The House met at 1330. Prayers.
COMMISSION ON ELECTION FINANCES
The Speaker: Just before I recognize the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr Pouliot), I beg to inform the House I have today laid upon the table the 12th report of the Commission on Election Finances respecting the indemnities and allowances of the members of this assembly. If the members are interested, they will find copies of that report inside their desks.
Mr Pouliot: Underfunding by this government and bureaucratic delays in developing a realistic funding formula for the Victorian Order of Nurses have indeed placed this venerable order into a state of crisis. Unless the government urgently addresses the estimated $2.5-million deficit for 1988-89, all nursing services across Ontario, and more specifically in some parts of the north, will be put in jeopardy.
Underfunding of services may very shortly result in the following: reduced access to home care nursing services for certain categories of patients and/or geographic areas of the province; increased costs to taxpayers who will have to fund the higher-cost alternative of sending more patients who could have been treated in their homes into hospital, and increased pressure on hospitals which will experience much higher demands for both active treatment and chronic care beds and VON services, if VON services are reduced.
I urge this government, through the honourable Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan), to address this urgent matter at its earliest convenience.
Mr Harris: Ontario Liberals made history last week when they failed to make a single mention of northern Ontario in the throne speech. I wish I could say it was an accident, but the facts speak for themselves. This is, after all, the party that opposed the creation of a special northern ministry by our party in the 1970s. This is the party whose former leader once vowed to never again set foot in northern Ontario.
In government, they abandoned the north on the softwood lumber issue. They took the $30 million that the tax generates each year and put it into general revenues instead of reforestation. They have sold out the north with ill-conceived parks policy; they have closed down the town of Temagami; they have ignored gasoline prices; they have shelved the four-laning program, and now they have threatened passenger rail service and jeopardized industrial investment.
The Peterson Liberals may have given up on the north, but northerners have not. In the wake of the throne speech, northeastern Ontario mayors decided this weekend to call for the establishment of a northern Ontario embassy in Toronto. If the government will not speak for and promote investment in the north, they want an official presence in southern Ontario that will.
It is a sad day when a proud and important part of Ontario says it needs an embassy within its own province. It is sadder still that after four years of Liberal government they are probably right.
The Speaker: Order. I wonder if I could remind all members of standing order 24(b). I usually recognize a member and no other members are to interrupt.
Mr Offer: I am pleased to rise today to recognize the achievements of one Frank Pazner, a long-time resident of Mississauga. Mr Pazner is to be honoured at a dinner on 17 May when he will become the 10th Mississauga resident to receive the Gordon S. Shipp Memorial Award.
Frank Pazner is one of those individuals who provide an outstanding contribution to their community and city. He has personally given many thousands of hours for several charities and has also provided the impetus and driving force in raising much-needed dollars for those charities. It is with great pride that another Mississauga resident is recognized.
Mr Pazner exemplifies those persons who volunteer their time for so many necessary causes. These efforts provide an important and vital service to a city like Mississauga, a city of dynamic growth in all sectors. Volunteers are the foundation upon which organizations not only survive but grow. Volunteers are there when needed, providing a driving force with new and fresh ideas. I believe we are well served by individuals like Frank Pazner, individuals with a commitment to a cause, a dedication to meet that commitment and an effort to make that commitment a reality.
I would like to personally congratulate Frank Pazner who, with his wife Maria and children Andrejka, Mark and Nadiya, provides an example for many to follow.
HUMAN RIGHTS IN ROMANIA
Mr Kormos: Two and a half million Hungarians live in the Transylvania region of Romania. This has been their homeland for centuries now, and it is only because of the 1920 Treaty of Trianon that this is Romanian territory. These Hungarians are the victims of a brutal program of cultural genocide by the iron-fisted Romanian government.
Hungarian-language schools and colleges have been shut down. Hungarian-language radio and television programs have been eliminated. Indeed, Hungarian names are banned. There has been forced relocation of Hungarian university graduates to eastern Romania. A village destruction program is now under way: thousands of Hungarian villages in Transylvania will be bulldozed. So far this year, over 400 Hungarians have been killed by Romanian border guards as they attempted to escape to Hungary or Yugoslavia.
These human rights abuses are currently being investigated by the United Nations, and our federal government has been petitioned to use its resources in an effort to end this brutal oppression. Only last night, Welland’s Hungarian Self Culture Society expressed its support of the Hungarian refugees from Romania with the presentation of cash support and an appeal to our government to intervene in this intolerable oppression.
We in this Legislative Assembly must express our indignation at the conduct of the Romanian government. We must join in the boycott of Romanian products being imported into Ontario and Canada. We must protest this insanity with the loudest and clearest of voices.
Mr Eves: The Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) would like citizens of Ontario to become more aware of health care services and funding in this province, and yet her ministry has failed to keep the public informed about important changes in the regulation of health professionals in this province.
The ministry is presently considering a report of the health professions legislation review, a highly controversial report which limits the scopes of practice of alternative medical professions. The report proposes to deregulate the naturopathy profession. The deregulation of this profession has caused a great deal of confusion for the clients and patients of doctors of naturopathy. The definitions of “drug,” “diagnosis” and “assessment” have caused the greatest confusion.
It is possible that this report will greatly alter the lives of the estimated 300,000 Ontarians who seek health care advice from naturopaths, yet the Minister of Health has been silent about this report. She has not clarified how this report will improve access to a greater variety of health care services in the province.
Instead of discussing the health care needs of Ontarians, she continues to leave the clients of naturopaths in the dark about how their choice of medical treatment will be affected by the deregulation of naturopathy. It is time for the Minister of Health to stand up and inform Ontarians about how her decision will affect them.
Mr Adams: By the end of February, Peter-borough Teddies had presented 974 bears to individuals or organizations, including patients in Peterborough Civic Hospital’s paediatric and long-stay wards.
The teddy bear is a symbol of goodwill, love, affection, comfort and security. Peterborough Teddies is a nonprofit volunteer group formed in 1985. Adopting the premise that you are never too young or too old to hug a teddy, the group presents teddies to those needing love, comfort and friendship.
Teddy bears are purchased and donated through the Give a Bear program. The emergency kits provided for disaster victims by the Peterborough County-City Disaster Committee now include teddy bears. They provide immediate comfort to children who have been involved in house fires.
Recently, all five of the Peterborough and district ambulance vehicles have been equipped with teddies. The toy bears are used to comfort children and other patients in distress. This teddy bear therapy has been extremely well received, and the service expects to use about 100 bears each year.
I congratulate Judy Gibson, chairbear of Peterborough Teddies, and her colleagues for eight years of bear care. I congratulate Judy too for organizing the Cancer Survivors Day.
Miss Martel: I too wish to express my concern with the Ministry of Health’s proposed four per cent increase to the Victorian Order of Nurses for this fiscal year. The Sudbury chapter of the VON is fortunately not yet in a deficit position and can serve all clients who qualify for home care. In the 1988-89 fiscal year, some 77,000 client visits were made on a cumulative basis. Roughly 3,000 patients were seen. The number of clients, visits and services offered have all increased, and the Sudbury branch has been active in assessing and responding to the new needs within the community served.
If the Ministry of Health caps the negotiated fee at four to five per cent again this fiscal year, our branch will have no alternative but to cut services presently offered. The current pilot project regarding evening service will be terminated. A decline in hours of service per client will follow suit. The result will be increasing hardship for those who are most vulnerable in our society.
The government talks a good line about community service. It makes sense to provide the financial --
The Speaker: Thank you.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mr Scott: I am pleased today to announce the intention of the government to make major changes in the structure of the trial courts in Ontario. The reorganization of our system of trial courts is not an end in itself, but it is an essential precondition to an efficient, fair, well-managed system of justice in which our citizens can continue to have confidence. The changes that are proposed will, I believe, provide the framework for an effective, accessible and affordable system designed to serve the people as we move into the next century.
Our present court system has been with us since 1881. While it has been frequently modified over the last 100 years to reflect new social needs, the system designed by Oliver Mowat has remained essentially intact. It has, however, been the object of frequent ad hoc changes. Almost two decades ago, the Ontario Law Reform Commission assigned the blame for public dissatisfaction on “the nature of the organization and the inefficiency of the system.” Judges, lawyers and lay people alike recognize the essential truth of this statement.
For most people, the existing trial court structure is confusing and remote. There are eight different trial courts divided into roughly three hierarchical levels. Some courts are located throughout the province while others are centralized mainly at Toronto. In some subject matter areas the jurisdictions of different courts overlap, with the result that litigants are faced with a choice of courts in which to bring their proceeding. As well, the existence of different levels in the hierarchy promotes the inaccurate perception that some courts are better than others.
In 1987, Mr Justice Zuber released his report on Ontario’s court system. The subsequent consultation between the ministry and representatives from the courts, the legal profession and public organizations provided valuable information.
I believe that we have carefully examined every major structural option presented to us. Our point of departure has been that the trial court system exists to serve the public by ensuring the orderly and expeditious resolution of disputes. The government’s vision for a new trial court structure is based on three principles.
First, it will be regional, not centralized. Earlier in the year I announced the reorganization of the ministry’s courts administration program and crown attorney staff into eight regions. The regionalization of the judiciary will parallel these two changes. All judges will be assigned to a region.
In the second place, our vision contemplates a single trial court. All judges of the new court would possess the jurisdiction of both superior and provincial court judges and would be appointed either by the federal government or under arrangements made by the province with the federal government. Judges appointed to the new court would generally be expected to devote most of their time to one of three areas of law: civil litigation, criminal law or family law.
This vision contemplates the elimination of the hierarchical divisions which have been a characteristic of the Ontario trial court system since the end of the last century. These divisions were originally justified for purposes of appeal. That justification no longer exists. Increasingly, the hierarchy of the courts has been confusing and, regrettably, has often created the sense that one court is better than another or that one court does more important work than another. As well, the hierarchy has made judicial and administrative management of the system especially difficult.
The creation of a single trial court will allow parties to a family law dispute, for example, to have all aspects of the dispute dealt with in one proceeding before one judge. Currently, family law jurisdiction is fragmented between courts, with the result that the resolution of a single dispute often requires two or more proceedings in two or more different courts. We are heartened by the success of the unified family court initiative that has been in existence in Hamilton for 12 years.
The third principle of the vision is efficient and co-operative management of the system, the personnel and the resources assigned to it. Management of a court system is a particularly difficult and complex undertaking requiring the co-operation of administrators, judges, crown attorneys and the bar. In our system, each has an independent role to play which cannot be ceded to the others.
For example, some elements of administrative decision-making are reserved to the judges alone in order to ensure the maintenance of their constitutionally entrenched independence from the executive or legislative branches. On the other hand, only popularly elected assemblies can provide the necessary resources and assign them to the system. Finally, crown attorneys and the bar each have an independent role upon which neither the judges nor the administration can encroach.
I believe that the key to efficient and co-operative management of the system depends not only on the existence of a single trial court but on its organization on a regional basis. A regional senior judge located in each of the eight regions will be responsible for the management of judicial resources in the region, subject to the authority of a Chief Judge of Ontario. It is expected that he will work closely with the regional administrator of court services, the regional crown attorney and representatives of the regional bar.
Under our Constitution in Canada, structural reform of the courts requires the co-operation of both federal and provincial governments. Ontario has the authority to enact legislation establishing a structure, but judges of the superior and district courts, under our Constitution, must be appointed by the government at Ottawa. For this reason, changes to structure require co-operation at both levels of government.
I have already been to Ottawa for discussions with the Attorney General of Canada with a view to implementing proposals that are set out in this statement and the vision it sets for the future. I well recognize that the challenge represented by the vision will require detailed discussion with the Attorney General and my provincial colleagues, but I am confident that they will be prepared to consider the proposals with an open mind.
I will be introducing legislation later today that will mark the first phase towards implementation of the goal I have set out. I hope to have this phase completed, with the co-operation of this assembly, by the end of 1990.
This legislation, the first phase of change, will establish a single court called the Ontario Court of Justice. It will, for the time being, be divided into two divisions, the general division and the provincial division.
The general division will unite or merge the existing High Court, the district court and the surrogate courts. The merger or the unification of these courts will provide a substantial pool of federally appointed judges assigned to each region of the province. This will mean, I believe, significant improvements in the level of service provided to litigants throughout Ontario who, in some cases, must wait for a judge of the proper jurisdiction or authority to arrive in their town before proceeding.
The other division of the Ontario Court will be the provincial division and it will consist of provincial judges who will continue, for the time being, their existing jurisdiction.
Jurisdiction over young offenders, which is now divided between the criminal and family divisions of the existing provincial court, will be consolidated in the new Ontario Court. It is my intention that this jurisdiction will, over a period of time, be exercised primarily by judges who concentrate on family law.
In addition, I am pleased to announce that the small claims court limit will be increased from $1,000 to $5,000. These claims will now be the responsibility of the general division of the new Ontario Court. This represents a dramatic increase in access to small claims procedures, especially outside Toronto. I will also be asking the Ontario rules committee to consider devising new rules to expedite the hearing of cases between $5,000 and $15,000.
I believe the legislation the government is introducing today and the discussions we will be having with the government of Canada represent historic steps in the evolution of Ontario’s court system. In total, the vision contemplated represents the most significant change in the administration of justice in the province in well over a century. Those who have been consulted and worked with us -- the judges, the crown attorneys, the lawyers and the members of the public -- clearly recognize our goal: the creation of a structure which would facilitate the administration of justice in the province not only in this decade but well into the next century. As I have said, these fundamental changes are a precondition to a simpler, more efficient, less expensive and co-operatively managed system in which all citizens of our province will continue to have confidence and pride.
I know that for some, not excluding this Attorney General, the disappearance of the old ways, the old traditions and the old distinctions will be a difficult and wrenching experience, but with the introduction of this legislation and as we move into this process, I am heartened and encouraged by the virtually unanimous recognition on all sides and in all parts of the province that, where necessary, old systems must give way to new systems if the administration of justice is to continue in the next century to serve the needs and meet the aspirations of the people we all serve.
START UP PROGRAM
Hon Mr Curling: I would like to pay tribute today to some very special young Ontarians. These individuals are extremely successful. Each one of them has had the courage and stamina and personal ability to set up his or her own business. Early today, I met 28 such successful dreamers. They are the young men and women who received the Minister’s Award for Outstanding Achievement.
This award is given each year to young people who have set up outstanding businesses through the Ministry of Skills Development’s Start Up program. This year we looked at 3,400 participants in the program and selected 28 for this special recognition. The award recipients come from all over Ontario and their businesses reflect that diversity -- everything from the production of standard-size mats for slo-pitch baseball to arranging murder mystery packages for hotels and resorts.
From North Bay, as an example, is Peter Conti Custom Woodworking and Design. Peter has a long history with this ministry. After training as an apprentice carpenter in the ministry’s apprenticeship program at George Brown College in Toronto, Peter returned to North Bay to open up his own custom woodworking company. Peter’s company supplies custom-made kitchen cabinets, store fixtures and furniture to homes and retail outlets.
These young people represent more than what I have described so far. They represent the spirit of entrepreneurship which is necessary for the continuing health of our economy. In the last five years more than 90 per cent of jobs in Ontario have been created by the owners of small businesses.
When you meet these young men and women you realize that there is indeed a bright future ahead, not only for them personally but for all of us who benefit from their dedication, their creativity and their success.
The 28 recipients of the award, and every one of the other 3,372 Start Up participants, deserve not only our congratulations but our support and encouragement as well.
The ministry, as well as the Start Up program’s co-sponsors -- the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, local chambers of commerce and boards of trade and the Royal Bank of Canada -- will continue to show their support and partnership with these co-sponsors by guaranteeing interest-free loans through the youth venture capital and student venture capital programs.
I would like to ask all members to join me in congratulating not only the recipients of the awards but every one of the young entrepreneurs across the province who took a chance to fulfil a dream. Every one of them is a winner.
START UP PROGRAM
Mr R. F. Johnston: I join with other members in congratulating the 28 subsidized entrepreneurs from the province’s plan. I think it is important, however, to take this opportunity to put this in the context of what the government is doing around summer employment in Ontario.
At the same time as it has decided to expand its commitment to entrepreneurship as an option for kids, it has cut back, by tens of thousands, jobs that will be available in government and in agencies through Experience ‘89. It has cut back by thousands those jobs that will be available under summer employment programs.
In fact, you cannot even apply for them in southern Ontario these days. You have to be in an area identified by this government as severely unemployed to be a student who can access this program, as if the only thing that were important in this experience is the job rather than the experience those kids can get in these other things besides entrepreneurship, which this government seems to be so big on.
There has been no major expansion, for instance, of the co-op sector, to which the minister did not even allude today, in terms of projects which are now only up to 36 across the province. This program of entrepreneurship has not been a failure. No one would say it has, when 70 per cent of those projects started that are ongoing, year-long projects continue to operate after three years. That is pretty good response. I would not be upset by that.
But I am concerned at the priority of cutting back in the other areas. The only other area the minister has expanded on is in the Environmental Youth Corps, that terribly underfunded group from last year. He promised in the election to create 3,000 jobs per summer. Last summer all the jobs this minister could create were 752 positions.
Now they have decided, “We don’t want to be under attack any more in the estimates and on the floor of the House on this, so we’ll increase those minimum-wage jobs to the full 3,000 at the same time as we are cutting them back in Experience ‘89 and in the summer employment programs across the province.”
It is absolutely mind-boggling. Something that I am sure members do not even know about this particular program is that one of the major benefactors is another group of entrepreneurs, called the banks, in Ontario. I think it would be only appropriate for members to know where this money is going that we put out in terms of loan guarantees.
Did the members know, for instance, that the Royal Bank of Canada receives an administrative fee of $125 per approved loan; a $25 per application screening fee; and a $5 credit check fee per applicant? Then, of course, it again gets money for the summer program portion of that.
What we have here is a subsidization; the notion of government welfare and support for loans for local entrepreneurs at the same time as the minister is cutting back the number of kids who will be able to work with the retarded this year; the same with the number of kids who will be able to work with other ministries, like the Ministry of Housing for instance, who have been there in the past but who will not return because of his cutbacks; yet he will allow money to be flowed to the Royal Bank for these fee charges and to his young entrepreneurs, as if they should be given a lesson that all loans to entrepreneurs should be guaranteed by the government or why else bother going into business at all.
Mr Kormos: First, we do want to congratulate the Attorney General (Mr Scott) for the initiatives expressed in his statement today. The implementation of proposals contained in the Zuber report has been long awaited and is indeed welcome.
At the same time, we have some concerns about omissions in the statement today. Immediate concerns that have been expressed across the province, first by provincial judges: concerns about the shortage of provincial judges, the inadequacy of courtroom facilities and the lack of security in existing courtroom facilities appear not to have been addressed in the statement by the minister.
The lack of consideration of the Henderson report remains of great concern, and there has been, as we know, a long-standing concern by provincial judges about the failure of the government to implement those Henderson recommendations. It would seem essential that those immediate concerns be addressed at the same time as these long-term goals are initiated.
They are not alone, because if the government is sincere about accessibility, then it must also address funding of legal aid services and community legal services across the province, as well as issues of concern to the justices of the peace.
The Speaker: The member’s time has now expired.
The Speaker: Before I recognize other members to respond, I know all members would want me to draw their attention to a former member, Lorne Henderson. the former member for Lambton, who is with us today.
Mr Sterling: I find it odd that with this very significant announcement by the Attorney General (Mr Scott), three and a half minutes of the official opposition’s response was to what I consider a fairly minor announcement by another minister of the crown.
I would like to congratulate the Attorney General for starting down the road to a significant reform of our court system. While Martin Goldfarb might have advised the Ontario Liberal Party to use the word “vision” every time it would have an opportunity, we did not expect to see it 20 or 30 times in one statement.
Notwithstanding that, this vision, which is now shared by the Attorney General of this province, has been put forward by many members of the bar, many members of the judiciary, over the last eight to nine to 10 years. I take particular pride with regard to the bar of which I am a member, the Carleton bar association in the Ottawa-Carleton area, headed by Colin McKinnon, which put forward a proposal very similar to the Attorney General’s some seven or eight years ago.
The first stage of this particular proposal to reform the court system will not be easy. There will be required, during that period of time, many additional consultations. There is a lot of very important nitty-gritty to work out with the members of the bar, members of the bench and with other people involved with the judicial system.
That is going to require a great deal of co-operation on the part of all the players in this particular matter. I would like to pledge, on behalf of my party, our complete co-operation in trying the achieve the goals that have been put forward and a vision that is not only the vision of the Attorney General but is a vision of many of the people of Ontario, including myself.
START UP PROGRAM
Mrs Cunningham: We would like to respond to the statement of the Minister of Skills Development (Mr Curling). I too attended the luncheon this afternoon and was very proud to witness these young individuals who have been so successful in their own entrepreneurial work. It is wonderful to see that kind of commitment to their businesses and to our province.
However, I also had a chance to chat with them and they would like me to send a few comments to the minister so that he could improve a couple of their programs through their own experience.
One of them suggested that he hired an older worker in the Transitions program and they would like the minister to know that although he has only been able to spend $1 million out the $8 million budgeted for this particular last fiscal year, there is a great opportunity for these people. These are young people hiring older people to work with them.
There are two problems. First, in the Transitions program one has to be 45. These young people tell me that is not right. If people are looking to be retrained and to go back into the world of work and work with young people, we should be lowering that age.
The second point they raised was that some of the people in Transitions are not encouraged to work long hours. The minister should look into that. These people work long hours at their work and if we have older people coming back and working with them, they too should be working longer hours and we should not have those kinds of restrictions on the Transitions program.
With regard to apprenticeship programs, some of these young people advised me that in fact they were graduates, but more of them had been in the apprenticeship program and did not graduate, so we have some advice for the minister on that one too.
First of all, we should be working with the school system and young people should be in apprenticeship programs sooner. Second, although on-the-job training is extremely important, young people are telling us that those kinds of skills jobs need to be made more important through the schools, parents, the media and through the government.
I hope that the minister will strive to make the whole province know that there is a tremendous skills shortage, not only of people doing the work but of those training.
In conclusion, the ratio of journeymen to apprenticeships needs to be looked at. We have mentioned it before.
It was a wonderful lunch. I have come back with all these wonderful ideas from the recipients of the awards.
Mr Laughren: I have a question for the Treasurer. The Treasurer will know that in Metro Toronto the average resale price of a home in March 1989 went up to $277,000; but it is not simply a Toronto problem, it is up to over $190,000 average across the province.
Since that price in Metro of $277,000 requires a family income in excess of $102,000, is the Treasurer finally prepared to make a commitment to introduce a speculation tax on houses in Ontario?
Hon R. F. Nixon: When we are within three or four weeks of the budget, I think it would be inappropriate for me to indicate to the honourable member who is questioning me what specifically I have in mind. I think he is aware that the proposal for a speculation tax has come from himself and other reasonable sources over the last number of weeks, and I have always indicated that, while I was not enthused about it, I thought the concept had merit. But I think it is inappropriate for me to talk about it in more detail now, other than to say no.
Mr Laughren: It is refreshing to hear the Treasurer at least say some positive words about the tax. Two years ago now, he said the price of homes had peaked, and they were at $188,000. The following year, the Premier (Mr Peterson) said the heat was out of the market, and the average price was $233,000. Now we are up to $277,000. So perhaps the Treasurer is seeing the error of his ways.
The Treasurer should know that the federal goods and services tax, which will be introduced in January 1991, will according to the federal figures add approximately $14,000 to the price of a new home. It will also add to the price of resale homes because previously untaxed services, such as commissions and lawyers’ fees, will be taxed as well.
Does the Treasurer understand that because the new sales tax will not take place until January 1991, the federal budget is an invitation to speculators to get into the market in the next 18 months and drive up the price of homes even further?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I understand the point of view the honourable member is expressing and I am glad to hear it. This is exactly where it should be put. Without making a mistake like I made previously, there is some indication that some of the prices are not rising as rapidly as they have in the past. Perhaps that is about as safe a point as I can put on it.
I personally feel market forces are having some effect on pricing. It is interesting to note, as the honourable member himself pointed out about three months ago, that Toronto is not the centre of the most rapidly growing price surge and that this is an area which is even more attractive for people to live in, and it is called South Dumfries township.
Mr Laughren: The federal Minister of Finance and the federal Minister of State (Housing) have both indicated that the goods and services tax, to take place in 1991, will indeed cause an affordability problem in the housing market. I guess what we are asking the Treasurer to think about is whether or not he wants to be a silent partner in the most draconian budget this country has ever seen. Will he make a commitment to do something about speculation in the housing market?
Hon R. F. Nixon: Certainly I am the last person to defend the federal budget. I am not some sort of sub rosa supporter of it in that connection. We have to make our own decisions here, based on what the federal people do, and then we have to simply cut our pattern to fit that cloth. That is exactly what we are doing as we review exactly the impact from the federal budget, and we will design our programs accordingly.
I am not going to make any particular commitment to a land speculation tax, but the honourable member and other members who have heard my response over the months know what I think about it.
Mr Reville: My question is to the Premier. I would like the Premier to help us with a basic reality check. This is what the government says:
“The increasing number of elderly people and the requirements of chronic illness point out a need to evolve an effective and rationalized long-term-care continuum. Research has shown that many seniors now living in institutions would be better cared for in the community with appropriate support services.”
Now, let us look at what the government does. Last winter, the opposition had to come to the aid of the Red Cross, which was about to go down the tubes because the government was not funding it adequately. This year, the Victorian Order of Nurses is saying that unless it gets a better funding deal from the government, it will not be able to continue to provide the home care the government says it wants.
Would the Premier indicate to the House whether or not we can expect this government to take care of the problems of the Victorian Order of Nurses quickly and appropriately?
Hon Mr Peterson: I appreciate the honourable member’s question. As I understand it, the minister is meeting this week with the Victorian Order of Nurses. As I understand it. the deficit is in the $2.5 million range. I think there is some acknowledgement that perhaps some operational changes can be brought into play to assist in that in the future. The government has certainly suggested it is willing to help. I think it is a question of getting all the people together to work out a strategy for the future.
My honourable friend. I am sure, will agree with the government when it says it just cannot go in automatically and write a cheque, whatever the deficit any group runs. That is not a responsible way to run a government. We have to make sure this is planned in an orderly way and on an ongoing basis. We have great respect for the work of the VON, but I think we have to organize this thing in the long term and not just patch up a short-term problem today.
Mr Reville: The VON would be delighted if the government would begin to behave with a view towards the long term.
There is a second check against reality that I would like the Premier to help us with. The government has been saying, often, that it needs to contain the cost spiral of the health care system. In fact, it says the benefits of a community-based system include cost-effective capital and operating funding. The Premier knows, as does every member of the House, that a home care visit is about 40 bucks a day; hospital is between 200 and 400 bucks a day.
How can the government even contemplate saving money by nickel and diming the VON? It will have to pay for it in increased hospital costs. Will the Premier not acknowledge that there is a certain illogic to ignoring the plight of the Victorian Order of Nurses?
Hon Mr Peterson: We are not ignoring the plight of the Victorian Order of Nurses. That is an important constituent element of the continuum of health care services offered in the province. Obviously, we need proper institutional care as well as proper community-based care. The minister said, and I am sure my honourable friend has read the throne speech carefully, that there is a new emphasis on community-based care. We have to make sure that all of it is well managed. I think my honourable friend will find that will be the case.
Mr Pouliot: It should be obvious to the Premier, with high respect of course, that he cannot or should not continue to press those highly qualified and dedicated people to do more work for less pay. The Premier will surely be aware that the average nurse in the order is paid approximately nine per cent less than those with comparable experience and qualifications in general hospitals. By way of a question: Now is the time, very simply, to put the respect and the commitment the Premier has into the proverbial pay envelope. Will he commit his government to redress this injustice?
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend seems to find injustice everywhere. That is his nature and the nature of his colleagues opposite. Let me say that I think this problem can be addressed. As I said, the honourable minister is meeting with the group some time this week and I think my honourable friend will be delighted with the results, whatever they are.
Mr Eves: I would like to ask the Premier a somewhat similar question, seeing as he did not answer that question or the two supplementaries.
Mr Ballinger: Sure he answered it. You were not listening.
Mr Eves: We are constantly hearing about the government’s supposed policy to move away from institutionalized care in the health care field and towards home care. How can the Premier stand there and justify refusing to adequately fund the Victorian Order of Nurses, which provides 80 per cent of nursing visitations in Ontario? Does this not seem somewhat inconsistent to him?
Hon Mr Peterson: The answer is no, I say to my honourable friend. I think I answered the question quite fully to my two friends from the official opposition and my answer to my honourable colleague is exactly the same. The member may not have understood it, but the member in the back row over there did understand it. Maybe that says the members in the back row are far ahead.
Mr Eves: It certainly does not surprise me that the member for Durham-York (Mr Ballinger) understood.
The government’s very own Price Waterhouse report, which the Ministry of Health commissioned last year on the Ontario home care program, estimates that home care saves the Ontario government about $500 million a year -- in fact, in excess of $500 million a year -- in operational funding, and last year alone saved an estimated $1.8 billion in capital funding that it would have cost the government had it not had this very important service.
The VON projects that this year its shortfall will be in excess of $2.5 million. This is in addition to the $2.6 million they already have as a deficit. The rates this year were established by the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) without any consultation or negotiation whatsoever with them, according to the VON.
Why does the Premier not live up to the rhetoric of his government and make a commitment to the House and to the people of Ontario today that he will adequately fund the Victorian Order of Nurses?
Hon Mr Peterson: We adequately fund everybody. There is sometimes a difference of opinion over the question of adequacy. As I told my honourable friend, we will work it out and I am sure my honourable friend will be quite excited about the resolution.
Mr Eves: Talking about living up to its commitment, it is this government’s very own report, which Price Waterhouse did on its behalf, that made this recommendation that it is not living up to.
The government has a Minister of Health who is quoted as saying that beds are no longer the benchmark in the health care system today, and yet we have seen the home care service in our province seriously compromised because of the government’s lack of commitment to it. The government talks about community health. Community health represents only four per cent and the home care component represents only 2.3 per cent of the Ministry of Health budget this year.
Does the Premier consider that to be a sufficient commitment by his government to community-based health care?
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend argues a different line on different days, depending on what he reads in the newspaper that particular day, but I do not want to let that deter us from the strategy this government has.
As I told my honourable friend, we have great respect for the work of the VON. I am sure we can work out this situation as we expand, as a government, into community-based care. I think everything the minister has said to the member is quite consistent.
Our idea, frankly, of running a health care system is somewhat unlike that of the member. They write a cheque to everybody who makes a noise that particular day. I say to my friend what he is seeing today is a health care system that has been planned and rationalized in a thoughtful, long-term way, and we are going to be able to keep a quality system, a system that looks after all the needs of people in society. I think my honourable friend will be very proud of the results of that. He should not get deterred just by reading one article in the paper.
PROVINCIAL COURT JUDGES
Mr Sterling: I have a question of the Attorney General. He said in his statement today. “Management of a court system is a particularly difficult and complex undertaking requiring the co-operation of administrators, judges, crown attorneys and the bar.”
Given that the provincial court judges are seriously considering job action in order to bring attention to the total frustration and concerns they have with the deteriorating system of justice in this province, what priority is the Attorney General going to give to reviewing and responding to the recommendations of the Henderson report?
Hon Mr Scott: I know all honourable members will be pleased to know that we give this the highest priority. The honourable member who asked the question will want to know that we established, with the judges, a mechanism designed to determine a salary level for them subject to the determinations made by the executive council. That report has now been on hand. We are obliged to give it earnest and serious consideration. We are doing that and the government, I know, hopes to respond in due course.
Mr Sterling: The Attorney General knows this report has been referred to the standing committee on administration of justice of the Legislature, and he also knows the government controls not only the business of the House but also the business of all the committees.
Considering the matters that are before the justice committee -- they include Bill 4, the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force Complaints Amendment Act; Bill 149, the Trespass to Property Amendment Act, and Bill 187, the Police and Sheriffs Statute Law Amendment Act, as well as the Henderson report -- what priority does he put on the Henderson report with respect to these other pieces of legislation? Is he willing to put the Henderson report at the top of the priority list, as are we in the opposition?
Hon Mr Scott: There must be some legislative equivalent of the street expression “gimme a break.” We have given the Henderson report, which comes before the justice committee, the highest priority. Indeed, between sessions we asked for unanimous consent so the matter could come to the justice committee before the House came back. Somebody’s House leader refused to give consent so the matter is now where it is. Notwithstanding that kind of effort, we intend to respond to it at an early date.
Mr Sterling: The only time this became a priority with this government was after it was raised in the justice committee by myself. The fact of the matter is they wanted to give our party about two days’ notice to have this hearing, when we are involved in other legislative committees.
I am quoting from an article in the Globe and Mail: “The job of selling court reform has now become much more difficult because Mr Scott lost the goodwill of many of the important players. Many judges, lawyers and colleagues who have crossed swords with him in the past are embittered.”
How does the Attorney General expect to implement the Zuber report and take forward his, in quotes, “vision”, if he cannot even handle a small situation or a situation dealing with the provincial court judges and dealing with the Henderson report in a timely manner? How does he expect to get further and larger reforms through?
Hon Mr Scott: In answering the question, I owe an apology to the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris) for inadvertently suggesting that his veto had prevented this matter getting to the standing committee on administration of justice. I am advised by my House leader that the person responsible for that action on the part of the third party was in fact the member for Parry Sound (Mr Eves) who, otherwise an excellent friend of mine showing a high level of co-operation at every turn in the House, has prevented the Henderson report, aided and abetted by the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling), from getting before the justice committee.
Hon Mr Nixon: So the judges suffer.
Hon Mr Scott: And so the judges suffer. Be that as it may --
Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, on a point of personal privilege --
The Speaker: Order. Point of personal privilege.
Mr Eves: -- I have never prevented the Henderson report from being debated in the justice committee whatsoever. This is a government --
The Speaker: Order.
The Speaker: Order. The Attorney General.
Hon Mr Scott: Well, every time you have them neatly pinned, they take the hot potato and pass it from one to the other, from row to row. I will say one thing: The member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) is not responsible for this attitude on the part of the Tory party. If it was up to her and not up to the front bench, this matter might have been dealt with by the third party in a productive way.
The Speaker: Order. Does that complete your response?
Hon Mr Scott: As I indicated to my friend the member for Carleton, the government will be responding to this very shortly.
ELECTRICITY DEMAND AND SUPPLY
Mr Charlton: I have a question for the Minister of Energy. I am absolutely sure the minister has had the opportunity to review Ontario Hydro’s response to the select committee on energy’s recommendations from January of this year.
The minister will be aware that this response by Hydro to the select committee’s report is, to say the least, a disgraceful effort and a direct insult to all the members of the select committee. The minister will know it is a response in which Hydro has regurgitated old data, which the select committee has already reviewed and data the select committee was concerned about. The recommendations the select committee made in this report were recommendations on the areas of Hydro demand/supply planning strategy, about which we felt Hydro’s work was inadequate.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Charlton: Will the minister assure this House today that he will take this response from Ontario Hydro and appropriately place it in the garbage, and direct Ontario Hydro to get on in a serious and meaningful way to deal with the recommendations of the select committee?
Hon Mr Wong: In response to the member for Hamilton Mountain, let me say that the government’s first and main priority in terms of demand/supply planning for electricity in this province to the year 2000 and beyond is based upon energy conservation and energy efficiency.
When the honourable member seems to suggest that perhaps Hydro is not listening, is not doing enough in that area, let me remind the House that in February of last year the cabinet instructed Hydro to give us a specific set of targets. They gave us a 5,500-megawatt figure, which would be not insignificant: this would be equivalent to one and a half Darlington plants.
Nevertheless, this government said to Ontario Hydro, “We believe that you can do more.” We are, as the honourable member knows, in the process of passing amendments to the Power Corporation Act. In addition, last year together we passed the first Energy Efficiency Act in all of Canada.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Wong: These are some of the measures that are being taken.
Mrs Grier: With all due respect, I think the minister misses the point of the response from Hydro that was released today. What was before the select committee on energy was a strategy put forward by Hydro as to how it was to go into the next century. The select committee said the strategy was missing a number of important elements and made some recommendations.
On the recommendations the minister has just referred to, Hydro’s response to the committee’s suggestion that it do more on energy efficiency was to say, “The committee’s recommendation is consistent with our existing draft strategy.” What kind of a response is that? Can the minister be very clear? Does he consider the response by Hydro adequate and is he going to insist that Hydro come up with the studies and the planning and the figures that the select committee called for?
Hon Mr Wong: This government believes that what we need is a proper, legitimate response. Just so that the honourable member knows, last month I made a reference to the Ontario Energy Board with relation to the forthcoming rate hearings. In paragraph 5 I specifically addressed the energy management plans and programs of Hydro and said to the chairperson of the OEB, “These plans and programs should be examined to determine whether they are effective and appropriate and to what extent they are meeting Ontario Hydro’s demand management objectives.”
The government will be continuing its examination to determine the factual basis upon which we can make some sound decisions in this province.
Mr Sterling: I have a question to the Minister of Correctional Services. Last Thursday, a 27-year-old Ottawa man was brutally beaten to death in the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Detention Centre. Mike Sienkiewicz was in jail for a breach of probation from a break-and-enter charge and conviction two years ago. He was scheduled to be released one week after his death.
Can the minister explain how a man with a record of a nonviolent crime ended up in a maximum security section of the Ottawa regional detention centre with other violent prisoners and unfortunately wound up dead while all of the guards apparently were on a coffee break?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I would rather not comment on this case, as it is before a police investigation and our own investigation at this time.
Mr Sterling: I would also like to ask the minister a question with regard to another facility. Again last Thursday, two 16-year-olds escaped from the Vanier Centre for Women and arrived on a Brampton man’s doorstep. One of the escaped youths has been charged with the February slaying of a halfway house worker, Krista Sepp. What are dangerous young offenders doing in a medium security facility where security is obviously inadequate?
These are two circumstances which arose on the same day. What corrective actions is the minister taking to secure people outside of the institutions, the general public, and what security measures and changes is he going to take with regard to the incident at the Ottawa-Carleton detention centre?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I would like to thank the member for the second question, his supplementary. All incidents that happen within our ministry are investigated by our ministry and the recommendations that possibly come out are put forward to our audit group and improvements come out of that process.
Mr Faubert: My question is to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. Concerns have been raised lately about economic problems being experienced in some sectors in the north. In particular, the lumber industry has been hit hard. Companies such as Lévesque Lumber have been forced to close down and companies such as G. W. Martin Forest Products have had to lay off workers. Can the minister advise this House if this trend will continue or does he anticipate a change on the horizon?
Hon Mr Kwinter: There is no question that there has been some rationalization taking place in the north in the lumber industry, but I should tell members, and I am sure many of them knew, that is certainly not an all-inclusive trend. We have had Boise Cascade Canada Ltd announce just recently a $90-million addition to its operation in Fort Frances for its groundwood paper specialty mill. In total, it has had four projects that have put about $300 million into the north.
So I think that although we will continue to experience some problems because of competitive forces and the nonproductivity of some of these mills, generally things have not been going quite that badly in the north in recent years. I think that the indication from companies such as Boise Cascade is that they still have confidence in the north and it will continue to progress.
Mr Faubert: By way of supplementary, members will be aware of the need for industries to increase their competitiveness. Can the minister advise this House how industry in northern Ontario can achieve this in the future?
Hon Mr Kwinter: Well, we have that problem. What we have to do is get them turned around to the point where they are creating value added businesses. We are doing that through the Northern Ontario Development Corp and the technology fund. We have already put about $10 million into it. We have companies such as Rexwood Products and Neelon Casting which are utilizing these particular programs, and they are really starting to progress.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr Wildman: I have a question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Despite the importance of agriculture to Ontario’s economy and the fact that farm debt has reached crisis proportions in this province, the Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program is coming to an end at the very time the federal government is increasing interest rates.
Can the minister explain why there was no mention at all of agriculture in the recent throne speech? Why does his government give agriculture such a low priority? Why has the government not announced an interest rate reduction rate program for farmers as a successor to the OFFIRR program?
Hon Mr Riddell: As the honourable member knows, the throne speech set the framework for the government’s agenda for this session and the programs of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food are consistent and supportive of the overall goal as announced in the throne speech.
There are three main points in the throne speech that apply to the agriculture and food industry: (1) economic development: pursuing new markets and supporting the growth of Ontario-based industries as they compete in the global economy; (2) promoting healthier life-styles: the production of safe, quality food products is an essential element of the preventive health strategy; (3) leadership in environmental protection: we will continue to show leadership to ensure the quality of our air, water and food.
Now, Mr Speaker, you cannot tell me that there is no mention in the throne speech of agriculture and food when it fits into the framework as announced in the throne speech.
Mr Wildman: To follow the minister’s logic, all of us eat and, therefore, we are involved in agriculture. Does the minister not agree that for every one per cent increase in the interest rates, we add about $9.5 million to farm debt liabilities in this province? If that is the case, does he not recognize that like Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan, Ontario should have a substantial presence in the agriculture credit market and we should be establishing a program as a successor to OFFIRR? When will he announce it?
Hon Mr Riddell: I have always contended that the responsibility for credit, whether it be long-term, intermediate or short-term credit, is that of the federal government. We were hoping that the Farm Credit Corp would come out with a brand-new face and that the federal government would face up to the real challenges that lie ahead of the farmers.
We have other programs in place that will assist the farmers in this province. We will continue to implement these programs and to come out with new initiatives, but still, again, it is the responsibility of the federal government, as far as I am concerned, to look after the credit needs of farmers.
Hopefully, Mr Mazankowski will come out with a new face to the Farm Credit Corp which will address those needs. However, if interest rates continue to go up, commodity prices take a turn and come down and we are in the same situation as we were in the early 1980s, then I am going to have to look at what may need to be done at that time. We are not quite at that position yet.
TORONTO AREA TRANSPORTATION
Mr Cousens: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation. Last year, some 12 months ago, his ministry released this document, Transportation Directions for the Greater Toronto Area. One of the principles that he stated in that document was to reduce congestion in the short term.
In that year congestion became far worse in the greater Toronto area. More and more people are standing on GO trains, are crowded on the platforms and crowding into Toronto Transit Commission vehicles; and more and more people are finding the traffic on the Don Valley Parkway, the Gardiner Expressway, Highway 401 and all the routes coming in and out of Metropolitan Toronto more congested.
Inasmuch as one of the principles that the minister stated was that he was going to do something to reduce congestion in the short term, what has he done in the last year to reduce congestion in and around the greater Toronto area?
Hon Mr Fulton: I welcome my friend’s question. He clearly is reading his preparation for question period and not taking a look at what is in fact going on out there. One of the difficulties is coping with the rapid growth of Toronto and the greater Toronto area which is often created because of the very buoyant economy that this government has helped foster and maintain in this province.
The member will be aware of a number of transit improvements -- some, by the way, were recently announced as starting in June and going up to Richmond Hill, which I believe is either part of or adjacent to his very riding, but perhaps he was aware of that -- and there are many others.
The very significant increases in ridership with GO Transit, with the TTC and with other transit systems around the regions, indicate very strongly the efforts that we are putting forward to bring new riders on to transit operations and get them off the road where possible.
Mr Cousens: The greatest number of people who are coming in and out of Metropolitan Toronto are feeling that congestion. It is becoming far worse than anyone could have imagined even several years ago. It is obvious that the ministry has no plan, no vision at all and no investment. The minister did not even mention the whole subject in the speech from the throne.
The fact of the matter is that there needs to be something done to address the greater problems around Toronto that deal with the congestion of traffic and the movement of people. What does the ministry plan to do to start solving the problem instead of just dealing with the symptoms?
Hon Mr Fulton: I find the member’s position here today in total contradiction to his statement in this House the other day, wherein he is opposed to the east Metro transportation corridor which is designed to help relieve Markham, his home and his riding, of some of the problems we have just identified.
Clearly he is not aware of the work that has been completed and continues on Highway 404, the work that is starting in June on Highway 401 to the collector system east, which will serve those people coming in from Markham. He is very much not aware of the many initiatives that have taken place both in rapid transit and in roadbuilding. I would offer him the opportunity of walking him through those documents.
Mr Cousens: Talk to the commuters, Ed. They are not very happy.
Mr Fleet: My question is for the Minister of Energy. He is undoubtedly aware of the recent rather controversial experiments conducted by Pons and Fleischmann in Utah, known as cold fusion. Cold fusion uses heavy water as a fuel to create, at room temperature and with a relatively simple technology, a source of energy which is virtually waste-free. This has profound implications both for economical power generation and for a cleaner environment.
Are there any similar experiments being conducted in Ontario both to confirm the results of the Utah experiment and to ensure that Ontario will share in the benefits of this quite dramatic new advance?
Hon Mr Wong: First of all, I thank the honourable member for his question. I know the member for High Park-Swansea is very interested not only in energy but in the environmental aspects.
The prospect of cold fusion is indeed very exciting, as the member indicated it could be. There are experiments going on all over the world, and I am pleased to indicate that right here in downtown Toronto there happens to be one such experiment. which coincidentally is in my riding, the riding of Fort York.
The important thing here is that scientists from all over the world, whether they are particle physicists or electrochemists, are trying to determine, first, whether or not the fusion process is really at work here. That is one question that is being addressed in this particular experiment in Ontario.
A second question that has to be addressed is, will this be an environmentally benign potential source of energy? Third, of course, if it turns out that this does work, then people will be asking, what would the cost really be to put in a major power plant?
Mr Fleet: The prospect of an almost limitless, economical and environmentally safe source of energy is extremely tantalizing. Is there any reliable information at this stage which would indicate when and if cold fusion might be available to help all of us meet the energy needs here in Ontario?
Hon Mr Wong: I think the answer is that the scientific jury is still out. We do not have conclusive information or evidence yet that cold fusion does work.
I wish to answer the second part of the honourable member’s question with respect to Ontario’s future and indicate that we will be considering the total mix of supply and demand options and we will certainly be interested in the outcome of the research on cold fusion.
I can assure the honourable member that when the time comes we will be looking at all the options to make sure Ontario has reliable, safe and secure supplies of electricity and that, wherever we produce it, our resources are used in an environmentally sound manner.
PROTECTION FOR HOME BUYERS
Mr Breaugh: I have a question for the Minister of Housing concerning the preselling of some condominiums at a project in North York known as Concorde Place, located at Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue.
Can the minister explain why neither her ministry nor the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations has done anything for those people who, in good faith, thought they had finally found an affordable house in Metropolitan Toronto and had gone through the proper buying procedure, thought they had in fact bought a condominium in North York at a reasonable rate and found out that there was no condominium for them because the proper zoning had not yet been obtained? Can she explain to them why neither one of the two ministries nor this whole government could do anything to stop that ripoff of those people who thought they had finally bought their own home?
Hon Ms Hošek: I am, of course, very concerned about the fact that people do not have the kinds of choices to buy housing that they can afford that all of us would like them to have. But in the case that the member is talking about, the issue had to do with the municipality allowing the building to go forward. It is the municipality that made the decision that it was not prepared to create the conditions within which that building could go forward, and I believe the problem is really located there.
My concern, through the land use policy process we have initiated, is to make sure that municipalities do take some responsibility to make sure that in designated neighbourhoods and all over the entire new development process, housing that is affordable to people, lower-cost housing, housing that people can manage to buy, will be built in much greater quantity all over the province. That requires municipalities to designate the ways in which they are going to meet the affordability guideline of 25 per cent. We are beginning to make some progress in that in various municipalities in the province.
I am, of course, saddened for anyone who was in a position where they thought they had such housing, only to have that taken away from them by a decision of the municipality.
Mr Breaugh: It is fine for the minister to blame the municipality involved, but her ministry and the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations both were made aware that these units were presold and that there was not the required zoning already in place.
How does she explain to people that even though the Consumers’ Association of Canada, for example, has made it clear that it does not believe preselling is a reasonable way to proceed with the development of these projects, her government sat around and allowed the practice to continue, did not even require the developer to tell people that the required zonings were not obtained yet, that in fact people were buying dreams that were nothing but pieces of paper? Her ministry was aware of it and she did nothing about it. How can she continue to make pious speeches about affordable housing and do nothing about these individuals?
Hon Ms Hošek: The member opposite is very knowledgeable about housing issues. He knows that the entire question of how condominiums are financed and how consumers are protected in this area is one of the areas the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations works on, but he should also know that the work of this ministry and the work of this province is much more specific than mere piety. He knows we have walked around this province and talked with the municipalities, including the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Indeed, some of his friends have been present at some of those meetings; I believe he does have some friends.
He knows we have talked with mayors, with regional councils, and he knows very well that we have been working actively to increase the supply of lower-cost housing all over the province. That is the commitment we have made and have acted on and will continue to act on in a framework policy which will have an impact on all the housing that is built in the province.
As for the question of presold condominiums and the way in which consumers are treated, I would recommend that he talk to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr Wrye).
Mrs Cunningham: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. In his April newsletter, he stated, with respect to the Social Assistance Review Committee report Transitions, “A comprehensive consultation process, which included representatives from other levels of government as well as a number of interested agencies and to organizations, was completed at the end of February, and a response to those meetings will be forthcoming in the spring in the government’s budget announcement.”
I would like to know specifically what groups, agencies and levels of government the minister has consulted with.
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable member will be aware of the fact that during the months of February and into early March I met with 16 provincial umbrella groups from all across Ontario, representing, I would suggest, by far the majority of groups on which this would impact either directly or through their clients; for example, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Federation of Labour, a number of church groups, the native chiefs’ organization -- the list goes on. I cannot take it all from memory, but I can certainly get it for the honourable member and I can get her the dates. I can also get her the messages they left with us. That was the one level in Ontario. Of course, we are getting all kinds of individual submissions from people across the province.
Second, I met with the directors of income maintenance from all the provinces of Canada. They, in turn, had a chance to look at this document before they came and I got some feedback from them. The general impression from them was that it was a good document, it was as good as anything they had seen anywhere and they were going back to their individual jurisdictions.
I have also met with two representatives from the Department of National Health and Welfare, also in the income maintenance branch, and got the same response from them. More recently, I had a chance to meet with the minister himself --
The Speaker: Order. I think that is enough response. There might be a supplementary out of that.
Mrs Cunningham: Of course, there is a supplementary out of that. I appreciate the minister’s response and I now understand why there is some concern out there with the groups that are going to be responsible for the implementation of the Social Assistance Review Committee. It seems to me that, at this point in time, he just has not had the opportunity to meet with the municipalities.
I am now talking about the municipalities that will have to, in fact, implement very specific recommendations and with whom, I would expect, the minister would be consulting around the costing. I am now talking about shelter allowances, more benefits for children and very specific intricate parts for costing.
Would the minister please advise us as to when these municipalities can expect to hear from him and have input to the process, so that everyone will understand exactly how much money is involved?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I met specifically with the municipal organization in northwestern Ontario and the municipal organization in northeastern Ontario, as very distinct groups, and with the income maintenance subcommittee of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. As a matter of fact, the chairman of AMO, the mayor of Belleville I believe it is, was present at that meeting.
So we have met very specifically with the municipalities and shared with them some of the cost implications to which the honourable member has just referred. In addition to that, the honourable member will be aware of the fact that there is an ongoing meeting between staff of my ministry and a representative group of AMO, looking at a whole range of costing implications and program responsibility between the municipalities and the province.
The income maintenance program is part of that. There have been fairly significant detailed meetings between those two levels of government with respect to the Social Assistance Review Committee.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr Dietsch: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. On 24 January the minister introduced Bill 208, An Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Following the bill’s introduction, several members of the business community expressed strong concerns with specific provisions of the bill, specifically the role of the new Occupational Health and Safety Agency.
I would like to ask the minister to explain why he feels this province is in need of such a body, given that the current system of occupational health and safety in Ontario is among the best in this country.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I think that is a very good question from the member for St. Catharines-Brock. I should point out, in a preliminary way, that there are two major themes found in Bill 208. The first, of course, is to enhance worker participation in the ongoing management of health and safety in workplaces all across the province.
The second, and equally important, is that the bill puts a very heavy emphasis on education and training for the workplace parties to ensure that internal responsibility system, which is the basis for the very good system we have in Ontario, is strengthened in order to ensure that we have a strong system of education and training in the area of occupational health and safety.
There are no people more effectively placed to develop that training system than the workplace parties themselves: employers, workers and their representatives, working together on a province-wide basis to develop the kind of training we need to ensure we continue to have a system that is second to none on the North American continent.
In order to do that, one needs an agency, a provincial body where employers’ and workers’ representatives can come together and develop just that sort of system.
Mr Dietsch: By way of supplementary, the minister seems to set out that this is going to be a co-ordinating function for this agency. What then can we expect the fate of the current safety associations to be following the development of this agency? Is this important, sector-by-sector approach to be maintained? What will the role be under the new system proposed under Bill 208?
Hon Mr Sorbara: My friend the member for St. Catharines-Brock refers obviously to the safety associations which are currently funded under the worker compensation system and under the authority of the Occupational Health and Safety Education Authority within the Workers’ Compensation Board.
We felt it was inappropriate to have those associations work on the compensation side rather than on the regulatory side. Indeed, those associations, under the agency, will become front and centre in the development of training and education and the delivery of training and education under the work that the agency will do.
Far from disappearing or taking a secondary role, I want to tell my friend that the safety associations like the Industrial Accident Prevention Association of Ontario, the Construction Safety Association of Ontario and the others will become key players in ensuring in Ontario that we are doing everything humanly possible to make sure we have minimized risk to life and limb in the workplace.
Mr Allen: I have a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services. He has just rehearsed for us some of the people and institutions whom he has consulted with respect to the implementation of the Social Assistance Review Committee report, and yet those of us reading the throne speech see no reference to the Social Assistance Review Committee, no reference to Judge Thomson, no reference to Transitions.
We have a miscellaneous group of proposals. Apparently the ministry and the government have abandoned any comprehensive framework in order to implement social assistance reforms. Can the minister comment for us upon that obvious absence of a plan and framework? He was asked to provide, within six months, a comprehensive response, an indication of where the government was going with a view to SARC. He failed to do that. We now have the throne speech; no direction. What is going on?
The Speaker: Thank you. The question has been asked.
Hon Mr Sweeney: I remind my honourable friend that when George Thomson and his committee submitted their report to me and included in that a letter of transmittal, they said very clearly in the last paragraph of that letter of transmittal, if I can paraphrase, “We are handing this to you now and we trust that it will be helpful when you, as a ministry and as a government, move forward to make the changes that you feel are appropriate in the system.”
I translate that clearly in saying that the committee says: “We have done our job. It is now up to you as a government to take our recommendations and design your system.” I do not think the committee, at any time, expected that we would simply take its design and implement it from A to Z. Let me make that point very clear.
It is now our responsibility. It is no longer the Thomson structure or the Transitions structure or the SARC structure, It is the responsibility of this government and this ministry to implement a change, and we are going to do that.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Sweeney: That being said --
The Speaker: Thank you. Order. Perhaps the minister can continue after a supplementary.
Mr Allen: It is quite obvious that there is now no plan. There is now no design. There is a report out there that the minister has on a shelf somewhere, and that is the old story. What we have now are some miscellaneous proposals, for example, around a slogan of “welfare cheques to paycheques,” and yet there is not even one single step in the proposals to make certain that the working poor in this province have the resources to live on, so that when they move off welfare they will have a paycheque they can live on.
When is the minister going to complete the equation? When is he going to do something that makes some sense in terms of his responses for the slogan, let alone the large design of Thomson himself?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I would have imagined that the honourable member would realize he is being just a little bit premature. He realizes that the intent of the throne speech is to give a sense of direction, and that was clearly in the throne speech. If he looks at the particular references in the throne speech, he will notice that they were the heart and soul of the first phase of that.
The honourable member knows himself that even the recommendations in Thomson’s report with respect to subsidization to the working poor were contained in phases 3 and 4, and he knows himself that they can only be carried out in consultation with the other level of government, and I have indicated that has already started.
I would tell the honourable member that when he hears the budget speech and when he hears my further extrapolation of that two or three days afterwards, he will see the structure that we are talking about. It is there.
PROPOSED NEUTRINO OBSERVATORY
Mr Harris: I have a question of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. On 26 January 1989, the Premier (Mr Peterson) was asked about his plans to fund the Sudbury neutrino project. At that time, to the amazement of the Canadian scientific community and to the amazement of the international scientific community, in spite of the fact that the Premier had signed correspondence back and forth on the project and in spite of the fact that he chairs the Premier’s Council on technology, the Premier indicated that he was not even aware of the project.
I would ask the minister if the government has now done its homework and does this government plan to fund its small share of the Sudbury neutrino project?
Hon Mr Kwinter: For those members who are not aware of the issue, neutrinos are something that scientists find very interesting in that you cannot see them, you cannot measure them and you have to take them on faith.
Anyway, the way they want to do it is to use a mine shaft up in Sudbury, put heavy water in it and they feel that they can then see neutrinos as they go through. There is some controversy as to what the industrial spinoffs are going to be for Sudbury. There is no question as to the scientific merit.
We are looking at it to see whether or not this is something that we, as a province, should be investing in. That decision has not yet been taken, but I can tell the honourable member that we are very, very actively looking at it. I have had several representations made to me by members of the local governments in Sudbury plus the scientific community. It is something we are looking at very carefully. We hope to make a decision relatively soon.
Mr Harris: Neutrinos are a lot like Liberals: you cannot see them or hear them, but something right back here lets you know they are around.
The Premier himself has been promising since 1985 to support and even fast-track scientific and technological projects that would put Ontario at the forefront. The Sudbury neutrino project has worldwide scientific recognition and support. It is especially important considering the recent developments in fusion experimentation. All funding is in place for this major initiative -- federal, municipal, private and international. The only thing holding up the project is the Premier and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Harris: I would ask the minister why this government is indeed not leading the way instead of holding up this project and threatening by its delay the very fact that it is going to be able to go ahead at all?
Hon Mr Kwinter: I think members will find that the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris) may not be quite right about the federal funding for this project.
Second, I think he will find that the strategy of this government is to provide funding -- that letter from the feds that the member is holding up is an expression of interest but no commitment. The situation is such that we want to make sure there is industrial spinoff. We have not been convinced to date that there will be any industrial spinoff. It will be an interesting experiment; it will get a great deal of credit in the scientific community; but whether it will really do anything for northern Ontario other than investing about $7 million --
Mr Harris: We are excited about the spinoffs.
That is what everybody is excited about.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Kwinter: But there are no spinoffs other than a scientific one, and that is why we are looking at it.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
COURTS OF JUSTICE AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Hon Mr Scott moved first reading of Bill 2, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Scott: This and the following bill I will introduce are the bills I made reference to in statements in the House this afternoon.
COURT REFORM STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Hon Mr Scott moved first reading of Bill 3, An Act to amend certain Statutes of Ontario consequent upon Amendments to the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
Motion agreed to.
EDUCATION AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Hon Mr Ward moved first reading of Bill 5, An Act to amend the Education Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Ward: This bill provides the minister with the power to make regulations to require boards of education to establish and operate programs in languages other than French and English.
SOUTH SIMCOE RAILWAY HERITAGE ACT, 1989
Mr McCague moved first reading of Bill Pr21, An Act respecting South Simcoe Railway Heritage Corporation.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for an address in reply to the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
Mr B. Rae: I very much appreciate the chance to lead off this debate on behalf of the official opposition. This of course not only gives me an opportunity to set out our criticisms of the government’s plans and agenda, but also gives me an opportunity to set out the policies and views of the New Democratic Party and of the movement we represent across this province.
The period between our two sessions has been a time for reflection and activity on behalf of the New Democratic Party. We have been very actively involved as a party in leading the fight to make Ontario a truly just and fair place.
I want to start by commending to the members of the House the example of my colleague the member for Hamilton West (Mr Allen) who walked and marched from Sudbury, Windsor and Ottawa, over 200 miles in the space of time, in a really historic effort to convince this government and indeed the whole people of the province that it was time for this province to come to terms with the inequality and the poverty in our midst.
It was also a chance for several of my colleagues and myself to travel to the far north of this province to several native communities. At the end of my remarks I will be reflecting on that trip and the impact it had personally on me and the impact it has had on our party and on the thinking of our caucus and party when it comes to discussing some of these broader issues.
It has also been a time for some intellectual reflection, a rather dangerous pastime for politicians and certainly for political leaders, but I will be speaking, again towards the end of my remarks, in a way that is perhaps a little more reflective than members are used to, on some of my views about the future of the democratic socialist movement in this province, because I think it is time for us to take stock about where we are going as a party in Ontario and about how we grow as a party in Ontario and how the Ontario social democratic movement has an historic role to play and how we can best play that role.
Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I will spend some time in setting that out as a refreshing contrast to the views of the government that have been expressed very clearly by the Premier (Mr Peterson) in a number of speeches and indeed in the speech from the throne itself.
This throne speech gives us a chance to take stock. It is a little artificial, I must confess, having this discussion and this debate in the absence of a budget. Nevertheless, some economic and social realities of our province are clear enough.
I want to say by way of introduction that I find the structure of these debates a little artificial. You have a throne speech that sets out, allegedly, the plans of the government, but it does not set them out in any degree of clarity or particularity. It does not tell us exactly what they are going to do or how they are going to do it, and indeed does not tell us how they are going to pay for it. That is something we have to wait for in a budget.
I can say to you, Mr Speaker, that I find the whole notion of throne speeches that set out in propagandistic terms the overall views and philosophy of the government -- I must confess I find that exercise more than a trifle artificial, more than a trifle propagandistic because it has so little to do with the lives of people, and if I might say so it has so little to do with the work we actually engage in here.
We are now engaged in a general debate that will take several days and will give members an opportunity to speak out on issues that matter to them and to send those speeches to their constituents so they will know what their member is thinking and doing. I cannot help but think that in a modern, efficient government, our approach would be to say, “Let’s have a budget that sets out very clearly what the government is going to do and how it is going to pay for it, and let us focus our real attention in terms of debate in this chamber on how this government and this Legislature is going to deal with the problems of our time, with the challenges of Ontario.” That is the approach I will be taking.
Let us first of all consider the economic framework in which we find ourselves as a province. First, we have been the beneficiaries -- none of us should forget this, certainly not the government -- of an extraordinarily long economic recovery. It has lasted since the recession of 1981-82 and it is the longest and deepest recovery and period of economic growth since the Second World War.
I simply want to say that it is impossible to imagine the work or life of this government, indeed the political success of the Liberal Party since 1985, without understanding and appreciating that its entire structure is based on this period of boom that has been with us for so long.
More people are working in Ontario today than ever before in our history. The rate of participation by men and by women in the labour force is higher than it has ever been in our history. Jobs are not that well-paid in many instances. There are many workers who are forced to work part-time who would rather be working full-time, and that is a fact of life in Ontario. Nevertheless, it must be said that more people are working, more people are employed, and I might add more people are paying taxes and supplying that revenue to the provincial government than at any time in our history.
Recent immigration into Ontario has been at an all-time high from other parts of Canada and from around the world, especially into the area now known in government parlance and in shorthand terms as the GTA, the greater Toronto area, a term I dare say we will be hearing a lot more of in the days and months ahead. I cite these facts not because they are particularly startling or terribly novel or new, but because unless we understand some of this basic economic framework for the discussion today, we will not really understand how badly this government has been doing in handling the extraordinary advantages, if I may put it that way, the incredible windfall it has had since it took political office, first in 1985 and again in 1987. This boom, this economic wave, has carried the Peterson government with it.
I once heard the Premier say in a conversation at which I was present, “You know, since I’ve got here we’ve been rolling in money.” That was the classic expression, I might say, of Ontario corporate liberalism.
There they are, the members of the government, knowing full well in all their full complacency that all they had to do was basically sit on their duffs and count the money as it came in and, unimaginatively perhaps, raise taxes, the sales tax one year by one point or the income tax generally across the board, or make some adjustments here and there in terms of how much people would have to pay. Basically, they have seen the people of this province as a kind of cash cow they could milk steadily from year to year. They could simply live off that milk; indeed, off that cream.
Liberalism as it has been practised in this province -- I am referring, of course, to liberalism with a very big L -- is good at packaging. There is no denying that. It is good at presentation. The speech from the throne is a good example of that.
I think we can all imagine the discussions that took place in the Liberal Party after what was obviously a disastrous session last time, where it clearly lost its way and lost its direction. Even a phone call from Molson’s might have taken place. There might have been a phone call from Molson’s, an expression of nostalgia, just a way of keeping in touch, just to say hello, in which the conversation I would imagine in my mind would be: “How can we get this thing back on the rails? How can we convince the public and the media, indeed even the media, which either want or do not want to believe we really are in charge of things? How can we get on top of things?”
We have seen a couple of examples of what to do. We had the famous “L” speech in Boston, a tremendous place to talk about all the things the Liberal Party of Ontario wants to do. We had the speech to the Liberal convention in Hamilton, marred perhaps by the presence of some 23,000 teachers demonstrating against the Peterson government, but why let a few thousand teachers get in the way of the general expression of philosophy the Premier wanted to give?
We have the command of the art of rhetoric, something the rest of us are having to learn at this stage in our political careers, the meaningful visual, the subtle manipulation of opinion, the subtle manipulation of impression, the creation of an impression, the creation of a political artifice. This is what “Liberalism” is. This is what it stands for and this is what it has become so decidedly in this province.
I am not just saying this. I could quote editorials from virtually every newspaper across the province, which now recognize it.
The accord we signed with the Liberal Party in 1985 gave them the agenda, and that booming economy I talked about gave them the means and the ability to simply handle that agenda in the two-year period. But since 1987, when I think of this government I am reminded of nothing more than surfers on the waves of prosperity. I am reminded of those beach movies, Endless Summer --
Mr Reville: Surf City here we come.
Mr B. Rae: My colleague the member for Riverdale (Mr Reville) knows them all. I am having to go more by memory than he is. He takes them out at the video store regularly.
Mr Laughren: Where the Boys Are.
Mr B. Rae: Where the Boys Are. I think not of Endless Summer; I think of Endless Slumber. I think of the band I remember from my teenage days, Freddy and the Drifters; I think of David and the Drifters.
The Liberals had an image problem, but it was not an image problem that came from the sky; it was an image problem that came from the reality of a government that had no sense of direction, no sense of passion, no sense of priority and no sense of where it wanted to go.
I think I can say without giving away any confidences, and I can assure those people who have talked to me I will not be betraying them by name, that all of us on this side have been rather amazed in the last few months -- I certainly have -- by the sense one gets from talking to cabinet members, all of whom we know in this strange Titanic we call the Legislative Assembly -- all of us know people we chat with and talk about -- the sense of carping, the sense of criticism, the sense of wonder what the government was really all about, the sense that power has accumulated around the Premier’s office in a way that members of the cabinet, loyal members of the Liberal Party for years and years in opposition, long before the Red Sea parted, who were there for such a long time have a feeling of frustration that they really are not in a position where their views are taken seriously.
I can remember a function I attended where I sat next to a deputy minister of some consider-able prominence. As the evening progressed, not early on but later on in the evening, he said to me in a mood of some openness, in a spirit of --
Mrs Grier: Conviviality.
Mr B. Rae: -- true conviviality, which one sometimes takes on in these evenings -- even I in my rather dour and puritanical way managed to enjoy myself as well – “You know what you guys are saying about these guys having no direction?” I said, “Yes, I do know what we’re saying,” I did not know what was coming next. I thought maybe he would say that was quite unfair or that the government really did have an agenda, that it was just it had not told us about it yet and when it did it would really be something. He said: “Well, you don’t know the half of it. These guys don’t have a clue what they’re doing and where they’re going.”
Mr Callahan: He will soon be looking for a job.
Mr B. Rae: The member says he is looking for a job. I can assure the member from Brampton South that his secrets are safe with me. If there is a similar confession that seeks to come forward from this group. I will hear it without ever letting anyone know the source; the story yes, not the source.
We had that remarkable report from the management consultant for which thousands were paid; I do not know by whom. The consultant managed to get a number of confessions. They must have been in a confessional mood because a number of people said: “This government is adrift. All the power is centred in the Premier’s office. They don’t know where they’re going.” And of course, “Nothing’s been the same since Hershell left.” We all understand that and the sense of loss and the sense of directionlessness that is frequently there when the driver is not there, but there you are.
There are problems of prosperity we face in this province. There are also problems, and real problems, of poverty. There are what the Premier himself has described as sweet headaches and there are just plain old headaches. Let me list some of these, because I think in order to understand the inadequacy of this throne speech and how it really is simply another example of Liberal packaging, one has to come to terms with the province in which we live, warts and all.
One has to come to terms with its good parts, which I tried to describe and will continue to describe in a very positive way because it is, when one thinks of it, an extraordinary place to live, a wonderful place to live.
But it is also a place that is our home and one we have a responsibility to improve and make a better place. With a boom, with this extraordinary expansion of economic growth, which we see visibly driving down, particularly in this city but indeed in many other cities as well: the incredible number of cranes and construction sites, the extraordinary opulence, the number of restaurants and fancy stores, the incredible number of Jaguars and BMWs that one sees on the street; all the very visible signs of a most extraordinary kind of affluence; the magazines that are distributed to many people’s homes, that are contained in the Globe and Mail, the description of where you can travel, how you can spend your discretionary income; all the incredible accoutrements of this extraordinary affluence.
We have as well the triumph of those who see the economy as a place to make a killing and not just to make a living. It is in that contrast that we see some of the beginning of the turning of the worm in the economic system in which we live. It is the extraordinary expansion, not simply of affluence but of quick-buck artists; the extraordinary expansion of speculation, pure and simple; the statement in all the forms of advertising which surround us, the appeals to greed, the appeals to pure and utter self-interest; the extraordinary attention and praise which our culture and the expressions of our culture give to those who are merely powerful, to those who are merely successful, to those who have achieved monopolies of land or monopolies of money, those who see government now as something to be manipulated and those who see politics as something to be bought.
These are hard words, but this is the Ontario in which we now live. Look at the fact that the whole region surrounding Metropolitan Toronto has been the area of the greatest growth in Canada and in fact one of the main areas of growth in all of North America. Think of how much power is now accumulating in the hands of three or four individuals and the hundreds of companies which they hold in various ways, shapes and forms. Think of the way in which these people clearly see government as something which they can manipulate.
As we see this triumph of private power, of private corporate greed, think of what it means in terms of the growing imbalance between rich and poor, between the statistics, which I will not cite, because they are so overwhelming -- I will simply say the evidence from Canada and the United States is quite astonishing. The evidence is parallel, and it is clear that since the early 1980s, and particularly in the last few years, there has been a growing disparity between rich and poor; there has been a redistribution of wealth away from lower- and middle-income people towards higher-income people, and that pattern has been reinforced by federal and provincial budgets.
In addition to that, there is a growing imbalance between regions. There are many members here who come into this community from outside Metropolitan Toronto. Metro Toronto has been my home since 1966, so I think of it as the city that is my home. As Leader of the Opposition, I have a chance to travel all around the province. The affluence which we see on these streets, on Bloor Street, on Yonge Street, is not shared. It is not typical of what is happening in Napanee or Kingston or Brockville or even Ottawa; it is not typical of what is happening in Pembroke or Renfrew; it is not typical of Sudbury, it is not typical entirely of Kitchener or of Cambridge, though there has been growth and booming times in these communities.
But there is surely something very wrong, simply in terms of the way the Ontario family sees itself and the way in which our economy functions, when so much power and so much activity and so much growth is in one area and hardly any is in some others. There will be many who will say: “What are you going to do? What kind of socialism are you going to impose on us?” I will be discussing those policies and what we can do, but I do want to say that we must find policies for development which share wealth equally throughout this province.
The absence of any discussion of the extraordinary regional imbalances and the extraordinary imbalances between rich and poor people in our society is an extraordinary absence in this document. I might add, as the leader of the party in Ontario -- and the Premier will be very much aware of this -- the fact that so much growth has been focused in Ontario, and in this part of Ontario, has created a resentment towards Toronto in other parts of Ontario and indeed in other parts of Canada. It is not a new phenomenon: Hogtown has been seen and known as Hogtown for a long time. But this sense of resentment and of imbalance has got to be something that governments deal with and face up to.
We can only look at what has happened in Margaret Thatcher’s England. Consider for a moment the home of Thatcherism. Anybody who travels to England, and I used to live there as a student and travelled widely around the country at that time -- consider the incredible imbalance between what is happening in the London area and south of London and the whole masses of the area in northern England where there is unemployment at 10, 12, 15, 20, 25 per cent.
Whole cities have been basically devastated and allowed to collapse. We are now seeing in tragic terms the implications of that collapse in literal terms: the football stadia, railways and the basic infrastructure of Thatcherite England have collapsed, killing thousands of people. Let no one say there is no connection between Thatcherism, the failure to support public institutions and the public good and the failure to build up a sense of community right across that country, and the events that have taken place there.
But let’s focus right here at home. The pressures on family have been extraordinary and, I think, increased by what this government has done. The debate that we had on Sunday shopping was not really a debate about blue laws or about what a 19th-century province should be like. In my view, the debate about Sunday shopping was about family, about pressures on the working family and about how much we wanted to do and could do for them.
The statistics are overpowering and the reality is overpowering: the number of women who are working part-time in low-paying jobs. Why? Because they have no other option. They would rather be working full-time. They would rather be working in a job that paid well, but the only jobs that are available are low-paying jobs with no pensions or benefits.
We have pressures on the working family when the parents are working 45, 50 and 55 hours a week. We have pressures on the working family when low pay becomes the order of the day, when there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who are living below the poverty line in this province -- not because they are on welfare, and this is something we can get into when we talk about the implementation of the Thomson report.
Poverty is not a function simply of the welfare system, and dealing with poverty is not going to be handled by simply reforming the welfare system. Poverty is a function of the economy in which we live; the structure is designed in such a way as to keep people poor. Let us be under no illusions about that.
Housing, shelter: a basic social right. What has happened to housing and shelter under the Liberal government? Well, I have some statistics, some very recent ones in terms of what has happened to housing prices: in Barrie, up 154 per cent since 1985; in Brantford, up 133 per cent since 1985; in Cambridge, up 125 per cent, and in Guelph, up 108 per cent. One could go on and in Muskoka -- I wonder why -- we are not simply talking about housing, we are talking about cottages: 213 per cent in four years. The average for Ontario is 126.6 per cent. The average price of a home in Ontario in 1985, when this government took office, was $85,000. The average price of a house today in Ontario, in March 1989, is $192,000.
Nobody’s income has gone up that much. Well, I should not say no one’s income has gone up that much. Some people’s income has gone up that much: executive pay, in some instances, has gone up that much. If we read the Financial Post and the Financial Times carefully, we will see how much executive pay and corporate pay has gone up. Perhaps members who reflect on their own situations might look more aggressively at that, because it is remarkable what has happened in executive pay since 1985. The average family, the average working family that we all know and see in our homes and see in our streets and talk to every day, does not have incomes that have gone up by 126 per cent in four years.
When we have the average price of a home now in Toronto at $277,000, when we have the average price of a home in Barrie at $169,000, something has gone very wrong. There is something missing from the sense of purpose and direction in this province and there is certainly something missing when it comes to fairness.
We are seeing more and more signs of a breakdown in the infrastructure of this province, more and more signs of the inadequacy of roads, the inadequacy of sewers, the fact that things we previously took for granted are beginning to not work very well.
Earlier on, the member for Markham (Mr Cousens) expressed his concern about traffic. I suppose one would say that perhaps this is simply a fact of life and that we should be thinking about more elevated things than simply traffic in the Legislature of Ontario, but it is an enormous problem.
There is a sense of an increasing unlivability about our urban life in particular, a sense that the communities are simply not as good, as rich, as warm, as livable as they once were. Certainly that is the sense that most people living in this city have, but I do not think it is confined only to this city.
We have some severe problems in the field of education. The Premier wants to be known as the education Premier, just as George Bush wants to be known as the education President, and as I watch the Premier, the parallels with Mr Bush grow and grow, although he has not even got 93 points of light over there.
Come on, laugh it up, guys.
Mr B. Rae: That’s better.
When we compare the deficit in supply with the growth in demand, my colleague the member for Scarborough West (Mr R. F. Johnston) has documented that we now have a net teacher shortage of nearly 6,000. This is a situation which we can document every day of the week by simply opening up the classifieds of our Globe and Mail or our Star and having a look at the number of boards of education that are advertising, not only all over Ontario but all over Canada, for teachers.
We have a crisis in our health care system. It is one that has been seen and felt by many of us in this House. It has been demonstrated again today by the questions that have been asked by my colleague the member for Riverdale on the survival of home care and home care services by the Victorian Order of Nurses. It is experienced by families who have to undergo delays of months and months waiting for important surgery that is not elective but in fact is necessary and required in order to protect their health.
This crisis in health care is also experienced -- and I think this perhaps speaks as much as anything to the hypocrisy of this government, although it talks a good game about prevention and about wanting to get care into the community -- by families who are faced with a terrible choice of how to care for loved ones when they do not have the means to care for them at home, when the cost of private nursing is literally tens of thousands of dollars a year for people to stay at home and to be nursed properly at home and when the only institutional choices that are available are a chronic care hospital, a nursing home or, in some instances, a rest home of some kind, but the level of care in those institutions is simply appalling and inadequate.
We have this absurd situation where our nursing homes have over 30,000 beds, and we have the government’s own report which says that thousands of those people should not be in those homes, do not need to be there and, in the best of all possible worlds, would not be there. We have hospitals that are filled to capacity with literally thousands of patients who have become chronic care patients and who have nowhere to go.
It has been my experience this last couple of years to spend a great deal of time in hospitals, and I must recount one experience I had. I went by a floor in Mount Sinai Hospital and there was a birthday party going on. Somebody recognized me going by and said, “Come on in, Bob.” I went in and said congratulations on the birthday. One candle was on the birthday cake and I said, “What exactly are we celebrating?” The family said, “We’re celebrating our mother’s first year in the hospital and her first year waiting to get into a nursing home.”
That is the absurdity of where we are right now in this province. The government’s answer to this has been all the rhetoric about care at home and prevention. The minister gives speeches about how this has to happen. The reality is that we had a battle on the Red Cross when it came to providing homemaker services. The government was chintzy with them and was cheap with them and forced the Red Cross to get in here and canvass and lobby and spend its time, which could have been much better spent providing care in the community. They are doing the same thing with the Victorian Order of Nurses.
This is a government which says that home care is the issue. Let me say this: If home care is the issue, why are the VON and the Red Cross, hardly the most radical or fringe organizations -- these are organizations that have been at the centre of providing care in this province since the 19th century -- having to come to this government and beg for dollars in order to provide a vital and needed service? No explanation.
Finally, we have -- and I think that as Canadians and as citizens of the globe we must see it as the fact that is now surrounding all the other facts, if you will -- this environmental crisis which Ontario shares with every part of this Earth.
We have problems with the quality of our water. People say, “The drinking water is okay.” I can remember, when the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) was in opposition, that every time there was any question as to what was in the water, he was saying. “If there’s even one drop of any of these substances in the water, it’s too much.” Now he comes out and gives the same kind of bureaucratic bafflegab and says, “Well, these are all now at safe levels.” How do we know what is a safe level and when it will be a safe level?
We have problems with air quality. We have communities all over the province -- Toronto last year -- that are affected dramatically by the warming trends, that are affected dramatically by what happens when the air turns literally upside down for a period of time. We have become another Los Angeles in this part of the world. Let’s not pretend that our situation is any better or different from the crisis they face.
This government continues to cut down trees and not replace them with the same impunity as the government of Brazil. They are no better. We all get worked up and excited -- and we should -- about the Brazilian rain forest, but what this government has done in Temagami is every bit as disgraceful as what is happening in the Amazon basin: every bit as bad, every bit as reactionary, every bit as short-sighted and every bit as much an attack on the environment, the quality of our life and the quality of our future.
On agriculture, where is the leadership of this government on something as basic as organic farming? Look at agriculture: when reading the Wall Street Journal or any publication at all, you will find people saying that there are millions to be made in organic farming.
Meryl Streep gives one press conference and it has, I am glad to say, more impact than one by the Minister of the Environment. She gives one press conference and suddenly the consciousness and awareness of people begin to change. People may say that is awfully flip, but it is a reality.
The reality is that we must learn how to grow and produce in this province without destroying the environment. We are not doing it and we are not doing it in a way that any aggressive, effective government could be doing and should be doing in this province.
On energy, my colleagues the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr Charlton) and the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore (Mrs Grier) have expressed, I think as clearly as could possibly be expressed, what really is the agenda of this government.
I have a sense of a total charade. These guys know when and where they are going to go ahead with Darlington. Let’s not fool ourselves. This is well into the planning process. These things have been discussed at cabinet. I am sure; they have certainly been discussed in the ministry. The Premier is certainly involved up to his eyeballs, yet they will continue to say: “Nothing is final yet. No discussions have been held. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. We don’t know when it’s going.”
It is there. The reality is that this government has rejected the route of conservation. It has rejected the route of renewable energy. The Tories rejected it in their budget last week up in Ottawa, and this government has rejected it here, very clearly. Ontario Hydro has done what it has always done. The little barking dog, as we all know, that used to shout “off” has been eaten alive by the talking furnace.
Last month in my statement from my local hydro utility, I had a little leaflet telling me how I could use more energy. I had a leaflet telling me how I had to get out there -- I could buy more; if I did not have an air-conditioner, I should certainly have one -- and how I should be using more and more. Hydro has not changed, and if I may say so, Hydro will not change.
If you want to get serious about conservation, you establish a ministry with responsibility for conservation, you give the authority to deal with conservation to that ministry and you make conservation as economically attractive as you do building another nuclear reactor, which the majority of the people of this province do not want and should not have.
We still have not found a way, and I say this for the record, to dispose of the waste from the nuclear reactors that were built during the Davis government. Would the Premier tell me what kind of responsibility that is to future generations.
The speech last week on the federal budget, which we all listened to at various times -- Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, its different appearances from time to time -- talked about how we owe our children a debt-free future. More than anything else, we owe our children a pollution-free future. Would the Premier tell me what kind of responsible generation it is that says “We have no choice but to build another nuclear power plant” when it has not even now devised a way to handle the waste from the very first plant that was ever built in Ontario? I cannot imagine a more irresponsible thing for a government to do.
I know it will wash its hands and say, “That is a federal responsibility.” Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd no doubt will be privatized as time unfolds and turned into some large Westinghouse-type utility, with the same record of responsibility as Three Mile Island and the Shoreham nuclear plant, the one in Michigan that has cracks in it and all the rest of it.
Mr Wildman: They will run ads on TV for tritium for sale.
Mr B. Rae: They will be selling tritium and they will be trying to make money as best they can. They will turn around and say: “Don’t worry. We have found the magic solution.”
I think it is incredible and the height of irresponsibility on the part of this government to be proceeding as secretly, as privately and as irresponsibly as it has been with respect to this vital question, the future of our energy generation and the question of whether we should have or should get another Darlington nuclear station.
I just want to say to the government House leader, since he is here and his leader is not, we all remember. We remember before David and the Drifters took over. We remember the debates. The member for Kenora (Mr Miclash) is chuckling to himself. He missed the debates when the Liberals were in opposition. He has not seen this particular movie, so we have to describe it for him.
Mr Wildman: He was a Tory then.
Mr B. Rae: He probably had on a blue tie rather than a red tie in those days. There were certainly a lot of northerners who did. The member for Nipissing (Mr Harris) is laughing, but he knows what I am saying. I go to a chamber of commerce in northern Ontario, where I am frequently invited I might say, and I am always astonished at the number of red ties that I see. I say, “Didn’t you fellows used to have blue ones?” They all chuckle and say, “Well, you know, that was in those days.”
When the Leader of the Opposition’s name was David Peterson, he made a commitment to the people of this province that Darlington 1 would never be built. He told the people in the province that Darlington 1 should never have been built, that it was a white elephant, that it was a waste of money, that Hydro was a multiheaded monster out of control. Now he is riding the tiger as Premier of the province, and I suspect, given the standards of political morality which we have come to associate with the Liberal Party of Ontario, he will be discussing it after the next election if, God forbid, he should win.
Garbage: Garbage is perhaps the way in which we bring the environmental crisis to home and to root. The government’s pride is, of course, the blue boxes, which many of us have in front of our houses and many of us do not. I understand that all of Scarborough, for example -- the member is here -- does not have a blue box yet.
Mr Faubert: None of us. Tell it to the city council.
Mr B. Rae: Tell it to the city council, that is right. But what started in Kitchener several years ago has now spread slowly throughout the province. But the Ministry of the Environment has no sense of how much could be recycled, how much is going into these dump sites and what exactly is going into them, what could be done with the material that is going into them and how to reduce the amount that is going in.
The state of Illinois has a law which requires every municipality to have a municipal composting facility which will take care of all the wet garbage that is produced by all the citizens of the municipality.
I know that this Premier likes to give speeches. He goes around in Boston or wherever it may be and says: “We’ve done more on acid rain than anywhere else in the history of civilization. We have the most progressive environmental record since Ghengis Khan.” He goes on and on and on to describe what has happened.
Mr Wildman: World-class pollution.
Mr B. Rae: I am here to say it is not true. To suggest that Ontario is a leader in the environmental field when it comes to garbage and dealing with waste management is completely and utterly false. Ontario is behind. It is behind several states in the United States. It is behind many jurisdictions in western Europe where the level of recycling is, in some cases, well over 50 per cent now and they are aiming for 75 and 80 per cent in the next five years.
What is the timetable of the Minister of the Environment? The very best he can do, not for recycling but for diverting away from a dump site, is 50 per cent by the year 2000. What does that mean? I will tell members what it means.
Mr B. Rae: The member for Kitchener (Mr D. R. Cooke) is happy with that, but I will tell him what it means. It means this government thinks incineration is okay. It means this government has bought the argument that somehow if you build these huge recovery facilities you are really doing the job; when most people in the environmental field feel that that is simply going to mean the generation of more garbage, in order to feed these huge institutions and these huge facilities which will be built up.
The member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr D. S. Cooke) and I took a very interesting trip just two weeks ago looking at garbage, at the communities around Windsor and the tragedy they now face in dealing with this issue. This is a very practical and real problem.
There are literally thousands of tons of garbage dumped in landfill sites which should now be recycled, which could be recycled and which are not being recycled.
I am not suggesting for a moment that Ontario’s problems are unique and I am not suggesting that all of them are the fault of any government. I think there is a certain unreality to many of our discussions and many of the debates which we have in this House, when the sense is that everything that happens is somehow the fault of the government and that no government can be held responsible for them.
It is not the problems that are always the fault of the government, it is how governments deal with them. That is what I want to turn to in a moment. I want to turn to one issue which I touched on in our emergency debate on Wednesday and I want to repeat some comments I made at that time.
There are some problems which are the fault of the government, just some. Here is one: car insurance. If there was ever an example of a field in which the government has had a mandate from the people of this province to get on with it, to take over that industry and to provide a comprehensive plan that is affordable, that is doable, that gives drivers some control over their own lives and does not leave them at the mercy of the insurance industry, it is the car insurance issue.
They have blown it. They had that issue. They have been sitting on it for four years and every step of the way they have blown it at the expense of drivers. There are drivers who are paying $200, $300 and $400 a year more than they need to, have to or should be paying, simply because of the incompetence and the wilful mismanagement of the Peterson government when it comes to car insurance. That is why; not because people say, “It’s the industry” and blah, blah, blah.
We will go through this. We will take it time and time again and show them as clearly as we possibly can. There is no question at all that if this government had wanted to show some leadership, it could have. It had a mandate to do it. It had the will of the people behind it to do it and it did not do it.
Let us look then, if we can, at the throne speech itself. I spent some time in building up to it because, frankly, when one gets there, there is so little there. I referred on opening day to the throne speech as not simply a matter of checking against delivery, which is what we asked people to do in the last session, but a matter now of checking against reality.
Perhaps another way of saying this would be to say that what the Liberals are asking us to do is play the game which my kids play, and which many kids play, which is called “Let’s pretend.” What is the Liberal version of “Let’s pretend”? Listen to the six priorities.
When it comes to the economy, they say, “Let’s pretend that we can discuss the economy as if the federal budget did not exist.” When it comes to education, they say, “Let’s pretend we can discuss education as if the province did not have to pay for it.” When it comes to social assistance, as my colleague the member for Hamilton West demonstrated today in his questions, “Let’s discuss social assistance as if the Thomson commission had not recommended a complete overhaul and as if that did not exist.”
When it comes to policing and race relations, “Let’s pretend as if employment equity was not a commitment going back to 1985 by this Liberal government; and let’s pretend as if there was not a crisis affecting our native people,” because the words “native people” and what is happening to our native people do not appear once in the throne speech.
When it comes to the environment, “Let’s pretend as if a lottery could possibly be a substitute for the principle of the polluter pays.” When I see the Minister of the Environment -- and we have already joked about Scratch and Sniff and it is a crap shoot and so on -- I am reminded of the words of Fawn Hall, who was quoted as saying, in a very determined way --
An hon member: What are you reading?
Mr B. Rae: I wrote this myself. She said, in a very determined way --
Mr B. Rae: I know Liberals find it hard to believe that leaders can actually write their own speeches. It is very difficult for them to grasp.
Fawn Hall is widely quoted as saying, “I am not a bimbo.”
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr B. Rae: “I am not a bimbo.” That is b-i-m-b-e-a-u, I think. When I see the minister, I think of him saying. “I am not a bingo king.”
That is what this government has become, Bingo now is the answer. “Farmer Brownie had a dog and Bingo was his name.” That is the name. That is the name: Bingo Bradley.
It will be Bingo Bradley from now on. Every time we want to establish the principle that the polluter should pay, the minister will say. “We will run a bingo for that” or “We will have a lottery for that,” or maybe we will play a poker game or another game of chance.
When this government was elected, it was supposed to be Mr Clean, not Mr Cleantario, not the lottery man, not the bingo man. We did not elect Bingo Bradley. We elected a Liberal government that was supposed to establish the principle that the polluter should pay. That was supposed to be the principle.
Bingo Bradley was down in Ottawa with Mr Bouchard. All the leaders were there together and they signed a solemn declaration. The ministers of the environment from all over Canada and the new federal Minister of the Environment signed the declaration that the polluter should pay. The Minister of the Environment’s contribution is to come back and say, “Well, that is all very well for the feds, but when it comes to Ontario we will run a bingo.”
I think, again, it is one of these things that one can only guess about. I do not know whether that was Hershell or perhaps it was the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio). I do not know. It would be unfair to establish authorship. The Minister of Natural Resources is holding his hands up as if to say, “It wasn’t me.”
The face of the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) the other day was really quite a sight as this was read out by His Honour the Lieutenant Governor. He looked at me and he just said, “Did we really say that?” Just that sort of sense of honesty and spontaneity for which the Treasurer is so famous.
I really think the Liberal Party has got it wrong. I really think the Liberal Party has misread the public mood and has underestimated more badly than that the seriousness with which the citizens of this province now take this question of environmental pollution. I think they have badly misunderstood that the citizens of Ontario are way ahead of their governments. They are ahead of their municipal governments; they are ahead of their provincial government; they are ahead of their federal government. They do not want to have poisoned water and poisoned air and they want polluters to pay for the pollution that they make and that they produce. That is what they want.
When it comes to health care, the sixth item, “Let’s pretend there is not a nursing shortage.” Imagine having a statement about health care in the speech from the throne that did not talk about the fact that there is a nursing shortage, a crisis in urgent care and now, as I have said already, a deep and profound crisis in home care.
The question then becomes -- which one would hear from any decent heckler -- ”Well, what would you do?”
Mr Breaugh: It’s so bad in here we have to write the lines for the hecklers.
Mr B. Rae: Those guys are getting really slow.
As one would say, what is then to be done? What is there that we would do as a party?
I must say that again, as I have reflected a bit on why politics has a bad name in people’s minds and why politicians are held in low repute, something which I am frankly concerned about -- obviously, I have a stake in my kids not thinking I am some kind of a criminal -- I sense an obligation on our part, and I would encourage the third party to do the same. I will have some words to say about the third party in a moment. The first is that we have a special obligation to set out, for our own part, what would we do and what needs to be done and how would we do it?
I want to go over some of that in light of, frankly, the federal budget last week, which is going to have an impact on politics in this province and on actions and activities of the provincial government and is something we have to contend with as well.
The first thing that must be done is that we must, all of us, as a foundation of basic social and economic justice, commit ourselves to being willing to pay for the common interest and the public good.
I think there is a fundamental dishonesty about taxes and discussion on taxation in our political discourse. It is incredible to me, truly incredible, that an entire federal election was fought just a few short months ago without anyone ever mentioning or discussing either the size of the deficit or the fact that taxes were going to be raised. You might say that is what one expects from politicians or what one expects from political coinage, but I say when a Minister of Finance and when a Prime Minister -- and I hold the Prime Minister personally responsible for this, as a Canadian citizen -- carries through an entire election campaign failing to mention once how taxes had to be raised, failing to mention once what he felt about the deficit and why he felt it was a critical problem, I say we have reached a new level of political dishonesty in this country and that is a fact that we have to contend with.
When it comes to what one would do, perhaps one could just sort of look at who were the winners and losers in the last federal budget. The day after the budget came down, bank shares went up. Why did bank shares go up?
Mr Pouliot: Because no taxes on assets were announced.
Mr B. Rae: My colleague the member for Lake Nipigon, who follows the stock market very closely, confirms what I have just said and therefore I know it is true that bank stocks did in fact go up, and I know that -- what is the name of our conscience? -- Judge Evans will be hearing about that. I am in trouble now.
There is a reason that bank stocks went up. They went up for one simple reason: because the banks got a windfall from the Mulroney government because a tax which was widely anticipated, and if members read -- as I have to do, not because I get a thrill out of it but because it is part of my job -- the Financial Times of Canada and the Financial Post on Friday and Saturday you find everybody recommending buying bank stocks. I was coming here today and somebody gave me a copy of the Burns Fry report following the budget. Burns Fry was out saying, “The budget is good news for banks and a good buy.”
Let me tell members something: A budget that is good news for banks and bad news for people is a budget that is bad news for the people of Ontario. This government is going to have to do something about it in its next budget, because if it does not deal with this tax unfairness question, if it does not deal with the fact that there are still thousands of corporations that do not pay any tax, that thanks to the capital gains giveaway in Ottawa there are people who can make $100,000 in a single hour and not pay any tax, yet we have people who are now being asked to pay $1,000, $1,200 or $1,500 more over the next couple of years out of their pay packet, out of their pay.
It is unacceptable to us that we would have a system of taxation as unfair and as unjust as we have. We must state clearly and categorically that everybody in this province has to pay his way and pay his share and we will no longer tolerate the kind of tax unfairness which we have associated with the Liberal government for so long. This dishonesty is carried over in the throne speech because it says in so many places, “If we get the money from the feds, we will do this and we will do that.”
I heard the Treasurer on the radio the day after the budget. He was condemning Mr Wilson because he has cut his transfers without any notice and without any warning. In fact, the transfers have not actually been cut. The level of growth has simply been reduced, and it was guaranteed that they will never be lower than the rate of inflation.
The day that I heard the Treasurer say that, I was on my way to Sarnia to speak to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. I relayed to them the Treasurer’s very strong condemnation of any government which would unilaterally cut its transfer payments without so much as a warning or a boo. These were mayors and financial officers of our large municipalities who had been told by the government, not that their increases would simply be that of inflation, but no, that there would be no increase, that they were frozen.
Then they were told, “Imagine if the federal government unilaterally transferred jurisdiction for some kind of security activity or whatever it might be to the provincial government and said, ‘Here, you pay for it.’ Imagine the reaction that would come.”
Mr D. R. Cooke: You can’t do that.
Mr B. Rae: The member says as a legal matter they cannot do that. Well, it is a good thing for him that they cannot, because that is exactly what his government has done to the municipalities. If the Tories cannot do it in Ottawa, this government should not be able to do it here in Ontario either and it should not have the gall to turn around and say to the federal government, “What you’re doing on transfers is ridiculous.”
What they are doing on transfers is nothing compared to what this government is doing on transfers, nothing compared to what the Liberal Party is doing to transfers and nothing compared to what this government is forcing municipalities to do when it comes to property taxes.
That is the dishonesty of this government; it really is. There is an intellectual dishonesty that is there, that is deep and profound. The Mulroney government was not elected on the slogan, “Pay more and get less,” but neither was the Peterson government elected on that slogan. If the Premier is going to be saying to the people of this province that they will pay more and get less, which is the message of this Treasurer, then I think he is asking for it.
What then do we do next, having stated that our policies cannot be based on a mindless opposition to taxes, but on a simple determination that those with wealth and power must pay their share and that we all owe it to ourselves to pay something? We must recognize that the best of all possible worlds would be the world of Oliver Wendell Holmes, whom I always like to quote, when he said, “Whenever I pay my taxes, I like to think I am buying a piece of civilization.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes was an American, and I do not know whether he was a Liberal, a Conservative, a Republican or a Democrat, but I do know that he was a very fine judge and that he stated a very fine and basic point. Whenever we pay taxes, we do like to feel we are buying a piece of civilization.
I only wish the banks and the trust companies, the financial institutions and the insurance companies wanted to buy a little bit of civilization as well. We would all be better off if they did. Our kids would be better off. The deficit which is now apparently hanging around our necks for years and years to come would be reduced and we would all be in a better position.
The next question then becomes, “What else would you do about the economy?” I think the fundamental point must be made, and I know my colleague the member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren) will be discussing these questions in the months ahead, that we must make the forces of capital respond to the needs of a modern democracy. That is the foundation of the philosophy of my party when it comes to the economy, and I will be talking more about that in a moment.
It means that in the field of pensions, we insist -- yes, for teachers, yes, for civil servants, and yes, for every single worker in this province -- on the right to an equal say in the control of a plan, the right not to be taken for granted. Why were 23,000 teachers out? Because they did not want to have money taken out of their pockets without any control over what is being done with that money, for the simple reason --
Mr B. Rae: There is a principle here. If my friends fail to understand this, they will fail to understand the anger that is out there and that is very real and very deep. They will also fail to deliver on their promise, which they made as a political party in 1985, that they would ensure that pensions were going to be indexed and that people would not be taken advantage of when they contributed to a pension plan.
I look at the number of people who do not have a pension. I look at the fact that the pension system has not been revised. I look at the fact that the Premier at his press conference last week was not able to promise that the pension legislation would be forthcoming. It was something he was not able to make any commitment on.
I think it is very clear: When it comes to dealing with the forces of capital in our society -- and this is a very important point, because it speaks to the foundation of what it means to be a Liberal -- the Liberal government simply lies down, rolls over and does not transfer power from corporations to people, does not transfer power from élites to people. It sides with the élites every single step of the way. That is the reality of what modern Liberalism in this province has become.
Mr Wildman: Go with the winners.
Mr B. Rae: As my friend the member for Algoma, who is a very helpful heckler, points out, “Go with the winners.” That is exactly the philosophy.
Read the Premier’s Council report. What do we see there? The industrial strategy consists of picking out a few winners and going with them. The Premier’s Council on the economy has produced, as far as one can see, very little in terms of concrete action, very little in terms of real government policy and certainly very little in terms of its integration into the work of the ministries of the government.
I think one has to simply look, for example, at a report which I did not write, which was written by Mr de Grandpré. I do not agree with Mr de Grandpre’s solutions, but what does Mr de Grandpré find about the situation with respect to training in Canada? He finds that for 1987 the private sector in Canada, including Ontario, spent on training and retraining -- how much do you think the private sector spent per worker? I will tell you, Mr Speaker: $100.
Mr Laughren: Bugger all.
Mr B. Rae: As my friend the member for Nickel Belt says, “Bugger all.” I could not have said it better myself.
That is the investment by the corporate sector in people: $100 per worker. That is the investment by the corporate sector in seeing that employees are able to handle and deal with change.
What do we have from this government that has changed structurally since 1985? Nada. Not a thing. Nothing. Apprenticeship programs have not changed. Nothing has changed. They state in the throne speech how this is something they want to do, but they do not tell us how it going to be paid for. They do not tell us what kind of programs; they do not tell us whether they are going to be controlled by workers or by companies; they do not tell us anything that is real in terms of how we would deal with this issue.
Finally, Mr Speaker -- not finally, but I want to say that when it comes to the environment; I know you will be disappointed, but this is my one shot here and I enjoy speaking on the throne speech debate, so I will take a little longer. We will all be going home afterwards and there will be lots of time.
I referred earlier, when it comes to the environment, to the fact that we are now in the middle of a sea change in public values when it comes to the environment. I think all of us have to come to terms with this. I can speak personally and say that I myself have changed in my own view in terms of how serious a problem and a priority this is.
I think that if one looked 10 years ago, it was an area where all of us felt that more needed to be done, but I do not think any of us expected to see the day when even cool and rational scientists meeting in conferences sponsored by the United Nations around the world are talking bluntly to all of us about the impact of our poisoning our air and our water, contaminating the food we eat, talking about the impact of the global warming trend. “It will threaten our forests of spruce and jackpine just as surely as clear-cutting, budworm and forest fires.”
I do not see a recognition from this government that that is a reality, and I think our whole public philosophy has to change, our entire public philosophy has to change, to meet the environmental crisis. We must not simply all become environmentalists, but we have to see that the environment gets priority, not simply from the Minister of the Environment but from the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell), the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter), from every single company doing business and yes, from every citizen of this province.
If any of us are polluters, we must stop. I go back to my point: Surely we have reached the stage now where polluters must pay. What has been the one example --
Mr Haggerty: Ban all cars.
Mr B. Rae: The member for Erie --
Mr Haggerty: Niagara South.
Mr B. Rae: -- the member for Niagara South; I think of him as being the member for Erie. I always enjoy hearing his comments, often made from his seat. A good heckler; a valued member, certainly of our team. We had the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr Runciman) last week, the member for Niagara South this week. We extend from one branch of Social Credit to the other.
The member for Niagara South says, “Ban all cars.” Let us look seriously, not at simply banning all cars tomorrow but at the impact that emissions are having. Let us recognize not only that the lead in our air but the toxic cloud which now encircles the globe and encapsulates our air are in good measure a function of the fact that the car and the combustible engine and gasoline have achieved the role of predominance that they have. Should we be doing something about that? Yes, we should. Can we afford to ignore it? No, we cannot. Is it going to cost us? Yes, it is. Is there any getting around it? I do not think so.
Again, if I can speak bluntly about costs, we must all speak very directly to our fellow citizens about the fact that this is going to cost us, because unless we are prepared to spend the money now, we can be sure the environment our children receive will be much poorer than the one our parents left us.
An hon member: We will get a bingo.
Mr B. Rae: Yes, we will get a bingo; exactly.
I could speak on many other subjects. I could speak about where we would go on social programs; the failure of this government to move on Bill 208; the fact that on health and safety in the workplace, the government failed in the throne speech to make any statement about what it would do to protect the environment of workers inside as well as outside the plant.
I could speak about the fact that when it comes to expanding social programs -- and I include here the cutbacks in workers’ compensation represented by Bill 162 -- I say to this government that as long as it is paralysed by the force of the new right in our province and in our country, as long as it believes and shares the view, which is certainly now widely shared among provincial governments in Canada and our federal government, that there can be no new social program and that there is no way that the work of government can extend into new areas, that the idea of a creative government which will build new programs is unheard of and impossible, that in fact the public sector must be cut back and cut away in every way, shape and form, as expressed in the philosophy of free trade, we are always going to be left with government as watchman, government as security guard, government as the policeman in the night, but not government as a force for social change and for social good.
As long as that philosophy paralyses Liberal governments and Tory governments, then nothing of significance in social policy either can or will happen, and so I am saying to my colleagues in the New Democratic Party in this province that it is our special obligation to take on the force of those who say that the work of government should be cut away and diminished and hacked away, that there is no room for creativity in the creation of new social programs.
I know my constituents would benefit directly from new programs in housing; they would benefit directly from new programs in income support; they would benefit directly from child care as a basic right; they would benefit directly from a universal sickness and accident insurance plan, and we are going to fight those who will resist those changes.
If we, as a party, were to say, “Well, we accept this view now that the role of government is to be cramped and confined and limited for all time, that in fact revenues going to governments are limited for all time”; if we bought the view which is being put forward by the third party and which is being put forward by Conservative parties all around the world that there is a universal problem of overtaxation when it comes to what people are paying and that in fact there is no way governments can do the work they are doing, we might as well pack up and go home, because there will be no room for social innovation.
We have to deal head-on with this question of tax justice. We have to deal head-on with the fact that Michael Wilson’s definition of tax justice -- and that is the new Tory definition, and I say a Tory is a Tory is a Tory and we know what the Tory version of tax reform is. The Tory version of tax reform is tax the poor, tax the weak, tax all the people who go out to buy anything any time they buy it, whether they have the income or not, and let the banks and the corporations off practically scot-free. That is the Tory message on tax reform and that is the Tory message that we reject, but let’s wait and see.
Mr Black: First time you’ve been right all day.
Mr B. Rae: I hear the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay shouting out, saying in his dulcet tones, perhaps stepping down temporarily from his role as a critical, crucial private adviser to the Premier on many important social programs, that is the first time I have been right all day. Let me tell my friend from Muskoka, I hope he is up on his feet condemning the Treasurer the day after the budget when he does to the people of Ontario exactly what Michael Wilson has done to the people of Canada, because that is what is going to happen.
We are going to have the same pattern, and the people of Canada and the people of Ontario are going to see that when Liberals are in power they do exactly the same thing as Tories; when Tories are in power they do exactly the same thing as Liberals when it comes to taxation. They tax the poor, they tax the weak, they tax the middle income, they tax sales, they tax people who go shopping; they do not tax the people who have the money, who make the money on Bay Street, who make the money downtown, who make the money on speculation. Those are the people who get off and those are the people who are not taxed, and we pay the price.
My constituents pay the price for this government’s lack of courage when it comes to a speculation tax. They pay in two ways, and I will tell members exactly how they pay: They pay because their taxes are higher because this government is not prepared to impose a speculation tax; they pay because the price of housing goes up because they are not prepared to take that money out of the economy with a speculation tax, and they pay because the lack of a speculation tax weakens the public purse and diminishes the quality of public programs and makes it impossible for them to get the good things in life.
Public programs have made enormous differences to my constituents, whether it is parks or whether it is schools, whether it is pensions or whether it is workers’ compensation, even in its inadequate form. If we did not have a minimum of social programs for our people, they would not be as well off as they are.
I say that an expansion of social programs, funded by a fair tax system, by a just and vibrant economy in which workers have some control over their lives, is a program which makes sense for the vast majority of the people of this province, and these are the people we are fighting for.
Not too long ago, my colleagues and I had occasion to go to a very different part of the province from the one in which I live, a very different world. I want to spend a few moments, if I may, to talk about that.
To travel north to James Bay is to meet several uncomfortable truths about ourselves, truths about Ontario, truths about Canada. Up the coast from the Quebec border to the point where James Bay meets Hudson Bay are nestled five communities: Moosonee, Moose Factory, Fort Albany, Kashechewan and Attawapiskat. Each is very different, with its own unique character, but all share a common reality: a profound and systematic poverty, a powerlessness that is rooted in the encounter between Europeans and our first Canadians.
It is a two-and-a-half-hour flight, but it is a trip to a very different world. Of the communities we visited, I can tell my friends that only Moosonee and part of Moose Factory have running water and sewage treatment. In the other communities, these advantages are exclusively confined to those buildings where non-native whites live and work.
To take that trip is to visit a colonial world, where the native people have their own language -- Cree -- their own culture, their own way of life, and yet are effectively ruled by a white, alien authority. The meaning of the phrase “self-government” suddenly became very clear, and its historic parallels with the demands of other colonized peoples around the world are immediate and visceral and real.
It is not just the overwhelming poverty, though I think I would share with my friends the feeling that this is certainly the first thing that hits one. It is reflected as well in something as absurd as the physical layout of a town like Fort Albany, where all the white institutions are on a hill, across the Albany River from where the natives live. When the ice breaks up, as I would imagine it is breaking up right now, people are flown across the river in a helicopter if they need medical help.
There are many moods and we encountered those moods as we talked, often late into the night: resignation, frustration, anger, but above all a sense of separateness, a sense that survival and integrity are about keeping distance. I was told that I was the first leader of a party to stay overnight in each of the communities we visited. I found that hard to believe, but I am sure it was true. It then became clear that politicians come and go; bureaucrats come and go; plans are made and plans are unmade. Negotiations are literally endless. No government is really interested in settling anything. There is no requirement other than that of vague conscience, that government should.
I would say that for all the progressive intentions of the Attorney General (Mr Scott), he has not achieved anything with respect to this question of native self-government or with respect to any negotiation of any claim in this province. The courts, which people are told are supposed to be the halls of justice in this province, are hideously expensive, and as the people of Temagami have learned not particularly receptive. Without these courts and without good legal decisions, there is at this stage no forcing governments to do the right thing, apart from the kind of actions we have seen over the last few weeks.
What we are talking about here is racism. I say that word not at all lightly; I say it meaning it fully and completely because as I have reflected on what I saw, I have had to ask myself this question: In what other Ontario communities would we accept thousands, whole communities, doing without basic sewage treatment and running water? Think about it for a moment. To say. “Well, that’s a federal matter,” misses the point entirely.
Let me put it to the members another way: If Ontario goes in, as it has done, and builds a small hospital -- in fact, it has built two of almost the same design in two communities, one in Attawapiskat and one in Fort Albany -- then it builds a nurses’ residence, which it has done, and it supplies them with running water and sewage treatment; does that not raise the issue of why white civil servants are getting this and no one else in the community? I think it does. Is this really the kind of apartheid -- that is what it is -- we want to practise in this province? I cannot imagine that it really is.
In his book The Affluent Society, J. K. Galbraith talks about private affluence and public squalor. When you go north, you face the opposite. Wealth is associated with the government, with public money. With the exception of the Hudson’s Bay store and the local priest or minister, the white establishment is exclusively the government establishment.
What are some conclusions we can draw? The first is fundamental. I really believe this, and I believe it more strongly and personally than I have believed it before: Canadians, Ontarians, we must come to terms with our own collective past, with our own unique history. We are not alone in having to do this. We share this with every settler culture, and there are many settler cultures around the world. We share with all of them the compelling need to accept the claim, rights, history, personality, and yes nationhood, of those who were here before European settlement.
Surely, this is our greatest unfinished business as a country, this continuing refusal to come to terms with the hard fact that there are several hundreds of thousands of native people whose ties to land and tradition date back thousands of years, and yet whose claims to self-government and autonomous power and authority have been either ignored or denied.
I know people say, “What does it mean?” of the phrase “self-government.” You listen to Premier Devine at a premiers’ conference and he says, “What do you mean by it?” Let me give a very specific example, and members can identify with this because it is something we all have to contend with in our own communities.
My colleagues and I went up to discuss health care, and health care is a good example. None of the institutions we visited was accountable in any serious way, in other than a token way, to the majority people who lived and worked in these communities. All the bands and the elders we talked with saw health as an important right, but they had almost no access to the decisions about where dollars would be spent, what would be given priority or how the system would work.
This was true regardless of the issue; whether it was chronic care, which the native people resent having to pay for since they regard free medical care as a basic treaty right as well as a right of citizenship in Canada; user fees; diabetes -- we discovered there was an alarming incidence of diabetes on every reserve we visited -- ambulances, which I discussed in the House with the minister; travel; birthing; you name it. There is no control and yet control there must be. It is an immediate and practical way to start.
Let me give one practical example to extend this. Unlike virtually every other community in the province, the birth rate on reserves in northern Ontario, I can tell members, is literally exploding. This is what gives the unique dynamic to the debate about native education. We visited a community whose school was shut down, which meant there were literally hundreds of kids who were roaming around, with nothing at all to do, for days. It also poses some enormous questions about how health care is delivered.
Let me tell you this story: In a community such as Attawapiskat which has a shiny new hospital -- but no doctor, so you have nurses who are there -- the policy of the government of Ontario and the government of Canada is that if you are going to have a baby, you cannot have it in the community where you live, with a midwife or however. Progress now means that you get into a plane at the 36th or 37th week of pregnancy, regardless of whether it seems to be a high-risk pregnancy, and you are flown out to the hospital in Moose Factory by helicopter. You stay there until you have your baby and stay for a week or so afterwards and then you are flown back.
That may sound, to some people, like a wonderful system. To me, it sounds like absolute lunacy. Here we have a situation where young women who frequently have two, three and four kids at home between the ages of one and eight or nine are taken away from their family for two, three or four weeks to spend all that time in hospital. No one can accompany them because they are not paid for. The only people who are paid for are the patients who are going from one to the other.
I ask myself: “Is this the best we can do in terms of a modern health care system? Is this some way in which technology has triumphed over the reality of how services should be delivered?” I would say, ask the women in this assembly. Would any of them accept that fate: to get into a helicopter, fly away for a couple of hundred miles in order to have a baby and spend three or four weeks away from their husbands and their kids?
When my wife had our three children I was able to be there in the delivery room. It was never a question; that was now seen as the most appropriate place for a father to be. I look now at the pattern of care we are providing in this northern community and it seems to me the reverse of what could be and what should be.
The institutions of economic domination must be attacked as well. My favourite sign at the entrance to the Hudson’s Bay store in each of the communities is -- you will like this, Mr Speaker, because you have a sense of humour – “Shop and compare.” If you know these communities, you will know there is only one shop.
Mr Callahan: The voters did, Bob.
Mr B. Rae: The member for Brampton South said that is what voters do, but that is what voters do in a one-party state. We have not yet become a one-party state in Ontario. I know there are some who would like to think that is the way things are going, but not me.
Compare with what, starvation? Think of the prices that are being charged in these stores, now called Northern Stores. A 50 per cent cotton and polyester T-shirt for eight-year-old kids costs $15. I have a cousin who happens to be in the business in Hamilton and I was reflecting with him on how he felt about that charge. He said, “Do you know what my cost is?” I said, “What?” He said, “It is $2.50 in Montreal.”
You look at the markup of at least $12.50 on a $2.50 T-shirt that is going to our poorest citizens in this province, the people who have the least capacity to pay and the least choice in terms of where they are as consumers. Frozen hamburger at $8 a kilogram. I know the government House leader goes out and buys frozen hamburger all the time, and I would ask him to reflect on how that compares. Pampers are twice the cost you would find in any store in any major city in this province.
Mr Dietsch: The House leader does not buy them.
Mr B. Rae: I do not raise these issues to make a joke as some of my friends might. I raise these to be very serious. These citizens in our province are being ripped off by economic institutions that have a monopoly in each one of the communities which we visited. Any government worth its salt would have stepped in, and not put in price controls, but frankly would have said to the Hudson’s Bay: “We do not need you operating in a community where you have a monopoly. We will let the communities operate these services as a co-op themselves. Goodbye, Hudson’s Bay, goodbye. We do not need you any more.”
There is nothing free, adventuring, enterprising or ennobling about any of this. You will not find it reading Peter C. Newman, but that is what you get. It is called extracting whatever you can from the rump of empire and monopoly. Governments should be using their countervailing power on behalf of consumers to stop it, because these monopolies run by the private sector are nothing but a licence to print money.
Where do we start? First of all, with a commitment to self-government and to economic self-management: This means a land base and it means a capital base. It means access to education and information to make development possible. It means building strong, co-operative institutions. It means giving credit unions and co-ops the kind of help that will make them work. It means working with the band’s own priorities, starting with the basics of sewers, water treatment and better housing. It means services for people, recreation, education and care for the young and the old. All of these will sustain the community if and when they can be run by and for the community.
For generations now in this province we have said. “We are going to leave this one to the feds.” In many respects, the native people themselves have wanted to deal exclusively with the federal government. Yet having made this trip, I do want to say that I think this is something we have to look at very seriously as a province. I believe profoundly there are things we can do.
It is, after all, one of the ironies of our history that on the Quebec side of the same James Bay, populated by the same people, who simply because of the vagaries of European political history happen to be in Quebec rather than another jurisdiction, the James Bay Cree signed a deal with Hydro-Québec, which is a provincial institution. It was flooding traditional hunting and fishing lands. From that deal came capital and very considerable success for some. In fact, there is a new book out, which everyone can read, about Chief Billy Diamond and the extraordinary success he has had.
Surely, it is also true that Ontario itself has benefited enormously from the terms of Treaty 9, which was signed in 1905. How have we benefited? Members should think of all the land and resources that are now under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Natural Resources, the domain now of the emperor of the north. He has that because of the treaty that was signed in which lands were ceded, given away by the native people, in response to certain promises solemnly made by the federal crown. The province got that windfall. The province has that wealth. The province received control over that resource, so the province has a direct stake, a direct share, and in hard economic terms, is a direct beneficiary of the terms of Treaty 9.
I believe and my colleagues believe this capital of land and money must now be turned back to those whose land it once was and still should be. Land and capital are the critical foundations of any meaningful economic settlement, and unless we can arrive at an economic settlement all we are talking about is more paternalism, more social services, more handouts, which nobody wants and which are as demeaning to those who give as to those who receive. It is unconscionable to allow the simple lack of clout and leverage of those living on the Ontario side of James Bay to deprive them of so much.
There has been much debate recently about the federal spending power and the ways in which this can and should be exercised. My colleague the member for Nickel Belt has some strong views on this.
It is a simple fact of constitutional life that a provincial government that can send money for development in Jamaica can do the same for development in its own north. I want to repeat that: If the Ontario government can provide foreign aid to the victims of disaster in foreign lands -- I, for one, salute that, have called on governments to do it and am very much in favour of it -- if we can have an economic development plan for Jamaica after the hurricane, surely to God we as a province can have an economic development plan for our own native communities after the hurricane of the last 300 to 400 years of European settlement. That is what we are talking about.
Nothing in the division of powers, the British North America Act or the natives’ insistence on retaining their direct link with the federal crown takes away from this simple fact: Ontario can do with its money what it pleases. That is a fact of life. If this Legislature decided to build a rocket and send it to the moon, we have the parliamentary authority to do that. If we can do that, I am saying we can do something on behalf of the first citizens who live north of the 50th parallel.
I spent some time outlining the experience I and my colleagues the member for Riverdale and the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr Pouliot) and our caucus staff had on this trip. I think it is the first opportunity I have had to report on it as extensively as I have to members of my own caucus. I really think it is a thing that makes one realize this is a province of remarkable contrasts. It would be wrong to say there is one north, or even two or three. There are several, and there are also several Ontarios. I have given this speech in the conviction that this government does not speak for all those Ontarios and certainly does not act for all of them.
I think the people of Ontario had high hopes for the Premier and for this government when they were elected in 1985. I think they had high hopes that a government, which appeared to differ from previous Conservative administrations, which was elected in combination with the New Democratic Party to make some changes in 1985 and which won an independent mandate in 1987, was a government about which there was enormous goodwill from the people of Ontario.
Some hon members: It’s still there.
Mr B. Rae: The members are heckling me, saying it is still there. I do not believe it is, I really do not. What I believe is that there is a sense of frustration, a sense that so much more could be done.
Mr Laughren: It’s a betrayal.
Mr B. Rae: There is a sense of betrayal. There is a sense of having voted effectively for change and change never happening; for having voted effectively for environmental action and getting a lottery; for having voted for action on housing and having nothing; a world in which the Del Zottos and the Muzzos of this world are still in charge, still running the show, funding Liberal campaign after Liberal campaign across the province and still basically operating as if what governments did independently did not matter.
The realities I have tried to describe I think are real. I have tried not to paint a gloomy picture, because I do not feel gloomy about my province; I feel optimistic about my province. But I feel exceedingly gloomy about this government, about a government that has failed miserably to deal directly with the critical questions and that has been unable to do the necessary about them.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr B. Rae: I know I will be heckled for this mercilessly by my colleagues, but I want to close by suggesting that there is perhaps a need for us to reflect more as a province on what it is we owe each other, as well as what we can get out of our colleagues and out of life and out of the good things that economic prosperity brings.
I know it is not fashionable in the Me generation to talk about this, but I firmly believe it is important and indeed crucial for us at this particular point in our history to understand what it is we owe each other. In that light I might just quote the words, in conclusion, before I will read a motion to amend the throne speech, of the American theologian and writer, Reinhold Niebuhr. I have read them before, but I find them particularly meaningful at this point in my life.
“Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.”
Those are the words I have quoted on other occasions when speaking to my colleagues in the New Democratic Party. I believe profoundly that our party has a message, that our party has an obligation to the people of this province and to the people of this country to express as profoundly as we can a sense of solidarity, a sense of community, a sense of what we owe each other and, yes, a sense of love. I have expressed that thought on many occasions. I wanted to express it particularly today in speaking on this speech from the throne.
As is customary and, indeed, as I very much want to do, I would like now to read an amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech from the throne. I will move, in light of all of the things I have said about the extraordinary contrasts in our province, the contrast between rich and poor, the contrast between north and south, the contrast between native and non-native, in light of what I have had to say about the social agenda and the economic agenda that is waiting to be accomplished on behalf of working families and how that agenda has been utterly and completely betrayed by this Liberal government. I would like to read this amendment.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Rae moves, seconded by the member for Windsor-Riverside, that the motion for an address in reply to the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session be amended by adding the following words:
“This House, however, regrets that the speech from the throne simply confirms the slide of this government into the complacent drift of a huge majority and condemns the government for:
“Failing utterly to address the issue of tax justice, despite the predictably draconian tax unfairness of the federal Tory budget, while continuing its unprecedented financial squeeze on municipalities;
“Ignoring the garbage crisis in Ontario while trivializing our environmental problems with its proposed lottery;
“Continuing its attack on the rights of working people through its proposed changes to workers’ compensation and its broken promises on pensions;
“Playing politics with social assistance, proposing much, much less than the first phase of the Thomson report’s recommendations, while signalling buck-passing on the costs;
“Making empty promises on education reform by failing to back up commitments with financial support; and
“Leaving untouched and unmentioned an extraordinary range of issues facing the people of Ontario, including car insurance, home care, the north, housing, energy, the nursing shortage, the teacher shortage, post-secondary education, employment equity, health and safety, agriculture and employment standards, among others.
“Therefore, this House declares its lack of confidence in this government.”
On motion by Mr Harris, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 1658.