L156 - Thu 2 Mar 1989 / Jeu 2 mar 1989
The House met at 10 am.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of the whole.
REPAIR AND STORAGE LIENS ACT
Consideration of Bill 152, An Act to revise and consolidate the Law related to Repairers’ and Storers’ Liens.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Mr. Chairman, with the concurrence of the opposition, I would like permission to move down to the front row, to have a table brought on to the floor and to have staff brought on to the floor during this discussion in committee of the whole.
Mr. Chairman: Please go ahead. I am sure that would be agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: To facilitate matters, while the table is being brought out, perhaps you want to know the amendments that I have to this.
Mr. Chairman: Yes, I would like to list them at this moment.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: We could run through them. I have an amendment to section 1. I have a number of amendments to section 10, three in total. I have one amendment to section 14, two amendments to section 17, five amendments to section 24 and amendments to sections 27, 30 and 31.
Mr. Chairman: Do other members wish at this moment to list proposed amendments and, if so, to which section? Any from the third party? If not, we have the complete list of proposed amendments.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that the definition of “repair” in section 1 of the bill, exclusive of the clauses, be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
‘“Repair’ means an expenditure of money on, or the application of labour, skill or materials to, an article for the purpose of altering, improving or restoring its properties or maintaining its condition and includes.”
Hon. Mr. Wrye: This is a housekeeping amendment. It corrects a grammatical error in the definition of “repair.”
Motion agreed to.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 2 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that clause 10(3)(a) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(a) the end of the registration period as set out in the claim for lien or as extended by the most recent change statement registered under subsection (4) or reduced by a change statement registered under subsection (7).”
Hon. Mr. Wrye: This amendment reflects changes made to section 51 of Bill 151, on which we concluded clause-by-clause yesterday, and ensures consistency with the method by which the effective period of a registration is calculated by the replacement computer system we talked about. That was that long amendment, I say to my colleagues, that we did yesterday afternoon, which essentially captures the necessary change for the new personal property security computer system. I want to make sure members understood that.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that subsection 10(5) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(5) A change statement may be registered to record an assignment of a nonpossessory lien where a claim for lien has been registered.”
Hon. Mr. Wrye: This corrects a drafting error and now reflects that a nonpossessory lien is assigned rather than a claim for lien.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that subsection 10(7) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(7) Unless the information related to a claim for lien has been removed from the central file of the registration system, a change statement may be registered at any time during the registration period,
“(a) to correct an error or omission in a claim for lien or any change statement related thereto; or
“(b) to amend a claim for lien or any change statement related thereto where the amendment is not otherwise provided for in this part.”
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Again, this change reflects an amendment which was made earlier to section 49 of Bill 151, which relates to modifying any part of a registration at any time during the registration period.
Motion agreed to.
Section 10, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 11 to 13, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that section 14 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(6) The lien claimant is liable to any person who suffers damages as a result of a seizure under subsection (1) if the lien claimant has entered into an agreement for payment of the debt to which the claim for lien relates and there has been no default under the agreement.”
Hon. Mr. Wrye: This change clarifies that a lien claimant with a nonpossessory lien who arranges the seizure of the repaired or stored goods in breach of any agreement with the owner will be liable for the damages suffered.
Motion agreed to.
Section 14, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 15 and 16 agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that subsection 17(2) of the bill be amended by striking out “60” in the third line and inserting in lieu thereof “30.”
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The amendment reduces the time period for objections to foreclosure by a lien claimant, to be consistent with the equivalent time period in Bill 151. It simply gives us more consistency in both pieces of legislation.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The second amendment is really to accomplish the same thing.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that subsection 17(4) of the bill be amended by striking out “60-day” in the second line and inserting in lieu thereof “30-day.”
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The same explanation.
Motion agreed to.
Section 17, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 18 to 23, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that subsection 24(9) of the bill be amended by inserting after “sheriff” in the fourth line and in the fifth line “or bailiff” in each instance.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: This corrects an inadvertent omission. We have added the reference to bailiffs because a seizure of goods is carried out by a bailiff in small claims court.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that section 24 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(9a) Before obtaining a writ of seizure, the applicant shall file an affidavit with the clerk or registrar of the court confirming that the respondent has not released the article as required.”
Hon. Mr. Wrye: This amendment will protect court clerks and registrars from liability by ensuring that they can rely on an affidavit before issuing a writ of seizure.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that subsection 24(10) of the bill be amended by inserting after “sheriff” in the third line “or bailiff.”
I presume the same explanation, Minister.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that subsection 24(12) of the bill be amended by inserting after “sheriff” in the second line “or bailiff.”
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: I feel like an auctioneer.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: This is the last amendment to section 24, Mr. Chairman. This will take a little longer, so you can kind of catch your breath.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that subsection 24(13) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(13) The charge upon the money paid into court or the security posted with the court is discharged 90 days after the article was returned to the applicant or seized unless, before the end of the 90 days, the respondent has accepted the applicant’s offer of settlement or has commenced an action to recover the amount claimed.
“(14) Upon the expiry of the 90 days referred to in subsection (13), the clerk or registrar of the court may return to the applicant the money paid into court and deliver up for cancellation any security posted with the court if the applicant files with the clerk or registrar an affidavit confirming that the respondent has neither accepted an offer of settlement nor commenced an action to recover the money claimed.
“(15) The respondent is liable for the costs of enforcing a writ of seizure and these costs shall be set off against the amount paid into court under this section.”
Hon. Mr. Wrye: This rather lengthy amendment protects court clerks and registrars from liability by ensuring that they can rely upon an affidavit before returning to an applicant money paid into court or any security that has been posted. It also ensures that an applicant is given a means of recovering the cost of seizing an article when a lien claimant has unreasonably refused to return an article when required to do so. If members would like an example, I can give one, but I will pass at this point.
Motion agreed to.
Section 24, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 25 and 26, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that clause 27(2)(b) of the bill be amended by striking out “sixth” and inserting in lieu thereof “10th.”
Hon. Mr. Wrye: This is the same amendment as we had in Bill 151. It refers to allowing 10 days for the deemed receipt of registered mail.
Motion agreed to.
Section 27, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 28 through 30, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that the bill be amended by adding the following section:
“30a. (1) A sheriff acting under a direction to seize an article or a writ of seizure, or a bailiff acting under a writ of seizure, may use reasonable force to enter land and premises if the sheriff or bailiff believes, on reasonable and probable grounds, that the article to be seized is there and reasonable force may be used to execute the direction or writ.
“(2) A sheriff acting under a direction to seize an article or a writ of seizure, or a bailiff acting under a writ of seizure, in respect of an article in a dwelling shall not use force to enter the dwelling or execute the direction or writ except under the authority of,
“(a) the order of a court of competent jurisdiction, in the case of a direction to seize an article;
“(b) the order of the court that issued the writ, in the case of a writ of seizure.
“(3) A court may make an order for the purposes of subsection 2 if, in the opinion of the court, there is reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the article to be seized is in the dwelling.”
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The new section clarifies the powers of sheriffs and bailiffs to seize articles and it also provides for limitations. It provides that a court order is required to use force to enter residential premises.
The amendment is consistent with rules set out in section 19a of the Execution Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Wrye moves that section 31 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following clause:
“(f) prescribing the types of security that may be deposited with a court under section 24.”
Hon. Mr. Wrye: This amendment will assist applicants and court officials by providing for the regulations to set out the types of security that may be deposited in a section 24 court application -- for example, a letter of credit.
Motion agreed to.
Section 31, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 32 to 38, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr. Harris: I just have one question. Does anybody in the chamber completely understand this particular bill?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: Certainly not you, but many of us do.
An hon. member: Alan Pope would.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: And, of course, I do.
Mr. Chairman: I presume your question has been answered.
Mr. Harris: I think it has been answered, that the staff understand this very complicated piece of legislation. I will be very brief, but I might say this is a very technical, complicated piece of legislation.
Given that after a bill like this is passed, it then goes on to regulations that are developed behind closed doors and nobody gets a look at or ever gets to see or ever gets to comment on them -- I do not want to be negative, but we know that is how regulations are developed -- I ask that the minister be cognizant of legislation like this and that time be taken to meet with the parties that are going to be affected by this piece of regulation to make sure that the regulations, as they are developed, do not cause more problems than they try to solve.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: If I might just very briefly, I do not want to unduly delay the House but I want to assure the House leader for the third party that this bill came forward after consensus was reached with really all of the parties involved in this very technical area. I want to assure the honourable member, sensitive as I was, having gone through innumerable briefings on both Bill 151 and Bill 152 in terms of the bills and the amendments, that was why we offered very specific briefings substantially in advance of these bills coming to the House to both opposition critics. I am certainly well aware of the very technical nature of these pieces of legislation.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Conway, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with certain amendments.
SMOKING IN THE WORKPLACE ACT
Hon. Mr. Sorbara moved second reading of Bill 194, An Act to restrict Smoking in Workplaces.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I am going to try to keep these comments as brief as possible, but I want to say that it really is a pleasure to be able to speak to Bill 194 and to see that the member for Carleton (Mr. Sterling) is here and will be, I think, offering some comments as well.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Fresh from Europe.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: And looking very fresh indeed, as the government House leader points out. We like to see that. It is not reflected in the faces of all his colleagues.
With Bill 194, as in many other areas of public policy, Ontario really is again in the forefront of the development and implementation of innovative and progressive legislation. I think we should all be very proud of Bill 194 in that regard, because it is a unique initiative which has really no parallel in any other province.
When this bill was first introduced on November 30, 1988, Greg MacDonald, who is the director of public affairs for the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association, was quoted as saying, “The trend towards a smokeless environment is already here in Ontario.” With Bill 194, we in Ontario are placing ourselves in the lead in that regard.
All will recognize that the real impact of this bill is to reduce in a very significant way the extent to which people do smoke in workplaces. On the surface, the bill appears to be a small and readily understandable piece of legislation, but really, it has quite a dramatic impact. The issue it addresses is an important one for all Ontario workers. With the introduction of the legislation, the government has said in effect that smoking is not really a right. At least, it is not a right when it affects the comfort and wholesomeness of other people’s working environment.
After it is passed and proclaimed, workers will be able to go to their places of employment and do their jobs in a cleaner and, I suggest, healthier atmosphere. As a regulator, the government of Ontario has an obligation, I believe, to enact legislation which will ensure uniform, minimum standards which govern conditions of work in all places of employment under provincial jurisdiction throughout Ontario.
Bill 194 is, as I said earlier, unprecedented in any other province in its establishment of minimum standards prohibiting workplace smoking. The provisions of this legislation will be enforced by inspectors authorized under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This means that some 3.9 million workers in 233,000 of Ontario’s workplaces will enjoy the coverage of this legislation. That, by the way, is 90 per cent of Ontario’s workplaces.
I think it would be appropriate to congratulate those employers, trade unions and municipalities that have worked to establish the principle of smoke-free workplaces in their own jurisdictions. Bill 194 builds on those individual achievements. It is the commonsense, practical approach of Bill 194 which will make it widely accepted and easily implemented.
The central provision of this legislation is that no smoking is to be the general rule in Ontario workplaces. Bill 194 establishes a general prohibition on smoking in the workplace but does allow the employer the option -- and I reiterate, the option -- of establishing designated smoking areas. These, however, are restricted under the legislation to a maximum of 25 per cent of the floor space of the work area; that is, the enclosed workplace.
Furthermore, and I know my friends in the Legislature will be interested in this, if employers choose to designate smoking areas, then they are required under the act to consult with the joint health and safety committee, or, if there is none, with the worker health and safety representative, in establishing the designated areas for the purposes of the legislation.
I believe it is important to note that in keeping with the flexible and practical approach taken by Bill 194, the legislation does not require the prohibition of smoking in areas of a workplace in which the public is served. This includes such workplaces as restaurants, bars, hotel lobbies, outdoor work areas, vehicles and the residential complexes of such facilities as detention centres.
Instead, the regulation of smoking in public places will continue to be, as it has for some time now -- and I know my friend the member for Carleton understands this -- in the hands of municipalities. Some 60 municipalities now regulate smoking in public places and have demonstrated a willingness and ability to do so. There is clearly no reason for the province to step into that area where it is not needed.
The acknowledged effect of tobacco smoke upon our health demands that consistent standards be established from one end of this province to the other, in order to effectively regulate this particular form of workplace irritant. Smoking is a major cause of ill health, disability and premature death. These effects of tobacco smoke are well known to all of us. When one considers both the health and quality-of-life impact of smoking, whether in the workplace or otherwise, there is little wonder as to why smokers have become a minority, consisting of about 30 per cent of adult Canadians.
This general acknowledgement of the health consequences of smoking among both smokers and nonsmokers, as well as the increasing evidence which demonstrates the linkage between secondary tobacco smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke as it is sometimes referred to, upon the health of nonsmokers, has given rise to new concerns and demands for restrictions on smoking in the workplace. As a result, workplace smoking restriction policies have become quite commonplace.
Indeed, in a number of businesses I visited in my capacity as Minister of Labour, I noted the workplace parties themselves have undertaken an examination of their workplaces, and, in very many instances, have determined on their own to implement a smoke-free workplace policy, which is entirely consistent with Bill 194 or will be consistent with the bill when it is passed.
I do not want to take up too much more of the Legislature’s time on this bill. I know we have a very busy agenda both this morning and this afternoon. I want to conclude my remarks by saying I believe the bill is a significant step forward towards a smoke-free society and I am pleased to have the support of the Canadian Cancer Society, which recently wrote to me and said that Bill 194 was “a positive step towards the goal of making all workplaces smoke-free in the province of Ontario.”
In order that the workers of Ontario may soon enjoy the protection offered by this legislation, I ask the members of this House to give Bill 194 their support.
Mr. Mackenzie: I am pleased to rise on Bill 194. My comments will be brief and to the point.
I might say it is long past time that we recognized the question of the effect of this toxic substance, secondhand smoke, on workers and on the citizens of the province. I do not think there is really any debate or argument any more as to the harmful and ill effects, even among those who might acknowledge that there may be some satisfaction in being able light up a cigarette, cigar, pipe or what have you.
However, I am a little bit concerned with the rather flamboyant defence of the bill the minister has just given us, because I think there are some shortcomings in the legislation. That is not to say that we will not support this bill, but if the minister thinks it is good legislation and its time is overdue, we hope he is also going to be willing to take a look at some of the weaknesses in Bill 194.
First off -- I have said this before and have not heard a defence against it from the minister -- this bill has been introduced without any real consultation with many of the interested parties. I am talking about the trade unions that represent workers in the workplace and the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association, and I suspect that there has not been the kind of consultation there should be for a number of reasons.
The bill is fundamentally flawed. Both the Ontario Federation of Labour and the NSRA treat cigarette smoke as a toxic substance. The main provisions of Bill 194 to limit smoking to a maximum of 25 per cent of a workplace will do nothing to remove toxic substances and the dangers posed by secondhand smoke. It might reduce it, but it is not going to remove it.
The bill does avoid requiring employers to establish designated smoking areas that are properly ventilated. I think that is a major fault in the bill. Obviously the government here does not want to add to the expense of the employers’ operations. That is a perennial theme when we are trying to break new ground with progressive legislation in this province.
The requirement is essential, and obviously that is one area where we are going to want to take a look at an amendment to the bill. Incidentally, it is a demand of some of the interested stakeholders, whether it is the OFL or the NSRA. It is a key component of the city of Toronto bylaw on smoking in the workplace and was part of Lynn McDonald’s federal bill, C-204.
The bill does not make provision for smoking cessation programs, nor does it have a phase-in period. The bill also provides for fines for noncompliance of not more than $2,000 for employers and individual workers. In the first case, the fine is not a deterrent, and in the second case I would suggest it is discrimination.
I think this obviously lays out the areas where we want to see improvements in this bill. I am hoping that this government has a bit of an open mind -- I am finding it difficult in many pieces of legislation these days -- and will look at establishing designated smoking areas that are properly ventilated and are identified by both the joint health and safety committees, with the cost of any needed renovation to be borne by the employer; having the employer provide for cessation programs; having a phase-in period to be determined in consultation with the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association, the OFL and other interested stakeholders, and to reduce fines on individual workers and increase the penalties for employers.
I think the bill is of such fundamental importance, it is a major social policy for Ontario. We acknowledge that. We appreciate the fact that the bill is before this House and that the minister has decided to open up debate on this issue. Because it is of such major social consequence to this province, we think the interested parties -- and there are a number of them -- should have some input into the bill. Certainly we are looking forward to the hearings, to the reaction of government members in terms of fundamental amendments -- not such major ones but ones that may be a little difficult in some cases and that have some real meaning -- and to various groups having a chance to have their say.
I might say that the kinds of amendments we would like to take a look at are part of the nonsmokers’ rights groups’ feelings about the bill. They are certainly part of the OFL reaction to the bill; they are certainly part of the Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada position on this particular bill. All of them are supportive, as I have indicated we are, but with the understanding that there are some real flaws in the bill. Let’s have a chance in this major social policy field to take a look at what amendments we can convince the government to take a look at in this particular legislation.
Having said that, I think it states fairly clearly, and without a lot of rhetoric, the position that we will be taking on this legislation, and I do commend these suggestions to the minister and the other members in this House.
Mr. Sterling: As many members of this Legislature may know, I have had a passing interest in this issue. In fact, I think my first bill was introduced in December 1985, some three years and a couple of months ago, with regard to controlling smoking in the workplace and public places, some time before it became a popular issue even at the federal level. I hope that I have had some small part in urging the government to take this action at this time.
I want to congratulate the minister on taking this step and hope that he will look forward to committee hearings, which I understand we will have on April 17 as agreed between the House leaders, when this bill is referred to the standing committee on social development. I hope that he will have a positive and open mind to constructive suggestions as we go through those particular hearings.
This morning I talked with Dr. Lynn Kozlowski of the Addiction Research Foundation. I had met Dr. Kozlowski some time ago on a television program and thought I would touch base with him and indicate to him that we would be debating this bill this morning in the Legislature. He has produced, in the last month, an interesting paper for the Journal of the American Medical Association. As you know, the Journal of the American Medical Association is a very prestigious medical publication in the United States. He has produced what I think is an extremely interesting and important piece of research.
I wanted to indicate to the Legislature some of the results of that particular report. Up to this time we have talked about the detrimental health effects of tobacco, in that we know from Statistics Canada that, as a result of tobacco smoke, each day 35 to 40 people in Ontario die prematurely by about seven to seven and a half years as a result of inhaling and the detrimental effects of tobacco. Even during this period of time that we are talking in the Legislature maybe one or two persons will die prematurely by seven to seven and a half years because of addiction to tobacco.
Dr. Kozlowski talks about the urge to smoke and the addiction to tobacco. People who have come to the Addiction Research Foundation to seek help with regard to alcohol and drug problems were asked, and this included a sample of some 1,000 individuals, how great their urge and addiction to tobacco really was. It is interesting that some 56 to 57 per cent of the people who had come to the Addiction Research Foundation for alcohol and drug purposes said they would have a greater time kicking the habit of tobacco than they would have of kicking the drug or alcohol problem. That shows how deep the addiction to this particular substance and the urge to continue with it are.
Even of those who were addicted to heroin, some 31 per cent said their urge for tobacco was as strong as their addiction to heroin. I think this particular study shows that we are not dealing with a habit or a socially accepted custom. We are dealing with an addiction, an addiction which will cause early death. It is a very serious problem. Therefore, I do congratulate the minister in taking one small step to try to alleviate this problem.
I have said over a period of time when I have spoken on this subject that the problem of addiction to tobacco and the detrimental health effects of tobacco have to be approached in a number of areas because there are a lot of people in society who are affected by this. Those of us who have tried to show some leadership in attacking this particular problem and in trying to deal with this problem have indicated in the past that one step is not enough to deal with the whole problem.
I think it would be important for this government to set out a series of goals which it should put forward as its mandate in dealing with this problem. I would like to put forward my goals in dealing with this problem so that we can have a healthier Ontario in the future.
The first goal I think we should have in dealing with tobacco is to keep those who are not presently using tobacco and are not addicted to tobacco from taking on the habit of smoking. I see many young people in the public gallery opposite me here today. Unfortunately, most people in our province become addicted to tobacco before they reach the age of 18. Therefore, it is most important that we talk to our young people and say to them: “Look, if you want to die seven and a half years earlier than you would normally die, then take up tobacco. If you want to take the chance of injuring your child when you smoke during pregnancy, then you should take up tobacco. And if you want to cause a great deal of potential for pain and suffering during your 40s and 50s, then take up tobacco.” Our first goal should be to prevent, and we should aim our forces at the young people to stop them from taking up the habit.
The second goal, and the goal which we are dealing with primarily today, should be to protect those who do not smoke from the hazards of secondhand smoke. This piece of legislation deals with controlling smoking in the workplace. I will mention some specifics with regard to this piece of legislation and where I see it falling short of achieving that goal. I hope that we will be able to change this legislation through debate and through the committee process.
The third and last goal that we should have is to try to help, through understanding of this terrible addictive substance, those who are addicted to tobacco to try to get off of that substance. We have not been able to tell people of the problems or we have not gotten through to these people as to how they can do that. As I indicated in terms of this latest research, we have to understand that those people who are addicted to tobacco cannot just walk away from that habit without some significant help, and I do understand the problem that people have in doing this.
I might add that this government is not taking an adequate role in educating the public as to the ill effects of tobacco. They have not taken an active role in helping many associations like the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, the Canadian Cancer Society -- Ontario Division and many other groups in educating the public as to what in fact is needed to get people to get off the habit.
An interesting fact, whether we would like it or not, is that people at various educational levels react to smoking in different ways. Statistics Canada shows that if you have a university degree, then there is only a 20 per cent chance that you are a habitual smoker. If you have finished high school, then there is a 35 per cent chance that you are a habitual smoker. If you have passed grade 8 and you have not completed high school or completed a substantial portion of high school, then there is a 50 per cent chance that you are a habitual smoker.
That tells me that those people who are perhaps reading material with regard to the detrimental health effects of tobacco are drawing a logical conclusion and trying to get off it, but those people who are less likely to pick up a newspaper and read the columns with regard to the detrimental effects of tobacco are not taking action and therefore a greater number of them are smoking.
I am talking in general categories. I am not saying that everyone who only has a grade 8 education is necessarily a smoker. We are talking about statistics which the Canadian government has produced and which show that the message is not getting across to those people who need the help most.
We must take a number of corrective actions in order to meet these three goals. One of the things we have failed to do, in my view, is address the problem that tobacco producers and the workers involved with producing these particular products might have. We have had a great deal of social upset with the people who are producing tobacco and our governments have not reacted in a positive enough manner to this particular problem. We should be in a position to compensate tobacco producers. We should be in a position to retrain tobacco producers, whether they are working in the field or in the plant.
We have to put greater emphasis, as I said before, on education of our public, not only in terms of written articles but we should produce facts so that people who are watching television or listening to the radio learn the facts about this very detrimental substance which will affect their health in a very detrimental manner.
We must recognize how to help addicted smokers get off the habit if they in fact choose to do that. Therefore, I was pleased that the government introduced some help for Ontario civil servants to get away from the habit in terms of supporting some programs which would help a smoker quit. I would hope that they might encourage other members who work in the private sector to get off the habit as well.
Of course, we have legislation at the federal level dealing with the controlling of advertising and I support stricter controls with regard to the advertising of tobacco.
I have introduced a bill with regard to controlling the sale of tobacco to minors. Right now the control of sale of tobacco to minors is a joke in our province. We had a recent situation where Boots Drug Stores Ltd., which sells $2 billion worth of consumer goods a year, was fined the grand sum of $25 in court for selling tobacco to minors. What kind of a disincentive is that for any retailer to stop selling tobacco to minors in the future? Business will continue as usual, whether or not it is Boots Drug Stores or any other kind of drugstore. Boots Drug Stores should not be singled out; I believe that it is trying to control the matter, but I believe also that the present law is a bit of a joke.
Lastly, we come to situations where we must control the environment indoors with regard to smoking, both in public places and in the business place or in the place of work. That is what we are dealing with today in Bill 194. As the minister knows, I have introduced two different bills dealing with this problem. Bill 157 allows municipalities to make bylaws which would be much more restrictive than Bill 194. It has received second reading in this Legislature and I hope will eventually receive third reading in this Legislature to allow other municipalities across this province to take the same progressive steps as the city of Toronto, the city of Etobicoke and the city of Markham have the right to take now.
I would say, in a constructive manner as best I can, that I would like to suggest to the minister a number of problems that we have with his existing Bill 194. Bill 194 requires that an employer designate at least 75 per cent of the workplace as a nonsmoking area. That means that up to 25 per cent could be designated as a smoking area. One of the great problems that is identified in this bill is that there is no need to provide separate ventilation between a smoking area and a nonsmoking area. I hope to illustrate that in a more dramatic way in a few moments.
This problem has been identified by a number of groups. I suspect that on April 17 and the days following that we will hear from a number of groups with regard to the problems that that could lead to, but I would read from page 2 of a letter from the Hamilton Regional Cancer Centre, affiliated with the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, which was written to the minister. I believe he has also quoted from that letter, which in some ways congratulates the minister for bringing forward this piece of legislation. I acknowledge that and would not read the other parts of the letter without indicating that.
I would point out to the minister that on page 2 of their letter, which he has of course received, dated December 14, 1988, there is very strong evidence to suggest that confining smoking to 25 per cent of a large office or shop floor would be almost indistinguishable from having no smoking restriction at all. Therefore, with respect to the bill indicating that only 25 per cent of the area would be smoking, there is some feeling with this group and other groups that that would eventually not change anything from what the status quo is at the present time.
I think the more important part comes when we read from a copy of a letter which I have received, dated January 6, 1989, from the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council. These are the people who are selling tobacco to our people in Ontario. It is signed by William Neville, its president. This is directed to the director of human resources, directed to the people who take care of employee relations in offices and plants across the province.
This is the penultimate paragraph, the second to last paragraph: “The bill currently before the Ontario Legislature proposes to compel you, your business and your staff to conform to a set of one-size-fits-all directives. We hope this brochure” -- and there is an enclosed brochure -- “will offer you some thought-provoking information and some interesting management alternatives.”
In the brochure, it indicates in one portion:
“Encourage two or more employees sharing the same office space to work out their arrangements. Failing that, each employee might be given the right to designate a circumference from where he or she sits according to his or her individual preference.”
In other words, the way the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council and every group that I have heard is interpreting this piece of legislation is to give this piece of legislation the same kind of impact and the same kind of shenanigans that we have seen on the TV program, WKRP in Cincinnati.
I do not know if members ever watched that, but if they remember Les Nessman, he was a radio announcer who was concerned about the fact that he had to sit in an office with three or four other people and he was not given his own, separate office. Therefore, Les Nessman drew a line along the floor where his office wall should be.
What the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council is suggesting is that Bill 194 should perhaps be named after Les Nessman. What we should have is a Les Nessman bill, because what the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council is suggesting is that if my seatmate over here happens to be a smoker or if this fellow happens to be a smoker, then what we do is put a line of tape down the floor between us.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: Put that tape over your mouth and we can end this debate.
Mr. Reycraft: Would you send that roll over with a page when you’re finished with it?
Mr. Furlong: You didn’t have to do both sides, one was enough.
Mr. Sterling: In this case, this is a smoking area but this is a nonsmoking area, and I am supposed to be protected from smoke from these two particular individuals.
Mr. Mahoney: You should be protected from your colleagues.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: No, that is protecting you from the third place Tory party.
Mr. Sterling: I have upset the Minister of Labour by showing so graphically the faults with regard to this particular portion of the bill. But we will be insisting, during the committee hearings, that if in fact there is to be a division between a smoker and a nonsmoker, there must be a wall or some separate ventilation to protect me, the nonsmoker, from the secondhand smoke of my fellow worker.
I hope that after we have had the proper hearings with regard to this particular bill, the minister will see the fallacy with regard to this whole matter and we will not, as Les Nessman has been awarded, have to award the minister the Golden Sow Award for not seeing the fallacy of Bill 194 with regard to separate ventilation.
There is another problem. The member for Durham Centre (Mr. Furlong), who is actually shorter in stature than myself, has always blamed the stunt in growth on the fact that he was a former smoker, and I accept that. Unfortunately, I did not smoke before and I have no excuse at all for the size of my stature.
Another problem we have with regard to Bill 194 is that it does not guarantee a nonsmoker a clean environment in his workplace. While consultation must take place and it should take place, if the employer makes the decision that even I as a nonsmoker must work in the smoking area, then that is the way it must be according to Bill 194. In all of the legislation I have been associated with before, such as the legislation in the city of Toronto, if a nonsmoker is aggrieved at the fact that he is not able to work in a smoke-free environment, then he has the final say. Therefore, that will be something we will insist upon when we deal with this legislation.
Second to last, I would like to indicate to the Legislature that I believe this bill is in some ways too arbitrary. If everyone within a working establishment smokes and does not object to second-hand smoke, then I do not see any reason only 25 per cent should be designated as a smoking area. You may say that might be odd coming from a person advocating nonsmoking rights, etc., but the fact of the matter is that if all the people in a particular workplace smoke -- I am thinking of small working places of maybe two or three individuals -- and if they all are not concerned about second-hand smoke, I do not understand why this legislation should override their desires.
That is the beauty of the present municipal legislation that is in place in the city of Toronto and will be probably in place in the town of Markham and the city of Etobicoke.
Finally, I would like to say that within this bill under subsection 10(2), it says, “Nothing in this act prevents a municipality from passing bylaws respecting smoking in workplaces.” I am happy that particular section is in place because last November this Legislature passed Bill 157, a bill I introduced in this Legislature, which would allow the right of every other municipality in Ontario to pass workplace smoking bylaws.
I hope the minister will allow each and every other municipality, at its option, to have the same rights the city of Etobicoke, the city of Toronto and the town of Markham now enjoy. Therefore, I ask him that we go with Bill 194 and try to improve that legislation, but that he also see that the government calls Bill 157 for third and final reading so that other municipalities might take more restrictive action, as the city of Toronto has, in dealing with this whole issue.
In wrapping up, our party will support this legislation. We look forward to constructive hearings in the standing committee on social development beginning April 17. We will be putting forward constructive amendments to this legislation.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. M. C. Ray): Are there any comments or questions? Are there other participants in the debate? Does the Minister of Labour wish to wrap up the debate?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I do. I enjoyed the comments of both members. The member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie), for some unknown reason, suggested there were major structural problems within the bill. We are going to review those remarks within the ministry.
We are particularly going to review the remarks of the member for Carleton. I am going ask officials within my ministry to look at those comments very carefully, and I will tell the members why. The member for Carleton really has made this issue something very near and dear to his heart. He has participated in the democratic process in a sterling way, if I might say that, and has brought this issue to the Legislature not so much in the form of a bill; he has registered disagreements.
In the political and democratic processes and in the way in which we conduct ourselves, I think he can take a good deal of the credit for the fact there is a government bill before this Legislature now that will certainly go a long way in reducing the extent to which there is smoking in the workplace and will restrict greatly the amount people smoke in the workplace.
I want to thank both the member for Carleton and the member for Hamilton East for their comments and for what I hope will be their support of the bill. I look forward to hearing their further comments when the bill is in committee. I fully expect that when the debate is over and the bill is read for a third time, given royal assent and proclaimed into law, we will be regulating our workplaces in a far more effective and appropriate way, recognizing that those who prefer to work in an atmosphere free of smoke will be able to do so under this bill.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for your time and consideration, and for the consideration of the House in this matter.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for standing committee on social development.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Conway moved second reading of Bill 212, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I want to make some very brief opening comments with respect to Bill 212, the purpose of which is to raise the indemnities and allowances payable to members of the Legislature under the Legislative Assembly Act for this year just ending, the fiscal year 1988-89, by 4.7 per cent.
As I said earlier, I want to make just a couple of comments by way of explanation because I know honourable members will recall the debate of a little over a year ago. I was reviewing the debate of January 7, 1988, when we last discussed this matter of the pay and allowances to members of the Legislature. It was indeed a lively debate at that time. I can well remember the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. B. Rae) and the leader of the third party expressing their concern about the process.
I made a commitment at that time on behalf of the government to review the process, with a view to finding an alternative to the annual bills we will debate here this morning in respect of the salaries and allowances paid to both the members of the Legislature as members of the Legislature and to those members who also serve on the executive council.
I want to say that we have had over the last number of months -- my friends the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke) and the member for Carleton (Mr. Sterling), as members of the House leaders and whips panel will know from their participation at that level -- a number of discussions as to alternatives to this annual debate, where members must stand in this chamber and address a bill or a set of bills raising their pay.
The Leader of the Opposition said some time ago -- it was January 7, 1988 -- that he found this to be an invidious position and I agree it is not perhaps the most comfortable position, but I want to say that as we looked at alternatives over the last several months, it was quite clear we could not find a better way.
We looked long and hard. I want to say to my friends that it was with some interest that I watched the debate in Congress over the last few weeks when the often-held-up better alternative of an exterior commission having charge of this kind of responsibility was shown to be, in its own way, very inadequate. There was no debate in Washington quite like the debate over that exterior commission that was recommending to the United States pay raises for members of Congress and members of the federal judiciary, a pay raise increase I think in the order of 51 per cent. It ignited a nationwide debate.
Mr. Speaker, as you are from that very important border city of Windsor, I am sure you would know from reading the Detroit Free Press just how galvanized public opinion became in the United States over the idea that Congress was simply going to routinely increase its pay by 51 per cent because some commission had recommended it as a good idea. As I remember, members of Congress did not approve that increase and it produced no little bit of tension on Capitol Hill.
We looked at a number of alternatives. We are joined by my friend the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris), the distinguished House leader for the third party. He came to me with one particular model that we looked at with some care.
I certainly have been in favour -- I make no bones about it -- of some kind of escalator that would remove the requirement for the annual bill. I want to say that we do not have the annual escalator in these two bills, Bill 212 and Bill 213, because my friends in the opposition have said, “We are not prepared to have an escalator that is attached to what we believe is an inadequate base.”
I respect their views in that connection, but I want it to be clear that when it was argued last year that we should look at a new process, we did look at a number of alternatives. The government was and is quite prepared to accept and build into the process an annual escalator. We were not, however, able to resolve the question of the base salary among our three parties.
The government has felt we must show leadership in this connection. We have said it is very difficult for us to stand in Windsor, Pembroke or North Bay and tell people who are out there working in the public sector, particularly people who have made a very passionate argument that their base pay rates are not as they would like them -- I am thinking, for example, of the home care workers in my county who have come to me and said, “We just do not think you are being adequately sensitive to our income needs.” I can appreciate why they would feel that way. The members opposite have made a very compelling argument on their case, as have many of my colleagues in the government caucus.
When we, as an executive council, looked at the whole question of the base salary for members, we considered a number of alternatives. One alternative that was looked at -- I want to be perfectly frank -- was accepting the most recent recommendation of the Commission on Election Finances, so ably headed by the very distinguished former member for York South and a long-time leader of the New Democratic Party of Ontario, Donald MacDonald. That recommendation, made some time ago, was that the base rate should be increased from where it is now, from about $39,200 to $45,000. That one alternative was looked at with a great deal of care.
We looked at another alternative -- I do not mean to speak out of turn but I think my friend the member for Nipissing would well remember the discussion -- where we looked at the current system, long developed over the decades in this chamber, where the members’ pay is a matter both of base salary and nontaxed expense allowances. We looked seriously at what is called the grossed-up alternative, taking all the current base salary, which is taxed, and the nontaxed allowances and folding those into one grossed-up salary, all of which would be taxable. That was looked at very carefully and had its proponents and its detractors.
In the end, we have decided that while we are prepared to incorporate an escalator to eliminate the annual introduction of the pay bill -- I want to be clear about that; the government is and has been quite prepared to offer that escalator -- we have decided that the mix of base salary and expense allowances ought to be maintained as they are and that they should be adjusted this year by essentially the rate of inflation, which these bills suggest as 4.7 per cent.
I do not mean to suggest that is the rate of inflation, but essentially the principle cabinet approved was that the current regime of base salary and allowances should be maintained and that we should apply something like the inflation index to that for this year, 1988-89.
I know this is not going to meet with unanimous approval. I know it is of ongoing concern to a number of members, quite frankly on all sides, but I must say the government has felt that when all things are considered, the rates of pay are not unreasonable.
I do not know any of us who ever feels he is fully compensated for the amount of time and effort we expend, and I do not just mean as members of the Legislature, I say to my friend the member for Carleton, who prior to coming to this chamber 12 years ago was, as few people I know are, both a professional engineer and a lawyer. My lawyer friends always tell me, “The tariff just doesn’t fully compensate me for all the work I must put forward in favour of my clients.” I have even heard engineers, I say to my friend the member for Carleton, say something of the same. I know there are many people who feel their compensation package is not as full as they would like it and that is understandable.
I must say in concluding my remarks that we feel, as a government, that 4.7 per cent on both the base salary and the allowances is reasonable. It does reflect the cost-of-living indices we have seen in this province over the past year, to a very large extent at any rate.
I point out again that some of the alternatives were very carefully canvassed. The government is prepared to accept the escalator, but we recognize that honourable members opposite have very strong views about the kind of base to which that escalator might apply and we have left that, unfortunately, unresolved because we could not come to a meeting of minds.
I point out again, on the basis of the very spirited debate in the United States over the last month, that the alternative of the exterior commission as a better way has been shown to be, in my view, something that is not necessarily a better way.
I will conclude my remarks by saying again that we think, as a government, that this is fair and reasonable. We know it is not perfect. We know there will be some concern and complaint, but at the end of the day we feel we must show leadership to the province. People in the public sector and outside look to this government, look to this Legislature for leadership by example. We feel that this is a good example and that it is not unreasonable in so far as the compensatory considerations are concerned.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I will be very brief because I have certainly learned that on this particular subject, whether you are brief or whether you are short, the results are always the same when it comes to the Premier (Mr. Peterson) making a decision on the members’ pay for all 130 members.
I think Liberal backbenchers in particular should understand that this has not been a very democratic. or acceptable process. It really has boiled down to the fact that one person has made a decision on what kind of pay increase all the members of the Legislature are going to get. There have been negotiations going on since last January when we discussed the original bill in the Legislature. We received a commitment at that time from the government House leader and from the Premier that negotiations would occur.
The three House leaders met, I believe it was last February, over a year ago, to begin the examination of alternative processes and what the proper base pay could be in this place. Then a number of months went by and nothing happened. Finally, the leaders of the parties got together a number of weeks ago and put to the Premier a proposal for some alternatives.
I understand that a government party is obviously concerned about raising members’ pay substantially, because of the possible political consequences. The Leader of the Opposition -- and the leader of the third party, I believe, was agreeable -- offered either to move the bill or to second the bill with the government House leader or the Premier, as a method of expressing very clearly to the people of this province that the entire Legislature was in agreement, that all three political parties and all three political leaders were willing to take any credit or any blame that would result from the setting of a proper wage for members of the Legislature. After several weeks of consideration, the Premier said, “No, the increase is going to be 4.7 per cent.”
I think one of the frustrations the opposition parties have is the reality that more than 80 per cent of the members in the Liberal caucus get some additional pay. They get the basic pay, they get the expense allowance and then they get some other pay, whether it be a parliamentary assistant’s money, a committee chairman’s pay or whatever. The amount of money that the Liberal backbenchers have to live on is quite different from what the majority of the opposition members have.
The vast majority of our members and the members of the Conservative Party have the basic pay and expense allowance and that is it. There is no additional money, except for a few of us who have some specific responsibilities within our caucus. There is not the pressure on the Liberal caucus to see that there is proper pay, because most of its members are receiving substantially more than ordinary members in the Legislature who are in the opposition parties.
The government House leader is correct when he explains that there was an automatic escalator offered to the opposition parties. But I am sure that most Liberal backbenchers would agree with the position that the opposition parties have taken, that it would be ludicrous to put an automatic escalator in the pay package when the commission’s recommendation, which has been in front of us for several years, for the second half of a major reform, a major increase -- recommended, I believe, either in the late 1970s or early 1980s -- has never been implemented.
There was a recommendation a number of years ago for a $10,000 increase in our pay packet. The former Premier, Mr. Davis, implemented the first half of that, the $5,000, and the Commission on Election Finances has been recommending every year since that the second half be implemented. That has not been done, so we are obviously not prepared to have built into the process an automatic escalator which would mean that there would never be a reopening of the pay discussions in the Legislature. At least the way it is now, as unacceptable as it is, there will be an automatic annual review and the members of the Legislature will at least have the opportunity to make their views known about the inadequacy of our pay package in this place.
The other thing, and I guess the final point, is that there were some substantial changes, and the commission certainly recognized that, when the conflict-of-interest legislation was passed. Members do not have the luxury or ability to freely invest and make money elsewhere outside of the Legislature. There are many more restrictions. There is public disclosure now. I think it is all very, very important and very good for all members of the Legislature to be participating in the conflict-of-interest legislation.
However, if we are to allow people and encourage people and have a process that allows people from all areas of society to participate in the Legislature and to consider running for office, for the Legislature, and if people are going to be restricted as to what they can make outside of this place, then obviously we have to have a pay package that is adequate, that offers some incentive to people to run for this office.
Certainly at the rate of pay we have now there is not that kind of incentive for large numbers of people, considering the hours that are put in and the stress that comes with the job. Also. obviously, a lot of rewards come with the job, but it is a stressful, time-consuming job that is up for review every four years. There is very little job security in this job.
I think that is another major reason the government should have considered implementing the second half of the election finances commission report and then we could have built in the automatic escalator. Once we have a decent base, then I think the automatic escalator and taking it out of the hands of the Legislative Assembly itself would have been an appropriate thing to do.
Under the current circumstances, I think we have a very unsatisfactory process. We have an unsatisfactory base pay, one that is not keeping up with the cost of living, which has not received the proper adjustments in the last number of years. I guess we can only express our disappointment. We cannot do anything else about it. Eventually, it is up to Liberal backbenchers getting their point across to their Premier and to their government that they want to see changes and perhaps we will see those changes next year or the year after.
It is frustrating again in that the person who makes the major decisions on this matter really does not have to worry about his income from the Legislature, because the income that the Premier earns at the Legislature is a very small amount of money indeed in terms of his personal financial resources. Many other members of the Legislature have to rely totally on their income from the Legislature. They are not like the Premier. Basically, the money he makes here is spending money compared to his private resources.
I think as long as the Liberal backbenchers let the Premier, who is a millionaire, make the decisions on pay packages for ordinary members of the Legislature, then this inadequate level of pay for members of the Legislature is going to continue. We will not be supporting this bill.
Mr. Harris: I will be brief. We will be voting against this particular piece of legislation.
I do not want to get into any of the specifies or any of the details or any of the behind-the-scenes, supposedly private discussions that took place. I want to simply say this: A year ago we expressed concern about the process. We expressed concern that there ought to be a better way than members of this assembly year after year after year voting themselves whatever the increase is.
We argued at that time. My leader spoke and the leader of the New Democratic Party spoke and said that there are mechanisms in place that work in the private sector, there are mechanisms in place that work in the public sector, we have a government that is committed to some pay equity legislation that requires an independent look and review of what people are worth in their jobs, and this is now a full-time job. This is now something that ought not to be an onus on the government to bear responsibility for and ought not to be an onus on individual members year after year to come in and say, “We vote ourselves a raise.”
Whether you vote yourself one per cent or 500 per cent, in my view, in this day and age of full-time politicians, that is wrong. There are the Hay system methods, there are many methods; so we wanted and we raised a little fuss a year ago, saying that we would like some meaningful, intelligent discussion on how we remove this from the process.
The government did not want to do that. I acknowledge there were some discussions that went on, although not the kind of discussions we particularly wanted to have, because the government said, “No, we will not allow it to go out to an independent commission, we will not allow an independent body, we will not allow that, we want to carry on in the same old way,” and there were some behind-the-scene discussions on that.
Second, the one aspect that the government House leader really wanted to talk about in those negotiations was this inflation indexer. He mentioned it five or six times in his speech. My party is opposed to automatically indexing to inflation in many, many areas. I think it is wrong. I do not care what the base is; I am not in favour of an automatic inflation indexer. I reject that outright.
I am in favour of some method of relating our salary through an independent commission. which would be my first choice, or some independent body, to some other salary that may be out there. Some will say that that salary will undoubtedly go up and that will, in effect, be some form of indexer. That may be very true. On the other hand, that other salary will have had an independent look at it. It may go up or it may go down. If there is a fair evaluation, if that is the method that is determined, then so be it; that is fair and that indeed is where we should be.
I think this would be 100 per cent totally wrong for this Legislature. In both opposition parties, we could argue about whether we felt the base was right. The main concern we had was that the process was not right, and we are opposed. Both parties oppose having an automatic indexing inflationary mechanism for our own salaries at the same time as my party, in any event, is not prepared to offer that to all of industry, to all of Ontario. It is the type of automatic indexing that we feel encourages inflation.
There are far fewer impediments in the way of government, if everything is just going to be automatically indexed, to control costs and to control inflation, to control those things. That is not a principle that my party espouses. That is not a principle that we are comfortable with. What a terrible example it would set to all of industry, to all of the public sector employees we have who must negotiate from time to time. They have a process. They have a mechanism we do not have if we say, “Our mechanism is just an automatic inflation indexation.”
I do not know why the government House leader brings that part up and tries to indicate how great it was. We think that is a terrible, terrible example to set for this province. We are totally opposed to that, so I do comment on that one part of it. We are against the process. We think it is continuing on. We have an indication from the government that this is the way it plans to do it for ever and a day.
I do not want to get into the argument of how it was done for 42 years. I want to tell members that we think we should be looking forward. We should be reflecting the role of the Legislature. We should be looking at the changes that have evolved over the last 10 or 15 years. We should be taking a look at how that role has changed and how some of the remunerations like the expense allowance have in fact perhaps outlived their usefulness.
Those are some of the specifies, but it is the process. We think somebody other than those of us who are directly involved should be taking a look at it and assessing it. We will oppose this particular piece of legislation.
Mr. Sterling: As I have spoken out publicly in my own community on this particular matter and have not shied away from making my position clear, I thought I should say a few words today in terms of this issue.
The problem that we have with regard to Bill 212 and Bill 213 is that it perpetuates a system which is not only unfair but I think leads to a weak parliamentary system, a system in which members of the provincial parliament must not only come here and listen to logical debate, but also have in jeopardy the financial security of their families when making decisions on policy and whether or not they should speak out on behalf of their constituents from time to time.
I note that of the 94 Liberal government members in this Legislature who were elected as Liberals, 78 of them, 83 per cent of the Liberals. are receiving additional indemnities. Who decides whether they should receive an additional indemnity? One man, the Premier, and the Premier of the province is not only --
Mr. Ballinger: Boy, you’ve got a short memory, Norm.
Mr. Faubert: You did when you were in government.
Mr. Sterling: I hear them chirping. I hear all the fellows who are on the take. I hear them. They are all on the take, receiving extra money here in this Legislature, all chirping up with regard --
Mr. Faubert: Not on the take. Knock it off, Norm. You are losing any support you ever had.
Mr. Sterling: I am not going to get support for this, because I know Liberal members are all going to fall in behind the Premier.
Mr. Faubert: “On the take” is really inappropriate. You should apologize for that.
Mr. Sterling: Whatever the member wants to call it.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Sterling: There are 78 of the 94 Liberals presently in this Legislature who are receiving additional indemnities. I apologize for saying “on the take,” because it is quite within the realm of this Legislature to do that. I apologize for that.
Notwithstanding that, the problem we have now is that we have a situation where not only is the Premier controlling the Legislature in terms of his powers as Premier -- what he can persuade members of his caucus to do, what he can persuade this particular Legislature to do -- but also he is dealing with the financial security of the members of provincial parliament and how they should react and behave with regard to their own constituents back home.
To say that one member of this Legislature is worth $52,000 or $53,000 and another member of this Legislature is worth $82,000 or $83,000 is a significant power for the Premier to have. It is a power which, I am afraid, has led to a lack of substantial debate in this Legislature from time to time. We have seen evidence of that over the last year and a half.
We have not seen members of the government side stand up in the Legislature and differ even one degree off the course of where the government might be, which is uncommon when we speak with regard to other British parliamentary systems.
Mr. Ballinger: Where were you 10 years ago?
Mr. Sterling: Some of the members talk to me about where I was 10 years ago. I did speak up in this Legislature and differed from time to time with regard to my government at that particular time.
Mr. Ballinger: On salaries?
Mr. Sterling: The member for Durham-York (Mr. Ballinger) perhaps does not understand the particular point that I am trying to put forward, but the situation is such that, as we increase the indemnities, as well as increasing the base salary for MPPs, we are making the gap grow wider and wider between what those ministers would receive and what normal MPPs receive. Therefore, what we have is a situation where we are putting more and more power in the hands of the Premier to quell any debate with regard to any of his policies.
Another point that should be made at this time is that within the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, for instance, or any other large metropolitan area, in comparisons of MPPs’ salaries with local politicians’ salaries, what is happening is that local politicians are now being paid in excess of what MPPs are being paid, notwithstanding the fact that many of us have to maintain two homes. While being compensated for many of those costs, not all those costs are covered with regard to the two areas.
The problem with the present process, as the member for Nipissing has indicated before, is that this particular matter is dealt with by one man, the Premier of the province, and nobody else really has anything to say about what in fact happens with regard to this particular issue.
To put all of that control in one man who, for his own personal reasons, has less concern about it than other members -- and quite frankly, I do not have much concern about this particular issue. It does not really make that much difference to me on a personal level because of my ability in private life to be able to sustain myself with regard to living expenses, etc.
It is interesting to note that last spring I had someone walk into my legislative office and offer a place of employment to me that would have more than doubled the salary I presently receive as an MPP in this Legislative Assembly. While many members here would argue whether or not Norm Sterling contributes to this legislative process constructively or energetically, or whether he is worth while, the fact of the matter is that if in fact this Legislative Assembly wants to attract people who have skills and are wanted on the outside, then it must offer compensation that is attractive.
I stay in this Legislative Assembly for the same reasons I came here in 1977. I feel I can make a contribution to my constituents and the people of Ontario. I enjoy the excitement of this institution. I think that I can make a better contribution overall here than I can in private life.
The problem with the salary structure now is that it is too disparate. MPPs are not treated equally within the walls of this Legislative Assembly. It leads to a situation where in my view there are MPPs not speaking their mind, not taking an active role in debate and not speaking the minds of their constituents. Therefore, we are on a system which, albeit it was part of a system in which I was a member of government, is one that should be changed.
Quite frankly, as David Bartlett has pointed out with regard to the regional council in the Ottawa-Carleton area, I believe every member in this Legislature should be paid basically the same amount. Some of us might need more administrative help around us, but any additional posts or duties we take should be on the basis that we want to do those for the people of Ontario and that they are an honour and a responsibility we are willing to take. I would be quite willing to live with that regardless of which side of the House I lived on.
Lastly, I would like to say that I had the honour of being a parliamentary assistant to a former Attorney General for a period of four years; I have been a minister in the past government; I have been a member of a large opposition party in the last parliament, and I have been a member of an opposition in a small opposition party as I now am.
I can say that during that period of time, the energy, the effort I have expended has not changed. During all that period of time, I would not say I was worth any more or any less at one time than at any other time during that period of history. Therefore, if we want to measure the worth of an individual as an MPP, it does not relate to the position beholds in this Legislature.
Therefore, I indicate again that our party will oppose these pieces of legislation for the disparities that continue and the lack of process that continues as well.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. M. C. Ray): Are there any comments or questions? Are there other participants in the debate? Does the government House leader wish to reply?
Hon. Mr. Conway: Yes, I do, briefly, on three or four points. I admit this is a difficult issue. It always is. I have to say what I said at the opening of these remarks, that one should look at some of the alternatives that are being held up as a better way. I would respectfully submit that what we have seen in Washington over the last six weeks, with the recommendations of the Quadrennial Commission, was in my view nothing but an unmitigated disaster.
Mr. Laughren: We can do better than this, Sean.
Hon. Mr. Conway: We may be able to do better than that, but I just say to my friend the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren), and for people who say there is a better way and that it is to accept the recommendations of an external commission, that I ask him to look at what has happened in Washington over the last month with that process in place. It was a disaster. I tell the member that is a Congress where the power of incumbency is enormous. They all get reelected, virtually.
Mr. Reycraft: It is 99 per cent.
Hon. Mr. Conway: The chief government whip says 99 per cent.
I want to make the point that the other ways have been carefully analysed and they were not accepted. I point out that the American example of recent note is a good example to me that this alternative is not all some would make it out to be.
Mr. Laughren: It depends where you get your direction.
Hon. Mr. Conway: No. I do not want to leave the impression that I take my direction from Capitol Hill. I point to Washington, since others have, to that kind of mechanism, to see what happened in recent days.
I want to say something else. I think it is important for me to say this. Difficult as it is, I do not have a particular problem standing up and addressing the question of my salary in this chamber. Like the member for Carleton, I have played the role on both aisles of this chamber. I do not have a problem. Others might, and I know it is not easy, but I have to tell the members that I have done it in the past and that I will do it in the future.
I am quite prepared to continue to look at alternatives and to try to find in a consensual way that better process that has been talked about. But let me be clear: I do not mind going home tomorrow and saying to the people in my riding what I did and why.
It has been observed by some that some members of this assembly receive additional emoluments relative to others and that is true. As far as I know, ever has it been the case in a parliamentary system. I always understood when I was over there why it was my friend the member for Carleton, formerly Carleton Grenville, would receive additional emoluments as parliamentary assistant to the late, great Roy McMurtry -- late Attorney General, I should say; he is, according to the news last night, alive and well and active in the commission rooms of the city.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: And the practice of law.
Hon. Mr. Conway: And the practice of law.
I understood why he received additional emoluments as parliamentary assistant. I understood why my friend the member for Nipissing received several thousands of additional dollars as a minister of the crown in 1985 for the service he ably offered as Minister of Natural Resources.
I do not want to leave any wrong impression about that. I do not think my friends from either Nipissing or Carleton want that changed. If they do, then that is a revolutionary change, it seems to me, over what I have heard in the past.
I want to say to my friend the member for Nipissing that the adjustment this year, like the adjustment last year, is offered as more or less of a cost-of-living increase: 4.7 per cent this year. I am not suggesting, though, that if we were to move to an escalator it would automatically be that, although that would be an obvious choice. So that there is no confusion in the mind of the member, I want to just make that point.
A final point: Yes, my friend the member for Carleton says, “Who decides?” It is a money bill and under our system the executive council decides.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: It was David Peterson.
Hon. Mr. Conway: My friend the member for Windsor-Riverside observes that it might very well have been done under the leadership of the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) and he is right, with a lot of advice around the caucus table and around the cabinet table. My friend the member for Hamilton East smiles his knowing smile. I just want to say that we had a very good debate. We had a very lively debate, I want my friends opposite to know. But they should also know that, yes, it is a money bill, and yes, the cabinet decides and the Premier was quite involved in that decision, as he is in all matters affecting this government.
He has said, “We have got to lead by example.” While it is difficult and while members opposite have argued --
Mr. D. S. Cooke: He’s a millionaire.
Hon. Mr. Conway: My friend the member for Windsor-Riverside observes something of the financial state of some members. Perhaps he wants to get into that with his friend the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) here and the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale (Mr. Philip) who is absent. I am not going to get into that kind of argument. I do not think it is fair to suggest that these decisions are made with a view to one’s own financial status.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Listen, I was not the one who raised the issue, I say to the member for Hamilton East. Please understand that the decision was made by cabinet. Certainly, the Premier had an active role in that. He has said, and I repeat it this morning, that government ultimately bears the responsibility. That is as it should be in our system of parliamentary responsible government. This morning, we are saying to the Legislature and to the province beyond that while it is difficult and while arguments have been eloquently advanced for more, we feel this is reasonable and sets a good example.
We only wish, quite frankly, as the member for Carleton observed, that others in the municipal and school board world would take a close look at this and perhaps more carefully follow the example of this legislation. It is very difficult for members of this Legislature to read in the national capital’s English-language daily about the inadequacy of provincial transfers on the one day, and on the next day a very eloquent pitch from local government about the need for very substantial pay raises. With some interest, I watched school boards tell us about the inadequacy of legislative grant increases and at the same time I see double-digit increases that are really quite another story, at least in terms of the remuneration payable to trustees.
I conclude by saying, yes, the government decided; yes, the Premier played his customary leadership role. He said, “We think this is fair, we think it is reasonable and we think it shows a good example to the province in this connection.”
The Acting Speaker: I will put the question.
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Conway moved second reading of Bill 213, An Act to amend the Executive Council Act.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Very briefly, this bill increases the salaries paid to members of the executive council of the province by 4.7 per cent for the fiscal year 1988-89. I move the adoption of this measure on the same grounds that were advanced in support of the previous item.
Mr. Laughren: I want to briefly enter the debate because I did not have an opportunity in the previous debate.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: Ah, Mr. Sanity from the NDP.
Mr. Laughren: I do not think the Minister of Labour should get into this debate unless he is prepared to do so in a formal way.
I found it very strange in the previous vote how the Liberal backbenchers did not express their views in this chamber the way they have privately in the corridors these last many months.
The other point I want to make to the government House leader is that I recall a year ago when in this chamber there was a debate about this very matter and I very clearly heard the government House leader promise there would be a new process. It was not some kind of vague assurance that they would think about it. It seemed to me very clear that the government House leader was saying there would be a new process for arriving at a decision on what members of this assembly should be paid, including members of the cabinet of course.
The other point I want to make is that we have in this province a Commission on Election Finances. I do not know why the government is proceeding in the way it is when it has that commission with its given mandate. I assume that at this point the commission would tell it to stick it in its ear.
It is ridiculous to give them a certain task, such as asking them to make a recommendation to the government on the emoluments of elected members, and then ignore them year after year after year. I do not know why they take the insult, quite frankly. If I were they, I would say, “Either change our mandate or get somebody else to do it.”
It is an incredible act of arrogance on the part of this government to have established that commission, to have given it that mandate and then totally to ignore it year after year. If I were a member of that commission, I know what I would tell the government. I am surprised they have not already. I would certainly encourage them to tell the government what to do with the existing mandate they presently have, because the government is making a mockery of it. It is asking them to do something and it is saying, “However, go through the exercise.” They have done a lot of work in this regard. They have checked it out with other jurisdictions. They have made serious and carefully reasoned recommendations year after year.
The government says, “Well, we’re not going to listen to you.” Why does the government have them there? Why is it paying them to do a job and then ignoring their recommendations? To me, that makes no sense, for those two reasons: first, the fact that the government House leader promised a different process -- he promised, as I recall, quite specifically, quite clearly, in his usual articulate way, that there would be a new process. Well, there is not.
I know it is just another in a long list of broken promises. It does not rank up there with the importance of some of the promises that have been broken, but it is still yet another broken promise on the part of this government.
I, for one, no longer expect the government to carry out what it promises to do. When these ministers stand up day after day and make announcements, in my own head I just discount them. I think a lot of people out there in Ontario discount the grand statements that are made, because they are not carried through; they are not followed up.
I am glad to see the Minister of Labour shaking his head, because if ever there was an example, it is the Minister of Labour.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: Why are you making a personal attack?
Mr. Laughren: I am glad the Minister of Labour has decided to get into the debate. I hope that when he returns to his seat he will get into the debate in a more formal way.
I can tell him that for those two reasons: one, that there was yet another Liberal promise broken, which should not surprise any of us but nevertheless it is another broken promise; and second, that they continue to ignore the recommendations of the Commission on Election Finances, one of whose duties is to make recommendations to the government and the government has failed to even acknowledge in any meaningful way what the commission recommends, I shall not support this bill.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I have just two quick comments to my friend the member for Nickel Belt. I checked the Hansard of January 7, 1988, because I anticipated his attack. I want to be clear, as page 1832 of that Hansard makes plain, that what I committed to do was to enter negotiations with my colleagues in the opposition to see if we could not find another way, and we did that. We worked at some length to see if we could come to some understanding. It was a commitment made in good faith and carried forward in good faith, I want the honourable member to know.
Mr. Laughren: A year ago.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Yes. I just want to be very clear about what I committed the government to do. In my view, we did that; we did it responsibly.
Mr. Laughren: You didn’t do anything. You didn’t do it; stop pretending.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Well, I am just not pretending, and I want my friend opposite to know a second matter. Much is made from the opposition benches, and to be perfectly frank I used to do it when I was over there as well --
Mr. R. F. Johnston: And probably will again.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Perhaps so. My friend the member for Scarborough West suggests that the day may come when I might return to the other side of the island. He may very well be right. My experience with the member for Scarborough West is that he is far more clairvoyant than most of us, myself included, so I am quite prepared to defer to his Mackenzie King-like vision in these and other matters.
I have to say something else, but I should just finish the comment, because the opposition likes to create the impression that it has extensive intelligence of what the government benches are about in these matters. If what the honourable member opposite is saying is that there is a range of opinion in the government caucus, well he is absolutely right. I have some very good friends who have said to me some of the things that have already been advanced by members of the opposition.
I do not want to put him on the spot, but I see the member for Mississauga West (Mr. Mahoney) here. He has pointed out to me on occasion some of the differentials as between municipal and provincial pay scales in these matters.
I just want to be perfectly frank with my friends opposite that it is not as though there is one view in the government caucus. The government caucus is representative of a wide range of views on this and, quite frankly, on a number of other issues. But after the good discussion and after the vigorous debate, this government caucus has a cohesiveness and a discipline that my friends opposite might do well to emulate. I know that it is not always easy to accept that, but I want to say to my friends that this government caucus, in terms of its cohesion and discipline, is a very, very exemplary group.
I have a final observation I want to make for my friend the member for Nickel Belt. He says: “What about the Commission on Election Finances? Isn’t it terrible that they have been asked to make recommendations and they have not been accepted?” I do not agree with his assessment that this is terrible. I have to tell the members that we are elected by the people of Ontario as an assembly, out of which comes a government to make these decisions. I just have to tell my friends opposite that I take the responsibility of being the government very seriously.
There are few people for whom I have a higher regard than my friend the chairman of the Commission on Election Finances. He was asked for advice and he gave advice. I remember when the member for Halton Centre (Mrs. Sullivan), now of this Legislature, formerly of that commission, participated in that process. They were asked for advice and they gave advice, but this government has the ultimate responsibility of making the decision. If the members opposite are asking whether we are prepared to accept that responsibility and to discharge it with sensitivity and clarity, we are.
If people who are asked to give us advice feel that just because their advice is not always accepted --
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Never.
Hon. Mr. Conway: That is not true. I have to tell the member that the Commission on Election Finances has offered advice on a variety of subjects. I can think of their advice on certain aspects of changes to the election law in this province and it was quickly accepted.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: Never by you guys.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: You’ve never accepted anything they’ve said on money.
Hon. Mr. Conway: On the question of members’ salaries, the member is probably right, but I want to disabuse my friends opposite of any sense they might have that we feel this is an unhappy situation. They get to offer advice and we get to make the decisions. They are not always easy --
Mr. D. S. Cooke: We are over here and you are over there.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Not at all, because as we discussed in this chamber in recent days -- my friend the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) said it last night -- I listen to our friends in the opposition talk about programming. The member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) is a very active proponent of spending on a whole range of proposals. The member for Cambridge (Mr. Farnan) was in yesterday, talking about how a variety of programs needed to be enhanced by way of commitment. But we ask over here about that group over there: Where are they when it comes to revenue matters?
Where are they on matters of taxation? With the odd exception, do they carefully withdraw from showing their cards, because they know there are some very tough issues, calls and judgements to be made? They do not want to be associated with them. They are prepared to stand in the sunshine of good-news announcements, but they will run as quickly as any sprinter one can think of from the tough questions of tax increases and other related matters.
I say in conclusion that we are prepared to do what the people of Ontario elected us to do: to make those tough decisions and to lead by example. We think, in this bill, as in its antecedent Bill 212, we have been fair and reasonable to the members of the Legislature and have shown a good example to the municipal sector and to the community at large. For those reasons, I once again say that I am pleased to put these motions and have them accepted.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: What’s that glinting behind you? There’s 4.7 per cent.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. M. C. Ray): The discussion is now concluded.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the recommendation contained in the report, on the process for the restoration of the parliament building, of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly.
Mr. Epp: I am sure that we will not be able to emulate the kind of excitement that the two previous bills generated in this House. I get the impression that we are going to have unanimous consent to this particular motion and I am pleased to be able to participate in what I consider to be a very important debate and a very important adoption of a very important report.
I just want to outline a few things with regard to this debate. I understand there have been approximately 30 minutes allocated to the three parties -- 10 minutes to each -- so that we might get out of here at a time that is still reasonable, and people can get their lunch and get back here by 1:30 p.m.
In going back on the history of this particular building and looking at the restoration and renovation of this particular edifice, I find it is a tremendous building. I know the legislative chamber here is one of the nicest chambers I have seen in the five or 10 parliament buildings or legislative chambers that I have visited, both in the United States and in Canada. When we look at the particular building here and the history of this Legislature, we find that the area where the legislators met in this province has not always been in Toronto.
If we go back over 100 years ago -- or 200 years ago, actually -- in 1792 the legislators met first in Newark at that time, which is now Niagara-on-the-Lake. They moved from the Navy Hall to an oak tree in the centre of town, where now stands the Parliament Oak Public School, which I, by chance, had the good opportunity to attend back in the late 1940s, which gives you some idea of how old I am.
Prior to that, there was no real Legislature. After that, the legislators moved to Toronto, where the permanent home of the Legislature is now situate.
They first met at Front Street, where they built a building shortly thereafter of wood and brick.
In 1813, which was during the War of 1812 -- members will appreciate that -- the building was burned down by the American military forces. Following that, a new building was built, but in the interim the legislators met at the York General Hospital and the courthouse at the corner of King and Church streets.
The building was rebuilt, and then in 1832 the building was again ravaged by fire, but this was accidental, and a new structure was built shortly thereafter.
In 1841 the two provinces of Upper Canada and Lower Canada were joined, and the parliaments of these two provinces met not only in Kingston and Toronto but also outside the province in Quebec City and Montreal. The government for this province has taken place not only in Ontario but also in Lower Canada, or Quebec as we know it today.
In designing this particular structure, the building went through a series of controversies. For instance, there was a committee that was established in the 1880s by the then government. There were three people on that committee and they drew up the specs, which were about 14 pages in length. They had a number of architectural firms and others who put forth plans. They were never happy with any one of them. Sometimes they picked the highest price, sometimes they picked the lowest price and so forth as far as the estimates were concerned.
At that time, in the 1880s, they thought the highest price of the building they wanted to construct was about $500,000. That is a pittance compared to the kind of investment we have now and it is a very small portion when we are talking about the restoration and renovation of this particular building.
What happened was what has happened in some industries. They drew up the specs and they found that one of the persons who could best deliver and who was an architect himself, out of Buffalo, was a fellow by the name of Waite who then became the architect of this particular building. They finished this structure, which has certain changes because of fires having taken place, for approximately $700,000, in that general neighbourhood.
In looking at this particular structure, I just want to quote from a report that was drafted by the Ministry of Culture and Communications in 1988, just to outline some of the structure here and what members might appreciate about the way it was developed.
It says: “Of considerable credit if not genius is the manner in which the entire parliament buildings are arranged in an harmonious five-part composition that at once appears formal and yet individual parts are enriched with an informal variety of textures and details. This Waite refers to as ‘informal balance’ and is a principle much exploited in the Romanesque style. The efficient functioning of the internal arrangements of rooms and spaces was of considerable concern to the government, probably more than the selected architectural style of the exterior. The central block is the primary public space incorporating the main entrance, the grand staircase and the legislative chamber. The subordinate lower wings to the east and west provide administrative support to the Legislature and the government. Basically, the west wing was used for legislative functions and services including the various members’ chambers, opposition offices, the library and the Speaker’s apartment. The east wing provides rooms for the various departments, the Premier’s chambers, cabinet and other supporting services.”
That was the way it was designed and that is the way it has developed over the years. Still another thing, as we look at this particular building -- and it is a wonderful building; many of us have offices in it -- at that time they thought that the building was too large. They thought that it would take a long, long time to fill the building. We know it was filled within a few years, and within about 20 years they were constructing the north wing. The west wing, as members know, was ravaged by fire and they reconstructed that and even added rooms on to it.
But an interesting note is in the book called The House Was My Home by the former Clerk of this Legislature, Roderick Lewis. He writes on page 5, in describing the scene of the opening of the Legislative Building in 1892 when Oliver Mowat was Premier, that he came riding up University Avenue with a long-term servant of this province, a Mr. Fitch. Mr. Fitch said, “It’s a fine building, sir, a fine building.” To which Premier Mowat replied: “Charlie, it frightens me to death. We’ll never fill it in 100 years”.
The feeling at that time was that we would not fill this building for maybe 100 years. Mr. Mowat was somewhat frightened by the prospect of this large building, but it did not take long. The imagination of politicians and civil servants found ways to fill the building very quickly.
Subsequent to that, the building, of course, was visited by a number of important visitors over the years. I just want to look very quickly at some of the people who have spoken in this chamber who were not members of the chamber.
We go back to 1941 when Wendell Willkie addressed the chamber here. He was the leader of the Republican Party in the United States. We find out that Cardinal McGuigan addressed it in 1946 and that the tremendous figure skater Barbara Ann Scott addressed it in 1947.
In addition, we are told that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth met guests and so forth and briefly addressed the accompanying guests in this chamber in 1939. Just a few years ago -- most of the members who are here today were here in 1976 when the then Bishop of Johannesburg, Desmond Tutu, addressed the members.
These are only a few of the important events that have taken place. This chamber has also seen a number of great orators, Mr. Speaker. I am sure you remember them, but for the benefit of all the other members I just want to mention a few of them. We had the member for Sudbury at one time, Elmer Sopha, who I am told was one of the great orators back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In addition, Farquhar Oliver, a gentleman who was leader of the Liberal Party and who passed away just a very short time ago, was probably, I am told, the greatest orator that this chamber ever heard. I remember when I first came here just a few short years ago, listening to Stephen Lewis orate in these chambers. I remember that when he spoke, many members and staff would come in just to hear him speak.
We have had the benefit of some great people speaking here. I think that is a tribute to the kind of chamber that we have here and to the province in general.
In looking at restoration and renovation, we have to look very quickly at some of the basic things that need to be done. The roof probably has to be replaced. I have never been up there, but I know it is made out of slate and copper. That is a major job. There are, it was once estimated, approximately 400 windows in this building. Some of them are rotting. In my own office, when there is quite a snowstorm the snow will come in under the window sills. I am told by one of the reporters that whenever we have a heavy rain in the summer, spring or fall, it rains into his office, on the floor there. Papers and other things can be damaged that way. Those are major things that have to be done.
Most people, when they go to eat, do not go into the basement to eat; they probably have their dining room on the main floor. Yet in this building we have the dining room in the basement. I think we should take a serious look at the facilities, not only the dining facilities for members and guests but also, equally as important, the cafeteria facilities, which are very inadequate as far as groups coming in and as far as members of the staff, the legislative staff, the library staff and so forth, are concerned. People want to get a quick bite to eat, but there are inadequate facilities downstairs.
We have no committee rooms that are adequate for a group of citizens coming in that might number over 50 people. We might be able to crowd 50 people into a committee room, but I think we should be able to accommodate at least a few hundred.
There is also the fact that the Lieutenant Governor is in this building. He has been here since the mid-1930s. I question whether constitutionally the Lieutenant Governor should be in this building. The other important point of course is the fact that he has an apartment here on two floors, and that space might be more appropriately used in another manner.
Very quickly, what our committee is recommending in the report is that the Speaker and the chairman of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly co-chair a committee of five members, including one member from the New Democratic Party, one member from the Progressive Conservative Party and a member of the Liberal Party. There has been a committee that has met over a period of time.
We suggest that committee be given authority to oversee restoration and renovation of this particular building, and of course two floors in the Whitney Block but that is a subsequent thing. We are 100 per cent interested in this particular building and not so much in the Whitney Block, although we do overlap into that building for offices for members. Assistance would come from the director of Legislative Assembly services as well as the Clerk and the controller and various other interested people from historical boards, the heritage boards and the province.
I am pleased to be able to have participated in this debate and I look forward to hearing the comments of the members from the two other parties on this matter.
Mr. Breaugh: It has taken a while and a lot of effort, but it would appear that we are on the verge of doing something that, for me and for many other members here, is long overdue. It has been a difficult road because, although this I suppose does not matter to very many other people, the history is that the chamber itself and this building have not ever been in the control of the members of the assembly and now they are. The Speaker now has jurisdiction over this building and a portion of another building.
We have tried, in the last year or so, to sort out the process question. How would we go about renovating and restoring this building? We think that the recommendations of this report provide a mechanism whereby that process can begin. We will simply have members representing each of the caucuses here, the Speaker and the chairman of the Legislative Assembly committee make the recommendations and do the legwork that has to be done to undertake -- I think we should put this on the record today -- what is going to be probably a long and difficult task.
Many of us are advocates obviously of the political system that we have and we kind of love the trappings of the process as well: this chamber, this building and all the things that go on here. It is not just a memento to political junkies like me, though. The important thing to try to remember is that this building represents democracy in this province.
Without getting too high-faluting about it all, that is important to each and every person who lives in Ontario. The values, the traditions and the political process that we are associated with occur in and around this building are important to my father, who uses the medical care system that emanated from this building, are important to my children and are important to the neighbours in my own community. This is symbolic in a sense, but it is important to the people of Ontario.
Many of us have looked at other jurisdictions and how they went about the restoration and renovation of their buildings. We are aware that this is not an easy thing to do. In this building as it now stands, for example, about 20 per cent of the building is not usable. The fire marshal says so; common sense tells us that too. So one of the first priorities will be to try to make better use of the facilities we have.
The second thing we have learned in other jurisdictions is that you can do a lot towards the restoration of a building by simply stopping destroying the building. Much of what people will see as they wander about this very old building is that a lot of it has been destroyed by us, by people who wanted a wall moved and did not think about how that should be done, by somebody who wanted to stick a window in here or do something else somewhere else.
I am often reminded that I would very much like to have in my home some of the little oak woodwork that is in my office, but if I were doing it in my home I would be most upset if somebody came in and strapped a cable down some oak railing in my living room and then ran a staple gun up and down it three or four times and said, “That’s the way we are going to do this.”
I think in my own home I would want someone to do that with a little bit more care and a little bit more diligence, because I would probably be well aware that if I went to Beaver Lumber and tried to replace that oak trim, it would cost me an arm and a leg.
Hon. Mr. Conway: But you didn’t want to tell Cassidy and Bounsall that they couldn’t make some of those alterations in those happy days.
Mr. Breaugh: That is true, yes. The government House leader, in his eminent wisdom, has stuck his nose into the debate one more time.
We should put a couple of things on the record today too. Although I am obviously strongly an advocate of this committee report and the restoration of this building, it does mean some things. We are not going to be able to accommodate everybody in the way we want. In my view, this is a parliament first and foremost, and the functions of a working parliament are the paramount concern that should dominate what this committee does as it goes about restoring the building.
I think many of us would like to see a good deal of restoration in the building, but we are mindful that it is a working place as well and that in this day and age we need to have computers, televisions, telephones and all kinds of fax machines. There is a need to bring that modern era into the building. We obviously do not want to restore the building to its virgin state as it was originally built, because most of us would like to have electricity in our offices and most of us would like to be able to use the telephone now and then.
But we have seen other jurisdictions where this has been done with some sensitivity, where there is an attempt made successfully to recapture the original spirit of the building, where there is a willingness on the part of those who do the repairs to the building to try to get it back to a period of restoration, so that you can sense what the history of the building is about.
Sometimes as you walk around this building you see great works of art that have not really been preserved in the way they should; you see fine furniture that is stacked one piece on top of another; you see the way they rip out electrical cables and stick in new ones. You get some sense that there is not much respect for the building.
It is my hope that the work of this committee, with the help of the Legislative Assembly, will restore some of that respect, restore some of the art around the building to its original condition and display it so that the people of Ontario can see that treasure, restore some of the woodwork you see in and around this chamber to its original condition so people can appreciate the great craftsmanship that has gone into the construction of this building.
As I went through the committee report, I was struck by the number of things I do not know about this building, even though I have been a member here for a long time. I was not aware that there is an immigrants’ entrance to the building, and there is. In the northeast corner of the building there is an entrance that at one time was called the immigrants’ entrance. I was not aware that there is a members’ entrance until I read some of the background report.
One of the things that became obvious as we dug up all of these reports is the amount of time, money and effort that has been spent over the years to study the building. The tragedy, of course, is that those efforts went awry. Nothing ever happened to a lot of it. It is interesting to note that in the building we have a jail, though few people could find it; we have a movie theatre --
The Acting Speaker (Mr. M. C. Ray): Order, please. We have an outstanding order from last Thursday to conclude the debate at 12:30. Is there unanimous consent to continue and to conclude it? At what time?
Mr. Breaugh: It is my understanding that we have roughly set about 10 minutes or so for each of the parties to do that, so we could conclude in about 10 minutes’ time. Is that agreeable?
Mr. Breaugh: In conclusion, then, I do hope that members understand some things about this. This is not going to be cheap any way you cut it, but our options are really kind of limited. There are parts of the building that are unsafe, and we should say that and know that. There are parts of the building where if we spent some money to restore portions of this building, we could actually use the space. I believe that would be a good thing.
I think we should do all of this with some respect for the history of the building, for the knowledge that this is still a working parliament; that should be the paramount concern as the committee goes through its work.
I hope we can do a good job. I hope it will not take for ever and ever to get done, but I do appreciate that it is going to be expensive, and even if we want to it is going to take a lot of time. I am reminded that some of the work around the building is work which is not commonly done any more and that we will have some difficulty finding people with the skills to rebuild the stonework and the woodwork around the building, but I hope we can do that.
I hope that as the committee goes about its business, it is both creative and mindful that the people of Ontario, in their own way, have a very valuable resource here in this building and in the work that goes on around the parliament of Ontario. I hope all members will be supportive of the committee’s recommendations to proceed in this manner.
Mr. Sterling: As I guess the only professional civil engineer in the Legislature of Ontario, I have been designated by my party to be involved in the restoration and renovation and maintenance of this particular building.
As you know, 1993 will be the centenary for the main Legislative Building that we are now housed in, and I believe it is incumbent upon us in the Legislature to plan and to rebuild and to put this building into a position so that it will serve the Legislative Assembly for the next 100 years. Therefore, it is necessary for us to put forward a method and a means to undertake that particular task.
Some time ago I became aware of the fact that there are many problems with the existing structure and the maintenance of this particular building. If we did not undertake to change any of the functions or the space or any part of this building, we would be faced -- and we are going to be faced -- with a substantial maintenance or repair cost just in order to keep the structure standing and dry and warm in the winter and somewhat livable in the summertime.
Therefore, I think that it should be very important for us to point out as we go through this next process that many of the costs that will be incurred, and they are going to be substantial, would be there regardless of whether or not we decided to make any changes in the formation or the division of this particular building.
This step was necessary because, most recently you Mr. Speaker, have taken over the lead role with regard to this main Legislative Building. Up until that particular step was taken, the government had the responsibility for taking care of this particular building. Now it is unclear how decisions are to be made when we have to fix the roof and replace the windows, which are so old and lose so much energy through them every day.
So I applaud the member’s leadership, the leadership of the chairman of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly and our clerk for putting together an idea and a group which is embodied in this resolution, for us to be able to make those decisions which are going to have to take place in the next two, three or four years and which will affect the lives of members of this Legislature for a century, really. I will be happy to participate in that, if in fact I get the opportunity, as a representative of my caucus.
As members know from our previous discussions with regard to this matter, I have a concern as to the willingness of the government to supply this Legislative Assembly with the necessary funds in order to carry this project through. I can only say that I will go forward at the initial stages in good faith, and put as much effort and energy as I can into trying to reach logical and reasonable conclusions and decisions as to how we should proceed.
But I may say, as a bit of a warning, as we go through this process that it will involve, on the part of the government leaders and the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) of the government of the day -- it may not be this particular Treasurer; it may not be this government -- taking some flak on their part when we replace the roof of this particular building at a cost of maybe $15 million, which may be the estimate of that kind of repair. Therefore, not only is it going to require the committee to work hard but also it is going to require a show of fortitude and determination on the part of the sitting government to see this thing through to its final end.
The other part that will be very important for us, as members of the Legislature, will be to try to understand all of the pushes and pulls that are made in each and every decision. It may affect the size of our offices; it may affect whether we have a decent kitchen in this particular place in order for us to have meals prepared for our staff and for members of this Legislature or of the visiting public; it may affect whether people from our province can come here and park their cars while they visit the Legislature. All of those kinds of decisions are going to be difficult to come to a conclusion on, and members of the Legislature are going to have to show a significant amount of support for this committee and the decisions that it makes.
I only say that my participation on that particular committee will be with those kinds of understandings, that we will get the support of the government in terms of the financial end, providing we are reasonable; and we will get the support of the members of the Legislature after they have had their opportunity for input and after what is a reasonable decision by the committee that is being formed by this resolution today.
I would like to leave a few moments of my party’s time -- if I have not used it all up -- for my colleague on the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, the member for Wellington (Mr. J. M. Johnson), to have a few moments for a few remarks.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: I will take only a few minutes. I did intend to make a major speech, but I will set that aside for another day. I have just a couple of personal observations. One is that I very strongly support the recommendation, the motion before the House. It has not only my personal support but also the support of our party.
I have served on this committee for many years. I have travelled to Sacramento and Victoria. I was criticized, along with other members, by the press; some referred to it as a junket. If we do not go ahead with it, then indeed it will been a junket; if we do go ahead with it, then it will have been a trip that was well worth while because we did learn a lot in both cities.
In closing, I might just make a personal comment that the sandstone that was used for the construction of this building came from my old tiding of Wellington-Dufferin-Peel, from the town of Caledon just south of Orangeville. I do feel that it is part of my heritage and that I want to preserve it, so I hope that we can work in that direction. The centennial is, I believe, on April 4, 1993. If we do not have it completed then, let’s at least be well on the way.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I would like to take just 30 seconds, because I have enjoyed the debate. I certainly have read of the work that the committee has done. The member for Carleton (Mr. Sterling) makes the point that there is a lot of work to be done, and a lot of that work is going to require the appropriation of very considerable dollars. The government has been advised, at least at a preliminary stage, of what some of those spending pressures are going to be.
In fact, as my friend from Carleton will know, the House leaders and the Board of Internal Economy have also been discussing a way in which this might proceed. We are anxious that we move forward in a fashion -- I do not want to discourage the committee, but I do want to say, on behalf of the government, that we are going to have to take a very long and hard look at what are going to be very considerable sums of money, and I do not want to create unrealistic expectations.
Again, my friend from Waterloo North (Mr. Epp) has been pressing me, on behalf of the committee, for it seems like too many days now. I do not want to denigrate his very considerable efforts, but I do want, on behalf of the government, to indicate -- and, quite frankly, on behalf of at least our side of the Board of Internal Economy -- there are some big dollars involved in this, and we are going to have to find a way to work our way through that. The government, of course, is again going to have to lead the way in those appropriations.
I just wanted to say that I have really enjoyed the speeches, and that I have learned some things about this building that I did not know anything about. I am anxious to talk to my friends from Waterloo, Oshawa, Wellington and Carleton about where some of these places are.
Motion agreed to.
The House recessed at 12:43 p.m.
The House resumed at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Philip: Eighty groups or individuals from Metropolitan Toronto wishing to present their views on Bill 162, the new Workers’ Compensation Amendment Act, have been rejected by the Liberal government.
New Democrats on the standing committee on resources development moved a motion that all groups and individuals wishing to make presentations on this important change to the Workers’ Compensation Act should be heard. This motion was defeated by the Liberal majority on the committee. In the past, similar motions have carried in other committees holding hearings on important legislation. One must ask why the Liberals are so afraid of the views of the public on this matter.
Residents in Etobicoke will lose their opportunity to present their views since organizations such as the Lakeshore Area Multi-Service Project, the soft drink workers union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 808, and the Etobicoke Board of Education will likely not have an opportunity to appear.
In response to public indignation, the Liberals did move to extend the sitting hours in Toronto. However, this new schedule will allow only 18 additional groups to appear, thus disfranchising 62 groups or individuals from appearing. Why are the Premier (Mr. Peterson), the Minister of Labour (Mr. Sorbara) and the Liberal members on the committee so afraid of the views of my constituents and those of other Metro MPPs that they want to muzzle them? Why does the Minister of Labour not withdraw the bill rather than try to withdraw the public?
Mr. McLean: My statement concerns three specific areas in which this government has failed miserably and has let the people of Ontario down badly. The Premier (Mr. Peterson) said he had a plan to reduce automobile insurance premiums for motorists in Ontario. However, we have just seen them increase for just about everybody. Ontario’s health care system is in a shambles after meddling by this government, resulting in hospital construction delays, a shortage of nurses and postponed heart surgery.
This government promised to return the province s share of education spending to the 60 per cent level; instead, it has declined to about 40 per cent.
Rather than solving these and other critical issues facing the people of Ontario, this government has chosen instead to almost double the salaries of its executive assistants, increase the salaries of deputy ministers from $87,000 to about $130,000, hire more than 7,000 new employees, increase the administration budget for virtually every ministry from 35 per cent to 40 per cent and tax the people of Ontario an additional $1.3 billion. They have also frozen the municipal transfer payments at 1988 levels and have increased the sales tax to eight per cent.
I have a constituent who phoned me this morning with regard to heart surgery. Mrs. Crawford’s husband needs a triple bypass and she indicates it will be June 30 before it will be considered.
Mr. Pelissero: At a time when we hear so much in the media about young people in trouble, it is particularly important to accentuate the many positive accomplishments of young people, such as 15-year-old Kelly Smith of Grimsby in my riding. Kelly was recently awarded the Canada Cord, the highest achievement attainable by a Pathfinder in the Girl Guides of Canada movement.
To earn the Canada Cord, Kelly had to attain a bronze-, silver- and finally gold-level standing in six Pathfinder emblems, an achievement that took her three years to complete. The Canada Cord is presented to an outstanding Girl Guide who has successfully met over 135 Pathfinder challenges and completed 20 sections to achieve a gold level in camping, community, home, outdoor and world emblems as well as all sections of the “Be Prepared” emblem.
For the camping emblem, Kelly had to plan and lead a camping expedition. The community emblem involved meeting challenges in arts, recreation, knowledge and service, citizenship and heritage. For the home emblem, Kelly had to meet challenges in fashion and health, leisure time and hobbies, nutrition and home management, and personal relationships and values.
The outdoor emblem involved challenges in conservation, the natural environment, outdoor skills, sports and fitness. For the world emblem, Kelly had to meet specific challenges involving Canadian history, global understanding, travel and world guiding. The “Be Prepared” emblem, which is the highest of the six emblems, was further divided into three sections: community, home and outdoors.
I ask all members to join me in congratulating Kelly on her outstanding achievement. Way to go, Kelly.
Mr. Charlton: On Tuesday, February 28, my colleague the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) read into the record a partial list of groups and representatives of groups in Hamilton and surrounding area that have been denied access to the standing committee on resources development hearings on Bill 162, An Act to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The government seems to have failed to understand that the large volume of requests to appear before this committee reflects the serious nature of how the Ontario community views these amendments. Unfortunately, the Liberal members on that committee have voted to deny access to large numbers of groups.
Robert File, chairperson of the workers’ compensation committee, Local 397, Canadian Auto Workers, has been denied access to that committee. Bob Jaggard of Local 107, Amalgamated Transit Union, has been denied access to that committee. Mark Brett, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1344, has been denied access to the hearings before that committee. David Wallace of the United Steelworkers of America, Local 2868, has been denied access to those hearings.
James Culp, International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers, Local 736, has been denied access to those hearings. Glen Norton, CUPE Local 1263, has been denied access to those hearings. Doug Hart, area co-ordinator, United Steelworkers of America, Local 6200, has been denied access to those hearings. George Irvine, president, Canadian Auto Workers, Local 525, has been denied access to those hearings. There are many, many others.
Mr. Harris: Will Rogers said, “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” He would have found this government’s performance hilarious, but we and the people of Ontario are not laughing. There is nothing funny about a government that thinks that the way to conduct business is to start slow and then taper off.
There is nothing funny about apathy and ineptitude, about a government that has mismanaged every issue it has not chosen to ignore. There is nothing funny about a government that deals with a housing crisis by telling people to give up the dream of home ownership or move somewhere else. No one in the province, except perhaps the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon), is chuckling over the $1.3 billion tax grab, although a few giggles have been heard from some corners over the government’s farcical free trade policy.
The people of Ottawa-Carleton are not smiling today over this government’s bungling and ineptitude in the space centre issue, and Ontario municipalities have not been greatly amused by anything this administration has done.
Of course, it is probably too much to expect that the government would be able to run the province when it has not even been able to properly conduct the business of this House.
Give everyone over there a good shake, Mr. Speaker, or a good shuffle to wake them up from their long winter’s nap. During the intersession, they should take the time to update their résumés, because if this session is an indication of what we can expect, we have an idea of what the people will do when it comes time to --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. The member’s time has expired.
USE OF LOT LEVIES
Mr. Owen: In Simcoe Centre in recent years there have been quite a few new millionaires. Most of these people have reached this status because of the real estate boom.
The Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) has proposed a new lot levy for new school construction. Why?
In January 1988, a couple in Barrie signed an offer on a new home for $198,000. Two weeks later, the same home plan in the same subdivision went up by $10,000. By the closing date in June, the $198,000 home sold for $248,000. Between January and June, the cost of land, building materials and labour remained the same; however, the developer made $50,000 more for each unit.
Today the value of the home is not governed by the contributing costs, but rather by supply and demand. Without the new school in the subdivision, there would be no demand.
In the past few years, our government has increased capital contributions to new schools from $70 million annually to $300 million. Notwithstanding this mammoth increase in provincial funding, portable classrooms in the same period increased from 4,000 units to 7,000 units.
We believe in free enterprise. We do not begrudge the new millionaires their millions. However, it is unfair for them to build their fortunes on the backs of the taxpayer. With the Treasurer’s proposal, those who benefit from the location of the new schools will help pay for the new schools.
Demanding new times require challenging new solutions. The Treasurer is to be commended for his bold and innovative proposal.
Mr. McLean: I just want to comment briefly on the occurrence at the Ontario Good Roads Association convention -- I stroke out the words “good roads”; it was at the roads convention -- where the Minister of Transport (Mr. Fulton) indicated he was willing to meet anybody, anywhere, any time.
I observed that the delegates at that roads convention wanted to meet on different occasions with the minister and he refused to meet. However, he insisted his staff could meet. I say shame on the minister and the other ministers who were not there to meet the delegates who wanted to discuss the problems they are having within their municipalities because of this government’s flat-lining the grants to the local municipalities.
Mr. Speaker: That completes statements by the members.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I ask for unanimous consent to make some comments. I think all parties would like to do so, this being the beginning of international women’s week.
Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Labour (Mr. Sorbara) or whoever wishes to go first.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Always happy to defer.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: If I might, I suppose that since we made the request for the unanimous consent, perhaps we should go forward, although I am always delighted to see a minister who wishes to get up to participate in these kinds of actions; besides the government House leader, of course, who is always ready to jump to his feet at a moment’s notice.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I think it is an important day for us to recognize as a Legislature, a Legislature that is still predominantly male, although in the election we had the largest increase in women representatives that we have ever seen. But this is still very much the men’s club, as is much of the power structure of our society at the end of the 1980s.
I think it is very important to look at the issues that women’s committees from around the province, around the country, and in fact around the world will be looking at in this coming week. In this province, a major concentration will be about poverty and women.
I think most members should be aware at this stage -- I hope they are -- that there has been a great feminization of poverty in this province and this country over the last number of years; that statistically if you are a woman, you are much more likely to find yourself trapped in poverty than you are if you are a male; that large numbers of children, well over one million children in this country and bordering on 350,000 children in this province, live in poverty, often with single-parent mothers as their main providers, with all the incredible burdens that adds.
It is also important to note that if you look at the likelihood of moving into poverty when you are elderly, even though there has been some redress of this in the last number of years, if you are a woman you have a much greater likelihood of spending your retirement years with a lack of money than you do if you are a male in our society. It is a very clear distinction still.
In this province I think we had hoped to see some major steps in leadership by this government in terms of dealing with issues that are of importance to women, both around poverty issues -- we wait with bated breath now for the budget and the speech from the throne to see if the government is going to move on the Transitions report, where Judge Thomson so pointedly drew our attention to the problems of women and poverty.
But we also have other things to look at. I have raised with this minister in the House the whole question of parental leave and maternity leave and how far behind other jurisdictions in the world Ontario still is. The minister has not given us any indication when changes that would deal with those concerns might be forthcoming, although he agreed they were matters of concern to him.
If I look at our equal pay legislation and the problems it is having in terms of getting going and actually dealing with the real problems of a vast number of people in our province, I am inclined to want to point fingers and say, “We told you so.” It is really the moment for this government to take major initiatives in working on some of the female work ghettos of this province to redress the major problems they have.
This is a day when it is perhaps ironic that it will be a man from our party and a man from the government party who get up to make the speeches on this matter, that it is not the case that either the government has a spokesperson for women’s issues who happens to be female or that the official opposition is in that position. I hope that some day that will definitely be the case.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I see a very able spokesperson across the aisle.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I notice the government House leader notices a potential spokesperson for our party. I can definitely see three in our party, and I can see many others in his party who, as well, might be able to fill the shoes of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Sorbara) a little more appropriately at this point.
It is definitely time for us to look seriously at issues around women’s roles in the power structures of this province. I sometimes think we take a couple of steps forwards and then, regrettably, a few steps backwards in our initiatives. It would have been remiss if we had not asked for unanimous consent today to draw the attention of the full House and the people of Ontario to many of the outstanding issues that still are there for women before they have full equality in this province.
Mrs. Cunningham: It is with great pleasure that I rise today to acknowledge International Women’s Day. This is a special day for all women in all cultures across this globe, for it is a day set aside for them to reflect, among other things, on the historical struggle for women’s fundamental rights as full participants and decision-makers in society, which is still largely male-dominated.
This struggle is one in which women everywhere strive to first come to an understanding of the gender-based ideologies that influence socialization processes and social consciousness and serve to oppress them all over the world.
Women have come to see the public context in which their private troubles are situated, and have made the necessary political connections required, to begin the long route aimed at liberating both sexes from the oppression of social structures and values that reflect the attitudes of male domination and female subordination. Women have been the pioneers of this process of social criticism and liberating thought.
Much work in the area of women’s rights remains to be done, however. The framework for male-female liberation has been developed. What is now necessary is its translation into practical, everyday living in society. It is towards this goal that the efforts of all concerned and committed men and women are directed. In this province, we look forward with anticipation to the implementation in the very near future of at least the first stage of the Transitions report. It is just a beginning.
We also look very carefully at other initiatives that are being monitored and implemented within Ontario to help women in their everyday lives, as they struggle with equal rights and with their families, across this province, in dealing with the terrible destruction of poverty. It is the hope that with the achievement of this women’s movement, which enlivens the international women s movement today, that we can all be proud of the successes and the results of hard work.
The prophetic tradition of the Bible commands us to break the chains of the oppressed. International Women’s Day pays special tribute to those women who have done just that and will continue in their unfailing efforts.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I am glad my friend the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) sought unanimous consent so that each party could have an opportunity to acknowledge -- although today is not International Women’s Day, this parliament will not be in session next week -- the fact that next Wednesday, March 8, is indeed International Women’s Day in Ontario, in Canada and around the world.
I appreciate the remarks made by my friend the member for London North (Mrs. Cunningham) and I listened with interest to the remarks made by my friend the member for Scarborough West. Frankly, I regret a little bit that rather than do what is customary in this Legislature when we seek unanimous consent, he used the opportunity to question somewhat whether I was competently discharging my responsibilities as minister responsible for women’s issues.
Frankly, I think the mindset that says you have to be of a particular gender to support the interests of another gender is the very kind of thing we are trying to fight as women fight for equality in this province and in this nation.
The first International Women’s Day was proclaimed at an international conference of women held in Helsinki, Finland, interestingly enough, in 1910. It commemorates a march and a demonstration in New York City by female garment workers and textile workers in 1857, so we are going back that far.
The United Nations first sponsored International Women’s Day during the International Women’s Year in 1975. It was widely observed and celebrated in many countries around the world.
This special day provides an opportunity for all of us to recognize the contribution to society of women and to celebrate not only women’s past achievements but the achievements to come; most important, the achievements that must come.
International Women’s Day, I suggest to members, reminds us of the progress Canadian women have made towards equality. Looking back, we see that it was not until 1867 that Ontario’s Dr. Emily Stowe became the first woman doctor to practise in Canada. In 1899, Ontario’s Clara Brett Martin became the first Canadian female lawyer, and in 1912 Carrie Derrick became the first woman professor in a Canadian university.
Women in Ontario were given the provincial vote in 1917, finally, and won full federal franchise in 1918, finally. That was not very long ago. One wonders why it took so long. Ontario’s Agnes Macphail was the first woman elected to the House of Commons in 1921. Miss Macphail became one of the first two women elected to the Ontario Legislature relatively recently -- it surprises us all in fact -- in 1943.
These recollections remind us that while a great deal has been accomplished, a very great deal remains to be done if women are to achieve true equality. These efforts must include all the women in Ontario, including women who are doubly disadvantaged, such as women living in less populated parts of the province, aboriginal women, women with disabilities and immigrant and visible minority women.
International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate and, most important, to renew our commitment -- our collective, nonpartisan commitment -- to the achievement of full equality for women.
I would like to issue a general invitation at this time to all interested persons to attend an open house on Wednesday, March 8, from three until six at the main office of the Ontario women’s directorate, which is at 400 University Avenue at Dundas Street. The celebration of International Women’s Day, and the directorate’s fifth birthday, by the way, will feature displays by a number of ministries and community groups as well as video activities and refreshments. This occasion will give all who attend an opportunity to talk to both me and our directorate staff and to share information about women’s issues.
The directorate office in Thunder Bay, by the way, is also involved in activities to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Here in Toronto, I want to remind members that there will also be a public information display area in the St. Lawrence lounge of the Macdonald Block at 900 Bay Street from 11:30 in the morning until 2 p.m. that same day.
I hope all members will join us in celebrating this very special occasion and I want to wish a happy fifth birthday to the Ontario women’s directorate.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Elston: Today’s release of our consultation document, entitled Building on Reform: Choices for Tomorrow’s Pensions, signals further evolution towards a fairer, better regulated and more comprehensive pension system in Ontario. With our proposal for the general application of mandatory inflation protection in private employment pension plans, it represents another first, not only in Canada but in North America.
In the course of the pension reforms of 1987, we made a commitment to mandatory indexation in Ontario. We are now setting out our proposed mechanism for honouring that commitment.
I would like to take this opportunity once again to congratulate Professor Martin Friedland and his colleagues Sydney Jackson and Clifford Pilkey of the Task Force on Inflation Protection, for a very thorough and well reasoned report. It has served us well in our deliberations.
We believe that today’s proposals respect the legitimate needs both of plan members who must know that their pensions will be meaningful by the time they are received and of pension sponsors who require a consistent framework for administration. They also take into account the system of collective bargaining in Ontario.
We are mindful of the fact that in dealing with private employment pensions, we are working on behalf of the 40 per cent of the Ontario labour force who belong to plans and that we must balance their needs against those of the remaining 60 per cent who are not pension plan members but who are also taxpayers in the province.
Governments must take into account the economic and social climate in which they propose reforms to the employment pension system. Such reforms not only can affect individual plan sponsors, but also can have an effect upon capital markets and interest rates. We are confident that by setting out our proposals for consultation at this time and by allowing phase-in periods for the major provisions in the document, we are providing a responsible framework for reform for all concerned.
Before describing briefly the highlights of our proposed reforms, I would like to set out five principles that have guided us in formulating them: the protection of pension benefits within a sound economic and responsible fiscal framework; the provision of an effective administrative framework; the provision of equitable, modern and clear employment pension standards which reflect the needs of a changing society and economy; the allowance of sufficient time to allow plan sponsors, plan members and bargaining agents to adjust to pension reform requirements, and finally, the fostering and expansion of the voluntary employment pension plan system. It is against this backdrop that the following major provisions should be judged.
First, inflation protection: The government is proposing that all employer-sponsored, defined benefit plans, which cover more than four out of five Ontario pension plan members, provide for indexing at least once a year to a minimum level of 75 per cent of the consumer price index, minus a deductible of one per cent inflation; that up to eight per cent inflation be taken into account each year, with any inflation over that figure carried forward to future low-inflation years, and that the amount of pension to be protected from inflation on a mandatory basis be limited to 60 per cent of the year’s maximum pensionable earnings under the Canada pension plan. Employers, of course, may choose to do more.
The proposals would also extend inflation protection to deferred pensions under defined benefit plans. For plan members in defined contribution plans and multi-employer plans, it is proposed that they be entitled to an option of an indexed annuity or of a fixed annuity of the same commuted value.
While it is intended that inflation protection apply only to benefits earned in the future, the proposal includes inducements for employers also to provide protection against future inflation as it affects current retirees and benefits earned in the past by current workers. As well, the inducements include the use of surplus for the provision of inflation protection.
In order to allow time for plan sponsors to adjust documents and for the collective bargaining process to take account of the proposals, we are proposing that indexing provisions not take effect until after a phase-in period.
Second, family law benefits: The Family Law Act, 1986 recognized for the first time in Ontario that an individual’s entitlement to a pension was family property. The Pension Benefits Act, 1987 set out a number of provisions governing this issue. Experience in the past two years has indicated that in two particular areas the current provisions could be improved, and we are proposing changes in that connection.
First, the provision stating that pension benefits may be divided between spouses only when money becomes payable to the plan member, on retirement, death, termination of employment or windup of the plan, would be replaced by allowing the splitting of credits at the time of separation. In this way, an immediate interest may be transferred to the spouse of the plan member, as agreed by the parties in a domestic contract or as ordered by a court.
This approach will provide for greater consistency with the Family Law Act, 1986 and greater similarity between Ontario law and legislation in other jurisdictions. Since the receiving spouse is usually the wife, the measure represents a positive step in increased pension benefit coverage for women.
The second provision to be addressed states that the spouse of a plan member is not entitled to receive more than 50 per cent of the member’s benefits accrued during the marriage, when valued at the date of separation. We now propose to permit the allocation of more than 50 per cent of the pension as valued at the time of separation, and to leave the division to the spouses themselves or to the courts. This proposal will facilitate fairer and more flexible arrangements for the division of family property.
Third, a more responsible system: We are proposing a number of legislative and regulatory reforms which, while too numerous to list at this point, when taken in their entirety will enhance the protection of members’ benefits and rights, increase flexibility for plan sponsors and members, lessen the administrative burden of pension plan management and increase the efficiency of the regulating body, the Pension Commission of Ontario. This will serve to make the private pension system effective and more responsive to the needs of its various clients: the pension industry, plan sponsors and members and current pensioners.
Fourth, solvency valuation: In order to maintain incentives for employers to adopt improvements to pension plans and to ensure an acceptable level of benefit security for employees, we are also proposing changes to some of the regulations to the Pension Benefits Act, 1987, covering plan valuations.
Our proposals include: clarification of entitlement to employees to ancillary benefits on plan windup; changing the funding requirement for enhanced closure benefits that are in excess of the statutory requirements, and allowing a longer funding period for benefit increases negotiated before January 1, 1988, in fairness to the parties that negotiated these increases prior to the time the regulations came into force. As well, to ensure adequate monitoring we propose that annual rather than triennial reports be required for pension plans that are significantly underfunded.
The cost increases that result from the current solvency valuation requirements could work against the longer-term interests of employees by dissuading employers, on economic grounds, from improving plans. Our proposals to amend the solvency valuation regulations will provide a measure of flexibility while maintaining benefit protection for employees.
Fifth, the pension benefits guarantee fund: We are seeking advice on the future of this fund. The PBGF, established in 1980, is a mandatory program funded primarily through plan sponsor premiums. It offers some protection for private sector defined benefit pension plans and covers less than one half of the total pension plan membership in Ontario, or one out of five members of the labour force. Coverage is limited to a monthly maximum of $1,000 per person.
In case of a PBGF shortfall, the Ontario government can lend moneys out of the consolidated revenues to the fund. Ontario is the only province requiring its taxpayers to underwrite the risks for those covered by private pension plans. While the PBGF is an additional assurance of pension funding for those who have defined benefit pension plans, recent experience has raised the question of whether continuance of such assurance fairly apportions risk of plan failure and is fiscally responsible. The factors in such a consideration are complex and can be affected by changing economic environment.
Although no final conclusion has been reached for the future of the plan, options for consideration include the following: restructuring of the PBGF; elimination of the PBGF and extension of plan sponsor and plan member responsibility for pension liabilities through higher funding and disclosure requirements. These two options, and other possibilities suggested in response, will be the focus of our consultation.
Sixth, expanded pension coverage: Taken in their entirety, these reforms represent a promise kept in terms of inflation protection and an enhancement of the administration of and the benefits produced by Ontario’s private pension system. We cannot, however, stop there.
As members will recall, amendments to the Pension Benefits Act, 1987 provided for earlier vesting and locking in of pension credits, greater portability of benefits and extended plan membership rights to part-time employees. All these measures will have a positive influence on pension coverage, especially for women, but expanded participation must now be addressed.
For the 60 per cent of the Ontario labour force not covered by employer-sponsored plans, these reforms are of academic interest only. It is to this segment of the population that we are now turning our attention. We are committed to maintaining the private pension system on a voluntary basis and to extending its reach.
In this connection, the government is undertaking research to determine employer and employee groups that do not currently participate in employment pensions. As part of this process, we will be seeking public input to identify the barriers to increased pension coverage in matters of accessibility, affordability, education and regulatory requirements. In this way, we will pinpoint opportunities and means by which participation in employment pension plans can be increased.
In conclusion, I believe that public consultation is public awareness. This draft document, which includes draft legislation, will be subject to a public consultation period of 60 days. The material will be available to the public tomorrow afternoon at the government bookstore at 880 Bay Street in Toronto and from the Windsor Public Library and Ottawa’s Access Ontario office early next week.
The consultation exercise will allow all of us to increase our awareness and understanding of the pension system in Ontario and of our individual and collective responsibilities within it.
I look forward to the debate that will arise from the publication of our proposed reforms and to meeting the various interested groups throughout the province in the course of this very important consultation period.
ASSISTANCE FOR GRAPE GROWERS
Hon. Mr. Riddell: That is a hard act to follow, but I believe I can do it with this very important announcement.
As members of the House know, the Ontario grape and wine industry has been subject to increasing competitive pressures, partially as a result of changing policies in the world trading environment.
Today, I am pleased to inform the House that, effective immediately, this government will be providing Ontario grape growers with a payment of $2.5 million for Ontario’s half of the crop price support adjustment component for 1988. We are making this payment in view of the fact that growers have not received full payment for the 1988 negotiated price, which creates uncertainty in the industry.
The price support payments are designed to bridge the gap between the wineries’ purchase price, defined as the California price, and the price for grapes as negotiated by the Ontario Grape Growers’ Marketing Board. This program allows the wineries to purchase Ontario grapes at the California prices, ensuring the long-term competitiveness of Ontario wineries.
We are responding to the urgent needs of Ontario grape producers, and I encourage the federal government to act likewise. We would have preferred a joint announcement, but given the urgency of this matter, our farmers could not afford to wait. The balance of the 1988 price support payments are the responsibility of the federal government.
A letter of intent was signed by this government, the federal government and the Ontario Grape Growers’ Marketing Board in December 1988 to implement a 12-year, $100-million, cost-shared grape and wine adjustment program. The components agreed upon in this federal-provincial program included assistance for acreage reduction, crop price support, grape quality and productivity, wine promotion, wine store tax credit and the federal purchase of surplus grapes.
This payment is the first of a 12-year program. Payments will decrease throughout the life of the program. This assistance will be delivered to producers through the Ontario Grape Growers Marketing Board. Ontario’s contribution to the remaining components of the program will begin once the federal government releases its share of the $100-million package.
Until that time, the immediate payment of Ontario’s share of the crop price support component will assist growers with the preparation of this year’s crop.
ASSISTANCE FOR GRAPE GROWERS
Mr. B. Rae: I want to respond, first of all very briefly to the statement made by the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell).
I think it is fair to say that it is more than just a pity, it is a shame that we do not yet have a statement from the government of Ontario and a clear statement from the federal government that is entirely acceptable to the grape growers themselves as to the governments’ plans for the future of this industry.
It is a responsibility of the provincial government as well as a responsibility of the federal government.
No doubt the minister hopes that by making this announcement today he will be addressing the problem. I can tell him that, from my discussions with members of the grape-growing community and from people who are involved in this industry, the amounts which he is talking about today are completely inadequate in terms of dealing with the size of the real losses that are being experienced by the grape farmers of this province.
This is a problem that will not go away. The members who are heckling from the Liberal side say, “At least, we have done our half.” I can tell them their half is not enough, the federal government’s half is not enough, and this government is presiding over the destruction of an industry, without doing enough to see that those farmers are assisted and aided at the time of their need.
Mr. B. Rae: I want to turn my attention now to the statement that was made today by the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. Elston) and to say to him, very directly, that the document is appropriately called Choices for Tomorrow’s Pensions. If ever a document could be called tomorrow and living in tomorrowland, it is this document.
This government has betrayed a fundamental commitment that it made to the workers of this province with respect to indexing. It has delayed the introduction of indexing. It has put it off until well into the 21st century, in terms of its full impact. In fact, if we look at the two-, three- and four-year phase-in and the 15-year phase-in for retroactivity, it is no exaggeration to say that this is a 50-year plan. At the end of that 50-year plan, it will give retired workers in this province who have the benefit of a pension plan far less than they wanted, far less than they have a right to expect, and nothing in comparison to what they were told and promised in the hand held out by the Liberal Party of this province with respect to indexing.
This is as big a birthday present for Conrad Black as he could ever have legitimately expected.
If we look at the increase that is shown in the government s own report, an increase in the assets of our pension funds from $15 billion at the beginning of the 1970s to $150 billion today, the workers of this province have not shared in the growth of those funds. Thanks to the Liberal Party of this province, they will not share in the growth of those funds, and they will not be protected when it comes to inflation.
We can document, in dollar terms -- and I will be asking the minister very direct questions about this -- just how much he and the employers of this province are robbing workers in what inflation is costing them. People who are retired today have seen the value of their plans go down by some 50 per cent since the early 1970s.
The minister has not done a thing for any worker who is retired today -- not a thing. He has done nothing for all those workers who have yet to retire in terms of their past contributions -- not a thing. He has restricted, in the most hard-hearted way, in a way that only benefits the pension companies and the employers in this province -- he has ensured that workers will not receive the full loss of inflation when it comes time for them to retire.
The minister has screwed them on the formula; he has screwed them in terms of reducing it by one per cent, and he has shafted them by limiting the amount that has to be covered to $16,000, which is 60 per cent of the maximal earnings under the Canada pension plan.
That is what this minister has done. He has delivered less than suggested by the task force set up some two years ago by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter). He has promised less, in effect, than what Mr. Grossman promised back in 1984.
This document, as far as workers are concerned, is a disaster. To say that it is the fulfilment of a promise only shows that to be a Liberal is not even to understand the meaning of the word promise.
Mr. Harris: I want to make a few observations in response to this statement today by the Minister of Financial Institutions regarding the consultation draft on pension reforms and indexing.
I believe it was in February 1987 that Bill 170, the Pension Benefits Act, received second reading in this chamber. Now, in March 1989, the last day of the session, we are getting our first look at the government’s proposals on pension indexing.
No doubt there will be another reannouncement, there will be another ringing declaration of intent in the government’s throne speech in April. We are all breathless in anticipation of how quickly this government can move.
All that aside, it is a complex matter. Pension indexing requires more than an off-the-cuff response based on the only brief review that we have had of the statement in the consultation draft.
Mr. B. Rae: Somebody’s got to do it.
Mr. Harris: Indeed, I would say, on that interjection by the member for York South, that I did not hear the leader of the New Democratic Party say anything in his remarks that I found I could disagree with.
Hon. Mr. Scott: You’re going to replace Runciman as the left wing of the Tory party.
Hon. Mr. Elston: Now we’ve got you guys cozying up.
Mr. Harris: If that’s a problem for you so be it, it is a problem for you.
The minister has had two years to respond to the issue. He has had more than a year to review the recommendations of the Friedland report. He may be sure that we will take our time to take a look at what it has taken the minister two years to look at. That being said, there are a few general concerns that I want to bring to the minister’s attention, concerns which are not unique to this party, but will no doubt be raised by other parties and by other groups interested in this matter during the next 60 days.
First, I believe we do have to look closely at the impact of indexing on the continued availability of defined benefit plans. I believe all parties would agree that indexation should not, by its nature, create disincentives for the creation and the continuation of defined benefit pension plans. That is something that must be looked at carefully and with some sensitivity as we move in this area.
Second, as the minister noted, 60 per cent of our labour force is not covered by employer-sponsored pension plans of any type. I would hope that the government’s research would look at the effect of the proposed formula on the opportunities and the desire for expanded pension coverage, especially with regard to affordability.
It may prove -- and we do not know until the work is done, until we have had the people involved, and I hope we will be able to work in a consultative fashion as opposed to an antagonistic fashion -- that the proposed formula would militate against extended coverage in certain sectors. Therefore, it may have to be more flexible if the goal of expanded coverage, one of the goals that I believe this government ought to be interested in, is to be achieved.
I just wanted to express those few thoughts to indicate that we will examine the matter in a thoughtful way. Those are a few points for the minister’s consideration. I hope, as I am sure all members do, that this government will move a little more quickly in the future than it has in the past on this. We look forward to hearing the views of members, sponsors, employers and labour unions on the proposals that the minister has put forward today.
ASSISTANCE FOR GRAPE GROWERS
Mr. Villeneuve: In the few seconds left, please allow me to congratulate the government on following the lead of the British Columbia government in supporting the Ontario wine and grape industry, as is long overdue. The minister has known that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade would, indeed, very adversely affect the wine industry in Ontario. It was long overdue to have the support that was announced today. I am sorry I do not have a little more time.
Mr. B. Rae: I want to get back to the Minister of Financial Institutions and ask him some questions about this great pension robbery, which he announced just a few moments ago.
I want to just go over with the minister how the robbery works. First of all, he says that he is only going to partially compensate for indexation. Then he says that he is only going to compensate for part of a worker’s salary -- not the whole salary but in fact only 60 per cent of the Canada pension plan maximum, which means it is only about $16,000 that we are talking about fully compensating -- and then he talks about the delay. He does not give us what definite phase-in period it is going to be, but it is going to take a long time to phase in, even once the legislation is passed, and then it will only apply prospectively, so it only applies to his pension and anybody’s else’s pension for the future.
I wonder if the minister can tell us: Does he not feel a sense of responsibility to those workers who are already retired, to those workers who are not going to get anything for their past contributions, and in fact to every worker in the province who is being systematically robbed of what he and she needs in order --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Elston: The consultation paper has decidedly been put together to provide a balance in ensuring the long-term viability of pension plans and ensuring that there will be the fiscal framework within which, over the long term, pension plans can be maintained and advanced in the province.
I can tell the honourable gentleman that this would represent a minimum standard that in fact could very well be surpassed as a result of the voluntary ad hoc adjustments which occur in pension plans, about which he should know. They have occurred on a regular basis within some of the very large plans, and in fact the honourable gentleman should know quite well that in a number of areas it is within the collective bargaining tradition within this province that pensions have been negotiated which would go beyond, perhaps, the formula established here.
I think this presentation of a document, designed to elicit response from the communities who are interested in pensions, shows balance and also provides a basis upon which real and concerted discussion can be held that is designed to improve inflation protection, along with a considerable number of other items in the pension plan system in Ontario.
Mr. B. Rae: I did not hear an answer to my question. The investment returns on the pension industry in the last 15 years have gone up 15, 20 per cent per year. There has been a huge surplus accrued in those plans and an enormous increase in those assets.
The money that is in those plans, in our view, belongs to workers, has been put there on behalf of workers, and it should be put to use on behalf of workers and not on behalf of capital and not on behalf of employers, not on behalf of the Conrad Blacks of this world. It should be there for the workers of this province and that is where the money belongs. That is the difference between our position and the position the minister is putting forward.
Mr. Speaker: Is that the member’s question?
Mr. B. Rae: I want to ask the minister again: Take the worker who retires in 2035 on an equivalent of a $30,000-a-year salary; 35 times two per cent, 70 per cent of that, is $21,000. Let’s say inflation in the year 2036 is running at 10 per cent. Can the minister tell me why under his formula that worker would be getting $69 a month, whereas if he was getting full compensation for inflation he would be getting $175 per month? Why is the minister robbing him of nearly two thirds --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Before I ask the minister to respond, I just wonder if all members could be a little more careful with the words they use.
Hon. Mr. Elston: The honourable gentleman can make out any example he wishes to; I will be pleased to respond to it when I have a chance to work out some of the numbers.
I am obviously not economically trained, as that wizard over there is, but I can tell the honourable gentleman that he is not alone in his concern for dealing with issues of indexation and in fact alone in being concerned about protection of pension plans in general, their existence and even the extension of pension plans beyond those who have them now.
That is a real concern for us. It is a real concern upon which is based a presentation of a document which is designed to elicit discussion around how we can improve pension plans. That is what this document is about.
The member misunderstands, obviously. He has not read it. I do not blame him for not having read it, because it is a considerable document which has been prepared for consultation and just now released.
I am sure that after the member has a chance to respond more reasonably to the items which are addressed as issues within the report, he will be much more balanced and reasoned in his understanding of the basis upon which the report is made available.
Having said that, I can tell the honourable gentleman that I believe that over the next 60 days we will receive the type of input from all areas which will be helpful in ultimately bringing forward legislation to this House. But it is not the time, at this point, to have someone grandstanding about a report on which he has not had time to assemble enough expertise.
Mr. B. Rae: I appreciate the lecture from the minister. I just want to go over the ground with him, and he can just answer yes or no. Can he confirm that in fact the Friedland report, which I am sure he has read and which came out some two years ago, called for inflation protection up to 10 per cent? He is now calling for protection up to only eight per cent. Can he confirm that?
So, he has taken that away from Friedland.
Can he also confirm, at the same time, that there was nothing in the Friedland report that limited, that raised the question of a maximum that was to be insured?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Can the member explain why the New Democratic Party never implemented this in Manitoba?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Or Saskatchewan?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Or British Columbia?
Hon. Mr. Elston: I am receiving a considerable amount of assistance from my colleagues in trying to address myself to issues of the lack of concern by New Democrats in other provinces. I do not think I need to respond to those, but I will respond to a couple of the other items.
I can tell the honourable gentleman that the Friedland report, along with input from other areas, was a very important item and element in our consideration and development of the discussion draft. It does not mean that we followed all the recommendations without exception, but we did provide several balances with respect to the report and the analysis of it.
The time of reflection that the honourable member will give it, I am sure, in the upcoming weeks will provide him with a sense of the balance which we have provided, which is designed to ensure and protect the integrity of the pension system in Ontario and in fact designed to assist us in expanding pension coverage in Ontario.
Mr. B. Rae: I have a question to the Minister of Labour. Yesterday the chairman of the Ontario Human Rights Commission made some comments with respect to Bill 162. The chairman made two observations in a lengthy document which I am sure the minister has seen, in which he really levels the most serious charges with respect to the two critical aspects of Bill 162.
The chairman says, first, that the section on reinstatement is incompatible with the Human Rights Code; and second, he says that the discrimination on the grounds of age, in terms of the permanent pensions that are contained in the plan, is also incompatible with the Human Rights Code.
Having come to terms with this most serious criticism of Bill 162 -- in fact, I think a devastating critique of Bill 162 -- can the minister tell us why he will not simply withdraw the bill and produce compensation reform which is at least compatible with Ontario’s commitment to human rights?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I regret the fact that the Leader of the Opposition has not portrayed in an accurate way the comments that the chairman of the Human Rights Commission made yesterday, particularly in respect of reinstatement.
I am going to try to do that in the context of my answer. If he reads through the brief again -- I am sure he has read through it once, but if he reads through it again he will find that what, in substance, the chairman of the Human Rights Commission said is this: “We have a mandate to deal with the reinstatement of working people, or for that matter anyone who has disabilities, because the Human Rights Code gives us that mandate.
“And so,” the commissioner says, “given that we have a mandate which perhaps expands beyond the terms of reinstatement that are in Bill 162, we think it better if you leave the business of reinstatement to us and that you not include reinstatement in Bill 162, so that working people who have an injury, instead of seeking the assistance of the board on reinstatement, would come over to us and we will act on their behalf because we have a broader jurisdiction.”
The commissioner is right. They do have a broader jurisdiction, but it does not --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Mr. B. Rae: Let us make it very clear. The minister has stated in this House there two aspects of this bill to which he is wedded. They are the reforms which he thinks are the most important. He, first of all, has the stuff on reinstatement; and second of all, he has the stuff on the dual award system, that part of the dual award is made up of a permanent partial disability pension.
The commissioner says there is total confusion with respect to how the law on reinstatement can be fairly administered between the Ontario Human Rights Code and Bill 162. He says that the minister’s section on permanent partial disabilities, because it discriminates on the grounds of age -- that is to say, because it gives somebody over 45 less than somebody under 45 on a gradual basis -- is discriminatory and in his view incompatible with the code, and certainly incompatible with the spirit of the code. He has knocked out the two foundations for the bill.
Why does the minister not withdraw the bill and come up with something --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: The leader of the New Democratic Party, along with other people in this province, has argued so very effectively that there ought to be mechanisms within the Workers’ Compensation Act to help workers who want to get back to their old jobs be reinstated in their old jobs. I guess my greatest surprise at this point is to hear him in this House, at this time, actually advocating that we simply ignore or eliminate that part of the bill and that we forget about giving those opportunities and simply say that we will leave it all to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. With all due respect to the commission, it has dealt in its history with 39 cases of reinstatement of disabled people back into the workplace. I think that is shameful.
Mr. B. Rae: I want to say the minister has completely and utterly misrepresented the arguments and questions which I put to him today.
Mr. B. Rae: Completely.
Mr. Speaker: Order. With respect, will the member withdraw?
Mr. B. Rae: I will withdraw what I have said.
Mr. Speaker: Order. You will? Thank you.
Mr. B. Rae: I will withdraw the word “misrepresented” because I am not allowed to say it.
Mr. B. Rae: I will withdraw it.
Mr. Speaker: Your supplementary?
Mr. B. Rae: It is withdrawn.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: That is why you withdraw it, because you are not allowed to say it.
Hon. Mr. Scott: That is why we have a criminal law: to keep them under control.
Mr. Mackenzie: Oh come on, Judge Ross.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. B. Rae: What about the comment by the Attorney General (Mr. Scott)?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. B. Rae: My final supplementary is to the same minister, and I want to ask him a simple question. What the human rights commissioner has said is that he does not think the minister’s first part is workable on reinstatement. He does not think it is compatible entirely with his jurisdiction under the code and he has real problems with how it is going to be enforced. He has problems with the reinstatement rights of people who are not injured at work but who are injured elsewhere in comparison with workers who are injured on the job. That is the first thing he said.
The second thing he said is that when the minister discriminates in his permanent pensions on account of age -- that is to say, when the minister gives a 50-year-old worker less than a 40-year-old worker, which is what his bill does -- he is discriminating on the grounds of age. He does not think that is fair, or sustainable, or workable. These are two very fundamental criticisms of the minister’s approach to legislation.
I wonder if the minister would not take into account what the commissioner has said, recognize that is quite fundamental to what he says he is trying to do and rework a bill that is compatible with the Ontario Human Rights Code and the human rights laws of this province. That is all I am asking.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: Mr. Speaker, that is quite a lengthy question. I hope you indulge me with sufficient time to answer it as comprehensively as I can.
First, with respect to reinstatement, I want to assure the Leader of the Opposition that nothing in Bill 162 limits the authority of the human rights commission to serve someone who seeks its assistance to get his job back, if that person has a disability and comes within the jurisdiction. What Bill 162 does is simply add another remedy -- not as broad and as encompassing as the human rights commission, I acknowledge, but specifically available to injured workers.
If an injured worker in this province, after Bill 162 is passed, is not satisfied with the service that he would get under the reinstatement provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act, he has every right to take his case to the human rights commission and say, “I want the assistance of the commission rather than the board.” I do not think there is anything wrong with that, for there to be a multiplicity of remedies, for there to be yet another source. I think if the Leader of the Opposition thought about that, on reflection he might agree.
I want to say just a word on the question of discrimination in respect of age. Everything that I have heard from the critics in his party who sit on the standing committee on resources development is that there is not enough certainty in the bill, that there is too much arbitrariness. I think --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Mr. Brandt: My question is for the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet. The Chairman of Management Board will recall the recent report of the Provincial Auditor where he made observations, which were rather similar to the ones I had raised with the minister, related to some of the unnecessary expenditures that were taking place in the government relative to certain advertisements.
I have raised this matter with the minister on previous occasions. I wonder, since this is the last day of this sitting of the House, if the minister could share with us today what actions he has taken in concert with the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) relative to this matter, which at one time was costing this province many thousands of dollars in needless expenditures. Could the minister indicate what action he is taking with regard to that matter?
Hon. Mr. Elston: We have done a considerable amount of work with respect to advertisements. One of the things we have done is I have taken a look at the manner in which advertisements are specifically placed for the recruitment of staff, if that is required, and where possible worked on a format that reduces size and limits as far as possible the number of words used to describe the position without preventing a reasonable explanation of that being obtained by the reader.
Because of our economic situation, we have also taken a look at the manner in which advertisements have been placed for certain professional groups that are seen to be hard to recruit -- that is, being in short supply -- to ensure that we are getting value for the dollar that is being spent.
I can tell the honourable gentleman that considerable progress has been made, through the activities of the human resources secretariat, to ensure a much more co-ordinated response to advertisements.
Mr. Brandt: I do want to be helpful on this last day.
Mr. Brandt: My friend anticipated there might be a supplementary on this. One of the things the auditor did recommend to the minister, and this resulted from some duplication of advertising that was taking place in English and in French with respect to the Ministry of the Environment, the ministry of the gentleman who sits right next to my friend, one of the suggestions was that there was really very little need to place French advertising in an English-language newspaper. One of the least expensive ways to get around this was simply to put a French line in the bottom of the English ad, giving information as to where additional information could be received from the ministry. Quite obviously, there is no problem with placing French-language ads in French-language newspapers.
On February 17, in the Toronto Star, an English-language daily --
Mr. Speaker: The question is?
Mr. Brandt: -- there is an English and French ad, which is completely contrary to what the Provincial Auditor recommended to the minister and the various ministers; and in fact, Mr. Speaker, if I might --
Mr. Speaker: By way of question?
Mr. Brandt: -- and which is against the policy that was established by cabinet relative to this form of advertising. How is this allowed to happen some three months after the auditor’s report?
Hon. Mr. Elston: I do not know the particulars of the ad in question, but I would be pleased to look into the situation that surrounds it.
I can tell the honourable gentleman, though, that because the Toronto Star is a paper of renown not only in Ontario but nationally, it is read in places other than just English-language households. I think it is not unreasonable to expect that it is opportune sometimes to place advertisements in the newspaper in both official languages in Canada.
I am pleased at this particular time to look into the issue of the advertisement in this case. I will see if in fact, as he claims, it does violate the guidelines, but I can tell the member that one of the things that I am quite concerned about is that as far as possible we ensure that advertisements for positions in the Ontario public service be made available to all the people in the province, by going through not only the English-language and the French-language papers but also through the multicultural press --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Elston: -- as far as possible, to ensure that everyone has a sound and firm understanding of what positions are available and what in fact the qualifications are for the filling of the position.
Mr. Brandt: We support the minister’s efforts in getting out the message of the government in connection with some of these undertakings, but as the minister will see from the ad I have just sent over to him, it does not really fall into the category of anything that he has described, as I understood from his comments.
It is interesting to note that these dual ads were also placed in an Ottawa newspaper; Ottawa does happen to have a daily French newspaper. They were placed in the London Free Press as well as in the Toronto Star. I wonder if the minister, in connection with this issue, which involves many thousands upon thousands of dollars during the course of the year, and during a time when this government indicates it has difficulty paying for a broad range of programs --
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. Brandt: -- will the minister give the assurance to this House that he will make every effort to stop that kind of duplication of advertising which we feel is absolutely unnecessary?
Hon. Mr. Elston: I think it is important to know that an issue which is being advertised, as this one is for the receipt of materials in regard to a public inquiry, ought to be advertised in both official languages and broadly distributed to every person who would be reading the newspaper.
The member is saying certain things about how he wishes not to advertise, for instance, in certain papers in French and in English. That is certainly his prerogative. With respect to this type of advertisement, I will take a look at what in fact is available to address this person’s concern. I can tell the member that we do commit ourselves to making sure that government in Ontario is accessible to people who speak a number of languages, not just English and French, and we take the opportunity of advertising where possible.
The suggestions of the Provincial Auditor are always welcome --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. A new question to which minister?
Mr. Brandt: To the Minister of Education, who was here. I can stand that question down, Mr. Speaker, if you would like, and we can go to our next question.
Mr. Speaker: If that is your wish -- oh, you may go ahead; the minister is arriving.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
Mr. Brandt: Perhaps the minister could listen to the question while he is arriving to take his seat. As the minister is aware, there are a number of serious problems facing education these days, not the least of which is the issue of the 220,000 portable classrooms that we have -- 220,000 students, I should say, who are being taught in portable classrooms. We have a critical shortage --
Mr. Brandt: The number is bad enough either way. It is 220,000 children, as the minister knows, who do not have permanent classrooms that they are being taught in.
There is a critical shortage of teachers, and now we find that there are a number of unqualified teachers who are also in the system because we cannot get enough teachers who are qualified to teach our students at the moment.
Against that backdrop, could the minister perhaps advise this House as to why he advised the select committee that it was its highest priority, in so far as the minister was concerned, to study the length of the school year as opposed to dealing with some of these critical issues, just a few of which I have placed before him? Why is he not having the committee deal with these issues?
Hon. Mr. Ward: The leader of the third party has of course raised quite a variety of issues in the preamble to his question. I will do the best I can to respond to some of his concerns in my answer.
First of all, the honourable member rightfully points out that indeed there is a large number of students in this province in portable classrooms. It is for that reason that this government moved to greatly increase the available capital funding for school boards across this province, an increase of some 400 per cent from the level established by his government some years ago.
I believe we are moving in a very fundamental way to help boards fulfil their responsibilities under the act to provide accommodation by greatly increasing the amount of grants that are available. In fact, that was one of the prime recommendations of the Macdonald commission, I am sure the member will recall, that the amount of capital funds be greatly increased.
In addition, the member talks about concerns over the supply of the number of teachers. He will know that in 1988 there were in excess of 6,000 new entrants to the teaching profession in Ontario for this year, all qualified teachers, certainly enough to meet the existing demands; and I believe that measures taken by both my ministry and by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities will be sufficient to meet the ongoing needs of the system.
In terms of the priorities of the select committee -- this is the last point of his preamble, Mr. Speaker, if you will indulge me -- I was asked by the select committee at the beginning of its hearings last year as to what areas it deemed the most appropriate to explore. I indicated to them that I would --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Mr. Brandt: I raised a number of questions with the minister in regard to some of the serious and critical matters that have to be faced by education. He indicates that there are sufficient teachers in the system and that there will be sufficient teachers. He knows full well that a shortage is imminent with respect to qualified teachers.
But of concern to me is what the minister is doing in connection with the select committee. He did in fact indicate that the select committee should engage itself in the study of the school year, the school term, as opposed to some of these other very important matters that have to be addressed. He himself indicated that there will be an important announcement this fall in connection with funding in terms of education, if I am correct in paraphrasing what he said. He also indicated that it may be another six months before the question of pooling, which is another important funding issue, would be responded to by his ministry.
Why will the minister not allow the select committee to look carefully at the questions of funding education, since it will be fully six months before he even deals with this issue of pooling, which he indicates is very sensitive --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. I think there is a question there somewhere.
Hon. Mr. Ward: As I was saying, when the select committee began its process of gathering input from the broader educational community -- from teachers, from trustees, from parents at large -- the committee did come and ask what issues we would prefer to have it address. We indicated to them at that time that we thought a focus on the quality of education in our elementary and secondary schools was of fundamental importance, an aspect where I believe many parents and many groups in this province would like to have input. Frankly, my advice to the committee was to concentrate its efforts in this area, and I think the member demeans the very valuable work of that committee if he is suggesting that is an inappropriate approach.
In terms of the issue of funding, I gave an undertaking to the committee that when it looked at the substantial research that had been done on the quality issues, I would certainly wait for its input before moving on that agenda. At the same time, I indicated to them that the changes in the financing of elementary and secondary education, in my view, could not wait for further study. We had two to three years of study prior to this year. We have moved on a number of fronts, increasing the level of provincial support on approved expenditures --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
Mr. Brandt: The minister talked about increasing funding. He knows full well that the percentage of provincial funding has now gone below 40 per cent. He also recognizes that in the coming year the estimates are that there will be some 5,000 new teachers required, with something like 4,300 graduates. There will in fact be a shortfall.
In light of the fact that we have some very serious and critical problems that have to be faced by education, why is the minister diverting the attention of the committee to a matter that is not as critical, namely the length of the school year, when we have to address issues that have to be faced today? Why is he not letting the committee deal with those issues, come to grips with issues like who is going to pay for education, as opposed --
Mr. Speaker: Order. That is the second time the question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Ward: I just want to point out that the leader of the third party continues to contradict himself. First of all, he indicates there is a requirement, in his view, of 5,000 teachers per year. I indicated in my initial response that this year alone there are over 6,000 new entrants to the teaching profession.
He began this whole exchange with the concern over the number of students in portable classrooms. He will know that some jurisdictions around the globe have extended the school year to 12 months in order to ease some of the capital burden. Frankly, that is an area and an issue that I believe should be looked at properly, with the appropriate amount of input.
On the financial side, I point out to the member that many of the studies and all of the input that was received over that two- or three-year process clearly indicated the government should look to moving its rate of support on approved expenditures. That was clearly a recommendation of much public input from throughout this province. We have increased that support on approved expenditures. The member will know full well, in our shared responsibilities with boards, I do not believe that we --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. New question, the member for Cambridge.
Mr. Farnan: To the Minister of Correctional Services: The situation at the Guelph Correctional Centre exemplifies the concerns of correctional officers across the province with regard to the ministry’s implementation of salary compression and restructuring of institutional staffing patterns.
As of February 20, 12 positions for OM-14 at Guelph Correctional Centre were posted. Of the 24 CO-3s currently on staff, 20 have been seconded to OM-14 positions for at least three months and up to half of these officers have been seconded to the OM- 14 positions for a second three-month period.
By way of question to the minister, why has the ministry extended this area of search to fill the 12 OM-14 positions to include Guelph, Wellington and Waterloo, when there are obviously so many qualified applicants at the Guelph Correctional Centre already? Why is the same thing happening across the province?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I would be glad to get back to the member as far as extending the area of search is concerned, but I would like to talk to him a little bit about the point he raises. As he knows, through the collective bargaining process over the last few years, the line workers’ salaries have greatly increased. We have had a salary compression problem within the ministry and managers who directly supervise some of these people are being paid very near the level of the people they supervise. Therefore, there needed to be a reorganization in the ministry in order to get all the salaries in line with each other. That is why we are making these changes today.
Mr. Farnan: The minister should try to listen to the question.
In the summary of recommendations of the 1986 Gasteiger task force study on the Guelph Correctional Centre, recommendation 3, under promotions, reads, “That priority consideration be given to the staff of the Guelph Correctional Centre for promotion to the CO-3, OM-14 and OM-15 levels.”
Further, on January 10, 1989, guidelines to regional directors that appeared in a memorandum from the assistant deputy minister, operations division, suggested, “The area of search for these competitions should be limited to individual institutions, but could be widened because of local circumstances.”
Mr. Speaker: Question?
Mr. Farnan: Will the minister recognize that staff morale is being undermined by the manner in which this compression and restructuring is taking place? Will he intervene to ensure that competition is limited to within the institutions, where there are obviously more than enough qualified individuals to fill the OM- 14 positions?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I would be pleased to bring this particular concern to the attention of my deputy minister and get back to the member next week.
ONTARIO CENTRE FOR FARM MACHINERY AND FOOD PROCESSING TECHNOLOGY
Mr. Villeneuve: My question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. The minister may be aware of the government’s decision to close the Ontario Centre for Farm Machinery and Food Processing Technology in Chatham. At a cost to taxpayers of some $14 million, the centre helped to create over $500 million in sales and helped to create over 1,000 jobs, more than half of them on a full-time basis.
Given the minister’s self-serving statements during the free trade debate about the food processing industry and its supposed problems after free trade, and also given the fact that his new Food Industry Advisory Committee has not even had time to accomplish anything, is it not a bit premature to wind up the centre before the minister even knows what his own committee might recommend to him?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: I do not think so. As the honourable member knows, the Premier’s Council spent quite a bit of time looking at the food processing industry in this province and what may happen to the industry, particularly in light of the free trade agreement, if we do not focus some attention on it. That is exactly what we are doing.
We do have a food processing strategy established. One of the parts of that strategy was to put together a Food Industry Advisory Committee. We have that in place -- or it will be -- and all the members will be named on that committee before too long. One of the things they will be looking at is how they can maybe integrate some of the components of the Chatham tech centre.
The fact of the matter is that we have to broaden our focus. We cannot just keep a very narrow focus. This was the problem we were running into with the Chatham tech centre: too narrow a focus. We will be incorporating some of the components of that Chatham tech centre into our agricultural colleges, for example. We are looking at other areas for other components of the program as well, particularly the machinery part of the program.
Mr. Villeneuve: I am afraid the advisory committee will not have a great deal to advise about whenever the tech centre is closed down. The government appointed two assistant deputy ministers as observers at the tech centre board meetings, one from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and one from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology. Neither one attended any meetings.
Will the minister admit now that the closing of this tech centre was strictly a political decision taken in spite of all the evidence that the centre was indeed successful? They have a track record. Indeed, an expansion was required, as opposed to a shutdown. Will the minister not substantiate that in light of all the things he said about free trade and food processing?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: No, it certainly was not a political decision. If the honourable member really knew what he was talking about, he would know that these technology centres were set up on a five-year basis. The fact of the matter is that their five-year terms have run out or are due to expire.
What we are saying is that to broaden the focus, we are prepared to let the Chatham tech centre expire in the time it was designed to do so. We will be taking components of that program and working them into other areas, as I have already indicated: into our agricultural colleges for the educational part of it; into another area we are looking at right now -- I do not want to give any details at the present time as I do not know whether it is going to be a go or not -- for the machinery part.
So it is not the case that we are simply curtailing any activities that are going on there. Any activities that have been started will be continued, but other activities will be taking place in other institutions, facilities or areas of the province.
Mrs. Stoner: I have a question for the Minister of Energy. I have been informed there was an incident at the Pickering nuclear generating station that was detected some time on Tuesday of this week. Can the minister give the House details of this incident and tell us if the incident at any time posed a risk to public safety?
Hon. Mr. Wong: I would like to begin by thanking the member for Durham West for her question. First of all, I have been assured that at no time did the routine test situation last Tuesday pose any risk to public or worker safety. In doing these routine tests, Ontario Hydro once a year tests what are called pressure relief valves. It usually does them on a rotation basis. It does about one per month.
On Tuesday evening, it discovered a problem with one of the valves and informed the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada, which provides its operating licence. The AECB, of course, is the federal agency responsible for the operational safety and operations of Ontario’s reactors. It said to Ontario Hydro: “Correct the situation. We will give you 24 hours to do it.” Ontario Hydro did so. In conclusion, the AECB reviewed the situation again and was satisfied it had been resolved with absolutely no risk to public or worker safety.
Mrs. Stoner: On the question of the information to the AECB, can the minister go further and tell me and the House what the reporting mechanisms are on such incidents between the government and the utility?
Hon. Mr. Wong: This government, of course, is committed to a well-educated and well-informed public. That is one of the reasons, for example, that we have introduced amendments to the Power Corporation Act. As a government, we want, on behalf of the people, an open process.
I am personally reviewing the situation and the procedures of Tuesday’s situation. I think one of the valid questions to ask is, can the normal reporting procedures be improved? I have specifically asked my staff to arrange a meeting with Mr. Franklin, the chief executive officer of Ontario Hydro, as soon as possible so that we can discuss this further.
I know that all the people in this province, as well as the people in the member’s riding who live in that area, are interested in ensuring that there is a timely and an informed release of information to the public.
FUNDING FOR WATER SYSTEM
Miss Martel: I have a question for the Minister of Northern Development concerning funding for a communal water system in my riding. In September 1987, the Ministry of the Environment concluded that its private assistance water upgrading program had not worked for residents in Wanapitei East in my riding. It stated that a communal system was the only answer and that it would cost some $2 million.
At that point, I wrote to his ministry, the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of the Environment to ask officials to meet with regional officials in order to determine how much money the provincial government would put into the project. Finally, in November 1988, the Ministry of the Environment agreed to provide 75 per cent towards the communal system. His ministry, however, has now decided that a financial impact study is required before it will determine how much money it will give.
Given that his ministry officials have participated in this whole project from the beginning, I would like to ask the minister why his ministry would now demand an impact study to determine how much funding there will be, or if he will give any funding at all.
Hon. Mr. Fontaine: I will take notice of that question from the member for Sudbury East and I will respond to her by letter. I will check into this immediately.
Miss Martel: Ministry officials met with regional officials in Sudbury last week and told them that this impact study was going to be required, and that until such time as it was done, they could not give either myself or the community any commitment in terms of funding. Since this has gone on for almost two years now, I would like to ask the minister how soon he will get to this and when we are going to get a definite commitment on funding from the ministry.
Hon. Mr. Fontaine: As the member knows, my ministry is a top-off ministry on those projects. On that one, officials from my office met with the mayor or the reeve from that area last week at the Ontario Good Roads Association convention. My staff will look into this and I will give an answer in a few weeks as to what is going on. Really, I thought this thing was on.
SALE OF GOVERNMENT LANDS
Mr. J. M. Johnson: My question is to the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet. On February 22, the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Patten) announced the sale of 185 acres of land in the city of Cambridge. The price tag was $4.4 million or about $24,000 per acre. The industry commissioner’s office in Cambridge readily admits that the true market value of this land is between $90,000 and $130,000 per acre. This means his government received, at best, one quarter of the true value of this property.
This single real estate transaction represents a financial loss to his government of $12 million. Could the minister please explain why this land was sold at one quarter of its true market value.
Hon. Mr. Elston: I will gladly look into the matter for the honourable gentleman and consult with the Minister of Government Services concerning the sale.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: I had intended to ask a question of the minister, who is not available. Neither the Premier (Mr. Peterson) nor the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) is available, so I thought the Chairman of the Management Board, being the most knowledgeable person left, could answer.
I suppose, since it is only a $12-million loss, it has not been brought to his attention. But since his government has set a precedent by this $12-million gift to the city of Cambridge, is his government now prepared to extend similar financial benefits to other municipalities in Ontario that wish to acquire industrial land?
Hon. Mr. Elston: As I advised the honourable gentleman before, I will look into the details of the transaction and get back to him. I do not know that we have any industrial land in Mount Forest, but if I can find that out and his home community is interested in some of the land, I am sure he will make a forceful presentation and I will be pleased to advise him how he can make that presentation to the Minister of Government Services.
Mr. Dietsch: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. We are all familiar with the blue box curbside recycling program, which in fact is operating successfully in my own riding of St. Catharines-Brock. Some of my constituents, however, have indicated to me that they would like to see more blue boxes in many different locations, such as apartment buildings, so that we may save some of our resources and divert some of our garbage from our landfill sites.
I would like to ask the minister to update the members of this House on the progress in expanding the blue box program and in recycling initiatives in general.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: That is an excellent question. I would like to tell the member that even as this question is directed to me, as in previous question periods, the clock is moving and in fact the number of households on the blue box program has expanded rather considerably.
I can tell him that it is well over 1.2 million households in Ontario. Something I think members, particularly the northern members, would be interested in is that I met with and announced with my colleague the Minister of Northern Development (Mr. Fontaine) that a joint funding program involving our two ministries has been developed that will help the northern municipalities in their recycling program.
We want to expand the scope of the program, as well, and the member has made some excellent suggestions. I want to tell him that the cities of Toronto, Mississauga, Ottawa and Guelph all have pilot programs demonstrating how apartment buildings can become involved in the process. We know that would be significant. Office waste paper recycling projects have been implemented in places such as Niagara region, Toronto, London, Hamilton and Windsor.
Hon. Mr. Scott: Okay, Mr. Speaker, call him out.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Well, there are a number of directions in which we could go, but perhaps the member will address that in a supplementary question.
Mr. Speaker: It is quite possible; the member with a supplementary.
Mr. Dietsch: I agree that we should be expanding the scope of the blue box program to cover areas like apartment buildings and office structures. However, I recall the minister announced last fall that a program was being developed to create a recycling program for our province’s schools. I believe this is a very important area in which we should be expanding our recycling efforts. I would like to ask the minister to report on the progress of the school recycling program.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Indeed the Star program, as it is called, Student Action for Recycling, is an exceedingly important program because not only does it address the problems that exist in terms of waste materials that are generated in school facilities, but it also enlists the support of students, who are so enthusiastic in this regard, to promote recycling.
I will in fact be at Grantham High School tomorrow morning, kicking off and helping to celebrate the event of the Star program in one of the 16 pilot projects across Ontario where the students have shown a good deal of enthusiasm. As the member knows, the ministry pays a third of that and Ontario Multi-Material Recycling Inc. pays a third of that, as well as the local board of education. It has been greeted with a significant amount of enthusiasm, and, of course, the full program will be implemented in the fall of this year across the province in all those communities which have their own curbside program.
I want to say to members of the House that this kind of effort is going to divert more and more material which would normally go to landfill sites and to incinerators. We believe that by enlisting the students in this program and the kind of efforts they can make at home, we could have a positive effect in saving our resources, diverting landfill and allowing people a personal opportunity to contribute.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. New question. The member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
Mrs. Grier: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. I have to say that his last answer is the best example of blatherskite that I have heard in this House. I want to remind the members that this much vaunted recycling program was prompted by the minister’s cave-in to the soft drink industry, when he allowed it to put on the market these litter-prone plastic polyethylene terephthalate bottles.
They were allowed on the market on two conditions: first, that by November 1, 1988, 50 per cent of the households would be recycling, and that has happened; second, that by November 1, 1988, 50 percent of these bottles would be recycled. Can the minister explain to the House why, in view of the fact that in November 1988, 32 percent were recycled and in December 1988, 27 per cent were recycled, these illegal utensils are on the market, and whether he is going to cave in again and extend the deadline for compliance?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: It will come as a great surprise to the soft drink industry in Ontario that the member would make that particular suggestion, because in response to the very tough regulation that we brought in -- the members will remember that when we took office, there was a complete standstill; nobody could make head or tail of what was going to come about. I brought the people around the table. We sat down and we came forward with the regulation, which not everybody liked by any means. But I want to assure people in Ontario and the member opposite that, in fact, Ontario is looked upon as the leading recycling jurisdiction in all of Canada. Well over 1.2 million households are now in the program.
Ontario has put $7.7 million into this program on a yearly basis at the present time. We have other provinces which will be emulating what we are doing. I had meetings with the soft drink industry, which not only wants to address that, at my insistence, but also wants to address all plastics that are out there, those which are not even soft drink containers, to bring forward a comprehensive program which will see the recycling of virtually every piece of plastic in Ontario. I suggest that all of Canada will be emulating this.
Mrs. Grier: I want to remind the minister of the strong words he uttered when he announced this program in September 1985. The minister said: “No refillable containers will be permitted unless they can be recycled. Each new nonrefillable container will be required to reach a 50 per cent recycling level within three years” -- that was November 1, 1988 -- “or face fines and, unless corrected, the imposition of a deposit on that type of container.”
In view of the failure of the recycling of the plastic polyethylene terephthalate bottles, is the minister now going to introduce a deposit, or is he going to take these illegal bottles off the market?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Again, I must emphasize the fact that I find it highly unusual. I think there may be areas where the member may find some vulnerability over here once in a while, but the area of recycling is really one where she is not going to find that kind of vulnerability.
I want to tell the member that I consult with the Recycling Advisory Committee that I have set up, with a wide variety of people who are represented on that. They recognize that in fact there should be an extension in order that you do not have a situation where you put the deposits on and then they meet it a couple of months later and you take the deposits off again. It becomes extremely confusing for the public to do so.
The committee recognizes the outstanding success, as the member for St. Catharines-Brock (Mr. Dietsch) so aptly put it, of the recycling program in this province. The member will be up in the House, I am sure, when all of these other plastics come on, the first jurisdiction in Canada, one of the first in North America where we have all of these plastics, not just the containers she talks about --
Mr. Speaker: Thank you.
TRANSPORTATION TO SKYDOME
Mr. Cousens: This question is for the Minister of Transportation. The minister happens to be aware that Mr. Vardin, the commissioner of public works for Toronto, has serious reservations about the network and the infrastructure being completed around the domed stadium being ready in time for June 3 when the dome opens officially.
I would like to ask the minister if he could answer this question, just very simply and straightforwardly, without any of the emotion and all the other things we get into: What action is he taking to assist the city of Toronto and the Stadium Corp. in resolving these problems that they are having?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: I thank my friend for the question. I guess the short answer would be that in two minutes and 50 seconds I am going to go out and talk to the general manager of the Toronto Transit Commission with respect to this very issue.
Our ministry, in co-operation with Metropolitan Toronto and the TTC and the Stadium Corp., has worked long and hard to try to resolve transportation issues all across this province, and certainly throughout this city, as the member will be well aware. He missed an opening this morning, I should point out. The corporation people feel that the June 3 opening will come off in time and with all of the public facilities required to be in place.
Mr. Cousens: Again, what we have to look at is that it is going to be next to impossible for people to get a parking spot around the stadium, because there are just not going to be the roads that take you in and out of the parking spots. The current transit system all around Toronto has not been revised to handle the large numbers of people who will be coming to the stadium. The light rail transit will not be finished until the fall. On GO Transit, which would be an excellent way to bring people in in the evening, especially from the north, the area of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Sorbara) and myself, there has been no change in plans to provide additional GO Transit trains and services there.
Mr. Speaker: Question?
Mr. Cousens: We do not know when the pedestrian access routes will be done.
Mr. Speaker: Question?
Mr. Cousens: We are seeing something that could be a terrible mess around Metro when the dome opens.
Mr. Speaker: For the third time, the question?
Mr. Cousens: What is the minister going to do? What can he do and what will he do to make sure that we do not have all the problems I am pointing to in parking and everything else that goes on. Can he tell us what he is going to do about it?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: I am rather confused to hear the member for Markham, who constantly looks for new initiatives in the transit programs of the province -- the extensions of GO, the extensions to TTC and other facilities -- now stand up worrying where his parking spot is going to be at the domed stadium. I presume he has already bought his ticket.
I will tell the member for Markham that as recently as 12 o’clock today, I indeed was talking with the chairman of GO Transit. The member should be aware that in fact we have added capacity and are in the process of adding capacity to 12-car trains on the Lakeshore line, which will facilitate the movement of people back and forth into Toronto for the dome and other purposes in a very substantial way.
The member will be aware that we are committed to substantial funding of public transit facilities in Toronto, including the LRT on the Harbourfront and perhaps other initiatives that may come before us, as Metro dealt with certain issues only very recently, and as Metro council proceeds, we will meet with them at every opportunity.
Mr. Speaker: That completes the allotted time for oral questions.
USE OF TIME IN QUESTION PERIOD
Mr. Hampton: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I have some pretty important questions to ask and I think it is really an abuse of the House and abuse of our privileges that ministers continue to rant on and say nothing.
Mr. Speaker: In response to the member’s point, I would be glad to show him the list I have with the times taken for questions and responses at any time.
Mr. Dietsch: Petitions?
Mr. Speaker: I had not called for petitions.
TABLING OF PETITIONS
Mr. Speaker: Order. Before I call for petitions, may I inform the members that I have been compiling statistics on petitions in this House. During the first session of this parliament up to today, there have been 914 petitions introduced but only 424 were in order; that means 53.6 per cent were out of order. So may I suggest that members during the recess might read standing order 31 a few times. You may find this helpful for presentations of petitions.
PROPOSED BUILDING SITE
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I have a rather unique petition that is jointly made out to the mayor and council of the city of Scarborough and 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 we understand that the Runnymede Development Corp. is now proposing to proceed with the building of apartment towers at Gerrard Street East near Clonmore Drive, adjacent to an abandoned dump site known to contain materials deemed hazardous;
“We insist that a full environmental impact assessment be carded out prior to the excavation and construction of the proposed project.”
Mr. Brandt: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, signed by 87 persons in the riding represented by the member for Chatham-Kent (Mr. Bossy), a government member, which reads in part as follows:
“We believe that all residents of extended care facilities, whether it be a nursing home or a municipal home for the aged, are entitled to equal care and services according to the specific care requirements of each individual.
“Nursing home residents should benefit from the same amount of funding and kinds of services as residents of municipal homes for the aged.
“I urge the Ontario government to reform the extended care system so that it is uniform, fair and equitable, with regard to funding and regulation and so that seniors in all extended care facilities receive the quality of care that they deserve.”
I have signed that one, Mr. Speaker, and with your indulgence I have a second petition.
HEALTH CARE FUNDING
Mr. Brandt: This petition is to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, signed by 3,500 persons from the great riding of Sarnia. This is calling for additional resources for Ontario’s health care system “to reduce the needless deaths and suffering caused by the government underfunding of Ontario hospitals.”
Mr. Dietsch: “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:
“To amend the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983, in order that all teachers who have retired prior to May 31, 1982, have their pensions recalculated on the best five years rather than at the present seven to 10 years.
“This proposed amendment would make the five-year criteria applicable to all retired teachers and would eliminate the present inequitable treatment.”
I have affixed my name thereto.
Mr. Neumann: I have a petition from 72 senior citizens living at 33 Memorial Drive in Brantford:
“To the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the senior citizens at 33 Memorial Drive, Brantford, express the following thoughts and concerns regarding the proposed automobile insurance rates:
“1. The rates should be based on driving records.
“2. Consideration should be given to a rate category for drivers who do not drive more than 9,000 kilometres per year.
“3. We are concerned about measures that would discriminate against seniors on the basis of age.
“4. Premium increases allowed to insurance companies are excessive and far in excess of the rate of inflation.”
Mr. Kanter: I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The petition begins:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Ontario government to implement fully the recommendations of the Social Assistance Review Committee report of 1988.”
This petition is signed by over 200 people, many of them resident in my riding. I am pleased to affix my name to the petition, and I expect that it will be in order.
SMALL CLAIMS COURT
Mr. Sterling: I have a petition to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Lieutenant Governor in Council as follows:
“To pass a regulation designating the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton as an area in which the maximum claim in the provincial court, civil division, be increased from the present $1,000 to $3,000 pursuant to the authority granted under section 87(1)(f) and 78(1) of the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.”
That has been signed by 48 residents of Ottawa-Carleton, including Ms. Elat Lerner, and I have signed that petition.
Mr. Ballinger: I have in my possession two petitions, the first one signed by 22 residents.
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We, as parents of children attending George Street school in York region, believe that extra funding is necessary to meet the needs of the educational system. Without more money, the required number of schools necessary to accommodate the increasing enrolment cannot be built. We therefore petition the government to ensure that there is no loss of provincial support or support from commercial and industrial taxes for education.”
PROPOSED CLAY MINING PIT
Mr. Ballinger: The second petition is signed by 168 persons.
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
“That in view of the fact that the Environmental Assessment Act, RSO 1980, is an important bastion in protecting and preserving our environment, and whereas the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto wishes to expropriate 432 acres of meadow, woodlot and farm land in the heart of the growing community of Maple and convert this site to a clay mining pit and/or quarry, which is likely to cause irreparable harm and damage to the residents and natural environment of Maple, that the House ensure this application by Metropolitan Toronto not be exempted from the requirements of the Environment Assessment Act.”
Mr. Mackenzie: I have 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.”
That was signed by 10 citizens in the Barrie-Richmond Hill-Unionville area. I have affixed my name to it. I support the tenet of the petition.
Mr. Cureatz: I have a petition for the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, signed by 110 persons in the riding represented by the member for Durham Centre (Mr. Furlong), a government member, which reads in part as follows:
“I believe that all residents of extended care facilities, whether it be a nursing home or a municipal home for the aged, are entitled to equal care and services, according to the specific care requirements of each individual.
“Nursing home residents should benefit from the same amount of funding and kinds of services as residents of municipal homes for the aged.
“We urge the Ontario government to reform the extended care system so that it is uniform, fair and equitable with regard to funding and regulation and so that seniors in all extended care facilities receive the quality of care that they deserve.”
In connection with that petition, I have a similar petition, of which I will not read the preamble in recognition of the time available on this day. But let me indicate that it is signed by 118 persons in the riding represented by the member for Durham West (Mrs. Stoner), a government member.
In addition to those two petitions, I have a third petition inscribed, as previously indicated, by myself. Let me merely say it is a petition signed by 59 persons in the riding represented by the member for Durham York (Mr. Ballinger), a government member.
Along the same lines, I have another petition. I will not divulge, in terms of some of my anxieties, why I am receiving all of these petitions from other government sitting members. Let me merely say, so that I do not digress, that it is signed by 180 persons in the riding represented by the member for Northumberland (Mrs. Fawcett), a government member.
Last but not least, I have a petition, as previously indicated by myself, signed by 41 persons in the riding represented by the member for Quinte (Mr. O’Neil).
Mr. Speaker: You have affixed your name to all those?
Mr. Cureatz: No, I did not.
Mr. Speaker: They will be out of order then.
Mr. Cureatz: Well, then I will.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 151, An Act to revise the Personal Property Security Act and to repeal and amend certain other Acts related to Personal Property;
Bill 152, An Act to revise and consolidate the Law related to Repairers’ and Storers’ Liens;
Bill 212, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act;
Bill 213, An Act to amend the Executive Council Act.
COUNTY OF LANARK ACT
Mr. Villeneuve, on behalf of Mr. Wiseman, moved second reading of Bill Pr78. An Act respecting the County of Lanark.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CONCURRENCE IN SUPPLY
Resolutions for supply for the following ministries and office were concurred in by the House:
Ministry of Colleges and Universities;
Ministry of the Environment;
Office of the Assembly;
Ministry of Natural Resources;
Ministry of Tourism and Recreation;
Ministry of Municipal Affairs;
Ministry of Skills Development;
Ministry of Correctional Services;
Ministry of Labour.
CONCURRENCE IN SUPPLY, MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION
Mr. Cousens: We were proceeding rather quickly through the concurrences, and indeed we are in a hurry to leave this place, but I think it would be wrong for us to allow this concurrence to proceed without at least some comment. I want to respect the time of the House. Everybody else has other things he wants to do.
I do not think there is anything more important for the people of Metropolitan Toronto and the greater Metro area than the traffic problems we are not only beginning to have, but which are going to become worse. I think we have to come to terms with the need this province has for a quality transportation system. It is going to affect the quality of life, it is going to affect tourism, it is going to affect everything about commerce and life in our cities.
We have a crisis on our hands and it would be wrong for us to allow this concurrence to go through as if everything is just fine with the Minister of Transportation (Mr. Fulton). It is not. The minister had a phone call today to the head of GO Transit. I think that is just fine. He talks about the east-west corridor being improved, with maybe 12 trains in it, but I will tell him there is nothing happening in the north-south corridor.
Why does this ministry not begin to realize that the growth around Metro is not just to the east and the west; it is to the north? It cannot go to the south, because there is a great big piece of water there, as the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Faubert) well knows. The fact is that the people who are moving into York region and into those areas north of Metropolitan Toronto are not getting any kind of service.
We have a GO train system that comes through Richmond Hill, Langstaff and Oriole, and we have three trains in the morning and three at night. We have not seen any change in that service since 1976 when that system was instituted. We have had plenty of surveys, plenty of questionnaires and plenty of promises, but we have not seen any improvement. Now what is happening is that the parking lots are getting filled, but we are not seeing anything done to add to the service.
We have an urgent problem and everybody is just sitting around, complacently allowing it to get worse. I cannot stand just sitting back here and watching the Minister of Transportation with a sense of, “Oh, I am above that; I do not worry about that.” I do. I am elected by the people of York region to do something about it. I feel as frustrated as I have ever felt at the failure of this government to at least own up to the responsibility it has to do something about transportation.
We are going to have one horrible mess when the SkyDome opens. For one thing, I was asking the minister today for at least some kind of honourable response to it. If we are going to have people using public transit to get to the dome, we should begin to see some announcements from this ministry that will provide special transit services to the dome during rush periods when the dome is going to be open, so that people will be able to leave their cars at parking lots in Langstaff, Richmond Hill, Oriole, Unionville, Markham or other places on the GO Transit system. Why do we not get some kind of commitment from this minister that goes beyond where he is at right now? I see it as just being one horrible bottleneck.
I like the domed stadium. It is going to be good. I plan to be there on June 3, if it opens on June 3. There seems to be some worry that they are going to have trouble getting everything in place so that it can go on. Part of the problem stems from the failure of this minister to work in a close and realistic way with the people at the Stadium Corp. of Ontario Ltd. and with the city of Toronto.
There has to be an investment in the future. We can come along and give $25 million or $35 million towards the dome, but we also have to put something into the roads and networks to get people there. There has to be an investment in the infrastructure. If we are not going to do that, we are failing the people who are going to be using these services.
It is going to be a nightmare. They are hoping to get people to use public transit. That does not begin to solve all the problems. For those of us who live far out of town, we are going to be on the road for so long it is not even going to be worth it.
Where is the Minister of Transportation taking us? I say nowhere. Yesterday, I had some fun. I wrote him a note and I called him the very right honourable Ed Fulton Sheen, bishop of highways of sin. The sin that is surrounding this minister is the failure to own up to the responsibility he has as a minister to serve the people of this province.
It is not fun coming down the Don Valley Parkway every day. It is not fun driving on Highway 7. I know there are millions, let alone thousands of people in this province who are increasingly frustrated at the problems they are having in getting around.
Here we are spending money on a ministry. It is flat-lining its costs. It is not doing more than it has in the past. What is happening is that inflation in road construction is not at three per cent or four per cent the way it is in everything else; it is at 15 per cent. It may even be higher than that this year. So this year the ministry is going to be spending 15 per cent less than last year on road construction and transit services. The minister cannot call that satisfactory, not when he is bleeding us as much as he is with the sales tax and every other kind of tax.
Mr. Fleet: You’re always being bled.
Mr. Cousens: The people of Ontario come along and load up their cars with gasoline. If some of that money went back into roads, they would begin to feel a little bit better about it, but it is not. The government just keeps on taking and taking, and what are we getting back out of it? A bigger civil service; a bigger ministry office.
Mr. Fleet: You’re retrogressing.
Mr. Cousens: The minister’s office has increased by twice the amount in percentage terms as his budget for municipalities. How can people be so complacent?
Our party is not complacent. We are concerned about the gridlock that is taking place around greater Metropolitan Toronto. We are concerned about the stagnation of the transportation system. We are concerned about the effect that is going to have on tourism in this province. People used to come to Toronto and say, “Isn’t it a beautiful city?”
Mr. Fleet: Your colleagues don’t agree with you, Don. They have abandoned you. Where are your colleagues?
Mr. Cousens: Mr. Speaker, could you put some kind of muzzle on this fellow? I do not think anyone can muzzle the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Fleet), but even a paper bag over his head would help.
Mr. Fleet: Thank you very much.
Mr. Cousens: I cannot accept in any way what is going on within this government as to what it is doing for the people of Ontario in coming to terms with transportation. They have not come to terms with it as a government. We are the ones who are suffering. I do not know what promises they have ever made, but they are probably like the rest of their election promises. They are going to be broken, like the others.
Come on. Get on the ball. Maybe what they are going to have to do is have the Premier (Mr. Peterson), when he gets back from his Hollywood trip, shake up the whole government. But I do not know who they are going to move into Transportation who can do a job of it, unless there is a commitment from the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon), from Management Board and from the whole government that they are going to do something for it. Right now the losers are the people who want to come to this city.
Mr. Fleet: If this is a leadership speech, it’s not quite good enough.
Mr. Cousens: I started saying before I was interrupted by the member for High Park-Swansea whose voice is louder than mine, especially in my left ear, that if tourism is going to continue to be a very strong industry, as it should be for Ontario --
Mr. Fleet: Well supported by Ontario.
Mr. Cousens: -- and if we want to continue to attract people to this city and to the province, we also have to have the networks in place so that they can come into this city and come in and use the services. This government is failing to live up to any sense of purpose on that, and it just has to.
This is one government that is failing the city of Toronto and Metropolitan Toronto, which has passed a motion asking for something to be done about subway construction. Where is there a subway under construction in this city right now? There is not. There is not a city in the world this large that is not doing something about subway construction.
Mr. Cousens: I wish the government members would either listen or do something else. I am not just --
Mr. Fleet: We have to listen. That is the problem.
Mr. Cousens: You can’t listen and talk at the same time.
The subway is an urgent priority. Why does this government not get on with it? The city and Metro are looking for something to be done on the Sheppard subway line. I just sincerely hope that this government will do something about it.
I do not know where we begin or where we end on this issue. This government wants to get approval for its concurrences. They want to get approval to go ahead. Personally, I would give approval if they were going to do something that was constructive and build the infrastructure and get the people moving in and around greater Metro. Then we would have something to be proud of.
Until this government does it, we are going to have a problem that will get worse and worse. At what point do you begin to do something about it? When it is too late? Right now, they are pothole fixers. About all they are good at is filling holes. Maybe they can stuff a few of these noisy backbenchers in the holes. It would suit a better purpose than some of the things they are doing around here.
We need to get on with the problems of roads and traffic and people who want to move around this province. They cannot right now. I blame not just the Minister of Transportation. He happens to be a good guy, but he is doing a terrible job at convincing that bored front bench to do something about it.
I say it is time they acted. It is still not too late. They have a couple of years left in their term, unless they call a snap election after today. I really wish they would because then we will do something about it. Then we will start seeing something happen in this province. We will not see the broken promises and we will not see the failures we have had with them.
Mr. Furlong: What taxes will go up? What taxes will go up?
Mr. Cousens: I am being asked a number of questions. I will be pleased to answer them now. I am being asked a question by the member for Durham Centre. What question is the member for Durham Centre asking?
Mr. Furlong: What taxes will go up to pay for this?
Mr. Cousens: The member has asked what taxes will go up. I think we will be able to save taxes and then we will go towards a balanced budget. The member is concerned about taxes going up. I think it is time this province began to put a halt on tax and the inflation they are putting on taxes.
They went from seven per cent to eight per cent on provincial sales tax last year. It was the biggest tax grab ever in the history of the province. They could not even balance the budget. We would begin to balance the budget. We would begin to stop spending money on an increased civil service, which has increased by about 8,000. We would begin to do something to serve the needs of people in this province. We would not make the kind of promises they did.
Now does the member have any other questions? The member for Durham Centre is so full of ideas.
Mr. Furlong: I think you are dreaming in broad daylight.
Mr. Cousens: He thinks I am dreaming in broad daylight. I have to say we are dealing with concurrences. I am not happy with this government. Maybe you can tell, Mr. Speaker. I will vote against the concurrence for Transportation. I think it is time they shaped up or shipped out.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. M. C. Ray): Is there any other discussion? Mr. Conway, in the absence of the minister, has moved concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Transportation. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry’?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Resolution concurred in.
CONCURRENCE IN SUPPLY
Resolution for supply for the following ministry was concurred in by the House:
Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
CONCURRENCE IN SUPPLY, OFFICE RESPONSIBLE FOR NATIVE AFFAIRS
Mr. Reville: Just briefly, Mr. Speaker, you will know that I am not the critic for native affairs for the New Democratic Party, but in the absence of most of the government, when we have had the government House leader moving all these concurrences, it seems appropriate that I make a remark or two in this respect in the absence of our critic.
Until recently, I did not have very much knowledge about what life was like for native Canadians in this province. My experience has been largely to do with urban native Canadians, representing, as I have for some years, a downtown Toronto riding in which many native Canadians live -- and live in a very seriously deprived condition, I should point out.
Just recently I had an opportunity, with my colleagues from northern Ontario, to visit in the northwest and to speak with a number of the chiefs who represent first Canadians in that part of Ontario. I cannot let this occasion pass without sharing with the Legislature how devastating I found it to hear the chiefs talk about the plight of their people.
I am ashamed at the conditions under which our first Canadians are living in this province, and I urge the government to do a much better job.
Resolution concurred in.
Hon. Mr. Conway, on behalf of Hon. R. F. Nixon, moved resolution 22:
That the Treasurer of Ontario be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing April 1, 1989, and ending May 31, 1989, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply.
Hon. Mr. Conway: As the honourable members know, this is the interim supply motion that is required to provide the funding to discharge the ongoing responsibilities of government during that time when the Legislature will largely be in recess.
I am delighted that my distinguished friend the member for Brant-Haldimand, the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon), has just returned from Ottawa. He might certainly want to speak to the motion standing in his name, which I am so happy to move in his absence.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: It seems such a shame to have the Treasurer arrive a little winded and not have a chance to speak to this.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I’m always a little windy.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: No, I am windy; he is winded. I just thought I would give him a chance to catch his breath and then say whatever it is that is on his mind.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I have nothing to say, for reasons that he will probably bring to public attention.
I appreciate the fact that the House is considering interim supply for the period following the end of this fiscal year. We are hoping that before the House adjourns today the supply bill covering the expenditures for this year will be passed and we will be able to proffer it in the usual and appropriate way to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor. That really means that, after our careful consideration, the expenditures of $38 billion will be approved. The fact that most of the money has been spent already is neither here nor there.
Motion agreed to.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
Hon. Mr. Conway moved resolution 23:
That the select committee on education, appointed on February 11, 1988, be continued, the committee to report to the House within one calendar year.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Very briefly, I want to say in the presence of the member for Middlesex (Mr. Reycraft), the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) and others who may have served on this committee that we know of the good work they have done. Their mandate is being extended by virtue of this motion. I know my friend the member for Scarborough West and my friends from other electoral districts are very anxious to continue the important work of this particular select committee and this motion really is simply to extend in time the mandate of that particular select committee.
Motion agreed to.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Hon. Mr. Conway moved resolution 24:
That the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly be authorized to undertake a comprehensive review of the report of the chief election officer including recommended legislative changes 1988 (sessional paper 325) and other areas related to the election process and report to the House its observations and recommendations thereon following public meetings for the hearing of representations of interested persons, and that the chief election officer provide such assistance to the committee as may be required by the committee to discharge its duties.
Hon. Mr. Conway: The said committee is anxious to get on with this particular examination of the report of the elections office, and I believe the whips have already allocated some time to this undertaking in the intersession which will begin very shortly. Again, I hope all members would support this resolution to let that very learned group of men and women get on with that important task.
Motion agreed to.
ESTIMATES AND SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES
Hon. Mr. Conway moved resolution 21:
That the 1988-89 estimates and supplementary estimates which have not yet been passed by the committees and reported to the House be deemed to be passed and reported to the House, and that the 1988-89 estimates and supplementary estimates which have not yet been concurred in be deemed to be concurred in.
Hon. Mr. Conway: This is the so-called deeming motion.
Motion agreed to.
[See Votes and Proceedings]
STATUS OF BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. Conway moved resolution 25:
That, notwithstanding the prorogation of the House,
(i) all government bills ordered for second reading except Bill 27, An Act respecting Prearranged and Prepaid Funerals, Bill 28, An Act to amend the Funeral Services Act, and Bill 168, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act;
(ii) all government and private members’ public bills referred to standing committees;
(iii) Bill Pr15, An Act respecting the City of Toronto, referred to the standing committee on regulations and private bills;
(iv) the 16th report 1988 of the standing committee on the Ombudsman, the first report of the select committee on education, the report of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly on the process for the restoration of the parliament building, the 17th report 1989 of the standing committee on the Ombudsman, the report of the select committee on energy on Ontario Hydro’s draft/demand planning strategy, and the 1987 and 1988 report of the standing committee on public accounts; and
(v) all matters referred to standing committees, remaining on the Orders and Notices paper at the prorogation of the first session of this parliament be continued and placed on the Orders and Notices paper on the second sessional day of the second session of the 34th Parliament at the same stage of business for the House and its committees as at prorogation.
Hon. Mr. Conway: This is the carryover motion about which there has been a good discussion among House leaders and whips. In putting the motion, I want to put a motion to amend this particular motion.
Hon. Mr. Conway further moved that resolution 25 be amended by striking out in part (iv) “the report of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly on the process for the restoration of the parliament building.”
Hon. Mr. Conway: The reason for that amendment is very simply that this morning we had a very good debate and the report of the committee in this respect was debated and adopted. It simply drops off because we have completed that work. Otherwise, as I said, we have had a good discussion and the House leaders and whips have agreed to carry over the following items, notwithstanding prorogation later today.
Motion agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Conway: We are moving with very considerable dispatch here, and I am very pleased.
Hon. Mr. Conway moved resolution 26:
That the following committees be continued and authorized to meet during the recess between the first and the second sessions of the 34th Parliament, in accordance with the schedule of meeting dates agreed to by the three party whips and tabled with the Clerk of the Assembly, to examine and inquire into the following matters:
Select committee on education to consider the organization and length of the schoolday and the school year;
Standing committee on administration of justice to consider Bill 187, An Act to amend certain Acts as they relate to Police and Sheriffs, and Bill 4, An Act to amend the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force Complaints Act, 1984;
Standing committee on finance and economic affairs to consider prebudget consultations;
Standing committee on general government to consider Bill 170, An Act to revise several Acts related to Aggregate Resources;
Standing committee on government agencies to consider the operation of agencies, boards and commissions of the government of Ontario;
Standing committee on the Legislative Assembly to consider matters related to election laws and the election process and the procedures, administration and services and facilities of the House;
Standing committee on the Ombudsman to consider the special report of the Ombudsman on the denied case of Farm Q;
Standing committee on public accounts to consider the 1987 and 1988 annual reports of the Provincial Auditor;
Standing committee on resources development to consider Bill 162, An Act to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act;
Standing committee on social development to consider Bill 124, An Act to amend the Children’s Law Reform Act, and Bill 194, An Act to restrict Smoking in Workplaces.
Hon. Mr. Conway: This particular motion sets out the important work that standing and select committees of the Legislature are expected to undertake in the intersession period. It ranges from the important work of the select committee on education, now extended in mandate in so far as time to report is concerned by one year, down through the very important work of the standing committee on social development with respect to the bills having been referred to it.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I want to speak to this because it has been a matter of some controversy these last few days in terms of the mandate of the select committee, not in terms of time but in terms of substance. I want to just apprise the House of some changes which have been taking place this afternoon around the select committee.
Some people may know that I withdrew, and our caucus withdrew, from the participation in the select committee for some reasons of problems with communication, I think one can say, between ourselves and the minister, trying to make sure that the committee was not in a position of doing things which the ministry was already active in and then making announcements on and finding ourselves in awkward positions about when we held our hearings, etc.
It looked as if we would, as a result, not be sitting with the rest of the members of the committee, now restruck for this period in the spring to deal with the matters of the length of the schoolday because of a misunderstanding around the major question of the financing of education, which is of concern to most of the people out there in education these days.
Of course, most members will know that in 1985 we had the report of the Macdonald commission proposing a number of major changes in how we finance the education system. It had been my understanding that the government was going to move on this last June and that in fact we would have had an announcement last spring around financing. That did not come.
Then as the committee began its hearings last summer and fall, we had one or two occasions when the minister’s path and ours crossed, making opposition members like myself feel uncomfortable about our role, and we tried to set up a communication between the minister and ourselves about what would be forthcoming last fall.
It was my impression that before we were to meet this spring, there was going to be a major announcement, a response to the Macdonald commission, by the minister. That would have been something which would have made it awkward for us to hold meetings on financing this spring. Therefore, subsequent to our hearings last September, we decided to meet on the length of the schoolday and school year during the break this spring.
It turns out, of course, that in fact there has not been that kind of statement by the ministry up to this point. In conversation with the minister today and subsequently with other members of the committee from all parties, the minister stated his intention to deal with financing matters in a substantive way during the next session, this spring some time, and that he thought perhaps there might not be enough room again for the committee to find its own role around matters to do with financing this spring.
This is the third commitment I have received that this will be taking place. From my perspective as an opposition member, I much prefer the committee to say that at this stage it is going to place financing on its agenda and put that before itself, with the understanding that the minister may very well make some major pronouncement this May or June on, for instance, one of the major issues such as pooling of commercial, residential and industrial assessments and how that would affect the funding for the two major public systems in Ontario.
But even if he were to do that, it would seem to me that the committee would have much room for operation. I am being hypothetical here, of course, but it could be dealing with responses from the public to that kind of initiative and in a place where, from an opposition perspective, discontent could be fomented; it could be a time when the committee could get some of that response from the public and then give it to the minister, who could then refine his policies, or it may be quite different from that. We may say that although the minister has moved in this area on financing, there is this other whole series of questions that need to be addressed and that we would deal with those things.
It is for that reason -- and I am speaking slightly out of order here, but I will not speak again and therefore that is a blessing for all concerned -- that I will be supporting a motion which will be coming from the third party’s House leader, which will indicate that the motion that we are now talking about should be amended to add “the matter of financing” at the end of the phrase “and the length of the schoolday and school year” in whatever words he chooses to make his motion.
It is my understanding that it is something which the members from all three parties on the committee have now agreed to, from their own varying perspectives on the matter. I hope it is something that the House will support.
It is understood, however, because of the schedule which we have already established on the length of the school year for the period in March and April of this year, that we will not be doing much more than setting up an organizational framework for how we would proceed on the question of financing at our next hearings -- hopefully, in the summer or September -- whenever the House leaders deem that we should meet.
Mr. Harris: I appreciate the comments by the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) and the efforts he has taken, along with the member for Burlington South (Mr. Jackson), to try to bring some focus back into the select committee on education.
The House will recall the fairly dramatic gesture by both the member for Scarborough West and the member for Burlington South, indicating that they felt that the committee was not co-ordinating as well with the Ministry of Education. Indeed, on an understanding of what they could study and what they could not study, there seemed to be some sense that there were more significant issues that the committee could be studying.
However, the committee accepted in pretty good faith, I think -- in consultation with the minister -- that it did not want to be studying something that was already going to be dealt with by the government or that was to be resolved shortly by the government; so that, in that sense, may be wasting some of its time. It undertook, I think in good faith, to head off into a few different directions.
I think the member for Scarborough West’s questions in this House over the past couple of days and the various releases from the member for Burlington South, the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve) and the member for Scarborough West have indicated the difficulties.
I am pleased to congratulate all members who have brought some focus to this problem. It was a problem that was brought to my attention as House leader for my party and to the attention of the House leader for the New Democratic Party. While it will not solve the problem for this break -- and I appreciate that there has been some sense of all-party agreement -- the committee will proceed with the hearings that have been proposed, as in the motion.
There is also some sense of direction with the concurrence from the ministry and all members of the committee that indeed there is value, and it will not be in conflict with what the minister is doing. In fact, he is moving much more slowly than he may have anticipated when he gave his earlier direction to the committee.
Hon. Mr. Conway: That’s true.
Mr. Harris: Now, listen. We were working very co-operatively here.
I would move an amendment to the motion of the government House leader by adding to the section which reads “select committee on education to consider the organization and length of the school day and the school year,” to the end of that, the words “and the financing of Ontario’s education.”
The Acting Speaker (Mr. M. C. Ray): Does the member have the amendment in writing? Could you please present it to the table officers?
Hon. Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, it might make it easier to dispense.
The Acting Speaker: I would still like to make sure I have it correct.
Mr. Harris moves that resolution 26 be amended by adding, after the phrase “select committee on education to consider the organization and length of the school day and the school year,” the following: “and the financing of Ontario’s education.”
Ms. Poole: I will be very brief because I know there is some urgency to the House completing its business this afternoon --
Ms. Poole: In that case, since the opposition is clamouring for a very lengthy speech, I will be pleased to extend it to six o’clock today and then, of course, again on Monday. I understand we have unanimous consent for that?
I just wanted to express my appreciation, not only to the opposition members, but to the government members today, who worked very co-operatively to try to find a resolution to this. I am personally delighted that the opposition will be back with us when we start our hearing next week on the length and organization of the school day and the school year. In the whole spirit of co-operation, which has been a part of this committee to date, we will be looking forward to working together on the issue of financing, as we have on the other mandates of the select committee on education.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Conway moved resolution 27:
That standing and select committees be authorized to release their reports during the recess between the first and second sessions of this parliament by depositing a copy of any report with the Clerk of the Assembly, and, on the second sessional day of the second session of the 34th Parliament the chairmen of such committees shall bring any such reports before the House in accordance with the standing orders.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Very briefly, this is a routine motion again, simply allowing standing and select committees to release their reports during the recess period.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Conway moved resolution 28:
That, with the agreement of the House leaders and whips of each party, committees may meet during the recess between the first and second sessions of this parliament at times other than those specified on the schedule tabled with the Clerk of the Assembly.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Conway moved resolution 29:
That the current membership on the standing committees be continued during the recess between the first and second sessions of the 34th Parliament.
Hon. Mr. Conway: This is very routine again, that the current membership on the standing committees be continued during the recess period.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Conway moved resolution 30:
That the membership on the select committee on education shall be: Ms. Poole (chair), Mr. Beer, Mr. D. S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside), Mr. Furlong, Mr. Jackson, Mr. R. F. Johnston (Scarborough West), Mr. Keyes, Mr. Mahoney, Mr. Miclash, Mrs. O’Neill (Ottawa-Rideau) and Mr. Villeneuve.
Hon. Mr. Conway: This is a resolution that amends slightly the membership of the select committee on education. I just observe, for the particular attention of the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke), that the chief government whip seems to be absenting himself from this committee, and in his stead will be the member for York North (Mr. Beer). I believe that is the only substitution. At any rate, this is the revised membership for the select committee on education.
Motion agreed to.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED) / EXPOSÉ BUDGETAIRE (SUITE)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the amendment to the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
Mr. Brandt: Once again, I am pleased to have the opportunity to make some comments for the record in connection with the tax increases that were imposed on the people of Ontario by this government. After having studied these increases very carefully, having reviewed them in our caucus on a number of occasions, our party continues to feel as strongly about the tax increases as we did the very first day that they were announced by the government.
It is interesting to note -- and I would have to say that this is somewhat cynical -- in connection with the way in which the government has developed its agenda on this particular item, that there were no tax increases in the last budget before the last election. The government found a way to hold the line. I do not want to be cynical in a political sense and suggest that that was only a move with which to go to the people and show them what great restraint the government was showing at that particular time, but the fact of the matter is that there were no tax increases at that time.
Interestingly enough, during the course of that particular election campaign in 1987, I do not recall one comment or any suggestion that there would be massive tax hikes taking place if we gave the Liberals a majority in the election of September 10, 1987. I want members to know that the federal government, under the current Prime Minister, brought in a very comprehensive program that will reduce taxes, many of which are going to be offset by the tax increases that are going to be put in place by the current provincial government.
As those of us on this side of the House are only too well aware, once this very large majority Liberal government was in place it was deemed necessary, in order to pay for the promises of the 1987 election campaign, I suppose, to have a very substantial tax increase. We feel that there were many other areas of reduction and government restraint that could have been introduced during the course of the past year or more that would have, in fact, reduced the necessity -- perhaps not eliminating it completely -- of these massive tax hikes that I want to talk about during the course of today’s lengthy debate on this particular matter.
I know that some members of the House are anxious to close this debate as quickly as possible because they want to get on their way to vacations and other things, but I want to say that I am prepared to stay here as long as is necessary in order to put on the record our objection to the massive, uncalled-for tax increases that this government put in place. It starts with the retail sales tax.
If I can get the attention of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Wrye), I want to say to him, and to the ministry that he so proudly heads, that this retail sales tax is one that the current Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon), when in opposition, talked about as being a regressive tax. He said, “You know, my friends,” and he made an impassioned plea during the course of the debates in this House, when he shared with us his views with respect to the meaning and the interpretation of regressivity. What he said at that time was, “You know, the unfairness of a hike in the sales tax, or even of any form of sales tax whatever, is that it hits all people equally, whether they be in the upper-income bracket, the middle- or lower-income brackets.”
The fact of the matter is that when you touch people in their pocketbooks with a sales tax, there is no distinction made, as the Treasurer, who is now walking in to take his seat, fully knows. There is no distinction made between the various types of taxpayers. About a decade and a half ago, the Treasurer, the member for Brant-Haldimand, quite appropriately said that a sales tax increase from, I believe, five to seven per cent was in fact a very ill-thought-out move in the sense that it would be unfair, particularly to those at the lower end of the income spectrum.
Mr. Furlong: Did you agree?
Mr. Brandt: I agreed with the member for Brant-Haldimand. If I had been here in this House at that particular time, I would have fought that tax increase. I tell members I would have been on the side of the -- the fact of the matter is that the increases with respect to sales taxes brought in by this Treasurer not only touched every taxpayer in the pocket, but in particular touched the taxpayers at the low end of the income spectrum hardest. Those are the ones who are going to feel the impact of these tax increases most directly.
Let us put it into perspective, so we know the numbers as clearly as they should be shared with this House, what a one per cent increase in the sales tax really amounts to, because a lot of people think that when you raise the sales tax from seven per cent to eight per cent that is only one per cent. The fact of the matter is that it is far more than that.
Do members realize that when we take a look at the base funding and the increase in revenues this generates to the Treasurer and the government of Ontario, this one per cent sales tax increase actually means about a 14 per cent increase in total revenues? It amounts to close to $1 billion, just as a result of the tinkering of a one per cent increase.
I have to tell members that not only was that tax tampered with and increased after a long number of years of leaving the sales tax alone, so that Ontario would continue to be a competitive province in every respect, but the Treasurer was not done with that particular increase. He had to find more areas of increase to adjust.
So the next thing he tampered with was the personal income tax. Personal income tax in this province, once being one of the lowest in the entire country, is now quickly moving into the upper echelons in comparison with the other nine provinces. We started off at 48 per cent personal income tax and then we shifted to 49 per cent and then to 50 per cent. It will go up to 51 per cent and ultimately to 52 per cent. Over a four-year period, each and every year the Treasurer has increased personal income taxes by an additional one per cent. That kind of manoeuvre on the part of this Treasurer is just unacceptable to our party.
He did not stop there. He continued on going. I do not know how the members of the government, and particularly the backbenchers, can go back to their constituencies and say they are doing an effective job of governing when governing amounts to little more than introducing new programs, grabbing more tax dollars and trying to throw money against the problems of Ontario to try to make this government look good. It will not work, because there were 150,000 or more people who signed petitions saying very simply, “Bob Nixon, the people of Ontario will not forget that you went too far.”
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Whatever happened to Garth Turner?
Mr. Brandt: As a matter of fact, the individual the Treasurer refers to is now an honourable member in the federal Parliament. After leading a fight against increased taxes at the provincial level, the people thought so highly of Mr. Turner that they overwhelmingly endorsed his candidacy and elected him to the federal House.
I have to tell members that when the Treasurer of this province taxes virtually every single thing that is available to him --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Not virtually.
Mr. Brandt: “Not virtually,” he says. I correct myself. He taxed everything that he possibly could in order to raise more revenue. It questions, in our mind, the ability of this government to manage the affairs of this province and to administer them in such a way as to effectively carry out program delivery in Ontario.
They have a philosophy across the way: if it moves, tax it; if it keeps on moving, continue to tax it; and if it stops moving, subsidize it. That is the approach they have used to taxation policy in Ontario.
Here is a government that started off, on a per capita basis, with a spending record when it took office back in 1985 that was the lowest per capita expenditure of any province in the entire country, because there was in fact a strong management team in place at that time. Admittedly, we had gone through a very difficult period. There was a world recession, revenues were not as strong as they are today, but the per capita spending levels were in fact under control.
The Treasurer has managed, over the years that he has been in that particular position, to start moving Ontario up rather rapidly, and with some degree of hope, I guess, that the other provinces would not notice this. The Premier (Mr. Peterson) recently indicated that the spending levels of Ontario are only eighth per capita of all provinces. What he failed to say is that before he took office they were ninth and they were 10th because those spending experiences in years prior to that were in fact under control.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: That’s why you guys were defeated. You were throttling the province. Nobody had a chance.
Mr. Brandt: I have to take issue with the Treasurer when he talks about throttling the province. People like to believe that their tax dollars are being spent in a responsible fashion, and the Treasurer and his government will have great difficulty in going back to the people of this province and proving that case in another couple of years from now, let me assure them. The time will come when they will have to answer for the fact that they have raised taxes, in four short years, by close to 50 per cent. It is totally unconscionable that in a four-year period they would escalate taxes at that kind of rate of increase. It is just not acceptable to the members of my party; I do not believe it is acceptable to the people of Ontario.
In addition to that, let me say to the Treasurer and to the members opposite that at the same time as they are spending more money, they have been shifting responsibilities to the local levels of government. They have been shifting responsibilities to the municipalities, and let me give them a couple of examples.
We have a bill coming forward now, being proposed by the Attorney General (Mr. Scott). Bill 187 on courtroom security, where the Attorney General said to me in casual conversation in this House -- not reported in Hansard, but he in fact did say it across the floor -- that this is not going to increase costs to local municipalities.
It is interesting that all the municipalities across the province, along with all the police chiefs and the police commissions, take very strong exception to what the government is proposing in Bill 187, because it now calls for local governments to pay for the cost of security in the court system, a responsibility which was very clearly that of the provincial government up until the time that the Attorney General got an opportunity to make this shift he is now proposing.
It is going to cost something in the order of $14 million in Metropolitan Toronto alone. In some of the medium-sized communities of 50,000 and 60,000 population in our province, it will cost $500,000 or more to each and every one of them, simply because another responsibility has been shifted.
Is that the only one? I wish it was, but it is not. What did it do with unconditional grants, this government with this huge new pot of money, something in the order of $14 billion or $15 billion of new revenues and new taxes that it has taken on in the past four years? What have they done with that? Have they provided that money to the municipalities? No.
What they did with the municipalities was that they took the unconditional grants sector and they flat-lined that -- zero increase -- while they are giving themselves virtually a double-digit increase in many of the ministry departments. As the Treasurer well knows, it is far more than that, but the government as a whole has increased revenues in the range of some 10 per cent while the municipalities are supposed to be able to get by on virtually no increase in revenue base from the standpoint of transfer grants from the provincial government. It just is not fair.
What the municipal governments are going to have to do is raise property taxes, which are also very regressive. They are not progressive taxes like income taxes. They are not progressive taxes like corporate taxes. They are in fact very regressive in that again a property owner is not one who necessarily, because he lives in a large home, has a substantial or a large amount of income.
We consider the sales taxes and property taxes to be in very much the same category. We also consider that this shift of taxes on to the backs of local property taxpayers is just another way of making housing in this province more unaffordable. When you buy a house, obviously you are going to have to pay taxes. What has the government done with respect to one of the most important issues that we are going to have to face not in the days and in the months ahead but in the years ahead, based on the speed with which this government is dealing with this issue? That is the whole question of adequate, affordable housing in Ontario.
With every move that the Treasurer is making he places the price of a house outside the reach of the average Ontario citizen. He has done that in a very insidious way. The increase of one per cent in the sales tax, as an example, is assessed against virtually everything that goes into that house. We have estimated that the cost of that particular move alone, for the average home in the Metropolitan Toronto area, is somewhere in the range of $3,000 when one takes into account the addition of asphalt and concrete. The one per cent sales tax increase will add $3,000 to the price of a home.
Did the Treasurer stop there? No. He had a brand-new scheme that will ultimately, if it is allowed to go through, and I hope that it is not --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: You are not going to be against that too?
Mr. Brandt: I am going to be against that too, because once again the Treasurer wants to shift the tax burden to the local municipalities by suggesting to them that the only way in which they are going to be able to get this additional money that traditionally has been a provincial responsibility is if they now introduce a new thing called a lot levy or an impost fee, if you want to use that terminology, because it is a very similar move.
We are now talking about adding to the price of a home perhaps as little as $5,000, and that is a substantial amount of money. It is enough to break the back of a first-time home buyer in many jurisdictions, but it could go to $8,000 or $10,000, as the members of my party are well aware, depending on the determinations that are made locally. Now we have a brand-new tax. Instead of trying to show some restraint and control and trying to show some leadership, as suggested to the Treasurer by the boys from Earl’s Shell Service station in that great community of St. George, who I know are badly burdened by these kinds of tax increases -- and I think I will send them this Hansard so they know exactly what he has done to them --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: They will know just what to do with it.
Mr. Brandt: They will. They will pin it on the board and put it in a frame, and they will show it to the member every time he gases up. I know he is full of gas frequently. I say that to him with respect.
The possibility of a $10,000 lot levy is an absolutely horrendous consideration that is still another new tax that this Treasurer is talking about heaping upon everything else that he has already done. He has made a whole series of mistakes. I guess he can just add one mistake on top of another. This other mistake that he is now about to consider is the lot levy or the impost fee, which is now going to move the cost of a house just that much more beyond the reach of the average Ontario citizen.
When more and more pressure falls on the shoulders of the Minister of Housing (Ms. Hošek), and when that minister is unable to cope with the demand for what we consider to be affordable housing by whatever criteria one might place on it -- some use a figure of 30 per cent disposable income as a reasonable yardstick for what is affordable in terms of housing -- I can tell the government that what it is doing to people in a very methodical, step-by-step basis is moving this province away from private ownership of homes into a dependency category where they will have no other choice whatever but to lean on government to provide them with some form of reasonable and adequate housing. It is doing that through these insidious tax increases.
We sit here as members of the provincial parliament, relatively well paid and relatively secure -- at least some of the members will be for a couple of years yet. We have a reasonable pension plan, but we sometimes forget about the average Ontario citizen, who is unable to vote for his own pay increases, who does not have a salary level that is comparable to ours and who is trying to cope on a day-to-day basis with the problems of paying his bills, paying his mortgage, educating a family and doing that in the context of these kinds of tax increases.
I have to tell members, and I say this very sincerely, I would not feel as strongly and as bitterly about these tax increases as I do if they were modest and reasonably in line with inflationary increases. I have sat on the other side. I know the demands of government in fulfilling the program requests that come before ministers on a daily basis. I understand that full well. But I also understand that when a government is increasing its outflow of money in terms of expenditures at double the rate of inflation, that is a government in trouble, that is a government which is not responsible and that is a government which has to pay a political price for what it has done.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Boy, are you ever off the beam.
Mr. Brandt: Am I off the beam in suggesting that governments contain themselves to increasing their expenditures at a rate comparable to inflation? If the Treasurer can justify expenditures at double the rate of inflation, then let him go to the people with that in the next while; I will be interested in hearing that case made.
The Treasurer wants me to submit to him certain tests of credibility with respect to tax increases. Let me tell him another test. I happened to spend some time reading some government reports while I was getting a slight degree of relaxation away from this place about a week ago. I took the time, in anticipation of this debate, to see what other provinces were doing.
I was hard pressed to see one other province that even came close to the Treasurer in terms of increased expenditures. There is just no other province that is increasing the size of the bureaucracy, that is increasing the size of government expenditures and that is increasing taxation levels at the rate of increase he is subjecting the people of this province to. I say that is wrong because it is leading us into a position where more and more people are simply going to have to pay higher and higher taxes.
In preparation for this debate, I was looking at the government’s interest in restraint when they were in opposition. I remember some of the speeches, and the House leader will remember full well the leader of his party talking about the needless expenditures --
Hon. Mr. Conway: Mr. Nixon?
Mr. Brandt: No, no, the present leader of his party, not the former leader of his party.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I keep forgetting I’ve been here longer than you.
Mr. Brandt: The member has been here for a very, very long period of time, and during the course of that he has been a party to some of the speeches that are not altogether dissimilar to the one which I am delivering today.
I want to say that in one particular speech I took note of the fact that the now leader of the Liberal Party and Premier (Mr. Peterson) took strong exception to the fact that the government of the day was engaged in what he referred to as “needless advertising.”
I again today raised for the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet (Mr. Elston) the question of needless advertising on the part of this government. Why did he not take some action in that regard? Why did he not move on it if he thought it to be a matter of significance and a matter of some interest when he was in opposition? That is what I call cynical when it comes to the political process, when he says one thing in opposition and still another when he becomes part of the government.
The fact of the matter is that advertising is increasing at a rapid rate under this government. The government has been advised by the Provincial Auditor that there is advertising that is being approved by the various ministries which is not in fact essential.
I brought to the minister’s attention today advertising in both of our official languages where French advertising was being placed in English-language newspapers. Our party has no difficulty whatever with placing French-language ads in French-language daily or weekly newspapers. We think that is an appropriate expenditure of government money. That is not what we are talking about.
In fact, it is interesting, when the minister does not know the answer to the question, that he attempts to discredit the individual who is raising the question. What happened was that the Chairman of Management Board said that I was suggesting we should not be communicating with our francophone population and we should not be spending money on that particular area of activity.
That was not what I suggested in my question at all. I was simply saying that if he is not concerned about some of these relatively small expenditures, such as $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 and $5,000 for some of these ads, they add up in a short period of time to millions upon millions of dollars of unnecessary expenditures that we feel are inappropriate.
The ad I was talking about today was placed in the Toronto Star on February 17. The ad was, in fact, in both official languages. There is a policy on the part of that government, introduced partially as a result of questions I raised previously, that says very simply that if the government is going to advertise in an English-language newspaper, it should do it in the English language and insert a line in French indicating that any of our francophone friends who want additional information can call a particular number or write a department where they can get that information, and the normal amount of advertising will still be shared with French-language newspapers across the province.
I have no problem with that. But why duplicate ads in a vehicle which is an English-language newspaper and where the vast majority of readers are not exposed to the French language to the point where they can understand or appreciate the particular ad in question?
It is not only that form of advertising. There has been a whole raft of advertising going on with this government through the course of its last four years, and it is adding up to a very substantial and unreasonable amount of money.
I want to go back to the other tax increases just for a moment. They concern me in a very deep way primarily because I know the people who have to pay for these taxes are the people who can least afford them. When we looked at ways in which we could bring about some reforms in social services in this province, it was very clearly pointed out in the Thomson report that we could not take the easy way out and pay for these improvements to any revisions that we might make in social services simply by raising taxes, because every time we did that, it was like the dog chasing his tail. We just moved more and more people into a category of poverty in this province. In fact, if we provide people with more money and then we tax all that money away, if we put it in one pocket and remove it from the other, we are accomplishing absolutely nothing. That is what was pointed out in that particular report.
We are in favour of revisions to the social welfare system of Ontario which will provide more help to those who are truly in need. But we feel very strongly that it cannot be accomplished simply by extricating more dollars directly from the taxpayer. It has got to be accomplished by something known as restraint in government spending. It has got to be accomplished by something that I referred to as good management and good administration; by that I do not mean what is going on in the Ministry of Health today, which is not good management, good planning and good administration.
These kinds of things have got to be brought about as a result of a government which is compassionate and sensitive towards the fact that government cannot give you anything that it does not first take away from you; that government has to restrain its need for more and more dollars on a continuing basis if it is going to adequately serve the needs of the people of this province.
I have to tell the House leader and the members of his government that over the course of the days and weeks ahead, we are going to identify for them, on a line-by-line basis, areas where this government could realize a saving of some dollars. We are going to tell them where this government can show a degree of restraint in spending that can result in perhaps a few dollars being left in the taxpayers’ pocketbook.
Let me give them a couple of quick examples. My colleagues are saying that I am going somewhat beyond the time that is allowed to me, but I have to share this with the members, because I think they are important points.
One of the points I want to make today is about the introduction of boards like this Ontario Automobile Insurance Board. Does the Solicitor General (Mrs. Smith) have any idea what that is going to cost the province? I ask her if she knows what the Treasurer is going to have to provide by way of brand-new revenue for this brand-new service, which hiked auto insurance rates to unprecedented levels in this province as a result of the boondoggle that has caused. I will not get into that issue at the moment, only the cost of it. The cost of that little review exercise we are now going to go through, I guess on an annualized basis, is about $7 million.
Let’s take a look at another rather expansive move that was made by the current government. They took a rent control program that was in place in 1985 and they said, “We have to make certain adjustments to make this more fair and more equitable.” They literally brought the private development community to its knees. That is why, as we told them, there are no new apartments and no new housing being built for people at the affordable level any more in this province.
Aside from that, because of all these moves that were made by both this administration and the administration that was elected and put in place by the unholy accord of 1985, they have taken a rent review process that started out costing $7 million and wrestled that all the way down to $40 million -- a $33-million increase. The program has gone from $7 million to $40 million, but have we got more housing as a result of that?
Some hon. members: No.
Mr. Brandt: Have we got more programs we are able to give to the people who require affordable accommodation?
Some hon. members: No.
Mr. Brandt: What have we received for that additional $33 million? More bureaucrats. We have more bureaucrats. We have more delays in the rent review process. We have a large bureaucracy now which can shuffle more paper around.
Mr. Eves: Plus higher taxes.
Mr. Harris: And higher taxes.
Mr. Brandt: And higher taxes, my friends say to me.
That is exactly what they have developed as a direct result of what they tampered with, which was a reasonable process that was in place back in those days. They could save a tremendous amount of money --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: It is not very often the Tories acknowledge they were responsible for that program.
Mr. Brandt: As I recall, it was put in place in 1975 at the urging of certain other parties that were in the Legislature. I recall further, although I was not here in this House at that time, but as an interested observer of the political process, I understood that it had three-party support at that particular point in time and we have developed our programs from that point.
Let me say as well that if the Treasurer is looking for areas where he can save a few dollars, what he should look at perhaps is a slowdown, at the very least, of the increase in the size of the bureaucracy. There is no bureaucracy in the country growing as fast as the Treasurer’s. He ought to be embarrassed, after the things he said when he was on this side of the House. He used to talk about the fat-cat bureaucracy when he was in opposition.
I have to tell him that nothing is as bloated as what he has allowed to happen. He is taking on new employees in Ontario at a rate well in excess of 1,500 or 2,000 every year.
He will be pleased to know that there is no time limit in this debate, so that we can go on at some length. I want to share these things with him because I want to find a way to help the people of Ontario keep some of their money in their own pockets. I want to tell the Treasurer that he is heading in the wrong direction.
Our party is vehemently against the level of tax increase that he has brought upon Ontario and the people of this province. What he has done hurts everyone.
In closing, let me simply say that we are going to continue --
Mr. Villeneuve: They deserve more.
Mr. Brandt: Well, I can continue.
Mr. Fleet: You have worn that one out several times.
Mr. Brandt: Well, then, let me get into the question of the sin taxes that the Treasurer raised, because I have not touched on that yet. I want to cover the sin taxes, which include all of those things such as cigarette and liquor taxes. He just taxed everything that moved and many things that did not move.
But in addition to that, do members know what he did in an attempt to sell an environmental control policy for Ontario? He took the price of leaded gas and increased it to the same level as unleaded gas. I do not have any problem with his doing that.
Mr. Fleet: It is a good tax.
Mr. Brandt: It is a good tax? Oh, I want to know if the member wants to go on record as indicating that it is a good tax, because I can name the member, if he would like, for posterity’s sake. If he wants to be in Hansard I will do so. There are few taxes that I would categorize as good, but this one here bears a little bit of investigation in terms of how it came about.
Mr. Fleet: Of course, it is a good tax.
Mr. Brandt: What happened was that the Treasurer raised gasoline taxes a cent a litre across the board, as members well recall. But with leaded gas, what he stated at that particular time was that he was going to raise that to a level which would equalize it with unleaded gas for environmental purposes. So he had to add another three cents, approximately, to the price of leaded gas. That was a total of four cents for that particular type of gasoline; and he did it in order to reduce the amount of tetraethyl lead in our environment and to reduce the amount of lead poisoning that is of concern to all of us who are concerned about the environment today.
But what the Treasurer did not tell the people was that he could have equalized those two gas prices by doing the reverse of that. He could very simply have reduced the price of the tax on unleaded gas and brought it down to the same level as leaded gas to accomplish effectively the same end result.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I never thought of that.
Mr. Brandt: Why did the Treasurer not do that? Why did he not once, with the benevolence in that crusty old heart of his, give the taxpayers of this province a bit of a break? Why did he not show some sympathy for the fact that he has got both of his hands in all four of their pockets? There is a limit to what the people of this province can afford to pay; there is a limit to how many items the Treasurer can find to tax.
I wait with some degree of anticipation for the next budget brought down by this Treasurer, because if he even attempts to raise the taxes of this province by $1.3 billion again, I concern myself with his very wellbeing. They are going to run him right back to St. George and to Earl’s Shell in a broken-down limo, and he will have to sit in the front seat perhaps; I do not know. The fact of the matter is that that $1.3 billion represented the largest tax increase in the history of this province. I know the Treasurer takes issue with that, but it was.
In addition to that, it came at a time, I say to my colleagues and friends in this House, of record revenues. I can understand the need, on occasion, when one is going through a recession or difficult times, when more taxes are needed to pay for certain essential programs. That is understandable and that would be acceptable even though it is difficult to sell to the communities at large because no one likes tax increases. But when we have record revenues coupled with record tax increases, that is a little too much to stomach. The Treasurer has gone too far. Our party opposes his tax increases and we will continue to oppose them. I know this is not going to change his mind.
I wish something I could say today would reach that heart of his. I wish I could return to the days when he had that gentle, caring heart of an opposition member; when he sat over in these benches and when he used to make such an impassioned plea to keep taxes under control; and when he coined words like “regressivity” as being the benchmark for what we could term any kind of an increase in sales tax. He was the one who said that one would hit those poor people most directly as a result of those kinds of taxes, and I agreed with him then, but I disagree with him now.
Mr. B. Rae: It is great to have the leader of the third party back. He is obviously well in tune now in terms of the issues that are ongoing, and I think the speech and indeed the vigour of it and certainly the length of it, are certainly signs of his continued vitality. Any talk of the leader of the third party being only an interim leader I continue to find implausible, to say the least, certainly in terms of that performance which in its length, if nothing else, indicates that vitality.
I do want to say that I know this is supposed to be the culmination of the debate on the budget. I must confess to having no appetite for returning to the Treasurer’s budget of last year. I will, of course, refer to it because I have to, but I do not want to focus too much attention simply on that budget. I do want to say to members that –
Mr. B. Rae: I appreciate the attention we get from the rump over here; it is such a lively and interesting group to have. It is like hearing the noise off your left ear from the back of the bus. It adds to the sense of dynamism of this place.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: It is not the rump; it is the talent bank.
Mr. B. Rae: It is the talent bank.
Mrs. Grier: It is well banked.
Mr. B. Rae: As my colleague says, it is well banked. I thought he was going to say it was his brains trust, but I did not hear him say that. That in itself is an indication.
On the cover page of every government speech, there are always three little words that I think symbolize what has happened to this once-great Liberal Party. Those three little words are --
Mr. Brandt: What are those words?
Mr. B. Rae: I thank the leader; I appreciate his help. Those three little words are, “Check against delivery.”
Mr. Fleet: It is not very original, Bob.
Mr. B. Rae: Yes. Whenever I hear the speeches --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: A dead silence reigns as the reality dawns, the true meaning of this.
Hon. Mr. Conway: You now say check statistics against library research unit.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: It sounds to me like the government House leader is pretty touchy.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. B. Rae: The government House leader is going to have an opportunity to be as personal and as abusive and as tendentious as he wants to be when he stands up. We will all give him the opportunity to be that way. I am sure he will have the opportunity to defend the indefensible.
Hon. Mr. Conway: What is abusive about that observation?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. B. Rae: But I do think the House ought to have an opportunity to deal very directly with the issues in front of us. We have a province which is well off in terms of its gross provincial product. in terms of the economic growth which has been experienced in this province, but we do not have a province which is well off in terms of how it shares that wealth, in terms of how it deals with the poverty in our midst. We have a government which has failed systematically to live up to the promises it has made to the people of the province.
I want to take four particular areas and only four. I could take many more; I do not want to take more than that. I want to take the four major areas of government expenditure. I want to take those principal items of where a government is supposed to spend. I take a different point of view from that expressed by the leader of the third party. He has given what, I suppose, can be described as the classic Tory speech in opposition. It is also the speech which the Liberals, as he quite rightly pointed out, used to give in opposition, and that is to say that systematically the government should be spending less and should be taxing much less and to simply go around to everybody and say, “Wouldn’t it be great and wouldn’t it be easy if the government simply taxed less and spent less?”
That philosophy has been, I suppose, best expressed in government in the policies of Ronald Reagan and best expressed in policies in terms of the government of Margaret Thatcher. It is certainly a theory that has taken off in terms of its political resonance. But when you look at the problems which even the Tories raise from day to day in opposition -- whether those problems are in transportation, urban planning, health care, hospital care, the institutional side of health or to do with community health spending -- you look through the range of things that government has to do.
I am here to say I believe profoundly that government has to spend better, invest more wisely and cut back in areas where there is waste. But I do not think that our problems in this country today or in this province today are going to be solved by simply issuing hosannas to something called small or less government. That is an illusion of our time. If we think that is going to be the solution to the problems of our time, we are suffering from some terrible illusions which will turn out to be very expensive.
If I can give one example, in my constituency office on Tuesday night I was visited by a woman who has multiple sclerosis. She is, I would guess, probably in her late 40s or early 50s. She was married. Upon receiving the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and getting very ill, her marriage broke up. She is on her own. She has a condominium which she purchased in about 1975 for $59,000 or $60,000.
Her daughter was caring for her and living with her all this time. Her daughter has finally graduated from university and has a job working in Saskatchewan. It was the first job she was able to get and it is a job she very much wanted to take. She did not want to leave her mother, but she wanted to get a job. She is 24 years old. She took the job.
This woman also has a son. He is at the University of Ottawa. The woman got a bill from the university saying that her son was $1,600 in arrears for his tuition and his other costs.
I began to chat with this woman and talk about her experiences. She lives on her own. She has no one to care for her. She is visited occasionally by friends and other people, but because of her isolation, she has fewer and fewer people who come in to see her. She has been ill for the last 13 years.
There is no homemaking service which will systematically provide care for her. She has difficulty cooking for herself, and in fact, she says there are many days when she goes without any food at all. She lives on a pension from the employer she had back in 1975, which is $193 a month. She gets a Canada pension because of her disability, and she also gets some support payments from her husband.
Because she gets some support payments from her husband and because she is on Canada pension and because she has a private pension, she does not qualify for welfare. This is not a discussion of welfare. This is a discussion of somebody who lives in an apartment, which she owns, who has an income of, I would think, about $1,200 a month, who has no one coming to see her, who lives on her own.
I do not believe that in Ontario, where that woman is malnourished, has no dentist, cannot afford to go the dentist -- the last time she went to a dentist, he said it would cost her $1 ,200 to get her teeth fixed. She has no way, for example, of avoiding the obligations that she has for her son.
I talked to this woman for about an hour or an hour and a half, and I was faced at the end of that conversation with a sense not only of the complete injustice of a society which has so little to offer this woman, whose natural sense of injustice, faced with the unfairness of life itself, about which we can do very little in terms of illness and health and the disasters with which we and our families are from time to time afflicted -- but to couple that with a government and a society and a system of values, frankly, which is shared by this government and, in large measure, by the third party, the Conservative party -- and for me to say: “Well, now, I know the answer to your problem. The answer to your problem is less government.”
That is not the answer to her problem. The reality of finding a solution, not to all of this woman’s problems but to her situation, and addressing that situation requires a sense of justice. It requires a sense of commitment from the people who live in the community and it requires, frankly, a government that is prepared to lead and to act.
The story that I have told is not a unique story. It is a story that anyone in this room could tell. It is a story that flows from any one of a number of encounters which any one of us can have over the period of a week or indeed over the period of a day. I am not going to spend much time in this speech saying that if we were in government there would be no problems, or as the leader of the third party said, “I am going to give the same kind of speech which the government House leader used to give when he was in opposition.” The government House leader is going to say, “Well, I am going to give the same kind of speech which the Conservatives used to give when they were in government.”
Surely, at some point, politics has to mean more than just a kind of parliamentary or televised game in which we share with one another postures and positions which some people take when they are in opposition and some people take when in government. Then when the chairs are changed around, other people will take a different position, and we will have a kind of ritual back and forth in terms of what has gone on.
We have many parliamentary rituals, and this is one of them. But what I want to suggest to the government is simply this: This government was elected with a massive majority because people felt a change had taken place in 1985 which basically they wanted to see continue. There are many people who will look back over that period and say: “Don’t you regret not getting more credit for what took place between 1985 and 1987? Do you think you should have more, or less?”
That is not at issue now. What is at issue now is not a question of promises, but a question of the promise that came out of that 1987 election, and of the sense, which I think is pervasive in our province today, that this promise simply has not been lived up to. We can talk about units of housing that were promised that have not been built: They are not there; they are not affordable; they are not accessible; they are not available; they are not there.
If I think of my constituency, the major social problem we face right now, obviously and overwhelmingly, is housing. I look at the solutions that are available for the people in my constituency and they do not come close to meeting the needs of just one part of Ontario, of just one little pocket of Metropolitan Toronto. I am sure what I am saying can be shared by literally all the members of this House; certainly, by all the members of our caucus.
In my constituency office, and I am sure I share this with other members, I have literally hundreds of people who are on a waiting list for housing, who have absolutely no prospect of ever being adequately or appropriately housed under the systems that have been established by this government. They have not the slightest chance under this government of ever getting off that waiting list.
What does that mean? I was at a tenants meeting in my constituency on Monday night, where a woman said, “Mr. Rae, I have nine rats that I am keeping in bottles on the windowsill outside my basement apartment, because I want to show them to the building inspector when he comes, but he never comes around.”
Then I said, “Have you been on a waiting list?” and she said, “I have been on a waiting list for seven years to get into some kind of assisted housing.” I said, “What do they tell you now?” She said: “Because I have made something of my life and I now make a salary and have a job, there is no prospect of my getting on to any affordable housing list. I am stuck where I am and there is little prospect of my getting away from that.”
She is not alone. She is not the only person in Toronto who faces that situation. She is not unique in that situation. Yet we have a government that promised us -- all the numbers began to flow -- 102,000 units by 1989; then, the promise was switched to 30,000 units in three years, of which only two thirds have been announced and not a single unit has been built.
That is the kind of inactivity, the kind of lethargy, the kind of failure of political will to respond to a major social problem of our times that makes the very name of government stick in the craws of hundreds of thousands of decent people. They have become fed up with the political process, when it cannot even deliver on something as basic as their housing needs.
The only response from this government is to say: “It is a sweet problem. It is a sweet headache.” Sometimes I wonder whether members of the government live in the same universe as the citizens they are supposed to be representing. Sometimes I wonder whether they are living in the same part of the world or whether they really understand the conditions people have to live under day by day.
The government manages to tax and tax, and people just do not see those programs in place that make a difference to them and their families. That is the frustration right now, which lies at the very core of what, I think, is a crisis of confidence in government itself that the people of this province are facing.
The Treasurer was quoted the other day, with respect to the Thomson report, as saying that he was unsure of his response to the Thomson report. We hear rumours that the Treasurer’s officials believe that in fact the dollar requirements to meet the first phase of Thomson would be in excess of the $200 million provincially that is talked about in the Thomson report. We understand there are many officials in his department who are saying that it will cost more than that to meet the obligations of changing our social assistance system.
The Treasurer was quoted as saying outside this House that because of the costs, he was not certain how much of Thomson it would be possible to do and how much reform would be possible, that it was impossible to think about bringing in those changes because of the impact it would have in other areas: the impact it would have on housing, the impact it would have on the government’s health program or the impact it might have on its education program.
I think there is something very wrong with the government and something very wrong with what has happened to Liberalism in this province. They are finally faced with a report that states as clearly and categorically as one can imagine that there is a problem that is a human problem of enormous dimensions and cost, both personal and economic and social, but principally a personal cost that is borne by people who live in conditions that are squalid and appalling, and who have very little chance or prospect of moving out of these conditions. This government has had six months to respond to that report and we have not had a word of action or of response to that major criticism of our social welfare system and that major criticism of poverty in our province that was made by George Thomson.
The only thing that has been implemented out of the Thomson report has been George Thomson. Nothing else out of the Thomson report has been touched. I hope others are as lucky as George Thomson.
Let’s remember what it is like to be a poor child. There is no food. There is hunger, crummy housing, bad housing and unsafe housing. There are no trips, no proper shoes, no proper clothes, no toys, no Valentine’s cards for others, no hobbies and no holidays. All of us here are looking forward to a holiday. We are going to be taking a holiday of one kind or another. I do not think any of us resent that, but let us for a moment reflect on the fact that there are kids today in our school system whose parents and who themselves are so poor that they will never have the chance of a holiday unless they get picked for the Fresh Air Fund by the Toronto Star or by some local charity. That is what we are up against.
Have we really moved that far from the 19th century? I do not think we have. Have we really moved that far from the notion in our society that you are going to have very rich people, you are going to have a lot of middle-income people and you are going to have a lot of very poor people, and the very poor people will get by as best they can? They will get some handouts from the government. They will get some handouts from private charity. We have not moved. We have not advanced at all on that basic assumption about how our society will be divided up and how chances will be divided up and how opportunities will be divided up.
Go to any inner city school in this province today, go on to a native reserve, go into any community and sit in the back of a classroom and look at a five-year-old kid in the eyes and ask yourself: “Does this kid have a chance? Is this kid going to have a chance if the only meal he gets throughout the day is a bottle of pop and a bag of potato chips?”
That kid is not really going to have a chance if when he goes home there is not a book, there is not a sense at all of what the opportunities out there are, and if there is violence and if there is poverty and if there is squalor and if there is dirt. Yet that is what there is. Not for everybody; I am not suggesting for a moment that is the condition in which most people in this province find themselves because it is not. It is the condition in which a very large number of people find themselves.
This government has done absolutely nothing about it -- nothing. The whole concept of poverty and of understanding and dealing with poverty is not even mentioned in the budget. In fact, when the Treasurer produces his economic analysis, which he presents to the people of the province as to how well we are all doing and how well we are growing and what the growth rate is and what the inflation rate is and what the employment levels are, he does not mention once in that document, not a word, who is rich, who is poor, what the educational levels are, what the educational opportunities are, who is well housed, who is badly housed, who is well off and who is badly off.
If we are going to take an economic assessment of where we are in this province, surely we have advanced beyond the 19th century notion that the only way you assess that is by looking at the statistics that cover the questions of productivity and inflation and employment.
The one thing I would hope the Treasurer would do in any future budget and in any future analysis of where we are, and the one thing the Thomson report, it seems to me on a procedural level alone, cries out for the Treasurer to do, is to integrate the reality of poverty into everything that government does and all the programs that are put out and brought about and that are in place.
We have to come to terms with this disease called inequality in our midst. It is produced by capitalism. It is generated by our economy. Our economy generates poverty as surely as it generates wealth.
I am not asking this government to suddenly decide that it is a believer in a different kind of economic and social order, because I do not think that is ever going to happen. I have never had that view of what liberalism was all about. But I would have expected that this government would have said, in response to the Thomson report back in September: “Okay, we understand the problem. Now we’re ready to go and we’re ready to move and we’re ready to act. We’re going to take it seriously and we’re going to deal with it.” That has not happened.
Je crois que le plus grand engagement d’un gouvernement, c’est de créer des conditions acceptables pour tous les citoyens de la province. On peut parler des philosophes et de leurs points de vue sur les buts démocratiques d’un gouvernement; mais, sûrement, le test fondamental d’un gouvernement -- d’une civilisation -- c’est la façon dont nous traitons les gens qui sont les plus vulnérables dans notre société.
Comment est-ce que nous traitons les personnes âgées ? Comment est-ce que nous traitons les petits enfants ? Comment est-ce que nous traitons les gens qui n’ont rien dans les poches ? Comment est-ce que nous traitons, comme société, les gars qui ont travaillé et qui sont handicapés à l’âge de 40 ou de 45 ans et qui maintenant n’ont rien dans les poches, rien à la maison et rien à manger ?
C’est ça, la réalité, pour un grand nombre de nos citoyens. Le test fondamental d’un gouvernement, c’est, à mon avis, la façon dont il traite ses citoyens. Où est l’amour que les gens ont pour leurs voisins, et oui, pour les étrangers ? C’est sûrement la question morale la plus fondamentale, et c’est le test le plus fondamental pour les gouvernements, les partis politiques et la société en général.
I really do believe that the fundamental test of any government is how it treats those who are the most vulnerable in its society and in its midst. The fundamental test of any society is how it reaches out and helps and touches and loves those who have been rejected by the rest of society because they cannot compete in the marketplace.
What do we do for the 50-year-old woman who has multiple sclerosis and who is suddenly on her own? We cannot change the afflictions of God or the afflictions of nature, but by God, we can change the afflictions of government and make sure we have governments that finally respond to the woman who is living in that fifth-floor apartment and has not seen a soul for two days, who is living on her own and not eating at all. That is the test of government.
I say with due respect to my friends to my left that I know over the next two years we are going to be hearing a lot about taxes, and I know we are going to be hearing a lot about where governments have wasted. I know that is going to be the message from that party because it used to be the message from these guys when they were in government.
Nobody believes more fundamentally than I do in a fair tax system, and nobody understands better than I do the resentment ordinary people feel when they see their taxes going up all the time and they do not see the benefits to them and to their families from those tax increases.
I am here to say that is not the fundamental test of government. The fundamental test of government is how it responds to the most pressing social problems of our time and how it responds to people. I do not think this government meets that test. If you look at the test, what has this government done? This government has coasted. Why has it coasted? How has it coasted?
It has coasted for the very simple reason that it has benefited from an enormous economic boom, the longest, and yes, the deepest and widest boom in our recent memory in terms of what has happened to our provincial economy. The last seven years have seen an extraordinary turnaround and that, not the charisma of the Premier and not the abilities or inabilities of any cabinet minister one way or the other, is what has given the Treasurer the ability to spend the money the way he has been spending it and given this government its ability to coast. That is the beginning and the end of it.
But what are we going to do now when there is such a compelling need not simply to coast, but to change, to recognize there are citizens who are left out of this economic boom and to recognize there will always be people left out of the economic boom because of the inequalities that are generated by that economy in and of itself?
That economy on its own can only generate wealth and poverty. It does not know how to generate anything else. It is not designed to generate anything else. If you want to generate justice, it has to come from the community and from a government that expresses the democratic will of the people, that says: “We can do better than generate wealth and poverty. We can generate love and justice.” That is what a government in this province should be doing and that is what this government is not doing.
That is the test of government and that, it seems to me, is where this government has failed, not because it has put ads in one newspaper and not in another newspaper, not because some minister has screwed up on some accounting and done something wrong, not because somebody has not declared a conflict of interest where he should have. These are not the fundamental issues of government and I do not believe they ever will be.
One of the fundamental issues of government is whether a government is responding, reacting, leading and taking the decisions that make a difference and that will change the lives of people whose lives, on their own, will not and cannot be changed because the economy works against them. It is designed to work against them and is intended to work against them. It has succeeded in working against them.
There is an extraordinary sense of lethargy and of complacency at the heart of this government. I have sat here and watched it. I have seen the indecision. Somebody said to me the other day that the only reason the Premier always wears a red tie is that it means he does not have to make a decision in the morning deciding what tie to put on.
I do not think that is an exaggeration. I have not seen a decision taken by this government on a major issue of economic or social policy that mattered to people, that helped people, that lived up to its commitment. The government has systematically given in to the powerful interests, whether it is on pensions as we have seen today or whether it is on insurance as we have seen over the last little while.
The government has failed to plan. It has failed to meet the tests in terms of simple, efficient and effective management of government. But the tests it has failed above all, are the tests of love and justice. That is the failure that lies at the heart of the Liberal regime in this province.
Hon. Mr. Conway: It is an honour and a privilege for me to follow the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the third party in the conclusion of this budgetary debate. I must say, having just heard the Leader of the Opposition, I cannot remember anyone in this chamber in recent times who has given such force to that social gospel tradition so famous within the democratic left in this province.
He did it with moving effect this afternoon and I must congratulate him for that. I was quite genuinely moved by the observations he made in respect of those important issues of social justice. I want to say a little more about that perhaps a little later in the speech, which I will try to bring in at a relatively short time.
I must of course take issue with his perception of the government because, as we heard him, he ended his remarks about what he perceives the government to be about and I must say that I do not share that analysis. As to our friend the leader of the third party --
Mr. B. Rae: I am not surprised to hear that.
Hon. Mr. Conway: The Leader of the Opposition says he is not surprised to hear that. His perceptions about matters relating to the affairs of Ontario are matters I might want to talk a little bit more about shortly.
The leader of the third party? Well, he was at his best this afternoon, reviewing a variety of the issues that are on his mind in respect to budgetary and other policy in the province.
I want to just simply say it is a pleasure for me to conclude the budget debate in the presence of our distinguished and senior colleague the member for Brant-Haldimand, who has been very busy in this session and certainly very busy on this day. I know that he has pressing obligations that are going to take him to my part of the province later this afternoon, so in particular regard to his schedule I will try to move through this debate this afternoon.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: For the second time today.
Hon. Mr. Conway: As the Treasurer says, he is going to Ottawa for the second time today. That is a very good sign, I think.
It has been a good debate, this budget debate, over 11 days, begun last spring, carried through the spring and into this final week of the first session of this 34th parliament.
We have had some very interesting participation. My friend the member for Durham Centre (Mr. Furlong), who is in the chamber this afternoon, was on his feet in this debate speaking eloquently about what this budget does to commit additional resources so that new schools can be built in his important and growing part of Ontario.
My friend the member for York East (Ms. Hart) participated in the debate, saying that this budget was going to allow more in the way of environmental protection, particularly in the area of water pollution and, most especially, in allowing the so-called municipal-industrial strategy for abatement program to get up and running.
My friend now absent from the chamber, the squire of Moose Creek, the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve), was talking about budgetary matters. Dredging, I think, was one of his concerns in that rural part of eastern Ontario.
The member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) entered the debate to talk about the important initiatives that are required in the area of housing.
My friend the member for Oxford (Mr. Tatham) -- I do not know that he is here this afternoon -- talked about what this budget will do to support very important agricultural initiatives, in the area particularly of the Ontario Farm-Start program and Food Systems 2000.
That is just to mention some of the members who have participated, and I know that the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) is here because he is very supportive of this budget, which does so much to encourage that critical sector of the Ontario economy.
Of course, who in this chamber this afternoon will forget the day on which the Treasurer tried to read the budget, April 20, 1988, when I think for the first time in the long and distinguished history of this assembly a minister of finance for the province was not allowed to read the budget in this chamber? That was a very disappointing day because we feel this is a very positive document that we wanted to have read in this chamber. Because of the obstruction of the opposition, the distinguished member for Brant-Haldimand was not allowed to read the budget, as I say, for I believe the first time in the history of Ontario.
What does this budget do? It does a lot of very good and important things. It commits nearly $38 billion of expenditure to a whole host of areas of public policy in the province. It is true what our friends in the third party say: It certainly does increase the level of support to a whole area of government policy. Of the increase in spending, and I think this is very important, 80 per cent of that increase is dedicated to this government’s priorities: namely, health care, education, housing and assistance for those in need.
We are not ashamed of that. We have looked at the pressures identified by our friends on both sides of the aisle and we have indicated that while all are interesting and most are important, some, quite frankly, are more important than others, and for this government the priorities lie in the areas of the health care, education, housing and assistance to those in need.
While committing nearly $38 billion in this fiscal year to the budgetary plan, this Treasurer has brought down the net cash requirements to something now like $271 million, their lowest level in 15 years. I say to my friends in the third party that the budget also contains an in-year constraint of some $500 million, which the Treasurer tells me is very much on track. So there is, in the best tradition of the Ontario Liberal Party and in the very great tradition of this Treasurer, a very good balance between social justice and fiscal responsibility.
We over here listen to those over there talk about the needs and their budgetary plan. It was very interesting today, I say to my friends, to listen to the leader of the third party, because he stood there in his charming way saying that we ought to spend more and tax less. He was in the chamber about a month ago in question period. I brought the Hansard because I thought: could I really be hearing what I was hearing?
On January 31, the leader of the third party stood up with his two leadoff questions. The first question was really given over to taxes, to how and when this Treasurer is going to stop with tax increases and where he is going to start with tax cuts. That was the first question.
The second question had to do with increased spending in the area of health care. Everyone knows there is no greater commitment that this government -- to be fair, the previous government also has made no greater commitment in the area of financial resources than health care. In the space of two questions the leader of the third party is saying tax less and spend more. What are we to make of that?
Mr. Neumann: And cut the deficit.
Hon. Mr. Conway: And as the member for Brantford says, cut the deficit.
I was trying to think of an analogy as to how one would best convey the conundrum in which the leader of the third party puts himself in this kind of a situation, and really the only one I can think about is the aviator Wrong Way Corrigan. Do members remember Wrong Way Corrigan way back there, I think, in the 1920s, the great aviator who left New York setting out for Paris but landed in Los Angeles? Poor Wrong Way Corrigan could not really make up his mind as to which direction --
Mr. Brandt: Is that the best one you could come up with, Sean? I can give you a better one than that.
Hon. Mr. Conway: It is the best one I could get. I must admit I am not happy, because I am sure there is in literature or in Hollywood or on Broadway some better character.
But really, I say to the members of the third party, what are they all about? How can they be taken seriously in these matters of budgetary policy when on days like the one I have mentioned, the poor leader gets up and says, “When are you going to cut taxes, when are you going to reduce the deficit; and by the way when are you going to increase spending on a whole series of fronts?”
I have to say to my friend the leader of the third party, who I notice is not standing in the leadership race for that party --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: He is the only one who isn’t.
Hon. Mr. Conway: My friend the Treasurer says, “He is the only who isn’t.”
The member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) is apparently going to join the race. He said to the Globe and Mail the other day, and I brought the clipping, that Bill Davis, when he was Premier of Ontario, made some mistakes. According to the member for Nipissing, the Davis years, the last years of the Tories, were characterized by policies that were too interventionist, too political and there were altogether too many handouts to industries and such concerns. That was reported in the Globe and Mail of January 11, 1989. What are we to make of that?
Now we see the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr. Runciman), who is about to join the race, going through a transformation that is positively breathtaking.
Mr. Brandt: What’s this got to do with the budget? Get back on the budget, Sean.
Hon. Mr. Conway: My friend the leader of third party asks, “What’s this got to do with the budget?” I make the point to my friend the member for Stormont. Dundas and Glengarry that we are putting before this assembly a budgetary policy that is consistent, that is balanced, that meets the priority needs as we have identified them in this province, I repeat, in the areas of health care, housing, education and assistance to those in need, while at the same time bringing in net cash requirements at a 15-year low and, under the leadership of this Treasurer, producing an in-year constraint of $500 million.
Mr. Brandt: He hasn’t done it yet. He won’t do it either, and you know it. It will be a historic first if he does it. He hasn’t done it yet. Don’t go talking about it like it has happened.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I say to my friend the member for Sarnia that under the leadership of the Premier and the Treasurer, we are now into our seventh year of consecutive economic growth. I do not intend to recite all of the facts, but in 1988, the calendar year, employment in this province increased at a record pace. Some 180,000 new jobs were created in this province and some of those jobs are in communities like Bancroft, and Sterling in the honourable member’s riding, and he knows that.
Inflation continues to be moderate, and I have to say to my friend the leader of the third party that this budget --
Mr. Brandt: Blame the feds.
Hon. Mr. Conway: No, I am not going to blame the feds. I am going to talk about the budgetary policy of this Treasurer and this government. Let’s look at what this budget does specifically.
It stimulates research and development through such programs as the $45-million superallowance. It contains as well a manufacturing investment incentive, which is expected at maturity to support $6 billion of Ontario investment annually.
In the area of housing, this budget commits $2 billion of Canada pension plan funds to the nonprofit housing sector, and that will add very substantially to the housing stock of this province. We have, on this side, in this government, a very, very determined and creative Minister of Housing, who is seeing that policy through.
Provincial housing support and shelter subsidies have increased from less than $300 million four years ago to over $970 million in this fiscal year, 1989-90. That, I say to my friends opposite, is a 238 per cent increase.
This budget commits new resources to expand the number of residences at the post-secondary educational sector, a very important initiative well received by young people in this province.
This budget commits the government to a new program, the so-called OHOSP program, the Ontario home ownership savings plan, which is already helping thousands of young families save for the purchase of that first home.
I want to talk a little bit about health care. Of the new spending that is committed in this budget, 39 per cent is in the area of health care. The total provincial health budget has risen to nearly $13 billion -- $12.7 billion, to be specific -- up year over year by more than $1.2 billion. That amounts to $1,300 per Ontario resident, a not inconsequential commitment to a quality health care system in Ontario.
Of the new spending in this budget, 18 per cent is in the area of education. The Treasurer announced in the budget a $900-million commitment, over three years, to capital construction. The other day when the Minister of Finance for Canada announced that we had been undervalued in terms of our in-year share of taxes collected, some 300 million additional dollars was committed to educational capital to the advantage of school boards as they plan their capital programs. Again, this is a very significant real dollar commitment to education in the province.
Operating grants are well up this year, well above inflation. This says nothing about the additional millions that are being spent to reduce class size at the primary level, to increase the support for textbooks and computers and to improve science education, particularly at the elementary level; again not unimportant initiatives being ably directed by my colleagues the member for Wentworth North, the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) and the member for Fort William, the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mrs. McLeod).
At the post-secondary level, grants worth some $38 million are available to improve accessibility. Some $440 million over four years has been made available for post-secondary capital improvements, and an additional $40 million is being spent on adult literacy programs.
In the area of regional development, this budget commits very significant new resources to the northern heritage fund, some $360 million to stimulate northern economic development and $25 million to an eastern Ontario development fund to allow communities like Bancroft and Pembroke and Cornwall and Smiths Falls to grow in this modern economy of ours.
I mentioned agriculture earlier. Do members know that the agricultural budget is up 86 per cent, an 86 per cent increase since 1984-85? That speaks very loudly for the leadership of the member for Huron (Mr. Riddell) and our rural caucus.
The member for Markham (Mr. Cousens), now absent from the chamber, was talking about roads and transportation. I know as well as most people, since I spend a lot of my life on the roads of this province, that there never seems to be enough, but this budget increased the capital funding for highways by $100 million, and in my part of the world that is a very considerable amount of money.
I am glad that my friend the squire from Moose Creek is here, because he knows that in that part of eastern Ontario, as everywhere in the province, environmental concerns and environmental protection is very important. In this very important area, government spending is up, I am quite prepared to admit. Our spending on the environment is up 51 per cent over the last year that the Tories were responsible for the public finances. It is true to say we have hired more public servants to strengthen the enforcement. What is the point of having great legislation if you are not out there enforcing it? We have put additional resources and we have hired additional people to improve the enforcement of our environmental rules and regulations.
We are spending money to clean up the beaches of Ontario, and in the area of recyling we have committed very substantial new dollars under the leadership of my friend the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley). Funding for recycling has increased tenfold since 1985.
I think that is an outstanding record. I could go on, and I think I will, because I listened to my friends in the opposition talk about the government as not doing anything.
I said earlier that the perceptions of the opposition members are their business. I make only this comment for my friend the Leader of the Opposition, and the leader of the government made the comment earlier this week. What does one make of the perceptions of the Leader of the Opposition?
On September 11, 1987, the Leader of the Opposition thought he won the election. It was not until his colleague the member for Oshawa said: “No, no, Bob. No, no, 19 is less than 95. They won.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Less than 25 too.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I am not going to get into that, although that would perhaps be tempting.
I want to talk about some of the things that this government has done outside of the budget. We talk about the environment.
Mr. Breaugh: Lap it up, Sean; this may be your last big shot.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I want to say to my friend the member for Oshawa that, as he knows, this government has done more in the area of the environment than any government you can find in Canada today: New penalties for polluters; a recyling program that is very, very extensive now in our schools; a Countdown Acid Rain program which has achieved major reductions in sulphur dioxide emissions; and yes, an intervener funding commitment on behalf of this government.
In the area of health care, the Premier has gathered together a group of very, very good people in the council on health strategy to advise ways and means of doing some things more creatively as we face the challenges of the future. There is also a $100-million commitment to the health innovation fund to help that creativity along in so far as changing the basic infrastructure of our system is concerned. Our friend the very able member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr. Black) has done good work in the critical area of drug education and drug policy.
I am glad to have my friend the Minister of Education here in the front row this afternoon, because in addition to the things that I talked about earlier he has overseen a number of other very important initiatives: like a new policy on heritage language instruction; like important new initiatives in the area of co-operative education; like establishing a French-language school board in Ottawa-Carleton; like six centres for entrepreneurship; like a French-language college, I will say to my friend the member for Fort William (Mrs. McLeod). They are very important, concrete initiatives that people out there in Bancroft and elsewhere understand because this is a government doing things for people.
The Leader of the Opposition asked us to wonder about what it is we are doing for those in need. He will want me to say that this government has doubled the provincial funding for day care. We have substantially improved access for the disabled in terms of their transportation needs. There is the assistance we have committed to the elderly through the homemaker program. These are but three examples of where it has moved, I think responsibly, in those areas.
I want to say to my friends opposite, particularly in the official opposition, that I think Stephen Lewis said it all when he told Maclean’s magazine before Christmas, and I quote that icon of the left in Canada, “Several people within the party had stars of power dancing in their head. The NDP exists primarily to shape public policy and not to govern.”
I have to say it is hard to disagree with the former and very distinguished leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party. It is very easy to work out a vast and elaborate scheme of what one might do, but one has to take seriously the responsibility of office and one might even ask, “What does one find when one sees the NDP in office?” I think, very quickly --
Mrs. Grier: Integrity.
Hon. Mr. Conway: The member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore says “integrity.” Remember back to the last NDP government in Manitoba? They could not even count on their own caucus. Poor old Jim Walding felt so abused and maltreated that he wandered off one day, the government collapsed and there was poor Howard Pawley wondering where to turn in the face of their great insurance policy, which of course ended Gary Doer’s very brief hope of ever forming a government.
I do not want to be too partisan. I want to say to my friends that it is important to listen to what members say in the assembly. I repeat that I found the Leader of the Opposition genuinely moving in what he said today, but I have to say to my friend the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) that one has to square the NDP rhetoric with the NDP performance. I tell members, if they want to see a credibility gap, they should just examine that record, where they can find it.
Mr. Breaugh: Boy, the arrogance has really settled in.
Hon. Mr. Conway: No, it is not a matter of arrogance; it is a matter of record.
I want to make plain this government’s commitment and agenda. I have to say that in the course of this session, and it has been a long session, my colleagues have been working diligently not just in this chamber but outside of the chamber, to do important things for their constituents.
I look around today and I see my friend the member for St. Catharines-Brock (Mr. Dietsch), who has been out working, trying to make people understand the importance of buying Ontario. I look at my friend the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Fleet), who has been working in this chamber to improve regulatory reform. I look at my friend the member for Oxford and I think of the work he has done in the area of county government reform.
I look at my friend the member for Durham-York (Mr. Ballinger) and I think of all he has done in the area of aggregates and conservation authorities. I look at my friend the member for Mississauga West (Mr. Mahoney) and I think of all he has done as a small business advocate, together with his friend the member for Guelph (Mr. Ferraro).
Government members have been active in the Legislature and across the province because, I have to say --
Mr. D. S. Cooke: Say it, Sean, and maybe you will believe it.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I think there is a disappointment in the opposition that this government caucus is as disciplined, dedicated and dutiful as it is. I sometimes think the NDP looks at this caucus, wondering if there is a Jim Walding over here. I can assure my friends in the official opposition that search is in vain. We do not intend to repeat the mistakes of poor Howard Pawley.
I make the point, and I see my friend the member for Wentworth East (Ms. Collins) -- I do not want to go on too long -- who has worked so hard on so many projects in this Legislature. Nobody has defended the interests of the grape growers more vigorously, perhaps, than our friends from the peninsula. I think of her work in connection with the east end health clinic, for example.
The critics say the government has not been doing much. I just do not agree because the record points to a different conclusion. Let’s look at the record. I have heard the critics say that we have not done very much, and the Leader of the Opposition just finished saying, “They do not seem to have any agenda.” Apart from all the good works the members to whom I have made reference have done, let’s look at the record of this, the first session of the 34th Parliament. Ninety-four government bills will have received royal assent. They are in many respects very significant bills, and I want to simply repeat the list in some respects:
Legislation enacting some of the most important and significant conflict-of-interest legislation to be found anywhere in North America; important legislation to reform the municipal electoral process; legislation to establish the French-language school board; legislation to create the heritage fund; legislation to establish the home ownership savings plan; legislation to reform our trucking policy; important budget bills; important bills to assist farmers; intervener funding; the Planning Act amendments, very important in terms of housing policy; amendments to the Water Transfer Control Act; important municipal bills; and of course, legislation to more efficiently and more enforceably regulate retail store hours in Ontario.
Those are the bills that will have received royal assent. There are important matters that are still before the committees, legislation that has received second reading: legislation in that connection affecting such key areas of public policy as workers’ compensation reform; the health facilities legislation; the aggregates act; smoking in the workplace; and yes, I say to my friend the member for Mississauga South (Mrs. Marland), legislation to allow the Treasurer of Ontario to dedicate lottery revenues to hospitals.
The opposition talked about our inadequacies in terms of health care funding, but it voted against Bill 119 on second reading.
Mr. Brandt: Because the bill does not provide a dollar for hospitals. All it does is give you the right to spend it in whatever way you want. Do not mislead the public.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I am not misleading the public. I think this is a record that speaks for itself. It is a record of achievement, a record of commitment, a record that indicates this government has not lost its drive. It is a government that has an agenda in the important areas, I repeat, of health care, education, housing and assistance to those in need.
I want to say to my friends the detracting oppositionists in this chamber that there is more to be done, and we are going to be back to do that, I want to tell them.
I want to use a rural analogy. The late, great Sam Rayburn once said, “Any jackass can kick a barn door down, but it takes a carpenter to build something.” I am with Sam Rayburn and I want to continue with my colleagues in the government caucus to build for a better Ontario, to build for a better tomorrow for all those people my friend the Leader of the Opposition talked about.
I want to say in conclusion --
Some hon. members: More, more
Hon. Mr. Conway: No, Mr. Speaker.
The principal reason this government has been able to accomplish so much in the first session of this Legislature, and I repeat some of it in the face of unprecedented obstructionism -- when I think of what my friends the Solicitor General and the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Kanter) had to put up with in the passage of that legislation relating to retail store hours, and when I think of what the Treasurer faced here on April 20, 1988, I think I have, objectively, evidence of some of the most noteworthy obstructionism this Legislature has ever seen.
Mr. Brandt: Gee, the opposition opposed.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Oh, listen, I repeat that I have done my share of active politics in the opposition, but I do not think I ever denied a Treasurer the right to read a budget. I do not think I ever did that.
I want to say that the principal reason this government has been able to accomplish as much as it has over the last 16 to 18 months, notwithstanding the good work by all these wonderful people, is the continuing leadership provided by the Premier of Ontario, the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party.
When I travel home, the people of the Ottawa Valley tell me that they continue to find David Peterson the most attractive and the most resolute leader to be found in Canada today. When we see the kind of national tension that attaches to the current round of the constitutional debate, we in this government and on this side are very proud of the role that the Premier of Ontario has played in the current debate over the constitutional renewal. That is a good example of leadership by example, and this Premier continues to show the way in that important connection.
The other night in this city, this leader, this Premier, stood before a large group and reminded the people of Ontario of the importance of tolerance and generosity of spirit at this critical time in our community life. I think, again, that speaks loudly to the quality of leadership David Peterson continues to provide to this assembly, this government and this province, and of that we are enormously proud on this side and over there.
I want there to be no doubt, I want there to be no confusion over there or around the province. We in this government wind up this debate and this session with a genuine sense of pride in the government caucus, in the cabinet, in our distinguished Treasurer, now departed again to the national capital, and most especially in our Premier, because we believe that when you compare our record in the areas of policy development, in fiscal management and in a whole host of other initiatives, it is quite clear that we are doing the things we said we would do, and we are quite prepared to continue meeting the responsibilities the people of Ontario gave us on September 10, 1987, to make Ontario a better place in which to live.
I conclude by saying that I cannot imagine there is anyone who, in his heart, would really want to vote against the budgetary policy being advanced on behalf of the government by our distinguished colleague and member for Brant-Haldimand. I invite all honourable members to show where they stand as the questions are now to be put.
Mr. Speaker: Order. It now being shortly after six of the clock, on Monday, April 25, 1988, Mr. R. F. Nixon moved, seconded by Mr Conway, “That this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.”
On Tuesday, April 26, 1988, Mr. Laughren moved that the motion “That this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government” be amended by deleting the words following “that” and adding thereto the following:
“This House, recognizing that the 1988 budget fails to adopt tax fairness as its overriding objective and fails to adequately direct its programs to those areas most in need, condemns the government for:
“Increasing the most regressive of taxes, the retail sales tax;
“Increasing the personal income tax in such a way that middle-income earners bear the brunt of the increases while wealthier Ontarians receive the benefits;
“Failing to introduce a minimum corporate income tax to ensure that corporations pay their fair share;
“Worsening the situation for senior citizens in Ontario by failing to provide any relief from the retail sales tax increase;
“Failing to eliminate the Ontario personal income tax for those living at or below the poverty line;
“Failing to guarantee accessibility to the health care system by eliminating the Ontario health insurance plan tax for all those living below the poverty line;
“Refusing to make home ownership a real possibility for first-time home buyers by its failure to introduce a real estate speculation tax;
“Failing to treat the people of northern Ontario fairly and failing to provide for adequate funding for the development of the north;
“Exorbitant tax increases in every major tax paid by individuals and families in Ontario while increasing the tax breaks going to corporations;
“Failing to stem the ever-increasing share of the health care budget which is going to the fat cats of the health care system -- doctors, laboratories and drug companies -- while failing to increase funding for community and public health care; and
“Failing to devote more of the budget to the provision of adequate and affordable housing.
“Therefore, this government lacks the confidence of this House.”
On Tuesday, April 26, 1988, Mr. Harris moved that the amendment to the motion be amended by adding after the words “affordable housing” and before the words “Therefore, this government lacks the confidence of this House,” the following:
“This House, noting that six years of sustained economic growth in the province has significantly increased government revenues and has generated substantial in-year revenue windfalls, rejects as unnecessary and unjustified the massive, inflationary and regressive tax increases proposed by the government.
“This House regrets that the government of Ontario, by increasing its personal income tax, its retail sales tax, its gasoline tax and other consumption taxes, will deprive the Ontario taxpayer of the full benefits of federal tax reform and has significantly increased the tax burden on the middle class.
“This House deplores the fact that, after a six-year period in which real economic growth in the province has averaged 5.5 per cent, the government has not been able to achieve a more substantial reduction in its budgetary deficit and continues to add to the province’s debt, two factors which will limit the ability of the province to respond to any economic downturn in a flexible and fiscally responsible manner.
“This House condemns the government for its inability to control its expenditures and particularly for its lack of action to control the costs of the province’s health care system.
“This House, noting that this government has increased expenditures by 42.8 per cent since taking office, believes that the failure of the government to effectively address the problems in housing, health care, post-secondary institutions and the education system is due to inadequate and ineffective management of its expenditures and expresses its dissatisfaction with the government’s intention of making the taxpayer pay for its own management deficiencies.”
The House divided on Mr. Harris’s amendment to the amendment to the motion, which was negatived on the following vote:
Brandt, Breaugh, Bryden, Charlton, Cooke, D.S., Cousens, Cureatz, Eves, Farnan, Grier, Harris, Johnson, J. M., Johnston, R. F., Kormos, Laughren, Mackenzie, Marland, Martel, McLean, Philip, E., Pollock, Rae, B., Reville, Sterling, Villeneuve.
Adams, Ballinger, Beer, Bossy, Callahan, Campbell, Carrothers, Collins, Conway. Cooke, D. R., Cordiano, Dietsch, Eakins, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Fleet, Fulton, Furlong, Henderson, Kanter, Kerrio, Kozyra, Kwinter, LeBourdais;
Lipsett, Lupusella, Mahoney, Matrindola, McGuigan, Miller, Neumann, Nicholas, Nixon. J.B., Oddie Munro, Offer, O’Neil, H., Owen, Pelissero, Phillips, G., Poole, Ray, M. C., Reycraft, Riddell, Roberts, Ruprecht, Smith, D.W., Smith, E. J., Sola, Sorbara, Stoner, Sweeney, Tatham, Ward, Wrye.
Ayes 25; nays 57.
The House divided on Mr. Laughren’s amendment to the motion, which was negatived on the same vote.
The House divided on Hon. R. F. Nixon’s main motion, which was agreed to on the same vote reversed.
The following bill was given first, second and third readings on motion by Hon. Mr. Conway on behalf of Hon. R. F. Nixon.
Bill 223, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the Public Service for the fiscal year ending the 31st day of March, 1989.
Hon. Mr. Conway: The Lieutenant Governor awaits, but before I go to ask His Honour to join us, I would like, on behalf of all members here assembled, to thank this group of pages who have served us so well over the last number of days.
I know that all members would want to join me in thanking them very specially for their wonderful work, and we wish them well in their future endeavours. I must say I am sure they will be as disappointed to leave this place today as we will be.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario entered the chamber of the Legislative Assembly and took his seat upon the throne.
Hon. Mr. Alexander: Pray be seated.
Mr. Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the Legislative Assembly of the province has, at its present sitting thereof, passed certain bills to which, in the name of and on behalf of the said Legislative Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour’s assent.
Clerk Assistant: The following are the titles of the bills to which Your Honour’s assent is prayed:
Bill 122, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act;
Bill 151, An Act to revise the Personal Property Security Act and to repeal and amend certain other Acts related to Personal Property;
Bill 152, An Act to revise and consolidate the Law related to Repairers’ and Storers’ Liens;
Bill 175, An Act respecting transfers of Water;
Bill 212, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act;
Bill 213, An Act to amend the Executive Council Act;
Bill Pr78, An Act respecting the County of Lanark.
Clerk of the House: In Her Majesty’s name, His Honour the Lieutenant Governor doth assent to these bills.
Mr. Speaker: May it please Your Honour, we, Her Majesty’s most dutiful and faithful subjects of the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario in session assembled, approach Your Honour with sentiments of unfeigned devotion and loyalty to Her Majesty’s person and government, and humbly beg to present for Your Honour’s acceptance, a bill entitled An Act granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the Public Service for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1989.
Clerk of the House: His Honour the Lieutenant Governor doth thank Her Majesty’s dutiful and loyal subjects, accept their benevolence and assent to this bill in Her Majesty’s name.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to deliver the following gracious speech.
Hon. Mr. Alexander: Mr. Speaker and members of the Legislative Assembly: The first session of the 34th Parliament has been a productive one both for members of the Legislature and the people of Ontario. During this session, 94 bills received royal assent. In the coming weeks, nine government bills will receive careful examination by standing committees of the Legislature.
A number of measures were undertaken to preserve and protect our environment, including the introduction of legislation to phase out the use of substances harmful to the ozone layer, and the Countdown Acid Rain program. More protection for workers was provided through initiatives such as right-to-know legislation. Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act will give workers tough new powers to refuse unsafe or dangerous work. Proposed reform of the Workers’ Compensation Act will give injured workers greater opportunity to return to work through expanded vocational rehabilitation programs and employer rehiring obligations.
Changes to the Retail Business Holidays Act will provide for fair, enforceable and flexible regulation of retail store hours. Employees will have the right to refuse unreasonable work on a Sunday through amendments to the Employment Standards Act. New initiatives to encourage community-based health care delivery and the promotion of healthy lifestyles included the creation of a $100-million health innovation fund, a special educational campaign aimed at preventing the spread of AIDS, and specific program responses to the recommendations contained in the Ken Black report on illegal drug use in Ontario.
Initiatives were undertaken to promote excellence in education and training. Such measures included major new funding to reduce class sizes in grades 1 and 2 and the purchase of new computer technology, textbooks and learning materials.
In the midst of difficult and challenging market conditions, my government took steps to increase the supply of housing. Measures announced in the budget included the allocation of $2 billion for the construction of 30,000 nonprofit homes. Amendments to the Planning Act will streamline the approval process to help create more affordable housing. The Ontario home ownership savings plan was established.
Increased protection was provided to consumers through such measures as an enhanced Ontario New Home Warranty Program. Municipal elections reform was undertaken with the passage of significant legislation. Conflict-of-interest legislation will ensure greater accountability of members of the Legislature to the people they serve.
The Premier’s Council on technology prescribed a series of recommendations to develop Ontario as a world leader in innovation, technology and trade. Consistent with these recommendations, seven centres of excellence and six centres of entrepreneurship were established and new tax incentives to support increased investment in research and development were introduced. As part of my government’s commitment to develop a skilled, literate work force, $50 million has been allocated to annual literacy programming, primarily at the community level.
In the face of competitive pressures, greater protection was provided to members of the farming community through right-to-farm legislation and the passage of the Farm Implements Act. The establishment of a $360-million northern Ontario heritage fund will strengthen and diversify the economy of northern Ontario.
With the ratification of the Canada-United States free trade agreement, the government took action to protect the interests of Ontarians in the area of provincial responsibility. The Independent Health Facilities Act will give preference to nonprofit Canadian firms proposing to open community-based health facilities. The Wine Content Act and the Water Transfer Control Act were proclaimed. Proposed amendments to the Power Corporation Act will assert Ontario’s authority over our electricity.
Additional legislative changes to the Power Corporation Act will make Ontario Hydro more responsive to government policies and public priorities. Conservation and cogeneration will become mandated priorities for the public utility. The proclamation of the Intervenor Funding Project Act has given members of the public greater accessibility to government tribunals.
This assembly received reports from select committees on education and energy. The Legislature unanimously adopted the report of the select committee on constitutional reform, recommending ratification of the Meech Lake accord.
For these and many other achievements, all members of this assembly deserve congratulations.
Au nom de notre souveraine, je vous remercie. Je declare cette session prorogée.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker and honourable members of the Legislative Assembly, it is the will and pleasure of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor that this Legislative Assembly be prorogued and therefore this Legislative Assembly is accordingly prorogued.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
The House prorogued at 6:36 p.m.