L152 - Thu 23 Feb 1989 / Jeu 23 fév 1989
The House met at 10 a.m.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
Mr. Smith moved resolution 64:
That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that highways in Ontario are constructed in such a way to permit vehicles to travel safely at speeds greater than the presently posted limits, the government of Ontario should consider amending current legislation to increase speed limits on 400-class highways to 115 kilometres per hour for cars and light trucks and to 105 kilometres per hour for trucks over one tonne, and on secondary highways to 90 kilometres per hour for cars and light trucks and to remain at 80 kilometres per hour for trucks over one tonne.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Lambton has moved the resolution standing in his name. The member has up to 20 minutes to make his presentation and may reserve any portion of that 20 minutes for windup.
Mr. Smith: I would like to take this opportunity to express my thoughts and make comments in proposing this resolution, which would consider amendments to alter presently posted speed limits of 100 kilometres per hour to 115 kilometres per hour for cars and light trucks and 105 kilometres per hour for trucks over one tonne on 400-series highways, and on other secondary highways from 80 kilometres per hour to 90 kilometres per hour for cars and light trucks while remaining at 80 kilometres per hour for trucks over one tonne.
The issue of speed limit restriction has been a topic of controversy and even heated discussions for many years in Ontario and other jurisdictions such as the United States, Britain and European countries. A quick glance into our provincial debates over this subject indicates just that as well.
In February 1976, Ontario speed limits on the 400-series highways, as well as the Queen Elizabeth Way, were lowered from 70 miles per hour, which is approximately 113 kilometres per hour, to 60 miles per hour, which is approximately 100 kilometres per hour.
On August 8, 1986, the Minister of Transportation (Mr. Fulton), after being approached by advocates in favour of increased speed limits, rejected pleas to raise posted limits from 100 kilometres per hour on freeways, 90 kilometres per hour on the Trans-Canada Highway and 80 kilometres per hour on secondary roads.
As recently as May 12, 1988, during this current 34th Parliament, my colleague the member for Kenora (Mr. Miclash) presented and received support for a resolution to consider amendments to existing legislation to increase the speed limit in northern Ontario from 80 kilometres per hour to 90 kilometres per hour.
I would like to say I have great respect for my colleague the Minister of Transportation and his staff for having taken many initiatives on highway safety over the past years. This ministry has worked effortlessly to provide safe standards for Ontario drivers. The latest, most modern technology has been utilized in the construction of provincial highways to enable drivers to enjoy a more comfortable and safe travelling atmosphere. I applaud and support the minister in his efforts to keep the transportation network in Ontario at such a high level of excellence.
As I am sure members are aware, speed limits in North America were lowered to reduce gasoline consumption in the midst of an energy crisis caused by the Arab oil embargo in 1973. Evidence indicates that this strategy worked; however, since that time, oil prices have dropped or stabilized and the energy crisis in North America has declined, cars have been built smaller and more efficient and the argument to keep speed limits down has become harder to justify.
As I said before, in February 1976, Ontario speed limits were lowered on 400-series highways and the QEW from 70 miles per hour, which is 113 kilometres per hour, to 60 miles per hour, which is 100 kilometres per hour; but also the use of seatbelts became mandatory for all drivers and passengers in the same year. It is therefore difficult to state the number of lives saved by reducing highway speeds, because both measures took effect at approximately the same time.
Trends in speed restriction in countries other than Canada provide evidence that a review of Ontario speed limit restrictions should be reassessed, and I feel to increase presently posted limits as outlined in my resolution does not seem unreasonable. Countries such as Austria, Belgium, France and Italy all restrict drivers to 120 kilometres per hour, a speed still higher than these proposed here today.
We are fortunate in this province to travel on highways which were built with the best technology. Roads today are constructed to accommodate a higher rate of speed and a greater volume of traffic.
It is interesting to take note of some statistics with respect to this increased volume of traffic on our highways. In 1931, there were approximately 666,000 licensed drivers and approximately 600,000 cars and trucks. In comparison, an overwhelming six million drivers were registered in 1987, as well as approximately 5.5 million vehicles.
If one were to examine the total accidents over this same time period, 1931 to 1987, one would soon realize that this figure fluctuates and shows no consistency to prove that high speeds were solely responsible for highway accidents. For example, in 1976, the year of mandatory seatbelt legislation and lowered speed limits, total accidents were approximately 211,000. In 1977, only one year later, this accident figure rose by 7,000, to 218,000 accidents. Incredibly, 1978 had 286,000 accidents, which is the most ever recorded in one year.
I have to mention the increase in the volume of cars and trucks from 1950, when there were 1,080,000 vehicles, to 1986, when there were 5,190,000 vehicles. That is a span of 36 years. If we project forward these numbers of cars and trucks, we have to move traffic more quickly where we can in the very near future. Upon closer review of the Ontario Road Safety annual report of 1987, the total accident statistics showed a great deal of inconsistency, especially since 1976. In fact, this figure has decreased from the previous year a total of seven times in comparison with an increase from the previous year of five times.
I am convinced that many more factors dictate the number of traffic accidents than solely the issue of travelling at higher speeds. Roads were designed for higher speeds. In circumstances where drivers travel long distances on well-designed highways such as we have, the presently posted limits create frustration, resentment and a bad driver attitude. It is my feeling that this resolution suggesting modest speed limit increases will enable a great volume of traffic to move more quickly and safely from destination to destination.
If safety is the only consideration, then there really is no speed limit that would guarantee driver safety because the issue of speed is only one of numerous safety measures that drivers must adhere to. Along the same line of thinking, it is my opinion that a modest increase in the speed limits will respond to the ability of today’s high-technology and efficient engines, as well as transmissions with their overdrives. They use only a small percentage of their peak engine power to cruise at highway speeds. Vehicle-wear benefit is improved and fuel efficiency and economy are greater when the time-of-travel factor is involved.
This resolution offers the driver greater mobility and a reduction in travel time, which is the most obvious cost of lower speeds. I strongly believe that there are numerous reasons to explain traffic injuries and fatalities. The issue of highway speeding is but one single factor.
Giving a few more statistics, there were 571 deaths in 1931 on the highways, if we could really call them highways at that time, with 666,000 drivers, while in 1987 there were only 1,229 fatalities with 6 million drivers and 5.5 million vehicles. Consideration and recognition must be given to other safety measures such as retraining for a better driver attitude and better training for the new driver.
Causes of accidents can be attributed to such things as drunk or impaired driving, slush on highways, unsafe lane changing, drowsiness, lack of driver concentration or a bad driving attitude. An example as simple as a parent finding the need to calm two children in the back seat could cause attention to road safety to be less than 100 per cent, or adjusting the tape deck or radio, or dropping a cigarette. The operation of a vehicle is a full-time job and requires one’s full attention whether one is driving at 40 kilometres an hour or 120 kilometres an hour.
I would like to address the subject of a limit for trucks over one tonne to 105 kilometres per hour on 400-series highways and the limit remaining at 80 kilometres an hour on secondary highways. A general feeling indicates that larger trucks should move more slowly, especially when loaded. They cannot react to traffic fluctuations and emergency situations as quickly as smaller vehicles.
One thing they do have an advantage in is that the driver can see farther ahead than a car driver because the driver’s line of vision is approximately eight feet off the ground level. In some cases this gives the truck driver an advantage to see pending problems ahead. However, it must be kept in mind that considerably slower speed restrictions for one-tonne trucks will result in productivity loss because profit levels are directly related to travel time. This could be considered a compromise to take into account for heavy trucks.
I have driven both a straight truck of over 20 tonnes and an 18-wheeler during a six-year period, so I can speak from experience in driving both cars and trucks, travelling on roads under all conditions to earn a livelihood. I feel that current average highway traffic speeds exceed posted limits now. Therefore, a modest increase of 15 kilometres per hour would better reflect reality on our highways.
Weather conditions also present an interesting angle to the cause of traffic accidents. Road conditions such as snow-covered, icy or slushy roads, and poor visibility due to sunlight, fog, mist or rain or even high winds are directly responsible for causing many accidents too. Although I am not able to substantiate this opinion with statistics, it certainly presents a thought-provoking question.
I might add that alcohol and drinking drivers are the cause of many accidents.
On February 16, 1989, the Minister of Transportation indicated that he is considering higher fines and additional demerit points for driving offences to target accident-causing practices. Driver error was reported to be blamed for approximately 80 per cent of traffic accidents. One measure to correct this figure is to retrain the driver to portray a better driver attitude towards the operation of a vehicle. I support the minister’s initiatives to reduce highway accidents and, at the same time, to improve highway safety. The Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere program has definitely reduced accidents on the highways.
I would like to reiterate an article from the Globe and Mail of August 13, 1987, entitled “British Drivers Have a Lesson for Ontario.” In this article, David Nowell explains the British driving system and compares it to drivers in Ontario. For example, Mr. Nowell points out that on multilane highways, drivers utilize the far left lane at all speed limits. If a faster driver pulls up behind a slower vehicle in this fast lane, a psychological push is given to the driver ahead and perhaps headlights are flashed. In frustration, the aggressive faster driver is forced to change two or more lanes to the right and then return to the left lane by changing two or more lanes again. This practice of passing on either side is legal in Canada.
In comparison, in Britain, the overtaking lane is not to be blocked and is used solely for the purpose of overtaking another vehicle. The law forbids drivers to pass on the equivalent of our right-hand lanes. Thus, traffic moves in an orderly manner. This also results in vehicles going all speeds to mix on the same road very safely, because each driver sticks to his lane in accordance with his speed. Mr. Nowell offers some suggestions which merit consideration, such as the banning of passing on the right and reservation of the left lane for the purpose of overtaking only, with slower vehicles yielding to faster vehicles.
In summary, I feel that the resolution I have presented today responds to the needs of drivers of Ontario by accommodating a greater volume of traffic to avoid congestion. The roads in Ontario are in very good condition and are constructed in such a way as to handle the higher volume of traffic on today’s roads at higher speeds. An increase of 15 kilometres per hour for cars and light trucks and an increase of five kilometres per hour for trucks over one tonne for 400-series highways, along with a corresponding increase of 10 kilometres per hour for cars and light trucks on secondary highways and no change from the present limit for trucks over one tonne, seem quite modest.
Excessive speed at any posted speed limit is certainly a factor which could cause accidents, and certainly the slow driver can cause problems as well. However, there are many other factors that pose real dangers as well. If speed limits were raised, I feel that the roads would be safer in this more orderly environment and police could concern themselves with dangerous drivers rather than just speeders.
I think it is important to recognize that speed limits were originally lowered in response to an oil crisis which has since passed and possibly was never really a crisis anyway.
I support campaigns by the Ministry of Transportation to address the issue of driver attitude, but I would also like to suggest mandatory side mirrors, which are a tremendous benefit in heavy traffic. Amber fog lamps and brake lamps would help in poor weather conditions, as would higher truck brake lamps, amber-coloured as well.
I feel it is the absence of some of these changes and not solely the higher speed which causes the majority of accidents on our roads. There are many areas in Ontario where the drivers should be allowed to move more quickly over our excellent highways without endangering their safety. The operation of a vehicle requires 100 per cent of one’s concentration, whether the vehicle speed is under or over the presently posted speed limits. A modest rise in speed limits will still require 100 per cent attention and concentration to road safety and defensive driving.
I would like to reserve my remaining time for further concluding remarks after my colleagues have spoken to this resolution.
Mr. Mackenzie: It is unfortunate that I saw this resolution just this morning, because I really would like to have had some time to refresh my memory, if you like, on a committee of this House which I had the great privilege to sit on in September 1976 and early 1977. That was the select committee on highway safety, which spent a lot of time and, I think, did some of the best work I have ever had the privilege to participate in of a committee of this Legislature.
Having just received the copy in the last two minutes and not having gotten to the pages I really want to take a look at yet, I am going to express, if I can, some of my own comments, probably off the cuff, and may jump over a few points in response to the member’s notice of motion. I do want to say right off the bat, with respect to the member, that I think his notice is a bad one. I think it would be very, very unfortunate to see us move in this particular direction in Ontario.
Some things do stick in my mind very clearly. The hearings we held right across the province and a trip we took at the time to visit some of the testing facilities in Holland and England and to visit with the Swedish authorities, which had probably done more work on highway safety, road accidents and drinking drivers than just about anybody in the business up to that point in time, made one thing very clear; that is, there is a recognition universally that speed does kill.
There was also a recognition that yes, you may have an awful lot of drivers who have had some alcohol or who, in current times, may have been on some of the popular drugs of the day that are responsible for accidents. One thing that was clear then, and I do not think it has changed one iota today, is that for drivers who are drinking or maybe using some of the illegal drugs in society, a higher legislated speed is an invitation to disaster, because their judgement is even less clear than it would be under other circumstances.
I do not think you can say that more accidents are caused by drugs or drinking than speed in itself; I think there is a combination of factors. I do not think there is any question about that, but I am saying to the member that even he must recognize and recognize very clearly that if we boost the speed limits in this province, that is going to exacerbate, not improve, the situation in terms of any drivers who may be indulging.
I do not think the member can dismiss as easily as he has the fact that we are in little better shape in terms of our oil, gas and energy resources at the moment. The figures overall have not really changed in the world today. There is no question that the question of a secure energy supply, particularly in terms of gasoline and oil, is an ongoing problem. From time to time, due to a variety of factors, whether here or in the Persian Gulf countries, political situations may see the supplies ease or tighten up again. We are facing a very serious problem worldwide in terms of energy supplies.
The restriction of the use of those supplies is accomplished effectively and in large measure through control over things like high speeds on our highways. I do not think we just dismiss, because it is a little easier and gasoline prices are not that high at the moment, the fact that we do need to be concerned about the amount of gas consumed by drivers on our highways.
I think he has totally missed another new development, or a development that we could foresee from the demographics in our country, which has a very definite effect in terms of safety on the highway, and that is the fact that we have an older population and a growing older population. There may be some speed demons in that group. I say with respect that we always shuddered a bit at one of my colleagues and the way he would drive occasionally, the past member for Welland-Thorold.
The fact is that if you talk to older people, as when I talk to my mom and dad -- my dad is still driving at the age of 85 -- the vast majority of them are concerned about the speed and the increased use of our highways and tend to drive a little slower. I do not think we are doing them any favours and I do not think the member would find much support from the vast number of older drivers in Ontario for the idea of increasing the speed limits on Ontario highways.
The member can also say that we have built our highways better and for higher speeds. There is an element of truth in that. But the member must also know that, especially on our main highways in this province, the increased use and the increased traffic on them, which is a continuing concern for drivers, is phenomenal.
It may not be representative of all of Ontario, but the Queen Elizabeth Way, the highway from my town, Hamilton, over here to Toronto -- or whether you go up to Highway 400 and Highway 401 -- is clearly a highway on which the speed limits are not enforced, on which, on a bad day, one can pass as many as 10 or 15 accidents if one happens to have slipperiness, or some ice or snow. As it is, in the few spots where the traffic opens up a bit, the speeds are much too high but the increased traffic there makes it a disaster to drive every day of the week.
I suspect the member does use some of those main highways. I know that he would not get an awful lot of support from drivers on the Queen Elizabeth Way for increased speed on that particular highway.
The member also talks about the difference in trucks. One of the problems we had on the select committee on highway safety was the speed of trucks. I can recall sitting down with the trucking companies in that committee, and being told by them that some of our concerns and the concerns that many drivers on the highway have over the speed of trucks, particularly the big rigs that we have on the highway today, were really uncalled-for concerns, because in fact their drivers were instructed to obey the speed limits.
Quite frankly, that is a bit of a laugh. I do not think it is because of any deliberate desire to break the law, but I travel at close to the speed limit most of the time, when I can and when it is open enough on the highways. If I am travelling at close to the speed limit, and it is open enough so that we are not in a stop-and-go situation, most of the rigs will pass me almost as though I were standing still. That is the case with many other drivers on the highway as well.
The member has also not considered the amount of traffic moving in this province with the use of trucks. Trucks, as most of us know, have really replaced much of the rail shipping of goods, as some of the rail lines closed down and no longer serviced many of the smaller communities in this province. Trucks on the highway have dramatically increased in numbers, as have automobiles. I as an individual -- and, I am darned sure, most of the drivers in Ontario -- do not want to be competing with increased speed limits and with some of the huge rigs that we have on the highways today in increased numbers.
You add that to the factor, as I mentioned, of an increasingly older population as well, and I think you are penalizing them in terms of safety on the highways.
The congestion is the major factor that I think rules against an increase in speed limits. There was no question on that select committee on highway safety, either in our hearings here in Ontario or in the hearings that we held with many of the authorities in Europe, that speed does kill. It was not a popular move, even in the European countries, even for some of them that had a higher speed than we did.
Almost every recommendation in terms of controlling speed on the highway dealt with the question, “Could we afford more cruisers, even if they were unmarked, to try to slow drivers down, and even if they were parked without an officer in the particular cruiser, to have some effect on the traffic flow patterns?”
Even if we have built better highways that can accommodate more speed we have some problems, as you will know from the people who are responsible for good roads; and from many of the municipalities keeping our budget up-to-date in terms of repairs these days. So I am not sure you can totally make the argument that we have really built them to accommodate the additional speed.
There are many other things and some quotes out of the report I would like to have been able to refer to. But let me say in all seriousness -- and, as I said at the beginning, not in an attitude of confrontation -- I think that this motion and this proposal would be a wrong move, a very bad wrong move for Ontario, and I hope the members in the House will consider it carefully before they vote for it.
Mr. Runciman: I want to participate on behalf of my party and indicate that we are not supportive of the motion by the member for Lambton (Mr. Smith). I guess it is an indication of why we were here the past couple of weeks. We were here yesterday to listen to members of the government say wonderful things about their budget, and we are here today to listen to the member for Lambton talk about increasing speed limits. Obviously the members of the brownnose gang over here are very supportive of that initiative.
Mr. Ballinger: I am glad somebody finally recognized us.
Mr. Runciman: Mr. Speaker, is it appropriate to heckle when you are not sitting in your seat? If it is not, I am sure you will take the appropriate action.
The Deputy Speaker: I will.
Mr. Runciman: I agreed essentially with the comments made by the previous speaker, the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie), although I would have some difference of opinion with respect to the views about the fuel savings that are realized as a result of somewhat lower speed limits. I have always felt that was something of a red herring. If governments really feel that initiatives have to be undertaken to significantly reduce fuel consumption as a result of automotive use, I think much tougher and more effective measures will have to be considered.
I think all of us have noted that virtually every car we see in traffic in the Metro Toronto area has one person alone in that car. It is a terrible waste of fuel. If we all look at more effective ways of utilization of automobiles in our society, it could indeed have a very significant impact on fuel consumption. At some point in the future, I do agree with the member for Hamilton East, we are going to be faced with that kind of problem unless there are other technologies coming on the market which may be our salvation, but at this point it certainly does not look as though the answer is in the immediate future anyway.
The member talked about his view that speed limits be increased as not being a major safety concern; he is obviously not in agreement with his colleague the Minister of Transportation, who not too long ago gained a great deal of publicity when he tabled a report indicating quite the contrary and suggested he was going to be undertaking a number of initiatives to try to improve the traffic safety situation in the province. Certainly that report identified speed as a major problem. He talked also about tightening up regulations and penalties for speeders and a number of other violations of traffic laws. As I said, he got a good deal of positive press about those initiatives.
When I say that the member is doing something in direct contradiction to a member of his own executive council, I also want to point out that is not terribly unusual with this government. We have certainly seen it this week when I have been questioning the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mrs. Wilson), who is present today. When we are expressing concerns about senior-citizen auto insurance rates, she is saying that all of our concerns and the concerns of the media are hypothetical, that we are just trying to stir up unnecessary fears among the seniors in this province.
Of course, that is a bunch of baloney. As the member for York Mills (Mr. J. B. Nixon) knows full well, along with the member for Kingston and The Islands (Mr. Keyes), both of whom sat through the standing committee on administration of justice hearings on Bill 2, we had witness after witness indicate what the impact was going to be on seniors in this province, and we had the Mercer report very clearly indicate the dislocation that was going to occur.
But the minister stands up in this House, not only in the face of that testimony over a significant period of time but also in direct contradiction of the chairman of the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board -- who, over the past weekend, bemoaned the fact that this indeed was going to significantly hurt numbers of seniors in this province, pointed out some specifics in that regard and also expressed, I believe, a genuine concern about individuals living on fixed incomes -- and still has the -- I have to be careful here. Is temerity the right word? Is that an appropriate word? -- to stand up and say it is still hypothetical and that I am trying to scare seniors. That is a case again of another individual in government -- an arm of government, a Liberal appointee, Mr. Kruger -- saying one thing and the minister standing up in the House and saying something else.
We have another indication again where we have seen an example of the member from Ottawa West (Mr. Chiarelli) taking strong issue with the duly elected municipal representatives in Ottawa, chastising them severely for doing their job, standing up on behalf of their constituents and saying: “Look, this Liberal government is not giving the Ottawa area a fair shake. We’re not getting significant dollars into our area for the maintenance and upgrading of our road and highway system.” What does the member for Ottawa West do? He stands up and dumps all over these duly elected municipal officials --
Mr. Ballinger: Just like you do to us.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Runciman: -- many of whom have supported the Liberal cause in years gone by and up to at least the date that the member stood up and was severely criticized.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Runciman: All of those good people, duly elected officials, trying to do the best job possible for the people they try to represent, and that is the sort of reaction we get.
Mr. Ballinger: I hear this; I don’t believe it.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Runciman: Of course, we have a conflict going with another member of the governing party, another Ottawa member -- I am trying to find her riding as well -- for Ottawa-Rideau (Mrs. O’Neill), who very quickly recognized the dangers that this kind of a comment was going to generate in the Ottawa area for other fine members from that area, and I know there are some; there is one in the House here today. I will not mention his name for fear it might show up in his brochure during the next provincial election.
In any event, I want to say that is the sort of internal conflict that we see weekly within this government, that one end of the horse does not know what the other end is doing.
I think auto insurance again is something that I have to dwell upon. This is certainly an area that I have some knowledge of, as the critic for our party.
This certainly flies in the face of what we heard in testimony before the standing committee on administration of justice on Bill 2 as well when we were talking about the real problem in respect to auto insurance costs in this province, and that is the effective claims costs. We know that the speed is a contributing factor. I am sure that the member will not deny that it is indeed a contributing factor.
When we take a look at the claims costs and the number of accidents in this province, and not only the number of accidents but the resultant costs to repair cars now, especially with the testimony before us with cars with unibody construction, even a very modest accident results in significant costs to repair the new cars. With the computerized cars as well, again there is a significant cost associated with that. As members can appreciate, I am sure, these all have implications for auto insurance costs for all consumers in this province.
I can understand the views of some of his constituents and perhaps the member in this respect, but I think that the member’s initiative here was ill thought out in light of the concerns that his own minister has expressed, in light of the continuing brouhaha over insurance costs, which the government has certainly botched up in a significant manner --
Mr. Ballinger: Is that a new beer in Brockville? There’s a new beer in Brockville, guys; let’s have a can of brewhaha.
Mr. Runciman: See? Now we even have another member of the Liberal party supporting drinking -- on the job, I assume. It is very disturbing the initiatives that are forthcoming from this government.
I think that even the member would acknowledge that when the speed limit was 70 miles per hour on Highway 401, the Ontario Provincial Police looked the other way when you went 10 miles per hour over. We do not have enough manpower to police a violation of 10 miles per hour. At 60, virtually everyone driving on the highway is going 70 and the police are looking at people above that limit.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. The member’s time is up.
Mr. Runciman: I think the reality is that you can drive 70 miles per hour. This is an unwise, ill-thought-out initiative and we cannot support it.
Mr. J. B. Nixon: I would like to commend the member for Lambton for the honest and reasonable resolution he has put before the House. I would like to point out to the members who have spoken against this resolution that the member for Lambton is not advocating an across-the-board elimination of speed limits. He is not advocating an across-the-board raising of speed limits. He is advocating that for certain highways, the series 400 highways being a good example, speed limits be raised to a safe level that recognizes reality. That safe level, that realistic level is the comfortable level at which drivers drive today and the comfortable level at which the roads were designed to be driven on.
The object of speed limits, as the members have already alluded, is to balance the goal of public safety and the needs of personal convenience. They argue, and it is generally argued, that speed limits accomplish the following: They reduce highway fatalities and there is a reduction in the annual consumption by the province of petroleum and gasoline. The cost of these benefits is a substantial increase in motorists’ travel times. There are hidden costs that are perhaps more significant, such as a loss of respect for the rule of law -- more particularly, a law that does not make sense.
The tradeoff of the benefits of the speed limit and its costs are not equal for all highway systems. I think the member for Hamilton East would have to recognize that. Should there be a blanket standard speed limit for all arterial roads, urban and rural, and the series 400 highways in Ontario, or should the standard speed limit exclude roads that are designed for high-speed driving?
The series 400 highways, as the members will know, have been built to the highest standards, feature multiple lanes, wide medians and controlled access, whereas arterial roads tend to be two-lane roadways with at-grade intersections. They are quite a different animal, quite a different thing to drive on. By setting the same blanket maximum limit for all highways, without regard for their geometric design and safety performance, the speed limit reflects an uneven and insensitive commitment to safety across our road systems.
Whether the current laws governing the speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour need to be altered involves three questions. First, are the benefits of the speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour being eroded by higher speeds and other influences on safety? For instance, anyone who travels the series 400 highways knows that the average real speed is in excess of 100 kilometres per hour. I would ask the member for Hamilton East and the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr. Runciman) to tell us today in the House whether or not they ever exceed the speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour. Let’s recognize reality.
Second, the fatality rate on all roads and highways has declined significantly in the last decade, as the member for Hamilton East outlined. Much of this improvement has not been caused by speed limits, but by continuing improvement to vehicles, to roadways and to medical services, not by improvements to unenforced speed limits. More and more people are travelling our roads and there are diminishing safety benefits attributable to the speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour because of other improvements in safety, such as the mandatory seatbelt law, which have really taken over the primary role of protecting the public.
The third question the members will have to answer is whether noncompliance and motorist frustration ultimately lead to nullification of the law. One of the greatest pressures to increase speed limits is the real behaviour of the majority of motorists. The percentage exceeding the speed limit on the series 400 highways increases every year.
I notice the member for Leeds-Grenville is leaving. I am not sure where he is going. He has lost interest in the debate. He did not demonstrate any when he was standing on his feet. I think we heard a lot about auto insurance premiums and members speaking their minds, but we did not hear anything about speed limits. I say farewell to the member for Leeds-Grenville.
Mr. Keyes: As he leaves the House.
Mr. J. B. Nixon: As he leaves the House.
Compliance with the law on most highways depends on the voluntary actions of individual motorists, who are apparently increasingly disinclined to obey the speed limits. It seems that most supporters of a speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour right now argue that they should be able to drive at 110, 120 or 130 kilometres per hour without being ticketed, and in so doing they consider themselves in compliance with the spirit of the law. But really, let’s accept it: This is noncompliance with the law. The question I ask is whether or not this threatens the integrity of the existing policy.
Third, and a much wider question: Does the widespread violation of the speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour breed disrespect for law in general? Preoccupation with the speed limit laws in fact impedes enforcement of more vital laws, such as those dealing with Criminal Code offences, sexual assault, burglary and murder, and confuses the public about the priority we place on the most important elements of highway safety, such as the use of seatbelts.
Preoccupation with the speed limit encourages the misallocation of enforcement resources. We have an awful lot of police chasing speeders at a time when municipalities and cities are crying out for more funds for police to enforce Criminal Code laws. In fact, while we are tolerating widespread noncompliance, I really think what we are doing is suggesting to the citizens of the province that there are some laws that are worth obeying and some that are not, which at the very least is confusing and I suggest brings into question the ability and propriety of the state actually passing these laws.
I suggest to members that the consequences of higher speeds on the series 400 highways are not great. The series 400 highways were built to the highest design standard capable, greater than any other class of highway in this province or in fact in the country. The direction of traffic on the series 400 highways is usually separated by wide medians or median barriers that greatly reduce the risk of head-on crashes. The series 400 highways have wide shoulders, breakaway signposts, guard-rails, and other physical safety features that minimize crash severity.
Given the goal of speed limits, that of ensuring some modicum of public safety on our highways, one has to ask if there are more effective ways of ensuring public safety. I suggest there really are. For instance, there are compensating safety policies that can be implemented which will be much more effective in ensuring public safety than imposing blanket universal speed limits. I suggest the generalized blanket application of the universal speed limit is not the best means of achieving public safety. We should be focusing on enforcement of existing laws that relate directly to public safety, such as laws on seatbelt use and impaired driving, and developing new laws to make, for instance, air bag restraints mandatory.
The real problem is in ensuring the safety of the individual involved in a crash. This problem is not solved by applying a blanket speed limit across the board. What the member has suggested is a selective adjustment in existing speed limits on those highways where the public safety is protected by the design of the highway, and where the use of that highway is restricted in a sense by the design features that are developed and implemented for public safety.
Finally, I suggest that this is in no way inconsistent with the recent announcement by the Minister of Transportation to the effect that he would increase the fines and penalties for violation of highway traffic offences. I fully concur with that announcement. I suggest what we have to do is to have a reasonable speed limit. For those who violate it, there should be severe fines and penalties. I say, “Make a reasonable law and enforce it.” That is all the member is trying to do with the resolution he has put before us.
I ask all members to consider supporting this resolution. As I said at the outset, I think it is reasonable, honest and worthy of the members’ consideration.
Mr. Charlton: I had not intended to speak on this resolution, but the comments of the member for York Mills have prompted me to say a few things here today. As one of those who spends about a quarter of his working week on 400 series highways, I have to say to the member for York Mills and to the member for Lambton that their naïveté and their inability to be observant somewhat distresses me.
First, the average speed on the 400 series highways is already 115 kilometres per hour, not 100. Drivers are in a hurry. The member for York Mills asked the question, and I just conferred with the member for Hamilton East, about whether the member for Hamilton East ever exceeds the speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour, and of course he does.
The reality and the naïveté of what the member is saying, though, is that he wants the average speed on the 400 series highways to be 130 kilometres per hour, not 115, because that is what it already is. Drivers in this province understand that as long as they stay 15 kilometres per hour or less over the speed limit, they may have to pay a financial fine but they will lose no points and they are driving generally within a safe range.
Those of us who spend a large proportion of our time on those 400 series highways, especially those of us who have had the unfortunate opportunity of witnessing some of the disastrous accidents on those highways, do not feel very comfortable seeing the average speed on those highways move from 115 to 130 kilometres per hour, including those of us who have even been involved on occasion with trying to assist people who have been injured in those accidents.
We have a situation where at present the Ontario Provincial Police are running an ad campaign in this province. I suggest to both the member for Lambton and the member for York Mills that they take the time to listen to those ads because those ads are a product of some studies of speed that have been done in this province. Those ads clearly say to us: “The greater the speed, the greater the injury when there is an accident. The greater the speed, the more difficulty there is in stopping the vehicle, regardless of whether the vehicle is in control or out of control.”
For every kilometre per hour we add to the average speed on 400 series highways in this province, the greater both the risk of accidents becomes and the greater the damage that results from those accidents becomes. We will turn some accidents that are presently car damage accidents into personal injury accidents, and we will move some of those accidents that are already personal injury accidents up to the category of death accidents. I do not think that is what any of us wants.
If you go out onto the 400 series highways and spend a little time observing what is going on around you, you will begin to understand the folly of even contemplating increasing the legal speed limit on those highways to 115 kilometres per hour. The cars we have today are in some respects slightly safer than they were 20 years ago, and they are in some respects less safe because of the initiatives that have been taken to make cars lighter, to increase mileage and all of the other things that have been going on over the course of the last 20 years.
To put those cars and the passengers and drivers of those cars into the situation, as we inevitably will, of having more accidents -- we will because it is harder to stop at higher speeds -- and to put more of those drivers into the situation of killing someone is in my view, at this stage of our development, tantamount to insane.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. M. C. Ray): The time remaining permits only the wrapup by the member for Lambton.
Mr. Smith: Certainly, I want to thank all the members who have participated in the debate on this resolution. As I have heard some of the comments, I wonder who are the naïve ones.
I have driven for 34 years now. I have been lucky, I suppose. I have never had an accident. I have seen many accidents. I have driven in all kinds of conditions. As I said in my opening remarks, I have driven an 18-wheeler to Toronto, so I know what that is like, but I still go along with the general feeling that trucks should drive somewhat more slowly than the general car and light truck traffic.
I want to say to the members who object to this resolution that the statistics I have here -- these are from the Ministry of Transportation -- say that in 1976 we had 211,000 accidents; in 1977, we had 218,000; in 1978, we had 286,000. We have never had that many accidents since then. It looks to me as if, as they allowed the speed limit to go back up, the accidents actually came down in numbers, because in 1979 they came back down to 197,000. Even in the year 1987, we were back to only 203,000. I say “only,” but I am making comparisons here. We have to go back to the year 1974 to have that same number.
I believe that if we want to be realistic about what is happening out there on the highways, we are not endangering any more people by allowing the speed limit to come up to 115 kilometres an hour on the 400 series highways. Some people argue that the general traffic would go up to 130 kilometres. I do not believe that. I believe the traffic would change very little, but as it shows in statistics from the Ministry of Transportation, if you are allowed to drive at about 115 kilometres -- I travel these highways every week -- that is the general flow of traffic. I have slowed down to 100 kilometres and I was a nuisance on the highway.
The other thing I want to bring out is that I think there could be other changes made, and I believe the Ministry of Transportation is working on some of them. These are items I have noticed work well for me. They have certainly helped me get through bad weather conditions.
If you go to amber fog lamps -- I have driven down the highway and I drive in all kinds of snowy or foggy weather -- you can turn your headlights out and drive with fog lamps on and you can see further than the people who are flashing their lights at you saying you do not have your lights on. But that is not the fact. I have had fog lamps for quite a number of years. They are amber coloured. I think we should put them on the brake lamps, especially the high one that they have in the back window now. That registers more quickly on the eye and I think that would be an advantage.
Having driven a truck, I know there is a vacuum created behind a truck as it is travelling down the road. I think we should raise the brake lamps there to a higher level and possibly make them amber as well.
I certainly understand when some people say that speed causes accidents, but it is a combination of a lot of things. If members are realistic about what is happening out there on the highways today, they would have to say that I am not asking for a crazy speed limit. I am asking for a realistic speed limit; maybe then the police can get on with the business other people are asking them to do.
Mr. Elliot moved resolution 65:
That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing the importance of the Niagara Escarpment as a significant feature of Ontario’s natural heritage, and that the varying uses of the escarpment lands for farming, tourism, housing and aggregate extraction have a significant impact on that land, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs should be directed to ensure that any development or use of Niagara Escarpment lands be environmentally sustainable development; and that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs be further directed to maintain heritage and environmental concerns as priorities when considering land use planning within the Niagara Escarpment boundaries.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. M. C. Ray): The member is reminded that he has up to 20 minutes for his presentation and may reserve any portion thereof for his windup.
Mr. Elliot: Environmentally sustainable development must be a priority along the Niagara Escarpment. Environmentally sustainable development does not mean no development; it means development that preserves our future.
In my motion, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is directed to maintain heritage and environmental concerns as priority concerns when considering land use planning within the Niagara Escarpment boundaries.
A ribbon of green trees and grey limestone zigzags across Ontario from Niagara Falls to Tobermory. It runs from Niagara Falls to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton. It runs to Crawford Lake Conservation Area in Milton. It runs to the Forks of the Credit in Caledon. It runs through the beautiful Hockley Valley, past Collingwood, along the Blue Mountain, up the Bruce Peninsula to Tobermory and beyond to Flowerpot Island.
Last Saturday, February 18, 1989, 12 environmental groups met in Holy Cross Church hall in Georgetown. They held a day-long workshop. They formed a coalition to make all levels of government more aware of their concerns. They care about what we are doing to the Niagara Escarpment. They feel strongly that lands designated as Niagara Escarpment lands must be protected. Each group made a presentation. Each presentation was to last 10 minutes. They stretched into the half-hour mark and the concerns coalesced into one main theme: environmentally sustainable development along the Niagara Escarpment.
I will read the names of the 12 groups, for the very names tell a story in themselves: the Citizens Network on Waste Management, the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment, the Caledon Ratepayers Association, Greensville Against Serious Pollution, Keep the Environment Environmentally Protected, Puslinch Quarry Expansion, Glenridge Landfill Concerned Citizens Committee, the Hockley Valley Improvement Association, the Cheltenham Park Preservation Group, Protect Our Water and Environmental Resources, Ecology Awareness Group Landscape and Environment and finally, the Bruce Trail Association, Halton chapter.
The story told by these names is one of hundreds of concerned and caring citizens. They want waste stopped. They want us to stop relying on technical solutions. They want us to have a different attitude towards the environment. They want us, in our very own backyards, to do things right.
From Cootes Paradise outside Dundas to the Beaver Valley, the Niagara Escarpment lands sit on top of the Amabel aquifer, one of the main water sources for rivers flowing into Lake Ontario, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Eight of the 12 groups were concerned about specific quarries and/or garbage being dumped into quarries. Seven of the quarry sites are on escarpment lands. All groups are convinced Niagara Escarpment quarries are not acceptable landfill sites. We cannot risk polluting our water supply with the leachate naturally produced by garbage in a landfill.
The Niagara Escarpment is a significant feature of Ontario’s natural heritage. Farming, tourism, housing and aggregate extraction have a significant impact on that land.
The good news is that we have the means to address our citizens’ concerns: the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act as amended in 1982. Section 2 reads, “The purpose of this act is to provide for the maintenance of the Niagara Escarpment and land in its vicinity substantially as a continuous natural environment, and to ensure only such development occurs as is compatible with that natural environment.”
Section 8 reads: “The Niagara Escarpment plan may contain, (a) policies for the economic, social and physical development of the Niagara Escarpment planning area in respect of, (i) the management of land and water resources, (ii) the general distribution and density of population, (iii) the general location of industry and commerce, the identification of major land use areas and the provision of major parks and open space...(iv) the control of all forms of pollution of the natural environment, (v) the general location and development of major servicing, communication and transportation systems, (vi) the development and maintenance of educational, cultural, recreational, health and other social facilities.”
Clause 8(b) says the plan may contain “policies to co-ordinate the planning and development programs of the various ministries for the Niagara Escarpment planning area.”
Clause 8(c) says the plan may contain “policies designed to ensure compatibility of development by the private sector.”
All land within the Niagara Escarpment planning area has been assigned one of seven different designations. Each such category has accompanying land use policies stating permitted uses and lot creation guidelines. The three major designations -- escarpment natural, escarpment protection and escarpment rural -- compose 90 per cent of the plan area. The remaining 10 per cent is encompassed by the minor urban centre, the urban area, the escarpment recreation area and mineral resource extraction area designations.
The Niagara Escarpment plan was approved on June 12, 1985. The Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act was passed in June 1973. The honourable member for Simcoe West (Mr. McCague) was appointed the first Niagara Escarpment Commission chairman in September 1973. Regulation 118/74, defining the Niagara Escarpment planning area, evolved into the Niagara Escarpment plan of 1985. The Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Eakins) has been responsible for that plan since September 1987. The member for Ottawa East (Mr. Grandmaître) was responsible for the plan from August 1985 to September 1987. Many highly desirable initiatives have been started since 1985. I will highlight three of them briefly.
The first relates to mineral aggregate extraction. In order to preserve the Niagara Escarpment as a continuous natural feature, the Ontario government has decided wayside permits will not be issued for provincial road construction projects in the escarpment natural and protection area designations. All references to high potential mineral aggregate resources, mapping and textural, have been removed from the plan. New licensed pits and quarries producing over 20,000 tonnes per year will be permitted only in escarpment rural designations and only following an amendment to the plan.
To meet the needs of municipalities, provision has been made for wayside pits in escarpment protection and escarpment rural designations. However, aggregate for municipal road construction may be obtained only from sites previously used for pit operations in the escarpment protection designation. Authority to issue development permits for aggregate extraction will be retained by the Niagara Escarpment Commission.
The second initiative relates to land acquisition stewardship. A Niagara Escarpment fund has been established by the Ontario Heritage Foundation to receive donations for escarpment land acquisitions. Expenditures from the fund have been directed as follows: (a) acquisition of lands to complete the park system, including lands required for the Bruce Trail, and (b) among other activities to promote and support responsible stewardship of escarpment heritage properties, the Ontario government’s commitment to $2.5 million per year for a 10-year period.
The third initiative is a tax rebate program for class 1, 2 and 3 wetlands, nonrevenue-producing conservation authority lands, escarpment natural areas and conservation lands owned by nonprofit organizations.
Less than 200 years ago, the beautiful ribbon of green along the Niagara Escarpment stretched as far as the eye could see in all directions. The Iroquoian Indians of that time and place developed a unique and worthwhile custom which we might do well to adopt. In some tribes, decisions made in council session, for example, were always subject to the scrutiny of one wise elder. The wise elder’s sole responsibility was to check decisions before they were final against one very significant criterion: each decision had to be considered for its effect on the next seven generations or it was not implemented.
My son is the seventh generation of Elliots to live in Ontario. Our family came here from Scotland in 1814. My great-great-grandfather, Adam Scott Elliot, was two years old in 1814 when he arrived in Ontario. His father helped clear 500 acres of prime forest near Perth, Ontario, 100 acres for himself and 100 acres for each of his first four sons. The settlers cleared the forest and the entire area because they needed the land to grow food. They burned most of the timber.
In the 1850s, Adam Scott Elliot moved to Bruce county. He and his son William founded the town of Chesley near Owen Sound. They also helped clear most of the forest from that area, again to grow food. Most of the lumber this time, though, was used in building. They built grist mills, foundries, sawmills, founded a bank and established limestone kilns and gravel pits. It was an exciting time in Ontario. There was unbridled and extensive development with no worry about the seventh generation.
My colleague the member for Grey (Mr. Lipsett) will be speaking to this motion later. A large proportion of the Niagara Escarpment is in his riding, the county of Grey.
The other branch of my family, the Cain family, helped open up Grey county. My great-uncles Frank and Dick Cain, and the Brownlee family on that side of the family, helped build roads and worked in gravel pits and quarries. When development slowed in the early 1900s, their boss, a man named Butchart, moved to British Columbia and they went with him. If you are ever in Victoria, visit Butchart Gardens, a beautiful rehabilitated quarry.
I mention these facts to underline my personal involvement with the development of this province. But we are all involved and must all care about the effects of development on our seventh generation. Environmentally sustainable development must include the preservation of the Niagara Escarpment. There are mineral resources on escarpment land. There are forest, recreational and tourist areas on escarpment land. There are farms now on escarpment land. There are private residences on escarpment lands.
The time for a promised five-year review is approaching. That review must address the compatibility of the many presently accepted uses of escarpment land. That review must place the preservation of the Niagara Escarpment’s natural and protected areas as a top priority in all land use plans in Ontario.
This is Ontario Heritage Week. The Niagara Escarpment is one of our finest natural heritages. This week, all of us should resolve to visit one of the many parks in the Niagara Escarpment. We will enjoy the experience, whether we visit Rattlesnake Point in Milton, Niagara Falls, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, the Forks of the Credit, Blue Mountain or Flowerpot Island. What a terrific time to recommend to preserve our great natural heritage, the Niagara Escarpment, by committing to environmentally sustainable development.
I will reserve my remaining time for wrapup.
Mr. Charlton: I rise to support the resolution placed here today by the member for Halton North. I commend him for the views he has expressed here today regarding the Niagara Escarpment and its protection.
Having said that I support the resolution, I have to say it is unfortunate that we have to be here even debating it today. It is unfortunate, as the member for Halton North has mentioned, that we are going to have to go through this five-year review. The process that we have been through around the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act has been a lengthy one, a thorough one and, on occasion, a very heated one, as disputes over the last 15 years have been hot and heavy and sometimes very politically acrimonious.
I recall that in 1984 the former member for Welland-Thorold, Mel Swart, and myself were out on the road along the escarpment in an attempt to fight a number of the very issues which the member for Halton North has raised here today in terms of the need to protect the escarpment. Two of those issues were aggregate extraction issues, one in Fonthill down in the Niagara Peninsula and one at Speyside, just around this corner of the end of the lake. The third issue was in the Beaver Valley. It was not an aggregate extraction issue. It was a pollution issue around a proposal for another rather large sewage lagoon to service a proposed new resort.
The reason we had to be out there on the road, along with a number of other environmentalists fighting those issues, was not because the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act is not a good piece of legislation, because it is a very good piece of legislation. Again, the member for Halton North read into the record a number of the sections and the protections that they provide. It is excellent legislation. There are some of us who would have wished that the actual boundaries of the Niagara Escarpment planning area had been the old boundaries under the original legislation -- the larger boundaries, rather than the more restricted boundaries of the final act -- but aside from that it is a good, enforceable piece of legislation.
We were out there on the road fighting those issues for one reason alone: because of the ability in the act to appeal the decisions of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, to the politicians and the cabinet of Ontario. I would seriously encourage the member for Halton North in his drive to see the maximum protection for the escarpment maintained into the future, for the next seven, eight or 10 generations, to lobby with his colleagues to see during the five-year review -- which I wish we did not have to have at all -- some minor amendments might be made to the act to remove some of the loopholes that ultimately make that a very good, protective piece of legislation subject to the political whims of the day.
The member will understand that all of his colleagues in his own party will not always, on every day of every week, be as concerned about the escarpment as he is. That is probably true of my colleagues and my own party as well. He is also fully aware that the present party in power, even if its intention is to provide the absolute maximum protection for the escarpment, will not always be there, either. To leave those kinds of loopholes in this kind of excellent legislation, where developers then can subject politicians to pressure to cause other decisions to happen, will always be a threat to natural environments like the Niagara Escarpment.
It is important that we make those changes and get rid of those loopholes. If we are really serious as a society, as a province, as the citizens and the government of this province, in providing the maximum protection for the Niagara Escarpment, then let’s do it by taking out of the legislation those things that may threaten it down the road.
I recall, just along those lines, going through an unfortunate process. It was unfortunate in the sense that the former government on a number of occasions used the very sections I am talking about to provide exemptions or to overturn Niagara Escarpment Commission decisions. Unfortunately, I cannot even remember the names. There was one decision on the escarpment, in the Brampton area in the early 1980s, which was a very controversial one. Those are examples of how the political process and political pressure on politicians threaten the very essence of the kind of protection that I think I support, that I think the member for Halton North supports and that I know a goodly number of other members of this Legislature support.
In summing up, I wholeheartedly support the intent of the resolution of the member for Halton North, I wholeheartedly support the kinds of comments he has put on the record here today; and in the review that is going to occur of the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act, I wholeheartedly support maintaining the protective strengths in that legislation.
But let’s be frank and understand the weaknesses that are there and, as legislators who are concerned about the escarpment, let’s be prepared to deal with those weaknesses in a straightforward way, not just to pat ourselves on the backs for a good piece of legislation but to be prepared in a straightforward way to deal with those weaknesses, to plug the loopholes, to take that very important piece of legislation in terms of the ultimate appeal out of the hands of politicians, who in the past have been subject to political pressure and in the future may again fall subject to political pressure and lobbying.
Let’s remove those weaknesses from the legislation and ensure that the decisions of the people who run the Niagara Escarpment Commission, the people who review in detail the applications for development on the escarpment, the people who understand the legislation in detail and understand the environment they are trying to protect in detail, will be decisions in the escarpment’s favour for all time to come in our future.
Mr. Pollock: I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this morning’s debate. It is close to 20 years since the government commissioned the Gertler study. This conservation and recreation report brought to the attention of all of us what a treasure we have in the Niagara Escarpment and how important it was to preserve it for the people of Ontario. It was following many reports, investigations and much controversy that we finally saw the Niagara Escarpment plan put into place.
I understand that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs has commissioned a report which is to examine the management and administration of the commission. The report, known as the Cresap report, has very many recommendations, including the recommendation that one body be responsible for the implementation of the plan and that the ministry be responsible for policy and program leadership; also that the ministry be required to establish some clear priorities for programs and that it should attempt to increase its accountability, and that some streamlining of legislation that governs the Niagara Escarpment Commission take place.
It is unfortunate that my colleague the member for Carleton (Mr. Sterling) is not here today. I know that we all would want him to participate in this debate and I also realize that he would be making his comments on some very good authority.
I understand from reading the estimates of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs that the administration of the Niagara Escarpment plan came under some rather close scrutiny. I also understand that the Cresap report made some recommendations on how the Niagara Escarpment program monitored development in the area and stated that the monitoring needed to be tightened up.
I must also say that I am somewhat concerned about other remarks that the member for Carleton made in Municipal Affairs estimates. He questioned whether in fact the Niagara Escarpment plan should be handled by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs at all. I am sure that all members will realize that the member for Carleton was extensively involved in drafting the Niagara Escarpment plan through his work as Provincial Secretary for Resources Development.
Incidentally, I noticed that the Niagara Escarpment plan, which is available from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, and is a rather large package I might add, still bears the name of the member for Carleton, and I might say that here is some of the work that the member for Carleton has done. This is a clear tribute to the ability and the high degree of success that the member for Carleton achieved in this capacity. The government has recognized, to its credit, that to remove the name of the member for Carleton from this material would be highly inappropriate, especially since he was the one who did the work on it.
The member for Carleton wonders, as I do, whether or not the protection of the Niagara Escarpment would be better ensured if the administration of this plan was removed from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs over to the Ministry of the Environment. It seems that he encountered some rather substantial opposition from the people within the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and, in fact, at one point felt that there was a lot of pressure to do away with the Provincial Secretariat for Resources Development altogether.
There does seem to be a problem with the municipalities going up against the escarpment commission, and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is left to come up with some sort of compromise. The problem stems from the fact that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is concerned with municipal development rather than land conservation. As the member for Carleton stated, “Putting the escarpment plan in the hands of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is like putting Colonel Sanders in charge of the chicken coop.”
The Progressive Conservative government recognized the uniqueness of the Niagara Escarpment and that the general planning laws of the province were not sufficient to deal with this very special area. In drafting the escarpment plan, the Progressive Conservatives struck a balance between the need to both develop and conserve by dividing the powers between the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development, to represent environmental interests, and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, to represent the development interests of the local municipality.
I believe that the Niagara Escarpment is unique to the province, and I am very supportive of the resolution of the member for Halton North here this morning to protect the Niagara Escarpment. I have supported the Ministry of Natural Resources’ program to protect our wetlands and I am very supportive of our local conservation authorities. They have done an excellent job of protecting certain areas of our environment.
They have put in dams, they protect some of the natural habitat, and I believe that these conservation authorities should be left in place in the way they are. They are local people looking after local interests. We should not only protect the Niagara Escarpment, but I believe we should be very involved in protecting our good farm land, especially around the city of Toronto.
I can remember when the present Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) used to get up here in the early 1980s and rant and rave about how the good farm land was being covered up with concrete. Since he has been the Minister of Agriculture and Food, there is more good farm land being covered up, and it is being covered up at an increasing rate.
I have heard the comments floating around in the media that there are some people who want to raise that old argument to have the Pickering airport proposal brought back. I am totally opposed to that. The Pickering airport would be placed on excellent farm land. There are two other airports in eastern Ontario. One, of course, is the military airport at Trenton, and there is another airport over at Mountain View that is getting very little use. That airport at Mountain View is on nothing but flat rock. There are literally thousands of acres of flat rock. If they want another airport, there is a good place to put it. I cannot think we should be covering up our good farm land in that way.
I not only would like to mention that we should protect our farm land, but we should protect our crown land. I was at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters convention in Windsor last week, as you were, Mr. Speaker, and I heard you bring greetings from your particular constituency. I appreciated your being there and meeting with the other people. The minister spoke there and after the minister had spoken --
Mr. Ballinger: He did a great job.
Mr. Pollock: The member for Durham-York was not even there to listen to him. He did not go to even listen to his own minister.
Mr. Villeneuve: And he is supposed to be in charge of something or other.
Mr. Pollock: Yes, he is supposed to be in charge.
Anyway, after the minister spoke, they had a question-and-answer session and one of the people who got up to the microphone asked the minister if there was any truth to this rumour floating around that large areas, in some cases whole lakes, were going to be sold to a foreign interest. The questioner seemed to feel that these rumours were well founded. I am certainly concerned about that; I am every bit as concerned about that as I am concerned about the situation with regard to the Niagara Escarpment.
Once again, I would like to compliment the member for Halton North on his resolution. I think it is a very worthwhile resolution. We should protect our natural heritage and our environment in these particular areas.
Mr. Lipsett: I rise today to support the resolution proposed this morning by my colleague the member for Halton North. The priority of sustainable growth that is environmentally sound is very important as we plan our future growth within the boundaries of the Niagara Escarpment, and any other part of the province for that matter.
As stated at the time, the plan was given cabinet approval. It was intended to serve as a framework of objectives and policies to strike a balance between development, preservation and the enjoyment of this very important resource.
I believe this debate is an excellent opportunity to evaluate our progress to date, recognize the differences in the way the plan impacts on local municipalities, counties and regions along this 725-kilometre height of land extending from Niagara to Tobermory, and finally to set priorities and recommend changes that could be considered in the five-year review that happens next year.
I am most familiar with the natural landscape and scenic beauty of the escarpment features in Grey and Bruce counties; therefore, I would like to base my remarks on the Niagara Escarpment as it applies to my riding of Grey county and the impact of the plan on this area.
First, over 158,000 acres of the total land area designated under the plan is located in Grey county. Of the 37 local municipalities in the four regions and five counties that are affected by the approved plan, 11 are in Grey county. Whereas in many areas the planning area size is very narrow as it passes through a municipality, in our area it generally encompasses a very wide band.
The escarpment actually enters Grey county at the eastern county boundary at Blue Mountain in Collingwood township. It then thrusts deep into the centre of the county, down the east side of the Beaver Valley through Euphrasia and Artemesia townships to the village of Flesherton. It then turns back up the west side of the valley, again passing through Artemesia and Euphrasia townships to St. Vincent township and the town of Meaford. It then follows a very fragmented pattern west through St. Vincent township, Holland township, Sydenham township, and northeast back into Sydenham township at the Meaford artillery range.
It heads west once more, again through Sydenham township, encircling the city of Owen Sound and then north along the west shore of Georgian Bay through Sarawak and Keppel townships. At this point, it leaves my riding as it proceeds through Wiarton and up the east side of the Bruce Peninsula.
As a result of this winding path of the designated escarpment natural area and the accompanying designations of escarpment protection and escarpment rural, almost 35 per cent of the total 453 acres in the plan are located in Grey county.
As each and every one of us learns more about the history and heritage of this significant and scenic landmark in our midst, I believe that public support to preserve this area for the benefit of present and future generations is increasing. However, conflicts in opinion occur, when indeed some not only want to see the escarpment, explore it or experience the breathtaking views from its highest points but also want to establish seasonal or permanent residence in or near it or see an opportunity to establish a business or service in the vicinity.
As a result, the objectives of preservation and the expectations of developers come into conflict. Accusations of preservationists being extremists and developers having no regard for the interests of the general public are issued. Then, as stated at the time of cabinet approval for the plan, the balance between preservation objectives and individual property rights becomes essential to the successful implementation of this land use plan.
Tourism is considered by many as a logical growth industry within the escarpment boundaries, based on the principle of public access to enjoyment of this important resource. Tourism opportunities in the vicinity of the Niagara Escarpment in my riding include hiking, skiing, fishing, hunting, boating, windsurfing, swimming and snowmobiling, to mention a few. As I mentioned before, these attractions result in a demand for permanent residences, seasonal residences, time-sharing condominiums, support service industries and retail outlets.
In this regard, I believe a Grey county planning department recommendation has merit. The county planners suggest that, in some areas, appropriately selected locations for subdivision development could be a better approach than the present one, two or more lot severances permitted to each eligible land owner, which leads to sporadic lot creation.
With the five-year review approaching, this is an opportune time to assess land use designation, boundaries and removal of controls where local official plans and zoning bylaws conform with the Niagara plan. Some regions, Halton being a good example, have already been able to achieve total confirmation of local plans in the Niagara Escarpment plan. Development controls have been removed in portions of Collingwood township in my riding. Planning documents are proceeding in other municipalities, but due to staff limitations, completion dates for some are still some years away.
Further, I agree with my colleague that, indeed, for areas of very significant heritage or environmentally delicate areas, we must convey our support and encouragement to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Ontario Heritage Foundation to continue to acquire privately owned escarpment lands. These purchases will create a series of Niagara Escarpment parks to make our escarpment area more accessible to the public to enjoy and provide a very positive alternative to relying entirely on regulations and restrictions on private property.
It has been a privilege to have the opportunity this morning to recognize the importance of the Niagara Escarpment and to assess our priorities for preservation and land use planning within its boundaries.
Mr. Villeneuve: It is also a pleasure and an honour for me to participate in the debate today on the member for Halton North’s (Mr. Elliot) resolution. Certainly, our party and I personally will be supporting strongly the private member’s motion.
It is always interesting to see a member from the government party bring on this type of resolution. Quite obviously there is a message there, a message that there is not a great deal of faith in the ministry responsible for looking after and caring for that very fine natural area, the Niagara Escarpment.
Coming from the eastern part of the province, I do not very often get the opportunity of visiting that great part of Ontario known as part of the Golden Horseshoe. However, I strongly support the protection of the natural beauty that is in the area and trying to prevent some of the schemes we know are out there to develop areas that should stay exactly the way nature laid them out many thousands of years ago.
From Niagara to Tobermory, I think we have some of the finest tourist areas we can find anywhere in North America. Four seasons exist there, as they do across most of Canada, and certainly the charm of the Niagara Escarpment in all seasons is something to behold and something to make sure we maintain.
I am often very flabbergasted at some of the things that occur and I will compare some of the things that happen in the riding I represent. For instance, this very week we had an Ontario Municipal Board appeal hearing looking at a request for a severance that would have occurred in a very marginal area. I will not go into the details, but it is a five-acre parcel of very marginal land. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food, in its wisdom, saw fit to oppose, and oppose vehemently, any sort of land division that would allow a second rural dwelling to be established on this very marginal land in the county of Glengarry.
To me, common sense does not prevail when we have areas such as the many marginal areas in eastern Ontario. As my colleague the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. Pollock) alluded, they could be doing anything but doing nothing, which they are in many instances right now.
We have here a private member’s motion to try to protect a beautiful area, the Niagara Escarpment. Again, I compliment the member for Halton North, but this same government is preventing and creating artificial shortages of lots that municipalities are fully in favour of developing for rural housing that is needed. Artificial shortages are being created, and in areas that are very marginal, most marginal.
The soil maps indicate it is class 4 or inferior soil, not having been farmed in any way, shape or form, not having been replanted to trees, simply doing nothing, growing some goldenrod and willows, and again we have the government of Ontario, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food in particular, standing up and fighting the approval of land divisions where municipalities involved are agreeable that yes, it should be used as residential housing.
I represent a rural riding that has gone down in population over the last 20 years, yet we are trying to maintain our small rural towns in that section of Ontario, which does have a lot of marginal land. Common sense seems to be eluding the government of the day.
I strongly endorse maintaining the beautiful area from the Blue Mountains to the Niagara Gorge and the beautiful area between which has been developed for tourism, which brings people from all across North America and Europe to visit and spend time and money in the Golden Horseshoe section of Ontario.
We must decentralize. We must bring the population away from the downtown core, from the beautiful, natural areas of the Niagara Escarpment. We must not develop those into industrial or other economically incompatible uses. We must maintain the natural beauty.
In summation, common sense must prevail. When common sense prevails, we maintain those beautiful areas we have while still allowing for the development and residential accommodation that the people of Ontario must have, and especially, not necessarily in those centres such as the city of Toronto where housing is certainly most people’s ability to purchase.
We speak of housing in Metropolitan Toronto at $350,000 plus for an average home, and yet we can go down to those areas in rural Ontario. The government has created an artificial shortage and has put pressure on the Niagara Escarpment by not using common sense. That is what it is doing.
In summation, I want to again emphasize that the Niagara Escarpment must be protected. The natural beauty is there and it must not be tampered with, but let’s not be ridiculous and prevent rural residences going into some of our marginal areas, which will help our rural municipalities, help their tax base and provide funding for the schools in those areas. The services are all in place. Let’s use common sense.
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. We are on time-limited speeches here. I am sure the member for Durham West (Mrs. Stoner) would appreciate the attention of the House.
Mrs. Stoner: I would like to open my remarks by congratulating the member for Halton North on his resolution. I wholeheartedly endorse it.
In recognizing the significance of the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario’s natural heritage, this resolution calls on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to ensure that development or use of the Niagara Escarpment lands be “environmentally sustainable development.” Maintenance of heritage and environmental concerns are to be priorities when considering land use planning within the escarpment boundaries.
The key to planning the Niagara Escarpment and other sensitive areas is found in the term “environmentally sustainable development.” Governments at all levels must shoulder their responsibilities, their share of the burden for defining and protecting those areas of environmental sensitivity.
We must all practise good land husbandry. We are entrusted with the stewardship of the resources of the future. We must ensure our natural heritage is enhanced rather than destroyed by this generation. We must ensure we have something worthy of passing on to the next generations.
The people of Ontario, and indeed the rest of Canada, are becoming more aware and more vocal about preservation of the natural environment than they ever were before. They are speaking out about inappropriately located landfill sites, roads and quarries that do not acknowledge sensitive areas, large-scale developments that gobble up prime agricultural land and improper forestry practices.
Communities and individuals are eloquently stating their support for our natural environment, support for our river valleys, for our wetlands and woodlands, our sand dunes, our beaches and our lakes. They are expressing concern too about the preservation of our heritage: our architectural heritage, our archaeological sites and our archives.
Key to environmentally sensitive and sustainable development is co-operation on all fronts, the bringing together of government, environmental groups, industry, business, labour and the agricultural sector to form one solid front. The Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy is an excellent example of the kind of co-operation that is required to plan responsibly for the future.
When he announced the membership of the round table last fall, the Premier (Mr. Peterson) said the panel will be planning the future directions that will ensure the long-term health of both the environment and the economy of Ontario.
As well, I commend the work that is being done by the National Task Force on Environment and Economy, which was established by the Canadian Council of Resource and Environment Ministers. Among the recommendations of the task force was the formation of round tables in each province and territory and at the federal level. In a recent publication in response to the task force, the Conservation Council of Ontario said that it will have a profound effect on the long-term management of the economy and the environment.
The Conservation Council of Ontario article pointed out that although there has been talk about the need to marry environmental issues with economic decision-making, it had never happened until now. We are now finding that leading government and industry representatives are supportive of co-operation.
One of the responsibilities of the Ontario round table is to put together a strategy for sustainable development. We have to recognize other sensitive areas as well as the Niagara Escarpment, such as the Rouge River valley, the Duffin Creek system, the Muskoka-Georgian Bay area and many other areas. We have to ensure, and we have a moral obligation to care for and preserve for future generations, not only a strong economy but also a strong ecology.
Mr. Elliot: I would like to thank all the honourable members who spoke in support of my resolution. I would like to comment a little bit on two or three of the comments made by members of the official opposition and of the third party, particularly with respect to the comment made by the member for Hamilton-Mountain (Mr. Charlton), with whom I have shared many meetings in committees. He always comes to committees well prepared, is thought-provoking and does an excellent job from an opposition point of view.
I have to use his statement with respect to not needing a review as an opportunity to talk a little bit about the complexity of the problems we face today in a province like Ontario. I want to indicate to him that without a review component in solving a problem, you really do not have a complete circle, and you cannot, on a continuous basis, really worry about the kinds of things I have highlighted today, and that means the next seven generations of people who will reside in Ontario.
The awareness stage of the Niagara Escarpment plan happened prior to 1973. From 1973 until 1985, there was a long, involved developmental stage. We have been experiencing the implementation stage since 1985. A lot of very good work has been done. The fourth component of any valid problem you solve is the review process, which really starts again at the awareness stage. You redevelop the solution and make it more and more perfect all the time. He said the present plan is excellent; what we should be working towards is a perfect plan.
With respect to the comments from the honourable member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve), I have shared since 1971 some of the concerns at the lack of proper use of what I call marginal land for building permits. I support him in that completely.
I would like to thank particularly my two colleagues, the member for Grey and the member for Durham West. Obviously, the member for Grey is interested: 35 per cent of the Niagara Escarpment is in his riding of Grey; 35 per cent of Grey is escarpment. Those of us who come from that part of the country know Grey county is approximately 70 miles long and 40 miles wide, so we are talking about an escarpment planning area of approximately 2,800 square miles. That is a significant feature, and to point out the value he places on it is a very significant comment indeed.
The honourable member for Durham West expanded the whole dialogue to encompass the province of Ontario by mentioning a significant number of other areas that should be treated in exactly the same way as the Niagara Escarpment should be treated. I compliment her on that visionary approach.
I mentioned in my opening remarks the compatibility of development by the private sector. The definition in the dictionary for compatibility is “capable of existing or operating together in harmony.” I thought I should take a moment or two of my windup to talk about the seven designations and comment on salient features of each of them.
For example, on the “escarpment natural” designation, I think there is unanimity. Everyone agrees that should be inviolate; one should not infringe upon those areas at all. “Escarpment protection” is really put in place to maintain the remaining natural features and the open rural landscape character of the escarpment and lands in its vicinity. “Escarpment rural” should provide a buffer to the more ecologically sensitive areas of the escarpment.
As my colleague the member for Grey pointed out, in “escarpment recreation area,” this may involve clusters of buildings -- single-family buildings -- going in. In “minor urban centre,” the main designation and criterion that is important is that we should be maintaining from a heritage point of view our rural hamlets that encompass almost all of the escarpment from one end to the other. In “urban area,” I think the significant thing is that we must minimize the impact and further encroachment of urban growth on the escarpment environment.
I have already highlighted “escarpment recreation area” in commenting on the comments of my colleague the member for Grey. For “mineral resource extraction area,” the key thing I would like to highlight is the fact that we must consider rehabilitation as per the Butchart Gardens example that I used in my opening remarks.
In conclusion, the preservation of Niagara Escarpment lands must be a priority in land use planning in Ontario. In the five-year review of the Niagara Escarpment plan, compatibility of land use must be revisited. What do we mean by single-family dwellings in natural, protected and rural areas? Does it make sense to be using Al and A2 agricultural land for commercial and industrial development in some parts of Ontario, while at the same time not allowing clusters of single-family dwellings on A3, A4, A5, A6 and A7 lands in “rural escarpment protection” designated areas?
While we must preserve the “natural” and “protected” designations, I think some of those rural lands should be developed. Does it make sense to landfill our garbage in leaking quarries when the real solution to the problem is in reuse, recycling, composting and reduction?
Water is a prime concern in discussing the preservation of the Niagara Escarpment. Water permits have been granted to owners of quarries on escarpment lands. These permits allow as much as one million gallons of potable water per day to be pumped into the nearest creek or river. One million gallons of water, I am told, will service between 4,000 and 5,000 households.
Our natural heritage, housing, waste management and agricultural land are all part of my caring concern for the Niagara Escarpment. How we treat this unique natural phenomenon will be a key signal of the heart of this 34th Parliament of Ontario for generations to come.
Mr. Speaker: That completes the allotted time for debate on ballot item 65 and ballot item 66.
The House divided on Mr Smith’s motion of resolution 64, which was negatived on the following vote:
Bossy, Kozyra, Lipsett, Mancini, Matrundola, Miclash, Miller, Nixon, J. B., Smith, D., South.
Ballinger, Black, Charlton, Cleary, Collins, Cooke, D. S., Daigeler, Elliot, Epp, Farnan, Faubert, Fleet, Grier, Kanter, Keyes, Laughren, LeBourdais, Leone, Lupusella, Mackenzie, McCague, McLean, Morn, Nicholas, Oddie Munro, Offer, Philip, E., Pollock, Pouliot, Rae, B., Roberts, Runciman, Ruprecht, Sola, Stoner, Tatham, Villeneuve, Wilson.
Ayes 10; nays 38.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Elliot has moved resolution 65.
Motion agreed to.
The House recessed at 12:07 p.m.
The House resumed at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Mackenzie: One of the more unfortunate occurrences in the course of the life of this parliament is the denial, for that is all it can be called, of the right of injured workers, their organizations and their friends to appear before a committee of this Legislature dealing with Bill 162. This legislation will affect the lives of injured workers in Ontario from now on. It is the most major piece of legislation affecting injured workers that has come before this House.
I think it is important to once again point out the events of last Friday when injured workers confronted the Minister of Labour (Mr. Sorbara) in Hamilton and told him how frustrated and unhappy they were over the fact that almost two thirds of the organizations in Hamilton would not be heard as a result of the limitation. The Minister of Labour told them that it was none of his doing, that it was done by the committee, that the committee set its own schedule and that, if they were unhappy with that schedule, they should go back to the committee. This was on Friday, I want to point out.
It was only one day earlier that the Minister of Labour himself was before that committee all day, along with his officials, when his members solidly -- six to three -- turned down the rights of those workers for additional hearings or to be heard. He was there; he helped to orchestrate it one day earlier. He did not have the decency to tell the workers that was what had happened and that their protest would be futile.
Mr. Runciman: In the last year we have watched Liberal cabinet ministers frantically reaching in every direction for someone to blame for their problems. The Minister of Skills Development (Mr. Curling) has blamed the federal government rather than addressing administrative problems in his ministry. The Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) has blamed doctors and hospitals for problems in her ministry. In areas of provincial jurisdiction, such as Lieutenant Governor’s warrants, she has tried to blame the federal government. Yesterday, the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) blamed the federal government with respect to drug abuse problems among young people in society. The Minister of Housing (Ms. Hošek) blames the federal government for funding shortfalls when she lacks the competence to spend all of her own budget.
Now some Liberal backbenchers are emulating these irresponsible cabinet attitudes. This week, in the Ottawa Citizen, the member for Ottawa West (Mr. Chiarelli) blasted regional chairman Andy Haydon for letters in which Mr. Haydon merely attempted to ensure that his municipality obtained funding for road construction. The member for Ottawa West not only attempted to stifle a legitimate attempt by a municipal politician to communicate with a member of the Legislature, but continued the disturbing tendency of the government to blame everyone else for its problems.
If the citizens of eastern Ontario need support, they can look to their five Conservative MPPs rather than the Liberal MPPs, such as the member for Ottawa West, who have adopted the do-nothing, blame-it-on-everyone-else Liberal cabinet philosophy.
Mr. Faubert: I rise to advise the members of this House of the findings of a study conducted by the heritage consulting firm of Mayer, Pihl Poulton and Associates Inc. regarding the archaeological resources of the northeast area of Scarborough.
This $114,000 study, which is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Communications, took almost two years to complete. A previous study, sponsored by the Ministry of Government Services, and efforts by individuals like Scarborough planner Elaine Hitchman had pointed to the archaeological importance of the area. This province should be commended for once again adding its efforts and financial support to this project, which has helped to discover the history and cultural significance of the area.
In all, 40 new archaeological sites were discovered, bringing the total number of known sites in the Rouge area to 63. Indian villages and campsites were discovered, some of which may be as old as 8,000 BC. Some of these sites are considered to be of international significance, including a Seneca Indian village dated about 1650.
Indeed, archaeology provides us with the pieces which, when placed together, create the puzzle commonly referred to as history. These findings reveal much valuable information regarding the cultural heritage and history of what we now call Ontario.
I applaud the efforts made to discover and preserve all archaeological sites deemed to be historically significant. For these reasons, every effort should be made to preserve the Rouge area as a national heritage park.
TEACHING ASSISTANTS’ LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I want to bring to the House’s attention that the local of the Canadian Union of Educational Workers at the University of Toronto is on strike for the first time in 15 years. These are the teaching assistants at the university who have increasingly, with the problems of underfunding, been carrying a larger and larger role, underpaid and with no job security.
This is the first time this has occurred in the province. It is a crucial strike in terms of trying to get rights they are after. Members will perhaps be surprised to know that it is not money, although they are not well paid, that is the outstanding problem. They want the right to review hiring, the right to look at class size -- because, as members will know, that is a huge burden on their time -- the right to job security and the right to fair treatment.
The University of Toronto deans involved are saying they would like to give more but cannot, because there is not sufficient funding from this government, because of the lack of pass-through dollars over the last number of years. This strike should never have come about, but now that it is here, I would urge members to give these TAs all the support they can, so they can finally get the kind of support they deserve. It is quite parallel to what went on with the interns in the hospital system not too many years ago.
Mr. Harris: We all know the only reason this House is still sitting is because the Premier (Mr. Peterson) himself has insisted that we have important items of government business to complete before we adjourn. These legislative items are so important that the Premier has now decided to book a two-day trip to Hollywood next week while the House deals with them. Some may question the Premier’s sincerity, but I have looked into the matter and I want all members to know that the Premier is indeed going to promote a number of film projects developed by his government.
They include: (1) a takeoff of The Ten Commandments, called The Six Conditions, about the Premier’s epic fight against free trade; (2) a sequel to Revenge of the Nerds, the inside story on the Liberal government of Ontario; (3) a remake of Lost in Space which deals with the Liberal agenda at Queen’s Park, and (4) the newest chapter of Nightmare on University Avenue, the film version of the Public Affairs Management consulting report on his government.
There is one rumour I have not been able to confirm, and it is that the Premier wants to quit politics to do what he does best, acting. If it is true, he may want to try out for a method role in either a mystery or a horror show, since what he has been doing since 1987 is a mystery to everyone and horrible to watch. In any case, we wish the Premier well in Tinseltown and, as they say in showbiz, “Break a leg.”
Mr. Ballinger: I wish to express this government’s sense of loss at the passing of Dr. Bryce Taylor on February 16, 1989, at the age of 55. Dr. Taylor was known and respected across Canada for his leadership in national sports organizations and for his important work with the provincial and federal governments.
As founder of the York University physical education department, Dr. Taylor designed an academic program which is clearly among the best in Canada. He wrote extensively on athletes, recreation and lifestyle. Writing alone or in collaboration with his peers, he produced 64 books, major reports, articles and research papers. His tireless effort on behalf of the Toronto Olympic Organizing Committee to bring the 1996 summer games to Toronto holds a promise for ever greater achievements for Canada’s sports community.
However, Dr. Taylor left no greater legacy than his love for native Indian folklore and dances, a passion he shared with audiences around the world ranging from thousands of children across Canada to the Peking Opera.
I have been informed by the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. O’Neil) that this government will officially recognize Dr. Taylor’s tremendous contributions to the Ontario sport and recreation community on April 7 at the Ontario Sports Awards banquet. Dr. Taylor will be honoured posthumously with a provincial sports citation in the category of education for his impact on amateur sport development.
On behalf of the government of Ontario, I extend my sincere condolences to Dr. Taylor’s wife, Cheryl, and his family.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Cambridge, for 40 seconds.
Mr. Farnan: On behalf of the New Democratic Party, we would like to join in condolences to the Taylor family. Bryce Taylor is, first, a husband and a father, and I think it is the quality of his relationship with his family that he would probably prize most and treasure most, and which has probably left the greatest mark on society.
But all that the member said is true. His contributions to universities, his contributions to the sports life of Canada are very much appreciated, and we join in the honour that has been accorded to Dr. Taylor.
Mr. Harris: Before we proceed, I think there has been unanimous consent to allow all parties a few moments to comment on the statement that has just been referred to and, as well, on Estonian Independence Day, and I would ask that we be permitted to do that now.
Mr. Cousens: I would like to join my colleagues from the government and from the New Democratic Party in commenting on the life of Dr. Bryce Malcolm Taylor. I appreciate the sentiments that have been expressed and indeed the support that has been shown by the Minister of Tourism and Recreation to make him the sports citation recipient for Ontario.
Dr. Taylor passed away last Thursday and was buried yesterday in Manotick. There will be memorial services in the Metropolitan Toronto area and also in Ottawa tomorrow.
He was professor in the department of physical education, recreation and athletics at York University, active in the Young Men’s Christian Association across the country and became recognized nationally as one of those who had given leadership training by receiving the Howard Crocker Award of Excellence.
He obtained his doctorate in 1964 and then quickly became the director of the physical education and athletics program at the newly created York University. He was charged with the responsibility of planning the sports facilities for the main university campus and establishing the university athletic and recreation program.
He remained chairman and director from 1964 to 1976, and a member of the executive committee of numerous organizations, including the YMCA; the Canadian Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation; the Toronto District Physical Education Supervisors’ Association; the board of directors of both the Integra Foundation and the Youth Clinical Services; the Coaching Association of Canada; the Canadian Olympic Association; the Ontario Council of Leisure, and the Canadian Gymnastics Federation.
In 1974, Dr. Taylor was named to the Hall of Fame of the Canadian Gymnastics Federation. He has received the prestigious R. Tait McKenzie Honour Award from the Canadian Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
As president of the Canadian Gymnastics Federation from 1974 to 1979, Dr. Taylor was honoured with the Air Canada Award as the amateur sport executive for the year 1976.
He has served his profession locally, nationally and internationally as president of the Coaching Association of Canada, president of the Commonwealth Gymnastic Federation, vice-president of the Canadian Olympic Association and chairman of Metric Commission Canada, health care sector.
He founded the sports administrative certificate program for the department of physical education and athletics at York University. He was secretary general of the Toronto Ontario Olympic Council, which is heading Toronto’s bid for the Summer Olympics in 1996.
He has published numerous books and articles on sport; he has authored many other things that have been recognized worldwide, especially on the North American Indians, on which he has presented over 1,000 performances, lectures and master dance classes.
He was a friend of Ontario, a friend of sport, a man who was a leader and is indeed a loss to our province and our country; someone who has done a great deal for health and physical fitness.
ESTONIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY
Mr. Cousens: There was unanimous consent on Estonian Independence Day and I have the privilege of making the presentation from our caucus. I know there are others who are anxious to participate.
Tomorrow, February 24, marks Estonian Independence Day. February 24 marks the 71st anniversary of the day that Estonia was proclaimed an independent nation.
Although Estonia became a functioning member of the League of Nations and enjoyed 22 prosperous years of independence, the country was forcibly annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 by means of a secret pact with Nazi Germany which divided up eastern Europe among themselves. As a result of this pact, Red Army tanks entered the port of Tallinn, thousands of Estonians were arrested and deported to Siberia, and it became a Soviet puppet government.
Ironically, the first nation to recognize Estonia’s independence was the Soviet Union, which signed a peace treaty in 1920, promising to renounce, voluntarily and for ever, her sovereign rights over Estonia.
Despite the oppression of nearly 50 years of forced Soviet occupation, Estonia has recently emerged as the frontrunner among the Baltic states in courageously seeking self-determination under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev, who has recently admitted past errors and is attempting to bring about glasnost and a more open society.
To the nearly 15,000 Estonians in Ontario and their relatives at home and abroad, we in our party extend our support and hope that glasnost and perestroika will not merely be a good idea but a reality.
Mr. Ruprecht: Today I am delighted to extend our hand of friendship to the Estonian Central Council in Canada and, indeed, the whole community as they commemorate the 71st anniversary of Estonian Independence Day.
In the House today, we have a senior delegation of leaders of the Estonian Canadian community: Ilmar Heinsoo, who is the honorary consul general, and Avo Kittask, who is the vice-president of the Estonian Central Council in Canada.
When the scribes of history are going to record the history of that part of Europe, they will no doubt speak of a people who for hundreds of years had courageously fought for freedom and independence for Estonia. They will have to speak of a people who developed a special culture and language and who made tremendous strides in architecture and craftsmanship in the whole Baltic area that indeed are the envy of the neighbouring states.
In fact, when independence was declared in 1918, Estonians embarked upon such growth that it can only be termed and described as an economic miracle. When over 100,000 Estonians left their country before the Soviet invasion, 20,000 of them settled in this country called Canada and made their mark. They helped us develop this country. In fact, Estonians have done so well with the skills they brought with them from Estonia that Statistics Canada yesterday listed Estonian women as the highest wage earners of any ethnic group in Canada. Their contribution is indeed exemplary.
As the events unfold this weekend in Estonia, the torch of freedom will be passed to a new generation of Estonians, who, I am sure, will not rest until once more the bells of freedom ring throughout that country.
Finally, Estonia may be a very small dot on the map of the world, yet its love of freedom is a giant example of great courage in the face of overwhelming odds. Therefore, on behalf of the government of Ontario and the Premier (Mr. Peterson), I am delighted today to declare Estonian Independence Day. We commend its observance to all the people of this province.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: If I could add my own comments on behalf of the New Democratic Party on this, the remembrance day of independence being declared in 1918 in Estonia, this completes our recognition of the three Baltic states’ period of independence, which they now are hoping to be able to recapture after many years of hardship under Soviet rule.
Estonia, probably more than the others, has suffered by another whole process that most people do not know about, which is the Russification of their country in a determined effort by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to limit the ethnic composition of that country and to try to take away its identity in that kind of fashion.
I am pleased to say that I have met the honorary consul now on a couple of occasions, once in Scarborough and once at a Lithuanian meeting the other night. I know that he and the people who have gone before him in that position in Canada and elsewhere in the world have carried an enormous burden in trying to get our attention to what looked like a hopeless situation, that they would never achieve the independence they sought.
The changes that are now taking place and the incredible courage that was shown in Estonia by taking leadership in the Baltic states just this last year in pushing for sovereignty has changed that feeling enormously. There is huge optimism, although it is guarded optimism, that the goals will be achieved in the foreseeable future. For that, we should all be very pleased and should, I hope, at this stage throw as much of our energies behind that taking place as we possibly can.
Mr. Speaker: Just before I call the next order of business, I would remind all members that on Thursday of last week, the honourable member for Burlington South (Mr. Jackson) raised a question of privilege which has given me a great deal of food for thought and I am now ready to rule on whether or not I can find a prima facie case of privilege relating to this matter.
As honourable members will remember, the honourable member for Burlington South brought to the attention of the House a matter in which he alleged that a judge, the Honourable Mr. Justice Walsh of the Supreme Court of Ontario, had issued a court order which would have prohibited one of the parties in this case from communicating with any party on matters relating to the action in question. The member alleged that, by extension, the court order would have to be interpreted to mean that parties in an action before a court of the province could not in fact, because of this order, communicate with a member of this House. In his presentation, the honourable member refers to this order and suggests that it had been issued on January 20 of this year. On obtaining a copy of the order, I was able to ascertain that this order had been issued on May 27, 1987. I believe the honourable member made an honest mistake here, based upon the information that he had obtained, and in no way do I consider this to be more than an honest mistake. However, I have noticed that a correction has been made to Hansard in this regard without the member having informed the House. In my opinion, this correction is one that should have been brought to the House’s attention by the member.
I think it would be apropos at this point to quote the order in question:
“This court orders that the applicant and the respondent are hereby restrained from communicating by telephone or otherwise in such manner as may molest, annoy or harass the other and they are each hereby expressly prohibited from writing or contacting any third party in any way which touches upon the matters of this action.”
This court order of general application as it stands is part of the decision of Mr. Justice Walsh on May 27, 1987. Subsequently, the same case came before Mr. Justice Osborne on January 17, 1989. During hearings before Mr. Justice Osborne, he gave permission to the respondent to communicate with others. Therefore, as of January 17 of this year, the court order in question has no further application and the person in question has been able to communicate with whomever she wishes since that time.
I have given a lot of thought as to whether or not I should be tempted at this point to give a ruling in a hypothetical way upon the question raised last Thursday, and after reflection, I feel that I must be guided by the tradition that Speakers throughout history have resisted giving any ruling based on a hypothetical situation.
The question as raised and presented by the honourable member for Burlington South is a very compelling and interesting one, but as I have said, a Speaker is not able to rule on hypothetical situations. Therefore, at this time I can find no prima facie breach of privilege.
BIRTH OF MEMBER’S CHILD
Mr. B. Rae: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Many members will have noted the absence of the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) in the last few days. He has been up north waiting for the arrival of a child. I am happy to announce that last night at six o’clock Anne Wildman, his wife, gave birth to a healthy baby girl weighing nine pounds and 14 ounces.
Mr. B. Rae: I have a question for the Premier and I hope he will be able to answer it. I wonder if he can explain how it is that the Workers’ Compensation Board communications department, when contacted by us about its activities in promoting Bill 162, stated that a senior bureaucrat, Henry McDonald of the Workers’ Compensation Board, has already been reassigned to bring in the changes under the job title “executive director, implementation of Bill 162.” Our party researchers were told by the Workers’ Compensation Board that it would be very much involved in the promotion of this bill when the bill is passed in June. I wonder if the Premier can tell us why the Workers’ Compensation Board would already be assuming that this bill in fact is law and then telling us it knows it is going to be passed in June.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I think the Minister of Labour can help out the honourable member.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I do not think anyone is making any predictions about when the bill will finally come before this House, have third reading and ultimately be passed and given royal assent. But I want to tell my friend the Leader of the Opposition that certainly the board is aware of the provisions of the bill. They are aware that they will --
Mr. B. Rae: They’re promoting the provisions of the bill; they’re putting your picture on the front page.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I wonder why, when the Leader of the Opposition asks a question, he continues to shout during the time in which a minister is trying to give an answer. That is something that has developed as a sort of tradition around here, I guess.
Mr. Speaker: I am sorry. I cannot answer that question. Would you continue with the answer.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I was speaking rhetorically.
Let me try to get to the substance of the answer. Bill 162 does make major changes in about 10 per cent of the activities of the board. My understanding is that the board has put together a unit to examine how it will have to undertake its procedures differently when Bill 162 becomes law.
Mr. B. Rae: Yesterday and in previous discussions, I have put questions to the minister not only about the extent of Liberal Party propaganda which is now being paid for by taxpayers on Bill 162 but also about why the government would not be willing to establish a basic rule that, on a bill which affects injured workers so directly, the government would accept the commonsense view that everybody who wants to be heard and everybody affected by this bill who wants to make a presentation to the committee would be allowed to do so.
I wonder if the minister can answer this question. If it was good enough for the government, when we were bringing in an end to extra-billing, to say very clearly that if anybody wanted to appear he would be allowed to appear, and if it was good enough for the government to say, when we were discussing the major changes in education, that anybody who wanted to appear on Bill 30 would be allowed to appear --
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. B. Rae: -- I wonder if the minister can tell us why the government has stated that there are people out there who have concerns and objections to Bill 162 who will not be heard, who will not be allowed to make presentations before the committee and whose voices will be squelched --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. B. Rae: -- by the Liberal majority on the standing committee on resources development of this Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: Let me try to put the Leader of the Opposition’s question in some perspective. In the preamble to his question, he suggested that Bill 162 affects all injured workers. Let me take this opportunity to remind the Leader of the Opposition and the other members of this House that the new rules covering permanent partial disability cover about eight per cent to 10 per cent of the people who register claims before the Workers’ Compensation Board; that is, individuals who as a result of an accident or an injury have a permanent partial disability.
The other provisions in the bill dealing with rehabilitation and reinstatement, I believe are provisions that by and large everyone in this province supports; that is, enhancing rehabilitation and giving workers the right to have their job back once they have reached maximum medical recovery.
I just say this to my friend the Leader of the Opposition: It is my understanding that the standing committee on resources development of this Legislature met several weeks ago and determined that it would hold some six weeks of public hearings. It is my understanding that the Liberal members on that committee are taking the view that they ought to use every possible means during those six weeks, whether through expanded hours, sittings on Fridays or whatever, to hear as many people as possible, and that obviously, for those people who do not have an opportunity to come before the committee, written submissions will be considered with the same thoroughness that oral submissions would have been considered.
Mr. B. Rae: There are over 600 groups representing workers right across this province that have written and asked for a chance to appear. Many of those groups, indeed hundreds of those people, will not be able to appear because of the timetable which the minister has established. There was a demonstration out here because people were afraid he was not going to have hearings. There are going to be more demonstrations across this province if he is not prepared to recognize that everybody who wants to be heard ought to be heard. If that is what it takes to get heard, that is exactly what is going to happen.
I say to the minister, why does he not take the commonsense view and say categorically, as he said to the doctors, who have a vested interest, as he said to everybody affected by Bill 30; why does he not say the same? If it is good enough for doctors who are going to be affected by extra-billing changes, why is it not good enough for injured workers who are going to have their pension rights affected by the changes which are coming in?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: Let’s make one thing perfectly clear at the outset. The bill that is before this parliament right now does not in any way affect the pensions of injured workers who are receiving pensions now, except to give them the availability of a supplement if, after the bill is passed, it is determined that their pensions are too low, based on what they were earning before. There are thousands of injured workers out there who are waiting for those provisions to be passed, so that they can come back to the board and apply for that supplement. That will mean some additional $40 million in benefits annually going into the hands of injured workers who are out there right now.
Secondly, let’s look at the schedule before the standing committee on resources development. Let’s take a union like the United Steelworkers of America. They have an opportunity to make a global presentation, and if I remember the schedule correctly, they have the opportunity some 10 or 15 times, in various locals around the province, to make individual submissions. Similarly, with the Canadian Auto Workers, not only will the CAW make a comprehensive submission but locals of the CAW all over this province will make submissions. Similarly --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. Order.
Mr. B. Rae: My question is to the Minister of Housing. The minister may or may not be aware that the statistics released by her ministry show that by January 31, 1989, decisions had been made by rent review offices affecting 104,000 tenant families, and the average rental increase has been 11.3 per cent.
I wonder if the minister can explain why, when the figures released by her government show a guideline of 4.6 per cent, it would be that roughly 10 per cent of the tenants in Ontario who have been affected by her rent review bill would be receiving increases that are more than double the 4.6 per cent increase which is supposed to be the law of Ontario.
Hon. Ms. Hošek: The member opposite knows there are more than three million tenants in this province and the vast majority of them are in fact paying rent increases at or near that guideline of 4.6 per cent. There are some tenants who are living in buildings in which their landlords have applied for a rent increase based on a variety of causes, and if those rents are justified according to the legislation, then they will indeed face a rent increase.
Let me remind the member opposite that there have also been rebates given to tenants; the average rebate to tenants in this province has been 14.3 per cent.
Mr. B. Rae: Let me bring the minister down to earth for a minute, if I may. A decision was handed down in late November for the tenants living at 757 Victoria Park Avenue in Scarborough. According to the board, they are going to have their rent increased in five years, from 1985 to 1990, by some 86 per cent.
I wonder if the minister can tell us why it is that this government has accepted financial and economic loss provisions in its rent review law which allow landlords -- in this case, a landlord who goes by the personal name of 521160 Ontario Ltd.; I am sure the minister is acquainted with 521160 Ontario Ltd. -- to drive a truck through rent review, and why she is putting in an increase which practically doubles the rent for tenants who were there in 1985. Can she explain why that would be happening?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: The member opposite knows that the rent review legislation, as it was designed, is meant to balance the requirement by the tenants of a justifiable system and of the buildings to be appropriately maintained and managed; there is a balance in the legislation.
The important thing to remember is that the system was meant to make sure that the rents are fair and are justified according to a systematic way of dealing with them. That is how they have been dealt with and that is how the system has been working.
Mr. B. Rae: I want to make it clear that this is a building which has a lot of middle-income tenants. They are tenants who could quite easily be described as people who are now too poor to buy in Toronto’s market but are not poor enough to qualify for any kind of assisted housing. This is the group -- the band of tenants, the middle-income group of tenants -- that is literally stuck in its buildings. They cannot afford to buy their way out and get into the housing market on their own, because the minister has priced them out of the market and has sat back and watched speculation take over. They cannot even get on the 30,000-people waiting list for assisted housing in the province.
What does the minister say to Donna Halliday, a tenant who in April 1985 was paying $900 per month for an apartment and is being told that by April 1990 she will be paying $1,800? She is moving out. Where does she go? She cannot afford to buy and she is not going to qualify for assisted housing. What is supposed to happen to her?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: The rent review legislation of this province was never meant to solve all the housing problems that people face, and members all know that; it is very clear. That is the reason we have been working to increase the opportunities for housing for people of low and moderate incomes through building more nonprofit housing, through using government land, through building a major project like the one at St. Lawrence Square and through our land use policy, which is meant to make sure that housing at various income levels is built across the province.
For the individual people involved in a situation like this one, I know this is very difficult and I have great concern for them; but this policy was never meant to carry all by itself the burden of dealing with the housing problems that we face in this province.
FUNDING FOR WOMEN’S PROGRAMS
Mr. Jackson: My question is to the Treasurer. He will recall that on February 14, Sandra Kerr, the president of the Ontario Advisory Council on Women’s Issues, wrote him a letter suggesting several options, including one: a special tax that could be levied against pornographic magazines, videos and movies.
Today we read in the newspaper that the Premier (Mr. Peterson) has dismissed this idea out of hand and specifically has said that by taxing pornography, the government would in fact be condoning it.
My question to the Treasurer is, given that he places special high taxes on tobacco, alcohol and leaded gasoline, does he agree that taxing a product means that he is condoning the use of it?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: To put the question in a different light and perhaps answer in a more appropriate way, I can say that I agree with the Premier.
Mr. Jackson: We are going to miss the honourable member in the House.
What is significant in the letter that the Treasurer received from Ms. Kerr, who was writing on behalf of a coalition of many women in this province and their concerns, is that she was not writing to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney), who is responsible for funding women’s shelters. She was not writing to the Solicitor General (Mrs. Smith), who is responsible for funding rape crisis centres, nor to the minister responsible for women’s issues (Mr. Sorbara), whom she was supposed to advise. She wrote to the Treasurer. Quite clearly, she has legitimate concerns about the fact that he controls the purse-strings of this province, and therefore he is deciding the women’s agenda, the agenda of funding adequately.
Mr. Speaker: The question?
Mr. Jackson: Will the Treasurer accept the offer of assistance contained in that letter to him, advising him on how to finance the government’s commitment to women and children who are the victims of violence in Ontario?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: When the honourable member indicated that the Premier dismissed the idea out of hand, I think he should have said at the same time that the Premier expressed the view that I know is held by all members of this House and the community about the problems that pornography presents in the community at large, but I do think it was reasonable for him to say that he did not feel that such a method of taxation was practicable.
I look forward to the opportunity of meeting with the representation of the group that sent the letter in my office or any convenient place so that we can have a reasonable discussion on the matter, which is important and sensible.
Mr. Jackson: With regard to the Treasurer’s clarification, there were several flippant statements, including references to swimsuit editions of Sports Illustrated and a minister responsible for women’s issues who makes reference to the fact that there is no connection between violence and pornography.
The point is that if the minister will consider several of these known options to help him finance his commitment -- because clearly he is not living up to the commitment based on the need to attack the issue of violence against women. He will be aware that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board in this province awards $4 million annually and receives only 1.5 per cent of its revenues from actual offenders. That means that 98.5 per cent of the revenue has to come from taxes and general revenue.
Will the minister consider the following two additional suggestions? First, using his right of subrogation, would he recover a greater share of Criminal Injuries Compensation Board awards from the actual offenders? Second, will he consider adopting a system employed in southern Australia and other jurisdictions which imposes a conviction tax on criminals who have been found guilty of crimes of violence against women? Will the minister consider those as well?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I want to object to the comment made by the honourable member that the Premier’s response was flippant. I do not believe that it was. His comments simply were intended to indicate the difficulty in determining what is pornographic and what is not.
The honourable member knows that in his community and my own or any other place, a citizen can lay a complaint or the police, on investigation, can lay a charge. But if one looks at the magazines that are available for sale on a regular basis, whether or not they are pornographic is a judgement, in my view, that is very personal. To establish a taxation system on that is questionable indeed.
If the honourable member is suggesting that taxes be applied to things that are clearly obscene and should not be sold under any circumstances in any community, otherwise they would lead to charges by the police, then I do not think that is reasonable or sensitive.
OUTBREAK OF MENINGITIS
Mr. Eves: I have a question of the Minister of Health. Two weeks ago, I raised the issue of the spread of meningitis in the Peterborough area with her House leader while she and the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) were at a health conference in New Brunswick. At that time, he said that everything was being handled appropriately and that there was no need for the Ministry of Health to taken any action. Yesterday, her ministry finally started an inoculation program for children in Victoria county to stop the spread of the disease.
Many family doctors and parents have been critical of the length of time it has taken for the minister’s officials to react to this serious situation. Could the minister tell the House why public health officials have not reacted to this serious situation sooner?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: If I could take the opportunity and thank our House leader for providing such accurate information to the House when I was at the meeting, I can tell the member opposite that I have, in fact, spoken to the chief medical officer of health. As members know, my primary concern is always public safety. Our chief medical officer assures me that the action that has been taken by the public health officials is appropriate and that the decision on vaccination was taken after consultation with experts on disease control.
Mr. Eves: There have been 55 cases and six deaths with respect to meningitis reported across the province this year to date. It is important, I think, that the public be kept informed about the possible spread of the disease. We have received phone calls today from concerned parents in the Port Hope area who tell us that calling local public health units is an exercise in futility, in their opinion.
Parents are concerned that public health officials have been unable to provide them with any clear information about the spread of the disease and any precautions that they should consider taking. Is it acceptable to the minister that public health officials are not keeping the public informed about the spread of the disease not only in Victoria county but also in neighbouring counties?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: First, let me say that I have great confidence in the actions taken by public health officials under the direction and after consultation with the chief medical officer of the province. He has assured me that the action taken by public health officials is appropriate and that community physicians, hospitals and health care workers in the province have been notified of the higher than normal occurrence in a certain area of the province and that they received instructions about what to watch for.
I would encourage people who have questions to contact their local public health unit, which can provide them with information. I think it is very important that information be given that is accurate and based on the expertise of the public health officials who are extremely aware of the importance of disease control and the interests of public health and public safety. I believe that the opportunity to discuss that in this House today is an important one, but I would encourage the member opposite to encourage anyone who calls his office to get the facts from the public health experts.
Mr. Eves: I agree with the minister that the outbreak of meningitis this year is rather uncommon and unusual and I agree that public health officials should be providing that information. But the reports that we are getting from parents are that they are not satisfied with the responses they are getting from public health officials. We think the government should be taking a leading role in this respect.
I have a suggestion to make to the minister in the Legislature this afternoon. Would she commit, on behalf of her government, to starting an immediate public information campaign, including a hotline number for concerned parents in Ontario?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: I am always happy to have the advice of the critic for the third party. I would suggest to him that the best source of information for the people of this province, if they want the facts and if they have concerns, is to contact their local public health unit. They are the experts on disease control.
I can tell the member that the decisions that are taken on distribution of antibiotics or on vaccination are taken after consultation with experts. I know his concern is public safety, and it is always a priority of mine. I would encourage him to tell people who call his office that they can have confidence that the public health experts in Ontario are acting appropriately.
FUNDING OF SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES
Mr. Allen: I have a question for the Treasurer. Members of our party for some time have been raising questions about the problem of funding agencies that receive transfer payments from his government. Two nights ago, the cork blew in North Bay, where the 55 workers at the North Bay and District Association for the Mentally Retarded community-based program occupied the regional office of the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
Two days have elapsed. There has been no statement in respect to that in this House. Those workers looked after 96 clients. They take care of their direct care, they give them life skills training, they do substantial nursing, yet they earn an average of only $17,500 per year.
The Treasurer must realize that he is the phantom at the bargaining table. Why is he driving the staff of these agencies to desperate actions like this by transferring grant levels which maintain such scandalously low salary levels for the workers concerned?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I certainly do not like to be held up as some sort of villain in a matter of such importance as the honourable member describes. The Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) has brought to the attention of his colleagues in cabinet something we all know, that the pay levels for many people working for his ministry and the agencies that report through his ministry are lower than they should be.
From my point of view, the budget for the ministry was increased last year -- I am just checking my notes here -- about $600 million. It grew by about 14 per cent.
Mr. Pouliot: What’s that got to do with it?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I am sure that does not mean anything to the honourable member on the front bench of the New Democratic Party who says, “What’s that got to do with it?” What it has to do with it is that very large additional sums are allocated from the consolidated revenue fund to the ministry that is so well administered by my good friend the Minister of Community and Social Services. The difficulties that he has to put up with, even with these huge additional infusions of money, are very great.
All I can say is that we are doing the best we can. The member would agree with me that it could not be better administered than by the honourable minister and his staff.
Mr. Allen: I do not want to be diverted into the latter part of the answer, but the Treasurer does know that his government has a policy of deinstitutionalization with respect to the persons concerned into community-based facilities.
The point I would make is that across the whole system -- for example, in Dundas county, a Canadian Union of Public Employees group is on strike and has been on strike since February 1. After considering their experience in working with the people they work with, they tell me that they are coming to the conclusion that the policy of deinstitutionalization, which they support, is in fact now being undermined by the Treasurer’s very funding levels. They regret that, but that is the conclusion they are driven to, that in point of fact, their clients are better served in institutions at this time.
Does the Treasurer not realize that it is not a case of driving workers into desperate situations and their taking some rash act on their own behalf, but a case of his own public policy? What is he going to do to rescue his own public policy with respect to deinstitutionalization and community-based care?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: All I can say to the honourable member is that he makes a point that can be made very effectively on behalf of most child care workers and certainly many people associated with home care under the auspices of both Community and Social Services administration and the Ministry of Health. We are well aware of this very serious difficulty. Many of the pay levels are at $15,000 a year, and even lower than that.
We are looking at what the implications would be, and they are very large indeed. I simply reiterate to the honourable member that the Ministry of Community and Social Services budget, which is a substantial budget, as he knows, is not the fastest-growing budget in the government, but at just under 15 per cent, it is surpassed by very few.
I believe that it is well worth while that the honourable member would naturally do his duty and bring this to our attention. I can say to him in response that we want to respond as effectively as we can, budget by budget. Last year, it was an increase of 14.8 per cent. We will do the best we can this coming year.
ALCOHOL AND DRUG ADDICTION
Mrs. Marland: My question is for the Minister of Health. After a great deal of fanfare, the Black report was released with promises by the Liberal government that drug addiction programs at the community level would be upgraded and enhanced to better serve those faced with drug-related problems.
A Mississauga-based group called Managing Addiction Programs for Peel, comprised of two paid staff, a volunteer president and a volunteer board of directors, has been providing a service that identifies gaps in service and then develops and manages programs to address the needs of drug-addicted persons. MAPP has been serving the community for about three years with financial assistance from the United Way. This group has a proven track record and, in fact, was recommended by the Peel District Health Council for funding by the Ministry of Health.
Can the minister tell this House why she has refused funding for this effective group?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: The ministry is currently spending approximately $39 million on 151 community-based programs which include detoxification centres, rehabilitation services, evaluation and counselling programs and direct services to assist those.
As the member would know, the Premier (Mr. Peterson), on behalf of the government, committed to double the funding available for programs. The emphasis of the Black report and the ministry is to place the priority for funding on the provision of direct addiction treatment services.
Mrs. Marland: The people in the region of Peel are going to be very disappointed that the Minister of Health has not answered this very serious question. I wish, with respect, that the minister had listened.
The Peel District Health Council has indicated that it fully supports the goals of MAPP and recommends funding for this needed service. However, in a letter to MAPP the minister used the excuse that she could not grant funding because the Peel District Health Council did not list it as its priority for funding. In fact, it was the health council’s second funding request in priority.
My second question is: Since in the minister’s letter she has refused to fund the MAPP project, does this mean that the money to fund the Peel District Health Council’s priority detoxification centre at Peel Memorial Hospital will be granted immediately?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: The member opposite has acknowledged the important role that the district health councils play in the planning process. They are involved right now in responding to recommendations and planning for the future.
In fact, the number one priority for the Peel District Health Council was for a program for direct program delivery. That is being considered and is under review at the present time as part of our expansion of treatment and community-based service programming for addictions in this province.
ASSISTANCE TO GRAPE GROWERS
Mr. Dietsch: My question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. There is a great deal of concern in the Niagara Peninsula on the part of grape growers over the adjustment program. Every day farmers call to express their concerns. I would like to ask the minister for an update on the status of the $100-million federal-provincial adjustment for Ontario grape growers.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: I am pleased to indicate to the honourable member that after lengthy and detailed consultations between the two levels of government and representatives of the Ontario Grape Growers’ Marketing Board, a final assistance package is ready to go. The province is certainly ready to proceed to assist Ontario grape growers with our share. We are awaiting final approval of the federal government for its money to flow.
I spoke last night to the federal minister, the Honourable Don Mazankowski, and I received assurances from Mr. Mazankowski that the federal government will be receiving approval within the next two days.
Mr. Dietsch: Given the ongoing delays in finalizing this package and the financial needs and concerns of the growers, can the minister indicate what steps have been taken to ensure some stability for these producers until this adjustment package is finally completed, which I hope is very soon?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: Staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food have undertaken full consultations with the grape board to ensure it is fully informed on all the administrative details of the adjustment program and its status. Indeed, it is my understanding that the Ontario grape board is ready to handle the administration of this program as soon as the federal government approves its share of the program. Moreover, ministry staff have been in consultation with other groups affected by the adjustments of the grape industry, particularly creditors and wineries.
I will say that all efforts have been made to keep all parties fully informed and to avoid any abrupt actions that would adversely affect the producers. I am assured by staff and representatives of the grape board that all components of the $100-million adjustment program are ready.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: My question is for the Minister of Colleges and Universities and it regards the teacher shortage that we have this year and that it looks like we will have again next year. I can empathize with the minister in trying to plan the number of students who should enter the faculties of education when she has a Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) who will tell you that there is no problem this year and that he only needs 3,000 new teachers, although we found more than that were required in just 20 boards around the Metropolitan Toronto area. That must have been the reason why the minister only approved 440 new spaces at the faculties of education for this last year.
Can the minister tell us how many new spaces she is planning in the faculties of education for this fall?
Hon. Mrs. McLeod: I think the Minister of Education has indicated in past statements that we believe we can take steps that will respond to a concern about future teacher shortages. The minister has indicated, of course, that our joint ministries have undertaken a study of teacher demand and supply in the future. That study is to be released shortly, but I think it is also quite clear we did not wait for the results of the study to take some steps to address the shortage.
The member is quite right that there was an increase in teacher spaces and in the number of people admitted to teacher training at faculties of education last year. It was a 13 per cent increase last year. That is a significant increase in spaces. There will also be a further increase next year.
I think the member is aware we have a program adjustment fund to encourage expansion of programs in areas the government sees as areas of critical need. Teacher education is one of those areas. It was responsible for the increase in teacher spaces last year and it will be responsible for an increase in applications and registrations in faculties of education next year as well.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: The 13 per cent increase bore no relationship to the reality of the depth of the shortage we have. We are going to be well over 1,000 teachers short this year alone.
Will the minister confirm the fact that even if she expands as much as the universities have told her they can expand this year, she will not get more than another 680 new spaces this year? It is only six months now until September and faculties need a good 10 months to a year to do the planning for that kind of expansion. Can the minister tell us why she has not told York University or the University of Toronto, the ones that are saying they can have major expansions, that she is even going to fund them at all this fall for new spaces?
Hon. Mrs. McLeod: I would prefer to leave some discussion about the number of teachers that are anticipated as being needed over the next few years until the release of the teacher demand and supply study.
We will be announcing the program adjustment fund allocation to the universities for next September very shortly. We have received the advice of the Ontario Council on University Affairs on the allocation of those program adjustment funds, so that information will go out. The program adjustment fund has already been operative in the past year. The universities have responded with increases in the faculties of education and I know they will continue to do so in September. The specific figures will become available.
Mr. Cousens: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation, and I have sent a copy of the question over to the minister. The Minister of Transportation recently addressed the annual conference of the Ontario Good Roads Association. He has done so every year since 1986. It is not too much of a challenge for him, because he says the same thing each and every year.
For example, in 1987, the minister stated, “The urgent need for transportation funding, both within the provincial and municipal networks, is well recognized by every member of the Liberal government.” In 1988 he stated, “The pressures that confronted us in 1986 still challenge us today: increased public demand for transportation services.” Just last week the minister dusted off the same old rhetoric when he said: “Whether it is in the north, the east or anywhere in Ontario, the problem is the same. These and other more local roads projects are not being committed to or completed fast enough.”
Mr. Speaker: Question?
Mr. Cousens: I would like to ask the minister a simple question. Given that he recognizes Ontario’s infrastructure is not keeping pace with development, when does he plan to take action?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: I thank the member for sending over a copy of his researcher’s question. I appreciate the member’s apparent and new interest in transportation issues.
I am sure he will be well aware of the enormous demands we inherited from one end of this province to the other. He will be aware that in its last budget, the then Ministry of Transportation and Communications received the smallest percentage of the provincial budget in our history. However, he will also be aware that in the past three and a half years the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) and the government of Ontario have recognized the enormous backlog we inherited, in the projects we have started and in many cases completed from one end of this province to the other.
Mr. Cousens: In the same speech last week, the minister stated: “Transportation is essential to ensuring that this growth is more equally shared throughout the entire province, and that has been a consistent personal theme for me. While improving public transit, we are planning even more expansion.”
I think the only expansion planned is in the minister’s own office. That is his constant personal theme. Estimated expenditures for his office will rise in the fiscal year 1988-89 by 8.1 per cent. Compare that to the 2.2 per cent increase the minister has so graciously authorized for municipal transit in the province in the same year.
Mr. Speaker: Question?
Mr. Cousens: The Ontario Good Roads Association is tired of listening to the same old broken record, the same broken answers. The minister knows there are a number of transportation initiatives he could be undertaking, such as the Sheppard subway line. When will he take action and thereby have a new message for the good roads association at its dinner next year?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: As is often the case with my friend the member for Markham, his figures are once again incorrect. If he could distinguish between transit and roads, he would be aware that we have better than an 11 per cent increase this year in our transit budget and that our municipal roads budget has increased in excess of 36 per cent over the past three years. I invite the member to join me on my next and subsequent trips across this province from one end to the other, to listen to and see the results of the work of this government in the past three and a half years.
Mr. Cousens: I accept. I’ll be glad to go with him. I’m coming, Ed.
Mr. Speaker: Is the member for Markham finished?
Mr. Cousens: You call me; I’m coming, brother.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Matrundola: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. Last week, I noted with pride that this government, and specifically his ministry, took a significant step towards tackling the serious problems we face in terms of preserving our natural environment when the minister announced that Ontario had become the first province in Canada to act to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the use of chlorofluorocarbons.
Although we in Ontario are acting to establish a strategy to protect our vital ozone shield, the problem of ozone depletion is one that is global in scope. What can we do to encourage other jurisdictions in Canada, and in fact the world, to implement similar programs to eliminate any further use of CFCs?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: That is a good question. The member probably recognizes, as most people do, that ultraviolet radiation, which will be a result of the thinning of the ozone layer -- we have noted this particularly over the Antarctic and the Arctic -- will in fact increase the number of occasions of skin cancer, will reduce crop yields -- I know the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) has been interested in that for some time -- and can cause damage to aquatic life as well as cause cataract problems. I saw an estimate that about a three per cent depletion in that ozone layer, for instance, could cause 2,000 additional and unnecessary skin cancers.
Indeed, we are happy to take this first step. I am pleased to work with other jurisdictions in Canada that are in that process at present. I see British Columbia has joined the effort. Our federal government has made an announcement. I am pleased to work with those people and to work with others in the world.
There have been some international conferences where commitments have been made by a number of countries in the world to effect the same kinds of reductions and to make the same kinds of changes. We recognize that while Ontario consumes about one and a quarter per cent of the CFCs that are produced, in fact it would be useful to interest other jurisdictions. I am pleased to say there are some in the United States that are in the process of addressing this problem at the same time. We see it as a joint effort worldwide.
Mr. Matrundola: Since the minister’s announcement on February 16, I have received inquiries pertaining to specific products subject to the legislation. Specifically, I would like to ask if all styrofoam cups and all aerosols are made with CFCs? Therefore, are all such products going to be affected by this phase-out?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: As I indicated at the time of the announcement, the good news was that many of these aerosol sprays that used CFCs have already had them replaced with other propellants. Of course, that is what we think is very important.
Mr. Jackson: Speaking of repellents.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Propellants.
We know that not all styrofoam cups or styrofoam products in this world are made with CFCs. Many have already gone through the conversion process. They have taken that initiative in anticipation of government regulatory activity.
There has been a good voluntary effort on the part of some members of industry to estimate the use of their CFCs and to lower the use of their CFCs in the manufacturing process. The legislation and the ultimate regulations, therefore, are designed to weed out these products, which are at present made with CFCs, and to ensure that no further product development can consider their utilization in the manufacturing process. In essence, we are ensuring the preservation of a --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a question to the Minister of the Environment, and I think he can be short with it.
Is the minister aware of the concerns of the workers at Stelco’s bar processing mill in my riding, who seem to be having real problems getting inspectors to resolve an obvious problem over emissions from the old Columbian Chemicals carbon plant on Parkdale? Why do the workers have to become ill, and even closures of the mill take place, while inspectors say things like, “We are waiting for the results of the latest tester we put up some six months ago.”
Hon. Mr. Bradley: We work very often with representatives in the labour union movement to try to resolve problems. Ordinarily they are dealing with the Ministry of Labour, as the member would know. In some cases, they are dealing with the Ministry of the Environment. I welcome the question from the member and will be pleased to investigate further to see if that can be speeded up.
There are a number of endeavours going on in the province now. We are doing virtually the largest amount of testing one could ever find in a variety of fields, but I am concerned when I hear what the member has to say and would like to act upon it expeditiously.
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a petition for the minister. It will give him some additional information on the concerns of the workers that I have raised, as far back as 1982 on this particular plant, in letters to ministers of the government.
The company has a standing agreement with the employees to wash their cars because of the dust and oil-based dust they get covered with, which even gets inside the cars. Obviously, the company knows it has a problem in this particular case. When are we going to say to them, rather than the long time we have been working on this issue, that it is time they took a look at the workers’ lungs, not just at their cars in terms of any action?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Again, I look at the dual jurisdiction there might be here between the inside operation, the actual operation of the plant as it relates to the Ministry of Labour, and that which relates to the Ministry of the Environment. The member may know there are occasions when the actions contemplated and mandated by the Ministry of the Environment, while they may be good for the outside environment, may have adverse impacts within a plant, and that is always of concern when we are attempting to develop a control order.
Second, I will be pleased to have the support of the people who work in the plant when I come down with a very strong control order, when the clean air program comes in and when I hear reports from companies that they will be unable to implement these because of costs or technical reasons. I will be mighty pleased, because I know I will have the strong support of the workers in those plants, as I always do across Ontario, when I want to bring in strong environmental legislation that the owners of the plants may say would cause a closedown, or a closing of a specific operation. I am very pleased to have that support from the labour union.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr. Villeneuve: To the Minister of Agriculture and Food: The minister may have recently read in Farm and Country about a University of Guelph survey conducted in Kent and Oxford counties last summer. The survey revealed that the top priority for most farmers is still very much financial survival, which is rated much more important than many other agricultural problems. This is over and above the crisis in the grape-growing industry brought about by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade decision. What financial farm-support programs for Ontario farmers does the minister have for the immediate future?
Mr. Speaker: I recognize the minister. There are a great many private conversations going on that make it very difficult to hear.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Now I am hearing noises from all sides. Minister.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: I more or less anticipated a question from the honourable member; it was interesting to see the rather scant membership of the Tory party gather around him -- so they could focus in on the cameras, I guess.
We have all kinds of programs that assist the producers of this province. The Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program is still in place and cheques are still flowing. We have a tripartite stabilization program that is now signed by all provinces, with the exception of Newfoundland, that gives the farmers long-term stability. We have the crop insurance program that gives the farmers long-term stability and we are working to improve that program. We are waiting for the federal minister to introduce amendments to the act in the House. We have numerous programs. We have Food Systems 2002 --
Mr. Speaker: We do have a mail service, too. Supplementary.
Mr. Villeneuve: I think the Minister of Agriculture and Food has been watching too much of the Wide World of Wrestling, and Jake the Snake may be part of what he follows.
According to the third-quarter financial update just released by the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon), the Ministry of Agriculture and Food has cut its budget by the largest amount of any line ministry, $37 million, dollars that were scheduled for agriculture that will not be spent on agriculture. Given that many financial sectors of agriculture are still in crisis situations, why will the minister not put these savings back into agriculture, which they were originally scheduled for? Is that not his job?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: I do not know where the honourable member gets his information, because to this point in time the various ministries’ budgets have not been struck. I do not know to this point in time what my final budget is going to be. I do not know where he gets all his information.
Mr. Villeneuve: From the Treasurer.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: Then the member has an inside track with him that I must not have. I am going to tell the member that wherever our budget ends up, the farmers can be assured that we will continue to give them the assistance we have given them ever since we formed the government four years ago.
Mr. Velshi: My question is to the Minister of Correctional Services. Recent incidents in Metropolitan Toronto have provoked serious questions about the treatment of visible minorities by our criminal justice system. Can the minister outline what steps his ministry has taken to ensure that Correctional Services is responding to the special circumstances of its minority clients?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: The Ministry of Correctional Services has long recognized the need to respond in a manner that I think is both sensitive and appropriate to the special circumstances presented by the cultural diversity of our client population.
The ministry has responded to both these needs through a multicultural strategy founded on three initiatives: staff awareness and training, community liaison and cultural services. Since 1983, we have been delivering programs that I think address those issues. I think the development and implementation of this strategy is very consistent with and supportive of the government direction in this area.
Mr. Velshi: Can the minister tell the House what additional steps he is taking to address the needs of Ontario’s diverse multicultural groups, especially in the Metropolitan Toronto region?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: We have taken several steps in that regard. One, we have translated a series of pamphlets about corrections into Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Polish, Portuguese, Hindi, Italian and Greek. These pamphlets have been distributed to a wide range of community groups and organizations.
A number of contracts have also been negotiated with the ethno-specific agencies to provide counselling and interpretation services to incarcerated clients as well as individuals under community supervision.
We have also translated the inmate handbook into eight languages, which I think serves our client population very well.
Miss Martel: I have a question for the Minister of Labour concerning rehabilitation services at the Workers’ Compensation Board.
On January 1, 1989, several policy changes regarding rehabilitation became effective. One particular change means that injured workers now have the length of time they receive rehabilitation services tied directly to the length of time they will be on compensation benefits. Under section 45 of the act, a worker can receive benefits for up to a maximum of 18 months only. Therefore, any worker who requires rehabilitation or retraining will now receive a maximum rehabilitation of 18 months.
Can the minister explain if he accepts this change which limits rehab, retraining and schooling for injured workers to 18 months?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: The member for Sudbury East raises a question that a number of representatives from the United Steelworkers of America raised with me in my office just a few days ago when they were there to speak to me about Bill 162, even though the public hearings on the bill had already begun. I asked them for more details on it.
I want to point out to my friend from Sudbury East that under the current structure of the act, a policy such as the one she describes -- not that I am saying that is the board’s policy; I am making inquiries -- the board has the discretion to make those sorts of determinations about which section rehabilitation will be provided under. It is within the discretion of the board.
I just point out to the member that under Bill 162 there are much stricter provisions and, interestingly and appropriately, the right to vocational rehabilitation and the services that will be provided is subject to appeal right throughout the system, including an appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal. That is one of the great merits of the vocational rehabilitation provisions in the bill.
Miss Martel: One of the great merits of the rehabilitation section of the bill would have been for the minister to say rehabilitation would be an obligation on the board to provide. He has refused to do that, in spite of the fact that the study by Majesky-Minna said rehabilitation services at the board were absolutely atrocious now. This government refused to take the prime recommendation by that committee, which was that rehabilitation had to be a statutory right.
Given that the commitment by the board at this point is only 18 months to rehabilitation, and given that his bill does not even oblige the Workers’ Compensation Board to provide rehabilitation, how can he stand here and say the workers are going to be provided for at all when they are not now and they certainly will not be under his bill?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I think it is absolutely scandalous that the member from Sudbury East so distorts the provisions in the bill. The bill does not --
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: Mr. Speaker, I withdraw. Even before you rise, I withdraw that comment.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The minister has withdrawn. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I just withdrew it, I say to my friend from Lake Nipigon (Mr. Pouliot).
I want to point out, though, that under Bill 162 the statutory obligation of the board is to provide an assessment. Where the assessment indicates --
Miss Martel: Whoopee. It doesn’t mean service.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: She shouts, but I want to tell her something before the end of this question period. Where the assessment indicates that vocational rehabilitation will be of benefit, the board is obliged to provide those services, and if the board --
Miss Martel: That’s not true.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: She is denying that.
If the board does not provide those services, the worker has a right to take his or her case to the tribunal to say, “Assessment services were the order of the day and the board has not provided.” Under the jurisdiction of the appeals tribunal, the appeals tribunal, under the statute -- because it is in the statute -- will have the capacity to order the board to provide those services.
Miss Martel: It’s not in the bill.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: Read the bill; you will see that it is right there.
RAPE CRISIS CENTRES
Mr. Jackson: I would like to take this opportunity to present 20,000 cards that contain the signatures of citizens right across this province. It has also been sponsored by the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres. This card has been put together only in the last week and it is addressed 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:
“Sexual assault is a major problem in our society. One in four females and one in eight males will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Reports to sexual assault crisis centres are doubling annually in Ontario.
“We therefore demand immediate and appropriate funding for sexual assault centres in Ontario.”
One of the cards has my signature in support and I would ask that the Clerk ensure that the Premier (Mr. Peterson) also has access to these.
Mr. Mackenzie: I have here a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
“Whereas the Liberal members of the standing committee on resources development have voted to oppose an opposition motion to hear all deputations who want to appear before the committee on Bill 162;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to instruct the standing committee on resources development to reschedule its public hearings on Bill 162 in order to give all deputations who wish to make presentations about the proposed changes to the workers’ compensation system an opportunity to appear before the committee and express their views.”
This petition, the first of several, is signed by 105 workers, largely Italian at this point in time, and I will turn it over to the House.
Miss Nicholas: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It says:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament as follows:
“We, the undersigned, feel that the penal system regarding the criminally insane is not strict enough, letting these people enter our communities and therefore putting our children’s lives at stake.
“This petition is part of a public outcry for help to save our children from John Finlayson and others like him who we hear will get another chance to murder again.”
This is signed by 142 people and I have attached my name as well.
Mr. Harris: I have a petition 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:
“Whereas Trout Lake is the source of drinking water for the city of North Bay and is a valuable recreational resource for the area, and
“Whereas ice fishing huts are an important source of refuse and litter in the lake and are also potentially the source of faecal coliform in the lake, and
“Whereas winter fishing pressure on Trout Lake has doubled since 1980 and catch per angling hour is decreasing, and
“Whereas the majority of lake trout caught are below spawning age, and
“Whereas the natural reproduction of lake trout is substantially below the potential for Trout Lake,
“Therefore be it resolved that: the Trout Lake Conservation Association requests changes to the appropriate regulations in order to exclude the use of ice fishing huts on Trout Lake.”
This was a resolution that was adopted at the meeting of the board of directors of the Trout Lake Conservation Association on November 22, 1988. A subsequent petition to that effect has been signed by some 200 people living in, around, near or having concerns for, Trout Lake, and I have affixed my signature thereto.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Laughren from the standing committee on resources development reports the following resolution:
That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Transportation be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1989:
Ministry administration program, $51,433,977; policy planning and research program, $13,983,500; safety and regulation program, $95,637,400; provincial highways program, $641,827,800; provincial transit program, $195,190,000; provincial transportation program, $12,701,000; municipal roads program, $695,028,700; and municipal transit program, $353,397,700; and
That supply in the following supplementary amount and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Transportation be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1989:
Provincial transit program, $13,500,000.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Regarding the report that was just presented on the estimates of the Ministry of Transportation, despite all those dollars being spent, the ministry did not find the money to repair the Sultan road.
Mr. Speaker: The next item of business will be motions.
Hon. Mr. Conway: This does not concern the Sultan road, but it does concern the business of the House next Thursday morning.
Hon. Mr. Conway moved that, notwithstanding standing orders 3(b) and 71(a), the House shall meet from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 2, 1989, to consider government business, with routine proceedings to commence at 1:30 p.m.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 69, An Act to amend the Education Act;
Bill 70, An Act to amend the Education Act;
Bill 128, An Act to amend the Planning Act;
Bill 134, An Act to repeal certain Private Acts related to Municipalities;
Bill 135, An Act to amend the Road Access Act;
Bill 169, An Act to amend the District Municipality of Muskoka Act;
Bill 186, An Act to provide for the Allocation of certain Payments or Grants in lieu of Taxes made by Canada to Municipalities in respect of Lands that are Exempt from Taxation;
Bill 188, An Act to amend the Juries Act;
Bill 192, An Act to amend the Municipal Act and certain other Acts related to Municipalities;
Bill 197, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Sudbury Act.
RYERSON POLYTECHNICAL INSTITUTE AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mrs. McLeod moved third reading of Bill 199, An Act to amend the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute Act, 1977.
Mr. Breaugh: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Under standing order 23, I think I should declare a conflict of interest and not participate in this vote.
Mr. Speaker: That will be recorded.
Mr. Breaugh: Now I await the pleasure of others who ought to do the same.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I just want to say I am glad that my friend the member for Oshawa admitted to his professorial interest in some of these matters. I wait only to attend one of his lectures.
Mr. Breaugh: There is a fee, so you’ll never be there.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill 203, An Act to amend certain Acts as they relate to the Law Society.
OTTAWA CIVIL SERVICE RECREATIONAL ASSOCIATION ACT
Mr. Reycraft moved, on behalf of Mr. Chiarelli, second reading of Bill Pr4, An Act respecting The Ottawa Civil Service Recreational Association.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
ASSOCIATION OF TRANSLATORS AND INTERPRETERS OF ONTARIO ACT / LOI SUR L’ASSOCIATION DES TRADUCTEURS ET INTERPRÈTES DE L’ONTARIO
Mr Poirier moved second reading of Bill Pr36, An Act respecting Association des traducteurs et interprètes de l’Ontario -- The Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario.
L’hon. M. Poirier propose la deuxième lecture du projet de loi Pr36, Loi concernant l’Association des traducteurs et interprètes de l’Ontario -- The Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
La motion de troisième lecture est également adoptée.
CITY OF TRENTON ACT
Mr. Reycraft moved, on behalf of Mrs. Fawcett, second reading of Bill Pr40, An Act respecting the City of Trenton.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
NORTHERN FRONTIER DEVELOP. LTD. ACT
Mr. Reycraft moved, on behalf of Mr. Kozyra, second reading of Bill Pr43, An Act to revive I. Gosselin & F. Camiré Developments Limited and to change its name to Northern Frontier Develop. Ltd.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
SUDBURY HYDRO-ELECTRIC COMMISSION ACT
Mr. Reycraft moved, on behalf of Mr. Campbell, second reading of Bill Pr60, An Act respecting the Sudbury Hydro-Electric Commission.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
SISTERS OF SOCIAL SERVICE ACT
Ms. Collins moved second reading of Bill Pr61, An Act respecting The Sisters of Social Service.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF LONDON ACT
Mr. Cureatz moved, on behalf of Mrs. Cunningham, second reading of Bill Pr74, An Act respecting the City of London.
Motion agreed to.
JOHN ZIVANOVIC HOLDINGS LIMITED ACT
Mr. Offer moved second reading of Bill Pr76, An Act to revive John Zivanovic Holdings Limited.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
TOWN OF MARKHAM ACT
Mr. Cureatz moved, on behalf of Mr. Cousens, second reading of Bill Pr79, An Act respecting the Town of Markham.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
STRATHROY MIDDLESEX GENERAL HOSPITAL ACT
Mr. Reycraft moved second reading of Bill Pr80, An Act respecting Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
WINDSOR LIGHT OPERA ASSOCIATION ACT
Mr. D. S. Cooke moved second reading of Bill Pr81, An Act respecting The Windsor Light Opera Association.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CONCURRENCE IN SUPPLY, MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES
Mr. Harris: I think there are a few comments that a couple of members want to make on the concurrence for the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Our critic, who unavoidably could not be here today, I know has lengthy discussions she wishes to make. Perhaps if we do not finish the concurrence with this ministry today, she will have the opportunity on Monday. However, I just want to serve notice that there were a few members who have a few comments they wish to make.
Mr. Allen: I would like to spend a few moments commenting upon the ministry’s programs and the financing thereof, which is of course what we are concerned with under concurrences.
In the first place, to revert briefly to the issue I raised in the House today, one of the problems the ministry clearly faces is a fundamental irrationality in the situation of the ministry attempting programs of deinstitutionalization, programs devolved from ministry institutions and services directly funded to community-based agencies. There are any number of them out there in the vast panoply of services the ministry superintends and funds.
The instance I raised today was a graphic example of the heart of the problem. The heart of the problem is that the government, in providing funding for the community-based agencies, does it in such a way as to maintain and perpetuate a very large gap in the income levels and the resources generally of the community-based agencies as against the old institution-based, directly funded delivery system.
There is a technicality in this that relates to the bargaining procedures the different employee groups undergo, but that in turn is a problem that the ministry and the government should surely long ago have addressed in order to maintain not only parallel but also equivalent growth in the income levels of the agencies and the service deliverers, namely, the workers in those agencies themselves.
What is happening is that in agency after agency, whether one is talking about the Ontario Association for the Mentally Retarded community-based programs, whether one is talking about children’s community health centres, whether one is talking about homemaker programs and so on, the salary levels are in many instances barely at and even below the poverty level.
The people I raised the question about today earn $17,500. If they have a dependant or two, they are below the poverty-line income. That is simply impossible. It is not just what it does to the individuals concerned; it is what it does to the program and, finally, it is what it does to the ministry’s and the government’s program itself and its intent to devolve programs on to community-based operations.
The agencies themselves are unable to keep the quality of staff, the number of staff, the tenure of staff sufficiently in place to provide continuity of service, length of relationship between the client and the staff worker so that the program may accomplish its intended result, namely, a form of rehabilitation, maintenance, skills development. In the case of the developmentally handicapped, for example, that requires a kind of trust, a kind of confidence in the relationship which provides the foundation for transmitting those skills and maintaining appropriate quality of life for the people concerned.
The situation those agencies find themselves in, the situation the ministry finds itself in is an impossible one in terms of public policy, because what is happening is that the policy itself is being undermined by the very funding levels the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) provides to those agencies. As I say, they are some of the key deliverers of service.
In writing to me about this issue, the minister observed that he hoped there was a long-term solution, and the long-term solution he proposed was the very solution of community-based services. Surely that is a contradiction, because if the problem is the solution and the solution is the problem, where are we going?
That eliminates a gap in a technical sense, because, at the end of the road, he has all the low-funded, low-paid community-based agencies. Presumably, he has got rid of all the directly funded ministry ones and so there is no more gap, but the problem inherently is not solved, because the problem is not so much the gap as the adequacy at the lower end. Surely, of all the questions that the minister has to wrestle with, I think that at this point in time in his ministry that question is the essential one, because it touches so many of the elements that he provides.
One can expand it, for example, into the field of servicing children at risk through children’s aid services, where one of the key components is foster homes. Again, it illustrates the difficulty that foster homes are having in both maintaining their numbers and providing the service the minister wants in the first place. Providing or securing an income level that is adequate to the real costs they have is a parallel example with the instances that I have just given.
The parallel is reinforced by the fact that, by and large, the homes that come forward as foster homes tend to be on the lower part of the income scale. They tend to be families that are lesser educated than the norm for Ontario. They tend to be among larger families and, therefore, there are more demands placed upon the parents and upon the family resources, even though they have lower incomes. What one gets again is a service that this ministry relies on, which is characterized by, if you like, the poor serving those who are at risk or who are also poor; because if one looks at where the service delivery goes, in terms of the mentally handicapped, in terms of the children at risk or in terms of a lot of the seniors who need home care, we are talking about poor people.
The community-based programs which the minister is providing and which the Treasurer is funding at this point in time are in fact institutions of the poor delivering services to the poor. I am not exactly sure that the minister would feel comfortable looking at the situation that way. I certainly do not feel comfortable looking at the situation that way. Certainly, it raises some fundamental questions about the delivery of social services in Ontario, where we are seeing a growing gap between the rich and the poor.
We have had a good deal of discussion lately on those points around the Social Assistance Review Committee report and the issues that it addresses: the existence of a persistent million-plus poor in Ontario, dependent poor and working poor, and the fact that 41 per cent of the children on the social assistance rolls that the minister superintends, over 200,000 people, are children under the age of 18.
Recent international reports tell us that as far as deep poverty among children is concerned, Canada is the second-worst example in the western world. In a situation of persistent poverty in the midst of an apparently and superficially affluent economy, for the government itself to be fostering agencies which become ghettos of the poor, providing service to the poor, is surely a moral issue that cannot be evaded.
I hope the minister will address the question in those terms, because it is not just a question of irrational funding or funding contradicting public policy. It is a question which is inherently moral in its very essence and, I think, cannot be evaded.
While the Treasurer may stand and say, “Yes, of course, there are X million additional dollars flowing to the Ministry of Community and Social Services budget in the past year or the past number of years and that is a growing budget,” it still does not answer the essential moral and social question of the existence of poverty and the existence within the very structure of government of the poor ghettoized in labour serving the poor ghettoized in other ways.
Somehow, unless this government simply says quite frankly that, “The poor are always with you, they always will be and there is not much we’re going to do about it in terms of any final and full solution,” there has to be some kind of accounting.
The central point I want to make, without embarking on an analysis of each of the programs in turn or of reverting to the fact that the minister, for example, when he dealt with the homemakers’ crisis, conveniently left my community out of the accounting, and Hamilton has been angry ever since with him about that little item -- one can, of course, go on in concurrences and add item after item after item after item -- is to focus upon the essential moral and social issue the government has to come to grips with. It is the same issue the minister is going to have to come grips with, the Treasurer is going to have to come to grips with and the Premier (Mr. Peterson) is going to have to come to grips with in regard to the Social Assistance Review Committee’s report in the very near future.
The fundamental question is: In the midst of the wealthiest economy in this nation, in the midst of so much development and growth, in particular in the heartland of Ontario, are we going to come to grips with the fact of persistent poverty, when in fact we know we can overcome by far the larger part of that if we work out programs that are adequate and fund them appropriately?
Although the Treasurer refuses to do studies that will tell him exactly what the savings and the economic benefits are, we also know, where studies have been done on the application of certain kinds of approaches in the social policy sector, that the investment does pay off down the road. What the Treasurer is doing by refusing to fund adequately and appropriately the minister’ s programs is driving up just about every other budget in government that touches upon the social policy area.
He is driving up the Health budget by virtue of the health costs of poor kids who grow up and get into the network, and develop health problems down the road. The Treasurer is driving up the costs of the Correctional Services budget in terms of the delinquency and inappropriate behaviour of young people who, under the pressures of poverty, misbehave in various ways, some more extreme than others. He is driving up the costs of the Ministry of Education in terms of the programs that are necessary for the learning disabilities which largely are generated, as the minister must know, by problems of poor nutrition, ill health and the rest, problems of motivation that derive from impoverished situations.
One could go through ministry after ministry and point out in quite specific terms how the budgets of those ministers are being elevated, pushed through the ceiling in some cases, in substantial measure because we have failed to grapple with the large and endemic element of poverty that resides in our midst.
Before I sit down, not wanting, as I say, to go through a lot of notes I could certainly work my way through on a lot of details around programs, I simply want to reinforce that point for him. There is a moral and social challenge this government has to meet if it is to face itself in the days ahead, and to look credibly at itself in the mirror each morning.
I am sure the minister is like all the rest of us human beings in developed circumstances. We all have mirrors, we all stand there and look at ourselves, particularly, I guess, the male of the species in a particular operation each morning. We have to understand who we are looking at and what the visage is that is coming back and what it says to us, and the picture has to -- if you can go on doing this: consciously looking at yourself morning after morning -- presumably, embody some sense of moral credibility in the activities that the ministries engage in day-in, day-out in the programming of this government.
It is just that moral and social issue that I want to confront the minister with, which is very fundamental and which I hope he will address later; but I know that, even more directly, it has to be put to the Treasurer of this province; to the Premier; to the entire government. The government itself is the one agency that can go out there and challenge this entire province to address this problem, and to lay out -- because it has the research resources -- the costs for this province of not doing so.
I call upon the minister to respond to the issue on those terms.
Mrs. Marland: In terms of programs, there are a lot of areas in the Ministry of Community and Social Services that I feel need more concern by the minister; certainly more funding for that minister by the Treasurer, obviously. For those of us who recognize how the cabinet sweepstakes work, the cabinet table is simply a forum -- a poker game probably is not the right analogy -- around which ministers ask for their share of the provincial pie in terms of money.
Frankly, I think that the priorities of this Liberal government have not been made on the basis of human need first. Had they been made on the basis of human need, we certainly would not have put all the thousands of people in this province who were put into a greater deal of discomfort and concern, waiting for the final decision as to whether the Canadian Red Cross Homemaker Service would be bailed out or not. When I say “bailed out,” it is not that the Red Cross Homemaker Service was not managed and administered in a responsible way; it is just that the homemaker service is the only nonprofit service that renders that care in the home for people who need it all over the province, regardless of where those people live, regardless of whether it means that there are a lot of calls within a close area or whether there is a lot of travel distance in between.
When people need a homemaker service, it is very often the final point between that person’s -- who may be ill, frail, elderly or disabled -- staying in his home, or having to go to a hospital or an institutional setting. I think, quite frankly, that the past six months of final negotiations between the Red Cross Society and the Ontario Liberal government, about just how much subsidy was going to be forthcoming for that program, was an example of a very barbaric practice.
Personally, I thought it was very unfair to elevate the anxiety level of the people who need that service to where all of us in this Legislature were recipients of petitions, telephone calls, letters and personal contacts at public meetings, and individual meetings with people in our offices begging, pleading and cajoling for support of their need of that homemaker service.
The people who have those needs should not be subjected to that kind of anxiety and trauma. It is indeed trauma when people who are at the point of wondering how they are going to manage to stay at home without the auxiliary service that the Red Cross homemaker program provides, and if they cannot stay at home, the tremendous fear and apprehension -- because where do they go? We do not have alternative accommodation for a lot of these people. We do not have nursing home beds or chronic care beds in this province available for people who cannot stay at home and be cared for in their own homes.
Another program that is in a similar category of need for the people in this province which the current Liberal government does not seem to want to do anything about is the attendant care program.
There has been a report on attendant care. That is a program specifically directed to the disabled in this province, and yet we do not, as yet, see any action. We do not see any extension to people with disabilities who need a home support program that enables them, as the attendant care program does, to get out of their homes and be able to participate in what, for most of us, are everyday opportunities; for example, an opportunity as simple as going to work, perhaps being able to go to school, perhaps being able to continue education which has been interrupted through a debilitating disease or accident.
The attendant care program is indeed one which the disabled community of this province has been waiting very anxiously for this Liberal government to decide it will put into action and fund.
It is obvious that if we have a government that believes in people remaining in their homes and not having to require institutional settings, those home support community programs must be there, and they must be there with continuity and assurance that we are not going to have the kind of situation the people have experienced this past year in Ontario.
If the Liberal government is going to campaign on promises of being everything to everybody and having a program that is going to be a solution that will touch everyone in need, then it has to be an honest promise that is fulfilled.
Tragically, in the last 18 months, we have had one program after another that has not been fulfilled. We have had many promises and commitments that were made by this Liberal government to the people of Ontario that have not been met. Frankly, I think where you are dealing with people in the greatest need -- and those are people who are physically or mentally disabled, as I said a few moments ago, frail and elderly and people who are ill -- when those people’s needs are not being met by programs of this Liberal government, then frankly, I guess we have to wonder where the money is being spent and how any humane government could ignore prioritizing in terms of human need first.
We also, of course, have been waiting with great anticipation for the recommendations of the Social Assistance Review Committee report. We have been waiting with bated breath for those recommendations to be implemented. We know that in the real world Queen’s Park certainly is not a money tree. We know also that this Liberal government in the past 12 months increased taxes in this province to an unprecedented limit. We know that the tax grab in the past 12 months in Ontario by the Liberal government was so astounding that people are still reeling from it. I can give one example: a one per cent retail sales tax which in fact was a 15 per cent increase on sales tax. With all of these increases in taxes in the province, we would have thought that all the needs that come under the Ministry of Community and Social Services would be met, because it is very easy to decide where the priorities lie.
In the past two weeks, I stood in this House and spoke about a family that has been on a waiting list for four years in this province for accommodation. I made that statement in members’ statements. I was limited, of course, to one and a half minutes for the details of that family.
Mrs. Marland: I am sure the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr. Black) is a caring member on behalf of his community and would not really wish to be interjecting at this point had he a family in the circumstances of the McConnell family. For the sake of those Liberal government members who have not heard or understood the need of this particular family, I will tell them that this is a family with two daughters who are now aged 19 and 21. They were both born with physical and psychological disabilities. Both of them have been in wheelchairs for more than 10 years. Their physical disability and their mental retardation have been something that family has coped within a private sense until the last four years.
When I say “in a private sense,” this is a family that has never asked any level of government for support. This is a family where the mother went out to work at night to earn money to provide some motor muscle co-ordination programs for those two girls during the day. The mother worked at night when the husband was out of work in order that she could be up during the day to care for these two girls.
The worst part of this story, which is totally factual, of course, is that in the last four years Mrs. McConnell now has cancer herself. This mother for four years has been asking the government to accommodate these two daughters. Because of their ages, 19 and 21, they can no longer plan to stay at home in the apartment with the two parents. Also, because these two sisters have always lived together and have never been apart and do not, because of their disabilities, have an opportunity to socially interact with any other people, they are very interdependent on each other.
Since Mrs. McConnell has cancer, her physical health has of course diminished her ability to meet the needs of these two daughters. For four years this family has been waiting to have accommodation. For four years the government has told them that for this participation house or this program or that program, wherever the residential programs are for young women with these kinds of disabilities, they are on a waiting list.
For four years, they have been on a waiting list. In one particular case, they were told they could not be accepted on a waiting list of this facility because they were too greatly handicapped or disabled, whatever terminology you want to use. Their problems were too great for them to be a priority for some of the facilities in a residential setting where programs exist in this province.
What I want to know in 1989 when we can afford to do all the luxurious things we still do every day in this province for people who are normal -- I might include here a particular pet peeve I have. I still do not accept that the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) can sit by, with all the programs he needs money for that he is continually turned down for, I assume, because those programs are not in existence, while the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) establishes a program around this province to reduce class size from 30 to 20 in grades 1 and 2.
How is it that this Liberal government has a greater priority for these normal kids in grades 1 and 2 while we have -- certainly, I know that this minister has been trying to resolve another problem of a youngster in my riding whose first name is Timmy. I will not record his second name in Hansard, because I have not asked the family if I may do that. He has been waiting for four years for a residential setting. He is so multiply disabled or handicapped that he cannot walk, see or speak. How is it that we do not have programs for these children with very special needs, and yet we think it is a priority for normal kids to be in a class of 20 rather than 30?
We have no empirical evidence to prove, academically speaking, that children learn better in a class with 20 children in it than with 30. For those of us who were in classes of 35 to 40 kids, we know quite well that reduction of class size does not have any impact on the learning environment, and any professional educator will tell you this, until you get into small class sizes which are considered to be 10, 12 or maybe even 14 children.
But this Liberal government, on a campaign promise pulled out of the air, decided it would be a priority to reduce class sizes in grades 1 and 2 around this province. There is no promise, of course, about what happens to those kids when they go into grade 3 and suddenly they are back in a large class. There was no planning at all. It was just something that sounded good to the Liberals when they were campaigning in the fall of 1987.
They never asked the school boards if that was their priority. We have children in portables in the Dufferin-Peel school board system. In the region of Peel, we have children in grade 13 who have never had a day’s education outside of a portable.
You have to wonder what the priorities are of a Liberal government that plucks these programs out of the air, yet does not look at the huge catalogue of waiting lists of the needs of people who have special care requirements. That is the responsibility of the Minister of Community and Social Services, and those are the programs any member of this Legislature could stand on a public platform and defend simply by saying:
“I’m sorry. We can’t reduce your class sizes in grades 1 and 2 in this province. We’d like to try that, but we don’t have the money for that. But we are looking after Theresa and Maria McConnell while their mother has cancer. We are looking at young Timmy. We are looking at the hundreds of others who have special needs.”
In conclusion, I can tell members that the most heartbreaking responsibility I have had in my 15 years in politics has been in the last four years, realizing that special needs do not have a priority for this Liberal government. If they did, these families I am talking about would have been accommodated. There would have been the noninstitutional but residential settings and extra help for those families that are needed, and we would not be doing all these other things that seem to be vote-getting programs flitting around the province.
Mr. Pouliot: I wish to get the attention of the House for a few moments regarding what has reached crisis proportions. But before I begin, I would like to put on the record and say publicly something I have felt for some time regarding the Minister of Community and Social Services.
I know of the minister’s knowledge. We evaluate in “closed circles,” and given human nature, sometimes the bad news travels quickly and the good news takes a little longer to reach us, but I know of the minister’s knowledge. He knows the ministry very well. He is very articulate in putting forward his vision, what he sees as needing to be done so that tomorrow can indeed be brighter and better than today.
I do not believe the commitment of the minister can be questioned. When you see someone addressing a subject matter that he is quite fond of, quite knowledgeable about and familiar with, it is nice to see him perspiring sincerity. In the minister’s case, you can also see the sincerity. Therefore, it must be very difficult for the minister, as the captain of that department, when he travels throughout the province and sees people who are providing such an essential service as homemakers do.
Whether we are talking in terms of the human dimension -- the comfort, the warmth they bring people in providing such essential services as a little bit of shopping, a lot of cleaning, some lifting involving some risk and a wide range of services they are not mandated for, the kinds of services you do not establish terms of reference, or if you wish, work classifications or descriptions for -- notwithstanding the human dimension, the most important element is the relationship, even if we were to look solely at the cost factor.
A buck is a buck. Keeping people out of institutions, the difference between the client or the patient being kept functional in society or being institutionalized -- in the case of northern Ontario, to be institutionalized means you leave your friends, you leave the community and you sometimes go 200 or 250 miles away. It is not unlike sending a Turk to Denmark, and yes, you begin to die a little.
I am not catastrophizing. People are very vulnerable under those circumstances. It is not a gentle push, but a rude shove when you almost have to apologize for still being part of society. Yet when those patriots take a look at the pay envelope, the paycheque -- we have recently had a task force of our party when we examined and listened to presenters telling us about what needs to be done, telling us about the good things also, because there are a lot of good things that are happening, but identifying the shortcomings and the pitfalls associated with the homemaker service.
People said: “Mr. Pouliot, I know of three homemakers in our community, two of whom are getting less than $5 an hour in wages. One by virtue, on account of and by reason of having been there for more than three years, is getting a salary that surpasses and finally exceeds $5 an hour.”
I know how difficult it must be for the minister, how long he must agonize when he knows that what is being done here is wrong. In pure terms of economics, it is the difference in keeping people functional in society, keeping them at home, outside the institutions, at a saving of hundreds of dollars per day to taxpayers. It is a reality we must address. But when we look at the proverbial pay envelope, people are compensated at $5 or $4.70 an hour for work that is often unpleasant, sometimes for work that borders on nothing short of sainthood -- not particularly in the minister’s case.
When all is said and done, the price of a limousine, the cost factor -- I do not begrudge the minister. I know the line that separates what needs to be said. I am quite aware of ethics, of decorum and of unwritten rules. It never stops really appalling me, when all is said and done. The minister has mentioned that it is not enough, that he wishes he could do more. To pay people $5 an hour today is a pittance. It is an insult. It is an invitation to low morale and high turnover.
How would the minister like to have someone taking “good care of him,” knowing that at the end of the day that person is receiving no fringe benefits -- $5 an hour to bring that person a bit of comfort -- and has to pay $1 to take the subway and $1 to take the subway home afterwards? In other words, for the first hour that person would be paid $3 per hour.
We do not have to go to a different ministry to talk about rent increases and the high cost of living in Metropolitan Toronto. Suffice it to say that in the year of our Lord 1989, when government revenues are surpassing anything ever seen before, when the Treasurer says the times are good times, when the budget has never been as large -- planned, anticipated and not anticipated -- someone pays this to the less fortunate in our society who are providing perhaps the most essential of services, giving far more into the system than what they ever expect to receive.
I think it is a black eye. I think it is a shameful situation that needs redressing. It is all very fine to say, “We just do not have enough money.” One can appreciate that. It does not grow on trees. We do not have money trees to satisfy the needs of everyone. We give them a verbal pat on the back. We may even have a homemakers’ week. Maybe we will buy them caps and T-shirts. But more importantly, put it in the pay envelope.
I happen to believe that there is enough money in the system, but what is not right is the distribution of those funds. I have not met a presenter, a club, an organization, clients, patients, hospital directors, people in the health field at any level, who do not feel a bit embarrassed and ashamed of the salaries that are being paid to people who deserve the most.
I know the minister will wrestle with the need to redress what is really a bad situation. I would not challenge, but ask the minister to really keep in mind that in terms of getting value for money, it is really for a few dollars more that justice could be done. The turnover would lessen, the morale would be enhanced, and just as important, the people who are the recipients of this essential service could at long last look to the future with confidence. They would look at the program as being continuous, perennial, residual, for ever, and as human beings, we would know that we had simply done what is right.
Mr. Harris: I will not take very long. I want to mention two items. First of all, the Premier issued a press release today announcing that George Thomson would be the new Deputy Minister of Citizenship. I mention this in the context of these concurrences, as we concur in the estimates of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, in this context.
George Thomson was the chairman of the Social Assistance Review Committee, the famous SARC, and indeed was the one we had counted on in our party and I believe in the New Democratic Party, and I believe on behalf of all of those my colleague the member for Mississauga --
Mrs. Marland: Mississauga South.
Mr. Harris: South. I do not know why I cannot keep the four Mississaugas --
Mr. Harris: When there were three Mississaugas, I knew them all and who was there. Now there are four. I know there is only one member who truly, efficiently and in a proper and correct way represents all of Mississauga and that is the member for Mississauga South.
Certainly, the comments that have been raised by the member for Mississauga South, and by other members as we sum up here and concur in these estimates, talked about people, real people, and the SARC report was a blueprint that really had been pretty well accepted by those people concerned with the delivery and concerned about our welfare programs. It was certainly well received by our party.
I mention George Thomson in that context. It is with mixed feelings that I see his new appointment to the deputy minister ranks. Obviously, wishing him the best, and I do not in the slightest way judge his qualifications, but I say it in the context that I fear we have lost a lobbyist for that SARC report, because no one in my view had more credibility or ability to lobby, on behalf of and in conjunction with our party and others who are concerned, for more and more of the SARC report to be implemented.
A number of those recommendations do not cost money. They are within the purview of the minister. Many of them do cost money, and while there may be money-saving benefits down the road, they will require dollars upfront. I know the minister knows that and I know he shares our concern. I believe in that context we are allies in trying to convince the Treasurer, the Premier, this government and indeed all taxpayers that this should be a priority because ultimately it is the taxpayers who pay the bills.
In the case of this government -- in an alarming sense, I might add, more so than any government I have seen -- public opinion polling in the sense of “What does the public want?” seems to dictate decisions more than is really right. The question should be, “What should be the right decision?” not, “What is politically popular at this time?”
I say that in mentioning George Thomson’s promotion to the House. I know the press release came out today. I hope others will come forward in lobbying on behalf of the Social Assistance Review Committee, on behalf of changes in the way we deal with welfare and, indeed, on behalf of not only how we operate but dollars.
I also want to reflect on a couple of things that have been said by a number of other members. They did not doubt this minister’s sincerity and dedication to the job. Some will say that the way I am about to phrase it is a back-handed compliment to the government. Indeed it is, but it is a compliment to this minister. I believe he lobbies hard for his ministry. I believe he sincerely wants to do the right thing. I believe he is the least political of all the ministers in this government in that sense.
I want to publicly put on the record on behalf of myself and, I think, all my colleagues that we are very impressed with the way this minister answers questions in the House. He treats our concerns seriously. The back-handed part of it, I suppose -- and I am sorry it has to be mentioned -- is that it is not reflected by very many other ministers in this government, so he stands out in stark contrast to his colleagues.
In giving this compliment and congratulating the minister and telling him that we enjoy working with him because of his commitment and his attitude towards sincerely trying to solve problems more so than the political partisanship -- not that he is not a political minister; he is good at that, as well, and has proved himself throughout the years -- I say it in the sense that I sincerely hope a number of other ministers of the crown will say: “Gosh, I wish I could get compliments like that. What is it that John does so well that perhaps I should emulate?” I say it in that context.
I have one other concern, as we concur in these estimates. I brought up in the estimates on January 31 the concern that I had with my local association of the mentally retarded in particular, which indeed is reflected across this province in the difficulties that the association was having in coping with what I think the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen) -- I know I am always supposed to get the ridings right -- referred to as almost a two-tiered system of rate of pay, depending on whether you work directly for the government or for a transfer agency.
On January 31, if the minister recalls, I indicated that there was going to be a strike unless the government stepped in and recognized that it had a responsibility in this area. It centred on this, and the minister acknowledged at that time that he could transfer only four per cent to the local office of the Ministry of Community and Social Services and that it, indeed, could transfer only four per cent to the transfer agency.
I think the minister acknowledged the wage discrepancy -- particularly with regard to the Muskoka Centre, which is so glaringly apparent in my area -- of some $6,000 at the starting salary range, for those employees of the local association for the mentally retarded doing essentially the same job, vis-à-vis those employees of the ministry at the Muskoka Centre, which is a schedule 2 agency.
I indicated at that time that unless we could solve this problem there was going to be a strike and, indeed, today there is a strike. Members of the House and the minister will know that some of those employees engaged in a sit-in in a local office in North Bay -- that has expired now; or let’s say they have removed themselves from the sit-in -- however, are still picketing, and we hope that negotiations are still ongoing.
At that time, I suggested to the minister that they were asking for some direction. I have the Hansard of that day. I said I thought it fair that if the minister was not going to give them money, he should publicly come out and say they are going to have to cut service, because they are not going to settle this at four per cent. The employees, I think the minister acknowledges and we all acknowledge, deserve more, must get more and we must begin to close that gap.
The type of employees who take on these jobs -- very difficult jobs, jobs that are very emotionally draining, for salaries that are substantially below what they can achieve in other areas -- are not the types of employees whom you would expect to be carrying picket signs; not the type of people you would expect to be engaging in a sit-in. So you can see how strongly they feel about it.
At that time, the minister agreed with me that it was a valid choice. There is another choice: the minister can give them more money. I guess I am, through the minister, by raising it again, by talking about it, suggesting to the Treasurer -- and hope it is a top priority of his and that we are pushing in the same direction -- that one of the options is more money.
I think we agree there are three scenarios. The minister can transfer more money, and they will be able to meet those demands, settle that strike, get people back to work and close that gap. That option for this year did not appear to be a reality and we acknowledged that at that time; we are trying to change that.
The second option is that they will be on strike, which is what indeed occurred, and they could be on strike, I suppose, for the next 100 years if something does not happen with either the first option or the third option, which is that the association will have to pay the money beyond the four per cent in spite of the fact that it is getting only four per cent from the minister, and then it will have to cut services elsewhere.
The minister indicated, and I appreciate his honesty and forthrightness that yes, indeed, those are the three options; to this stage, the third option is likely the one that is going to have to happen to resolve this strike.
I would ask the minister, in his response today, to give us an indication if indeed that is going to be the option of what it is, in his mind, that they should be cutting; what services should they be cutting out in order to be able to continue this service?
I think the ministry has to accept some of that responsibility as well. Are the minister, his office and his ministry willing to sit down with them and say, “I positively cannot get you more money. We will have to sit down with you and figure out what service you are going to cut,” or to sit down with the local office and say: “We are only giving you four per cent. If you are going to transfer more than four per cent to this association, what is it you are going to cut?” I think it is not good enough to take a course of action that acknowledges that they are going to have to cut services and not help them and assist them as to what services are going to have to be cut.
Having said that, I admire the minister’s honesty in recognizing that is one of the options. I really think it is disgraceful that it is an option, though. I hope that together, the minister, those of us who are concerned, those who are present in this chamber and those who I know have other pressing commitments but maybe are watching or will read the remarks, will try to impress upon the Premier and the Treasurer that that option ought not to be the option we force this minister into, that we force his ministry into, that we force the ministry staff in North Bay into, and thereby, the association responsible for delivering these programs.
I ask the minister once again to give us some signal of hope. As I understand it, it is not a lot of money. I may be wrong; he may know more about the negotiations than I. Even something in the area of 5.5 per cent for that portion of the budget would begin to close the gap. I am surprised they would settle for that, but that would go a long way. I ask the minister to give us some hope that this is still a possibility, that by working together we can do that; and failing that, to give us some direction as to what services in Nipissing must be cut.
Miss Martel: I do not want to spend a lot of time in debate this afternoon, but I do want to raise two matters which I was unable to during the estimates of the ministry, given that I was away on the health care tour in northern Ontario.
I just want to pick up on what was said by the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) and express my concern as well for the situation that is occurring right now in the province. I know that my colleague the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) and the member for Sudbury (Mr. Campbell) met with both the Sudbury District Association for Community Living and the Valley East Association for Community Living, which is directly in my riding, some time ago; in fact, on January 13.
We met with the board members at that time and heard their concerns about the inadequate funding, the wage disparities between their workers and those working in institutions, and the problem that was causing for all their workers.
There was a second problem, that they did not have enough people to in any way, shape or form fill the need, and certainly had not enough staff to even consider those people who were going to be coming back into the community as deinstitutionalization continued. They were gravely concerned about their inability to attract staff, given the wage differential. They were discouraged about that and the fact that they seemed to be getting nowhere with the Treasurer.
I must say to the minister that I am extremely concerned as well; they are in a legal strike position in Sudbury. We have met with the board. I am meeting with the parents next week, and I know we have a meeting with the union representatives. I hope that before this whole matter becomes terribly difficult for both the clientele and those providing service, something can be done via his ministry and via the Treasury.
The second point I would like to raise concerns particular constituents in my riding. The minister may or may not be aware of the situation, but I would like to go through it again and ask for his reconsideration of this whole matter.
We have constituents in the riding of Sudbury East, who live in my home town of Capreol, actually. The family is a family of three children; two of those children are microcephalic. I am not a doctor, I am not an expert; I can only say to the minister and to the House that both of the daughters are blind, they are deaf, they cannot speak and they are in wheelchairs; they have very few motor skills. But the family, particularly Mrs. Watters, has found it in her heart and with tremendous strength -- I do not know where she gets it -- has kept those children at home. It seems to me that the oldest daughter is at least nine at this point and then there is the second one; they have a third child who does not have all these problems but that child is only a newborn.
In any event, the decision was made by the family, with great difficulty, to keep those two children at home and to provide for them at home rather than putting them in institutions. It was a tremendous choice for the family to make, but they have done it and I, for one, must congratulate both Mr. and Mrs. Watters for the care and the time and the tremendous challenge that they have agreed to face.
The family approached his ministry in 1987, June or July, in order to request special funding through an order in council to purchase a specially equipped van so that they might be able to move the children about. They are in wheelchairs, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for Mrs. Watters, who is at home a good portion of the time -- her husband works for Canadian National and is out on the road a lot -- it is incredibly difficult for her now to move the children in and out of the stationwagon and then pack up the wheelchairs and go from there.
Although a van has been provided whereby they can go to school, for the therapy classes they must attend and for any other endeavour or activity they would like to take the children on, they are having great difficulty in actually physically moving them, given their age and weight, etc. They applied to the ministry in about summer 1987 and that request was denied.
About a year later, our federal MP, who is a particular friend of the family, became involved and wrote to the minister and asked him specifically to reconsider. He pointed out that the family was in this particular situation, they had agreed to keep the children at home, they were doing a tremendous job but they did need some extra service in terms of providing transportation for them.
His ministry, I am first to admit, has been very good in providing special funding within the home. There was a substantial amount of money that was forwarded for that purpose and I thank the minister for that, but they do have this second request which has become very important to them at this point in time.
At that time, they were looking for somewhere in the order of $20,000 to purchase a new van. That has subsequently changed. When my colleague wrote to the minister, he asked him to reconsider, especially in light of the fact that the husband, Mr. Watters, had been hurt at work and had been on compensation for some time. He eventually ended up on compensation for nine months, so the income of the family was certainly reduced from what it had been and they were not in a position themselves to purchase a van, given the limited financial resources.
We received a letter from the minister in November 1988 whereby he outlined that the ministry was going to review the entire situation and consider the possibility of funding through an order in council, given the decrease in the family’s income at the time. We were advised that the matter was being reviewed and we would be advised in the future as to the outcome of that.
Unfortunately, although I have not received the letter, I have been told by the Ministry of Community and Social Services office in Sudbury that a letter is on the way and that the request has been denied again. I must say I was extremely disappointed to see that. I think this family deserves a great deal of credit for the courage they have shown in meeting the challenge, and it certainly is a tremendous challenge that they face in trying to keep these children in their home and provide as normal a lifestyle as they can for them.
Although I have not talked to Mrs. Watters again and I have not seen a copy of the letter myself, I am of the understanding that this has been denied. I cannot understand how it can be, in a province this rich and in a province where the government claims we are trying to move to community-based care and keep people out of high-cost institutions, that we cannot find this kind of funding to provide for and meet this type of need.
At this point, the request that was made for funding was somewhere in the order now of about $8,600 versus the $20,000 previously, because the husband happens to be back at work and they are going to purchase a used van and not a new van.
I would just like to say to the minister that if this is the end of the road, then I am extremely disappointed by that. I know he has been very quick to respond on any questions I have raised in this House. We have some other issues concerning family benefits and the custody and support branch and he has been very good to respond there as well, but I would really hope that he might consider looking at this again in light of the circumstances.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: Oh, gosh. I have got quite a number of points here that have been brought to my attention by a number of speakers and I am not sure I can do justice to all of them. The points were placed with great integrity and great passion by quite a number of members, and I am not sure I can match that. Let me do it as quickly as I can.
Let me begin with the very last request that was made. As the member for Sudbury East (Miss Martel) has pointed out, our ministry, through a number of programs, has put significant resources into that particular family. I appreciated the fact that she was aware of that. I particularly remember the request that she is drawing to my attention, the first request, that is, and I had -- Let me just step aside for a minute. Perhaps the member may be aware of the fact that mine is about the only ministry of government that puts in those kinds of orders in council. We do quite a few of them, and the whole point behind them is to examine the total range of resources that is available to a family, the extra financial and emotional burden that families take on of the nature that the honourable member has just described, and to try to provide some of that extra support that makes the difference of the family being able to, quite frankly, survive with that extra task. We do this on a quite regular basis.
The difficulty I had with that original request was that the family was asking for support to fund the entire van and all that goes with it. We normally do not do that. What we normally do is say to the family, “You do as much as you can, and then we will come in and provide the additional one.” Usually what happens is that the family will trade in the family car for a van, and then we will provide the necessary resources to equip the van, and we are usually talking of something in the neighbourhood of $7,000, $8,000 or $9,000. That is fairly typical. We do that on a fairly regular basis.
We do the same thing with renovations in a family’s home. If they say, “Look, these renovations are going to cost $25,000 or $30,000. Through various sources, we think we can come up with about half of that. Can you help us with the other half?” we normally would do that sort of thing.
That was the problem I had with the first request and that is what I sent back to the area office. I do not have any problem with helping, but I did not think it was appropriate for us to assume the responsibility for the entire project, given that we were putting so many other resources in there in various other ways. I asked my people to go back to the family and say, “Look, is there some way we can work together on this one?”
I was aware of the fact that a second report had come down. I am not aware, and I am quite prepared to doublecheck, given the information the honourable member has just given me, that in fact there had been any rejection of the second request. I do not recall it coming across my desk, and since I have to sign every one of them, I am usually pretty much on top of these, although there are so many of them that go through, I must admit that I cannot recall every single one of them.
I will accept the honourable member’s invitation and request to review the second request, because from the way in which she described it, it looks to be the kind of thing that we would normally try to assist on.
I am going kind of backwards because I notice that certain members are present. With respect to the North Bay and District Association for the Mentally Retarded wage question, the member for Nipissing is correct that this issue was raised in the estimates and we had the kind of discussion that he did indicate. I am aware that there is a strike going on right now. As a matter of fact, there was a sit-in by a small number of the strikers in our office in North Bay from, I believe, Tuesday evening until this morning at about 10 o’clock. Therefore, I am very much aware of the depth of the sense that the workers in this association have with respect to this particular issue.
Let me try to answer it, then come back to the member for Hamilton West who spoke right at the very beginning. I consider that I literally almost have two ministries. My total budget of about $4.3 billion is divided almost half and half between the income support side, which is about $2.1 billion, and all the other community programs that we have, which is about $2.2 billion. While there are obviously overlaps between those two main endeavours of my ministry, they are somewhat distinct in certain ways as well. There are a number of people whom we serve on both sides and there are a number whom we serve on one or the other. Therefore, when I look at the needs of my ministry, I try to look at them from those two perspectives.
This year I have gone, with respect to my budget requests, with two major thrusts. With respect to the first one, income maintenance, I will be echoing the words of two or three of the members who spoke, the member for Mississauga South and the member for Hamilton West, with respect to the Social Assistance Review. In my judgement, and I believe I have said it in this House on other occasions, it is a vision of the future.
It is a sense of the direction in which we want to go, a blueprint, a road map, whatever terminology you want to use. In terms of that section of my ministry, the social assistance side of my ministry, my main thrust this year is to move as much as we possibly can on that issue. Now it will mean there are other things I will not be able to do on that side. That is the main thrust. I have picked that up, I have decided that I have to make choices, as every one of us in this House has to make choices from time to time.
Moving to the other side of my ministry, the whole range of community programs we have, on the basis of the number of times the issue has come up in this House from various members and the number of opportunities I have had to travel around the province and meet the administration, the volunteer boards and the employees of the 1,800-plus agencies that we work with across the province, I have determined this year that the single biggest issue we have to resolve is the whole question of wage parity or beginning to close the disparity that exists at the present time.
Once again, I have made that my major thrust on that side. It affects a number of different kinds of agencies, but what it will obviously mean once again, and I guess I am coming back in a larger way to the reference of the member for Nipissing to his specific association for the mentally retarded, is that there are a number of other things I will not be able to move on.
For example, I want to do a great deal more with our young offenders programs; I am not going to be able to do everything I want to do. I want to do more with our children’s mental health programs; I am not going to be able to do as much as I want to do. I want to do more with our family violence programs; I am not going to be able to do as much with those.
I want to do more in day care; I want to do more with our children’s aid societies; I want to do more with our native programs; I want to do more with our vocational rehabilitation programs. They are all there as well. It is one of the difficult parts of my ministry because, quite frankly, I would like to be able to deal with all of them.
I had a certain twinge when the member for Hamilton West said that, every morning as I am shaving, I have to look at myself in the mirror and recognize that there is this whole range of service needs out there that, in some kind of a perfect society, all ought to be met because they are all valid. I am not going to be able to do that, despite the fact that we have done a fair number of things in all of those areas I mentioned. We have doubled and tripled the budgets in every one of them, yet the need still remains very significant.
But the major thrust, and I want to share this with my colleagues, all of those who touched on it in one way or the other, is on the whole question of wage disparity. I concur very much with the comments that were made, that this to a large extent is the root, the foundation of the entire community service part of my ministry, not only all the services we provide in the ministry for the people who are living there, but as the member for Hamilton West drew very obvious attention to, the fact that we are directing people out of institutions and back into the community.
That is only going to work, is only going to be valid, is only going to be supported by the people we are serving, their families and the agencies that deliver these programs, if we have a fair wage policy in those communities. Therefore, I want very much to go on record at this point in time that these are the two big thrusts in my ministry for the coming budget year.
But I have to share with the members again that it is going to mean that a number of other things simply will not get done to the degree I would like to have them done and they would like to have them done. The honourable member for Mississauga South made the observation that the Treasurer took in quite a number of new dollars this year in his 1988-89 budget and that, on the basis of those, we should be able to do so many more things; we should be able to solve so many more of these problems.
I think there was one other point in time in this House when I drew to somebody’s attention that of the new $1.3 billion raised in 1988-89, through the one per cent increase in income tax and the one per cent increase in sales tax, $1.2 billion went to the Ministry of Health. I do not begrudge that. Every member in this House knows that hardly a day goes by when some member does not rise in his or her seat and question the Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) about doing even more.
But, despite the fact that the Treasurer was able to pick up a new $1.3 billion, it was all used up in one ministry, and a very valid ministry it is. Please do not mistake my comments: I am not disputing whether that was an appropriate thing to do, but I simply want to share with members the fact that there was not much left.
For example, in the last two years, my ministry’s budget was increased by roughly $1 billion, about $500 million every year. That is a lot of money. We have put a lot of money into all of those programs I talked about, and yet we still have all of these shortfalls.
When the member for Hamilton West talks about the sort of things that we do in our ministry as being a range of moral issues, I concur very much with him. That was one of the reasons why, when the Premier spoke to me after the 1987 election and asked me, as he did all of his ministers: “What do you want to do? Is there something else you would rather do?” I said, “No, I would rather stay in this ministry,” despite the fact that we in this House all know that it is a difficult one because there are so many things that need to be done and you can never do them all, and you always feel a little bit frustrated because no matter how much you do, there is so much you cannot do.
I want to pick up the theme of the moral imperative of what this ministry stands for, the fact that it so much represents the very foundation of the kind of society and of the kind of communities that we want to live in. While roughly 90 per cent of the population in this province is doing pretty well, and we are in good economic times, about 10 per cent is not, and that is what I represent, mainly that 10 per cent.
I do not represent all the kids who go to school and are getting good service; all the people who are going to hospitals and are getting reasonably good service; the people who use highways and the people who are affected by the environment. Those are all important things, but my responsibility is roughly that 10 per cent of the population that is not doing well.
If we cannot convince the other 90 per cent that they have a responsibility, that they are their brother’s keeper and their sister’s keeper, and that some of the resources and the riches of this province need to be directed that way, then we are creating a society which is not good for everybody, which is not good for anybody, quite frankly.
Therefore, there is no quarrel between us when the member talks about the moral imperative. I believe that very deeply. It is one of the reasons that I stay with this ministry and continue to try and do a difficult job, as many of my cabinet colleagues try to do very difficult jobs.
The member for Nipissing referred to George Thomson. Let me clearly say that my understanding with George Thomson was that, after he delivered the report to us in September, he would continue to be responsible for being, if I can use the term, the front person for that report for the next four months. The agreement between us was that, by the end of December, it would no longer be his responsibility; it would be fully mine, and fully the government’s. But because there were a lot of people he wanted to share his vision with, he agreed, and some of the other members of the committee agreed, that they would continue to speak on behalf of it until the end of that calendar year.
I went to the Premier and told him very clearly how deeply impressed I was by what George Thomson had done, not just by the quality of his report, but by the whole way he went about doing it. I had an opportunity to speak to all the members in the committee and they told me, on two or three different occasions, that when they started out, they did not see how they would ever be able to come up with a consensus and a report because they came from such diversified backgrounds.
They came from labour and from business; there were single parents; there were people from northern Ontario and from other major areas of the province; there were people who represented some of the services that we deliver; there were people from the medical profession and from the legal profession.
They said that their sense of what ought to be done in this province and the service that we ought to provide to people was so diversified that they just did not believe they could come together, and they all credited George Thomson with that. They said he was the one who made it happen. He did not do all the work, but his human relations skills were such that he made it all come together.
Over the last two or three weeks, I have met with 15 or 16 provincial groups, who are giving me their sort of final reaction, and they say, without fail, that this is a report that is just so comprehensive, so well co-ordinated and so integrated. It reads in such clear language. There is no jargon, no particular jingoism from any particular perspective. That is a tribute to him as well.
I clearly said to the Premier, “If you have any openings coming up in this government in the near future, I hope you are going to look at George Thomson because he has tremendous assets and tremendous strengths to add to this government.” I was delighted when I heard about the announcement. I just heard about it myself this morning. I was not even aware of the fact that it was being considered.
I know what the member for Nipissing is saying when he says that we are losing an advocate on the one hand, but I do not think so. George Thomson, as I said to one of the reporters outside, is not a man who can be bought. When he feels deeply and strongly about something, he is going to speak about it, regardless of what position he holds. As a matter of fact, I would like to think that having him within the government gives me another ally whom I can call on from time to time.
I want to go back to the comments made about deinstitutionalizing, the pressures it is putting on communities and what it is all going to amount to if we do not have those strong programs. I am very much aware of that. I have had lengthy discussions with the Ontario Association for Community Living, which used to be the Ontario Association for the Mentally Retarded. I put the same questions to them: Do we slow down? I hear what the member for Hamilton West was saying. Do we sort of slow down and not do that because of all the community pressures? They tell me no in the strongest language that I hear in this ministry. We have to keep doing this and we have to keep working at the community level at the same time.
Therefore, I want to say that that is what we are going to do. We may be forced to slow down just a bit, but I certainly have no intention at all of stopping doing that. I want to say to them that the feedback I am getting not just from the provincial associations, but from all the local associations is, “Keep working with us and we will keep working with you.” We all have to make some difficult decisions.
I would much prefer the third option, I can tell the member for Nipissing. That is the easiest way out. If we can find a way to do it, my gosh, it certainly is one that I would want to do. But we may have to look at one of the other two options as well, and really examine the range of services we are providing. One of the difficulties that most of our community agencies run into is that once they start providing a certain line of services, then the normal community pressure is, “Well, do a little more, do a little more.”
Members are well aware of the rape crisis centres and their fiscal difficulties at the present time. A number of members have raised those in the House. One of the reasons for those difficulties is that they have accepted the added responsibility, quite by their own decision, of dealing with emotional disturbance caused by long-term incest. Women, in particular, who faced an incest experience 15 years or 20 years ago, are now turning to someone and saying: “Help me to deal with this. I have submerged it and suppressed it for so long and I can’t do it any longer.” That was never the intent of the rape crisis centres, but they have begun to take that on and they have responsibilities as well.
The same thing is happening with some of our associations for the mentally retarded. They have taken on added responsibilities. Sometimes I have to go back to them and say: “They’re great and they’re things I would like you to do, but within the resources that you have available and I have available, we just can’t do all of those things at the present time. We have to add them on slowly and just accept the fact that we can’t do them all.”
A number of people made reference to the homemakers. I want to share with members that I was as distressed as a number of people who have already spoken about the length of time it took us to finally make the deficit funding decision, with the Red Cross in particular. I had met with them a good six months before that. They made it very clear to me what their problems were and the kinds of things that had to be done.
I must say that I and other ministers of the government -- the Minister of Health in particular, who uses about two thirds of the homemakers in the province through her various programs -- were struggling with different ways in which to resolve this because we knew that, as the Red Cross has already told us now, “We have paid that deficit.”
That does not solve the problem. That just closes one small little door. The much bigger problem is still there. It was within that context of the bigger problem that we were trying to come to grips with it. We have said, though, that to try to avoid a repeat of 1988 we have already committed ourselves to pick up the deficits for 1989. Again, it is only another 12 months, but at least it is a little bit further advanced than what we did the last time.
I am hoping that before this calendar year, not the fiscal year, is over we will have a much more integrated approach to the homemakers’ problem, the whole question of the co-ordination of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the range of programs they are both involved in at the community level. That is where we really want to go.
The member for Mississauga South made particular mention of the attendant care program. Members will know there has been significant growth in that program. I just happened to pull out one of my notes in that area. All members may not be aware of the fact that this program only began in 1984 under the genesis of the previous government. Their sense was that it was going to be about a four-year or five-year -- I will not call it a pilot program, but it was, “Let’s let it grow for about that period of time and then review again where we are at and where we ought to go from there.” I do not think they intended it to be a pilot.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Minister --
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: Does the House leader want me to wind down? Okay, I am going to wind down, but perhaps he will just let me finish with this one.
The sense was that it would grow by about 60 units a year and that by the end of the fourth year, we would be looking at about 250 units and we would have a pretty good fix on what works and what does not work. That happened the very first year, but from then on it has grown by numbers like 175 new clients, 416 new clients, 760 people in the outreach program, which is brand new. That is a 120 per cent increase. The budget increase from 1987 to 1988, the current fiscal year, was 28 per cent plus. We are now serving well over 1,500 people, whereas the intent when the program was originally launched was about 240 people.
The honourable member for Nipissing might remember that 1984 discussion. I certainly was not part of it, but it just goes to show the way in which these programs can grow beyond their original intention, and we still do not have enough.
That is one that is growing and that we feel very strongly is an important program. It provides the kind of opportunity one member spoke of. I am sorry; with the number who spoke, I cannot remember who it was. He will recognize himself. I think it was the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Pouliot).
What we are doing is providing not just dollars, but a much more humane way of allowing people to make choices for themselves, to live in their own communities, particularly in the part of northwestern Ontario he represents, where not being in your own community does not mean being two or three miles down the road; it can mean being 200 or 300 miles down the road. That is very significant.
Therefore, we are truly committed to providing as much service as we possibly can to our elderly, our disabled, our young offenders, that whole range of people to whom we provide service, as close as possible to their own community. I can say we have come a long way, but we have a long way to go.
I want to end by simply repeating that I accept the moral imperative of everything this ministry stands for. I want to thank all those who have spoken for the gracious and impassioned way in which they presented their observations.
Resolution concurred in.
CONCURRENCE IN SUPPLY, OFFICE FOR DISABLED PERSONS
Mr. Allen: I understand we are under some pressure from those who wish to get into the estimates of the Ministry of Housing, so I will confine my remarks quite strictly to a few points.
In the course of writing to me in the wake of the estimates, the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons (Mr. Mancini) made the comment that the government had committed itself to addressing key issues to promote the integration of disabled persons, particularly in human rights, transportation and advocacy. While one recognizes some advances, in another sense, there is a perspective in which the record is not hugely impressive.
While the right of reasonable accommodation was accomplished, it took a couple of years of stalling on that before the ministry and the government took a decisive act and took that leap towards a reasonable accommodation clause in the Ontario Human Rights Code.
We also know that the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which of course is one of the great resources that should be available for the disabled, is underfunded and underresourced, and that disabled people feel very discouraged in accessing it. For example, the commission receives about 75,000 complaints a year; in 1987-88, 365 complaints got some cash award, 268 were offered jobs, but the vast thousands of others simply gave up along the way, defeated by the process.
The Canadian Association for Community Living has released studies recently that tell us of the problem of employment equity or inequity for the disabled. There are 1.8 million disabled people of working age living in private households. Fewer than 40 per cent of them are working and only five per cent had an annual income of more than $30,000, while 63,000 had an annual income of less than $10,000 a year. That is hardly a respectable figure for any of us to look at. It is shameful in fact, and we should be acting very vigorously on the employment equity front for the disabled.
The Ministry of Transportation has been notoriously slow in moving towards an accessible transportation system. Again, advances have been made, but in spite of the fact that the disabled themselves, the advisory council and another group presented a memorandum of agreement to the ministry in 1987 calling for a focus upon not just special services, but an overall plan for integration, the task force struck by the government in May 1987 and which reported not long ago, last summer I believe, did not even consider integrated access to transportation and left that entirely to one side.
There have been many lost opportunities in the course of the last couple of years with regard to making the Metro system in Toronto accessible, in spite of the fact there are persistent problems that remain in special transportation services. GO trains, stations and regional transportation systems remain inaccessible. My colleague the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh), along with the Durham regional council in his part of Ontario, has lodged formal complaints, both outside and inside the House, with respect to the GO system in that part of the province. I hope that when the GO system comes to Hamilton, Burlington and our end of the system, in point of fact the whole system will by that time be integrated and we will not have to go through a battle at that end to change it.
The record on advocacy: The minister will be quite familiar with the O’Sullivan report, which has had no action. Regarding the Fram committee set up by the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), again, nothing has come of that whole process, in spite of the fact that there are roughly a million vulnerable adults out there who O’Sullivan said lack co-ordinated advocacy services and that this was a profound injustice.
Other problems still persist around attendant care. I have raised questions around several cases in that regard. I will not repeat them at the moment, but I think the minister and the related ministries are aware of them.
Assistive devices: again, an area afflicted by bureaucratic problems and also by the fact that the individuals concerned still need to put 25 per cent up front and it is not always easily forthcoming from another institution or agency.
Sheltered workshop workers still do not earn the minimum wage. Special services at home for parents who have children who are developmentally handicapped or disabled, and who get $27 a day and save the government either $120 a day in group homes or $250 a day in chronic care facilities, none the less have had their funding or at least their service level cut back by 15 to 25 per cent in a number of areas around the province.
It is clear, as I conclude, that financing of programs for the disabled is in some instances irrational, the administration of programs is often bureaucratic and the ends served are not necessarily those of the disabled. The question of integration of the disabled is moving at a snail’s pace, notwithstanding the minister’s and the government’s fine rhetoric, and, I would want to add, the fact that the minister himself I think is deeply committed to his office and to the people it tries to serve.
Mrs. Marland: It is unfortunate we are now at the point in the afternoon’s proceedings where we are not going to have a great deal of time to spend on concurrence in the estimates of the Office for Disabled Persons. In terms of English translation, that really means looking at where the money is being spent by this ministry in dealing with people with disabilities in Toronto.
In fact, the whole thing is a little bit of a -- farce is probably not the right word, but since we are in a hurry I am not going to spend time plucking words out of the air. Since it is not an on-line ministry, it would almost have been more appropriate to have dealt with the concerns for the disabled through the concurrence in the estimates of the previous ministry, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, since it is Community and Social Services that delivers the programs for the disabled. However, we do have a Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons.
We recognize that this ministry is purely an advisory mode for addressing the needs and problems of the disabled people in Ontario today. I wish we had an on-line ministry for the disabled. I wish this minister, with his sincerity for programs for people with disabilities, had more power and more clout, other than in a philosophical sense, to recommend programs. In reality, if they are not an on-line ministry, they do not actually have a budget where they can establish programs, expand programs, and in a very real way, a very tangible way, recognize the needs of the disabled community of Ontario today.
When we look at some of the areas we have been trying to address in the past year, we certainly have, almost on bended knee, begged this minister to address at least one area that is very important to the disabled community, and that is to deem the transportation systems for the disabled in this province an essential service.
We have experienced strikes in two large urban centres with disabled transportation in the past 12 months, at which times those people who depend on those services were actually held hostage in their homes, because there is no alternative if you are disabled and you need the specialized transportation of programs like Wheel-Trans in Metro, Transhelp in Peel and the program in Hamilton, of which I cannot remember the name at the moment.
Mr. Allen: DARTS.
Mrs. Marland: DARTS, the Disabled and Aged Regional Transit System. Those are all specialized transportation systems that get the disabled out of their homes to work, to shop, to doctors’ appointments, to hospital treatments and to physiotherapy treatments at other locations. They are not luxury programs; they are necessities. They are indeed an essential service and it is about time this Liberal government recognized they are an essential service and deemed them an essential service, so that when there are labour disputes in the negotiation of salaries and other working conditions, the people are not held as pawns in those negotiations.
We ask again, on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party, that this minister use all the influence he can to convince Liberal cabinet members that specialized transportation for the disabled in Ontario be deemed an essential service.
When we talk about reports, more reports and more reports and inaction on these reports, we have to ask once more where the interministerial report on transportation has gone. Where is it? It was started in 1986. We are talking about a three-year term, waiting to find out what in fact is in reality going to be done in real terms for transportation for the disabled in communities other than those fortunate ones that have some form of specialized program.
I asked the previous minister this afternoon about attendant care because attendant care is another program that is specially focused on the disabled. It is another program we have been waiting for this Liberal government to take some positive, realistic action on.
The marvellous report that was researched, developed and presented by the Ontario Advisory Council for Disabled Persons -- Freedom to Move Is Life Itself -- is a report for which we are still waiting for action on the recommendations contained in it.
I could go on at length about other areas of concern, but I am very respectful of the agreement within this House that we would all be brief at this point. My brevity, however, is no indication of the amount of concern I have for the lack of programs for people who have special needs. As I said earlier, as far as I am concerned, every one of us can defend the priority of funding for these people. When we talk about programs for assistive devices, if people need assistive devices, then why is it difficult for them to afford them? Why are these programs not addressing their needs?
When we look at programs for the developmentally disabled, whether they are residential, educational or home assistance programs, whatever they are, I want to tell members that when I look at the waiting lists for community living in Mississauga, it is heartbreaking not only to see the large and ever-increasing numbers on those lists, but the gravity of the conditions and difficulties under which those people and their families function on a daily basis, waiting for a permanent respite alternative.
I will conclude my comments, but I cannot conclude my concern for the Liberal government’s grandiose promises, as I say once more, in an election run to be all things to all people, promising to touch everyone in every corner of this province. It sounded wonderful. It sounded as though they really were sincere and were going to meet the needs of the people of this province. Unfortunately, the disabled community is just one more community that is faced in reality with a long list of broken promises.
Mr. Laughren: I will be very brief. I just want to say to the minister that I hope when he is perusing the applications for funding that will come to him from time to time, he will give serious consideration to Epilepsy Ontario, Sudbury chapter. I am a member of the board, I should add, in case someone thinks there is a conflict of interest here. I hope the minister will seriously consider its application to fund a provincial workshop in Sudbury later on this year, an education workshop for all of Ontario. Therein lies a great need; namely, to do a lot of education work in the whole field of epilepsy and the misunderstanding surrounding this disorder.
Hon. Mr. Mancini: I want to thank the members of the House who participated in this debate. I know they were a little constrained because of the all-party agreement, but I would not want the impression left that we have not already spent a great deal of time discussing important matters which affect persons with disabilities.
I have been minister now for less than 16 months, and in the course of these 16 months the Office for Disabled Persons has gone through the estimates procedure twice already, meaning that the office has been thoroughly scrutinized by a committee of the Legislature and my honourable colleagues across the floor, my two honourable critics, have had a fair amount of time in putting forward some of the concerns that they have in both estimates and asking a great number of questions. It is not fair to leave the impression that because we are a little bit pressed today, we did not have time on another occasion to deal in depth with many of the concerns that all members of this House have.
I should say that one of my colleagues opposite brought up the issue of whether the Office for Disabled Persons should be an on-line ministry or whether it should remain in its advocacy role. Shortly after I became minister, I had that same question myself and thought deeply about it. As a matter of fact, I also met at that time with my counterpart in Quebec, and read a great deal before I met with him, and found his office at that time to be a mixture of an on-line ministry and an advocacy ministry.
After having concluded a morning of meetings with my counterpart in Quebec, I came away feeling that they wanted to be more like us and that it would be inappropriate for the Office for Disabled Persons, which should have its main function, its main role, as one of advocacy, to in fact want to try to spread bureaucratic wings and try to deliver programs which might be better delivered by ministries which are already delivering the services.
I should point out that we do in fact deliver two small programs which are very important to the community. Our access fund, which many members in this House already know about because many of their community churches and legion halls and other community buildings have received grants in order to make their buildings more accessible, is a very important, very popular program. We spend about $3 million to $5 million a year and hope to conclude that program some time next year and see what happens in the future.
Our Homelink program has been very successful, whereby in five cities we have established a bureau that is run by consumers, funded by the Office for Disabled Persons, where they match up persons with disabilities and accessible apartments.
The Barrier-Free Design Centre is a very important organization which we help fund. They train architects in barrier-free design and do special work with people from the general public, institutions and also the private sector.
In the Easter Seal program that we concluded only a few months ago, I was able to announce the last portion of a very substantial grant of $1.1 million so that 88 more families could make their homes accessible for their disabled children -- a very important program.
The assistive devices program was mentioned. I should say that the assistive devices program bloomed under the leadership of this government. I remember, as a member of the opposition, asking why the assistive devices program was so limited back around 1984-85; $6 million to $8 million was in fact made available through the assistive devices program. Now we are up to $80-some million. Just by recognizing the huge difference in those two figures, one can tell the number of people we are assisting as compared to before.
My advisory council was mentioned. I have to say that I am not afraid to be surrounded by strong people; the stronger the better. My advisory council is made up of some of the strongest people I have met on issues that affect persons with disabilities.
It was also mentioned that we should do something to change attitudes. I want to remind my colleagues across the floor that the Office for Disabled Persons last spring initiated for the first time a TV campaign to change attitudes. We won a gold medal in Chicago for the commercials and in Hollywood we also won the premier prize, so I think our office has done a great deal to change attitudes. Our office has been in the forefront on all issues that affect disabled persons.
One honourable member mentioned that it took a long time to pass the three amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code. I do not say it did not take a long time, but I should point out that in less than six months after I was sworn in as minister, and the same amount of time for my colleague the minister responsible for the Ontario Human Rights Commission (Mr. Phillips), we had the amendments changed and proclaimed.
In conclusion, I want to sincerely thank my critics opposite, who have played a very major role both in the estimates and ongoing over the last 16 months in helping me in my role. I want to thank the members of the standing committee on social development and all who are interested in the vital questions that affect persons with disabilities.
Resolution concurred in.
CONCURRENCE IN SUPPLY
Resolutions for supply for the following offices were concurred in by the House:
Office for Senior Citizens’ Affairs;
Office of the Chief Election Officer.
CONCURRENCE IN SUPPLY, OFFICE OF THE ASSEMBLY
Mr. Harris: Mr. Speaker, we have a few comments we would like to put on the record. In view of that, I move adjournment of the debate.
On motion by Mr. Hams, the debate was adjourned.
CONCURRENCE IN SUPPLY
Resolution for supply for the following office was concurred in by the House:
Office of the Provincial Auditor.
CONCURRENCE IN SUPPLY, OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
Mr. Philip: I just want to take one minute. I think it would be remiss on the part of the House if we did not use this opportunity to pay tribute to Dr. Dan Hill. This will be the last concurrence in supply with him as Ombudsman.
I think Dr. Hill, as he goes into retirement, can do so with the confidence that the members of the all-party standing committee on the Ombudsman have had great confidence in him as Ombudsman, that he has become highly respected throughout the world as one of the world’s leading ombudsmen and that his office, under his direction, is one to which other jurisdictions look for leadership.
A new Ombudsman will soon be appointed, and one would hope that, as in other jurisdictions, the standing committee on the Ombudsman will be consulted as to the successor for this Ombudsman.
We are told that new legislation affecting the Office of the Ombudsman will soon be introduced. We have waited for it for a number of years. One would hope that the rumours which seem to be circulating that this legislation may restrict the existing powers of the Ombudsman are only rumours and that the government will not in any way move towards restricting the present jurisdiction of the Ombudsman but rather, as the committee is now looking at extending jurisdiction, will pay close attention to the report that will be brought in by our committee on the possibility of giving the Ombudsman still further authority.
I am sure I speak for all members when I say that we wish Dr. Hill a very active retirement. I know that simply because he will no longer be Ombudsman of Ontario it will not be his last function in serving the public of Ontario.
Mr. Pollock: I want to join my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale (Mr. Philip) in putting on the record that our party wishes Dr. Hill all the best in his retirement and compliments him on his years of service to the Ontario government as Ombudsman for the province. I think it was roughly five years ago when the Honourable Bill Davis appointed Dr. Hill to this office. He had high expectations, and I am sure Mr. Davis and this Legislature have not been disappointed in the work Dr. Hill has accomplished.
I join my colleague in paying tribute to Dr. Hill and wish him all the best in his retirement.
Miss Nicholas: As chairman of the standing committee on the Ombudsman, I join my colleagues in the House in bidding farewell to Dr. Hill, who has been the Ombudsman for the last five years, as has been mentioned. I have had the honour of serving as chairman of the committee for almost a year and a half now, and I can say that I think our work in the last 16 months has been particularly productive. A number of Dr. Hill’s recommendations to the committee have been innovative, have been socially conscious, and I think the committee has responded in a very positive way to his recommendations.
We have enjoyed working with him. It has been a very smooth couple of years with Dr. Hill, and I think we will miss him. We join in congratulating him on his five years and wishing him well in his retirement. I think he will tell us all that at 65 he is looking forward to going on to other things. I think Ontario will miss him and I look forward, as my colleagues do, to the appointment of a new Ombudsman and to working with him or her in an equally enjoyable capacity as we have with Dr. Hill.
I thank my colleagues in the House for their contributions to the committee and for helping me make our work with Dr. Hill so enjoyable and so profitable. We thank him and I hope our estimates are approved.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. M. C. Ray): I would like to assure the House that the esteemed Ombudsman, Daniel Hill, will receive a copy of these remarks.
Resolution concurred in.
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF HOUSING (CONTINUED)
Vote 1901, ministry administration program, item 1, main office:
Hon. Ms. Hošek: Excuse me, Madam Chairman, I would like to have two staff members join me on the floor.
Mr. Philip: In January of last year I raised with the minister the issue of the number of rental buildings that were registered as condominiums and are now simply being turned into condominiums.
I pointed out to the minister that in my own riding approximately 49 per cent of the rental stock was in fact registered as condominiums and that some people had moved into those rental buildings as early as 11 years ago. In the case of a number of them, they were built with the financial assistance of the federal government and probably also some funding, indirectly or directly, through the provincial government. Now, after 10 or 11 years, tenants in those buildings who felt that they were in a rental building are facing the prospect of eviction, as those units are being sold off as condominiums.
When I first raised the issue, the minister said that the Rental Housing Protection Act was under review, that she was going to study the whole issue and that she was concerned about those tenants. She has now introduced her bill; it does not cover those tenants.
I ask the minister what excuse she has for breaking her promise to those tenants.
Hon. Ms. Hošek: The member opposite will know that tenants in registered condominiums are protected under the Landlord and Tenant Act from illegal eviction. We have taken very seriously the question that the member raised last January. During the time that we were reviewing the Rental Housing Protection Act and planning for the new act, we took this issue very seriously.
We came to the conclusion that the law in this province treats registered condominiums in the same way it does free-standing houses in any neighbourhood, that the right to rent out one’s house for a short period of time and then move back into it is given to people who own free-standing homes and that we should have exactly the same attitude towards condominium apartments: if a home owner chooses to move back into the home that he owns, he should be allowed to do so.
Mr. Philip: In addition to breaking her promise that she would deal with the matter last year, does the minister not understand that there is a great difference between someone’s moving into a building in which all of the units are rented out -- the person sees that as a rental building; those people moved into what amounted to rental buildings 10 or 11 years ago and have lived in rental buildings for 10 or 11 years -- and someone’s moving into an existing condominium and renting a unit; or indeed renting a house on a street where the person will know that when the owner comes back from British Columbia, where he or she may have gone on business for a couple of years, he is going to have to forfeit his accommodation? He also knows that if he rents a house and the unit is sold, he will have to forfeit his accommodation.
Does the minister not understand that there is a difference between that and moving into a building that is entirely a rental building and then suddenly facing eviction, the way so many people do? I am told as many as 80,000 are now facing eviction in Ontario as a result of buildings that were constructed after January 1, 1975, of which a majority are registered as condominiums.
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I am aware of the situation that the member opposite is describing. Let me tell him that we did consider the ramifications here, but we decided that in this case it would not be appropriate to change this particular law in this way.
The Rental Housing Protection Act, in the way that we have proposed it, offers much greater protection to tenants in general than ever before, greater and tougher protections for the people in the province who live in rental accommodation, including protection from harassment, from changes in the stock of the buildings that are rental buildings and registered as rental buildings. I believe that the legislation that has been proposed is very concerned with protecting tenants and making sure that the rental stock in the province remains rental stock.
I believe the suggestions we have put forward in this new bill are good ones, but I invite the member opposite to participate actively, as I know he will, in the debate on the new legislation in committee and in all the work that is going to be done to discuss that legislation as it comes forward.
Mr. Philip: The minister says she is interested in protecting the rental stock. Can she tell us whether she knows what percentage of the rental stock of buildings built after January 1, 1975, is in fact registered as condominiums?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I cannot give the specific number but I know, and the member opposite knows, that a significant number of the buildings that have been built, in particular since 1981, have in fact been registered as condominiums. I do not think that is as true for the post-1975 group.
A lot of condominiums have indeed been built in the period since 1981. We believe that is a very good response to some of the housing needs in the marketplace right now and the needs of people in the province. I think the legislation we are proposing under the Rental Housing Protection Act is very much concerned with the protection of tenants against illegal conversions, demolitions or renovations. It protects tenants against illegal eviction, including eviction under section 107 of the Landlord and Tenant Act above once in every three years, which is an increased protection for all tenants living in rental stock and also in the buildings that are registered under condominiums.
I believe the proposals we have made are good ones, and I invite the member opposite to make the case that he wishes to make at the time we debate this new legislation in committee and beyond.
Mr. Philip: Would the minister agree that as high as 80 per cent -- that is the figure that is being thrown around by various tenant groups in their research -- of the rental housing stock built since -- she says 1981; I have seen the figure 1975 -- but most of the new buildings that are in fact rental buildings fall under the category of registered condominiums, that those buildings can be sold off a unit at a time and that the tenants can be evicted unless they purchase that unit or unless that unit is purchased by an investor?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I will be happy to give the member opposite the exact numbers that he asks for as soon as I can, but I do agree with him that significant numbers of apartments that have been built since 1981 are indeed condominiums and have been registered that way. That is indeed true. The pattern of habitation in those buildings is extremely varied.
Mr. Philip: What would the minister advise the people whom I met with only last night, where they are being told that either they buy the rental unit or they will face eviction? We have less than 0.5 per cent vacancy in the area. What does she tell them?
She promised in January 1988 that she was going to protect them. Now, do I gather correctly that she is saying there is absolutely nothing she is going to do to protect those tenants who can be evicted as their units are sold from under them?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: Tenants in registered condominiums are protected from illegal eviction under the Landlord and Tenant Act, and one of the new provisions in the proposed revision to the Rental Housing Protection Act does not allow people to be evicted on the basis of someone moving in to his or her own apartment, because it is their own unit, above once every three years. I think those protections are significant, but I will admit to the member that indeed there are going to be some changes in some of the accommodation.
It is extremely important that there continue to be some reasonable building in the condominium sector. I believe that since, in law, we treat condominium apartments as ownership in the same way that we treat a free-standing house as ownership, and a person is allowed to rent out a property that he or she owns and is then allowed to move into that property that he or she owns when they choose to do so, I believe it is appropriate for apartments that are condominiums to be treated in the same way.
Mr. Philip: Can the minister tell us then, if she has that position now, why did she have a completely different position in January of last year? Why did she promise these people and build up their expectations that she was going to protect them? She says there are protections. She knows very well that there are no protections. As those units are sold off, if an individual purchaser intends to use that for his or her own use, there is no protection for that person.
Indeed, the courts have even found that if they sign an affidavit and give the power of agency to the original landlord, he can go to court and get an eviction simply on the promise that the person he is selling it to can use it. That has happened in court. So the people who are feeding the minister the answers should not nod their heads no, because it has happened.
The fact is that a majority of the people who are living in rental buildings, or close to a majority -- 49 per cent in my riding -- can be evicted. Is that not true? They are being evicted. Why did the minister break her promise to them? Why was it that a year ago she told them she was going to protect them and now she says she is not?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I told the member opposite that I would take this matter very seriously and I have. We have come to a conclusion, and I invite him to make his case, which I know he will, at the time at which this bill goes to committee. By all means, he should make the case he is making as strongly and forcefully as he chooses to. I can tell him that the conclusion we have come to at this point is the one I have told him and have answered a number of questions about. If he has further concerns, as he clearly does, I invite him to make those concerns very much apparent at the time this bill goes to committee.
Mr. Philip: I wonder if I can raise another issue now that the minister has just said again that she is going to break the promise she made to those people a year ago. I wonder if she can tell us why she has not answered the correspondence from the Toronto Humane Society which was sent to both her and the Attorney General (Mr. Scott).
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I would ask the member opposite to refresh my memory on what the topic of that correspondence was.
Mr. Philip: I raised the issue several times in the House. I thought the minister, if she was not paying attention, would at least have been advised that I had raised the issue. It concerns the Landlord and Tenant Act. There are tenants who are being evicted in this province right now because they happen to have signed a lease that has a no-pet clause in it. Landlords can change their minds or a building can be sold. The tenant is faced with a lease that has a no-pet clause in it.
I was talking to a woman just yesterday who has received a notice of eviction for “violating” a lease by having a cat. The cat was in the apartment for several years. No one knew about it and nobody complained about it. She acted as a responsible pet owner. Now she is facing an eviction, even though she is not violating any of the clauses that one would expect to be reasonable grounds for eviction. She is not destroying property and she is not disturbing the peace and quiet of others. The cat is not noisy. It is an old cat and sleeps most of the time. It is certainly not creating any damage to the property. In fact, nobody knew about it until the superintendent happened to come in to do a repair and found the cat there.
Does the minister not agree that under the present lease agreements, in light of the recent court case, that one could be evicted if one happened to go out and get a goldfish and had a no-pet clause in the lease?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I do of course remember this issue now that the member has reminded me of it, but I should tell him that responsibility for how the Landlord and Tenant Act is structured is vested in the Attorney General, who will be working on this matter. I understand the concerns of people who are living in rented apartments and would like to have pets, I certainly understand why they might want to do that, but I think this entire question is going to have to be dealt with in terms of the Landlord and Tenant Act, and the person who will be doing that will be the Attorney General.
Mr. Philip: When we raised the issue with the Attorney General he took the rather callous attitude that people could either sign leases or not sign leases and they could choose to have pets or not to have pets. As the Minister of Housing, a minister one would think might have some social conscience, judging her past record before she got into politics, does she not have some concern that senior citizens, disabled people and children whose parents may have purchased a cat for the children for psychological or other reasons -- and there are doctors who will substantiate the value of pets for children and the value of pets for seniors, the disabled and people who are shut in -- are being evicted and that she has created two classes of citizens in this province?
If you happen to be economically disadvantaged enough to qualify for geared-to-income subsidized housing and you live in the Metropolitan Toronto Housing Authority or the Metropolitan Toronto Housing Co. in the city, either of them, you can have a pet as long as the pet does not cause a problem to others. If you happen to be rich enough to be able to afford a condominium and you have checked the declaration and there is nothing contrary to it in the declaration, you can have a pet. If you own your own home, there is nothing that prevents you from having a pet. But those working people who do not fall into the category of requiring government assistance, but at the same time are not affluent or, for whatever reason, are not in a position to own their own property get discriminated against by a landlord who, for arbitrary reasons, can simply prevent them from having a parakeet, a parrot, a cat or any other animal, no matter how inoffensive that animal might be to the peaceful enjoyment of other tenants or to the upkeep of the property.
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I am very sympathetic to the needs of people of whatever age for the companionship of pets. I understand why the member opposite is concerned about it, because it is clear that for many people it is a very beneficial part of their lives. However, this question really is going to be handled by the Attorney General who says, as I recall, that the needs of people for the companionship of pets have to be balanced against the concerns of other people living in the same building who may have allergies and so forth.
I can tell the member that in the Ontario Housing Corp. housing which we control, where we are the landlord, it is indeed possible for people to own pets if they obtain the permission of some of the supervisors in the area. It is very much a matter of working it out with the people running the building and striking the balance between the need for a pet and the needs of other people who live in the building. In so far as the government of Ontario is a landlord, and we do indeed have many tenants, we take this issue seriously, but I believe that this is not as simple a matter as the member would have us make out. The Attorney General is indeed responsible for this area and I invite him to talk with the Attorney General about it further.
Mr. Philip: With respect, the Minister of Housing is responsible for guiding, looking at, generally supervising research of and setting policy for housing. If under the Attorney General we have a dumb law or permit an act that does not exclude arbitrary actions on the part of the landlord, it affects housing policy. I am wondering why the minister can somehow come to the unusual conclusion that people may have allergies in public enterprise buildings, but do not have them in her type of housing, in the housing she is responsible for. That is an absurd kind of conclusion.
What we have now is a majority of the corporate landlords passing laws that say you may not have pets. Does the minister not understand that some 10,000 pets a year are being euthanized, according to the humane societies in Ontario? Does the minister not know what that costs the taxpayers, directly in costs by the humane societies and the pounds that are forced to euthanize those animals but also in the psychological wellbeing and stress levels that are created by people being forced to choose between a roof over their heads and a pet that they have had for so many years?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I do not think I came to the conclusion, absurd though it might be, that the member opposite suggested I came to. When we work in the Ontario Housing Corp., the decisions about pet ownership are responsive to some guidelines that are set by the local managers. The concerns about allergies and people in the contiguous units are, indeed, taken into account.
I should tell the member that this issue relates to the relationship between landlords and tenants, which is a legal matter and which is sometimes brought to the courts. The responsibility rests with the Attorney General. My experience with him is that he is indeed very sympathetic to the kinds of issues that the member has raised, and I know the Attorney General is considering it.
I invite the member, if he continues to be concerned about this matter, to raise this issue with the Attorney General in the House or elsewhere.
Mr. Philip: The Attorney General is so sympathetic that he has not answered his mail from an organization that has its base in his own riding and has written to him on two occasions. The Minister of Housing has not answered her mail from that same organization. Would she at least read her mail? Would she answer the organization? I am sure that at election time, when she is looking for campaign funds, she answers her mail. Maybe it would be a good idea to answer it now.
Ms. Bryden: Last week, when I raised the question for the minister of whether some assistance could be given to a boarding house operator who is providing housing for 12 singles of modest income in two rented houses in my area, she replied in her comments the next day that since rooming houses and boarding houses were now eligible for the low-rise rehabilitation program, the boarding house operator would be able to get assistance for putting in new fire doors.
The fire marshal and the building code have raised the requirements for fire doors, and the order the operator received was for installation of eight doors at approximately $500 each. Obviously, a rooming house operator cannot raise her rents for that number of people to cover a $4,000 bill.
It seems to me that if we are going to have higher standards, as we probably should on fire doors, there should be an assistance program which operators of rooming houses could get some assistance from. At the moment, the program applies only to owners of the buildings. In the case where an operator of a rooming and boarding house rents, there is no assistance for her at all.
We do know that there is a great and growing shortage of rooming and boarding houses in the city of Toronto and that there is no incentive for the landlord to upgrade the houses that he is able to rent right now to anybody because of the great shortage. The assistance in the present program, if it applies only to owners, will not keep any of those rooming houses which are operating in rented houses open, and therefore the shortage will greatly increase.
It seems to me that the minister must work out a new program if she is interested in preserving rooming and boarding houses for the singles in Toronto, certainly, and probably in many other communities.
That is really why I raised the point. I wanted her to consider extending the low-rise rehabilitation program to licensed operators of rooming and boarding houses who could agree to certain terms as to how they would maintain the house in operation for a certain number of years, and if they did not, they would have to refund some of the money. It just will not happen that these rooming houses will stay in business if they have to find the $4,000 themselves.
That is why it seems to me that when the minister can extend the program to one group, she should be able to extend it to another group and she should be able to work out conditions that would make it so that the operators are responsible for seeing that the money is spent properly and that, if there is a share, it is ultimately paid over a period. The present requirement facing this woman is so drastic that she will not be able to continue operating and we will have lost 12 valuable housing units.
We need a new program for the operators of rooming and boarding houses, and I think that should be as high on the minister’s list as her other new programs for housing the homeless and housing people who cannot find affordable housing. I appeal to her to consider a new program.
Hon. Ms. Hošek: The low-rise rehabilitation program has indeed been enhanced recently to extend eligibility for rooming houses. Up to $5,000 per bed unit is available, which is much more than the amount of money that the member for Beaches-Woodbine has talked about. If my multiplication is correct, if it is eight doors for $500 each, we are talking about $4,000. That means there is plenty of money in the low-rise rehabilitation program to pay for this.
There is no requirement on the owner to contribute in the form of equity. This money would come out of the low-rise rehabilitation program directly, and the way the program is designed, any of the rehabilitation that is done as a result of the money that the provincial government contributes cannot be passed through to the tenants in the form of rent, so there would be no rent increase to the people involved because the resources that were used were from the province.
However, the assistance is in the form of a mortgage. In other words, there is a long-term mortgage associated with this particular way of giving assistance and therefore it is the owner who must apply. The owner would be asked to apply for this assistance and would not be expected to spend any money. There would be no pass-through of costs to the tenants who already live in the building. I believe that the low-rise rehabilitation program, in its current extension to rooming and boarding houses, in fact responds to the concerns that the member has raised.
Let me say two more things about rooming and boarding houses, because I too take the provision of such housing very seriously. This government extended protection to roomers, boarders and lodgers under the Landlord and Tenant Act, which I think is a very significant improvement.
In our announcement of building massively more provincial units of housing, one of the options that is available under that program is for the purchase of homes or buildings across the province which can be then turned by nonprofit organizations into boarding or rooming houses in order to increase the supply of such stock, which is extremely appropriate housing for a segment of our population which has been much disadvantaged by the loss of that kind of housing stock in the last number of years.
I certainly take the concern about this form of housing very seriously, as I hope the member will understand, and I believe that the low-rise rehabilitation program, as it has now been extended, meets the concerns that the member has raised. But because the program is delivered through a mortgage, the owner must agree to do this, because it is his on her property.
Ms. Bryden: That does not solve the problem, because the owner does not want to participate. He can rent the house to anybody, and if the woman is forced to move out, then he will rent it to whomever he chooses or he will sell it and possibly make a big capital gain on it right now, so there is no incentive for him to participate.
Also, is it not true that the owner or the person receiving the grant has to put up a portion of the expenditure? I understand that is true. That decreases the incentive for the owner to apply for a loan, because he will not only have to take out a new mortgage, but he will also probably have to pay a portion of the cost.
We do need a program that will help operators of boarding houses when the landlord is not willing to participate.
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I can only reiterate to the member for Beaches-Woodbine that under this low-rise rehabilitation program the owner is not required to spend any money, but it is his property and he has to agree to let this happen to the property. I cannot imagine going any further than we have already gone in trying to meet this concern.
I understand the concern about the loss of 12 units and I share it, but I believe in what I have outlined in my previous answers. I have indicated that we cannot go any further than this and this is pretty far. We are talking about the money involved to make this happen. There is no cost passed through to the people who are going to be tenants or who are going to remain tenants in the building. The owner is not required to put up any of his own money. All the owner is required to do is to agree to let this happen. It seems to me that this is about as far as one could possibly go in meeting the needs that the member has identified.
Ms. Bryden: If I may, I will send the details to the minister and perhaps we will see if this can be worked out under this legislation. If it cannot, I hope she will look at possible extensions.
Mr. Harris: I did not realize there are only a few minutes left. Perhaps I can put a number of questions into the record and the minister may, if she has time -- some time in the next year or so -- be able to get back to me.
A number of the questions concern the amount of time and money that the Ministry of Housing is committing to communications and to promotional activities. It seems to me that the ministry is spending an extremely high amount relative to her budget in promoting the fine work the ministry is doing, rather than actually doing the work; trying to convince tenants that the ministry is looking out for their interests, as opposed to looking out for their interests; trying to convince landlords that the ministry is also giving a fair consideration to their interests, rather than giving a fair consideration to their interests; convincing municipalities that the ministry is listening to them, rather than listening to them when they are preparing land use policies, and convincing municipalities and school boards that lot levies, for example, are the best way to finance new school construction, etc.
Given that concern, I have a number of questions that I think are pertinent. One is: Could the minister explain why administration costs were $2 million over budget in 1987-88? Since the Liberal government took office in 1985, Ministry of Housing staffing has increased from 774 to 1,347. Could the minister justify the 57 per cent increase in the staff complement, aside from the one who we found out earlier this week is not doing anything having to do with Housing but, in fact, is engaged in an important government priority that may be of interest to Management Board or the Ministry of Health? Indeed that person appears to be engaged rather full-time on Smart card technology.
How many staff worked in the minister’s office in 1988? What was the total remuneration cost for the minister’s staff? How many staff were employed by the ministry on a contract basis in 1987-88? How many were there in 1988-89? How many of those contract staff were for communications? Were contract employees included in the ministry’s staffing figures? Maybe she could explain as well where they show up in the estimates. How much did the ministry spend on advertising in 1987-88? How much did the ministry spend on advertising in 1988-89?
I am interested in knowing the salary and administrative costs for the ministry’s public education program and where the public education program fits in the ministry’s organizational chart. I am very interested, of course, in whether the minister has undertaken a study of the impact of the lot levy proposal on the price of new homes in Ontario. If not, why not? Would the minister commit herself to conducting such a study and releasing those results to the Legislature?
I am interested in knowing how much the ministry paid ARA Consultants for its land speculation report, how many consultants’ reports the ministry commissioned in 1987-88 and in 1988-89, what the names of the consultants awarded these contracts are and what the total costs of each of those reports were.
I see I am very close to the time. I have another 100 or so questions, but I am hoping I may have some vehicle, perhaps at concurrence time, to get on the record.
The Deputy Chairman: In view of the hour, have we reached that point where we can deal with the votes on the estimates for the Ministry of Housing?
Votes 1901 to 1904, inclusive, agreed to.
The Deputy Chairman: I am now advised that there are supplementary estimates. Shall vote 1905 carry?
Vote 1905 agreed to.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Conway, the committee of supply reported certain resolutions.
Mr. Speaker: The government House leader may have some information.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, you appear to be in a particularly ebullient mood this afternoon, so in that spirit I offer the following. I would like to indicate the business of the House for the coming week.
On Monday, February 27, Tuesday, February 28, and Wednesday, March 1, we will deal with the third readings of Bills 122 and 175. We will also deal with the second readings of Bills 170, 119, 151 and 152. Any votes arising out of the above will be stacked to Wednesday at 5:45 p.m.
On Thursday, March 2, in the morning, we will consider the second readings of Bill 194 and the important Bills 212 and 213, followed by the adjourned debate on the process for the restoration of this Parliament Building. In the afternoon of Thursday, we will deal with the third readings of any bills on Orders and Notices, concurrences of estimates, the budget debate, the supply bill and, finally, royal assent by His Honour the Lieutenant Governor.
The House adjourned at 6:04 p.m.