The House met at 1330.
NATIONAL ACCESS AWARENESS WEEK
Mr Allen: This is National Access Awareness Week, yet inadequate funding, gaps in service and long waiting lists for community services deny access for thousands of disabled people.
In group homes and independent living services, for example, there are over 200 on a waiting list in Hamilton, where disabled and handicapped people can languish on waiting lists for as long as eight years. In vocational rehabilitation services, which are understaffed, there are people waiting six, nine or 12 months in various offices in Toronto for assessment for a placement, only to have to go on another waiting list for the service. Access delayed is access denied.
Education: Jaclyn Rowett is still denied access to her neighbourhood school after five years of fighting by her family. The Thompson family has fought for years to have equal access to education for their gifted sons with learning disabilities and their case is still before the courts and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Employment: Some 70 per cent of disabled Canadians are unemployed and the only action this government has taken on employment equity is to change the minister responsible. Project Opportunity, to train the developmentally handicapped in the workplace as an alternative to sheltered workshops, obviously requires some boldness and good support systems, both lacking in this government.
Transportation: The Ministry of Transportation held up proclamation of reasonable accommodation in the Human Rights Code for two years, but all we get are a few accessible taxis and more studies.
In National Access Awareness Week, we hear the government proclaim anew its commitment to the disabled, but will it act? The record is not encouraging.
SENIOR CITIZENS MONTH
Mrs Cunningham: During the month of June, the citizens of Ontario are celebrating the contributions of our many senior citizens. Many are healthy and energetic, but sadly many are not. They are not independent and they must rely on our support.
In light of the fact that it is Senior Citizens Month, I would like to bring to the attention of the House another case of government mismanagement. A New Agenda was released on 2 June 1986 by Mr Ron Van Horne. The primary objective of this white paper, and I quote, “is to outline a series of broad policy directions, which would, in the view of the government, lead to a more effective and affordable system of health and social services for the elderly.”
The Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) has stated in the House that she is committed to meeting the needs of Ontario seniors and is committed to developing the strategies outlined in A New Agenda. The budget last year was $9.3 million and this year it is $9.4 million. Only 16 of the promised 38 integrated homemaker sites are realities.
Where is the extended-care legislation? Where are the rest home standards? The minister promised an integrated one-stop shopping approach. Her list of broken promises is endless. Her new agenda is clearly an old agenda, and many seniors are anxiously awaiting government programming to help them live their retirement years in dignity.
TOURETTE SYNDROME AWARENESS MONTH
Mr Neumann: The month of June is Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month in Canada. Tourette syndrome is characterized by multiple involuntary muscular movements or tics, uncontrollable vocal sounds and utterances and, in some cases, inappropriate words.
Can you imagine what it must be like to live with this condition when you and those around you do not know what it is that you have? Early diagnosis and improved understanding can make a world of difference for families who have to deal with Tourette syndrome every day. In many instances, publicity has helped families to achieve awareness. Diagnosis and treatment followed. What a difference this new understanding has made in their lives.
Children and adults with these problems need special understanding, care and love. Some may require special medical attention. Fortunately, however, this lifelong condition does not affect either intelligence or longevity, and the majority of people with Tourette syndrome try to lead relatively normal, active lives.
The Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada is a voluntary, nonprofit organization, composed of individuals affected by the syndrome, their families, friends, professionals and other interested people. Its efforts for more research and improved public understanding provide hope for the future, as symbolized in its “one green leaf of hope.”
Mrs Grier: This is Environment Week -- a good time to take stock of how the government is doing. Unfortunately for all of us, the answer has to be that the government has stalled in mid-term. The reality does not match the rhetoric. The performance does not live up to the public relations campaign.
Do members remember the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement, the water-pollution control program that was going to solve all our problems? MISA is now two to three years behind schedule, with no emission reduction standards in place.
It is 18 months since the minister described the regulation dealing with air pollution as outdated. It is even more outdated now, and not even a draft replacement regulation has been seen.
Countdown Acid Rain will be a good program in 1994, when it takes effect. We all have blue boxes. We also have leaky landfills, long-drawn-out battles to find new sites and municipalities facing ever increasing costs to dispose of garbage.
What we do not have are concrete proposals to reduce garbage at source, to regulate packaging to force industries to use recycled materials. We have an Environmental Assessment Act, which is in grave danger of being undermined and weakened as the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) grants exemptions and invents ways of getting around requests for full environmental assessment.
The people of Ontario want a sustainable society. This government states it supports the concept and the need to integrate economic and environmental decision-making. What this government lacks is a coherent, long-term vision for either the environment or the economy. Without that vision --
The Speaker: The member’s time has expired.
ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Mrs Marland: The integrity and the maintenance of the public confidence in the Ontario Human Rights Commission are matters of vital concern to this Legislature. The resignation of Raj Anand as chief commissioner last Friday makes it imperative that review of the operations of the OHRC by the standing committee on government agencies proceed as a priority matter.
In my opinion, a complete review by this House is required to restore public confidence in the Human Rights Commission and to re-establish the commission’s ability to play a lead role in our efforts to combat every form of discrimination. In all fairness to the next chief commissioner, it is incumbent on this House to act now to address problems at the commission to ensure that Mr Anand’s successor has a firm foundation on which to build. It is one of the most important government agencies.
With regard to the appointment of the next chief commissioner, I suggest that the government give this House the opportunity to participate in the selection process by allowing the standing committee on government agencies to make recommendations regarding the search and selection process, the qualifications required for the position, and, to review candidates for the position. The Legislature’s endorsement of the appointment would dispel any questions about partisanship and favouritism, and allow the new commissioner to take on this challenging position knowing he enjoyed the support of all members of the assembly.
BROTHERHOOD NIGHT IN PETERBOROUGH
Mr Adams: I attended the 16th annual Brotherhood Night in Peterborough. This is an event initiated by the Knights of Columbus, which involves all Masonic lodges and service clubs in our community. This year, the Kawartha Shrine Club was cosponsor.
This is an event which for more than a decade has brought together people from different religious, social and business backgrounds. For one evening, diverse elements of the community get together to share experiences and get to know each other. The influence of this single evening extends throughout the year and is felt in our streets and in our homes through an increased tolerance and mutual respect.
We should all bear in mind that the purpose of such an event is not to make Catholic into Protestant, or Shriner into Kiwanian. The object is not to produce a bland, homogenized society. Rather, it is to allow us to take full advantage of the diversity that is one of the great strengths of our society. We can be different and still respect each other.
I congratulate all those who are involved in the organization of Brotherhood Night in Peterborough. They are an example to everyone in this House.
TEACHERS’ LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr R. F. Johnston: Last night in Kirkland Lake the striking teachers, representing kids who have been out of the school system for two months now without any action by this government or by the local board, held a meeting, an act of solidarity, to commemorate the work of the miners in 1941-42, one of the most important strikes in labour history, where although the strike was lost the right to negotiate was won.
They said to their community that teachers are as fundamentally an important part of that community as were the miners, and to request some action by this government to try to move the mediation process along and bring the board to the table, so that those teachers and those students can get the same kind of educational rights as other students and teachers throughout northern Ontario.
The Speaker: I would inform the members that I would like them to recognize a special guest in the Speaker’s gallery. We have the Minister of Housing from New South Wales, Australia, the Honourable Joe Schipp. Would the members please join me in welcoming Mr Schipp.
Hon Mr Conway: I would like to seek the unanimous consent of the House so that members of each of the political parties can address the very tragic circumstances developing in the People’s Republic of China.
The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
EVENTS IN CHINA
Hon Mr Wong: In the last few days the eyes of the world have been focused on Beijing. We abhor the bloodshed, grieve over the loss of life and deeply regret the destructive turmoil.
In speaking on behalf of the government, I know that we were all shocked to learn of the tragic events that have taken place. Although events are unfolding at a very rapid pace in China, it is our belief as Canadians and frends of the People’s Republic of China that we remain clear in our resolve to support the people in their quest for greater freedom and democracy while condemning the brutal use of force.
As Canadians in a province which has had an important relationship with China, we should maintain a posture that can assist the people of the People’s Republic of China to return as early as possible to a state of stability and peace and to a constructive path of social, economic and political reform.
I am sure that I speak for everyone in this House and for all Ontarians when I condemn the senseless violence, the resulting deaths and injuries, and the failure of the Chinese authorities to deal with the situation in a peaceful, nonviolent way.
News of the deaths and injuries in Beijing have deeply affected all Ontarians, particularly those who have family and friends in that city. The Ontario government is concerned about the wellbeing of all Ontarians in Beijing and particularly concerned for the safety of 21 exchange participants who are in China as part of Ontario programs. Currently, the Ontario government is in the process of facilitating the evacuation of all students participating in the Ontario-Jiangsu exchange programs and all Ontario government employees associated with the centre.
While much confusion exists as to how far-reaching the violence in China has become, I can assure this House that the government is closely monitoring the situation. This government is working in close co-operation with the federal government, the Canadian embassy in Beijing, the consulate in Shanghai and the University of Toronto, the host agency for the student exchange program.
The Ontario government is calling for the immediate end to the violence in China. We are strongly urging the Chinese government to restore the peace and stability the Chinese people have worked so hard to achieve and maintain.
Mr Reville: All states are characterized by a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, but the key word is “legitimate.” The requirement of legitimacy means that any state’s use of force against its citizens must be carefully defined, limited and subject to internal and external accountability.
These constraints were swept aside by blood last weekend in Beijing. After six weeks of demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, involving hundreds of thousands of people engaged in nonviolent protest of conditions in their country, soldiers cleared the square at the cost of the lives of hundreds and perhaps thousands of unarmed people.
Prior to last weekend, the world watched in awe and admiration as the students of China, with care and discipline and without violence, advanced the case for democracy. For nearly six weeks, in the face of serious provocations, the student democracy movement was a model to the world of how to push a totalitarian government towards peaceful change.
The terrible event is deeply troubling to us and, I think, to the people of Ontario. Certainly it has galvanized members of the Chinese community in my riding and elsewhere, both in Canada and around the world.
As legislators, members of this assembly perhaps are more sensitive than most people to the responsibilities that attach to state power. I and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party are proud of our party’s record of defending tolerance against those who would substitute the might of the state. We claim no superiority. As democrats, we believe in the moral authority that flows from those who are governed. As socialists, we are mistrustful of any claim to possess uniquely that authority.
We are shocked at the cruel cynicism of China’s rulers. We are saddened by the deaths in Beijing. There is no moral justification for the actions of the Chinese state against its own people in Beijing last week.
Mr Brandt: I know I speak for all members when I say that rarely have I ever seen such a series of tragic and brutal events as unfolded in China over the past couple of weeks.
On behalf of my party and all Ontarians, I want to praise the many students and citizens in China for their intense desire to improve their situation, for their desire for democracy, for a liberalization of attitude to go with a liberalization of trade and economic ties with the west, and I want to praise and honour their desire to accomplish these goals, not through violence or upheaval but in fact through peaceful protest.
Unfortunately, it is with the same intensity of feeling that I must condemn the actions of the present administration in China for ordering one of the most brutal assaults I think any of us has ever witnessed, an assault by an army on its own people. There simply can be no justification for this kind of attack, especially by soldiers who in the past have proudly proclaimed their name and heritage as being that of the people’s army.
The government of Canada has already expressed its outrage. Ontario must do the same. Words, however, are not enough. If we allow our economic ties to China to remain untouched, by our very inaction we are endorsing the present administration. We are saying: “Yes, it’s horrible what you did, the lives you ordered taken. But it’s okay. Don’t worry. It’s still business as usual.” it cannot continue to be business as usual. We cannot allow that to happen.
I ask all members of the House to reflect on the events in China over the past few days and to think of the loss of human lives and of the many more thousands who were severely injured. The toll of dead and injured is by some counts close to 15,000. In other words, it is as if a harsh military machine had marched into the Ontario towns of Trenton or Pembroke or Elliot Lake and wiped out the entire population. That is the magnitude of this carnage we are talking about.
We must express through concrete action our outrage not with the Chinese people but with the present government in Beijing. That is why I call upon the Premier (Mr Peterson) and his Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter) to close our offices in the province of Jiangsu until the Chinese government is brought to account for its actions or until it admits to and takes responsibility for the lives lost needlessly in Beijing over the past several days. By taking this action, we will not only protest in the strongest possible terms our absolute revulsion at what has occurred in China, but we will also be taking some real and meaningful steps in protecting the lives of Ontario employees who are presently employed in China.
In closing, let me say it was with great honour and pride that, as Minister of Industry and Trade some years ago, I was the one who signed the original twinning agreement with the Chinese province of Jiangsu. I believed in the need and the advantages, both economically and politically, of our trade with China. I still have those beliefs, but we cannot let the Chinese people face their future alone, without our support, by pretending that the tragedies of the past few days did not occur. Let us express our solidarity with their cause by withdrawing from China until a more humane and advanced attitude becomes a reality in the government of China.
The Speaker: Having listened to the three members express their concern regarding the tragic events in China, would it be the wish of the House that I send an official copy of Hansard to the Chinese ambassador to Canada?
Hon Mr Conway: Mr Speaker, I would like to seek a second unanimous consent so that the House could pay its respects to the late James Trotter, who served in this Legislature for a number of years.
The Speaker: Consent?
Mr Fleet: Jim Trotter was a member of this Legislature from 1959 until 1971. I first knew Jim Trotter as His Honour Judge Trotter, because I had an opportunity to go before him in the district court in Toronto. As a lawyer appearing before him, I was impressed by his ability to pay close attention to the arguments presented and to render a fair decision. Prior to his involvement as a member of the court, he was a very active lawyer throughout the city of Toronto and served the public in that context.
As a member of the Legislature, he was both a large-l and small-l liberal. He was a valiant defender of the interests of his constituents. One of the things he was particularly proud of was the successful opposition he led to the use of Lakeshore Boulevard in the 1960s as a racetrack, but he was also interested in the larger issues that affect all of us. He was particularly notable as an advocate and proponent of a comprehensive, prepaid health care system in Ontario. He was notable for his advocacy of liberal principles -- and I use that in the small-l sense -- both within the caucus and the party and in the public at large.
I had occasion a number of times to speak with Jim Trotter. I ran into him when I was canvassing in the election. Of course, he could not take part because he was a judge, but we did chat over some of the differences in the life of parliamentarians and some of the hurdles that he dealt with in order to serve the public. He was particularly pleased that in the campaign I was involved with his son, Andy, because he believed very much that social commitment was a critical aspect of every person’s contribution in our society.
Recently, I had occasion as well at the funeral home to talk with others whose lives he touched in every aspect of his career. I know that his sudden passing is a great loss to his wife, Grace, and his children, Andy, Elizabeth and Virginia. It is a particularly noticeable loss because of the knowledge that we are all better off for his having been an active member of this Legislature and our society.
Mr Laughren: I know that Judge Trotter served before I arrived in Queen’s Park. I was elected in 1971 and he had served up until then. But, as someone obviously interested in the political process here at Queen’s Park prior to my arrival here, I certainly followed the debates and I knew of Mr Trotter and the consistently progressive positions that he took as a member of an opposition party in those days. I know as well that when he moved to become a judge his decisions were consistent with those positions he had taken here at Queen’s Park. So though I did not personally know Mr Trotter, I do want to extend condolences to the Trotter family on behalf of me and my colleagues in the New Democratic caucus.
Mr Harris: I want to rise on behalf of my party to pay tribute to His Honour Jim Trotter. As has been said by others, he served with distinction for 12 years as an MPP at Queen’s Park. I am told by those whom I have talked to who knew him, as I was not here in those days, that he was a man of integrity not only before he arrived here but while he was here and after he left; that he indeed fought hard for those causes that he believed in.
I noted in the Globe and Mail obituary that it indicated he served for 12 years during his “party’s lean days” and I can relate to that. I want to reflect on the impact that as an opposition member he was able to have, both personally and on behalf of his party, in this chamber. I am privileged on behalf of our party to have the opportunity to extend our condolences to his wife, Grace, and their three children.
The Speaker: As usual, when Hansard is printed, I will, on behalf of all members, forward a copy to the Trotter family so that your words of sympathy are received by them.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
ASSISTANCE FOR THE DISABLED
Hon Mr Patten: As members of this assembly are well aware, this decade has seen a new awareness in the way in which the workplace is designed and maintained. At the Ministry of Government Services, we own or lease the buildings that house government programs across the provinc. Our new buildings are models of barrier-free design. Today I am pleased to announce, with my colleague the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons (Mr Mancini), that we are launching a new initiative to improve the accessibility of our older buildings -- our courthouses, registry offices, psychiatric hospitals, agricultural colleges, office buildings and so on.
The $38 million, five-year initiative, introduced in the budget of the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon), will ensure, where possible, that persons who are disabled will have barrier-free access to Ontario government buildings.
My ministry has already produced a technical guide to barrier-free design. We have completed a three-year survey of all Ontario-owned and -leased facilities.
Now we are ready to begin work on the first 170 projects throughout Ontario.
Work on buildings as diverse as the registry office in Thunder Bay, the London Psychiatric Hospital, the Ontario Provincial Police detachment in Hearst, Sir James Whitney School in Belleville and the Supreme Court and county court buildings in Toronto will be completed this fiscal year.
L’Organisation des Nations unies a déclaré la décennie 1983-1993 celle des personnes handicapées. En signant cette déclaration, l’Ontario nous a apporté plusieurs défis, dont l’accessibilité des personnes handicapées à tous les immeubles gouvernementaux, autant aux immeubles nouveaux et existants qu’aux édifices historiques.
This $38 million initiative, developed jointly by the Ministry of Government Services and the Office responsible for Disabled Persons, reflects this government’s strong commitment to meet those challenges.
I am delighted to make this statement.
Hon Mrs McLeod: This is National Access Awareness Week, encouraging us to take stock of the barriers that keep people with disabilities from fully participating in and contributing to our communities.
It would be very difficult, indeed, to participate fully without access to education. The Ministry of Colleges and Universities has been working on removing the sometimes invisible barriers to our post-secondary institutions.
Our universities have also been working on removing barriers. In the last two years, nearly $6.5 million has been committed by the universities to improving facilities and making programs more accessible to students with disabilities.
The physical barriers are perhaps the easiest to detect. If a student cannot read the floor numbers in an elevator, open a classroom door or climb stairs to the library, he or she would have a difficult time getting through one day of studies, let alone a three-year degree.
But the barriers are sometimes more subtle than that. There is a need for support and counselling for those who have less visible disabilities such as the hard of hearing or persons with learning disabilities.
In March 1988 we announced that an additional $3.1 million would be allocated to the colleges of applied arts and technology to provide the kind of counselling support needed by these students with disabilities. In 1989 this money became part of our base funding.
Today I am pleased to announce that $4 million is being committed to promote access for students with disabilities at Ontario universities.
The $4 million will be used by universities to establish and staff a special needs office to provide counselling, professional resources and information.
A student with a hearing impairment, for instance, might wish to go there to find out where he or she could get a lecture transcribed, or find out about interpreter services.
The funds will also go towards providing professional development activities to acquaint all personnel with the needs of students with disabilities and the obligations facing the institutions.
If we carry on with the hard of hearing student, a professor might wish to look at the resources available to ensure a lecture is understood by all students in the class, which could mean taping the session or having it transcribed for those with limited hearing.
The funds will also help provide support services such as attendant care on a limited basis as well as devices and equipment for students with disabilities.
Each university will receive a minimum level of support of $30,000 for the development of programs for students with disabilities. Additional funding will be provided to each institution based on enrolment.
It is increasingly important that our post-secondary institutions develop a welcoming environment for all students. I believe the measures announced today will work towards that goal.
ASSISTANCE FOR THE DISABLED
Mr Allen: As someone who, when he first came to this Legislature, engaged in a major battle to secure the survival of an audio library at Trent University, at virtually the beginning of the Decade of Disabled Persons, nine years later I am pleased to see that we are beginning to see some serious action from the government with respect to some of the outstanding issues. Certainly the announcements today are a significant help, in particular, the announcements by the Minister of Government Services, which I am going to be responding to. A colleague will be responding to the second statement.
The problem we face is that there is such an accumulated delay in this whole field that, when one speaks of barrier-free access, it sounds great. When one establishes barrier-free design centres, as this government has done, it sounds great. When we produce access design awards, it sounds great. When we give awards to the disabled for their participation in the community, as we do, that is all great stuff.
The problem, however, is that when one comes to some very fundamental aspects of barrier-free access, some of them tangible and some of them intangible, the record is still extremely difficult to confront. For example, the government itself and the Ministry of Transportation for some years now have had before it a memorandum of agreement by disabled groups asking it to sign a timetable whereby it would endorse a certain schedule of implementation of the integration of public and disabled transportation. We have had literally no action on that memorandum or any of the contents. It is true we have a few disabled accessible taxis for the disabled. We have some more studies that the minister a year ago said he would immediately be taking action on and yet none of the dimensions of that relating to integrated public transportation access have secured even a nod of agreement from the government or from the ministry.
If one looks at education, for example, another case that I have been fighting for several years now is the Thompson family with some very able disabled boys who have fought for years to get ministry support for their education and have failed, even though they have won court cases on the question. The younger of the two boys recently graduated from a notable American school at incredible cost and incredible sacrifice to the family and has now been accepted in industrial design in two -- not just one -- of the most advanced institutions in the United States for that study, and we have been unprepared to support that family and that boy in his attempt to secure access to employment.
One could go on with lots of examples. I just want to highlight the fact that we are far from winning this war. There is an immense number of battles for us to wage out there. Let’s keep the movement going and accelerate it as rapidly as we possibly can.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Maybe I will not be quite as generous as my colleague has been. When I look at this announcement, which makes it sound like there is going to be $4 million worth of new money going in, in point of fact it will be less than $1 million of real money. We are talking about $30,000 guaranteed to each institution for people with severe disability trying to get in. A colleague has said that this government is more like a speed bump on the access ramp to equality than a facilitator of access and this kind of announcement is kind of a slap in the face to people.
Let’s use the example of the deaf that is being talked about here. The reality is that virtually no deaf person in the province can go to university in this province. The kind of support services the minister is talking about putting in today will not make it any easier for a deaf person to go, and counselling to tell them where there might be an interpreter is not going to be helpful. Providing $30,000 to an institution to help somebody who maybe needs attendant care, which in the cases I have taken have cost as much as $16,000 to $20,000 a year per student, is not major access to people with major disabilities who want to go on to higher education.
This government has to get serious about making real equality possible for people with disability and not just putting forward more token programs with inflated figures trying to mask the fact that in fact it is not putting in real dollars into these programs at all.
Mr J. M. Johnson: On behalf of our caucus, I would like to commend the Minister of Government Services for the initiative, to provide barrier-free access to the Ontario government buildings and accessibility for the older government buildings. I would also like to suggest to the minister that he should encourage his government to provide the same access funding to the municipal councils in Ontario to help them provide access to their village council chambers and town halls. This is a service that is needed and the government is encouraging them to provide this service. It should support them financially because many of them need that support.
Also, while we are on this topic, I would like to digress just slightly and suggest to the government that it has a responsibility to provide access to senior citizens’ apartment buildings that have more than one floor. It is a shame to see these people who are living on second floors denied access to their own homes, to their apartments. We deny them that access by not providing elevators in those buildings. They were built several years ago. They need those elevators. I have pleaded with the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mrs Wilson) and the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons (Mr Mancini). I urge this minister to please prevail upon his colleagues in caucus to provide those seniors with the access they need for their own homes. Surely this is as important as providing access to government buildings.
Mrs Marland: I am sure that when my colleague congratulates the government he is also reflecting on the fact that barrier-free accessibility was a program started by the former government of which all our caucus members are proud.
The question I hope this minister and the minister for the disabled, who unfortunately I assume is absent today, will consider is the fact that we have one million disabled people in Ontario today, and that under the home renewal program for the disabled, which is a terribly important program for renovations and changes to homes to make those homes accessible and functional for disabled people, out of those one million people only 750 have been able to access the fund for those renovations.
In fact, since the program seems to run out of money very early in the fiscal year, I say to the minister that if he is speaking to the minister for the disabled, I hope that particular program will be allocated some of his $38 million, for that specific fund for the disabled, because there is a tremendous need, a large number of applications that simply are not met. Also, just labelling buildings barrier free and accessible is not enough. There are a lot of buildings including our own that are labelled barrier free. In fact, in this very building, I could take members to a washroom that is identified as being accessible and in fact is not accessible.
Mr Jackson: I would like to acknowledge as well the announcement of the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mrs McLeod) this afternoon. I also read it in the Globe and Mail a couple of days ago. I want to commend her because it is a first step in this area of providing access to attendant care for post-secondary students. As my colleague the member for Scarborough West (Mr R. F. Johnston) has indicated, it is not a lot of dollars and it probably will not go very far, but it is a start.
Unfortunately, we have a government that includes some cabinet colleagues of hers who have not gone as far as she has in winning this argument at the cabinet table. It is unfortunate, for example, in the case of Wally Elgersma, a case I continually bring to the attention of this government. This 11-year-old child with spina bifida does not have access to educational support services and he does not have access to badly needed medical support services because this government has a barrier for children who are attending private schools. That is grossly unfair.
I ask that this minister, who has overcome this hurdle in cabinet, assist the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) and the Minister of Education (Mr Ward) to overcome the hurdles they personally have with the issue of making sure that all children in this province have similar access to these types of programs.
It is interesting that today we will debate the issue of heritage languages. This government has a policy of pride that heritage languages will be accessible to private school children in this province, but we will not give them equal medical attention and support in this province. That is an unfair double standard and a barrier this government has yet to overcome.
CONDUCT OF CABINET MINISTERS
Mr Reville: My questions are for the Premier. Over the past 19 days, since 18 May in fact, many people, including members of my caucus and my party, have wondered about the Premier’s standards for regulating and overseeing the conduct of the members of his cabinet. Will the Premier tell the House just what his standards are for ministerial conduct?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am very happy to do so. As the member knows, a number of guidelines have been published and he has seen some of them. There has been a discussion of some of them with respect to discussions with the police -- under what circumstances it is appropriate, who should speak to the police and who should not -- as my honourable friend will know.
There are conflict-of-interest guidelines now enshrined into law. The member will recall this Legislature brought those into being. My honourable friend will be aware of that. Some tell me that those, which apply to all members of this House, are some of the toughest conflict-of-interest guidelines anywhere.
There are several levels of, shall we say, enforcement. The conflict-of-interest commissioner in certain situations obviously would be appropriately involved. The member, any other member of this House or any private citizen can refer a matter to the conflict-of-interest commissioner for an independent resolution. There are certain other guidelines I have the obligation to interpret, as my honourable friend is aware. I think that is a parliamentary tradition that has gone on probably for 400 or 500 years.
Mr Reville: Members of this Legislature are well aware of the conflict-of-interest legislation and of the ability of people to refer matters to the commissioner. I guess what I am more interested in is to understand from the Premier whether he intends to provide a detailed elaboration of those standards of behaviour, such as were set out by Prime Minister Trudeau in 1976 or Premier Davis in 1978. Will he in fact embrace those standards publicly for the Legislature and the people of Ontario?
Hon Mr Peterson: Those are the operative standards and I am very happy to share those. We inherited a number of guidelines and I think my honourable friend is aware of those, but if he is not, I would be happy to share them with him. In addition to that, we have gone on and enshrined in legislation the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act. So we have taken it beyond that, as my honourable friend is aware.
Mr Reville: The Premier again refers to the conflict-of-interest legislation, but he has neglected to say to the House clearly whether or not the standards set out by Premier Davis in 1978 are the standards he uses to regulate the members of his cabinet and their behaviour. How does he come to the kinds of judgements he does come to when he is looking at such standards? Are the standards he is looking at the Premier Davis standards or are they not?
Hon Mr Peterson: I thought I answered my honourable friend. Yes, we have embraced those but have indeed gone beyond them, and now we have the thorough disclosure legislation for cabinet ministers as well as all members of the House. Yes, we have embraced those but have gone beyond them.
Mr Reville: The Premier’s words are good and the actions are questionable.
Mr Ballinger: That’s a value judgement.
Mr Reville: Indeed, it is a value judgement.
USE OF CHARITABLE FOUNDATION’S FUNDS
Mr Reville: This is also to the Premier. There have been allegations in the media that one Patricia Starr, the Premier’s choice as chairman of Ontario Place, channelled thousands of dollars of charitable contributions to Liberals seeking electoral nominations, seeking positions within the Liberal party, seeking election as Liberal candidates either to this place or to the House of Commons. Given the seriousness of those kinds of allegations, I wonder if the Premier would tell the House why it is that neither the Ontario Provincial Police nor the Metropolitan Toronto Police are investigating these allegations.
Hon Mr Peterson: They may well be. I do not ask police forces to investigate. We have just gone through that discussion. My honourable friend, I assume, is not changing his mind in that regard. But I should tell him that the public trustee is looking into this entire matter, as he knows. He is going to report some time in the not-too-distant future, so I am told. Certainly it is his prerogative, should he feel there is anything improper, to call in the police at any point he thinks is appropriate.
Mr Reville: My understanding is different from the Premier’s, and perhaps he would like to file some kind of report on the activities of the public trustee.
The Premier will know as well that under the Income Tax Act, charities are not permitted to make political contributions and the penalty for that kind of behaviour could include loss of charitable status and other kinds of penalties. In order to protect the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, the Toronto section, of which Ms Starr was the president, does he think it would be appropriate to ask the auditor to conduct a forensic audit to determine whether behaviour of the type complained of has in fact occurred?
Hon Mr Peterson: I say to my honourable friend that all the facts must come out. The question is, how does one go about that? We have a public trustee who is an independent public official, with about the same status as the Provincial Auditor I think my honourable friend would agree, to look at these matters. He is doing exactly that investigation right now and will do exactly what my friend is asking for.
Mr Reville: I may be incorrect but my understanding is that the investigation the Premier talks about is not being conducted by the public trustee, by the Ontario Provincial Police, by the Metro police, or by the Department of Revenue.
I wonder if the Premier is concerned, as I am, about the media reports that allege the campaign organization of the member for Oakwood (Ms Hošek) received funds from Patricia Starr in the amount of more than $750, an amount that would be in excess of that permitted by the Election Finances Act. Does the Premier think it would be appropriate for the Commission on Election Finances to investigate these allegations at the meeting it is having on 21 June next?
Hon Mr. Peterson: Absolutely. I think it is appropriate that the election expenses commission should look at that.
Mr D. S. Cooke: What have you asked anybody to do on this?
Hon Mr Peterson: I say to my honourable friend that I take it very seriously when allegations are made. My honourable friend will be aware that allegations are made every day. Frankly, some are accurate and some are not accurate. But I think it is incumbent upon us to use the institutions we have to track that down and make sure all the facts are there.
We have the public trustee looking at the matters I discussed with my friend. I think the election expenses commission is there. It is headed by a New Democrat, someone in whom the member has great faith, a former member of this House, Donald MacDonald, a former leader of his party. I have great faith in him and we all agreed to his appointment. I trust him and his commission to look into this. If there is anything improper, anything that is slightly amiss, restitution should be made. I agree with my honourable friend in that regard.
SOLICITOR GENERAL’S VISIT TO POLICE STATION
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Premier as well. I want to say to the Premier in all sincerity that we recognize the difficulty of the Solicitor General (Mrs Smith) in making the decision she did with respect to the resignation she submitted to him. We believe that was the right decision under the circumstances. Speaking on behalf of our party, we respect that decision on the part of the Solicitor General.
However, we would like to point out to the Premier that we are still left with a bit of a dilemma in connection with the way in which this matter has unfolded. That comes from the fact that the Solicitor General has indicated she resigned because the House was in a state of paralysis and to allow us to get back to business again. There has been no admission on the part of the Solicitor General, nor on the part of the Premier, that the visit to the Ontario Provincial Police Lucan detachment was in fact inappropriate. Will the Premier indicate to this House clearly whether he feels the visit was inappropriate under the circumstances?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the honourable minister indicated regret. Obviously, we wish the whole thing had not taken place. I do not get any joy out of this; my honourable friend probably does not either. Let me just take him back. Some people question her judgement. I do not think it was ever an issue of integrity. It was an issue of judgement, whether the things she did were appropriate for a Solicitor General and whether they warranted her being fired in the circumstances. My friend and his colleagues obviously took the view and expressed it very vociferously in this House that she should be fired.
I discussed this yesterday with the Solicitor General. She was very concerned about a number of things and decided to tender her resignation. I accepted it. She was concerned about the fact that this House had come to a state of paralysis for a variety of reasons and taking advantage of the rules to bring everything else to a halt. That concerned her because she believes in the agenda of this government and the things we have to do in capping insurance rates, in heritage languages, in environment and in education, in so many important issues at stake.
She was also concerned, I say to my honourable friend, about the progress she had made with the Police Act. As members know, and my honourable friend would agree with me, there are a number of very sensitive issues today with regard to policing. She wanted to have complete credibility in dealing with those issues and thought that going through an inquiry would just impair the ability to deal with the real issues.
The honourable member knows and I know that mistakes are judged very harshly in politics. It was a mistake. We will have different opinions on the severity of that mistake, but she came to the conclusion that she was less able to do the really important things, given the tarnish that was there.
Frankly, she has discussed it with her family and did not think it was constructive for the government or for her personally to go through an inquiry, although at the same time very comfortable with the facts of the situation. They are all there. We can all make our judgement. She came to the conclusion she did. I support that and I think my honourable friend, certainly if not in political terms, in human terms can understand that response.
Mr Brandt: I would like to point out to the Premier that a letter dated 9 May was sent by one of his cabinet colleagues to a constituent. I will provide the Premier with that letter. However, I would like to quote from it, if I might: “Thank you for your letter dated April 10th, in which you outline a complaint against several members of the Lucan OPP. It would be inappropriate for me to intervene directly in this matter.”
That letter was sent by the Solicitor General prior to her visiting the OPP detachment in Lucan. On the one hand, she indicates it would be totally inappropriate for her to make that visitation; on the other hand, because it involved perhaps a son of the friend of the Solicitor General -- how can it be both? For the first time, the Premier has made an admission that at least a mistake was committed. We on this side are looking for some standard of conduct that he and his cabinet can be held to in connection with this kind of intervention.
All we are asking is, in this particular instance, was the visit to the OPP Lucan detachment appropriate or inappropriate?
Hon Mr Peterson: I do not know of the letter my honourable friend refers to or what the incident involved is. I would be happy if he would send it to me.
I think we established in this House that the minister was responding to a call in the middle of the night. He thinks it was inappropriate and that is fair enough, but that was the circumstance under which she responded. It was not a normal practice to do this kind of thing. It was not a normal situation. She responded in a human way. Many people think it was inappropriate. She did the honourable thing and resigned.
If my honourable friend has anything else -- I do not know what he is interested in establishing now. Does he just want to throw more sand on the coffin? He should help me out.
Mr Brandt: I think the Premier is being a little unfair when he uses the --
Mr Ballinger: Look in the mirror, Andy.
Mr Brandt: What I do when I look in the mirror, I might say to my honourable friend, is see situations like that of George Kerr who also took the honourable route.
The Speaker: Final supplementary.
Mr Brandt: I am attempting to establish by way of final supplementary, very simply, is it appropriate or inappropriate for any member of the Premier’s cabinet, in dealing with a matter of some sensitivity relative to the responsibilities of his portfolio, to make the kind of intervention and the kind of contact, innocently or otherwise, that we have established took place with respect to the Lucan OPP? All we want is a clear indication from the Premier what level of conduct and what level of standard he is prepared to establish for himself and the members of his cabinet.
Hon Mr Peterson: Obviously, it is not appropriate to interfere with any police investigation by anyone, by the Solicitor General, or by a member of Parliament for that matter.
Mr D. S. Cooke: There is a difference.
Hon Mr Peterson: I agree with my honourable friend that there is a higher standard for a Solicitor General. I say it is not appropriate to interfere in any way in an investigation, although she has to stand and defend the ministry in this regard. Any communication should obviously take place through the deputy or the commission, and not directly with any kind of a constable or officer.
We have to avoid at all cost the perception that there is one class of justice for one and one class of justice for another or that anybody through special influence can do things. I think we established the facts in the case and that that was not the case, but we understand, on the other hand, the appearance of that.
My honourable friend asked me for the standard and that is the standard. It applies to all members of this House. My honourable friend opposite has made light sometimes of not getting a ticket because the policeman was a Conservative. He is the one who joked about that, so before my honourable friend lectures too toughly to other people, before he is too harsh and too sanctimonious, he may want to think about his own behaviour as well, because we are all flawed human beings, we all make mistakes, and sometimes it is helpful to find a little charity in our souls.
Mr Brandt: Thank you for the applause, but it was hardly necessary.
CONDUCT OF CABINET MINISTERS
Mr Brandt: My question is with respect to a bill that was proposed by my colleague the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr Runciman). In the context of that particular bill my colleague proposed a series of standards, if you will, for cabinet ministers which in his view should be followed and which we endorse as being a reasonable position that should have been endorsed by the government.
For whatever reasons, the Premier was unable to make that particular vote when it was called in this House, so he was unable to place his position on the record with respect to how he feels about the bill that was proposed by the member for Leeds-Grenville.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Callahan: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I believe that the rules say that if a bill has been introduced and defeated, as I understand this one was, it is out of order to raise that issue again in the House.
The Speaker: Order. I understand the member’s point of order and I know that if a matter has been dealt with, it cannot be dealt with by the House. However, we are in question period, and I ask the member to continue and place the question.
Mr Brandt: Since the Premier was absent for the vote as it relates to this particular bill, would he indicate to the House whether he endorses the bill that was proposed by my colleague the member for Leeds-Grenville and whether he accepts that particular standard of behaviour for cabinet ministers?
Hon Mr Peterson: Let me say to the honourable member I take very seriously any private member’s bill that is introduced. I support the process here of discussing those matters with all members, and the government takes seriously any view of the House on those matters. But when the member opposite introduces a bill and votes against his own bill on the first reading, how does he expect us to take it very seriously?
Mr Sterling: We didn’t vote against it.
The Speaker: Order. Supplementary, the member for Leeds-Grenville.
Mr Runciman: The record will show that all members of this party voted in support of that bill.
Mr Speaker --
The Speaker: Order. The member for Leeds-Grenville is waiting patiently.
The Speaker: Order. If you wish to waste the time, go ahead.
Mr Runciman: This is indeed a very important and significant matter, certainly in the minds of the opposition parties, and the issue here is cabinet standards.
The Premier recently told the media that he instructed one of his bodyguards to call the Ontario Provincial Police regarding an accidental death at his home. There was no reason to do this, because, as he has often said -- in fact, has reiterated here today -- he does not tell the OPP how to do their jobs.
This incident raises the same questions about standards of conduct for cabinet ministers that we have been discussing the last two weeks. Is the Premier prepared today to table guidelines concerning communications between members of the cabinet and police and judicial officials which indicate clearly that this type of communication will not be tolerated?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think I have dealt with that in responding to some of the other questions, and the member was asked about his bill which he voted against. For a variety of reasons my friends obviously believe there should be a standard for such communications, but they cannot have it both ways.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Runciman: Again, the issue here is cabinet standards, apparently a very humorous matter in government benches.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Runciman: I am amazed by the lack of judgment --
The Speaker: This might be the appropriate time to remind all members that a question is to ask for information, not necessarily offer. Please place your supplementary.
Mr Runciman: We are amazed by the lack of judgement shown by the Premier in this matter. Will the Premier acknowledge today that his communication with the OPP was improper and that clear written directions will be introduced so that communications between cabinet ministers and police or judicial officials regarding personal matters will never be tolerated under any circumstances?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think cabinet ministers are very familiar with their duties, and I appreciate the member’s advice on this matter.
Mr Mackenzie: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. The minister will be aware of the revelation in the case of the women who worked at the Canadian General Electric lamp plant on Dufferin Street in Toronto and who are trying to get compensation for the cancer they now have. In December 1982, the Ministry of Labour knew that the cancer-causing agent thorium was present in the dust in the coil and wire drawing department where the women worked.
The Labour ministry informed the Atomic Energy Control Board, which wrote to the company, CGE, telling it to clean up its act. The Minister of Labour and CGE would not tell the union or my New Democrat colleague Elie Martel, at the time. In fact, the company said thorium was not used in the department where the women worked.
When the minister took over the ministry, the case of the women from the lamp plant claiming compensation for their cancer was one of the better-known industrial disease claims outstanding. Why did the minister not make this information available to the unions and to the official opposition and why did he persist in this government coverup?
Hon Mr Sorbara: There are times in this Legislature when I think that members of the opposition will go to just about any extent to -- how shall I put it? -- misportray matters of public information and matters of interest to this Parliament.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Well, this is a serious matter.
The Speaker: Order. I am sure the member has created a little disorder and would want to change that word.
Hon Mr Sorbara: In this case, I am not unattracted to the word “misportray,” but I will withdraw it if it is your advice to do this.
Let me just put the facts of the case on the record. My friend the member for Hamilton East has said that in 1982 information was not made available to opposition parties or to the union in respect of the use of thorium at the Canadian General Electric plant in west Toronto. The fact is that the question of the presence of thorium, as I am told by ministry officials, was discussed not only with the union but with the joint health and safety committee at the plant at that time.
Indeed, I am told that in February 1983 a letter was sent to one of my predecessors, the incumbent minister at the time. It was received from Elie Martel, the former MPP for Sudbury East, who inquired as to why the ministry had failed, etc. At that time, the former member for Sudbury East was informed about all matters relating to the presence of thorium in that facility. For my friend the member for Sudbury East (Miss Martel) to suggest some seven years later that information was withheld I think is rather unfortunate and reduces somewhat the kinds of standards of debate in the House.
Let me put one other thing on the record, Mr Speaker, if I might. A few days ago on 19 May --
The Speaker: No, with respect.
Mr Mackenzie: Here we have a case of at least 11, now we think 14 and maybe more workers, some dead, some still hanging on, who have been trying to get compensation for their industrial diseases since well before 1980. The Workers’ Compensation Board refuses to recognize site-specific claims based on the probability that their cancer came from the workplace. Two examples are Inco’s old sintering plant in Sudbury and Dofasco’s foundry in Hamilton. Now the WCB’s Industrial Disease Standards Panel will not allow claims unless there is conclusive proof that conditions in a workplace caused the disease, and that is an almost impossible task to establish, as the minister knows.
Why has the minister not done something in Bill 162, his amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act, that would give the benefit of the doubt to workers with industrial diseases and, in particular, ensure that the women and their families from the CGE plant, which have been fighting now for a good many years, receive the compensation --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Mackenzie: -- to which it is now obvious they are entitled because of the knowledge that thorium in one of the plants --
The Speaker: The question was put.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Once again, I think the tack the member for Hamilton East is taking on this issue is really unfortunate, particularly because I know him to be a member who has brought to public debate issues relating to industrial disease and workplace health and safety for a good many years. But he knows quite well that the Industrial Disease Standards Panel does not make these determinations. It is a scientific body that reports to the board.
That report must be gazetted, the unions and any other person interested in that report may make comment and the Workers’ Compensation Board, based on the report of the Industrial Disease Standards Panel and any other body that wishes to comment, will make the determination. So it is unfortunate for the member to pretend in this House that it is the Industrial Disease Standards Panel which has denied compensation when that is clearly not the case.
The Speaker: Order.
HIRING OF HOUSING CONSULTANT
Mr Harris: I have a question for the Premier regarding the $232,000 contract awarded by the Ministry of Housing to Dino Chiesa, someone who has been described as a Liberal Party fund-raiser, a campaign worker for the minister and who is known to have made a substantial personal donation to the Minister of Housing (Ms Hošek) in the last election. I would like to know when the Premier first learned of Mr Chiesa’s appointment and whether he is satisfied with the circumstances and the process surrounding the appointment of Mr Chiesa to that position.
Hon Mr Peterson: I will let the minister give the honourable member all the details of that.
Hon Ms Hošek: All of us have sat in the House while the member opposite has indicated repeatedly that he wanted to see government action on our government land. The member opposite knows that we have made a commitment to making sure the government land that we have will be developed for meeting the housing needs of this province. In order to do that we needed someone who had the kind of expertise that was required to make sure that our land would come on stream and meet our housing goals.
In order to do that the Deputy Minister of Housing developed selection criteria for the kind of person and expertise that was needed to do this job. He developed those selection criteria, and I assure the member opposite that the hiring of the person who was hired to do this work was done under those selection criteria and in accordance with Management Board guidelines.
Mr Harris: I was interested in knowing when the Premier knew, but I do have a supplementary based on the minister’s answer. I am advised that five people were contacted and interviewed. The person given the $250,000 contract just happened to be the one with the best Liberal credentials.
Management Board issues mandatory directives to prevent these kinds of coincidences. The directives state that awards of more than $25,000 must be made through a competitive process. Can the minister tell this House why a competitive process was ignored, and specifically why a $232,000 contract with the government would not be tendered or even advertised?
Hon Ms Hošek: My deputy has advised me that all appropriate procedures for hiring were followed. The member opposite should also know that we have shared the selection criteria on the basis of which this appointment was made with his office. I would be glad to share them with him in the House if he wants me to.
There were five people interviewed. The person chosen was someone whom the deputy minister thought was the best person for the job. The person who was hired has 11 years of experience working for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp in the public sector doing housing work. He also has two years of experience in the private sector. He therefore combines the kind of expertise in both public and private sector development that the deputy felt was appropriate for this job, and that is why he was chosen to do it.
ELECTRICITY DEMAND AND SUPPLY
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Minister of Energy. Recently I have been looking at forecasts for this province which indicate that in the next decade there is expected to be a doubling of hydro consumption for Ontario. At the same time, I have been looking at the northeastern United States desperately searching even now for more hydro supplies and looking increasingly to Canada to meet that need.
These forecasts are indicating that it could have a serious effect on pushing up the price of hydro in our province and reducing availability of hydro at the same time in Ontario. Will the minister share with us today the forecasts of this province’s future requirements and does he have any indication or information as to how and where these requirements are going to be met?
Hon Mr Wong: I would like to thank the member for Simcoe Centre for his question. Let me say first that for more than half a century in Ontario the amount of electricity and the capacity has grown from very small numbers to a current in-service capacity of 28,000 megawatts. What we are thinking of adding to this capacity between now and the turn of the century, in the next 10 to 11 years, is approximately 9,000 megawatts, which is another one-third increase. This is a very significant increase for the people in the industry in the province.
In answering the second part of the honourable member’s question, there are a number of ways in which we can address that problem to make sure that we have reliable supplies of electricity for the province. One, of course, is additional nonutility generation. Other considerations are purchases from neighbouring provinces; the addition of major new generating stations; new capacity at presently mothballed stations, and of course the acceleration of the demand management and electrical efficiency programs.
Mr Owen: The debate has gone on for some time as to the pros and cons of various sources of energy. We have had arguments, pro and con, about coal-fired stations, about importing future power needs, as has been suggested by the minister in his answer, and about natural gas and nuclear energy sources. But one of the possible sources that I have heard from people in Ontario that is available and we have not entirely looked at or explored fully is independent generation. It may not supply all the needs, but Ontario Hydro may not have all the answers either.
By way of supplementary, would the minister comment on the possible future of independent generation and whether there are any programs currently available from his ministry to support independent energy producers outside, above and beyond Ontario Hydro?
Hon Mr Wong: Yes, on the whole subject of independent generation, we believe this is important to the province. While Ontario Hydro remains the largest and the main supplier of electricity to the province, the province does recognize the importance of independent power generation to our system. Small hydro and industrial cogeneration would be two specific examples. The ministry and the government are currently working on a parallel generation policy paper which hopefully will tie together all of the elements of our supply and demand system and the different participants in the system.
With respect to targets, I think this is important. Ontario Hydro has indicated that it plans to help to facilitate 1,000 extra megawatts of power by the year 2000. The government has looked at these figures and said, “We’d like to see that 1,000 done sooner than the year 2000 and we believe that an additional 1,000 could also be completed.”
EVENTS IN CHINA
Mr Reville: My question is to the Premier. When terrible things happen and there is a loss of life in other places, it has been common for this government to take the lead in helping to organize the assistance that its people are so eager to provide. I was expecting the Minister of Energy to make such an offer in his statement.
I wonder if the Premier will now commit his government to providing the organizational assistance to our large Chinese community and other Ontarians who would like to respond to the calamity in Beijing.
Hon Mr Peterson: Let me say the honourable member’s suggestion is a good one and a constructive one. The question is always how we best respond in these circumstances.
As my honourable friend knows, Ontarians have responded generously to a wide variety of tragedies around the world, in Armenia, in Jamaica and in Mexico. We have built schools, we have provided immediate relief goods and reconstruction materials and have always tried to work with the communities in that regard. At this moment it may be happening. It is not clear to me if there is a particular group in the Chinese community that is organizing to assist. If so, I do not know how they have chosen to assist.
Let me tell my honourable friend that I will take his suggestion seriously and share the information with my colleagues in the House if there are things we could do. At this moment, frankly, I do not have the answer to that. I think, as is shared by all members of this House, we look at what is going on there with a sense of deep futility and wish we could do something to solve these things. Maybe there are ways in which at least we can help certain human beings.
Mr Reville: I appreciate the Premier’s answer. I think there may be some ways we can help. I understand money is being spontaneously contributed, even as we sit here.
I have just been advised of a problem that I would like to share with the Premier. I understand that some Chinese nationals who are studying here in Ontario are concerned that because of their political activity in connection with the democracy struggle, the Beijing regime may cut their funds off. I would like the Premier to consider at the same time setting up a fund of compassionate assistance for those students, if in fact their fears are realized.
Hon Mr Peterson: I was not aware of that. I take the honourable member’s suggestion very seriously. We obviously, from a compassion point of view, want to do whatever we can to help those students who are here obviously wondering about their own families in their own country at the present time.
I should tell my honourable friend, since I am on my feet, that we do have 21 Ontario students in China at the present time. To the best of my knowledge, contact or at least attempted contact has been made with all of them. We are trying to assist them. Some are being evacuated. We are trying to tend to our responsibilities in that regard in conjunction with the Canadian government. If my honourable friend is interested, I can bring him up to date on the progress. As I am sure he will know, it has not been easy.
His idea is a good one. I will discuss it with my colleagues. If he has any more suggestions on how we can respond in a sensitive and humane way, I would be delighted to hear them.
CHAIRMAN OF ONTARIO PLACE CORP
Mr McLean: My question is for the Premier and it has to do with Patricia Starr, chairman of Ontario Place Corp.
Following recent allegations that she approved several political payments, including one to the Premier’s brother, when she had sole signing authority for the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, the Toronto section’s capital fund, it is not appropriate that she is currently on leave. Why has the Premier not demanded her resignation?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am very aware of the allegations that have been made. We have discussed it in the House. The public trustee is looking into all of this and we obviously cannot support anybody doing anything illegal or improper. She is in a leave-of-absence situation pending a resolution of these matters.
Mr McLean: The Premier does not seem to appreciate the seriousness of Ms Starr’s actions. Because of her own political payments, the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, Toronto section, could very well lose its charitable status. Her alleged political payments are a direct contravention of the federal Income Tax Act. Does he not think Ms Starr should vacate her government-appointed position at Ontario Place immediately and permanently?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think I have dealt with that. As the member knows, there is a suggestion of a number of political payments, including to a number of Conservatives as well, out of that fund. I say to my honourable friend that he, I know, would want to make sure that the facts are clearly established. There can be no fear or favour in that regard and they all have to come out. I think my honourable friend would say she has taken a leave of absence and has nothing to do with Ontario Place, as I said, pending a resolution of these matters. I think that is fair in the circumstances.
Mr Campbell: My question is for the Minister of Mines. During the first session of this assembly, the minister introduced a green paper on the Ontario Mining Act. Various government officials and ministries, as well as client groups, were asked for their comments and views. Can the minister provide this House with a progress report on how the consultation process has been received?
Hon Mr Conway: Very happily. I want to say to my friend the member for Sudbury and to other members of the House who I know share his interest in mining matters that we have had a very positive response over the last number of months to the green paper which contained the policy proposals that the government is advancing for purposes of a new Mining Act. I believe we have had something like 86 --
Mr Pouliot: The old one is better.
Hon Mr Conway: We have heard, I say to my friend the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr Pouliot), from some 86 groups, ranging from prospectors to mining companies to tourist developers to a number of other individuals well known to the member. We are at the present moment reviewing those submissions. It is my plan and my hope to have a new Mining Act before this assembly later this year.
I can assure my friend that we are going to make every effort to accommodate the very constructive criticism that the discussion to date has provided and I look forward to his ongoing interest and to the interest of all members when that legislation is introduced later this year.
Mr Campbell: Given what the minister has said, can he advise the House as to perhaps when in the future the Mining Act will be introduced?
Hon Mr Conway: I will not say “in the early fall” because I know that excites my friends opposite, but we are making very good progress. I want to say most sincerely that the consultation has provided very good feedback. I myself participated in a number of public forums in northern Ontario over the course of this winter. I want to say to my friends opposite that it would be my hope and my wish to have that new Mining Act before the assembly during this current sitting.
TEMAGAMI DISTRICT RESOURCES
Mr Wildman: I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources related to the arrest of several people on the Goulard Road near Temagami yesterday and the complete failure of the government to resolve this matter related to land use in the Temagami area.
The minister is quoted as saying that these people, these protesters, could have helped resolve matters by agreeing to be represented on the Temagami Advisory Council. In light of that, can the minister explain how he expects anyone to have any faith in the Temagami Advisory Council, considering that the council has accomplished absolutely nothing of substance in developing the so-called model management area in the full year since it was formed?
Hon Mr Kerrio: I am quite surprised that a member from northern Ontario does not really understand this issue. In fact, if he were to understand it, he would know that this government is doing more to develop model management. By going forward with our class environmental assessment, we are looking at how the future of the forests will be attended after the class environmental assessment has taken place.
We are doing things that have never been done before. The area we are talking about, as the member well knows, is an area that has been harvested for many years. We moved people out of an area to make a true wilderness park to the north, and in order for this to take place moved them into an area where it was accepted and licensed, and when we had some difficulty, structured the Temagami Advisory Council to set up a model management for an area that had some question about how it should be harvested.
I am sure the member would understand that when those people decided to blockade instead of being part of the model management, it is a big disappointment to me. It should be to the honourable member for the same reason, that we are trying to do things in the forestry direction that have not been done before, manage our forests responsibly, and we can only do it if people participate on that side, which I have asked them to do.
Mr Wildman: The minister seems confused. At one point he says he is waiting until after the EA to develop the model management approach, the environmental assessment of forestry, but at the same time he says the advisory council is doing something. Can he explain what the advisory council has done in the last 12 months to address the concerns of the aboriginal people in Temagami, what it has achieved with regard to environmental assessment of the Red Squirrel road extension, and what it has achieved in dealing with industrial restructuring in the Temagami area so that we can indeed have a model of sustainable resource development? What has it done in those three areas?
The Speaker: The member has already placed three questions. Minister?
Hon Mr Kerrio: The member is suggesting that I do not quite understand what he is saying. Sometimes that is very true; I have difficulty with what he is saying. What I brought into focus here was the determination of this government to enter a long-term direction of where we go with our forest, sustainable yield; that the class environmental assessment is one facet and the addressing of the Temagami Advisory Council is another one.
Good things are happening out there in the sense that we are trying to bring people on side to be able to address the question. We have done that in these areas. Is the member suggesting, by any measure, that Dr John Daniel from Laurentian University is not doing the job? Is that what he is suggesting? I tell him that that was a good appointment, as was Dr Baskerville, as we are doing self-examination on how we manage the forest, and opposition members just cannot keep up to the speed --
The Speaker: Thank you.
The Speaker: Order. I am sorry I cannot allow the member for Algoma to answer that question. New question, the member for Leeds-Grenville.
ESCAPE OF PRISONER
Mr Runciman: My question is to the Minister of Correctional Services. The people of this province are more than a little concerned about the escape of Frederick Merrill from the Don Jail last Wednesday. As we know, Merrill is one of the most dangerous criminals in North America, with a long history of sexual assaults, beatings and murder. He has also escaped from a number of American prisons over the years and made two previous escape attempts from the Don Jail.
Can the minister tell the people of Ontario why a man with this kind of background was able to escape from the Don Jail in Toronto?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I would like to thank the member for his question. Obviously, there is great concern in our ministry and among Ontarians throughout the province about this escape that happened last week. Immediately upon that escape, our day shift people stayed and contributed to the search in the valley. Also, we sent an investigator to the scene immediately, and I am awaiting his report.
Mr Runciman: As usual, we do not get much of an answer. The people of Ontario are wondering why security was so sloppy that this dangerous and violent man, with a long history of jailbreaks and jailbreak attempts, was able to escape from a correctional facility in Ontario.
Can the minister tell us if he is satisfied with the level of security that was present when Mr Merrill escaped, and if not, can he tell the House what specific steps have been taken to ensure that this kind of escape will not happen again?
Hon Mr Ramsey: I would like to give a little background to the member with regard to his question. As the member will know, this is the first escape from this facility in more than 30 years. It is one of the most secure facilities in Ontario. The member should also know there was a one-on-one supervisory situation there, and our initial investigation shows that this was an extraordinary escape, as the member knows, from a roof five storeys high, through barbed wire and razor wire.
This particular exercise area on the roof of the Don Jail, five storeys high, qualified to all the criteria of our maximum-security areas that, as I have said before, has not seen an escape in 30 years.
Mr Callahan: I have a question for the Treasurer. My riding in Brampton presently has limited am and pm service to Toronto. The difficulty that exists is that when it could have been done for $10 million, the former Conservative government failed to doubletrack the rail between Brampton and the Bramalea connection. It now would cost $100 million.
I was a bit shocked at a recent transit seminar to discover that the fuel tax the Conservative government presently collects from Ontario alone is $1.7 billion. Of that, $820 million is spent in Canada, without one nickel being spent in Ontario. I wonder if the Treasurer can confirm those facts as being accurate.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Actually, the question stands by itself as an extremely informative contribution to the deliberations in the House.
Mr Callahan: I am not sure if that is a yes or a no, but by way of supplementary --
The Speaker: Are you going to try a supplementary?
Mr Callahan: -- if I am correct and if these facts are accurate and if those moneys could be shaken out of the federal Conservative tree, would those moneys be limited in their spending ability to simply underpasses or could they be used for the doubletracking that is so necessary to give the people from my riding not only more than just limited am and pm service but also service to the SkyDome, which I understand they will not have?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the honourable member is very sensible and well within his rights to suggest through this House that the Minister of Finance for Canada should allocate the funds that he receives from Ontario by his gas taxes, which we all know are higher than ours here. We all also know that he does not build any roads at all, and I think it would be quite appropriate if he doubletracked the honourable member’s transit service.
ASSISTANCE FOR THE DISABLED
Mr Morin-Strom: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services with regard to vocational rehabilitation services in Ontario. This being National Access Awareness Week, one would have hoped that the minister would have made initiatives that address some of the serious concerns the disabled have with respect to long waiting lists and lack of services in assisting them to get jobs through vocational rehabilitation services. Waiting lists in the province are typically anywhere from four to eight months long; in some places higher, northern Ontario particularly. In Sudbury, it is over 27 months. In Sault Ste Marie, the waiting list is over 30 months right now.
What has the minister done, with respect to this issue that was brought to his attention a number of months ago, to see that those services are made available to the disabled?
Hon Mr Sweeney: As a result of that situation having been brought to my attention, my regional office in Sudbury has allocated one additional staff person to that office to help reduce that load and has reallocated funds from its budget to the Sudbury office to help reduce the load. That has happened since the last issue was raised.
Mr Morin-Strom: The communities in Sault Ste Marie have been pressing on this issue, and the minister received a number of letters back in late January and early February demanding a change that would impact on the waiting list in our community. The minister has not responded to those letters and has not done anything about the waiting list which still remains today at more than 30 months for the disabled in Sault Ste Marie.
Will the minister make a commitment that the disabled will get access to those services in a reasonable time from today?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Part of the difficulty is defining exactly what a waiting list is. In a number of cases, my office in Sault Ste Marie has indicated to me that the residents of that community have been seen on fairly short notice with respect to their original assessment. The difficulty then follows with respect to the time that it takes to actually get a program in place, and that depends to a large extent on when the assessment is done in the calendar year or in the school year when some of these programs are made available.
I will certainly look into the observation that letters have been received by my office and not responded to. That certainly is not the normal practice in my office, but I will look into it.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Mr Sterling: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services. We have recently heard about a case whereby an official in his ministry forwarded to a patient in the Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre detailed plans of that establishment. The psychiatric establishment in Penetanguishene is an establishment for the most dangerous individuals in our society. It includes many people who have committed murder and many people who have committed sexual, violent crimes.
Can the minister explain to me why his ministry would forward to an individual in that institution detailed plans which he may have used or other patients may have used to escape from that institution?
Hon Mr Patten: The member for Carleton, of course, talked about sending detailed plans of that establishment. First of all, it was not detailed plans of the establishment; it was in fact information related to some modifications, some reparations to windows in that particular institution.
The member refers to the individual in a certain way. I might remind him that the individual in that institution is not a prisoner. That individual is a patient and under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, we cannot refuse individuals who have the right to ask for information.
Given the situation that the member identifies, I would like to point out that I am asking my officials to review this total process in the event that in some instances there may be information that might have something to do with security. In this particular instance, it was deemed that the information in no way could assist an individual to leave that institution.
Mr Sterling: The minister first states that it is not a criminal who is in the institution, that everyone is a patient. That is true. They are patients there because they are found insane in front of a court and are unable to stand trial for crimes that have been committed in our society. That is why they are patients. That is why they are in this very, very maximum security institution.
Second, the minister states that he cannot refuse under the freedom-of-information act. That is wrong. He can refuse if the security of the institution is in jeopardy. He has every right to refuse under an exemption under the freedom-of-information act.
What can the minister do to assure us that he will not be forwarding information to patients in the psychiatric hospital which will give them information such as how long it will take them to saw the iron bars off the windows? If that is not information which should not be shared, I do not know what is.
The Speaker: The member is now into a speech. The response?
Hon Mr Patten: The member asked the question, what will we do in the future? I have just said that I will be reviewing the requests where we feel there may be limitations that in fact may not serve the best interests of the security of the public. I will be doing this with my officials also in relation to the commissioner’s office and with Management Board which has the overall responsibility for this particular policy.
Miss Roberts: “To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the government of Ontario in its discussions with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act has refused to allow an equal partnership between teachers and government in management of the pension fund, establishment of an acceptable contribution increase, benefit adjustments, equitable treatment of future surpluses and a satisfactory dispute resolution process,
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer of Ontario negotiate with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation towards an equitable settlement.”
I have a petition signed by 58 persons who teach in my riding and, pursuant to the rules, I have affixed my signature to it.
Mr Morin: I have a petition signed by 25 people regarding amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act.
Ms Bryden: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, regarding Bill 162. It has been signed by 10 people and I have signed it myself. The petition says:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We urge the Liberal government to scrap Bill 162, An Act to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act,
“Because Bill 162 contains the most significant changes to the Ontario system of workers’ compensation contemplated for many years, and yet, as was confirmed through the public hearings on the bill, was developed without an adequate process of public consultation with the stakeholders; and
“Because Bill 162 represents an attack on injured workers and their families and all those people who have fought over the years to achieve fairness and justice for injured workers and their families; and
“Because Bill 162 will eliminate the current lifetime pension for lifetime disability and replace it with a dual award system combining a lump sum and actual wage loss award benefits, that has been rejected by injured workers, their advocacy groups, community legal workers and lawyers working on their behalf and by the trade union movement, since it was first proposed for implementation in Ontario by the 1980 Weiler report and the Conservative government’s 1981 white paper; and
“Because Bill 162 virtually ignores the devastating critique and recommendations of the Majesky-Minna task force report on vocational rehabilitation that was submitted to the Minister of Labour and suppressed by the Liberal government until April 1988; and
“Because Bill 162 gives legislative form to the unacceptable and reactionary policy of restricting access to supplement awards announced by the Workers’ Compensation Board in 1987; and
“Because through Bill 162, injured workers are made subject to increased discretionary power at the hands of the Workers’ Compensation Board and made subject to ever more intrusive and demeaning assaults on their dignity, their privacy and their right to fair and just treatment.”
I am pleased to present this petition.
Mr Jackson: “To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the government of Ontario in its discussions with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act has refused to allow an equal partnership between teachers and government in management of the pension fund, establishment of an acceptable contribution increase, benefit adjustments, equitable treatment of future surpluses and a satisfactory dispute resolution process,
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer of Ontario negotiate with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation towards an equitable settlement.”
This is signed by the staff at Maplehurst Public School in the great riding of Burlington South. It has my signature and support.
Mr Dietsch: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“To amend the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983, in order that all teachers who retired prior to 31 May 1982 have their pensions recalculated on the best five years rather than at the present seven or 10 years.
“This proposed amendment would make the five-year criteria applicable to all retired teachers and would eliminate the present inequitable treatment.”
I have affixed my signature to the petition.
Mr Owen: I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We support the expansion of home care and visiting nurses services as the most cost-efficient mode of health care delivery. We therefore want our government to adequately fund the Victorian Order of Nurses.”
It is signed by 304 residents of my area and it is signed under my signature.
Mr Kormos: I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We care about injured workers. We protest the Minister of Labour’s proposal to change the law that would take away injured workers’ rights to permanent disability pensions when they are permanently disabled; that would do almost nothing about the miserable compensation of existing injured workers and their widows, and that would leave the injured workers of the future worse off. Workers who are killed or injured in their work deserve much better treatment than this.”
It is signed by Gerard Bisson of Welland and five others; I have signed it as well.
Mr Reycraft: I have eight petitions signed by 122 individuals in the riding of Wentworth North. The text of the petition is exactly the same as that of petitions read by the member for Elgin (Miss Roberts) and the member for Burlington South (Mr Jackson), and I have attached my signature.
I have four other similar petitions, signed by 31 residents from Essex South, 40 residents from Renfrew North, 36 people from Hamilton Centre and one signed by 11 people from the riding of Brant-Haldimand, and I have attached my signature to all of those.
I also have two other petitions, one signed by 18 individuals from Brant-Haldimand and the other signed by 12 people from Scarborough East. The text of the petitions is the same as that read by the member for St Catharines-Brock (Mr Dietsch) this afternoon, and I have attached my signature to those.
Mr Daigeler: I have a petition signed by some 50 residents of the Ottawa-Carleton area. It reads as follows:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Whereas it is our constitutional right to have available and to choose the health care system of our preference;
“And whereas naturopathy has had self-governing status in Ontario for more than 42 years;
“We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.”
Mr Allen: “To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the government of Ontario in its discussions with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act has refused to allow an equal partnership between teachers and government in management of the pension fund, establishment of an acceptable contribution increase, benefit adjustments, equitable treatment of future surpluses and a satisfactory dispute resolution process,
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer of Ontario negotiate with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation towards an equitable settlement.”
I have four petitions that read in similar fashion, signed by 63 persons who teach in my riding, and I have affixed my signature to each of them.
Mr Poirier: I have four distinct petitions pertaining to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act. They are signed by 95 people, and I have affixed my signature. They are addressed to the Honour-able the Lieutenant Governor.
Hon Mr Conway moved that the standing committee on general government be authorized to review the final progress reports to the Minister of the Environment of Inco, Falconbridge, Algoma Steel and Ontario Hydro on acid rain abatement programs on 15, 22 and 29 June 1989.
Motion agreed to.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
Hon Mr Conway moved that notwithstanding standing order 2(a), the House shall meet at 1:30 pm on Thursday, 8 June 1989 and that Mrs Sullivan and Mr Ballinger exchange places in the order of precedence for private members’ public business.
Hon Mr Conway: I would like to very briefly speak to this just so all honourable members know that this means that, by agreement, we will not be sitting on Thursday morning for private members’ public business.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
FORT ERIE COMMUNITY YOUNG MEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION ACT, 1989
Mr Haggerty moved first reading of Bill Pr 18, An Act respecting the Fort Erie Community Young Men’s Christian Association.
Motion agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Conway: Before I call the first order today, which will be the 11th order, second reading of Bill 5, I want to indicate to members in the House that the House leaders met earlier today. We have decided that for the next few days the business of the House shall be the second reading of Bill 5, An Act to amend the Education Act, the heritage-language legislation, after which we will move on to the insurance legislation, Bill 10, just so members know that we have got some business planned for the next few days. With that brief introduction, Mr Speaker, I call the 11th order.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
EDUCATION AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 / LOI DE 1989 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR L’ÉDUCATION
Hon Mr Ward moved second reading of Bill 5, An Act to amend the Education Act.
Hon Mr Ward: Briefly, members will know that last October the government announced its intention to bring forward an amendment to the Education Act to make the provision of heritage-language classes mandatory in all school board jurisdictions in this province upon the request of the parents of 25 qualified students.
Members will know that over the course of the past several years heritage-language classes have grown very extensively in this province. In 1987 alone over 90,000 students benefited from instruction in heritage-language classes offered by some 72 board jurisdictions in this province.
The legislation we are proposing today comes about after a great deal of public discussion, an extensive period of consultation on the basis of a proposal that was put forward by the government House leader during his time as Minister of Education.
I look forward very much to the comments and input of the opposition critics during the course of this debate. I understand there is some sense that this bill should be exposed to some committee hearings. I would be more than willing to ensure that is done. I also understand that the standing committee on social development would be interested and possibly available to consider the bill next Monday, and at the conclusion of the debate I will ask for unanimous consent to waive standing order 63 so that in fact the discussion can take place at the social development committee on Monday if the committee sees fit.
M. R. F. Johnston : J’aimerais dire quelques mots sur cette question importante des langues d’origine en Ontario.
But first I would like to say that my remarks may not be as short as the bill is. The bill is essentially one paragraph, but in that paragraph there is an enormous amount of history, which I would like to dwell on a little bit; there is an awful lot of politics, which I also want to talk about, and there is some implicit need to discuss pedagogy. I want to use this opportunity as a chance to do those things.
First, I think it is appropriate that on behalf of my party I am the one who rises to speak on this, not just because I am the Education critic but because this is essentially the Scarborough amendment. This is the amendment which says to recalcitrant boards, namely Scarborough, that they should necessarily have to participate in heritage-language programming in their schools and provide those programs to the various communities that request them.
The reason it is appropriate that I should rise is not only that I am the member for Scarborough West but also that since 1981 I have been in opposition to the Scarborough Board of Education’s point of view on heritage languages and I have futilely tried on a number of occasions with various groups, the Greek and Chinese communities in my riding especially, to get that board to see the light of day and to move, as others have, to increase the heritage-language prospects in the education system there.
I am happy that this day is here and that this fall, after we have dealt with this legislation, the board in Scarborough will have to respond to requests that come forward from groups of parents of children of Chinese, Macedonian, Lithuanian or other descent and provide programming for them within the school structure and with financing, for the first time.
Scarborough has provided programs. I think it is really important to know that. I am not saying that Scarborough has said that these programs cannot take place in the schools. In fact, as I recall from the presentations that were made before one of our committees over the years, there are something like 30 languages being taught in 297 classes in Scarborough -- at least, there were at that time, a year and a bit ago -- but they were taught by the communities themselves. They were taught, often using school facilities but not as part of the government’s heritage-language programming and the funding that has been available since 1975-76.
It is also important to say that since I have been elected, this issue has been of importance to me on a larger scale than just the Scarborough amendment. This party has had a history since the mid-1970s of pushing very hard for a major change in the way we look at language instruction in Ontario. I think that people who have sat in this House before us -- Odoardo Di Santo, Tony Grande and others -- have taken a major role in moving forward the public debate around how we teach languages in Ontario. In some ways I find my duty today is to make sure that what we have here is not the end of a long process but merely one small stage dealing with one small matter, which is the Scarborough amendment, but that we look at it in the context of a much greater need to re-evaluate the role of language instruction in the province and to make sure that a process is under way which allows us to do that.
Let’s just look at the history of this a little bit. Private members’ bills have come forward in this House over the years, in 1982 and 1987. In 1987 we held public hearings here just around this time of the year on Mr Grande’s bill, Bill 80. Both his bill and his predecessor’s bill, put forward by Mr Di Santo in 1982, received the support in principle of Liberal members of the House.
In Mr Di Santo’s time that meant that the opposition parties agreed and the governing party disagreed. Mrs Stephenson, as members may recall, was Minister of Education in those days and talked about the extension of heritage language as a balkanization process within our educational system. I will come back to that as we come forward.
In 1987, in a period of minority government just prior to the last election, the governing party -- the Liberal Party at that time -- and ourselves gave support in principle to Mr Grande’s initiative under Bill 80 and it was referred out to the standing committee on social development, of which I was chairman at that time. The government had no particular policy of its own at that stage, as may be recalled. This brings me to the question of the politics of these things.
Hon Mr Conway: You were such a good chairman. You were so balanced.
Mr R. F. Johnston: The government House leader played such an eminent role at that time in these matters that I think it is important to review exactly how this tiny amendment has come before us today.
Mr Grande’s bill came closer and closer to actually being dealt with by the social development committee and our hearings were being established for 11 June 1987. The first hearings were to be held on that day. What should happen but on the Monday of that very week the government House leader, who is now checking an old Hansard to make sure I am correct, introduced a yellow paper. The colour was auspiciously appropriate for a number of reasons.
Miss Roberts: Bright, cheery, forthright.
Mr R. F. Johnston: “Bright, cheery,” etc. “Forthright” is going too far, but bright and cheery it is. Within the document that was put forward, which by the way was called, “A Proposal for Action” -- I found that quite delightful at the time and especially over the next two years when no action took place on Ontario’s heritage-languages program. It prompted a number of proposals, most of which have now been acted upon by the government in recent times. All are very limited in scope and the key element within them being the notion that perhaps these programs should be made mandatory and all boards should be required to participate.
This was brought forward at the same time as the committee was about to try to deal with Mr Grande’s bill. Mr Grande’s bill did not deal merely with the matter of the Scarborough amendment and some extra assistance in terms of training and other kinds of matters. It talked about some very fundamental principles about language instruction.
Mr Reycraft: I do recall a difference.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Yes, the government whip also played a major role at the time. I have the Hansard here and I would be very happy to bring it forward and some of his astute questioning of witnesses as we go through this bill.
But Mr Grande’s bill dealt with issues of transitional instruction of people in their own languages. It dealt with integrating the heritage-languages programs within the school day. In fact, it raised fundamentally important questions for us at this time in our history around what the role of language is in terms of education.
Unfortunately, the government yellow paper, dealing in a much more limited fashion, curtailed the debate. It basically said that even though the government had accepted in principle Mr Grande’s bill just a few weeks before, that it in fact wanted to move the discussion into this much more limited approach.
Hon Mr Curling: Broader.
Mr R. F. Johnston: The other member from Scarborough opposite tells me that it is broader. In fact, it is not broader. I will read the limited points of view if the members want the embarrassment of them being read out. I am told to dispense by the parliamentary assistant because he understands that these only deal with such things as training and other kinds of matters and do not deal with fundamental questions about the status of heritage language.
What the government did by putting out the yellow paper at that time and suggesting that it wanted its responses back by September of that year so it could take some action very quickly -- of course, it did not take action at all, we know, until very recently and in the limited fashion it has -- was move the debate into this more restricted notion, in my view a very bad concept in educational terms.
The other day I was reading a quote by a famous British politician who was talking of politics. He said the following. He was referring to some members. He said, “Call them the mules of politics: without pride of ancestry or hope of posterity.” It strikes me from time to time that government, not just this one but many governments, are, in fact, mules. They have very little notion about either the history of politics and where we come from and, in concepts, where we are going and what we are speaking to in large terms.
Surely in the 1970s and 1980s it was the ideal time for governments here to reflect upon our education process and its appropriateness to our new demographic reality. I just want to tell members about some of the things which people came before us to tell us in the 1987 hearings. Rabbi Witty was here. He told the committee that people from over 128 countries live in Ontario, that 80 to 90 languages have come with those people as part of their cultures, and that we offered, in our heritage-language courses in Ontario at that time, 62 or 63 different languages that were being put forward.
That changed reality over the last 40 years, and especially in the last 25 years, is something which I think we really need to reflect on in very fundamental ways when we look at our educational institutions and the approach we take to education. Not many groups have been doing this in profound ways. Instead, what we have had is a kind of tinkering with programs that I think makes us mules. It allows us to reduce class sizes in grades 1 and 2 without knowing why we are doing it, to extend senior kindergarten without really thinking through what the implications are, and to only bring forward the Scarborough amendment in the face of an enormously changed reality of what our province is all about.
The board of education in the city of Toronto is one of the groups that has tried to come to grips with this issue over the years. As early as 1975, the board put forward a working group it had on multiculturalism. What it said has jarred me and made me really want to re-evaluate why I believe what I believe about heritage languages and its need for changed status.
It said the following: “The shocking recognition for the board of education of the city of Toronto is that within the space of a decade its cultural base has become incompatible with the cultural base of the society which supports the endeavour.” I may have messed that up. I will look it up in a second. What they were essentially trying to say was that the board itself no longer reflected its community and that the programs and directions of the board no longer reflected that community; that the board was still operating on a presumption of a massively anglophone Toronto when in fact a very strong majority of people in the education system were now people whose first language is not English.
That reality so shocked them that they said, “We have to make our institution coherent with our society.” Surely it is one of the great problems we have in this House: that the representation we have here does not reflect our society. The white Anglo-Saxon male, who is still predominant in this chamber, is not a reflection of what we have in our society. I do not want to go into the details about this particular institution, but if members think about how vital it is that our education system reflect the reality of our society, I think they can see why it is a little disappointing to somebody like me at the moment that the only government initiative on heritage language, which is long overdue, is to bring in the Scarborough amendment. It is not looking at it in the context of language policy in general and what this means in terms of where the province should or should not be going.
Over the years, I have seen a change in the way the Liberal government and the Liberal Party has looked at these matters. I was looking back over the quotes from 1975 and 1976 debates and the strength of opinion that was put forward by people like the present Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) and others at that time around heritage language. I found them interesting, but I found I did not even have to go back that far to find a very different perspective on heritage language than we are seeing now under this present government.
When I turn back to how it dealt with Mr Di Santo’s bill in November 1982, often in private members’ hour, the present Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon), when he was sitting on this side, would participate. He was a great person for being in the House at all times, loves this institution enormously and respects that hour very much. He participated, I thought, very eloquently about the whole question of language instruction. If I might just make a few quotes from the member just to indicate that. He said:
“The approach to language instruction in the last two decades in this province has been a disaster, in my opinion....
“One of the biggest changes in the last 20 years and a bit longer has been the immigration of people with other cultures and other languages into the community. We have not turned this to our advantage.... It has been a shame that many young people, in particular -- not so many now, perhaps, as a decade ago -- have not seen fit to keep up the knowledge of a second or third language and a knowledge and respect for their culture.”
He talked in these terms as somebody who came from an area which he admitted was rural, was not the metropolitan area with the reality that I was talking about a few minutes ago for the Toronto Board of Education, but he attacked very strongly at that point Miss Stephenson’s approach on this bill and the need to start looking at language instruction differently.
Now he had come through the system a little bit earlier than I had and had noted that language instruction was not that useful. I also recall my language instruction at the secondary level. I took German, French and Latin. I am pressed to give any kind of a quotation in Latin at this stage. I had one line in German that I use and have basically --
Mr Reycraft: Tempus fugit.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Tempus fugit is perhaps the government’s notion. On the other hand, tempus was standing still here for the last few days, as members may recall. We have shown, in fact, that we can defy the laws of physics here and make time stand still and not only be relative.
I would say that if you look at the language of instruction -- French as a core language subject -- as it was in the early 1960s when I was in high school and you look at the results today, it is my opinion that we have not made up much ground in terms of how that is being taught.
I would differentiate very strongly between that and our immersion courses and our extended French courses, which I think are showing some signs of success. I personally have some difficulties with the way immersion is happening because I see it becoming a very class-biased development in our society at the moment, where increasingly working-class kids may start off in immersion classes but very quickly drop out. It is the yuppie children who are going on.
In fact, I recently received a letter, which I was going to read into the record today but could not gain permission as yet from the person who sent it to me, from a person who is lamenting the fact that she felt compelled to withdraw her child from French immersion because of the biases she felt were presently in the system.
In terms of the effects in terms of pedagogy, there is little doubt that those people who do stick the route and stay in immersion or participate in extended French programs are doing well, whereas core French I think is just as successful now as it was with me in the 1960s, which is to say it is a disaster.
Mr Pouliot: It depends on the student.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I disagree. My good friend the member for Lake Nipigon says it depends on the student. In point of fact, it tends not to have depended much on the student at all. That approach to using one class per week or whatever in French core has been shown to be an ineffective pedagogical tool which unfortunately we are still very much locked into and are not looking at other options for. I would suggest that is problematic.
M. Pouliot : Je les suis en anglais, moi.
M. R. F. Johnston : Oui, nous sommes au courant des capacités linguistiques du député de Lac Nipigon, et c’est formidable. Seulement, je crois que le député a appris son anglais dans les mines de l’Ontario et non pas à l’école. Mais ça, c’est une autre histoire.
Le Vice-Président : Bien sûr, le député de Scarborough-Ouest va faire son discours par l’intermédiaire du vice-président de l’Assemblée ?
M. R. F. Johnston : Oui, il m’est difficile de répondre aux commentaires de mon collègue, qui est assis derrière moi, si on peut dire.
This brings me to the question of why our province is so stuck on language at this point. Why is it doing so little on it?
I remember distinctly the presentation before the committee by Dr Cummins from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education who, of all Canadian researchers, has done the most in terms of language and its role in education. I remember his talking about the pedagogical reasons for moving, talking about how other provinces have done it, giving us all sorts of information that seemed to me to be crying out for a major study by the government, a major process to be developed to get people to look finally at the role of language.
I think it has to be said that the information that seems to be out there in terms of language is that if you maintain your maternal language at the same time as you are learning English, you probably have a much greater capacity in both languages and in other subjects. That says to me that is something we need to build on.
I was reading the other day some remarks by Noam Chomsky from his essays on language and politics. He made some very interesting points on this that really need to be thought through by our society at this point, because he linked pedagogical concerns with notions about how we overcome racism and how we overcome our fear of other groups and bigotries that have gone on for so long in our society in the past through the ignorance of our societies. He made some wonderful comments. I would like to refer to one or two, if I might.
He said: “I think there is fair evidence that a child can develop a native command of several languages with no difficulty if he is presented with each language in a particular situation. There are overwhelming similarities that unite the human race as a species and the varieties exist within minor variations, the depth and specific character of which it is possible for us to understand.”
He basically was saying that certainly there are differences among us, but if you actually start to learn language and the nuance of language and, as one great figure said, language is the dress of thought and is so important to our makeup that you then start to dwell not on the differences but on those things that link us and make us more understandable to each other.
When you look at society today and the comments I know the Premier (Mr Peterson) has made around racism and problems of lack of tolerance in our society today, you say that perhaps we have some tools here that could be enhanced. Yet all we can do is take this one tool and say that outside of the school day, on weekends, all boards now must provide it if there is a certain number of parents -- we can quibble over whether that should be 20, 25, 13 or 15 as it is in some jurisdictions -- that certain number can access the program.
I do not think that deals with these fundamental questions about what the role of education should be. I think it is important to understand that other people are doing this differently and that we have things to learn.
Before the committee, we learned from Dr Cummins and others about what is happening in western Canada. I think we pride ourselves on being very progressive in this province. Yet if you look at this particular issue, you really have to look at places like Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in terms of initiatives that have gone much farther than we have dared.
I see the minister shaking his head, but in this province you can instruct only in either of the two official languages. It is illegal under the Education Act to instruct within the school day in a language other than English or French.
In Alberta, they have a provision in their act for instruction in languages other than English. It is permissive. The decision to implement the program requires board approval, but the process is a very easy one. What has developed in Alberta is not just heritage language within the school day, as became the big issue in the Toronto Board of Education a number of years ago, but bilingual schools. I do not mean French and English bilingual schools; I mean Ukrainian and English, Arabic and English, Hebrew and English bilingual schools.
The studies that have been done of these experiments, which are now many years old, have shown that the quality of education these kids have received is higher than the quality of education of kids who are not in bilingual schools and higher than the quality of education in Ontario. Yet -- I turn to the member for Middlesex (Mr Reycraft) at this point and remind him of a couple of his quotes and questions -- as to the focus by Liberal members on the committee looking at Mr Grande’s Bill 80, when this information about what was taking place in western Canada was brought forward, and I would say I thirsted to know how it worked, why it worked and how we could use it, the comment was always:
“Well, how many languages are there? Surely there are only two, three or four languages that are being used in Alberta. What would we do in a place like Toronto where there could be 70 or 80 languages that there might be a demand for? How would we possibly handle this within our school system?”
Although this is a valid question, it should come --
Mr Reycraft: I’m just waiting for the answer.
Mr R. F. Johnston: There are answers and I am going to deal with some of them today, you will be happy to know.
I am to speak to the Speaker, he is saying as he beckons me with his finger. Always a pleasure, sir. Through you, to the honourable member, I would say the question being asked, although a legitimate question, was fundamentally no different in its type than the questions raised by the Scarborough Board of Education before that committee. It was logistics. It was not to do with the principle of whether the concept of a bilingual school was a good concept or as to whether the concept of the language of instruction was a good concept.
Whenever the matter of even Mr Grande’s limited version of language of instruction, which was for a transition period, was raised, the question of focus was always on, “How long is this transition period for?” rather than, “Do we accept the concept that language of instruction other than English or French is a useful pedagogical tool, something we should be looking at and investigating further?”
Reviewing Hansard these days, I think we missed a wonderful opportunity. I really think we were coloured by this yellow document that was out there and did not follow up the way we should have.
What is taking place now in Toronto is there are some schools that have only two heritage languages being taught in the schools, some only one, some as many as seven or eight. But nobody who has come before the committee has ever suggested that every local community school has to be able to provide all eight as languages of instruction in that school. No one has ever suggested that, and the people who came before our committee were careful to always say: “That’s not what we’re after. We want to be reasonable, but how do we deal with the logistics of this matter?”
They were not the kind of people who were trying to push this to extremes. We have the opportunity now in the city of Toronto, it seems to me, to carry out those experiments in Chinese. We have two schools in the city of Toronto now where in fact a majority of the children are Chinese and the only other major language involved is English, where experiments in bilingual education would be wonderful things to undertake at this stage.
A permissive amendment to the Education Act, going further than this one does, would have been really a welcome thing at this stage. The minister knows that the Toronto Board of Education wants to experiment with bilingual education, that it has done a substantial amount of work on how it could do this within its school board and that it would take the responsibility for that initiation.
It strikes me that a much more positive move at this stage by the government would not be just the Scarborough amendment of finally mandating Scarborough in with everybody else, but would be to say also: “Here’s a permissive next step. Here’s something we should be looking at, because we know it’s working in Alberta and we know it’s been working in Saskatchewan.”
I remember somebody came before the committee and suggested to us that in fact in the Quebec system, for a transitional language of instruction, all you need is 13 students to be able to provide that at this stage. It is not as if this has not been suggested in prior times.
I quote here from a report known as the Shapiro report. Shapiro is a man who became the Deputy Minister of Education. His 35th recommendation followed these comments:
“Canada has two official languages, but in the complex cultural mosaic of Ontario a third language is often regarded as a community priority. Accepting both an appropriate caution for its impact on the very young and the special status of Canada’s two official languages, the commission, nevertheless, believes that it is important to avoid the marginalization of minority cultures. In this respect, there are advantages to enabling students to be instructed in a language in addition to English or French for part of the school day. Therefore, the commission recommends:
“35. That the Education Act be amended to permit school boards to authorize the use in a school of one language other than English or French as a language of instruction for not more than the number of regular school hours devoted to the second official language.”
That was in the Shapiro report. Again, how disappointing that in 1989, after two years of this yellow paper’s existence, all we have is the Scarborough amendment. There has been no move on even this very sensible recommendation. As you will note, he said one other language. It would have been a way of proceeding, of trying out the process.
At this stage, I want to raise the question that is often raised about the conflicts here with the other official language.
J’aimerais lire un petit rapport concernant la position de l’Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario, présenté devant le comité par M. Serge Plouffe, qui était l’ancien président.
Il a dit ce qui suit : « L’apprentissage des langues ancestrales n’est pas et ne peut pas se trouver en contradiction avec l’apprentissage des langues officielles. Les langues française et anglaise jouissent de garanties constitutionnelles et juridiques au Canada et en Ontario. Le statut spécial qu’elles possèdent, fondé sur l’histoire de notre pays, ne devrait toutefois limiter en aucune façon les possibilités qu’ont d’autres langues de se perpétuer. »
Et il continue en disant : « La transmission de sa langue aux membres d’une nouvelle génération permet à un groupe culturel de garder vivant son patrimoine historique, son sens de solidarité et ses traditions. La société dans son ensemble ne peut que profiter de cette grande diversité d’expérience qui s’enracine dans les cultures et dans les civilisations du monde. »
It was a wonderful presentation Serge made that day, when he talked very warmly about the support that had been given the French community by the multicultural community with Bill 8 and how in reciprocity, in a sense, he was responding and saying that it was so important for us to move.
Il conclut en donnant une raison bien pragmatique de favoriser l’apprentissage des langues diversifiées, qui figure dans le discours du trône prononcé le 28 avril dernier : le gouvernement y exprime le désir que la province prenne une place de premier plan dans la société mondiale du XXIe siècle.
And he was right. He put his finger on exactly what the issue is here. Ontario is not what it was in the 1950s and we cannot be concentrating on an educational process that dwells on the past in that fashion. We have to be thinking not of what the reality is, even of the 1980s, in terms of what our demography is; we have to think about what Canada will look like in 20 years and make sure our education process makes itself relevant to the needs of the kids who are going to be graduating at the end of it.
What he is saying, as is so plainly obvious to me and to so many other people who presented before the committee in that year, is that we are moving into a quickly shrinking world where the need to understand what is taking place elsewhere is going to be profound. The ability to compete with other nations is going to be very difficult and a great challenge for all nations, and he and others suggested Canada has a unique role to play in world affairs because of the nature of our immigrant society.
We have not bought into the melting pot myth of the United States. There is some evidence that especially the Hispanic population there is reversing that trend a little and is getting recognition for the status of Spanish in the United States, but in general they have moved to a straight anglo kind of view of the universe and have not fostered the kind of enriched multicultural communities we have tried to.
I think it is fair to say that we have not been consistent in our social policies and especially not in education when we start to consider how we are preparing ourselves to be different and able to compete in the next century.
One of the fundamental principles, and this brings me to pedagogy, of our education system, especially since the Hall-Dennis report, is concepts around child-centred education, concepts that are based not on the old notion that people can learn by rote and you can force people to learn by using the strap, the cane and those other old traditional things of another century, but are based on taking the child with the strengths the child has, whatever they may be, and then expanding that kid’s capacities by saying, “Look, you have success here,” and building on the success and then bringing them a world view which is based on where they come from.
Unfortunately, in my view it has not been implemented as fully as I would like to see it implemented in our education system. Although the rhetoric is often there, I am not sure that in the classroom it is always taking place. But that principle is in fundamental contradiction to what we are doing on language.
I would suggest we take a child who comes into the education system with a capacity to run faster or jump higher than his classmates and give that kid all sorts of extra assistance to make it to the Metro-wide events, to travel across the province, to be able to participate, and we build on that child’s strengths. But if a child comes into our education system with something that is of pedagogical value, like another language, we do not build on that strength; in fact, we devalue the strength.
Prior to the beginning of heritage languages, we devalued it totally. We said: “It is not the affair of the education system. You communities can do whatever you want to maintain culture, but it is not our educational system’s approach.”
With the beginning of heritage languages we said, “Yes, we will assist you with it as long as you do it outside of the school day, as you always have, in competition with all the other kinds of things young people want to do as part of their development, and we will help you pay for it.”
Now we have moved this tiny amendment to say every board must participate in that process.
What we have said to thousands and thousands of children is that their language is not of significant value in the education system. What we have said to them is: “If you want to participate and try to maintain that key to what your nation, your culture is all about, you have to do it on your own time in competition with basketball, in competition with baseball, in competition with piano, in competition with gymnastics, whatever it might be that you are doing extracurricularly.”
If we ask most kids who come from multicultural backgrounds, from my wife to the spouses of other people who are in this House and other people in this House directly, what choices they made and how hard it was on them to try to maintain their language, and how they felt demeaned and second class by that process, I would suggest to members that what we have done is build in a system which is incredibly discriminatory.
I think an argument was made before our committee, of which I would not care to use the language, which basically said that this policy was contradictory to our goals for multiculturalism, that in fact it was a punishment for children from ethnic families and that it needed to be reversed dramatically and given status.
It is my view that in looking at this we need to say that when a child comes into kindergarten and speaks Italian better than he speaks English -- and we know that one can learn how to speak a second language better when one has, his first language well -- that is the perfect time to enhance the child’s status in that kindergarten class. It is just vital to do that. In many parts of this province, that can be done with groups of people, not just on a one-on-one basis.
The argument is often made that this would be balkanizing. I suggest to members that they think about that. The notion is preposterous, and Chomsky is right. What could be more alienating and more balkanizing than to force people to have their classes outside of the school system on their own and away from all the other kinds of things they would do with their friends after school? How much better it is to say, “In the school system, this has value; in the school day this has value and is something in which all the kids can participate.”
There were two young girls from the Orde Street Junior school here in Toronto and of German heritage -- that is primarily a Chinese school -- who came before the committee and sang songs for us in Chinese and Japanese. They also speak some French and are fluent in German. Their message to us was that they loved the fact that in the Orde school, where heritage languages are incorporated into the school day as the result of a decision of the Board of Education of the city of Toronto, they could participate with their Chinese friends in the heritage-languages programs. I think it is a way of unifying things.
There is little doubt there is really a very strong and negative reaction to this kind of concept. All one has to do is look at what happened in the Toronto Board of Education when it tried to bring an extended school day in and see the kind of reaction that came from teachers and the community. There is fear of this kind of thing. It has to be dealt with in ways that allow people to participate and to expose their concerns in meaningful ways. But up to this point all we have had is fear of moving on it. So all we have today is the Scarborough amendment and we do not have the fundamental discussion that really is required.
While our neighbours to the south may not think it is important to develop these other languages, and they think they can compete commercially in the next century on an even footing with those people who have a multilingual capability just because they happen to be Americans, I think we would be making a fundamental mistake if we followed that route. I suggest to the members that the present government’s policy, even with a mandated heritage-languages program, is substantially no different from that kind of policy.
I think we really need to look at what is happening in Europe at the moment and contrast what we are doing and look at the potential in what we can do here. I have copies with me today of a number of protocols between the government of Portugal and other governments in the European Community. There are some fascinating things taking place there which I think we can learn from. Since the EC developed, of course, there have been an awful lot of migrant workers working in other countries whose languages and traditions are substantially different from their own. Portugal has provided a large number of these migrant workers to places like Germany and France and especially Holland. In those three countries, there are now accords so that the children of Portuguese workers in France, Germany and especially in Holland have the right to be taught in their own language in the Dutch system. It is really phenomenal. It is a recognition of the cultural mosaic that is Europe and that we have within our own country. It is something we should really learn from.
There are few limits on the numbers that need to be involved. For instance, there are cultural exchanges and support documents produced by the Portuguese government to give to the Dutch authorities to help them in the pedagogy that is being used with the Portuguese children. There are exchange programs back and forth now between kids in bilingual schools in Germany as well as in Holland. I think if we ignore that development and what it is going to mean in economic terms, we are crazy.
How long can we survive or compete when that kind of co-operation is taking place and that kind of ethnic diversity is being maintained within that economic unit of Europe? How long can we continue as a small appendage to the United States in economic terms without making ourselves substantially different in what we can offer commercially to the world?
We have the crazy situation at the moment where a child who comes into the system speaking Greek is then not able to take it again until high school; has had a devalued language within our society from the period of kindergarten through to the end of grade 8 or grade 9, and then is expected, perhaps to take it as a secondary language at the secondary level.
What we are learning from our university professors is that that person then goes on to university and is coming in with enormous language deficits. Although that person once started off with a maternal language, he or she has lost it in the process. The standards for entry into language programs at the University of Toronto and other places are being bemoaned by professors on the receiving end who are crying out to us, “These are kids who had a talent, who had an understanding of language.”
I know there is always a reaction from people such as, “I had difficulty learning French. I had difficulty picking up a secondary language,” as if it is an impossibility. The fundamental truth, of course, is that learning a language is probably one of the most complicated things we ever do pedagogically. Most of us do it before we enter school. We learn most of the structures of how our language works long before we ever get into the educational process, formally institutionalized.
We know that small children can pick up two or three languages just like that. The problem, as Noam Chomsky says, is how you teach it. That is the problem or has been the problem over the years; also, the value you give it. Somebody came to me the other day and said, “What we really need to do, even in our immersion schools, is to make sure that French becomes the language of fun in the playground more than necessarily the language of total usage within the classroom.” If you have people playing together in another language, they are much more likely to hang on to it than if you just have it in the rigid time setting of a class, even in an immersion situation. I thought it was a very telling and accurate kind of point.
Mr Speaker, I would suggest to you that the move by the government today does not change a concern that was raised by Dr Berryman before the committee two years ago. He raised the question of whether there should be a charter challenge about how we look at heritage languages and he basically said that this is not equal treatment of people as they come into the education system. He went on about it and he made the following comment: “As long as it remains a continuing education offering, there will exist an element of doubt as to the future of heritage languages in the school.”
I think that is a really important point. We can make it mandatory now, but as long as it is primarily outside the school day and it is done by instructors whose quality control is not really governed by the legislation at the moment in the province, unlike other kinds of instruction, we are basically giving out a message which is two-edged. One is that everybody should be doing it and the other is that it is not of significance and maybe it will go away as the generations continue and we will not need this. Maybe there is an assimilationist underpinning of this kind of process. I am not asserting that this is the case, I am just saying that is definitely a message that can be taken out of our present policy.
It is not my intention to go on for ever about this matter, but I think there are a number of things I still want to get on the record. One of the things the board of education’s Working Group on Third-language Instruction did in March 1982 was to produce a document called Towards a Comprehensive Language Policy. I presume the minister has read it, but I also presume most members in this House have not. It may seem like the kinds of things I am talking about are wild and woolly and futuristic and not part of present reality, but it did a number of things which I thought were fascinating.
This was one of the aims they established: “In the short run, the aim of the third-languages policy should be to strengthen the present heritage-languages program in the elementary schools and the modern language program in the secondary schools. In the long run, however, the policy should aim at bilingual and trilingual programs as the only satisfactory way of implementing the educational principles which lie at the heart of this report.” These principles are practically self-evident and I would like to read them.
“Language is so vitally related to thought, knowledge and social activity that it is not an overstatement to say that it is language which makes us human. Hence, language must be central to education.
“Although languages may differ in their usefulness in various contexts, such as the scientific, educational or political, they are equal in their humanizing and socializing capacity. Hence, from a strictly educational viewpoint, all languages are equal.” I think that is a really vital principle which is not as yet accepted in our educational process.
“Every child has an equal right to preserve a vital link with his or her heritage. Hence, to recover or maintain the language of his or her ancestors is a legitimate expectation.
“To meet the educational needs of all students, the widest choice of language programs that is compatible with academic excellence should be provided. While mastery of at least two languages should be encouraged, each parent or student should be free to decide which specific languages the student will learn.
“At a time when many high school graduates experience difficulty meeting university entrance requirements in English, let alone in other languages, it is imperative to examine our language policy critically and to seek a better one.”
Those are the principles on which they based their report. I think they are things which this ministry should be looking at. It should not be looking at them in isolation and it should not be coming forward with what I consider a deadend initiative on heritage languages. The terrible message that comes out of this process is that when Mr Grande’s bill was brought forward proffering some of the ideas which were supposedly accepted in principle by the parties in this House, the government came forward with the yellow paper which limited those concepts.
Now it has not only brought forward a paper which limits the concepts, but it has only implemented one small thing, the mandating of heritage-languages programs, so that Scarborough will participate. The danger of that is that it becomes the end of the discussion for goodness knows how long. That would be a tragedy, in my view.
It may be that most members of this House and some members of my own caucus, by the shrugs I am feeling behind me, do not share the views I am putting forward today, but to ignore the discussion of these views, to not establish a process by which these kinds of things can be discussed and need to be discussed is I think subjecting our education system to failure moving into the next century. We need a fundamental re-examination of where language plays a role in the education system. Anybody who looks at what we are doing has to say that all we have done is tinker with a system which goes back an awful long way.
There are those who will argue that to put heritage languages into the school day would only destroy an already overcrowded curriculum. This argument has been made a number of times. I believe it is a nonargument. You hear, perhaps from the same people, complaints when acquired immune deficiency syndrome education is brought in or a new education-on-drugs policy is brought in by the government, but in the end these things can be accommodated. It is a question, again, of priority.
Mr Fung from the Chinese Lingual-Cultural Centre of Canada made a very interesting point before the committee, because he was essentially saying that in his view, and I share it, talking about just adding curriculum is counterproductive and that we really have to talk about language in different terms. Members who deal with the education process in English will know that we talk about language across the curriculum now for English. How well that is implemented is another matter, but we do use that kind of concept now. I would suggest to members that concept needs to be broadened in terms of language, and this is what Mr Fung said to us at that time. He was very pithy. This gentleman has a capacity to put things down very pithily.
“The integration of our program in the schools implies interdisciplinary immersion. Integration takes into account the entire content and orientation of a school program rather than being an aggregate of discrete subjects. Heritage-language teaching should therefore be introduced as an integral part of the educational system; that is, as a core subject of the regular school curriculum and not an appendage of the curriculum.”
I think he is absolutely right. When I think of things like the add-ons on AIDS instruction, for instance, and making kids aware of what is going on around AIDS, it would be a wonderful opportunity to be able to use the maternal language the child had to do that instruction. It would make it relevant, give it a vocabulary which was not somehow back in the old country but very much to do with what is going on today and would be the kind of thing that could easily be incorporated into the school day in schools where there are enough kids to do this, of course. As everybody who participates in this tries to say, nobody wants to be unreasonable about how this would be done but merely to provide the capacity for it to be done.
Another thing that has been raised is the cost. I remember with Mr Grande’s bill, after the government supported it, it then started to talk about the enormous cost that would apply to the education system at that point. It was Dr Katsaitis, who came before us from the Council of Ontario Communities, who dealt with that matter. He said:
“Just to give you another example, to put that $30 million that made the headlines” -- that is the $30-million cost that was assigned to Mr Grande’s Bill 80 -- ”or almost headlines into perspective, the cost today of training a diplomat in Japanese or sending a civil servant from Ottawa to Japan for two years to be trained in Japanese is $500,000. That is the estimate of the government of Canada. It would take just 60 diplomats to cover the cost of the program, even if this number were correct.”
He then went on to quote the presentation of the Hellenic-Canadian Federation of Ontario to the Secretary of State -- I think it was probably the year previous -- in which it worked out, on the other side of this, the economic advantage to the province of having people come to maintain their Greek capacity. They estimated that if just 2,000 young people from Greek heritage maintained their Greek to a level which could allow them to participate at the diplomatic or commercial level internationally, it would be worth $200 million to Canada if that were the case. I think when we get into sort of the dollar side of things, there is a real danger of being pound foolish on this when we look at these matters.
The position I am putting forward from the New Democratic Party, a party which has been in favour of heritage language for some time, and I think will be reviewing our language policy in our upcoming convention next year to try to make it even more coherent than it already is in my view, is that we are not opposed to what has taken place today.
Mr Jackson: Less academic.
Mr R. F. Johnston: “Less academic,” is that what you said? Possibly less academic. What I really want it to be, I should say to the member for Burlington South (Mr Jackson), is more contextual. I think that what is vital here is again to make the link between what our society really is and what the education system should be providing in language. That is what I would like to see us, in the NDP and in this House, basing our language decisions on.
Clearly, we are not opposed to the Scarborough amendment. It is something I have been working towards for a long time, and I am delighted to see it come along, even if there is great wringing of hands at the Scarborough Board of Education these days about it.
What I want, and why I want this to go to committee, is for people to be able to come in, on a brief basis, not to hold up this bill in any way but to talk directly to government members on the committee and, hopefully, to the parliamentary assistant, who, I gather, will be there for those hearings; to talk about what kind of process can be developed to make sure that the discussion around language policy does not end with this limited initiative, which seems to be all the government wants to do, because it was the zenith of what was proposed in that yellow paper; to say, “Let’s start some kind of process by which all parties can participate,” whether it is the ethnic communities, with their perspectives on how to give more status to language instruction or whether it is to do with boards of education or teachers’ federations, which see enormous problems in regard to how this can be incorporated in our present educational structure.
Let’s get back to first principles. Let’s talk about why we think this is important, what the limitations should be in our education system around language, and move from there. Let’s not think about this as an add-on program. Let’s talk about a process that will be important to us all.
That is why we are referring this to committee, not to hold up the bill but to try to get that kind of process established, because I am very afraid that this is where it ends. If that is the case, then groups across this province, whether they are Finns from northwestern Ontario or Portuguese from Mississauga, are going to be hurt by it, but even more important, our society is going to be hurt by it.
I would like to conclude my remarks by quoting, finally, from a presentation made by Mr Garzon on behalf of the Spanish Speaking Parents Association. I think I gave his name a French pronunciation, but it is the best I can do at this stage. He made a wonderful comment at the end of his presentation to the committee, and I thought I would leave it with members in terms of the principle. He said the following:
“In ending our presentation, we would like to tell you the story of the late Lama Yeshi, a Tibetan teacher who died in a hospital in California in 1984. The clipping is attached for your perusal.
“You know that the Buddhists believe in reincarnation, so when Lama Yeshi died, he left instructions to say where he was going to be reincarnated. After the whole process, the child was found in a little village in Spain, a son in the family of a bricklayer.
“When they took the child to the Dalai Lama and said he could be the reincarnation of Lama Yeshi, one thing struck me. I would like to draw to your attention what is underlined on the second page.
“Zobi Repochi thought for a few moments and replied: ‘Well, we cannot raise him completely traditionally. I expect that he will have three tutors. One will be from Spain and will be in charge of his Spanish studies, the second will be from one of the English-speaking countries, perhaps America, and the third will be Tibetan.’
“What a lesson these wise men from Tibet are teaching us about respect for what a new life brings to the world. That golden child is every child. We wish that all of you makers of laws remember that a child has a mother tongue, and with that language, a soul is being created and transmitted.”
I think the line “That golden child is every child” is a profound statement which would seem to be at the base of what our education system is about: child-centred learning. I would suggest that in terms of language and the importance to a huge percentage of our young children in this province, more respect for their language as part of what makes them golden is what we need now from this government.
Mr Pouliot: The member for Scarborough West (Mr R. F. Johnston) really need not fear about colleagues from his own party or other parties. When it comes to vision, when it comes to his critic’s role, he better than perhaps anyone in this House has a sense of what the world will be in the 21st century and he at no time lets matters such as funding for a parallel system -- because he is not talking about that -- deter his wishes for what is really a better society.
The member tells us better than anyone that the world is getting smaller, that it does not suffice to expose someone to his or her culture; but it you are to give people the tools to grow and defend themselves in the society of tomorrow and of today to a large extent, you need those tools, those opportunities to be expanded.
It would be too facile to believe for one minute that what is being put forth so eloquently by my colleague demands a great deal of dollars. What we are talking here is about intent, spirit, something that really can be done step by step. It will need not only the collective effort, not only vision, but also a realistic approach that the world will indeed reflect what my colleague the member for Scarborough West has so eloquently blessed us with today with his comments.
The Acting Speaker (Mr M. C. Ray): Are there other comments or questions? Reply by the member for Scarborough West?
Mr R. F. Johnston: Do not get me started again.
Mr Jackson: It is my pleasure to respond to this government’s initiative known as Bill 5. It is my pleasure to follow my colleague the member for Scarborough West with his most eloquent, thoughtful presentation. As always, he brings a tremendous amount of academic thought in challenging this House to take a global, a worldly, even a metaphysical afterworld view of the issues of child rearing and education, let alone of what language the spirit operates in.
However, the member has also eloquently laid down a record of what has brought us to this point in the debate on the sensitive issue of third-language instruction in this province. I thought, quite frankly, that he glossed over some of the initiatives of the former government dealing with the broader issues of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, of initiatives in race relations in terms of English-as-a-second-language instruction in this province.
That is well known to members of this House, so I will not take the precious time in this House to go over those past factors which have helped to contribute to making. Ontario one of the most tolerant societies and one of the most sought-after locations for families throughout the world to come and raise their families and to raise their future hopes.
Today, though, I do want to talk briefly about what I believe may happen with this bill. I bring to the debate not only the perspective of my political party, but also my personal perspective as a person who has been involved in public education for almost 11 years in this province as a public school trustee, someone who was elected publicly to understand the issues of education, to shepherd the resources that are provided through municipal taxation, to ensure that they are applied in the most effective manner possible to the benefit of the children we hope to serve. I bring that perspective.
I also bring the perspective of that of the child of immigrant grandparents. Members are aware that I have not only spoken in this House in what the federal government refers to as our second official language, but I have also spoken in the third language which my grandparents spoke and I had the privilege of listening to before they passed away, even though our Hansard records will not allow us to publish in those third languages.
I am very proud of my Ukrainian ancestry and I am very proud of the fact that my mother speaks nine languages. So I have had a certain exposure to the importance of language within my family, within the greater community, which I still to this day operate, both within the church context and within the Ukrainian cultural community.
But I am having great and serious difficulties with this bill. I am having difficulties, as is my caucus, with elements of the mandatory nature of the bill, with the loosely termed guarantees of funding to ensure its academic efficacy, to ensure that it actually achieves the very things this government sets out that it hopes to achieve.
The member for Scarborough West has clearly enunciated the cause and effect with respect to when the program is provided, during the school day or after the school day, and the effect that has on the child we are hoping to serve. I will not go into that area, but I do share with him some of the concerns he has raised on that point. He has in the past as well raised the point of the resource and the implications which having this third language will have in terms of communication with the grandparent or other family member who has no access to other language training.
But I also have a concern with respect to the priority this has been given, not only in the context of education but also in terms of the greater social issues of our day. It was only recently that we were conducting a review of the Ontario French Language Services Commission and its mandate, and I raised the issue of why we would set a greater priority on making signs in liquor stores bilingual; that that was somehow more important than giving access to a woman who had been subjected to family violence or rape, to be able to express herself before the police and the courts in the French language.
So I ask the same question: If this government is prepared to commit millions of dollars or force municipalities to commit millions of dollars to ensure that children across this province have access to third-language training, to what extent is that in and of itself a greater priority than, say, the case of an ethnic woman, who comes to this country and who is the victim of assault, who is unable to communicate with anyone the trauma she is going through; or the case of ethnic parents, who are recently arrived immigrants, for example, who see a child going through convulsions and are unable to communicate effectively with a doctor? Where is the actual priority setting within the whole issue of a service to enhance third-language instruction?
If I might address it specifically, the bill itself is a very simple bill. It is complex in what it will achieve, but what is before this Legislature is just a simple one-liner: Bill 5 is called An Act to amend the Education Act, and it proposes to expand the powers of the Minister of Education to make regulations -- and I quote all of what is stated in the bill: “requiring boards to offer programs that deal with languages other than English or French and governing the establishment and operation of such programs.” That is all the bill says.
What the minister would have us do is pass that bill and then leave completely open to the minister all the regulations necessary to implement such a broad and sweeping mandate. He makes certain assumptions. I was very fascinated by the statements he made in this Legislature on 24 October 1988. Both the member for Scarborough West and I had the opportunity to respond to his statements. He is talking about his Bill 5, and I found most interesting the statement that it is “a significant new commitment to multiculturalism in Ontario which guarantees access...and provides the resources.”
That is significant. It is significant because this government is prepared to guarantee a statement to a group of voters in this province in terms of access, but it is not prepared to guarantee the issues of funding. In other words: “As long as it appears that we can provide the program and as long as we can set the mandate and force school boards into providing it, we have done our bit. But providing funds, well, we’re a little fuzzy on that. We can’t guarantee that.”
No wonder school boards, teachers’ federations, home and school associations and virtually every group responsible for the delivery of education in this province has suggested that this piece of legislation is inappropriately timed and inappropriately prioritized in terms of its implementation.
With this bill we would have these programs up and running in less than four months. There has been no serious discussion with respect to funding, and I will get into some of the questions that I have based on the minister’s statements of several months ago. I am anxious for him to respond on the kinds of things he has been doing in the intervening period.
There has been concern expressed, and I am echoing the sentiments of several groups -- too many to mention at this point -- but many groups have expressed sentiments about the fact that the parents of 25 or more students can cause these mandatory programs to be implemented. But buried within the regulations, it is not just 25 children whose family is of the native language for which they are requesting a program be provided; it is any 25 children whose parents feel they should be instructed in a specific language.
There was the question in the minister’s statement about the fact that these language classes can be offered by other boards but not by coterminous Roman Catholic boards. I hope that during the public hearing session the government might enlighten us a bit as to why we can have program exchanges between coterminous boards in some small instances but we cannot in this regard.
There has been the issue of these programs not being held during the regular day. But then in the regulations I am led to believe that the regular day as we know it, as defined by the Education Act, can be extended. As a former trustee, I can tell members from experience that there are a lot of problems with changing the definition of the regular school day.
There are problems for the students in terms of loss of access to extracurricular activities and loss of access to booster programming for subjects which are deemed to be weak by the parent, the teacher or the student. There is the socialization loss of leaving school at a different time and loss of employment opportunities or of assistance to family businesses because of heritage language matters.
There is a whole series of questions about its implications for the students, but it has implications for the way schools are run. The regulations require that we do not have to have certified teachers, but there are certain considerations with respect to having certified teachers and board personnel resident at schools to take responsibility when programs are being offered.
In northern Ontario, this has implications for sending children home at off hours in snow-storms. It has implications for busing, loading and unloading and lost children. There is a whole series of implications that I would like to pursue in this regard when we get into public hearings.
There is the question of the lack of recognition of the situation with respect to busing. When we make mandatory programs that are not tied into the school or school areas and when we say that a program will be provided over the entire jurisdiction of a board, there can be 50 or 60 miles separating students who, according to this legislation, can demand that that program be implemented, as long as there are 25 of them.
We know the government has been reducing commitment to the operational costs of busing, with its grants. This is going to put on added pressure, not only in terms of the length of the school day because of transportation, but also in terms of the costs for transportation. In some cases, it will be completely impossible, let alone impractical, to provide it.
On 24 October, the minister also talked about providing incentive funds for up to three years. Many groups have asked what is going to happen after three years. It is interesting to note that three years mysteriously falls after the next provincial election. We will never really be able to go to the public, to the school taxpayers of this province, with what will really happen after the third year. This government will have already tested itself at the polls and we may not get a straight answer with respect to how far that commitment will go.
Quite frankly, not just this government but a lot of governments suffer from the problem of starting programs and not sufficiently extending the necessary funding. As a trustee, I recall going through the whole period in the mid-1970s with the implementation of French immersion and the lack of funding for busing and the limited dollars. It was our government that provided those funds. I am trying to be fair when I suggest this is a problem school boards have faced for many years, but nobody is sitting back and taking stock of the sum total of all these programs that have been entered into for very sound political/educational reasons. But then the funding seems to narrow, dry up or evaporate, and the local taxpayer is left to pick up the whole tab.
The minister said these incentive funds would be provided in consultation with other groups and agencies. It has been the practice, especially in education, when dealing with public funds that when third parties are brought to the table to determine how funds are spent, both provincially as well as municipally, publicly elected people are held accountable for that. I would like the minister to clarify just what is meant by the consultations as they are tied to funding and I would like the minister to tell us whether he intends to put that into regulations or entrench that in legislation.
The minister talks as well about incentive funds for research into strategies and information on heritage programs. In our recent round of discussions with respect to the select committee on education, we examined in detail a previous government initiative, the Ontario secondary schools review, Ontario Schools, Intermediate and Senior Divisions, the OASIS document as most people in education refer to it. We were quite appalled by what we now understand is a very limited review and evaluation of OASIS. We thought we were getting something far more academically based that would help us to determine how effective that program is going to be.
If the government suggests it is going to be providing research dollars to examine a variety of strategies and programs for heritage languages, I think it is appropriate the government clearly set out exactly what it expects to achieve with that for the dollars being spent. If all it is going to be doing is hiring a few more civil servants to do some number crunching, we do not need to do that. If it will lead to a serious re-evaluation of these programs, then it will be money well spent.
There is a lot of academic evidence to support the fact that when a child takes on a second or third language, there is some diminution, some loss of effectiveness, in the primary language. In this province, to my knowledge, that is still English and it still is in our schools. To what extent will we be evaluating, not how many programs we have in heritage languages, not how many nonethnic-based children are taking programs, but in fact what are the academic implications to a child who is now, in the elementary panel, taking three languages? And if they are having difficulty with English, to what extent is the system able to cope with making sure their English-language skills do not suffer?
I would like that issue very much clarified, because I have a certain interpretation of what I believe is needed. I believe school boards have an interpretation of what those dollars should be applied towards. We should not leave to accident the results of heritage languages, implemented in accordance with this piece of legislation, in terms of academic outcomes.
I might digress for a moment. I just used the words “academic outcomes.” It is interesting to note that when the government commissioned Radwanski to examine what was needed for Ontario’s educational system, it said absolutely nothing about heritage languages. It talked extensively about major dollar commitments, multimillion-dollar commitments, to restructuring and enforcing certain practices in our schools. Nowhere is there any reference to heritage languages.
It begs the question as to why and where the priorities are being set with respect to other issues of significance, such as dropouts and the issue my colleague the member for Scarborough West talks about extensively, the equality of outcomes for low-income children in this province.
I have already addressed the issue of incentive funds for in-service and learning materials. I am having real difficulty with the fact that we are starting yet another program where we are going to have startup moneys for materials to publish workbooks for the children, and yet there is still, across this province, extensive use of dittos and textbooks that are outdated. The core programs in our schools require a major influx of tax dollars in order to make sure our regular program commitments are being upheld adequately.
Yet as we had with French immersion in the 1970s, we now will have with heritage language in the 1990s the issue of moneys for in-service materials. Of course, as I said earlier, we would have this available for September, to start programs in less than four months.
I am a little nervous about in-service. I am nervous about the concept of in-service, because we have two challenges facing these programs. The first challenge is the children we hope to serve. I think it cannot be underscored enough that in any given classroom with a single language that is being provided, we could have children from the ages of four to 14. You do not just in-service a teacher to deal with that issue of teaching to children who learn at different rates, who are at different ages. You do not just do that with limited dollars and have it done by September, or the September following, or the September after that for that matter.
What does that say, quite frankly, about the government’s declining funding commitment for in-service in the areas of substance abuse and family violence? Just take the example of some of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome education material and in-service that the Minister of Education announced. The, government and the Treasurer announced dollar commitments for that purpose. Yet now, eight or nine months later when we investigate what is really happening, we find out the whole project has been offed over to TVOntario, with really nonacademic people doing in-service for our teacher-educators.
The government’s track record in terms of in-service commitments has always been to generally talk about it, to throw a certain amount of dollars at it, not really making sure it is hitting the target. Then to further complicate this matter, the government says we do not necessarily have to have certified teachers teaching this program. Now we have got a tremendously wide range of teaching ability trying to deal with the issue of instruction to children who range between the ages of four and 14. I think the government is being naïve and optimistic if it thinks it can meet the real need as set out in its priorities.
I will try to wrap up here. I have been a few minutes now. I too publicly announced my support that this go once again to a few days of public hearings, to ensure that some of the questions I and others have raised are clarified by the government and whoever is now in charge in the Ministry of Education from the staff level, and to clarify some of these points raised by the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, by the Ontario Teachers’ Federation and the Ontario Federation of Home and School Associations, just to name three province-wide groups.
I support its going to the standing committee on social development because we have had no price tag put on this bill. We have had no price tag of provincial dollars and we have had no price tag of the potential cost to school boards. We need to listen to the government’s sense of where its priorities are with respect to heritage language versus a series of other so-called priorities of this government within education. We have to deal with the adequacy of funding both in the short and long term. What is going to happen after three years? We also have to talk about equality of access and the difference between rural boards and urban boards in this province.
I would like the minister, if he would, to indicate to us during committee hearings what work has been done to date by his advisory committee, if in fact one has been struck, who has been appointed to it and what progress, if any, has been made since October when he put the bill forward in this House, because clearly there is an advisory and implementation mandate for such a group.
I would also like the government to explain in some detail the context in which Ontario’s new heritage-language initiatives, as a mandatory educational program, fit into the language needs of Ontario’s first citizens. As we know, some are educated within school boards and some are educated outside school boards. But if we want to take a serious and even an emotional examination of our responsibilities as a society with respect to language, I can tell members that from a personal point of view the Ukrainian language is not in jeopardy of being lost in Ontario, but there are several native languages indigenous to our first citizens of this province that are in danger of being lost for ever. To what extent do we have a social responsibility to ensure those languages are not lost off the face of this earth?
As politicians of all political parties, as we run after votes and as we curry favour with, as the member for Scarborough West says, the unique and changing demographics of this province, instead of chasing those all the time perhaps we should take a hard look at those obligations we have not met fairly to date. I submit that our commitment to native-language education, in-service training for our native students and even post-secondary access for native children in this province has been abysmal. We could learn much from our neighbouring province of Manitoba, both in terms of inquiring about the situation and in reacting in a positive way to it.
Briefly, our party has expressed its concern for the mandatory nature of this legislation. Our party believes it should be an optional program. If it is adequately funded, there will be sufficient uptake for the program. If it is adequately funded, there will be sufficient interest on the part of the teaching staff, even in a climate of teacher shortage in this province.
Our party believes this kind of legislation should be more flexible. It is far too narrow in its present context. I might suggest as well that it is interesting that on the Sunday shopping issue the government very much adheres to the optional theory and not the mandatory theory, but somehow when it comes to our educational institutions it can reverse itself. It does that similarly on the issue of flexibility.
We believe several ministries have responsibilities to ensure that language and culture have opportunities to flourish, opportunities to become more broadly accepted in this province, and that it should not be narrowly confined to the Ministry of Education. In fact, the Ministry of Citizenship and the Ministry of Culture and Communications both have roles to play in ensuring those mandates of tolerance and accessibility are enforced.
Within those other two ministries of Culture and Communications, and Citizenship, clearly there is a role for community-based organizations and there is a role for the family. It strikes me as odd that the government has taken away the role of the family and of some community groups from the development of language and strengthening language understanding within communities. I think it is unusual the government of this province can take the Lord’s Prayer out of our schools and say that is a family responsibility, but then on the other hand it can say that heritage language is not the responsibility of the family, that it should be taken out of the family and run by the state. Increasingly, we are seeing this form of contradiction.
The third principle on which our party disagrees with the government is the principle of adequate funding. It is clear this government will open the doors to a program and then close the doors in three years, leaving municipalities, municipal ratepayers, home owners, business operators and commercial operators who pay commercial assessments holding the bag to pay for these very expensive programs. If what the 1970s taught us on French immersion will hold true of heritage language in the 1990s, you will start classes with 25 children in it and after a year or two years they will dwindle down to 18 to 17 to 15. People move. People get into academic difficulty and have to get out of the program. Programs become overly expensive. They become increasingly expensive because the per-pupil grants do not cover class sizes that are much smaller.
In conclusion then, our party is having great difficulty with this bill. We object to the mandatory nature. We agree with virtually every educational group in this province that has objected to the mandatory nature of these programs. We too will participate and listen intently during hearings by the standing committee on social development on this bill, and we hope the minister will address some of the questions on which I have served notice in my comments today in the House. I ask that the minister and his staff respond to them.
Quite frankly, I would ask that the minister and his government, instead of coercing boards into programs, and this is just one more example of coercing boards into programs through the mandatory nature -- the government should be focusing more on the equity of compensating school boards in this province.
The Acting Speaker: Are there any comments or questions?
Hon Mr Ward: Just very briefly, I was very interested in some of the comments put forward by the member for Burlington South, and quite frankly in some of the convoluted logic. On the one hand, I thought I heard him arguing that the role of the school should in fact be paramount in terms of religious doctrine, that that clearly was the fundamental obligation, a mandatory obligation of school boards, and yet language instruction perhaps should be left to the family. That, on the one hand, seems to me to be quite a contradiction and totally inconsistent with the position of this government and indeed, even prior to this government, of his party in terms of the promotion of a multicultural Ontario.
Also, I do want to make some reference to the fact that the member seems to take some very serious objection to the fact that we have over the course of the past several years been mandating programs, programs that I believe are designed to ensure that we meet our obligation to ensure that each and every child in this province can reach his or her full potential, whether it be by providing additional opportunity for children in the primary grades to get the kind of individual attention and help they need; whether it be in making sure that every child in this province, regardless of social or economic background, can have access to an early childhood education program. We have done that over the course of the past several years and will continue to do that.
In terms of the funding, I suppose I can understand a little of the member’s cynicism, the member having been a trustee during the previous administration, when perhaps programs that were mandated were not funded, but he will know full well that funding for this is provided and is adequate to ensure proper program.
Mr Jackson: I am glad the minister had a sensitive chord touched on the issue of funding. He has become a master at the optics of educational funding. It was in his own jurisdiction that a mediated third-party settlement on the very sensitive issue of Bill 30 resolved what government moneys would be spent on schools that would both transfer and would be built anew as a result of Bill 30. Yet this minister stood in this House and announced an arbitrary change in the funding formula for the capital in schools across this province, affecting every member of this Legislature, where he arbitrarily adjusted downward the funding for schools from 75 per cent to 60 per cent; in his own backyard.
He took away dollars that he previously had committed while he was in minority government, while the sensitive issue of Bill 30 was on the front burner. It cost millions of dollars. It was his government that arbitrarily changed the method by which assessment was calculated. In the Sudbury Board of Education -- the member is here -- it was a $7-million loss. In Toronto, it was over $55 million in loss; an arbitrary adjustment.
So when I speak about the confidence that is being lost by the academic community, when I talk about the loss of confidence that the chambers of commerce have in a government which is about to change the pooling structure in this province and adjust the assessment rates for industrial-commercial assessment to make up the money which he says he is going to provide, he knows full well that the only reason he can make those guarantees is that he intends to get that money from industrial-commercial assessment across this province.
Mr Allen: It is with pleasure that I rise to address Bill 5 on behalf of the New Democratic Party and in the wake of the outstanding speech made by my colleague the member for Scarborough West. I thought his contribution to the debate was comprehensive. It laid out the history of this issue as it has been before us over a number of years: the legislation we have seen in terms of private members’ bills; the responses that have been made to that by the government finally in the yellow paper that came in 1987; the hearings that were held subsequently, in which large numbers of people participated representing the 40 per cent of our population in particular in Ontario who do not derive from either English or French stock; and then the more recent arrival, of course, of this very small piece of paper which the honourable member who is the Minister of Education has put before us. It is a small distillation even of the yellow paper of 1987 and its chief feature is to make a program mandatory as distinct to leaving it optional.
It was the response of that 40 per cent of our population who represent the various ethnic communities in our province to an earlier Minister of Education of this government that precisely the problem of optionality was the one that had to be addressed. That was the grievous problem that they had with respect to the delivery of heritage-language programs in the schools. This bill obviously addresses itself specifically to that fact. When I say that was their outstanding response to a previous minister’s initiatives or proposals which were never, of course, put in legislative form, it does not speak to the sum and substance of their real concern for heritage-language education in this province.
The previous speaker was very upset about the mandatory nature of this program. One would have to say that if boards large and small around this province had all responded well and substantially to heritage-language programming initiatives and opportunities that were there, in all probability this piece of legislation would not be necessary. I note that in some of the western provinces where there are heritage-language programs of various kinds, including immersion schools, the matter is dealt with in a nonmandatory fashion.
Obviously, there has been a much healthier, happier and fuller response in many respects in a province such as Alberta. Just to take matters not even touched or begun to be touched on in Ontario in the form of heritage-language instruction -- whether on the extended-day or integrated-day basis -- Alberta has moved in the field of full immersion schools in a number of languages. I cite, for example, the Ukrainian immersion school. Most of this is within the Edmonton public board, I would hasten to say. Immersion schools began in 1973 in Ukrainian, followed shortly by Hebrew and Yiddish, then by German, then Polish, then Chinese and Arabic as immersion school offerings. It is possible on an optional basis to move into a fairly rich texture of language education. However, that has not yielded the desirable results in Ontario and a measure of mandatory requirement is certainly appropriate at this point in time.
While one might have concerns about certain levels of capital funding, certain levels of education funding and the style thereof in the province by the present government, I do not think that they should be entered as substantial arguments against a well-amplified offering across all boards of heritage-language instruction. Least of all should it be used as an argument against what I would have hoped, and what the previous speaker from our party would have hoped would have been a major initiative introducing and requiring, under certain circumstances, the use of third languages as languages of instruction in the classroom and teaching given subjects in those languages.
As a matter of fact, we have had a good deal of debate in this province and in this country in second-language instruction and we have begun over the last 15 to 20 years to have a substantial debate on the question of third-language instruction. In fact, in the area of second-language instruction and in particular with respect to the techniques of French immersion teaching, Canada probably has at its fingertips and in its country the most significant program of extensive public immersion second-language education anywhere in the world.
From the base of our concern about second-language instruction and the importance of bilingualism have come important industries and important research in, for example, the development of electronic means of the transmission of language. In the use of airports we are way ahead of other countries in that field.
There are spinoff benefits, obviously, in important ways that one can cite in that respect, but having that experience behind us, we should be moving much more aggressively than we are, in fact, in the field of third-language instruction; namely, in the heritage languages.
The evidence of the instructional and personal value to the student and the third-language family in incontrovertible. The mere fact that a very basis of education lies with the family, the family’s attitudes and orientation towards the education experience of the child, the ability to communicate with that child in the instruction that he is being given in school, keeping the school and the family together in that whole educational enterprise, has fundamentally required but apparently has not been of sufficient note to require an actual response. But it has required, in moral terms, that our school systems enable the children who move into them to maintain a level of communication at home around what they are doing at school, and that has meant, for large numbers of students, the necessity of third-language instruction in our schools, just to maintain that bond and to keep a healthy educational enterprise alive for children who have come to this country from third-language backgrounds.
It is quite clear in the studies that have been done of those students who have taken those programs in that fashion, just as it has been quite clear with students who have gone through French immersion, that on balance, the language development in the majority language has, for those students, been better than the norm or the average for their peers who are single-language students; that far from being a drawback, far from debilitating the education of the student in question, in fact, there is an enhancement. Even if the student enters the school system as a third-language person, has his early instruction in the third language and begins only subsequently to add on English in the form of instruction in the language in the school system, you find that the development of the majority language moves very quickly, and at the end of a few years of schooling, on the average, the language competence is equal to, if not better than, that of the student who is a unilingual student.
The research tells us that we have nothing to fear in terms of majority language development; quite the contrary. The research also tells us that second-language and third-language development is an enhancement of the overall educational performance and academic development of the children in question. It is as though one has two or three different nets, sets of nuances and so on to grab hold of reality and to understand one’s experience through multiple sets of eyes, rather than just simply the two that we have.
One can cite the sources -- but there is no need to prolong the debate by doing that -- which make it quite plain that the enhancement is there. For example, heritage-language children showed increased ability to analyse linguistic points in the majority language and in the heritage language. Heritage-language children demonstrated an improvement in the majority language. They revealed an increased ability in conceptual and creative thinking. They showed a sensitivity to communicative needs of their interlocutors, people questioning them and discussing with them. It also facilitated the learning of additional languages.
The evidence is very strong that educationally, pedagogically, this is an important initiative for us to be taking, but the evidence also is that this is a very limited initiative, that we should be moving much more strongly than we are in terms of making it possible for groups of parents in the community to request and secure language instruction in subjects in the school day.
We had a debate in this city, in particular, which had repercussions around the province -- it certainly was heard around the province – when there was a major confrontation between the Toronto Board of Education and the Toronto Teachers’ Federation around the question of heritage languages; whether they should be taught in an extended day or in other appendages to the school day or week and what the implications were for the students in question.
The judgement, and I will not read it, was very clear. The judgement was that it was an act of discrimination in several respects to force students and families who wanted heritage languages in the school system to pursue them after the school day or in adjunct times, such as on the weekend. That obviously interfered substantially with other pursuits those children should have been having after school with their peers and with their fellow schoolmates. It interfered with their ability to access other music programs, sports programs and community programs of various kinds. It implied for them that their heritage language was somehow a second-class language in Canada and that they, by being descendants of that language group, shared in that discrimination and so on.
The strong words that were used in the final judgement were that the teaching of heritage languages after school, for example, served to segregate and ghettoize elementary school children.
Far from taking its key from that judgement, the ministry appears to have put it to one side, appears to have ignored it or at least is leaving it quite optional to boards of education to ignore that judgement. Certainly there is no evidence in Bill 5, An Act to amend the Education Act, that there is any bias or preference here whatsoever with respect to offering programs within the school day.
As I conclude my remarks, having made essentially the bulk of my commentary on the pedagogical advantages of heritage-language instruction in the school day, I do want to echo the comments that were made by the member for Scarborough West when he referred to the relevance of this undertaking to the global situation in which Canada finds itself and the problems of international competitiveness in the economy.
I will cite just a little instance, and I think I called the attention of the House to it some months ago when it was first announced. When McDonald’s recently decided to set up shop and begin to sell their hamburgers and their related products in Moscow, where did they go in their grand worldwide system of fast-food delivery to get the support personnel to establish themselves in Russia? They went to Winnipeg where they could be sure that they would be able to have a sufficient reservoir of persons still fluent in the Russian language to be able to serve their network system of communication that was necessary to maintain the liaison with the development in Russia.
Now, as we all know from recent reports, the opening of the Russian McDonald’s was a grandiose affair, the largest McDonald’s anywhere in the world. Obviously, it is being taken to with great panache by Muscovites and visitors to Russia. But that is a small indication of what kind of spinoff benefit there can be from maintaining in a very active way the language capacity of this country.
The United States has had reason to rue for some time its failure to maintain multiple-language education in that country. Just recently, in fact, a federal commission reported to the President what the losses appear to have been for the United States in its relative abandonment of language instruction. In the world of diplomacy, where it is so important to have people who know the fine nuances of other languages to understand what the other country is saying to you, what is being exchanged over the diplomatic table, the United States has lost a certain momentum in its foreign policy by virtue of its lack of language capacity.
Second, with respect to business contacts, time and time again they discovered that American businesses did not understand what was being communicated across the business table in terms of the nuances of deals and the fine points of deal-making, because they did not understand in the intimate sense which being raised, fostered and educated in a heritage language would make possible.
Those kinds of opportunities are going to multiply; they are certainly not going to be reduced in the world we are living and working in. It is not surprising that many provinces across this country are expanding their heritage-language base and operations. The report I read to the House about the Alberta case notes that Japanese was at that point about to be introduced into the programs in Alberta.
Finally, while I rise, as did my colleague the member for Scarborough West, to support this legislation as a useful next small step, I really am puzzled by the ministry’s failure to grab the larger part of the question rather than the smaller part and take the province into what I would say would be a new adventure but an adventure that promises so much for our people; that is, the adventure of genuine, whole-hearted, third-language instruction-al development within the school system, within the school day, as an ongoing, full experience of understanding in the context of another language rather than as a kind of add-on, secondary afterthought to the rest of the system.
Of course, the heritage-language initiative ought to include the pouring of substantial resources into native-language instruction and schools as a component of that. I hope this minister will be introducing initiatives in the not-too-distant future moving even further in the direction of native self-government of education than we have moved to date in this province.
There are clearly worlds to conquer in this domain, and I hope the minister will invade it with substantial armies rather than a corporal’s guard and a limited objective such as this bill appears to set before us.
Hon Mr Ward: Briefly, I always enjoy the interventions of my colleague the member for Hamilton West (Mr Allen) and his ongoing interest in issues of language instruction. It is also somewhat surprising to hear the member go on at some length about international competitiveness and trumpeting the line of chambers of commerce throughout Ontario. I do see some hope in the future, perhaps, to philosophic conversion along the way.
I am concerned about a couple of issues, though, and that relates to native-language instruction in this province, lest any of the vast audience watching this has the impression that the heritage-language program we will be mandating through this legislation is a substitute for native-as-a-second-language instruction in Ontario. That is clearly not the case. The member will know that in many communities throughout this province, school boards do offer funded native-as-a-second-language programs, programs that are indeed very effective.
It is important that the member raised the point that virtually all independent study on this particular issue confirms the tremendous benefit of third-language instruction or heritage-language instruction, because I guess one of the things that troubles me greatly as people polarize over this issue -- and let us face it, there has been some polarization; there are people within our communities who object very strenuously to our support of heritage-language programs and our commitment to multiculturalism -- is that they do lose sight of the fact that every child benefits from proficiency in a third language, both in terms of his English-language skills and his overall academic proficiency and that has been confirmed time and time again.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I also wanted to commend the member for Hamilton West on his presentation. He reminded me when he talked about the United States and his experience, of course, of the presidential commission on foreign languages and international studies done in 1979, which really chastised their past governments for their policies and indicated the kind of shortcomings that were there. Listening to the minister now talking about some of the experiments in native education that are taking place in these languages, the few experiments that we have, I am encouraged to hear him talk very positively about those.
There was an experiment in the early 1970s at the Toronto Board of Education which is often forgotten these days, where for a couple of years a program called Transition from Italian in the First Year was experimented with. A group of young Italian children was taught first in Italian and gradually in English. It was one of the first times that that kind of transition program was developed. The reports, as I look at them now from the 1975 Hansard, indicated that the functioning of these kids, whether it was interacting with other kids where they were much more open or whether it was in terms of language development which was much quicker than groups that were started in just straight English, all proved at that point seemingly the case for expanding in this area.
Yet if we look at government policy, we have not seen a major switch or challenge taken up along these lines. I am hoping, again, that in the public hearings what we will be hearing from the groups and from the ministry in response are ways that we can start to investigate how this should develop and evolve and not see this last step about bringing Scarborough into line as the final word on these matters.
Mr D. R. Cooke: I would like to comment on some of the comments that the member for Hamilton West made. I compliment him for them, especially with regard to the United States.
I noticed recently an article in the New York Times which surprised me; but when I thought about it, it did not surprise me. It concerned, I believe, Sussex county, which is Long Island and I imagine is suburban New York City. Sussex county is at the present time considering making itself unilingual and it is doing so because of the fact that there are a number of Spanish-speaking people moving into the county. The argument, which was presented in the New York Times without any digression or any editorial suggestion that there was anything wrong with it, was that the government facilities need to be taken away from these people in Spanish so as to help them learn the English language so that they can melt more quickly into the rest of the American populace.
I was very saddened to read that and I think the United States as a culture, unfortunately, is suffering seriously because of it. Fortunately, we in this country celebrate our roots and we do so very thoroughly and very carefully and this bill will assist us in doing that.
Mr Allen: Perhaps I will respond in reverse order. It is indeed true that there is a major bilingual controversy in the United States in many parts of the country where Spanish populations have moved in and some boards and districts are responding to that better and some worse than others. Unfortunately, large parts of the country do at times appear to be about 50, 60 or 70 years behind where we are in terms of language educational development and they are going to repeat our unfortunate experience of insisting that there is something especially debilitating about being raised in the other language in an anglophone environment, whereas quite the opposite is true, as we now know. I thank the member for pointing that out, because it is a very important observation.
I am always amused by the sort of ideological note that creeps into our commentaries here. When it comes to my relations with the chamber of commerce, as a democratic socialist and a New Democrat, I think mine are as good as anybody’s in my region. Just last Friday, I had a long hour and a half with the industrial relations committee of the local chamber, working over adjustment issues. The member for York South (Mr B. Rae), when he has come to town, has been known to have lunch with the chamber and to sit there, discuss with them and in fact surprise them with the amount of agreement they have on a number of issues,
I think it is interesting how the ideological overhang seems to stay with the members opposite, and sometimes the people to my left, when we have long past gotten out of that mode.
Mr Jackson: I am to your east, Richard.
Mr Allen: The member is to my east, that is right.
In any case, I thank the members for their comments and also the observations of the minister regarding native education. I think what we need in many of those areas more than anything else is resources to perhaps really strengthen what we have got.
Mr Beer: I think there are many issues which we could deal with as we approach this bill, but in the short time left, there are a couple of points I would like to make. The first one, which perhaps has not been as clear as it ought to be this afternoon, is that we are not talking about something brand-new; we are not talking about suddenly coming in with a program that has not been there before.
When members look at the numbers, as the minister mentioned in his comments in this House a couple of weeks ago, some 93,000 elementary school students studying 62 different heritage languages, in addition to English and French, already exist. What we are trying to do with this bill is to move that program further along, to ensure that all the children who want to have access to that program will do so. We are building on some foundations that have already been put firmly into the ground, indeed by members of all parties who have tried to bring this program forward.
Perhaps one of the points too we want to make this afternoon that has come up in a couple of ways is the whole question of language and how we in Canada, and indeed in North America, approach the question of language. I think too often we look at language as a kind of barrier. 89Those of us from what I suppose one could call the old majority community at times look on other languages, initially French and more recently what we refer to as third languages, as something that somehow blocks a young person, blocks an adult, from becoming a full participating member of Canadian society.
I think that what our moves in the whole area of heritage languages have done in large part is begin to, I hope, break down the concern that language is a kind of barrier and rather help us to focus on the fact that language can be, particularly for those who have recently come to this country, as we approach programs like heritage languages, a means to bring them further into Canadian society, help them gain a greater sense of self-confidence and become full participating members.
I was particularly struck, the day the Minister of Education and the Minister of Citizenship (Mr Phillips) announced this program last fall, when we went into a school in North York and there were some half-dozen, perhaps even seven or eight, different heritage languages being taught in the school that day.
To those who have said to me, “Why should we be doing this? Is this not somehow divisive?” I have often said, “Look, I want you to come with me to see the programs in these schools, to see the participation of community members in the instruction, in the development of the materials that are used, to see the co-operation between the school board and officials in the board with the community and also to see the pleasure which the children themselves derive from these programs and courses.”
I think if we see it in human terms, we see real value that comes not only to those children but ultimately to all of us as Canadians, in terms of breaking down stereotypes and breaking down barriers. And, as has been mentioned on several occasions, the fact is that those children will become full Canadian citizens and will have the advantage of not only speaking their own heritage language but English, perhaps French and perhaps indeed many others, and that can be only a strength for this country as we move forward into the next century.
I think if we see how far we have come in terms of the development of our official languages policy and how we have worked with ourselves to come to a better understanding of why we want to have those programs, by the same token we can see the value of programs such as heritage languages in permitting our society to evolve and develop and to have a better understanding and appreciation of our differences. At the same time, those elements unite us, because I think if there is one thing that is clear in all of the programs that currently exist, it is that the children and the parents, the families of those involved in these programs, are Canadians. They want their children to become full participants in the society, but -- and it is a reasonable “but” -- they would like to see their children able to have some sense of their roots, where they have come from, and this I think helps in providing that.
I look on this bill and what we are going to be putting in place as a step in our development as we approach language, and it is a step in a process which undoubtedly will be ongoing.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Those were the kinds of remarks that did warrant attention. I am glad to hear by the applause that certain members were at least listening to the member. I think it is important to say that if one looks at the heritage-language programs in certain parts of the city of Toronto these days -- those that are within an extended school day and have been now for a number of years -- it is fascinating to notice that the makeup of a number of the courses is approximately 50 per cent to 60 per cent of the ethnic group whose language it is and approximately 40 per cent and sometimes as much as 50 per cent from other communities, including a large number of English-speaking people, and that these programs have often taken the place of the alternative programs which are available to people of other ethnic persuasions while the ethnic programs are being put on. They have been a real means of bringing the communities together.
I had hoped that the parliamentary assistant might say something, since he is the one who is going to be taking the bill during the hearings, about where the government would like to go or its openness at least, I would hope, to a continuing process and some kind of concept of how we look at language policy in a holistic fashion and who will be involved in that kind of discussion from this point forward.
Perhaps in his response to my remarks, or in the minister’s concluding remarks, we might hear a little bit about where they see the government going from here because I believe still there is a real danger that this will be viewed as the last statement, the only thought of the Liberal government on this matter, since this is the zenith of what was proposed in the yellow paper, as I have said before, and this is all we have seen to date.
Mr Beer: If I might say simply in answer to the last comment, this government never stops in terms of developing and moving on from setting positions. Like so many things, I think this is part of a process and we are looking at trying to meet the needs of various groups with this program. But we have to make sure that we build each step in a very firm way and that we explain to the people in the province, so that they understand clearly what the goals and objectives of the program are and can see where indeed we want to go. I believe that in our discussions in committee we will be able to see that what we are doing here is moving forward and looking at an evolution of this program and our approach to language.
Hon Mr Ward: I do want to indicate my appreciation to all of the members who have participated in this debate today. I am very much interested in their thoughts and comments and I am indeed looking forward to the bill going to committee for a few more days of discussion. In committee it will be carried by my parliamentary assistant, and I want to acknowledge his ongoing interest and contribution to this and many other issues within the ministry for which I have some responsibility.
The members will know that in arriving at this policy that brought about the legislation we have before us today, there was a very significant period of public input and consultation. A number of options were indeed considered, including the program suggested by the former member for Oakwood, about whom the member for Scarborough West had quite a bit to say. One of the concerns that was expressed time and time again was the ability of the government of the school system in this province to deliver all the many kinds of programs that we know are of benefit to our students in helping each and every one of them reach his or her full potential.
We believe that the proposal we put forward is a sensible one. I know some reference has been made to the fact that there is, at least in the minds of some people in this House, no legitimacy to the argument that we should be concerned about the extent to which we expand programs which are part of the defined instructional day. Members will know that there is a limitation established by statute on the number of teaching days and the length of the school day, and when we talk about things such as international competitiveness, we have to recognize that perhaps we do have to focus our programs.
I think we have come up with a proposal here that really does give heritage language a special status within our schools, and I do not think it is at all a secondary status. It has been suggested that because these programs are above and beyond the defined instructional day, then they are either after school or on weekends. I want the members to know that, having visited schools in my parliamentary assistant’s community and some of the schools in Toronto where heritage languages programs have been a very important part of the curriculum, in many cases they are delivered before the end of the instructional day, albeit an extended instructional day.
I do think the regulations that we will be bringing forward and the legislation that we have is flexible enough to encourage the kinds of programs that the member for Scarborough West talked about at Orde Street school, I believe it was, when he talked about the students of German heritage and the fine program that they have there.
On the issue of funding, over the course of the past 10 years, members will know that through the general legislative grants, funds have been available to boards, not at rate of grant but in fact at a per student rate that has been covering virtually all the instructional costs associated with this. At the same time, though, there have not been resources committed to instructional materials and in-service training, both of which were part of the announcement that I made last October. In short, I believe that this is indeed a very significant step forward.
It looks like we are running out of time and I know we would like to call the question. We have a couple of procedural matters to deal with as well so that we can get this out to committee. I do want to thank the contribution of all members in moving second reading of Bill 5.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for standing committee on social development.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I would like to see unanimous consent of the House to waive standing order 63; that is, the standing order which establishes a time frame before this bill can go out to committee. As there is a possibility that the social development committee can deal with the bill prior to the expiration of that time, I would seek unanimous consent to waive standing order 63 as it relates to this bill.
The Deputy Speaker: Do we have agreement to waive standing order 63? Is there a question?
Mr R. F. Johnston: I believe the standing order is five working days. I am just trying to remember that. I would be reluctant to see hearings attempted with this, which would be the purpose of having this before next Monday, without giving groups time to get things together, but that would be three to four working days. I think there are enough groups that could come in that first day that we could probably handle it, so I think from our perspective we will give consent to that and leave it up to the steering committee of the social development committee to see if it can actually establish hearings within that time frame; but this would be permissive to allow them to do so. We will agree.
The Deputy Speaker: I repeat the question. Is there agreement to waive standing order 63?
The House adjourned at 1756.