expanded north, east or west. The transit systems have not improved their service in Richmond Hill since 1976 when they were brought in. You end up having three trains down in the morning and three trains back at night. These have to be expanded and built upon. The rail lines are there. Why not add the trains to make it work?
We have a crisis in housing. If we want to get people into downtown Toronto, they have to have a place to live. We have to give them encouragement and someplace that gives them self-respect, someplace where they are not going to have to spend more than 30 per cent of their income on a roof over their heads. In fact, because of the problems in Metro Toronto, many now are spending far in excess of that; so food banks, which were supposed to be a temporary solution, are becoming commonplace.
Thank God the people on Thanksgiving came and gave heartily so that those people could go to those food banks and draw out of them food to help their families. But the province almost encourages it by virtue of not implementing some of the recommendations in the Thomson report, by allowing things to just sit, saying: “Well, we’re waiting. We’re going to study the problem more.” The government is so good at studying you would think it would learn something and show leadership by saying, “Here are the things we’re going to do.” I come back to it; it means to come out with a comprehensive housing policy, develop a strategy and then work the strategy make a plan and implement it.
We are not seeing that from this government, and I think the people of the province are beginning to realize that what they elected was a 95-seat majority for David Peterson and the Liberal government: just that. They have elected them. They are just hoping they can coast into another victory two or three or four years from now when they call an election. I know they are going to be held accountable for the failure to address and meet the needs of the human beings who live in this province and in this greater Metro Toronto area. They are disappointed in that lack of leadership.
Hon. Mr. Elston: Don, you’d make a good after-dinner speaker. Why don’t you stop and come back after dinner?
Mr. Cousens: No, I have a long way to go . I am just so excited that the Chairman of Management Board is here. He is one of the hardest-working members of the government, and for him to be doing his House duty is indeed a credit to him and his sincerity and good government.
Mr. Cousens: He deserves a clap: one-handed.
I have to say that there are health care problems. We have in Metro Toronto some of the greatest hospitals on the face of this earth. We have to be proud of the fact. It has taken many years to put all those skills and services in place -- the Hospital for Sick Children, the Wellesley Hospital, the Doctors Hospital, the Toronto General Hospital -- and what we are seeing now is the problems that come from stress, the lineups that are occurring for operations and the shortage of blood.
How is blood a provincial problem? I see it as a problem because people must be afraid of certain things. There needs to be some involvement with the Red Cross to help it in trying to provide a strong health system. We cannot do it ourselves. We need the volunteer agencies out there, but they are just struggling and are not getting the support from this government they used to get from a Conservative government. I know the problems they are having are not just small ones. They will soon come back to haunt us.
In the past we have been proud of our health care system. I think we still are, but let’s not allow some of the problems beginning to manifest themselves within that health care system to erode it further and to reduce the quality of care, the quality of life of those people who need it. It is one thing to say it is universal health care and it is free to everyone. It is another thing to drive that system to an excellence that puts the patients’ needs at the highest level of priority so that we are caring for people as they should be cared for.
I do not know what we are going to do with the infrastructure that makes up Metro Toronto. I am worried. I know it is taking longer and longer to drive from point A to point B. I do not care if it is just one block away or two blocks away; it is taking longer to get there. And when you get there, there is no parking or, if you are lucky enough to finally get the parking, it is going to cost you a fortune. If you want to leave your car at home and use public transit, you get on and it is crowded to the hilt. How many people have used the subway lately and realize just how many people are using public transit? What are we doing to expand upon it and to build upon it?
It is going to take an investment by this government into the future, in co-operation with all these municipalities that make up Metro and greater Metro, to come up with a strategy to address and respond to the growth we are going through. I mean, there has not been a new highway built in this province in so long. I probably will not be around to use Highway 407, which is in the middle of my area, by the time it is going to be finished.
Mr. Wildman: You are not that old.
Mr. Cousens: Well, I am feeling older by the minute.
Highway 407 is a $650-million project that will begin to relieve Highway 401, that will give us east-west service across south York region, relieving some of the traffic congestion in all the surrounding areas. At $25 million a year, which is what the government is putting into it, it is going to take 24 years before the highway is finished between Highway 404 and Highway 427. That is absolutely ridiculous. We need that highway, and it needs to be accelerated. Instead of just building a little section at Highway 400, this government should be looking at building another section over from Highway 404 and another section at Highway 427 so it comes together quickly. Commerce needs it, people need it and Metro needs it.
When are we going to do something more about the Sheppard subway? The people are depending on public transit. Let’s face it, the roads are clogged. We have got to come up with alternative ways of getting people to travel, so let’s start using services we know work. Let’s use existing rail lines and expand the rail service.
When we are challenging this government to respond to the needs of Metropolitan Toronto, we are saying that this government has to begin to say that it is going to do something about the roads and transit services. Today, the Minister of Transportation (Mr. Fulton) says, “I have a new announcement to make on accessible taxi service.” He has made it before and he will make it again. But why does he not put the money where it really begins to count, on the roads and on the transit things themselves? We need the transit services for the disabled who want them.
Do not just think that will suffice over the provision of the roads and those networks and those services that really make a city come together. If you want to go to a cultural event from Peel or Durham right now, you almost have to stay at work and meet your wife. You just cannot drive in at night any more. If you want to come down in the morning and get to a nine o’clock meeting from where I live, you leave at 7:30. The number of man-hours and woman hours that are being wasted on the parkway is just incredible, and yet there is no strategy from this government to address, to resolve and to meet the problems of this infrastructure of Metropolitan Toronto.
There is just no doubt that everything that is happening here with roads is a serious problem. I refer to the Better Roads Coalition, on the congestion on our roads. I would like to quote from its recent document, which says:
“The problem of underfunding Ontario’s road and highway systems has become chronic. On an after-inflation basis, the deterioration has been alarming. For example, after accounting for inflation, expenditures in 1986-87 on the provincial highways program were almost 45 per cent lower than their levels in the mid-1970s.”
Now, come on. That is what is happening. The government is not putting the dollars where they count. I know it increased taxes and I can see the effects of that, the eight per cent now, and everybody almost takes it for granted. Some people seem to have forgotten. Well, we will not let the government forget. It increased it from seven to eight per cent, and what is it doing with that money? It sure is not coming back into Metro Toronto. I would like to know how much money the government is taking out of Metro. The Treasurer has gone. Of that one per cent out of Metro, how much is it putting back into Metropolitan Toronto?
The fact is that the people in the province of Ontario are ending up having to pick up the cost at the municipal level. It is the trickle-down effect. You pass the responsibility over to the municipalities, and the municipalities are having to increase their property taxes to such an extent that it is becoming a heavy, heavy burden for property owners just to pay those municipal taxes.
An example of that is in the budget increases in Metro Toronto and in Durham and Peel. I guess the problem is that when you start quoting from these, you are not exactly sure of the years or the dates. The fact is that the province has increased its grants by about three per cent a year to these municipalities, But the budgets -- the tax itself has not increased by this much -- have increased, in Peel, by 16.2 per cent in 1988 over 1987; in Durham, the budget increased by close to 40 per cent. Meanwhile, the province thinks everything is going fine. What they are doing is passing the problem back to the local municipalities.
It ends up as, how can the people who are on fixed incomes continue to maintain their homes? They are worried about it and I am worried for them. You talk about a government that talks about education taxes and you know there is just no doubt that when you see the cost of education, it has to do with the ratios. How much of your education dollar should be paid for by the province or by the local ratepayers.
The fact of the matter is they have it reversed. When members opposite were in opposition they were saying the province should be paying 60 per cent of the educational tax costs in the local area and the local ratepayer 40 per cent. It is the other way around in my community. It is the local ratepayers paying 59 or 60 per cent of the education costs and the province paying 40 per cent. It is reversed. Those become huge dollars and they become dollars that are being paid by the local ratepayers, the local municipal people and not the province.
It has to become a shared responsibility, where both the province and the municipalities are working together to make this a better world, a better community, a better Metro. What we need from this government is a comprehensive plan for the future. I do not think there is anything worse than to see the slow and gradual erosion of quality of life and services, the quality of everything going down before your eyes.
I love Metropolitan Toronto and the area surrounding it too much to see that continue to happen. It should become a priority for this government that it not just sit back and watch this happen. There is not anyone from our party except for myself now, as the Metro Toronto spokesman, to deal with this issue, but we are committed to fighting for Metropolitan Toronto, committed to making this government wake up to its responsibilities. These responsibilities are not light ones. They are serious, because you are talking about establishing priorities that say: “Okay, these things are important. Housing is important, environment is important, and transportation and all these services that are needed for people are important.”
We are at a critical point for Metropolitan Toronto and the surrounding areas of Peel, Durham and York. It is high time this government, instead of just nickel-and-diming us and putting more money into things here and there -- we do not know where it goes -- instead of just adding more civil servants, instead of just spending on all kinds of things, had some priorities that we could measure, that we could see, that we could understand, especially when it came to dealing with the future of what is one of the most beautiful communities, in this greater Metro area, that you could ask for anywhere in the world.
It is not something that will happen unless there is a commitment by this government. All I am asking for, in our opportunity today, is that the government begin to take this far more seriously than it has and begin to make some moves, not more fancy announcements. Let them come together with the new municipal councils and say: “Let’s work together to solve our garbage crisis and solve our transportation crisis. Let’s get in this thing and make sure this continues to be the jewel of Canada.”
The Acting Speaker (Miss Roberts): Does any honourable member wish to comment on the remarks made by the member for Markham?
Mr. Pouliot: It is difficult at times to stand like a soldier at our post, but love for the people of Lake Nipigon gives me some latitude and some tolerance to suffer in relative dignity, and very often in silence, when members are called for the purpose of comment on what has been said, not only by the member for Markham (Mr. Cousens) but by people from the government and the third party, in terms of equity in housing.
It is quite one thing to perspire sincerity, to appear to be concerned with what is indeed a tragedy -- I am talking specifically about the high price of housing -- and yet, on the other hand, to go into the corridor with acquaintances, friends and relatives and to relish the amount of dollars that have been made in a distorted market. I guess in most instances you cannot have it both ways, but, “Wrong, wrong, wrong, the member for Lake Nipigon should realize that you can indeed have it several ways.”
Tell us about the calamity, and it is nothing short of that, that you need, for instance, $80,000 as a family income to obtain a mortgage. The member can be on his feet and tell the members of the House that this situation should have never been allowed to happen. and that if it has, it should be immediately corrected; and on the other hand, take advantage of what is indeed a callous market.
Needless to say, most members of the New Democratic Party, because we have strong representation from the north, can relate better than the previous speaker, or speakers, regarding the housing market, for we have no interest in the southern Ontario market.
The Acting Speaker: Does any other member wish to comment on the remarks made by the member for Markham? If not, the member for Markham, two minutes in reply.
Mr. Cousens: The honourable member for Lake Nipigon has touched upon a very great concern to all of us, and that is that the demand far exceeds the supply. It seems that some people are able to buy and invest and grab up these landholdings, and yet we are not seeing the development of new land and opening up new opportunities for people.
It has to do with long-term planning. I think the member for Lake Nipigon should know that a number of years ago, back in the 1970s, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, then the government, made the investment into the York-Durham sewer pipe and that it was that pipe that allowed the expansion and the growth north of Metropolitan Toronto, and opened up large amounts of land for growth and development.
We are not seeing that same kind of long-term investment towards the establishing of land and banks of land so that people can use it. We are not seeing innovative policies that will allow us to use government-owned lands for people who want to buy their own homes. If we had some way, instead of the government becoming a speculator and taking part and having the highest sale price given for land, which was the case out in Scarborough last year, $4,000 a square foot -- this government helped fuel the price of property and speculators by taking that money and selling land that could have been used for affordable housing.
You are not seeing leaders in this government; you are seeing people who are almost taking advantage of the situation. They certainly did in that land deal last year.
You are talking about planning. Planning has to become a priority. It is something that is missing right now, and I regret that this government really does not seem to have cottoned on to the fact that it is an urgent crisis that is brewing here on how we are going to deal with growth and continue to have people come into Metropolitan Toronto and be able to afford to live in a style to which they are accustomed.
The Acting Speaker: Would any other honourable member wish to participate in the debate?
Mr. Pouliot: I wish to, of course, just take a few minutes. I was not going to address the House today, but I see that the Treasurer is paying us the compliment of his presence. I have also been provoked by virtue of the many missed opportunities by the Treasurer, but perhaps more important, there were the timely words of wisdom cited by my close friend the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) regarding the injustice that became, eventually, the benefit of Inco. I, too, have searched long and hard asking myself why a person who has, or had anyway, the admiration of all members and the unanimous trust of members of the government could be conned.
Let’s face facts. The mining industry is presently experiencing record profits. The price of nickel on the futures market went from $3 to $10 in a period of less than 18 months. The policy of flow-through shares has benefited the mining industry at a time when there was no need for that supplementary incentive. A tax break to the tune of 10 per cent a couple of years ago has made the mining sector very wealthy, very rich indeed. In all honesty, it has given it a chance to look to the future with confidence and engage in some long-awaited expansion.
The minister saw fit to allow an additional $2.81 million as a gift to Inco when we have people, in 1988, in what is perhaps the richest jurisdiction on the face of the earth, experiencing Third World conditions; no less than that.
I represent what is the largest riding, an area of 114,000 square miles, and I find it simply shocking and appalling that this government would allow Inco to get richer while some people in northern Ontario are indeed getting poorer. To generate that $2.81 million the Treasurer imposed an ill-timed one per cent additional provincial sales tax as a burden to pay for the plans of the very rich.
Figures are the test that we have a fundamental problem in our society. We have one per cent of acquisitors with no less than 34 per cent of the wealth; 34 per cent of all the wealth is in the hands of one per cent of the population. That one per cent of acquisitors are using intellectuals like the Treasurer for the purpose of concentration, while labourers like my good friend the member for Nickel Belt are being squeezed. The warriors in some parts of the riding of Lake Nipigon are getting rather upset.
The Treasurer has had a chance to redress this. We are at the point where if the middle class -- the poor, forget it; the Treasurer has socked it to them so much they are trying to stay alive, those survivors. The rich are getting richer; the middle class is being squeezed.
First and foremost, the Treasurer has to realize that he is given the responsibility to instil fair play and he is not doing that. The people in the riding of Lake Nipigon, almost to the individual, feel that if they pay any more taxes they are going to go up the proverbial wall. This guy here does not understand, refuses to acquiesce, that although it is “the law,” the system is unfair. For every dollar he takes out of our pocket, it is one less dollar we can spend and expand our economy. He fails to realize that.
I, for one, in 1986 or 1987, being so candid, really believed and said, “They have a sense of vision.” They are now telling us that the north is eternal, that together we will begin -- do not get me wrong; in the proper context -- to colonize. We will finally be able to join the mainstream of economic Ontario. But not so fast. As for the planning, although we must say that there are some signs, they still do not know where they are going. We are allowed to prosper again, by virtue or for reasons of new discoveries in the gold fields, or by cutting more trees, depleting our resources with very little, or in some cases no regeneration. So we will not be allowed to do so.
We are not farming our resources, our trees, our forests to ship them down south for the manufacturing endeavour or process, là où les manufactures, Monsieur le Président, sont plus présentes, ou sont présentes plus souvent que dans les secteurs du Nord. C’est lui, le Trésorier (M. R. F. Nixon), qui est le coupable. C’est lui qui possède plus que qui que soit, peut-être plus que le Premier Ministre (M. Peterson), le pouvoir de prendre des décisions pour améliorer la situation dans une partie territoriale qui forme 90 pour cent de la province de l’Ontario.
Vous vous souviendrez, bien sûr, Monsieur le Président, qu’on a qualifié les travailleurs du Nord, depuis des décennies, de porteurs d’eau. C’est donc dire que les gens qui occupent les neuf dixièmes du territoire de la province de l’Ontario avaient le destin suivant, comme je l’ai dit tout à l’heure en anglais: celui de nourrir les industries du Sud de la province, où la forte concentration de population existe et où le bien existe aussi, aux dépens des gens qui, chez nous, se sont sacrifiés. J’ai souvent dit, et je le répète, que chez nous, chez nos autochtones, chez ceux qui sont les plus démunis, les moins fortunés qui doivent quotidiennement vivre une existence qui ressemble à celle des gens du Tiers-Monde, une situation pareille chez eux, chez nous, vis-à-vis d’une situation si riche dans le Sud de l’Ontario, est absolument impensable, absolument inacceptable.
Est-ce qu’on s’est demandé, en conscience, pourquoi quelqu’un qui est censé être sensibilisé, qui est censé être civilisé, admettrait que des communautés de 500 personnes ne reçoivent même pas, et dans certains cas n’aient peut-être reçu, qu’une fois ou peut-être jamais, en 1988, la visite d’un médecin? Pourquoi l’espérance de vie chez nos autochtones, avec toute la sincérité que je peux commander, est-elle de douze ans moins élevée que la moyenne d’âge des gens du Sud de l’Ontario? Douze ans, Monsieur le Président: la vie est déjà si courte. Mais qu’est-ce qu’on fait? Quand nous voyons ces gratte-ciel, quand nous voyons ces stades, quand nous regardons ces Taj Mahal, nous, chez ceux qui en ont moins, nous parlons de survivance. C’est mon travail, c’est ce que je fais chaque semaine.
J’arrive, émotionnellement vidé, d’une visite de quatorze réserves qui m’a amené sur les côtes de la baie d’Hudson, et quelle différence: une différence, si lui avait une conscience sociale -- je crois quand même qu’il en a peut-être un peu mais si lui pouvait puiser à l’intérieur et dire: « Avec un budget de 38,5 milliards de dollars, je peux, avec une simple signature, avec un peu de vision, toucher directement, maintenant, pour le futur, pour toujours, éternellement, la vie de ceux qui en ont moins ».
J’aurai l’occasion, dans les mois à venir, d’apporter à l’attention de la Chambre une étude particulière, méticuleuse, ainsi que des recommandations positives, permettant au gouvernement, enfin, de se pencher sur des problèmes économiques; mais surtout, et plus important encore en terminant, d’apporter à ces problèmes une dimension humaine, car c’est là le problème. Le problème, c’est le voisin; le problème, c’est l’individu; le problème, c’est soi-même.
On a besoin de quelques dollars -- d’accord, de plusieurs dollars, Monsieur le Président -- mais on a surtout besoin d’un gouvernement qui soit généreux envers le Sud aussi bien que le Nord, envers le Blanc aussi bien que l’autochtone. C’est ça, la philosophie politique; c’est ça, la responsabilité d’un trésorier; c’est ça, un gouvernement qui va de l’avant: non pas celui qui est en arrière ou en avant, mais celui qui est avec les gens.
On juge une civilisation et un gouvernement d’après la sincérité qu’ils apportent aux plus démunis, non pas à ceux qui en ont plus mais à ceux qui en ont moins. Les moins fortunés, ce sont eux qu’il faut aider: les régions qui ont de plus en plus besoin de se joindre à tous les Ontariens dans un âge d’or. Je vous remercie.
Le Vice-Président: Questions et commentaires sur le discours du député de Lac Nipigon? Monsieur le Trésorier?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I regret that I cannot respond en français, so I will not try. But I do want to say something about a matter that has twice been raised, and that is the project at the nickel company that was a grant from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology. This came from the Premier’s technology fund, as the members who have raised this are aware, and it was in support of a new system of backfill operations in the mines, which everybody knows is extremely important, not just for Inco but for all mining operations.
I think that the honourable members, particularly those coming from mining communities, would see that this is not some sort of subsidy to Inco but is in fact support for the mining industry in a way that I believe is extremely valuable and would be recognized by any sort of impartial observer.
The Deputy Speaker: Other questions and comments?
Mr. Laughren: I must commend my colleague and good friend from Lake Nipigon (Mr. Pouliot) for his remarks. I sometimes wonder how he has time to do the kind of preparation he does for his speeches in this chamber in view of the size of his riding, which is very, very large.
I did want to reinforce what the member for Lake Nipigon said about the money to lnco, that that $2.81 million went directly to lnco. It did not go to a mining contractor; it did not go to the Ontario Mining Association. It went directly to Inco to do something it has to do anyway, so stop being such an apologist for the mining industry.
The Deputy Speaker: Other questions and comments? If not, est-ce que le député de Lac Nipigon voudrait répondre?
Mr. Pouliot: With the highest of respect, of course, I did have the opportunity, over a period approaching 20 years, to experience at first hand, on a shift basis, backfill operations. They are, indeed, a normal part of every underground mining operation, be it base metals or chasing the proverbial vein in the goldfield.
I know the Treasurer would wish to share with me, though not for edification, the fascinating and exciting world of backfilling operations in Ontario’s base metal industry. I am sure he has had the opportunity several times at different levels to take the shaft and go down the corridor. The Treasurer likes to use the terminology, “Took the elevator down to the corridor.” I can assure members that backfilling operations are indeed a normal, daily part of the operation.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: This is special.
Mr. Pouliot: Right, and $2.81 million will be added to the shareholders’ pockets. It is nothing more, nothing short of that. It is a gift to the companies at the expense of the taxpayers of Ontario.
Mr. Pope: As the newly appointed Treasury critic for the Progressive Conservative Party, I am pleased to rise to participate briefly in this debate. I do not know what I did to deserve that, but I presume the Treasurer will deal with that matter when he stands up in reply.
I did, however, want to participate in this interim supply debate and make a few comments on behalf of our party, as Treasury critic, and to participate with the Treasurer in some discussion with the people of Ontario with respect to the spending habits of this Liberal government of ours, which in last year’s budget took $1.2 billion additional out of the pockets of the people of Ontario and therefore will be accountable to the people of Ontario for how it is now spending that money.
Mr. Fleet: It is well spent, though.
Mr. Pope: The presumption that the Treasurer and other of his friends, such as the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Fleet), would offer to the people of Ontario is that it is being well spent. We dealt with that issue as well in the debate on the budget. I would refer the Treasurer to, and he will no doubt have already reviewed, the speech I made on May 4 of this year with respect to the extraordinary spending habits of Liberals when they are in government and how this Ontario Liberal government is no different from other Liberal governments in other jurisdictions.
On that May 4 we specifically analysed, for the purpose of information to the people of Ontario, something called main office expenses, ministry administration expenses and the increase thereof over the three years the Liberals had been in office in Ontario. I think it is good, at the time when we are debating interim supply and an implied consent to continue with these kinds of spending habits that the working women and men of Ontario are paying for, to review very briefly the nature of the spending habits of the Liberal cabinet ministers and the head office administration here in Queen’s Park in the great city of Toronto versus what they are doing within the ministries, and specifically the delivery of services within the ministries, under the guidance of the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet (Mr. Elston).
We have heard in two straight budgets the term “in-year constraints” and voluntary cutbacks in expenditures. I am sure that what I am about to say is no different from what the Treasurer and the Chairman of Management Board have said to their cabinet colleagues in the secrecy of the cabinet room: “Please explain to us, fellow cabinet ministers of Ontario, who are spending so much of the taxpayers’ money, why you find it necessary to have such significant increases in your main office and ministry administrative expenses at the same time that you find it necessary to cut back on services in the field to the people of Ontario.”
Let’s go back and review some of these issues. As we said on May 4, Colleges and Universities main office administrative expenses in 1985-86 were $3,062,000; main office administrative expenses this year are estimated at $5,912,000, a $2,800,000 increase, or an increase of over 90 per cent in ministry administrative expenses for the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. That is 90 per cent in three years since the Liberals came to power: a 90 per cent increase in ministry administrative expenses, a $2.8-million increase.
At a time when we have heard over May, June and the summer months complaints about the inadequacy of the funding of this government to our colleges and universities across this province and the consequences for the future of the young people of this province, at a time when those complaints have been coming forth in unheard of numbers, we have the minister allowing a 90 per cent increase over three years in the administrative expenses of her ministry. We have not seen that kind of increase or additional commitment for the colleges and universities of this province.
I know that if the minister were present she would want to join with the Treasurer in explaining that, because we have not had an explanation to date. Part of the responsibility of a minister is not only to explain her financial commitment to the field services, the institutions and interests she has an obligation to represent and serve as our Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mrs. McLeod), but also to explain in detail the reasons for these kinds of staggering administrative expenses.
I repeat, to give the Treasurer his due, from what I understand has been happening, the same things I am saying today publicly have been said by the Treasurer and the Chairman of Management Board to cabinet itself. There has been a warning issued, but it does not listen.
The Ministry of Education: I am going to talk a bit about the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) and this fiasco over Bill 125 a little later. But at a time when the Liberal commitment for 60 per cent provincial funding for our boards of education across the province has been hanging there for three years and has not been met -- in fact, the provincial commitment has deteriorated in terms of total board of education expenditures across the province -- we have the Ministry of Education in one year alone with a 40 per cent increase in ministry administrative expenses; in one year, a 40 per cent increase in the administrative costs of the Ministry of Education, at a time when most school boards and boards of education believe they are falling further behind in terms of total provincial contribution to our education system, again to the detriment of young boys and girls, our students across the province.
What about the Ministry of Health? All members in their own ridings have been receiving complaints about underfunding of hospitals, of deficits growing in hospitals. We have seen the Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) attempting to lay it to the administrators and the volunteers who serve on the administrative boards of these hospitals. We have seen her try to lay it to them, blame them for the problems, make them second-guess their public commitment to improved health care for everyone in Ontario. While that battle has been going on, the Ministry of Health and ministry administrative expenses have gone up from $88,227,000 to $120,462,000, an increase of $32,235,000. At the very time when all of us in our own ridings have heard about cutbacks in services with dramatic impact in our ability, the ability of our hospitals, to treat people in need of emergency care, to treat people in need of basic hospital care, at the same time we have had these cutbacks, we have seen the Minister of Health enjoying the luxury of a $32,235,000 increase in administrative expenses.
Mr. Harris: Have they been cutting Timmins hospital at the same time?
Mr. Pope: Timmins hospital, St. Mary’s General Hospital, with a deficit that has been a continuing problem, no different from the Cambridge hospital, and we have seen that shambles unfold with the Minister of Health disciplining the hospital administrator, who is trying to do a job at the behest of the board of directors, volunteers, administering that public hospital for the benefit of the people of Cambridge, and the story goes on and on. In Ottawa, in Kingston, in North Bay, in Sudbury, in London; it goes on and on and on.
Mr. Campbell: Sudbury’s okay; we’re taken care of.
Mr. Pope: The delays in the cancer treatment centre construction that the Liberals allowed to go on for two years without meeting the commitments that are out there --
Mr. Campbell: That’s more than your government did. You talked about it for five years.
Mr. Pope: The member for Sudbury, I know, is wont to apologize on a regular basis for the inaction of his government in providing that desperately needed service.
Then we deal with the Minister of Housing (Ms. Hosek). We have all heard in this great city of Toronto and in many other major urban centres across this province of the crisis in the provision of affordable housing to meet the basic needs of families and of young people across the province. We have seen this Minister of Housing falling farther and farther behind in the targets that she herself has set and which her predecessor set for this Liberal administration, and while we have seen a deterioration in the availability of affordable housing and the potential for increased affordable housing across the province, the Ministry of Housing administrative expenses were going from $15,814,000 to $21,372,000, an increase of $5,558,000.
Mr. Harris: I can’t believe it; 35 per cent in one year.
Mr. Pope: A 35 per cent increase at a time in which surely everyone understands that affordable housing has become a crisis for the people of Ontario, and particularly a tragic crisis for the people of the city of Toronto and of the greater Metropolitan Toronto area.
The Ministry of Natural Resources, otherwise known as a surrogate to the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley), at a time when everyone now knows that we have an absolute cutback in reforestation dollars; when forest management agreement holders have been notified that the dollars they previously had for road access, for reforestation, for planting purposes are not going to be available this year; when they are falling short of the targets that they themselves set out in forest management agreements; when we see the tree nursery operators, private operators in small communities across the province providing jobs for local residents, being told they are going to be facing cutbacks, and that could mean being driven out of business through policy decisions that this government has been making; at a time when a province-wide consensus with respect to multiple use of land and the wise use of resources is being destroyed by decree, without consultation, by the Minister of the Environment, with the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) holding hands every step of the way; at a time when we see beginning in this government an effort to establish the Madawaska trust, which my good friend and colleague the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. Pollock) has spoken on so well in this House; at a time when that is part of the agenda of this government, which will take away so much of the economic potential of that part of Ontario from the local residents and hand it to those from other parts of the province who want to preserve it for their canoes; at that time, what have we seen from the Ministry of Natural Resources? Ministry administrative expenses are going up from $60,560,000 to $75,517,000.
Imagine what we could do for the reforestation program of this province if that extra $15 million the Minister of Natural Resources is currently enjoying for ministry administrative purposes was put directly into contracts for the growth and planting of seedlings to reforest our forests, if this government would use that money to match its commitments and the commitments that have been outstanding for many years with respect to our reforestation program in Ontario that will match our needs.
The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines is a rather interesting ministry that has gone through many nuances, adjustments and changes. I presume the Minister of Mines (Mr. Conway) during the next week will be announcing what programs he and the Treasurer have come up with to support the initiatives of the flow-through share alternative of the federal government. I know he will shortly announce how they are going to do the same thing the Quebec government is doing now to support that program and benefit the mining community of northern Ontario.
I am sure that same minister, who has not announced it yet but may get around to it soon if he sets his mind to it, will be interested in these numbers. He probably will explain, as a matter of fact, the 300 per cent increase in the ministry administrative expenses of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines since the Liberals came to power: from $3 million to over $14 million. I know he is going to explain that, because we are talking about administrative operating expenses.
Mr. Campbell: The ministry created jobs in northern Ontario. That’s what it’s all about.
Mr. Pope: If the member for Sudbury knew anything about government, he would know we are talking about ministry administrative expenses. We are not talking about capital expenditures; we are talking about ministry administrative expenses. I know when he looks at the numbers and finally comes to understand the numbers, he will understand we are talking about a 300 per cent increase. This is during the year and a half when the Treasurer’s $30-million heritage fund has seen not one dime flow to the people of northern Ontario; not one cent of the $30 million over two years -- $60 million -- at a time in which the ministry administrative expenses have increased from $3 million to over $14 million in that ministry.
I know the Treasurer is going to give us an accounting of the priorities of that ministry and of this government which let that kind of increase carry forward in ministry administrative expenses but not in the northern Ontario heritage fund, which benefits directly the people of northern Ontario.
The Ministry of Skills Development: At a time in which there is growing concern about the cutback in skills development services offered to people across Ontario, at a time when there is concern that the Ottawa Ministry of Skills Development office, which is supposed to help young people get a new start, get retrained, get upgraded so they can get better-paying jobs and have more job security, at a time when that office is abysmally failing in its obligations and responsibilities to the people of Ontario, I know the Treasurer and the Minister of Skills Development (Mr. Curling) will explain a 220 per cent increase in ministry administrative expenses; at a time when we have got a deterioration in the services being offered by that particular ministry in the field and in particular in Ottawa -- from my own firsthand experience -- to the young people when they go to seek help from that office.
Why is there a deterioration in services to these people who desperately need it at a time when the minister is increasing administrative expenses here in Toronto by 220 per cent? I know the Treasurer and the minister are going to start doing some explaining and start answering to the people of Ontario for this.
The list goes on. The Ministry of the Solicitor General is presently embarked -- my colleagues the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) and the member for Hastings-Peterborough will confirm this -- on a reduction of services to the people of this province from our Ontario Provincial Police. At a time when that reduction is being put in place, when offices are being closed, when manpower and staffing is being reduced in offices like Matheson, Iroquois Falls, Cochrane, Kapuskasing, Hastings-Peterborough and the Nipissing district, the Ministry of the Solicitor General had over a 90 per cent increase in its ministry administrative budget.
Maybe the Solicitor General (Mrs. Smith) can switch her guns from Sunday working to explaining why she is reducing the police protection offered to the people of this province at a time when she has increased her ministry administrative expenses so dramatically; a 90 per cent increase.
The list goes on and on. Services to people reduced, as the answer to the Treasurer and the Chairman of Management Board, as opposed to discipline over the administrative costs of the ministries of this government. If the Treasurer needs some help in getting that message through to the ministers, then we are here to help him.
At a time when the Minister of Housing (Ms. Hosek) is cutting back on housing for the people of this city, she has had a staggering increase in the money she is spending on administering even less for the people of Ontario. This government now must start to answer for these kinds of staggering increases in ministry administrative expenses dovetailed with its sad performance, in community after community, in providing basic government services to the people of Ontario.
I want to deal briefly with a number of other issues, such as Bill 125 and the absolute shambles the Minister of Education has made of the election processes that are going on right now for trustees in various regions across this province. Having created the problem, they -refuse to give directions to the clerks of these municipalities as to how many French-language trustees and how many English-language trustees are to be elected. Are we going to go under the new rules of this new legislation -- i.e., are the ministry and the government therefore going to appeal this ruling -- or are we going under the old rules? In other words, are the government and the ministry not going to appeal?
It is a very clear signal. If we are going under the old rules, it is obvious that there is no appeal forthcoming. If we are going under the new rules, it is obvious that they are joining with some of the trustees’ associations to appeal the interim order of Mr. Justice Sirois. We have had nothing, no direction from this government, no direction from this Ministry of Education. The sad part is they have known about this court challenge for weeks, they have had a chance to prepare all of their alternatives, in any event of the decision by the Supreme Court, and have done nothing.
We had nominations close in our municipality last night. How many French-language trustees are we going to be electing for our Timmins District Roman Catholic Separate School Board? How many English-language trustees? If the rules are going to change in terms of the number of trustees, do the electors have an opportunity, at the same time that they decide whether they are running for one panel or another, to revise the enumerated lists and put themselves down as one elector versus another?
As the government is aware, under the new legislation and under the regulations and guidelines proclaimed under that legislation, those parents who have a student in full-time attendance at a French-language school qualify to designate themselves, if they wish, as French-language electors. People put themselves on the enumeration list based on that fact and based on the fact that they would have a say in the election of a certain number of French-language trustees.
What are the guidelines? What does the clerk announce to the news media this morning in Timmins, other than that he has received no direction or guidance?
Mr. Campbell: Elections as usual.
Mr. Pope: “Elections as usual,” the member for Sudbury says. It figures that would be his response.
How many French-language trustees are we voting for? How many English-language trustees are we voting for? Are you going to extend nominations if there are vacancies because of the change?
Mr. Campbell: You do not have to.
Mr. Pope: “You do not have to.” How would you know? Do you know everything about what is going on in Timmins? How many candidates are there for the French-language trustee?
Mr. Campbell: You were talking about Sudbury. You were not talking about Timmins,
Mr. Pope: I was talking about Timmins. How many French-language trustees are to be elected in Timmins? Since the member for Sudbury thinks he knows everything about it, how many?
Mr. Pope: The deputy House leader asks what Mr. Justice Sirois says. I am surprised that the deputy House leader does not know anything about it. He has not read the decision. That is unfortunate.
Mr. Reycraft: Have you read the decision? You have not read it.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Pope: That is unfortunate. If you would read the endorsement on the decision, you might know what was going on. It is a shame that the Liberals do not know what is happening in their own Supreme Court.
Mr. Reycraft: You have not read the decision.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. One speaker at a time, please.
Mr. Pope: I presume that at some point in time before election day someone over there is going to give some guidance and help to the school boards of this province, the boards of education and the municipal clerks.
An hon. member: You can count on it.
Mr. Pope: We can count on it? We should have counted on this government not to bring forward this legislation at the last minute in May and June when it was warned by every trustee organization, every educational organization, the clerks and treasurers of Ontario, the clerks directly and the government’s political advisers not to leave it so long. But, no, it was not going to listen to anybody. It is going to proceed on its own. It is going to ignore all the advice. The government brought it in in May and June. It knew that there was going to be a court challenge. It let it happen at the last minute and then when the decision comes down it does nothing. It abdicated its responsibility.
The government had representatives in court yesterday who wrote down what Mr. Justice Sirois said. The Attorney General (Mr. Scott) has had a report on that decision, as has the Minister of Education. It has had two days now, while everything is in an uproar in community after community across northern and eastern Ontario, and it has done nothing to resolve the uncertainty and straighten out this mess that it alone is responsible for because it would not listen to advice of the opposition members and the educational system last year.
In my part of the province, as well, a clear and important signal is being sent to the people by this government. It is not just their Premier’s comment that the north would do well to be a little more like southern Ontario, but it is in the whole attitude engendered toward the people of the north, their economic expectations vis-à-vis the use of the resources and the role that they can play in resource allocation and decision-making of this government in the allocation of resources.
In 1982 and 1983 we had 168 open houses in small and large communities across this province where northerners, easterners, urban and rural dwellers had their say on land use and resource allocation policies. They were able to look at maps. They were able to see the projected needs of our forest products industries. They were able to look at the estimates of available timber. They were able to look at maps that showed mineral potential through aeromagnetic surveys and other detailed survey work.
They were able to look at the allocation of trap lines between native and non-native bands from one end of this great province to the other. They were able to look at the allocation of sites for potential tourist development. They were able to look at allocation issues that would affect the potential growth of existing tourist operators. They were able to look at restocking programs and programs that would attract tourists to municipalities and communities, big and small, across this province. They were able to look at the policies that the government had used and would use in the future with respect to new parks across the province and 10,000 people came out and participated in those processes, in those open houses, and 10,000 submissions in writing were made to the government of Ontario. They are all on file.
The Minister of Natural Resources has them. In fact, the Minister of Natural Resources, also with respect to Temagami, had my own personal briefing book that I had at the time as Minister of Natural Resources, with all of the ministry estimates and studies that were available to me at the time.
Then we had seven regional forums where over 5,000 people came out and argued with one another, debated the issues and they did not have the same interests or expectations. There was give and take and there were disagreements, often emotional disagreements, about the different perceptions that exist in this province about decisions the government may make that would affect their lives, either socially, environmentally or from a recreational point of view, or for northerners from a gut economic livelihood survivorship benefit point of view.
There were various points of view put forward and debated. After that, there was a two-day meeting at the Guild Inn with all of the organized interest groups that we could think of being represented. For two days, they pored over these comments, looked at the maps and the studies. Out of that, I believe there was a consensus and the reaction of these groups when the new parks were announced in 1983 gives effect to the statement I am making that I believe there was a consensus or that people could live with the result, although it was not everything they wanted or exactly what they would have preferred. But they felt there was a process there that had been good, that allowed them to understand other points of view and to put their own point of view forward.
The result of that: new parks were created; boundaries were established. The use of resources within the parks and in the buffer areas around the parks were established clearly and understood.
What did we see over the past year from this government with respect to the Temagami area? We have seen unilateral decision-making, no public forum. We have seen interest groups attempting to get in to see the minister to privately present their cases and we have seen an unorganized attempt by this government to try to go back and reinvent the decisions and the information that was available at the time the initial decision was made.
I say to this government, it was clear at the time. It was very clear at the time that the timber to the south of the southern boundary of the Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park was required and would be required in the future for the Milne plant in the Temagami area. There was a clear understanding that the road would have to continue through the park to that southern area. A decision was made in 1983 after all of the consultation took place that particular industry would have to have access, eventually, to that timber.
There was a clear decision and clear realization that the Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater area had the largest, undeveloped geological potential in Ontario, that its geological formations were on a par with the Hemlo gold field, that they offered a dramatic potential for exploration and development of new mines in northeastern Ontario and therefore that potential, for the benefit of the people of northeastern Ontario, ought to be preserved. There should not be wide-open staking with the cutting of claim lines, the clearing of top soil, the burying of outcrop but it should be done on a very controlled basis to allow for the lifting by helicopter of drills into potential sites in that area and lifting them out again, not allowing the scraping away of the overburden to expose the rock formations, but relying on aeromagnetic surveys and relying on the drill results.
There was a realization that because of other environmental and recreational values the old-time staking and exploration and development work could not be carried forward, that the area had to be protected. Therefore, it was to be withdrawn from staking and subject to licence of exploration, with certain environmental conditions being attached to the exploration activity that might go on there, so that if the economic potential was not realized if the development of new mines was not economically viable, then the damage to the other values that resided in that candidate park area could be protected to the greatest degree possible.
What have we seen as a result of the Liberals’ decisions in their cabinet? We have seen an overturning of the multiple-use policies and theories that were widely accepted across this province, in all regions of this province in 1983, with nothing near the kind of public consultation program in place that we all embarked on in 1982 and 1983.
Many members of the Liberal party went to the open houses, sought information from me, were given information by the Ministry of Natural Resources at the time, understood what was happening, and in general terms thought it was a productive process and exercise.
In fact, the northern development councils, in some degree, are an offshoot of that process where this government has taken the opinions of local people with respect to economic development ideas and has harnessed their initiatives and their ideas for the benefit of new government programs which will help the people of northern Ontario, and that has to be put on the record too, because it was a good initiative.
But to unilaterally overturn what I believe to be a province-wide consensus sent a terrible signal to those who had participated in good faith in a give and take sense in that kind of a process. They felt that at any future date, the kinds of things that they were prepared to compromise on would be ignored, that it would be rolled back, that some future government would ignore what they had said and would ride with one interest or the other.
The member for Hastings-Peterborough could speak to this more than I could, but that is the reason why we have had groups of fishing and hunting clubs, tourist operators, chambers of commerce and municipal representatives that have been meeting over the summer in dismay at the reversal of the parks policy, in dismay about what is happening in Temagami, and saying this Minister of Natural Resources has lost his hold on this issue, he is no longer able to carry the can for all of us in the cabinet of this province, and every time he stands up, the Minister of the Environment is taking over.
That is why group after group is indicating to the Minister of Natural Resources and to the Premier (Mr. Peterson) that they do not have confidence in the ability of this government to listen to them and to fairly allocate resources among all interests for the benefit of local economic issues and for the benefit of provincial environmental concerns.
When that confidence is gone, no allocation process is going to be acceptable, nothing they decide will be accepted at face value and the credibility of this government in its ability to allocate and manage resources has likewise been undermined.
I would hope that the Treasurer, through his good offices, and the Chairman of Management Board, who understands these issues, will be able to speak in cabinet, as other cabinet colleagues have, to address the widespread concern in northern Ontario about the consequences of the way Temagami has been dealt with and the consequences of the reversal of the parks policy.
This government has, in the allocation of new government offices, the moving of additional government personnel to centres in northern Ontario, made an important step forward. I have said that every time I have been asked, and I have said that in commenting on general development policies in northern Ontario.
But it is not just the location of government facilities and offices alone. There must be the stimulation of new investment, of new dollars, of new industries, of new people in northern Ontario.
The BILD program may have been inadequate, but at least it started to provide some support for the private sector expanding its role in northern Ontario, and we believe it was a model for an expansion in growth in eastern Ontario as well.
We would wish that the government, while congratulating itself on the new offices and new ministry and government personnel in northern Ontario, would also spend time in developing these new potential opportunities for the private sector.
On motion by Mr. Pope, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 6:01 p.m.